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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.

COOKING WITH STELLA  * 1/2  setting: other
(2010) Don McKellar, Seema Biswas, Lisa Ray, Shriya Saran, Vansh Bhardwaj, Maury Chaykin.....Story of the husband (McKellar), a one-time professional chef, of a Canadian diplomat (Ray) newly arrived in India and of Stella (Biswas), their middle-aged maid whose kind exterior conceals a con artist's heart, who exploits his guilelessness. Odd flick is the sort of thing where you can't help thinking whatever movie the filmmaker had in his head...didn't quite end up on the screen. Not so much bewildering! An unfocused effort, with not enough sense of who the movie's about. It can sort of seem like a comedy about mores, sort of a larger-than-life caper flick, and sort of a stiflingly mundane slice-of-life drama; it's sort of a "foodie film" (ie: where the audience is supposed to be enthraled just by watching all the food preparation) even as that isn't really relevant to much of the plot. Is it a cautionary tale about well meaning Canadians duped by conniving Indians...or a story of lovable underdogs pulling one over on the Western establishment? None of the characters do you care much about (Saran, as a nanny who joins the household, starts out seeming sympathetic, but loses that sympathy before the end). And Ray, despite her billing, has a fairly thankless part. Part of the problem is the movie maybe sees itself as a thought provoking satire -- but reduces all the characters to contrived stereotypes liable to offend Indians and Canadians both. In a mix of English and Hindi. sc: Dilip Mehta, Deepa Mehta. dir: Dilip Mehta. 103 min.

COPPER (TV Series)

(2012-2013) (/U.K./U.S.)  * * 1/2   Tom Weston-Jones ("Kevin Corcoran"), Kyle Schmid ("Robert Morehouse"), Anastasia Griffith ("Elizabeth Haverford"), Ato Essandoh ("Dr. Matthew Freeman"), Franka Potente ("Eva"), Tessa Thompson ("Sara"), Kevin Ryan ("Det. Francis Maguire"), Kiara Glasco ("Annie"), Dylan Taylor ("Andrew O'Brien"), with Alex Paxton-Beesley, Ron White, Geordie Johnson, Donal Logue (2nd), Alfre Woodard (2nd), Aaron Poole, others.....Crime-drama set in New York toward the end of the U.S. Civil War, specifically the Five Points neighbourhood (ie: a ghetto) ripe with crime, poverty, prostitution and racial conflict, involving Irish immigrants, free blacks, and white privileged Americans. It focuses on "Corkie", a tough but (relatively) honest Irish-American police detective (Weston-Jones). Schmid plays his quasi-friend, a wealthy developer whose life he had saved during the war. Essandoh a black doctor who he also knew from the war. Griffith a wealthy woman of often good intentions, but questionable means. Potente the madame of the local brothel. Thompson plays the doctor's wife, emotionally withdrawn after the racist murder of her brothers (Thompson's light complexion, in the real 1800s, would probably have indicated mixed heritage -- which might have made an interesting storyline to pursue, but they didn't); Ryan and Taylor a couple of other detectives, the former with his own secrets and dark impulses. Glasco (rather unsettling good) plays a deeply disturbed child prostitute "Corkie" rescued. In the first season the obligatory running sub-plot has the hero investigating the long ago murder of his daughter and the mysterious disappearance of his wife (played by Paxton-Beesley, whom he finds at the end of the first season -- only to open up even deeper emotional scars). Logue joined the cast in the second season as a corrupt-but-sometimes-helpful civic leader and Woodard appeared as "Sara"'s mother. Others included White playing the police captain, Johnson "Robert"'s father, and Poole a Confederate spy. The main cast is multinational, with U.K., German, Americans, and Canadians. Schmid is the most prominently-billed Canadian, and being filmed in Toronto, most of the supporting roles are played by Canadians.

