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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.

UN CRABE DANS LA TETE * * *  setting: P.Q./other
(2002) David La Haye, Isabelle Blais, Chantale Giroux, Emmanuel Bilodeau, Vincent Bilodeau, Simone Pregent, Charles Armand Turpin, Pascale Desrochers.....Story of an upbeat, but inherently shallow, photographer (La Haye) who reluctantly returns to Montreal and whose inherent need to be liked causes him to pursue relationships that he can't commit to, and into situations he should avoid. Effective, reasonably compelling drama takes a bit to quite understand what it's about (and the psychology of the protagonist) but benefits a lot from a good cast, particularly La Haye, and intriguing, sometimes quite clever scenes (like one involving a phone service for the deaf). Briskly-paced; energetically and stylishly directly (if a little too Arty at times). A bit of a throwback to what was once considered almost the quintessential English-Canadian film. a.k.a. Soft Shell Man. sc./dir: Andre Turpin. - brief female and male nudity; sexual content.- 100 min.

CRACK ME UP  * *  setting: USA.
(1993) Daphna Kastner, Tim Brazzil, Mary Crosby, David Charles, Ivan E. Roth.....A naive street videographer (Brazzil) goes blind after being beaten up and is taken in by a bordello. Low-budget serio-comic flick is like much of Shbib's work: well-done, in its way, and very well-acted, but it's more interesting than entertaining. You can admire his technique, but it still doesn't always make for a riveting movie. sc: Bashar Shbib, Daphna Kastner, Maryse Wilder. dir: Bashar Shbib. 76 min.
 
CRACKED (TV Series)

(2013-2014)  * *   David Sutcliffe ("Aidan Black"), Stefanie von Pfetten ("Dr. Daniella Ridley") (1st), Brooke Nevin ("Dr. Clara Malone") (2nd), Luisa D'Oliveira ("Poppy Wisnefski"), Dayo Ade ("Leo Beckett"), Karen LeBlanc ("Diane Caligra"), with Mayko Nguyen ("Elizabeth Liette), Natalie Brown ("..."), Paul Popowich ("Sean McCray") (1st).....Crime-drama about a cop (Sutcliffe), behaving a bit erratically after some recent traumas, who is reassigned to an experimental unit specializing in cases involving the mentally ill -- whether it be as the perpetrator or simply a witness, or the victim, of a crime. Von Pfetten played his partner -- a professional psychiatrist -- replaced by Brooke as the new blonde female psychiatrist in the second season. D'Oliveira and Ade the other team on the squad (she a cop, he a psychiatric nurse); LeBlanc plays their CO. Nguyen plays "Aidan"'s ex (and a fellow cop); Popowich "Daniella"'s former colleague. Brown recurred as another cop and romantic interest for "Aidan" (and Nguyen's role became intermittent).

TV series has a "concept"-premise in the psych-crimes unit but falls off the wall in execution (that's a Humpty Dumpty reference -- get it? Cracked?). A big problem is that the lead characters are, frankly, bland (and though the actors are competent, they don't entirely invigorate the roles -- despite much media hype around Sutcliffe as though casting him was a coup for the series). Despite wrapping the concept around a tried and true idea of the eccentric guy paired with the straight-laced gal (think anything from "Life", to "The Mentalist", to Shattered...to "The X-Files") the problem is the lead character...doesn't actually come across as particularly endearing, or that psychologically eccentric (other than flashes of temper which are, frankly, kind of standard in cop shows) as if the filmmakers weren't really committed to their own premise. And von Pfetten's/Brooke's characters are equally bland. While the supporting cast is basically just there to fill up the room (though they were given more sub-plots as things progressed, including "Poppy" having to deal with her police man father -- played by Chuck Shamata -- and his increasing dementia). While the mystery/cases are problematic -- often simply developed, nor that convincing in the psychobabble or police procedures, with the cops often forming theories and focusing on suspects -- when they've barely begun their investigation! (Surely theories arise out of evidence, not they form theories and then see if the evidence fits). A behind-the-scenes shake up after the first season saw a change in show runner (ie: the guiding creative force) and von Pfetten being replaced by Nevin -- but to little improvement. Maybe slightly smoother pacing, but still suffering from a general blandness, and some corny dialogue (and an often cartoony demonization of people opposed to the police, such as lawyers, or other psychiatrists -- the series' co-creator de Hartog was a police officer). Ultimately, with an intriguing-if-problematic concept, it has some okay episodes but others are undone by bland characters, uneven plots and dialogue. It's kind of reminiscent of the earlier Canadian crime-drama, Shattered (which, curiously, also featured LeBlanc as the CO!) Trivia note: von Pfetten and d'Oliveira previously co-starred in the TV movie, Seeds of Destruction. Created by Tracey Forbes, Calum de Hartog. Two seasons of hour-long episodes on the CBC.  

