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


Go to Bottom

Sample: Title; rating (out of 4); principal setting; year of release; international co-producer (if any); cast; description; scriptwriter; director; content warning; running time.


(1986-1988)   * * 1/2  Carl Marotte ("Pierre Lambert"), Marie-Chantal Labelle, France Zobda, Marc Messier, Yvan Ponton, Marina Orsini, Michel Forget, others.....Night-time soap about a Quebec hockey team (the fictional Nationals) and those around them: reporters, owners, family, and focusing on the hot new player (Marotte).

Technically ambitious TV series, in that it was filmed simultaneously in French and English, but with only so-so results. Interesting to a point, but the chracters never really grabbed you, and it suffered from awkward direction and dubbing (despite supposedly being bilingual). It did poorly in English provinces and was cancelled after two seasons, but was a hit in Quebec (where it was called Lance et compte) and continued for another couple of years. Notable also for its use of mild cussing and some exposed female flesh (scenes which were deleted for its second year in English when it was moved to an earlier time-slot)...but it never managed to be particularly sexy, despite attractive ladies like French-import Zobda. Shown originally on the CBC and re-aired on Showcase Television. - partial female nudity.- 

HEAD IN THE CLOUDS   * *  setting: other
(2003) (/U.K.) Charlize Theron, Stuart Townsend, Penelope Cruz, Thomas Kretschmann, David La Haye, Karine Vanasse, Steven Berkoff, Gabriel Hogan.....Saga of star-crossed lovers in Europe prior to, and during, World War II: a politically conscientious Anglo-Irishman (Townsend) and a free living Franco-American Bohemian dilettante (Theron) -- and their Spanish refugee friend (Cruz). Decidedly Old School melodrama (with some modern raciness) wants to have the sweeping feel of some epic, literary classic...but can instead feel a bit like some old 1980s TV mini-series soap opera. The intentions are sincere in the kind of story they're trying to make (and to evoke), but it's meandering, with scenes that should have power and passion...but too often don't. Like an old mini-series, it can feel too long and padded at times, while other times, can feel as though they needed to spend more time developing the characters and relationships. The ideas and themes and politics are there...but can feel a bit like everyone's just play-acting. Ultimately, a large part of it is based on whether you find Theron and Townsend, and their characters, charismatic and compelling...or whether you don't. And despite the two having been off-screen lovers at the time...the on screen chemistry doesn't quite ignite. The Canadian actors just appear in supporting roles. sc./dir: John Duigan. - sexual content; partial female nudity; brief male nudity; violence. - 121 min.

HEAD ON   * *  setting: Ont.
(1980) Sally Kellerman, Stephen Lack, John Huston, Lawrence Dane, John Peter Linton, Robert Silvermann.....Meeting after a car collision, a married psychiatrist (Kellerman) and a professor (Lack) begin an affair involving increasingly bizarre, and dangerous, sexual game playing. Potentially interesting idea, but unsuccessfully realized, with the characters never quite coming into focus.  Kellerman is good, but Lack is, well, Lack (though he's doing something funny with his voice). a.k.a. Fatal Attraction -- a use of the title that predates the higher profile U.S. film. sc: James Sanderson, Paul Illidge. dir: Michael Grant. - sexual content.- 98 min.

HEADS   * * setting: USA.
(1994) Jon Cryer, Jennifer Tilly, Ed Asner, Shawn Alex Thompson, Roddy McDowall, Wayne Robson, Earl Pastko, Charlene Fernetz, Nancy Drake..... Nerdy reporter (Cryer) in small town U.S.A. investigates a series of decapitations. Black comedy tries hard to be visually moody and stylish, but the script contains so few genuine laughs that one almost wonders if it was written to be serious, then directed to be a comedy. Either way it's not really funny, suspenseful, or weird enough to be one thing or another. McDowall, curiously, isn't billed until the end.  sc: Jay Stapleton, Adam Brooks (story Stapleton). dir: Paul Shapiro. - violence, sexual content.- 101 min.

