Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

THE TRANSFIGURATION: 3 STARS. “unsettling sincerity that underscores the inner rage.”

When we first meet “The Transfiguration’s” lead character, fourteen year old Milo (Eric Ruffin) he’s drinking the blood of his latest victim. He’s not a vampire as such; he’s simply a confused kid, orphaned and alone save for his brother Lewis (Aaron Moten). At night he passes the time watching horror movies—“Let the Right One In,” “Near Dark” and “Shadow of the Vampire” are his favourites because “they’re realistic”—and, more troublingly, videos of animals being tortured. He’s serious about bloodsuckers—“Vampires don’t twinkle,” he says dismissively—because he thinks he is one.

“I think it starts with drinking blood,” he says. “Like you need to. It’s like when you have a cut on your finger as a little kid and you’re sucking on it. Eventually that’s not good enough. So you switch to animals and then people. You change a lot after the first person you kill.”

One night a month he indulges his blood thirst, killing and draining a victim, only to suffer a nasty plasma puke after each attack. The quiet loner is drawn out of his shell with the arrival of Sophie (Chloe Levine), a teen who lives with her abusive grandfather on the ninth floor of their apartment block. They connect almost immediately and that intimacy brings with it a change in Milo’s metamorphosis. It’s Dracula and Juliet, a love story with high stakes.

There are kills and some gore in “The Transfiguration” but it can’t rightly be called a horror film. It’s more a psychological drama examining the dark corners of Milo‘s mind. He’s a tortured soul but Ruffin plays him with an unsettling sincerity that underscores the inner rage that drives his fascination with death.

Levine, as an equally lost soul but without the deadly streak, is the film’s heart. Beaten down, she plays Sophie as someone who hasn’t given up, who still has hope. It’s a grounded, naturalistic performance in a film that values understatement over grand gestures.

“The Transfiguration” is a downbeat slow burn, a movie that for better and for worse takes it’s time with Milo and Sophie’s story. Director Michael O’Shea could have revved up the pacing but his storytelling is uncompromising, Margaret Chardiet’s electro score is anxiety inducing and the performances, while unfussy, reveal deep reservoirs of emotional depth.

BRAVOFACT: RICHARD HOSTS INSIDE OUT BravoFACT PITCH COMPETITION!

From InsideOut.ca: After an overwhelmingly positive response in 2016, Inside Out is excited to partner with BravoFACT for the second Inside Out BravoFACT Pitch Competition. Five teams will be selected to pitch their short narrative film projects in front of a jury of industry experts and a live audience at the 2017 Toronto LGBT Film Festival (May 25 to June 4, 2017).

The winning team will receive a cash prize of $50,000 from BravoFACT to complete the project and will screen it at the 2018 Toronto LGBT Film Festival.

Applications for the 2017 Inside Out BravoFACT Pitch Competition are due on Friday, March 31, 2017. We are looking for teams of two who are passionate about making Canadian films for and about the LGBTQ community. Learn more about the competition and apply, here.

The winners of the 2016 Inside Out BravoFACT Pitch Competition were Kyle Reaume (Director) and Carolyn Reznik (Producer) for their short film What About Shelley. Their short film will world premiere at the 2017 Toronto LGBT Film Festival, as part of the annual Local Heroes program.

The finalists for the 2017 Inside Out BravoFACT Pitch Competition are:

Against the Tide
Logan Cerson (Director) and Morgana Mackenzie (Producer)
A transgender woman returns to her hometown and to her father before their tiny Newfoundland fishing village is bought out by the Canadian government.

Last Postcard
Michael Hanley (Director) and Heidi Tan (Producer)
In a digital age where social interaction is in abundance, but true human connection is scarce, childhood friends Austin and Connor search for love.

Queen of Hearts
Lindsey Addawoo (Co-Director) and Alicia De Four (Producer)
When tragedy strikes, a powerful Queen struggles to navigate supernatural abilities tied to her emotions.

The Tragedy That Was Valerie Mallory Finkerstein
Martina Monro (Co-Producer/Co-Director) and Dacen James (Producer/Co-Director)
On the day of her best friend’s birthday, Valerie must confess her love for Ava or lose her forever.

