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.
L.A. COMPLEX  (TV Series)

(2012)   * * *  Jonathan Patrick Moore ("Connor Lake"), Joe Dinicol ("Nick Wagner"), Chelan Simmons ("Alicia Lowe"), Cassie Steele ("Abby Vargas"), Benjamin Charles Watson ("Tariq Muhammad"), Jewel Staite ("Raquel Westbrook"), with Ennis Esmer, Andra Fuller, others.....Serio-comic drama about a group of lean-and-hungry mainly twentysomethings struggling to make it in the showbiz capital of Los Angeles, most staying at the same apartment complex (or otherwise connected through friendships). Basically "Melrose Place" with a slight Canadian twist in that many (though not all) of the characters are supposed to be ex-pat Canadians pursuing their dreams in tinseltown (not that that's especially relevant to the plots or their characters). Moore (an Aussie and so one of the few non-Canadians) is a young actor, seeming on his way up after landing a lead role on a new series...but struggling with self-destructive insecurities; Dinicol a would be comic who tends to bomb when on stage; Simmons the dancer but who finds more gigs with her clothes off than on; Steele the wanna be actress; Watson the clean-cut would be rap producer...who's also gay; and Staite the former ingenue, over-the-hill (in her 30s!), and largely amoral in her conniving desperation to make a comeback. It boast a likeable, engaging cast -- so much so that it's actually hard to single a stand out performance or favourite character. With also some notable supporting turns, with perhaps American actor Fuller a stand out as a surly, tempestuous rap star hiding his homosexuality -- there are a lot of threads he has to pull together in that performance (including a character who isn't particularly likeable...but is nonetheless sympathetic) and he does it well.

This TV series was made by some of the same people behind the enduring Degrassi franchise (Steele had even played a different character for a few seasons in that series) -- indeed, there was some suggestion they were thinking of making this a spin-off of Degrassi (with carryover characters) but opted against that due to this series' much more adult, and racier, storylines (though still presumably angling for the same teen/young adult demographic). In fact, with its rather nonchalant attitude toward casual sex, Morning After pills, and the "adult" entertainment side of showbiz (including what could be construed as a product placement plug for the real life Hollywood porn company, Vivid) one could question whether they are deliberately trying to send curious messages to their fans -- though, hey, maybe it's just good, clean, lurid titillation. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and an endorsement of acting in porn films is just a plot point. As well, the flip side is a series that can be progressive and even ground breaking (as perhaps you might expect from the Degrassi crowd) -- such as the plot line about the two gay black men in the rap biz (even the idea of a gay black couple is unusual -- gay multiracial couples are not unusual in films, but not where both partners are black). Ultimately, this is an engaging series, well-paced by cutting between its various plot threads, with a personable cast and some decent twists and turns. Although given a lot of the plot threads tend to revolve around our plucky, often guileless, heroes going from one disappointing (and often humiliating) experience to another (after all, they are supposed to be struggling in their careers) that can maybe dampen its appeal -- although, perhaps some of the sting is muted in those scenes because it's as much a comedy as a drama at times. The first episode was given a try-out on CTV, but the regular series itself was aired on MuchMusic. Two seasons of hour long episodes.

LA FEMME NIKITA (TV Series) see Nikita

LABOUR OF LOVE   * * * 1/2  setting: N.B.
(1984) Tom Butler, Michele Scarabelli, Booth Savage, Jim Bearden, Maury Chaykin, Paul Bradley, Linda Goranson, Sheila McCarthy, Alan Scarfe, Don Francks.....Union negotiator (Butler), having a mid-life crisis, goes to Miramachi to settle a five-man strike and encounters the off-beat and not always up-front workers.  Engaging, low-key comedy about love, unions and small towns never quite rises to the heights of satire but does manage to be gently amusing throughout, with just a hint of eroticism.  Fine performances all around.  sc: Richard Nielsen. dir: Rene Bonniere. - female nudity and brief male nudity.-

