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Another movie: Ceci n’est pas un polar (#246)

This post, like yesterday’s post, also highlights a well-done recent Montréwood film.  You may wish to check it out when it shows in your own part of Canada (Click here for you your local provincial Francophone association, which will be able to help you find showing dates and locations across Canada).

Ceci n’est pas un polar was showing in theatres yesterday.  A Francophone buddy of mine drove into the city yesterday and we went to watch it together.  I was not planning to watch a second movie, two days in a row — but the reviews were too good to turn this one down.

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The word “polar” has two meanings in French.  It means the North & South Poles, or other poles of attraction.  But it also means a “criminal saga” (usually recounted in a book or a film).  Thus the movie’s title could mean “This is not a normal crime story”.  

The movie stars Roy Dupuis and Christine Beaulieu.  Roy Dupuis is one of Montréwood’s most famous actors.  What most people do not realize is that Roy Dupuis is Franco-Ontario.   He was born in Northern Ontario and lived in Ontario into his high-school years before his family moved to Québec.

Click below for the movie trailer

In the movie, a taxi driver falls in love with a customer, but finds himself captivated by too many strange aspects to her life which she does not want to explain to him.  Out of love for her, he embarks on a journey as an amateur private detective to try to figure out why all the small things he is finding out about her are not making sense.  The series of misplaced facts finally make sense at the end of the movie, but it was quite an adventure to get there.

Most Francophones in Québec and across Canada have watched Roy Depuis for more than two decades on television and in the movies.  Even Anglophones across Canada may know him as the leading male role in the long-running television series Nakita.

But his role in this movie was probably one of his best ever (which is exactly what the critics have also been saying).

Check it out if you have the chance.

Below is a behind-the-scenes interview of the making of the movie:

Movie: Les Maîtres du suspense (#245)

I do not tend to watch a ton of movies (in English or in French).  I suppose I’m like most people;  I don’t like to see obscure films which try to convey hidden messages of morals on life using metaphors and cinematic tools to invoke the suppressed character in me.   Puke!   Sorry, that’s just not me.

Rather, like most people, I’m shallow, movies are expensive, and I want an instant fix from the movies I chose to see.  I expect to be wowed, held in suspense (without having to expend too much brain power), or I expect to be keeling over with laughter.  (By the way, if you’re learning French, the informal word for “keeling over with laughter” is “cramper”).

So in this sense, like the vast majority of people out there, I’m just plain picky and my choices are populist.   I chose movies based on how the expensive effects look, or based on raving reviews.

Yet, yesterday I decided to see what was playing in French (with one of Canada’s largest Francophone populations outside of Québec, Toronto is a great city for anything Francophone-related).  A quick search revealed a few French-language movies playing at the cinema this weekend.   Some were made in Québec and others in France.

I looked them up and Les Maîtres du suspense (one of our newest Québec films) was garnering some great reviews.   So an hour later I was out the door, on the subway, and on my way downtown to check it out.

l.mtr.sus

It was hilarious!  I don’t know how many times the entire theatre burst out laughing.   But it also had a serious side to it — a very well made movie.

It was not released very long ago, so I’m quite curious what the box-office sales will be like over the next few weeks and months (in Canada, we count Canadian-made box-office sales in terms of months).

The movie was actually being shown in Toronto as part of a cross-Canada promotional tour.  The film’s writer, Stéphane Lapointe, surprisingly made an appearance on stage after the film’s showing (I did not expect that at all) — to great applause might I add.

stg.apr.1I would certainly recommend putting this movie on your list of must-sees.  It can often be hit-and-miss with our Francophone (and Anglophone) films in Québec & Canada.  But this one certainly was a hit.

In addition, it featured two very well-known household names as its main actors;  Michel Côté and Antoine Bertrand (Michel Côté has been famous for two to three decades, and Antoine Bertrand is a young actor who has taken the film industry and comedy circuit by storm only over the last three years or so).

I’m not going to spoil the plot, but I will tell you that it was unlike any plot I have every seen before — very creative and captivating!!

