Leonard Cohen and me: A reminiscence
By Jay Stone
Even if we stated our case very clearly and all those who held as we do came to our side, all of them, we would still be very few. -- Leonard Cohen, Parasites of Heaven
When he died last week his constituency emerged, thousands, millions perhaps, smitten, devoted, some with stories of how they had gone to his house in Montreal and he had made them egg salad sandwiches. He was gracious, modest, haunting, and with the key to something we thought was ours alone. “Have you ever noticed how private a wet tree is, a curtain of razor blades?,” he wrote (in A Cross Didn’t Fall On Me), and suddenly you did notice. A poem is something that everyone knows but no one ever said before.
I found him by accident. When I was a teenager, there was a copy of his first novel, The Favourite Game, on the bookshelf in my father’s den when we lived in north Toronto. I don’t know how it got there, but my father got a lot of books from publishers because he was on the ...
Claude Joli-Coeur’s big plans for a better board
Movies: Interview with Claude Joli-Coeur
National Film Board Chair reaffirms original vision of 'unity through diversity' with new gender parity policy but that's just the beginning of some bold moves, including a new brick and mortar headquarters in Montreal
By Katherine Monk
VANCOUVER – “If the National Film Board were a person, how would you describe their identity?”
Claude Joli-Coeur reflects for a second with a serious look hazing over his gentle features. Then, in an instant, a gleeful burst: “Leonard Cohen!”
After serving at the board for 12 years, currently as Government Film Commissioner and Chairperson for the NFB, Joli-Coeur has spent a few all-nighters in the company of his current passion. He has the type of insight that only comes from intimacy.
“The personality. The sparks. The surprise. The iconic… He grew up in Montreal and achieved world renown. He was open to different questions of identity…. Everything, eh?”
For Joli-Coeur, a ...
Searching for the legacy of Al Purdy
When film critic Brian D. Johnson retired, he became a filmmaker himself. His first project: a documentary about the difficult, brilliant (and strangely forgotten) Canadian poet
By Jay Stone
TORONTO — “You can argue whether he was our greatest poet, but certainly he was our most Canadian poet. No one wrote about the land the way that he did. If the Group of Seven was a bar band, they might sound like Al Purdy.”
It’s a warm September afternoon and Brian D. Johnson is sitting at an outdoor table at a coffee place he likes near the Toronto International Film Festival. He’s in the sun, hatless, and there is sweat on his forehead. Furthermore, people keep stopping to interrupt us because Johnson is a pretty popular guy in the film festival district, and also because, at this year’s festival, he’s a bit of a celebrity.
He was the film critic for Maclean’s magazine for 28 years. Now, at 66, he has retired (“I’ve had a career. I’m looking for the sweeter ...