PROFILE: ATOM EGOYAN

ATOM EGOYAN Born, July 19, 1960 Cairo, Egypt.   Named in honour of the first nuclear reactor in Egypt, Atom Egoyan seemed fated to make a lasting impression. The first child born to Joseph and Shushan Yeghoyan, Armenian refugees living in Cairo, Atom, his sister and his parents moved to Canada in 1963 -- where they set down roots in the gardening capital of the Great White North: Victoria, B.C. In order to make the transition smoother, the Yeghoyans opted for a phonetic spelling of their family name and opened a furniture store -- despite their own creative bent. Both parents had once studied fine art, and Joseph even spent time at the Art Institute of Chicago as a young man. They were the only Armenian family in Victoria at the time, and for the young Atom, a first-generation immigrant trying to find a place in the verdant bosom of British colonialism, an outsider stance came as second nature. At first, like most kids whose parents have “accents,” Egoyan ...

PROFILE: LÉA POOL

LÉA POOL  Born 1950, Geneva, Switzerland.   From scrawling on blackboards in her native Switzerland to calling the shots on feature films in Canada, Léa Pool has travelled a great distance both physically and emotionally since abandoning her teaching career to study communications at L’Universite du Quebec a Montreal. When Pool left Geneva in 1975, she did so with the simple aim of learning to shoot video so she could teach her students what to do. She never dreamed of making movies, let alone becoming one of Canada’s premier directors, but once she discovered the medium’s ability to act as a type of psychic paint stripper, Pool was hooked. Beginning with a small, co-directed documentary short about a bellhop in a hotel, Laurent Lamerre, portier, Pool made an impression off the bat and was given a chance to teach after she completed the program. Un Strass Cafe (1980) was her first solo project -- an experimental short made with the support of the National ...

PROFILE: NORMAN JEWISON

NORMAN JEWISON Born 1926, Toronto, Ont. He’s one of many young, talented Canadians who wandered south to fulfill his dreams -- but he never abandoned his Canadian identity, and when it came time to reinvest in his cultural heritage, Norman Jewison didn’t just give something back -- he created a legacy in the form of the Canadian Film Centre (or The Norman Jewison Centre for Advanced Film Studies). Located in an old mansion on the outskirts of metro Toronto, the centre opened its doors in 1986 and has since pumped out some of the best screen talents the country has to offer. Though he’s experienced great success on the American side of the border, Jewison has never been co-opted by the studio system. His films tend to follow certain studio conventions, but he makes movies that explore themes of social justice and tolerance, and sticks to his guns regardless of the potential backlash. For instance, when Jewison’s most recent film The Hurricane (about the wrongful ...

PROFILE: DAVID CRONENBERG

DAVID CRONENBERG: Born March 15, 1943 Toronto, Ontario He is prolific, profitable and perhaps one of the most “commercial” directors in Canada. Not surprisingly, he is also one of the most misunderstood. His is a thinker and a sensationalist, a survivor and a nihilist, a humble outsider and a self-absorbed snob, a proud Canadian and a disciple of Hollywood genre. Fortunately, David Cronenberg loves a good dichotomy. In his godless universe, meaning must be self-derived through a process of personal investigation -- and no mental tools can chisel away at the subconscious like conflict and a good intellectual challenge. For this reason, Cronenberg movies inevitably deal with a character in the midst of a transformation. In most cases, the transformative agent is something tangible and hostile from the outside, but inevitably born from within -- either mentally or physically. For instance, in Shivers, his early feature film shot in Montreal, Cronenberg subjected an entire ...
3.5Score

Rihanna and Jim Parsons conjure sugar-coated chemistry in Home

Movie review: Home If you can get past the silly names and the fact everyone looks like a vinyl squeeze toy, this Tim Johnson movie proves a decent place to hang your hat  

