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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.
 
 
BOB AND DOUG  (TV Series)

(2009) (/U.S.)  * 1/2  Dave Coulier ("Bob"), Dave Thomas ("Doug"), with Derek McGrath ("Mayor Melvin"), others.....Animated sitcom about two dimwitted brothers -- proving that some concepts never die. The McKenzie Brothers, played by Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis, originated as recurring live-action characters on the sketch comedy TV series, SCTV -- being successful enough to spin-off into a comedy album, a short lived newspaper strip, and a motion picture which, if not a big commercial hit, endures as a minor cult success. Since then, the duo have re-united for the occasional special and retrospective. Then with the advent of not-quite-for-kids animated series begun by the Simpson's and continued with South Park and Family Guy, came this resurrection of the franchise as an animated vehicle...better to get away with a cast change. Thomas returned as Doug, but Bob was now voiced by American actor Coulier (the original Bob, Rick Moranis, remained involved in a behind-the-scenes capacity). Fleshing out the environment of characters created for short-form sketches, the series added various supporting characters. An animated pilot was produced as earlier as 2003 (included, I believe, on DVDs of Strange Brew) but an actual series didn't manifest until 2009!

The McKenzie Brothers, bickering, beer guzzling "hosers", were hardly the epitome of high brow humour, but could nonetheless elicit chuckles, if only as a guilty pleasure, and could be seen as Canada's answer to Cheech & Chong and as precursors to The Trailer Park Boys among others. But this cartoon is...well, painful. Perhaps all these years later, it's hard for them to recapture the spirit of the original, or maybe it's hard to take characters whose shtick was rambling, semi-improvised conversations and force them into a plotted narrative. Or maybe it feels too much like the characters are just parachuted into a pre-made, rather derivative program (including their black boss given to breaking into soul singing ala "South Park"'s Chef), as if the series was already prepped, the scripts written, and then someone suggested turning it into a vehicle for the McKenzie Brothers. The brothers kind of defined "Canadiana" for a whole generation, and the cartoon admits it's set in Canada (with Canadian flags in the background), but it doesn't really feel Canadian, in concepts or accents, either as if the scripts were written by American writers...or by Canadian writers who spend too much time in Hollywood! Aping the harder edged modern animated comedies, the series goes for a lot of crude and vulgar humour and comedic gory violence that jars with the original sketches. And the animation style doesn't really find its own "look", instead seeming just like a, well, a hastily drawn cartoon. The bottom line is, it's not funny, nor especially fresh, and because of the crudity, you can't even just forgive it as a harmless little confection. And what do you make of an episode, seeming a paean to learning (as the brothers are forced to retake high school) in which they mis-describe the plot of Macbeth...and apparently no one working on the series, from script supervisor, to actors, to director, even noticed? (Or did I just mis-hear and they didn't say Macbeth was egged on by his "mother"?). Half-hour episodes, shown originally on CanWest-Global. 


 
BOB AND MARGARET  (TV Series)

(1998-2001) (/U.K./U.S.)  * * 1/2  Andy Hamilton (-2nd) ("Bob Fish"), Brian George (3rd-) ("Bob Fish"), Alison Snowden ("Margaret Fish").....Animated sitcom about a middle-class British couple; he's a dentist, she's a pediatrist (and she later worked at a Women's Centre), and they have two rolly-polly dogs. 

This cartoon is a lot like a Captain Star in that it's essentially aimed at grown ups in tone, delivered with a very low-key, dry wit. Though only occasionally containing material that would be unsuitable for kids, those occasions did arise, making Global's decision to show re-runs at 7:00 PM kind of odd. A cult success, the series' low-key -- very, very low-key -- style is a subjective taste. More cute than funny, it's not quite riveting. Essentially British with some Canadian financial support, in its third season the couple packed up and moved to Canada -- a transition that proved surprisingly seamless, with Canadians just as capable of being low-key as the British. The change came about, allegedly, because by that point the series had lost most of its international co-partners, and the makers must've felt, what the heck? Based on a critically acclaimed cartoon short, "Bob's Birthday". Half-hour episodes, shown in Canada on CanWest-Global. 

