Maybe you’ve heard of them. Maybe you haven’t. Explore this list if you have an open mind… (PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS LIST IS A WORK IN PROGRESS... and the movies are in no particular order!)
Bang Bang You're Dead
Trevor is a troubled high school student, thanks to the effects of bullying. This is the story of his fight to break free. (87 mins.)
“ A Canadian movie based on a play called « Bang Bang You’re Dead » that deals with the controversial issue of school shootings. Imperative for any high school teacher that wants to address the subject with his students or for anyone that wants to understand what goes on in the head of a child that decides to commit such an incomprehensible act of hatred.
By the way, you can easily find the play on Google as the authors have made it available for anyone interested in putting it on. ” - Virginie Mikaelian
In 1915 a genocide happened in the Ottoman Empire and about 1.5 million Armenians were systematically murdered by the government of the Young Turks... (157 mins.)
“ Being Armenian and French-Canadian has caused me many headaches. And though today I am very proud of both cultures, the major differences between them sometimes still leaves me in a place of no man's land. This movie captures precisely what it feels like to be descendants of the Armenian Diaspora and the weight on our shoulders as the sons and daughters of those that survived the genocide. ” - Virginie Mikaelian
C.R.A.Z.Y. Extraordinary lives of ordinary people in search of love and happiness - that's the premise of "C.R.A.Z.Y", a family drama unlike any other. (127 mins.)
“ The story about Quebec in the 70’s, a proud father who loves Patsy Cline and worships Charles Aznavour and his son who struggles with his sexual orientation in a world that is not quite ready to accept him as he is. The movie comes off as a perfect mixture between funny and moving and it succeeds where a lot of Quebec movies fail: it is easy to relate with no matter where you come from. Probably one of the most beautiful and engaging French-Canadian movies I’ve seen in my life. ” - Virginie Mikaelian
Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus
Turning her back on her wealthy, established family, Diane Arbus falls in love with Lionel Sweeney, an enigmatic mentor who introduces Arbus to the marginalized people who help her become one of the most revered photographers of the twentieth century. (122 mins.)
“ I have no idea who Diane Arbus is and frankly, it doesn’t matter. Linked by her passion for photography and his will to introduce her to his world, an unconventional romance occurs between a wealthy woman from a respected family and a strange man with an even stranger disease. ” - Virginie Mikaelian
A popular high school girl is harassed by a delinquent boy until they are placed in creative writing class together... (106 mins.)
“ An indie gem that tells the deep and angry love story between two high-schoolers who seem to have nothing in common but who share a mutual understanding through the fact that they are both put in the same creative writing class. This movie is clearly one of my all-time favorites. ” - Virginie Mikaelian
The Five of Us
In Montreal, the teenagers Manon, Anne, Isa, Claudie and Sophie are friends since their childhood. While... (87 mins.)
“ The story about five happy adolescent girls whose lives are forever changed when a hitchhiker kills and rapes one of them while another one is forced to watch. 15 years later, as the perpetrator of the crime is let out of prison on probation, the survivors of that day deal with the anger and despair of knowing that society is ready to forgive their tormentor.
I love how this movie treats the controversy surrounding the rehabilitation of individuals that commit such crimes while not taking anything away from their victims... ” - Virginie Mikaelian
A detective is trying to find the cause of a string of suicides. (99 mins.)
“ A movie that starts with a sequence you’ll probably never forget: 54 high-school girls holding hands that jump in front of a train while some happy sounding song plays in the background. As more and more suicides seem to follow those of the girls, a group of detectives who believe that the deaths are anything but random investigate in order to find a link connecting them together…
Behind the gory exaggerated and surreal images of filmmaker Shion Sono is a very accurate critique of the kind of world we live in today. A world in which the dense variety of communication outlets have isolated men to a point where the only connections we maintain are the ones that link us to the internet and where we try to relate with mainstream public figures more than we try relating with each other… ” - Virginie Mikaelian
The erotic novelist Taeko is writing a morbid story of a family destroyed by incest, murder and abuse. Her assistant, Yuji, sets on a mission to uncover the reality of this story, but the reality might be too much to bear. (108 mins.)
“ Another gem by the great Shion Sono…
The story of Strange Circus is hard to summarize as it vacillates between two worlds. On one hand, we have 12 years old Mitsuko who pretends to be her mother in order to cope with her father who rapes her and on the other hand, the world of an eccentric author renowned for her fiction novels full of taboo subjects such as incest.
The themes go along the lines of identity crisis where one loses himself to the point of psychosis in a society still strongly held together by a patriarchal social system that incessantly gives more power and credibility to male figures as opposed to female ones… trust me: this is a MUST-SEE. ” - Virginie Mikaelian
In this irreverent comedy, a failed actor-turned-worse-high-school-drama-teacher rallies his Tucson, AZ students as he conceives and stages politically incorrect musical sequel to Shakespeare's Hamlet. (92 mins.)
“ Filled with well placed pop culture references, Steve Coogan’s mimics and one-liners as well as Elisabeth Shue playing... herself (don't ask... LOL.), Hamlet 2 is one of the few movies who have succeeded at making me laugh so hard to the point of getting cramps. It’s completely absurd. LOL. ” - Virginie Mikaelian
Dancer in the Dark
An east European girl goes to America with her young son, expecting it to be like a Hollywood film. (140 mins.)
“ Accused of murder and sentenced to death, Selma pretends to be the star of her own musical Broadway show in order to cope with the agony of the choices she will have to make in order to give her son a chance to live a full and happy life.
Lars Von Trier’s masterpiece, to say the least. I could cry just thinking about it. ” - Virginie Mikaelian
“ A collection of 5 Japanese short “horror” stories… not all of them are good. Actually, there is only one that I like but I like it enough for the movie to earn a spot on this list.
Seven Rooms (story #2) is AMAZING. It’s about 20 minutes long and not only is it realistic, scary and stressful, it is also sweet and moving and extremely creative. And the last 5 minutes are so sad that I bawl my eyes out every time. ” - Virginie Mikaelian
Ju-on: White Ghost
Akane begins seeing visions of a female ghost wearing the same yellow hat and red satchel she wore as a school child. (61 mins.)
“ Though this movie is part of the series “Ju-On” (the Japanese horror phenomenon that was brought to us occidentals in the form of: “The Grudge” staring Sarah Michelle Gellar), this has nothing to do with the original plot. This is like a whole new grudge with a much scarier ghost and trust me when I say it is highly effective. It scared the life out of me. ” - Virginie Mikaelian
Mao's Last Dancer
A drama based on the autobiography by Li Cunxin. At the age of 11, Li was plucked from a poor Chinese... (117 mins.)
“ Set in the 80’s, Mao’s Last Dancer tells the true story of a young Chinese boy born in a village overwhelmed by poverty under the communist regime of Mao Tsö-Tong. As a child, he is noticed by a prestigious dance school and given a chance to become one of the greats to a point where China allows him to travel to the USA in order to dance with an important dance company.
To see someone thrive so hard to achieve his goals in an environment where one has to work 10 times harder to make it to the finish line with nothing but sincere hard work, extreme perseverance and a strong sense of what is right to guide him through the crushing obstacles along his way is one of the most inspiring things I’ve seen in my life.
Also: pay attention to the choreographies… one in particular was so beautiful it made me cry: the one that occurs in China at a time where the government demands that ballet companies strictly perform choreographies with strong communist themes... ” - Virginie Mikaelian