Here is the trailer:

See if you can check it out in your part of the country.  If you’re not sure where and when it will be showing in your city, give your local provincial Francophone association a call (click here for a list of contact info in all parts of Canada).

[As an aside, the theatre audience was very interesting.  I expected it to be mostly Franco-Ontariens.  Yet it was not.  It was a packed house, perhaps half Anglophone / half Francophone.   Toronto’s Francophones are a very mixed bag, and it certainly showed last night.  On one side of me were Francophones from Ontario, on the other side were people from Québec.  Acadians and African Francophones were seated in front of me, and behind me were some Anglophones and Francophones from the Maghreb.   And then there was that wacky “Alberta” guy sitting in my seat! 😉  On the 40 minute subway ride back home, the subway was full of the different French accents of those who went to see the movie.  I really should try to make an extra effort to do more French activities in Toronto — it’s such a fascinating mix of people here!]

Real-life documentary: Le Garage, “Bienvenue chez Normand” (#215)

This documentary, “Le Garage”, caught my eye the moment I first saw a short 20 second clip, and now I’m hooked!

I’ll provide you with trailers, and an official link for online viewing a little further below.

This is one of the most “real” documentaries I think I have ever seen.  I have never seen a documentary quite like this one before; one which has surprisingly left me with a feeling of having a strange bond with the people featured in it, despite never having met them.

At the very bottom, I’ll provide you with links to official sites where you can watch the full hour-long documentary, officially approved for internet viewing.

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The Trailer:  Here’s how the film maker, Michel Demers, describes his film (translation) : “It is along the banks of the North Coast where we find The Garage.  Between forest and sea, adults, children, and grand-parents all gather in the garage to tell their stories and to gossip.  In an atmosphere in which everyone has each other’s back, you can sample the moose meat, trout, and mussels that everyone has pitched in to bring home together.  Norman and his sons are mechanics, and are under the ever-so-watchful eyes of those who drop in and who watch from the side-lines”.

C’est à Longue-Rive sur La Côte-Nord que nous retrouvons LE GARAGE. Entre mer et forêt, adultes, enfants et grands-parents s’y rencontrent pour raconter histoires et menteries. Dans une atmosphère de solidarité et d’entraide, on déguste orignal, truites et moules que l’on a capturé ensemble. Normand et ses fils y font de la mécanique sous les yeux des gens qui “veillent” dans le côté salon.

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THE STORY LINE:

The film maker’s brother, Norm, lives in a very small village, Longue-Rive, in the relatively remote region known as Québec’s North Shore.    Norm is a mechanic in the village, and works out of his garage set up on his property.   In small towns and villages across Canada, particularly those which are quite remote, neighbours have grown up together and/or know each other very well.   In such places, people often do not lock their doors at night, and villages take on a family atmosphere of sorts (you can walk into your neighbour’s homes without knocking, everyone knows where everyone’s chilren are at all times, and adults spend a lot of time with each other.

Map1

Map2

In Longue-Rive, there is no bar or cafe.  But the blue-collar nature of the small town makes it so everyone has a garage where they work (either professionally or as a hobby), and everyday life revolves around the garage (much like everyday life may have revolved around kitchens 50, 70 or 100 years ago).

I’ve personally driven through Long-Rive a while back, as well as many other communities like it along the North Shore, and all across Canada.  In villages like these, it tends to be more cultural the norm, rather than the exception, to see homes with detached garages, in which residents work or whittle away their time (even in my own family, we I have a number of relatives whose lives semi-revolve around their garage).

Culturally, it is very Canadian to see this phenomenon in remote, rural settings, in all provinces.   It’s something I have never really thought of before, but I think it’s an aspect of our rural culture.    It’s a part of our culture which the film maker, Michel Demers, has captured beautifully.

