Cronenberg, Villeneuve, and Dolan: Canadian movies are in good hands
How many movies can you name that are directed by Canadians? If you were like me, probably only 2. That’s why I have made it my duty to explore more Canadian content. On my journey, I have found that while we may be called polite and nice, Canadian directors surely do not stuff those stereotypes in their work. But what about Titanic and Avatar, both of which were cute stories directed by Canadian-born James Cameron? Well, those are only the popular ones. Cameron has directed Aliens and The Terminator as well. Canadian Denis Villeneuve is also gaining popularity. His new movie, Arrival, is up for 8 Academy Awards. As Canadian content is becoming more and more prominent, let’s take a look at some lesser known Canadian movies.
While James Cameron was the blockbuster superstar, David Cronenberg was the indie darling. His 1983 hit Videodrome proved to be controversial. It’s no surprise that a movie dealing with pornography, sadomasochism and mind control would gather this much controversy. However, that didn’t stop Cronenberg from created other controversial work that would all have a cult following.
Atom Egoyan has got a pretty hit and miss track record. Exotica is probably his most impressive film. Centered around a strip club in Toronto, this erotic mystery has brought home the FIPRESCI Prize at Cannes and 4/4 stars from Roger Ebert. Again, this gathered him attention on the indie circuit before making his more mainstream hit, Chloe (which is also on this list).
Demolition is the most recent Canadian-directed film on this list. It’s directed by none other than Wild and Dallas Buyers Club director, Jean-Marc Vallée. Demolition is his more low-key release, but it’s still a strong film worth watching. It stars Jake Gyllenhaal has a man who is struggling to adapt after losing his wife to a car crash. It’s mostly carried by Gyllenhaal, but Vallée’s direction is unique and worth a look.
The first French film on the list, Polytechnique is the Arrival director’s take on a great Canadian tragedy. It’s based on the school shooting that happened in Quebec at the École Polytechnique de Montreal. The black and white film is emotionally gripping and deals with gender and women in male-dominated jobs. It’s a powerful film and Villeneuve’s decision to film in black and white is a perfect choice.
Tom At The Farm (Tom à la ferme)
At age 19, director Xavier Dolan has directed 5 films in which all of them won awards at Cannes and other festivals. He quickly became the festival darling and has gathered quite a following. His movies usually focus on hopelessness and complex familial relationships. Tom At The Farm is probably his darker movie but one of his more thought-provoking. It stars Dolan who plays a gay character who recently learns that his boyfriend has passed away. Once at the farm, nobody knows who he is and how he is connected to the deceased. From there on Dolan does what he does best, adding in controversial aspects and unexpected thrills.
Into The Forest
Patricia Rozema has created a quiet post-apocalyptic world where she can explore the relationship between two sisters. What I found about this movie is that its either you love it or you hate it. It’s a slow paced arthouse film that stars Ellen Page and Rachel Wood. If you’re into those type of movie, you may fall in love with this only female-directed movie on this list.
Remember just how controversial Videodrome was? Well, Crash deals with more controversial aspects. Cronenberg directs this bizarre little movie. Crash is about a group of people who share a sexual attraction to car accidents. Yes, they get sexually aroused when seeing car crashes. The movie’s graphic violence and sexual nudity made Cronenberg in the middle of controversy once again. It has an NC-17 rating and was released in limited release because of this. People who can look past this can experience an original movie that’s both thrilling and fun.
People talk about Prisoners, Sicario and Arrival as Villeneuve’s best movies. However, they often neglect his little film, Enemy, which is one of his most surrealistic movie. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal has a school teacher who sees himself in a movie. Villeneuve draws inspiration from Cronenberg’s narrative style. By the end of Enemy, your head will hurt, but your mouth will drop.
Mommy is Xavier Dolan’s movie that propelled him to success. It proved to be very polarizing because of Dolan’s extreme stylish manner. His cinematography and excessive use of metaphors could possibly turn people away. However, if you are like me, stylish films are probably your cup of tea. Like most of his films, it has thought-provoking themes and shocking content. If that sound like something you would like, check out this Canadian bad boy.
After his critical acclaim, Atom Egoyan has gotten bigger stars like Amanda Seyfried and Julianne Moore to star in his next erotic thriller, Chloe. It didn’t gather as much critical attention than Exotica did but Roger Ebert was still a fan. Chloe is a nice thriller with solid direction. This is an excellent pick for anyone who wants to do a movie night with a gang of friends.