CRACKERJACK  * * 1/2  setting: USA.
(1995) Thomas Ian Griffith, Nastassja Kinski, Christopher Plummer, George Touliatos, Lisa Bunting, Richard Sali.....A U.S. cop (American Griffith), troubled by his wife's murder, reluctantly vacations with his brother's family at a mountain resort, only to find himself up against mercenaries (led by Plummer) who take over the place. Action thriller is pretty slow for the first 36 minutes (I timed it), but once the baddies strike, it becomes a surprisingly entertaining and briskly-paced little "Die Hard" rip-off. sc: Jonas Quastel, Michael Bafaro. dir: Michael Mazo. - violence, partial female nudity.- 97 miin.

Cracking India, the novel by Bapsi Sidhwa, was the source for the movie Earth.

CRASH  * 1/2  setting: Ont.
(1996) James Spader, Holly Hunter, Elias Koteas, Deborah Kara Unger, Rosanna Arquette, Peter MacNeill.....After an auto-accident, a yuppie (Spader) finds himself drawn into a sub-culture of people sexually turned on by cars, crashes, and injuries...even to the point of staging them. Proponents of this admittedly odd film were quick to dismiss detractors as weak-kneed prudes who couldn't handle the explicit sex and concepts, and the film got a lot of mileage out of the supposed "controversy" (in the States, its distribution was held up, supposedly because the head of the distribution company was appalled by the film, but, once a great deal of publicity had been stirred up, the film was released anyway -- hmmmm). Although you might be offended by the frequent fornication and occasional body scars (particularly if you're a 95 year old nun who hasn't left the convent in decades) the movie's real problem is that it's not very good. You know it's an Art film 'cause it's so very slow, with trance-like actors muttering their lines, but (unless you already have some appreciation for the fetish) by the end of the film you have no more insight into the characters or their obsession than you did at the beginning; ill-defined characters come and go without much logic; and the order of most of the scenes could be changed without it affecting the (in)coherence of the piece one bit. Possibly an intriguing, challenging film could have been made about the subject, but it would require a filmmaker more interested in characterization, and less in the repetitious visuals. Shocking? Disturbing? That requires a movie that can elicit an emotional response, and other than a few giggles, this one just leaves you cold...and bored. Needless to say, it received a number of Genie awards. That's Cronenberg as the (off camera) impound clerk. For a not dissimiliar film, see Strictly Spanking. sc./dir: David Cronenberg (from the novel by J.G. Ballard). - explicit sexual content, female nudity,, violence, brief male nudity.- 100 min.
 
CRA$H & BURN (TV Series)

(2010) (/U.S.)  * * 1/2  Luke Kirby ("Jimmy Burn"), Caroline Cave ("Catherine Scott"), Leela Savasta ("Lucia Silva"), Judah Katz ("Dick"), Steve Bacic ("Pavel Korkov"), Inna Korobkina ("Sabrina"), Alan C. Peterson ("Godjo"), Genadijs Dolganovs ("Anatole"), Paulino Nunes ("Gord"), Carlos Diaz ("Carlos"), with Clark Johnson, Peter Stebbings, Victoria Snow, Tony Nardi, Hrant Alianak, Ramona Milano, Alan Van Sprang, others.....Seriocomic drama/suspense about a Hamilton insurance adjuster (Kirby) handling claims, ferreting out scams, while juggling his home life, and a juvenile delinquent past he tries to keep buried. Cave plays the lawyer at his office to whom he was attracted; Savasta his beautiful, young fiancee. Katz his religious, but weak-willed boss. Bacic played the leader of a gang of Russian gangsters/con artists, which included Peterson, Korobkina and Dolganovs -- a gang "Jimmy" frequently had run-ins with. Johnson appeared in the first few episodes, adding some nice gravatus to his role as the company's chief fraud investigator (and "Jimmy"'s friend); Snow a local cop; Stebbings the American trouble-shooter swooping in from time-to-time to check on this Canadian branch of the company. Nardi played "Lucia"'s father, Romano her sister; and Van Sprang the family priest, etc.

