Canadian Film Essay
November 29, 2004 8:26 PM   Subscribe

I'm right near the end of my first term in university for film studies. I'm totally stressed out and I'm not sure it's worth it. I'm taking this b*llshit class on Canadian Film and I can't think of a topic. Does anyone have a suggestion for an essay that someone could do? Note it only has to be about a Canadian film/films and doesn't have to say anything about Canadian films directly.

posted by Napierzaza to Media & Arts (39 answers total)
posted by muckster at 8:28 PM on November 29, 2004

Response by poster: Bear in mind that I really like film, but I don't like sitting in the library reading about it as much.
posted by Napierzaza at 8:30 PM on November 29, 2004

something about Guy Maddin? (maybe comparing him/his work to another filmmaker?)
posted by amberglow at 8:30 PM on November 29, 2004

It should be easy to find some commentary about The Barbarian Invasions,
posted by Arch Stanton at 8:35 PM on November 29, 2004

It has to be "about a Canadian film" but "doesn't have to say anything about Canadian films"?

Can you elaborate?

(also: paging dobbs!)
posted by Vidiot at 8:42 PM on November 29, 2004

As always with assignments of this kind, I'd recommend finding something you really like, and then work out a question about it that intrigues you. Find out what else has been said about that question, then add to it. The papers are always better the more excited you can get about the topic at hand. That's about as concrete as I can get without knowing what you're into. Which of the films you watched for the class got you fired up? Perhaps there's something to get you excited on my list of favorite Candian films. I'd maybe write about Cronenberg's Burroughs adaptation, or how "Videodrome" anticipated "Survivor," or perhaps compare "Last Night" to "Terminator 3." I'm sure Guy Maddin would be lots of fun, too.
posted by muckster at 8:43 PM on November 29, 2004

Response by poster: Okay, well the class works out like a history class about the politics of such and such and Canada versus America etc. So my original idea was "Americans are represented like salesman in many Canadian films". I got the idea from The Sweet Hereafter which it totally works with. But it's super broad and I ONLY want to watch movies for research, I don't want to go to the library. So anyway, that was a subject ABOUT Canadian film because part of Canadian film is how it perceives the US. But I could have just said that Atom Agoyan likes pedophile instead and that would work because it doesn't have to address being Canadian or being Canadian cinema. It just has to be based on some Canadian film(s).

For those who took film am I a fool to think I can avoid having to write hug papers in university? I guess that's what it's about...
posted by Napierzaza at 8:52 PM on November 29, 2004

How about the National Film Board of Canada as a topic? When I was in my first semester at university (and coincidentally taking a film studies course), I wrote my essay on the formation, funding and significance of it.
posted by carabiner at 8:56 PM on November 29, 2004

Response by poster: Sorry for not compacting my posts but to Muckster:

I was pretty interested in Cronenberg. I find that Naked Lunch is one of my favorite movies of all time. Am I dumb if all I can think of is that Naked Lunch is cool? A real easy subject would be to talk about Cronenberg and sexuality. Does anyone know a more detailed subject than that? I find that I really don't know much about Canadian film regardless of having added all the classes and reading all the material they provided.
posted by Napierzaza at 8:57 PM on November 29, 2004

What about all of those films where a bunch of 30 year olds bring the local sports team back together in their small hometown after having left for the big city (Les Boys, Men with Brooms). There is always one drug user from Vancouver or whatever, there's always one rich guy who sells cheap condos in Montreal, and there's usually someone who never left his hometown.

I'm sure these Canadian films are easily deconstructed.

On preview: You question is more fleshed out now, and I think you should know that in Guy Maddin's 'The Saddest Music in the World', the three main characters deal with the USA / Candian dichotomy. There is a father who is a Canadian whose one son is European and whose other son is American. I think you could work something out with that...
posted by sleslie at 9:00 PM on November 29, 2004

Modern Quebeçois film is some pretty interesting stuff. Here's a link to a series of recent Quebeçois films from the 2002 Wisconsin Film Festival - that should help get you started.

