kissed

For obvious reasons, necrophilia is usually thought to be the domain of disturbed men. In the taboo-busting Kissed, however, a young woman loves the dead more than the living. Molly Parker’s luminous portrayal of Sandra makes her blissful rapture with corpses seem more like a spiritual calling than a twisted perversity. [canada, 1996]

double happiness

Mina Shum’s fresh debut chronicles the challenges of Jade, a young Chinese-Canadian (played with verve and warmth by fellow Canadian Sandra Oh) as she struggles to forge her own identity in a traditional Chinese family. Ultimately, she can’t keep everyone happy and strikes out on her own, but not without some bitterly hilarious blowouts. [canada, 1994]

roadkill

A thoroughly odd film about a young woman learning to drive while on her first big assignment as a record company assistant: tracking down an AWOL punk band in Northern Ontario. Shot in black and white this often side-splitting cult film favorite is one of the few good road movies with a female protagonist. Be forewarned: the ending is becomes violent. [canada, 1989]

talk16

This documentary, which follows a year in the life of four Toronto girls, is hard to classify according to the groupings on the site. There’s a vixen, a nerd, an outcast, and a rebel. But generally there’s the feeling of of invincibility that’s only available to sixteen year old girls. By letting the girls speak with their own voices, the film is funny and painful, often in the same vignette. The outcast’s tale of losing her virginity is one you’ll never forget. A good film to watch with teenage sons or daughters, or if you’re so beyond your teens that it won’t hurt anymore. [canada, 1992]

dirty

This dank little exploration of the dysfunctional side of educated poverty perks up every time Babz Chula enters the picture. Her kick-ass Angie is a fiftysomething dope grower and sexual dynamo who makes all the whining twentysomethings around her look a tad pathetic. And she’s a great cook too. [canada, 1998]

bollywood/hollywood

In Deepa Mehta’s giddy nod to India & America’s movie-making goliaths, the action takes place somewhere between – in her polyglot home of Toronto. When a young dot com millionaire’s fiance dies, his weeping mother advises him that ‘the best cure for a broken heart is marriage’. To please her, he embarks on a fake engagement with a gorgeous and multi-talented escort (Toronto-born Lisa Ray achieved fame in India). There’s an imperious grandmother who speaks in Shakespearean quotes and a transvestite chauffeur. Cue the uproarious song-and dance-numbers and join in the good times. [canada, 2002]

my life without me

Canada’s most unaffected and astonishing actor, writer, and director, Sarah Polley, plays a 23-year-old mother diagnosed with terminal cancer and two months to live. Realizing she is so young and done so little, she decides to die on her own terms: she keeps her illness a secret, writes a list of things to do before she dies. Included are taking a lover (the intensely sweet Mark Ruffalo); recording birthdays messages for her daughter until they are 18, and finding a future wife for her husband. Sound sappy? It should be but Polley plays it so honestly, any unavoidable weeping is simply a testament to a refreshingly unadorned and true performance. Warning: Many people found this movie manipulative, and the mother’s decision to keep her cancer a secret egocentric, but I dare anyone to walk away untouched. [canada, spain 2003]

live bait

With a nod to Harold and Maude, this charming film has a confused Gen Xer muddling his way through school, home, and love. Things perk up when he falls for a sixty-something sculptor (Micki Maunsell). Crisp and sweet as a fall apple. [canada, 1995]

strangers in good company

An unlikely group of septuagenarian and octogenarian women find themselves stranded in an abandoned farmhouse when a bus breaks down. It doesn’t sound like much of a premise, but it’s fascinating to watch the characters interact in this small Quebec film. Most unbelievable is that none of the women are actors. Okay, now it sounds even worse, but this really is a lovely film about aging, relationships, and survival. [canada, 1990]

the triplets of belleville

In this weirdly animated romp from the countryside of France to the back alleys of New York, a young Tour De France hopeful is kidnapped by an evil American millionaire. His grandmother and his dog, travel to NYC (via paddleboat) to rescue him, and are taken in and aided by the famous French singing group “The Triplets of Belleville”, now in their dotage and living on scavenged frogs. A triumph of four old women and a dog over the French mafia! Although this is an animate film, it’s quite dark and not recommended for young children. [canada/france, 2004]