This is one of those series where you could argue its appeal is that it's an odd-ball mishmash of impulses dragging it in different directions (even seeming unclear if it's a serious drama -- or black comedy/slapstick/satire, particularly with the Russian characters)...even as its weakness is it seems all over the map, uncertain of what it wants to be...or even why, even seeming to shift tone and style as it went. The early episodes were more blatantly satirical, the pacing (deliberately) meandering, and the directorial style more aloof and "arty", while later episodes were more grounded, stylistically less pretentious, and more concerned with a multi-episode arc involving "Jimmy" roped into a police scheme to get the goods on the Russians. It's actually a little reminiscent of series like Intelligence, in that it is superficially slick (well acted, sleekly put together), creating an almost hypnotic rhythm that, if you're willing to stick with it, can kind of draw you in -- even as, on too many levels, it doesn't fully work. The underlining human emotion can seem a bit off, and it's not clear if that's because they see it as largely a comedy, so characters are more caricatures, or whether that's just because they have themes they want to explore, plot points tacked up on a cork board during creative brainstorming sessions...and don't really care if the characters justify it. Sub-plots like "Jimmy" having an affair with "Catherine" just seem unfathomable -- sure, Cave is pretty and likeable...but so is Savasta (as he's our protagonist, the audience should be able to sympathize with -- or at least empathize with -- his choices; of course a recurring use of shrewish wives maybe just suggests the writers have a dim view of marriage -- and women -- and didn't realize you need to justify a hero's infidelity). The plots often seem to ramble, with weak denouements. It feels like it thinks it's (or at least it wants to be) a lot smarter than it is. The underlining concept is that "Jimmy", with his delinquent background, is better at his job -- essentially, it takes a con to out-smart cons, without "Jimmy"'s schemes necessarily seeming that clever! And the deliberate cynicism of the series, where neither the company, nor the clients, are particularly admirable, can result in something where you're struggling to justify an emotional investment. The actors are good (Bacic and the rest of the Russian gang are scene stealers), the scenes themselves can hold you in the moment...but the overall feel is of something dragged out of the oven before it fully cooked. Catchy title sequence and theme music. a.k.a. Crash & Burn or Crash and Burn. Created by Malcolm MacRury. 13 hour long episodes on Showcase. - casual nudity.-  

C.R.A.Z.Y.  * * 1/2  setting: P.Q./other
(2005) Michel Cote, Marc-Andre Grondin, Danielle Proulx, Emile Vallee, Pierre-Luc Brillant, Mariloup Wolfe, Francis Ducharme, Alex Gravel, Maxime Tremblay.....Story of Zac, growing up from boy (Vallee) to young man (Grondin), struggling to come to terms with his own conflicted sexuality as well as dealing with his eccentric family, including his caring mother (Proulx) and his seeming well-meaning, but gruff, intolerantly homophobic father (Cote). Hugely successful, critically acclaimed serio-comic film is good-looking and well acted, with, individually, some excellently done scenes. But the whole seems a bit...thin, with little development of the supporting characters, or much happening outside of the central "character" conflict, while even then, occasionally skipping over crucial character-defining scenes. The result is a good, quirky, certainly heartfelt movie (Cote isn't a "bad guy", per se)...but one that occasionally sags under the weight of its own over-length. Much praise was heaped on its classic rock soundtrack, unusual in a Canadian movie where limited budgets usually preclude licensing hit songs -- but more often than not, the music is just playing faintly in the background (though there are some clever incorpoations into the narrative). Besides, praising a movie's pop soundtrack is a bit like praising the cinematography -- it can add to the enjoyment, but isn't really relevant to the story. Received 10 Genie Awards including for Best Picture, Director, Script, Actor (Cote) and Supporting Actress (Proulx) -- Grondin was also nominated for Best Actor. In French. sc: Jean-Marc Vallee, Francois Boulay. dir: Jean-Marc Vallee. - sexual content.- 147 min.

CRAZY MOON  * 1/2  setting: P.Q.
(1986) Kiefer Sutherland, Vanessa Vaughan, Peter Spence, Ken Pogue, Eve Napier, Sean McCann.....Wealthy, emotionally disturbed teen (Sutherland) falls in love with a deaf girl (Vaughan). Supposedly amusing heart-warmer is more uncomfortable than anything, with some really negative supporting characters. Film gets credit for casting a deaf actress, though. That's Wodoslawsky as the sports store manager. sc: Tom Berry, Stefan Wodoslawsky. dir: Allan Eastman. 87 min.

