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Posts Tagged ‘Goin’ Down the Road’
Road movies might be the great Canadian genre. From “Goin’ Down the Road” to “Highway 61” generations of Canadians have travelled from Cape Spear to Tofino in search of story, enlightenment and cold cans of Molson Export. With ruggedly beautiful terrain in the background and characters criss-crossing in the foreground, our filmmakers have often hit the road in search of cinematic success.
The latest Canadian director to hit the road is Kire Paputts. In his feature debut he tells the story of Eugene (Dylan Harman), a nineteen-year-old man with Down syndrome. When we first meet Eugene he’s living with his mom in a cramped Toronto apartment. She lies in bed hacking up a lung, her smoker’s cough filling the air, as and he fills his time watching “The Littlest Hobo,” the great canine Canadian traveller, on TV while drawing pictures of rainbows. “They say that at the end of the rainbow there is a pot of gold,” he says. “If I found the pot of gold I would buy video games.” He believes rainbows are a symbol of hope, so when tragedy strikes he sets off across country, on a bicycle with training wheels, greeting strangers with a simple question, “Have you seen the rainbow?”
By their nature road movies are episodic. The great ones tie their segments together thematically, building on a central thesis. “The Rainbow Kid” plays itself out in chapters but feels more like a series of random situations banged together to form a whole rather than a complete narrative that runs from start to finish. There are highlights along the way. Eugene’s rainbow hunt yields Elvis Grimes—Julian Richings doing a memorable riff on his “Hard Core Logo” character Bucky Haight—and Anna (Krystal Hope Nausbaum), a young special needs girl who introduces our hero to the carnal side of her nature.
To the film’s credit, as these segments drift together, Paputts is fearless his treatment of Eugene and the story. The tale takes a dark, unexpected turn near the end, but the tone of the film is less important than the way it portrays Eugene’s single mindedness of pursuit. He’s on a hero’s journey and nothing—irate stepfathers, old rock stars or criminals—will stop him. “The Rainbow Kid” happens to have a character with a disability but doesn’t use its non-traditional lead as a gimmick. Instead Harman’s emotional, charming performance grounds the fanciful film in humanity.
Richard and CJAD Montreal afternoon show host Andrew Carter talk about the weekend’s five big releases, the marvelous Marvel action of “Captain America: Civil War,” Susan Sarandon’s meddling in “The Meddler” and the trippy road trip of “The Rainbow Kid.”
I thought a great deal about what to say to you this evening. I thought of some funny things, a couple of cinematographer jokes that I could throw around… like Why don’t cinematographer’s smoke? Because it takes them 6 hours to light it… For obvious reasons I decided not to go that route.
Instead I thought back to growing up.
I thought about living in small town Nova Scotia. I thought about being a young man who hadn’t traveled anywhere yet. Who thought that the West Coast was an exotic land where arbutus trees grew and nobody needed to own a parka.
I thought of that young guy who spent most of his early life sitting at the Astor Theater in my town watching the images you people created dance across the screen.
I thought about what I learned about my own country watching the visions of people like Eugene Boyko and John Spotton and their colleagues… people who looked at our country and figured out a way to represent it honestly, on screens big and small.
For me the visions of Toronto in Goin’ Down the Road or Newfoundland in The Rowdyman, shaped the way but I thought about my country, and the way I thought about the people who lived in my country.
I don’t think it is a coincidence that the birth of the film and television industry in Canada in the 50s, 60s and 70s—and the subsequent birth of the Canadian Society of Cinematographers in 1957—coincided with a renewal of nationalism nationwide. For the first time Canadians were treated to beautiful, lifelike, moving, in depth portraits of places like Dawson City courtesy of cinematographers Wolf Koenig and Colin Low in City of Gold; or the icy chill of Montreal, captured by cinematographer Paul Leach in Don’t Let the Angels Fall and an all encompassing look at us in Across This Land with Stompin’ Tom Connors with cinematography by Peter Reusch.
Forget the railroad or the Trans Canada Highway, your images of what makes Canada and Canadians special are the things that really connected the country.
