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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.

CHAINDANCE  * *  setting: B.C.
(1991) (/U.S.) Rae Dawn Chong, Michael Ironside, Brad Dourif, Bruce Glover, Ken Pogue, Sheila Moore, Les Carlson.....Experimental program has convicts looking after cerebral palsey victims, much to the chagrin of a tough con (Ironside) and his equally angry and willful charge (American actor Dourif). Coarse, occasionally touching drama spends too much time with a weak sub-plot about prison corruption and a psychotic baddie, and not enough with character and the chief drama. Should've been a lot better. Top-billed Chong is given little to do as the head of the project. Ironside was executive producer. a.k.a. Common Bonds. sc: Alan Aylward, Michael Ironside (from an original script by Alan Aylward). dir: Allan A. Goldstein. - extreme violence, brief female and male nudity.- 109 min.

THE CHALLENGERS * * *  setting: Man.
(1990) Gema Zamprogna, Gwynyth Walsh, Eric Christmas, Steven Andrade, Martin Smits, Matthew Becket, Sarah Sawatsky.....After her father's death, and a move to a new town, a young girl (Zamprogna) pretends to be a boy to join the local kids "gang". Well done family flick, though it may almost be too heavy and realistic for kids. Producer Ralph Endersby was Chub in the old Forest Rangers TV series. sc: Clive Endersby (idea Ralph Endersby). dir: Eric Till. app. 97 min.

(1989) (/France) Hugh Grant, Megan Gallagher, Megan Follows, Stephane Audran, R.H. Thomson, Georges Descrieres, Jean Claude Dauphin, Kenneth Welsh, Jean-Paul Muel, Vladek Sheybal.....fictionalized story of the adventures and romances of French Champagne heir Charlie Heidsieck (British actor Grant, a few years before his international stardom) during the U.S. civil war and the French Revolution. Tedious, offensive and badly done. And why did Canada put money in anyway? Four hours. sc: Robert Geoffrion, Jacqueline Lefevre (from the book). dir: Allan Eastman.

CHAMPAGNE FOR TWO (1987) Kristen Bishop, Nicholas Campbell. see Shades of Love.

CHAOS AND DESIRE  see La turbulence des fluides

Change of Heart  * * *  setting: Alt.
(1984) Joy Coghill, Ken James, Joy Thompson-Allen, Paul Wood, Ian Tracey, Patricia Hamilton, Tom Heaton.....After 30 years of marriage, and a new part-time job, a farming woman (Coghill) begins to grow away from her petty, bad-tempered husband (James). Solid, effective hour-long drama is well-acted and more complex than the synopsis sounds. Made for For the Record. sc: Sharon Riis. dir: Anne Wheeler.

CHANGE OF HEART  * * 1/2  setting: Ont.
(1993) Jeremy Ratchford, Sarah Campbell, Heath Lamberts, Lenore Zann, Barbara Hamilton, Michael Copeman, Victor Ertmanis, Christopher Bondy, Gerry Mendecino.....After her mother's death, a young girl (Campbell) hires her shifty uncle (Ratchford) to help her track down her father...though no one's sure who he is. O.K. family comedy has some very clever scenes and ideas, but is a bit clunkily put together. sc: Terence Heffernan (story Heffernan & Shebib). dir: Donald Shebib. 96 min.

A CHANGE OF PLACE  * *  setting: USA./other
(1994) (/U.S./Hungary) Rick Springfield, Andrea Roth, Geordie Johnson, Stephanie Beacham, Ian Richardson, Viktoria Kerekes, Kathleen Gati .....American art history student (Roth) must impersonate her fashion model twin in Europe when the latter secretly goes into rehab for her alcoholism; but doing so she finds possible romance (with Springfield) and danger from a mysterious jet-setter (Johnson). So-so drama lets most of the possibilities (fish-out-of-water, mistaken identity, Prince-and-the-Pauper, etc.) inherent in the familiar premise slip by unemphasized, making the whole thing just a little bland. See reference under Harlequin. sc: Rosemary Anne Sisson, Jim Henshaw (from the novel by Tracy Sinclair). dir: Donna Deitch. 91 min.

