Culture & Conversation

Posts by Matthew Hays

Landmark 1992 queer doc Forbidden Love is being re-released by the NFB

Love resurrection

Filmmakers Lynne Fernie and Aerlyn Weissman discuss the re-­release of their landmark 1992 documentary, Forbidden Love: The Unashamed Stories of Lesbian Lives.

divine

Divine memories

FILM: I AM DIVINE. And there he was: Divine was wearing sweat pants, and hadn’t shaved (no photos, I was told). But he was full of vigour, fantastic anecdotes and ready to talk to me just as if I was Barbara Walters.

Liberation or assimilation?

When the Quebec provincial government unveiled its anti-homophobia campaign in March, it received some expected criticism. The series of ads, which run on TV and the web, features images of same-sex couples embracing, followed by questions about comfort levels. Some Quebecers wrote to the government, complaining that they didn’t want their tax dollars going to such projects. The price tag for the five-year campaign is $7.1 million.

A space odyssey

For the past four years, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to teach a horror film class at Concordia University. Aside from being a geek dream come true, it has allowed me to introduce inquiring minds to a range of brilliant scary movies. I have always punctuated the class with Alien (1979). It amazes me how that film has aged so beautifully. The effects (pre-CGI, it must be noted) remain entirely effective, and its commentary about the fusion of corporate and military interests has become horrifically prophetic. It’s a joy to watch it on the big screen, an opportunity the course provides.

The Sopranos’ French Canadian connection

In 2007, I had the honour of interviewing Quebec actor Philippe Bergeron about his appearance on the hit show The Sopranos. He spoke about what it was like to work with James Gandolfini, the brilliant actor who died yesterday at age 51. What follows is the article I wrote about Bergeron’s experiences working on the show.

The Bujold Files

Genevieve Bujold is elegantly poised in a posh Old Montreal hotel room as we sit down to chat about her latest role, in a new film called Still Mine. In it, Bujold plays a woman grappling with advancing Alzheimer’s disease. As she begins to fade, her husband (James Cromwell) decides to build a new house for them to live in, a residence that will be safer for her as her dementia gets worse.

Ray Harryhausen, RIP

Along with Willis O’Brien (who made the original King Kong in 1933), Ray Harryhausen is regarded as the granddaddy of contemporary cinematic special effects. He died this past week in his London home. Though much of the stop-motion animation he did for films like The Valley of Gwangi (1969), Mighty Joe Young (1949) or the Sinbad movies may now seem quaint and dated, those special effects laid the groundwork for what we now take for granted on the big screen.

Having a Wine Time

While wine can certainly be classy, I tended not to think of it as an intellectual pursuit. That was until I got a copy of Winebliss, a funny, sharp anthology of quotes by various public figures on the topic of the alcoholic beverage.

Hard Time

From early in the screening of The House I Live In, I got the powerful sensation of familiarity. I was entering into a documentary by filmmaker Eugene Jarecki. And that’s a very good thing; Jarecki is quite simply a genius at analyzing complex issues, at showing us how the personal and political are intricately interwoven.

Documenting an Epidemic

There was a time not so long ago when you could watch movies and never know a disease called AIDS ever existed. And I’m not exaggerating. For years I was a film section editor and watched over 400 movies a year. And after a few initial films about AIDS — Longtime Companion, Zero Patience, Philadelphia — the disease seemed to simply disappear.

The Klein Files

Jesse Klein seems such a nice fellow in person. Upbeat, endowed with a sharp wit and always ready with a tangential anecdote, he doesn’t seem too glum in casual conversation. But like many in the Canadian film milieu, when Klein sits down to write, things enter into a harsher dimension. Since 2011, when he made his first feature, a confident debut film called Shadowboxing, Klein showed a clear ability to lay the human condition bare.