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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.
* * 1/2 setting: Ont.
(1984) Megan Follows, Yannick Bisson, Rick Moranis, Gail Youngs, Henry Ramer, Sean McCann, Maury Chaykin.....Young girl (Follows) joins a small town's all-boy hockey team and runs into conflict with some of the adults. Young teen-oriented made-for-CBC TV drama is nicely done and is given a boost by good performances. sc: Paul Shapiro, Jack Blum. dir: Paul Shapiro. 77 min.
* setting: P.Q.
(1985) (/France) Jean-Paul Belmondo, Guy Marchand, Jacques Villeret, Jean-Pierre Marielle, Kim Cattrall.....A good-natured thief (Belmondo) stages an elaborate bank-robbery dressed as a clown, then he and his cohorts have to get out of Montreal. Caper comedy has a brisk tempo, but is pretty short on actual laughs -- it's not that you'd think it's a drama, it just doesn't engender many chuckles. And Belmondo as an out-of-control clown is more creepy than amusing (evoking the Joker from the "Batman" comic books) which probably isn't the intention. The same novel was made into a (slightly better) U.S. film just five years later under its own title. In French. sc: Francis Veber, Daniel Saint-Hamont, with Tim Reid (from the novel Quick Change by Jay Cronley). dir: Alexandre Arcady. - partial female nudity, casual male nudity.- 114 min.
* 1/2 setting: USA.
(1996) Thomas Ian Griffith, Tia Carrere, John Lithgow, Donald Sutherland, David Hemblen, Carl Alacchi, Robert Ito.....Two bickering U.S. cops (Griffith and Carrere) go after a crime lord (Lithgow) with the help of an eccentric hitman (Sutherland). Romantic action-comedy suffers, in part, because neither the director, nor the trio of imports, seem to have a comic touch. Only Sutherland, who's actually underbilled this time around, seems to understand comedy and his performance is the sole highlight. Add in brutality as humour (see Carrere kick a handcuffed Sutherland in the kidnies -- hah, hah -- see Griffith ram a fork into his hand -- yuk, yuk -- see Sutherland murder an innocent woman -- hee, hee) and you have a film that, though expensive-looking and not graphic, is nonetheless a cousin of such low-budget efforts as No Contest and Gladiator Cop. Notorious because a crewman was killed in an accident during filming. sc: Robert Geoffrion, James H. Stewart. dir: Sidney J. Furie. - sexual content, violence.- 105 min.
HOLLYWOOD NORTH *
1/2 setting: Ont./USA.
(2003) Alan Bates, Matthew Modine, Deborah Kara Unger, Jennifer Tilly, John Neville, Kim Coates, Joe Cobden, Fabrizio Fillippo, Alan Thicke, Clare Coulter, Peter Oldring, Saul Rubinek.....In 1979, during the boom and bust Canadian film making period dubbed the "hollywood north" era, a well-intentioned Canadian producer (Modine) struggles to make an adaptation of a classic Canadian novel, but finds himself compromising all the way, first by landing an unstable American movie star (Bates), then by changing the plot itself to appease his star. A decade or so in development, this Canadian film satire seems well-intentioned...but is ultimately more misfire than hit. Even the tone seems unsure: does it want to be a realist but wry satire, or an out-and-out farce? The drama scenes (usually involving Modine and Unger, as a documentary filmmaker filming behind the scenes) are too few, and the comedy scenes -- at best -- more cute than funny, till it all just wears away any good will. A big ensemble cast, but the filmmakers spend too much time making fun of the supporting characters, when maybe a little empathy for their quirks might have made them, and the film, more endearing. Ironically (and perhaps tragically), the film emerges as seeming too much like what it wants to satirize, including hiring Hollywood actors (though Modine is O.K. and Bates is very good) and where, when you think about it, an awful lot of the jokes and references are rather American-centric for a Canadian movie. Respected producer O'Brian's directorial debut and he shows enough confidence behind the camera that he shouldn't automatically be denied a second chance...even as this doesn't really work. Too bad. sc: Barry Healey, John Hunter, Tony Johnston. dir: Peter O'Brian. - sexual content; brief female nudity.- 89 min.
