Sunday, May 21, 2017

Short Recommendation : Ladykiller

A set of knives, skulls and occult imagery, a leather jacket and gloves. A young woman preparing to go out, getting followed down a dark alleyway, then a murder. This new two-and-a-half minutes Super-8 film by Alex Earl Gray, Ladykiller, culminates the work he's been doing in this particular form: a short story, shot on film, exquisite details, with eerie music. It's a real nightmare.
Ladykiller includes some impressive cross-cutting as the murderer (Gray) and the woman both simultaneously prepare their outfits before he mischievously stalks her. This cross-cutting creates symmetry between the two and an uncertainty about who's going to get killed. Their shared activity of picking the right accessory reflects Gray's own particularness as a director to fill the frame with exactly the right details to set the mood. This is what gives Ladykiller its alchemy: every particular detail is there for a reason and its sum is larger than its individual parts.
The young woman (Nanna María Björk Snorradóttir), and her gothic apartment, brings to mind the giallo films of Dario Argento and Harry Kümel's Daughters of Darkness. Her opaqueness recalls Samantha Robinson in The Love Witch and its general punk quality that of Scorpio Rising. There's an intimate portraiture quality to Ladykiller, which reflects Gray's background as a photographer, as the young woman's more vulnerable look is replaced by a second face, which has a more powerful and mysterious stare.

The story of Ladykiller is that of an old rock tune (Gray plays the guitar on its score): it captures the imagination of a nightmare that reveals a darker human nature. But the pleasant thing about Ladykiller is that Gray makes his work to share: you can easily find Ladykiller on YouTube. It's a fortuitous approach that brings this dark fantasy out to the world.

Friday, May 19, 2017

100 Best Canadian Films – Pat Mullen

A fellow expat from Ottawa now living in Toronto, Pat Mullen is probably best known for his work at Point of View magazine and his writing on Canadian documentaries. But he’s also a fellow Jean-Marc Vallée supporter, along with his brother Brian, and he runs an excellent blog, the Cinemablographer. 100 Best Canadian Films is a series of posts of personal journeys throughout Canadian cinema history. Other contributors include Jason Anderson, Daniel Kremer, Yves Lever, Piers Handling, Marcel Jean, Mike Hoolboom and myself. – D.D.
 Pat Mullen's 100 Best Canadian Films

Churchill’s Island (Dir. Stuart Legg, 1941)
Begone Dull Care (Dir. Evelyne Lambart, Norman McLaren; 1949)

Neighbours (Dir. Norman McLaren, 1952)
A Chairy Tale (Dir. Claude Jutra, Norman McLaren; 1957)
City of Gold (Dir. Wolf Koenig, Colin Low; 1957)
Les raquetteurs (Dir. Michel Brault, Gilles Groulx; 1958)

Universe (Dir. Roman Kroitor, Colin Low; 1960)
Very Nice, Very Nice (Dir. Arthur Lipsett, 1961)
Lonely Boy (Dir. Wolf Koenig, Roman Kroitor; 1962)
Pour la suite du monde (Dir. Pierre Perrault, Michel Brault, Marcel Carrière; 1963)
Fields of Sacrifice (Dir. Donald Brittain, 1964)
Nobody Waved Good-bye (Dir. Don Owen, 1964)
Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Leonard Cohen (Dir. Donald Brittain, Don Owen; 1965)
The Mills of the Gods: Viet Nam (Dir. Beryl Fox, 1965)
Billy Crane Moves Away (Dir. Colin Low; 1967)
Warrendale (Dir. Allan King, 1967)
The Ballad of Crowfoot (Dir. Willie Dunn, 1968)
Pas de deux (Dir. Norman McLaren, 1968)
Walking (Dir. Ryan Larkin, 1968)