The "KINO" movement also got its start in Montreal, I believe, and its sister organization is here in Madison. I happen to know some of the local KINOfolks, and could probably put you in touch with them, if you like.

Good luck on your paper!
posted by Dr. Wu at 9:12 PM on November 29, 2004

Jesus of Montreal
posted by ..ooOOoo....ooOOoo.. at 9:17 PM on November 29, 2004

Response by poster: Actually I talked to someone who sleslie I was talking to someone in class and they suggested that. I was going to watch The Saddest Music in the World, The Sweet Hereafter, and My American Cousin and see what I could come up with.

Oh, and BTW it's ENGLISH Canadian Film so I think I'd be off topic talking about peppers. But we do find out in the course that Quebecois film is tops and anglo-Can film is bottoms.
posted by Napierzaza at 9:38 PM on November 29, 2004

FWIW, if you're going to go with Egoyan, check out EXOTICA and/or CALENDAR, the best (in my opinion) of his films that I've seen.

I'd be surprised if, in a course on Canadian film, Egoyan and Cronenberg were not done to death. Not that there aren't any other interesting Canadian filmmakers -- just that they are probably the two most prominent. What about Ivan Reitman? Seriously. He worked with Cronenberg early in his career (I think he co-wrote RABID), and went on to do some pretty interesting stuff in Hollywood. (Some crap, admittedly, as well.)

And, if I'm not mistaken, some of the Quebeçois stuff (esp. the KINO films) is in English.
posted by Dr. Wu at 9:48 PM on November 29, 2004

If you don't really like reading about film, you might not want to be in film studies.
Despite the fact that I'm a student of cinema studies at a Canadian university, I don't know much about Canadian film outside your Cronenbergs and Egoyans.
I think Cronenberg's tendency to feature really disgusting, creepy, organic stuff could be really interesting.

Also, there's an African-Canadian director from Toronto named Clement Virgo, who makes a lot of movies that actually feature black actors (a rarity in Canada), but aren't really "race-oriented." Love Come Down is pretty good. I don't know how available they are.
posted by SoftRain at 9:53 PM on November 29, 2004

To answer your second half question, the film studies courses I took pretty much revolved around writing huge papers. But I would rather write about film than policy or theory or whatever. I just don't think film studies is about the multiple choice testing. Its more about analysis and the dreaded "compare and contrast."
posted by Quartermass at 10:10 PM on November 29, 2004

Why "Scanners" is really the best Cronenberg film.

Why Canada is superior to the U.S. because it publicly funds David Cronenberg movies.

"ExistenZ"'s original conception as a Salman Rushdie fatwa analogy, make some compare-and-contrast reference to that unfortunate Theo Van Gogh film.

Biocarbon Amalgamate -- David Cronenberg, unparallel pioneer of movies about creepy corporations

Michael Moore's Canadian Bacon: The most accurate depiction of Canada ever captured on film
posted by inksyndicate at 10:11 PM on November 29, 2004

For those who took film am I a fool to think I can avoid having to write hug papers in university? I guess that's what it's about...
I can't speak to film. But I attended a music college where the dropout rate among freshmen averaged 65%. Most were surprised to learn they couldn't simply play guitar and expect to earn a degree.

If you're freaking out over a first-term project, you're going to need an ambulance when you face some real work. Maybe vaulting this obstacle will snap you into enjoying your next challenge...but maybe not.
posted by cribcage at 10:14 PM on November 29, 2004

*looks around to make sure t r a c y is not in the room.*

Napierzaza, you're not dumb for taking film studies and not wanting to read/write but you're certainly not going to do very well. Film Studies / Film Theory is based on reading, not viewing, which is one of the reason it's a popular course with non-"film people".

