Sharkwater Extinction: Resurrecting a son on-screen

Movies: Sharkwater Extinction Shattered by their son Rob’s death in a diving accident, Sandy and Brian Stewart found inspiration in his message and turned pain into positive action by completing the film he died trying to make. By Katherine Monk VANCOUVER — “There was no way this movie was not going to be made.” The very statement is an act of defiant optimism in a world where the majority of endeavours fail to even reach production, let alone completion. For Brian and Sandy Stewart, however, defiant optimism was the very essence of their son’s message, which is why they dedicated the last 20 months of their heartbroken lives bringing Sharkwater Extinction to fruition. The movie isn’t just a tribute to their late son, Rob, 37, who died in a diving accident off the Florida Keys in January 2017. “It’s the continuation of his mission,” says Brian Stewart, sitting with his wife Sandy on the eve of Sharkwater Extinction’s western premiere at the Vancouver ...

Bidding Adieu to Dave Barrett

Tribute: Dave Barrett Funerals for public figures can often be stuffy affairs with formal speechmaking and half-hearted appeals to emotion, but the recent ceremonies for B.C.’s former premier were rife with real affection. By Rod Mickleburgh So, farewell then, Dave Barrett. A month after the remarkable NDP leader passed away, it was time for the public to bid adieu, formally and informally. The official state memorial in Victoria came first, followed the next day by what was more a gathering of the clans at Vancouver’s Croatian Cultural Centre, not that far from where Dave Barrett grew up on the city’s rough-and-tumble east side. Both events were packed, befitting the immeasurable contribution he made to the province of British Columbia during his short 39 months as its first socialist premier. (Unlike today’s New Democrats, he never shied from using the term “socialist.”) Beyond his political legacy, there was an outpouring of real affection for someone who had ...

Andrea Bang Sounds the Drum of Korean Identity

Andrea Bang is currently in PyeongChang as part of CBC's broadcast team. She's interviewing locals about culture, so we thought we'd repost our 2016 interview with the star of Kim's Convenience. People: Interview with Andrea Bang The Vancouver star of Kim's Convenience says the first Canadian sitcom to feature Asian leads is about transcending ethnic stereotypes through human universals By Katherine Monk VANCOUVER – Andrea Bang thanks the Toronto Blue Jays. Not only did the team win the required games to advance, they pushed back the network premiere of her new show, Kim’s Convenience. The new CBC comedy based on Ins Choi’s award-winning Fringe play airs tonight on the National Broadcaster, but it was originally slated to air last Tuesday – in the heat of the Blue Jays’ wildcard bid. The network wisely aired the ballgame instead, but Bang wasn’t depressed about the delay. It gave her another week to mentally prepare while promos whetted the public appetite ...

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 & ...

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...

Leonard Cohen and me: A reminiscence

By Jay Stone   Even if we stated our case very clearly and all those who held as we do came to our side, all of them, we would still be very few. -- Leonard Cohen, Parasites of Heaven When he died last week his constituency emerged, thousands, millions perhaps, smitten, devoted, some with stories of how they had gone to his house in Montreal and he had made them egg salad sandwiches. He was gracious, modest, haunting, and with the key to something we thought was ours alone. “Have you ever noticed how private a wet tree is, a curtain of razor blades?,” he wrote (in A Cross Didn’t Fall On Me), and suddenly you did notice. A poem is something that everyone knows but no one ever said before. I found him by accident. When I was a teenager, there was a copy of his first novel, The Favourite Game, on the bookshelf in my father’s den when we lived in north Toronto. I don’t know how it got there, but my father got a lot of books from publishers because he was on the radio ...

Life, death and Andrew Huculiak

People: Interview with Andrew Huculiak Getting metaphysical with the first-time director of Violent means dipping a big toe into the cold, dark waters of existentialism and cozying up with Kierkegaard By Katherine Monk (October 19, 2016) VANCOUVER – A gentle drizzle falls outside, and the faint smell of woolly dampness mingles with the scent of fresh pie. It’s a typical fall day in Vancouver -- wet, dark, and cool -- the perfect backdrop for an interview with Andrew Huculiak. Huculiak is the director behind Violent, easily one of the best first features in Canadian film history, but up until now, it was also one of the most difficult to access. Shot two years ago in Norway with a unilingual Norwegian cast, Violent was invited to Cannes, picked up top prizes at The Vancouver International Film Festival and was shortlisted as Canada’s best foreign film Oscar submission. By all accounts and measures, it should have hit theatres nationwide. Yet, it’s only now, two years later ...

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau shuns royal treatment

Interview: Susanne Bier and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau get A Second Chance He sports prosthetic golden fingers to play the role of Jaime Lannister on Game of Thrones, but Nikolaj Coster-Waldau hates getting a fake hand for any performance, which is why he's grateful for the firm grip of fellow Dane Susanne Bier By Katherine Monk TORONTO—In the opening episode of Game of Thrones, his character pushed a young boy from a window without a hint of remorse. But put a fussy newborn in Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s arms, and the handsome Dane turns into a human pacifier. “It didn’t matter what the babies were doing… if Nikolaj picked them up, they would almost immediately fall asleep,” says director Susanne Bier, referring to the off-camera vibe on her latest film, A Second Chance (En chance til). A relatively small Danish-language drama about a police officer who makes a life-altering decision with good intentions, A Second Chance has been making a slow pass through North American ...

Michael Joplin remembers a happy Janis

Interview: Michael Joplin Though Janis Joplin's surviving siblings don't occupy huge amounts of screen time, Michael and Laura Joplin's presence brings a new dimension to Amy Berg's new documentary, Janis: Little Girl Blue, premiering tonight on PBS