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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.
(2005-2006, 2009) * * * Brigitte Bako ("Gigi"), Heather Hanson ("Stella"), Kimberly Huie ("Roxie"), Kristin Lehman ("Francesca") (1st), Ian Alden ("Rick Radcliff"), with Hannah Lochner ("Sasha"), Adam Lazarre White ("Payne").....Comedy about a Canadian actress in Hollywood (Bako), struggling with life and love, and desperately trying to revive her flagging career (as a thirtysomething former ingenue, the parts are drying up) while surrounded by her quirky friends. Hanson, a fellow actress, reduced to inventing a fictional publicist for herself to try and get herself in the door, Huie, a single mom, Lehman a costume designer with substance abuse issues, and Alden as a more successful friend...who's both gay and Canadian (and tries not to publicly admit to either). Lochner plays Huie's precocious daughter. White cropped up as "Gigi"'s ex-flame.
Presumably given the go ahead because of the hit US series "Sex in the City" (also about four single, hedonistic gals on the prowl), G-Spot (as the title implies) is a deliberately coarse, profanity-laden, over-sexed romp with nudity and adult situations (and a title which should be a double entendre, but is really just a single entendre)...but underneath is a surprisingly frank, occasionally brutal, look at the underside of the Hollywood Dream, race, relationships, and more. Bako, who created and wrote many episodes, is clearly drawing upon some of her own experiences (so much so that the show goes the unusual route of providing a disclaimer every week, insisting it's all fictional -- no doubt it is, but that doesn't change the fact that Bako is clearly writing about the world she knows). In other words, there's some substance under the crude gags and occasionally cheap jokes. As a comedy, it's more amusing than "laugh out loud" funny, but it's energetic and keeps your interest. Skirts the edges of good taste (a sequence where Huie's white-looking daughter announces she doesn't like black people is more uncomfortable than funny) but gets points for sheer audacity. Following in the wake of so many recent "edgy" Canadian comedies, this one avoids the ironic detachment and cerebral self-reflectiveness of so many others. Worth a look by those not easily shocked. Although all the actors in this Canadian series are Canadian, of the leads, only Alden (according to the series' website) actually resides in Canada! Half hour episodes -- the first two seasons aired on The Movie Network and Movie Central, then, for the subsequent third season, moved to Showcase. - sexual content; partial female and male nudity.-
* setting: USA.
(1998) Daniel Bernhardt, Meeka Schiro, Bing Shen, James Hong, Inkyang Kim.....Plagued by dreams of a previous life, a man (Bernhardt) gets drawn into the violent world of illegal, gladiatorial fights, in order to win Alexander the Great's sword from a sinister gangster (Hong) who also is in his dreams. Low-budget action film is frequently incoherent and hard to follow (even the title seems to make no sense), but maybe that's because the story is more an excuse for a series of violent and increasingly interminable fight scenes. Seems as though maybe it's trying for fans of the Highlander movies with its ideas of historical flashbacks and sword fights. Rotundo has already milled this ground with Gladiator Cop. Still, American actor Hong gets to try various characterizations (including a dual role as the villain and the hero's spirit mentor) and it has a hard working music score by Gary Koftinoff. sc./dir: Nick Rotundo. - extreme violence, brief female nudity.- 92 min.
GALLANT LADIES see Dames Galantes
GAMBLING ON PARADISE see The Adventures of Smoke Belliou
Ganesh, a novel by Malcom Bosse, was turned into the movie Ordinary Magic
* setting: USA.
(1981) Susan Anspach, Howie Mandel, Sterling Hayden, Helen Shaver, Donald Sutherland, Sandee Currie, Peter Aykroyd, Keith Knight, Alf Humphries, Philip Akin, Michael Hogan, Paul Kelman, Harvey Chao, Vlasta Vrana, Carl Marotte.....Broad-canvased satire of a small U.S. town in the grips of a gas shortage engineered by the local oil baron (Hayden). Someone could write a sociological essay about Canadian comedies -- it's not that so many are bad (anyone can make a bad movie) it's that they tend to be bad in exactly the same way! Sophomoric, sexist, racist, mean-spirited, with ill-conceived slapstick numbers that owe more to the Three Stooges (sound effects, sped-up film, etc.) than anything done in the last twenty or thirty years. Nicely twisty story, with a decent cast, too bad it ain't funny. Look for Tony Nardi as a mobster's dairy plant manager and look fast (real fast) for Richard Comar as one of the waiters in a restaurant. sc: Richard Wolf (story Wolf and Susan Scranton). dir: Les Rose. - sexual content.- 95 min.
