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The Ex-Press shares face-time with the movers, shakers and bakers of pop culture.

Wes Craven was horrified by horror crown

Wes Craven faced his lapsed Baptist fears and exorcised personal demons through his work, but the man with the graduate degree from Johns Hopkins said his biggest victory was overcoming his anxiety around "The Master of Horror" label By Katherine Monk Wes Craven is dead, but his characters will haunt us forever. The master of cinematic Screams and A Nightmare on Elm Street passed away of brain cancer August 30 at the age of 76, but he leaves more than a scar on our collective subconscious thanks to the razor-fingered Freddy Krueger. Like many horror auteurs, Craven’s work forced us to experience the world differently: To feel fear, and in turn, to feel more alive.   “My films are about waking up... and no matter what you do, don’t fall asleep. The idea is to be here now; to live in the moment, and to understand what’s happening between yourself and the other,” Craven once told me in an interview.   It was over the phone, done when George W. Bush ...

Patricia Clarkson takes the wheel

The veteran of stage and screen buckles up for a bumpy ride in Learning to Drive, a new film that puts the pedal to the metal of marriage breakdown with surprisingly comic results thanks to co-star Sir Ben Kingsley, and the gentle hand of director Isabel Coixet By Katherine Monk TORONTO – There’s something undeniably regal about Patricia Clarkson, even when she’s vomiting into a toilet and playing an entirely unlaced woman of letters. It’s an underlying strength that inhabits every bone in her sinewy body, and you can feel it in her relaxed presence.   She’s a woman who is comfortable in her own skin, and it shines through every freckle.   “I was fed perseverance as a child,” she says. “I have a very strong mother, and strong parents who were loving and gave me the confidence and ability to survive.”   Clarkson says she had to rely on that deep well of self-possession when she started Learning to Drive. A new film directed by ...

Blowing up millennial angst in Fort Tilden

Bridey Elliott and Clare McNulty play two young women from Williamsburg who detonate hidden comedy land mines tripping on millennial terrain in the new movie Fort Tilden, the prize-winning feature debut from director-writers Sarah-Violent Bliss and Charles Rogers By Katherine Monk It’s a road movie in rompers, a coming-of-age story without a defining moment of arrival, and a prize-winning festival film that speaks to an entire generation of young people born at the turn of the millennium.   That said, you can understand why Fort Tilden was labeled a ‘movie about millennials’ since its world premiere at the 2015 South by Southwest festival in Austin, where it picked up the grand jury prize for best narrative feature.   A comic adventure featuring two privileged 20-somethings searching for purpose as they make an ill-fated foray toward the beach, Fort Tilden stars Bridey Elliott and Clare McNulty as Harper and Allie – best friends, roommates and ...

Rod Mickleburgh is Still mourning

Tribute: Larry Still, Journalist Larry Still, the late Vancouver Sun courts reporter and the author behind the Limits of Sanity possessed old-school skills, a sharp wit and reliable shorthand that allowed him to write long about the law By Rod Mickleburgh We’ve lost another of those legendary reporters from what, in retrospect, was a golden age of journalism at the Vancouver Sun. You know, the days when newspapers told you everything you needed to know about your community, your country and the world at large, and more. For 30 years at the Sun, Larry Still was perhaps the best court reporter in the land, undoubtedly the best in B.C. by a country mile. His immaculately-worded coverage of Vancouver’s many long, gripping, often grisly, trials in the last three decades of the twentieth century stand as a tribute to the craft – clear, concise, comprehensive and oh, so readable. As dramatic testimony and give-and-take from the city’s best lawyers played out in the courtro...

Interview: Juliette Binoche laughs off fear of aging

The Clouds of Sils Maria features the French siren in the role of an aging actress agonizing over her latest job: playing the role of the older woman, instead of the ingenue, in a revival of the play that made her famous. Binoche says she wasn't afraid to tackle a reflection of herself, but she did push director Olivier Assayas to face what she calls a "fear of actors... particularly women."   By Katherine Monk In an age of ubiquitous celebrity, Juliette Binoche is an old-fashioned movie star. It’s more than the Prada blouse that seems to flow over her curves with loving deference, and more than the elegantly honed features that allow her to look both pretty and strong simultaneously. The French actress who emerged in the wake of The English Patient has a presence that moves through a room like precious perfume, a tingle mingled with an essence. Binoche brings her intoxicating powers to every role she’s ever had, from Lasse Halstrom’s Chocolat to Michael ...

