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The Ex-Press shares face-time with the movers, shakers and bakers of pop culture.

Gord Downie’s Courage

Tribute: Gord Downie Gord Downie Tragically Dead at 53, but the Hip's tune Courage will endure through The Sweet Hereafter, as will the frontman's legacy for compassion By Katherine Monk (October 18, 2017) — The song is stuck in my head. No doubt, there are others stuck in a similar loop of Gord Downie lyrics as they process the loss of the Tragically Hip’s iconic frontman today.According to the band’s website, Downie passed away last night surrounded by friends and family. He was 53.Downie succumbed to the brain cancer we learned about last year, after his oncologist held a news conference releasing the terminal diagnosis. Ever since, we’ve been waiting to hear the worst. And ever since, the words to the song Courage have been churning through my head.Yet, it’s not Downie’s voice I hear — though his gut-clenching vocals are familiar enough to be conjured at will. I hear the whisper of Sarah Polley’s soft soprano from The Sweet Hereafter.Mychael ...

Mike White Bares Male Insecurity

Movies: TIFF17 The writer-director of Brad's Status is an indie darling, but he says he still wrestles with insecurity and ego issues because we live in a world of false comparisons By Katherine Monk TORONTO — “I think you have your epiphany, and then you forget about it,” says Mike White. “Then you remember it again. And you forget it again. It’s like you are inching toward wisdom. Or circling the drain.”White seems to be doing all of the above, all the time, because his mind seems to radiate ideas. He creates tangent lines mid-sentence, leaving orbit, only to fall back to earth, chained by the full force of gravity.It’s his ability to levitate and fall with giddy aplomb that makes his voice so unique and his characters so memorable, whether it’s Selma Hayek as massage therapist and healer in Beatriz at Dinner, Laura Dern as a recovering executive experimenting with faith in Enlightened, or the entirely childlike Chuck, from the indie landmark Chuck & ...

Menashe: Ultra-Orthodox Ubermensch

Movies: Interview with Joshua Z. Weinstein A documentary filmmaker explores the closed world of New York's Hasidic community in his first narrative feature shot entirely in Yiddish with amateur actors and a leading man who'd never set foot in a cinema By Katherine Monk There are approximately 330,000 Hasidic and Ultra-Orthodox Jews living in New York City, yet, the community remains largely closed and somewhat mysterious to outsiders. Filmmaker Joshua Z. Weinstein wanted to know more, so he focused his documentary skills on the world at his doorstep in the boroughs and neighbourhoods of his native New York City.The result is Menashe, a narrative feature shot entirely in Yiddish with an amateur cast of community members — some of whom had never set foot in a theatre until the film’s debut at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.Weinstein says the experience was rich and memorable, but it’s not something he’ll do again — if only because as a director, he’d like ...

William Oldroyd Reveals Lady Macbeth’s Damned Spot

Movies: Interview with Lady Macbeth director William Oldroyd Lady Macbeth is riding a wave of feminist revisionism that emerged with Margaret Atwood's The Penelopiad and crests with the forthcoming Ophelia, but director William Oldroyd says more women's stories should be told. Not just because they're full of drama. But female actors are available. They're better. They're also cheaper. By Katherine Monk In 1865, an author by the name of Nikolai Leskov picked up on something his contemporaries were doing. He revised Shakespearean drama for a Russian audience, playing with context but keeping the core of the character intact. Ivan Turgenev offered up Hamlet of the Shchigrovsky District in 1859, and Leskov published Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District — a bodice-ripping, bed-post gripping romance featuring a young woman in a loveless marriage.A century and a half later, we can see a similar trend emerging as filmmakers once more revamp Shakespeare, as well as other classics, ...

David Lowery Defeated Nihilism with A Ghost Story

People: Interview with David Lowery His art-house horror hybrid starring Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara is the biggest buzz title of the summer, but David Lowery says he's still figuring out what his movie about ghosts, secret notes and hidden meanings is all about. By Katherine Monk David Lowery has been talking about A Ghost Story since January, when it premiered at The Sundance Film Festival. But by year’s end, there’s a good chance everyone will be talking about this low-budget art-house-horror hybrid starring Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck and a ghost walking around under a sheet with two cut-out eyeholes.Yes, indeed, A Ghost Story is haunting. It wakes the ache that’s always there. Yet, in his bid to dig a little deeper into a single image of a ghost sitting in an empty house, Lowery successfully pulls a long sliver from the calloused sole of the Zeitgeist. He also made a few therapeutic discoveries of his own. The Ex-Press spoke to Lowery, the 36-year-old Texas-raised ...