THE CHANGELING * * *  setting: USA.
(1979) George C. Scott, Trish Van Devere, Melvyn Douglas, Ruth Springford, John Colicos.....Classical musician and grieving widower (Scott) rents a Seattle mansion only to find it haunted by the ghost of a murdered child. Reasonably spooky haunted house story squeaks by on Grade-A production values and a clever mystery at its heart, but suffers from the same problems of so many in its genre: slow build-up, reflecting a thin plot, and a sense that neither Scott nor the director are entirely sure how to play some of the crucial scenes, leaving a lot of the potential for mood and chills unrealized. Other than the three American stars, most of the cast just have bit parts, including Barry Morse in a brief scene. Curiously, though, it won eight Genies including Best Picture. sc: William Gray, Diana Maddox (story Russell Hunter). dir: Peter Medak. - violence.- 109 min.

CHARLEY GRANT'S WAR * * 1/2  setting: CDN./other
(1984) R.H. Thomson, Jan Rubes, Joan Orenstein, Marigold Charlesworth, Peter Boretski, Douglas Campbell.....During W.W. II, a Canadian diamond broker (Thomson) in Austria uses his wealth and influence to help Jews escape the Nazis; while the Canadian government effects an unofficial no-Jewish-refugees policy. Made-for-CBC TV drama starts out contrived as it just skims over the story, but the later concentration camp scenes are undeniably powerful. Thomson and Rubes are excellent. Loosely inspired by a true story. sc: Anna Sandor. dir: Martin Lavut. app. 100 min.

(2005-2006) (/South African)  * * 1/2  Jeffrey Pierce ("Charlie Jade"), Michael Filipowich ("O-1 Boxer"), Patricia McKenzie ("Reena"), Michele Burgers ("Essa Rankin"), Tyrone Benskin ("Karl Lubinsky"), Danny Keogh ("Julius Galt"), Marie-Julie Rivest ("Jasmine/Paula"), with David Dennis ("Sew Sew"), Rolanda Harais ("Blues"), Langley Kirkwood ("Porter") (1st), others.....Science fiction chronicling three parallel universes that interconnect in Capetown, South Africa, and the sinister mega-corporation, Vexcor, that has found a way to bridge the dimensional barrier. Alphaverse is a grungy, high-tech cyberpunk reality; Betaverse is our earth; and Gammaverse is an environmentally progressive world. Most of the action takes place in Betaverse (our world). Private eye Charlie Jade, originally from Alphaverse, finds himself trapped in Betaverse, trying to both find a way home, and to uncover Vexcor's agenda. Benskin plays a journalist who befriends him. Filipowich plays a psychotic messenger for Vexcor who can traverse the universes at will. McKenzie plays a Gammaverse terrorist-activist, also trapped in Betaverse, who's anti-Vexcor sabotage initially severed Vexcor's link between the worlds. Burgers plays the head of Vexcor, based in Alphaverse, and Keogh the head of the Betaverse division. Rivest plays "Charlie"'s girlfriend, still in Alphaverse, and also a waitress he meets in Betaverse. Dennis plays a cop friend of "Charlie"'s in Alphaverse and Harais a cop in Betaverse who at first is suspicious of "Charlie", but starts to fall for him. Kikrwood cropped as "Julius"' henchman. Whew! Got that? There'll be a test later. Pierce is American (yeah, a Canadian-South African co-production, and they still feel a need to hire an American to star -- but, hey, he's decent in the part, so I won't dwell on it), Filipowich, McKenzie, Benskin and Rivest are Canadian, and the others, including most guest stars, South African. 

Charlie Jade does seem like the makers sincerely see it as an ambitious undertaking, claiming in interviews that it's less a series than a twenty hour movie. Unfortunately, intent and execution aren't always the same. In fact, it's not unless you commit to watching the series in its entirety that you realize there really are threads being developed and later twists and revelations...both in terms of plot, and characters. The series also attempts grey shade morality and tackles weighty themes of corporate malfeasance and environmentalism. But in order for a viewer to commit to the whole show, the individual episodes have to hold their attention -- and, in this case, a lot of episodes are too slow-moving and repetative, as if there just to fill an episode quota. And the characters aren't that interesting (the two hour pilot was a particular slog). But it's a series where even the imagery used behind the opening credits gains in significance as the story arc unfolds. Likewise, the actors grow into their parts (with perhaps Filipowich the stand out; his quirky psychopath role could get tiresome very quickly -- and does occasionally -- but he makes it work). Best part of the series is the fact that it admits it's set in South Africa, adding an extra level of unusualness to the story. 

