I watched these two movies recently, and they’re only appearing in the same post because of their Canadian content.
Goon – I avoided this movie because it reminded me of Slap Shot, which came out before I was born and I’ve never seen but hate all the same because of my Mom’s ex-boyfriend. His name was Keith and he was a loser. He was a decade too young for her, two decades too immature, unemployed of course, lived with his parents, didn’t have friends but loved to hang out at the local hockey rink trying to get the kids to call him “Ogie”. No one ever did. He was probably borderline mentally challenged, now that I think about it. Anyway, he was a creep, and anything he touched, I’d be turned off of for years. So a lack of comedies about hockey didn’t strike me as a national tragedy, but it did to Jay Baruchel, so he and Evan Goldberg set about to adapting this book into a film treatment. I have mad love for Baruchel but it still wasn’t until a fellow blogger suggested that this movie wasn’t awful that I finally gave it a chance. Sean William Scott stars as a guy who isn’t good at anything except taking punches, and giving them. A scrap gets him noticed by a local hockey coach, who drafts him onto the team as an enforcer, and once he learns to skate, he joins Kim Coates’ (Tig, from Sons of Anarchy, if you’re bad with names like me) team in the minor hockey league where Liev Schreiber’s thug character has just been demoted from the NHL for remorselessly hitting one too many people. Baruchel also appears as a cable access TV personality and salty-tongued cheer leader, and Eugene Levy plays Scott’s disapproving father. The movie doesn’t exactly break new ground, but it’s a little smart and a little sweet, and it kind of works. A sequel is in the works, with Baruchel set to make his directorial debut.
Stories We Tell – This “documentary” is by Sarah Polley. Does her name mean anything outside of Canada? I grew up watching her as Ramona (we didn’t have proper cable, but my Aunt Joan would send me VHS cassettes in the mail, having taped the episodes diligently from TV. She also starred in Road to Avonlea, a Canadian classic though not exactly my style. And I was also lucky enough to catch her on the stage in Stratford, performing the lead role in Alice Through The Looking Glass. More recently she’s known for having directed Away From Her (which got her an Oscar nom for adapted screenplay) and Take This Waltz. Stories We Tell is her first full-length documentary, though I hesitate to call in that because she really experiments with the form, incorporating re-enactments meant to look like home video, and she cleverly pieces together narrative from several different sources, highlighting the discrepancies in our memories and perceptions. It basically investigates a family rumour that Sarah’s dad is not her biological father. Her mother, who could easily put this argument to rest, died when Sarah was 11. You’d have to see it for yourself, because I’m still not sure if she so carefully protects her family out of compassion or narcissism, but either way it’s compelling.
Sarah Polley apparently turned down the role of Penny Lane in Almost Famous, but you know who did appear in that movie? Jay Baruchel! There you go. Full ciricle. Have you seen either of these? Who is your favourite Canadian actor?