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THE DEATH OF STALIN: 3 ½ STARS. “both frightening and funny at the same time.”

The Daily Telegraph calls writer/director Armando Iannucci “the hardman of political satire.” As the creator of sardonic films and TV shows like “In the Loop” and “Veep” he’s a vitally caustic comic presence.

As the film begins it’s 1953 and Joseph Stalin (Adrian McLoughlin), the second leader of the Soviet Union, is alive and well. Under his watch death squads are rounding up his enemies, executions are common and the mere mention of his name strikes fear into the hearts of the people. The Central Committee, surround him. There’s the scheming Nikita Khrushchev (Steve Buscemi), the pompous Georgy Malenkov (Jeffrey Tambor), Old Bolshevik Vyacheslav Molotov (Michael Palin) and secret police chief Lavrentiy Beria (Simon Russell Beale). When he suffers a stroke everything changes as his inner circle engage in a power struggle that will determine not only their futures but also the future of the Soviet Union.

The idea of chaos in the halls of power, though set sixty-five years in the past, feels almost ripped from the headlines. With jet black humour “The Death of Stalin” supercharges the farcical elements of a very dark time in history. With the cast using their natural accents—no one here tries to sound Russian—it feels surreal, like Monty Python gone amok. There’s doublespeak, jealousy and sight gags galore as this band of yes-men bumble around in an attempt to seize the Kremlin in the days following their leader’s passing.

Iannucci avoids the danger of trivializing the very real-life tragedy of the story—you hear gunshots off screen for much of the first half of the film—by not glorifying the villains. He takes a sharp knife to the reputations of Stalin, Khrushchev et al, portraying all of them as spoiled incompetents capable only of looking out for number one. In this historical context that approach works to show how absolute power corrupts absolutely.

“The Death of Stalin” is an audacious reimagining of history. Strong comic performances are highlighted in a film that is both frightening and funny at the same time.

Richard to host Lakeshorts International Short Film Festival!

Lakeshorts International Short Film Festival Returns to Toronto’s
Assembly Hall April 20 and 21
– Tickets on sale Friday, March 23 at 10 a.m. ET on www.lakeshorts.caToronto, ON (March 13, 2018) – Lakeshorts International Short Film Festival returns for its 8th edition this spring, bringing the world of remarkable independent shorts to Toronto’s Lake Shore. The Festival, produced by Fifth Ground Entertainment Inc. in association with Lakeshore Arts, will celebrate 16 short films that range from thought-provoking dramas to charismatic comedies at The Assembly Hall (1 Colonel Samuel Smith Park Drive) on Friday, April 20 and Saturday, April 21, 2018.

Running for two evenings, the Festival will showcase some of the best independent short films from right here at home and around the world, including Apart from Everything (Canada, 19 mins) starring Tatiana Maslany as a women trying to reintegrate back into society after a two year absence and a recent stint in rehab; Jessica Jessica (Canada, 13 mins), a film about two friends with the same name and the depressing and hilarious truth of how hard it is to be a woman who wants to settle down, but won’t settle; and Second Best (Australia, 20 mins), a dark comedy about identical twins and their unbreakable bond, no matter what might try and come between them.

For a full list of films, please visit

On Friday, April 20, the focus will be on works of established and emerging Canadian filmmakers at the Scotiabank Loved and Local evening hosted by renowned film critic Richard Crouse. The AGF Gala on Saturday, April 21 will showcase international and award-winning short films and will be hosted by acclaimed actor Rick Roberts (Saving Hope, Republic of Doyle, Rookie Blue). Blue carpet arrivals for Scotiabank Loved and Local and the AGF Gala will commence at 6:30 p.m. followed by a pre-performance reception. The screenings will begin at 7:45 p.m.

Lakeshorts International Short Film Festival is helmed by husband and wife duo, actress Michelle Nolden, a Canadian Screen Award winner best known for her work on Designated Survivor, Impulse, Saving Hope and The Time Traveller’s Wife; and Fifth Ground Entertainment Inc.’s Chris Szarka.

“What started as a small grassroots initiative, has quickly grown into an annual favourite,” said Nolden. “We are pleased to continue to bring a diverse slate of though-provoking independent short films to Toronto audiences who share our passion for cinema.”

Tickets for the Lakeshorts International Short Film Festival go on sale Friday, March 23 at 10:00 a.m. ET. Tickets for the Scotiabank Loved and Local evening are $45 and tickets to the AGF Gala and after-party are $65, both available for purchase online at

Lakeshorts International Short Film Festival is partnering with The Assembly Hall and the City of Toronto Arts and Culture to help support and develop local artists. The Festival acknowledges outstanding achievement for featured short films through awards donated by local sponsors Agency 71, Assembly Hall, Cinespace, City of Toronto, Post City Sound, Scotiabank, SteamWhistle and William F. White.