HOLLYWOODISM: Jews, Movies and
the American Dream * 1/2
(1997) (/U.S./U.K./France).....A look at Hollywood from the point of view of its founding by many European Jews and how that affected, one way or the other, the shaping of the American identity as popularized by the movies. Poorly thought out documentary seems to have started out with a conclusion (sort of)...then selected the facts afterwards, even to the point of hammering square pegs into round holes. Some of the sillier claims, like citing certain movies as things only Jewish immigrant Americans could concoct when they're based on novels and plays by non-Jews (and sometimes non-Americans), can be credited to a video generation mentality ("it doesn't exist unless it's a movie!"), others to just lazy research. Later attitudes come dangerously close to reverse-racist, while claims that the '50s communist witchhunts were more about anti-Semitism than anti-communism are intriguing and provocative, but the film has so little credibility by that point that it's hard to judge such views. Perhaps an interesting movie could be made about the various issues, but this ain't it. Once more an indication that if you do a movie about the U.S., no matter how half-baked, international financers will line-up at your door. Narrated by R.H. Thomson. sc: Simcha Jacobovici (from the book An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood by Neal Gabler). dir: Simcha Jacobovici, Stuart Samuels. app. 90 min.
HOME MOVIE *
(1992) Ian Tracey, John Pyper-Ferguson, Suki Kaiser, Kerry Sandomirsky, Venus Terzo, Don MacKay.....Filmmakers try to act out a detective movie, to work out the plot, but find things get complicated as the line between the actors and their characters blur. Likeable serio-comic pic is well written, acted, directed, scored and is clever and unusual with a truly odd opening fifteen minutes or so. Strangely, despite all that and suspense too, it never becomes more than light-weight. Still, definitely worth checking out. sc: Peter Bryant. dir: Fred Frame. 93 min.
HOME IS WHERE THE HART IS
* * setting: USA.
(1986) Valri Bromfield, Stephen E. Miller, Deanne Henry, Eric Christmas, Ted Stidder, Leslie Nielsen, Martin Mull.....Scheming woman (Bromfield) plans to marry an elderly American millionaire for his money before his two sons can stop her. A not very good comedy, but not as grating as a lot of its type. sc./dir: Rex Bromfield. 87 min.
L'HOMME A TOUT FAIRE
* * setting: P.Q.
(1980) Jocelyn Berube, Andree Pelletier, Gilles Renaud, Paul Dion, Danielle Schneider, Marcel Sabourin, Janette Bertrand.....A handyman (Berube), and something of an old-fashioned romantic, slowly begins a doomed relationship with a housewife (Pelletier) he's doing some work for. So-so drama is critically revered, but ultimately seems a bit thin and never really tugs the emotions the way it needs to. English title: The Handyman. sc./dir: Micheline Lanctot. 99 min.
DE MA VIE *
1/2 setting: other
(1992) (/France) Maria de Medeiros, Thierry Fortineau, Anne Letourneau, Jean-Pierre Barci, Alain Doutey.....Story of a whimsical young woman (de Medeiros) determined to find a husband who'll look after her, and a womanizing soon-to-be-bankrupt man (Fortineau)...and how they don't realize they're right for each other. Standard French light-hearted romantic drama, extremely slight with uninteresting characters going about telling us how nifty and eccentric they are. Choppily edited, too. English title: The Man of My Life. sc./dir: Jean-Charles Tacchella. - partial female nudity.- 103 min.
Homme invisible ala fenetre, a novel by Monique Proulx, was turned into the movieSouvenirs intimes
L'HOMME SUR LES QUAIS
* * setting: other
(1992) (/France/Germany) Jennifer Zubar, Toto Bissainthe, Jean-Michel Martial, Patrick Remeau, Mireille Metellus, Albert Delpy.....Story of life in Haiti in the '60s under dictator "Papa Doc" Duvalier, focusing on a little girl (Zubar) whose parents live away in exile. Undoubtedly earnest drama has its moments, but too often is just slow and static. The subtitles frequently get obscured by the background. English title: The Man on the Wharf. sc: Raoul Peck, Andre Grall. dir: Raoul Peck. - violence, brief male nudity.- 102 min.
* * setting: USA.
(1986) (/France) Nathalie Baye, John Shea, Marla Lukofsky, Richard Berry, Peter Donat, Arthur Grosser.....French woman (Baye) has a paper marriage to stay in New York only to have the very strange "husband" (Shea) show up. Low-budget suspenser starts out awful, but if you can get by that, and the poor dubbing, it becomes vaguely O.K....if you bother to stick with it long enough. American import Shea's not bad. sc: Phillip Setbon, Patrick Jamain, Robert Geoffrion. dir: Patrick Jamain. - brief female nudity.- 100 min.
