Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

(Spoils you for Whole New Thing and Picture Claire.  Spoils you hard for Last Night and Wilby Wonderful.  Don't come cryin to me.)

My entrée to Canadian film was decidedly American.  Paint sex, specifically.  It think that’s American.  Battlestar Galactica:  Kara Thrace’s subconscious is trying to tell her to open up to her destiny.   Her subconscious presents this argument in a dream…in the form of Leoben Conoy (Callum Keith Rennie), the Cylon who has been trying to get her to accept her role in the future of their two races. 


Dream Leoben interrupts Dream Kara’s attempts to cover the symbol of her destiny with white paint.  He comes up behind her and…well, does some very American things to her paint-streaked body.  He takes her.  She loves it.  As she comes, she sees that he is right.  Heh. 


(Maybe a little manifest destiny, huh?  See?  American.) 


Leoben had been worming his way into my head for, literally, years.  Such is the inexorable seduction of a CKR fan.  I’m not sure we burst into it, so much as feel a little unwell and then wake up sweaty one night with a craving for Film Movement DVDs.  So I saw the paint sex and my own mandala appeared to me.  It had great hair.  I said to myself, “I must see everything this man has ever put on film.”


A year later, I am Netflix’s bitch.  I’ve seen over 20 CKR movies, 9 TV guest appearances and 2 seasons apiece of Due South and Twitch City, in addition to all of BSG.  (The titles are all written on the walls of my kitchen, and I cross them off as I go.)  Amazon.ca loves me.  And I love them.  And I’m not even finished yet.


I have a very busy life and I really don’t have time for this, you know?  I’ve never been quite this…focused on an actor before.  I guess I thought it wasn’t me.  I guess I was wrong.  I got over myself and it feels good.  My sister, who’s more comfortable in her fangirl shoes, is having a ball with my affliction.  *waves*  And I’m not really “out” to my friends, unless they’re here on livejournal.  I say this not to distance myself from it, only to illustrate the strength of the pull.  It’s late-onset CKR.  It’s a bad case.  And I feel like it’s got legs.


So I’ve watched a lot of DVDs.  And the bonus is that along the way I’ve picked up a few new heroes, like Bruce McDonald, Daniel MacIvor, Don McKellar.  (I really want to throw in Bruce McCullough and Mark McKinney here, just for the alliterative joy, but I have to admit that they’re not new to me; I loved them years ago in Kids in the Hall.) 


Paul Gross.  Hugh Dillon.  Sandra Oh.  Daniel Allodi.  Rebecca Jenkins.  Maury Chaykin!  I have a fresh girl-crush on Molly Parker, with her beautiful, still-waters face.  Between my sister’s passion for Deadwood and mine for CKR, I’ve now accidentally seen everything she’s ever done.  The way she can convey volumes beneath her character’s surface with just a thought --- a tiny change of expression.  Wow. 


I find that I’m loving the Canadianness.  (Canadianity?)  It took me a little while to figure out what the work had in common --- the films are very different on the surface --- but it’s dawning on me.  All due apologies to Canadians; I really don't know what I'm talking about here.  Mine is a very naive perspective.  And, admittedly, I haven’t seen a ton of Canadian films, or even all the most important ones (as far as I know).  That’s to come…right now my curriculum is a little…skewed.  By lust and adoration.  But I’ve still got a few neurons firing in the analytical center of my brain and I consider the films I’ve seen to be outstanding.


So far, here’s where I am.  I love Canadian films as much for what they aren’t as what they are.  They don’t give me what I expect…the simple reaction, the logical plot point, stuff blowing up, either literally or figuratively.  Over and over, I see a character make a real, but more subtle or interesting choice.  I see the character turn a way I didn’t see coming, but which makes me nod and smile.  Not because it’s happy, necessarily, but because it seems so right.


The other thing they have in common is a certain gentle sensibility.  No, that sounds weak, and it’s not that.  It’s more like dignity.  Self-respect that extends outward.  I know, Canadians are supposed to be nice and polite, whatever.  What I'm seeing is not as simple as that.  What happens in these stories is often not so nice, but there’s a civility --- an underlying construct of expectations and behaviors --- baked into the bad stuff.  Even maybe exploited …to serve the bad stuff. 


I get this from moments, not themes.  The plots are about the end of the world, homophobia, loneliness, murder, punk rock angst, culture clashes, sick sick bastards, diamond heists and suicide.  It’s not about what happens, it’s about how it happens.  I see it in little moments and big ones.


