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


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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.

In a Glass House, the novel by Nino Ricci, served as part of the source for the mini-seriesThe Lives of the Saints

(1993) (/U.S.).....Documentary looking at various UFOlogists and others who believe in extraterrestrials and, in many cases, that they are in contact with them. Interesting film looks in on people ranging from those who just have an eccentric hobby, to man-in-the-street interviews, but generally focuses on the more extreme fringes of contactees and religious cults that have grown around the idea of alien contact. Could've been tighter, and only a couple of the interviewees are Canadian (all the rest are American) but still an interesting look at a little examined sub-culture. dir: Dan Curtis (suggested by the book by Douglas Curran). app. 80 min.


(1987)   * 1/2  Kathleen Laskey, Lawrence Dane, Damir Andrei, Jennifer Dale, others.....Sitcom about a novice M.P. (Laskey) sitting in opposition as a member of the fictional Dominion Party of Canada.  Dane, miscast, played the simple-minded party leader; Andrei a member who had crossed the floor; and Dale her next door neighbour.

Flat, largely uninspired TV series suffered from an unwillingness to be really outrageous and a central character, obviously intended to be the straight-person, who was just blah.  This was the second series in as many years using a political milieu (the first was Not My Department), and like that previous entry, this show avoided being too biting or political...which should surely be the point of a comedy about politics.  When it did stray into ideas, though, it showed a slightly conservative bias.  Half-hour episodes initially on the CBC. 

IN PRAISE OF OLDER WOMEN* 1/2  setting: other/P.Q.
(1977) Karen Black, Tom Berenger, Susan Strasberg, Helen Shaver, Marilyn Lightstone, Alexandra Stewart, Marianne McIsaac, Alberta Watson.....Young Hungarian (Berenger) finds himself being romantically involved with various (slightly) older women in the years following W.W. II.  Decently acted, but largely inane, ill-conceived film.  The characters aren't fleshed-out enough to make for a drama (or even a comedy-drama), the politics generally shrugged-off, leaving only the sex.  But despite all the actresses doffing their garments, mainly their tops, and Berenger doing his part for the ladies in the audience, the film never manages to be sexy.  Curiously, Shaver and Lightstone picked up the Best Actress and Supporting Actress Etrogs.  sc: Paul Gottlieb (from the novel by Stephen Vizinczey). dir: George Kaczender. - female nudity and brief male nudity, sexual content.- 108 min.

IN THE BELLY OF THE DRAGON see Dans le ventre du dragon

IN THE BLUE GROUND   * * 1/2   setting: NWT.
(1999)  Tina Keeper, Tracey Cook, Robert Bockstael, Peter Kelly Gaudreault, Dakota House, Lorne Cardinal......The death of a geologist sends Lynx River Mounties Kenidi and Harper (Keeper and Gaudreault) into the woods on the trail of a mountain man with connections to the community's past.  Made-for-CBC TV movie is spun-off from the successful drama series, North of 60 -- the first, but not the best of a series of TV movies.  It's a good example of the strengths and weaknesses of the series.  Good performances, lavish production, but the underlying characterization, themes and values are pretty skewed.  The, frankly, often unlikeable characters wander about dour-faced, bitching and sniping at each other oppressively, often missing what should be the main issues -- a character is kidnapped, and the main characters seem concerned with just about any and everything but the kidnappee!  Probably confusing for those unfamiliar with the series (the plot is intimately tied into past events) and yet fans might be disappointed at how many of the supporting  regulars are given little to do (with Tom Jackson and Gordon Tootoosis nowhere to be seen).  Still, not uninteresting.  sc: Andrew Wreggitt. dir: Alan Simmonds.  - violence.- 92 min.

