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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.
GIANT MINE *
1/2 setting: N.W.T.
(1996) Peter Outerbridge, Thomas Mitchell, Alberta Watson, Peter MacNeill, Frank Moore, Tammy Isbell, Richard Fitzpatrick, Lubomir Mykytiuk.....Story of the bitter, violent 1992 Yellowknife miner's strike that ended in murder and the level-headed miner (Outerbridge) caught between the company (headed by Watson) and the ultra-militant union (headed by MacNeill). Slick but poor made-for-CBC TV drama suffers from hokey, almost laughable dialogue, some over-the-top supporting performances, and a tendency toward high-end hysteria scenes without the build-up to make them believable. There's no real attempt to flesh out any motives: why the strike in the first place? why do the lead characters decided to cross the line? And how can you do a film about a town divided and friendships shattered if the audience isn't shown how it was before? sc: Martin O'Malley, John Hunter. dir: Penelope Buitenhuis. - casual female and male nudity, violence, sexual content.- 93 min.
GIANT STEPS *
1/2 setting: Ont.
(1992) Billy Dee Williams, Michael Mahonen, Robyn Stevan, Ted Dykstra, Ranee Lee, Nicu Branzed, Kristina Nicoll, Eric McCormack.....Trumpet playing teen (Mahonen), with a troubled home, is taken under the wing of a jazz artist (American Williams) faced with choosing between his art and love. There's a great movie in here somewhere, but it never shows itself. The performances are too broad and there's no sense of mood or atmosphere. Theatrical director Rose's first film, and it shows. Look for Graeme Campbell, Don McKellar and VJ Master T in bit parts. sc: Paul Quarrington, Greg Dummett. dir: Richard Rose. - casual male nudity and partial female nudity.- 93 min.
The Gibbons: Canada's Fighting Elite see Short Films
A Gift to Last
* * setting: Ont.
(1976) Gordon Pinsent, Melvyn Douglas, Alan Scarfe, Janet Amos, Dixie Seatle.....Embittered old man (imported Douglas) reflects back on a childhood Christmas and the visit of his devil-may-care uncle (Pinsent). Flat drama is more uncomfortable than anything else, and it's never clear how the historical body of the story relates to the modern sequences. Main appeal is Pinsent's usual stand-out performance, though Seatle is also good. Later spun off into an epic, and much better, CBC mini-series/soap opera, also written by Pinsent. sc: Gordon Pinsent.
This ambitious production was spun off from an earlier christmas special and can be viewed either as a series, a mini-series, or even as a novel-for-television -- each episode was labelled a "chapter". Though the episodes were generally self-contained, the series chronicled a surprisingly elaborate story arc, as the characters, their positions, and their relationships to each other, evolved over the course of things. The early episodes seemed to focus on the kids, Polley and Parr, making the series seem like a precursor to Road to Avonlea, but quickly the emphasis shifted to the adults, giving the whole thing an edgier, more grown-up feel than its later, more expensive cousin. Filmed on video, the series was uneven in spots, particularly at the beginning, but could boast some extraordinarily good writing in scenes and a nice use of historical elements, too. The heart of the show was Pinsent's flamboyant character/performance, and Seatle was his match. Pinsent also created the series, wrote many of the episodes, and even sung the effectively nostalgic closing theme. 21 hour long episodes (or chapters), not counting the original christmas special, originally aired in three batches on the CBC. It was rerun, almost twenty years later, on Showcase in 1997.
* * * 1/2 setting: P.Q.
(1975) Celine Lomez, Gabriel Arcand, Claude Blanchard, Frederique Collin, Roger Le Bel.....Tale of some filmmakers (headed by Arcand), making a documentary on textile workers, and of a stripper (Lomez) who both arrive in a small town. Downbeat, extremely realistic drama (inspired by director Arcand's work on the documentary On est au coton) with a violent climax that doesn't sit well with the low-key body of the picture. Slow moving but powerful. sc./dir: Denys Arcand. - female nudity, extreme violence, sexuaal content.- 94 min.
* * 1/2 setting: CDN.