It would be helpful to know

a. What films you've watched in class (not because you have to write about those films but because that would give me a handle on what your prof thinks is important).

b. If you're at York, who's your prof, what's the *exact* title of the course and its course number (1400, 2400, etc.)?

c. what books have you been assigned?

To me, any film lover who voluntarily takes Film Theory classes is in for a world of pain. It's a dehumanizing experience. If you signed up for Canadian Film Theory and don't plan to be an academic in that field of study, you're a masochist. Get out as soon as you can or at the very least don't think "the next class will be different". Trust me, it won't be. (I majored in film production and was therefore forced to take film theory as part of my degree requirements.)

Some of the topics above are interesting but, as someone else mentioned, NO ONE really needs another paper on Egoyan, Cronenberg, McKeller, MacDonald, or Rozema.

If you can come up with an interesting angle to write about Clement's work, go for it as he's really overlooked. If you can track down his stunning short-film Save My Lost Nigga Soul do so. The CFC has it and you can view it on their backwoods premises.

If the American angle is at all interesting to you, write about what a load of shit it is to even imply that Canadians get their identity (the phrase "Canadian Identity" is thrown around plenty at gov't agencies who provide funding) from Canadian cinema. It's a load of crap and everyone knows it. To the extent that Canadians get their identity from any media, it would come from American cinema as its presence is overwhelming. I'd wager that any Canadian can name more American filmmakers in 10 seconds than they can Canadian ones in an hour. Same with performers.

Personally, I find it disgusting that my tax dollars fund films by the above filmmakers. I mean, how many bloody films has Egoyan made now? 8? 10? Take a fucking hint: they're not making a profit! Or, if they are/were, he should be able to get funding from off the government teat. It works for indie Americans (read some articles by Jaglom for info on this topic). And no, profit isn't everything, but it should count for something. And if it's NOT going to count for something, why not fund someone who hasn't had a chance to flush my money down the toilet? (I mean, if we're just destroy it anyway, can we at least try for for a different kind of destruction? I've already seen everything Egoyan can do. He's been repeating himself thematically since Adjuster. (Wait, let me guess: his next film has someone with a video camera in it, right?))

Here, you know what you should write an article about? You should write an article proposing that Canada revamp its funding strategy: gut the current form of funding and replace it with this: fund Canadian theatres. Build a chain of theatres (or fund a single screen in various multiplexes) that ONLY shows Canadian films. That's it. Then, wait. One of the reasons that Canadian film does so poorly here is that there is nowhere to screen them. The last time I checked (a decade ago), Canadian theatres were only required to show Canadian films in 3 percent of their theatres / screens / slots. That number has probably changed but I doubt significantly. You build a place that will sit empty until Canadians make films! Then you'll have many amateurs, who are currently wasting their lives on the grant-rejection treadmill, getting out there and busting their asses making movies a la Cassavetes, Jaglom, Rodriguez, etc. The cream'll rise a lot quicker than it does in the current system. (I mean, in my opinion, you should not be "allowed" (read: funded) to make movies unless you MUST make movies. If you MUST make them, I want to see the proof of that passion in your hustle.)

In short: Canadian film is fucked, mostly due to American film and a shitass funding / mentoring processes (for instance, the last time I checked (again, 10 years back), the CFC wouldn't allow people into their screenwriting program unless they'd already been produced. WTF? How does that make any sense? Solution: Best writiing portfolio submitted gains entry.) .... And Canadian film is getting more fucked every year. Check back issues of NOW Magazine from early sept this year for a short but good article on the state of Canadian film and how TIFF even had to do away with their "Canadian Perspectives" program because NO ONE wants to see these gawdawful movies the gov't is producing.

If you've got to write about a film instead of an industry, I'd probably choose something awful (Men With Brooms) and talk about how something like that gets made rather than write another piece about The Sweet Hereafter.