Though the first season built to a climax...many questions are left unanswered, revealing that it's an on-going series -- and not a "20 hour movie" as the makers claimed. Which turned out to be problematic as, despite initial reports it had been renewed, it appears now it wasn't and there will be no second season. 

The "stylish" direction is problematic, often more annoying than anything. With the jumping between the 'verses, plenty of flashbacks, and repeated images even within a scene, it can be hard to keep track of where and when you are. Especially as the three universes (particularly Alpha and Beta) aren't always clearly distinguished from each other, visually (even Betaverse is given a washed out, ugly look). Sometimes the flashbacks can be helpful (reminding the viewer what the characters are talking about) other times it just seems there to pad the running time. 

The bottom line is it's a series you can admire, but drags a lot and suffers from annoying bits (not too mention amorality, like having Charlie at one point torture O-1 for information). It's a series you can struggle to maintain your interest in...even as you'll probably look back on it fondly years later ("hey, do you remember that freaky series about the private eye and the parallel universes?") Made with a slightly "edgy" attitude, the series has some gritty violence and brutality, some profanity, and very occasional male nudity (including Filipowich) -- though guys will just have to settle for a scene with McKenzie in a very tight T-shirt to satisfy their voyeuristic inclinations. Created by Chris Roland, Robert Wertheimer. Hour long episodes, shown in Canada on Space. - violence; casual male nudity; sexual content.- 

CHARLIE ZONE  * * *  setting: N.S.
(2011) Amanda Crew, Glen Gould, Mpho Koaho, Pasha Ebrahimi, Jennie Raymond, Don Allison, Gary Levert, Cindy Sampson.....Ex-boxer who's hit bottom (Gould) is hired to rescue/kidnap a runaway (Crew) from the drug dealers she's hanging with -- but quickly realizes there's more to situation than he's been told, and others are looking for her, too. Gritty thriller rises above its small budget thanks to slick direction and cinematography, a brisk pace, twists and complications to the story, and a solid cast (with Gould effectively straddling being a tough guy able to get out of jams and an everyman in over his head). There are lapses and plausibility problems (including a slightly too pat climax), but it sets out to be a smart, character-driven action-thriller and -- thanks to most of the characters determindedly avoiding being one note in terms of actions or motives -- mostly succeeds. Unapologetic "Canadianisms", from the Maritimes architecture, to Francophone bikers, to Gould's ethnicity help give it an individual sense of place and identity -- as opposed to just a cookie cutter straight-to-DVD quickie. Worth a look. sc: Joe LeClair, Michael Melski. dir: Michael Melski. - violence.- 103 min.

CHASING CAIN * * *  setting: Ont.
(2001) Peter Outerbridge, Alberta Watson, Janet Wright, Aron Tager, Mark Wilson, Joseph Scoren.....Two Toronto police detectives (Outerbridge and Watson) investigate the murder of an immigrant woman doctor. Made-for-CBC TV mystery-drama goes the Dragnet "just the facts, ma'am" procedural route, emphasizing investigation, interviews, and note taking and succeeds pretty well. Extremely well put together, from the performances, writing, direction, cinematography, etc., and consistently interesting (if not always riveting), though it trundles along to a kind of unsurprising resolution...and the absence of lawyers anywhere seems a tad unrealistic. Outerbridge and Watson as level-headed cops are closer to what you'd want real police detectives to be than the belligerent, hyper-macho, gun-waving, suspect assaulting cops portrayed in most cop shows. With the popularity of the "gritty" cop show in Britain and the U.S., Canadians have tried a number of variations, from TV movies (Major Crime) and series (Cold Squad, Blue Murder, DaVinci's Inquest) and this is by far the most accomplished and individualistic. The first of a proposed series of TV movies with these characters (but we've heard that before, so we'll just have to see if aything comes of it). A second movie aired two years later. sc: Andrew Rai Berzins. dir: Jerry Ciccoritti. 90 min.

