Richard joins CP24 to have a look at the weekend’s new movies including “Tomb Raider,” the dark comedy “The Death of Stalin,” the old folks road trip “The Leisure Seeker,” the crime thriller “7 Days in Entebbe” and the Cecil Beaton documentary “Love, Cecil.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the weekend’s big releases, “Tomb Raider,” the dark comedy “The Death of Stalin,” “7 Days in Entebbe” and the old folks road trip “The Leisure Seeker.”
A weekly feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at “Tomb Raider,” the dark comedy “The Death of Stalin,” and the old folks road trip “The Leisure Seeker.”
Richard talks about the Lara Croft reboot “Tomb Raider,” the dark comedy “The Death of Stalin,” the old folks road trip “The Leisure Seeker” and the crime drama “7 Days in Entebbe.” with The Morning Rush host Bill Carroll.
The last time we saw archeologist-adventurer Lara Croft on the big screen she looked like Angelina Jolie and saved the world by dunking a bad guy into a pool of acid.
The new Tomb Raider takes us back — back to a time when Lara Croft was an emo 21-year-old whose biggest adventure was navigating London’s busy streets as a bicycle courier. This time around she bears a striking resemblance to Swedish Oscar winner Alicia Vikander.
The reboot also comes with a new villain. Mathias Vogel, played by Hateful Eight star Walton Goggins, is a member of evil organization Trinity and an all-around bad dude. He’s been stranded for years on a remote island searching for the tomb of an ancient entity whose touch caused instant death.
His job is to uncover her resting place, discover the secret of her deadly power and unleash it on the world. Like I said, he’s a bad guy, but Goggins says, “I can’t judge him.”
Not even if he ruthlessly shoots people point blank?
“If I sat back in judgement of him then what am I doing for the audience?” Goggins asks. “I am just an impartial interpreter and that’s what I should be even if I am playing a good guy.
“I don’t think you want to pat yourself on the back every time you read a line. ‘Oh my God! I’m such a great guy. I just saved this girl.’ No, you are just in the process of telling the story so that the audience can feel what they want to feel.”
The busy actor — he’ll soon be seen in the TV remake of L.A. Confidential and the Marvel blockbuster Ant-Man and the Wasp — drew on personal experience to create a backstory for his character. Like Vogel, Goggins’s job frequently takes him away from his son Augustus and wife, filmmaker Nadia Connors.
“My in for this experience was thinking about the day (Vogel) said goodbye to his family,” he says. “He’s a father and has two daughters. I just kind of meditated on saying goodbye to them, kissing his wife, walking out the door for what Mathias Vogel thought would be a year of his life and culminate in some great discovery.
“One year turned into two years, which turned into four years, and hopelessness set in. You meet this guy seven years into this experience and he has a real opportunity to get off this island. People will do whatever it takes to get back home and see the ones they love.”
For Goggins, coming home is the best way to leave a character in the rearview mirror. “I have a seven-year-old waiting at home for me,” he says. “There is no room for anything other than him…. I used to really revel in that experience of bringing the character home and living and stewing in it. You romanticize being alone, having a glass of wine and thinking about it, but it is not necessary.”
An instance of art imitating life turned into life imitating art for the 7 Days In Entebbe filmmakers. They were recreating the famous 1976 hijacking of an Air France flight from Tel Aviv at the Malta airport when filming was interrupted by a real-life skyjacking.
“We’ve had five hijackings land here,” Lija mayor Magda Magri Naudi told BBC World TV, “and ironically today they were actually filming Entebbe on the airport grounds and that had to be stopped.”
The real hijackers, armed with replica hand grenades and pistols, called themselves “pro-Gaddafi” and demanded asylum in Malta, before being subdued. All 118 hostages were released as the culprits were taken into custody.
That situation was wrapped up peacefully in hours but, as the title 7 Days In Entebbe suggests, the 1976 terror attack didn’t resolve itself so easily.
On July 27, 1976, an Air France flight from Tel Aviv to Paris via Athens was hijacked and forced to land in Entebbe, Uganda. On the ground the Jewish passengers were singled out and held hostage. The hijackers, two members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and two Germans affiliated with the left-wing extremist group Revolutionary Cells, demanded a ransom of $5 million and the release of prisoners from Israeli jails. If their conditions weren’t met by the deadline of Sunday, July 5 the terrorists would start executing hostages one by one. In response the Israeli government ordered a daring counter-terrorist hostage rescue operation.
