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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.
DO YOU KNOW ME? * 1/2 setting: USA./other
(2009) (/U.S.) Rachelle Lefevre, Jeremy London, Ted Whittall, Lynda Boyd, Dean Wray, Kevin McNulty, Adrien Dorval, Victoria Duffield, Gina Chiarelli.....Young American woman (Lefevre) accidentally stumbles upon hints that her parents aren't her real parents -- that she was, in fact, kidnapped as a baby -- leading to murder and her going on the lamb, trying to find out the truth. Made-for-TV suspenser starts out okay, if a little implausible in some scenes, but quickly becomes something where you aren't really sure what people are doing, or why -- or, rather, you aren't convinced (when faced with this situation, the heroine doesn't go to the police, or even a lawyer, but instead flees from state to state with only the vaguest notion of what she figures to accomplish). Characters make cryptic utterances, as though it's some far reaching conspiracy...but it actually isn't! Some solid character actors in supporting parts (McNulty, Boyd, Whittall, etc.) and occasional scenes that seem a little more edgy than you'd expect (like when she meets her birth mom). But ultimately more miss than hit. Too bad, because Lefebvre makes an effective lead...though a heroine hasn't done this much on screen running since "Run, Lola, Run"! sc: Susan Hoffman, Oliver Butcher. dir: Penelope Buitenhuis. app. 90 min.
Doc, the book by Susan Kammeraad-Campbell, became the Global TV movie A Town Torn Apart
DR. BETHUNE see Bethune: The Making of a Hero
DR. CABBIE * 1/2 setting: Ont./other
(2014) (/India) Vinay Virmani, Adrianne Palicki, Kunal Nayyar, Lillete Dubey, Mircea Monroe, Chris Diamantopoulos, Rizwan Manji, Stephen McHattie, Judah Katz, Isabelle Kaif, Tia Bhatia, Lilly Singh.....A recently graduated doctor (Virmani) from India moves to Canada but finds he can't get accredited, so takes a job as a cab driver and ends up running an impromptu (and illegal) medical clinic out of his cab. Second self-created vehicle for Virmani (he co-scripts and his dad produces) after Breakaway is a decent "concept" undermined by middling execution. In tone it mixes a kind of unsubtle, teen-aimed After School Special with "adult" crudity and archaic sexism, at times seeming like a mid-'80s B-movie. And with a plot that lacks a clear drive, or well developed characters, feeling like it's cribbing ideas from other films (and genres!). It's billed as a romantic-comedy but it isn't that funny -- I don't mean the jokes fall flat (though they mostly do) but it comes across more as "light-hearted" than a "comedy" (building to a plodding "serious" courtroom sequence in the final act). And even the romance aspect feels undeveloped. It was marketed as dealing with "issues" (educated immigrants working menial jobs) without seeming like the filmmakers have studied the issues, know much about medicine -- or even about cab driving! If it was a farce, that'd be fine, but it clearly wants to be seen as earnest. Canadian Virmani surrounds himself with a lot of imported actors (though ironically Canadian McHattie gives the most memorable performance -- played straight -- as the cab owner). Maybe Virmani's next movie could be about how hard it is for Canadian actors to get work in Canadian movies when filmmakers prefer to hire from abroad! sc: Vinay Virmani, Ron Kennell, Manu Chopra. dir: Jean-François Pouliot. - 103 min.
DOCTOR FRANKENSTEIN ON CAMPUS a.k.a. Flicks
DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE*
* setting: other
(1999) (/Australia/U.S.) Adam Baldwin, Chang Tseng, Steve Bastroni, Anthony Wong, Jason Chong, Karen Cliche, Kira Clavell, Helene Joy, Peter Gow.....Shallow American doctor (Baldwin) honeymooning in Hong Kong, is left for dead, and his wife murdered, by local gangsters. He is taken under the wing of an elderly man (Tseng) who trains him in Eastern mysticism and martial arts to get his revenge. Made for cable TV action movie does have a tenuous connection to the Robert Louis Stevenson story (he occasionally experiments with chemicals that give him strength and glowing eyes) but not by much. What it is is too obviously a pilot for a never realized series, spending a long time setting up the premise, and lots and lots of scenes of the character training, but with little pay-off, and an unfortunate tendency toward the sadistic brutality of a straight-to-video quickie. Still, taken on its own, B-movie level, it's watchable (though starts to drag), benefitting from decent performances and the off-beat setting, and it's kind of fun watching the various actors slide in and out of Australian accents (though set in Hong Kong, it was filmed mainly in Australia). Baldwin is American, Cliche (as the wife) and Clavell (as Tseng's niece) are Canadian, and Hong Kong actor Tseng a Canadian resident, and most everyone else is Australian. Executive produced by American film giant Francis Ford Coppola and made by some of the same production partners as were responsible for The Lost World. A later modernization is reviewed below. And for a somewhat more traditional version of the story, see The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. sc: Peter M. Lenkov. dir: Colin Budds. - extreme violence, partial female nudity, sexual content.- 95 min.
DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE* 1/2 setting: U.S.
(2007) (/U.S.) Dougray Scott, Krista Bridges, Tom Skerritt, Danette Mac Kay, Cas Anvar.....Story about Doctor Jekyll (Scott), whose experiments have released a split personality/inner demon, the homicidal Mr. Hyde. Made-for-TV version of the classic story, reinventing it and up-dating it to modern-day Boston, USA. It's sort of like most past film versions, by focusing on Jekyll and his transformations to Hyde, and it sort of goes back to the original novel by approaching other scenes as a "mystery," with Bridges as his lawyer trying to figure out the connection, and then it turns into a court room drama in the final act! It's sort of a thriller, sort of just a shlocky serial killer movie (Hyde's victims often random young females), and yet other times has barely any suspense or thrills at all! (Nor are the trial scenes convincing). Possibly struggling with a low-budget (it looks okay -- but a lot of it is comprised of limited actors in minimalist scenes). The filmmakers don't really evince much sense of what they want to do with this oft-told tale, or why they are telling it (hence why it can feel like three or four different approaches) -- and wastes good performances from the three leads: Scotsman Scott, Canadian Bridges, and American Skerrit (in a rather thankless part). One of a number of Canadian-made Jekyll/Hyde interpretations over the years including The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (reviewed above), and Jekyll + Hyde. sc: Paul Margolis (from the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson). dir: Paolo Barzman. 89 min.
DR. LUCILLE: The Lucille Teasdale
story * * * setting: CDN./other
(2000) (/South Africa) Marina Orsini, Massimo Ghini, Lou Gossett, Jr.....Story of Canadian doctor Lucille Teasdale (Orsini) and her Italian husband, Dr. Piero Corti (Ghini), who established St. Mary's, a rural hospital in late '50s Uganda, and maintained it even during various brutal regimes. Expensive made-for-CTV bio-pic works suprisingly well, given that "life" stories tend not to have a consistent narrative thread, and it does, indeed, become choppier as it goes along. Sometimes scenes have all the finesse of those Heritage Minutes, but most times it's well written and directed, held together by crackerjack performances from Canadian Orsini and Italian actor Ghini, who are the only real characters (even American actor Gossett, Jr. has a relatively bit part). Beware an unusual amount of gore for a TV movie. sc: Rob Forsyth. dir: Georges Mihalka. app. 90 min. - extreme violence.-
This TV series suffered, like so many Canadian sitcoms, from actors and directors who think yelling and mugging are the keys to great comedy. Still, the scripts did contain a few amusing, if not entirely uproarious, jokes. Woolvett would co-star with a dog again in the series White Fang. Half-hour episodes aired, and re-aired, on YTV.
* * 1/2
(1998) Natasha Henstridge, Luke Wilson, Janeane Garofalo, Kathleen Robertson, Bruce McCulloch, Amie Carey, Harland Williams, Kristin Lehman, Gordon Currie, Mark McKinney.....Ensemble about various friends and lovers, focusing on a guy (Wilson) who's too quick to throw himself into relationships, and a woman (Henstridge) who tends to resist commitment, much of it revolving around the characters' pets and the local park where they walk their dogs. The first film by writer/director McCulloch, formerly of the shock-comedy troupe The Kids in the Hall, is a complete change-of-pace -- a surprisingly low-key, good-hearted comedy about romance and relationships (Graofalo's final line to McCulloch -- as a couple -- is particularly fine writing). A nice cast, where even bit parts are played by prominent actors like Albert Schultz and Peter MacNeill, though McCulloch-the-actor still seems like he's playing in a sketch comedy. McKinney, as a dog therapist, is also an ex-Kids in the Hall-er. Wilson, Garofalo and Carey (I think) are American, everyone else is Canadian. sc./dir: Bruce McCulloch. - sexual content, casual female nudity.- 90 min.
THE DOG WHO STOPPED THE WAR see La Guerre des tuques
DOGPOUND SHUFFLE *
* * setting: B.C.