CREATURE (TVMS)  * *  setting: other
(1988) (/U.S.) Craig T. Nelson, Kim Cattrall, Colm Feore, Cress Williams, Giancarlo Esposito, Michael Michele, Matthew Carey, Megalyn Echikunwoke, Blu Mankuma.....In the Caribbean, a shark researcher (Nelson) and his family (ex-wife Cattrall, son Carey) discover there's something far more deadly in the water...a genetically bred hybrid monster. Horror thriller starts out O.K. (if shamelessly reminiscent of Benchley's "Jaws") though not really clicking on an emotional/character level, then falls apart in the second half with inconsistent characterization and ludicrous plotting (and shameless rip-offs of "Aliens"). There's a sub-plot involving island religion that could be intriguing, but is never properly integrated into the story (perhaps because the tropical setting wasn't part of the source novel). Not wanting to put it on a racial level, but most of the black actors are very good, while Nelson, Cattrall and Carey never really convince: that they're battling a monster, that they're a family, or that they care about each other. It probably doesn't really qualify as Canadian, but since the director, editor, cinematographer and some of the prominent actors (Cattrall, Feore and the underbilled Mankuma) are Canadian, it's got more Canadian content then some "officially" Canadian movies. Produced by some of the same folks as were behind the new Outer Limits and it suffers from some of the same problems of over-production at the expense of simple storytelling. Filmed in Vancouver and St. Lucia. a.k.a. Peter Benchley's Creature. 4 hours. sc: Rockne S. O'Bannon (from the novel White Shark by Peter Benchley). dir: Stuart Gillard.

Le crime d'Ovide Plouffe see Murder in the Family TVMS

CRIME WAVE  * * *  setting: Man.
(1985) Eva Kovacs, John Paizs, Darrel Baran, Neil Lawrie, voice of Douglas Syms.....Tale of a young girl (Kovacs) who befriends her family's boarder, a would-be colour crime movie maker (Paizs) who can write beginnings and endings but no middles. Really bizarre, episodic low-budget flick spoofs everything from "Leave it to Beaver" to B-movie crime dramas. Funny black comedy is best seen with an audience, but it does wear thin. sc./dir: John Paizs. - extreme violence, casual female nudity.- 81-87 min.

CRIMES OF PASSION  * * *  setting: USA.
(2004) Dina Meyer, Jonathan Higgins, Amy Sloan, John H. Brennan, Louis Phillipe Dandenault, Harry Standjoksi, Vlasta Vrana, John Robinson..... American business man (Higgins) is accused of attempted rape by a co-worker (American actress Meyer) during an (off camera) meeting -- he denies it, she says he did it, he'ss fired, he sues his company...and the twists ensue. Film noirish suspenser starts out a "he said/she said" mystery, then gets more twisty as it goes with revelations and double crosses. Sure, some of the key "twists" aren't that surprising if you're familiar with these kind of movies, but there are enough of them, and the movie is sufficiently tightly paced, that it can hold your interest, waiting to see how it all turns out. Better, and more clever, than you might expect for a made-for-TV quickie. Capably acted all around, with Standjofski and Robinson particularly effective, in small parts, as the lawyers. sc: Brad Mirman. dir: Richard Roy. - sexual content.- 89 min.

Criminal Instincts.....The original umbrella title for a series of CTV TV Joanne Kilbourn movies.

THE CRIMSON PETAL AND THE WHITE (TVMS)  * * *   setting: other
(2011) (/U.K.) Romola Garai, Chris O'Dowd, Amanda Hale, Shirley Henderson, Richard E. Grant, Gillian Anderson, Mark Gatiss, Blake Ritson, Bertie Carvel, Isla Watt.....In Victorian London, a high priced, socially ambitious prostitute (Garai) becomes the mistress of a wealthy, but weak and temperamental, married man (O'Dowd), but finds herself becoming increasingly involved in his family life which includes his mentally unstable wife (Hale) and his demure young daughter (Watt). Made-for-cable drama was clearly selling itself as "not your parents' Victorian drama", with its R-rated approach to sex and grittiness -- but in truth it isn't that radical, drawing upon familiar staples of class, prostitution, sexual inequality, and madness for a melange of Dickens and Gothic melodrama. Lavishly mounted, yet also deliberately claustrophobic, with its mix of rich colours and opulent sets with stylish -- almost overly stylish -- camera work, editing and blurred focus. Almost as though a Dickens homage made by a director who'd seen the 2001 film "Moulin Rouge" once too often. It's deliberately over the top at times -- bordering on camp -- and with an almost horror vibe at other times (though it's not horror). And all buoyed by strong, and colourful performances, and anchored by compelling, nuanced turns by O'Dowd and especially Garai who effortlessly straddles a character who can seem almost ruthlessly cold and calculating, yet is equally empathetic and sympathetic. The result is a bit uneven, but is generally quite compelling and intriguing, as you wait to see how it all plays out. Which makes the ending a bit problematic, even lazy, as it can leave you with more questions than solutions. A U.K./Canada co-production but the Canadian involvement would seem to be pretty peripheral (none of the actors are Canadian). 4 one hour episodes. sc: Lucinda Coxin (from the novel by Michel Faber). dir: Marc Munden. - sexual content; male and female nudity.-

