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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.
I Am the Cheese, the novel by Robert Cormier, was made into a Canadian movie under the title Lapse of Memory, as well as a U.S. film under its original name.
I ACCUSE *
(2003) Estella Warren, John Hannah, John Kapelos, Tom Butler, Aaron Pearl, Tim Henry.....Small town prairie woman (Warren) finds herself being ostracized and no one believing her when she accuses a local, respected doctor (Hannah) of raping her while she was drugged and under his care. Inspired by fact, the story itself, with the heroine even pursuing her own investigation, is reasonably compelling on its own (how much is based on fact is unclear: the names have been changed, but the stuff involving the confused DNA results -- including the bizarre explanation -- is real), but the execution is problemaatic. The movie is clunky and heavy handed at times and the performances of variable quality -- old pro Butler, in the latter half as the prosecutor, is very good, and Kapelos, as a good guy cop, and Henry, as the more corrupt local cop, are also noteworthy. Standard made-for-TV shocking true story except, made for cable, there's some profanity and a bit of nudity (not involving Canadian model-turned-actress Warren). Curiously, the case the movie's based on involved a Saskatchewan doctor, John Schneeberger...but the movie doesn't admit it's set in Canada (the lawyers don't even wear robes in the courtroom scenes)! sc: Matt DeJong, Charles Wilkinson. dir: John Ketcham. - sexual content, partial female nudity.- 95 min.
I DOWNLOADED A GHOST
* * 1/2 setting: USA.
(2002) Carlos Alazraqui, Ellen Page, Vincent Corazza, Barbara Alyn Woods, Tim Progosh, Gary Hudson, Michael Kanev, Sheldon Bergstrom.....Girl (Page), hoping to find stuff to make her Halloween haunted house exhibit cool, inadvertently downloads the ghost of a cabbie and wanna be comedian (American Alazraqui) from the internet -- and she agrees to help his spirit rest by finding a valuable antique he was falsely accused of stealing...while the real thieves aren't far behind. Made for TV family comedy is very much in the old Disney-esque mode, and kids should enjoy the larger-than-life concepts (both the ghost and the girl's penchant for building quirky gadgets) and the occasional slapstick. Though the filmmakers seem to feel that since their target audience is younger, the plot doesn't really have to make much sense. Harmless and pleasant enough for adults, too, though despite some wit and the occasional jokes aimed at older viewers (kids won't get Alazraqui's various celebrity impersonations, and shouldn't recognize the "Scream" parody scene) it's more something you'd sit through with your kids, rather than seek out on your own. Page is an appealing enough lead. sc: Jeff Phillips. dir: Kelly Sandefur. app. 90 min.
I HEARD THE OWL CALL MY NAME
* * * setting: B.C.
(1973) Tom Courtenay, Paul Stanley, Marianne Jones, Dean Jagger, George Clutesi.....Sickly catholic priest (import Courtenay) is given a new parish in an Indian village where he confronts his preconceived notions about native people and life in general. Strong performance from Courtenay and strong atmosphere make up for minor flaws in this low-key made-for-TV drama. sc: ... (from the novel by Margaret Craven). dir: Daryl Duke. 74 min.
I KNOW WHAT I SAW * 1/2
(2007) (/U.S.) Beverley Mitchell, Geraint Wyn Davies, Chiara Zanni, Kaaren de Zilva, Crystal Buble, Tobias Mehler, Monica Parker, Frank C. Turner.....Young woman (American actress Mitchell) has a series of disturbing encounters that no one believes...and she realizes she is being contacted by the spirits of victims of unsolved murders. Made-for-TV suspense-thriller is one of those things where you can dismiss it out of hand as just not very good...or do it the courtesy of saying maybe it was just struggling with a meagre budget, meaning no one really had the time (or gumption) to go that extra mile. It promises to pick up once we move past the clichéd (and repetitive) psychic visions and becomes a mystery about her investigating the crimes -- except even then, can't seem to decide if it's a thriller...or simply a "chick flick" dramedy, seeming to spend more time with the heroine and her gal pals preparing for a friend's wedding that it does the thriller stuff! Ultimately it's a slow going, not very fresh plot, with flat direction and uneven performances (again, all maybe as much a fault of budget as any inherent talent). Though older actors like Wyn Davies and Turner are alright. sc: Kimberley Wells, Michael Elliot. dir: George Mendeluk. - violence.- app. 90 min.
