Recommend some good Canadian cinema, please

By the title I’m referring to movies set and filmed in Canada (i.e. not those that are set in NYC or LA but filmed in Toronto and Vancouver to save money).

My favorite Canadian films (of the few that I’ve seen) are both by Denys Arcand: Jésus de Montréal/Jesus of Montreal and Le Déclin de l’Empire Américain/Decline of the American Empire, neither of which is available on DVD (irritating). (Gay as I am I still fell in love with Megan Follows in the Anne of Green Gables movies but ultimately it’s a little too froo-froo for me.) I’d love to read some recs about others set in any of the Canadian cultures (French, English, Asian, Inuit/Native, Newfoundland, etc.).

You should watch anything you can get your hands on by Atom Egoyan; Exotica often gets wrongly shelved in the “adult” section of the video store, but it’s a serious, profound drama. Also check out The Sweet Heareafter by the same director, which made a pretty good showing at the Oscars two years or so ago.

The only other recommendation I have is Highway 61, a low-budget drama about a Canadian barber from Thunder Bay making his way down to New Orleans. It kind of embodies the “quirky independent” genre; if that’s not your cup of tea I don’t know if you’ll like it, but I thought it was loads of fun.

I highly recommend Last Night, directed by Don McKellar. The world is about to end from some unexplained catastrophe, but everyone has known for a long time exactly when… but we’re all calm with it as we spend our last days. It’s about how different people deal with this end and it’s brilliantly funny and touching.

Don McKellar! That’s the guy who wrote and starred in Highway 61; I’d forgotten his name. Cool, now I’ve got something to look for at the video store.

Oh, come on guys. Everyone knows the best Canadian movie is **Strange Brew.

Ya bunch of hosers.

Wherein jokes are undone by bad vbCode formatting.

I know, I know, it’s a made-for-TV miniseries, but The Arrow was well made, well acted, and a Canadian production. AND you can rent it.

I’d also recommend early David Cronenberg stuff like Scanners or The Brood. He’s mostly kept his productions north of the border, even more recently when American money has been funding his projects, so stuff like Dead Ringers, Crash, and eXistenZ might fit your bill. His stuff is usually gory but thought provoking.

I definitely agree with the previous posters. Arcand, Egoyan, and McKellar are all considered major players in Canadian film. I wish I could recommend a decent movie made by and for Western Canada, but nothing’s leaping to mind at the moment.

Oh, and I liked Strange Brew enough to buy the freakin’ DVD. It’s a beauty, eh?

Oh, and my wife just mentioned Men With Brooms. Perhaps not the finest movie ever made, but entertaining and very Canadian.

Damn, Sam Stone beat me to Strange Brew! It is of course the definitive Canadian film :slight_smile:

Seriously, if you like Denys Arcand, you should check out Robert Lepage. He is one of my favourites. Some of his best are Le confessional (takes place in Quebec City during the filming of the Alfred Hitchcock film The Confessional), Nô (flips back and forth between Expo 1970 in Japan and the October Crisis in Quebec) and my current favourite La face cachée de la lune (about twin brothers, both played by RL, opposite in temperament coping with the death of their mother and the disappointments in their lives - very full of fascinating imagery). Interestingly enough, Robert Lepage played the part of René in Jésus de Montréal (the actor who wanted to do the monologue from Hamlet).

I also second the Atom Egoyan recommendation, especially The Sweet Hereafter, about a schoolbus crash in a small BC town. (I have a soft spot for this one, since it was filmed in the area near where I live).

For some Aboriginal perspectives, check out Atanarjuat : The Fast Runner (Inuit) and Dance Me Outside (Natives in Ontario).

Also, Margaret’s Museum, which takes place in Nova Scotia, is a slow-moving, but very well-done film about a mining town in the 50s. This one stars Helena Bonham-Carter.

Why Shoot the Teacher, starring Bud Cort (from Harold and Maude), is the story of a teacher who arrives in a small town in Saskatchewan during the depression.

I don’t know how many of these are readily available in the US, but they are IMHO all worth the effort.

The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, from the novel by Mordecai Richler, set in Montreal’s Jewish community.

These might be hard to find, but they’re worth watching.

From the seventies:
Mon oncle Antoine: This movie regularly tops critics’ lists of greatest Canadian films. It’s a rather grim and slow coming of age tale set in a remote Quebec village.
Les ordres: A semi-documentary movie about people who were wrongly arrested under the war measures act during the October crisis.
Réjeane Padovani: A good crime movie by the same director as JdM and the Decline.
Les bons débaras: I think I have a soft spot for this one because it’s set around where I grew up, around the time I lived there. It’s a very sober, again slow, look at the life of a low-income single mother and her family.