EL LADO OSCURO DEL CORAZON* *  setting: other
(1992) (/Argentina) Dario Grandinetti, Sandra Ballesteros, Nacha Guevara, Andre Melancon, Jean Pierre Reguerraz, Monica Galan, Ines Vernengo..... Tale of a struggling Argentinian poet (Grandinetti) who wanders about, spouting poetry, discussing sex, and seeking the perfect woman.  Surrealistic serio-comic flick is over long, repetitive and, stylistically, very much an ART know, where poker-faced characters give long, supposedly insightful (but not very) monologues on esoteric subjects.  Unriveting.  In Portuguese.  English title: The Dark Side of the Heart.  sc./dir: Eliseo Subiela. - partial female and male nudity, sexual content.- 126 min.

(1999) Eirik Rutherford, Tennyson Loeh, Emidio Michetti, Christopher Piggins.....Young man (Rutherford) inherits his uncle's lake shore cottage and falls for the ghost of a murdered gypsy (Loeh) who has a rep for murdering men in the area. The fact that this horror flick was written, directed, edited, and produced by one man -- and according to one source, he spent 10 years trying to get it made -- suggests it was a labour of love...which makes it a shame that it ended up like a lot of very low-budget films: a not altogether coherent mishmash. There's sex, gore (towards the end), dream sequences, hallucinations, and flashbacks to a hundred year old carnival troupe where, even in their off hours, everyone dresses and talks like it's the Middle Ages (suggesting there might've been some mid-production changes). Michetti (as a neighbour) isn't bad, and Loeh is O.K., but otherwise...forewarned is forearmed. sc./dir: Maurice Devereaux. - partial female and male nudity, sexual content, extreme violence.- 80 min.

LADYBEAR   * 1/2  setting: Ont.
(1985) Carol Poirier, Claudette Roach, Tom Nursall, Sidney Bruyn, Simon Richards.....Librarian (Poirier) discovers she was a Russian, trained as a spy, and is persuaded to work for the Soviets in order to meet her real mother.  Shoe-string budgeted espionage flick is a bit implausible but starts out kind of interesting, loses it about halfway through.  Bruyn, as a slick KGB agent, isn't bad.  Filmed on video.  An Emmeritus-CHCH production.  sc./dir: Peter McCubbin.

Lady's Choice   * * *
(198 ) Frank Adamson, Sandy Webster.....A stubborn, embittered widower (Adamson) refuses to admit to being in love.  Effective, likeable hour long serio-comic teleplay.  Made for the CBC series Back to the Fifties.

LANA IN LOVE   * * 1/2  setting: USA.
(1993) Daphna Kastner, Clark Gregg, Susan Eyton-Jones, Ivan E. Roth..... Woman (Kastner) mistakes a plummer (Gregg) for her blind date, and things just go from there.  Funny low-budget romantic comedy with nice performances.  Filmed in California.  sc: Bashar Shbib, Daphna Kastner. dir: Bashar Shbib. - partial female nudity and brief male nudity, sexual content.- 89 min.

LANTERN HILL  * * 1/2  setting: Ont./P.E.I.
(1990) (/U.S.) Marion Bennett, Sam Waterston, Colleen Dewhurst, Sarah Polley, Patricia Phillips.....In the '30s, a young girl (Bennett) is sent to spend a couple of months with the father (Waterston) she'd been told had died when she was born.  Yet un autre period kids story by Kevin Sullivan, once again teamed with L.M. Montgomery.  Good looking, and given a touch of the supernatural, but ultimately a bit plodding.  Won't win any new fans, but should appeal to those who've liked previous made-for-CBC TV Sullivan/Montgomery films.  Polley received the Best Supporting Actress Gemini.  sc: Fiona Hugh, Kevin Sullivan (from the novel Jane of Lantern Hill by Lucy Maud Montgomery). dir: Kevin Sullivan. 110 min.

