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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.

Patricia Clarkson takes the wheel

The veteran of stage and screen buckles up for a bumpy ride in Learning to Drive, a new film that puts the pedal to the metal of marriage breakdown with surprisingly comic results thanks to co-star Sir Ben Kingsley, and the gentle hand of director Isabel Coixet By Katherine Monk TORONTO – There’s something undeniably regal about Patricia Clarkson, even when she’s vomiting into a toilet and playing an entirely unlaced woman of letters. It’s an underlying strength that inhabits every bone in her sinewy body, and you can feel it in her relaxed presence.   She’s a woman who is comfortable in her own skin, and it shines through every freckle.   “I was fed perseverance as a child,” she says. “I have a very strong mother, and strong parents who were loving and gave me the confidence and ability to survive.”   Clarkson says she had to rely on that deep well of self-possession when she started Learning to Drive. A new film directed by ...
2.5Score

Movie review: American Ultra huffs and puffs

This strange mash-up of ultraviolent spy thriller and laid-back stoner comedy barely gets by on the chemistry between Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart

Art star and X-Games pro Tyler Shields makes directing debut

Tyler Shields started skating professionally at the age of 12 and made it to the top of the extreme athlete podium before he turned his talents to art photography and high-end shoots, but he says directing his debut feature was the biggest risk yet, if only because he'd promised his Robin Williams he'd make it the right way.   By Katherine Monk LOS ANGELES – Robin Williams made him promise to be true to his creative soul, and while it hasn’t been easy, Tyler Shields has managed to resist the temptation of quick hits and lowest common denominator success to pursue a unique vision in the richly saturated shadows.   An art star in the world of fine art photography and a former professional in-line skater, Shields has certainly felt the warm glow of popular success in the past, but when he decided to follow his childhood dream of becoming a filmmaker, he knew things would be different. And they were.   Shields directed the B.C.-shot thriller Final Girl ...
3Score

Hitman: Agent 47 asks questions as it shoots

Rupert Friend's performance as a genetically enhanced super agent raises questions about the nature of perfection, and why we find the idea of emotional numbness so seductive, in this latest film adaptation of the successful video game franchise        

How to watch a movie

Notes for a talk given by Jay Stone at Das Lokal restaurant in Ottawa on Aug. 16, 2015 on the topic of “How to watch a movie.” Alcohol was served. By Jay Stone People sometimes say to me, “Hey, Jay,” — or, more frequently these days, “Excuse me, Mr. Stone” — “how does a critic watch a movie? Please be brief and give examples.”   My usual reply is, “No thanks, I’ve already eaten,” which is my fallback answer when I’ve totally stopped listening — or, more frequently these days, didn’t quite catch what they were saying. However, it’s a worthy question and I do have an answers. It’s brief and there are examples.   I started thinking about this in earnest in 1994, when I was at the Toronto film festival interviewing the film director Alan Rudolph. He was in town promoting his movie Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, and we had an hour-long chat (film festival interviews used to be nice and long. They’ve now shrunk to 15 ...

Canadian Must-Sees: Mon Oncle Antoine planted a cinematic seed

Claude Jutra's seminal coming-of-age film featured young bodies in caskets, snow-covered landscapes and a loving but dysfunctional family -- essentially birthing a whole new cinematic tradition around a stone hearth   MON ONCLE ANTOINE (1971) 5/5 Directed by: Claude Jutra Starring: Jean Duceppe, Jacques Gagnon, Lyne Champagne, Olivette Thibault, Claude Jutra, Hélène Loiselle, Lionel Villeneuve, Monique Mercure. Running time: 104 minutes   Still referred to as one of the greatest Canadian films of all time, Mon Oncle Antoine marked the beginning of narrative feature film in Canada (right alongside Don Shebib’s Goin’ Down the Road) and set up much of the film cinematic grammar we use in this country to this day with its use of natural light, blue-hues, lack of narrative artifice and an abundance of snow-covered landscapes. The story focuses on Benoit (Gagnon), a kid living with his uncle Antoine and Aunt Cecile, who run the general store in ...

Blowing up millennial angst in Fort Tilden

Bridey Elliott and Clare McNulty play two young women from Williamsburg who detonate hidden comedy land mines tripping on millennial terrain in the new movie Fort Tilden, the prize-winning feature debut from director-writers Sarah-Violent Bliss and Charles Rogers By Katherine Monk It’s a road movie in rompers, a coming-of-age story without a defining moment of arrival, and a prize-winning festival film that speaks to an entire generation of young people born at the turn of the millennium.   That said, you can understand why Fort Tilden was labeled a ‘movie about millennials’ since its world premiere at the 2015 South by Southwest festival in Austin, where it picked up the grand jury prize for best narrative feature.   A comic adventure featuring two privileged 20-somethings searching for purpose as they make an ill-fated foray toward the beach, Fort Tilden stars Bridey Elliott and Clare McNulty as Harper and Allie – best friends, roommates and ...

Canadian Must-Sees: Le Déclin de l’empire Américain conquered Canada

Denys Arcand's chatty examination of a group of middle-aged intellectuals brought a hint of Woody Allen to the wilds of the Canadian film landscape, eclipsing linguistic politics with sex, and successfully reframing the next generation's existential crisis as more of a personal concern than a nationalist struggle LE DÉCLIN DE L’EMPIRE AMÉRICAIN (1986) 5/5 Directed by: Denys Arcand Starring: Dominique Michel, Dorothée Berryman, Louise Portal, Geneviève Rioux, Pierre Curzi, Rémy Girard, Yves Jacques, Gabriel Arcand. Running time: 101 minutes MPAA Rating; Restricted   A veritable classic, and the first film to truly establish Canada on the populist film map, Le déclin de l'empire américain is a satirical, and undeniably poignant, look at a group of self-absorbed University of Montreal professors who have analyzed their world and themselves into a state of emotional numbness. Over the course of the Oscar-nominated movie, which opens with one ...
4Score

Diary of a Teenage Girl rewrites coming-of-age ritual

Marielle Heller's adaptation of Phoebe Gloeckner's graphic novel isn't just a refreshing female take on the coming-of-age ritual, it's a rich piece of comic drama thanks to standout performances from breakout star Bel Powley and the ever-fearless Kristen Wiig  
2.5Score

Movie review: A reason to cry U.N.C.L.E.

The film version of  the 1960s TV show stars a couple of bland leading men involved in a second-rate espionage thriller notable mostly for its cool costumes, writes Jay Stone