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It’s a holiday up here in The Great White North – Canada Day, where we celebrate the forming of our great country in 1867.

If you’ve been around this site for more than five minutes, you’ll know full well that I’m a proud Canadian. Even though there are a lot of things my country could do so much better – and a little bit too much self-congratulation that goes around for that which we do get right – there’s nowhere else I’d rather be from.

The slight irony with my national pride, is that it seldom trickles over into my love of cinema. In some ways, that’s emblematic of Canadian filmgoers (exposure is really tough when you live right next door to one of the biggest moviemaking industries in the world), but it’s something I’ve tried to correct. Canadian Film is an art form that in some ways is still evolving…but in many ways has taken leaps and bounds over the last several years. So while I still have a lot of catching up to do, I’m proud to say that my interest in homegrown film has grown a great deal since I started keeping up this space in 2007.

In the spirit of the holiday, I thought I’d bring together links to some of my favorites from the last seven years. In a neat little twist, at least a few of these selections are love-’em-or-hate-’em types of titles! So while I prepare to enjoy my much-needed day off, here’s a few of my favorite titles from my home and native land…

AFH

AWAY FROM HER … As I finished watching the DVD, I was left with one question, and it’s one I haven’t been able to answer – what would be worse; being the one who forgets, or the one who is forgotten?

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CAFE DE FLORE … The central question of CAFE DE FLORE – one unrelated to music – is whether you believe in greater forces at work. Do you believe that this is all there is, and that if things don’t pan out that you could have done something about it? Or do you believe that we’re all a part of some greater cosmic loop, and that there are forces at play in our daily lives that are far outside of our control?

C

CHLOE … I don’t usually begin by mentioning the stage on which the story is set, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen Toronto look so sensual (and I’ve lived here all my life). From the sun soaked cafes where scandalous conversations are held, to the high key greenhouse where Chloe and David have their first tryst, Atom Egoyan has taken a rather buttoned-up city and presented it with quite a romantic eye. Even the sound of passing streetcars seem to stand in for weary exhales of the characters.

E

ENEMY … If there’s a lingering image in Denis Villeneuve’s ENEMY, it’s the image of a spider. It’s an image we watch creep towards a stripper on a stage, and image we watch tower over the downtown core, and an image that stands as the weirdest moment in a movie that primarily plays it straight. It’s an interesting visual considering their general ugliness, the deliberate and precise nature of their movements, and the fear they instil in so many. I’m not sure how many would find ENEMY a source of fear, but it certainly does come across as ugly, deliberate, and precise.

G

GOON … Everybody loves a train wreck. Perhaps it sparks our curiosity, our voyeurism, or a strange animal desire to witness carnage. Sometimes, being a hockey fan treads in the same water. Sure there are dazzling goals and spectacular saves that kids will emulate for years to come…like Sidney Croby’s golden goal for Canada over USA in the 2010 Winter Olympics. However, there’s a want for violence that comes with being a hockey fan. There’s a desire for bone crushing hits, and when tensions run high for two players to trade punches on the ice. If one counts themselves a hockey fan (as I do), one has to wonder – do we want to see them play, or do we want to see them bleed?

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INCENDIES … Only as the truth pours out in indelible deep red drops can they fully understand. In coercing her children to seek out her footprints and follow where they lead, Nawal is giving them the greatest possible method to understand what this family is all about…and how they can be better people going forward.

Ponty

PONTYPOOLThe movie plays on zombie-like acts of violence coming from normal people who become infected. Where PONTYPOOL really gets to screw with us, is the Welles-ian way so much of the violence is off-screen. The terror comes from broken news feeds, haphazard telephone calls, and ominous sounds coming from outside the radio station doors.

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SPLICE … That these complications are both foreseen and unforeseen is the problem with man playing God. What a film like SPLICE does best is illustrate why genetic experimentation is so touchy (Not that I staunchly pontificate for either side of the argument). The question isn’t whether or not Elsa and Clive have crossed a line; the question is once they’ve crossed one line, when are they allowed to stop crossing lines?

SWT

STORIES WE TELL … Any story can be told so many different ways. Details can be played up, or glossed over. Characters can be seen as tragically flawed, or hapless fools. It all can be spun, and respun, to suit the whimseys of the storyteller and what they want to say. These tendencies affect fiction, fact, myth, and legend. They always have, and they always will. And yet when these tendencies wrap themselves around our own stories, we continually find ourselves surprised. You’d think we’d have learned by now.

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TAKE THIS WALTZ … New things become old. We forget that sometimes, and yet it seems like the simplest point. We find ourselves in relationships that aren’t what we want, or in towns we no longer like, and yearn for something new. New is exciting, enticing, and filled with possibility. Knowing all of that, it’s easy to understand why one would want to trade up from the old to the new, but what we want to do and what we should do shouldn’t always be decided by what will bring us something new.