Archive for September, 2017

NEWSTALK 1010: INFO ON THE RICHARD CROUSE SHOW FOR SEPTEMBER 30, 2017!

Check out the Richard Crouse Show on NewsTalk 1010 for September 23, 2017! This week Richard welcomes Maximum Canada: Why 35 Million Canadians Are Not Enough” author Doug Saunders

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!

The show airs:

NewsTalk 1010 –  airs in Toronto Saturday at 9 to 10 pm. 

For Niagara, Newstalk 610 Radio – airs Saturdays at 6 to 7 pm 

For Montreal, CJAD 800 – Saturdays at 6 to 7 pm 

For Vancouver – CFAX 1070 – Saturdays 6 to 7 pm. 

For London — Newstalk 1290 CJBK, Saturdays 10 to 11 pm

RICHARD’S WEEKEND MOVIE REVIEWS FROM CP24! FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 29, 2017.

Richard and CP24 anchor Jamie Gutfreund have a look at the weekend’s new movies including the drug addled biopic “American Made,” the real-life-royal dramedy “Victoria & Abdul” and Robert Redford and Jane Fonda in the late-in-life love story “Our Souls at Night.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

RICHARD’S CTV NEWSCHANNEL WEEKEND MOVIE REVIEWS & MORE FOR SEPTEMBER 29.

Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Jennifer Burke to have a look at the Tom Cruise War on Drugs movie “American Made,” the real-life-royal dramedy “Victoria & Abdul” and Robert Redford and Jane Fonda in the late-in-life love story “Our Souls at Night.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

CFRA IN OTTAWA: THE BILL CARROLL SHOW WITH RICHARD CROUSE ON MOVIES!

Richard sits in on the CFRA Morning Show with host Bill Carroll to talk about the drug addled biopic “American Made,” the real-life-royal dramedy “Victoria & Abdul” and Robert Redford and Jane Fonda in the late-in-life love story “Our Souls at Night.”

Listen to the whole thing HERE!

CTVNEWS.CA: “THE CROUSE REVIEW LOOKS AT “AMERICAN MADE” & “VICTORIA & ABDUL”!

A new feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at the Tom Cruise War on Drugs movie “American Made,” the real-life-royal dramedy “Victoria & Abdul” and Robert Redford and Jane Fonda in the late-in-life love story “Our Souls at Night.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

Metro in Focus: Hollywood is the winner of the ‘war on drugs’

By Richard Crouse – In Focus

The “war on drugs” is one of the longest battles in American history. In 1971 President Richard Nixon declared drug abuse “public enemy number one,” vowing combat against drug producers and dealers.

Forty years and many billions of dollars later the Global Commission on Drug Policy stated, “The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world.”

Last year, writing in the New York Times, Mexican journalist José Luis Pardo Veiras echoed those sentiments. “Drugs continue to stream north to the United States, the great user, and firearms enter Mexico in return, where they kill thousands.”

The fight has been a failure for everyone except Hollywood, which has consistently mined the war on drugs for stories and colourful characters. This weekend Tom Cruise stars in the latest tale from the war on drugs, American Made, the real-life story of Barry Seal, adrenaline junkie and TWA pilot.

The story begins with Seal being hired by the CIA to take reconnaissance photos of Soviet-backed insurgents in South America. His life quickly spirals out of control as he becomes a courier between the CIA and Panamanian CIA informant General Manuel Noriega while also working as a cocaine smuggler for the Medellin Cartel.

Drug cartel stories are tailor made for the movies. Populated by bigger-than-life characters like the wealthiest criminal in history, the so-called “The King of Cocaine,” Pablo Escobar, the stories have it all: glamour, drama, moral ambiguity and the primal clash of good and evil. Here are three films with three very different approaches to the war on drugs.

One critic described Sicario as a “French Connection for the drug-fuelled Mexico-US border war.” Starring Emily Blunt, Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin, it’s a drama about an idealistic FBI agent working with an elite task force to stem the flow of drugs between Mexico and the United States. It’s gritty and certainly not a feel-good movie about winning the war on drugs. Instead, it’s a powerful look at a seemingly unwinnable battle and the toll it takes on its soldiers.

Savages is an over-the-top Oliver Stone movie that sees Aaron Johnson and Taylor Kitsch as drug dealers and two thirds of a love triangle with a California cutie played by Blake Lively. Their product, a potent strain of legal medical-grade marijuana, earns the attention of a Mexican Baja drug Cartel boss (Salma Hayek) who’ll do anything to create a “joint” venture, including kidnapping and murder.

Savages, at its black-hearted best, is a preposterous popcorn movie that sees Stone leave behind the restraint of movies like W and World Trade Center and kick into full bore, unhinged Natural Born Killers mode. It’s a wild, down ’n dirty look into the business of drugs and revenge.