The camera has been called a time machine and when we look at the films shot by CSC members we see our past, but we also see a glimpse of our future. The pioneering work done by those men and women laid the foundation for the industry we celebrate tonight… In those images are the very essence of who we are as a people and the creative promise of the industry we work in today.
Many American films use Canada as a substitute for international locations — look for Casa Loma in the X-Men films, or Simon Fraser University in The Day the Earth Stood Still, for example —but our homegrown cinema highlights our landmarks as our own.
So why not reheat some tourtière (with a side of poutine, of course!), or crack open a bag of ketchup chips, then wash it down with a glass of Niagara Peninsula ice wine and see the country through the eyes of our filmmakers.
Goin’ Down the Road (1970)
The story of Pete (Doug McGrath) and his pal Joey (Paul Bradley), two Maritimers who set out in a Chevy to find a better life in Toronto, (SCTV joked they were looking for “lawyerin’ and doctorin’ jobs”) is a Canadian time capsule circa 1970.
One Week (2008)
The story of a dying man on a road trip is a love letter to Canada, showcasing landmarks — like the world’s biggest hockey stick — but its heartfelt story should appeal to everyone, whether they have the Queen on their money or someone else’s mug.
Jesus of Montreal (1989)
Not only does Saint Joseph’s Oratory represent Montreal in Monopoly: Here and New – The World Edition, it also provides a beautiful backdrop for this classic Canadian film from acclaimed director, Denys Arcand.
This satire of office life and urban living showcases Calgary’s web of connecting tunnels. You don’t see much of the outdoor life, but it gives you a glimpse of a little-seen aspect of Albertan big city life.
The Snow Walker (2003)
Shot partially in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, the story of a bush pilot and a sick Inuit woman who must survive after a plane crash features a breathtaking look at Canada’s North, including some beautiful time lapse photography of that natural wonder known as the Northern Lights.
The new film Scott Pilgrim vs. The World begins with a title card that reads “Not so long ago in the mysterious land of Toronto, Canada.” It establishes that the movie is set in Toronto, but not the Toronto we usually see in films. That Toronto often subs for New York or Chicago.
The Toronto of Scott Pilgrim comes complete with Casa Loma, Lee’s Palace and other T-Dot landmarks. It’s probably the most expensive movie to feature Toronto as itself, but it’s not the only one. Here’s a look back at Toronto on-screen:
Lawyerin’ and doctorin’ jobs!
For many people, the first on-screen glimpse of Toronto onscreen came from the backseat of a 1960 Chevrolet Impala. Goin’ Down the Road, the story of Pete (Doug McGrath) and his pal Joey (Paul Bradley), two Maritimers who set out in a Chevy to find a better life in Toronto, (SCTV joked they were looking for “lawyerin’ and doctorin’ jobs”) is a city time capsule circa 1970.
Look for great shots of Yonge Street attractions including the classic Sam the Record Man spinning double disc neon sign. The signs are gone now, making their last appearance in the 2008 film The Incredible Hulk.
Long live the new flesh!
Although David Cronenberg has made more than a dozen films in T.O. and says, “I love shooting in Toronto,” film critic Geoff Pevere says, “Toronto had never seemed weirder,” than in the director’s epic Videodrome.
The story of a sleazy UHF television station programmer who becomes spellbound by the hallucinatory power of porn movies, is set in Toronto and not only used many of the city’s locations, but its unique references as well. Civic TV allegedly refers to CityTV, which, in its early days used to air soft-core pornography late at night.
Yonge and Dundas and Beyond
For a look at the down-and-dirty Yonge Street Strip, once the body rub capital of Canada, check out Ron Mann’s 1974 Super-8 documentary The Strip. On the other end of the scale is Atom Egoyan’s Chloe, the story of a Toronto escort and the woman who hires her to test her husband’s fidelity. Toronto has never looked lovelier than this.
“At the level of metaphor, it’s interesting because Toronto is a prostitute. As a city, very often it pretends to be New York or Chicago or San Francisco,” Egoyan said. “So it’s interesting, since this is a film about that.”