Just my two cents.
posted by dobbs at 10:42 PM on November 29, 2004

Is Strange Brew a really stupid suggestion? I know it's a joke movie and all that, but it's one of the very few films out there that take on Canadian cultural identity directly, in a sense, albeit in a screwball way...(gosh it's late...) could contrast it with other films that try to do the same thing in a more serious did get a lot of exposure (good god....posting and ducking...)
posted by lilboo at 11:37 PM on November 29, 2004

For those who took film am I a fool to think I can avoid having to write hug papers in university?

In a word: Probably, yes.
I'm in the home stretch of an English/Film double major and have done more writing in film than in English. It's hard, and a lot of people don't like it. It is not for everyone. I have a friend (who aspires to actually make movies) who's taking an Intro course at another school, and he is highly not into it. (Film production is different from Film STUDIES, but we don't have such a thing at U of T.) I personally love film theory and think it makes film even more interesting, but not everyone is like me.

Also, I don't envy you. The state of the industry is such that the state of the industry is more interesting than most of what it produces.

I'd wager that any Canadian can name more American filmmakers in 10 seconds than they can Canadian ones in an hour. Same with performers.

dobbs, I'll raise you one. Most Canadian Film Studies Majors can rattle off more American filmmakers in 10 seconds than Canadian ones in an hour. (Sorry, off track).
posted by SoftRain at 12:26 AM on November 30, 2004

Also Strange Brew parallels Hamlet; you could write about it as a struggle between canadian national identity -- connecting a sort of national identity, and shakespeare (cultural identity) -- and a satiric sense that surrounds that identity. I'm a Lit major myself (hence the identity theme), but if you talk about the production company (pretty sure it was an american film) and strange brew's reach into america itself as well as the identity part, you have a perfectly fine paper.
You might want to throw in some film language too.
posted by Jeff_Larson at 1:08 AM on November 30, 2004

Perhaps a paper on experimental animation and why it was able to thrive in Canada yet struggled in the States (NFB vs Disney maybe?). Or simply Norman Mclaren as a topic.

To be honest, if avoiding the library is a main goal you could probably cobble a paper together simply by digging through the NFB's site.

dobbs, i'm certainly ignorant about the specifics of how Canada's federal government provides art funding, but to me (living in a country whose current administration seems, in many ways, to be discouraging cultural production) the use of public money to make new film or photographs or music seems like a true oasis in a thirsty desert.

This is not a snark, i promise: Would you trade the NFB for the crass and stupid vanity of Hollywood? Or is there a third-way that you are imagining?

(apologies for the de-rail, but perhaps if we see out this discussion, Napierzaza may have his or her paper half-written by AskMe!)
posted by verysleeping at 1:34 AM on November 30, 2004

Write a paper that deeply analyzes Road Kill and Highway 61 and I'll happily read it.
posted by gluechunk at 1:40 AM on November 30, 2004

verysleeping, I'm not referring to the NFB but to things like TeleFILM, the OFDC, the CFC (though not gov't) and other organizations of their ilk. When push comes to shove I'm for gov't funding for the arts. However, it seems to me that the majority of known Canadian filmmakers (Egoyan, MacDonald, McKellar, and Rozema in particular) make their livings off my tax dollars and that doesn't feel right to me as I really dislike their films. This wouldn't be so bad if the tax bucks were also going to make movies that get distribution from other filmmakers but most people would be hard-pressed to name one. Cronenberg, though sometimes funded, gets most of his films financed with legitimate studio dollars (ie, production companies investing their dollars) which is why I'm not so hard on him. Plus, I believe his films are usually profitable.

It just irks me that filmmakers like Henry Jaglom, Jim Jarmusch, and many other indie Americans can make most of their work without the goverment being involved but when it's suggested that if Egoyan can't come up with something at least as commercial as, say, Coffee and Cigarettes (which I thought was crap) or New Years Day (which I think is great) or any number of other filmmakers who are making movies with their "own" dollar (or private investors or small prod companies or whatever) then why sould he continue to have his career funded?

