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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.

Ai WeiWei: the unapologetic revolutionary

Vancouver BiennaleAi WeiWei Film RetrospectiveNever Sorry, The Fake CaseApril 13,  20, 26, Rio Theatre, 6 p.m.  By Katherine MonkIn 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 ...

Al Pacino stands tall in Danny Collins

The old pro lets it rip in role of aging, casino-circuit rock star, writes Jay Stone

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 VlahosCreator: David S. GoyerThree Stars out of FiveCombining 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 ...


ROBERT LANTOSBorn 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 ...

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   

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 fivePicking 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 ...


ANNE WHEELERBorn: 1946, Edmonton One of the original rebels, it often seems the entire western film tradition sprouted from Anne Wheeler’s loins. If not on a formal level -- then certainly on a spiritual one. Exuding a sense of quiet, calm confidence, she has been referred to as a “Dalai Lama-like” presence by the legions of young actors and film-makers who have shared her many movie sets.“All of us dream of being like Anne,” noted Lynne Stopkewich, fellow west-coaster and director of Kissed. “She just flows.”Director of several features, including the critical success Bye Bye Blues (1989) and the commercial hit, Better Than Chocolate (1998-9), Wheeler has blazed her own trail through the wilderness -- not just in film, but in life as well.Growing up the little sister to three older brothers in the already hostile landscape of Edmonton, Wheeler says she was “determined to catch up” with her older siblings, regardless of whether the ...


DENYS ARCANDBorn Deschambault (between Quebec City and Trois Rivieres)June 25, 1941 Perhaps the first Canadian film-maker to achieve true celebrity status, not just in English and French Canada but around the world in the wake of Declin de l’empire Americain, Denys Arcand still gets a rush out of getting a last-minute reservation at his favorite restaurant.“As a film-maker you become semi-famous for six months -- every four years. I can’t say I don’t like that. I’m not addicted to fame or anything, but it’s nice to think people are listening when you open your mouth to say something,” said Arcand after the release of Stardom, his 2000 film that centred around a young female hockey player from rural Ontario who becomes a supermodel quite by accident.“I’ve been a celebrity since 1986, after Declin. That was my first taste of stardom. Before that, no one asked me what I thought of anything. Fame gives you this sense of recognition and in ...