The Great Canadian Guide to the Movies (& TV) presents...


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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.

EL LADO OSCURO DEL CORAZON ('el' is like 'the', an article, so look under L for 'lado', dummy)

ELDORADO   * *  setting: P.Q.
(1996) Pascale Bussieres, Robert Brouillette, James Hyndman, Macha Limonchik, Pascale Montpetit, Isabel Richer.....Story of the unhappy, and occasionally interconnected, lives of various twentysomethings, such as a thief/dealer/street person (Bussieres), a shock-jock d.j. (Hyndman), etc.  Slick, well-acted drama suffers from the simple fact that a movie attempting to chronicle people dissatisfied with their aimless lives tends to end up an aimless, unsatisfying movie.  Disjointed, confusing, and strangely aloof, as well.  Years after the development of coloured sub-titles, or transparent grey frames, movies like this still come out wherein whole chunks of dialogue are rendered unintelligible by the use of white subtitles on bright backgrounds!  sc: Charles Biname, Lorraine Richard, the cast. dir: Charles Biname. - sexual content, brief male and female nudity.- 109 min.

ELECTRA   * *  setting: USA.
(1995) (/U.S.) Shannon Tweed, Joe Tab, Sten Eirik, Katie Griffin, Lara Daans, Dyanne DiMarco, Ed Sahley.....Young American (Tab), imbued with a physically enchancing drug, and his girlfriend (Griffin) find themselves on the run from a crippled baddie (Eirik) and his goons, including a couple of scantily-clad, lethal ladies (Daans and DiMarco).  Low-budget, straight-faced but (presumably intentionally) kitchsy James Bond/superhero action flick is dressed up with some sex (the chemical can only be passed on through, ahem, intercourse) and violence, but is kind of sluggish.  Tweed and Eirik are good, but there's a problem when the hero comes across as a dork and the heroine an obnoxious brat.  sc: Lou Aguilar, Damian Lee. dir: Julian Grant. - sexual content, partial female nudity, extreme violence.- 91 min.
11 CHANNELS (TV Series)

(2006)  * * *  Leah Cudmore ("Amber"), Kate Hewlett ("Andrea"), Alan Van Sprang ("Bruce"), Dillion Casey ("Chuck"), Alex Campbell ("Colin"), Deborah Grover ("Gladys"), Terra Uvesa ("Honey"), Deanna Dezmari ("Irina"), Ashley Leggat ("Kelly"), Jeff Roop ("Nick"), Barbara Radecki ("Paula"), Jazz Mann ("Raj"), Joris Jarsky ("Richard"), Mayko Nguyen ("Sarah"), Yogesh Chotalia ("Sumesh"), Jessica Greco ("Tiffany"), others.....Experimental soap takes a page from Train 48 in "how to do a soap cheaply". Here the gimmick is that the various characters communicate with each other through webcams, meaning they address each other by looking directly at the camera, and the sets and camera angles remain locked in while the audience essentially eavesdrops. 

The result? If you can buy into the notion that all these people have webcams...surprisingly effective. Good looking, in picture and lighting, and the "voyeuristic" trick of the audience essentially listening in on private conversations is highly effective. Above all, the actors are very, very good and convincing, and the scenes tight and often well written, with an added complexity as some threads crossover and interweave with each other -- in a six degrees of separation way. Unfortunately, once the viewer gets used to the characters and their dilemmas (the gay guy who hasn't come out, the East Indian immigrant who has yet to tell his finance back home that he's got a Canadian girlfriend...or his Canadian girlfriend that he hasn't broken off the wedding, the guy whose Russian-based girlfriend has disappeared and he has no way of knowing what happened to her) the series starts to spin its wheels -- a problem facing many soap/series. New complications and dilemmas have to be introduced to keep things intriguing. Still, definitely worth a look. Created by Jeff Spriet and James Wilkes. Half-hour episodes on the CBC.