(2001) Emily Perkins, Katherine Isabelle, Kris Lemche, Mimi Rogers, Jesse Moss, Danielle Hampton, James Keleghan, John Bourgeois.....Morbid, alienated, misanthropic teen sisters (Perkins and Isabelle) are attacked by a wolf creature and the latter starts acting weird (well, weirder) and dangerous. Werewolf flick is kind of what you've come to expect from Canadian filmmakers: unpleasant characters who bitch at each other constantly, and violence towards animals...sigh. Movie wants to be so many things at once: a horror film (though it isn't even trying to be scary until more than half way through); a Freudian parable with lycanthropy as a metaphor for puberty; and a tongue-in-cheek parody at times (which the filmmakers seem to see as an excuse for disregarding plausibility in some scenes); with even a touch of Dead Ringers (a story about interdependent siblings and what happens when one spirals out of control). But strip away the heavy handed sub-text and you're left with an awfully familiar, straight forward werewolf flick (except she doesn't fully transform until near the end!) in which the protagonists aren't really endearing (though they improve a bit) and the parody ain't exactly funny. On the other hand, it boasts nice performances from Perkins, Isabelle and Lemche (as the local, nice guy dope supplier who is the obligatory character who knows all about lycanthropy) and a sort of interesting exploration of the sisters' relationship which adds some freshness. A cult thing, with its target audience presumably disaffected teens who like to dress in black trench coats and fantasize about blowing up their school...which, I suppose, is a marketable demographic group. According to one report, Lucy Lawless provides the (unbilled) voice on the PA system at school. Followed by a sequel and a prequel. sc: Karen Walton. dir: John Fawcett. - extreme violence.- 108 min. (video)
GINGER SNAPS BACK: The Beginning
* * setting: CDN.
(2004) Katharine Isabelle, Emily Perkins, Nathaniel Arcand, Tom McCamus, JR Bourne, Hugh Dillon, Adrien Dorval, Brendan Fletcher, David LaHaye, Matthew Walker, Stevie Mitchell.....In the 19th Century in north-western Canada, two sisters (Isabelle and Perkins) stumble upon an isolated fur trading fort which is under siege by werewolves. Third Ginger Snaps film is arguably the most audacious and ambitious -- and the most explicitly Canadian -- in the series. But like all the films, it suffers because it's slow, repetitious, not as scary as it should be, and you don't really care about anyone. A large cast of colourful characters, most well acted, and with lots of plot threads...but it fails to tie them together that well, making it feel more like they had more ideas than they knew what to do with. And by the end, many of the questions raised are never answered (like who are the sisters and where did they come from!) Isabelle and Perkins are, presumably, supposed to be earlier incarnations of the Ginger and Bridget they play in the contemporary-set movies. Walker inparticular, as the fort's doctor, makes you wish he had more than just a few scenes. sc: Christina Ray, Stephen Massicotte. dir: Grant Harvey. - extreme violence; brief female nudity.- 94 min. (video)
GINGER SNAPS UNLEASHED *
* 1/2 setting: CDN.
(2004) Emily Perkins, Tatiana Maslany, Eric Johnson, Janet Kidder, Katharine Isabelle, Brendan Fletcher.....Bridget (Perkins), attempting to curb her werewolfism through a drug, is misdiagnosed as a junkie and put in a detox center...while being hunted by another werewolf. Sequel to the modest cult success Ginger Snaps is an uneven mix of horror and satire but, surprisingly, is more original than the first, with reasonably moody direction. But like the first it suffers from its intentionally grungy, misanthropic mentality that means you don't actually care much about the characters, and a failure to make the "reality" believable (deliberately so). And once the off-beat setting is established (the detox centre) it tends to spin its wheels for a long time, with many of the notable supporting cast given thankless parts (like Kidder as the head of the clinic who seems to disappear for most of the film, or Fletcher in a bit part as a librarian, or look for Shaun Johnston briefly as a garage mechanic). Still, it boasts an unusual use of a curling rock! The title doesn't make much sense, of course, since Ginger is the name of Isabelle's character who crops up only sporadically -- and pointlessly -- as a ghost/hallucination; this was appparently because the producers felt a big appeal of the first movie was the two leads and any sequels would have to involve them both...a nice thought, that the Canadian stars of a Canadian movie would be seen as an indispensable element. Followed by a historical prequel, Ginger Snaps Back. a.k.a. Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed. sc: Megan Martin. dir: Brett Sullivan. - violence; sexual content.- 94 min. (viideo)
UNA GIORNATA SPECIALE see A Special Day
A GIRL AT THE WINDOW see Une jeune fille a la fentre
THE GIRL FROM MARS
* * 1/2 setting: USA.
