Tag Archives: Canadian content

Dead Shack

Dead Shack is that rare comedy-horror hybrid that actually works on both counts. It was yet another surprise from Fantasia’s lineup and I really have to stop being surprised because the truth is the programming is quite excellent even if the movies tend to do be a little wheelhouse-busting.

[I mean, what the hell is a wheelhouse anyway? Well, okay, I know what a wheel house is, it’s the little shack on a fishing boat where the wheel goes. If something’s in your wheel house, then you’re capable of doing it. And it’s not that I’m incompetent or unable MV5BZTgzODJjNDUtNGVhNC00NmUxLWJmYWUtMWU0ZTRiMGZmMzMxXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjEwNTM2Mzc@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,743_AL_to watch genre films, it’s just that I’m rather chicken and often shy away. But here I am, grabbing the ole wheel by its…spokes? And I’m loving it.]

Dead Shack is about a family who goes on a budget camping trip to a rundown cabin in the middle of some bug-infested hellhole, and if I stopped writing right there, well, that’s horrific enough for me. But no. While on the trip, Dad and Dad’s new girlfriend immediately set to partying (euphemism for heavy drinking). His teenage Son and Daughter and their Ambiguous Friend knock about in the creepy surrounding woods and stumble upon a neighbour who looks like a Volvo-driving soccer Mom until she puts her armor on and brings home human prey for her undead family to feast upon.

For a movie about cannibalism, it’s actually quite funny. A lot of the fun comes from Dad, who is earnest and geeky and trying just a little too hard to be Cool Weekend Dad. But then it’s his kids who have to come to the rescue with their improvised armaments and slapped-together weapons. Death Shack kind of has the feel of an 80s movie – picture a Goonies-Evil Dead mashup. And there’s still plenty of gore and tense framing and a pretty heart-pounding soundtrack to satisfy the sickest of you souls. Bon appetit.

 

 

 

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Poor Agnes

Men murder whores; women murder their babies. Where the fuck does that leave Agnes? Sure she’s a serial killer but she’s alarmingly adept not just at murder but at slow, meticulous torture. She surveys a therapy group that meets about their hostage experiences, and takes notes.

Her most recent victim is chained up in her basement right now. Mike (Robert Notman) is a private detective who ironically came asking after a former victim from a decade ago. Now he’s in chains, starving to death while she plays games with him. Agnes sees beauty in other people’s pain.

This movie is fucked up, totally, totally fucked up. But if you have the stomach for it, the writing is exceptionally good for this genre of film. Lora Burke, as Agnes, is perfectly cast. fantasia2017-Poor_AgnesAgnes is a psychopath but Burke never overplays her. She’s deeply disturbed but can come off perfectly sane and reasonable. Even more astonishing, she can say the most distressing things so pleasantly it takes a moment before your ears truly catch up to what they’re hearing.

Over time, Agnes and Mike form a bond that defies categorization. The film zings between victimization, sadism, cruelty, and remorselessness. Abu Ghraib’s got nothing on Agnes. She does abuse and mind-control like nobody’s business. But it’s not as brutal to watch as you might think; the one scene that made me GOL (gasp out loud) involved off-brand processed cheese, and believe me, that’s enough.

The most interesting thing about this movie is your reaction to it. Burke’s performance is so measured, it’s a struggle not to root for the bad guy. And she’s a very bad guy.

 

Canada 150

Today we celebrate Canada’s birthday, and it’s a big one this year: 150. So here’s a list of 150 things I love about Canadian film:

Canadians make you laugh:

1.Norm MacDonald: Born in Quebec City, Norm got his start writing (The Dennis Miller Show, and then Roseanne) but of course moved on to SNL where he formed friendships which still result in movie roles today: The Ridiculous 6, Funny People, and Dirty Work. You can catch him right now in Girl Boss and The Middle, plus he’s got a new stand-up special on Netflix.

2. Eugene Levy: Born in Hamilton, Ontario, burst onto the scene in SCTV, and those improv skills would pay off years (decades) later when he teamed up with Christopher Guest for a series of mockumentaries including Best in Show and A Mighty Wind. Regular movie goers will likely recognize him as Jim’s Dad in American Pie. Right now 914acc14f981294edbad7bb009a9d2a3he’s got a hilarious new show with his real-life son called Schitt’s Creek.

3. Catherine O’Hara: Born in Toronto, she co-stars frequently with Eugene Levy, including the Christopher Guest movies, and the delightful Schitt’s Creek. She’s also popularly known as Kevin’s Mom from Home Alone, and Delia Deetz from Beetlejuice.

4. Phil Hartman: Born in Brantford, Ontario, Phil died too soon from tragic circumstances, but not before leaving us with a real legacy of his delicious work, including long stints on SNL, The Simpsons, and Newsradio, as well as memorable movie roles in Sgt. Bilko, Jingle All The Way, and Houseguest.

5. Rick Moranis: Also born in Toronto, Rick was of course on SCTV where he first became half of that nitwit Canadian duo, Bob and Doug McKenzie (see Strange Brew for a crash course). He appeared in Ghostbusters, Spaceballs, Parenthood, and Little Shop of Horrors. He played Barney Rubble in The Flintstones and had a career-defining role in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (and its various shitty sequels).

6. John Candy: Born in Toronto and naturally a cast member on SCTV, he left a major impression on comedies of the 80s and 90s, including Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Uncle Buck, Cool Runnings, and Canadian Bacon.

7. Jim Carrey: Born in Newmarket, Ontario, Carrey churned out dozens of horrid comedies, including Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask, Dumb and Dumber, The Cable Guy and Liar, Liar. He’s also taken some turns for the more serious, in films like The Truman Show, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Man on the Moon.

8. Martin Short: Born in Hamilton, Ontario, he inevitably landed on SCTV as all good Canadians must (it was our version of SNL) and went on to such silliness as Three Amigos, Father of the Bride, and Mars Attacks! He’s also done voice work in The Prince of Egypt, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, Treasure Planet, and Frankenweenie – and that’s beside his most famous role as official spokesperson in the Canadian pavilion at Epcot.

9. Mike Myers: Proudly born in Scarborough, Ontario, Myers achieved fame on SNL and watched it snowball with hits like Wayne’s World, So I Married an Ax Murderer, Austin Powers, and Shrek.