Whole New Thing.  Don Grant is a middle school teacher.  He has been very sweetly strong-armed into meeting a new student at his home, which is way off the beaten path.   In the middle of winter.  To get to the house from his car, Don has to walk a distance in a snowstorm.  When the mom opens the door to Don, he is white – frozen, eyebrows crusted with snow.  He says, brightly, “Sorry I’m late.”  And I think he means it.


I also love this movie for not giving me the ending I expected (feared!).  Despite Don’s earnest and honorable attempts to do the right thing, circumstances make him look really bad.  But there’s no scandal or tragedy.  It’s a more real, more satisfying ending than that.  Don’s steadfast kindness was sort of a gamble, and it paid off.


Last Night.  The world is going to end at midnight.  Sandra wants only to get home to her husband.  They will spend this last evening together and then shoot each other in the head as the world ends.  But Sandra can’t get to her husband or even call him.  She needs a car.  She meets Patrick, who agrees to help. 


They visit Patrick’s friend, Craig, who has three cars; one of them was Patrick’s before he gave it to Craig.  They ask for the car so that Sandra can see her husband for the last time.  Craig says, “No.”  Hilariously.  He says he wants to die, a man with three cars.  “It’s part of my…thing.”


I’m an American and I watch mostly American movies, so you know what I’m thinking?  She has a gun!  In fact, she has two guns!  Is there a more desperate situation than this?  It’s the end of the world!  Patrick might not agree to threaten his friend, but Sandra doesn’t know Craig at all.  It would be easy.  Craig’s not looking for trouble; he’s wearing sandals. 


But Sandra keeps saying things like, “Patrick, let’s go.  We can’t force him, ok?”  (I’m sorry, what?)  “Let’s go….It’s fine.”  To Craig:  “I’m sorry we had to interrupt your last day.”


But Patrick argues and pleads until Craig gives in.  At midnight, Craig dies, a man with two cars.


Picture Claire.  I think Laramie is the most delightful killer since Martin Blank.  The yummiest misogynist psycho you’d ever want to meet.  And part of that is his…way.  Look, I don’t like violence.  I especially don’t like knowing that a character is going to die.  But every time Laramie’s on screen, I’m kinda grinning.  It’s not the fear and foreboding center of my mind that’s lighting up.  It’s the part for 500-thread-count comforters and a buttery chardonnay.


This is not to say that it’s not an effective performance, it is.  This guy is fucked. Up.  He hates women.  It’s very clear and real and specific, and I love the way it punches through his veneer at odd times, or when he’s just lost his patience.  But he’s sort of a…connoisseur of hate and violence. 


A lot of the fun is in his unexpected manner.  He’s a very quiet, playful and polite killer.  Until the rage and violence burst through, he’s all funny turns of phrase, conspiratorial smiles and mild shakes of the head.  He’s smooth, he’s silky, he’s analytical.  Sometimes bouncy.  Mesmerizing and fun.  And then he kills ya. 


You can’t really get this from the written word, but let’s try.  In this scene, Laramie needs information from a shopkeeper about his missing operative, Eddie.


Laramie to a shopkeeper, and very softly indeed:  “If you know Eddie, you know that…well, I hope you don’t mind if I speak frankly…Eddie likes to befriend a certain class of girl.  The kind who likes to carry a briefcase and change out of her (laughs) fucking tennis shoes when she gets to work.”

Shopkeeper:  “…If you’re not buying or selling, you can clear out.”

Laramie:  (long pause) “Well that’s a shame.”  (to his colleague, Culver)  “Wait in the car.”

Culver:  “Me?”

Laramie:  “I always think it best not to have a witness.”

Culver:  “No, I’ll stay.”
Laramie:  “As you like.”


Off camera, Laramie kills the shopkeeper.


Later, Laramie is on the wrong end of a gun, held by Lily, who is pretty sure he’s come to kill her.  Lily has him cold, at about eight feet.  Laramie disarms Lily with a well-practiced speech, designed to make women put guns down.  Lily puts the gun down.


Wilby Wonderful.  Duck McDonald interrupts Dan Jarvis’ attempt to commit suicide by throwing himself off a bridge.  (Dan, not Duck.  Off the bridge.  Never mind.)  Duck knows why --- it’s because Dan’s about to be outed as a gay man who has visited an area of town frequented by gay men looking for anonymous sex.  Duck knows this because he’s been there too.  Duck watches Dan drive away from the bridge.  For the most of the movie, Duck quietly looks for Dan.  Duck is right to be worried.  Dan is, in fact, trying to kill himself in various ways. 


