Posts Tagged ‘Julia Sarah Stone’


Richard speaks to “CTV News at Six” anchor Andria Case about the best movies and television to watch this weekend including the dystopian young adult drama “Chaos Walking” (PVOD), the true-life weed study story “The Marijuana Conspiracy” (VOD) and the documentary “Tiny Tim: King For A Day” (available across Canada in partnership with Yuk Yuk’s).

Watch the whole thing HERE! (Starts at 19:16)


Richard joins CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including the dystopian young adult drama “Chaos Walking” (PVOD), the true-life weed study story “The Marijuana Conspiracy” (VOD) and the documentary “Tiny Tim: King For A Day” (available across Canada in partnership with Yuk Yuk’s).

Watch the whole thing HERE!


Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including the dystopian young adult drama “Chaos Walking” (PVOD), the true-life weed study story “The Marijuana Conspiracy” (VOD) and the documentary “Tiny Tim: King For A Day” (available across Canada in partnership with Yuk Yuk’s).

Listen to the whole thing HERE!

THE MARIJUANA CONSPIRACY: 3 ½ STARS. “story of ulterior motives & exploitation”

The road to legal weed has been a twisty, turny journey with many strange detours along the way, including a Canadian study called Project Venus. A new film, “The Marijuana Conspiracy,” now on VOD, details the inner workings of a true-to-life experiment that assigned “toke times” to a group of female test subjects.

Set in 1972, the story begins as a group of young women are recruited to take part, as paid subjects, in a provincially funded cannabis study. The women were isolated and supplied with marijuana. In return a team of nurses and scientists studied their reactions and did brain, kidney and blood tests.

What the women didn’t know is that they are being used as shills, test subjects in a clinical investigation determined to prove that marijuana use will lead to lowered productivity.

When the 98-day study didn’t return the results the organizers hoped for, they secretly increased the THC levels in an attempt to prove their hypothesis that smoking weed will lead to some kind of reefer madness.

“The Marihuana Conspiracy” is a multi-pronged story. It’s an historical exposé of the unethical treatment of human subjects in a bogus medical study. In light of the pandemic, it’s also a timely comment on the efficacy of government studies in regards to health concerns. Most of all, and best of all, it is also a carefully constructed portrait of the friendship and resilience of the women.

Director and screenwriter Craig Pryce gives the ensemble cast time to establish their characters and allow the audience to understand why each and every one of them signed up for this unorthodox experiment. What could have been an exercise in finger pointing instead has a deep core of humanity. As we follow these characters they grow and adapt to their circumstances, always with an eye to the future. Solid performances from Tymika Tafari, Julia Sarah Stone, Morgan Kohan, Kyla Avril Young and Alanna Bale and carefully curated 70s period details bring the individual stories to life. Marie Ward’s performance as Nurse Alice, imagine a Nurse Ratched type, has a nice, unexpected arc that adds layers of texture to an already detailed story.

“The Marijuana Conspiracy” mixes and matches docu-drama with humour and even a taste a of horror to tell an interesting story of ulterior motives, exploitation and regulation all bound together with empathy and just a bit of intrigue.


Richard joins CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including Tom Holland’s PTSD drama “Cherry” (Apple TV+), the hoop dreams of “Boogie” (in theatres), the touching family drama of “Jump, Darling” (Apple, Google Play, and VOD) featuring Cloris Leachman in her last leading role and the dreamy thrills of “Come True” (VOD).

Watch the whole thing HERE!

COME TRUE: 3 STARS. “existential horror of a mind run amok.”

In “Come Away,” now on VOD, Julia Sarah Stone plays Sarah, a young woman with a sleeping problem. A teen runaway, she splits her time between crashing at her friend Zoe (Tedra Rogers) and sleeping in the park. No matter where she lays her head she never gets enough sleep. Terrible nightmares keep her awake, leaving her on the brink of exhaustion all the time. No amount of coffee can keep her eyes open, and she’s even started dozing off in class, earning jeers from her classmates.