CHASING CAIN: Face * * *  setting: Ont.
(2003) Peter Outerbridge, Alberta Watson, Karen LeBlanc, Karl Pruner, John Bourgeois, Merwin Mondesir, Roman Podhora, Gabriel Hogan, Trent McMullen.....Homicide detectives investigate the murder of a young woman in her apartment building's stairwell. Second Chasing Cain CBC TV movie is, like the first, a slick whodunit?-procedural benefitting from its portrayal of the leads as low-key and level-headed and its use of the Toronto police's atypical procedures (unlike a lot of homicide squads, operating out of their own office, the investigators here re-locate to the station house closest to wherever the crime took place). Inter-departmental conflict, as the heroes butt heads with another, more incompent investigation, actually threatens to be more absorbing than the principal crime, and maybe gives this a narrative edge over its predecessor. Though the movie can also be problematic. It was wildly advertised as an "ethnic" story, set within Toronto's Caribbean community. But other than the fact that some -- and only some -- of the characters are black, that's not really evident. Shouldn't a multi-racial cast just be considered the norm in modern Canadian movies? It's particularly awkward because the movie seems to touch on race issues, but isn't actually prepared to come out and say so. And the cliche of LeBlanc as a black woman detective fast tracked to promotion for PR ahead of worthier (white) colleagues is a questionable story element: after all, if this really happened as often as movies suggest, wouldn't there be more non-white people in positions of authority? To be fair, the movie isn't one-sided, as her character proves her mettle over the course of the story, but still... Anyway, quibbles aside, a superior, well mounted production with good performances, particularly Outerbrige and Mondesir as the victim's boyfriend. a.k.a. Chasing Cain II: Face. sc: Andrew Rai Berzins. dir: Jerry Ciccoritti. 90 min.

CHASING RAINBOWS (TVMS)  * * * 1/2  setting: P.Q./other
(1988) Paul Gross, Michael Riley, Julie A. Stewart, Booth Savage, Peter Boretski, Lewis Gordon, Louise Lapare, Sophie Leger, Hal Eisen, Lisa Bunting, Wayne Robson.....Sweeping story of two very different war veterans in Montreal in the roaring '20s: wrong side of the tracks Jake Kincaid (Gross) and upper-crust Chris Blaine (Riley), their unlikely friendship, their misadventures with gangsters and various eccentric friends as they try to make something of their post-war lives, and their love for the same woman, acerbic, wanna-be writer Paula Ashley (Stewart). Flamboyant epic mixes comedy and drama with broadly drawn characters; in-your-face pulpy entertainment with tough commentaries on war, racism, etc. and a great use of the period, not just as a backdrop, but crucial to the story. Shrugged off by critics when it first aired, in retrospect it stands as a landmark in English Canadian television drama -- rarely before or since has anyone tried anything so big and so Canadian as just unabashed entertainment. Bowie's (who created the series with executive producer Mark Blandford) best, and most ambitious, work. Hokey and uneven at times, it loses some steam half-way though as it starts focusing more on some of the supporting characters, but it remains solid entertainment. Gross and Riley are excellent in their first major roles, and lots of other notable performances include Stewart (in her debut), Savage as hustling "Chicago" Benny Rose, and Boretski as a Jewish gangster who wants a more respectable life for his grandchildren. The first, and for many years one of the only shows anywhere in the world, filmed in Hi-Definition video tape. 14 hours. sc: Douglas Bowie. dir: William Fruet, Mark Blandford, Bruce Pittman, Susan Martin.

LE CHAT DANS LE SAC * * setting: P.Q.
(1964) Barbara Ulrich, Claude Godbout.....Story of a self-imagined rebel (without a cause) and his less philosophical girlfriend who wants to be an actress. Largely plotless, done almost more as a psuedo-documentary, comprised mainly of a lot of monologues, as the actors address the camera, or bicker with each other about their different perspectives. Once seen as a significant film in the evolution of Canadian cinema, now it seems more quaint and kind of pointless. Not dissimilar to the English-language Nobody Waved Goodbye, but that film explored similar themes through an actual narrative. Filmed in black and white. English title: The Cat in the Bag. sc./dir: Gilles Groulx. 74 min.

CHAUTAUQUA GIRL  * * *  setting: Alt.
(1984) Janet-Laine Green, Terence Kelly, George Collins, Emily Hurson, Maureen MacRae, Fred Diehl.....Young woman (Green) tries to prepare a reluctant farming town for the travelling Chautauqua show -- and falls in love -- in the 1920s. Old fashion, inoffensive tale is well done though the story takes a backseat to the production numbers in the last half hour. Green's a little too earnest. sc: Jeannine Locke. dir: Rob Iscove. app. 117 min.