(2002-2005)  * * 1/2   Shawn Doyle ("Dennis Langley") (-2nd), Waneta Storms ("Isobel Lambert"), Jeff Seymour ("Kamal Azizi"), Tanya Reid ("Kennedy Marsh"), Ben Bass ("Henry Shelley") (3rd), Sonja Smits ("Megan Redner"), Peter MacNeill ("Warren Donahue") (-2nd), Inga Cadranel ("Brooke Fairburn"), Scott McCord ("James Joy"), John Neville ("Deaton Hill") (1st), with Matt Gordon ("Murray Dann"), Noam Jenkins, Michael Murphy.....Drama about the goings on at a "fifth estate"/"W Five" style Canadian TV newsmagazine, following the segment producers as they track down and investigate various controversial stories (some inspired by real life news stories) -- the focus shifting between Doyle (the brooding one), Storms (the naive, green one) and Seymour (the cocky one) from episode to episode. Reid and MacNeill play the show's producers -- she the beautiful but icy and amoral young upstart, fresh from a successful, but shallow, newsmagazine, he of the crusty old school. Cadranel and McCord play production assistants. Smits and Neville play the somewhat full-of-themselves on screen personality/anchors. Gordon plays the show's legal advisor. Jenkins the editor. Murphy crops up occasionally as a network executive. By the second season MacNeill had been reduced to a recurring, rather than regular character, Neville was gone entirely (his character away on an overseas assignment) and Seymour was now an on-air anchor. Doyle was gone by the third season (though returned for the series' finale), with Bass added as a new, cocky, street smart producer. 

Inspired, presumably, by the hit Hollywood movie "The Insider" (dramatizing behind-the-scenes of TV's "60 Minutes"), and maybe CTV's previous news-drama series, E.N.G., initially this was an O.K. series, though it didn't live up to the enormous critical hype that surrounded it (but then critics -- journalists and media types themselves -- often seem to have an uncritical soft spot for media and/or journalism series). Episodes that succeed as intriguing mysteries, as the characters follow the unexpected twists and turns of their stories, often resolve weakly, while ones with clever resolutions can plod along for most of their hour. Although attempting to tackle issues, it initially did so in a kind of unfocused way, leaving you unsure what their point is. And like the earlier E.N.G., often seems as interested in detailing journalistic politicking and exploring how and why a story gets aired, as in the social issues themselves. A show like this lives on whether it can convey an authenticity, but sometimes it doesn't seem to know what it's talking about (in one episode referring to a character being out on bail...when she hadn't even been charged with anything!) or pushes credibility (like the one where "Kamal" goes undercover as an Iranian refugee...and no one seems to question his perfect, North American English). 

Suffering from low ratings (despite the hype) the second season tried jazzing things up. After initially bragging about the harsh lighting, and the lack of glamour for the first season, the actors now started praising how flattering the new lighting and make-up was. It was moved to a later time slot and started employing coarse language and occasional nudity. How do you introduce nudity into a series about a newsroom, you ask? Does "Kennedy" start showering in her office? Nope. The nudity -- not involving the regulars -- often didn't even pretend to be integral to the story, involving visits to strip clubs and gratuitous dream sequences. I don't object to a little gratuitous titilation, but it just seemed desperate. Despite this "new attitude" (which may have included showing middle-age actors like MacNeill and Neville the door), the second season was generally weaker than the first, with oddly flaccid stories -- though it could still generate the occasional O.K episode. But the "racy" makeover clearly didn't win any new fans and for the third season the stunt nudity seemed to have been dropped (though the coarse language, largely de rigeur for Canadian series these days, remained) and the series continued producing wobbly, if watchable episodes, with occasional good ones (the series' last episode -- in which Doyle reprises his "Langley" roll and there are echoes of the real life Maher Arar case -- was one of the best, allowing it to go out on a high note, artistically speaking, and following through on the romantic tension between "Langley" and "Kennedy" that was half-heartedly hinted at in the first two seasons). 

Despite decent performances from all, the characters were never that interesting, nor even entirely appealing (though the introduction of Bass' character went too far the other way, as he seemed a little too much like a flashy, TV character). Initially Seymour's cocky persona injected a lot of energy into things, but his character was toned down and made appropriately grimmer. 

Although set in Canada, and willing to say it, an American-centricness still permeates, with many episodes defining Canadian issues largely in their relationship to American ones -- though in the post-9/11/01 climate, with many on the far right calling for closer and closer ties to the U.S., a series reminding Canadians of the differences between the two countries may not be a bad thing. There's also a festishtic penchant for using American celebrity names or places for the characters (Kennedy, Donahue, Langley -- even Deaton Hill evokes Beacon Hill). Much was made of the (depressing) fact that Canadian TV production has so imploded, when the The Eleventh Hour aired in 2002 it was the only new set-in-Canada hour long drama being offered by any of the networks. Created by Semi Chellas, Ilana Frank. Three seasons totalling 39 hour long episodes on CTV. 