HEADS OR TAILS  see Pile ou face

THE HEARD  * *  setting: USA/CDN.
(1999) Colm Feore, David Hemblen, Doug Lennox, Dennis Allen, Jim Allodi, Don McKellar, Mark McKinney, (voice of) Graham Greene.....Docudrama about a mammoth government sponsored excercise in the 1930s to herd reindeer from Alaska to Canada. This NFB produced drama tries to tackle a big concept premise, but with a little concept budget. Mixing archival footage of the herd, shots of Lennox (as chief herder Andy Bahr) looking pensive against sweeping northern vistas, while his voiceover narration is provided by Greene (why hire one actor to play the part, then another to do the voice?) and inserts of talking head monologues by Feore, Hemblen, etc. playing others involved in the enterprise. An audacious attempt to tackle the idea, and an intriguing bit of Canadiana, the result is interesting in spots...but not entirely successful either. sc: Peter Lynch, Nicholas McKinney. dir: Peter Lynch. 91 min.

HEART: The Marilyn Bell Story * * *  setting: Ont./USA.
(2001) Caroline Dhavernas, Ron White, Amy Sloan, Graeme Somerville, Vlasta Vrana, Kent McQuaid, Lisa Bronwyn Moore, Chip Chuipka, Jennifer Morehouse.....True story of how 16 year old Canadian Marilyn Bell (Dhavernas) became the first person to swim across Lake Ontario in 1954. Made-for-CBC TV drama goes the kind of unusual -- and surprisingly successful -- route of having fun with the story. Dhavernas and White (as her coach) play it real, but the story is tweaked to accentuate both the dramatic...and the comic, throwing in cartoony "bad guys" who would seem more at home in a Disney comedy (like Vrana as the mercenary head of the Canadian National Exhibition). For a dry bio pic, it's surprisingly fun, told with polish and gusto (if little subtlety). Dhavernas is good, as is White (of course). Though, by the end of the climactic, grueling swim, you kind of feel like you've swum a marathon yourself! sc: Karen Walton. dir: Manon Briand. 90 min.

(1998) Christianne Hirt, Shaun Johnston, Michael Riley, Merrilyn Gann, Eric Johnson, Jessica Carmichael.....On the prairies in the '30s, a not-quite retarded woman (Hirt) struggles with her memories of being sexually abused by the local priest (Riley), much to the bewilderment of her caring, but unsuspecting husband (Johnston). Well-intentioned drama is slow and overly mannered (perhaps reflecting its stage origins) and mired in its heavy-handed pretentions that never quite lets the plot become a story or the characters become people. By the end, the "issue" the movie focuses on isn't the priest-molestation thing. Graham Greene has a cameo. sc: Kim Hogan (from the play "Jennie's Story" by Betty Lambert). dir: Francis Damberger. 94 min.

(2007-)  * * *  Amber Marshall ("Amy Flemming"), Michelle Morgan ("Samantha "Lou" Fleming), Shaun Johnston ("Jack Bartlett"), Graham Wardle ("Ty Borden"), Chris Potter ("Tim Fleming"), Jessica Amlee ("Mallory Wells"), Nathaniel Arcand ("Scott Cardinal"), others.....Family drama about a ranch where troubled or (psychologically) damaged horses are sent for rehabilitation. Marshall plays the a teen-ager with a way with horses, forced to inherit the role of "horse whisperer" after her mother's death; Morgan her older, big city sister, reluctantly returned home to look after the books; and Johnston their crusty grandfather. Wardle plays the young ranch hand; Potter the girl's (initially) estranged, wayward dad; Amlee plays "Amy"'s best friend. 

After having kind of turned its back on it's earlier string of successful Sunday night family series in its pursuit of edgy and "hip" series, the CBC finally tried to recapture that market with Heartland. The result is an effective family drama -- "family" in a good way, in that it's broad based enough, and well put together and acted, so that it can appeal to adults as well as youths; at least, adults looking for a relief from overly gritty police thrillers and oversexed night time soaps. It avoids the overly mannered artifice of some earlier CBC family series, with the actors generally delivering nicely textured, effective performances, playing reasonably well-rounded characters (save for some awkwardly obvious token "villains" from a rival ranch). Worth a look. Hour long episodes on the CBC.