To put it more succinctly, if there are no rules established that limit the number of times someone can be funded, at which point can "we" say "No, we're gonna let someone else have a shot"? It seems like never as I've been hearing about these five filmmakers, and ONLY these five filmmakers for, no shit, more than a decade. You would be very hard pressed to find an article written about Canadian film that doesn't mention them. It's not because they're all masters by any stretch but because the current system doesn't let anyone else play. (That's an exageration but not a huge one. We do have Mira Nair and a few others.)

The fault doesn't rest squarely on the shoulders of the gov't, but a big part of it does. Even outside of their funding for films, they play a role with tax cuts that they provide to distributors. For instance, Alliance-Atlantis (the largest indie Canadian distributor) gets tax breaks for purchasing Canadian films. Sounds good, right? The problem is all they have to do is buy the films to get the break. They don't have to actually distribute them. So, terrific films such as Andre Turpin's Zigrail get bought by Alliance and buried. Though the film gets a 6.4 at imdb, I'd say it's a 7.5 myself. I saw it before it had a distributor, back when I myself was a (very small) distributor. The film was made almost 10 years ago. To my knowledge, it has only had two screenings in English-speaking Canada in that time and both of them were prior to Alliance picking it up. I know shitty student films that have been seen by more people.

Would you trade the NFB for the crass and stupid vanity of Hollywood?

Substitute NFB for the agencies I'm talking about and yes, I'd trade them in a second because along with that vanity you also get people who know what they're doing. People who back the Jarmusches, the Wes Andersons, the Nick Gomezes, the Henry Jagloms, the Hal Hartleys, the PT Andersons, etc etc. I refuse to believe that America has a monopoly on quality indie directors. Instead, I believe that here in Canada the system is weighted against them. With no good distribution or ways of getting the movies screened, they can't make a profit, regardless of how little they cost to make in the first place.

(And, as I typed that, it occured to me that Nick Gomez is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. How the "system" should work. He made his first film, Laws of Gravity (fantastic film!) on a shoestring, got it picked up, and I think it made a profit and it definitely got excellent reviews. Investors (though small) believed in him and funded two more movies: New Jersey Drive (not very good) and Illtown (also not very good but definitely interesting and worth a watch). Both bombed and got bad reviews. It took him four years to direct another feature (Drowning Mona) and it bombed big time, despite known actors. Is he making more movies? Nope. Should he be? Perhaps. But it's HIS responsiblity, not the people of America, to get the film in the can. If he can't get investors, too bad. If he can, good for him. But if Joe and Joanne have to fund it... ? Nonsense. For all intents and purposes, Gomez is back to square one (pre-Laws of Gravity). He's making his living directing tv (the shield, sopranos, oz, etc.). When he's ready to make another film, I'm sure he'll bust his balls the way he did with LoG and if he hits, good for him. If not, well... them's the breaks, right? Tell me, is the gov't funding your choice of career regardless of your track record? Didn't think so.)
posted by dobbs at 2:25 AM on November 30, 2004

Another thought, because I'm totally smitten with Hymns of the 49th Parallel - the use of music in Canadian films. How is the Canadian music industry shaped by its interaction with the film industry, and vice versa - you could also narrow this topic by picking and analyzing one or more films that are atypical in their use of music, and explaining why (The Fast Runner might be a good example, although I'd understand if that was so five minutes ago). Or, again with The Fast Runner, discuss the development of Inuit/ indigenous filmaking, and what makes a film Canadian.

Hang in there - the first university term is always tough, particularly if you might rather be making films than talking about them.
posted by deliriouscool at 5:08 AM on November 30, 2004

Or, if you really don't want to write big papers and decided to do a film degree just because hey, you like watching movies then Drop Out Now.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 6:58 AM on November 30, 2004

I agree with others who have said that film production and film theory are two very different studies. I have a triple major in video production, speech communications, film theory. The only reason why I took film theory is because I thought that it would compliment my production courses, which it did (and the U of MN doesn't offer film production). If I had to do it all over, I would have went to a different school where I could have majored in production. Maybe that's something for you to consider if you are really into production and not theory.

