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Sample: Title; rating (out of 4); principal setting; year of release; international co-producer (if any); cast; description; scriptwriter; director; content warning; running time.

BLIND FEAR  * 1/2  setting: USA.
(1989) Shelly Hack, Jack Langedijk, Kim Coates, Heidi von Palleske, Jan Rubes, Ron Lea, Geza Kovacs.....Trio of psychotic hoods (led by Coates) hide out in a closed New England inn, unaware that a blind woman (Hack) is in the house. Hack is uninspired in this suspenseless suspenser, but then neither she nor the rest of the good cast are given much to work with. sc: Sergio Altieri. dir: Tom Berry. - violence.- app. 90 min.

BLIND TERROR  * *  setting: USA.
(2000) (/U.S.) Nastassja Kinski, Stewart Bick, Maxim Roy, Victoria Snow, Jack Langedijk, Gordon Pinsent, Frank Schorpion, Edward Yankie.....Morose American widow (imported Kinski) finds her new found happiness with a new husband (Bick) jeopardized by a crazed female stalker. Suspense film is one of those modestly-budgeted little thrillers Canadian filmmakers churn out on a regular basis, utilizing the usual story elements (the cheery best friend, the ineffectual cop, the ageing private eye who won't make it to the final reel, the generic title, the U.S. setting, etc. -- even the casting contains the usual acttors like Bick and Langedijk). It's not that it's's just a touch uninspired and slow moving. It spends so much time away from the thriller plot, it's almost as if it's trying to be a drama...without making the drama stuff, and the characters, that interesting. And the solution actually turns out to be less complicated than one suspected. Still, maybe on a slow night... sc: Douglas Soesbe. dir: Giles Walker. 94 min.

BLIND TRUST see Pouvoir intime

BLINDSIDE  * *  setting: Ont.
(1987) Harvey Keitel, Lori Hallier, Lolita David (a.k.a. Lolita Davidovich), Michael Rudder, Cordelia Strube, Durango Coy, Allan Fawcett.....Motel manager and former behavioural scientist/surveillance expert (Keitel), is strong-armed into keeping tabs on a tenant but he also discovers a seemingly unrelated murder plot. Uneven, convoluted thriller has some O.K. ideas and good atmosphere but that's about it. sc: Richard Beattie. dir: Paul Lynch. - violence, partial female nudity.- 103 min.
BLISS (TV Series)

(2002-2005)  * *  cast: various.....Erotic anthology with the gimmick that it was by women filmmakers, ostensibly reflecting a female view of eroticism.

This TV series seemed to play the gender card in the press in a way that smacked, just a little, of a pre-emptive shoring up of the balustrades against any critical attack. Male critics wouldn't want to criticize it, for fear of being labelled misogynists, and female critics wouldn't want to criticize it for fear of betraying "the sisterhood". But it's a little reminiscent of the way Canadian filmmakers claim they "speak" for Canadians...when most Canadians don't even watch Canadian movies! And, in truth, this seemed less like it was fuelled by a "female" vision (whatever that might be) than it was by an "Art House" vision as pretentious filmmakers delivered well acted, stylish half-hours...that were often oblique and directionless, with weak character development and plot, often leaving you going "huh?" The series improved a bit in its second season, as the shift was made more toward original scripts (as opposed to adaptations of short stories) -- the result was still airy and oblique, but the stories seemed better suited to the format. There was also a greater use of multi-racial casts and the like.

