Canadian Queue, eh

Bess Turner, Senior Staff Reporter

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Surprise, surprise — Canada’s Netflix, much like its healthcare, is nicer than ours. Canada can’t keep this to itself anymore. Not all the Wes Anderson films or greater variety of Disney movies, not all the American shows that Netflix doesn’t want us Americans to binge on. But not only does Canada have “The Artist,” “Grand Budapest Hotel,” “Pitch Perfect” and others that us mere Americans can only get on DVD or buggy downloads,  there is a whole section for special Canadian selections only privy to those over the border. With the Google Chrome web widget “Hola!” to the rescue — your secret is out, Canada.

Dale and Tucker vs. Evil     3.5/5

Think Jay Baruchel and Seth Rogen’s “This Is The End,” but with less star-studded cameos and weed and more stereotypical college kids, PBRs and rednecks. Dale and Tucker are a self-professed pair of the latter, who just want to enjoy their new vacation house in the woods — even if the local sheriff did warn them that “only bad things happen there.” A group of college kids also makes plans to spend a weekend in the Canadian backcountry and an extreme case of mistaken identity ensues, as well as a lot of gruesome deaths. The title is a bit misleading, because it is just as much about Dale and Tucker fighting what they perceive to be evil as it is what the college kids perceive. The film switches between the two groups almost equally, leaving little room for suspense or mystery. Anything not explained directly can be assumed from the stereotypes that “Dale and Tucker” is built upon. Ditzy sorority girls, ignorant but lovable hillbillies, one very unstable frat boy — the character development doesn’t go much further than that for most, including Tucker. 

What begins as cute, if not terribly complicated, quickly devolves into the irritating. The lack of communication that fuels “Dale and Tucker” (and is not-so-subtly suggested to be the main theme) ranges from somewhat plausible to unbelievable and annoying. Everything that can go wrong does, and it’s a lot of work for Dale, played by Tyler Labine, to keep the audience endeared to his character and the movie itself. To be fair, this movie does have some truly, darkly funny parts, including all the accidental deaths (since the characters were never developed you don’t miss them anyways) and it has the same qualities that every bro-type film has — not terribly deep, but pretty entertaining.

Helicopter Canada     4/5

This 1969 documentary runs just under an hour, and since I knew almost nothing about Canada I felt as though I owed it to Canadian Netflix to learn a little. The movie presents a helicopter view of Canada’s 10 provinces in dreamy pastels, spanning from the oceans to industrial areas. “Helicopter Canada” was also nominated for an Academy Award, and there is a really odd, surreal sequence where children try to say deep things about mud that’s kind of worth seeing. The aerial photography alone is reason enough to give this a view, plus the incredibly wide variety of subject matter covered in such a short period of time keeps it from being boring.

My Awkward Sexual Adventure    3/5

I would be lying if I said that I didn’t just pick this movie for the name and for the weirdly sexual cantaloupe in the title screen. “My Awkward Sexual Encounter,” though, does not live up to its promising title. An overly dedicated accountant named Jordan, who is good with money but not so much in bed, gets dumped by his girlfriend when he proposes, apparently due solely to the fact that he is absolutely terrible between the sheets, but also probably because of his incessant clinginess and always somewhat whiny voice. He takes a trip to Ontario that was supposed to be for the two of them, staying with his self-proclaimed slutty friend Dandak, who, strangely, almost immediately rejects his own lifestyle for that of a serious relationship, leaving Jordan to his own devices. He inadvertently ends up at a strip club, where he buys a stripper chips and she returns the favor by taking him back to her apartment when he drinks himself into passing out. The pair makes a subsequent agreement that he will help her with her rather alarming debt issues if she teaches him how to improve his game so he can win his girlfriend back.

This is not a terrible movie. Once you get past the main character’s voice, it’s kind of cute, in a cheesy way. It’s a straightforward, predictable romantic comedy that follows the formula of straightforward, predictable romantic comedies to a T. if this was an American movie, Katherine Heigl would almost certainly be in it. 

Laurence Anyways    4.5/5

“Laurence Anyways” is the powerful story of a transgender woman and her fiancée Fred. She is an award-winning professor and novelist who, on her birthday, reveals her secret and decides to begin living as a woman. The nearly three-hour movie covers the lives and doomed relationship of Fred and Laurence throughout the ’80s and ’90s. As Laurence loses friends, family and job Fred struggles to support her, just as Laurence supports Fred in her spiral into depression.

Even the opening scene is engrossing, as Laurence walks down a hallway in a skirt, the scene backed by the haunting vocals of Fever Ray. The soundtrack should be commended as much as the movie. The ambient ’80s, ’90s and classical tracks fit perfectly the fluid and occasionally abstract style of the film. Sometimes “Laurence Anyways” veers too far into abstraction, and the meaning gets lost in the stills of faces and flashing lights. Mostly though, the story is a poignant one that portrays Laurence’s pain and struggle, but also her joy and the relief of being herself.