HEARTS OF WAR * 1/2  setting: other
(2007) Jonathan Scarfe, Nina Dobrev, Zachary Bennett, Daryl Hannah, Roy Scheider, Colm Feore, Kim Coates, Lara Daans, Mac Fyfe, Sebastian Pigott.....Romantic melodrama set during WW II, about a conflicted German agent (Scarfe) who has a brief affair with a Jewish peasant (Dobrev) who then flees into the countryside with her good-hearted fiancee (Bennett), but the separated lovers pine for each other. Presumably well-intentioned drama (which can maybe forgive the potentially tactless mix of Harlequin Romance with war-time atrocities) seems to labour under a meagre budget, although they can afford uniforms, and a recognizable cast across the board (though American actor Scheider, inparticular, only has a small part -- though is quite good). Unfortunately, you could practically devote an essay to its problems, from an epic, star-crossed romance in which the two leads barely exchange any lines before falling into bed together, hardly convincing us of some deep and profound connection, to an ending which, if you think about it, just seems to leave everything hanging, and with many of the supporting parts undeveloped (Feore does good with his role...but it's barely a character). It seems to borrow scenes from other movies (even throwing in a cabaret!) even as (perhaps because of budget reasons) the scenes themselves can feel perfunctory or repetitious, and with too many speeches in lieu of actual dialogue that might make us believe in the characters (Scarfe's character is a wanna be poet, and we know this because much of his dialogue involves waxing lyrical on the horror's of war). Some of the supporting cast doubled in behind-the-scenes jobs (or vice versa) -- that's director Lee as the cabaret MC, and Coates is listed as an executive producer (though sometimes that's just industry speak for "he worked for below his usual salary"). a.k.a. The Poet. sc: Jack Crystal. dir: Damian Lee. - violence.- 95 min.

THE HEAT LINE see La ligne de chaleur

HEATER  * * *  setting: Man.
(2000) Gary Farmer, Stephen Ouimette.....A day in the life of a homeless man (Farmer) and a schizophrenic (Ouimette), and their scheme to try and make some money with the electric heater the former has. Effective, neo-realist drama, with strong performances from the two leads, particularly Farmer in the less splashy role of a man walking a line, trying to maintain some semblance of integrity in a desperate world. The two stars are basically the whole show, though other characters appear in bits, such as Tina Keeper as a shelter doctor. sc./dir: Terrance Odette. 87 min.

THE HEATWAVE LASTED FOUR DAYS   * * 1/2  setting: P.Q.
(1974) Gordon Pinsent, Alexandra Stewart, Lawrence Dane, Domini Blythe, Al Waxman.....Freewheeling TV camera man (Pinsent) tries to blackmail an escaped mobster (Dane) but winds up being forced to help him instead. O.K. suspense-drama is hampered by an overly matter-of-fact approach to the suspense but benefits from Pinsent's performance. sc: Douglas Jackson, Milo Spearer, Daniel Heargrove. dir: Douglas Jackson.

HEAVEN ON EARTH  * *  setting: Ont.
(1987) (/U.K.) R.H. Thomson, Sian Leisa Davies, Cedric Smith, Eric Peterson, Fiona Reid.....Story of orphans brought over from England and given new homes in pre-W.W. I Canada. Made-for-CBC TV film tries focusing on a number of people but ends up not focusing on any. Despite strong performances, you don't care about the characters. Thomson is wasted. sc: Margaret Atwood, Peter Pearson (with Nancy Botkin, Allan Kroeker). dir: Allan Kroeker. 82 min.

HEAVENLY BODIES   *  setting: USA.
(1984) (/U.S.) Cynthia Dale, Richard Rebiere, Walter George Alton, Laura Henry, Stuart Stone.....Young woman (Dale) opens an aerobics studio and has romantic troubles (sort of) and business problems (in a way). Sloppily assembled with microphones bobbing into the frame and Canuck flags when it's set in the U.S. Virtually non-stop dance numbers, but it's not very sexy. Look for co-scripter (and one-time movie critic!) Base as a football player in a red sweat shirt. sc: Lawrence Dane, Ron Base. dir: Lawrence Dane. - sexual content, partial female nudity.- 89 min.