The film 7 Days In Entebbe stars an international cast, including Daniel Brühl and Rosamund Pike as the German reactionaries, and, according to The Wrap’s Ben Croll, is “a somewhat dispassionate view on the whole affair as a geopolitical event that encompassed a number of overlapping parties.”
In other words, the movie values political speechifying over action sequences.
Speaking at a press conference at the Berlin Film Festival director José Padilha talked about his take on the narrative. “This story started with (producers) Ron Halpern and Tim Bevan and I think it was a great idea because they thought there was a narrative in this story that was missing. Most of the other movies are told from a military perspective and they show you a history of heroism, a gigantic military feat and they ignored the interaction between the hijackers and hostages and also the political aspects in Israel.”
Over the years the story has been told from many different angles. There is Operation Thunderbolt, which fictionalized the raid in a 1988 arcade game, and a 2009 play called To Pay the Price based in part on the letters of Israeli hero Yonatan Netanyahu.
On screen the story has been told in Operation Thunderbolt: Entebbe, a documentary featuring interviews with the former hostages and Capt. Michel Bacos, the pilot who refused to abandon his passengers, and the 1976 television film Victory at Entebbe, starring Anthony Hopkins and Elizabeth Taylor, which went to air just five months after the original incident.
The most authentic adaptation must be Operation Thunderbolt, known in Israel as Mivtsa Yonatan. Produced with the co-operation of the Israeli Air Force and government, the Oscar-nominated film is the most accurate in terms of uniforms, weapons, aircraft and vehicles. It is so realistic that several documentaries have used the film’s footage to dramatize the hijacking.
The last time we saw archaeologist-adventurer Lara Croft on the big screen she looked like Angelina Jolie and was seen dunking a bad guy into a pool of acid, dissolving him and saving the world in the process. A new film, simply titled “Tomb Raider,” takes us back. Back before the leather bodysuits and twin Heckler & Koch USP Match pistols, back to a time when Lara Croft was an emo twenty-one-year-old whose biggest adventure was navigating London’s busy streets as a bicycle courier. This time around she bears a striking resemblance to Swedish Oscar winner Alicia Vikander.
Although born and raised at the swanky Croft Manor, when we first meet Lara she is scraping by, studying MMA fighting, when she can afford the gym fees, and delivering food via bicycle. A fortune, courtesy of her late father Lord Richard Croft (Dominic West), awaits but for seven years she has steadfastly refused to sign for her inheritance, fearing that if she does she will have to accept that papa, who disappeared without a trace somewhere in the Sea of Japan, is truly dead and gone.
“Your father is gone but you can pick up where he left off,” says Croft family executive Ana Miller (Kristin Scott Thomas). “It’s in your blood.” “I’m sorry I’m not that kind of Croft,” replies Lara.
And yet, when she discovers a, “If you’re watching this tape I must be dead…” tape from dear old dad detailing his plan to find a remote Japanese island, home to a deadly ancient witch, the dutiful daughter sets off on a dangerous mission—to find the island and her father.
To do that she travels to Japan and recruits Lu Ren (Daniel Wu) who warns her of the danger ahead. “That’s right in the middle of the Devil’s Sea,” he says. “You may as well tie a rock to your leg and jump overboard.”
Armed with nothing more than a backpack and one of her father’s notebooks the pair find the island only to be met by a suspicious character named Mathias Vogel (Walton Goggins). “You shouldn’t have come here,” he says. “But I’m glad that you did.”
“Tomb Raider” contains lots of backstory, mumbo jumbo about global genocide, Queen Himiko Witch of Death and supernatural organization that controls much of the world, but this is Lara’s journey from bike courier to international woman of mystery. At the beginning of the film she is nothing like the polished Croft of the Jolie films. She’s scrappier, undisciplined. Her two greatest powers are loyalty to her father and fearlessness. And jumping. Lots of jumping. As played by Vikander, Croft never met a chasm she couldn’t leap across and that skill sure comes in handy.
Unlike Jolie’s iconic, stylized take on the character, Vikander plays her as self assured and independent but directionless. A young person trying to make her way in the world, thirsty for life experience. It’s a nice reinvention of the character, although a post credit scene suggests she is headed toward Jolie territory should there be a “Tomb Raider 2: A Career in Ruins” next year. Still, she’s a spirited female action hero in a male dominated field.