In the absence of a bar or café in town, Norm’s garage doubles as the local hang-out for family and friends.  People drop by in their free time, pull up a chair (or a “living room recliner”) and meet for a beer, to chat, to eat, organize group activities and just pass away the time.  And it’s not only the village men who have turned Norm’s garage into their local “hang-out”.  Women and children also gather to gossip, joke, and play.

Because everyone shares the same lifestyle (a love of the outdoors, catching up on community news, bonding as a community, hunting, trapping, fishing, clam digging, ski-dooing, etc.), there are more than enough topics for everyone to talk and laugh about.  There is rarely a dull moment.  People bond, and the entire village becomes one big family.

WHAT I TOOK AWAY FROM WATCHING THIS DOCUMENTARY:

What I love about the film is its simple and genuine nature, its innocence, and how life is uncomplicated for those we see on the screen.  If one member of the community falls on hard times, there will be a whole network of others around to help pick him/her up by their bootstraps and step in until that individual is back on their feet.

Although I now living in our largest city (with Toronto at the heart of the “Golden Horseshoe” which counts over 10 million people), and even though I have lived in a few cities overseas which have ranged from 8 million, to 17 million, to 25 million people people, a film like this still resonates so strongly with me because I see so many echoes of my own early childhood in it;  be it clam-digging close to home with my family, ski-dooing with my dad and his buddies, spending time with my dad as he did odd things around his own garage, or simply growing up in a small, isolated community in which neighbours spent the bulk of their time together.  I talked about many of these things in a couple of earlier posts:

It find it quite interesting that so many aspects of life on the North Coast of Québec (where the St. Lawrence meets the Atlantic) are almost identical to many aspects of life on the North Coast of British Columbia (where the Skeena meets the Pacific), and a good number of other places.  Fascinating stuff!

INTERNATIONAL SCREENINGS:

Apart from the various Canadian cities in which this documentary has or will be screened (both inside and outside of Québec), it is also set to be screened or has been screened in cities as far away as Moscow, Marseilles, Brussels, Chicago and Mexico.

A NOTE ON THE STYLE OF FRENCH USED :

The French accents and expressions spoken are those commonly heard in Québec’s North Coast region.   This style of French has more in common with French spoken in Québec’s Gaspé region, the Atlantic Province’s Acadian regions, and the older generations of Prairie French speakers than it does Western Québec (which includes Montréal) or Ontario.   (You can click the above links for more information on these various accent styles).

However, if your French is at an upper advanced level, and if you’re used to hearing a couple of different Canadian French accents to a fluent level, you should not have much difficulty understanding what is being said.   Just be aware that even if your French is perfectly fluent, or even if French is your first language (such as for those from Montréal or Québec City), but if you are not used to hearing a North Coast accent, the super-strong accents of a couple of Normand’s buddies may throw you off here and there (there were a couple of times when I had to rewind to catch the words in a couple of different phrases).

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SOME ADDITIONAL OUT-TAKES:

Here are some clips of people in the documentary talking about their lives and their”Garage” culture:

Here are some clips of reactions from local residents in Long-Rive when they first viewed a showing of “Bienvenue chez Normand”.

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The documentary’s official website: http://www.micheldemers.com/?cat=67

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HOW TO VIEW THE ENTIRE DOCUMENTARY ONLINE, FOR APPROVED VIEWING:

The documentary will be available on Radio-Canada’s “Tou.tv” website for free viewing until approximately September 2015.

The direct link is as follows:    http://ici.tou.tv/les-grands-reportages/S2015E189

Subtitles (in French) are available in the video if you need them (click the subtitle button at the the bottom of the screen).

Happy viewing !!

Patrick Huard (#212)

Two nights ago, Xavier Dolan’s film Mommy cleaned house, yet again.  This time it was an arm-full of trophes at Montréwood’s Jutra awards.

The 2nd most important back-up actor in the film was Patrick Huard.

Regarding Montréwood cinéma, we often say if you want to know what film is worth watching (ie: what constitutes a “good” film), then follow the “director”.  Conversely, in Hollywood, more often than not it tends to be the reverse; people in Hollywood say you should follow the “actor” to find the “good” movies.