Tired of waking up tired, she signs on for a month-long university sleep experiment. Not only will it provide a comfortable place to sleep every night but she’ll also make some money acting as a guinea pig for a team of graduate students, including Jeremy (Landon Liboiron) and the mysterious Dr. Meyer (Christopher Heatherington). Outfitted with futuristic looking head gear, she settles in each night and at first she feels more rested than before. But as the experiment goes on the nightmares take hold, opening up a terrifying window into her psyche as she begins to wonder what the point of the science project actually is. “I think your science project is f***ing me up,” she says.

If you are someone whose worst nightmare is waking up next to someone who says, “I had the weirdest dream last night,” and proceeds to tell you all about, “Come True” might not be your cup of Ambien. If, however, the existential horror of a mind run amok during sleep fascinates you, then seek it out.

Director Anthony Scott Burns takes an icy, voyeuristic approach to the material, staging scenes of nightmarish terror and the clinical reaction to the patient’s deepest thoughts with an aloofness that relies on atmospherics to create the film’s uneasy vibe. It is ethereally effective, particularly when coupled with Burns’ eerie composed score.

The dreamscape scares are cerebral. Imagine if David Cronenberg had directed “Nightmare on Elm Street” instead of Wes Craven and you’ll get the idea, but the film is let down by an ending that doesn’t do what came before it justice.

ALLURE: 1 STAR. “relentless in its downbeat look at life and relationships.”

Evan Rachel Wood’s breakout movie was “Thirteen.” She played Tracy Louise Freeland, a teen who spiralled downward into a morass of drugs, sex, and petty crime. Her new film, “Allure,” is unrelated but feels like it could be a continuation of Tracy’s story.

Wood plays Laura Drake, a troubled 30-year-old woman who works for her father’s cleaning service. On one of her house calls she meets 16-year-old unhappy musical prodigy Eva (Julia Sarah Stone). As Eva’s mom (Maxim Roy) makes plans for them to move in with her boyfriend Laura befriends the girl, introducing her to pot and lending an understanding ear. When Eva explains why she is so unhappy—she doesn’t like the boyfriend and doesn’t want to move—Laura comes on strong. “You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do,” she says. “You don’t have to let your mother control your life!”

Seeing Eva’s tears Laura suggests a way out. “Come live with me.” Eva readily agrees and they leave without a word to anyone, including Eva’s mom. What begins as a break from Eva’s turbulent home life turns into a hostage situation when the police start poking around. “I’ll go to jail if they find out what I did to help you,” Laura says as she locks her young charge in a basement room, away from prying eyes. She is now an illegal guardian, kind of like a cool aunt, only with bad intentions.

When the furor over Eva’s disappearance dies down the two return to their version of normal life. Laura, an expert manipulator controls Eva physically and emotionally. “I say what you can and cannot do,” she hisses. As time goes on, whether it is Stockholm Syndrome or true emotion, they become a romantic couple as Laura spirals further out of control.

“Allure” is relentless in its downbeat look at life and relationships. A minor chord score underlines the overwrought drama, offering no relief from the deeply unpleasant story. Unpleasant is OK if it reveals inner truths about the characters but “Allure” rarely really gets under the skin of Laura or Eva. They make inexplicable choices and most importantly, there are few moments that feel truthful.

WEIRDOS: 4 STARS. “Wallpapered with a K-Tel soundtrack of 70’s Cancon.”

To me the still shot of two teens, one wearing an Edward Bear t-shirt, hitchhiking on a two-lane highway is a powerfully nostalgic Canadian image. I grew up in 1970s era Nova Scotia where hundreds of kids (me included) hitchhiked on roads big and small. The image is iconic, a sentimental picture of a simpler time brought to vivid life in “Weirdos,” Bruce McDonald and Daniel MacIvor’s sweet new coming of age story.

Set in 1976 “Weirdos” puts McDonald back on the road. The “Hard Core Logo” director has a way with road movies and here he keeps the story of Kit (Dylan Authors), a bored Antigonish 15 year-old, in constant motion. Kit wants a different life, one far, far away from the small town existence offered by his dad (Allan Hawco) and grandmother (Cathy Jones).

With girlfriend Alice (Julia Sara Stone) in tow Kit hangs out his thumb, hitchhiking toward a change. As the pair make their way to Kit’s artistic mother Laura (Molly Parker)—she knows Andy Warhol!—the nature of the teen’s relationship is challenged as the young man grapples with his sexuality.

