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 devil doll flick “Annabelle: Creation,” the Jeremy Renner thriller “Wind River” and Brie Larson in “The Glass Castle.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the big weekend movies including the devil doll flick “Annabelle: Creation,” the Jeremy Renner thriller “Wind River” and Jenny Slate’s dramedy “Landline.”
Jeannette Walls’s childhood was the stuff of movies. Raised by free-spirited parents, she and her siblings were nomads, shunted around the country chasing the dream of an uncompromised life. “Daddy says where we are,” young Jeannette (Chandler Head) says, “is where home is.”
When we first see Jeannette (played as an adult by Brie Larson) it’s 1989. She is a successful gossip columnist for New York Magazine, engaged to David (Max Greenfield) an up-and-coming investment banker. Her cab ride home from a fancy dinner is interrupted by two homeless people who disrupt traffic as they garbage pick from a dumpster. Upset, she ignores them as the cab drives through the intersection.
Turns out the two are her parents, Rex (Woody Harrelson) and Rose Mary (Naomi Watts). The two are happily squatting in an abandoned building, continuing a lifelong tradition of living off the grid. He schools them by experience. “You learn from living,” he says. “Everything else is a damn lie.”
Rex is short tempered, an often drunk dreamer always looking for a place to start over. Rose Mary is an artist who redefines free-spirited. Together they raised their kids in an uncompromising manner. On the road constantly they hopscotch around the country at Rex’s whim, kept going by his promise of building them a gleaming new home, their very own Glass Castle. “All this running around is temporary,” he says. “We just need the perfect location for our castle.”
Throughout good times and bad Jeannette has a special relationship with Rex but his drinking spins out of control she realizes the kids have to go their own way.
Shades of last year’s ode to antiestablishment living “Captain Fantastic” hang heavy over “The Glass Castle.” Both chronicle overbearing fathers and their pliable children but the new film feels different because it never entirely embraces the alternative lifestyle it portrays. Walls—whose memoir forms the basis of the movie—is ultimately sympathetic in her portrayal of the man who infuriated her as much as he raised her. It is a father and daughter story about overcoming a non-traditional upbringing while also realizing he made her the person she is today.
It’s Jeannette’s life but it is Harrelson who steals the show. Is he the most versatile actor working today? He’s a journeyman who jumps from franchises to character dramas, from comedies to tragedies. As Rex he’s a volatile presence, loving one second, throwing a chair threw a window the next. Harrelson never plays him as a villain. Rather he explores the depths of the complex character, finding the kernels of humanity that allow us to look past his bluster.
By the time the end credits roll “The Glass Castle” feels stretched, as though director Destin Daniel Cretton doesn’t want the story to end. It’s a little too flashback-y in its last half hour, showing us things we already know, and a big epiphany moment—complete with swelling orchestra—feels forced. There are some heartfelt and emotional moments early on but as the story unfolds Creton allows it to melt into a puddle of unnecessary sentimentality.
Richard sits in on the CJAD Montreal morning show with guest host Ken Connors to discuss the weekend’s big movies including the creepy doll flick “Annabelle: Creation,” the Jeremy Renner thriller “Wind River” and the Jenny Slate dramedy “Landline.”
Richard and CP24 anchor Jamie Gutfreund have a look at the weekend’s new movies, “Alien: Covenant,” the return of one of the most fearsome alien species ever, the Xenomorph, the continuing adventures of Greg Heffley in “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul,” Liev Schreiber as the real-life Rocky in “Chuck” and the edgy rom com “The Lovers.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the big weekend movies, the Xenomorphic Alien: Covenant,” the whimptastic adventures of Greg Heffley in “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul,” Liev Schreiber as the real-life Rocky in “Chuck” and the edgy rom com “The Lovers.”
Chuck Wepner goes by many names. To some he is The Champ, a heavyweight boxer who once went fifteen rounds with Muhammad Ali. To others he is the Bayonne Bleeder, a fighter sometimes sidelined by his tendency to bleed out all over the ring. Still others call him the Real Rocky in reference to the rumour that his career inspired the Sylvester Stallone movie. He’s an American brawler played by Liev Schreiber in a new movie simply called “Chuck.”
Wepner became a local hero when he was tapped to take on boxing legend George Foreman. There was just one catch. Foreman had to beat Muhammad Ali first. The odds were in his favour but, in an upset, Foreman lost. That defeat should have put Wepner out of the running but the Ali fight was being positioned as a battle of the races and since he was the only white boxer on a long list of fighters qualified to take on the champ, he got the gig. The odds against him were 40-to-1 but the lure of a $100,000 payday was too great to resist. As expected he lost but the fact he shared the ring with Ali burnished his reputation, if not his bank account.
And thus the template of Wepner’s career was set. He’s an also ran, a man who can see the brass ring but never quite grab hold of it.
In the wake of the Ali fight Wepner’s life was turned topsy-turvy. He coulda been a contender but instead moonlighted as a liquor salesman. He was a star at night, hanging around clubs, cheating on his wife Phyllis (Elisabeth Moss) and developing a cocaine problem. His notoriety increased with the release of “Rocky,” the Stallone movie reportedly semi-based on Wepner’s life. A failed audition for “Rocky 2” forces the fighter further down the rabbit hole into a “Requiem for a Heavyweight-esque” life outside the ring.
“Chuck’s” story is little known but feels familiar. The “Rocky” twist and Ali fight add some nice colour to the tale, but this is, essentially, another retelling of an arrogant also ran boxer whose life outside the ring spiralled out of control. In Schreiber’s hands it’s easy to see why people were drawn to Wepner. He’s charismatic and despite his myriad flaws, likeable.
Good supporting work also comes from Moss (in an underwritten role), Ron Perlman and Jim Gaffigan as Wepner’s manager and best friend respectively but the movie, directed by Philippe Falardeau, like it’s main character, feels workmanlike. It covers large sections of the man’s life when it feels like a concentrated version may have been more compelling.
Richard sits in on the CJAD Montreal morning show with Andrew Carter to discuss the weekend’s big releases, “Alien: Covenant,” the return of one of the most fearsome alien species ever, the Xenomorph, the continuing adventures of Greg Heffley in “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul,” Liev Schreiber as the real-life Rocky in “Chuck” and the edgy rom com “The Lovers.”