One major exception to the Québéc/Montréwood rule of following the “director” is in the case of the superstar actor, Patrick Huard.   In Huard’s case, if you follow the actor (just as you would in Hollywood), you are bound to find the best films.

With a few exceptions, if you look at the biggest of the big Montréwood films from the mid 1990s to present, Patrick Huard has held either a leading acting role, or a major back-up role.

I’ve never personally seen Huard walk down the streets in Québec, but I can only imagine he would be pounced upon from all directions by adoring fans looking for autographs.

Some of the more notable, very successful Montréwood films he has appeared in were:

  • Les Boys (1, 2 & 3) – all of which were among the highest grossing, and most viewed films in Canadian history
  • Bon Cop, Bad Cop – (Patrick Huard was the main actor)… the highest or second highest grossing film in Canadian history when it came out in 2006
  • Starbuck
  • Mommy
  • Omerta

The above films have gone down in the Montréwood, Québec and Canadian history books.  I think it’s fair to say that so has Patrick Huard.

If you want to hear a half-hour conversation between Patrick Huard and his co-star in Mommy, Anne Dorval, you can hear it on Radio-Canada’s radio program, L’autre jour à la table d’à côté” (“The Other Day at the Table Beside Us…”).  Click HERE for the program on Radio-Canada’s official website.

Check out some of his work… I think you’ll be impressed.

Bon Cop, Bad Cop – ENGLISH TRAILER (the film was 50/50 French-English)

Starbuck – SUBTITLED English Trailer

Omertà – (Also starring Céline Dion’s husband, René Angélil)

Mommy Trailer:

A very funny, well made movie: “Henri Henri” (#210)

Flights are amazing for getting things done – be it work, reading, or movies.  Unfortunately I haven’t had the time I need to see many of our movies in French here in Toronto.  But I’ve been fortunate in the sense that I could rely on numerous flights the last couple of years to catch up on movies.  Air Canada usually has a very good selection of the top box-office Montréwood movies.

On a flight a few days ago I watched ‘’Henri Henri”.   It was the first time I had seen a Montréwood film like this.  The entire movie had the feel of “Forest Gump” meets “Amélie” meets the quirkier, innocent feel of the small town setting in “Edward Scissor Hands”.   It was quite different for a Montréwood film to have this sort of atmosphere.

henri-henri

Best yet, it was funny – in an adult / mature kind of way (I don’t think kids would find it funny – so that should say it’s perfectly suited to adults).   I had my big earphones on, so I couldn’t really hear myself laugh, but I must have laughed loud enough a few times because people across the aisle looked at me more than a couple of times (but they just smiled, so all is good!).

Here is the trailer:

Montréwood can pull things off amazingly well… and here is yet another prime example.

I’m not going to spoil the plot for you, but I’d don’t mind leaking a little bit of the storyline.  Henri was an orphan, who took a job as the convent’s “lightbulb screwer” (he screwed in burned out lightbulbs… let’s be clear about that).  Once he grew up and had to leave the orphanage, he kept his pleasant nativity from an isolated childhood, and subsequently took a job doing the only thing he knew, screwing in light bulbs.  With the encouragement of his older co-worker and a customer who he befriended (who both doubled new friends and & life coaches), he met a girl.  What happened after came with a twist (both due to his background and hers).   The rest I’ll leave for you to find out when you watch the film.

If you’re learning French, this movie contain NO Joual (which is great for learners whose  French is closer to entry level).  Everything is in international French, and the Québecois accent is toned down to a minimum (it could not be toned down any futher).  Thus this would be a perfect film for anyone learning French, even at an elementary level.   Much of the movie is carried by the actors’ actions anyway.

Hats off to the writer/director Martin Talbot, and the producers Christian Larouche and Caroline Héroux for a job well done.  And the acting by Victor Trelles Turgeon, Sophie Desmarais, Michel Perron and Marcel Sabourin was excellent.  It had the feel of a big-budget movie, right from the beginning.  Great job!!