ELIJAH  * * * 1/2   setting: Man.
(2007) Billy Merasty, Glen Gould, Tina Louise Bomberry, Gregory Dominic Odjig, Gabrielle Miller, Lorne Cardinal, Wilma Pelly, Maury Chaykin, Currie Graham.....Story of Elijah Harper, the Native Indian Member of the Manitoba Legislature, whose single vote came to decide the nation-wide fate of the Meech Lake Accord constitutional reform. At first glance, it might seem problematic to milk an entire movie out of what, in hindsight, could be viewed as simply a man's 15 minutes of fame. Surprisingly, then, this made-for-CTV movie looks beneath the headlines and explores a cultural and historical context. It's partly about Harper's life (from his youth in the Residential School system, to his awakening interest in politics, becoming the first-ever Native member of the Manitoba Legislature), showing him both as a guileless innocent when it comes to the veteran politicos (white and Native both, like Phil Fontaine played here by Gould) yet also sincere and determined...but also about the whole Native-white relationship, prejudice, and the empowering irony that the future of a nation comes to rest on the shoulders of a man representing a minority long sidelined by the political process (viewed that way, it sounds like a Frank Capra-esque fantasy!). Plus with plenty of backroom wrangling and waiting by phones...mother's milk to fans of political dramas. And the telling itself is eclectic, from comedy and quirky satire (making it far from a too earnest docudrama) to dramatic, even occasionally powerful...and the last act is pretty gripping (even if you know how the events played out). Merasty is an effective Harper (despite little physical resemblance) as is Odjig as a young Harper. Maybe strains too hard to be whimsical and a lot is covered, but some not as in depth as you might like. But ultimately...holds your attention as simply a movie, while also exploring and expounding on factual events. sc./dir: Blake Corbet. app. 90 min.

ELIZA'S HOROSCOPE * 1/2  setting: P.Q.
(1970) Elizabeth Moorman, Tom Lee Jones (a.k.a. Tommy Lee Jones), Lila Kedova, Rose Quong, Pierre Byland, Marcel Sabourin, Richard Manuel.....Story of a naive, astrology obsessed young woman (Moorman), looking for love, and her relationship with a metis revolutionary (Jones).  Surrealistic, somewhat explicit drama ambles about, being weird, and ends up completely unsatisfying.  Interesting casting includes The Band member Manuel and a cameo by singer/documentary filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin.  American movie star Jones, in one of his earliest roles, is very good but his Southern accent is out of place.  sc./dir: Gordon Sheppard. - explicit sexual content, female nudity.- 120 min.

ELIZABETH REX  * * *  setting: other
(2003) Brent Carver, Diane D'Aquila, Scott Wentworth, Peter Hutt, Bernard Hopkins.....In 1601, on the eve of the execution of Lord Essex (the Queen's ex-lover) for treason, William Shakespeare's troupe are stuck for the night by curfew after a performance, and Queen Elizabeth comes to see them; spending the night in banter, argument, and self-discovery. Hauntingly atmospheric, well-mounted made-for-CBC TV adaptation of the play (featuring most of the original cast); well acted, particularly by Carver as a gay actor, dying of an AIDS-like ailment, who becomes the Queen's chief foil, as she challenges him to teach her how to reconnect with the woman buried inside her. A number of characters, most given shading, make for an unexpectedly complex narrative that delivers on most of its themes, with dialogue and word play often meant to have the flavour of Shakespeare (though in modern language). Though the plot is secondary to character, and the character stuff relying a little too much on antiquated cliches (like defining personality traits by gender -- a tough Queen has given up her "femininity", 'cause, y'know, girls are made of sugar and spice...) Ultimately, my sarcasm aside, it's a compelling telling of the critically regarded play. Received Geminis for Best Actress and Actor. sc: Barbara Willis Sweete, Kate Miles (from the play by Timothy Findley). dir: Barbara Willis Sweete. 90 min.

ELLES ETAIENT CINQ  * * 1/2  setting: P.Q.
(2004) Jacinthe Lague, Julie Deslauriers, Ingrid Falaise, Brigitte LaFleur, Noemie Yelle, Peter Miller, Sylvain Carrier, Diane LaVallee.....Story of some teen-age girls, one of whom is raped and another is murdered, and its impact upon them later in life, particularly as the survivor starts to get her life together...only to learn her attacker is being paroled. Drama (not a thriller) is a mix of strengths and not-so strengths. The early part is too obviously just a set up; then becomes exceptionally strong in the middle, thanks in part to involving performances from Lague and Carrier (as a love interest), where you're curious to see where it's headed and to watch it unfold...then starts to loose steam in the final third as the friends reunite at a cabin and it, unintentionally, seems a little like left over scenes from Le decline de l'empire americain as they hang out and prepare meals. Not enough care was invested in making us interested in some of the other women (other than Lague and Deslauriers), and a flashback to the crime seems gratuitous and unnecessary -- the movie isn't about the crime, it's about the repercussions of the crime. Ultimately building to what is supposed to be a climactic revelation...but doesn't quite work viscerally, making for a movie that doesn't quite build to anything. An at-times compelling portrait of the effect of crime on survivors and families, but strongest in the middle. Louise Portal and Robert Lalonde are effective in one scene as the murdered girl's parents. English title: The Five of Us. sc: Chantal Cadieux. dir: Ghyslaine Cote. - violence.- 82 min.