IN THE DARK  * 1/2  setting: CDN./USA
(2003) Kathleen Robertson, Joanne Vannicola, Fiona Reid, Michael Murphy, Alan Van Sprang.....A career woman (Robertson) gradually begins to suspect her schizophrenic sister's (Vannicola) paranoid delusions that their equally troubled father (Murphy) was the victim of CIA mind control experiments decades earlier...might not be so delusional after all. A decent cast in this made-for-cable TV flick which tries to be both a downbeat drama about a dysfunctional family dealing with mental illness...and a murky thriller; and doesn't really succeed as either thanks to thin plotting, particularly with the rather cursory thriller aspects. Ironically, Robertson, basically the "normal" character, isn't a particularly likeable protagonist. The real life CIA-funded experiments in a Canadian psychiatric hospital were dramatized in The Sleep Room, and also mined for fictional purposes in the earlier Mindfield. sc: R.B. Carney, David Fraser. dir: Leonard Farlinger. 90 min.

IN THE DEAD OF SPACE * 1/2 setting: other
(2000) Michael Pare, Lisa Bingley, Tony Curtis Blondell, Stacie Fox.....One of the four astronauts on an international space station may be both a serial killer and working with terrorists, and while Moscow ground control tries to figure out which, the astronauts on the station must fend for themselves. Low-budget SF thriller has an O.K. plot (if you like the subgenre of "playing cat-and-mouse with a psycho in a limited locale") but the performances are uneven, the pacing turgid, and the story kind of confused at times...particularly when the villain's motive and intentions seem to change from scene to scene. One of numerous movies made starring Pare (here in a change of pace role) and produced by G. Philip Jackson and Daniel Dor. This is supposed to be an "international" space station, with American, Russian, and French characters (though Bingley doesn't bother putting on an accent) but no Canadians -- good thing cultural integrity isn't a prerequisite for making Canadian movies, eh? Othewise half our filmmakers would be out of work. Curiously, in at least some prints, the movie has the wrong credits at the end (from the movie The Cusp). a.k.a. Space Fury. sc: Vincent Monton. dir: Eli Necakov. - violence, brief female nudity.- 92 min.

IN THE FRAME   * 1/2  setting: Ont./other
(1991) (/Ireland) Ian McShane, Lyman Ward, Barbara Rudnik, Amandeus August, Peter Sattmann.....Jockey Club Investigator, Dave Cleavland (McShane), becomes involved in forgery and murder when a friend's house is burgled.  Fans of Francis' moody, character-oriented suspensers will be disappointed by this flippant, painfully superficial action-mystery.  Others will just be bored by how poorly done it is.  See Dick Francis Mysteries.  sc: Andrew Payne (from the novel by Dick Francis). dir: Wigbert Wicker. 92 min.

(1992).....Documentary profile of Montreal-born jazz pianist Oscar Peterson, featuring his own reflections on the music, racism, growing up, family and being Canadian.  Plus some comments and anecdotes supplied by a host of celebs including Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzie Gillespie, Quincy Jones and others.  Solid bio, including musical pieces, but sometimes confusing and other times a feeling we aren't getting the complete picture.  Jounalist Sweeney (who also produced) is Peterson's niece.  sc: Bruce Garvey. dir: Wm. R. Cunningham, Sylvia Sweeney. 95 min.

IN THE SHADOW OF THE WIND see Les Fous de Bassan

In the Sleep Room, a book by Anne Collins about the infamous psychiatric experiments conducted in Montreal with C.I.A. financing, served as the source for the CBC mini-series, The Sleep Room.

INCENDIES * * 1/2 setting: P.Q./other
(2011) (/France) Lubna Azabal, Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin, Maxim Gaudette, Rémy Girard, Abdelghafour Elaaziz, Allen Altman, Mohamed Majd, Nabil Sawalha, Baya Belal.....After their mother's death, adult Canadian sister and brother (Désormeaux-Poulin and Gaudette) are shocked when her will demands they track down their father they thought had died before they were born...and a brother they never knew they had, which takes them investigating their mother's long hidden past -- revealed through flashbacks to when she (Azabal) was embroiled in the strife and horrors of her civil war torn Middle-Eastern homeland. Ambitious drama has some powerful scenes, and gets stronger as it goes...but is also slow and deliberately paced, where even the lead characters can threaten to seem more like just necessary props to anchor the scenes rather than fully fleshed out people (it's not really clear why the story needed a brother & sister instead of just one, anyway, because it further fractures the character focus). And with some of the surprise revelations...not that surprising (and what sort of a parent would want her kids to learn these things?!?). One of those films where they'll spend protracted scenes without dialogue, or showing characters trudging across landscapes...then seem to skip over or perfunctorily treat scenes that actually contribute to the plot and character development. Still, as said: gets better as it goes, and with Désormeaux-Poulin inparticular growing on you. But despite the powerful subject matter, earnest intentions, and grandeur of the scope...doesn't live up to the hype and critical adulation. In French. Received 8 Genies including for Best Picture, Director, Adapted Script, and Actress (Azabal). sc: Denis Villeneuve, Valerie Beaugrand-Champagne (from the play by Wajdi Mouawad). dir: Denis Villeneuve. - violence.- 130 min.