(1974) Ron Moody, David Soul, Pamela McMyler, Ray Stricklyn, Raymond Sutton.....Ex-dancer hobo (Moody) loses his dog to the pound and, with the help of an ex-boxer (Soul), spends the rest of the film trying to get it back. Minor yet totally winning little comedy/drama. sc./dir: Jeffrey Bloom. 95 min.
DON'T FORGET TO WIPE THE BLOOD OFF * * 1/2 setting: CDN./USA./other
(1966) (/U.K./U.S.) Stephen Young, Austin Willis, Gordon Pinsent, Ivor Barry, Charmion King, Herbert Berghoff, Lynda Day (George), Sean Sullivan.....An attempt by criminals to smuggle a coerced and reluctant American scientist and his wife out of North America through Canada embroils various characters, including those (Young and Willis) who oversee and trouble-shoot the St. Lawrence seaway. Black & white suspense-drama is actually a two-part episode culled from the TV series, Seaway. Because of the plot's focus on the guest stars (common in the series itself) you don't need to have any particular familiarity with the show, with series regulars Young and Willis prominent characters, but more like players in an ensemble (indeed, Pinsent, as a cynical C.I.A. agent, actually seems to take centre stage toward the climax!) Not so much an edge-of-the-seat action-thriller as a film noir suspense-drama, with the tension low-key but mostly effective. It boasts solid performances from its mix of Canadian, American, and U.K. actors (with Pinsent and fellow Canadian Sullivan, as the bad guy's henchman, notable). But despite a first half seeming a bit edgy and ambivalent (reflected in the title taken from a line Young bitterly utters part way through) never really becomes more than a minor espionage adventure, not really paying off with any particular character or philosophical climaxes. Still, a perfectly decent watch for a mid-'60s TV crime-drama. sc: Lindsay Galloway. dir: George McCowan. app. 100 min.
DON'T LET THE ANGELS FALL
* 1/2 setting; P.Q.
(1968) Arthur Hill, Charmion King, Sharon Acker, Michele Magny, Monique Mercure, Jonathan Michaelson, John Kastner.....Story of a dysfunctional middle-class family some months after the father (Hill) had a brief affair (with Acker). Pretentious, ham-handed drama where, despite their problems (or maybe because of them), you don't much care about the characters. Filmed in black & white and made for the National Film Board. sc: Timothy Findley (story Findely and George Kaczender). dir: George Kaczender. - partial female nudity.- 99 min.
DON'T TURN OUT THE LIGHTS
* 1/2 setting: USA.
(1988) Robert Bideman, Nadia Capone, Robbie Rox, Paul Saunders, Bonnie Beck, Isabelle Merchant, Banito Brown, Erica Landcaster, Niel Lancaster.....Psychotic serial killer escapes custody with his pals (who aren't all -- quite -- as crazy as he) and take over a farm house with a family, while the cop husband (Bideman) must try and strike from the outside. Low-budget thriller boasts some attempts at stylish direction and some character quirks, and even some pretentious allusions to Homer's The Odyssey (nyah, I didn't clue into that; I read it on the Internet Movie Database, but you can recognize it when it's pointed out). But it's generally lame, with frequently awful dialogue, and is sleazy (with an unhealthy mix of sex and violence) and in questionable taste -- we are told the killer likes to "take his time" with both women and kids, yet the villains are almost played as comic relief! At the same time, it's briskly paced, with gratuitous nudity, and can almost be watchable in a goofy "so bad it's almost good" camp fest, rather than as the thriller it was presumably intended. Capone's film debut and Ciccoritti (a.k.a. Jerry Ciccoritti) would achieve greater success as a director than as a writer. a.k.a. Skull: A Night of Terror. sc: Gerard Ciccoritti, Robert Bergman. dir: Robert Bergman. - partial female nudity; violence; sexual content.- 76 min.
THE DONOR *
* 1/2 setting: USA.
(1995) Jeff Wincott, Michelle Johnson, Gordon Thomson, Richard Zeppieri, Joseph Scorsiani (a.k.a. Joseph Scoren), Geza Kovacs, Amanda Tapping, Christina Cox.....U.S. stunt driver (Wincott) wakes up from a one-night stand...minus a kidney, stolen by black marketeers. Mystery-suspense/drama inspired by the urban legend is almost more interested in the psychological effects of the hero's victimization, and his personal growth, than tracking down the baddies. In that respect, it's admirable and seeming genuinely sincere, but a bit slow and not entirely able to shake the unpolishedness of its B-movie origins. Still interesting with some decent performances. sc: Neal & Tippi Dobrofsky. dir: Damian Lee. - partial female nudity, sexual content, brief male nudity, violence.- 94 min.