Trish Dolman directs the national selfie: Canada in a Day

Interview: Trish Dolman Vancouver filmmaker Trish Dolman captures Canadian soul in crowd-sourced documentary portrait airing tonight on CTV By Katherine Monk (July 1, 2017) VANCOUVER — There is something extraordinarily moving about Canada in a Day, even though one might say it’s thoroughly ordinary.A visual scrapbook pulled together from over 16,000 video submissions from average Canucks who pointed the camera at their own lives on September 10, 2016, this selfie collage isn’t a film made by the rich and famous. It wasn’t scripted, and contains no professional actors. Yet, there is drama. There’s a palpable sense of theme. And despite the diversity of the players and their unique messages, one even feels a sense of unity. A shared heartbeat echoing empathy and human understanding. It’s lurking in every frame, because it’s part of who we are as a people.It’s also because of Trish Dolman, the Vancouver-based producer and director who took on the challe...

Helena Guttridge, Mayor Gregor and Auntie Irene

People: Irene Howard, History Is Her Story Mayor's tribute to Vancouver's first female councillor strikes a personal note for Rod Mickleburgh, who in turn honours a chronicler he calls 'Auntie Irene' By Rod Mickleburgh (May 17, 2017) - At the age of 70, my beloved Auntie Irene, under her scholastic name of Irene Howard, published her definitive biography of Helena Gutteridge, Vancouver’s first woman “alderman”. Ten years later, when she was 80, she completed her remarkable book Gold Dust On His Shirt, a moving saga of her family’s working class life in the gold mines of British Columbia, feathered with impeccable research of the times. At 90 she published a very fine poem, which is reproduced below.And one morning last month, at the age of 94 and a half, Auntie Irene sat in the front row of chairs arrayed in a room off the main lobby at city hall, looking as elegant and vivacious as anyone who pre-dated Vancouver’s Art Deco municipal masterpiece by 14 years ...

Linda Thorson: Ready for her close-up

People: Linda Thorson After a career that bathed her in the London limelight, the Canadian actress who replaced Diana Rigg on The Avengers makes a homecoming in her first starring role as an icy Ontario matron in The Second Time Around By Katherine Monk “Never a dull moment.” For Linda Thorson, it’s more than a life motto. It’s an existential promise. The Toronto-born actor crafted a career on British stage and television after replacing Diana Rigg on The Avengers, but the life adventure just keeps going.Thorson has a new boyfriend, and after five decades in the business, her first starring role in a feature film. Thorson plays Katherine, an uptight, opera-loving matron who finds love in a seniors’ home in The Second Time Around, a new movie from Leon Marr that recently picked up the audience award at The Palm Beach film festival.Currently on the Canadian art house circuit with stops in Vancouver and Montreal, The Second Time Around tells the story of Kather...

Screwing up his courage for The Second Time Around

People: Leon Marr Talking about sex and the seniors' residence with the director of The Second Time Around, a new movie that tackles taboo and takes us into the boudoir with tenderness, patience and operatic ambition By Katherine Monk (April 3, 3017) -- The Centers for Disease Control declared April STD awareness month, which means there’s no better time for the release of The Second Time Around. It’s a new feature film by Leon Marr after a decades-long hiatus, and while it’s not about sexually transmitted disease – at all – it does focus on a demographic with an increasing transmission rate: senior citizens.The CDC suggests the aging baby boomers are making the most out of their senior years, if the steady rise in syphilis cases among those over 65 is any indication: between 2007 and 2011, researchers noted a rise of 52 per cent.Part of it has to do with taboos surrounding sex in the golden years. It’s not something society talks about all that often ...
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The wide river of Gordon Pinsent’s dreams

Movie Review: The River of My Dreams Documentary about the Canadian actor captures much of his impish charm, but it leaves many questions unanswered about what really makes him tick