10. Michael Cera: Born in Brampton, Ontario, Cera was cast as an awkward, gawky teen on Arrested Development and has basically played that role ever since: Superbad, Juno, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, Lemon, Crystal Fairy & The Magical Cactus.

Canadians make you soon:

11. Ryan Gosling: Born in London, Ontario (and shout-out to my hometown, Cornwall, where he briefly lived with his father), Gosling was the first person born in the 1980s to be nominated for Best Actor (Half Nelson – 2006). Over here, we knew him first as a gangly, geeky kid on Breaker High, and a dweeby one on the Micky Mouse Club, but by the time The Notebook hit theatres, he was a certified heart throb. Luckily, he’s got acting chops to back it up, and has seen success with the likes of Lars and the Real Girl, Drive, The Place Beyond the Pines, The Big Short, and La La Land, which landed him another Oscar nod.

1f026ba441f53793f9835bfddc6484a3--deadpool-movie--film-12. Ryan Reynolds: Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Reynolds used a weird sitcom called Two Guys, A Girl, and a Pizza Place to launch a varied career that has included the highs and lows of Van Wilder, Definitely Maybe, Adventureland, Green Lantern, RIPD, Woman In Gold, and finally, Deadpool, where he seems to have hit his stride.

13. Rachel McAdams: Born in London, Ontario, her big break was probably getting cast as the proverbial mean girl in Mean Girls. Though born in the very same hospital as Ryan Gosling, the two didn’t meet until cast together in The Notebook. They hated each other, of course, and had horrible fights on set. After the movie wrapped, they somehow had a four year relationship, during which she did Wedding Crashers and The Time Traveler’s Wife. She also went on to do Midnight in Paris, Aloha, Southpaw, and Spotlight.

14. Joshua Jackson: Born in Vancouver, B.C., he realized every little Canadian boy’s dream by starring in the ultimate hockey movie, Might Ducks long before he became Dawson’s Creek’s resident heart throb, Pacey. He spun that into a movie career that included roles in Urban Legend, Cruel Intentions, and The Skulls.

15. Dwayne Johnson: You got me; The Rock isn’t Canadian but he does have Canadian citizenship, and that’s because his daddy was born in Amherst, Nova Scotia. And before he was a wrestler, Dwayne played in the Canadian Football League, for the Calgary Stampeders.

16. Pamela Anderson: Born in Ladysmith, B.C., Pamela shares a birthday with Canada: she was born on its centennial, which makes Pamela 50 years old today. We were all reminded of her origin story earlier this summer with her cameo on Baywatch, but her movie career has also included such smash hits as Barb Wire, Pauly Shore Is Dead, and Scary Movie 3.

17. Charlotte Le Bon: Born in Montreal, Quebec, Charlotte Le Bon sizzles in pretty much everything she’s in. Don’t take my word for it, check her out in The Walk, The Promise, Anthropoid, The Hundred Foot Journey, or In The Shadow of Iris.

Canada makes you think:

18. The Corporation: This documentary explores the weird concept of a corporation that we have, with special attention to the American legal definition of a corporation as a person.

19. Pink Ribbons Inc: This documentary explores the big business of breast cancer, where and how the fund-raised money is spent (hint: you’re not going to like it). Really eye-opening, changed the way I donate.

20. Dear Zachary: A Letter To A Son About His Father: A film maker makes a film for the unborn son of his murdered friend, a gift to a fatherless baby. Really moving.

21. Angry Inuk: An in-depth look at seal hunting in the Inuit community. Really makes you see the other side of the issue.51IXTpRbFmL

22. Grass: The history of the American government’s war on marijuana in the 20th century. Woody Harrelson narrates.

23. Secret Path: A haunting look at the legacy of residential schools on Indigenous populations, through the eyes of one particular child who perished.

24. Ninth Floor: About the 1969 student protest against Sir George Williams University’s administration’s mishandling of racist accusations towards a professor.

25. Stories We Tell: A documentary that uncovers layers and layers of family lore to see if truth can be uncovered – or if there is any such thing as one family truth.

Canadians kick butt:

26. Evangeline Lilly: Born in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, I’ll always think of her as the phone sex girl, but most outside of Canada got to know her as a tough survivor on Lost. She’s had film roles in The Hurt Locker, Real Steel, and The Hobbit, but she’s also dipped her toes into the Marvel Universe as The Wasp. You’ve already seen her in Ant-Man; stay tuned for more kick-butt action in Ant-Man and The Wasp, and of course an upcoming Avengers movie.

27. Keanu Reeves: He wasn’t born here – in fact, he was born in Beirut. But he landed in and grew up in Toronto, where he became a naturalized citizen. He played hockey of course, where he earned the nickname The Wall as a goalie, but his dreams of playing for Canada were dashed with an injury. In his first studio movie, Youngblood, he played a Canadian goalie, and with his dreams relit, he packed his bags for Hollywood, where I believe you know the rest, culminating in kick-ass roles in the likes of The Matrix and more recently, John Wick.

28. Hayden Christensen: Born in Vancouver but raised in Markham, Ontario, a city in which I lived right around the time that he was filming those Star Wars prequels. He got to play Anakin Skywalker, humanizing and some might say emo-ifying the most badass villain of all time, Darth Vader.

29. Cobie Smulders: Born in Vancouver, Smulders became known on the sitcom How I Met Your Mother but for some reason has parlayed that into a kick-butt movie career where she’s played Wonder Woman (in The Lego Movie), agent Maria Hill in various Avengers movies, and Jack Reacher‘s sidekick in the most recent iteration.

30. Nathan Fillion: Born in Edmonton, Alberta, Nathan Fillion appeared on that infamous giphy.gifTwo Guys, A Girl, and a Pizza Place with fellow Canuck Ryan Reynolds back in the day, and that’s not the only thing they have in common. Fillion must have a super hero kind of voice, because before voicing a car in Cars 3, he did Steve Trevor in an animated Wonder Woman film, Green Lantern in several animated Justice League films, and even a “Monstrous Inmate” in Guardians of the Galaxy. Sadly, he was cut out of Guardians 2, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they found something for him in #3…maybe as Captain Hammer, from Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog?

31. Anna Paquin: Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, she won her first Oscar at the age of 11, the second youngest ever to do so, a Best Supporting win for The Piano. She’s been kicking ass uphill ever since and the only question is which role was more badass: Sukie in True Blood, or Rogue in X-Men?

