Archive for July, 2016

CHECK IT OUT: RICHARD’S “HOUSE OF CROUSE” PODCAST EPISODE 59!

Screen-Shot-2015-06-30-at-1.42.28-PM-300x188Welcome to the House of Crouse. This week stand up comedians Darren Frost and Simon Rakoff hang out with Richard in the living room. In a wide ranging conversation they talk about everything from free speech to what happens when you get death threats and are assaulted on stage. It’s good stuff so c’mon in and sit a spell.

 

 

 

NEWSTALK 1010: LISTEN TO THE RICHARD CROUSE SHOW FOR JULY 30, 2016!

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 7.04.31 PMCheck out the Richard Crouse Show NewsTalk 1010 podcast for July 30, 2016! Richard is joined in studio by stand up comedians Darren Frost and Simon Rakoff. In a wide ranging conversation they talk about everything from free speech to death threats.

Here’s some info on The Richard Crouse Show!: Each week on The Richard Crouse Show, Canada’s most recognized movie critic brings together some of the most interesting and opinionated people from the movies, television and music to put a fresh spin on news from the world of lifestyle and pop-culture. Tune into this show to find out what’s going on behind the scenes of your favorite shows and movies and get a new take on current trends. Richard also lets you know what movies you’ll want to run to see and which movies you’ll want to wait for DVD release. Click HERE to catch up on shows you might have missed! Read Richard NewsTalk 1010 reviews HERE!

RICHARD’S CTV NEWSCHANNEL REVIEWS FOR “JASON BOURNE” & MORE FOR JULY 29.

Screen Shot 2016-07-29 at 9.19.50 AMRichard sits in with Marcia McMillan to have a look at the the rollercoaster action of “Jason Bourne,” the heartwarming (and slightly raunchy) comedy of “Bad Moms,” “Cafe Society’s” period piece humour and the online intrigue of “Nerve.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

Metro In Focus: How Jason Bourne made Matt Damon a bona fide movie star

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 9.12.57 PMBy Richard Crouse – Metro In Focus

In the latest Jason Bourne movie, Matt Damon will punch, kick and spy master his way to the top of the box office charts.

His previous Bourne films, Identity, Supremacy and Ultimatum, were all hits commercially and critically.

Damon says he owes a great deal to the fictional character.

After the early success of Good Will Hunting, Saving Private Ryan and The Talented Mr. Ripley made him a star, a string of flops cooled his box office appeal.

“Right before The Bourne Identity came out,” he said, “I hadn’t been offered a movie in a year.”

Then his career was Bourne again.

“It’s incalculable how much these movies have helped my career,” he told The Telegraph. “Suddenly it put me on a short list of people who could get movies made.”

In the spirit of “one for them, one for me” for every film like The Martian or the new Jason Bourne, Damon has attached himself to smaller, riskier projects.

He lent his star power to The Good Shepherd, a low budget film directed by Robert De Niro. It’s a spy movie without the bells and whistles we’ve come to expect from our favorite undercover operatives.

There are no elaborate chase scenes a la James Bond or even the great scenery of the Bourne flicks.

In fact, the only thing The Good Sheperd shares with any of those movies is Damon, who plays Edward Wilson, one of the (fictional) founders of the CIA.

Despite mixed to good reviews — USA Today gave the film three out of four stars—and winning the Silver Bear of the prestigious Berlin International Film Festival, the movie barely earned back its production costs at the box office.

Ninety per cent of director Steven Soderbergh’s job on The Informant! was casting this mostly true tale of a highly paid executive-turned-whistleblower who helped uncover a price fixing policy that landed several executives (including himself) in jail.

It’s a tricky balancing act to find an actor who can keep the audience on-board through a tale of corporate malfeasance and personal greed, who can be likeable but is actually a liar and a thief, but Damon is the guy.