The Cheaters, a novel by Ledru Baker, Jr., was turned into the TV movie Frame-Up Blues

(1985-1989)  N/R  Don Adams ("Howard Bannister"), Dinah Christie ("Edna"), Henry Beckman, Simon Reynolds ("Murray"), Tonya Lee Williams, others.....Sitcom set at a grocery store, with American actor Adams (of "Get Smart" fame) playing the boss. The rest of the cast were Canadians. Christie was his mistress; Beckman the security guard; Reynolds the box boy; and Williams the pretty check-out clerk.

I'll reserve judgment on this sitcom since I only saw one episode, many years ago. I didn't find it funny...but I've since met other people who regard it more kindly, so who knows? The episode I saw was the pilot...and pilots are notorious for often being better, or worse, than the overall series. Certainly the cast was nothing to sneeze at. Half-hour episodes, originally on CTV. I'm not sure how long it ran -- my memory says only two years, but my notes (cobbled down who knows when) list it running from 1985-1989. 

Chere Voisine, a novel by Chrystine Brouillet, was turned into the movie Good Neighbours

Cherry Docs, the play by David Gow, became the movie Steel Toes

CHICKS WITH STICKS * *  setting: Alt.
(2004) Jessalyn Gilsig, Peter Outerbridge, Juliette Marquis, Michie Mee, Margot Kidder, Jason Priestley, Tanya Allen, Beverly Mahood.....Goaded into a grudge match, a female ex-Olympic hockey player (Gilsig) tries to throw together an all-female team of misfits to challenge the local small town men's hockey team. Comedy-drama, following in the footsteps of Les Boys and Men With Brooms, has a good premise, and ideas, and some nice, likeable performers (particularly Gilsig) and is good enough...that it's a little disappointing. Too often failing to develop its threads, or even its supporting characters, and with pivotal scenes (tempers flaring, etc.) that seem to come out of nowhere. And the climactic game is mainly a bunch of bodies skating and sticks slashing, rather than being directed as an extension of the narrative -- where you can really tell who's doing what. Made for cable TV. sc: Don Truckey. dir: Kari Skogland. 99 min.

CHILD STAR  a.k.a Childstar

CHILD UNDER A LEAF * 1/2  setting: CDN.
(1974) Dyan Cannon, Donald Pilon, Joseph Campanella, Micheline Lanctot, Albert Waxman.....A woman (Cannon) carries on a relationship with a painter (Pilon), including having a kid with him, while still married to her psychotic husband (Campanella). Extremely slow-moving, ill-conceived melodrama -- one of those early '70s "tragedies" where everyone ends up dead, or miserable, or both. The story and characters need fleshing out. sc./dir:George Bloomfield. - partial female nudity, sexual content, violence.- 87 min.

A Child's Christmas in Wales* * * *  setting: other
(1989) Denholm Elliott.....A man tells his grandson of what Christmas was like when he was a boy -- when food was better and snow thicker.  Lush, lyrical, evocative film is an amusing and thoroughly engrossing bit of nostalgia with Elliott giving fine narration. An instant Christmas classic. Though more aimed at adults, children might still get caught up in the mood. Won Geminis, including best special. sc: (from the poem by Dylan Thomas). dir: Don McBrearty.

CHILDSTAR  * 1/2  setting: Ont./USA.
(2004) Don McKellar, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Mark Rendall, Brendan Fehr, Kristin Adams, Dave Foley, Michael Murphy, Peter Paige, Gil Bellows, Alan Thicke, Eric Stoltz.....Down-and-out would be Canadian filmmaker (McKellar) takes a job as the driver for a Hollywood child star (Rendall) shooting a film in Toronto, and becomes exposed to the seedy reality behind the Hollywood dream. Good looking, ambitious film starts out a comedy, then quickly seems to veer into drama (there are still humourous bits, but it's pretty grim and directed like a sombre Art House drama), then seems to veer back into comedy towards the end...or maybe it's supposed to be suspense...or something. An interesting "concept" premise, but the lack of a sure tone in its comedy/drama/satire aspirations is a problem. Even its point is awkward, from its just-plain-creepy attitude towards sex with minors, to its core theme: bitterly attacking the notion of exploiting kids as stars even as it employs a juvenile lead! It has some good aspects (including some culture clash jokes that avoid seeming self-conscious) but too many scenes go on too long, and it just seems to have too many ideas it wants to touch on...and touches on too many of them poorly. A nice cast, particularly Rendall, American actress Leigh (as his cynical stage mom) and Fehr as a washed up ex-child star. McKellar, though personable, isn't, perhaps, sufficiently charismatic or emotionally versatile enough to anchor it. sc: Don McKellar, Michael Goldbach. dir: Don McKellar. 99 min.