Goin’ Down the Road (Don Shebib, 1970)
Mon Oncle Antoine (Claude Jutra, 1971)
The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (Ted Kotcheff, 1974)
Black Christmas (Dir. Bob Clark, 1974)
Volcano: An Inquiry Into the Life and Death of Malcolm Lowry (Dir. Donald Brittain, John Kramer; 1976)
Rabid (Dir. David Cronenberg, 1977)
Special Delivery (Dir. John Wheldon, Eunice Macauley; 1978)
Every Child (Dir. Eugene Fedorenko, 1979)
Nails (Dir. Philip Borsos, 1979)

Atlantic City (Dir. Louis Malle, 1980)
Les bons débarras (Dir. Francis Mankiewicz, 1980)
Crac! (Dir. Frédérick Back, 1981)
The Grey Fox (Dir. Philip Borsos, 1982)
If You Love This Planet (Dir. Terre Nash, 1982)
Poetry in Motion (Dir. Ron Mann, 1982)
Flamenco at 5:15 (Dir. Cynthia Scott, 1983)
Home Feeling: Struggle for a Community (Dir. Jennifer Hodge de Silva, Roger McTair; 1983)
Videodrome (Dir. David Cronenberg, 1983)
The Wars (Dir. Robin Philips, 1983)
Crime Wave (Dir. John Paizs, 1985)
My American Cousin (Dir. Sandy Wilson, 1985)
The Decline of the American Empire (Dir. Denys Arcand, 1986)
I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing (Dir. Patricia Rozema, 1987)
John and the Missus (Dir. Gordon Pinsent, 1987)
Life Classes (Dir. William D. MacGillivray, 1987)
Dead Ringers (Dir. David Cronenberg, 1988)
Black Mother, Black Daughter (Dir. Sylvia D. Hamilton, Claire Prieto; 1989)
Jesus of Montreal (Dir. Denys Arcand, 1989)

Black Robe (Dir. Bruce Beresford, 1991)
Forbidden Love: The Unashamed Stories of Lesbian Lives (Dir. Lynne Fernie, Aerlyn Weissman, 1992)
Highway 61 (Dir. Bruce McDonald, 1992)
Naked Lunch (Dir. David Cronenberg, 1992)
Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance (Dir. Alanis Obomsawin, 1993)
Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould (Dir. François Girard, 1993)
Bob’s Birthday (Dir. David Fine, Alison Snowden, 1994)
Double Happiness (Dir. Mina Shum, 1994)
Exotica (Dir. Atom Egoyan, 1994)
Picture of Light (Dir. Peter Mettler)
Rude (Dir. Clement Virgo, 1995)
Margaret’s Museum (Dir. Mort Ransen, 1995)
Hard Core Logo (Dir. Bruce McDonald, 1996)
Project Grizzly (Dir. Peter Lynch, 1996)
Kissed (Dir. Lynne Stopkewich, 1997)
The Sweet Hereafter (Atom Egoyan, 1997)
Last Night (Dir. Don McKellar, 1998)
The Red Violin (Dir. François Girard, 1998)
Sunshine (Dir. István Szabó, 1999)

The Heart of the World (Dir. Guy Maddin, 2000)
Possible Worlds (Dir. Robert Lepage, 2000)
Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner (Dir. Zacharias Kunuk, 2001)
Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter (Dir. Lee Demarbre, 2001)
Blue Skies (Dir. Ann Marie Fleming, 2002)
The Barbarian Invasions (Dir. Denys Arcand, 2003)
The Corporation (Dir. Mark Achbar, Jennifer Abbott; 2003)
Falling Angels (Dir. Scott Smith, 2003)
Seducing Doctor Lewis (Dir. Jean-François Pouliot, 2003)
The Triplets of Belleville (Dir. Sylvain Chomet, 2003)
Ryan (Dir. Chris Landreth, 2004)
C.R.A.Z.Y. (Dir. Jean-Marc Vallée, 2005)
Water (Dir. Deepa Mehta, 2005)
Manufactured Landscapes (Dir. Jennifer Baichwal, 2006)
Away from Her (Dir. Sarah Polley, 2007)
My Winnipeg (Dir. Guy Maddin, 2007)
Next Floor (Dir. Denis Villeneuve, 2008)
Nurse.Fighter.Boy (Dir. Charles Officer, 2009)
Savage (Dir. Lisa Jackson, 2009)