32. Carrie-Anne Moss: Born in Vancouver B.C, Moss hit it big alongside Keanu in The Matrix. She followed up the trilogy with roles in Memento, Chocolat, and Disturbia.

33. Victor Garber: Born in London, Ontario, Garber has had a long career with kick butt roles in Alias, Argo, and Sicario. His various movie credits include Legally Blonde, Sleepless in Seattle, Milk, and Self\less.

34. Will Arnett: Born in Toronto, Arnett starred in Arrested Development, and again with Michael Cera in The Lego Batman Movie, in which he played Batman and Cera played – Robin? He’s had semi-heroic roles in Jonah Hex, Despicable Me, Men in Black 3, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. If you prefer him downtrodden, try him on Netflix in either Bojack Horseman, or Flaked.

Canadians are multi-talented:

35. Jay Baruchel: Born right here in Ottawa, and raised just a little down the highway in Montreal, Jay Baruchel made a name for himself in movies like Almost Famous and Million Dollar Baby. He’s also been an Apatow mainstay, appearing in comedies like This Is The End and Knocked Up. He really hit pay dirt with blockbuster franchise How To Train Your Dragon, in which he voices the lead character, Hiccup. He’s also got screen writing credits on hockey movie Goon, and a directing credit on its sequel.

36. Paul Haggis: Born in London, Ontario, Haggis because the first screenwriter to write two Best Film Oscar winners back to back: Million Dollar Baby, and Crash, which he also directed (it won Best Original Screenplay as well). Other writing credits include Flags of Our Fathers, Quantum of Solace, Casino Royale, Letters From Iwo Jima, and In the Valley of Elah, which he also directed.

37. William Shatner: Born in Montreal, Quebec, is of course known first and foremost as the original Captain Kirk on Star Trek. You may or may not remember him alongside Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn in Dodgeball, or opposite Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality 2. He’s also done voicework on animated films such as The Wild, and Over The Hedge. He also wrote and directed The Captains, a documentary about all the actors who have played Star Trek captains.

38. Nia Vardalos: Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Nia weirdly also has a one-episode credit from Two Guys, A Girl, and a Pizza Place, but she got her big break when Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks attended her one-woman show. Having Greek heritage in common with her, Wilson was immediately charmed, and helped turn that show into My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which would become a sleeper hit. Vardalos also wrote Connie and Carla, Larry Crowne, and of course the Greek Wedding sequel, and she tried her hand as director on I Hate Valentine’s Day.

39. Sarah Polley: Born in Toronto, she was known to us Canadian folk when she was just a little girl starring on Ramona, and Avonlea (I also so her on the stage in Stratford, in a production of Alice Through The Looking Glass). Her film career has had some strong roles, in The Sweet Hereafter, Go, My Life Without Me, and Dawn of the Dead. She’s also gone writer-director with Away From Her, Take This Waltz, and Stories We Tell.

40. Dan Akroyd: Born right here in Canada’s capital city, Ottawa (fun fact: his father was a policy adviser to then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, father of current Prime Minister Justin), Danny boy also shares a birthday with our country; he turns 65 today. Aside from SNL, we know and love him from Trading Places,  The Great Outdoors, Driving Miss Daisy, My Girl, My Fellow Americans, Grosse Pointe Blank, Pearl Harbor, 50 First Dates, Tammy, and Pixels – not to mention the terrific characters he’s written: The Blues Brothers, Ghostbusters, and Coneheads.

41. Seth Rogen: Born in Vancouver, Rogen has directing credits include This Is The End and The Interview, writing credits including Pineapple Express, Sausage Party, and The Green Hornet, plus, you know, the acting thing: The Disaster Artist, The Night Before, Steve Jobs, The Guilt Trip, 50\50, The 40 Year Old Virgin.

Canadians have vision:

42. David Cronenberg: Born in Toronto, Cronenberg is know as the King of Venereal Horror or the Baron of Blood – and he’s proud of it. He’s the director responsible for the likes of The Fly, Crash, eXistenZ, A History of Violence, Eastern Promises, Maps to the Stars, and more.

43. James Cameron: Born in Kapuskasing, Ontario, Cameron made Titanic, the first Best Picture Academy Award winner to be produced, directed, written, and edited by the same person. He also wrote The Terminator, Aliens, and True Lies, and directed The Abyss, Terminator 2, and is in the middle of doing 5 Avatar films all at once.

44. Norman Jewison: Born in Toronto, Jewison is the visionary director behind The Cincinnati Kid, In the Heat of the Night, The Thomas Crown Affair, Jesus Christ Superstar, Fiddler On The Roof, Moonstruck, and The Hurricane.

45. Denys Arcand: Born in Deschambault, Québec, Arcand is the talented director behind Jesus of Montreal, Days of Darkness, and The Barbarian Invasions, which won best screenplay at Cannes, best Canadian feature film at TIFF and the Best Foreign Film Oscar. In 2005 Arcand was named Companion of the Order of Canada, which recognizes individuals for exceptional achievements of national or international significance.

46. Patricia Rozema: Born in Kingston, Ontario, Rozema directed the apocalyptic Into the Forest and Mansfield Park, which she also wrote. She also adapted Grey Gardens along with Michael Sucsy, which Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange made famous.

47. Atom Egoyan: Born in Egypt but raised in Victoria BC from the age of 2, Atom became part of the Toronto New Wave style of film making. His career breakthrough came with Exotica, and critical acclaim followed with The Sweet Hereafter, which garnered him two Oscar nominations, and finally, commerical success with Chloe, Ararat, and The Captive (which stars Ryan Reynolds). Egoyan received the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award, Canada’s highest royal honour in the performing arts, in 2015

48. Ivan Reitman: Born in Czechoslovakia, his family came to Canada as immigrants when he was 4, and they settled in Toronto. His directing credits include Meatballs, Stripes, Ghostbusters, Dave, Twins, Kindergarten Cop, and Six Days Seven Nights. He is currently working on a Twins sequel called Triplets.

49. Jason Reitman: Ivan’s son Jason was born in Montreal and followed in his father’s footsteps, career-wise, directing Thank You for Smoking, Juno, Up In the Air, and Men, Women & Children.

50. Philippe Falardeau: Born across the river from here in Hull, Quebec, Falardeau is the director of Monsieur Lahzar, The Good Lie, and Chuck (aka, The Bleeder).

