Tag Archives: Canadian cinema

The French Connection: Québec Directors in Hollywood

You may not have noticed that your favourite movie or television show has been created by a Québécois filmmaker. Did you love the high drama and intensity of the thrillers Prisoners (2013) and Sicario (2015)? Then you’re a fan of Québec-born director Denis Villeneuve. What about the series Big Little Lies (2017-19) and Sharp Objects (2018)? They were both directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, born and raised in Montréal. The incredibly talented Montréal filmmaker and actor Xavier Dolan’s first English-language film The Death & Life of John F. Donovan premiered at TIFF in 2018.

In recognition of Vaughan Public Libraries marking five years of expanded French services, as well as the recent release of the highly anticipated Dune (2021), Villeneuve’s latest sci-fi blockbuster, I wanted to highlight these three Canadian filmmakers from Québec who have made their mark in Hollywood with their distinct visions, styles, and a dash of je ne sais quoi. Their earlier French-language work demonstrates their skill and talent and hints at the larger projects that were to come. Check them out at your local VPL bibliothèque!

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CHET BAKER: portraits of a tragic artist as an older man

Born to be BlueI was pleased recently, to catch Born to be Blue, the new Chet Baker bio-pic for a couple reasons: [A] I’ve since reconciled my admiration for the cinema of Ethan Hawke and, [B] I’m a big Chet Baker fan.

So first things first, let’s deal with the movie. This might be the perfect time for Hawke to step into a Chet Baker role. Perfect because Hawke’s (now) craggy and weathered look embodies nicely the lived-in-hard features that so defined Baker in his later years. Back in the day, the younger Hawke was certainly fresh and good looking enough to portray the prettier, more iconic Baker of the 1950s. Sure, one might argue that a depiction of Baker’s artistic and personal peaks – when he made the recordings he is most famous for today – would be the ideal period to present. It was only a few short years and Baker was surrounded by giants of jazz. But Born to be Blue chooses instead to give us the older, gaunt, damaged Baker whose fame had by then receded.

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