Fitting the stereotype of women's erotica -- and I stress "stereotype" as opposed to necessarily being reality -- the actual sex and nudity was sometimes quite minor (though not always), particularly by the third season. But in contrast to the stereotypes, the "romance" was also often underplayed, instead often emphasizing soulless or anonymous encounters. Interestingly, a few featured lesbian scenes and/or characters. For all the pretension, it can't really claim any intellectual victory over, say, the U.S. fluff series, "Red Shoe Diaries". Though rarely explicitly set in Canada, the casts were usually all-Canadian, gaining the show kudos as a forum for showcasing actors -- something which should be encouraged. Created by Janis Lundman and Adrienne Mitchell. Episodes worth commenting on: "St. Valentine's Day in Jail" with Torri Higginson as a woman trying to decide whether she should commit to her convict lover (Adam Beach) -- perhaps one of the best as a drama; "The Value of X" an empathetic look at the unusual relationship between two teens, a closeted lesbian (Tara Spencer-Nairn) and an openly gay boy (James MacDonald) -- no real nudity, though decidedly kinky at times, and the story peters out, but succeeds in making you interested in the characters. "Three", about a woman who initiates a menage a trois with her two best male friends gets a nod if only because Jennifer Podemski and Ben Bass are two of the more underappreciated actors in this country (the third actor, Bob Cryer, was also good). "Leaper" is weak as a drama, but is probably the series' most erotic (in a lesbian way) episode. Conversely, "Tango" was one of the least explicit, but probably the most successful as a mini-movie, a nicely romantic, comedy-drama. Three seasons of half hour episodes (eight per season), originally shown in Canada on TMN and later re-aired on Showcase.

BLIZZARD  see Rafales

BLOOD  * * *  setting: P.Q.
(2004) Emily Hampshire, Jacob Tierney.....Tale of a straight-laced recovering addict (Tierney) who returns to Montreal and hooks up with his sister (Hampshire) and the quirky psycho-sexual mind games that ensue when she announces she's expecting a John who will pay for a threesome...and she needs him to be the third! Beautiful-looking, stylish, exceptionally well-acted comedy-drama unaplogetically flaunts its stage origins to good effect (it's just the two actors on, for the most part, one set). Playwright Walmsley's (Paris, France) stock-in-trade seems to be as taboo-busting shocking and outrageous as he can be (incest, drugs, bi-sexuality)...but if you don't mind that, there's some clever and amusing dialogue and twists. You don't necessarily come away with any real insight into the Human Condition, but oddly engrossing. sc./dir: Jerry Ciccoritti (from the play by Tom Walmsley). - brief female and male nudity; sexual content.- 90 min.

BLOOD & DONUTS * 1/2  setting: Ont.
(1995) Gordon Currie, Justin Louis, Helene Clarkson, Fiona Reid, Frank Moore, Hadley Kay, David Cronenberg, J. Winston Carroll.....A benevolent vampire (Currie) wakes from a quarter century hibernation and befriends a cabbie (Louis) in trouble with gangsters, and a waitress (Clarkson) at a donut shop. Comedy-drama has a respectable cast and quirky -- even clever -- ideas, so why is it so tedious? For one thing, you keep waiting for the main plot to show itself, since all the existing plot elements seem more like sub-plots (and often not well-defined ones, like: why is Louis' character involved with the hoods to begin with?) and some scenes seem to exist simply because the filmmakers thought they were neat, and not because the story or characters justified them. Even more damaging, though, is that like way, wa-ay too many Canadian movies, the pacing is lethargic and scenes go on too long. sc: Andrew Rai Berzins. dir: Holly Dale. - violence, casual male nudity, sexual content.- 88 min.

(2015-)  * * 1/2  Steph Song ("Det. Jo Bradley"), Peter Outerbridge ("Det. Al Gorski"), Russell Yuen ("Lt. David Chu"), with Elfina Luk, Oscar Hu, Simu Liu, Fiona Fu, Loretta Yu, others.....Crime-mystery about a Vancouver police detective (Song) -- the first season unfolding a single mystery as she is assigned her first case as lead investigator: the murder of the estranged son of a wealthy and influential Chinese-Canadian family. The fact that she herself is Chinese-Canadian leading some to infer she was promoted for politic reasons -- as well, she has recently learned she has cancer. Outerbridge plays her cynical partner; Yuen their boss (referred to as a "lootenant" -- which is wrong on multiple levels!) Made for OMNI TV, a channel with a special focus on multicultural and multi-ethnic programming, it was presented in eight half-hour episodes and is clearly meant to join the current trend of brooding, thoughtful crime dramas (even having a melancholy folk song played over a title montage of oblique images).