INCH'ALLAH * * 1/2 setting: other
(2012) (/France) Evelyne Brochu, Sabrina Ouazani, Sivan Levy, Yousef Sweid, Hammoudeh Alkarmi, Carlo Brandt.....Story of a Western doctor (Brochu) working at a Palestinian medical clinic, crossing back and forth between Israel and Palestine daily, and the people she knows on both sides of the border -- especially a Palestinian family she befriends. Drama is well-acted with good scenes. Arguably a bit one-sided but, in a sense, that's the point -- to offer a ground eye view of the situation from the characters' limited perspective, rather than an exhaustive overview of who started what and was responding to which provocation. But though effective, it can also feel a bit like the filmmaker wanted to do a documentary, but thought it would be better to do it with actors and a script. Either way it can lean a bit heavily on its deliberate minimalism -- the plot is a bit loose and thin, the characters (perhaps as part of that "ground eye view" thing) a bit undeveloped. At the heart of the film is how events impact upon Brochu's character, but we never really know much about her beyond the immediate scenes. Still -- compelling enough. Mainly in French and Arabic with subtitles. sc./dir: Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette. - brief female nudity.- 101 min.

(1998) (/U.K./Ukraine) Donald Diamont, Jack Palance, Oliver Reed, Cas Anvar, Jeff Saumier, John Hallam, Gareth Hunt, Lara Bobroff, Graham Stark, Gavin Abott.....13th Century explorer Marco Polo (Diamont) -- and his kid brother (Saumier) -- traveel east in search of their father, getting into episodic adventures, eventually culminating in a showdown with an Armenian warlord (Palance). This low-budget flick isn't meant to be taken as historically authentic, explaining why there are so many blonde, fair skinned characters in the Middle East, and why Polo keeps getting into street brawls that seem left over from director Erschbamer's usual beat of straight-to-video action flicks (American actor Diamont even looks like frequent Erschbamer star, Lorenzo Lamas). Intended, presumably, as a kind of "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys" swashbuckler, but the scenes are bland, with little successful humour, and it's flatly directed with too many weak performances. Palance, though, is a usual stand out, and Reed (as a camel merchant) and Anvar (as Polo's sidekick Youssef) are O.K. Anvar and Saumier are the only Canadians in the main cast. Kids might find it more fun, though even then, Erschbamer lets his penchant for gratuitous violence creep in occasionally, making it inappropriate for littler kids. The movie may have been intended as the first of a series that never occurred (since Polo sets out to find his father and reach China...and has achieved neither by the end, and Palance's villain escapes). Full title: The Incredible Adventures of Marco Polo and his Journey to the Ends of the Earth. sc: Peter Welbeck. dir: George Erschbamer. - violence.- 97 min.

