Friday, June 29, 2012

Pick O' The Week - June 29

It's Canada Day weekend in the Great White North (why does that make me think of Game of Thrones?) so who could resist posting about the awesome that is Canadian film?  Well, Matt could but that's mostly cause he's unpatriotic.  Oddly.

So anyway this has worked out for me in that I'm going to suggest some of my all time favourite Canadian films and television programs for your viewing pleasure.

In Theatres: With 2007's Away From Her Polley deftly managed to capture the heartbreak and staggering defeat that comes with watching a loved one disappear to Alzheimer's.  The truly stunning performances from Gordon Pinsett and Julie Christie and the subtle direction from first time director Polley serve to make this a truly intimate and touching portrait, deftly avoiding the Alzheimer's trap.  So it is with much excitement that I'm waiting for Take This Waltz, starring Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen (released in Canada this weekend).  Williams plays Margot, a happily married woman who calls in love with her artist neighbour.  Though the idea of a woman falling out of love with her husband is certainly not something new to the world of cinema, Polley's treatment of Alzheimer's in Away From Her gives me hope that she will again manage to find something new and arresting in this oft told story.

At Home: Monsieur Lazhar is still on my list of films to see but between Matt's review and its penchant for winning audience awards (it was selected as the Canadian entry for the Oscars this year, won the Best Canadian Feature Film at TIFF, was chosen as the audience favourite at KingCan and won 7 Jutra film awards) I think it's a pretty safe bet.  The film follows the first days of an Algerian immigrant who is hired to replace a teacher who committed suicide.  Following his introduction and bonding with the children we learn more about the teacher himself and what each has to teach the other.

On TV:  Slings and Arrows is Canadian in that way that is sometimes vaguely painful and sometimes absolutely glorious.  I have a friend who frequently runs into Paul Grosse in public.  It's gotten to the point that whenever she begins a sentence with, "Oh, I wanted to mention that I ran into..." I'm always waiting for the end of the sentence to be, "Paul Grosse."  Which is kind of ridiculous. In either case while not my favourite actor, there are moments where he's absolutely incorrigible and this show is one of them.  Available on Netflix (in Canada) the show follows the path of a downtrodden group of aging actors when one of their number is involved in a fatal accident, bringing into sharp relief all the things they have not done in their lives and bringing those who would rather remain apart, back for one last show.

Retro Re-Watch: This honour goes to the film that got me into true cinema in the first place: Double Hapiness.  Starring a then very young Sandra Oh as well as Callum Keith Rennie, the film chronicles the struggles of a first generation Chinese-Canadian who wants nothing more than to be an actress but finds that the pressures of family and responsibility are weighing her down.  I remember catching a repeat of this on the CBC one night when I was very young and thinking, "Wow, I love these little moments where she's talking to the camera!"  The film flits between Jade Li's actual life with her parents and siblings and with her imaginary world in which she can be anything she wants.  While it's not the best example of Canadian film, it certainly holds a very special place in my heart.

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