Barney’s Version (Dir. Richard J. Lewis, 2010)
Incendies (Dir. Denis Villeneuve, 2010)
Lipsett Diaries (Dir. Theodore Ushev, 2010)
Trigger (Dir. Bruce McDonald, 2010)
Café de Flore (Dir. Jean-Marc Vallée, 2011)
Choke (Dir. Michelle Latimer, 2011)
The Whistleblower (Dir. Larysa Kondracki, 2011)
Stories We Tell (Dir. Sarah Polley, 2012)
15 Reasons to Live (Dir. Alan Zweig, 2013)
Gabrielle (Dir. Louise Archambault, 2013)
Rhymes for Young Ghouls (Dir. Jeff Barnaby, 2013)
Mommy (Dir. Xavier Dolan, 2014)
Bring Me the Head of Tim Horton (Dir. Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson; 2015)*
The Apology (Dir. Tiffany Hsiung, 2016)
Window Horses (The Poetic Persian Epiphany of Rosie Ming) (Dir. Ann Marie Fleming, 2016)
 *Adding a little bit of Paul Gross to the list.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Thursday, May 4, 2017

100 Best Canadian Films – Jason Anderson

I first discovered the writing of Jason Anderson through his essays on Canadian cinema in Cinema Scope back in 2010. As an adolescent living in Ottawa, which had the Bytowne and the newly opened Mayfair, it was a shock to discover a Canadian cinema that went beyond the limited films that opened there and to even hear polemics against these titles. Now having lived in Toronto for seven years, I’m more aware of upcoming Canadian films and these positions but I still read Anderson’s pieces for their authority and passion. Anderson still writes for Cinema Scope, among many other outlets, along with programing short films at TIFF and being the director of programming at the Kingston Canadian Film Festival. Other 100 Best Canadian Films contributors include Daniel Kremer, Yves Lever, Piers Handling, Marcel Jean, Mike Hoolboom and myself. – D.D.
Jason Anderson's 100 Best Canadian Films
1. La région centrale (1971, Michael Snow)
2. Pour la suite du monde (1963, Pierre Perrault)
3. Mon oncle Antoine (1971, Claude Jutra)
4. Lonely Boy (1962, Wolf Koenig, Roman Kroitor)
5. Atanarjuat (2001, Zacharias Kunuk)
6. A Married Couple (1969, Allan King)
7. The Heart of the World (2000, Guy Maddin)
8. Les Ordres (1974, Michael Brault)
9. Videodrome (1983, David Cronenberg)
10. My Winnipeg (2007, Guy Maddin)
11. Léolo (1992, Jean-Claude Lauzon)
12. Jesus of Montreal (1989, Denys Arcand)
13. Dead Ringers (1988, David Cronenberg)
14. Goin’ Down the Road (1970, Don Shebib)
15. La Sarrasine (1992, Paul Tana)
16. Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould (1993, Francois Girard)
17. FUBAR II (2010, Mike Dowse)
18. FUBAR (2002, Mike Dowse)
19. Crime Wave (1985, John Paizs)
20. Wavelength (1967, Michael Snow)
21. La bête lumineuse (1982, Pierre Perrault)
22. Mynarski Death Plummet (2014, Matthew Rankin)
23. Beyond the Black Rainbow (2010, Panos Cosmatos)
24. Ryan (2004, Chris Landreth)
25. Six Figures (2005, David Christensen)
26. It’s Not Me, I Swear! (2008, Philippe Falardeau)
27. Spider (2002, David Cronenberg)
28. Negativipeg (2010, Matthew Rankin)
29. Before Tomorrow (2014, Marie-Helene Cousineau, Madeline Ivalu)
30. Top of His Head (1989, Peter Mettler)
