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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.

(1986) Nick Mancuso, R.H. Thomson; James Coco, Leslie Nielson, Jayne Eastwood, Kenneth Welsh; William Shatner, Kate Trotter.....Three supernatural stories by U.S. author Ray Bradbury: "The Crowd", about mysterious rubber-neckers who appear at accidents; "Marionettes, Inc.", about a man who buys a robot of himself; and "The Playground", about a man's fear of the local playground. The first three episodes from the TV series The Ray Bradbury Theater are well acted, but overly slow and pretentious. a.k.a. The Ray Bradbury Trilogy. sc: Ray Bradbury (from his stories). dir: Ralph L. Thomas, Paul Lynch, William Fruet. - violence.- 90 min.

THE BRAIN  setting: USA.
(1988) Tom Breznahan, Cyndy Preston, David Gale, George Buza, Christine Kossack, Bret Pearson.....Wild-and-crazy U.S. teen (Breznahan) is sent to a TV psychologist for evaluation -- once there, he discovers the doc is using a monster brain to brainwash people. Inane, poorly acted and technically inept horror flick, though the giant man-eating brain has got to be a first. Really obnoxious characters, too. sc: Barry Pearson. dir: Ed Hunt. - extreme violence, partial female nudity.- 94 min.

BRAIN CANDY a.k.a. Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy

BRAINSTORM a.k.a. Cypher


Break a Leg, a children's novel by William Taylor, was turned into part of the limited series All For One

BREAKAWAY  * 1/2   setting: Ont.
(2011) Vinay Virmani, Russell Peters, Anupam Kher, Camilla Belle, Rob Lowe, Sakina Jaffrey, Gurpreet Ghuggi Singh.....Indo-Canadian young man (Virmani) throws together an all-Sikh hockey team, much to the chagrin of a racist rival team, the approbation of his community...yet alienating his disapproving father (Kher). Frustrating comedy-drama starts out sort of okay, but like an After School Special only with adults, but as it goes along it seems like it knows the kind of movie it wants to be...but has little idea how to achieve it. So it's a comedy...but isn't especially comedic (the humour, when it works, is more amusing than funny-funny), and a hockey movie where the ice scenes are perfunctory and rarely advance the story until the climax (the team is supposed to gradually improve...but we don't really see that); the drama seems superficial and contrived (a romantic sub-plot is that the girl he likes, Belle, arbitrarily doesn't date hockey players...not that she doesn't like hockey, or him -- hardly an insurmountable obstacle) and the socio-political stuff obvious and heavy-handed (and, arguably, is this really a reflection of modern multi-cultural Toronto?). The main character isn't especially ingratiating and stand-up comic Peters' presence seems kind of pointless (other than for its marquee value): he plays an obnoxious in-law who, I guess, is supposed to seem less obnoxious by the end -- but doesn't -- and the scenes between him and Virmani are just awkward. Disjointed and choppy (as if scenes are missing) and ultimately can seem a bit like they cut and pasted scenes, plot ideas, and characters from other, similar movies...without fully knowing how to integrate them (Kher played a similiar role in the U.K. film, "Bend it Like Beckham"). Cameos from Canadian rap super star Drake and Indian movie star Akshay Kumar. Ironically, for such an archetypical Canadian story of multi-culturalism and hockey...a large number of the cast are imports. American Lowe (who is good as the coach) once starred in a hockey movie called "Youngblood", and at one point wears a team sweater with the name of the fictional team from that earlier movie. a.k.a. Speedy Singhs. sc: Vinay Virmani, Noel Baker, Jeffrey Schrechter, Matt Simonns. dir: Robert Lieberman. 100 min.