* * setting: CDN.
(1998) Pascale Bussieres, Stephen Shellen, Blake Boyd, Thomas Cavanagh, Tammy Lauren, Susan Wilkey, Elaine Lakeman, Anthony Ulc.....A newlywed's (Bussieres) honeymoon is disrupted by her husband's (Boyd) job, his libidinous brother (Cavanagh) and the brother's soon-to-be-ex (Lauren), and a homeless man (Shellen) who's trying to resurrect the spirit of his dead son on her lawn. Frustrating comedy about love and relationships is likeable and off-beat and sometimes quite funny...but lags too often with scenes that are cute, but seem as though they should be a lot funnier. The direction and too many of the performances are kind of subdued and don't give you enough of the characters' insides (like a final scene revelation that comes out of nowhere). Chronically underrated Cavanagh steals the show, and Lauren also brings some energy to things. sc./dir: Joan Carr-Wiggin. 98 min.
HOOVER VS. THE KENNEDYS: The
Second Civil War (TVMS) * 1/2
(1987) Jack Warden, Nicholas Campbell, Robert Pine, Barry Morse, Mark Strange, Michael Hogan, LeLand Gantt.....Fact-based account of the tumltuous early '60s in the U.S. and the feud between F.B.I. chief Hoover (Warden) and President Kennedy & his brother (Pine and Campbell). Docudrama is, arguably, daring in its muckraking approach to American icons, but the actors seem lost, the dialogue bad and the direction clumsy. And it never manages to evoke the time it's presenting. Besides, how does this affect Canadians anyway? Actually, it isn't even that daring, since it basically goes over the same ground as the earlier U.S. mini-series, "Kennedy". 4 hours, shown in both one or two hour segments. sc: Lionel E. Seigel. dir: Michael O'Herlihy.
(1999) (/U.S.) * * * Cameron Daddo ("Daniel Cooper"), Suki Kaizer ("Alex Stone"), Duncan Fraser ("Brian Brewster"), Haig Sutherland ("Nub Flanders"), Beverley Elliott ("Ruby Vasquez"), Gina Stockdale , Alisson Hossack ("Molly Brewster"), David Lewis ("Const. Kevin Mitchum"), Veena Sood ("Callie Pender"), Matthew Walker ("Father Mac"), Max Peters ("Dylan Stone").....Family comedy/drama about a west coast (American) island and its eccentric inhabitants, focusing on the newly arrived young protestant minister (Daddo). Kaiser plays the single mom bed & breakfast owner and Peters her son; Fraser the local wiley entrepeneur; Elliott and Stockdale a mother-daughter combo who run the general store and only communicate (with each other) through written messages, etc. Walker was the local Catholic priest.
Decidedly broad but nonetheless entertaining series, weaving a number of plot- threads through any given episode so that you can find yourself, if even grudgingly, kind of wrapped up in it, waiting to see how it all turns out (and comes together) in the climax. Not my cup of tea, as a rule, but oddly likeable. Based on a British series called "Ballykissangel" (which was somewhat less broad in its delivery). Set in the United States (why? when it so clearly evokes B.C.?) but at least the cast is Canadian -- even Daddo, an Australian actor-singer who became a dual citizen while filming F/X: The Series. Though occasional guest stars were American imports. Developed by Mary Hanes and Jason Milligan. Hour long episodes, shown in Canada in Showcase.
THE HORSE TRADER'S DAUGHTER see La fille de maquignon
HORSES IN WINTER *
* setting: P.Q.
(1988) Rick Raxlen, Jacob Tierney, Vicki Barkoff, Jacques Migne, Colin Kash, Erin Whitaker, Lucie Dorion, Alejandro Escobar, Elizabeth Bellm.....A man (Raxlen) reminisces about a summer he spent as a boy (played by Tierney) at his family's cottage on the lake. In spots this art film has atmosphere and some nice writing in the narration, and even interesting scenes, but too often just plays like someone's home movies. sc: Rick Raxlen. dir: Rick Raxlen, Patrick Vallely. - brief female nudity.- 87 min.