(2003) (/U.K.) Gena Rowlands, Kevin Zegers, David Schofield, Leslie Hope, Cameron Daddo, Brenda James, Justin Chatwin, Jeremy Raymond, James Cann.....Teen (Zegers), bitter and getting into fights as a result of his troubled home life, is given a shot at cleaning up his act when he is assigned to a kind of community service by helping an eccentric old woman (American import Rowlands) around her magnificent garden. Well-intentioned, genuinely heart-felt drama (it's implied that it's semi-autobiographical on the part of the filmmaker) gets points for a certain complexity to some of the characters. But it doesn't develop many of its threads and relationships fully (toward the end the sister announces the hero is the only thing keeping her going...but they'd barely had any scenes earlier! and the bad crowd the hero runs with seems so obviously a bunch of losers, it's not conveyed what their appeal is for him). And it can't seem to strike a consistent tone -- it seems like a family-aimed coming of age drama, but throws in some nudity as the boy spies on a woman in a shower; gritty scenes involving drowned puppies sit next to broader comic scenes; etc. And it's just not that convincing -- like having ostensibly nice guy teachers casually stand by while two boys beat each other half unconscious. It might help if you know ahead of time that it's, at least partly, inspired by real incidents. American Caan, in a small part as the kindly principal, is naturally quite good. American filmmaker, and Rowlands' son, Nick Cassavettes, was executive producer. Look for writer/director Johansson (better known as an actor) in a cameo as a guy who gives the hero a lift near the end. sc./dir: Paul Johansson. - partial female nudity.- 101 min.

THE INCUBUS   * 1/2  setting: USA.
(1981) John Cassavetes, Kerrie Keane, John Ireland, Helen Hughes, Erin Flannery, Duncan McIntosh, Harvey Atkin.....Small-town U.S.A. is shocked by a series of brutal rape-murders, and the local coroner (Cassavetes) isn't sure if the culprit is a man or a monster.  Unconvincing horror-suspense flick is frequently illogical and, some might say, in poor taste.  Flannery, as Cassavetes adult daughter, is good though.  sc: George Franklin (from the novel by Ray Russell). dir: John Hough. - extreme violence, female nudity, sexual content.- 90 min.

INESCAPABLE   * 1/2  setting: other/Ont.
(2012) (/South Africa) Alexander Siddig, Marisa Tomei, Joshua Jackson, Oded Fehr, Saad Siddiqui, Danny Keogh.....When his daughter goes missing in Syria, a Syrian-Canadian business man (Siddig) reluctantly returns to Syria to look for her -- where his long-buried past as a former, and disgraced, Syrian secret police man both helps and hinders his search. Disappointing drama has solid performances from all the principles, and some good interaction between them in individual scenes...but it can feel a bit like they're just shooting filler scenes while waiting for the real script to arrive. Or at least for filmmaker Nadda to come up with a plot! It's a generic concept (parent searching for vanished child in murky police state) that never shakes off its genericness (other than, maybe, the hero being Syrian-Canadian when usually in these stories he'd be a WASP or something). It's a "thriller" with precious few thrills, a "mystery" with few clues or twists, occasionally mustering an action scene or revelation, as though belatedly threatening to kick into gear...but is mainly just the hero wandering aimlessly about. Too bad. And even though most of the cast are non-Canadian, it actually admits it's Canadianness in terms of the character's nationality. sc./dir: Ruba Nadda. - violence.- 93 min.

THE INDIAN AUTUMN see L'automne sauvage

INDIAN SUMMER: The Oka Crisis (TVMS)  * *  setting: P.Q.
(2006) Alex Rice, Tony Nardi, Pamela Matthews, George Leach, Tantou Cardinal, Sandra Laronde, Darrel Dennis, Gary Farmer, Bruce Ramsay, Billy Merasty, Joseph Cross, Eric Schweig, Tamara Podemski, Lawrence Bayne, Emmanuel Bilodeau.....Dramatization of the months long 1990 Oka stand-off in Quebec, when Native Indians barricaded various roads, initially to protest plans to turn a burial ground into a golf course, and becoming probably the most high profile Native-white crisis in 20th Century Canada. Long time coming, and earnest made-for-CBC docudrama tries hard to cover a big, sprawling subject, ranging from life on the barricades, to the political negotiations, and despite being a dramatization (even featuring disclaimers that it contains dramatic alterations) largely sticks to the "just the facts, ma'am" approach, mainly eschewing character or soap opera-y sub-plots. But the result is uneven. Some scenes are truly effective, well done and well acted...others are kind of clunky and clumsy. Characters come an go, or are inconsistent in their attitudes from scene to scene (which may well reflect the reality). Above all, you can come away from it just as confused by the particulars of who was doing what and why -- with not just the various levels of white bureaucracy, but the plethora of Native groups and organizations involved -- as you might've been first watching the events unfold in the news! Despite occasional labels flashed in front of certain characters, identifying them, too often who the characters represent is unclear. Above all, writer-director Cardinal seems to want to cover so many bases (including throwing in some symbolic magic realism) that a clear vision for how to tell the story doesn't emerge. And if the movie really did occasionally alter or distort facts (was there really a shock jock DJ announcing the only good Indian was a dead Indian?), it's doubly problematic: as a recreation of a significant event, it's noteworthy, but as a movie in and of's uneven. sc./dir: Gil Cardinal (from the books Oka Crisis by John Ciaccia and People of the Pines by Geoffrey York, Loreen Pindera).