(2001) (/U.K.) Cameron Daddo, Fiona Loewi, Stacey Depass, Albert Schultz, Marcia Diamond, Colin Fox, Joe Pingue, Maria Ricossa.....Suave and breezily sophisticated married couple (Daddo and Loewi) -- hosts of a morning Chicago radio show -- investigate when a woman they meet, then vanishes, turns out to have been reported dead a day before they met her. Slick made-for-TV mystery isn't by any means unlikeable with its old fashioned, unpretentious intentions, but it doesn't quite leap the bar either. The leads are personable (particularly Daddo), but don't quite have the charm, or chemistry, needed in a movie that is relying heavily on the playful badinage of the leads to carry it along. It was more fun with Charles Powell & Myrna Loy or Rock Hudson & Susan St. James. The mystery is moderately intriguing, but unconvincing at times, and the movie is more light-hearted than actually funny (even when it's trying to be funny!). As a movie, it would've made a decent hour-long episode. Still, it's a movie that you can look back on with a certain grudging affection. Maybe on a slow night... One of a number of movies made by Chesler/Perlmutter productions -- as part of a "Mystery Wheel" -- which included Isabella Rocks and Murray Maguire, M.E. (a.k.a. Recipe for Murder) and were set in the U.S. and all presumably intended as pilots for would-be series or series of movies. a.k.a. Drive Time Murders. sc: Matthew Weisman (created by Lewis B. Chesler). dir: Eleanore Lindo. 90 min.

BREAKFAST WITH SCOT * * *   setting: Ont.
(2007) Tom Cavanagh, Ben Shenkman, Noah Bernett, Jeananne Goossen, Benz Antoine, Colin Cunningham, Robin Brűlé, Graham Greene, Ryan Burlington, Alexander Franks, Vanessa Thompson, Anna Silk.....An uptight, semi-closeted gay sportscaster (Cavanagh) living with his partner (American actor Shenkman) finds his comfortable lifestyle shaken up when they become the temporary guardians of a flamboyant, misfit young boy (Bernett) given to wearing garish clothes and even make-up. Good-hearted comedy-drama about atypical families and acceptance (a theatrical release, not made-for-TV) boasts fine performances (particularly Cavanagh and young Bernett), some clever, witty dialogue and some unconventional twists on expectations -- even morphing into a Christmas movie (the climax taking place during the holidays). Though the plot could've used a boost here and there. Although negative reviews are, naturally, a matter of taste, some criticism seemed to be from people either inately opposed to the subject matter -- or people sympathetic to the subject but reviewing the movie they wanted it to be (feeling it should've taken the material in one direction or another) rather than the movie it is. And what it is is a generally amusing, occasionally touching, flick whether you're gay or straight. Meghan Follows has one scene, and Greene has a rather thankless part as a junior hockey coach. sc: Sean Reycraft (from the novel by Michael Downing). dir: Laurie Lynd. 95 min.

(1985) Carl Marotte, Thor Bishopric, Carolyn Dunn, Rachel Hayward, Michael Rudder.....Pseudo-macho teen (Marotte), his nerdish buddy and two girls they're trying to pick up, cross paths with thieves at a U.S. fun park. Unusual teen comedy in that it can actually be funny at times. a.k.a. Fun Park. sc: Edith Rey, David Preston (story Rey, Rafal Zielinski). d: James Orr. 91 min.

BREAKING ALL THE RULES: The Creation of Trivial Pursuit  * * 1/2 setting: CDN.
(1988) Malcolm Stewart, Bruce Pirrie, Gordon Clapp, Damir Andrei.....True story of how a trio of beer guzzling Canadian buddies and a lawyer friend became multimillionaires by creating the hit board game Trivial Pursuit. A likeable little comedy. Made for CBC TV. Music by Jimmy Buffet. sc: William J. Thomas. dir: David Barlow. app. 100 min.