When Duck finds Dan, at a motel, he doesn’t approach until Dan leaves his room.  They go back inside.  Duck makes it clear to Dan that he’s not alone in his struggle and then, very gently, makes romantic advances.  Dan declines.  Duck leaves the motel room and watches from his truck.  Dan comes out and drives away.  Duck watches him go.  The young girl who happens to be in Duck’s truck at that point asks him, “Do you wanna go say hi?”  Duck says, “No, tried that.” 


Why doesn’t Duck confront Dan more directly?  He could be, and is, trying to kill himself at every opportunity.  Isn’t there some kind of intervention that could happen here?  Why does Duck let Dan drive away to (as it turns out) a more successful suicide attempt?  Well…that would be rude, I guess.  Or Duck intuits that it would scare him off, make things worse.  Duck doesn’t do or say anything to Dan that he might find uncomfortable.  When he feels that he’s approaching that line, he steps back.


As it turns out, Duck is right.  Duck’s meeting with Dan does the trick.  Gives him hope.  He decides not to hang himself at the very last second, but a broken chair conspires to finish the job.  Waking up in the hospital, Dan is relieved to be alive, because of Duck.


I could go on.  (And on.  I didn’t even get to Falling Angels or Flower & Garnet?)  Of course American films have polite, restrained, graceful and surprising moments --- lots of them.  But I find the Canadians so compelling somehow.  Maybe because they craft such beautiful character pieces that make me care a little more, make me see the characters so clearly that I love them despite their flaws.  Or maybe it’s just that all the small, unexpected turns make me lean in a little closer, pay better attention.  Maybe there’s just a texture to them that I can’t quite put into words yet.


Anyway, here’s my spin.  Real doesn’t have to mean ugly or blunt.  Cynicism is so tired, so 20th Century.  Canadians are too cool for that.  Do yourself a favor and rent something from up north.


Thank you kindly.


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 6th, 2008 08:42 am (UTC)
Wait. I have six hours and eighteen minutes of homework, 96 minutes of which Netflix claims I can't do for an "unknown" amount of time... plus notes and analysis.... before I can read your post?

Hmmm. OK. Well.... OK. :)

I can do that. I'm thinking coffee first. And then I'd better get started. :)
Sep. 6th, 2008 12:19 pm (UTC)
Netflix was waiting for me to return Whole New Thing so you can watch it. :-) I should have just mailed it directly to you and eliminated the middleman.

... plus notes and analysis

*loves you*

Come when you're ready, hon. I'll be here.

Edited at 2008-09-06 04:49 pm (UTC)
Sep. 6th, 2008 09:33 am (UTC)
First off, I've never minded being spoiled, so I read your post.

Second, I am kicking myself for never thinking of checking out Canadian films before now! Of course, right now I'm in the middle of an Asian drama kick... but it would be nice to mix things up with movies in a language I understand spoken in an accent that's very familiar.

I grew up on the boarder of Canada; so as a child, I watched a lot of Canadian movies and television. Not to mention there was this whole period of time when Nickelodeon was still a fairly new station and would air Canadian kid shows and movies to save money. You could always tell because after the credits they all would have this huge honkin' logo with the Maple Leaf. Those films and shows were fabulous... and better quality than their American counterpoints. (America lag behind in quality children's television until I had almost reached adulthood.) When I remember all of that, it makes me wonder why I never thought to revisit what the Land To The North (or West, if you're from the Buffalo area) has to offer. Thanks for the recommendation, Mary!!!
Sep. 6th, 2008 12:40 pm (UTC)
Thanks for coming by, quag! I know what you mean -- I normally don't mind being spoiled. I'm able to sort of "reset" my head and experience the movie as intended. There are a few exceptions. But I respect people's desire not to be spoiled. I think it's kinda sweet. Just hard, nowadays, when so much is watched way after the release, on DVD.

I am kicking myself for never thinking of checking out Canadian films before now!

No kicking yourself allowed on my journal! :-) Plus, Asian dramas are delicious. I remember, long ago, seeing Raise the Red Lantern. That movie is incredible --- sucked me into Asian films and I watched a lot of them for awhile.

Anyway, if you're really interested, I can give you my recommendations.

I didn't realize that you grew up near the Canadian border. And why don't we get Canadian TV here, on cable? At least I don't. We get BBC America...
Sep. 6th, 2008 04:54 pm (UTC)
Thanks for coming by

Well you were talking about something I could actually relate to! We haven't been into the same show for a while. *sigh*

That movie is incredible --- sucked me into Asian films and I watched a lot of them for awhile.

Yes, I remember that film too! I recently found a site that post the links to various Asian television dramas. Most are 10-22 episodes in length. THank goodness for YouTube and its clones. Netflix is woefully lacking modern Japanese movies that aren't horror films! :-P

And why don't we get Canadian TV here, on cable?