The Critical Years see Short Films

CROSSBAR  * *  setting: Alt./Ont.
(1979) John Ireland, Kate Reid, Brent Carver, Kim Cattrall, Murray Westgate, Sean Sullivan, Sara Botsford.....After losing a leg, an Olympic high-jumper (Carver) struggles with remorse, his father's (Ireland) determination he become a farmer, and eventually decides to compete again at the encouragement of his ex-girlfriend (Cattrall). Perfunctory made-for-CBC TV drama is competently put together, but too often lacks genuine spark. Most interesting aspect is Carver's one-legged stunt double -- indicating the basic premise is more tthan just a screenwriter's fancy. sc: Keith Ross Leckie (story Bill Boyle). dir: John Trent. 77 min.

CROSSOVER a.k.a. Mr. Patman

CROSSWINDS  * 1/2  Ont.
(1984) (/France) David Soul, Jean-Francois Blanchard, Grace de Capitani, Danielle Schneider, Andre Champagne, Carl Marotte, Vlasta Vrana, Daniel Pilon, Jean-Pierre Bergeron, Martin Watier.....Embittered boat captain (Soul) and four passengers are taken hostage by drug dealers (Vrana and Marotte) on the Great Lakes. Poor suspenser with frequently corny dialogue and uneven performances (thanks, in part, to the fact that most of the francophones are dubbed). Marotte comes across best. Writer Geoffrion gets an awful lot of work...and it's not clear why. Mind you, director Goldstein isn't exactly a national treasure either (and he seems to think he's Sam Peckinpah this time around). Filmed in Quebec, but set in Ontario. sc: Robert Geoffrion. dir: Allan A. Goldstein. - violence.- 90 min.
 
THE CROW: Stairway to Heaven (TV Series)

(1998-1999) (/U.S.)  * 1/2  Mark Dacascos ("Eric Draven"), Marc Gomes ("Daryl Albrecht"), Sabine Karsenti ("Shelly Webster"), Katie Stuart ("Sarah"), with Lynda Boyd ("Darla Mohr"), Christina Cox ("Jessie Capshaw"), others.....Action/fantasy about a murdered American musician (American actor Dacascos) who comes back from the dead, fights evil, but just wants to be reunited with his murdered girl friend (Karsenti) who's moved on to the next realm. Gomes played a cop who knew about "Draven" and Stuart a little girl who befriended him. Boyd played the girl's alcoholic mom and Cox another cop, with a crush on "Albrecht".

This TV series was based on a U.S. movie which was based on a U.S. comic book. And I'll be honest up front: it's not so much that I didn't like the original movie, as much as it was the sort of film that makes one despair for the future of the human race. A repulsive paen to violence and sadism, the fact that its star, Brandon Lee, was killed while filming, seemed oddly...inevitable. That it was a commercial and critical success...well, as I said, I despair.

This series, though toning down (somewhat) the violence and nihilism of the movie, is still uncomfortable, with hyper-macho protagonists that aren't the least bit ingratiating, a blend of "romantic" scenes of Draven pining for his girlfriend rubbing shoulders with action-series violence (with our hero torturing bad guys for information), a surly little kid plunked down in the middle of it all, etc. Artistically, the pacing is somnambulent, and though the actors are competent enough, they tend to play all the scenes with the same grim-faced lethargy that gets a little...monotonous. The slow-moving plots make heavy use of characters repeating themselves from scene to scene, or describing what happened in the scene before, in order to pump up the running time -- which may, admittedly, be a result of budget limitations. Even the Draven-Shelly tragedy seemed hollow. Some episodes of this short-lived series were released to video. Based on the Dark Horse comic created by James O'Barr. One season of hour-long episodes, shown in syndication. 

CRUISING BAR  * * 1/2  setting: P.Q.
(1989) Michel Cote, Louise Marleau, Genevieve Rioux.....Story of four different characters (all played by Cote) and their bar hopping misadventures with sex and love. This box-office smash in Quebec is funny with good performances from Cote, but ultimately it's too fluffy (despite the occasional attempts at seriousness) without enough story for a feature. In French. English title: Meat Market (though why it needs one is beyond me). sc: Michel Cote, Robert Menard, Claire Wojas. dir: Robert Menard. - sexual content.- 95 min.