BREAKING POINT * *  setting: USA.
(1994) (/U.S.) Gary Busey, Kim Cattrall, Darlanne Fluegel, Jeff Griggs, Blu Mankuma, Sharlene Martin, Leam Blackwood.....An American ex-cop (Busey) returns to the force when a serial killer who escaped him years before comes back. So-so thriller can't shake being just another cop-after-serial-killer flick with the writers, actors, etc. being professional but uninspired. Even Busey is subdued, though Griggs isn't bad as the killer, a male stripper (and this has to be one of the first of these films that's almost as sexploitive of men as it is women). Nice use of Vancouver waterfront scenery (pretending it's Seatle). sc: Michael Berlin, Eric Estrin. dir: Paul Ziller. - partial female and male nudity, sexual content, violence.- 96 min.


THE BREAKTHROUGH  * 1/2  setting: USA./Nfld.
(1993) (/U.K.) Donald Sutherland, Mimi Kuzyk, Vlasta Vrana, Miguel Fernandes, Corin Nemec, Michael Rudder, Michael J. Reynolds.....American C.I.A. agent (Kuzyk) is sent to a remote part of Newfoundland to check on one of their scientists (Sutherland) who's engaged in experiments involving the human life force. Atmosphereless SF suspenser has some intriguing ideas, but doesn't know what to do with them. Terrible (and repetitious) dialogue, a dumb voice-over and uninspired performances (though Sutherland's O.K.). a.k.a. The Lifeforce Experiment and Dead Men Talk. sc: Mike Hodges, Gerard MacDonald (from the story by Duphne du Maurier). dir: Piers Haggard. 92 min.

BRETHREN  * 1/2  setting: Ont.
(1976) Thomas Hauff, Kenneth Welsh, Richard Fitzpatrick, Sandra Scott, Candace O'Connor.....Three very different brothers are brought together for a couple of days by the death of their father. Awkward, wooden drama suffers from its own solemness and mostly uninspired performances. sc./dir: Dennis Zahoruk.

A BRIDE'S TEARS  * * 1/2  setting: other
(1989) (/France/China) Tu Huai Qing, Jiang Wen, Jiang Xi Ren, Huang Fei, Zhou Yiemang, Chen Jie.....Story of Chow Ching Lie growing up in '40s and '50s Shanghai, and how her love for the piano is threatened when her poor parents try to force her into an arranged marriage. O.K. drama is disjointed at times but benefits from good performances and the exotic locale and subject matter. Based on a true story. And now for one of the longest credits in this book: sc: Jacques Dorfmann, Zhang Nuanxin, Max Fischer, David Milhaud, with thanks to Frank Daniel, adapted by Chow Ching Lie, Georges Walter, Jacques Dreux, Martin Daniel (from the book La Palanquin des Larmes by Chow Ching Lie as told to Georges Walter). dir: Jacques Dorfmann, Max Fischer. app. 117 min.

(2010)  (/U.S.) * * 1/2  Aaron Douglas ("Frank Leo"), Paul Popowich ("Tommy"), Ona Grauer ("Abby"), Michael Murphy ("Chief Wycoff"), Inga Cadranel ("Jill), Genadijs Dolganovs ("Alex"), Frank Cassini ("Rabbi"), Theresa Joy ("Billy"), others....Crime-drama about a street cop turned hard nosed president of the police man's union (Douglas) who will do just about anything for his fellow cops, battling the bureaucracy of the upper ranks. Popowich plays his second in command; Grauer the union's lawyer (and his sometimes lover); and Murphy the police chief who he was bitterly at odds with (but with whom he also made secret deals). Cadranel (also "Frank's" on again/off again lover) and Dolganovs a couple of plain clothes detectives -- the latter, with his real life Russian accent, an unusual recognition of Canada's multiculturalism (rather than pigeon holing him in some Russian stereotype role). The "bridge" of the title both referred to the beat "Frank" used to patrol (characterized by an overpass in the middle of the jurisdiction) and symbolically, because "Frank" was a bridge between the beat cop and the desk cops -- but it was a title that didn't exactly scream "police series" in the TV listings! Inspired somewhat by Craig Bromell, a one-time (controversial) head of the Toronto police union -- who also served as one of the series' executive producers. Though in press releases it was claimed it was set Canada...on screen, it carefully avoided any tell tale phrases (like calling prosecutors The Crown) or visual clues (like Canadian flags or license plates), though when money was flashed across the screen it looked (in the brief glimpses allowed) more Canadian than American.

