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Ordinary Love, superb, three superior Canadian films and two imports you can do without

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He was our 10th Prime Minister, a bachelor, a mama’s boy all his life, a weirdly fastidious individual, and an apt subject for Rankin, who used to work for Winnipeg’s Guy Maddin and has absorbed his off-the-wall style.  Now living in Montreal, he found how strange King was by reading his diaries and got much of that into this film. Instead of the usual, war-time leadership and political acumen, he gives us lots about sex with shoes, clubbing seals, a national inferiority complex (“long have you smoldered in your disappointment”) and a generally impish view of our history. King, as played by Daniel Beirne, is a nebbish. His mom, played by Louis Negin, a tyrant. Her insistence that King is great, propels him. The film shows him and every Canadian institution with a skewed twist, usually with hand-painted backdrops. He’s riding a giant duck in one and later in a funhouse loop. B.C. is a hill of tree stumps. Dazzling, inventive and mischievous fun. (VanCity Theatre) 4 out of 5

ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF NOAH PIUGATTUK: The new one from the team that gave us Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner , including its director Zacharias Kunuk, is another clear-eyed examination of life in the far north. And of white/Indigenous interactions in Canada. This one is languid and relies very much on a series of conversations. They are compelling though and reveal precisely how colonialism looks. This is based on a true story by the way; there’s a clip of the real Noah attached at the end.

 

The film starts slowly, maybe prepping us to expect fine pictures. We get some when Noah and two others go out on their dogsled to hunt. They spot another sled in the distance and when they realize one of the two men on it is white they immediately understand they’ll be under supervision yet again. When they meet and sit down to talk, Noah (played by Apayata Kotierk) is being asked by a Canadian government representative (Kim Bodnia) to, in effect, give up his traditional way of life. He’s to move to a settlement, as part of a program Canada did impose on Inuit people back in the 60s. They talk at length about what that means. He’ll have to follow rules; he’ll get family allowance in return. The conversation through a translator is marred by mistranslations, misunderstandings and mistrust but they converse on and try to overcome all that. It’s a very credible version of how interchanges like that went, and probably still do. There’s good will on both sides but a divide that’s awfully broad. It’s fascinating to watch it portrayed like this, and feels particularly relevant right now. (VanCity) 3 ½ out of 5  

DISAPPEARANCE AT CLIFTON HILL: Here’s an engrossing mystery, a sharp-edged Canadian film and a realistic view of our country’s best-known tourist attraction, Niagara Falls. It’s the off-season; the lights, the wax museums and the Sky Wheel are there but not many tourists. It’s a good time to get a peek low down underneath the glitz, as beheld by writer-director Albert Shin. His parents used to own a motel there and took him back on many visits. He recalls witnessing what may have been an abduction and that memory fuels this film.

 

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