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Dead Ringers (1988)
8/10
Double your perverted fun
1 December 2003
Two doctors are identical twins and use this visual mélange to sleep with the same women and manipulate others. This is not completely central to the film, but it's where Cronenberg effectively raises to the top of his creepiness that explores our own dual consciences. If you're not a fan of his regular concentration on venereal horror, this might be the best introduction film to the world of Cron, but it does contain some of that aswell. I really liked this film and I think Irons perfomance(s) is amazing, you're never confused about who's who despite the fact that there are no regular visual clues. Typical Canadian ending, but would you really want anything else in a film like this?
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10/10
Comparing this to Spinal Tap makes you an idiot
24 November 2003
This is easily all around one of the best Canadian films ever

made. Yes it is a mockumentary, yes it is follows around a rock band

(rockumentary) but for every other reason this really should not be

compared to Spinal Tap. It really isn't a comedy, although it has some great moments in it.

It's also not about a band "struggling with fame" which is what

EVERY OTHER rock movie is about (Almost Famous, That Thing

You Do, Spinal Tap, The Doors, you name it). Just four guys

holding on to a dream that should have faded years ago, all the

while trying not to kill each other. I always knew Hugh Dillon was really the lead singer for the

Headstones, so I realized it wasn't really a documentary but

thought Hard Core Logo the band might still have existed and this

was a tribute. Not the case, but that takes nothing away from the

movie. They say not to watch this movie if you're in a band because it'll

make you never want to play. At the same time, I think anyone who

has been in a band will appreciate it that much more picturing how

their little arguments would be amplified to 10 years later. It's an

overall great gut check to picture just ow much you love playing

music, especially if noone wants to listen.
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Crash (1996)
6/10
buckle up before you watch Crash
24 November 2003
I'm not sure if a single viewing is enough to really judge this film,

but then again I don't know who would want to watch this twice... at

least not back to back. The most interesting thing about this film is the way it is just a

general criticism on America's obsession with action (car crashes

in movies) and sex. Cronenberg just takes the next logical step in

combining the two, somewhat a la George in Seinfeld with food

and sex. Some of it definitely drags, especially the love scene between

Spader and Koteas that for some reason feels too long before it

ever starts. The re-inactment of celebrity car crashes that they go see is

definitely cool though, and somehow realistic of a potential

modern fetish. Still, I like Crony's old stuff much better.
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8/10
A young and beautiful Genevieve Bujold falls victim to her own religious convictions
24 November 2003
This one is really hard to find, so if you've managed to get ahold of it kudos. Donald Sutherland and Genevieve Bujold are absolutely great in this as a young priest and commited choir girl. Paul Almond does a really nice job of easing into their growing and confusing relationship, which really picks up as the narrative unfolds in unlikely ways by the third act.

You really have to watch this whole movie before you form an opinion on it, and if you miss the last shocking 30 seconds then you'll probably have a low opinion of this movie. This one really need to be re-released on DVD (or at least video besides at the National Archives!) so it can get an audience.
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5/10
Canada's oldest feature film still available
24 November 2003
Hard to rate this thing on anything other than a funny reminder of

how Canada was and will always be renowned for Mounties,

snow, and wildlife. The scandalous "nude scene" where Nell Shipman is bathing

under a waterfall is what gave this film an audience, but definitely

not why it's still around today. It's actually a decent story where the

spirit of a dead Eskimo is incarnated into a husky, but that angle

doesn't really have any significance until the end of the film when

it's revisited. Most surprisingly, I found, was how progressive of a role Nell had

way back in 1919. She drives the plot and essentially rescues

herself from a lot of the danger, something Hollywood is still

reluctant to do. It wasn't actually the first feature film made in Canada

("Evangeline" was in 1913), but it's the earliest one left that has

been preserved. If for no other reason, you gotta check it our just

for that!
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7/10
First Canadian Feature Film Directed by a Woman
22 November 2003
This avant-garde effort by Mireille Dansereau is a feminist film from the early 70s that explores the emotional state of two 20-something women in Montreal. Without trying to be radical, Dansereau attempts to take a uniquely feminine perspective on the sexual blossoming of this women while pitting them against a still prominent patriarchal society.