DONOVAN'S ECHO * * 1/2 setting: B.C.
(2012) Danny Glover, Bruce Greenwood, Natasha Calis, Sonja Bennett, David Lewis, Ian Tracey, Lanette Ware, Karen Holness.....A troubled man (Glover) returns home after drifting for years, still grieving the deaths of his wife and daughter decades before, only to become convinced unexplained premonitions he experienced thirty years earlier are now coming true, and relate to a little girl (Calis) he befriends -- or is he just letting his grief drive him crazy? Supernatural drama-cum-suspenser has good performances in general (notably young Calis) and great ones from American Glover and from Greenwood as his friend, a sceptical cop -- two actors well matched with their subtle, nuanced delivery. It's atmospheric and broody, with good scenes, and delivers an exciting last act, as the threads come together (indeed, it probably invites a second viewing to pick up on the way certain lines and images recur). With that said: the body of the film is deliberately slow-moving, content to rely on its minimalist plot, without really bringing much new to its "psychic portents" genre (save that his visions were initially years before). It's supernatural, with some danger (there's a sub-plot with possible criminal aspects), but not really a spooky flick; it's an adult drama, but can also seem a bit like a family-aimed TV movie. Ultimately, a good movie, and worth a look in -- but not quite a great one. sc: Jim Cliffe, Melodie Krieger. dir: Jim Cliffe. 90 min.
(1999) * * Andy Jones ("Eddie Hawco"), Mary Walsh ("Marilyn Benoit"), Andrew Younghusband ("Tracy"), Derek Duggan ("Howie"), Ken Campbell ("Prof. Hickey"), Ron Hynes ("Johnny Shea"), Nicole de Boer ("Skye")..... Sitcom set at a Newfoundland ice rink, run by Jones and Walsh, who've been in a "secret" common law relationship for years (he's the father of her teen-age kid, played by Duggan, but pretends just to be a family friend). Younghusband played the good-natured ex-convict Zamboni driver; Campbell a lascivious professor with an eye for "Marilyn"; Hynes a sleazy developer who wanted to tear down the rink to build low-income housing; and DeBoer the new owner of the rink, a mainlander who inherited it from the father she barely knew.
In a way, this series was kind of reminiscent of another maritime comedy, Gullage's. Unlike so much of the stuff coming out of Central Canada at the time, this wasn't pretentious, or attempting to break new ground, but was an unabashed attempt to just do a silly (if occasionally scatalogical) sitcom. Though more fracical than the low-key Gullage's, it likewise suffered because, good intentions or not, it just wasn't that funny. It was cute, and boasted scenes and eccentric ideas that should've had the viewer chuckling outloud...but rarely managed to do so. Maybe -- and dare I attack such icons? -- part of the problem is that, as talented as Jones and Walsh are, as skilled in the techniques of sketch comedy as they may be, neither of them quite have the knack for situation comedy which requires creating a believeable (and sympathetic) character while still milking the gags. 6 half-hour episodes on the CBC.
* setting: Ont.
(2006) K.C. Collins, Mark Taylor, Genelle Williams, Mpho Koaho, Cle Bennett, Yanna McIntosh, Shakura S'aida, Gary Farmer, Eugene Clark.....Story of black, inner city violence and crime, focusing on a young dealer (Collins) who finds himself in danger from, and considering testifying against, a rival drug dealer who tried to kill him. Made-for-CTV movie might have been radical and edgy twenty years ago -- but now just seems like a generic revisitation of familiar material; even the Canadianess of the West Indian and African accents doesn't distinguish it much from the American 'hood movies. It never quite shakes off its "public service spot" feel to become an involving drama. Nor is it that enlightening (a talking head TV interview sequence mid-way through, when a character talks about the roots of crime and gangs, makes you go: "That's what this movie should be about!"). As it is, it doesn't seem like the sort of thing that will really make young gangstas re-think their lives...nor does it provide much real insight for those to whom it's an alien milieu. Decent performances, and clearly well-intentioned...but unsatisfying. sc./dir: Sudz Sutherland. - violence.- app. 90 min.
The Double, the novel by José Saramago, became the movie Enemy
DOUBLE HAPPINESS *
* 1/2 setting: B.C.