51. Deepa Mehta: Born in Amritsar, Punjab, raised in New Delhi, Mehta immigrated to Canada in 1973. She made a remarkable trio of films (the “elements trilogy”): Earth, Wind, and Fire, and get this: Earth was sent by India to the Academy Awards as its official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film, and Water was sent by Canada for the same – where it secured a nomination. Other notable films include Heaven on Earth, Midnight’s Children, Beeba Boys, and Anatomy of Violence.

52. Denis Villeneuve: Born in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, Villeneuve made strong Canadian films like Incendies and Polytechnique and then made the leap to Hollywood, directing Prisoners, Enemy, Sicario, and Arrival. He’s currently working on Blade Runner 2049.

53. Jean-Marc Vallée: Born in Montreal,  Vallée also made a film little-known outside of Canada called C.R.A.Z.Y before making it big with films like Dallas Buyers Club, Wild, and Demolition.

54. Xavier Dolan: Also born in Montreal, Dolan has been a hidden gem here for some time, but that’s about to change. He’s already got some great movies under his belt Laurence Anyways, Mommy, and It’s Only The End of the World. He caught the eye of Adele, who had him direct her infamous video for Hello, and now he’s making his first English-language film, called The Death and Life of John F. Donovan, starring Natalie Portman, Jessica Chastain, Susan Sarandon, Kathy Bates, and Canada’s own Jacob Tremblay.

Canada is beautiful:

elbow-falls-sunrise-c2a9-2012-christopher-martin-556855. Brokeback Mountain: the film, like the story, is set in Wyoming, but it’s beautiful Canada you’re seeing on screen, almost entirely the Rocky Mountains of southern Alberta. Particular locations include Upper Kananaskis Lake, Mount Lougheed, The Fortress, Moose Mountain, Elbow Falls, and Canyon Creek.

56. Capote: set in Kansas but actually filmed around Winnipeg, Manitoba, because nobody does rural quite like Canadians. Aside from the plains, locations include Stony Mountain Institution (a prison), and the Manitoba Legislative Building.

57. Titanic: okay, the movie was mostly shot in a huge water tank in Mexico, but James Cameron did bring cast and crew to Halifax, Nova Scotia to shoot some harrowing ocean scenes aboard the icebreaker CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent. And you’re going to hate this, but that controversial piece of wood that Rose floats on after the ship sinks is based on a real life artifact that’s on display in a museum in Halifax.

58. One Week: in this movie, Joshua Jackson hops on a motorcycle and does a road trip through Canada, coast to coast, or just about. From Toronto he rides west, through the Prairies and the Rockies to Vancouver Island. He makes various stops at cheesy “big things”, like Sudbury’s giant nickel, Drumheller’s dinosaur and Wawa’s Canada Goose.

59. The Incredible Hulk: our largest city, Toronto, is a frequent stand-in for New York City but what locked it down for the Hulk was the mayor’s fanboy promise to shut down Yonge Street, a major thoroughfare, for four whole nights of intensive filming – you know, explosions and burning cars. Sean and I both lived there at the time but I don’t have any Hulk sightings to tell you about.

60. The Virgin Suicides: Sofia Coppola’s film about a group of male friends who become obsessed with five mysterious sisters who are sheltered by their strict, religious parents in suburban Detroit in the mid-1970s was filmed in, you guessed it, Toronto!

61. Interstellar: Christopher Nolan’s film was partially filmed in Alberta –  in Lethbridge, Fort Macleod, and Okotoks to be exact, where the dust bowl scenes were filmed and the corn fields were planted. Figures: no place better than The Prairies for that!

62. The Revenant: When Alejandro G. Iñárritu needs rural, snowy forests and mountains, he knows just where to go: northern Canada! Filmed in British Columbia and Alberta, Canada looked beautiful, if not altogether inviting, in my opinion much nicer than the real places they were playing, ie, Montana and South Dakota.

Canada on purpose:

63. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The graphic novel is set in Toronto and so too is the film,tumblr_lqo9zoYN2I1qb3f0ao1_500 thanks to director Edgar Wright who made it happen. The film is peppered with recognizable Toronto landmarks – for once we see our city in a film and we can claim it properly.

64. The Shipping News: For some time this was the most depressing movie on the planet. A grieving Kevin Spacey movies to Newfoundland where he meets a widowed Julianne Moore  and lives in a derelict home. The Maritimes looks just as bleak as you’d expect.

65. What If: Can a man and woman really be just friends? Written by Canadian screenwriter Elan Mastai, it’s set amid the romantic backdrop of Toronto but instead of popular attractions, Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan’s ultra-hip characters meet and fall in love in lesser-known locations like the George Street Diner, Rooster Coffee House, Riverdale Park and the Royal Cinema.

66. The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz: Based on the novel by Mordecai Richler and starring Richard Dreyfuss, The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz follows the titular character as he tries to scheme his way out the poor Jewish community of 1950s Montréal. Saint Urban Street plays a prominent role in the film, as does Wilensky’s, a popular lunch counter first opened in 1932 that you can still visit today. Highly recommended is the Wilensky Special: a sandwich of all-beef salami and bologna, Swiss cheese and mustard pressed between two slices of yellow bread.

67. Take This Waltz: On a plane ride back to Toronto, Margot (Michelle Williams) meets and crushes on Daniel (Luke Kirby). Sharing a cab home, they discover they are neighbours, because Margot is an otherwise happily married woman (to Seth Rogen). Actually filmed right in Toronto.

68. Everything’s Gone Green: Ryan (played by Canadian Paulo Costanzo) is a slacker tempted by a money laundering scheme while writing for a lottery magazine. Filmed AND set in Vancouver, the movie (written by Canada’s Douglas Coupland) pokes fun at how often Vancouver is dressed as Los Angeles – with one potted palm tree that makes the rounds of all the film productions in town.

69. Enemy: about a college professor in Toronto (Jake Gyllenhaal) who’s stuck in a rut until he randomly watches a rental video and spots an actor who looks just like him. He looks him up and becomes obsessed with his lookalike. Actually filmed in and around Toronto, a brilliant film by our own Denis Villeneuve.

Canadian Idol:

70. Chantal Kreviazuk: This Winnipeg-born songstress has 45 soundtrack credits under her belt, but none as famous as her cover of Leaving on a Jet Plane for Armageddon. (Her husband Raine Maida’s band Our Lady Peace also appears on the soundtrack.)