The Informant! skewed a tad too far into art house territory to be Soderbergh’s new Erin Brockovich-sized hit, but Damon’s presence kept the story of accounting, paperwork and avarice interesting. Reviews were kind but A Serious Man and The Twilight Saga: New Moon buried the film on its opening weekend.

Damon teamed with John Krasinski to produce and co-write Promised Land, a David and Goliath story that relied on the charm and likability of its cast to sell the idea that fracking is bad and the corporations who dupe cash-strapped farmers into leasing their land are evil.

It’s hard to make talk of water table pollution dramatic but Promised Land makes an attempt by giving much of the heavy lifting to Damon.

Done in by middling reviews and “sobering” box office receipts, this earnest and well-meaning movie might have been better served in documentary form.

With an Oscar on his shelf and more than 70 films on his resume Damon is philosophical about the kinds of films he chooses to make, big or small.

“If people go to those movies, then yes, that’s true, big-time success,” he says.

“If not, it’s much ado about nothing.”

JASON BOURNE: 3 STARS. “Damon crash-boom-bangs his way through spy thriller.”

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 9.13.44 PM“Jason Bourne,” the first Matt Damon led film in the series in nine years, proves that actions speak louder than words. Damon speaks a mere twenty-five lines of dialogue as he kicks, punches and crash-boom-bangs his way through this spy thriller, letting the action do the talking.

Damon’s fourth go-round as amnesiac superspy Jason Bourne begins with him tormented by his violent past. Most of his memory is intact, but he’s eaten away by guilt for the terrible things he did as a government programmed killer. “I remember,” he says. “I remember everything.”

To get his ya-yas out he goes all Fight Club, bare-knuckling any and all contenders but he’s drawn back into the international spy game—the movie never met an exotic location it couldn’t use, whether it’s Berlin, Reykjavík, Athens, London or even Vegas—after his former-handler-turned-hacker Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) tells him of a collaboration between CIA director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones, whose face is one forehead wrinkle away from becoming a caricature of an old man) and Silicon Valley kingpin Aaron Kalloor (Riz Ahmed). They’re working on Edward Snowden’s worst nightmare, a new program called Ironhead, a system of full spectrum surveillance; watching everyone all the time.

Wanting Bourne out of the way Dewey uses every newfangled asset at his disposal—like state-of-the-art global surveillance—to find the agent before turning to the old ways and bringing in an assassin known as, appropriately enough, The Asset (Vincent Cassel) to take care of business. “I’m going to cut the head off this thing,” says Dewey.

Flitting about the edges of the intrigue is the CIA’s cyber ops head Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander), who helps Bourne in an effort to keep him away from The Asset’s deadly gaze. “Bringing him in is the smart move,” she says. “There’s no bringing in Bourne,” Dewey says. “He needs to be put down.”

Cue the carnage.

If nothing else “Jason Bourne” proves once and for all that you can’t keep a good man down. Shot, beaten, dropped from a tall building or whatever, he’s the Energizer Bunny of international spies. He just keeps on ticking. We expect that from Bourne and we also demand feral fighting scenes, crazy car crashes and action, action, action. Make no mistake, there’s plenty of Bourne battle and bloodshed and some of it is quite exciting but it doesn’t have the finesse of the earlier films. Director Paul Greengrass’s signature handheld you-are-here style is in place but doesn’t feel as fresh as it did in the other films. Often frenetic instead of pulse-racing, the action sequences are frequent but not as memorable as the magazine-in-the-toaster gag from “Bourne Supremacy” or “Bourne Ultimatum’s” hardcover book punch. Still, you might not make it quite to the edge of your seat, but the combo of action and intrigue will shift you out of a reclining position.

“Jason Bourne” has its moments. Damon brings a grizzled power to the role and Vikander is a welcome addition, even if her motives are sometimes are hard to understand. There are interesting messages about online personal rights versus public safety that would have been moot in 2002 when the series debuted, a labyrinthine plot occasionally weighed down with unnecessary exposition and an unhinged Vegas climax—Bourne must really hope that whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas—that would not be out of place in an Avengers movie. I just wish the ending felt less like an Avengers scene—with cars comically flying through the air—and more like a Bourne moment.