LAPSE OF MEMORY  * * 1/2  setting: Alt.
(1992) (/France) John Hurt, Marthe Keller, Mathew Mackay, Kathleen Robertson, Marion Peterson, Serge Dupire.....Partially amnesiac teen (Mackay) recalls his seemingly idyllic life and the parents (Hurt, Keller) he began to suspect weren't who he thought they were.  Visually sumptuous, very moody suspenser has intriguing ideas, nice performances and excellent use of prairie locales, but the scenes and characters need fleshing out and the story some twists.  Not terrible, but disappointing.  Previously made in '83 in the U.S. as "I Am the Cheese".  sc: Patrick Dewolf, Philippe Le Guay, dialogue John Frizzell, Patrick Dewolf, Philippe Le Guay (from the novel I Am the Cheese by Robert Cormier). dir: Patrick Dewolf. 85 min.

(2001) (/France/Belgium/Germany)  * * *  Paolo Seganti ("Largo Winch"), Sydney Penny ("Joy Arden"), Diego Wallraff ("Simon Ovronnaz"), Serge Houde ("John Sullivan"), Geordie Johnson ("Georgy Kerensky"), with Charles Powell ("Michel Cardignac").....Breezy crime-adventure about an idealistic, European man (Seganti) thrust into the world of big business when he inherits the New York-based multi-national corporation owned by a father he barely knew (played by David Carradine in the opener). His globe hopping business dealings take him all over where, invariably, he becomes embroiled in various adventures. Think of it as Richie Rich meets James Bond. Wallraff plays his wrong-side-of-the-tracks best friend; Penny his beautiful ex-CIA bodyguard; Houde an avuncular executive at the company; Johnson the ex-KGB security expert; and Powell a conniving executive. Houde, Johnson and Powell are Canadian actors, though their characters aren't Canadian. 

Enjoyable TV series has an old fashioned, 1970s-1980s feel, reminiscent of the era of light private eye series. Well produced and nicely acted by ingratiating performers playing engagingly colourful characters, and with the world of glamour and high finance acting as an off-beat backdrop for the stories (rather than seeming too much like a corporate drama with the occasional bit of action and mischief). Maybe nothing too special, but engaging. Based on a European comic book series, it was developed for TV by Phil Bedard, Larry Lalonde and David J. Patterson. a.k.a. Largo. Hour long episodes in syndication.

LASERHAWK  * 1/2  setting: USA.
(1997) Jason James Richter, Melissa Galianos, Gordon Currie, Mark Hamill, Ivan Rogers.....When their hometown is attacked by aliens, two American teens (Richter and Galianos) seek out a flakey comicbook creator (Currie) whose comics seemed to mirror what happened. SF thriller has enough money for some neat f/x and to smash up cars, but in other respects seems really low-budget. Some good ideas, but poorly handled...even the action scenes seem turgid! One of those movies with an unrelenting undercurrent of hostility, where characters don't so much talk as they snipe. Of the five actors listed above, only Galianos and Currie are Canadian! Somehow the opening production credits were left out of the film, but according to the Internet Movie Database, the writer was John A. Curtis and the director was Jean Pellerin. 101 min.

THE LAST BREATH  seeLe dernier souffle

THE LAST CASINO  * * 1/2  setting: P.Q./Ont.
(2004) Charles Martin Smith, Katharine Isabelle, Kris Lemche, Albert Chung, Julian Richings, Normand D'Amour, Jacques Godin.....In debt to a loan shark, a math professor (Smith) recruits three misfit and disparate university math geniuses to help him beat the gambling casinos using his own card counting formula. Made-for-cable drama is slick and stylish, with a good cast, interesting characters, and good scenes that are well written and well directed (including a healthy dollop of humour). But the story itself lacks a certain drive, nor is there much suspense in what is a quasi-suspense film (since there's little danger involved). Nor do the characters evolve much from beginning to end. Ultimately, the elements (acting, scenes, style) are great, but the parts are greater than the sum. The strengths easily make this a fun, agreeable watch...even as the shortcomings prevent it from being as great as it could've -- as it should've -- been. Best of all, it's unapologetically set in Canada with an all-Canadian cast (Smith's an American actor, but I think he lives in Canada). A few years later, the Hollywood movie "21" used a remarkably similar premise. sc: Steve Westren. dir: Pierre Gill. 92 min.