It's an okay series to an extent, with some particularly nice performances from the guest star cast (especially Luk as the victim's sister and Hu as his hard-nosed dad), without really distinguishing itself -- other than the "ethnic" angle and the fact the dialogue is a mix of English and Cantonese. Even then, one might argue the narrative potential in Canadian multiculturalism surely lies in the stew of cultures found in big cities, not in focusing on one ethnicity or, at most, a Chinese-White mix -- though the scene where it's revealed that Yuen's character doesn't speak Cantonese (essentially he's Chinese-Canadian more the Chinese-Canadian) is a nice nod to ethnic complexity. But the problem with the half-hour "chapter" format is that it should promise a tight, complex story...but instead it can be slow-moving and like scenes are stretched just to fill up the episodes, rather than being a Byzantine mystery where every episode brings a new twist or revelation. Perhaps because of a tight budget, it seems a limited cast and locations, and where the final revelation of the killer can seem anti-climactic because the viewer could see it was headed that way a few episodes ahead of time.

The cancer sub-plot seems of little impact on the plot, perhaps because this is meant to be the first season -- and coinciding with the CBC's This Life, also about a heroine with cancer (and, for those as like trivia: there were the earlier Chasing Cain TV movies about a female detective recovering from cancer...and partnered with Peter Outerbridge!). But it may also be that the symbolism just wasn't properly brought out in the scenes, since viewed in retrospect, there are recurring themes about "family" ("Jo" is adopted and her cancer might render her sterile, and she's investigating a case involving a dysfunctional family). The story arc is about "Jo" proving herself (to those assuming she was promoted for "Political Correctness") and having to win the respect of her jaded partner -- but is that a rebuttal to racism and sexism, or a tacit nod to the same? After all, how many series featuring a white male hero require a whole season for the character to "prove" he deserved his promotion? And for that matter, given the case (with its lack of clues and suspects), "Jo" never does prove herself as being clever...and in an awkwardly contrived final sequence, ends up back in the doghouse (presumably so, if there's a second season, they can once more structure it around her "proving" herself). The result: not a bad crime drama...but not especially stand out. Half-hour episodes on OMNI TV.

BLOOD CLAN  *  setting: Alt./other
(1991) Michelle Little, Gordon Pinsent, Robert Wisden, Ann Mansfield.....In 1800s Alberta, the sole survivor (Little) of a crazed Scottish clan is hated by her adopted mother and finds herself the suspect in a series of mysterious deaths. Stilted, poorly presented low-budget suspenser is extremely slow moving (but with a menacing music score just to keep us watching!) and the actors seem a little confused, particularly -- and surprisingly -- Pinsent as her adoppted father. Although the story is fictional, the key element of the psychotic Scottish clan is, I believe, inspired by fact. sc: Glynis Whiting. dir: Charles Wilkinson. - violence, brief male nudity.- 92 min.

BLOOD FOR BLOOD a.k.a. Sunday in the Country

THE BLOOD OF OTHERS (TVMS) * *  setting: other
(1984) (/France/U.S.) Jodie Foster, Michael Ontkean, Sam Neil, Stephane Audran, Lambert Wilson, Alexandra Stewart, Marie Bunel, John Vernon, Monique Mercure.....Story of a young, rather manipulative French woman (Foster), who works in a fashion house prior to, and during, W.W. II, and who will do anything in the name of her love for an idealistic socialist, soldier, and freedom fighter (Ontkean). Familiar wartime drama suffers from a miscast Foster's performance and Chabrol's usual passionless direction. For a story about love, war and politics, it's desperately lacking real fire. And, like a lot of mini-series, there's a sense that many of the scenes are being stretched out to fill the running time. Speaking of the running time: there seems to be a lot of confusion as to its length. Other movie books list various running times, and when it was rerun late-night on Toronto's CityTV in 1998, the programmer schedule it for 4 hours...and showed it without the conclusion! For the record: it's 6 hours. sc: Brian Moore (from the novel by Simone de Beauvoir). dir: Claude Chabrol.