Gritty drama definitely is part of the whole edgy/cable milieu -- yet, in a sense, it stops being edgy once everyone is doing it! And instead of being gritty and challenging...the series can just seem a bit obvious and trite in its desire to be gritty, presenting a world of hookers and crooks, like the makers just watched too many episodes of, say, "Deadwood." It can almost reach a point where the surprising, edgy series...would be one about Quakers! But the added problem is that, in execution, it never quite punches above its weight. The acting competent, the dialogue serviceable, the direction professional, the characters not especially subtle, nor always consistent (as if the writers were losing track of their past actions), the plots sometimes meandering or perfunctorily resolved (as if even the writers got bored with plotlines). Perhaps intended to reflect realism, initially the series went for a dark look (given this was before electricity) -- with even scenes of the characters out doors seeming swathed in shadow, sometimes rendering the actors' expression hard to make out.

The second season saw some cosmetic changes -- a lightening of the visuals (not the tone or emotions) meant it was easier to see. And perhaps hoping to ride the wave of so many other "edgy" cable series, the second season added a new factor: occasional nudity -- with even principals like Griffith, Thompson and Weston-Jones doing their part (though generally only in one scene each -- as though perhaps a contractual thing). Generally just bare backsides (male or female) and though likely an effort to boost ratings, it wasn't overly gratuitous. But the narrative itself retained the same flaws: individual episodes didn't necessarily have strong plots (even the crimes "Corkie" investigated rambled over multiple episodes) yet without the characters being sufficiently compelling to work as simply a historical soap opera (too many scenes felt like place holders, or were repetitious). Perhaps a problem was the for all it was an ensemble of characters whose paths intertwined -- they often seemed more like acquaintances existing in separate plot lines than friends, having little on-screen chemistry. As well, the series' whole moral relativism was problematic and short-circuiting -- it was hard to take seriously scenes of characters' giving righteous speeches when the series revelled in its own nihilism, with the characters' we were ostensibly rooting for responsible for atrocities themselves (including corruption, cold-blooded murder, and with "Corkie" overseeing the rape -- yes, rape! -- of a prisoner). Despite much critical hype in its first season it was cancelled after its second -- having resolved certain threads, but with others left hanging. That finale was an atypical character-focused road trip episode, with "Corkie", "Morehouse" and "Freeman" hunting President Lincoln's killer, John Wilkes Booth, through the south, almost as if the writers belatedly realized they had been neglecting what was, in a sense, the series' initial premise -- a saga about three unlikely friends bound together by the crucible of war. Ironically, this international co-production was billed as the first TV series made for the cable station BBC America (which otherwise showed reruns of pre-aired series)...yet it's set in the United States and at times seems to assume the viewer has a degree in American history! Hour long episodes shown in Canada on Showcase (plus a one-night promotional window on Showcase's parent network, Global). Created by Tom Fontana, Will Rokos. - violence; sexual content; casual female and male nudity.-

COPPER MOUNTAIN (A Club Med Experience)  *  setting: USA.
(1983) Jim Carrey, Alan Thicke, Dick Gauthier, Ziggy Lawrence, Rod Hebron.....Two buddies, a nerd (Carrey), hopeless around women, and a would-be jock (Thicke) arrive at a Colorado ski resort, the latter hoping to enter the pro ski championship. This is the sort of movie that begs DVD "special features" such as audio commentaries and behind-the-scene features...'cause you just know there's got to be a story behind how -- and why! -- it was ever made. It's a pretty bad, low-budget little mess that, one suspects, was more intended as an infommercial for Club Med. Unlike the teen sex comedy the premise might evoke, this is a cleaned up affair with no sex or profanity. The story/character scenes are barely developed, amounting to a minute or two of dialogue followed by three or four minutes of concert footage (featuring the likes of Ronnie Hawkins, Rita Coolridge, and Richard Champlin) and shots of mountain scenery and downhill skiing, then another minute of dialogue, etc...all barely reaching 60 minutes! Canadian-born Hollywood superstar Carrey's first movie role (and, ironically, one of his only "Canadian" movies) and he does some impressions...which aren't all that good here, curiously (they're such exaggerated caricatures, it's hard to even tell who he's impersonating). But Thicke gets credit for delivering a convincing performance. American actor Gauthier (as the club manager) played Hymie in "Get Smart". Though filmed on location in Colorado, some dialogue is thrown in to indicate some of the characters are from Canada! Creators Lee and Mitchell would do a number of sports-themed movies (including Ski School) before moving onto straight-to-video action flicks (that's Lee as the condescending helicopter guide). In addition to the musical celebrities, real life sports figures like Jean-Claude Killy appear. sc: Damian Lee, David Mitchell. dir: David Mitchell. 60 min.

