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Today, Canadians are celebrating the 144st anniversary of the constitution that brought this country together by drinking a lot of alcohol, blowing things up and taking advantage of the free public transit whilst intoxicated. In other words, its Canada Day. I thought I would conjure a little list of some Canadian films that anyone of any nationality should definitely check out. I tried keeping the list with a nice variety to please most people, so put your toque on and grab yourself a nanaimo bar and watch some of these:
Water (2005) - Directed by Deepa Mehta and the conclusion to the Elements trilogy, Water portrays the hardships and lives of several widows in India during the late 30 British Indian Empire era. What They Said: “Quite possibly the best picture of the year thus far, with no fewer than three of the most luminous female performances I have ever seen onscreen” - Andrew Sarris, The New York Observer
Anvil! The Story of Anvil (2008) - A humorous documentary about the legendary Toronto rock band Anvil, a band that time and pretty much everyone forgot. Except that they were one of the biggest influences for little bands such as Metallica, Anthrax, and Motorhead. What They Said: “See Anvil! if you love heavy metal, because these guys are legends. See Anvil! if you don’t love heavy metal because this story is legendary” - Giles Hardie, Sydney Morning Herald
Strange Brew (1983) - A very strange tale indeed about stereotypical Canadian brothers Bob and Doug Mackenzie (Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis) trying to stop an evil brewmaster bent on taking over the world with his hypnotic beer. Whats not to love? What They Said: “Brilliant. Stupid…but brilliant” - Widgett Walls, Needcoffee.com
Black Christmas (1974) - The famous cult slasher flick that started it all. Before Jason Vorhees, Ghostface and Michael Myers were terrorizing horny teenagers, this movie had the genre on lockdown. A must watch for any horror fan. What They Said: “Remains one of the most under-appreciated gems of the genre” - Felix Vasquez Jr, Film Threat
Cube (1997) - In this surrealist science-fiction film, a group of people wake up in several cubed prison cells and must now escape to the void if they wish to prevent a gruesome death. What They Said: “Cube was named best Canadian debut feature at Toronto last year, and there’s no questioning Natali, clearly a visionary, is an important new talent” - Kevin Thomas, The Los Angeles Times
My Winnipeg (2007) - Guy Maddin directs this experimental documentary about his hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba. In combination to Maddin’s slick narration and juxtaposition of old and new footage, you get lost in the dream like fantasy world of sleepwalkers that becomes Winnipeg. What They Said: “If you love movies in the very sinews of your imagination, you should experience the work of Guy Maddin” - Roger Ebert, Chicago-Sun Times
Videodrome (1982) - Last but certainly not least, we have the master of body horror and prized Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg’s Videodrome, starring James Woods as a television station president who is looking to up the ante in his own risque programming by showing torture footage. What begins as a way to bring up viewership in controversy turns out to be much more entrenched with mind control conspiracy then originally thought. What They Said: “Never coherent and frequently pretentious, the film remains an audacious attempt to place obsessive personal images before a popular audience — a kind of Kenneth Anger version of Star Wars” - Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
That’s it eh? No, not really. If I have peaked your interest in Canadian cinema after this read, then I suggest you should visit the National Film Board of Canada website for tons of free short and feature films and animation from Canadian filmmakers.
Everybody’s favourite stripper turned turned blogger turned Academy Award winning screenwriter Diablo Cody is currently planning to direct her own script entitled Lamb of God. The comedy film involves a religious woman losing her faith, going to Vegas to do Vegas naughty things, and eventually returning to her past faith. Hopefully we see more of the witty comedy seen in Juno, as opposed to the all-around failure Jennifer’s Body which starred Megan Fox as some sort of horny she-demon. I’ve seen it. It sucked. Both ways. Yes I made a fellatio and failure joke in one. I’ll stop now.
