All too often with Canadian comedies you’re forced to say a movie is funny with the qualifier “for a low budget Canadian production.” Odd for a country that has a long track record of turning out some of Hollywood’s funniest and most successful comedians. This is not the case with Cooper’s Camera. True, it’s a low budget Canadian production, but it’s brilliant and funny, no qualifiers necessary.
When you were 18 the only direction your life was heading was to the liquor store parking lot to try and convince prospective patrons to buy you some coolers. When Harmony Korine was 18 he already penned one of the most controversial American films ever made, Larry Clark’s, Kids. His directorial debut came shortly after in 1997 with the equally eyebrow raising Gummo. He followed that up in 1999 with the extremely arty Julien Donkey-Boy.
Marjane Satrapi experienced more by the time she was an early teen than most do in their whole lives. Born into a progressive middle-class family in Iran, when Marjane was nine the Islamic Revolution happened. Then a few years after that, war broke out between Iran and Iraq. Because she was an imaginative and outspoken child, at a time when being imaginative and outspoken could get you thrown in jail, her parents sent her to Vienna (exiled, as she refers to it) to complete her schooling.
I’ll just come right out and admit that I’m a huge fanboy of Dario Argento. This man has given us so many demented, violent and beautiful films, that I put him up there with David Cronenberg. So when I was sifting through the descriptions for the 349 films screening at the Toronto International Film festival this year, it was his latest, The Mother of Tears that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. When I got an interview confirmation with him, I started taking deep breaths into a paper bag to avoid hyper-ventilating.
History lesson time. In 1970, The Beatles are broken up and John Lennon is living in New York with Yoko Ono. Lennon is screening his experimental art films at a theatre called the Elgin in the Chelsea district. Naturally, the New York hipster elite show up to see these movies. Not necessarily for the films, but you can smoke pot in the Elgin. One night in December 1970, Lennon screens someone else’s movie at midnight after his are done. It was a Mexican film called El Topo made by a Chilean born director named Alejandro Jodorowsky.
Every once in a while a film is made with a premise that’s so stupid it’s brilliant — Groundhog Day or Terminator for instance. Well step aside Bill Murray and James Cameron because a New Zealeander, Jonathan King, has just out stupided you with Black Sheep. You’ve never heard of him and neither have I. His background is in directing music videos for bands you’ve never heard of in a country I can’t find on a map. Here’s what I do know about New Zealand though:
1) They have a really good rugby team.
If you’re a reader of this magazine (which suggests you possess a certain level of taste) and don’t know who Gregg Araki is then you need to go straight to the video store and begin your education. Responsible for such wacky, gross, sardonic, angst-ridden, beautiful and, according to me, seminal indie flicks as Nowhere and The Doom Generation (which Roger Ebert called a ‘sleazefest’ and granted zero stars), Araki has never shied away from taboo subjects.
Don McKellar is a busy guy. In quantity and quality, McKellar has developed an unparalleled body of work in Canadian cinema. From Roadkill and Highway 61 to The Red Violin and Last Night, McKellar has defined his career by consistently getting involved in some of the best feature films this country has ever produced.