(1994) Sandra Oh, Stephen M.D. Chang, Alannah Ong, Donald Fong, Frances You, Callum Rennie, Claudette Carracedo, Johnny Mah.....Story of a young Canadian woman (Oh), aspiring to be an actress, and struggling to make a life for herself while still living with her old world Chinese immigrant parents (Chang and Ong). Likeable comedy/drama boasts uniformly fine performances (particularly Oh, who received the Best Actress Genie) and first time writer/director Shum invests the film with a brisk tempo and scenes that almost rise above the cliches -- but the whole is less than the sum of its parts, because, though doubtless heartfelt, the generational conflict between immigrants and their kids is hardly a unique premise for a film. Nice score by Shadowy Men From a Shadowy Planet. That's Shum as an obnoxious Hong Kong filmmaker. sc./dir: Mina Shum. 87 min.
DOUBLE IDENTITY *
1/2 setting: P.Q.
(1990) (/France) Nick Mancuso, Patrick Bauchau, Leah Pinsent, Jacques Godin, Anne La Tourneau, Lorne Brass, Michael Rudder.....Former college professor (Mancuso), now a gangster (working for Bauchau), decides he wants out after meeting a nice country girl (Pinsent). Dreadful, sloppily made drama and/or thriller lacks even a basic plot. And how can anything so talky have so little characterization? The normally good cast wanders aimlessly through their roles. A 3 Themes-Hamster production. sc: Robert Geoffrion, Yves Boisset (story Alain Scoff). dir: Yves Boisset. 92 min.
DOUBLE NEGATIVE *
1/2 setting: Ont.
(1980) Michael Sarrazin, Susan Clark, Anthony Perkins, Al Waxman, Howard Duff, Kenneth Welsh.....Emotionally scarred journalist (Sarrazin) investigates the murder of his wife. Limp, uninteresting and predictable mystery. Waste of an impressive cast of supporting actors and cameos (including John Candy, Douglas Campbell and Catherine O'Hara). a.k.a. Deadly Companion. sc: Thomas Hedley Jr., Charles Dennis, with Janis Allen (from the novel The Three Roads by Ross MacDonald). dir: George Bloomfield. - violence, female nudity, sexual content.- 96 min.
DOUBLE OR NOTHING: The Rise
and Fall of Robert Campeau* 1/2
(1993) Marcel Sabourin, Ron Lea, Liz Macrae, Daniel Briere, Bernard Behrens, voice of J. Winston Carroll.....Dramatic scenes mix with real interviews and a narration to look at the Canadian business man's attempt to take over a major U.S. retail chain. Ineffectual blending of re-enactments and documentary (with only the interviews being interesting). Nor are the financial wheelings and dealings adequately explained for the layperson. This was the first co-production between the NFB and CTV. If you want to see how this kind of movie can be done -- and done well -- check out the U.S. made-for-cable movie "Barbarians at the Gate" (ironically, also a docudrama about a Canadian businessman trying to take over a U.S. company). sc./dir: Paul Cowan. app. 93 min.
DOUBLE TAKE *
* 1/2 setting: USA.
(1998) Craig Sheffer, Brigitte Bako, Costas Mandylor, Maurice Godin, Torri Higginson, Dan Lett, Frank Pellegrino, Heidi von Palleske.....American novelist (American Sheffer) provides eye witness testimony that sends a man to prison, then worries he made a mistake when he sees an identical man (American Mandylor) on the street, leading him to investigate along with the convict's girlfriend (Bako). Surprisingly competently put together little suspense thriller, with just enough quirk here and there to avoid being too generic. Starts to run out of steam before the end, with (some) of the twists kind of forseeable if you're familiar with these kind of movies. Still, a decent watch, nicely acted. sc: Ed Rugoff and Ralph Rugoff. dir: Mark L. Lester. - sexual content, violence, brief female nudity.- 86 min.
DOUBLE VISION *
1/2 setting: USA./other
(1992) (/France) Kim Cattrall, Gale Hansen, Macha Meril, Naveen Andrews, Christopher Lee, Barbara Windsor, Shane Rimmer.....Premonitions propel a timid American (Cattrall) to seek out her loose-living twin in London -- and to adopt her ways when she dies mysteriously. Dull suspenser offers little but standard ideas and scenes, not very well handled. We aren't waiting to discover anything about the sister (even the villain is predictable) and the lead never grabs our interest. One of the Mary Higgins Clark Collection. sc: Tony Grisoni (from the short story by Mary Higgins Clark). dir: Robert Knights. 92 min.
* * setting: P.Q.
(1982) Helene Loiselle, Marcel Sabourin, Genevieve Brassard, Gilbert Turp.....Four tales of love and relationships, all revolving around a feisty grandmother (Loiselle). Too sugary to really score, but too inoffensive to really dislike. English title: Those Vows of Love. sc: Dominique Levesque, Bernard Dansereau, Florence Bolte, Fernand Dansereau. dir: Fernand Dansereau.
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