For more information and highlights from past editions of Lakeshorts, please visit or follow @LakeshortsFilm on Twitter.

About Lakeshore Arts
Celebrating 25 years serving South Etobicoke communities, Lakeshore Arts is a community arts organization that strives to build a more vibrant community through the integration of arts and culture into all aspects of life for those who live, work and visit the Lakeshore. A not for profit charity that believes that art transcends barriers and fosters the social and holistic well-being of a community. Their programming reflects the community they serve and strives to engage all peoples through multi-disciplinary, accessible and inclusive art experiences.


Richard and CP24 anchorGeorge Lagogianes have a look at the weekend’s new movies including the new Chris Hemsworth war flick “12 Horses,” Christian Bale’s period piece “Hostiles,”  Gerard Butler’s cop drama “Den of Thieves” and Jessica Rothe in “Forever My Girl.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

ICYMI Pop Life Panel Topic: Movements against sexual assault.

The Pop Life panel, actor Freya Ravensbergen, “The Social” co-host Cynthia Loyst and filmmakwer Barry Avrich, speak about sexual assault and the shift that is happening in Hollywood and beyond.

Watch the whole thing HERE!

Film critic and pop culture historian Richard Crouse shares a toast with celebrity guests and entertainment pundits every week on CTV News Channel’s all-new talk show POP LIFE.

Featuring in-depth discussion and debate on pop culture and modern life, POP LIFE features sit-down interviews with celebrities from across the entertainment world, including superstar jazz musician Diana Krall, legendary rock star Meatloaf, stand-up comedian and CNN host W. Kamau Bell, actor and best-selling author Chris Colfer, celebrity chef Jeremiah Tower, and many more.

Watch all new shows every Saturday at 8:30 pm on Saturday or 2:30 pm on Sunday on the CTV NessChannel! (channel 1501 on Bell Fibe, 62 on Rogers) AND on CTV midnight on Saturday nights. Also, check your listings for airings on Bravo and Gusto.

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A weekly feature from from! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at “Coco,” the festive flick “The Man Who Invented Christmas” and Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Watch the whole thing HERE!

CFRA IN OTTAWA: Another celebrity accused of sexual misconduct.

From I Heart radio: Louis C.K. is known as a popular comedian, but he is now the focus of sexual misconduct allegations. What is wrong in Hollywood, and will it ever be the same again? Movie critic and Hollywood know-it-all Richard Crouse goes Beyond The News.

Listen to the whole thing HERE!

LADY BIRD: 4 ½ STARS. “imbued with a refreshingly genuine point of view.”

On paper the teen angst of “Lady Bird”—teen heartbreak, mom issues and blossoming sexuality—sounds like something we’ve seen before. “Where’s Molly Ringwald?” you might ask. And yet, though this may be well-trod ground, writer-director Greta Gerwig’s semi-autobiographical look at her California upbringing hits the ground running. It feels fresh, simultaneously heartfelt and spirited.

(NOTE TO READER: This synopsis does not do the movie justice. Feel free to skip the next two paragraphs.)

Saoirse Ronan is Christine McPherson, a Catholic School teen who goes by the name Lady Bird. “Lady Bird. Is that your given name,” Father Leviatch (Stephen Henderson) asks. “It is,” she replies. “I gave it to myself.” She lives in Sacramento—“The Midwest of California.”—with mother Marion (Laurie Metcalf), unemployed father Larry (Tracy Letts) and two adopted siblings. She’s a theatre kid who, along with her best friend Julie (Beanie Feldstein), performs in plays, plan for their future college careers and develop crushes on cute classmates.

Lady Bird learns about life and love through dalliances with two boys; the sweet natured Danny (Lucas Hedges) and edgy rocker dude Kyle (Timothée Chalamet). The key relationship in her life, however, is her mother. The two are deeply connected yet cannot see eye-to-eye, especially when it comes to Lady Bird’s choice of university.

Gerwig’s skilful handling of the story of Lady Bird’s busy senior year works not just because it’s unvarnished and honest in its look at becoming an adult but also, in a large degree, to Ronan’s performance. I have long called her ‘Lil Meryl. She’s an actor of unusual depth, a young person (born in 1994) with an old soul. Lady Bird is almost crushed by the weight of uncertainty that greets her with every turn—will her parents divorce, will there be money for school, will Kyle be the boy of her dreams, will she ever make enough cash to repay her parents for her upbringing—but Ronan keeps her nimble, sidestepping teen ennui with a complicated mix of snappy one liners, hard earned wisdom and a well of emotion. It’s tremendous, Academy Award worthy work.

“Lady Bird” bangs familiar gongs but Gerwig and Ronan, with ample help from the supporting cast, help those notes resonate loudly and clearly. The material is tenderly observed on both sides of the camera, imbued with a refreshingly genuine point of view.