HEAVY METAL   * 1/2  setting: USA/other
(1981) (/U.S.) voices: John Candy, Don Francks, Susan Roman, Jackie Burroughs, Roger Bumpass.....Animated sci-fi anthology, not for kids, very loosely strung together by a recurring orb of pure evil. There's a curious commonality to 90 percent of "adult" animated films: namely, they're extremely sophomoric and have all the coherence of an acid trip. Which is fine, if that's your cup of tea, but others be warned. Plenty of sex and violence, but the mainly smarmy segments are often no more than vignettes expanded way beyond their point of interest. Stronger plots and characterization would have been nice -- or at least humour that was actually funny. The animation can be interesting, but other times it's stilted and literally headache inducing. The title comes from an American adult comic book magazine. This film was unavailable on video for many years due to copywrite disputes over the music, but has since been released on tape. Followed, almost 20 years later, by Heavy Metal 2000. sc: Dan Goldberg, Len Blum (based, in part, on stories and art by Richard Corben, Angus McKie, Dan O'Bannon, Thomas Warkentin, Berni Wrightson). dir: Gerald Potterton. - extreme violence, female nudity, partial male nudity, sexual content.- 90 min.

HEAVY METAL 2000: F.A.K.K. 2  * * 1/2
(2000) (/U.S./Germany) Julie Strain Eastman, Michael Ironside, Billy Idol.....Not-for-kids animated sci-fi about a warrior woman (voiced by Strain) who survives her people's destruction and sets out into space after the killer (Ironside), who is almost unkillable and seeks to become truly immortal. Long-in-coming follow up to Heavy Metal is a single story (as opposed to an anthology) and seemed to be the Heavy Metal movie that even many fans of the original didn't like. With that being said, it's tightly-paced and has a few twists and unlike most "adult" animated movies, it's actually coherent (for the most part). The story seems like an embellishment on the final segment from the original Heavy Metal movie (though this time spruced up with dialogue and humour). Not great, more of a guilty pleasure (at best), but an improvement over the first one. The heavy metal sound track grates though, with indistinguishable songs seeming as though they were lifted randomly from a playlist, rather than because they enhance a scene (presumably the producers needed something to put on a soundtrack CD). Violent, the movie is actually tamer--sex-wise--than its predecessor. There's still nudity, just not as much as you might expect. Even the heroine's skimpy red outfit that's depicted in the poster art is only donned near the end. B-movie and adult movie actress Strain is the wife of Kevin Eastman, current editor of the Heavy Metal comic magazine. sc: Robert Payne Cabeen (with Robert Geoffrion and John Minnis, Lorenzo Orzani, George Ungar) from the comic book story by Simon Bisely, Eric Talbot, Kevin Eastman. dir: Michel Lemire, Michael Coldewey, Michael David Donovan. - extreme violence, partial female nudity, sexual content, casual male nudity.- 87 min.

HEAVY METAL SUMMER  a.k.a. State Park

HECK'S WAY HOME   * *  setting: CDN.
(1995) Chad Krowchuk, Michael Riley, Shannon Lawson, Don Francks, Gabe Khouth, Alan Arkin, Cecilley Carrol, Peter Jordan.....When his owners pack up to move to Australia, accidentally leaving him behind, a dog travels from Winnipeg to Vancouver to catch them before they set sail, while his boy owner (Krowchuk) anxiously waits for word of him. Made-for-TV family flick tries to be a modern Lassie Come Home or Incredible Journey but, though slick, it never really becomes inspired -- or that original. O.K., particularly for kids, but not something to engender great enthusiasm. sc: Chris Haddock. dir: Michael Scott. 91 min.

The Heist, the non-fiction book by Ernest Volkman & John Cummings, served as the source for the TV movie,The Big Heist.