71. Alanis Morissette: Ottawa-born Alanis played God in Kevin Smith’s Dogma, but she’s got 98 soundtrack credits listed on IMDB, including The Internship, The Devil Wears Prada, and City of Angels where she’s got a particularly haunting one called Uninvited (fellow Canadian had the smash hit from the same movie).

72. Celine Dion: She made a cameo in Muppets Most Wanted as the Piggy Fairy Godmother, but Charlemagne, Quebec born Dio has a whopping 110 soundtrack credits, including that monster hit for Titanic (which she didn’t much care for – she only sang it once, the song we heard a million times on the radio was the demo). Of course you can’t discount her epic song for Beauty and the Beast, and Sleepless in Seattle, and Up Close & Personal.

73. Neil Young: 142 soundtrack credits for this formidable folk singer born in Toronto. You’ve heard his music in the likes of Jerry Maguire, Philadelphia, Almost Famous, and The Big Short.

74. Bryan Adams: Hailing from Kingston, Ontario, Adams surprisingly tops Dion with 165 soundtrack credits, including huge ballads for Don Juan DeMarco, The Three Musketeers, and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

75. Leonard Cohen: This Legend born in Montreal has 261 soundtrack credits to his name. Among the many movies his songs have appeared in: Natural Born Killers, Shrek, Watchmen, and Sing.

76. Christophe Beck: This Montreal-born composer proves Canadians are more than just a hit single on the soundtrack. This busy guy has worked on 140 movies, including The Hangover, Ant-Man, Frozen, Trolls, Pitch Perfect, Cake, and Edge of Tomorrow.

77. Howard Shore: Born in Toronto, Shore is a musical genius who has composing credits like Denial, Spotlight, The Hobbit, The Departed, The Lord of The Rings, and Aviator. He’s also served as orchestral conductor on Hugo, Doubt, High Fidelity, and Dogma.

78. Jeff Danna: Born in Burlington, Ontario, Danna’s varied composer credits range from Silent Hill, Fracture, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, The Good Dinosaur, and Storks.

79. Mychael Danna: Brother to Jeff (above), Winnipeg-born Mychael is an Oscar-winning composer (for Life of Pi), whose credits include Moneyball, 500 Days of Summer, and Little Miss Sunshine.

80. Michael Brook: This Toronto-born composer has such credits as The Perks of Being A Wallflower, Heat, Into the Wild, and The Fighter.

81. Owen Pallett: You may know him as a member of Arcade Fire, but Mississauga-born Pallett has composing credits for The Box, The Wait, Life, and an Oscar nomination for Her.

82. Paul Schaffer: You may know him as David Letterman’s band leader\right hand man, but Thunder Bay-born Schaffer has a whole bunch of soundtrack credits, and it’s all because of one little song: he co-wrote It’s Raining Men, and that song has legs! It’s appeared in The LEGO Batman movie, Magic Mike, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Eraser, and more.

83. David Foster, of Victoria, BC, has not one but two best original song nominations to his name, for Karate Kid Part II (Glory of Love) and The Bodyguard (I Have Nothing). Other sound track listings include Ghostbusters, Deadpool, and A Hologram for the King.

Canadians shine bright:

84. Michael J Fox: This Edmonton-born actor just received the Governor General’s Award for the performing arts – he got up on stage and performed Light of Day with Joan Jett. He also had an iconic role in Back To The Future, not forgetting Teen Wolf, The Secret of my Succe$s, For Love or Money, and Mars Attacks!

85. Mary Pickford: This Toronto-born actress was the first Canadian to be nominated (then win) an Oscar – Best Actress 1928 for Coquette. She worked in and conquered Hollywood from 1909-1933, with some 250 credits to her name, including The Poor Little Rich Girl, Little Annie Rooney, and Daddy-Long-Legs.

86. Christopher Plummer: Hailing from the city of Toronto, Plummer has two Oscar nominations to his name: best supporting actor for The Last Station, and Beginners (the latter of which he won). He also appeared in The Sound of Music, A Beautiful Mind, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Pixar’s Up.

87. Jacob Tremblay: This 10 year old from Vancouver won hearts in Room and has3rd Annual "An Evening With Canada's Stars" followed it up with roles in Shut In, Burn Your Maps, and Before I Wake.

88. Walter Huston: Toronto-born Huston received an Academy nomination in 1936 for Dodsworth and again in 1941 for The Devil and Daniel Webster. He also had memorable roles in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Yankee Doodle Dandy, and And Then There Were None.

89. Ellen Page: From Halifax, Nova Scotia, Page secured an Oscar nomination with her breakout role in Juno. She’s also appeared in Inception, Tallulah, Freeheld and Into the Forest – the last two she also produced.

90. Norma Shearer: Born in Montreal, Shearer won an Oscar for best actress in 1929 for The Divorcee, and was nominated additionally for Their Own Desire, A Free Soul, The Barretts of Wimpole Street, Romeo and Juliet, and Marie Antoinette.

91. Donald Sutherland: Born in Saint John, New Brunswick, Sutherland has credits spanning 6 decades (and counting), from The Dirty Dozen to Backdraft, JFK, The Italian Job, and The Hunger Games.

92. Graham Greene: Born on the Six Nations Reserve in Ontario, Greene was the second First Nations actor to secure an Oscar nod for best supporting actor, Dances With Wolves, 1990 (Chief Dan George was first). You may have also seen him in Die Hard, The Green Mile, and the Twilight saga.

93. Marie Dressler: Born in Cobourg, Ontario, Dressler won her first Oscar in 1930 for Min And Bill, and was nominated again the following year for Emma.Memorable roles include Anna Christie, Dinner At Eight, and Tillie’s Punctured Romance.

Did you know?

94. Roger Avary, from Flin Flon, Manitoba shared a best original screenplay Oscar with Quentin Tarantino for Pulp Fiction.

95. Neill Blonkamp, though South African born, moved to Vancouver B.C. at age 18 where he attended film school. Now a citizen of Canada, he and his Canadian wife Terri Tatchell received an Oscar nomination for writing District 9 together.

96. Emma Donoghue, the author and screenwriter behind Room, is Irish-born but a Canadian citizen. She received an Oscar nomination for her work.

97. Michèle Burke, also born in Ireland but a naturalized Canadian. She has 6 Oscar nominations and 2 wins for her work in makeup and hairstyling: Quest for Fire, The Clan of the Cave Bear, Cyrano de Bergerac, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, and The Cell.