CRUNCH  *  setting: USA.
(1979) John Vernon, Norman Fell, Robert Forster, Donann Cavin, Kimberly McKeever, Thom Haverstock, Anthony Sherwood, Matt Birman-Feldman (a.k.a. Matt Birman), Christine Cattell.....Film about a feud between two high school football teams and their "boys (and girls) will be boys (and girls)" shenanigans. Odd flick is a familiar teen comedy -- except it isn't as racy as most of its type; the characters are barely established at all, yet the last half is devoted to the football game as if we're actually supposed to care who wins (or can even tell who's playing!) And Vernon occasionally delivers a surprisingly textured performance (as one of the coaches) as if he thought he was in a much better movie than he was. Can maybe hold your interest for the first ten minutes. a.k.a. The Kinky Coaches and the Pom Pom Pussycats (a misleadingly racy title). sc: Douglas Ditonto, Richard Sauer, Bruce Calnan. dir. Mark Warren. - brief female and male nudity.- 90 min.

A CRY IN THE NIGHT  * *  setting: P.Q./USA.
(1992) (/France) Perry King, Carol Higgins Clark, Annie Girardot, Amy Fulco, Brigid Tierney, Matt Cooke, Chris Wiggins.....Single mom (Clark) goes to the country to marry a famous painter (King) with a dead-mother fixation -- and strange things start happening. Suspenser has a couple of chills but is generally a paint-by-numbers gothic that turns out to be precisely what you think it is, with dimwitted characters. Strangely abrupt and disorienting scene changes, with lots of things poorly explained. Actress Clark is the novelist's daughter (and a novelist herself). One of the Mary Higgins Clark Collection. sc./dir: Robin Spry (from the novel by Mary Higgins Clark). - violence.- 101 min.

CUBE  * * 1/2
(1998) Maurice Dean Wint, Nicole de Boer, Nicky Guadagni, David Hewlett, Andrew Miller, Wayne Robson, Julian Richings.....Various people find themselves, without explanation, in a complex maze of identical rooms, and must work together to survive the deadly booby traps. Science fiction horror thriller engenders a lot of ambivalence: decently acted, and reasonably tightly-paced (considering the premise), but by the end you kind of want to scrub down with brillo pads. Made under the auspices of Norm's School (a.k.a. The Canadian Centre for Advanced Film Studies), an institution that's supposed to teach up-and-comers how to make decent movies. Better it should teach them how to be decent human beings first -- 'cause like a staggeringly lot of Canaadian movies, a fundamental problem is that you don't particularly like these people. There's a right way and a wrong way to portray interpersonal conflict, and that's the most important lesson any storyteller can learn. As well, the insight into the Human Condition that the pressure cooker scenario promises is never really realized, and a penchant for extremely gory death scenes indicates that, scratch away the pretentions, and the filmmakers are schlockmeisters at heart. Well-received on the sci-fi convention circuit...which probably says more about the competition than it does this film. Still, de Boer says "zed" instead of "zee" at one point, which is a cultural triumph compared to similiar films! Followed by a sequel. sc: Andre Bijelic, Vincenzo Natali, Graeme Manson. dir: Vincenzo Natali. - extreme violence.- 91 min.

CUBE 2: Hypercube  * *  setting: USA.
(2002) Kari Matchett, Geraint Wyn Davies, Neil Crone, Barbara Gordon, Matthew Ferguson, Grace Lynn Kung, Lindsey Connell.....A group of seeming unconnected people find themselves trapped in an eerie maze of identical chambers. Second Cube film is pretty much just a rehash of the first -- except with the science fiction quotient tuned up (involving parallel realities and time distortions) and the gore toned down (which is good). It boasts a slightly bigger budget, but for a story which should be all about the personalities, the characters don't really gel and, naturally, it lacks the freshness of the original (which means it might rate higher if you haven't seen the first film). Drops the abstractedness of the first film, where you never really knew who built the cube or why, without really providing a convincingly satisfying explanation. Nice performances from Davies and Crone. The first movie wasn't not set in Canada, and it was a modest cult hit internationally, while this sequel is archly American (throwing in American place names and colloquialisms)...and didn't fair as well. Food for thought for Canadian filmmakers who feel they have to throw in American references to sell their movies. sc: Sean Hood, Ernie Barbarash, Lauren McLaughlin. dir: Andrzej Sekula. - violence; brief female nudity.- 95 min.