This TV series followed in the wake of Flashpoint as a Canadian series, with a Canadian cast and crew, but co-financed with some American money, and a promised spot on American primetime (presumably that's why the producers chose to underplay anything overtly Canadian...despite Flashpoint proving successful with its more frankly Canadian identity). But if Flashpoint was one of -- if not the -- most liberal/left cop series ever produced...The Bridge was one of the more right wing/reactionary. At the same time, it's hard to judge the series' political ideology -- or even take it that seriously -- because it is such a deliberately over-the-top, melodramatic, and unrelentingly cynical series. It's pure film noir, less about good and evil, and more about degrees of corruption, with plenty of story lines about crooked cops, and even "Frank" more anti-hero than hero -- and with a misogynistic undercurrent (where the murder and rape of women is often treated as incidental) and even a racist one (most of the non-white actors in the pilot were gone by the second episode). If Bromell thought the series would be a vindication of him, and a paen to his brother cops, he was misled, with even some of those involved in the series likening it to US shows like "The Shield" (about corrupt cops!) and "The Sopranos" (about mobsters!!). But watched in that amoral way, like you would "The Sopranos" or The Tudors, it had some appeal. The cast was solid and, though somewhat cartoony with cardboard villains, the backroom deals and machinations could be intriguing. An obvious inspiration for the series was Intelligence, also a morally murky crime series about secret alliances and clandestine meetings in parked cars (some of the same actors even cropped up, in regular or guest starring roles) -- but it was a juiced up, faster-paced, more action oriented version of Intelligence, and less reliant on on going story lines. Another Canadian antecedent might be Wojeck, with "Frank" a similar tough-as-nails crusader...albeit lacking Wojeck's moral centre. The series isn't necessarily realistic (despite Bromell's public assertions to the contrary) with plenty of shoot outs in city streets (and the actors not even ducking for cover!) and it can be silly in its overwroughtness and presenting ridiculous dilemmas, where even the filmmakers themselves seem to lose sight of not just ethical right and wrong -- but legal and illegal. Taken literally, it's cartoony (and immoral) the filmmakers so reveling in its lack of ethics, there's not even a pretense at justifying "Frank's" philandering...but if taken as the equivalent of a gangster pic, or a frontier western in modern dress, it can be more okay just for the plot twists and turns. Though when the series went head-to-head -- artistically -- with Flashpoint (in an episode mirroring a specific Flashpoint episode, where a wounded cop is being held by criminals, only here it's the Special Reponse Unit that is depicted as the bad guys -- or at least weak -- for arguing caution and Frank who is the hero for advocating going in) The Bridge came out the poorer in the comparison, just in terms of execution.

It's ironic that some reviewers -- and even Toronto-based script writers (on their blogs) -- criticized the series, recalling Bromell's real life tenure as union head as a scary time of out-of-control cops using harassment and intimidation against anyone who dared to question them (some arguing Bromell, far from being a hero, did more to poison police/civilian relations than anyone before or since). Why's that ironic? Because The Bridge's right wing, militant attitude -- frequently demonizing the media, lawyers, politicians, and internal affairs detectives, and with even "good guy" cops lying, using excessive force and shooting unarmed suspects -- isn't really all that out of step with most cop series. The sort of series said reviewers often praise and said script writers often write for. I guess fascism is like running with seems fun until someone loses an eye, huh? In other words, they think it's cool...until it comes to rest in their own backyard and impacts on their real lives. Created by Alan DiFiore. One season of hour long episodes (including the two-hour opener) on CTV.