There are big action sequences, but as the stunts get bigger they don’t necessarily get better. Vikander, flying through the streets of London, cutting through traffic while being chased by her courier friends, is as exciting as any of the CGI exploits that come later.
“Tomb Raider’s” story and action are fairly generic but Vikander carries the day, reshaping a character we already thought we knew.
Donald Sutherland and Helen Mirren are household names with an astounding 400 television and film acting credits between them. Before their new film, “The Leisure Seeker,” they have appeared onscreen together only once in 1990’s “Bethune: The Making of a Hero.” Here they prove the chemistry that worked when the first Bush was president is still intact.
Their latest pairing sees them play old married couple former English professor John and Southern belle Ella Spencer who still playfully call one another, “My love.”
Their relationship is healthy but they are not. He has Alzheimer’s and she has cancer. As memories fade and the reliance on pills increases they embark on one last road trip, from Massachusetts to the heart of Old Town Key West and the Hemingway Home & Museum. Hitting the road in their 1975 Winnebago, dubbed the Leisure Seeker, they begin their final adventure. “They are just doing the thing they have done their entire lives,” says daughter Jane (Janel Moloney). “Staying together.”
Based on the 2009 novel of the same name by Michael Zadoorian “The Leisure Seeker” is a so-so movie elevated by two endearing performances. Mirren emphasizes Ella’s warmth and strength, how she uses idle chatter to mask the uncertainty and frustration that churns inside her. Sutherland, as a man aware enough to know he wants to go out like Hemmingway when the time comes but getting foggier everyday, sensitively finds a balance between the glimpses of John’s former personality and his new diminished state. Both sparkle, and hand in engaging performances.
They glide through the spotty material finding humanity and the touching moments tucked away in this overly sentimental travelogue.
The moments that work really work. They handle the comedic passages expertly and real heft to exchanges like this:
“Who are you? My John is a young teacher. He’s charming. Very handsome. Educated,” she says to him. “I want him back. You stole him from me and I want you to give him back.”
“If I could I would,” he says. “Whatever is stolen from you is stolen from me too,” he replies.
It is just a shame the rest of the film doesn’t work on that level.
It’s hard to know how to classify “7 Days in Entebbe.” It begins with an interpretive dance number but isn’t a musical. It’s about a daring real-life hostage rescue but it doesn’t contain enough combat to qualify as an action film. It’s about political ideology and yet so many points of view are on display it’s difficult to know what the film is trying to say. It’s a real life drama so slackly paced the drama evaporates into thin air.
Call it what you will. I call it a bad movie.
An international cast, including Daniel Brühl and Rosamund Pike as the German reactionaries and Eddie Marsan as Israeli Minister of Defense Shimon Peres, tell the story of what would become the Entebbe rescue operation.
On July 27, 1976 an Air France flight from Tel Aviv to Paris via Athens was hijacked and forced to land in Entebbe, Uganda. On the ground the Jewish passengers were singled out and held hostage. The hijackers, two members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and two Germans affiliated with the left-wing extremist group Revolutionary Cells, demanded a ransom of $5 million and the release of prisoners from Israeli jails. If their conditions weren’t met by the deadline of Sunday, July 5 the terrorists would start executing hostages one by one. In response the Israeli government ordered a daring counter-terrorist hostage rescue operation.
It’s sometimes difficult to find a new spin on an old story. The raid on Entebbe has been told many times on the big screen, on TV, on the stage and even in videogames. There’s probably something left to say but “7 Days in Entebbe” doesn’t say it. It talks and talks and talks an endless stream of words, many right out of “Revolutionaries for Dummies.” “I want to throw bombs into the consciousness of the masses,” intones terrorist Wilfried Böse (Daniel Brühl) when, realistically, we would have been better served if that bomb had been better thrown at the slack-jawed script. Every time the movie finds some momentum the story’s forward movement is stymied by speechifying.
Add to that dubious artistic choices and you’re left with a Mulligan Stew of political ideology with no strong point of view. In what maybe one of the silliest flourishes in a film this year, and the director cuts back-and-forth between a dance performance and the military operation. “I fight so you could dance,” says a commando to his ballerina girlfriend. It’s meant to illustrate the art of war brought to life I suppose but I’m sure Chuck Norris—who starred in “Delta Force,” one of the better movies inspired by Entebbe—would approve.
“7 Days in Entebbe” takes a significant world event and reduces it to melodramatic pap and speechifying. And the dance. Don’t forget the dance.