The film is relatively episodic with no flowing narrative, other than the girls sexual obsession with a well established and married man. Their personal liberation is some-what predictable and anticlimactic, but none the less appropriate for the style of the film. Also contains a fair bit of nudity, always a bonus!
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6/10
Explores France's abandonment of Quebec
22 November 2003
It's too bad this film isn't better constructed, because the idea of it is very promising.

Middle-aged Abel goes to France from Quebec to explore what was at one time considered the "homeland" only find that nobody understands his "strange accent," has little opinion of Quebec and isn't at all sympathetic to their then plight to become a sovereign nation. It deals with the issue of abandonment from the country in both metaphors and literal expressions throughout the narrative, something many films from Quebec have always done on an abstract level.
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9/10
Often considered Canada's best feature film
22 November 2003
Don't be fooled by the nostalgic aura that surrounds "Mon oncle Antoine," because like the best of Canadian films darkness lurks just below the surface.

Set presumably in 1940s rural Quebec, the story explores the developing consciousness of young Benoit as he learns to deal with both sexuality and death.

The look of the film is astonishing, especially seeing as a high proportion of criticism towards Canadian cinema by the general public surrounds aesthetics. Beyond this, the unassuming Benoit is a seductive protagonist for the audience, looking at his corrupting community with fresh an innocent eyes.

I recommend reading Jim Leach's critical essay on the film in Canada's Best Features for anyone looking to place the film into a historical context while also dissecting the form of the film. Definitely check this one out.
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Little Criminals (1995 TV Movie)
9/10
Was this film really made by CBC?
21 November 2003
This movie came out a while ago, and I'm pretty sure it was made by the CBC. I only saw pieces of it then, but the images stuck in my memory for years until I saw it again on Showcase.

Really gritty movie that I'm glad has received an audience outside of just Canada. The kid's performance is mesmerizing and I enjoyed how a sympathetic angle was available, but not pushed. The ending to me was sad, despite how terrible the boy was, and is one of the images that sticks in my mind the most.

Anyone who feels that the younger generation is going to ruin the future, don't watch this film!! Like the "Thirteen," or "Kids," it's disturbing to watch people so young result to such drastic measures in life to feel accepted.
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Secret Nation (1992)
3/10
Good intentions, but...
21 November 2003
The story seems interesting enough; looking at Newfoundland joining the Confederation and a conspiracy being involved. The now familiar cast of This Hour Has 22 Minutes give modest dramatic performances, and only brief flashes of comedy. The entire film suffers from a mellow tone that never lets us feel that there is any threat of danger to these characters... because there's not.

The addition of a the super-natural doesn't help anything, especially in the climax of a reality based drama. But like all Canadian films, just being made is an accomplishment in its own right.
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9/10
Underappreciated Canadian film that should not be taken simply at face value
21 November 2003
There are a few really good reasons why people should make an effort to see this film.

First of all, it is a rare feature film unapologetically set in Saskatchewan that is above all entertaining. More importantly though, it is a good comment on Canadian culture being influenced by American culture in a fatal way.

I found Keir Dullea's character, Rick, charming as the wanna be sheriff of a small Saskatchewan town in the 70s, equipped with a holster, cowboy hat and chaps, and a sheriffs star on the side of his bright red car. More importantly, the town never mocked him, and when they did he would always stood up for himself and beat the crap out of people making fun of him .

In fact, as this dreamer he becomes the only interesting thing in the town which has you rooting for him throughout the film. If you're not reading between the lines of what this film is about though, it's still enjoyable to watch. And in its defence, it was made before the Tax Shelter era, so you can't write it off as a product of those days. It actually took heart to make this film, and it shows on screen.
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9/10
A key film for Quebec cinema
21 November 2003
Some might find the didactic poetry form of "Le Chat dans le sac" hard to watch, but for me it provided a very personal perspective into the mind set of the socially conscious youth of the time. As Quebec was coming out of the Quiet revolution, a new wave of thought was emerging for stronger independence and a growing sense of Quebec as a nation was forming. This obviously lead to huge changes in Canadian politics, and so the film is very interesting to study some 40 years later.

Stylistically, it lends itself to the ever Canadian style of documentary, and with good reason. It was conceived within the French studio of the NFB, but later converted to a feature fiction. At the exact same time, the English NFB came out with "Nobody Waved Goodbye" which was ironically conceived the same way, converted the same way, and deals with many parallel issues but through the eyes of a discontent teen in the Toronto area.

It might be hard to find, but worth the effort!
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