BODY & EARTH  *
(2002) Inger Ebeltoft.....Supposed tale of the first woman (model Ebeltoft) going on a quest for the first man. I say "supposed" because plot isn't remotely the point here. It's just a series of unspeaking montages of pretty Ebeltoft wandering around beautiful landscapes while new age worldbeat pop music plays on the soundtrack -- interspersed with cutaways to naked couples dancing/posing. Essentially, a series of Calvin Klein ads strung together. Perhaps worth turning on for five/ten minute vignettes to help you unwind at the end of the day, but even for what it is it could've tried shaping the material into a vague narrative...such as by having her do things in the various vignettes (forge for food, cross an obstacle) or make the environments seem to flow from each other, so that it really seems like she's going somewhere (as it is she's in a desert, then a forest, then a desert, then a beach, then a desert again) -- and the supposed "plot" of her searching for the first man...doesn't explain the cutaways to the naked couples (and the fact that many of the models have similar features means it's hard to say whether Ebeltoft appears in those sequences or not). Might make an okay photograph coffee table book...but problematic as a movie. a.k.a. Eve and Body and Soul. sc./dir: Neil St. Clair. - female and male nudity.- 76 min.

BODY COUNT  * *  setting: Ont.
(1986) Johnathan Potts, James Lukie, Cynthia Kereluk, Christine Manning, Johnathan Knapp.....Serial killer terrorizes the city and the cops suspect a cabbie (Potts) of being the culprit. Shoe-string budget, but a surprisingly well done drama. Lukie isn't bad as the terminally ill psycho, though most of the other performances are pretty weak. Filmed on video. An Emmeritus-CHCH production. sc: Lloyd Chelsey.

BOLLYWOOD / HOLLYWOOD * * 1/2  setting: Ont.
(2003) Rahul Khanna, Lisa Ray, Moushumi Chatterjee, Dina Pathak, Ranjit Chowdhry, Kulbushan Kharbanda, Jessica Pare.....To appease his family, and so they will let his younger sister get married, a wealthy Indo-Canadian (Khanna) hires an escort (Ray) to pretend to be both his fiancé, and Indian. Romantic- comedy starts out well, with a nicely flamboyant premise and humour that runs from low-key to absurdist. But it runs out of steam -- and plot complications -- before the end. And even some of the existing plot twists aren't clearly articulated. Indian actor Khanna is an ingratiating protagonist, Ray appealing enough, and Chowdhry steals a few scenes as the loyal chauffeur, making for a movie that can be pleasant...but falls short of the initial promise. Some of the dialogue is hard to make out, as well, partly because of some strong Indian accents, but mainly because of an, at times, muddy sound mix. The movie is meant to be a tongue-in-cheek homage to larger-than-life Indian (Bollywood) and American (Hollywood) movies, meaning some of the in-jokes might be lost on those unfamiliar with Bollywood films (the catchy musical numbers are part of that homage). But it's a shame when you realize that one of the only times a Canadian filmmaker would do such a blatantly "high concept" audience-friendly premise...is as a joke on other -- successful -- film industries! Prominently billed Parre has a small part as the hero's first, non-Indian girlfriend. sc./dir: Deepa Mehta. 105 min.
 
 
BOMB GIRLS  (TV Series)

(2012-2013)   * * * 1/2  Meg Tilly ("Lorna Corbett"), Jodi Balfour ("Gladys Witham"), Ali Liebert ("Betty McRae"), Charlotte Hegele ("Kate Andrews"), Lisa Norton ("Edith McAllum"), Anastasia Phillips ("Vera Burr"), Antonio Cupo ("Mario"), Richard Fitzpatrick ("Harold Atkins"), Peter Outerbridge ("Bob Corbett"), Sebastian Pigott ("James") (1st), James McGowan ("Rollie Witham"), Kate Hening ("Adele Witham"), Jim Codrington, others.....Period drama about the women on the Canadian homefront during W.W. II -- specifically those working at a bomb factory (essentially the unsung soldiers of the war). Tilly plays the stern supervisor of the crew. Balfour a progressive feminist rich girl, determined to do her part on the (sometimes dangerous) munitions floor...even against her estranged parents' wishes (McGowan and Hening). Liebert the butch, closeted lesbian. Hegele the guileless country mouse hiding from her domineering, Fundamentalist family. Phillips the good-time-girl having to adjust after a disfiguring accident. Norton a mother who learns her husband has been killed overseas. Cupo the hunky womanizer with a heart...dealing with his own ostracization because of his Italian ancestry (since the country was at war with Italy). Fitzpatrick the callous supervisor of the plant (though later becoming more gruff-with-a-heart). Outerbridge "Lorna"'s embittered wheelchair-confined husband, and war objector; Pigott "Gladys"'s American-born fiancee; Codrington a black factory worker who introduces the musical "Kate" to the Blues. The first season (of six episodes) was originally billed as a "mini-series", but like with a lot of modern series that was just a mercenary marketing ploy -- clearly it was intended as an on-going series all along...fortunately strong ratings insured a second season.