BLOOD OF THE HUNTER  *  setting: Yuk.
(1995) (/France) Michael Biehn, Alexandra Vandernoot, Gabriel Arcand, Edward Meeks, Francois Eric Gendron.....After implicating a trapper (Arcand) in a murder, a killer (Biehn) ingratiates himself with the man's wife (Vandernoot). Period suspense-drama has a stylishly put-together opening scene...and then everything falls apart when the actors start talking. Yet another dreary, badly written and directed Tales of the Wild film. sc./dir: Gilles Carle (from the work of James Oliver Curwood). - violence, brief female nudity.- 97 min.

(1989) Jan Rubes, Lydie Denier, Kevin Hicks, Lynne Adams, Ray Walston, Stephen Saylor, Sam Malkin.....A woman (Denier) schemes with her lover (Hicks) to kill his neurosurgeon father (Rubes), but she begins to suspect there's more going on than she knows. Gothic-styled suspenser starts out seeming smarter and more off-beat than you'd expect, but quickly becomes repetitious with a resolution you can predict in the first five minutes. Decently acted, but the unlikeable characters make it hard to care. French actress Denier starred in the Canadian-made Tarzan series. sc: Stephen Saylor. dir: Graeme Campbell. - extreme violence, female nudity, sexual content.- 88 min.

BLOOD RELATIVES  * * 1/2  setting: CDN.
(1977) (/France) Donald Sutherland, Stephane Audran, Micheline Lanctot, Aude Landry, Lisa Langlois, Laurent Malet, David Hemmings, Donald Pleasance.....Police detective (Sutherland) investigates the brutal murder of a teenager (Langlois) only to find it may be connected to a secret, incestuous relationship. American novelist Ed McBain's 87th Precinct characters are relocated to Canada and given a French ambience...with mixed results. Hurt by a clumsy, low-budget feel, but manages to maintain interest thanks, in part, to Sutherland. Audran and Lanctot get better billing then their parts warrant, and Pleasance has just a small role...but, naturally, is excellent. 20 years later the 87 Precinct novels would also see life as a couple of TV movies (filmed in Canada, but not included on this site). sc: Claude Chabrol, Sydney Banks (from the novel by Ed McBain). dir: Claude Chabrol. - violence, sexual content.- 100 min.

BLOOD SPORT  * * 1/2  setting: Ont./Alt.
(1989) (/Ireland) Ian McShane, Heath Lamberts, Carolyn Dunn, Kenneth Welsh, Patrick Macnee, Lloyd Bochner, Jennifer Dale, Timothy Webber, Laurie Paton.....Investigator Dave Cleavland (McShane) looks into the months-old kidnapping of a prized Canadian race horse. As long as you don't expect this mystery-suspenser to be faithful to Dick Francis, it's briskly paced and entertaining in a breezy sort of way. Lots of the "names" (ie: Welsh, Macnee, etc.) have just small parts. See Dick Francis Mysteries. sc: Andrew Payne (from the novel by Dick Francis). dir: Harvey Hart. 92 min.

