What to Watch
 

December 2, 2021

 

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What's new in theatres
 
Review: Gringo proves Hollywood is apparently paying anyone to write a script these days
Review: Gringo proves Hollywood is apparently paying anyone to write a script these days
 

Barry Hertz

Gringo is a movie designed to inspire. Not in the typical way – there is no rousing story of hope and there are no characters who overcome unbeatable odds. Rather, Gringo serves as a remarkable inspiration to struggling writers everywhere, because no matter how bad you think that script you've shoved inside your office desk might be, there is the very real chance it could one day become a feature-length film. If someone somehow convinced somebody somewhere to turn the screenplay for Gringo into a real-life motion picture with real-deal actors, then, hell, it could happen to anyone.
 
It is difficult to begin with just where Anthony Tambakis and Matthew Stone's Gringo script goes south, because it is so ill-conceived from the get-go. There are ostensibly two stories fighting for screen time here, neither of them halfway compelling – and I fear in an effort to remedy that, Tambakis and Stone deliberately tried to make one narrative weaker so that the other would triumph. Instead, both sides flatline.
 
 
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Review: Never Steady, Never Still is a work of confidence and quiet observation
Review: Never Steady, Never Still is a work of confidence and quiet observation
 

Barry Hertz

As it enters this year's Canadian Screen Awards with eight nominations – tying it with Ava and Hochelaga, Land of Souls – the new drama Never Steady, Never Still arrives in theatres this weekend with something resembling high expectations.
 
Which is an odd thing to write about Kathleen Hepburn's debut feature, a work of confidence, certainly, but mostly quiet observation. Audiences expecting some sort of typically loud and "Very Important" award bait might be thrown off, for instance, by Hepburn's insistence on chronicling her story, following a mother named Judy (Shirley Henderson) dealing with early-onset Parkinson's disease, in exceedingly hushed tones.
 
 
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Review: Eli Roth’s Death Wish will make you wish you were dead, too
 

Takashi Seida / Metro-Goldwyn-Ma

Review: Eli Roth’s Death Wish will make you wish you were dead, too
 

Barry Hertz

Eli Roth's Death Wish poses two improbable prospects in this, the cursed year of 2018. Namely, what are the chances that modern audiences are clamouring not only for a remake of a ludicrously pro-vigilante series that stretched on for five films and strained all manner of credibility and good taste – but also a new film starring Bruce Willis, age 62, yet acting with all the vim and vigour of man three decades his senior?
 
Head scratchers, both. Yet somehow, Roth and his Death Wish co-conspirators convinced MGM to fund one of the most ill-timed, ill-conceived, ill-executed, and just plain ill – as in sick, diseased, rotten – films to grace the big screen in recent memory. And Daddy's Home 2 opened only four short months ago.
 
 
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Now on television
 
Doyle: Canadian Screen Awards: A nice but hopeless, unfunny event
 

Chris Young

Doyle: Canadian Screen Awards: A nice but hopeless, unfunny event
 

John Doyle

 
Television critic
You know what's nice? I'll tell you what's nice: The Canadian Screen Awards. That's what's nice. Very nice, very smug and boring, long-winded and hopeless.
 
At the tail end of an awards season that was fraught with meaning thanks to the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, along came the local Canadian awards show honouring the best in film and television. So it's not like there aren't awards shows already, ones that can stand as examples of how these things should be done. It's not like the genre was invented the other day and Canada is just quickly trying to catch up.
 
No, it's just a matter of doing it badly. A matter of being unfunny, insipid and hopelessly earnest and amateurish because, based on what CBC aired live on Sunday night, that's the best we can do.
 
 
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Maudie wins big at the Canadian Screen Awards
 

Peter Power

  Maudie wins big at the Canadian Screen Awards
 

Victoria Ahearn

 
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What to stream
 
Barack Obama on Netflix? That’s the Netflix bloat, right there
 

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/The Associated Press

Barack Obama on Netflix? That’s the Netflix bloat, right there
 

John Doyle

 
Television critic
Two things happened on Friday in the eternally loopy world of TV, specifically Netflix-related.
 
First, there was a news report that Barack and Michelle Obama are in advanced talks to provide or guide content for Netflix. Second, shares of Netflix hit an all-time high on the New York Stock Exchange. According to Barron's, "Netflix's stock climbed 3 per cent in mid-morning trading, to [US]$326.61. For the year, they're up nearly 69 per cent."
 
That's the point – to make Netflix look massive and invulnerable. The streaming service has worldwide subscriptions of 118 million and growing, and plans to spend US$12-billion on content this year. That kind of heft gets you a former U.S. president.
 
 
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Review: Jennifer Lawrence manipulates and dominates in Red Sparrow
 

Murray Close

Review: Jennifer Lawrence manipulates and dominates in Red Sparrow
 

Brad Wheeler

In the barely satisfactory spy thriller Red Sparrow, Jennifer Lawrence is a Bolshoi star with a broken leg, her ballet career rudely cut short by a treacherous grand jeté. The onstage "accident" results in a new career for Dominika Egorova, a dancer turned sexpot spy, trained in the art of cutthroat seduction in service of the state.
 
The film is based on an espionage novel of the same name by Jason Matthews, a former CIA operative who could probably kill a man with nothing but a paper clip and a well-worn John le Carré novel. What we have with this film, then, is something akin to La Femme Nikita Who Came in from the Cold.
 
 
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Review: A Wrinkle in Time adaptation adds CGI tricks, but not meaning
Review: A Wrinkle in Time adaptation adds CGI tricks, but not meaning
 

Kate Taylor

Increasingly sophisticated CGI has opened a treasure trove of children's literature to the movie industry in recent years, treating young audiences to high-quality, live-action adaptations of everything from Michael Bond's Paddington series to Roald Dahl's The BFG.
 
It's not hard to see why a Disney executive reading A Wrinkle in Time might figure it should be next on the list: Madeleine L'Engle's classic sci-fi fantasy tells the story of a 13-year-old girl who trips through the galaxy, stopping at various exotic planets in search of her scientist father. Images of infinite vistas, dissolving landscapes and flowery beings beckon, plus the protagonist is guided by a trio of powerful female forces and rescues her father herself: the story has got some contemporary social appeal.
 
 
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ICYMI
 
TIFF can learn a few things from the annual Berlinale film festival
 

STEFANIE LOOS

TIFF can learn a few things from the annual Berlinale film festival
 

JOHN SEMLEY

 
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ASTROLOGY
 
Your daily horoscope: December 2
Your daily horoscope: December 2
 
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For subscribers
 
Budget travel: How to get away for cheap
 
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Portugal River Cruise
 
Experience Portugal’s unique landscapes, cuisine and history on this custom-built 11-day tour that begins in the vibrant capital of Lisbon and continues to the beautiful city of Porto where we embark on a Cruise through the spectacular Douro River Valley. All the while, Globe journalists will be there to narrate the very best the region has to offer, from UNESCO World Heritage sites to famed Port houses to the spectacular landscapes.
 
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