THE LAST CHAPTER  * *  setting: Ont./P.Q.
(2002) Michael Ironside, Roy Dupuis, Michel Forget, Frank Schorpion, Marina Orsini, Celine Bonnier, Dan Bigras, Maxim Roy, Michelle Scarabelli, Francis Xavier McCarthy, George Buza, Lorne Brass, Jean-Pierre Bergeron, Chip Chuipka.....Story of biker gangs, and the conflicts that ensue when an Ontario gang joins up with a trans-Canada gang, driving a wedge between erstwhile friends (Ironside and Dupuis). Made for CBC mini-series is basically just a mob/mafia story, but benefits from its in-your-face Canadianess (with French-English conflicts between the gangs) and the relative freshness of setting it in the biker world -- it's all the usual stuff of tested loyalties and factional infighting, but avoids the clichés of the characters acting and looking like something out of a "Godfather" clone. There's some intriguing look into a little talked about sub-culture (assuming the filmmakers know their subject matter), and a clever contrast between the bikers' world and their domestic lives. But it's also whitewashed, seeming to imply that the only ones the bikers really hurt are themselves. Ultimately it suffers from, on one hand, too many repetitive scenes and, on the other, a feeling scenes are missing, and a sense that writer Dionne came up with the initial concept...but had trouble shaping it into a drama. It's too thin, too oblique, and with a lot of peripheral characters not really fleshed out -- nor even some central characters. Forget plays the cliched iconoclastic cop, butting heads with his desk jockey superiors, insisting that they don't know what they're doing, but he does -- but he never accomplishes anything himself, either! Orsini is a particular stand-out as Ironside's wife, and Ironside delivers a career peak performance in a role that capitalizes on his tough guy screen persona, but fleshed out with unexpected vulnerability. Ultimately, a mini-series where you kind of know what sort of film they were trying to make, but they don't quite succeed. Made as a joint English-French production, with many of the scenes re-shot in both languages. It was followed by The Last Chapter II: The War Continues which seemed like more of the same, only this time, without even the novelty the first mini-series had. 6 hours. sc: Luc Dionne. dir: Richard Roy. - brief female nudity, violence.-

(1980) Lee Majors, Chris Makepeace, Burgess Meredith, Alexandra Stewart, Diana D'Aquila, George Touliatos, Ben Gordon, Harvey Atkin.....20 years after cars have been outlawed in the U.S.A., an ex-race car driver (Majors) and a preppie (Makepeace) roar across country in his race car with the authorities in pursuit.  Giggle-inducing sci-fier is poorly written and directed and even confusingly edited in spots.  It tries to pretend it's a metaphor, but ultimately it's just what it seems: an homage to cars, with the baddies proponents of, gasp!, public transportation.  Either the premise will stir your blood...or it won't.  D'Aquila comes across best.  Stewart has just a bit part.  Check out Firebird 2015 A.D. for a similiar premise around the same time (which also had Touliatos in the cast).  sc: C.R. O'Christopher and Roy Moore & Martyn Burke (story O'Christopher). dir: Martyn Burke. 101 min.

LAST EXIT  * * 1/2
(2005) Andrea Roth, Kathleen Robertson, Ben Bass, Linden Ashby, Rachel Crawford, Noah Bernett, France Viens, Cas Anvar, Gianpaolo Venuta, Kent McQuaid.....Two complete strangers, an up-scale advertising executive (Roth) and a working class secretary (Robertson), end up in a bloody Road Rage-motivated road accident while, through flashbacks, we follow them both through their very difficult day leading up to it. Made-for-CTV suspense drama is well acted, and suitably intense at times, but can also slide from just kind of aggravating (even, almost, silly) as the two women go through one mini-crisis after another, building to the, of course, inevitable climax. The stylish, herky-jerky direction (even jumping back and forth within a scene) is intended to give the movie a slick, edgy, "not just a TV movie" look...but can also be sometimes annoying. Ultimately, not uninteresting, but a bit thin and can't quite shake the impression of being a poor man's "Changing Lanes". sc: Russ Cochrane. dir: John Fawcett. app. 90 min.