This TV series was arguably inspired a bit by the rash of American period series ("Mad Men", "Pan Am", "Boardwalk Empire", etc.), though was unapologetically Canadian in setting and themes (quite unusual for broadcaster Global) and evoked a little the kind of Douglas Bowie penned productions the CBC used to produce all the time, mixed with a bit of a pastel look that, in a way, evoked 1970s filmed-on-video historical dramas made for the BBC and the CBC. By focusing on the women of the era, it carves out its own niche of the "period drama" genre (without ignoring the male characters) and assembles a nice collection of disparate characters, with different motives, personalities and backgrounds. It started out a bit uneven, maybe focusing too much on the sexism of the era (rendering all the men as sexist pigs, making them cartoony and one note -- though perhaps equally troubling was a suspicion the writers didn't realize just how obnoxious and boorish they were by modern standards, sometimes wanting us to sympathize with guys who were just, well, gross). BUT...as the episodes progressed, the rough edges were quickly sanded down, most of the characters (female and male alike) given shading and nuance so that you could genuinely get interested in and caught up in their trials and dilemmas. And unlike some series, they didn't let a sense of well-intentioned earnestness get in the way of telling what is, first and foremost, a pulpy soap opera, with illicit affairs and melodrama, generally working "issues" naturally and organically into the narrative (from sexism, to racism, to profiteering). Tilly's character initially starts out as rather dour and unsympathetic, but becomes more sympathetic as her character's story is filled in -- Tilly had basically dropped out of acting for a decade and a half to raise a family, with this her first major role (after a few minor guest appearances and stage plays) in years and she's a far cry from her Hollywood ingenue days, settling comfortably into middle-age...and, darn it, it is good to see her back on the screen! And relative newcomer Balfour is quite effective as arguably the nominal lead (and the most "modern"-thinking of the characters). But it's an ensemble, and all the performances are effective.

It nicely tries to root itself in its era (even the character names are evocative)...though one suspects they had trouble settling on what the reality was (as mentioned, at first it's an archly sexist environment...then, a few episodes later, characters nonchalantly suggest a woman should study to be a doctor at a time when, in truth, female doctors were rare; when a black character is introduced, the characters act as if they've never even met a black man before...then, an episode or two later, the crowd scenes seem more integrated). The decision to end the first season with the bombing of Pearl Harbour arguably missed an opportunity to further explore an atypical milieu for a war time drama -- when Canada was at war, but America wasn't. The series does try to confront some race issues of the day (with "Kate" befriending Codrington's character) but it might have been more pertinent to the modern era to have made one of the lead women characters non-white, as opposed to dealing with race still from a traditionally "white" perspective looking in. But, honestly -- I'm just nitpicking. Because the result is a series that started out a bit even, but quickly grew into a solid, engaging effort and one set during an atypical period for a weekly TV series. How committed Global was to the series is a question, though, its success no doubt taking the programmers by surprise (and Global more keen for "Anytown, North America" series it can shop to the U.S.). When ratings slipped in the second season (after it was moved from its previously held time slot) Global seemed awfully eager to announce its cancelation. However, as a concession to fans (and recognizing, being a soap opera drama, story threads might be left dangling) it immediately announced plans for a TV movie wrap-up, Bomb Girls: Facing the Enemy (reviewed below). Another, more cynical thought might be that after the CBC had recently rescued The Murdoch Mysteries from cancelation (and seen its ratings shoot up!) the TV movie was a convenient way for Global to pre-empt even a possibility of another broadcaster trying to pick it up. But that's only if you're cynical. Two seasons of hour long episodes on Global.  