The Transplant
Maxyme Tramblay (Director) and Raghda Elrayyes (Producer)
When Gail, a witty lesbian, and Connie, a bitter homophobe, find themselves cohabiting the same hospital room, their wait for organ transplants could not be more uncomfortable.

Join us on Sunday, June 4 at 11:00AM at the TIFF Bell Lightbox during the 2017 Toronto LGBT Film Festival as the finalists pitch their short narrative film projects in front of a jury of industry experts, moderated by CTV film critic Richard Crouse. Tickets for the event are FREE but can be reserved at the TIFF Box Office.

GOING IN STYLE: 3 STARS. “’The Italian Job’ with electric wheelchairs.”

“Going in Style” is a blistering social commentary disguised as an old coot caper comedy. Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin play factory workers who did all the right things only to have the system give them the middle finger in old age.

A remake from the 1979 George Burns, Art Carney, and Lee Strasberg adventure “Going in Style,” the movie begins with Joe (Caine) confronting his condescending bank manager (John Pais). The older man’s mortgage has tripled and he will soon be evicted from his home. As they argue, outside the manager’s office armed masked men invade the bank, scooping handfuls of cash from the tellers. Joe is unharmed in the heist—one of the thieves tells him, “It is a culture’s duty to take care of the elderly.”—and later excitedly tells his family and friends Willie (Freeman) and Al (Arkin) about the robbery.

The afternoon’s excitement aside, Joe’s financial situation is still dire. His old company, now in the midst of a takeover, has frozen all pension cheques. He needs to come up with a way to get his hands on some cash. Ditto for Willie, who needs a new kidney and Al who can barely afford to feed himself.

When their favourite waitress gives them a free piece of pie with the truism, “Everybody deserves pie,” it dawns on Joe that she’s right. “We should be having our pie and eating it too,” he says, hatching a plan to steal back their pensions. “These banks practically destroyed this country and nothing ever happened to them,” he says. “If we get caught we get a bed, three meals a day and free healthcare.”

“Going in Style” then drops the social commentary and becomes a heist flick. Think “The Italian Job” with electric wheelchairs and you’ll get the idea.

Much of the charm of “Going in Style” comes from watching Caine, Freeman and Arkin glide—OK, it’s more like shuffle—through this material. There’s nothing particularly new here, we’ve seen loads of elderly men take back their lives on film in recent years, but subtext and actor goodwill elevate this slight story.

Caine, Freeman and Arkin are formidable actors but expertly portray the invisibility that can come with old age. As eighty-somethings they are unseen—banks take advantage of them, the police ignore them—until they take their future into their own hands. The story is implausible but by the time the heist happens you want the best for these grandpas, no matter how silly the story gets.

“Going in Style” is part knockabout comedy, part rage against the machine. Director Zach Braff adds in just enough sentimentality and slapstick to frame the film’s message of “having a pie of pie whenever the hell I want to!”

SONG TO SONG: 1 STAR. “the Malick movie that put me off Malick movies.”

I think it’s time Terrence Malick and I called it quits.

I used to look forward to his infrequent visits. Sure, sometimes he was a little obtuse and over stayed his welcome, but more often than not he was alluringly enigmatic. Then he started coming around more often and, well, maybe the old saying about familiarity breeding contempt is true.

For most of his career he was a tease, a mythic J.D. Salinger type who burst on the scene in a blinding flash of brilliance, made two of the best films of the 1970s, then left us hanging. Like spurned lovers we waited for him to return for two decades and at first were happy to see him again. He told wondrous stories about personal connections and the nature of relationships.

Then he started repeating himself. In the beginning I didn’t mind but soon his whispered philosophical asides became tiresome and I began to look for reasons to avoid him.

Now I have one.

It’s been said that the essence of cinema is beautiful people saying interesting things. In his new film Malick gets it half right, parading good-looking heart throbs like Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara, Michael Fassbender and Natalie Portman around in a pointless exercise called “Song to Song.”