EMBRACE OF THE VAMPIRE   * 1/2  setting: USA.
(2013) Sharon Hinnendael, Victor Webster, C.C. Sheffield, Tiio Horn (a.k.a. Kaniehtiio Horn), Chelsey Marie Reist, Ryan Kennedy, Robert Moloney, Keegan Connor Tracey.....A mousey girl (American actress Hinnendael) moves to an upscale university, deals with bullies and hazing, has frequent hallucinations...and a vampire is lurking about. Astonishingly bad supernatural horror flick -- perhaps because the good production values and the breathtaking backdrop of B.C. mountains (pretending it's the U.S.) seemed to promise some high end production. But it can feel like the writers and director are familiar with the cliches of the genre -- but don't understand (or care) how or why they work, like they're mixing n' matching scenes from other films (a criticism that could equally be levelled at director Bessai's previous horror effort, Severed). One suspects, if pressed, even the filmmakers couldn't tell you what the actual core thread of the film is supposed to be, in terms of character, plot, themes, or simple tone: there's some nudity and sex (including a surprisingly explicit lesbian scene) -- yet it doesn't really sustain an air of sensuality inbetween (and apparently some prints cut those scenes entirely!) There's so little plot progression, most of the shocks and "scares" in the first hour are just hallucinations. The actors are mostly competent, though only Kennedy (as a nice guy coffee shop manager) manages to invest his role with any personality. Loosely based on a 1995 American film which, though not critically well regarded, enjoys a certain cult appeal thanks to its eroticism. sc: Andrew Erin, Sheldon Roper (story Alan Mruvka). dir: Carl Bessai. - partial female nudity; explicit sexuality; extreme violence.- 91 min.

THE EMERALD TEAR (1988) Leah Pinsent, Ed Marinaro, Ron Lea. sc: George Arthur Bloom (from a story by Liza Zisman). dir: Mort Ransen. see Shades of Love.

EMILE  * *  setting: CDN./other
(2004) Ian McKellen, Deborah Kara Unger, Theo Crane, Tygh Runyan, Chris William Martin, Ian Tracey.....Elderly, Canadian-born British professor (McKellen) returns to Canada for an honourary degree and stays with his bitter niece (Unger) and her daughter (Crane) -- both whom he hardly knows -- and troubled family history is stirred up. Drama boasts nice performances, some interesting visual stylistics, enjoyably unselfconscious Canadiana, and has some really effective, nicely done scenes...but lags in-between. The whole thing is too slow moving where, after a while, the shifting between present and flashbacks seems more like a crutch to pad a thin story than a development of same. Fairly inoffensive and there are one or two revelations but the movie, ultimately, seems not too far from being a shaggy dog story. Arguably Bessai's best film to date...and it still doesn't quite work (though comes close). sc./dir: Carl Bessai. 92 min.

EMILIE (TV Limited Series) * *  setting: P.Q.
(1992) Marina Orsini, Roy Dupuis, Germain Houde, Johanne-Marie Tremblay, Veronique Leflaguais, Pierre Curzi.....Story of Emilie (Orsini), a young woman in the late 1800s who becomes a teacher, falls in love with a brooding student (Dupuis), eventually marries him, and of their stormy relationship -- and of their assorted friends and family.  Dubbed version of the 1990 Quebec series Les filles de Caleb (based on the experiences of novelist Cousture's ancestor).  At its peak in Quebec, it was one of the highest rated shows ever...unfortunately it's hard to see why.  Unconvincing characterization in this dryly assembled series, though boosted by Orsini's performance.  Still, maybe it works better in the original French...  The CBC aired this at 10 pm, despite being better suited to the Road to Avonlea crowd, supposedly because of steamy sex scenes -- scenes that ultimately were much ado about nothing.  Followed by the semi-sequel Blanche.  20 hour long episodes.  sc: Fernand Dansereau (from the novel Les filles de Caleb by Arlette Cousture). dir: Jean Beaudin. - brief nudity.-