BOMB GIRLS: Facing the Enemy * *  setting: Ont.
(2014) Meg Tilly, Jodi Balfour, Charlotte Hegele, Ali Liebert, Anastasia Phillips, Antonio Cupo, Michael Seater, Jamie Elman, Catherine Bérubé, Anthony Lemke, Tahmoh Penikett.....Continuing (and wrapping up) the story of the gals (and guys) on the Canadian homefront during W.W. II who work in a munitions factory, and with Gladys (Balfour) going undercover to ferret out a possible saboteur. The TV series, Bomb Girls (reviewed above), proved a surprise hit for Global TV and, if one were to be cynical (given Global tends to prefer less unapologetically Canadian programs), mayhap an unwelcome hit -- certainly they were quick to pull the plug when the ratings slipped in the second season. But almost immediately they announced this TV movie sequel to wrap up loose story threads (and mayhap to keep the CBC from picking it up the way they had The Murdoch Mysteries). Unfortunately, the result is disappointing. Partly it's the problem of trying to refashion essentially a soap opera (with on-going story and character threads) into a 90 minute story and, equally, trying to graft on a larger-than-life espionage plot to make it seem like a mystery/thriller. But more it just suffers from poor writing and heavy handed direction, to the point of almost seeming campy. The TV series flirted with a slightly mannered style (to evoke a "period" feel) but still kept the characters grounded, but this time even the regular cast seem unconvincing (without even evoking the same sense of period). Fans of the series should still enjoy it as a last chance to visit with the characters, but those unfamiliar with the source series might wonder what the fuss was about. Too bad. sc: N.T. Grey, Donald Martin. dir: Jerry Ciccoritti. 92 min.

BOMBARDIER (TVMS)  * * 1/2  setting: P.Q.
(1993) Gilbert Sicotte, Marcel Leboeuf, Sylvie-Catherine Beaudoin, Dorothee Berryman, Denis Bernard, Marc-Andre Coallier, Ron Lea, Jean-Francois Blanchard.....Story of Joseph-Armand Bombardier (Sicotte), inventor and manufacturer of the snowmobile. Slick, well-paced bio benefits from some nice performances but is a little choppy and superficial. A show that's better in theory than fact simply because Bombardier doesn't appear to have lived an especially dramatic life. Dubbed version of the 1991 Quebec mini-series. 3 one-hour episodes. sc: Jacques Savoie. dir: Francois Labonte.

BON COP, BAD COP  * * * 1/2  setting: P.Q./Ont.
(2006) Patrick Huard, Colm Feore, Lucie Laurier, Sarain Boylan, Ron Lea, Pierre LeBeau, Hugolin Chevrette, Rick Mercer, Rick Howland, Sarah-Jeanne Larrosse, Erik Knudsen.....A straight laced anglophone cop (Feore) and a rough and tumble francophone cop (Huard) are reluctantly partnered to investigate a series of killings of hockey league executives. Billed as the world's first truly bilingual action-comedy (half the dialogue is French, half English -- with appropriate subtitles -- the "English" version has English subtiitles for the French dialogue and the "French" version has French subtitles for the English dialogue) and it became one of the most successful Canadian movies -- domestically -- ever (most of it in Quebec, but it alsoo grossed a respectable take in the rest of Canada). And you know what? It's actually pretty good! Expensive and stylish-looking (maybe a little too stylish) it makes no pretence at being anything more than an action-comedy that's mining pretty familiar terrain (mismatched partners) but not only is it genuinely funny and reasonably exciting, it somehow manages to transcend its own genre at times. Intellectually you know it's all a cliché, but it doesn't entirely feel that way, and that owes a lot to the fact that the leads, as written and performed, are more nuanced and "real" than simply cartoon heroes in a cartoon movie (like the fact that both heroes are bilingual). It's an unapologetically B-movie story...with A-movie performances from Huard and Feore. As such, when the plot seems to meander, as it does, and the mystery itself seems to be pushed toward the back burner, you still find yourself interested...'cause the leads are interesting. It could've used a bit of tightening, and the plot can seem a bit loosely developed at times, and the villain probably shouldn't get killed in the climax (if you're trying to do THE quintessential Canadian action movie, since Canada doesn't have the death penalty, it might be more appropriate for them to arrest the villain). But those are more quibbles -- on a visceral level, it's a thoroughly enjoyable romp -- with a great title! sc: Patrick Huard, Leila Basen, Kevin Tierney, Alex Epstein. dir: Eric Canuel. - violence; sexual content; partial female nudity.- 116 min.