THE GATE *
(1987) Stephen Dorff, Christa Denton, Louis Tripp, Kelly Rowan, Jennifer Irwin.....With his parents away for the weekend, a boy (Dorff) and his best friend (Tripp) discover a hole in their backyard that allows demons into their world. Slow- moving horror flick suffers from plot holes and few real thrills but a touch of humour and a general good-naturedness makes it better than most of its type. Good f/xs. Followed by a sequel. sc: Michael Nankin. dir: Tibor Takacs. - violence.- 86 min.
THE GATE II
* * 1/2 setting: USA.
(1991) Louis Tripp, Pamela Segall, Simon Reynolds, James Villemaire, Neil Munro.....Teen (Tripp) calls on a demonic agent to help his alcoholic father (Munro), and some other teen-agers get a hold of the critter too, but the fulfilled wishes aren't quite what they seem. Restrained sequel is less horror than dark fantasy and admirably avoids being simply a remake of the first. Slow, with flat direction, but good-looking with a good cast and dialogue and solid attempts at characterization. And, like it's predecessor, it has a lot of heart. Good f/x (though it doesn't really splurge until the last ten minutes). Ironically, this sequel was more blatantly set in the United States -- presumably as a marketing ploy -- and it did worse at the box office. sc: Michaek Nankin. dir: Tibor Takacs. - extreme violence.- 94 min.
GAZ BAR BLUES *
* 1/2 setting: P.Q.
(2003) Serge Theriault, Gilles Renaud, Sebastien Delorme, Danny Gilmore, Maxime Dumontier, Fanny Mallette, Gaston Caron, Gaston LePage.....Saga of a suburban, family run gas station in 1989 that acts as a kind of community centre, where locals hang out to shoot the breeze; and the various trials and tribulations, including the older sons who have other dreams. Low-key serio-comic flick meanders pleasantly, with decent performances, and nice evocative atmosphere, but seems a little almost like it's edited together from a longer soap opera or something. With sub-plots that never really gel into a core narrative arc, and with characters who are sympathetic, but none really are charismatic enough to anchor things. The result is a genuinely likeable film...but not quite a riveting one. Renaud is a scene stealer as the crotchety mechanic. In French. sc./dir: Louis Belanger. 115 min.
* * 1/2 setting: N.S.
(1989) Sheila McCarthy, Maury Chaykin, Nathaniel Moreau, Ian Bannen, Vicki Ridler, Gary Reineke, Brian Downey, Irene Hogan, Chas Lawther.....Story of a boy (Moreau) taken from his crotchety grandfather (Bannen) by overzealous social workers (McCarthy and Chaykin) and placed with malevolent foster parents, and eventually climaxing on an island haunted by pirate ghosts (led by Reineke). Comic Halloween tale for the family has eccentric characters and a flamboyant ideas, but is hindered by run-of-the-mill direction and cinematography, and no real drive to the story. The nastiness and violence, though meant all in fun, seems too much for younger kids. Still, off-beat enough to warrant a look. sc: Maura O'Connell, Paul Donovan. dir: Paul Donovan. - extreme violence.- 90 min.
(2005-2006) * * Colin Mochrie ("Kip Delaney"), Debra McGrath ("Ruby Kendall"), Paul O'Sullivan ("Beverly"), Patrick McKenna ("Jeffrey Littleman"), Robin Duke ("Peggy Larson"), Cheryl MacInnis ("Phyllis Bronte"), Barbara Radecki ("Debbie Bronte"), Ed Sahely ("Ed Abernathy")....Sitcom about the bickering (but still in love) married stars of a 1960s CBC variety series (real life couple Mochrie and McGrath). O'Sullivan plays her sycophantic personal assistant (and no. 1 fan), McKenna the overseeing executive; Duke the head writer, McInnis and Radecki the make-up and wardrobe people and Sahley the director.