(1998-2002)  * *  Martha MacIsaac ("Emily Murray"), Susan Clark ("Aunt Elizabeth") (1st), Sheila McCarthy ("Aunt Laura"), Stephen McHattie ("Uncle Jimmy"), Linda Thorson ("Aunt Isabel") (2nd-3rd), John Neville ("Uncle Malcolm") (2nd), with Jessica Pellerin ("Ilse Burnley"), Kris Lemche ("Perry Miller"), Richard Donat ("Doctor Burnley"), Peter Donaldson ("Ian Bowles"), many others....Family drama set in the early 20th Century about an imaginative, spunky girl (MacIsaac) who comes to live with her stern rural relatives after her parents die. McCarthy played the passive, good-hearted aunt; McHattie the well-meaning but mentally handicapped Uncle; and Clark, followed by Thorson, and briefly Neville, the more sour, stern-faced authority figures. Pellerin played "Emily"'s best friend, and Donat her Doctor father (who had a crush on "Aunt Laura"); Donaldson was a conniving heel who first wooed "Laura", then blackmailed her into marrying him, then threatened to take New Moon away from them; Lemche appeared as a farm hand for a couple of seasons (replaced by another actor). 

Widely advertised as kind of Anne of Green Gables from Hell, this series was based on novels by Lucy Maud Montgomery (whose works led to Anne, Road to Avonlea, and many other projects). Most of those projects were by Sullivan Entertainment, but this was a different production company. The idea here was to tell a darker, grittier version of those kind of tales. But the series had most of the vices of the Sullivan productions -- stilted direction, mannered performances from many of the adults, and, frankly, often unconvincing ones from the kids. But married with the bleakness, the whole thing could seem, well, awkward. Even goofy at times as it juggled light-hearted, even silly sub-plots, with depressing, bleak ones. The helplessness of most of the characters, although authentic, could make for aggravating viewing, as a crisis would arise and Emily would, often, run to Uncle Jimmy...but Jimmy was no Hollywood idiot savant, but a genuinely damaged figure who was incapable of offering much help. The fact that Emily never seemed to clue into this...well. Most of the characters, Emily especially, came across as not very bright. Intellectually Uncle Jimmy seemed more like the average, rather than the exception. Like a lot of modern series, the show often indulged in story arcs and on-going plot lines, making it sometimes difficult to just jump into. 

Comfortably nestled in the CBC's Sunday Night family hour (home previously to Road to Avonlea, Wind at My Back) the series ran for a number years (with occasional hiatuses). So maybe it had an audience (or maybe the CBC had nothing to replace it with). And it wasn't really the darkness that was the problem, but the stilted execution. Four seasons of hour long episodes.

EMINENT DOMAIN  * * 1/2  setting: other
(1990) (/Israel/France) Donald Sutherland, Anne Archer, Paul Freeman, Anthony Bate, Jodhi May, Pip Torrens, Bernard Hepton.....In communist Poland (in 1979) a high ranking official (Sutherland) suddenly finds his position no longer exists, his house is bugged, and he's being followed...and he doesn't know why.  Off-beat suspense-drama (with strong shades of Kafka) is O.K. -- but should have been better.  Depersonal direction and disjointedness work against it, as does Sutherland.  He's too good an actor to be actually bad, but he's a little too opaque throughout much of the film.  Filmed on location.  sc: Andrzej Krakowski, Richard Gregson (story Krakowski). dir: John Irvin. 102 min.

An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood, the book by Neal Gabler, was used as the source for the documentary Hollywoodism.

EMPIRE OF DIRT  * * 1/2   setting: Ont.
(2013) Cara Gee, Shay Eyre, Jennifer Podemski, Jordan Prentice, Luke Kirby, Michael Cram, Lawrence Bayne, Sarah Podemski, Tonya Lee Williams.....Young single mom (Gee), struggling to raise a rebellious teenage daughter (Eyre), reluctantly drags them both back to her small hometown to reconnect with her own estranged mother (Podemski). Frustrating drama boasts strong performances -- especially from the core triumverate of Gee, Podemski, and Eyre (the latter in her first and so far only major role -- surprisingly!), but also from the whole cast, and with some well-staged scenes (director Stebbings is also an actor). But the movie itself has trouble finding its centre. It veers about from pedantic scenes like something out of a socially earnest PBS docudrama to scenes that evoke any of a number of woman-returns-to-her-small-home-town dramas to scenes that feel like pieces used for an Actor's Workshop. It meanders with no real pay-off to the threads -- teetering on being a Shaggy Dog story (despite supposedly building to an epiphany). Even the First Nation aspect seems almost like it was grafted on after-the-fact (like maybe the script was written for white characters, but then Gee aced the audition and they decided to rewrite the role accordingly -- including an epilogue suggesting the whole heart of the emotional journey relates to Native identity). With all those negatives stated, one can't ignore the strong central performances and if you're looking for a film that just kind drifts along and takes you with it...might be worth a look. sc: Shannon Masters. dir: Peter Stebbings. 99 min.