BAD MOMS: 3 STARS. “despite the promise of raunch its filled with gooey warmth.”

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 9.16.51 PMFrom the comedy minds who gave us “The Hangover” comes another trio. This time it’s less a Wolf Pack than it is a Coffee Klatch of moms fed up with the burden of having to be perfect. It has its raunchy moments—thanks to Kathryn Hahn’s spirited performance—but by and large “Bad Moms” might better be titled “Tired Moms.

Amy (Mila Kunis) is a thirty-two-year-old frazzled mom struggling to keep up with her family life and work. She has two kids, the overachieving Jane (Oona Laurence) and Dylan (Emjay Anthony) and a husband (David Walton) “who sometimes feels like a third child.”

“I’m doing the best I can,” she sighs. “That makes it sadder,” replies Jane.

When an epiphany turns her from stressed mother to bad mom, she sleeps in, lets her kids make their own breakfast and drinks loads of wine with two other exhausted mothers, Carla (Hahn) and Kiki (Kristen Bell). Having tossed the shackles of the daily grind of motherhood aside, Amy is reborn, but not everyone is pleased. Her newfound freedom puts her in the crosshairs of the fascistic PTA president Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate).

The mothers in “Bad Moms” aren’t bad moms, they’re simply fed up with trying to live up to the expectations. The movie has laughs, mostly courtesy of Hahn’s laser sharp delivery of lines like, “I feel like everything that comes out of your mouth is a cry for help,” but mostly this is a manifesto for taking a breath and giving both yourself and your kids a chance to enjoy their childhoods. As Amy becomes the Norma Rae of mothers, she discovers taking a step away from what she thought she should do as a mom is the best way to discover the joy of parenthood.

It’s a story of the power of friendship and despite the promise of raunch “Bad Moms” is filled with gooey warmth. The set up is formulaic—you know the bond between children or parents will only grow and get stronger by the time the end credits roll—but despite the obvious story, and some obvious plot holes, the movie succeeds because underneath it all it’s not just about them talking about their kids, their exhaustion or how to best to dress for a night out. It’s about taking control of their lives, standing up to injustice and, yes, getting a date with the handsome widowed dad (Jay Hernandez) who drops his kid off at the playground everyday.

CAFÉ SOCIETY: 4 STARS. “familiar but in the most soothing of ways.”

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 9.14.37 PMIn this mixed-up, shook-up world there are fewer and fewer things we can count on as absolutes. One of them is that there will be a new Woody Allen movie every year with a jaunty jazz soundtrack and credits written in the Windsor Light Condensed font. His new film, “Café Society,” the story of a frantic young romantic trying to find himself in 1930s Hollywood, is slice of comfort cinema with all of Allen’s trademarks intact.

Bobby Dorfman (Jesse Eisenberg) is a native New Yorker who jumped coasts to take up in Los Angeles. The slightly neurotic east coaster is not a natural fit in Tinsel Town, but his powerhouse uncle Phil (Steve Carell) helps out, giving him a job at his powerhouse talent agency and introducing him to a beautiful secretary named Vonnie (Kristen Stewart). By day he does odd jobs for Phil—“Menial errands are my specialty,” Bobby says, “but I don’t see a great future in it.”—while on the weekends he slowly falls for Vonnie. They share a disdain for industry talk and Hollywood’s catty innuendo and a love of cheap Mexican food but she doesn’t share his feelings. Unfortunately (for Bobby) Vonnie has a mostly absent boyfriend.

Enter romantic plot complications and Bobby hightails it back to New York where he goes into the nightclub business with his gangster brother Ben (Corey Stall). Finally successful, he marries and has a child with Veronica (Blake Lively), who he nicknames Vonnie, betraying the feelings he harbours for his west coast love. When Vonnie number one returns to New York for a visit the film offers up a line that sums the situation up, “Life is a comedy written by a sadistic comedy writer.”

