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humanities 375 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 Gene Walz, editor. Canada=s Best Features: Critical Essays on Fifteen Canadian Films Rodopi. xxxvi, 384. US $95.00, US $40.00 Although the financing of Canadian film remains precarious, books about Canadian film continue to appear. During the past four years, over a dozen books have been published in English on Canadian cinema. Four of them are anthologies, aimed largely at the academic market; but collectively they cover a wide range of cinematic interests. One volume celebrates the achievement of Canadian women and another that of the documentary film. There are two reference texts and two extensive studies B this time not anthologies B of the significance of our cinematic imagination, plus a detailed analysis, written by an Englishman, of Quebec=s unique cinematic achievement. Of the four anthologies, perhaps the most useful is Canada=s Best Features: Critical Essays on Fifteen Canadian Films, edited by Gene Walz of the University of Manitoba. Conservative in outlook, dealing with a safe selection of Canadian features, the book is scrupulously edited, almost to the point of pedantry. There are extensive credits for each film, a plot synopsis, a cumulative bibliography at the end of the volume plus the wonderful luxury (if I may be allowed a pedantry of my own) of actual footnotes on the same page as the text. Canada=s Best Features contains essays that are, almost without exception, lively, accessible, and virtually free from jargon B each casting fresh light on films culled from the cinematic canon. As was no doubt intended, the book could well serve as set text for a course on Canadian cinema but would also provide a thoughtful introduction to the subject for the general reader. Canada=s Best Features provides a roll call of some of the finest writers on Canadian film. Along with a synoptic introduction by Walz himself, Christine Ramsay offers a contestational analysis of that originary classic, Goin= Down the Road; Jim Leach examines the effect of shifting points of view in Mon Oncle Antoine; Tom McSorley explains how, for all its quality, The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz paved the way for the assimilationist aesthetic that would, for the sake of the market, increasingly encourage Canadian productions to resemble Hollywood films. Like Angela Stukator=s discussion of The Company of Strangers, André Loiselle explores how Les Ordres takes place at the intersection of documentary and fiction; Peter Morris relates Les bons débarras less to other works by the screenwriter, Réjean Ducharme, than to the Gothic imagination of Wuthering Heights. There are essays by Blaine Allan on The Grey Fox, by Will Straw on Careful, and a most welcoming celebration of the Bollywood extravagances of Masala by Thomas Waugh. By examining both the narrative and cultural 376 letters in canada 2002 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 differences between the American The Big Chill (1983) and the Québécois Le Déclin de l=empire américan (1986), Bart Testa illuminates not only the two films with their different spins on the tradition of social comedy but also the two cultures as well. Most exceptional (to my mind) is George Toles=s account of Léolo. Not only is Toles a professor at the University of Manitoba, but he is also the literary collaborator on the eccentrically inventive cinema of Guy Maddin, including Careful. Toles=s account of Léolo lifts film analysis onto another level, or perhaps restores it to that plane where it used to live before academic priorities insisted upon a greater sobriety of tone. Toles offers a psychoanalytical interpretation of the relationship of memory to imagination as it relates to the young protagonist=s desire to imagine himself as someone different than he is B possibly the desire, in one way or another, of many characters lodged within Canadian cinema. Canada=s Best Features is a splendid anthology, offering a wide range of approaches to a diverse variety of films. Although every essay is informed by a theoretical conscience, the writing rarely allows theory to swallow up the artifact to which it is applied. Both for...


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