BONANNO: A Godfather's Story (TVMS)  * *  setting: USA/other
(2000) (/U.S.) Bruce Ramsay, Tony Nardi, Zachary Bennett, Edward James Olmos, Martin Landau, Costas Mandylor, Donald Pilon.....Story of the life of mobster Joseph Bonanno, from his birth in Sicily, his early days as a young man in New York (Ramsay) and his middle years as a mafia godfather (Nardi), as told by him as an old man (Landau). Epic drama is an endless string of episodes, most not very interesting in and of themselves, but rarely forming a consistent narrative thread, either, relying on narration to fill in character stuff that isn't evident in the impersonal scenes. Confusing, too. It's also kind of silly, like a parody of "The Godfather" movies (right down to the lighting!) rather than a true life bio-pic. It's also a loving portrait of an unrepentant man who made his living through extortion and murder (and who knows what else), co-executive produced by his son and one-time mobster, Bill (portrayed by former child actor Bennett). And since the Bonanno's made their living through lies and deception, the veracity of this story is open to question, too. Weak as a drama...and creepy as a social document. The first part features some American actors, but the second part is almost all Canadian, and both Ramsay and Nardi are Canadians. 5 hours (originally aired on cable). sc: Thomas Michael Donnelly (from the books Bound by Honor by Bill Bonanno and A Man of Honor by Joseph Bonanno and Sergio Lalli). dir: Michel Poulette. - violence, partial female nudity, sexual content.-

THE BONE SNATCHER  * *  setting: other
(2003) (/South Africa/U.K.) Scott Bairstow, Rachel Shelley, Warrick Grier, Patrick Shari, Adrienne Pearce, Andre Weideman, Patrick Lyster, Chris April.....Scientist (Bairstow) and some para-military types in an African desert find the fresh bones of some prospectors and gradually realize they're stranded with a monster. Horror thriller has a decent cast, an intriguing monster, an atypical setting, and even a few creepy scenes...but the script and the choppy, frenetic, "aren't I edgy" direction lapse into incoherence periodically. And despite stabs at characterization (albeit of the bitchy/tempers flaring variety) the characters are kept at arms length. Still, for fans of monster movies who, frankly, are used to reigning in their expectations, the good things about it means it has its moments. Though there's some gore, it's more restrained than a lot of its type. And we're to infer Bairstow's character is actually Canadian -- who'd of thunk it from a Canadian made B-movie, eh? sc: Gordon Render, Malcolm Kohll. dir: Jason Wulfsohn. - extreme violence.- 90 min.

BONHOEFFER: Agent of Grace * *  setting: other/USA.
(2000) (/Germany/U.S.) Ulrich Tukur, Ulrich Noethen, Robert Joy, Johanna Klante, R.H. Thomson.....Fact-inspired story of Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Tukur) who worked with anti-Hitler factions in World War II Germany and was imprisoned by the Nazis. Made-for-TV biopic is good looking and has good performances and some good scenes, but it plays like a mini-series edited down into movie length...with way too many crucial scenes left out. Too bad. A mid-film sequence, almost a three character play with Tukur, Joy as his Gestapo interrogator, and Thomson as a sympathetic guard, could almost have made a fascinating film on its own (if handled right). Made in co-operation with a Lutheran organization, which may be another problem. The filmmakers may be less interested in narrative coherence, and more interested in the religious martyr theme (even to the point of letting the viewer infer that the Nazis were atheists, which isn't exactly true). John Neville and Blu Mankuma have bit parts. sc: Gareth Jones, Eric Till. dir: Eric Till. - casual male nudity.- app. 90 min.