A light-hearted tapestry, “Café Society” is embroidered with the odd punch line and hints of melancholy. It’s a comedy tinted with heartbreak, a look at true love and unsatisfactory options. It returns Allen to the fertile ground he ploughed with “Annie Hall” and “Manhattan” and while this film isn’t a classic on those terms, it’s an engaging look at life and love buoyed by great performances.

Eisenberg does the best Woody Allen impression we’ve seen on screen in some time, but there’s more to him than simply aping the master. His journey from nebbish to notable is believable and gives the movie its heart.

Co-star Stewart hands in what may be her first truly adult role. She plays Vonnie as level-headed in a sea of dreamers. When Bobby describes Joan Crawford as “larger-than-life” she replies, simply but compellingly, “I think I’d be happier life-sized.” It’s the line that sums up her character and Stewart makes the most of it and Vonnie.

“Café Society” is a welcome uptick after Allen’s last two films, “Magic in the Moonlight” and “Irrational Man.” For Woody’s fans it may feel familiar but in the most soothing of ways.

NERVE: 3 STARS. “stylishly made teen flick with an interesting premise.”

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 9.15.59 PMIf you thought Pokémon Go, with reports of people being ambushed and robbed while searching for those elusive Digletts and Rhyhorns, was risky along comes a new movie with an even deadlier game. “Nerve,” a new thriller starring Emma Roberts, Dave Franco and Juliette Lewis, introduces an on-line truth or dare game… minus the truth.

Roberts stars as Venus Delmonico—Vee for short—a Staten island high school senior who rarely strays outside her comfort zone. “Life is passing you by,” her friend Sydney (Emily Meade) says. “You need to take a few risks every once and a while. You’re playing Nerve.”

The on-line game is fairly simple, or so it seems. Players are given a series of stunts to perform—like hanging moons, getting a tattoo, eating gross stuff or singing in public. Basically it takes advantage of its player’s poor impulse control and bad decision-making. “Watchers pay to watch, players play to win. Cash or glory? Are you a watcher or a player?” The game that uses your personal online info to tailor dares that play on your fears and deposit cash in your account for every challenge completed. The wilder the stunt the bigger the payday.

Vee becomes a player and when dared to kiss a stranger for five seconds she lip locks with Ian (Dave Franco), a random guy at a diner. The game partners them–“Apparently the watchers like us together,” he says.—and soon Vee is on a wild adventure across New York Bay in the Big Apple. What began as a simple kiss quickly escalates. It’s all fun and games until Vee begins to realize the game controls her life. She’s not playing to win, she’s playing to survive.

“Nerve” is a stylishly made teen flick with an interesting premise and likeable characters and actors. It follows the age-old adolescent formula—there’s unrequited crushes, underage drinking and two-faced BFFs—with one major change. It used to be teen movies always had an athletic character who could be counted on for muscle when the going got tough. Now it’s a hacker, which comes in very handy for Vee as the story takes a dangerous turn. A dangerous turn for Vee and the viewer. What begins as an appealingly made juvenile thriller—complete with comments on how much importance millennials place not on social standing but on social media standing and how the anonymity of the Internet allows people to use cyberspace to do things they never consider in real life—dissolves into typical teen fare by the time the end credits roll. What could have been an edgy analysis on the responsibility of social media is, instead, reduced to an actioner with an upbeat ending.

“Nerve” is almost really good. Too bad co-directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman didn’t have the nerve to continue with the dark tone all the way to the end credits.

CJAD IN MONTREAL: THE BARRY MORGAN SHOW WITH RICHARD CROUSE ON MOVIES!

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 2.48.21 PMRichard and CJAD Montreal substitute afternoon show host Dave Kaufman talk about 4 new releases, the rollercoaster action of “Jason Bourne,” the heartwarming (and slightly raunchy) comedy of “Bad Moms,” “Cafe Society’s” period piece humour and the online intrigue of “Nerve.”