HELLHOUNDS  * 1/2   setting: other
(2009) (/U.S./Romania) Scott Elrod, J.A. Woods (a.k.a. James A. Woods), Amanda Brooks, Adam Butcher, Andrew Howard, Ben Cross, Indra Ové, Olivia Nita.....When his new bride (Brooks) is poisoned, an Ancient Greek warrior (Elrod) leads a band of warriors into Tartarus, the underworld, to rescue her, unaware of the treachery of his best friend (Woods). Low-budget made-for-TV sword & sorcery adventure plays it straight, like an old Ray Harryhausen flick, with everyone talking formally (as opposed to with modern colloquialisms)...but the overall result is weak. The acting varies from fine (Brooks, Ove as a witch woman, and Cross in a small part) to problematic (American lead Elrod) and a lot inbetween. Unfortunately, it's the characters and their interaction that are surely what's needed to hold are attention, as the plot itself, though briskly paced, is pretty rudimentary, just an excuse for a lot of questing, and running, and occasional fighting, rarely gelling into scenes that are interesting or imaginative on their own. The limited budget affects the f/x...but even the talky scenes can feel a bit like they're just trying to finish before they lose the light -- which they probably were. Apparently the whole thing was shot in a couple of weeks and, in that sense, you can probably admire the strengths as much as decry the weaknesses. But ultimately -- do you watch a film to empathize with the cast & crew...or to be entertained? Director Schroeder is the American actor. sc: Paul A. Birkett, Jason Bourque. dir: Ricky Schroeder. - extreme violence.- app. 90 min.

HELLO MARY LOU - PROM NIGHT II   * 1/2  setting: USA.
(1987) Michael Ironside, Wendy Lyon, Justin Louis, Richard Monette, Lisa Schrage.....30 years after a prom queen's death, her ghost possesses a teen (Lyon) to exact revenge on her former beau (Ironside) and anyone else who gets in her way. Horror flick has nothing to do with its predecessor and is neither scarey nor all that interesting. Though the full frontal nudity in one scene is unusual for this kind of film. Sequel (in name only) to Prom Night and followed by Prom Night III: The Last Kiss. sc: Ron Oliver. dir: Bruce Pittman. - extreme violence, female nudity, sexual content.- 97 min.

HEMINGWAY VS. CALLAGHAN (TVMS)  * * 1/2  setting: Ont./other
(2003) Robin Dunne, Vincent Walsh, Gordon Pinsent, Carly Pope, Michelle Nolden, Kristen Holden-Ried, James Allodi, Patrick McKenna, William B. Davis, Len Cariou.....News of American writer Ernest Hemingway's suicide in 1961 causes a media frenzy at his old newspaper, The Toronto Star, with various people reminiscing about him, especially Canadian novelist Morley Callaghan (Pinsent), who remembers their friendship in the 1920s, both as reporters in Toronto, and then as rising writers in Paris, hobnobbing with F. Scott Fitzgerald and others...before having a falling out over a boxing match. Dunne and Walsh play a young Callaghan and Hemingway, respectively. Made for CBC mini-series seems a bit directionless, as if they had latched on to the hook (Hemingway had a Canadian connection) but weren't sure what to do with it. Though ostensibly based on Callaghan's memoirs, the first part focuses mainly on Hemingway, and is told in a confusingly jumbled way, not just by jumping back and forth between the '60s and the '20s, but even the 1920s scenes don't always follow chronologically. Picks up in the second half, as the focus shifts to Callaghan and his encounters with the Literati of the "Lost Generation" in Paris, and he discovers the feet of clay of his erstwhile idols. In fact, unusual for a Canadian movie, Callaghan's straight-laced, level-headedness -- his stereotypical Canadianess -- isn't derided when contrasted with Paaris' "hip" and "wild" American expats, but is what makes him sympathetic. Though even here the movie still seems as though it's unsure of its point, or theme. Pinsent's performance is the stand-out, but much of the 1960s stuff -- which occupies a lot of the program -- is more distracting than anything, disrupting the narrative flow of the 1920s scenes. Other notable turns include Holden-Ried as Fitzgerald and Davis, in an unassuming part as the kind of unofficial keeper of the Hemingway archives at the Star. But, ultimately, it seems a little like much ado about nothing. Four hours. sc: Malcolm MacRury (from the memoir, That Summer in Paris, by Morley Callaghan). dir: Michael De Carlo. - brief female nudity, violence.-