Smaller in scale is End of Watch. Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña play patrol cops in Los Angeles’s tough South Central neighbourhood. A routine traffic stop turns into something bigger when they confiscate money and guns from a cartel member. “Be careful,” they’re warned by a senior officer, “You just tugged on the tail of a snake that’s going to turn around and bite you.”

These movies and others, like Code of the West and The House I Live In, prove the winners of the war on drugs are filmmakers.

IFOA: In Conversation w John Boyne & Emma Donoghue Thursday, October 26, 2017!

In Conversation: John Boyne & Emma Donoghue

Word Alliance logoIFOA is proud to be a member of the Word Alliance, a collaboration of eight of the world’s finest literary festivals. The Word Alliance creates a platform for artistic partnership; further expansion of online content; professional, audience and organizational development and an international touring programme for authors.

Thursday, October 26, 2017 – 8:00 PM

Interview: IFOA

Brigantine Room, Harbourfront Centre

235 Queens Quay West

Toronto M5J 2G8

Cost: $18/$15 for IFOA Supporters, Free for students and youth

John Boyne and Emma Donoghue have seen their literary works adapted for the screen. They talk to film critic and author Richard Crouse about their experience and success.

PURCHASE TICKETS

Participants

John Boyne is the author of ten novels for adults, five novels for younger readers and a collection of short stories. His 2006 novel The Boy in the Striped Pajamas was an international bestseller, selling over 7 million copies worldwide. He has won three Irish Book Awards, a Stonewall Honor Award and a Lambda Literary Award. His novels are published in more than 50 languages. The author lives in Dublin, Ireland. He presents The Heart’s Invisible Furies.

Richard Crouse is the host of the Bell Media show Pop Life, the regular film critic for CTV’s News Channel and CP24. His syndicated Saturday afternoon radio show, The Richard Crouse Show, originates on News Talk 1010 in Toronto. He is also the author of nine books on pop culture history including the best-selling The 100 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, its sequel The Son of the 100 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, the bestselling Raising Hell: Ken Russell and the Unmaking of The Devils and Elvis is King: Costello’s My Aim is True. He also writes a weekly column for Metro newspaper.

Emma Donoghue is an Irish emigrant twice over: she spent eight years in Cambridge doing a PhD in eighteenth-century literature before moving to London, Ontario, where she lives with her partner and their two children. She also migrates between genres writing literary history, biography, and stage and radio plays as well as fairy tales and short stories. She is best known for her novels, which range from the historical to the contemporary. Her international bestseller Room was a New York Times Best Book of 2010 and a finalist for the Man Booker, Commonwealth, and Orange prizes. The Lotterys Plus One is her first novel for young readers.

AMERICAN MADE: 3 STARS. “Echoes of ‘Top Gun’ hang heavy over Cruise.”

The War on Drugs is one of the longest battles in American history. In 1971 President Richard Nixon declared drug abuse “public enemy number one, “ vowing combat against drug producers and dealers. Forty years and many billions of dollars later the Global Commission on Drug Policy stated, “The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world.”

The only winners in the drug wars appear to be filmmakers who have mined a rich vein of stories from the decades long battle.

This weekend Tom Cruise stars in the latest tale from the War on Drugs, “American Made,” the real-life story of Barry Seal, adrenaline junkie and TWA pilot. The story begins in 1978 with Seal mentally on autopilot and looking for thrills. Caught smuggling cigars into the United States, the CIA senses his potential and hires him to take reconnaissance photos of Soviet-backed insurgents in South America.

“The work is covert,” says his recruiter, Agent Schafer (Domhnall Gleeson). “If anyone finds out about it, family, friends, your wife, that would be a problem.”

What begins as a safe and profitable adventure takes a dangerous turn when he becomes a courier between the CIA and Panamanian CIA informant General Manuel Noriega. Next he signs onto an even more dangerous assignment, running arms to the contras in Nicaragua in their battle against the communist Sandinistas.

“Is this legal?” he asks. ”It is if you do it for the good guys,” says his Agent Schafer (Domhnall Gleeson).

Seduced by the money and the excitement he also takes gigs as a cocaine smuggler for the Medellin Cartel. “I’m working for the CIA, the DEA and Pablo Escobar,” he boasts. He sees himself as “just gringo who always delivers,” but his convoluted work life and allegiances make him a person of interest not only to everyone from Pablo “The King of Cocaine” Escobar to the DEA, the FBI and even the White House.