CHILDREN FROM ELSEWHERE (TVMS)  * * 1/2  setting: other/CDN.
(1996) Patrick Goyette, Michele-Barbara Pelletier, Danny Gilmore, Marie Tifo, Raymond Clothier, James Hyndman, Jean-Pierre Ronfard, Macha Grenon, Remy Girard, Lucie Laurier.....Story of three Polish siblings (Goyette, Pelletier, Gilmore) during the Nazi occupation of World War II, and how, separately (the older by himself, the two younger together) they subsequently emigrate to Canada after the war, eventually reuniting. Epic soap opera mini-series is O.K. but somewhat uneven: there are some very good scenes, some kind of poor scenes, and a lot of middling scenes. Maintains moderate interest during the episodes, but keeps threatening to collapse under its own length. Some scenes seem extraneous, or go on too long, while other parts are abrupt and choppy, desperately in need of fleshing out. Peters out by the end, actually leaving some plot threads hanging! The dubbed version didn't air in English until 1999 on the CBC. French title: Ces enfants d'ailleurs. 10 hour long episodes. sc: Claude Fournier (from the novel by Arlette Cousture). dir. Jean Beaudin.

CHILDREN OF MY HEART* * *  setting: Man.
(2000) Genevieve Desilets, Yani Gellman, Lise Roy, Mark Ellis, Barbara Gordon, Richard McMillan, Damien Atkins, Michael Moriarty, Genevieve Bujold.....Story of a young, novice school teacher (Desilets) who arrives in a small, rural Manitoba town in the 1930s, focusing inparticular on her relationship with one of her students: an older, troubled metis lad (Gellman). Made-for-TV drama, inspired by fact (the heroine is writer Gabrielle Roy) isn't exactly ground breaking, but is a likeable enough, well paced story, buoyed considerably by Desilets appealing and spunky performance. Though, by the end, nothing much has been accomplished. Bujold has a bit part as the older Roy, reminiscing on her youth. sc./dir: Keith Ross Leckie (based on the book by Gabrielle Roy). 97 min.

CHILI'S BLUES  * * 1/2  setting: P.Q.
(1993) Roy Dupuis, Lucie Laurier, Joelle Morin, Julie Deslauriers, Fanny Lauzier, Marie-Josee Bergeron, Pierre Curzi.....In the '60s, a travelling salesman (Dupuis) stuck in a snowed-in train station, witnesses an attempted suicide, which no one believes, then strikes up a relationship with the troubled girl (Laurier). Drama has some imaginative dialogue and a solid premise (particularly in the first 20 minutes when he's trying to convince people) but the direction is needlessly pretentious and the story itself fails to be as thoughtful as the characters want to be. And isn't their a moral problem with a story where the hero has an affair with a minor? English title: Chili's Blues. sc: Jose Frechette. dir: Charles Biname. - sexual content, brief female nudity.- 100 min.