The Alien mythos is one of the more established science fiction franchises this side of the galaxy, so it comes to no surprise that Ridley Scott’s return to the genre in his upcoming film Prometheus would draw comparisons to his original facehugger baby. The film was originally planned as a prequel but has since separated from the term, but that doesn’t mean they are disconnected. Damon Lindeloff who is currently penning the film brought his two-cents on the subject recently on The Kevin Pollack Chat Show:
It started as an Alien prequel. That is what everybody wanted it to be. Obviously, Ridley Scott has not made a science fiction movie in 25 years, since Blade Runner, so the idea that he’s returning to this genre is huge. But there is a real issue which is — what is the state of the Alien franchise at this point in our lives? There has been Alien vs. Predator and all these things, and its been completely and totally diluted. I’ve always felt that really good prequels should be original movies. And the sequels to those prequels should not be the movie which already exists because, with all due respect to anyone who makes a prequel, but why would you ruin the greatest twist in the history of cinema, “Luke, I am your father”, by showing me three movies which basically spoil that surprise. You can do movies which take place before Star Wars, but I don’t need to see the story of the Skywalker clan. Show me something else which I can’t guess the possible outcome of. There is no suspense in inevitability. So a true prequel should essentially proceed the events of the original film, but be about something entirely different, feature different characters , have an entirely different theme, although it takes place in that same world. That was my fundamental feeling about what this movie wanted to be.
A good friend of mine recently completed a top 25 film list consisting of the films that were both influential to him as a film student and films that are just plain good that anyone should see, regardless of who they are. I thought this would be a good idea, and made a list as good as I could. You may not agree with me, you may think I’m plain criminal for leaving out certain films or including certain ones, but that doesn’t matter. This is my list, so heres my first entry:
In this psychedelics and alcohol induced road trip (and I use this term literally) of Raoul (Johnny Depp) and his legal attorney Dr. Gonzo (Benico Del Toro), the sands of Nevada reek of cheap liquor, blood, LSD and sweat and the duo seek to soak as much of it as they can while on a business trip to cover a local motorcycle race, the Mint 400. The film’s visuals purposely, to the best of their ability, make the viewer feel as uncomfortable as possible. The blurs and distortions mimic the hallucinations seen on screen. For example, Raoul has an episode in a Las Vegas lobby bar, tripping over the stools and patrons but in his world he is being slowly surrounded by reptilian creatures partaking a huge
sexy orgy in the room is both striking and comical. Las Vegas is famous for having quirky themed casinos, and in this scene , the major trip occurs in a place called the Bazooko Circus which results in Raoul and Gonzo spinning round and round and round on a marry-go-round while terrifying images of clowns spark enough fear in Gonzo that he pounders suicide in the hotel room, which by the way at this point is a filthy mess due to the sheer amount of room service food and alcohol ordered.
Depp is definitely the strong point in this film, and his narration is a stark contrast to his antics on screen. The more collected and without a doubt sober Raoul narrates the entire film, providing some pretty deep and memorable lines. To me, it gave the film the satire feel that the book had, and thus made everything that was happening even funnier. This includes going to an anti-drug rally whilst high on cocaine. This includes an attempt to purchase an orangoutang. This includes thinking your part of a war scrimmage when in reality you are imagining it while driving on mescaline and ether. Ah, the American dream, mes amis! I remember being told that this would be the weirdest film I will ever watch. To this day, it still holds that spot. But thats what I like about it. I love the neon lights that give Vegas a surreal fantasy world appeal to it, the oddness of the characters not to mention the hilariousness of their antics, and the weird pacing that always forces you to question “What the hell is actually going on?”. If you haven’t seen this already, I suggest you give it a look. But please, once you start the film, don’t just stop because your uncomfortable or because its weird. There is no stopping in bat country.
Check out The Seven Clockwork Driverbaums and read Anthony’s Number 25: The Great Dictator http://7daysoffilm.tumblr.com/post/6130842223/25-the-great-dictator
Heres some interesting concept art that takes famous film/television vehicles and re-imagines them in the Cars universe. Hit the jump for the rest of the pictures which include the DeLorean from Back to the Future and The Ectomobile from Ghostbusters.
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