From the eighties:
You already have the two most famous, and quite frankly there’s not much I feel like recommending. You might try to find Le party, a movie about prison inmates who try to organise… a party.

From the nineties:
Léolo: This movie was kind of a hit at Cannes, and is certainly very good.
El Dorado: Perfectly captures gen-x angst and general athmosphere of Montreal in the 90s.
Maudit Calvaire: I hate recommending yet another Arcand movie, but this less famous film about two homeless men is worth watching, as it’s not a subject matter you see addressed very often. Most of the script is made up of RL anecdotes.

Those are all French films, my favourite English productions have already been mentionned.

From Bruce McDonald, the director of Dance Me Outside and Highway 61 mentioned above, everyone should check out Hard Core Logo. It’s probably one of the best rock’n’roll movies ever made and tragically little-known. Seriously, it’s great and would be especially enjoyable for fans of the 1980s punk scene.

For a First Nations theme check out Clearcut, an okay hostage thriller with a bravura perfomance by Graham Greene (of Dances With Wolves) as a vengeful spirit putting a corporate lawyer through hell. Speaking of Dances With Wolves, check out it’s far better but much bleaker Canadian cousin Black Robe. It’s about a Jesuit travelling through the wilderness of 17th century Quebec and isn’t afraid to ask hard questions about the nature of faith, love and humanity. Highly recommended.

Les Boys is hardly a work of art but I have a soft spot for any hockey flick (except Youngblood, ugh).

Most of my other favourites have been mentioned.

Also check out the work of Canadian director Gary Burns.

Waydowntown - With the seemingly ubiquitous Don McKellar in a smaller role within a movie about trying to stay indoors for as long as possible.

The suburbanators - A very low budget, but enertaining movie about a day in the life for two guys in the suburbs

The kitchen party - I have to admit that I have not actually seen this movie, but I’ve heard good things.

Dude, rent FUBAR. It highlights the pinnacle of western society and culture ;). The characters are the same greasy longhairs in the recent anti-smoking commercials (which for some reason are filmed in Halifax, a block from my old place and Kevin Spacey’s American house in “The Shipping News”).

The previous movie mentioned Waydowntown is set in Calgary’s plus 15, banker’s hall network.

Oh God yes, rent FUBAR. It’s like Spinal Tap except they followed around some of their fans instead of the band.

Nobody has yet mentioned Don Shebib’s Goin’ Down the Road, from the 1960s. Good film, and SCTV did a brilliant takeoff on it.

For a suspense thriller, you can also try The Silent Partner, with Elliot Gould and Christopher Plummer. From the 1970s, I believe.

Thanks, Balduran and phreesh. I remember reading a favourable review of Waydowntown, now that it has been mentioned and I have seen FUBAR in the video store. I will add them to my “to see” list.

Well, if you haven’t seen it already, The Barbarian Invasions - which follows the same characters as Decline of the American Empire - is an obvious choice.

Some other thoughts:

The Red Violin and Sunshine are Canadian co-productions, and both are quite moving. The former tells the story of the people whose lives are shaped by the title instrument, starting in a violin-maker’s shop in 17th century Italy and ending in an auction house in present-day Montreal. The latter stars Ralph Fiennes playing three different roles - a judge in pre-war Europe, an Olympic fencer during the Holocaust, and a man trapped behind the Iron Curtain - in a movie chronicling three generations of a Jewish-Austrian family. They’re probably the closest you’d get to a Canadian “epic,” and each won a number of Genies (the Canadian equivalent to the Oscars).

My Life Without Me is a recent release, and while overly maudlin in parts, is worth seeing just for the wonderful performance by Sarah Polley. Seriously, any Canadian movie - no, any movie period - with Polley in it is worth checking out.

I’ve never seen Kissed, which stars Molly Parker (who was later in Men With Brooms), but if you can get past the subject matter - necrophilia - it’s supposed to be quite a good film. Also disturbing is David Cronenberg’s Crash, about strangers turned on by car crashes.

And Last Night is one of my favorite films, Don McKellar is one of my favorite actors, and FUBAR is freaking hilarous. Especially when…

…the “director” of the “documentary” falls into the river and dies. :smiley:

Also, check out the low-budget but incredibly clever horror flick Ginger Snaps. It’s both a very black satire on suburbia and a genuinely creepy werewolf film.