The Cult  * * 
(2010) (/U.K.) Henry Czerny, Torri Higginson, Kavan Smith, Vincent Gale, Ian Tracey, John Ralston, Alexia Fast .....A divorced couple (Czerny & Higginson) discover their teen-age daughter has been taken in by a strange religious cult. Hour-long pilot for a TV series. Maybe because it's on the CBC, and has a generic title, but it takes a bit to realize this isn't some earnest cautionary docudrama about cults (though there's a bit of that), but is, in fact, intended as a pulpy occult thriller where creepy and possibly supernatural things occur. Or maybe they just don't pull it off too well. When Czerny and Higginson can play off of each other, it has some interest, but even then, they aren't well defined characters, and too much of the time is taken up with a lot of wordless "mood" scenes. But it doesn't really create a genuine spooky tone, and dialogue scenes are often unconvincing and awkward. Of course, another problem is it is a pilot -- to something (a mini-series?, because it doesn't seem like you could get an indefinite series out of the premise) -- and as such, is nothing much on its own. Canadian filmmakers should try and fashion pilots that can stand alone (even if intended as the opening chapter to a longer work) so that then if it's never picked up, at least the pilot is still worth a watch on its own. A good cast, particularly Ralston (in a small part) as the cult leader. This may've been a North American adaptation of a New Zealand series of the same name. sc: Angus Fraser. dir: Kari Skogland. - violence; casual male nudity.-

CURLING  * 1/2   setting: PQ.
(2010) Emmanuel Bilodeau, Philomène Bilodeau, Roc Lafortune, Sophie Desmarais, Muriel Dutil.....Story of a small town handyman and introvert (E. Bilodeau) who is so overly protective and possessive of his 12 year old daughter (P. Bilodeau) that he has kept her home all her life, away from school, and with limited interaction with others. Drama is well acted and atmospheric, but just seems to plod along, repeating the same points, and even when something dramatic happens that might re-focus the narrative...it doesn't. Ultimately the characters -- including the supporting characters -- get so disassociated from plausibility it's hard to care (some of that is because they are supposed to be odd...some, one suspects, is just down to weak writing) building to a shaggy dog resolution...or, conversely, some sort of epiphany yet it's not clear how the character arrived at it! And it is, after all, a character study. The sort of movie where you can't help thinking people who liked it liked it because they read whatever they wanted into it (and ignored whatever doesn't fit)...but a cynic would say it's just a pretentious collection of undeveloped ideas and imagery daring you to say the Emperor has no clothes. Take your pick. In French. sc./dir: Denis Côté. 95 min.

CURSE OF THE VIKING GRAVE * *  setting: Man.
(1993) Nicholas Shields, Evan Tlesla Adams (a.k.a. Evan Adams), Michelle St. John, Cedric Smith, Gordon Tootoosis, Jay Brazeau, Lee J. Campbell, Wayne Robson, Marianne Jones.....In 1930s Manitoba, a viking treasure imperils three teens when it catches the attention of a corrupt archaeologist (Smith). Sequel to Lost in the Barrens is pulpier...but considerably less successful. Slow and flat with uninteresting characters, though youngsters might find it suitably spooky. The original was shown on the CBC, but this was aired on the Family Channel, then Global. Tootoosis takes over Graham Greene's part. sc: Malcolm MacRury (based in part on the novel by Farley Mowat). dir: Michael Scott. app. 97 min.

CURSED  *
(1990) Ron Lea, Catherine Colvey, Tom Rack, Joy Boushel, Michael Sinelnikoff, Kirsty MacEachern, Claire Riley.....Geneticist (Lea) finds himself mysteriously inspired by inscriptions on a gargoyle being restored by his girlfriend. Supernatural-suspenser is so awful, so utterly incomprehensible and disjointed, it's actually quite funny. Lea and, especially, Colvey get credit for acting as if they actually know what's going on. sc: Pierre Dalpe, Jean Marc Felio (story Mychel Arsenault, Richard Millette). dir: Mychel Arsenault. 89 min.

CURTAINS  * setting: USA.
(1983) John Vernon, Samantha Eggar, Linda Thorson, Anne Ditchburn, Lynne Griffin, Sandra Warren.....A group of actresses, auditioning for the same role, arrive at the remote home of a sleazy American film director (Vernon) and are murdered one by one. O.K. premise and the odd nice touch can't hide the fact that this is just a poorly done slasher flick that doesn't even manage a few scares. sc: Robert Guza Jr. dir: Jonathan Stryker alias Richard Ciupka. - extreme violence, brief female nudity.- 89 min.

CURTIS'S CHARM  * *  setting: USA.
(1995) Maurice Dean Wint, Callum Keith Rennie, Rachel Crawford.....One day on the streets of New York, an ex-drug addict (Rennie) meets up with an old junkie friend, Curtis (Wint), who's convinced his mother-in-law has put a voodoo curse on him. One note serio-comic flick might have made a good short film, but is too long as a feature film (even a short feature like this). Filmed in grainy black & white with a funky score, cut-aways, etc., but most of the humour seems like it should be funny...but isn't played right. Nice kinetic performance from Wint. Art-house filmmakers Atom Egoyan and Patricia Rozema were executive producers. sc./dir: John L'Ecuyer (from a short story by Jim Carroll). - violence.- 75 min.

