Here, it's a fishing village whose fish stock has been depleted, putting these hard working villagers on the dole. Since they think well of themselves only when they're earning a living, they are miserable and mortified as they line up for their weekly checks, even though the gal who distributes them at the post office, Eve Beauchemin (Lucie Laurier) is a world-class beauty. But more about her later.
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Witness Denys Arcand's celebrated The Decline of the American Empire, a lauded film (which made my own top 10 list for 1986) that consists of little more than a series of conversations between men and between women and between men and women -- all about sex. From infidelity to disease, Empire runs the gamut of sex talk. The implication, one wonders, is whether this is what the decline of the American empire is all about -- and why is it happening in a French-speaking province of Canada? Never mind the accents, it's juicy gossip that proves that all of us -- men and women -- are dirty pigs.
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Following the interactions of seven side-wardly mobile Canadians, Love and Human Remains explores questions of love, misery, loneliness, confusion, and the strange truth that all seem to be inexplicably present at the same time. The reality of this has been the subject of numerous romantic comedies and the like, but I'm not sure I've ever seen the topic handled quite this way.
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Made in 1989 by French Canadian director Denys Arcand (The Barbarian Invasions), Jesus of Montreal was much honored at the time of its release, receiving the jurors' prize at Cannes and an Oscar nomination for best foreign language film. It's easy to see why. The premise - that a group of young, unconventional actors find themselves at odds with the established church when they investigate Christ's teachings - is a whopper, and Arcand pulls if off with some finesse; he never preaches and he refuses easy ironies. Jesus of Montreal delivers no facile moral lesson, but it never descends into simple church-bashing either. It is, rather, a little bit of both worlds; like The Barbarian Invasions, it's a social comedy, and it invites a little reflection, too.
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