EMPORTE-MOI * * setting: P.Q.
(1997) (/France/Switzerland) Karine Vanasse, Pascale Bussieres, Miki Manojlovic, Alexandre Merineau, Charlotte Christeler, Nancy Huston, Monique Mercure.....Story of a girl (Vanasse) growing up in 1960s Montreal with her sickly, Catholic mother (Bussieres) and her out-of-work, at times abusive Jewish father (Manojlovic), and her strugges with her confused sexuality, depression, and life. Downbeat drama is well-performed and slickly produced, with interesting individual scenes. But as a whole, it basically establishes its point -- life can be cruel (which most of us knew already) -- in the first fifteen minutes, and has nowhere to go from there as we watch our young heroine get groped by a baker or prostitute herself, etc. A little disjointed, too. A sub-theme, in which she becomes enamoured of a French Art film, "Vivre se vie", probably won't have much resonance for a mainstream audience who won't have even heard of that film. Admittedly, director Pool is going for an Art house audience more likely to be familiar with it, but it still might've helped to give a better description of the movie. English title: Set Me Free. sc: Lea Pool, with Nancy Huston, Monique H. Messier, and Isabelle Raynault. dir: Lea Pool. - sexual content.- 91 min. 

(2007) Ilona Elkin, Nicolas Wright, Neil Napier, Emily Shelton, Tim Rozon, Nina M Fillis, Robin Wilcock, Joan McBride, Danny Blanco Hall, John Vamvas.....After experiencing some weird portents, a nurse (Elkin) and a handful of other commuters find themselves running for their lives from murderous cultists through subway tunnels. Horror flick has a genuinely freaky opening scene, but can seem a bit like a cheap old Drive-In movie (although, given the genre, that can have a nostalgic appeal). But it proves surprisingly effective, with decent enough performances, a brisk pace, and actual tension and chills. Violent and gory -- although, given the low-budget, the gore can seem cheesy as much as disturbing. In a way, evocative of something like "Night of the Living Dead" -- a low-budget, visceral horror flick that clearly aspires to be more than that with subtext, metaphor, and characterization, even to the point where you can find yourself, afterward, reflecting back on the meaning of certain scenes and dialogue (not something you necessarily expect to do with low-budget horror flicks). At the same time, it's a film that can be hurt by unrealistically raising expectations -- it is still, fundamentally, a low-budget horror flick, just better and more ambitious than you might expect. Though briskly-paced, that may only have been after some editing (at least one early review implied it initially clocked in at around 2 hours!) sc./dir: Maurice Devereaux. - extreme violence.- 95 min.

(2011)  * * *  Shawn Doyle ("Arkady Balagan"), Torrance Coombs ("Sam Behst"), Patrick Gallagher ("Hugo Lum"), Katharine Isabelle ("Danni"), Carmen Aquirre ("Alcina"), Melanie Papalia ("Pippa Venturi"), Lisa Ray, Veena Sood, others.....Mystery about an eccentric Russian chess grandmaster (Doyle), suffering from agoraphobia and never leaving the grounds of his high priced Vancouver hotel (after witnessing the murder of his fiancee). He employs his brilliance and strategic chess skills as an amateur detective -- using those around him as his operatives to investigate cases outside of the hotel grounds. Torrance plays a grad student who acts as his leg man in exchange for chess matches. Gallagher plays the hotel's hard nosed head of security who tended to butt heads with "Arkady"; Isabell the bartender at the hotel's bar; Aquirre a chambermaid who also acted as his leg man, and provided some down-to-earth insights; Papalia the sister of his murdered fiancee (a running sub-plot was their investigation into the fiancee's death). Sood the hotel manager; Ray cropped up in flashbacks as the dead fiancee.