98. Jack L. Warner, born in London, Ontario, was a 6-time Oscar-nominated producer, of best picture nominees Disraeli, Flirtation Walk, All This, and Heaven Too, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Auntie Mame, and My Fair Lady, which won. He also executive-produced Casablanca.

99. Ralph E. Winters, Toronto born, was an Oscar-nominated editor. He received Academy nominations for Quo Vadis, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, The Great Race, and Kotch, plus two wins, for Ben-Hur, and King Solomon’s Mines.

100. Graham Annable, born in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, is an animator who’s worked on BoxtrollsSetVisitStacchiAnnableCoraline, Paranorman, Kubo and the Two Strings, Despicable Me 3, and received an Oscar nomination as director of Boxtrolls.

101. Dean Deblois, born in Brockville, Ontario bur raised within spitting distance of here in Aylmer, Quebec, is an animator and director. He’s worked on Mulan, Lilo & Stitch, and was Oscar-nominated as director of How to Train Your Dragon, and its sequel.

Favourite Canadian Film Festival

102. The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is one of the largest publicly attended film festivals in the world. Founded in 1976, it has screened major award contenders such as Room, The Imitation Game, 12 Years a Slave, La La Land, and The King’s Speech.

Canadians are such characters:

103. Argo: Americans call it Argo, but historically, we have referred to this as the “Canadian caper” – the movie was criticized here for minimizing the role of the Canadian embassy in the rescue but that’s the Hollywood machine for you.

104. Logan: Wolverine himself is of course Canadian, born in Cold Lake, Alberta. Deadpool is also Canadian – the comics always said origin unknown but the movie professed his birthplace to be Regina, Saskatchewan – the city that rhymes with fun!

105. The Whole Nine Yards: Rosanna Arquette repeatedly butchers the French-Canadian accent, which must have been particularly painful to costar Matthew Perry, who is actually Canadian.

106. Zootopia: Peter Moosebridge, the news anchor in Zootopia (seen only in Canada, PeterMoosebridge-ZootopiaFrance, and USA versions) is a salute to our own venerated Peter Mansbridge.

107. The Love Guru: It isn’t Mike Myers playing the Canadian in this film but rather Justin Timberlake, who s3_timberlake_le_coqplayed a French Canadian goalie who sang lots of Celine songs and offered people a “Quebec pizza” (a poptart with ketchup).

 

108. The Proposal: Sandra Bullock plays a NYC book editor who turns out to actually be Canadian, and is facing deportation, having overstayed her visa. So she has to go home and convince her American assistant (played by Canadian Ryan Reynolds, haha) to marry her.

109. South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut: In which Canadian movie stars Terrence & Philip teach kids to swear and their parents blame Canada – with a snappy song!

110. The 39 Steps: Shame on Alfred Hitchcock; he changed his protagonist from British to Canadian only to cast a Brit, who wasn’t very convincing.

111. The 49th Parallel: Speaking of unconvincing, how about Laurence Olivier’s Québécois accent? Possibly the worst of his career.

112. Secretariat: Although. John Malkovich as a French Canadian? Also pretty laughable.

113. Yoga Hosers: This is the second in Kevin Smith’s Canadian trilogy and a real stinker, the Canadian characters complete caricatures – and not a real Canadian among the cast.

114. Sicko: Michael Moore tackles health care in this documentary, and he makes an obligatory trip across the border into Canada, where we value our socialized medicine and revere the man who gave it to us.

 

Canadian Gems:

115. Fubar

116. Fubar 2

117. Mommy

118. Polytechnique

119. The Sweet Hereafter

120. Bon Cop Bad Cop

121. Bon Cop Bad Cop 2

122. La guerre des tuques

123. Laurence Anyways

124. My American Cousin

125. Closet Monster

126. Remember

127. War Witch

128. Miraculum

129. The Man who Skied Down Everest

130. Away From Her

131. The Trostsky

132. Hello Destroyer

133. Videodrome

134. Naked Lunch

135. Goon

136.  It’s Only The End of the World

137. Window Horses

138. Jesus de Montreal

139. My Winnipeg

140. Let’s Rap

141. Strange Brew

142. Mon oncle Antoine

143. Crash

144. The Red Violin

145. Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner

146. Owning Mahowny

147. It’s All Gone Pete Tong

148. Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey

149. Chloe

150. I Killed My Mother

 

 

 

 

 

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Edgar Wright, I think I love you.

And Edgar Wright loves movies. It’s clear from Scott Pilgrim vs. The World that Wright pours love into his film by loading it with details that’ll take you several watches to truly absorb.

Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) is a young dude in a band. He’s dating a high school student 9d0uzolbut is ready to drop her the moment he meets his dream girl, Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). The catch? Catches? Well, his ex-girlfriend is in town, giving him a serious drought of self-confidence, and Romona actually has 7 exes, er, 7 evil exes, whom Scott must fight in order to “win” her favour. The movie kind of asks: what would happen if a random guy suddenly had the ability to fight as if he were in a video game? And you know what? The results are pretty fantastic.

Edgar Wright soaks this movie in video game references. He got permission to use the 500fulltheme song from The Legend of Zelda by writing a flowery letter to Nintendo, calling it “the nursery rhyme of this generation.” The more you know video games, the more you’ll appreciate this, but even I can concede its greatness.

Moreover, Wright has a knack for casting that you can’t help but admire. He picked a whole bunch of young kids who would launch into stardom. Brie Larson went on to win an Oscar just a few years later, and Anna Kendrick a nomination.

Of course, my favourite part of the movie is how carefully Wright, an Englishman, preserves the Toronto locale. Toronto is a cheap place to make movies so it often stands in for other places, notably New York City. For once, Toronto gets to be Toronto, giphyunapologetically Toronto, with the TTC, Honest Ed’s, Casa Loma, and even dirty, dirty Pizza Pizza. This movie feels like home. In a meta moment, a fake New York City backdrop is literally ripped open to reveal the glorious Toronto skyline. When Scott Pilgrim earns points, the coins that rain down upon him are loonies and twonies, Canadian style.

And Wright, who is an excellent curator of music, finds some excellent Canadian bands to do the heavy lifting for him. Broken Social Scene wrote two of the 4-second songs played by Crash and the Boys (“We hate you, please die” and “Im so sad, so very, very sad”). Metric wrote the song performed by The Clash at Demonhead. And Chris Murphy vocalist and bassist for Sloan, served as the music performance supervisor, which I think means he made sure the actors held their guitars the right way and stuff. (Non-Canadian Beck wrote the music for Pilgrim’s band, Sex Bob-Omb).