Toronto: Why It Sucks

The Economist recently rated Canada's biggest city the best place on Earth to live, but it's not all that… even if it does have the CN Tower, whose mere presence subconsciously makes this page look more official just by stretching its long concrete column high into the sky. At The Ex-Press, we may be in awe of Toronto's smoggy swagger, but we came up with a few reasons to take a forensic look at The Economist's reckoning. We've titled the liabilities on our balance sheet... TEN REASONS WHY TORONTO SUCKS 1. It's not a goal until Toronto looks at the replay. 2. That big tower thing seems to be overcompensating for something. 3. People dress off the mannequin. 4. It's all about money. (No doubt accounting for The Economist's ranking.) 5. They think they represent the rest of English Canada…. and we have no say, because they own us all. 6. It smells bad. 7. You have to drink in a private club to be considered cool. 8. They can't laugh at themselve...
3Score

Low-brow low blows bring pleasant punch to Get Hard

Movie review: Get Hard Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart successfully skewer racist stereotype in a surprisingly edgy story of a banker looking to survive a stint in prison
3.5Score

Olive Kitteridge: HBO miniseries showcases McDormand’s killer sardonic skills

OLIVE KITTERIDGE (2014, HBO Miniseries) Starring: Frances McDormand, Richard Jenkins, Bill Murray. Directed by: Lisa Cholodenko. Three and a half stars out of five Watching Frances McDormand’s face is a bit like reading a great Victorian novel. She may be giving us a straightforward chunk of dialogue, but beneath the surface, an entirely different narrative is taking place. Beneath every wrinkle lies a wealth of understated passions, existential awareness and razor-sharp wit that brings emotional currency to every role, including her turn as Olive Kitteridge, the central character in Elizabeth Strout’s 2008 novel. Reunited with her Laurel Canyon director Lisa Cholodenko, McDormand takes this story of a smart, but calloused schoolteacher to the very edge of melodrama without losing her balance, which is probably the miniseries’ biggest victory because its very structure screams soap opera. With Richard Jenkins and Bill Murray sharing the frames, we get a little breathing ...
4Score

I Wake Up Screaming: An eggs and break-your-legs film noir feast

I Wake Up Screaming (1941 FOX) Starring: Betty Grable, Victor Mature, Carole Landis, Laird Cregar Directed by: H. Bruce Humberstone Four stars out of five Whether it’s the spontaneous eruptions of Over the Rainbow steaming through the score, the bizarre screen presence of Laird Cregar as a creepy cop with perfect elocution, or the architectural angles of Victor Mature’s eyebrows, there’s more than one reason why this seminal piece of film noir is nothing short of a wacky masterpiece. Shot just before the attack on Pearl Harbor, and riddled with allusions to mounting political tensions, this adaptation of Steve Fisher’s novel ‘Hot Spot’ still feels contemporary thanks to its thematic obsession with celebrity. Carole Landis plays Vicky, a diner waitress who becomes the Eliza Doolittle of a sports promoter played by Mature. At first, her success is welcomed as part of a game, but when she announces she’s bailing on New York for a movie career in Los Angeles, ...

PROFILE: MICHAEL SNOW

MICHAEL SNOW Born 1929, Toronto, Ont. If there were ever a perfect image of the Canadian psyche -- it’s that of Snow. Born with the perfect name and a desire to make us aware of negative space, Snow may be a grandaddy in the context of this book, but as Atom Egoyan’s foreword makes clear, his vision of the world has framed much of the Canadian film experience for generations past - and no doubt generations to come. For a guy concerned with the mechanics of framing, it’s a fitting legacy. Born in the very crust of the Canadian establishment, raised in Toronto’s tony Rosedale district, and funnelled through its favored institution -- Upper Canada College -- Snow was born to be a bank president. The fact that he became an artist makes him an original rebel, as his entire life’s path turned him into a living artwork defined in opposition to institutional ways of thinking. Already a painter and sculptor, Snow’s formal film career began in 1956, when he joined George ...