How about writing about the economic impact in both the U.S. and Canada caused by so many U.S. films being shot in Canada? My uncle does special effects (the old fashioned kind). He strongly feels that the studios have ruined the film business in CA by shooting in Canada. There are some really good arguments that can be made on this topic.

Good luck!
posted by Juicylicious at 8:01 AM on November 30, 2004

Write about the tax shelter that gave birth to such gems as Meatballs and Porky's.

Just kidding. How about something involving the Red Violin? Maybe something about co-country production efforts?
posted by smcniven at 8:05 AM on November 30, 2004

Depending on how much time you have maybe you could write about my grandfather. Before the establishment of the NFB Budge was making documentaries and making money at it. He gave early breaks to actors such as Genviève Bujold, Christopher Plummer and Robert Shaw. He won an Oscar in 1976 for the best feature-length documentary and proceeded to wreck the company following his dream ("The Strange One", mentioned towards the end of this article. Crawley Films eventually sold for $1 and, incidentally, he died in Perth, Ontario, not Toronto as the article states). He was a crazy businessman who would stop at almost nothing to get the film made and as such he made a lot of enemies (my mother just settled a 20-year-old lawsuit with Janis Joplin's sister!) and spent a lot of money. There is a recent book about him and also a recent film. He was a very interesting man who left a lasting impact on the Canadian film business. And he was an awesome grandfather.
posted by Cryptical Envelopment at 8:16 AM on November 30, 2004

YES, you have to write huge papers in university, Napierzaza. If you do not want to write huge papers, you should be in a university program in filmmaking, rather than a university program in film studies.

I think that everyone has probably covered all the ideas I have.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:32 AM on November 30, 2004

Response by poster: dobbs:

a. In terms of the films watched in class it has very staunchly avoided Egoyan and Cronenberg. We watched Rabid and no Egoyan movies.

b. I'm at Concordia and English Canadian Film is required (FMST 214 I think).

c. I'm pretty sure there is no books assigned just a big course pack with excerpts.

My teacher endlessly mentions Goin Down the Road a lot! I can list some other movies when I have my prospectus handy. I was thinking of doing a paper on GDTR because we didn't watch it in class but he obviously gets wood over it.

I just watched FUBAR again last night, I wish I could write a paper about it. Maybe about how the only thing that makes a film Canadian is a Canadian flag in the background.

In terms of me dropping out that's a bit hard to do. I'm not a passive film viewer and even though I have other interests I would like to pursue this further. It might just be the first year junk classes that I have to get out of the way, we'll see. I mean film is such the ultimate media! At least in assembling all the big ones it is. I have seen so many movies that are just shocking as to how utterly complex and thematic something can be. I can't imagine making something so articulate and massive at the same time.

My friend who is in second year history was pretty surprised when I said I had to write a 2500 word essay.

I may have said this before but having Can Film, Film History until 1959 and Aesthetics all at the same time demonstrates how shitty Can film really is. We learned about all the Quota Quickies, CRC, Telefilm junk that makes up the Canadian film tragedy. I go between being appalled and completely disinterested.

Has anyone seen I Love a Man in Uniform? I saw it a while ago and liked it. But I'm not sure if I would be able to make an essay and it (and I don't have too much free time).

I think the NFB is as well trodden as Cronenberg and Egoyan. At least in Montreal (the capitol of the NFB).

I just don't like Jarmusch. Sure it's a surprise when I see a movie that is completely lacking in anything interesting or intelligent. But that shock wears off faster than it hits me. Why the hell is he making pseudo documentaries? It's retarded, completely retarded. Why show mock real people? If he was making movies with social actors and not his buddies he might get some spontaneous action or SOMETHING. I didn't see Coffee and Cigarettes because I don't care who Jarmusch is friends with.