INDIGO AUTUMN (1987) Marc Singer, Lisa Schrag, Jayne Eastwood. sc./dir: Stuart Gillard (from a story by Barbara Cameron). See Shades of Love.

INFECTED  * *   setting: USA.
(2008) (/U.S.) Gil Bellows, Maxim Roy, Bruce Dinsmore, Mark Camacho, Jesse Todd, Judd Neslon, David Schaap, Neil Napier, Isabella Rossellini.....A couple of Boston reporters (Bellows and Roy) discover a covert alien invasion involving a sinister corporation. Made-for-TV sci-fi thriller is one of those things that's frustrating...because there was no reason it couldn't have been a perfectly decent little thriller. Bellows is certainly okay, as are some of the others (Roy, Todd as a geek friend, and American actor Nelson in a quirky, small part) but one gets the impression the filmmakers are barely even trying to make it more than just a quick, cheesie "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" knock off to plug a programming hole -- not taking the time to make the scenes moody or suspenseful. Mind you, with all those writers, it's perhaps amazing the plot makes as much sense as it does (though that might explain why it seems to involve so many different aspects, from tainted water to a flu plague). sc: Joshua Hale Fialkov, Mark Wheaton, Christian Ford, Roger Soffer (story Thomas Schnauz). dir: Adam Weissman. - extreme violence.- 90 min.

INFERNO * * 1/2 setting: other
(2000) (/Mexico/U.K.) Ray Liotta, Gloria Reuben, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Daniel Kash.....American amnesiac (American Liotta) wakes up in the middle of Mexico, with vague memories of a criminal past and various gangsters who're after him that he's apparently double-crossed. Well-produced thriller doesn't quite inject anything particularly novel into the premise -- it's not like there's anything that weeird or mysterious about the hero's past -- but it's appealingly old-fashioned and keeps the energy, and the interest, up. Interesting undercurrents, where the hero's search for answers seems more than just a plot device, but an existential quest for "identity", with Liotta as a man who knows nothing and Mueller-Stahl as a gangster who knows something about everyone, never quite materialize into fully realized elements. A nicely even-handed portrait of Mexico is a refreshing change from so-many North American movies, which too often revel in derogatory stereotypes. a.k.a. Pilgrim. sc: Peter Milligan (story Milligan and Cokliss). dir: Harley Cokliss. 95 min.

L'INITIATION (ou "V" pour Victoire)  * 1/2  setting: P.Q.
(1969) Chantal Renaud, Danielle Ouimet, Jacques Riberolles, Gilles Chartrand, Daniel Gadouas, Celine Lomez.....Virginal young woman (Renaud) begins a relationship with a middle-aged author (Riberolles) of criticaly regarded erotic novels; while her ex-boyfriend begins an affair with her loose living best friend (Ouimette). One of the wave of erotic dramas that came out of Quebec in that period and, like a lot of them, little effort is put into developing the characters, and the plot, between nude scenes -- and the non-nude scenes account for most of the running time! Still, a scene with the women in a sauna discussing sex and relationships seems to have anticipated a similar scene in Le decline de le'empire americain (though in this movie, the actresses wear considerably less). Some prints of this film seem to be missing the opening three minutes -- a sequence of the heroine reading the author's book and fantasizing about having sex with her boyfriend; a scene that provides greater context for the subsequent story. Scriptwriter Theriault is a respected novelist! a.k.a. Here and Now. sc: Yves Theriault (from an idea by John Dunning, Denis Heroux, Andre Link). dir: Denis Heroux. - female nudity, sexual content.- 93 min....90 min.

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