(2007-2008)  * * 1/2  (/U.S.) Christina Cox ("Vicky Nelson"), Kyle Schmid ("Henry Fitzroy"), Dylan Neal ("Mike Celluci"), with Gina Holden ("Coreen"), Nimet Kanji, Francoise Yip, Keith Dallas.....Supernatural-suspense about a Toronto private eye (Cox) whose cases lead her into the realm of the supernatural, and relying a lot on the assistance of a morally pragmatic vampire (Schmid)...all to the consternation of her former police partner (Neal); Holden plays her plucky secretary. Kanji the coroner with an interest in the supernatural; the others cops. Based on some novels by Tanya Huff, the series was set in Toronto...but filmed in Vancouver -- one of the few times a Canadian city was required to pretend it was another Canadian city (usually they pretend to be American). 

TV series was a bit uneven (it tried admirably hard to be stylish, with off-beat lighting and shadows...even as it seemed to clearly be struggling with a meagre budget -- kind of reminiscent of Friday the 13th: The Series); the leads were quite good -- especially Schmid -- (though guest stars could be more uneveen) and the character dynamics/romantic triangle was generally effective, and the series' also boasted some clever and witty quips and bi-play. But the actual suspense-plots were up and down, often not that original or well developed. Part of the problem was that much of this ground had already been covered by previous supernatural series (this wasn't even the first series about a Toronto vampire detective!) -- heck, when it aired, it premiered around the same time as yet another vampire detective series, "Moonlight". And Blood Ties maybe never fully found its own distinctive corner of that particular genre to call its own -- with a lot of scenes seeming like we'd all been there before. (In the novels, some of the characters were supposed to be bi-sexual...but the series avoided those concepts; likewise, though overtly making references to Toronto street names, there was definitely a "soft" Canadianess to the that, if you didn't know Toronto, you probably wouldn't realize it was set there...or even set in Canada!). Ultimately, for what works (the actors, the characters, some witty interplay) the series is enjoyable, while what doesn't work keeps it from being more than an okay watch. Best bets: the one about the fertility clinic; the one about the school for gifted children. Hour long episodes, shown in Canada on various CHUM affliates and Space



(2010)  * * 1/2   Byron Mann ("Chen"), Mayko Nguyen ("Ming"), Shawn Ashmore ("Fitzjohn"), Alison Sealy-Smith ("Lydia"), Byron Lawson ("Karl"), Keon Mohajeri ("Sri"), Kim Bubbs ("Sharon"), Joe Cobden ("Zoltan").....Drama about the professional and personal trials of young doctors, focusing on the romantic triangle formed between a married couple (Mann and Nguyen) and his best friend and her ex-lover (Ashmore). Though presented as hour-long episodes, each with a "plot-of-the-week", it was also structured more as a mini-series, seeming to tell a definite arc over its 8 episode season, jumping back and forth in time.

This TV series was likened to the popular "Grey's Anatomy", in its mix of medicine and soap opera, but it's a decidedly darker, more brooding take on the material (though still given to some whimsy) and focusing much more on the core trio as opposed to a broad ensemble. It was based on the award winning book by Vincent Lam, an anthology of short stories (many of which are utilized as plots for different episodes)...which could explain the series' collision of different impulses. Sometimes it seems mainly about the on going character drama between the three leads...and other times the focus will be on the medical-case-of-the-week, all the while the narrative is cutting between at least three different time periods -- when they were at medical school, and "Fitz" and "Ming" were lovers; their first year of residency; and modern times when they reunite at the staff of a big Toronto hospital. The eight episode season is meant to form an arc of sorts, so the time factor plays out over many episodes (the first few episodes jump back and forth, but the middle episodes seem to settle down on their residency time). Added to that is the (modern) gimmick of characters imagining scenes that occur only in their minds. All that may be the filmmakers' way of saying "our fans are too smart to need to be pandered too"...but can render a lot of the emotional stuff just muddled and confused, as you're trying to figure out how one sequence of events relates to another (or even if). The performances are solid, particularly Nguyen, and the brooding tone, and sombre lighting, is actually more evocative of an independent film than a TV series, and the unapologetic, unselfconscious Canadianess is refreshing. But the characters themselves aren't fully engrossing, and the attempt to be dark n' gritty, unlike the usual medical drama, isn't always as convincing as it's supposed to be -- sometimes seeming more unrealistic and "TV" than more mainstream dramas (in one scene, an angry "Sri" waves a scalpel threateningly at another character in medical school -- pretty sure that'd get you expelled, and certainly would end the friendship). Made for HBO Canada, it went for an R-rated tone for the first couple of episodes -- but a little too over-the-top, including nudity and raunchy and gory antics...but quickly settled down to more just indulging in occasional profanity and mature subject matter. One of the most significant things about the series -- and one hesitates to mention it, precisely because it's not supposed to be significant -- is that two of the three leads are played by Asian actors, yet it's not particularly essential to the story (anymore than "Fitz" had to be played by a caucasion). Indeed, the cast in general is fairly multi-ethnic, which, more than the four letter words, makes it a more realistic depiction of a big city Canadian hospital than most medical dramas on TV. 8 hour long episodes on HBO Canada.