(2004-2009)  * * *  Brent Butt ("Brent"), Gabrielle Miller ("Lacey"), Fred Ewanuick ("Hank"), Eric Peterson ("Oscar"), Janet Wright ("Emma"), Lorne Cardinal ("Davis"), Tara Spencer-Nairn ("Karen"), Nancy Robertson ("Wanda"), with Cavan Cunningham ("Fitzy"), Mark Dieter ("Paul"), Mike O'Brien ("Wes") .....Sitcom about the eccentric inhabitants of a sleepy small town in Saskatchewan, the fictional Dog River. Butt plays the laid-back manager of the local gas station and convenience store, and Miller plays the upbeat, big city gal who has taken over the coffee shop next door. Roberston plays his assistant, and Ewanuick his dim-witted best friend; Peterson his curmudgeonly dad and Wright his mother. Cardinal plays the local police chief and Spencer-Nairn his only constable. Cunningham plays the mayor, Dieter the local bartender, and O'Brien another local. 

Laid-back, but appealingly off-kilter comedy is decidedly more mainstream than a lot of recent Canadian-made comedies (Trailer Park Boys, The Newsroom) though, like them, eschews a laugh track. A kind of rural version of the U.S. sitcom "Seinfeld", which billed itself as "the show about nothing", in that often the plots revolve around the characters getting worked up about, or caught up in, inconsequential matters; also (again like "Seinfeld") believing "brevity is the soul of wit", the scenes are kept short, with any given episode intercutting three or more sub-plots. And it's become a rarity in Canadian TV -- a surprise hit. Stand up comic Butt, a Saskatchewaner himself, is clearly comfortable with the small town milieu (effectively filmed on location, rather than a stuffy big city sound stage). A bit rough around the edges, it's more cute or amusing, rather than knee slappin' hilarious, nonetheless, it can be that too (and might almost be too clever for its own good, with some sly gags and word plays that kind of take a moment for you to go, "oh, I get it"). And it has boasted some out-and-out hilarious episodes. A nice cast helps (Cardinal started out as the stand-out, but the rest of the cast has quickly caught up to him, particularly Miller). Definitely worth catching a few episodes to let it work on you and see if you can groove to its quirky wavelength (I know a few people who started out indifferent to it...and then became big fans after watching a few episodes). The line in the opening theme music about the runaway dog is a reference to an old Saskatchewan joke about how flat the praries are -- as in: "My dog ran away...I watched him go for three days." The series also features a different closing theme, but you wouldn't know that on network broadcasts as they override the credits to run ads for other shows (you'd only hear it when aired on the Comedy Network, or the DVD releases).

Such a surprise -- and enduring -- hit, that when the series came to an end (voluntarily so, not because of bad ratings) it sent a bit of a chill through the industry, people worried it's success wouldn't be recreated. It immediately led to new projects for some involved, including Hiccups and Dan for Mayor. It also, arguably, inspired (or at least opened the door) for the CBC's Little Mosque on the Prairie -- also set in small town Saskatchewan. The cast reunited 5 years later for Corner Gas: The Movie (reviewed below). Half hour episodes on CTV. 

