Thursday, February 22, 2007

Stranger Brews: An Idiosyncratic List of Great Canadian Movies

The Pith-household has yet to see Bon Cop, Bad Cop, but I hope to remedy this in light of Jacob Levy's enthusiastic recommendation:

To my American friends who still think Strange Brew (or "Blame Canada," or worst of all Canadian Bacon) is the ultimate cinematic expression of Canadianness, I highy recommend that you put this onto your Netflix queues. It's the funniest movie about federalism you're likely to see; the best (and most violent) action movie about language and translation problems; and the most politically and socially engaged movie about hockey. It's a real gem that as far as I can tell no one in the U.S. has heard of at all.

I have to agree with the Professor here. "Blame Canada" is a great musical number, but what hath Trey Parker to do with the land of Macdonald and Laurier? I haven't seen Canadian Bacon, thank God. I will hear nothing said against the Mackenzie brothers, SCTV's answer to Trudeau-era Canadian content rules, but Strange Brew was not their best work. Buy the albums - Geddy Lee's vocal on "Take Off (to the Great White North)" makes it all worth it.

But even those who take a more favourable view of SB than I do (e.g. the good people of Prince George) will admit that it doesn't exhaust the heavily-suibsidised Canadian film oeuvre.

I love On the Road. The DVD has a wonderful interview of the director by an improbably-dressed Pierre Berton, a reminder of a time when patriots -- while not required to lay down their lives -- were at least expected to pretend that Harold Innis was a genius.

My favourite Quebec film is Robert Lepage's Confessional. Arcand has redeemed himself after Jesus of Montreal with Les Invasions Barbares.

From Egoyan, I would endorse The Sweet Hereafter, Exotica and The Adjuster. I I like Bruce MacDonald's Highway 61 best, although Hard Core Logo is a better movie.

But the genius of Canadian cinema, in my humble opinion, hails from Winnipeg. Guy Maddin's Saddest Music in the World is the definitive statement on cold-weather multiculturalism. (His Tales from the Gimli Hospital is not a fair representation of our medical system. There is actually surprisingly little necrophilia and cannabilism. )

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