(1991) (/New Zealand) Edward Albert, Sarah Sawatsky, Eddie Albert, Gary Day, Christianne Hirt, Gwynyth Walsh, Malcom Stewart, Lochlyn Munro, Jeremy Radick, Suzi Kaiser, Kaj-Erik Erikson.....Troubled American girl (Sawatsky), already considered weird by her classmates, starts claiming she's from Mars, much to the concern of her kindly, environmentalist dad (Albert Jr.) and to the consternation of the town folk when unexplainable things happen around her. Made-for-TV family drama isn't the fluffy comedy the premise might imply and has a good cast, a solid idea, and even a few good scenes, but it's awkwardly directed and haphazardly developed (leaving some crucial questions unanswered by the end!). Still, gets an extra half star since kids might be more forgiving because of its larger-than-life premise. But the cinematographer should get his light meter checked, 'cause the movie is way too dark. sc: Brian Alan Lane. dir: Neill Fearnley. 91 min.
THE GIRL IN BLUE a.k.a. U-Turn
A GIRL IS A GIRL *
(1999) Andrew McIntyre, Paige Morrison (a.k.a. Rhonda Dent), Laurie Baranyay, Aeryn Twidle, Jo-Ann MacDonald, Keir MacPherson, David Pauls, Marnie Robinson.....Episodic chronicle of a young man (McIntyre) and his successive relationships with various young women. Understated, oddly constructed serio-comic flick, with the first three sequences almost like episodes in an anthology, then the fourth seems more like part of the whole as the repercussions from his last relationship shadow his newest one. Somewhat affecting drama, with some nicely written scenes and benefiting from an ingratiating cast, with particular nods going to Twidle (as the ex-model Lisa) and MacDonald (as the would-be punk musician Laurie), and held together by McIntyre's low-key, empathetic performance. But, after a while, you find yourself wondering what the point of it all is. There seems to be a certain sub-text about McIntyre being only interested in women who look like models, but it's hard to pick up on that...the fact that the actresses are pretty seems more like a convention of filmmaking than anything thematic. And it's still unclear what the point of it is, particularly when McIntrye is chewed out about this by one girlfriend, feeling he's not committed to their more "real" relationship...when their relationship -- all the relationships -- seem to amount to not much more than sitting around, getting stoned and listening to music. And it's not clear the filmmakers intend any irony! A movie than can be sort of effective, but ultimately leaves you going: "And so...?" sc: Reginald Harkema, Angus Fraser, and the cast. dir: Reginald Harkema. - male nudity, partial female nudity, sexual content.- 87 min.
THE GIRL NEXT DOOR
* * setting: USA.
(1999) Henry Czerny, Polly Shannon, Gary Busey, Simon MacCorkindale, Robin Gammell, Janet-Laine Greene, Vlasta Vrana, Alberta Watson, Janet Kidder.....The four "M"s -- a married, melancholy, middle-aged man (Czerny) -- has a tryst with his neighbours' teen-age daughter (Shannon), only to have it lead to a murder for which he would be the prime suspect, if anyone found out about the relationship. Made-for-TV suspense drama never really generates any tension, perhaps because we never fully empathize/sympathize with Czerny's plight (she is his teenage neighbour). Some odd characterizations, too (Watson, as Czerny's pregnant wife, seems to be reprising her sociopathic head-shrinker role from Nikita). Of course, there's always a kind of "ick" factor to movies like this anyway, knowing that, behind the scenes, you've got a bunch of middle-aged filmmakers making a movie about a middle-aged guy bedding a nubile young thing...the actress in question being lovingly filmed wearing various scanty apparel (when she's wearing anything). Surprisingly risque for a CTV TV movie, with some nudity even (albeit, underlit). sc: Alex Boon, John Hunter. dir: Eric Till. - brief female nudity, sexual content.- 91 min.
Give Me Your Answer True
* * * *
(1987).....Documentary interview and profile of Canadian actor Donald Sutherland. Hour long flick is a thoroughly engrossing and entertaining look at both an actor and the whole acting, and filmmaking, process. And though taking a one-sided approach, it avoids seeming overly fawning or cloying. dir: Stefan Wodoslawsky, Tony Ianzelo. (video)
Give Sorrow Words, the book by Maryse Holder, served as the source for the bio-film A Winter's Tan
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