BLOODKNOT  * 1/2  setting: USA.
(1996) (/U.S.) Patrick Dempsey, Kate Vernon, Margot Kidder, Krista Bridges, Allan Royal, Craig Sheffer, Kate Trotter.....A duplicitous woman (Vernon) ingratiates herself with a wealthy American family by pretending to be the girlfriend of their recently deceased son. Suspenser suffers because, except for the climactic revelation, there are absolutely no surprises or even much of a plot. Ironically, the film is hurt by its lack of schlocky-ness: Vernon doesn't really do much that's actually evil until near the end, leaving most of the film occupied with bland "character" scenes. Funnily enough, the premise plays like a reverse of another Montesi directed effort (but I can't say which without giving too much away). Bridges, in particular, delivers a nice performance. sc: Randy Kornfield. dir: Jorge Montesi. - partial female nudity, sexual content, violence.- 98 min.

BLOODRAYNE: The Third Reich  * 1/2  setting: other
(2010) (/U.S./Germany) Natassia Malthe, Brendan Fletcher, Clint Howard, Michael Pare, William Belli, Steffen Mennekes.....During W.W. II, half-human/half-vampire Bloodrayne (Malthe) and some resistance fighters take on Nazis who have latched onto the notion of using vampire blood to create super soldiers. Third of the video game inspired Bloodrayne films, each set in different eras (and the second with Malthe in the role). Director Boll has established a successful career, largely making movies based on video games (many Canadian co-productions)...and has also been frequently cited in critics' surveys of worst directors! Here, the exterior scenes can look decently budgeted...while interiors smack of shoe string cheapness; the movie has a few potentially interesting ideas (albeit it's in questionable taste referencing the Holocaust in such a frivolous forum) but, well, is pretty bad. The dialogue veers erratically from period formality to modern colloquialisms ("this sucks!"), the plot can seem a bit choppy (although, perhaps, not as incoherent as some of its ilk -- though the sword wielding assassins seem to make no sense) with the heroes (ie: Malthe and Fletcher) ill-defined and seem to have less screen time than the villains! Generally poor performances -- which you can blame on the actors, but equally the script and the direction (after all, Fletcher is otherwise an award-winning actor). Pare is okay as the Nazi vampire, and Malthe is pretty and, perhaps surprisingly in an action/horror flick, has a couple of sex scenes -- including a lesbian one! Laughably bad at times yet, at the same time, briskly paced enough that it avoids the stigma of being interminable -- making it perhaps a guilty pleasure. Malthe and Fletcher are Canadian, the others American and Croatian. Pare and Fletcher had appeared in the previous Bloodrayne film -- but as different characters. Filmed in Croatia. sc: Michael C. Nachoff. dir: Uwe Boll. - extreme violence, partial female nudity, explicit sexual content.- 79 min.