BRIDGE OF TIME  * 1/2  setting: other
(1997) (/U.S.) Susan Dey, Cotter Smith, Nigel Havers, Josette Simon, Robert Whitehead, Cicely Tyson.....After their plane crashes in the middle of the African wilderness, a trio including a U.N. official (Dey) are brought to a mystical hidden city of peace and enlightenment. Made-for-U.S. TV adventure-drama is a shameless rip-off of James Hilton's Lost Horizon, juiced up with gunplay and murder...worse, though, it's not a very good rip-off. Flatly directed, sillily plotted, with the inhabitants of the city seeming more condescending and obnoxious than enlightened, and Dey and company also unendearing. Of course, with two writer's listed and the incongruous title, one wonders if the film started out original in an earlier draft, then was re-modeled. If you're looking for a cinematic spiritual boost, check out the 1937 version of "Lost Horizon" with Ronald Coleman. Made for U.S. TV -- none of the actors are Canadian, though that's director Montesi in the baseball cap near the beginning. sc: Drew Hunter, Christopher Cannan. dir: Jorge Montesi. 93 min.

BROKEN LULLABY  * *  setting: other/USA.
(1994) (/Hungary/U.S.) Mel Harris, Rob Stewart, Oliver Tobias, Jennifer Dale, Frances Hyland, Vivian Reis, Charmion King, Tamara Gorski.....American (Harris), who tracks down lost relations for people, goes to Hungary to find the origins of her orphaned aunt, involving a lost priceless heirloom, murder, and a mysterious art expert (Stewart). There's nothing especially wrong with the script in this romantic-suspenser, but it's hurt by the fact that the director and many of the actors (particularly imported Harris) just seem to be killing time until their next gig. At least Hyland and Dale put a little effort into it. See: Harlequin. sc: Guy Mullally, Jim Hemshaw (from the novel by Laurel Pace). dir: Michael Kennedy. 88 min.

THE BROOD  * * 1/2  setting: Ont.
(1979) Oliver Reed, Samantha Eggar, Art Hindle, Cindy Hinds, Nuala Fitzgerald, Susan Hogan, Henry Beckman.....Mysterious, monster-kids kill those whom the patient (Eggar) of an unusal psychiatrist (Reed) hates, while her husband (Hindle) is convinced that the doc's up to no good. Fair, but obvious, low-budget horror parable is atmospheric. This film was initially censored in Ontario and the "violence" rating refers to that edited version. sc./dir: David Cronenberg. - violence.- 91 min.

BROTHER ANDRE see Le frere Andre

BROTHERS BY CHOICE * * *  setting: B.C.
(1988) Yannick Bisson, Charley Higgins, Winston Rekert, Stephen E. Miller, Todd Duckworth, Terence Kelly, Anna Hagan.....Teen (Bisson) runs away from a father (Kelly) who doesn't understand him and gets on the wrong side of some drug pushers (Miller and Duckworth) while his brother (Higgins) follows, trying to bring him home. Good road movie is aimed at the young teen audience. If it seems a bit rushed at times that's because it was edited down from a 1986 limited-series of six half-hour episodes. sc: Joe Wiesenfeld (from the novel by Elfreida Read). dir: William Fruet.

BROTHERS BY CHOICE (TV Limited Series) see Brothers by Choice (movie)

BROWN BREAD SANDWICHES * * 1/2  setting: Ont.
(1989) Lina Sastri, Daniel DeSanto, Kim Cattrall, Tony Nardi, Peter Boretski, Kim Coates, Justin Louis, Gincarlo Giannini.....Young boy (DeSanto) observes the trials and tribs of his poor immigrant family and their borders in 1957. Fine performances and ambience in this serio-comic pic, kind of like an Italian-Canadian Mon Oncle Antoine, but funnier. Ultimately, though, it suffers from being too aloof with too big a cast. Most of the characters we never get to know, and those we do, we don't particularly like. sc./dir: Carlo Liconti. - sexual content.- 91 min.

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