BONJOUR TIMOTHY * 1/2  setting: other
(1995) (/New Zealand) Dean O'Gorman, Sabine Karsenti, Sylvia Rands, Sydney Jackson, Milan Borich, Angela Bloomfield, Nathaniel Lees.....Awkward New Zealand teen (O'Gorman) thinks he's lucked out when the French Canadian exchange student staying with his family turns out to be beautiful and female (Karsenti)...only she doesn't particularly like him. Tedious comedy takes a thin idea...and doesn't bother fleshing it out. Other than its technical finesse (minus Karsenti's voice dropping out during a home movie sequence), and (for the most part) lack of explicitness, there's not much to distinguish this "family" film from teen sex-comedies like, say, Meatballs III. sc: David Preston (story David Parry). dir: Wayne Tourell. 98 min.

LES BONS DEBARRAS * *  setting: P.Q.
(1979) Marie Tifo, Charlotte Laurier, Germain Houde, Roger Le Bel, Louise Marleau, Gilbert Sicotte.....Story of a strained small-town family relationship, a mother (Tifo), her retarded brother (Houde) and the troubled daughter (Laurier) who is mainpulatively obsessed with her. Dark drama benefits from good ambience and performances, but it's slow and repetative with the characters not appealing enough, nor the story compelling enough, to keep itself going. Well-regarded by (Canadian) critics and it received 8 Genies including Best Picture. English title: Good Riddance. sc: Rejean Ducharme. dir: Francis Mankiewicz. - brief female nudity.- 115 min.
 

BOOGIE'S DINER (TV Series)

(1993-1996) (/U.S.)  * * 1/2  Richard Chevolleau ("Tymp"), Jimmy Marsden ("Jason"), Monika Schnarre ("Zoya"), Robin Stapler ("Cynthia"), Joy Tanner ("Cheryl Ann"), Zack Ward ("Kirby"), Jim J. Bullock ("Gerald") .....Youth-aimed sitcom about a group of teens who work at a U.S. clothing store/diner. Chevolleau was the d.j.; Marsden the none-too-bright hunk; Schnarre the naive clerk; Stapler the good girl; Tanner the rich girl; and Ward the guy from the wrong side of the tracks. Bullock played the adult manager.

With its really obvious jokes and broad characterizations, this TV series seemed an attempt to emulate the successful U.S. teen sitcom "Saved by the Bell" and might appeal to fans of that show's style. Others be warned. Still, taken on its own level, it could be sparodically amusing and benefitted from a good cast (most of whom were Canadian, save Marsden). Created by Jeff Franklin and Steve Waterman.

THE BOOK OF BEASTS a.k.a. Merlin and the Book of Beasts

THE BOOK OF NEGROES  (TVMS)  * * * 1/2  setting: other/N.S.
(2015) (/U.S./U.K.) Aunjanue Ellis, Lyriq Bent, Ben Chaplin, Cuba Gooding Jr., Lou Gossett Jr., Greg Bryk, Allan Hawco, Sandra Caldwell, Dwain Murphy, Cara Ricketts, Shailyn Pierre-Dixon, Jane Alexander, Matt Ward.....Saga of a black African woman (Ellis) in the 18th Century who is kidnapped and sold into slavery, her life taking her from the slave plantations of the Southern U.S. to New York during the American Revolution, to freedom (but still discrimination) in Nova Scotia and eventually back to Africa and the free state of Sierra Leone, chronicling the people and events she encounters, and her star-crossed romance with a fellow slave (Bent). Lavishly-mounted made for CBC TV sprawling epic boasts fine performances all around from its mix of American, Canadian and British actors, with American actress Ellis a compelling focal presence. It's a series about slavery -- of course -- but manages to be more than simply a lecture by keeping the focus on character and her journey (physical and emotional), and by being just gritty and dark enough to deal with the real life tragedy, while also being (slightly) sanitised so it's not simply an unrelenting catalogue of indignities. In other words: it works as a story, as a drama and, yes, as entertainment. Director Virgo, who can be a little too concerned with style and pretension in his direction, here nicely stays focused on the human and just telling the story. An example of a critically acclaimed novel making the translation to being a genuinely compelling and effective dramatization. Though (just to quibble) as the Jewel in the Crown of the CBC's 2014-2015 schedule -- only a small part of it actually takes place in Canada (and it aired around the same time as the very Americanized programs Schitt's Creek and Ascension). Six hour long episodes. sc: Clement Virgo, Lawrence Hill (from the novel by Hill). dir: Clement Virgo. - violence; sexual content.-