I've been seriously considering Production. I signed up for it right at the beginning but it's hard to get into (popular). I'm going to try and put something of a portfolio together soon, I have a lot of artwork already but I have to assemble and fill cracks.

Also I'm going to look up all the suggestions that have been made. I'm not totally adverse to research...
posted by Napierzaza at 11:45 AM on November 30, 2004

Dobbs, I think it's really funny that you put down Egoyan for repeating himself then praise Jaglom. But whatever, I don't totally disagree with you. You certainly know a lot more about the intricacies of Canadian film funding than I do.

But Gomez is a pretty bad counter-example. Laws of Gravity was an okay film, but it was pretty much a complete remake of Mean Streets. Gomez blew it by not really having any ideas of his own. I actually appreciate that Egoyan is thematically consistent. I'm sort of glad nobody has talked him into doing the new Harry Potter film.

A lot of what you said sound pretty stupid (especially the screenwriting thing, wtf?). But from the outside the NFB succeeds at what it probably thinks it's mission is. There is a recognizable Canadian film culture.

Let's take Guy Maddin for instance. I don't really like most of his movies. I think they're really navel gazing. But 'Pages from a Virgin's Diary' was one of the most brilliant attempts to allay dance and stage and film I've ever seen. Now maybe you think it would have been better if he had gone to work on 'the Sheild' after Ice Nymphs deservedly flopped, and cut his teeth on what's popular. But I would submit that the last thing the world needs is another goddamn cop movie.

And maybe the world doesn't need another essay on 'The Sweet Hereafter'. But you know, this isn't for the world, it's for a class. Originality is great, and will always be rewarded, but what he's trying to do right now is build up a critical vocabulary so when somebody asks him why he's refrencing 'Touch of Evil' in his new project he can say something other than 'you know.... it's cool'. I would recommend starting a little easier than an in depth exploration of Canadian film's relationship to the gov.

Here's an idea. Figure out four or five of the most popular Canadian films ever and compare and contrast. That's the kind of thing you can make some obvious points about without killing yourself.
posted by lumpenprole at 12:02 PM on November 30, 2004

I just don't like Jarmusch. Sure it's a surprise when I see a movie that is completely lacking in anything interesting or intelligent. But that shock wears off faster than it hits me.

ouch. that's pretty harsh.
not everything he does is pseudo-documentary y'know.
posted by juv3nal at 12:45 PM on November 30, 2004

Lumpen, I'm not praising Jaglom's film (I only like one of them, really), but his ability to continue with the career of his choice without the involvement of the government. The parallell between him and Egoyan is that they both have particular styles and both have their audiences (as small as they may be) and they both have actors who are keen to work with them. However, one is truly independent and the other sinks without my tax dollars. I think Egoyan should have to work as hard as Jaglom if he MUST tell the stories he wants to tell. Otherwise, I hear McDonalds is hiring.

Guy Maddin's an interesting example because he got his start in the Winnipeg Film Group (and, actually, there's another paper waiting to be written -- contrast the WFG with the Austin Film Group (Richard Linklater's band of filmmakers)... I don't actually like much Maddin stuff but I prefer it to Egoyan.

Again, the Gomez analogy is not one of "quality" but of practice. You think he's not original? Fine (I don't agree, but fine), my point in bringing him up is this: you don't think he's a good filmmaker and has no ideas of his own--how would you feel about funding his career? That's how I feel about funding Egoyan's. (In addition, I don't agree that LoG is simply a rehash of Mean Streets. Yes, they share an opening shot and some themes (brotherhood, mostly) and they're both about small time hoods in NYC, but that's where the similarities end, really. LoG has much to offer, I think, re: it's production (the editing is phenomenal), its acting (Greene and Falco and Schulze are amazing), the camera work is stellar, the music... I think it's one of the best films of the decade and certainly underrrated. I'd take it over Res Dogs any day (they both came out the same year)).

