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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.

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Kumiko: The flip side of Fargo with a Japanese accent

Director David Zellner and Rinko Kukuchi attempt to conjure Coen brothers' chemistry in the land of Marge

@Home releases for April 14

The Babadook raises goosebumps, Big Eyes surprises and Escobar blows eye candy but Woman In Black 2 proves dimmest DVD/VOD release of the week.   The Babadook (2014) Starring: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Daniel Henshall, Tim Purcell. Directed by: Jennifer Kent. Running time: 93 minutes. Four stars out of five One of the sharper arrows in the new quiver of shiver directors, Jennifer Kent makes an impressive debut with this perfectly phrased piece of psychological horror that pits a mother and son against a supernatural force. It begins with young Samuel (Noah Wiseman) suffering from night terrors. The kid is convinced there’s a monster under his bed, but every time his exhausted mother takes a peek under the mattress in the hopes of comforting him, she sees nothing. Yet, Samuel’s visions only grow worse, leaving poor Amelia (Essie Davis) emotionally frayed and completely sleep-deprived. Kent forces us to feel her exhaustion in every queasy close-up and every ...

PROFILE: Garth Drabinsky

GARTH DRABINSKY Born 1948, Toronto Few Canadians have simultaneously inspired as much awe, admiration, skepticism, sycophancy and disgust as Garth Drabinsky -- the high-flying entrepreneur behind the joystick of such dazzling, daredevil crashes as Cineplex and Livent. Love him or hate him, you have to hand it to the man for not only building an empire from the ground up, but doing it twice -- if not more (surely, the man will make another return to the limelight he loves so much) -- and flying the Maple Leaf in the face of star-spangled suits at every turn. On paper, Drabinsky created the two the largest entertainment companies this country has ever seen, only to lose them both to American interests. Determined to play the same game of self-creation cemented into American consciousness via Hollywood’s marketing of the “American Dream” -- to the point where he even took it upon himself to produce the American classic, E.L. Doctorow’s Ragtime, on Broadway-- Drabinsky ...

Ai WeiWei: the unapologetic revolutionary

Vancouver Biennale Ai WeiWei Film Retrospective Never Sorry, The Fake Case April 13,  20, 26, Rio Theatre, 6 p.m.     By Katherine Monk In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre and subsequent mass rallies in the name of free expression, it would seem the artist’s role in society has never been more at risk. Then again, none of us lived through The Spanish Inquisition. Or, for that matter, has any real recollection of the black suit soap opera called the House Un-American Activities Committee. Artists have a habit of winding up in the crosshairs of history because if they’re any good, they make us question the world we take for granted and see anew. “A revolution in form is a revolution in essences,” said Jose Marti, the Cuban poet, novelist and political activist immortalized in Guantanamera, a song made popular by famed protest singer Pete Seeger. Marti’s words apply just as readily to art as it does to politics, and society as a ...
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Al Pacino stands tall in Danny Collins

The old pro lets it rip in role of aging, casino-circuit rock star, writes Jay Stone
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Da Vinci’s Demons takes a classical approach to MacGyver

DA VINCI’S DEMONS: SEASON TWO (Starz/BBC TV Series, 2014) Starring: Tom Riley, Laura Haddock, Elliot Cowan, Gregg Chillin, Eros Vlahos Creator: David S. Goyer Three Stars out of Five Combining elements of The Young Indiana Jones, the Da Vinci Code and MacGyver, this series created by David S. Goyer has so many great ideas to work with, it has a hard time focusing on a single one. Not that it really matters all that much, because half the fun of watching this period series is testing your own knowledge of Leonoardo’s achievements. From flying machines to advances in medicine, Da Vinci was more than the famed painter of the Mona Lisa and this series delights in showcasing the genius’s creative legacy. Best of all, it does so using standard TV tropes. In other words, we end up watching Da Vinci (Tom Riley) face one dilemma after another as the warring Pazzi and Medici families jockey for power and status behind the back of the Catholic Church. Fortunately, he’s a ...

PROFILE: ROBERT LANTOS

ROBERT LANTOS Born 1949, Hungary   It is interesting to note that throughout Garth Drabinsky’s rein as the leading Canadian entertainment figure in the Trump-ed up days of the early ‘80s, there is only one footnote to Robert Lantos -- the man who co-founded and nurtured the largest production and distribution in the history of Canada. The footnote appeared in April, 1988, when it was announced that Cineplex, already in deep financial straits, had signed a deal with Alliance that was supposed to give Alliance the much-needed production cash while giving Cineplex a product pipeline to fill its screens. No one paid too much attention to the deal save a few producers who predictably sounded the doomsday alarm about consolidation of the independent scene, and worried that the independents would no longer be “independent” if publically-traded companies like Cineplex continued to dominate the fragile market. For all the huffing and puffing, no one’s house ...
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Getting all for KIimt: Woman in Gold

Movie Review: Woman in Gold Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds bring emotional purity to paint-by-numbers script      
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On Any Sunday: The Next Chapter

Sequel to the classic 1971 documentary takes another lap around oval of motorbike love ON ANY SUNDAY: THE NEXT CHAPTER: (2014, documentary) Directed by Dana Brown. Featuring Bo Derek, Travis Pastrana, Jimmy N. Roberts, Ashley Fiolek, Dani Pedrosa, Art Haynie. Three stars out of five Picking up where his father Bruce left off in On Any Sunday, the original 1971 doc featuring Steve McQueen on motorbikes, filmmaker Dana Brown takes us around the world to meet a whole new generation of bike enthusiasts spinning their wheels – happily. From the dirt tracks of the American heartland to the rugged terrain of the Great White North, Brown brings us close enough to the action to smell the tailpipes. He also tries to develop the characters, and use the central passion as the uniting theme. It doesn’t always work because everyone feels a little stiff in front of the camera. They also have a habit of saying the same thing, because how many ways can you express the wind-blown feeling ...