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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.

4Score

Movie review: Going Clear — Scientology and the Prison of Belief

Alex Gibney's latest non-fiction film proves perfectly creepy as it strips L. Ron Hubbard's cupboard bare, and shows us Tom Cruise as marionette mascot
3.5Score

Movie review: Far from the Madding Crowd

Carey Mulligan and Danish director Thomas Vinterberg combine forces to bring the perfect practical touch to Thomas Hardy's pastoral classic, writes Katherine Monk

New on DVD Blu-ray and VOD this week: Fifty Shades, Mr. Turner, Selma and more

Dakota Johnson body-paints Fifty Shades of meh, Mr. Turner finds brilliance with Mike Leigh's detailed strokes, Anna Kendrick's Last Five Years feels like eternity and David Oyelowo leads slow march to selfhood. Fifty Shades of Grey (2015) Two stars out of five. Starring Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Jennifer Ehle, Marcia Gay Harden, Callum Keith Rennie. Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson. Running time: 125 minutes. MPAA Rating: Restricted It’s bad – and not in that sexy, forbidden, taboo-breaking good way. This adaptation of E.L. James’s inexplicable bestseller features some of the most self-conscious sex scenes since Eyes Wide Shut, only without the rubbernecking thrill of seeing Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman in boudoir mode. Dakota Johnson plays Anastasia Steele, a college student who interviews a secretive billionaire in his soaring office tower in the first scene, only to end up on her back, front and side by the climax. It’s all endlessly kitschy and impossibly ...
4Score

Movie review: Brett Morgen’s Montage of Heck

  The beautiful, broken life of the late Nirvana frontman is transformed into a creative examination of the artistic impulse and the soul-crushing force of fame in the new documentary, Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck    
4Score

Canadian Must-Sees: Roadkill

No. 1 Canadian Must-See: Bruce McDonald and Don McKellar made Canadian history with this subversive story that pays vague homage to Margaret Atwood's Lady Oracle, Hinterland Who's Who and the Canadian Shield ROADKILL, also known as MOVE OR DIE (1989)   4/5 Directed by Bruce McDonald Starring Valerie Buhagiar, Gerry Quigley, Larry Hudson, Bruce McDonald, Don McKellar, Shaun Bowring, Joey Ramone. Running time: 80 minutes. MPAA Rating: PG-13 Shot in grainy black and white, this satirical look at all things Canadian opens with a spoof of the Canadian wildlife service’s ubiquitous Hinterland Who’s Who film reels that featured 60-second vignettes on different animal species -- and a very melancholy flute line. The first thing we see is the furry face of a “northern cotton-tailed rabbit” twitching his cute little bunny nose, followed by the ominous sound of screeching tires and a honkin’ huge internal combustion engine. Valerie Bughiar stars as Ramona, a lowly ...
2Score

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 ...