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 “Paddington 2,” one of the most entertaining movies of the year, the train terror movie “The Commuter” and the family drama “Happy End.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at “Paddington 2, a movie Richard is already calling one of the best of the year, Liam Neeson’s long journey home in “The Commuter” and the ironically titled family drama “Happy Ending.”
The last time we saw Paddington, the cuddly, orphaned teddy bear voiced by Ben Whishaw, left Peru armed only with a “worrying marmalade problem” and his distinctive red hat. Arriving at Paddington Station in London he was adopted by the Brown family after an uncomfortably close scrap with a crazed taxidermist.
“Paddington 2” finds the bear settled in to a comfortable life with the Browns—Mary (Sally Hawkins), Henry (Hugh Bonneville) and kids Judy (Madeline Harris) and Jonathan (Samuel Joslin)—and trying to save money to buy his Aunt Lucy (voice of Imelda Staunton) an antique pop up book of London for her birthday. When the book is stolen from Samuel Gruber’s antique shop Paddington is accused of the crime, wrongfully convicted and jailed. While the bear languishes in prison the Browns attempt to prove Paddington’s innocence. “Paddington wouldn’t hesitate if any of us needed help,” says Henry. “He looks for the good in all of us.” One jailbreak later Paddington is also on the case, convinced he knows who took the book but can he solve the case before Aunt Lucy’s centenary celebration?
With his red hat and blue duffle coat Paddington is almost un-bear-ably cute. Gentle and good-natured, he’s at the very heart of the movie. Instead, it’s a good old-fashioned romp with larger-than-life characters supplied by Hugh Grant, in a fun pantomime performance and Brendan Gleeson as Knuckles McGinty, a hardened criminal whose bluster disguises his warm heart.
Mostly though, it about the bear. With soulful eyes, good manners and large doses of slapstick—he’s a furry little Charlie Chaplin, excelling in physical humour with lots of heart—he’s a joyful presence. Without an ounce of cynicism “Paddington 2” transmits messages of tolerance, friendship and loyalty but never at the expense of the story. Those characteristics are so central to Paddington’s character that the movie positively drips with not only the sticky sweet smell of delicious marmalade (the bear’s favourite snack) but emotional depth as well.
Add to that a delightful ode to Chaplin’s trip through a factory machine’s cogs in “Modern Times,” some expertly delivered belly laughs and you have one of the most entertaining films likely to be released this year.
“Paddington 2” isn’t just a kid’s flick, it’s a film for the whole family; it’s one of those rare movies for children it doesn’t just feel like an excuse to sell toys. #paddingtonpower
Richard sits in on the CJAD Montreal morning show with host Andrew Carter to talk about “Paddington 2, a movie Richard is already calling one of the best of the year, Liam Neeson’s long journey home in “The Commuter” and the ironically titled family drama “Happy Ending.”
Richard and CP24 anchor Travis Dhanraj talk about the weekend’s big releases, including Seth Rogen’s smarter-than-you-think “Sausage Party,” “Pete’s Dragon,” a new look at Disney’s most famous dragon and Meryl Streep as the world’s worst singer in “Florence Foster Jenkins.”
Richard and CJAD Montreal afternoon show host Barry Morgan talk about the weekend’s six big releases including Seth Rogen’s buffet of bawdiness, “Sausage Party,” “Pete’s Dragon,” a new look at Disney’s most famous dragon, Meryl Streep as the world’s worst singer in “Florence Foster Jenkins,” Bryan Cranston back in the underworld in “The Infiltrator,” “Anthropoid’s” World War II drama and Anna Gunn’s Wall Street thriller “Equity.”
Richard sits in with Marcia McMillan to have a look at the family friendly “Pete’s Dragon,” the un-family smörgåsbordof swears and smut that is “Sausage Party” and the marvellously off key “Florence Foster Jenkins. ”
According to a new biopic Florence Foster Jenkins left the world with these words on her lips, “People may say I couldn’t sing but no one can say I didn’t sing.” Meryl Streep plays the eccentric New York City songbird as a woman with a passion for music but an ear of tin.
The delightful story of a society hostess with a song in her heart but no ability to translate that into something tuneful, is twenty five minutes into its running time before Jenkins (Streep) lets loose with her atonal caterwauling. She’s a wealthy woman who has devoted herself to the musical life of her city. She’s a patron of the arts, giving money to legendary conductor Arturo Toscanini and others, a founder of clubs, a fixture of mid-twentieth century New York life.
When she attends a Lily Pons (Aida Garifullina) recital the fire to sing is ignited. “Can you imagine what that must feel like,” she says, “to hold 3000 people in the cup of your hand?” With the help of her husband St Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant) she hires pianist Cosme McMoon (Simon Helberg) and Maestro Carlo Edwards, assistant conductor at the Metropolitan Opera, to whip her into stage shape in exchange for handsome paydays. Trouble is her vocalizing sounds like two cats in heat fighting in an alleyway. So wrapped up in the music, she has no idea of the terrible sounds coming out of her mouth. “There is no one quite like you,” the Metropolitan maestro says delicately.
Her performances are both remarkable and delusional. “A few wrong notes can be forgiven,” says Bayfield, “but singing without passion cannot.” Her husband, who loves her but has a younger girlfriend (Rebecca Ferguson) living in his downtown apartment, carefully manages who comes to her vanity performances, ensuring the audiences is stacked with well wishers. When Florence books Carnegie Hall for a charity concert for US servicemen, Bayfield does everything he can to protect her from the “mockers and scoffers.” When tickets to the show sell out faster than for Sinatra—megastars Cole Porter and Tallulah Bankhead even show up—the show becomes Manhattan’s social event of the year but is it a display of vainglorious egotism or passion?
“Florence Foster Jenkins” is one of those true-to-life bios that seems to prove the cliché that fact is stranger than fiction. In real life Jenkins’s awful singing sold out concert halls and the records she made were the biggest sellers Melotone Recording Studios ever had and have become collector’s items. She is the center of the action, the reason we are here, and Streep plays her with gusto. Like Jenkins who won audiences over with her enthusiasm, Streep wins us over with her passion to present her character as a real person and not a caricature of a talentless hack unaware that she was being laughed at. Afflicted with syphilis contracted on her wedding night, she fought to stay alive for 50 years, taking each day as it comes, inspired by her love of music to go on. Streep, as usual, finds the real humanity of her character and brings that to life.
But for once, Streep is not the star of the show. In a movie filled to the brim with great performances from Streep, Nina Arianda as a Judy Holliday-type with a loud mouth and Ferguson as Bayfield’s second fiddle, it is Grant who shines the brightest.
His Bayfield is courtly but tough, a maître d’ for Jenkins’s life. He protects her from the harsh realities of life, making sure their “happy world” stays that way. It’s the kind of effortless performance that made him a star but it isn’t all surface charm and wit. Under his furrowed brow is a real love for Florence that extends beyond the perks of being married to one of the city’s richest women. He genuinely loves her and that comes across every time he glances in her direction. If it’s not a career best performance for Grant, it’s very close.
“Florence Foster Jenkins” is a story of devotion, passion and off key singing that, unlike its subject, hits all the right notes.