THE LAST HAVEN see Le dernier havre

LAST MAN STANDING a.k.a. The Circle Man

LAST RIGHTS a.k.a. Street Legal (movie)

LAST NIGHT  * * 1/2  setting: Ont.
(1998) Don McKellar, Sandra Oh, Callum Keith Rennie, Sarah Polley, David Cronenberg, Robin Gammell, Roberta Maxwell, Tracy Wright, Genevieve Bujold.....The world will end at midnight, and various interconnected characters attempt to fulfill their plans of what to do with their last moments. Good serio-comic drama is interesting, with surprisingly effective atmosphere and some quirky humour. But like a lot of Canadian movies, there's a kind of sameness to the scenes and controlled delivery that prevents it from truly igniting -- many of the scenes are good, that's not the point, it's just they're also a little monotonous. No real narrative drive either, with too few plot twists or turns. With that being said, the movie lingers with you long after -- ironically, making it more powerful in hindsight than while you're actually watching it. Received Genies for Best Actress (Oh) and Supporting Actor (Rennie). sc./dir: Don McKellar (his feature directorial debut). - partial female and male nudity, sexual content.- 95 min.

THE LAST RITES OF RANSOM PRIDE   * *   setting: USA/other
(2010) (/U.S.) Dwight Yokam, Lizzy Caplan, Jon Foster, Cote de Pablo, Jason Priestley, W. Earl Brown, Peter Dinklage, Kris Kristofferson, Scott Speedman, Blu Mankuma, Joe Bird.....In the early 20th Century, a gun totting outlaw gal (Caplan) attempts to retrieve her dead lover's body from Mexico for burial, joined by the dead man's brother (Foster) -- with various people gunning for her along the way, including her lover's ex-outlaw-turned-preacher father (Yokam). Gritty western (albeit set a few decades after the "classic" wild west era) is going for an over-the-top Tarantino-Rodrigues flavour of gratuitous excess (in both style and content) -- except seeming to take itself more seriously than they would, with a kind of Art House pretentiousness. It's slickly stylish and expensive-looking...but feels like its inspiration is music videos rather than movies, with lots of quick cuts/inserts/flashforwards/flashbacks/frame distortions -- most to little narrative effect -- and with the imagery, the mise-en-scene, more important than the scenes themselves. It's episodic with characters that often feel undeveloped (showing up for a few scenes, muttering some quirky/pretentious lines, then getting killed off in a shaggy dog story fashion) -- not so much comprising vignettes, as vignes or just vigs. Presumably it sees itself as being a "fable" as much as a drama -- but isn't enough of either. A good cast, though Caplan -- a sometimes quirkily appealing performer -- is underused in a role that largely requires her to be tight lipped and stone faced. The director had previously made a documentary about Cockfighting...perhaps explaining some of his sensibilities. How "Canadian" this is is unclear -- given the setting, the director and most of the cast aren't; of the cast, only Speedman (as the dead title character), Priestley and Mankuma are Canadian, though Priestley (almost unrecognizable as a demented gun man) and Mankuma (as a nomadic motorcyclist) both steal the scenes they're in. sc: Tiller Russell, Ray Wylie Hubbard. dir: Tiller Russell. - violence, partial female nudity.- 82 min.

THE LAST SEASON   * * * 1/2  setting: Ont./other
(1987) Booth Savage, John Colicos, Johanna Raunio, Neil Munro, Eric Peterson, Bernard Hopkins, David Ferry, J. Winston Carroll, Taneli Makela.....Story of the rise and fall of a troubled hockey player (Savage) when his tough-guy style falls out of favour, and his attempts at coming to terms with his old-world Polish-Canadian family.  Handsome and, despite its length, consistantly compelling made-for-CBC TV drama benefits from good dialogue, performances, direction and some old-world mysticism, held together by Savage's Gemini Award winning performance...all of which largely compensates for the fact that, when it's over, you aren't sure what its point is.  Arguably the best hockey movie made in Canada...largely because the story doesn't hinge on the viewer caring one whit about hockey.  sc: Roy MacGregor (from his novel). dir: Allan King. 145 min.

