Last Night (1998)


FILM REVIEW || Director/Writer Don McKellar | Cinematographer Douglas Koch | Starring Don McKellar, Sandra Oh, Callum Keith Rennie, Sarah Polley | Length 95 minutes | Seen at home (VHS), August 2000, and at home (DVD), Saturday 6 July 2013 || My Rating 4 stars excellent


© Lionsgate

When I first started going to the cinema seriously in the 1990s, Canadian films had a particular arthouse cachet, most likely due to Atom Egoyan, whose elegantly interwoven narratives had become quite the hit on the festival circuit. As a result, a number of Canadian films reached cinemas that decade, even ones as far afield as New Zealand, where I was living. I remember trying to pin down then what was distinctively ‘Canadian’ about them — there was something to the wry, dark humour that might be related to being an ex-colonial nation dwarfed by a larger neighbour (or at least, so it seemed to me in New Zealand). Certainly, though, a lot of those 90s films (like earlier films by the veteran director David Cronenberg) shared a dark subject matter — whether, for example, the necrophilia in Kissed (1996), or the deaths of miners in Margaret’s Museum (1995). So, Last Night, with its frank acceptance of the end of the world, seems a natural fit with this morbidity.

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Stories We Tell (2012)


NEW RELEASE FILM REVIEW || Director/Writer Sarah Polley | Cinematographer Iris Ng | Starring Michael Polley, Harry Gulkin, Sarah Polley | Length 109 minutes | Seen at Curzon Soho, London, Wednesday 3 July 2013 || My Rating 4.5 stars a must-see


© Roadside Attractions

There’s a point in this fascinating documentary film directed by Canadian actress Sarah Polley where the voiceover by her father Michael tells of how she didn’t want a significant piece of her life story revealed by a journalist, had not in fact intended to ever reveal this secret. Yet in crafting this film around that very personal story (of which I don’t intend to provide too many details here), she’s managed to deftly hide herself in the overlapping strands of narrative. Veteran Canadian film producer Harry Gulkin avers in an interview that film should always seek to reveal truth, thereby objecting to his place in Polley’s story, for it is perhaps the impossibility of finding truth that’s at the heart of the film, along with Polley’s mother Diane who died from cancer when Sarah was a child.

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