31. Entre la mer et l’eau douce (1967, Michel Brault)
32. Picture of Light (1994, Peter Mettler)
33. Polytechnique (2009, Denis Villeneuve)
34. The Journals of Knud Rasmussen (2006, Zacharias Kunuk)
35. Carcasses (2009, Denis Côté)
36. Calendar (1993, Atom Egoyan)
37. Pas de deux (1968, Norman McLaren)
38. Full Blast (1999, Rodrigue Jean)
39. Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance (1993, Alanis Obomsawin)
40. Maelstrom (2000, Denis Villeneuve)
41. Gambling, Gods and LSD (2002, Peter Mettler)
42. Begone Dull Care (1949, Norman McLaren, Evelyn Lambart)
43. Manufactured Landscapes (2006, Jennifer Baichwald)
44. The Far Side of the Moon (2003, Robert Lepage)
45. Walking (1968, Ryan Larkin)
46. The Forbidden Room (2015, Guy Maddin)
47. Monsieur Lazhar (2011, Philippe Falardeau)
48. The Sweet Hereafter (1997, Atom Egoyan)
49. Very Nice, Very Nice (1961, Arthur Lipsett)
50. Trains of Winnipeg (2004, Clive Holden)
51. Block B (2008, Chris Chong Chan Fui)
52. The Decline of the American Empire (1986, Denys Arcand)
53. Neighbours (1952, Norman McLaren)
54. Les bons débarra (1979, Francis Mankieicz)
55. Shivers (1975, David Cronenberg)
56. Felix and Meira (2014, Maxime Giroux)
57. Careful (1992, Guy Maddin)
58. The Adjuster (1991, Atom Egoyan)
59. Back and Forth (1969, Michael Snow)
60. Les signes viteaux (2009, Sophie Deraspe)
61. The Hundred Videos (1989-1996, Steve Reinke)
62. Up the Yangtze (2007, Yung Chang)
63. C.R.A.Z.Y. (2005, Jean-Marc Vallée)
64. Warrendale (1967, Allan King)
65. Plage de sable (2015, Marie-Eve Juste)
66. I’ve Heard The Mermaids Singing (1987, Patricia Rozema)
67. Dying at Grace (2003, Allan King)
68. Save My Lost Nigga Soul (1993, Clement Virgo)
69. Blue (1992, Don McKellar)
70. Next Floor (2008, Denis Villeneuve)
71. L’Acadie, L’Acadie (1971, Michel Brault, Pierre Perrault)
72. Frank’s Cock (1993, Mike Hoolboom)
73. Foster Child (1987, Gil Cardinal)
74. The Far Shore (1976, Joyce Wieland)
75. On est au coton (1970, Denys Arcand)
76. Cairo Time (2009, Ruba Nadda)
77. The Weatherman and the Shadowboxer (2014, Randall Okita)
78. Les êtres chers (2015, Anne Émond)
79. Sur la trace d’Igor Rizzi (2006, Noel Mitrani)
80. If You Love This Planet (1982, Terre Nash)
81. La Confessional (1995, Robert Lepage)
82. Highway 61 (1991, Bruce McDonald)
83. Those Who Make Revolution Halfway Only Dig Their Own Graves (2016, Mathieu Denis, Simon Lavoie)
84. Stories We Tell (2012, Sarah Polley)
85. The Sweater (1980, Sheldon Cohen)
86. Sophie Lavoie (2010, Anne Émond)
87. Act of God (2009, Jennifer Baichwal)
88. Noah (2013, Patrick Cederberg, Walter Woodman)
89. Lilies (1996, John Greyson)
90. It’s All Gone Pete Tong (2004, Mike Dowse)
91. Emporte-moi (1999, Léa Pool)
92. You Take Care Now (1989, Ann Marie Fleming)
93. Monkey Warfare (2006, Reg Harkema)
94. The Big Snit (1985, Richard Condie)
95. Synchromy (1971, Norman McLaren)
96. Film (dzama) (2001, deco dawson)
97. The Bitter Ash (1963, Larry Kent)
98. Nobody Waved Good-bye (1964, Don Owen)
99. Last Wedding (2001, Bruce Sweeney)
100. Sleeping Giant (2015, Andrew Cividino)