Fassbender plays a Machiavellian a record producer who uses his wealth and power to seduce those around him, including aspiring musician Mara, rising star Gosling and waitress-turned-wife Portman. The willowy women and mumbling men run barefoot through the loose story—which often feels cobbled together from scraps of film found on the editing room floor—pondering philosophical questions in hushed tones. “How do you know when you were lying to yourself?” they whisper. “Is any experience is better than no experience?” All the while Malick’s camera, light as a feather, floats above it all capturing his puzzling whims. For the entire running time nobody looks like they’re having any fun even when they’re dancing, being goofy or laughing. They’re not having any fun and neither will you.

Airy and disjointed, it’s a collage of feelings and shards of life strung together on a fractured timeline. Malick indulges himself to the point that the film is less a movie and more like an experience, like going to “Laser Floyd.”

There are highlights. Val Kilmer singing to a festival crowd, “I got some uranium! I bought it off my mom!” before hacking off his hair with a giant Bowie knife is a memorable moment and cameos from Patti Smith and John Lydon are welcome, but at its heart “Song to Song” is a movie about people trying to connect that keeps its audience at arms length.

There’s a quick shot of a tattoo in the movie that sums up my feelings toward my relationship with Malick. Written in flowery script, the words “Empty Promises” fill the screen, reminding us of the promise of the director’s early work and amplifying the disappointment we feel today. “Song to Song” is the straw that broke the camel’s back, the Terrence Malick movie that put me off Terrence Malick movies.

I’ll be nice though and say, it’s not him, it’s me.

CHIPS: 2 STARS. “kinda-sorta action comedy that revels in its rudeness.”

From 1977 to 1983 California Highway Patrol officers Jon Baker and “Ponch” Poncherello kept the highways and byways of Los Angeles safe with a mix of motorcycles, Brut cologne and wholesome machismo. “CHiPS” was a big TV hit and is now a big screen movie starring Michael Peña and Dax Shepard as unorthodox motorcycles cops. The Brut and the wholesomeness are gone in this raunchy update but the motorcycles and machismo survived.

Shepard, who also wrote and directed, stars as Jon Baker, a free spirited ex-motorcycle daredevil. His marriage is on the rocks, but he hopes if he becomes a police officer his wife will fall back in love with him.

Baker is teamed up with a seasoned FBI agent working undercover as Frank ‘Ponch’ Poncherello (Peña). Seems the feds needed two outsiders to infiltrate the California Highway Patrol and bust some dirty cops who robbed 12 million dollars in a daring daylight robbery.

The unlikely duo don’t hit it off right away, but Baker’s skills on the hog and Ponch’s experience make them an effective, if untraditional team. Cue the chase scenes and sex jokes.

In Shepard’s hands “CHIPS” is a mix of motorcycles and masturbation, homophobic jokes and gratuitous nudity. It’s hard to know exactly how to categorize “CHIPS.” It is a remake of a TV show although Erik Estrada, star of the original series and who also appears in the film, took to twitter to blast the remake as “demeaning” to long time “CHiPS” fans.

It could also be filed under the comedy category although I’d suggest the action sequences are more successful than the attempts at humour.

To recap: It’s a remake, a comedy and an action film and yet it doesn’t quite measure up to any of those descriptors. It’s a remake in the sense that Shepard has lifted the title, character names and general situation but they are simply pegs to hang his crude jokes on.

It’s a comedy—there is a paparazzi joke that made me laugh hard—but it’s a lowest common denominator comedy. I like a poop joke as much as anyone, but there have to be peaks and valleys. Shepard aims low, then goes lower. If you like a certain amount of shame with your cheap laughs then “CHIPS” is for you.

When the movie isn’t commenting on Ponch’s bathroom habits it is laying rubber. The crime story isn’t terribly complicated or interesting but the guys tear up the pavement with a handful of pretty good chase scenes. They are frenetic and it’s not always possible to tell exactly who is who, but the scenes add some zip to the story.

“CHIPS” is not your father’s “CHiPS.” It’s a kinda-sorta action comedy that revels in its rudeness at the expense of paying tribute to the source material.

NEWSTALK 1010: INFO ON THE RICHARD CROUSE SHOW FOR MAR 11, 2017!

Check out the Richard Crouse Show on NewsTalk 1010 for March 11, 2017! This week Richard welcomes Dave Alexander on the launch of “Untold Horror” and “Macbeth” stars Ian Lake and Krystin Pellerin, to discuss whether or not you can teach someone to be funny and more!

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 6 to 7 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.