(2004) (/U.S.) Joe Lando, Dominic Zamprogna, Natassia Malthe, Leanne Adachi, Aaron Pearl, A.J. Cook, Michael Ironside, Michael DeLuise.....When the leader (Lando) of an intergalactic unit of vampire hunters is lost, it falls to his novice second-in-command (Zamprogna) to take charge...despite some of the others not trusting him. Sci-fi/action/horror flick isn't "good" in a mainstream movie way, but in a low-budget/Roger Corman/straight-to-video's better than you'd expect. It's deliberately over-the-top (to the point of camp) gory, but it's briskly-paced with a kind of off-beat premise (including the idea that there are various species of space vampires with different weaknesses and characteristics). The story is barely more than rudimentary, little more than a series of action scenes interrupted by scenes of character development and interpersonal conflict -- but these too are told with energy, andd the characters, despite the bickering, aren't an unlikeable bunch. Above all, the cast is pretty good, elevating the material a notch. Not something that demands any serious thinking, hence why you can easily shrug off its right wing undercurrent. Top-billed American actor Lando (in a relatively small part), Cook and writer-director Hastings used to work together on the socially earnest TV drama Higher Ground! Actor-producer Peter DeLuise -- son of Dom, brother of Michael (who appears towards the end) -- has a bit cameo as a guy flogging a slaave. sc./dir: Matthew Hastings. - extreme violence.- 99 min.

BLOWN AWAY  * 1/2  setting: USA.
(1993) Corey Haim, Corey Feldman, Nicole Eggert, Jean LeClerc, Gary Farmer, Kathleen Robertson.....Young man (Haim) working at a resort becomes involved with a sexy young woman (Eggert) who wants to kill her domineering father (LeClerc). Erotic film noire does the mood thing -- y'know, where everyone talks real quietly and it takes forever for anything to happen -- with an illogical plot and characterization. LeClerc and Farmer do a respectable job, but the leads seem out of their depth. Even the frequent amourous grappling gets tedious. sc: Robert Cooper. dir: Brenton Spencer. - explicit sexual content, partial female and male nudity, violence.- 93 min.

THE BLUE BUTTERFLY * *  setting: P.Q./other
(2004) (/U.K.) William Hurt, Pascale Bussieres, Marc Donato, Raoul Trujillo, Marianella Jimenez.....A boy dying of cancer (Donato) persuades a reluctant entomologist (Hurt) to take him to the Costa Rica jungle in search of an elusive butterfly the boy believes has mystical properties. Well- intentioned drama never quite makes the mystical aspects convincing, though (and without giving too much away) builds to a happy ending. Hurt, Bussieres, and Trujillo (in a thankless part as a local guide) are all good actors, but can all lean towards low-key, and director Pool doesn't shake them up. The result is a movie that isn't bad, but is a bit slow and somnambulant, and never quite springs to life, despite the nice location scenery. Inspired by a true story, and doesn't mask its Canadian origins (American Hurt even speaks a snippet of French as a Montreal scientist). sc: Pete McCormack. dir: Lea Pool. 97 min.

BLUE CITY SLAMMERS  * * 1/2  setting: Ont.
(1987) Eric Keenlyside, Tracy Cunningham, Paula Barrett, Barry Green, Murray Westgate, Gary Farmer.....Small town life is the theme in this story of a woman's baseball team and the players' personal lives. O.K. comedy/drama, though none of the characters are particularly engaging...or likeable. sc: Layne Coleman, Peter Raymond (from Coleman's play). dir: Peter Shatalow. - male nudity, sexual content.- 96 min.

(1986) Winston Rekert, Karen Black, John Novak, Patty Talbot, Andrew Bednarski, Vlasta Vrana.....TV-commercial director (Rekert) experiments with astral projection but begins to worry when strange deaths occur. Vaguely atmospheric thriller is boring and not very well done. Rekert and young Bednarski, as his son, are O.K., but the supporting performances are weaker. a.k.a. Eternal Evil. sc: Robert Geoffrion. dir: George Mihalka. - violence.- 85 min.