(2013-)  * * 1/2  (/U.S.) Famke Janssen ("Olivia Godfrey"), Bill Skarsgård ("Roman Godfrey"), Landon Liboiron ("Peter Rumancek"), Dougray Scott ("Norman Godfrey"), Penelope Mitchell "Letha Godfrey") (1st), Freya Tingley ("Christina Wendall"), with Lili Taylor, Kandyse McClure (1st), Aaron Douglas, Joel de la Fuente, Laurie Fortier, Nicole Boivin, Kaniehiito Horn, Paul Popowich, Don Francks, Emily Piggford, others.....Horror/suspense/Gothic soap opera set in small town Pennsylvania, USA, kicking off with a grisly murder that authorities attribute to a wild animal, but various locals suspect was a werewolf -- the town home to myriad creepy enigmas involving werewolves, quasi-vampires, mysterious scientific experiments, etc. Janssen plays the widowed Ice Queen matriarch of the town's First Family -- the Godfreys; Scott her brother-in-law who has shunned the family fortune and runs the local psychiatric sanitorium. Skarsgård plays her privileged-but-tormented teenage son and Liboiron the wrong-side-of-the-tracks half-Gypsy (and werewolf!) -- the two forming a cautious friendship (as they set out to solve the crimes). Mitchell plays "Norman"'s teen daughter -- mysteriously pregnant by, so she claims, an angel; Tingley an introvert with aspirations to be a writer; others include Taylor as "Peter"'s mother; McClure as a Fish and Wildlife Officer (but secretly a werewolf hunter); de la Fuente the creepy scientist who runs experiments at the Godfrey's research lab; Douglas the sheriff; Horn a local palm reader/hooker (and "Peter"'s cousin); "Roman"'s hulking, mutant sister is played by Boivin (with Michael Andreae substituting as her over-sized body); and so on. Liboiron is the only Canadian billed in the opening credits (though is arguably among the top two or three principals) but billing aside, some Canadian actors are in important, pivotal roles -- including McClure, who's memorable (in her best, most multi-layered role to date) and Douglas as a character who, in a sense, is among the most "normal". Funnily -- none of the actors in the opening title credits are actually American in this primarily American-produced series.

This TV series -- one of the first made to premiere on Netflix (and like many non-network series, indulges in graphic gore, swearing, and occasional nudity) -- can be a bit of an odd duck to assess, especially at first. Reminiscent of "Twin Peaks" in themes (Gothic Horror soaps about small American towns with their creepy denizens, many of them teens, and kicking off with the murder of a local girl -- though Hemlock Grove is the more overtly fantasy/SF) but also in style. At times Hemlock Grove can seem, well, bad, with heavy handed dialogue and mannered performances. But that may well be the point: to evoke an Old School Drive-In Movie ambience, full of horror movie cliches and washed out cinematography and pastel hues, and dialogue that can have a slightly "post sync" echo (as though redubbed later, as was often required in old movies for exterior scenes). At other times, though -- it does work (albeit still with a slight winking self-consciousness), with generally good performances, nuanced characters (working on a human level "Twin Peaks" rarely accomplished), and the contrived dialogue can even be poetic (the teen characters often talking in a precocious way). Though campy/ridiculous scenes persist, like the sequence where the sheriff leaves his house to board up a loose door -- which was insulting given how pivotal the consequences turned out to be. At the same time: it suffered from being a bit of a mixed genre. It's sort of a story arc, the first season resolving the werewolf plot and climaxing other threads by the finale (albeit equally teasing the next season). And it's sort of just a rambling soap opera, with little drive to the overall story (despite supposedly "investigating", the characters never uncover any real clues to the rogue werewolf's identity -- though you can anticipate who it'll be before the characters do!) Yet it's hard to invest emotionally in the characters with its tendency to kill them willy-nilly (sometimes in grisly ways), making their plotlines almost Shaggy Dog stories -- by the end of the first season almost half the regulars were dead! As well, for a series about strange mysteries and enigmas, most revelations aren't that surprising, and maybe aren't even meant to be! The use of terms like ouroborous and upir being an example -- they aren't explained in the series, but is that because they are supposed to be mysterious...or because the filmmakers assume the audience knows them (or could Google them)? So it balances out -- good performances, some interesting characters, effective atmosphere, and a cheeky "everything but the kitchen sink" triteness (from werewolves to secret labs to Gothic estates) mix with uneven, awkward scenes, and a sense that it's more adept at introducing enigmas than at following through (like Wile E. Coyote running but not looking down) and with a tendency to kill off characters when the characters are what are drawing you back. Based on the novel by Brian McGreevy. Hour-long episodes. - extreme violence; partial female and male nudity; sexual content.