CYBERBULLY  * * 1/2   setting: USA.
(2011) (/U.S.) Emily Osment, Kay Panabaker, Kelly Rowan, Meaghan Rath, Jon McLaren, Robert Naylor, Marcel Jeannin.....Story of an American teenage girl (Osment) who finds her fun, personal webpage quickly degenerates into an anonymous forum for personal attacks and lies about her, spilling over into school and causing her life to gradually start to fall apart. Cautionary made-for-TV drama is well acted, and well put together, boasting some emotional (and motivational) complexity and looking a bit slicker than simply a "teen-aimed TV movie of the week". With that said, it is -- as the title implies -- an earnest dramatization of a social issue; a public service spot as much as a drama. Still...holds your attention. The movie seemed to received mixed reviews from teens (going by message board comments) -- though perhaps tellingly, often with those dismissing it as "dumb" and badly made also seeming a bit dismissive of the issue itself, and arguing that bullied kids should just grow a thick skin (they also often seemed to get confused by some of the subtexts and motives). Principals Osmet and Panabaker are American actors. sc: Teena Booth. dir: Charles Binamé. 87 min.

CYBERCITY a.k.a. Shepherd
 
CYBERGEDDON (Webisodes Mini-Series)

(2012) (/U.S.)  * *   Missy Peregrym, Kick Gurry, Manny Montana, Olivier Martinez, Tonya Lee Williams, Sonja Smits, Joel Keller.....A one-time hacker and current FBI agent (Peregrym) finds herself on the run from the law and framed for involvement in a looming threat to every computer system in the world. One of those occasional experiments with a web-series -- here a mini-series told in 9 ten minute episodes. In other words, basically a movie (with the presumed hope it might spin off into sequels or, more likely, morph into a TV series). Created by "CSI"'s Anthony E. Zuiker it's sort of slick and expensive-looking...and sort of seems a bit cheap and low-budget (the premise involving a limited cast and a lot of scenes of people sitting at computers). The short episode format certainly forces the story to clip along, but it suffers from some clunky dialogue that can veer from didactic bits warning viewers of the vulnerability of computer systems (even as it equally wants to wow us with the glory of computers) and pretty obvious commercial endorsements (of the anti-virus giant Norton). And like with a lot of "tech" stories, key suspense scenes involve technobabble that may, or may not, make any sense. And the problem is: it's nothing we haven't seen before, either in man (or woman) on the run scenes or in the core concepts (even though one gets the impression the filmmakers genuinely think they are breaking new ground...implying they just haven't seen all the zillions of other thrillers about cyber terrorism and identity theft!) Nor is there anything that really exploits (or demands) the 10 min./web chapter format. It's basically just a briskly paced 90 minute TV movie that's not bad...but not really good either. sc: Miles Chapman. dir: Diego Velasco. - violence.-  


CYPHER  * * 1/2   setting: USA.
(2002) (/U.S.) Jeremy Northam, Lucy Liu, Nigel Bennett, Timothy Webber, David Hewlett, Kari Matchett, Kristina Nicoll.....In a corporation-dominated future America (with a retro 1950s vibe), a Milquetoast corporate spy (British actor Northam in an atypical turn) finds himself tumbling down a rabbit hole of double crosses, false identities (and false memories!) where he's not sure who to trust -- including the enigmatic beauty (American actress Liu) who may or may not be helping him. Enjoyable SF suspense film mixes elements of Franz Kafka and Philip K. Dick, and clips along with twists and turns, working hard to be stylish within its modest budget -- but it's self-conscious to the point of tongue-in-cheek. The whole movie is built on "MacGuffins" (narrative contrivances that exist to serve the plot, but are otherwise meaningless) -- we never really know how this society works or what the corporations want from each other. And hints at deeper themes about identity and conformity never become more than window dressing (they contrast suburban conformity with the "rebellion" of smoking, drinking and golf -- which is its own triumverate of conformist cliché). The result holds your attention from scene to scene, which is the main thing -- but you don't necessarily find yourself breathlessly waiting to see how it all turns out. How can you recognize a Canadian-made movie? It's so desperate to pretend it's American half the dialogue involves referencing American locations. a.k.a. Brainstorm. sc: Brian King. dir: Vincenzo Natali. 91 min.

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