CHLOE  * * 1/2   setting: Ont.
(2009) (/France) Julianne Moore, Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried, Max Thieriot, R.H. Thomson, Nina Dobrev..... Suspecting her husband of many years might be having affairs, a woman (Moore) hires a prostitute (Seyfried) to deliberately try and tempt him...but when the girl begins relating tales of their trysts, the wife is both upset and fascinated. Erotic-charged drama is arguably Egoyan's slickest film to date, and with a strong performance from Moore (who's more than half the show). Some surprisingly (for Egoyan) naturalistic scenes, even as others do seem overly mannered. But strip away the "serious movie" pretensions...and it's a pretty standard (if slow moving) B-movie. There are some twists, but most you can kind of see coming -- and would revealing them count as "spoilers"...or as an enticement to see the film? Such as pointing out it does become a (sort of)-thriller toward the end, or mentioning that Moore and Seyfried's relationship takes a turn (hint: though there is a bit of sex and mainly involves female bodies -- wink, wink, nudge, nudge). Symbolism and sub-text can, occasionally, threaten to undermine the simple human drama aspects (so that you don't always buy into the emotion and the actions). There are only really four significant roles (all going to imported actors) and even then, it could be argued, only Moore really has a character...Seyfried is supposed to be an enigma, and Neeson and Thieriot (as their son) border on being plot devices. Ultimately: a passable time killer, but suffers from being too pretentious for those looking for a guilty pleasure, yet not sophisticated enough for those looking for a high brow drama; too sexually explicit for those with more sedate tastes, without enough sex and nudity to quite make it unabashed erotica. Produced by Ivan Reitman. Based on the French film Nathalie. sc: Erin Cressida Wilson. dir: Atom Egoyan. - sexual content; partial female nudity.- 96 min.

CHOICE: The Henry Morgentaler Story  * * *  setting: P.Q./Ont.
(2005) David Eisner, Stewart Bick, Julie Khaner, Alberta Watson, Pascale Monpetit, Victoria Sanchez, Remy Girard.....Story of Dr. Henry Morgentaler (Eisner) who, in the 1960s and 1970s, bucked Canada's anti-abortion laws by performing abortions, going to jail, but emerging as a hero of the pro-Choice movement. Made-for-CTV drama is O.K. as a historical record (generally keeping things clear as to what and when, though even then, doesn't fully analyse the time and place), though part of the film is more a gritty prison drama than a movie about abortion. But it scores best -- unusual for a "based on a true story" dramatization -- simply as a complex character study, with its warts and all portrait of Morgentaler as a determined but troubled Holocaust survivor and womanizer. Benefits from subtle performances that grow on you over the course of the film (dodgy accents notwithstanding). sc: Suzette Couture (from the book Morgentaler: A Difficult Hero by Catherine Dunphy). dir: John L'Ecuyer. - violence; brief male nudity.- app. 90 min.

CHOICES OF THE HEART: The Margaret Sanger Story * *  setting: USA. (1995) (/U.S.) Dana Delaney, Henry Czerny, Rod Steiger, Julie Khaner, Tom McCamus, Kenneth Welsh, Ron Hartman, voice of Jason Priestley.....Story of Margaret Sanger (Delaney) a nurse whose fight for women's right to contraceptives in the U.S. in 1914 led her against the all-powerful "moral" crusader, Anthony Comstock (Steiger). Drama should be angry, biting, and passionate, instead it's lackluster with a script that's preachy-but-passionless and actors who are professional but don't seem to be putting much effort into it. And, of course, all a movie like this does is make one wonder what was happening in Canada at the time and who were our significant historical figures? Sadly, Canadian filmmakers don't seem much interested in telling us. sc: Matt Dorff. dir: Paul Shapiro. 93 min.


(1993-1994)  * * * 1/2  (/U.K./U.S.) Eugene Byrd ("Oliver Cross"), Simon Fenton ("Chris Hilton"), Rachel Blanchard ("Dinah"), Alan David ("Dean Rogers"), Tom Brodie ("Mookie"), Timothy Douek, others.....Youth-oriented comedy-drama about a boarding school and focusing on two buddies (Byrd and Fenton, both imported from the States) and their various schemes.

Solid, slick TV series. The location is never stated, but despite a mixture of U.K. and N.A. accents, its references are American and they say 'zee' instead of 'zed'. Awkward dubbing of some of the supporting actors. Half-hour episodes originally on The Movie Network and aired on CanWest Global in '96.

CHRISTINA  *  setting: USA.
(1974) Barbara Parkins, Peter Haskell, James McEachin, Marlyn Mason, Barbara Gordon.....Unemployed man (Haskell) is hired to marry a woman so she can remain in the States, but when she dies mysteriously, he decides to investigate. Tedious, poorly done mystery. sc: Trevor Wallace. dir: Paul Krasny. 98 min.

A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens 1843 short novel has been staged zillions of times for stage, screen, and radio, it has been parodied, reinvented, and revised, and still stands as the definitive yuletide fable. In Canada, it has served, so far, as the source for three TV movies: An American Christmas Carol set in 1933 New Hampshire, and Ebenezerset in the late 1800s west and, arguably the best, The Ghosts of Dickens' Past.