Drug cartel stories are tailor made for the movies. Populated by bigger-than-life characters like the wealthiest criminals in history like the Medellin Cartel members, the stories have it all—glamour, drama, moral ambiguity and the primal clash of good and evil. “American Made” has all that, although played in a lower key than movies like “Blow” or “Cocaine Cowboys.” It has a lighter touch—it’s not too violent and, oddly for a drug dealer movie, has no scenes where anyone actually samples the goods—which keeps things moving along at quite a clip but sheds next to no light on its characters, its go-go 80s setting or the political mess that turned into the Iran-Contra affair.

Echoes of “Top Gun” hang heavy over Cruise as the cockpit king Seals. He’s all teeth and grins, a charmer who can talk his way through almost any situation. He has nerves of steel and high-flying greed, a combo that should give us a compelling anti-hero but instead Cruise plays him as a decent guy who “didn’t ask enough questions.” Didn’t ask enough questions about the personal toll his work running guns and drugs for a cartel. Didn’t ask enough questions about human trafficking. He didn’t ask questions because he was greedy. He liked the suitcases of cash and fancy cars his job provided. If the movie had allowed Cruise (or vice versa) to actually explore Barry’s dark side the film might have delivered more of a punch.

There’s more character work in any episode of “Breaking Bad” or “Narcos” than “American Made’s” entire 115 minute running time but Cruise’s movie does have a sense of humour about itself that makes for an amiable, if not memorable, watch.

VICTORIA AND ABDUL: 3 STARS. “an attempt to lull its audience into complacency.”

The opening title card of “Victoria & Abdul,” a new historical dramedy starring Judi Dench and Ali Fazal, states that the movie is “Based on real events… mostly” sets the tone for what is to come. What follows is a true-life tale that doesn’t let the facts get in the way of telling a good story.

Dench returns to her Oscar nominated role of Queen Victoria. She is a frail older woman, ill of health and scheduled at society functions at a pace that would tire someone a third her age. It is her Golden Jubilee in 1887, an endless round of meetings and dinners. At one of these dinners she, as the Empress of India, is gifted with a special coin presented by Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal) and Mohammed (Adeel Akhtar), two young men brought in from the North Indian city of Agra for the occasion.

Both are given strict instructions. “The key to good service is standing still, moving backwards,” they’re told, “and don’t ever look at her.” Of course Abdul catches her eye, otherwise there’d be no story.

“I thought the tall one was terribly handsome,” says the Queen as she requests they become for personal footman. It’s a move that causes consternation at the palace. Racism and jealousy rear their ugly heads as Abdul is given more and more responsibility, soon becoming her Munshi, a tutor who teaches her how to write and speak Urdu.

She sees him as a breath of fresh air from the “aristocratic fools” who jockey for position around her. She’s lonely—”Everyone I’ve ever loved has died,” she says, “and I just go on and on.”— and his a chatty, amiable manner comforts her.

The staff and Victoria’s son Bertie (Eddie Izzard), next in line to be King, want Abdul gone and look to get dirt on him. When the monarch gets wind of the palace skulduggery she makes it clear her confidant is not going anywhere.

“Victoria & Abdul” is based on a recently uncovered story. In the days following Victoria’s death Bertie ordered all traces of her relationship with Abdul destroyed and he and his family deported back to India. It wasn’t until a hundred years later when journalist Shrabani Basu dug deep and discovered previously unseen information that the story became public.

What could have been a fascinating look at Victoria at the height of her colonial power—she is 81 years old, 62 of which have been spent ruling over almost 1,000,000,000 citizens—is instead shaped into a light weight crowd pleaser and virtual remake of 1997’s “Mrs. Brown.” In that film Billy Connolly played John Brown, a servant who provided comfort to Victoria (played again by Dench) creating a scandal that almost lead to monarchy crisis. “He’s the brown John Brown,” sneers Lady Churchill (Olivia Williams) in a nod to the sense of déjà vu that hangs over the proceedings.

The big difference between the two films is the underling role. Brown was clearly defined. The Scottish servant is strong-willed, a rebel with little respect for the propriety that surrounded Victoria’s every move. Abdul is less defined. He is unquestionably devoted to the Queen, but we don’t ever really learn why. Was he a social climber, a Rasputin or a truly dedicated acolyte? We’re led to believe the latter but that doesn’t give Fazal much to work with other than his easy going on-screen charm.

Not that “Victoria & Abdul” doesn’t have enjoyable elements. It mines humour from the ridiculous royal protocol. Queen Victoria eats quickly and everyone else at an elaborate state dinner must keep pace because when she’s done, they’re all done. It’s a funny scene, made more amusing by Dench’s skilful handling of the situation.

She is by times comedic, by times touching, often in the same scene. She is masterful as Victoria, a lioness in winter grasping for a last stab at happiness in a life filled with decorum and responsibility.

If the recent film “mother!” was an attempt, as one writer suggested, “to shock its audiences out of complacency,” “Victoria & Abdul” is an attempt to lull its audience into complacency.