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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: 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 ...

@Home releases for April 21

Maps to the Stars navigates Tinseltown with Cronenberg's broken compass, Jennifer Aniston has her Cake, Marion Cotillard faces unemployment while Paul McCartney carries the weight of the week's DVD, Blu-Ray and VOD releases.   By Katherine Monk Maps to the Stars (2014) Three and a half stars out of five. Starring: Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, John Cusack, Sarah Gadon, Robert Pattinson, Evan Bird, Olivia Williams. Directed by: David Cronenberg. Running time: 111 minutes. Julianne Moore may have won the best actress Oscar for her performance as a woman suffering from Alzheimers in Still Alice, but she deserves a rodeo buckle for her turn as Havana Segrand, the grown daughter of Hollywood royalty and central figure in David Cronenberg’s latest freak show. Havana has been riding the bull of showbiz since she was just a kid, but now that she’s getting older, she’s getting thrown – which only makes her want to hang on tighter. It’s a desperate move, but ...

Movie review: Boychoir sings same old song

Dustin Hoffman's natural warmth brings random notes to Canadian director Francois Girard's textbook excerise, writes Jay Stone

True Story proves believably boring

Movie review: True Story Self-absorbed characters desperate for ego redemption keep audience at arm's length from new Jonah Hill-James Franco mystery, writes Katherine Monk        

Monkey Kingdom mimics Disney magic

Movie Review: Monkey Kingdom Spending time with a troop of macaques in new Disney Nature doc offers a hairy reflection of the human condition, made comedy by Tina Fey  

Michael Douglas talks Beyond the Reach

Veteran actor and producer Michael Douglas teams up with rising British star Jeremy Irvine in what feels like a live-action version of Road Runner, Beyond the Reach   By Katherine Monk TORONTO – It manifested instantly, a dust devil rising from the feet of Michael Douglas’s Italian loafers and swirling through Jeremy Irvine’s feathery mop of sandy blond hair: A howling acknowledgement of Hollywood’s discriminatory practices when it comes to weight and overall body image.   “A lot of actors are told they need to lose weight, or change their body. I was talking to Channing Tatum just recently and asked him why he was just drinking water, and he said it was because he had to go to the gym in two hours,” says Irvine, the young British actor who hit the radar in Steven Spielberg’s War Horse and now stars opposite Douglas in the new film, Beyond the Reach, currently playing in select theatres and available on-demand.   A cat-and-mouse thriller ...