Detective TV series often revolve around some sort of unusual or quirky hero (just recently Canadian TV has seen a psychic and a spilt personality) but Endgame may actually start out the most sure footed. It's a nice High Concept premise for a series, from the simple setting (a cosmopolitan hotel) to its hero (housebound detectives have been done before, but it has its own spins, and making him Russian adds an interesting flavour), with a protagonist that can be both quirky/funny and serious, well played by Doyle. The cast is good, and the series employs some interesting stylistic tricks to keep it lively, such as his imagining suspects as pieces on a chess board, or envisioning possible ways a crime might've been committed, evoking the way a chess player must block out alternate moves in his head before settling on the correct one. Granted, the chess motif could've been exploited more, such as maybe making the episodes more cat and mouse games (ala the 1970s TV series Columbo) where moves and counter moves are needed on the hero's part. As well, though it's a nice cast of supporting characters, none quite rise above that level of being supporting players...maybe he needs a clear, strong foil to play off of, a character who can give as good as he/she gets. And the mysteries can be developed a bit unevenly. The series goes for a mix of comedy and drama -- the quirky hero and witty banter against the serious backdrop of murder -- without maybe the humour being as funny, or the drama as dramatic, to quite ignite. The result is a good series...that feels as though it should've been a great one. But, a few kinks aside, it's a solid enough, fun little mystery series, offbeat even as it is comfortably familiar (in a good way). Cancelled after only one season, leaving the mystery of the wife's murder unsolved -- but perhaps that was an illustration of some of the series' short comings, because even after a season of that sub-plot being teased along, there was precious little sense that we were really learning anything about it or clues were being provided that were going anywhere. Created by Avrum Jacobson. Hour long episodes on Showcase.

ENEMY   * *  setting: Ont.
(2013) (/Spain) Jake Gyllenhaal, Mélanie Laurent, Sarah Gadon, Isabella Rossellini.....A repressed Toronto university professor (American actor Gyllenhaal) discovers an actor who is his exact double, and becomes obsessed with tracking him down -- but finds their meeting isn't quite what he expected. Arty drama (and quasi-suspenser) is heavy on the mood and the atmosphere, but is probably best described as aimed at people who like films more than people who like stories. That is, it's more about the long silences, the pensive stares, and the ambiguity and symbolism (where fans are supposed to argue about what it all meant). But it's a character drama in which the characters are more ciphers than flesh and blood people, and it's slow to the point of plodding with a thin plot (director Villeneuve earlier made the stylistically similar Maelström). And even if you accept one of the more obvious interpretations about what it all means (though most solutions still leave unexplained holes) it can still leave you going: "So?" Still, received much critical acclaim. sc: Javier Gullón (loosely based on the novel The Double by José Saramago). dir: Denis Villeneuve. - female nudity; sexual content; brief male nudity.- 88 min.

L'ENFANT D'EAU * * 1/2  setting: P.Q./other
(1995) David La Haye, Marie-France Monette, Gilbert Sicotte, Danielle Proulx, Monique Spaziani.....A 12 year old girl (Monette) and a severely mentally handicapped man (La Haye) become stranded on a deserted island; told in flashbacks as the two lie comatose in hospital after finally being rescued. Good looking, well-acted drama is atmospheric, but slow moving at times, cutting between Sicotte (as La Haye's father) standing vigil over his hospital bed, broodingly looking out to sea, to Monette on the island...also broodingly looking out to sea. Intended as a character drama, rather than a plot-driven effort (they aren't really looking for food or struggling to survive) but the problem with La Haye's handicapped character is that he isn't really three-dimensional, meaning it's a "character-relationship" story with only one character. And an attempt to move the story into a sexual area is more uncomfortable than insightful (though seems to continue a trend in Canadian films of under-age sex). English titles: Behind the Blue and Water Child. sc: Claire Wojas. dir: Robert Menard. - sexual content.- 107 min.

CES ENFANTS D'AILLEURS (TVMS)  see Children from Elsewhere

E.N.G. (TV Series)  is listed at the beginning of the "E" section

THE ENGLISHMAN'S BOY (TVMS)  * *  setting: USA/Sask.
(2008) Nicholas Campbell, Michael Theriault, Michael Eisner, Bob Hoskins, R.H. Thomson, Adrien Dorval, Stephen Park, Katharine Isabelle, Ted Dykstra.....Story cutting between 1920s Hollywood, where a filmmaker (Theriault), assigned to get an "authentic" tale of the Wild West, seeks out a grizzled old cowboy (Campbell), to coax from him a dark tale of his past...and a flashback to the 1870s when, as a youth (Eisner), that same cowboy hooked up with a posse of irate fur traders (led by Thomson) in pursuit of Indians -- a hunt that took them across the border into Canada. CBC mini-series based on the critically acclaimed, award-winning novel...but one can't help assuming the novel must've been lyrically written with introspective passages...'cause distilled into the surface level plot and actions, it's a rather simple, obvious tale peopled by (largely) undeveloped, obvious characters. Next to nothing happens that you can't see coming a kilometre away, which in a four hour format, makes for a kind of plodding watch. Good performances all around -- especially Theriault (particularly givven how little he has to work with, motivation and character development-wise). Well intentioned in its intent to be a gritty "expose" of the heroic western "myth" -- but that's hardly a radical concept. Ironically, in editing the novel into a TV format, it actually loses some of its "Canadian" aspect (in the novel, Theriault's character is supposed to be Canadian). The flashback story is inspired by the real life Cypress Hills massacre -- though whether it's supposed to be that incident, or merely evocative of it, is unclear (I'm not sure the place is identified in the script...but some of the character names are real); the distinction is significant because an underlining theme in the movie is about truth and the bastardization of same, yet author Vanderhaeghe may be playing fast and loose with history himself. For one thing, he treats it as if it's an historical obscurity that Hollywood would attempt to glamourize...when it was, apparently, a notorious incident that may've played a part in bringing law to the Canadian west -- and some of those involved were in fact arrested and tried (though none were convicted). Four hours. sc: Guy Vanderhaeghe (from his novel). dir: John N. Smith. - violence; casual male and female nudity.-