With some melancholy and much humour “Weirdos” expertly strings together the small moments that make up Kit’s life. Warm, affectionate and wallpapered with a K-Tel soundtrack of 70’s Cancon, it follows his journey to self-discovery. Authors and Stone do most of the heavy lifting here, handing in naturalistic, understated performances but it’s Parker and Hawko who provide the emotional sparks.

As absent mother Laura, Parker has the film’s flashiest role. She’s a dysfunctional grand dame with an imagined connection to Warhol and a headful of dreams. Her screen time amounts to little more than an extended cameo but Parker’s work is so vivid, so alive, it feels as though we’ve known her for years.

“The Republic of Doyle’s” Hawko is quieter, but poignant as the father who must explain himself in one of the film’s best scenes.

“Weirdos” is the story of outsiders, but as there are more people outside the circle than in, it really is a universal story of self-examination, one that can be enjoyed even if you’ve never hitchhiked or worn an Edward Bear t-shirt.

TIFF 2014: The Reel Guys have a look at break out stars and Wet Bum at this year’s TIFF.

633ee4958e04fb0be7144229d7c19b45By Richard Crouse & Mark Breslin – Metro Reel Guys

Richard: Mark, looking around at the press today in the lobby of the Inter Continental, the host hotel for the media, put me in the mind of an episode of The Walking Dead. Everyone is beat and there are still a few days to go, movies to see and celebrities to be coddled and interviewed. The end, howeVER, is in sight and to me right now it looks like a big glowing orb. A delicious orb of made of cookie dough and beer. How’s it going for you?

Mark: Day 8 of the hostage crisis and no signs of release, Richard. Haven’t eaten a proper meal since TIFF started. Very little sleep. No contact with my family. They’ve turned me into a broken man and I’m ready to talk, to name names and talk about where the gems are. And there have been some real gems in the festival so far. Any faves, my friend?

RC: Reese Witherspoon had a couple of movies at the festival. The Good Lie is a Blind Side-esque story of a social worker who helps three Sudanese Lost Boys find work in America and reunite with their sister. It got a standing ovation at the gala BEFORE the stars came out. Pretty rare for a credit roll to bring people to their feet. She’s also in Wild, the story of a troubled woman who hikes 1100 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail. Filled with happiness, pain, sorrow and more melancholy than a Patsy Cline ballad, it feels like a life on parade. Like puzzle pieces the snippets piece together to eventually form a whole. And it’s funny too. I’m still laughing about the “lady hobo” scene.

MB: I found Beyond the Lights to be a terrible movie-fraudulent and packaged, with bad concert footage in place of plot and character development. It’s the story of a Beyonce-type diva who finds her true self, but I’ve never seen the journey to authenticity portrayed with such little authenticity. Yet in this bad movie-and I mean Showgirls bad-movie, there are the two leads transcending the material at each moment. Gugu Mbatha-Raw fills the screen with her electric presence, and Nate Parker as her Bodyguard redux cop boyfriend delivers an impressively restrained performance.

RC: I’d put Jack O’Connell in the stars to watch category. Every year there is someone to look out for. A few years ago Michael Fassbinder became a big star after his portrayal of hunger striker Bobby Sands helped make Hunger one of the big hits of the festival. In 71 O’Connell plays a rookie British soldier lost in an IRA controlled part of Belfast at the height of “The Troubles.” It’s a break out, and is a nice sedt up to his next movie, the Angelina Jolie directed war-drama Unbroken based on the life of WWII POW and Olympic distance runner Louis Zamperini. I also think Bang Bang Baby’s Jane Levy could break big after TIFF this year.

MB: I’d put Julia Sarah Stone in that category too. The lead in Wet Bum, she brings a wide-eyed innocence and slow burn to the coming of age picture. The movie meant something extra to me because I, too, came from a family that owned nursing homes. The movie is slight, though, and not a lot happens in it, which is why it’s so important we identify with the young girl. Unfortunate title, though, and I think you may get websites you’re not looking for when you google it.