(2004) Joris Jarsky, Carlo Rota, Claudia Besso, Amy Stewart.....An ex-junkie (Jarsky) agrees to stay with an old junkie pal (Rota), in the latter's rural, isolated house, ostensibly to help him through a bad patch...but really because he's trying to find out what happened to another junkie friend who's vanished. Minimalist, low-budget, filmed-on-video drama cum suspenser is sporadically intriguing, but can't fully shake its low-budget stiltedness. The actors are capable, but the scenes seem like scenes. Full of flashbacks, hallucinations and dream sequences which, at first, seem kind of annoying and confusing...but you realize make sense bit by bit as the story unfolds, gradually filling in the back story. Meaning you can kind of appreciate it more once it's over than while you're watching it. As such, a borderline call...but not quite a success. sc./dir: Tony Asimakopoulos.- female nudity; sexual content; violence.- 76 min.
HOSTAGE FOR A DAY
* 1/2 setting: USA.
(1994) (/U.S.) George Wendt, Christopher Templeton, John Vernon, Robin Duke, Peter Torokvei, Kathleen Laskey, Don Lake, Frank Moore, Currie Graham, John Hemphill.....Put-upon American (Wendt), in a rotten marriage (to Duke), decides to fake his own kidnapping to get enough money to escape to Alaska with his childhood sweetheart (Templeton). Unfunny made-for-TV comedy has too many negative characters to be the heartwarmer it wants to be. Set in Mellonville...the same fictional town used in the SCTV series. TV personality Monika Deol plays a reporter. Tragically, co-scripter Hildebrand and Candy, who made his directorial debut as well as co-executive producing and appearing in a bit part, both died before the film aired. sc: Kari Hildebrand, Robert Crane, Peter Torokvei. dir: John Candy. 93 min.
HOSTILE ADVANCES: The Kerry
Ellison Story * * 1/2 setting:
(1996) (/U.S.) Rena Sofer, Victor Garber, Maria Ricossa, Real Andrews, Karen Allen, Sean McCann, Patricia Gage, David Nerman, Don Francks, Sherry Miller.....True story of an American I.R.S. agent (American Sofer) who finds her life turned into a nightmare by the unwanted advances of a creepy co-worker (Garber) -- leading her to sue him, and her employer, for sexual harassment. Made-for-TV true story suffers from the problems of many such productions, where the earnestness and the issue threatens to overwhelm the storytelling. Somewhat lacking in subtlety and finesse but, conversely, it remains focused and tightly-paced, making for a decent enough watch. Although for a movie that's all about its issue -- and the supposedly precedent-setting legal rulings that accompanied it -- it can remain a bit vague in the details (there isn't even a date in the titles explaining when this occurred). Canadian filmmakers have made so many of these films, they've practically mapped out the last century of American legal history...too bad they seem uninterested in doing the same for Canadian law and history. sc: Layce Gardner. dir: Allan Kroeker. 90 min.
HOSTILE INTENT *
* 1/2 setting: USA.
(1997) Rob Lowe, Sofia Shinas, John Savage, Ronn Sarosiak, Rino Romano, Gerry Quigley, James Kidnie, Louis Del Grande, Saul Rubinek.....American computer programmers who've just put the finishing touches on software that will protect any computer from illegal accessing, go off into the woods for paint ball/war games...only to have someone start using real ammo. Reasonably entertaining, fast-paced action-thriller. Better than to be expected. Lowe and Savage are American imports (though they've both done their share of Canadian movies over the years). sc: Manny Coto. dir: Jonathan Heap. - violence.- 89 min.
* * * 1/2 setting: USA.
(1989) David Warner, Michael Ironside, Kate Vernon, Jayne Eastwood, Will Lyman, Graeme Campbell, Anthony Sherwood, John Vernon..... Mild-mannered man (Warner) takes three of his power-plant co-workers hostage, seemingly for no reason. Off-beat, ambitious suspense drama avoids the sadistic/unpleasantness usually associated with Canadian-made "hostage" movies and works thanks to stylish direction, good performances by all (including Ironside in an atypical turn) and an odd, quirky sense of humour. Definitely not the schlock it's sometimes presented as. a.k.a. The Devastator. sc: Stephen Zoller, Michael A. Gilbert (from Gilbert's novel Office Party). dir: George Mihalka. - violence, partial female nudity, sexual content.- 93 min.
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