With Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner sequel now in theatres, and Jean-Marc Vallée’s Big Little Lies basking in its Emmy wins, here are some films and series from them and others you can watch immediately
Before nabbing Oscar attention for the sublime Monsieur Lazhar and going Hollywood, Philippe Falardeau’s dark, honest, clever and hilarious coming-of-ager pretty much flopped on release.
The comedy about a 10-year-old from a broken home who spends his time pranking neighbours or inflicting self-harm proved difficult to market. It appears too cute for adults, while it was most definitely too traumatic for children. Do yourself a favour and catch up to it now.
I’ve never seen it, nor even heard of it till last week. I’m sure the same goes for you. It’s like Quebec is trying to keep whatever this is all to themselves. The buddy-cop movie about a father and son testing each other’s patience at an outdoor group-therapy camp actually sounds atrocious.
But the original made $10 million at Quebec’s box office (few Canadian movies make that much across the country), and the sequel, De Père En Flic 2, is climbing to similar results right now. That has to make you a little curious.
Leave it to a French-Canadian director to paint Toronto as sleazy, insidious and frankly not sure about its own identity. In Denis Villeneuve’s Enemy, Jake Gyllenhaal plays doppelgängers, living between the 6ix and Mississauga, who circle each and other each other’s girlfriends before… well, just wait and see.
Claude Jutra’s bittersweet and naturalistic coming-of-age story is largely considered the greatest Canadian film ever. Set during the 1940s in a Quebec mining town, 15-year-old Benoit observes adults and their transgressions in his uncle’s general store on Christmas Eve. The recent allegations of pedophilia against Jutra may complicate your feelings toward a film about a young child encountering sex and death.
Polytechnique delivers horror without politics.
Blade Runner 2049 director Denis Villeneuve took a break from the weird narratives that defined his early career for a serious, straightforward and contemplative take on the Montreal Massacre. It’s essential viewing.
Denis Côté accumulates static and striking images of wild animals in their unnatural habitat, at Quebec’s Parc Safari, and the humans who mind them. Pieced together like a plotless, feature-length montage, Bestiaire is aimed at an incredibly patient audience willing to embrace a pervasive meditation on the relationships between man and beast, the camera and subject.
Vic + Flo is one of Denis Côté’s more conventional films. That isn’t saying much about a director who made a documentary about a junkyard that abruptly turns into a fictional playground for autistic children (Carcasses). Vic + Flo tells a straight story. Two prickly ex-cons retreat into a shack in the woods. Various people (and more) show up to disrupt their calm. It’s elliptical, idiosyncratic and unforgettable.
Tu Dors Nicole
Stéphane Lafleur’s Tu Dors Nicole is small, seemingly aimless and something to savour. Julianne Côté’s insomniac Nicole is looking for ways to while away the summer while her parents are away. That’s the bare bones premise to a film that’s weird, charming and playful, distinguished by Lafleur’s impeccable direction.
Anne Émond refused the conventional biopic in her portrait of controversial French-Canadian author Nelly Arcan. She instead delivers a fractured take on the different personas that made up Arcan, a former escort whose real name was Isabelle Fortier, and her semi-autobiographical characters. The film never opened theatrically in Toronto, so now’s your chance to catch up.
Jean-Marc Vallée directs his Wild star Reese Witherspoon along with Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern and Shailene Woodley in a small-town murder yarn that’s really about all the bullshit women have to put up with. The C.R.A.Z.Y. director has already had an impressive showing at awards shows with Dallas Buyers Club. His star should shoot higher after Big Little Lies picked up 8 Emmys.