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Jay Stone and Katherine Monk movie reviews and profiles. Movies new to streaming / DVD.
Reviews of Canadian movies and filmmaker profiles by Katherine Monk and Jay Stone.

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 ...

TIFF diary: My day in Auditorium 12

Movies: #TIFF17 What's it like to spend the entire day in one cinema, watching whatever comes along? Jay Stone sets out to find out at the Toronto film festival By Jay Stone TORONTO — Today I decided to test the fates by spending the entire day in one movie theatre at the Toronto International Film Festival. Most of the press and industry screenings are held at the Scotiabank cinema on Richmond Street, and I chose Auditorium 12, for reasons that will become more obscure as we go on. The result was a kind of mini-film festival, with all the delights, disappointments — and meals of dry popcorn — that one associates with the glamorous life of the freelance film critic. This is what I saw: On Chesil Beach: The first film of the day in Auditorium 12 — which turns out to be the Imax theatre, so you get a nice big screen — is this adaptation of what is, frankly, a rather thin 2007 novella by the otherwise estimable Ian McEwan. It stars Saoirse Ronan (whose appearance in ...

TIFF17 Opens with an Overhead Smash

Movies: #TIFF17 Festival's opening movie, Borg/McEnroe captures, an epic battle at Wimbledon and the two contrasting personalities — the emotional American and the cool Swede — who fought it out By Jay Stone TORONTO — A magazine called Screen has a special edition at the Toronto film festival, and it runs capsule reviews of some of the movies showing that day. Wednesday’s edition included a review of Miracle, a Lithuania/Bulgaria/Poland co-production, in which “the owner of a struggling post-Soviet pig farm finds a surprising benefactor in a visiting American investor, whose ‘good’ intentions upend the gentle rhythms of small-town life.” And that’s the film festival for you: it might be a warm and wonderful comedy, or it could be what you might later describe as the best Lithuania/Bulgaria/Poland co-production of the month. You can’t tell without actually going to watch it, and who has time for that? As it happens, I was reading this while seated next to ...

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 ...