Katherine Monk 163 results

Katherine Monk is a former movie critic with The Vancouver Sun and Postmedia News. She still watches a lot of movies… and writes stuff about them.

Mike White Updates Status Consciousness

Movies: TIFF17 The writer-director of Brad's Status is an indie darling, but he says he still wrestles with insecurity and ego issues because we live in a world of false comparisons By Katherine Monk TORONTO — “I think you have your epiphany, and then you forget about it,” says Mike White. “Then you remember it again. And you forget it again. It’s like you are inching toward wisdom. Or circling the drain.” White seems to be doing all of the above, all the time, because his mind seems to radiate ideas. He creates tangent lines mid-sentence, leaving orbit, only to fall back to earth, chained by the full force of gravity. It’s his ability to levitate and fall with giddy aplomb that makes his voice so unique and his characters so memorable, whether it’s Selma Hayek as massage therapist and healer in Beatriz at Dinner, Laura Dern as a recovering executive experimenting with faith in Enlightened, or the entirely childlike Chuck, from the indie landmark Chuck & ...

The Motive Moves in Mysterious Ways

Movies: TIFF17 Capsule Reviews Javier Gutierrez stars as a notary struggling to write the great novel without success until he starts eavesdropping on his neighbours in Manuel Martin Cuenca's darkly comic exploration of the writerly quest By Katherine Monk The writerly process is a running theme here at the Toronto International Film Festival. Darren Aronofsky’s mother! and Haifaa Al Mansour’s Mary Shellery may be the headliners, but hiding in the background is a little film called The Motive (El Autor), a Spanish film about a notary struggling to write the great novel. A dark comedy that has an ability to offer a string of surprises out of left field, The Motive stars Javier Gutierrez as Alvaro, the number cruncher with great expectations. He lives in a beautiful flat in Seville with his wife (Maria Leon) — a sexy and successful writer in her own right. Everyone loves her work, but Alvaro thinks she writes crowd-pleasing pap. He craves substance — writing with real ...

Time-travelling in Uptight Toronto

Movies - TIFF17 Katherine Monk goes back to the future and catches up with the past in a day that includes a haunted Jim Carrey, a brush with the Khmer Rouge, a chilling take on the Chinese stock market and a moving visit to a psychiatric ward in Bille August's 55 Steps By Katherine Monk TORONTO (September 12, 2017) — Today, I was a time-traveller. I started in the mid-1980s in San Francisco, fast-forwarded to 1990 to pay a visit to the Man in the Moon, spent some time dodging the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia circa 1975, then took a break at the modern-day New York Public Library before entering 19th century London to hang out with Mary Shelley and Lord Byron. By nightfall, I was entering a very uncertain future as I headed to China and realized the entire global economy was a house of cards about to be undone by a game of three-card monty using Mah Jong tiles. It can all be a little overwhelming. Fortunately, I took notes: 8:45 am: I prepare myself for 55 Steps by ...

Battle of the Sexes Rages On

Movies: TIFF17 Stories about strong women continue to struggle for popular approval while movies about middle-aged men absorbed in their own search for success are celebrated for brave storytelling By Katherine Monk TORONTO (September 11, 2017) — Battle of the Sexes is the title of one of the bigger buzz movies at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, but four days into this exhaustive and exhausting celebration of cinema, it may as well be a central theme. On one side, the festival is showcasing films featuring strong women with the courage to pursue their dreams. On the other, it’s awash in the insecurities of middle-aged men terrified by the prospect of being forgotten. Or, worse yet, being altogether average. Maybe it was just the course of my day that kicked off with the press and industry screening for Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton’s take on the famous 1973 tennis match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King. I thoroughly enjoyed their period ...
2.5Score

Mother! Rips TIFF Audiences Apart with Creative Labour Pains

Movies: TIFF17 Darren Aronofsky's latest is a dark swan dive to the depths of the artistic process that could be read as brilliant biblical allegory or a self-absorbed bid at vindicating failure By Katherine Monk TORONTO (September 10, 2017) - Oh, mother! The creative process can be a real bitch. Just ask Darren Aronofsky. The director of the Oscar-winning Black Swan returned to the Toronto International Film Festival with his latest film, mother! And already, it’s dividing audience opinion. A laborious metaphor about the act of making art, the film stars Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem as a handsome couple renovating an old farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. He’s a successful writer struggling with a blank page. She is the young muse, fixing and mending broken walls, looking to restore the house to its former glory after a fire burned it to the ground. The only thing left is a diamond-like stone with a mysterious glow that he carefully places on a ...

The Square and Loveless Share Responsibility for Eye-Opening Day

Movies: #TIFF17 Ruben Östlund's Palme D'Or winning satire of the art world and Andrey Zvyagintsev’s peek into a Loveless Russia address issues of social responsibility in our generic age of self-absorption By Katherine Monk TORONTO — One man was lying face down on a street grate to keep warm. He wore no shoes. His feet were blistered and gangrenous black. He was eating what appeared to be a discarded salad with his hands, dirty, swollen, cracked. I walked by him, and about a dozen other bodies wrapped in soiled sleeping bags, on my way to festival headquarters on King Street where the freshly laid red carpet curls out its tongue, anticipating the glitterati. As a Vancouverite, walking past homeless people is routine. Turning a deaf ear to the person with the glazed eyes and a feeble hand stretched into the moving stream of sidewalk treading humanity is such a regular exercise, it doesn’t even register. It’s considered part of the urban experience. Yet, on day one ...
3.5Score

Patti Cake$ takes Rocky Road to Success

Movie Review: Patti Cake$ Geremy Jasper cooks up Hollywood's sweetest formula in his debut feature about a young woman from New Jersey who craves to make it big in the rap game
2.5Score

Only Living Boy in New York Only Halfway There

Movie Review: The Only Living Boy in New York Marc Webb returns to the world of oddball romance in an underwhelming Woody Allen wannabe that features a dependable A-list cast including Jeff Bridges, Pierce Brosnan, Cynthia Nixon and Kate Beckinsale
3.5Score

Good Time… Or Is It?

Movie Review: Good Time Robert Pattinson doesn't need fangs to sink his teeth into the role of a perpetual loser trying to be his brother's keeper in Josh and Benny Safdie's gritty indie that keeps you guessing

Finding the Real Mensch in Menashe

Movies: Interview with Joshua Z. Weinstein A documentary filmmaker explores the closed world of New York's Hasidic community in his first narrative feature shot entirely in Yiddish with amateur actors and a leading man who'd never set foot in a cinema By Katherine Monk There are approximately 330,000 Hasidic and Ultra-Orthodox Jews living in New York City, yet, the community remains largely closed and somewhat mysterious to outsiders. Filmmaker Joshua Z. Weinstein wanted to know more, so he focused his documentary skills on the world at his doorstep in the boroughs and neighbourhoods of his native New York City. The result is Menashe, a narrative feature shot entirely in Yiddish with an amateur cast of community members — some of whom had never set foot in a theatre until the film’s debut at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Weinstein says the experience was rich and memorable, but it’s not something he’ll do again — if only because as a director, he’d like ...