(2008) (/U.S.) Jason Gedricks, Tyrone Benskin, Rhea Perlman, Michael Sarrazin, Marianne Farley, Roc Lafortune, John Dunn-Hill, Luis Oliva, Claudia Ferri, Cindy Sampson.....Workaholic accountant (Gedricks), after befriending a homeless man (Benskin), decides to try and make a difference by helping to organize some of the guys at the local shelter into a street choir during the Christmas season. Made-for-TV holiday fare -- inspired by a real choir -- has a solid cast and is effective enough focusing on the choir and the homeless plot...but seems a bit more undeveloped with a romantic sub-plot with Farley and an estranged dad plot involving Sarrazin in his last major role (though he only has a few scenes) -- no fault of the actors. Like a lot of Christmas-themed TV movies (of which there's a veritable industry!) there's a feeling it's banking on the viewers' good will to forgive short comings. Still, better than average for such films, benefitting from a certain gravitas, while still being feel good and, yeah, schmaltzy. Gedricks and Perlman are American, everyone else is Canadian. The choir that inspired the film was in Montreal, and though the movie doesn't say it's NOT set in doesn't say that it is, either. sc: Donald Martin. dir: Peter Svatek. app. 90 min.

CHRISTMAS MAGIC  * *   setting: USA.
(2011) (/U.S.) Lindy Booth, Paul McGillion, Derek McGrath, Teresa Pavlinek, Barbara Gordon.....An American woman (Booth) is in an accident, and finds herself mystically brought back as a guardian angel...assigned to a depressed single dad (McGillion) and his daughter, and charged with raising his spirits (and the fortunes of his failing restaurant) before Christmas. Innocuous made-for-TV mix of yuletide sentiment and romantic dramady (of course they fall for each other!) has a pleasant enough cast (particularly McGillion as the affable everyman). But like a lot of Christmas's kind of counting on the viewer's seasonal good will to forgive all the ways it feels like what it is...a programmer manufactured to fill a holiday movie slot. It's light-hearted without being that funny, it's occasionally pathos tinged without being that dramatic. The plot is pretty thin, and the cliches of the genre means we are supposed to overlook plausibility. Ultimately, nothing to dislike...without quite hoisting itself over the bar, either. sc: Joany Kane, Rickie Castaneda, Kevin Commins. dir: John Bradshaw. app. 90 min.

(1991) (/U.S.) Fred Savage, Hume Cronyn, Badja Djola, Jim Byrnes, Cloyce Morrow, Casey Ellison, Kenneth Welsh.....Young teen (American actor Savage) working on an American history project for school, finds a tutor in an elderly homeless man (Cronyn). O.K. drama about street life, only nominally a Christmas movie, is earnest and tries to be gritty, but never quite becomes more than what it is...a movie-of-the-week. Decent performances and buoyed by Cronyn in his belated Canadian film debut. There is, however, something just a little off-putting about Canadian movies that try so hard to pretend to be American. sc: Barry Morrow. dir: George Kaczender. 96 min.

CHRISTMAS TOWN  * * 1/2   setting: USA.
(2008) (/U.S.) Nicole de Boer, Patrick Muldoon, Gig Morton, Garry Chalk .....American workaholic single mom (de Boer, in a rare lead role) reluctantly takes her son to spend Christmas with her equally workaholic dad (Chalk) -- only to find he's given up the rat race and is living in a bucolic -- and enigmatic -- little town where Christmas is the local industry. Light-hearted made-for-TV Christmas flick is obvious and hokey and everything...but has an agreeable cast and though it's in no danger of elbowing its way to the top of any "great" Christmas movies list is a pleasant enough time killer if you're in an undemanding mood. sc: Ron McGee. dir: George Erschbamer. app. 90 min.

THE CHRONICLE OF 1812 * 1/2  setting: Ont.
(1986) Craig Williams, Simon Henri, Alexandra Brown, Mark Lyle, John Austin.....Crack British army unit is sent to intercept U.S. soldiers who have taken two valuable hostages as well as plans that will allow them to invade Upper Canada. Shoe-string budget actioner with some atrocious British and American accents. Good idea, though. Filmed on video. An Emmeritus-CHCH production. sc./dir: Allen Levine.

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