This TV series is the sort of thing you want to like, with its (relatively and refreshingly) original milieu and its overt Canadianisms. It tries hard -- maybe a little too hard, with a bit too much reliance on mugging and exaggeration -- and does muster some cute and even clever gags. Though the clash of sensibilities might also be a problem, as it's a joke on old time, "wholesome" TV...but with modern, slightly coarser subject matter (though compared to many recent Canadian TV shows, it's quite tame). But overall...doesn't quite work. The characters just fail to click, to make you interested in what's going to happen to them and why. And if the laughs are scattered, and the characters uninvolving...what's left? A nice try...but the cigar's still on the table. This was first aired as an hour long pilot to test the waters. Created by Deborah Day, Debra McGrath, Colin Mochrie. Six half hour episodes (plus the hour pilot) on the CBC.
GETTING MARRIED IN BUFFALO JUMP
* * setting: Alt.
(1990) Wendy Crewson, Paul Gross, Marion Gilsenan, Murray Cruchley, Kyra Harper, Victoria Snow.....City woman (Crewson) inherits a ranch and then is presented with an offer by a ranch hand (Gross) wanting land -- that they get married. Romantic drama seems kind of choppy, as if crucial scenes were left on the cutting room floor, and suffers from characters who are often blah and even unlikeable. For a drama, it's not very dramatic, neither is it light-hearted enough to be fun. Apparently the skinny dipping scene may've been trimmed somewhat for the video version. a.k.a. Buffalo Jump. sc: John Frizzell story Lyal Brown, Barabara Brown (from the novel by Susan Haley). dir: Eric Till. - partial male and female nudity.- 97 min.
(1993) (/U.S.) Jean Stapleton, Geraint Wyn Davies, Shae d'Lyn, Denis Akiyama, Jayne Eastwood, Zachary Bennett, Ed Sahely, Bernard Behrens.....A domineering mother (Stapleton) dies, then her ghost persuades her son (Davies) to move her body, illegally, while baddies (led by Akiyama) close in looking for an ancient Japanese jewel. Made-for-TV comedy has a dead first half-hour (no pun intended), then manages a few chuckles later, but still nothing to write home about. Davies (showing a surprising comic flare) and d'Lyn as the love interest are fine, but Stapleton's performance and irritating character are a liability. sc: Daniel Harris, Constantino Magnatta, Dave Thomas. dir: Dave Thomas. 97 min.
* * setting: B.C.
(1980) Riva Spier, Murray Ord, Sheri McFadden, Georgie Collins, Les Kimber.....Trio gets snowed into a deserted hotel that turns out to be inhabited by a strange old lady who has plans for them. So-so horror flick starts out suspenseful but eventually gets rather tedious. Predictable too. Still, not bad for its type. sc: James Makichuk, Douglas MacLeod. dir: James Makichuk. - violence.- 87 min.
THE GHOSTS OF DICKENS' PAST
* * * setting: other
(1998) Christopher Heyerdahl, Jennifer Bertram, Cary Lawrence, Sheena Larkin, Seann Gallagher, James Bradford.....A troubled Charles Dickens (Heyerdahl) is led to writing "A Christmas Carol" after encountering a mysterious, enigmatic girl (Bertram). Odd but effective movie is part biography (though there's more fancy than fact), part treatise on poverty and charity, and partly an attempt to re-imagine "A Christmas Carol" by asking what if Scrooge (here Dickens) had his intervention before he became bad, rather than after. As such, its strength is its weakness. In spots it's too blatantly a cloying rip-off of "A Christmas Carol"...on the other hand, it effectively injects new life into that oft-told tale for a pleasing addition to the canon. Atmospheric, nicely evoking the time and place (even though it was filmed in Canada!) and benefitting considerably from Heyerdahl's commanding performance. Worth keeping an eye out for. sc: Patricia Lavoie. dir: Bruce Neibaur. 89 min.
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