Saturday, January 6, 2007

2006 Movie Wrap-Up

It’s not a Top 10 List or a Top 5 List. These aren’t necessarily the best movies I saw in 2006. It’s not even a list of movies that were released in 2006, except maybe on DVD.

No, this would be my...


Hard Candy

If you have a teenage girl, or are a teenage girl, or ever were a teenage girl, you absolutely must see this movie. If you are none of the above, viewing is optional but highly recommended.

Canada’s own Ellen Page (‘ReGenesis’) plays a 14 year old girl engaged in a flirtatious online relationship with a 30-something year old man. One day he convinces her to meet with him IRL, and they end up back at his apartment. And as you curl up in your seat dreading the inevitable… everything gets turned completely around. I won’t say much more, but it’s a profoundly disturbing movie that will keep you thinking for days afterwards.

And don’t blink or you’ll miss Sandra Oh.


Noir seems to be experiencing a weird renaissance lately. "The Black Dahlia" and "Hollywoodland" are two recent big budget examples, but "Brick" is kind of a low budget, Gen Y addition to the genre (and don’t you be arguing with me about how none of these fit the classic definition of ‘Film Noir’ - you know what I mean).

Imagine, if you will, a movie like ‘Chinatown’ or ‘The Blue Dahlia’ set in a modern high school. Same dogged gumshoe, same criminal kingpins, same dame-in-distress. They even talk like they just walked out of a Sam Spade movie, which makes the fact that they’re all fifteen or sixteen years old that much more interesting. And a bit eerie.

Several of the young stars in this are names and faces you might recognize from their even younger days (notably Joseph Gordon-Levitt from ‘3rd Rock’ and former child star Lukas Haas), but they have all grown up and matured into a really interesting group of actors. Some more promising young actors of this ilk appear in…

Dear Wendy

Another movie about teenagers (can you tell I have a teenage son?), this one takes place in a strange little company town where the parents are largely absent for one reason or another. All the angst-ridden, misfit teenagers in town are drawn together and form their own society centred around guns, honour, and a really interesting fashion sense.

‘Dear Wendy’ was written by Lars von Trier, and it definitely has the surrealist edge you would expect from one of his films. But before you start gouging your eyes out or fleeing in the opposite direction, this is no ‘Dogville’. It’s still rooted in some version of the real world, even though it’s a version created by people who dress like Lord Byron goes to Deadwood and believe that guns and pacifism are not mutually exclusive.

The movie stars Jamie Bell, who you might have seen as ‘Billy Elliot’ or, more recently, as young Jimmy in ‘King Kong’. I find him fascinating to watch and I’m glad that he’s making such interesting choices with the movies he’s making. He also starred in ‘Chumscrubber’, which is another great movie I would add to this list if it weren’t so full of teenagers already.


This is a very, very, very low budget Canadian movie that has been shown almost exclusively at places like the Idaho International Film Festival, Cinefest Sudbury, and the 2006 Comic Book Expo. Word of mouth has been spreading like wildfire, and now that it’s out on DVD it may end up becoming the most successful Canadian movie never released in the theatres.

It’s an odd, funny, charming little tale of a mild mannered office drone who discovers that his better looking and more popular co-worker has bone fide superpowers. Being a comic book aficionado, he decides to help him develop his powers so he can use them for good. Sadly, the guy’s character isn’t quite as sterling as, say, Superman’s, and things start getting a lot darker.

Like ‘Clerks’, this movie was bought and paid for entirely with credit cards. I think a large chunk of the budget was spent on the only name actor in the cast, Daniel Baldwin (the sweaty Baldwin brother), who is oddly miscast as a local comic book store owner. My husband pointed out that they could have saved a lot of money by hiring some guy off the street and getting him to change his last name to Baldwin. It would have had the same draw and they might have gotten a better performance. Other than that, it’s a wonderful movie.

Bon Cop, Bad Cop

This one you might have actually heard of from the brief but intense TV ad campaign on CBC. Unfortunately, the ads gave the impression that this was just another odd couple-buddy-cop movie with a French-Canadian twist. And yeah, ok, it kinda is. So why did I want to see it?

For one, it stars Colm Feore who I utterly adore. Second, it’s a Canadian film that looked like it might actually make some money. And in fact it went on to become the highest domestic grossing Canadian film in history, largely because it is in both English and French and thus takes advantage of the huge Quebec market.

But the main reason I wanted to see this movie was something they never showed in the ads. They did a piece on it for MovieTelevision that shows the incident that brings these two cops together in the first place - a dead body draped over a highway sign that says "Welcome To Ontario" on one side and "Bienvenue à Québec" on the other. I thought that was hilarious.

This isn’t the best movie I saw all year. The plot’s a little thin, and I’m pretty sure the whole hockey obsessed serial killer thing was meant to be a joke. But both Feore and Patrick Huard are absolutely wonderful, there’s plenty of action and humour to keep things interesting, and if you’re lucky enough to speak French you can enjoy all the jokes that apparently don’t get translated in the subtitles.

So, how do I hear about these movies? Sometimes through ‘MovieTelevision’, sometimes through trailers on other similarly obscure DVDs, sometimes just through stream of consciousness surfing on IMDB. I’m not even sure if some of these were ever released in theatres up here except maybe at the Carleton or the Varsity in Toronto. Thankfully, it seems like someone at my local Roger’s Video (and I think I know who) has a taste for off-the-radar movies like this and makes a point of ordering them. Whoever you are, thank you.


  1. 1. "(the sweaty Baldwin brother)" Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!

    2. I think I need to print off this list and take it to the video store with me. See #4.

    3. When I was in university Colm Feore came to give a lecture. He took his shirt off. I have no idea what the lecture was actually about.

    4. I just saw Ginger Snaps for the first time over Christmas holidays. I've since been rewatching Buffy, and I'm right back into the high school genre. Just because you're not in high school anymore, doesn't mean you don't still get it.

  2. 3. Mmmm... Colm Feore. Have you ever seen 'Beautiful Dreamers'? I think I fell in love with him in that. But then I have a thing for bald men.

    4. I wouldn't recommend seeing 'Ginger Snaps 2', although I suppose it's really not that terrible except for the obnoxious blond girl and about the last half hour of the movie. 'Ginger Snaps Back', on the other hand, is definitely worth seeing, if only for the costumes.

    Other favourite teenager movies: 'Pump Up the Volume', 'Bully', and of course, 'Donnie Darko'

  3. I definitely had fun with Bon Cop, Bad Cop...