THE BOOKFAIR MURDERS * * 1/2  setting: other/CDN
(2000) (/Germany) Samantha Bond, Linda Kash, Saul Rubinek, Bernd Michael Lade, Robert Joy, Jonathan Higgins, Richard McMillan, Genevieve Bujold, Peter Blais, Eli Wallach.....At an international bookfair in Germany (where publishers and agents make deals) the murder of an author, possibly related to a book he was writing on works of art stolen during World War II, has various characters investigating, including an editor (British actress Bond), her best friend, a Canadian reporter (Kash), and a German detective (Lade). Slick, moderately entertaining made-for-CTV mystery, though it doesn't really generate the sense that it is a mystery, with little sense of danger, too few clues or suspects, and Bond, who is ostensibly the main character, investigates the least! Bujold, though always welcome, appears in a kind of extraneous sub-plot. sc: Herman F.G. Stuck (from the novel by Anna Porter). dir: Wolfgang Panzer. 93 min.

BOOKY MAKES HER MARK * * 1/2  setting: Ont.
(2006) Tatiana Maslany, Meghan Follows, Stuart Hughes, Sarah Allen, Kate Todd, Lauren Collins, Erik Knudsen, Ephraim Ellis, Mike Lebel, Roberta Maxwell.....Story of a poor but precocious teenager (Maslany) in Depression-era Toronto. Drama mixes downbeat Depression-era grittiness with frothy whimsy, with sometimes bumpy results, but is well acted and the scenes are well put together. But it is too obviously based on a series of books, as the plot seems to meander about, with characters popping in and out, and too little in the way of a consistent thread or theme. At one point the character refers to Lucy Maud Montgomery as her favourite author...when we hadn't even seen her reading any books at all! Still, slick enough to hold your attention if you aren't expecting more. Follows and Hughes, as the parents, are married in real life, too. Followed by sequels, though with a different -- much younger -- actress cast as Booky. sc: Joe Wisenfeld (from the books by Bernice Thurman Hunter). dir: Peter Moss. app. 90 min.

BOOZECAN  * * *  setting: Ont.
(1996) Justin Louis, Eugene Lipinski, Kenneth Welsh, Andrew Miller, Ranjit Chowdhry, Shirley Blanco, Frank Crudele, Jan Rubes.....Free-roaming story of a (relatively) clean-living guy (Louis) who, ironically, makes his living staging illegal afterhours clubs (boozecans) but wants to open a legitimate bar instead, unaware that the psychotic brother (Lipinski) of a guy who o.d. during one of his parties, is out to undermine everything he does. Gritty, odd ball serio-comic suspense-drama is rambling, sometimes incoherent, but nonetheless draws you into this fringe life of junkies and drifters and characters who are at once sleazy and oddly endearing. Energetic and entertaining...basically a '90s answer to The Rubber Gun. Actor Campbell's first (fiction) film, and he seems to have a flawless knack for directing actors, handling a big cast mixing "name" actors, familiar faces, and relative unknowns, and eliciting note-perfect performaces from everyone. Lots of familiar people in bit parts (Susan Hogan with maybe one line as Lipinski's wife, Leslie Hope in only a couple of scenes as a cop, etc.). David Cronenberg appears as a famous actor -- and actually gives a performance, not just a walk-through (again, credit Campbell?) -- and Ronnie Hawkins crops up. Curiously, despite starring in Urban Angel, this is Louis' only starring film role -- why? He deserves them. sc: Luciano Diana (story Diana and Michael Fruet). dir: Nicholas Campbell. - violence, partial female and male nudity, sexual content.- 97 min.

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