I'LL NEVER GET TO HEAVEN
* * * setting: Ont.
(1993) Wendy Crewson, Amy Stewart, Aidan Pendleton, Patricia Gage, Victor Garber, Sean McCann, Samantha Follows, Lorna Wilson, Susan Wright, Sarah Lynn Campbell.....Young teen (Stewart), arriving at a new Catholic school in 1960, must deal with the fact her father's run-off, her mother (Crewson) is lonely and her new best friend is hardly orthodox -- all of which run counter to her religion. Effective, provocative and likeable serio-comic made-for-CBC TV pic is nicely understated (though some characterizations are a little broad) with a strong cast. Wright's last film role. sc: Kathleen M. Turner. dir: Stefan Scaini. app. 96 min.
I Love a Man in Uniform *
* setting: Ont.
(1983) Kenneth Welsh, Denis Forest, Dixie Seatle, Timothy Webber, Tom Butler, Dan MacDonald, Stephanie Morgenstern.....Story of the bitter feud between a brutal, small town cop (Welsh) and the troubled teen (Forest) he likes to harrass. Lackluster hour-long drama never manages to flesh out its idea with enough story or characterization. Made for For the Record. sc: John Frizzell. dir: Don McBrearty.
I LOVE A MAN IN UNIFORM
* * 1/2
(1993) Tom McCamus, Brigitte Bako, David Hemblen, Kevin Tighe, Daniel MacIvor, Graham McPherson, Von Flores.....A nebbishy, unstable would-be actor (McCamus) lands the role of a hard-nosed cop in a TV show and starts to dress and act as the character in the real world. Dark psychological suspense-drama works mainly thanks to effective mood and atmosphere, though it never seems to have the intellectual, philosophical or emotional depth some critics thought it had. And it has trouble shaking the image of being just a poor man's "Taxi Driver" or, for that matter, a rehash of a zillion earlier Canadian films including Paperback Hero. McCamus received the Best Actor Genie. sc./dir: David Wellington. - violence, male nudity, sexual content.- 95 min.
"I, Robot", the famous American short story by Eando Binder, and its robot hero Adam Link, was the basis for one of the episodes of the Canadian-made Outer Limits TV series
I'VE HEARD THE MERMAIDS SINGING*
* 1/2 setting: Ont.
(1987) Sheila McCarthy, Paule Baillargeon, Ann-Marie MacDonald, John Evans, Richard Monette.....Flighty, insecure secretary (McCarthy) worships her art curator boss (Baillargeon) until becoming disillusioned. Good performances in this imaginative low-key, but slow serio-comic pic that depends a lot on how much you like McCarthy's character. Improves with a second viewing. Look for Rozema as a worker in a skyscraper. Won two Genies including Best Actress (McCarthy) and Supporting Actress (Baillargeon). sc./dir: Patricia Rozema (her first feature). 81 min.
I WON'T DANCE
* * * setting: P.Q.
(1992) Camille Martinez, Frank Schorpion, Carlo Essagian, Bianca Paradis, Carl Alacchi, Anna Papadakos, Lou Israel, Roger Guetta.....On the run from Canadian Immigration and some drug dealers, a Costa Rican fortune teller (Martinez) hooks up with a musician (Schorpion) still obsessively infatuated with his ex-wife. Comedy-drama is hurt by its obvious low-budget, but is nonetheless likeable. Unabashedly multicultural, it's silly and engaging with appealing leads. sc: Hunt Hoe, Loren Edizel. dir: Hunt Hoe. 92 min.
ICE MEN *
* setting: Ont.
(2005) Martin Cummins, David Hewlett, Ian Tracey, Greg Spottiswood, James Thomas, Brandy Ledford.....Five life long buddies get together for a weekend at a winter cottage, resulting in secrets and buried tensions coming to the fore. Capable cast in this drama that works in fits and starts, but some of the revelations aren't that revelatory...while others seem too contrived, being layered on too self-consciously. This kind of "old friends reunite for a weekend and end up with some uncomfortable self-discovery" movie has been done so often it qualifies as its own genre. And though you don't necessarily dislike the characters here...you don't necessarily care that much, either. Ironically, it's a "male buddy" movie that gets a boost when a woman (Ledford) shows up -- but she's only in it for a bit. Trivia note: Cummins and Ledford are married in real life. sc: Michael Lewis MacLennan (story Thom Best). dir: Thom Best. - sexual content.- 108 min.