Scott Pilgrim vs The World is ultra-stylized and brilliant to watch. It’s incredibly fast-paced and feels hyper real. It’s almost unbearably quotable, fresh, and inventive. The script can’t always keep up with the film’s flash and charm but darn if it doesn’t try. I’ve been in love with this movie for 7 years or so, and a recent re-watch confirmed that I’m still crushing hard.

 

What movies do you love to re-watch?

 

Sebastian

James Fanizza writes, directs and stars in Sebastian but does not in fact play him. He plays Alex, the guy who meets Sebastian  (Alex House) and initiates a fling – this despite that he has a boyfriend, a boyfriend who just happens to be Sebastian’s cousin. They both agree to feel bad about what they’re doing, but they don’t consider not doing it. It’s full steam ahead (and it DOES get steamy).

MV5BMzBjYmE1YWEtZmNiYy00YTQyLThiMzAtYmFhMzI3ZmFlY2ZkXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjIxMDkwMTk@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,666,1000_AL_Sebastian is an Argentinian student in Toronto for just one week; both know that the relationship (whatever it is) ends when he catches his flight back home. But the affair is irrepressible. They’re falling for each other whether or not they say the words, and it’s the kind of relationship that changes them, unlocks things hidden deep inside (and who can resist a boy with a dark and unspoken past?).

This is not the most polished piece you’ll encounter at the Inside Out Film Festival, but for a first directorial effort, it’s got promise and panache. Shot around Toronto, the city provides a bustling backdrop to the conflict of feelings. If this budding relationship begins to feel to us, the audience, like a Once in a Lifetime thing, we must wonder whether one week is enough for these two men to recognize it, and if yes, whether they will be brave enough to act on it. And that sort of anticipation has a vicarious thrill to it that is not unlike falling in love. But as we all know, love is complicated, and Alex and Sebastian will not be exceptions.

Bon Cop, Bad Cop

Good-Cop-Bon-CopAs someone who grew up in Ontario (mostly) and now lives in Quebec, I can say with authority that Bon Cop, Bad Cop is a fantastic send up of the occasionally pained relationship between the two provinces.  There’s a lot of history and a lot of angst to be found in that relationship, and somehow we now seem more distant from each other than do the English and French, whose historic animus is the basis for our long-standing conflict.

When I go shopping in Quebec, I do not speak French and neither does Jay even though she’s totally bilingual.  I am not bilingual but I know enough to order a Happy Meal in French if I wanted.  But I DON’T want to – I want Quebec McDonald’s to speak English to me.

That stubbornness goes both ways.  Not only do many frontline retail staff refuse to speak English back to me (especially older ones), Quebecers are consistently terrible drivers who poke along well below the speed limit in the fast lane and refuse to move over for my bright orange racecar no matter how close I get to their bumper.

And yet, we consistently have each other’s back when push comes to shove.  When it rained for what seemed like a month straight in April and May and the Ottawa River started overflowing its banks to the point that it came onto our backyard, those same French bastards from McDonald’s and the highway banded together to deliver sandbags to us (and thousands of other English speakers in our border city) at 10:30 p.m. on a Sunday and then helped us put those sandbags in place, with smiles on their faces as they asked in English whether they could do anything else to help.

Bon Cop, Bad Cop nails that dynamic at every step, as two cops (Ontarian Colm Feore and Quebecer Patrick Huard) are forced to work together to solve a murder in which a body was found straddling the Ontario-Quebec border.  Of course they’re going to try to one-up the other, of course they’re going to set stupid and arbitrary rules about who does what and which language gets used when, and of course their petty squabbles are going to put everything in jeopardy.  Because that’s what we do.  But in the end, we accomplish what needs doing, and we share a grudging respect that binds us closer than geography alone ever could.

Bon Cop, Bad Cop captures our relationship perfectly and pokes fun at it at every opportunity.  That made Bon Cop, Bad Cop enjoyable in spite of its cliches, nonsensical plot, and cheap shots at Gary Bettman (okay, the last bit was enjoyable on its own).   But if you’re not from either province, you probably won’t get it, and truthfully we kind of like that you don’t.   We may argue over which of Ontario and Quebec is better but we agree that both are way better than wherever the hell you live.

SXSW: Game Of Death

Laurence Morais Lagacé and Sebastien Landry are two young Canadian directors who apparently have wild and sick imaginations.

A bunch of teenagers, who’ve already had the sex and done the drugs, are just bored Game-of-Deathenough to try a dusty old board game, Game Of Death. They should have read the instructions first – once engaged, the game counts down the 24 people necessary TO MURDER in order to “win.” The game doesn’t stop until 24 are dead. When the clock runs out, if no one is killed, the game itself will execute a player. How stoned would you have to be for this to sound fun?

They do what any normal teenagers would: beer bongs. But failing to take this game seriously is a fatal mistake: when the clock runs out, one of the characters’ heads explodes. Like, explosively explodes. Yes, I know, I’m quite the colourful writer! Bow down if you must.

At any rate, this game is For Real. Now there are 23 left to be killed and some interesting choices to be made. Will the kids turn on each other, prey on their neighbours, or sit back and wait for their own skulls to go bust?

Interesting fact about teenagers: they are devoid of morals. Apparently. And video games have definitely made them callous!

Interesting fact about me: I cannot spend an hour and a half listening to a teenaged girl game-of-death-F69597cry. I assume this the same is also true of teenaged boys. I understand that some people cry under pressure, but for the sake of watchable movies, I think film makers need to dispense of this annoying soundtrack.

Interesting fact about this movie: exploding heads are NOT the most disturbing thing about it.

Should you watch it? Hey man, no judgments. There’s no real horror here; no anxiety, no foreboding, no creepiness, just straight up gore and blood lust, plenty of both, and some gratuitous bikini shots thrown in. Perfect guilt-watch?