CORNER GAS: The Movie  * * *   setting: Sask.
(2014) Brent Butt, Gabrielle Miller, Fred Ewanuick, Eric Peterson, Janet Wright, Lorne Cardinal, Tara Spencer-Nairn, Nancy Robertson, Don Lake, Karen Holness, Reagan Pasternak.....The gang from the hit English-Canadian sitcom ("hit" "Canadian" "sitcom" being words that rarely go together) are reunited. The sleepy small town of Dog River is in bad financial straits, and while some characters ponder if the town has a future, others try to come up with schemes to revive its fortune. A surprisingly successful return for the characters and the series. Surprising because movies based on series (especially sitcoms) can be problematic. Change things too much, and you lose the essence of the property -- but stick to it too much and you can end up with what just feels like a bloated half-hour, or a rambling two or three episodes strung together. But this successfully captures the series' mix of wry, low-key delivery with wacky absurdism, but wraps it around a plot that feels, for the most part, like a movie plot. A meandering plot, sure, one that gives all the characters their bits, but does hold together (particularly the way running gags pay-off in the climax!) Will doubtless play best for longtime fans who will appreciate the familiar characters and behaviours, but should also wrest chuckles from even a more casual viewer. The movie itself has an unusual history. It apparently got the ball rolling with crowdfunded kickstarter campaign (though was backed by production companies and the network) and then released to the theatres -- but only for a one week "limited run," before airing on TV. In other words, it's essentially a TV movie that was given a theatrical premiere as a publicity stunt (one wonders how well it might have done if they had released it properly at the theatres -- given the TV broadcast boasted the highest ratings for an English-Canadian TV movie in years!). Some bit appearances (possibly intended as "cameos") include Graham Greene (as a fisherman) and Will Sasso (as Brent's lawyer). sc: Brent Butt, Andrew Carr, Andrew Wreggitt. dir: David Storey. 90 min.

CORNERED  * 1/2  setting: CDN.
(2001) Alex DeCosta, Lee Broker, Domenic Cina, Louis Wrightman, Laura Hubert, Peter Cavalo, Mai Stanek, Patricia O'Callaghan, Kenneth John McGregor.....Inner city drama about an ex-boxer (DeCosta) who wants to pursue his dream of becoming a gymnast, but is being pulled in other directions by his gambler uncle (Broker) who owes money to a gangster and wants him to go back to boxing, and by his small time hood brother (Cina). Low-budget drama is probably a labour-of-love for scripter/co-star/co-director Broker, and does a nice job at times of evoking the nonchalance of the criminal world, where crooks and non-crooks hang out at the same coffee shops and hoods are on a friendly, first name basis with the very people they might be strong arming tomorrow. It sputters and sparks occasionally, but can't shake it's low-budgetedness, with weakish performances, and a story that is familiar terrain and fails to pay-off satisfactorily. The scene with Stanek, as the hero's girlfriend, reflecting on her past is nicely done. Leslie Spit Trio lead singer Hubert plays Broker's girlfriend. sc: Lee Broker. dir: Lee Broker, Robert Crossman. - partial female nudity, sexual content.- 88 min.

COSMOPOLIS  * 1/2  setting: USA
(2012) (/France/U.S.) Robert Pattinson, Kevin Durand, Sarah Gadon, Samantha Morton, Paul Giamatti, Juliette Binoche, Jay Baruchel, George Touliatos, Patricia McKenzie.....A wunderkind American super-capitalist (Pattinson) impulsively sets out to get a haircut on the other side of a gridlocked New York, becoming a surreal odyssey of impromptu meetings in his stretch limo, occasional stops at restaurants and hotels, while anti-corporation mobs swarm the streets...and he receives reports of a possible threat on his life. Surrealistic comedy-drama-satire has mostly good (if mannered) performances but is definitely of the "love it or hate it" variety. Cronenberg's films tend toward sterile and cerebral (audiences can debate whether that inherently means intelligent) making this, in a sense, the acme of his style. There's next-to-no plot, or even logic, little emotion. Instead it's a collection of conversations (many of the actors just appear in one scene each), monologues and quirky diatribes, the dialogue deliberately stylized as though every second line is meant to be a pithy profundity intended for a T-shirt, commenting on society, capitalism, dehumanization, etc. You don't have to be "smart" to appreciate it, and "dumb" if you don't -- nor vice versa. It just depends on what you want in a movie (and whether you actually feel it's saying anything revolutionary). Watch five minutes -- any five minutes -- and you'll know whether you'll like the rest of the movie. For my money: you can be mildly interested in the mannered style but, after a time, find the whole rather tedious, without a plot, without an underlining coherence, and without a sustained human factor to invite your involvement. sc./dir: David Cronenberg (from the novel by Dan DeLillo). - sexual content, female nudity, extreme violence.- 109 min.

