thesubstream ♥'s Midnight Madness #1 - FUBAR II & The Legend of Beaver Dam

Opening night brought nothing less than madness to the midnight hour as not one, but two - yes two great Canadian filmmakers showed a packed house how it's done. A Midnight Madness first!

Here's to sharing 9 more of our favorite nights of the year with the best movie fans anywhere!


It's better than Mon Oncle Antoine. Seriously

FUBAR II might be one of the top three or four best Canadian feature films I've ever seen.

Being more definitive and specific than that'd have me going way back through the dusty NFB byways and Claude Jutraian alleys of my memory which, well, I won't... so suffice it to say that it's riotously funny, transgressive and daring and filled to bursting with style and radiant dirtbag warmth.

It's a film that's not shot in Toronto or Vancouver, that's not about isolation or Hockey (well, not really), a film that tells a story almost no one else is interested in telling, from a place no one else is interested in visiting. It's the kind of film that should be opening the 2010 edition of TIFF rather than inaugurating that festival's best programme, Midnight Madness. Not that I'm complaining: moving the screening up the clock and down the street might have put the kibosh on the film's stars arrival at last night's screening, piped down Gerrard on a float accompanied by dancing girls and a band pounding out AC/DC.

The sequel to his 2002 surprise hit and cult favourite mockumentary FUBAR, director Michael Dowse and leads David Lawrence and Paul Spence have a bigger budget to work with this time around. They spent it making a much better film, a kinetic piss-take-cum-homage to films like Goin' Down the Road and the hoary old NFB docs that aimed to explain Canada to Canadians.

We catch up with best friends Terry (Lawrence) and Dean (Spence) in Calgary, celebrating Dean's 5 years of health post-cancer while simultaneously longing to get out of town and stop scraping by. They're visited by the enormous, rapping wrecking-ball Tron (Andrew Sparacino) who promises them jobs in Fort McMurray just before laying absolute waste to their apartment in what's for my money the funniest out-of-control-party scenes in film history (that's a list I can be more definitive about). They leave town and find work in Fort McMoney, shortly after Terry finds love at the local peelers. While Terry moves down the path towards domesticity, Terry tries to apply the brakes, and tries to game the Worker's Comp board by smashing his leg with a wooden post.

The film is vile and violent and full of people making horrible decisions, full of stupidity and cruelty and pettiness. It's also hilariously funny and brimming with heart, which is its most surprising, charming quality.

Terry and Dean are funny hoser stereotypes in the grand Canuck tradition of Bob & Doug or Bubbles, Ricky and Julian but in Dowse's film, as he makes the pair wend their way through the emotional detours prompted by a recurrence of testicular cancer and pride and adultery and success and failure, an astonishing shining warmth and authenticity breaks through the film's beer-drenched, long-haired facade. Their friendship, Terry's love for his loud, cruel wife and Dean's love for his daughter form a weirdly powerful emotional anchor that not only makes the film funnier, but makes it seem real in a way that few films, Canadian or otherwise, can match. 9/10

Mike Cameron

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