HEMOGLOBIN  * *  setting: USA.
(1997) Rutger Hauer, Roy Dupuis, Kristin Lehman, Jackie Burroughs, John Dunn-Hill, Joanna Noyes, Felicia Shulman, Janine Theriault, Lisa Bronwyn Moore, Leni Parker.....A woman and her sickly husband (Lehman and Dupuis) arrive on a small New England island hoping to find clues to his ancestry (and his strange affliction), unaware of a colony of subterranean monsters. Import Hauer plays the local doctor who aides them. Horror flick has some nice, traditional ideas (some borrowed, uncredited, from a couple of H.P. Lovecraft stories like "The Lurking Fear"), a competent cast, and tight pacing that keeps the thing from actually being boring. But weak direction and a failure to tell the story through the characters and a lack of surprises, or thrills, undermines it. More likely to induce queasiness in spots, rather than scares. American scripters O'Bannon and Shusett wrote the hit film "Alien". Why do Canadian filmmakers set movies in the States when they're not fooling anyone? Despite the plethora of American flags, one review I read of this still described it as being set in Canada! French-Canadian Dupuis' accent (not that he has much of one) is explained by having him be raised in would it have undermined the artistic and thematic vision of the story by having him be raised in Canada? How? a.k.a. Bleeders. sc: Charles Adair and Dan O'Bannon & Ronald Shusett. dir: Peter Svatek. - extreme violence, partial female and male nudity, sexual content.- 93 min.

HENRI   * *  setting: P.Q.
(1986) Eric Brisebois, Jacques Godin, Marthe Turgeon, Claude Gauthier, Yvan Ponton, Lucie Laurier.....Teen (Brisebois), picked on at school and frustrated by his increasingly withdrawn widower father (Godin), decides to participate in the local marathon. At times interesting drama but frequently muddled and not well though out. English title: Breaking Through.  sc: Jacques Jacob. dir: Francois Labonte.

HENRY AND VERLIN * *  setting: Ont.
(1994) Gary Farmer, Keegan MacIntosh, Nancy Beatty, Robert Joy, Eric Peterson, Joan Orenstein, Margot Kidder, David Cronenberg, Neil Dainard .....Small town, Depression era story of the friendship between a mentally handicapped man (Farmer) and his semi-autistic young nephew (MacIntosh) and the trepidation and prejudice it evokes in some of the family and the town's folk. Serio-comic pic is atmospheric and well-acted, but suffers from an oppressive, almost leden ambience and a mixture of grittiness and whimsy that tends to cancel each other out. Ultimately, it suffers from thinly drawn characters, half-heartedly explored issues and plot threads that are never really developed or resolved. sc./dir: Gary Ledbetter (from short stories by Ken Ledbetter). 90 min.

HERE AND NOW  see L'initiation

HERE'S TO LIFE!  * * 1/2  setting: USA/B.C.
(2000) (/U.S.) Eric McCormack, James Whitmore, Kim Hunter, Ossie Davis, Marya Delver.....A shallow, repressed American retirement home director (McCormack), is blackmailed by three seniors (Whitmore, Hunter and Davis) into taking them on a vacation to Canada; but once there, their plans for "their" vacation change as, one by one, they become more interested in making him their pet project, by helping him woo a local woman (Delver). Serio-comic flick starts out a little too trite and cliched, but improves as its more individual plot elements take root. Still suffers from that "neither fish nor fowl" syndrome -- it isn't that funny, nor that dramatic (though there are some decent scenes). But benefits from its cast -- not just the trio of American old pros (particularly the always effective Whitmore), but Canadian McCormack remains an under appreciated talent (if you can call someone under appreciated who stars in a hit U.S. sitcom). But if filmmakers really want to show respect for seniors...why not just hire talents like these for a regular movie, instead of ghettoizing them in these "tributes" to the elderly? Still, the fact that the movie actually admits much of it is set in Canada is a nice surprise. American actor/director Charles Martin Smith was executive  producer and appears as the hotel manager. Hunter's last film. sc./dir: Arne Olsen. 94 min.