 

The Art of the Steal

Crunch and Nicky Calhoun are conman brothers, part of a merry little gang who steals art. Crunch (Kurt Russell) gets double-crossed by his own brother (Matt Dillon) when a heist goes wrong and winds up spending 7 years in a Romanian prison where he learns that trust, not cash, is the ultimate currency. When he gets out, he lives a semi-legit life with a new wife, a new sidekick (Jay Baruchel), and a second-rate motorcycle-daredevil career.

hero_artofthesteal-2014-1But then Nicky comes calling. One last heist, he says (is there really such a thing?). And since Crunch is so low on funds, they assemble the old gang and pursue a tricky art swap, even with Interpol (Terence Stamp) breathing down their necks.

I found this movie recently added to Netflix, but not very generously reviewed. I gave it a chance because: Kurt Russell. He’s kind of a badass. And Jay Baruchel, who I have enormous love for. And you know what? It’s not a bad movie. It’s not overly great either, it’s just an easy-watch heist movie that borrows a little to heavily from better movies. But the cast is extremely watchable, and the writing’s not bad, it’s just formulaic. So if you have no time to waste, skip it. But if you like the genre, I think you’ll get along just fine with the film.

Bonus for Canadians: much of the film is not just filmed in Canada but takes place ADMITTEDLY in Canada, and stars a whole bunch of Canadians, aside from Baruchel, including Katheryn Winnick, Niagara Falls, Kenneth Walsh, Chris Diamantopoulous, Quebec City, Jason Jones, Devon Bostick, Tim Hortons, and piles of fluffy home-grown snow.

Short Films Galore!

Candy Skin: Ottawa’s own Kyle Martellacci has a short film that preys on our fear of the unknown. The protagonist, David, wakes up to find himself alone in a deserted world. Visibly alone at least  – something unseen is hunting him, but finding out may be more than he can handle. Watch the trailer here.

Lookouts: a team of young woodland scouts are training in order to defeat a mythical, Opening_Run_Master_2500_v2.jpgdangerous beast called a basilisk. Pehn depends on the guidance of his mentor and the memories of his mother to give him the courage to confront the monster he can scarcely define, let alone identify. Shot in lush coastal California forest, Lookouts is about as beautiful and accomplished a short film as I have ever seen and the acting is superb. It uses practical effects and real locations to elevate this period fantasy based on Penny Arcade’s Lookouts to something truly unique and special. Director David Bousquet has tapped into real magic, and you can share in it by watching the film here. You’re welcome. 😉

Pigskin: a cheerleader’s romance with a football player leads to a walking-nightmare manifestation of her body dismorphia. This body-horror short is stunningly shot, with beautiful, throwback cinematography that will hearken 80s nostalgia while communicating a present-day message about body consciousness, brought to you by the creative team of director\writer Jake Hammond and cinematographer\writer Nicola Newton.

Night of the Slasher: from director Shant Hamassian, this 11 minute short depicts a young girl determined to commit all the usual “horror movie sins” like drinking and dancing half naked in order to attract a serial killer. Why do such a thing? Well, that scar on her neck and the glint of revenge in her eye might serve as clues. Excellently executed and impressively shot in one take, Hamassian wants us to rethink the slasher genre and hopes to turn this short into a full-length, high-profile cinematic piece. You can watch it here, and see for yourself:

The Secret Path

You may have noticed there was a day this summer when Canada “went dark.” It was August 20th, the day the Tragically  Hip performed for the last time. Hip lead singer, front trudeau-the-hip-concert-kingstonman extraordinaire, Canadian superstar Gord Downie had recently announced that he had a brain tumour and was terminally ill. Since making music has always been his passion, he and the Hip went on a farewell tour and despite the ravages of cancer, he performed full-throttle at each and every show, somehow finding the energy and the courage to power through. Their final trudeau-downiedate was in their hometown of Kingston Ontario, just a little ways down the road from Ottawa. Our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, was in the front row, and spoke for all of Canada when he thanked Gord and the whole band for their decades of artistic serviced to the country. It was a stirring night. The end is coming for Gord and he knew it, you could see it in his eyes, feel it every time he was overcome by emotion, but instead of making it about him, he chose to use this spotlight (and believe me, about 32 out of our 33 million strong l3z58mkrpopulation were tuned in one way or another) to speak on behalf of Canada’s indigenous population.

Since that night, as Downie inches closer to his final days, he’s still pouring his last energies into speaking up for our Aboriginal people. His latest endeavor is a tribute to Chanie Wenjack – in music, graphic novel, and animated form. 10 poems were turned into an album, which was turned into a graphic novel, which was turned into an animated film. They all tell the story of one boy, who represents the many, many more just like him, our first nations children ripped from the arms of their mothers, out of their communities, and into residential schools. Residential schools were run by church and state with the sole purpose of ‘civilizing’ the savages. gord-downie-sheila-north-wilsonProhibited from speaking their languages, practicing their spirituality, or honouring their cultures, teachers stripped them of their identity. Many children suffered terrible abuse, but all of these kids were deprived of their childhoods, and all of the families suffered terribly as I’m sure you would if your child was removed, perhaps never to be seen again, or if you were lucky enough to be reunited, we can only hope that you can find a common language in which to communicate. Communities were destroyed in what many Aboriginal people refer to as a genocide. It’s a dark part of Canadian history that wasn’t acknowledged until very recently. Today our First Nations peoples often live in poverty and other consequences of this intergenerational tragedy. Healing is not an Aboriginal problem, it’s something we need to address as an entire country. Gord Downie is doing his part.

If you are so inclined, The Secret Path can be streamed here for free (or in fact, down below). I hope you take the time to do so, and to share it with a friend. The images are haunting, but the lyrics will punch you in the gut. I was in tears by the third track.

Chanie Wenjack was only 12  years old when residential school became unbearable to him and he tried to find his way home. Not knowing where he was or where he was going, he walked until he collapsed in the snow, tired, lonely, starving, and he died. But there are dozenssecret-path and hundreds and maybe even thousands of Chanies dotting our countryside. Lonely and miserable, many children made an escape an attempt only to lose digits or limbs to frostbite, arms and legs on traintracks, or lives to exposure, or to punishment when recaputured. How many tiny bodies are still unaccounted for? The fact that we don’t even know is proof of how little white Canada cared for Aboriginal people, and this is a guilty fact we struggle to reconcile even today.

One day, likely sooner than later, Gord Downie will die and our whole country will mourn a great man, and a good man too. But Downie’s using his last work, and his last breaths to remind us that there are many others worth mourning too.

 

 

 

[As great and heartfelt as Gord Downie’s work is, it’s also really great to hear from Aboriginal artists themselves. Check out our coverage of the ImagineNative film fest]