COTEAU ROGUE  * * 1/2  setting: P.Q.
(2011) Paolo Noël, Gaston LePage, Louise LaParé, Roy Dupuis, Céline Bonnier, Mario Saint-Armand, Hélène Reeves, Maxime Desjardins-Tremblay, Bianca Gervais, Anthony Lemke.....Story of various eccentric characters in an impoverished but homey neighbourhood, an extended family ranging from the good-hearted grandfather who, in his younger days, disposed of bodies for the mob in the local seaweed entangled river, a middle-aged woman who is the pregnant surrogate for her daughter's baby -- a daughter married to a fast-talking developer who wants to transform the entire community into high-priced condos, a sensitive ex-boxer whose wife has terminal cancer, and more. Agreeable enough, quirky comedy-drama starts out a bit loose, introducing the various characters, their situations, and their relationships to each other -- decently acted but not, perhaps, riveting. Gets better as it goes, once you get to know them and you do get caught up, a bit, in their misadventures. But despite various threads that do intertwine and eventually resolve...fails to quite climax on a visceral level. And for a comedy-drama -- it's more whimsical than laugh-out-loud. Occasionally veers out of quirky and into just plain strange, but it's actually one of Forcier's most restrained efforts...and arguably one of his better, more accessible, films. In French. sc: André Forcier, Linda Pinet, Georgette Duchaîne, with Jean-François Chicoine. dir: André Forcier. - brief female nudity.- 87 min.

COTTAGE COUNTRY  * * *   setting: Ont.
(2013) Malin Akerman, Tyler Labine, Lucy Punch, Daniel Petronijevic, Benjamin Ayres, Kenneth Welsh, Nancy Beatty, Sabrina Grdevich.....A young couple's relaxing getaway to the family cottage soon veers toward the macabre and a succession of bodies they have to dispose of. Black comedy-suspense flick (with arguably some winking nods to "Macbeth") boasts some genuine laughs and a quirkiness (even above and beyond the central premise) yet is low-key and delivered with an understated restraint, given a big boost by the good cast. Not for all tastes, and probably benefits the less you know going in (though be pre-warned it is a black-comedy, with humour milked from some deliberate gore). Paul Gross was one of the producers. sc: Jeremy Boxen. dir: Peter Wellington. - extreme violence; sexual content.- 91 min.

COUNTDOWN TO LOOKING GLASS  * * * 1/2  setting: USA.
(1984) (/U.S.) Patrick Watson, Scott Glenn, Michael Murphy, Helen Shaver, Nancy Dickerson, Eric Sevareid, Don Francks.....Dramatization of a wargames scenario leading to nuclear war as covered by an U.S. news program. TV personality Watson plays an anchorman.  Includes "interviews" with actual authorities. Wordy and cerebral TV movie, but frighteningly real though, obviously, considerably dated since its emphasis is on the Cold War. American actor Murphy later moved to Canada with his Canadian wife, actress Wendy Crewson. sc: Albert Ruben. dir: Fred Barzyk. 115 min.

Counter Play, a novel by Anne Snyder and Louis Pelletier, became the made-for-TV special The Truth About Alex


(1991-1994) (/France/U.S.)  Simon MacCorkindale ("Peter Sinclair"), Christopher Plummer ("Alexander Addington"), Stephen Shellen ("Luke Brenner") (1st), Cyrielle Claire ("Nikki Beaumont") (1st), Sophie Michaud ("Gabrielle Jirmont") (2nd-), James Purcell ("Hector Stone") (2nd-) with Tom Kneebone ("Bennett"), Patricia Cartier ("Helene Previn"), Andre Mayers ("J.J."), Laurence Ashley ("Suzanne").....Suspenser about a globe-trotting trio headed by an ex-Scotland Yard Inspector (MacCorkindale) which fights terrorists, criminals, etc. Plummer played the Paris-based Canadian billionaire who brought them together and financed them after his wife was kidnapped and murdered by terrorists. Shellen, as an American mercenary, and Claire, as a French thief, left after the first season and were replaced by Michaud, as a French journalist, and Purcell, as an American ex-C.I.A. agent. Kneebone was Plummer's butler; Cartier his executive assistant; Mayer the pilot of the group's private plane; and Ashley played Plummer's computer expert daughter in the first season.