A HERO'S LIFE see La vie d'un heros


HEY BABE!   * *  setting: USA.
(1984) Buddy Hacket, Yasmine Bleeth, Marushka Stankova, Vlasta Vrana .....Story of the relationship between a delinquent orphan (Bleeth) in New York, who wants to be a star, and an aging bum (Hacket), who used to be one. Not bad little flick is undermined because it can't seem to figure out who its target-audience is. It seems like a young teen pic but occasional seediness suggests something else.  sc: Edith Rey (story Rey, Anna Fuerstenberg, Rafel Zielinski). dir: Rafel Zielinski.

Hey, Cinderella   * * 1/2
(1969) (/U.S) Belinda Montgomery, Robin Ward, Joyce Gordon, Pat Galloway, voices of Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, Jim Henson.....Comic variation on the Cinderella story.  Good hour-long (54 minutes) family film, though probably it plays better with kids than adults (though there are still some good grown-up gags). American muppet creator Henson's first Tales from Muppetland TV special -- made long before the "Muppet Show" and Muppet movies phenomena -- features mainly live actors with muppets (including Kermit the Frog) in supporting parts. Followed by the more accomplished The Frog Prince. sc: Jon Stone, Tom Whedon. dir: Jim Henson.

Hey, Malarek!, the autobiography by investigative reporter Victor Malarek, was turned into the feature film Malarek and served as the inspiration for the CBC TV series Urban Angel

HEYDAY!  * *  setting: Nfld.
(2006) Adam Butcher, Peter MacNeill, Joanne Kelly, Tom McCamus, Deidre Gillard-Rowlings, Gabriel Hogan, Greg Malone, Gordon Pinsent.....During World War II, a Newfoundland teen (Butcher) helps care for his dying mother by entertaining her, and himself, with fantasies about working at the ritzy hotel in nearby Gander airport -- then a major connection between North America and Europe, frequented by troops and movie stars. Writer/director Pinsent does Dennis Potter in this heartfelt and handsomely mounted CBC TV movie, with great performances, effective Newfoundland ambience, and some nice writing and stylish directing. There are individual scenes, as written, acted, directed, filmed, etc. -- particularly between Butcher and MacNeill as his kindly dad -- that are as good as anything you'll see in a Canadian movie. But what's missing is a plot to hold it together. It just gets repetitive. Because so many of the scenes are fantasy, Pinsent doesn't bother to develop them as a real story (the boy muses about spies, but it's not like we get enough of a story to actually suspect people...or care), yet then also tries to turn them into dramatic character scenes...when the boy's just imagining scenarios. Perhaps we're supposed to feel that, though fantasies, some of the scenes he imagines parallel reality, such as with Kelly as his pretty next door neighbour who really does work at the hotel. But it just doesn't quite work. And the "real" scenes with the mother don't really form a story/plot either. A movie that, for all its strengths, either needed another rewrite...or had maybe received one rewrite too many (Pinsent had, apparently, been working on it for 15 years). Ironically, Pinsent had, as a youth, worked at such a hotel...but chooses to do a movie about someone who only fantasizes about it! Though the story here is intended to be deep and artistic, if Pinsent really had just told a tale of a teen caught up in the glamour and intrigue of spies and movie stars making stopovers in might've been a more captivating film! Leah Pinsent (Gord's daughter) and Mark McKinney have bit parts as celebrities (McKinney plays Bob Hope). sc./dir: Gordon Pinsent. app. 90 min.

Go to Top



Back to The Great Canadian Guide to the Movies & TV