The Look of Silence: Joshua Oppenheimer reflects on deflection

In The Act of Killing, Joshua Oppenheimer offered the dramatic testimony of mass murderers as they re-enacted their crimes. In the forthcoming sequel, The Look of Silence, the Oscar-nominated filmmaker brings the perpetrators face to face with the brother of the man they killed. By Katherine Monk Joshua Oppenheimer is a precise filmmaker, which is difficult to accomplish at the best of times, but something practically unheard of in documentary. It’s the reason why the Texas-born filmmaker was nominated for an Oscar for his first feature, The Act of Killing, a blend of research and febrile nightmare that related the story of Indonesia’s communist purge in which one million people were murdered. The movie caused a stir in Indonesia as it showed men who are still in power boasting about their acts of killing, and Oppenheimer suspected it would probably make any repeat visits to Indonesia impossible. Yet, this month will see the release of a sequel to The Act of Killing ...

Director trades quick-draws for Slow West

First-time feature director John Maclean takes on western archetype and the core ideals of the American ethos in Slow West, his Sundance-winning feature starring Michael Fassbender and Kodi Smit-McPhee By Katherine Monk It's a genre marked by star-shaped badges and John Wayne’s lanky swagger, an optimistic ode to masculine heroes and horses. Yet, for all the fanatical affection lathered on westerns as a fundamental part of the American identity, historically speaking, most westerns are horse manure. It’s a point John Maclean isn’t all that eager to assert right off the top, given he’s a Scotsman and his debut feature, Slow West, takes the viewer straight back to the open prairie and the romantic vistas revealed in early John Ford movies. “Being Scottish, and tackling such a sacred American genre certainly crossed my mind the first time I watched it with an audience in the U.S.,” says Maclean, shortly after the film’s world premiere at the Sundance film festival, ...

Interview: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon found new life in death

The director of the Sundance standout Me and Earl and the Dying Girl says he made his first 'personal movie' and it changed him as a filmmaker, and as a man, writes Katherine Monk By Katherine Monk “When you suffer a deep loss, you can dive into it and hide – and I had suffered a deep loss,” says Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, the director of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, opening in theatres this weekend but already one of the most buzzed-about movies of the year thanks to its double-barreled win at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Gomez-Rejon says he needed to process the loss of his father, but he couldn’t do it head-on. He needed to get some distance, and he found it in the 2013 young adult novel written by Jesse Andrews dealing with two teens who befriend a classmate diagnosed with cancer. “I’d rather not talk about the personal side too much. But the film is dedicated to my father. It’s a private thing that I made public and I don’t regret it because we are ...

Interview: Lindsay Mackay takes rash action with Wet Bum

The first-time feature director from small town Ontario dives into the deep end with a coming-of-age story focused on a young woman with body image angst and her quest to stay under the surface without drowning By Katherine Monk From the time she was seven years old, Lindsay Mackay told her parents she wanted to be a doctor. A self-confessed “science and math nerd,” she excelled at solving equations and found comfort in the predictability of the ‘right answer’ being found in the back pages of an appendix. But something strange happened in Grade 11 – and though it didn’t directly involve a new bra size, a dramatic deflowering or mutant superhero ability – it did recalibrate her inner sense of destiny. “I had this great English teacher who taught me to believe in my own voice,” says Mackay, who just celebrated her 30th birthday. “Through her, I discovered storytelling, and it changed my life.” From a stubborn dedication to empirical problem solving, ...

Interview: Ethan Hawke and director Andrew Niccol zero in on Good Kill

Reunited for the first time since Gattaca, the actor and the filmmaker are raising questions -- and their fair share of hell -- with a new movie that takes the viewer inside the new theatre of war: climate-controlled trailers parked on U.S. soil By Katherine Monk TORONTO – As the Obama Administration faces mounting pressure to disclose the grisly details of drone strikes on civilians across the Middle East this week, a new movie threatens to blow the whole unmanned aerial vehicle program sky high. It’s called Good Kill, and unlike the handful of documentaries that have already taken the drone strategy to task for its arm’s length summary executions of suspected terrorists, it’s a dramatic film starring solid Hollywood stars Ethan Hawke, January Jones and Canada’s own Bruce Greenwood. Writer-director Andrew Niccol (Gattaca, S1mOne, Lord of War, The Host) says he wasn’t looking for controversy when he started researching the subject and speaking to former drone ...