L'ennemi que je connais, a novel by Martin Pitre, became the movie Full Blast

ENTANGLED   * *  setting: other
(1993) (/France) Judd Nelson, Pierce Brosnan, Laurence Treil, Roy Dupuis.....Writer (Nelson) in France becomes increasingly suspicious of his model girlfriend's (Treil) fidelity and murder results. Ludicrous erotic suspenser takes a few unexpected turns, but is often incomprehensible with most of the main characters suffering unexplained mood swings.  Despite some decent performances it's pretty silly...though there is something twistedly watchable about it all.  sc: Max Fischer, Michel Trueau (from the novel Les Veufs by Boileau-Narcejac). dir: Max Fischer. - female nudity, sexual content.- 98 min..

ENTER...THE ZOMBIE KING  a.k.a. Zombie King and the Legion of Doom

ENTRE LA MER ET L'EAU DOUCE* 1/2  setting: P.Q.
(1967) Genevieve Bujold, Claude Gauthier, Paul Gauthier, Denise Bombardier, Robert Charlebois, Louise Latraverse, Gerald Godin.....Story of a small town guy (Gauthier) who comes to Montreal, drifts about aimlessly for a while, then eventually becomes a folk singer. Well-regarded drama was made during the early days of the modern Canadian film era...and one suspects that's why it was viewed so kindly: as a pioneering effort. Seen today, it's a slow, meandering, poorly assembled effort where it has five writers...and they seem to be writing five different movies, so we have voice over narration, musical montages, jumbled juxtaposition, scenes that are meant to be slice-of-life, others that are artistically pretentious. It doesn't succeed as reality, nor as a character study (the anti-hero is a womanizer and a bigot...but we never really get inside his head). The black & white cinematography is gorgeous (as is Bujold, in a thankless part as a love interest) and they're enough to make you think you should stick with it...but it never does come together. Many of the co-scripters went on to make great movies...but this ain't one. A disappointment. English title: Drifting Upstream, sc: Denys Arcand, Michel Brault, Marcel Dube, Gerald Godin, Claude Jutra. dir: Michel Brault. 85 min.

THE ERNIE GAME   * * 1/2  setting: P.Q.
(1967) Alexis Kanner, Mary Gault, Jackie Burroughs, Derek May, Anna Cameron, Louis Negin, Leonard Cohen.....Schizophrenic drifter (Kanner) ambles about, does odd things and falls in love.  Interesting, well-done serio-comic film suffers from being too disjointed and aimless but benefits from a strong performance from Kanner.  Won two Etrogs including Best Picture and Director.  A follow-up (of sorts) to Notes For a Film About Donna and Gail.  sc./dir: Don Owen (from stories by Bernard Cole Spencer). 88 min.

ERREUR SUR LA PERSONNE * *  setting: P.Q./other
(1995) Michel Cote, Macha Grenon, Paul Doucet, Robert Gravel, Luc Picard, Annik Hamel.....After losing first his wife, then his hearing, a cop (Cote) begins trailing an enigmatic, troubled woman (Grenon) who robs men she goes on blind dates with...and finds himself becoming infatuated with her. More an arty flick than a suspenser, it's moody and well directed, making nice use of its hearing/deaf element, and Cote and Grenon are reliable performers. But ultimately it's too slow moving and plays all its cards too soon. More pretentious than genuinely profound with even the core motivation of the leads a bit vague. Look for Isabel Richer at the beginning as Cote's dead wife. English title: Mistaken Identity. sc./dir: Gilles Noel (story Noel and Claude Cartier). - sexual content.- 97 min.

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