I keep trying to give this series the benefit of the doubt, but I keep finding myself coming to the same conclusion: that it was a pretty dreadful low-budget TV series. It had boring characters and didn't seem to know what to do with its interesting premise, badly handling its already dull plots. The series occasionally suffered from technical problems (even ineptness) which might be blamed on budget problems. But practically everytime I watch it, hoping it will change my opinion, there'll be some scene or sequence that just makes me go, "Oh, come on, this is so stupid!" However, the series has its fans (as does any series, for that matter) and reruns are usually playing somewhere in Canada, and I've received a couple of very vitriolic e-mails, attacking my review, so my opinion must be considered in that light. At the same time, when it first aired, one favourable review of this serious-minded series thought it was supposed to be campy, and co-star Purcell once admitted in an interview that when he was invited to join the cast, he was surprised they were even making a second season! 

In true Canuck fashion, the "exotic" locales usually meant setting stories either in the U.S. or France. The series was often very serious-minded, although its frequent attempts at relevancy, though admirable, usually came across as insincere (and occasionally xenophobic). It was also ironic. The series was clearly trying to be "serious", but the advertising tag line was "No Mission is Impossible" -- a clear reference to the the fun and flamboyant U.S. series "Mission: Impossible". Plummer (in his first series) was given very little to do. It began airing on a U.S. cable station a year before it showed up in Canada. Best bets: the one about the Native stand-off. Three seasons of one hour episodes originally on CTV, and currently rerun on Showcase.

Coup d'Etat, a novel by Edward N. Luttwa, became the movie Power Play (a.k.a. State of Shock, etc.)

THE COURAGE TO LOVE * * 1/2  setting: USA.
(1999) Vanessa Williams, Gil Bellows, Cynda Williams, Karen Williams, Diahann Carroll, Stacy Keach, Lisa Bronwyn Moore, Kevin Jubinville, David La Haye, Eddie "Bo" Smith, Jean-Louis Roux, Susannah Hoffman.....True story of Henriette DeLille (Williams), a free woman of mixed black and white ethnicity in pre-Civil War New Orleans who bucked the system, teaching slaves, organizing a medical clinic, while also romancing a white, French doctor (Bellows), before eventually helping to start a religious order, The Sisters of the Holy Family. Made-for-TV bio pic never quite ignites, but is competently put together, providing a peek in at a time and place. Though it's occasionally a bit choppy and confusing, both in the historical nuances, and other things. Smith is particularly good as the slave, Jacques. Williams (actress, singer and former Miss America, not to be confused with another American actress named Vanessa Williams) is O.K. but mayhap a tad old for her part. sc: Heather Hale, Toni Ann Johnson. dir: Kari Skogland. 91 min.
COVER ME (TV Series)

(1999)  * * 1/2 Caroline Neron ("Pascale Laurier"), Colin Ferguson ("Andrew  Chase"), Philip Craig ("Insp. Garth Endicott"), Jackie Burroughs ("Catlin Crawford"), with Gregory Hlady, Neville Edwards.....Espionage about a clean-cut anglophone Mountie (Ferguson) and a hot-headed francophone C.S.I.S. agent (Neron) who, when not fighting each other, investigate a mobster (Hlady) connected to international terrorism -- an investigation complicated by a mole in the Canadian government, and the fact that the Americans were pushing for a merging of security agencies. Craig and Burroughs played the heads of the R.C.M.P. and C.S.I.S. respectively.

Clearly modeled after the murky, British-style espionage flick rather than the American model, this aired as a "three part mini-series" but was actually filmed as six hour-long episodes. Like a lot of recent Canadian shows, it was extremely slick and expensive-looking...but a bit shaky once you got past the gloss. The main characters just weren't that interesting, and the plot not sufficiently twisty or intriguing for a six hour epic. Worse, the characters accomplished next to nothing: they save no one, expose nothing, and make no arrests -- even the mole, the key question for the series, remained unrevealed (presumably indicating the producers were hoping it would be picked up for further episodes). Ironically, it seemed to prove the claim of the American characters...that the heroes are incompetent!!!

