Tag: Canada

December 16, 2009 / / Main Slate

By Andrew Palmacci

Strange Brew – 1983 – dir. Rick Moranis

When you talk about the wide-ranging genre of movie comedies, there are few sub-genres more extreme in their risibility factor than the screwball comedy. Made most famous by Blake Edwards’ series of Pink Panther films, and with a lineage traceable to Frenchman Jacques Tati’s wacky Mr. Hulot suite of pictures (if not to the silent films of Chaplin and Keaton), the screwball is an oft-overlooked and under-recognized part of the overall comedic film output in current times, though there are definitely examples thereof in today’s cinematic world. Released only a year after the last Pink Panther movie, Trail of the Pink Panther, Strange Brew (1983) could be seen as the filmic missing link between the post-war screwballs of the 50s and 60s, namely Panther, and movies of the ‘90s that were spawned from Saturday Night Live sketches (Chris Farley flics, say) or those of the Farrelly brothers. Itself a product of the Canadian sketch show “SCTV,” Strange Brew benefited from the cross-over appeal of its stars—Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis (the latter’s feature debut)—and its concept: two beer-drinking buffoons who make their way around their Toronto, Ontario, Canada-area locale, punctuating their sentences with numerous eh!’s, following hockey, and feeding their dog, Hosehead, at their parents’ house. And to under-, or over-, score the grandiosity of Thomas’ and Moranis’ vein of humor, the super-title to the movie is The Adventures of Bob and Doug McKenzie.  Oh, and there’s a major Hamlet tie-in as well. Let’s take a closer look.

January 9, 2009 / / Film Notes

The Sweet Hereafter – 1997 – dir. Atom Egoyan
(Filmmaker and author quotes from DVD commentary)

Adapted from a Russell Banks book and directed by Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan, The Sweet Hereafter is the sublime, aching story of a fatal school bus accident in rural Canada.  Most of the town’s children are killed as a result, and city lawyer Mitchell Stevens (Ian Holm) travels to the town to fan the flames of confusion and anger into a potentially lucrative class action lawsuit.  However, the town’s sorrow mirrors Mitchell’s own personal drama: the loss of his daughter to drugs and darker forces still.  The themes of confinement are rife within this drama of parents, children, lovers, and courage.