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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.


Movie review: Age of Ultron drains power

Director Joss Whedon takes a big stick to the over-stuffed piñata of Marvel Comics' characters and successfully empties out all the candy, but leaves a landscape strewn with plastic wrappers and the promise of a pounding headache  

Sonja Bennett’s big trip to Preggoland

Interview: The Vancouver-based actress says she turned to writing to kickstart her acting career, but found a whole new passion for putting words on the page when she started to explore society's 'bizarre' worship of breeding   By Katherine Monk VANCOUVER – “I was turning into the actress cliché,” says BC actor Sonja Bennett, offering up a full confession of her life before Preggoland, the new movie from Jacob Tierney that she not only wrote, but also stars in alongside James Caan and Danny Trejo. “I could feel myself becoming very ungrounded. I was spinning and was feeling all these things that I never felt before – like jealousy towards my peers, and I thought: Oh god. I can’t be that person. Yet I am turning into that person.” Before she was overwhelmed by self-loathing, Bennett did something drastic: She stopped. Putting a halt to the career she’d spent the last decade building since her breakout performance in 2002’s Punch, written and directed ...

New to DVD Blu-ray and VOD this week: Paddington, The Gambler, Inherent Vice

Cuddle up with Paddington, puff and pass on Inherent Vice, make a bet on The Gambler and watch Alec Baldwin kick butt in Topsiders: @Home entertainment for the week of April 28 By Katherine Monk Paddington (2014) Three and a half stars out of five. Starring Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Waters and the voice of Ben Whishaw. Directed by Paul King. Running time: 95 minutes. Teddy bears are so much more than stuffies. They are personal mascots, true blue friends and a magical savings bank for childhood memories. Pick up your old bear and you’ll be swimming knee-deep in nostalgia, so if you happened to cuddle a bear in a duffle coat and a red hat back in the day, Paddington will prompt a welcome regression as it offers up the origin story of the little bear who lives in London. Taking us back to deepest, darkest Peru, we learn Paddington comes from a rare line of bears that can talk and befriend humans. Tragedy forces Paddington out of the family tree, and in a bid to ...

Rod Mickleburgh writes of Blythe spirit

Canadian actor Jonathan Crombie leaves a latent impression on the Canadian film landscape after playing the sweet-natured soul perpetually burned by the flinty Anne... of Green Gables By Rod Mickleburgh Social media reaction to the unexpected death this month of Canadian actor Jonathan Crombie, who so memorably played Gilbert Blythe in Anne of Green Gables, came almost entirely from the distaff side. Not too many guys were fans of the movie, I guess. Well, I’m a fan. A big one. Like many of my gender, it seems, I was originally pretty dismissive of the whole Anne of Green Gables thing. Who cares about the adventures of some spunky 11-year old orphan girl in turn-of-the-20th century Prince Edward Island? She hates her red hair. Boo hoo. Bring on Anna Karenina. But my mind was changed when I went to what I had hoped would be a party at a friend’s house, only to discover all the women heading into the TV room to watch Anne of Green Gables. Thinking they couldn’t ...

Brett Morgen on Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck

Interview: The outspoken director spent eight years sifting through a 'cold empty storage unit hidden from the world' to find relics of Cobain that 'were still breathing' By Katherine Monk PARK CITY, UTAH -- A homemade cassette featuring a cover of a Beatles love song, the story of how he lost his virginity, and countless hours of home video created with Courtney Love: For 20 years, these relics salvaged from the wreckage of Kurt Cobain’s life remained unseen, and unheard, until now. Compiled and delicately edited into a vibrantly creative portrait of the late artist by filmmaker Brett Morgen, these once-hidden fragments of a shattered soul make Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck more than just another documentary about another dead rock star. Sifting through the contents with the careful hand and brush of a paleontologist uncovering an unknown bone, Morgen’s film shows us a different version of the now-mythical figure who's been condensed into a souvenir of grunge, plaid and ...

Movie review: Black Robe

BLACK ROBE (1991)   Three and a half stars out of five. Directed by: Bruce Beresford. Starring Lothaire Bluteau, Tantoo Cardinal, Aden Young, Sandrine Holt, August Schellenberg, Billy Two Rivers. Running time: 100 minutes Set against the backdrop of an as yet uncolonized Canada, Black Robe tells the story of the first Jesuit missionaries to set foot in the New World with hopes of converting the Aboriginal peoples to Christianity. Lothaire Bluteau (Daniel in Jesus of Montreal) reprises his role of the saintly martyr as he plays Father Laforgue, a man of God who fears nothing -- even when he should. Believing he is on a mission from the Almighty Himself, Laforgue heads up-river with his Algonquin guide in search of his proselytizing brothers who have built a mission in the midst of this vast, empty landscape. Realizing too late that he was leading his Algonquin friends into hostile territory, Laforgue is forced to watch as the Iroquois close in with deadly consequences. ...

Ex Machina dangles a divine equation

Movie review: Ex Machina Writer Alex Garland makes an impressive directing debut retooling Greek tragedy with silicon parts, writes Katherine Monk    

PROFILE: Bruce McDonald

BRUCE McDONALD Born May 28, 1959, Kingston, Ont.   He’s made a lot of movies, but Bruce McDonald will go down in history as the man who announced he would buy “the biggest chunk of hash” he could find after winning the $25,000 prize for best Canadian feature at the 1989 Toronto International Film Festival (then called Festival of Festivals).  “What can I say,” says McDonald. “I’ve never been all that interested in doing what’s expected of me.” A true Canadian maverick, McDonald’s career started in documentary and gradually shifted into narrative features after a solid stint as an editor on such films as Atom Egoyan’s Speaking Parts and Ron Mann’s Comic Book Confidential -- not to mention crewing on Norman Jewison’s nun story, Agnes of God. A proud Canadian, when McDonald originally set to work on his first road movie, Roadkill, he wanted to make sure it was a Canadian take on the romantic genre and made sure his characters pointed north -- ...

Movie review: Monsoon gently sweeps viewer away

Canadian director Sturla Gunnarsson's new documentary finds a comfortable, first-person approach to examining the dynamic between humans and the forces we can't control  

PROFILE: Gary Burns

GARY BURNS Born 1960, Calgary, Alberta   A former construction worker who turned to filmmaking at the age of 30, Burns remains something of a lone wolf on the Alberta landscape howling at the moon. A guy who generally works alone and steers clear of the “film scene,” Burns makes movies that appeal to his own personal brand of darkly comic wackiness. ``I don't really know what's going on in Alberta from a film standpoint. I'm not a part of it. I'm not really part of anything. I don't crew. I don't work in the industry. My friends have nothing to do with the film business. I don't even go to see movies. I'm guess I'm just another alienated Canadian filmmaker,'' says the man who used to sandblast oil-rig equipment. A graduate of the University of Calgary’s drama program, Burns decided to enroll in the film program at Concordia University in Montreal in the hopes of turning his passion for storytelling into a career. After graduating from Concordia in 1992, he ...