Anyway... I'm really rambling. Sorry.

Napierzaza... Have you seen Goin' Down the Road? It's certainly an interesting film if one's familiar with the, um, cinematic climate of the time, and it is most definitely an anomaly. However, to my knowledge GDTR was not on video until very recently. It was near impossible for anyone to see and as a result its influence was very limited. Had American films of that stature/time period been buried as thoroughly as Don's was, the American film landscape would look very different indeed. (I'm thinking specifically of Five Easy Pieces, which is an interesting counterpoint to GDTR even if it is a substantially better film.)

Unfortunately, I don't know the Concordia profs/courses so can't speak to your particular one. Were you a York student that would be different.

I haven't seen I Love a Man in Uniform since it came out and was pretty luke warm on it. There were many, many articles written about it though, so if you're interested in it or Wellington's work you should be able to find plenty references.

You could certainly write about FUBAR. I would emphasize how it seems that the only Canadian films by unknowns that seem to get any press is are wacky comedies (I've nothing against FUBAR) or genre films (Kissed, Ginger Snaps). Perhaps you could compare it and its reception to other mock rock documentaries. Another small Canadian film that is worth seeing if you haven't yet would be Parsley Days. It's readily available on video.

As for Jarmusch, hmm.. dunno what to tell you. With few exceptions (coffee and cigs, night on earth) I love his work. Stranger Than Paradies and Down By Law are masterpieces to me.
posted by dobbs at 12:52 PM on November 30, 2004

Um, Paradise, not Paradies.
posted by dobbs at 12:58 PM on November 30, 2004

Ouch is right...

If you don't want to do any research, you're in trouble. As a university student, first year or fourth year, you're expected to engage critically with the vast knowledge that is already out there in the world. Books and papers are printed for a reason -- to share information/knowledge with other people. Why keep reinventing the wheel?

I think you'd probably find that if you grabbed a generic book on Canadian film, you might find a director, a genre or a specific film that sound interesting to write about -- AND the book would point you in the right direction regarding other resources, other films to watch, people to read.

This thread is full of good suggestions for possible topics. I think Egoyan's Calendar is a particularly fruitful work for analysis, and the cronenberg and sex issue could be very interesting and fun (Naked Lunch, Crash, Dead Ringers, Videodrome). Canada is also full of great documentary filmmakers and experimental film/videomakers. Bruce Elder, Michael Snow, Vera Frenkel, Mike Hoolboom, John Porter, Mona Hatoun, newcomer Vincenzo Natali, doc filmmaker Peter Lynch, video artist Daniel Cockburn and his chest pounding, Joyce Wieland, Phil Hoffman, and countless others. If what you're really looking for is a Hollywood reminiscent experience, then check out the Ginger Snaps franchise.

I've also done a quick Amazon check for books you can surely find in the library at Concordia that would be helpful:

In one year of film studies I wrote at least 10 papers - all of which required I reference other sources. Get used to it if you want to continue in any arts-based degree.

Now stop whining and get to work. We're not going to write the paper for you.
posted by Ms Snit at 1:36 PM on November 30, 2004

Response by poster: I'm pretty aware of how popular Jarmusch is. He has, coincidently the same sort of fake indy feel that people like Tom Waits has. My friend thinks Tom Waits is the best kept secret of music, even though there was a huge Tom Waits billboard on Ste Catherine and he gets mentions in Playboy.
posted by Napierzaza at 2:39 PM on November 30, 2004

I have a master's degree in screenwriting, for whatever that's worth. I suppose that the program I attended was meant to be somewhere at the intersection between practical knowledge and theory.

You should definitely not be in film school. But then, neither should most people who are in film school.
posted by bingo at 8:51 PM on November 30, 2004

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