IF YOU COULD SEE WHAT I HEAR
* * * 1/2 setting: USA.
(1982) Marc Singer, R.H. Thomson, Shari Belafonte-Harper, Sarah Torgov, Douglas Campbell, Jack Creley, Helen Burns.....Fictional look at the wild college days of blind American singer Tom Sullivan (Singer) and how he finds true love. Very funny comedy-drama with a strong cast and some memorable dramatic scenes. Critics dumped on it, seemingly because it wasn't willing to be a stodgy, earnest docudrama...but there are enough of those out there already. Singer is superb but Thomson manages to steal the show nonetheless as his best friend (and received the Best Supporting Actor Genie). sc: Stuart Gillard (from the novel by Tom Sullivan and Peter Gill). dir: Eric Till. 103 min.
* setting: USA.
(2003) (/U.K.) Bill Pullman, Lena Olin, Colm Feore, Nicholas Lea, Peter Kent, Barbara Eve Harris, John Kapelos, Benjamin Ratner, Lori Triolo, Michael Ironside, Roger Dunn, Hrothgar Mathews.....Disgraced U.S. Marshall (Pullman) is assigned to protect a judge (Olin) from a mad bomber, but the two also become embroiled in the judge's latest case involving corruption within the military. Action-thriller is one of those things where, if you're in an undemanding mood, it might kill an hour and a half. But it is either too obvious (you learn who the villains are early) or too oblique (you spend much of the movie not even sure what the parameters of the questions are) and for a movie that has a lot of action, plot progression-wise, it can seem kind of slow. Has some nicely atypical stuff, like Pullman trying to regain parental access to his Downs Syndrome daughter, but spends a lot of time insulting your intelligence, too: a lot of the movie seems to revolve around the heroes -- a marshall and a judge -- being chased, shot at and even framed...without ever thinking to call the authorities! Most of the action is standard stuff of shoot outs and car bombs, but then builds to a climax like out of a James Bond film -- admirably flamboyant, but also rather silly. Simoneau's usual oppressive direction hurts the scenes that are going for light-hearted badinage. Lots of decent actors are wasted in bit parts (Scott Hylands as the bomber, Brian Markinson and Matthew Bennett as lawyers in an early scene) and even some of the prominently billed actors like Lea and Ironside have nothing parts (while Mathews, as a reluctant witness, deserves better billing than he gets). sc: William Davies. dir: Yves Simoneau. - violence, partial female nudity.- 96 min.
* setting: CDN.
(1986) Hazel King, Geraint Wyn Davies.....A native woman (King) is sold by her tribe to a white fur trader (Davies) in exchange for guns. Well-mounted, hour long period drama never manages to get inside anyone's head, which leaves it being more of a look at a time and place, rather than a story. First of the Daughters of the Country series. sc: Wendy Rill. dir: Norma Bailey.
IL DUCE CANADESE (TVMS)
* * 1/2 setting: P.Q.
(2005) Tony Nardi, Marina Orsini, Gianpaolo Venuta, Dino Tavarone, Joe Pingue, Ron Lea, Louise Lapare, Carlo Rota, Michael A. Miranda (a.k.a. Silvio Oliviera), Romano Orzari.....Story of an apolitical extended Italian-Canadian family just prior to World War II, and how, feeling pressure economically and socially by fascist sympathizers within their community, make token efforts to join Italian-Canadian fascist clubs..."allegiances" which then see some of them rounded up and put in detention camps when Canada declares war on the Axis nations. Sprawling drama stars out well, and is okay, but suffers a bit from seeming too much like they wanted to do a movie about an historical issue -- the detention of Italian-Canadians -- first, and filled in the characters after the fact. There are story threads -- an estranged father and son, a mentally handicapped uncle, etc. -- but none seem developed enough to actually make you think this is what the show's really about. Too many scenes feel a little at arms length, about the characters, but not told through them; and choppy to boot, as events in one scene don't always seem to be followed up on in the next. The first half is more interesting, exploring the pre-war climate in which characters, even in Canada, feel pressure from the fascists (and, no doubt, it's a slightly incendiary point, by suggesting there really were fascist sympathizers within the Italian-Canadian community) but becomes increasingly episodic and melodramatic, as the characters suffer a litany of indignities and occasional abuses (only some directly related to the internment and prejudice), and suffers from lapses into hokey, heavy handed dialogue and scenes. Although it's worth remembering such things occurred, historical realities are better served as a backdrop for a strong story, so that it can depict the events, without seeming like a lesson. Nice turns, in supporting parts, from dependables like Carlo Rota (as the dapper lawyer) and Miranda/Oliviera (as a leader of a fascist club). sc: Bruno Ramirez. dir: Giles Walker.