BLUE MONKEY  setting: USA.
(1987) Steve Railsback, Gwynyth Walsh, Don Lake, Susan Anspach, John Vernon, Joe Flaherty, Robin Duke, Helen Hughes, Joy Coghill, Sandy Webster, Phil Akin, Cynthia Belliveau, Ivan E. Roth (as the monster).....A cop (Railsback), a doctor (Walsh) and an entomologist (Lake) work to stop a giant man-eating insect while trapped in a quarantined U.S. hospital. Often horror films don't have enough ideas, this one has too many, including the monster bug, a killer plague, precocious orphans who save the day, army units, horror violence, and comic relief sub-plots and characters. Too bad it didn't work. Never scary or thrilling, nor very funny, with direction and performances that seem...haphazard. Still, it's nice to see one of these films where Canucks like Walsh and Lake actually get prominent parts. Apparently the film was originally to be titled Green Monkey, but there are no monkeys of any hue in it. Look for Sarah Polley as one of the aforementioned orphans. sc: George Goldsmith. dir: William Fruet. - extreme violence.- 98 min.

BLUE MURDER  * setting: Ont.
(1985) Jamie Spears, Terry Logan, Peter Brikmanis.....Reporter investigates a serial killer who is murdering members of the city's pornography industry. Shoe-string budget, predictable thriller with weak performances. Filmed on video. An Emmeritus-CHCH production. sc: Charles Wiener, Geoffrey Pilo. dir: Charles Wiener.

(2001-2005)  * * 1/2  Maria Del Mar ("Victoria Castillo") (-2nd), Joel Keller ("Ed Oosterhuis"), Jeremy Ratchford ("Jack Pogue") (-3rd), Mimi Kuzyk ("Kay Barrow"), Maurice Dean Wint ("Nathaniel Sweet") (2nd), Tamara Hickey ("Karen Gillam") (3rd), Benz Antoine ("Jim Weeks) (3rd-), Kari Matchett ("Elaine Bender") (4th), Tracy Waterhouse ("Ronnie Stahl") (4th), with David Eisner, Kathleen Laskey.....Mystery-crime series about a Toronto police detective unit, initially comprised of Del Mar, Keller, and Ratchford. Wint was added in the second season as a plain clothes Mountie who joined the squad as part of an exchange program. Kuzyk plays the deputy chief. Del Mar and Wint were gone by the third season and Hickey and Antoine added. Ratchford and Hickey were gone by the fourth season, and Matchett and Waterhouse added. Eisner crops up as the local medical examiner, Laskey a forensics expert. 

This TV series, in which the stories are usually mysteries, started out excruciatingly bad with some early episodes evincing truly dumb plots and even uncomfortable racial stereotypes, but quickly evolved into a generally competent whodunit series, though suffering from kind of uninteresting, uningratiating, hyper-macho lead characters. If the principals, male and female, were pumped full of anymore testosterone, their heads would explode! The series, generally, lacks a certain verisimiltude: it's hard to lose yourself in the characters and the scenes, everyone seeming to be acting their parts, rather than being them. Granted, cop shows have been so done to death over the years, it's hard to avoid seeming like a collection of stock cliches...but it can be done. But then, the rather non-descript concept (big city detectives) combined with the high turn over in cast/characters, made for a somewhat generic series. 

An interesting illustration of the topsy turvy, Alice in Wonderland world of Canadian TV is that it was announced that the series would be cancelled -- after the fourth a season was filmed but before it had aired. In other words, the same third season factors that encouraged executives to renew it for a fourth season (ratings, reviews, etc.) led them to cancel it, too! Huh?!? Best bets: an atypical one where they investigate, not a murder, but a suicide, evoking a kind of Wojeck-ian social earnestness. Created by Steve Lucas & Cal Coons. Four seasons of hour long episodes (about 12 per season) on CanWest Global.

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