Yeah, good point! Come to think of it, we stopped getting as many Canadian stations after everyone switched to cable. I bet we'll get even less after the switch to digital.

Sep. 6th, 2008 06:44 pm (UTC)
Come to think of it, we stopped getting as many Canadian stations after everyone switched to cable. I bet we'll get even less after the switch to digital.

I would chopstick someone to death for My Life As a Dog or Durham County. I'll bet I can get DH soon on DVD, though.

Netflix is woefully lacking modern Japanese movies that aren't horror films! :-P

Yeah, I'm uneducated. After Kurosawa, I know not of Japanese films. I've seen more Chinese. You know, you really should make friends with my buddy, misreall, below. She knows a lot more about Asian stuff than I. Maybe you've seen a lot of the same things...

Well you were talking about something I could actually relate to! We haven't been into the same show for a while. *sigh*

Yeah, not since West Wing, right? Though I did like Dead Like Me, we just never discussed...
Sep. 6th, 2008 09:56 pm (UTC)
I would chopstick someone to death for My Life As a Dog or Durham County.

Have you tried YouTube-like sites like veoh.com or dailymotion.com? They might not have it, but they are a little more under the radar that YouTube so a little less likely to get copyright violation notices.

After Kurosawa, I know not of Japanese films.

Well, we're talking one of the greats here! But you know even before my recent foray into live action, I used to watch a lot of anime, so it was a natural leap. If you have any recommendation for Chinese movies, I would love to hear them The site I mention mostly has Korean and Japanese stuff, so anything Chinese has sort of fallen through the cracks for me.

Yeah, not since West Wing, right? Though I did like Dead Like Me, we just never discussed...

No, I don't think so. Though, if memory serves, you did know a little about Avatar: The Last Air Bender and were able to let me vent when the season 2 cliffhanger left me irate! (I have since tempted Flip & Seri to the dark side.

And I've been meaning to do great rewatch of Dead Like Me for some time... Of course, I've also been meaning to watch Firefly! :-P Not enough hours in the day, I swear!

Sep. 6th, 2008 11:24 pm (UTC)
Mary, Mary! I am jumping up and down and waving over here! If you want Asian stuff come to my place and go through my movies! This is what I am here for.
Sep. 7th, 2008 12:10 am (UTC)
Thank you, dear. Here's a present for you, if you want. *points*

And I know you're there for me. Knocked a little sideways by Canada right now, but I will work in some Asian as soon as I can.
(I have all the Miyazaki a girl could want, and the big Chinese crossovers, but nothing else.) Oh, and Highway 61 is on its way to me.

Sep. 7th, 2008 12:11 am (UTC)
Yeah, as I was talking to misreall, I remembered that I have seen a lot of Miyazaki. My favorite is Totoro.
Sep. 6th, 2008 01:24 pm (UTC)
While Himself is not in it you must, must, must rent Highway 61. It was directed by Bruce McDonald and stars Don McKeller. It was one of those Movies That Made Me Who I am Today. So you will know what is partly to blame.

It was also one of my favorite movie-going experiences, but that is a story better told after seeing the film.
Sep. 6th, 2008 01:35 pm (UTC)
Yes, heard of it, want it, going to see it. Now want to see it even more.

but that is a story better told after seeing the film.

ooh, yay for stories.

And hey, I watched Men with Brooms the other night! Are you proud of me? Callum-free.

(Though there was a big hole where he should have been.)
(I'm not "there" yet, am I? :-/)
Sep. 7th, 2008 02:06 pm (UTC)
It would be easy. Craig’s not looking for trouble; he’s wearing sandals.

Sep. 7th, 2008 04:50 pm (UTC)


Thank you, sweetie.

It makes me so happy that there's somebody around to get my little Callum jokes.

Sep. 24th, 2008 08:03 am (UTC)
*sheepish wave*

Hi. Made it. After only two and a half weeks and twelve reminders.

Okay, c_regalis beat me (not hard; see above) to the love for the sandals comment. I shall steal that line someday (as soon as I find an occasion) and people will marvel at my casually insightful wit.

(I've been doing that to misreall for years.)

I have much enjoyed your gleeful splashing in the Shallow Pool of Fangirliness. For one thing, it has let me treat you to Due South, which I've long suspected you'd enjoy. For another thing, I have an expanded appreciation for CKR. And finally, I never would have seen Wilby Wonderful without you and I just spent part of my Amazon gift card given to me by the Swedes on my very own copy.

( 15 comments — Leave a comment )