1/2 setting: other
(1988) (/France) Bruno Cremer, Serge Dupire, Martin Lamotte, Jean-Pierre Castaldi, Hubert Loiselle, Robert Rivard, Karina Lombard.....British mutineers and Tahitian natives attempt to colonize an island but soon tensions erupt between the two groups and a level-headed sailor is caught in the middle. Uninvolving and a little sexist film was edited together from a mini-series -- which could explain its disjointedness. English title: The Island. sc: Bernard Revon, Robert Merle (from Merle's novel). dir: Francois Leterrier. - violence, partial female nudity.- 98 min.
L'ILE DE SABLE *
* setting; P.Q.
(1999) Caroline Dhavernas, Sebastien Huberdeau, Anick Lemay, Genevieve Desilets, Francois Papineau, Marie Tifo, Raymond Cloutier.....Pregnant Quebec teen (Dhavernas), confused and embittered after the death of her mother, and feeling estranged from her big city sister, isn't sure what to do with her life, then ends up going on the road with her on again/off again boyfriend (Huberdeau) to enact a childhood dream of visiting Sable Island, committing a few petty crimes along the way. Yet another Canadian drama about lost, disenchanted, nihilistic youth, with a few family secrets thrown in. Or maybe not. It's not entirely clear whether the filmmakers are aware of how, at times, creepy and abhorrent the central characters are. Not turgid, but you aren't really sure what its point is, particularly with its surreal ending in an otherwise realist film (and maybe, just maybe, the whole movie is meant to be seen as a dream -- though, if so, it's a pretty prosaic dream). Still, it's probably one of the few movies to make use of desolate Sable Island as part of the narrative. English title: Sable Island. sc: Gilles Desjardins, Johanne Pregent. dir: Johanne Pregent. - brief female nudity.- 106 min.
ILL FATED *
(2004) Peter Outerbridge, Paul Campbell, John Callander, Nicki Clyne, John F. Parker, Chris Gauthier, Bill Croft, Kurt Evans.....Story of the very messed up misfits and losers in a small town, focusing on a young man (Campbell) who wants to get away to college, and on his estranged relative (Outerbridge) who slips back into town, hoping to reconnect with his illegitimate daughter. Decently acted flick wants to be a mix of bleak rural melodrama...and quirky, absurdist comedy. But the result is a slow, meandering -- and frankly confusing -- effort where the plausibility of the characters is frequently undermined as their actions often seem dictated by the need for a gag, or a plot point, rather than their personalities. There are some amusing bits, but it's generally an unpleasant, mean-spirited film, where too much of it is taken up with characters yelling and abusing each other, with only occasional oases of gentleness and compassion. It's just hard to care about any of them ...even Campbell, who spends the whole film looking slightly pensive (Gauthier, as the hero's guileless friend, scores best). One of those Canadian movies that doesn't say it's not set in Canada...but doesn't really say it is, either. Joely Collins has a bit part at the beginning. sc: Mark A. Lewis, John Callander. dir: Mark A. Lewis. - sexual content.- 96 min.
AN IMAGINARY TALE see Une
(2000-2001) (/U.K.) * * Lorenzo Lamas ("Raphael Cain"), April Telek ("Sara Beckman"), Steve Braun ("Goodwin"), with Robert Ito ("Yashiro"), Dominic Keating ("Malus"), Kira Clavell ("Vashista"), Grace Park ("Mikiko").....Fantasy/adventure about a sword wielding immortal (Lamas) who, after his wife was murdered and his child kidnapped by demons in feudal Japan, has devoted the rest of his life to hunting demons (who look human). He travels around contemporary America in a mobile home, thwarting various demonic schemes. Telek plays a lady scientist who hooks up with him and Braun his street savvy sidekick, also immortal. Occasionally recurring characters include: Keating and Clavell as the demons who had killed his wife; Ito in flashbacks as his sage, Japanese mentor; and Park (also in flashbacks) cropped up as "Rafe's" murdered wife. Lamas is American (though a staple of low-budget Canadian movies) and Keating British (shortly before landing a regular role in the Star Trek spin-off, "Enterprise") -- everyone else is Canadian.
If immitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the makers of Highlander should be blushing with pride. Not only do the basic ideas of this series seem evocative of Highlander, but even the look of the characters: Lamas with his long hair, and Braun as his blonde, feisty sidekick. Suffering from similar problems as Highlander -- thin, repetitive plots, and a slightly static rythym (that may reflect its limited budget) it was also somewhat cheesier than Highlander, refusing to take itself quite as seriously, or be as pretentious (while still throwing in character angst). As such, it can almost be more fun...but still has a tendency to leave you glancing at your watch at about the half hour mark. Can almost be worth watching, late at night, if you need something to keep you awake while waiting for a phone call...almost.
Cancelled after one season, the final episode had "Raphael" re-united with his long (really long) lost daughter, allowing the series to resolve as though it meant to end after one season. One season of hour long episodes, shown in Canada on Space.
* * * setting: USA./other
(2008) (/U.S./Germany) David James Elliott, Natasha Henstridge, Benjamin Sadler, Florentine Lahme, Owen Best, Natasha Calis, James Cromwell, Steven Culp, Yee Jee Tso, Ron Lea, Colin Cunningham, Ben Ayres.....An asteroid strike sends the moon out of its orbit, wreaking havoc on earth, and threatening the entire world with destruction as the moon's orbit continues to decay toward collision, and a U.S. led international coalition of scientists try to find a solution. Made-for-TV disaster mini-series covers well tilled ground, including borrowing from big budget flicks like "Armageddon"...but is surprisingly better than you might expect. Some of the earth-based disasters are more off-beat than just the usual fires n' floods, and the characters are often a little less cartoony and stock than in similar flicks. Some of the science is conceptually intriguing...even as, like with similar films, much of it is technically wrong or pure Hollywood technobabble (characters frequently refer to the meteorite that "killed the dinosaurs" when in real scientific circles, there's no consensus that the dinosaurs were killed off by a meteorite!). If you have no patience for disaster movies, this won't win you over. It is pure cheese, with plenty of corn and unintended goofiness -- but for what it is, it's surprisingly high end cheese. Havarti more than Cheezewhiz. Interestingly, in this international co-production (which aired on ABC in the U.S.) the two top-billed stars are both Canadian (albeit, Hollywood-based ex-pats) -- as are many of the supporing actors -- and the movie is kind of coy about where Elliott's character is from (most scenes are labelled as "Washington", "Berlin", etc., but the scenes with him at home aren't identified geographically)...yet then later he is depicted with a Canadian flag on his sleeve -- something that would've been all but unheard of just a few years ago! Four hours. sc: Michael Vickerman. dir: Michael J. Rohl.
* * 1/2 setting: B.C.
(1992) Robert Wisden, Kevin McNulty, Jill Teed, Christopher Plummer, Susan Hogan, Suzy Joachim, Stuart Margolin.....Down-and-out reporter (Wisden), now an obit writer, investigates an anonymous tip that a famous industrialist is dead, leading him to a number of very eccentric, and evasive, characters, including a twin brother (Plummer, unbilled). Off-beat, decidedly high-minded, low-budget serio-comic tale blends gumshoes with metaphysics and spiritualism and almost succeeds. Intelligent, clever dialogue, though it never generates the necessary atmosphere and is more muddled than even it intends to be. Still, worth a look. Producer Raymond Massey is related to the late actor. sc: Michael McKinley. dir: David Hauka. 93 min.
IMPROPER CHANNELS *
* 1/2 setting: USA.
(1981) Alan Arkin, Mariette Hartley, Sarah Stevens, Monica Parker, Harry Ditson.....American (Arkin) is mistakenly accused of child abuse by an overzealous social worker: he has his child taken away from him, is fired from his job and, eventually, decides to fight back. Touchy (though not unwarranted) topic for this uneven comedy that Arkin helps over the rough spots. sc: Ian Sutherland. dir: Eric Till. 92 min.
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