The attempt to explore the national psyche and the Two Solitudes was more awkward and uncomfortable than insightful, relying on out-moded, at times even dangerous, cliches -- like having almost every angolophone character refer to the francophone with slurs like "frog" or a "frenchie", perhaps reflecting more the kind of people the filmmakers hang out with rather than true English-French relations. And the tendecy to portray Canadians as white, and Americans as black (and, therefore, multi-racial) seemed an uncomfortable throwback to '70s Canadian stereotypes. As well, the moral ambivalence, even nihilism, the series expressed also made it hard to become too involved.

The end result is a watchable, occasionally interesting, time-waster...nothing more. Which is too bad, because the actors were good and the promise enticing. Created by Peter Lauterman. 

COVERT ACTION  * * *  setting: P.Q.
(1987) Art Hindle, Wendy Crewson, John Evans, Richard Comar, Doug Lennox, Tony DeSantis, Betsy Soo.....Mountie (Hindle) stops the assassination of the premier of Quebec on the eve of the 1980 referendum then, four years later, the case is mysteriously blown open again with a couple of new murders. Witty almost tongue-in-cheek script coupled with a nice performance from Hindle makes this made-for-CBC TV espionage thriller a must. Intriguing, almost surreal atmosphere generated by use of video tape and night-time filming. Nice music score. sc: Les Rose, Barry Pearson. dir: Les Rose. - sexual content, casual female nudity.- app. 100 min.

COWBOYS AND INDIANS  * * 1/2  setting: Man.
(2003) Adam Beach, Eric Schweig, Currie Graham, Garry Chalk, Gordon Tootoosis, Jack Blum, Michael Lawrenchuk.....Story of the 1988 wrongful police shooting in Winnipeg of Native Indian leader, J.J. Harper (Beach, in a small part); the police bungling and even cover-up of their own internal investigation, and how it contributed to a sweeping government investigation of how the police treat the Native community. Made for TV docudrama (a co-production between the CBC and the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network) is capably put together, with a surprisingly sympathetic -- or, at least, empathetic -- portrayal of some of the police (Chalk gives a particularly notable performance as the main overseeing cop; he's not a good guy, but he's not quite a black hat bad guy, either). Ultimately, though an important story, the end result is a decent TV movie, nothing more. Schweig plays Harper's brother. At one point the characters refer to the Helen Betty Osborne case...which was previously dramatized as Conspiracy of Silence. a.k.a. Cowboys & Indians: The Killing of J.J. Harper. sc: Andrew Rai Berzins (from the book Cowboys and Indians: The Shooting of J.J. Harper by Gordon Sinclair, Jr.). dir: Norma Bailey. 89 min.

COWBOYS DON'T CRY  * * *  setting: Alt.
(1988) Ron White, Zachary Ansley, Janet-Laine Green, Michael Hogan, Rebecca Jenkins, Thomas Peacocke, Joshua Ansley.....Story of the troubled relationship between an aging, footloose rodeo star (White) and his son (Ansley), who wants to settle down, after the death of the boy's mother. Well done drama benefits from good dialogue and fine performances. Won the Genie for Best Song. sc./dir: Anne Wheeler (from the novel by Marilyn Halvorson). 96 min.

COYOTE  * 1/2  setting: P.Q.
(1993) (/France) Mitsou, Patrick Labbe, Thierry Magnier, Claude Legault, Francois Massicotte, Jean-Claude Dreyfus.....Headstrong boy (Labbe) meets troubled free spirited girl (Mitsou), they fall in love, break up, reunite, have troubles, etc. Blah romantic drama suffers from some bad dialogue and characters that never become interesting or appealing. sc: Michel Michaud, Richard Sadler with Richard Ciupka, Louise Anne Bouchard (from the novel by Michel Michaud). dir: Richard Ciupka. - sexual content, violence, brief nudity.- 98 min.

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