The Last Spike, Pierre Berton's 2nd volumne chronicling the building of the Canadian railroad, served as part of the basis for the CBC mini-series The National Dream

THE LAST STOP  * * 1/2  setting: USA.
(1999) Adam Beach, Jurgen Prochnow, Rose McGowan, Callum Keith Rennie, Winston Rekert, Amy Adamson, William S. Taylor, Peter Flemming, P. Lynn Johnson, Damon Johnson, Marco Roy.....Trapped at a motel during a snowstorm in Colorado, a group of people discover there may be a murderer among them. Nice, old fashioned premise in this suspense film, and it benefits from effective atmosphere and respectable performances (though too many of the characters -- except Beach and Prochnow -- are kind of abrasive). But the mystery itself is, well, extremely lame. There are too few viable suspects, and Beach, as a State Trooper, does precious little real investigating or deducing. It's actually kind of silly in spots. Best watched while in a forgiving mood. sc: Bart Sumner. dir: Mark Malone. - brief female nudity, violence.- 92 min.

THE LAST STRAW  * * * 1/2  setting: P.Q.
(1987) Sam Grana, Fernanda Tavares, Stefan Wodoslawsky, Christine Pak..... Alex (Grana) discovers that he's the most potent man in the world and that his sperm is sought by women, companies and even governments.  Meanwhile, Blue (Wodoslawsky) and his wife (Pak) are having trouble conceiving.  This hilarious, somewhat low-key comedy is a surprisingly silly sequel to 90 Days.  Military analyst Gwynne Dyer has a funny cameo.  sc: Giles Walker, Dave Wilson. dir: Giles Walker. 96 min.

"Last Tag", a play by Mitch Giannunzio, became the CTV TV movie Falling for You

THE LAST TRAIN HOME a.k.a. Tom Alone

LAST WEDDING  * * 1/2  setting: B.C.
(2002) Benjamin Ratner, Frida Betrani, Tom Scholte, Nancy Sivak, Vincent Gale, Molly Parker, Marya Delver, Babz Chula.....Story of a group of friends -- three dysfunctional, interconnected couples who slowly implode. Flick starts out an amusing comedy, spurred by the spontaneous engagement of Ratner and Betrani and the reaction of their sceptical friends and family, then becomes more sober (if occasionally quirky) for the lion's share, before veering back toward silly by the end (not entirely successfully). A film where each scene by itself is sharp, well presented, and meticulously acted, and even next to each other the scenes are effective. But there's too much of a sameness to them, so that, after a while, a certain monotony begins to creep in. The problem is that writer-director Sweeney seems more interested in displaying his characters than he is in exploring them, let alone empathizing with them. The result is a movie than can be clever and reasonably interesting...but also somewhat unrewarding and insubstantial. sc./dir: Bruce Sweeney. - explicit sexual content, partial female and male nudity.- 100 min.

(2012) Aaron Poole, Vanessa Redgrave, Julian Richings, Charlotte Sullivan, Stephen Eric McIntyre.....A man (Poole) goes to inventory the house bequeathed to him by his estranged mother ("name" import Redgrave in voiceover only) -- a mother who belonged to an angel-worshipping cult -- and strange things occur. Admirable attempt to do a spooky horror film that relies on mood rather than blood and gore. But if the artistic question is: can you get an entire movie out of a lone actor, with little dialogue, wandering an old house (the other actors in small parts as voiceovers, voices on phones, or appearing on televisions -- some doing multiple roles), creating tension with bric-a-brac, odd camera angles and creepy sounds, then the answer is probably...not really. Does generate some genuine chills in the second half -- ironically as it gets more overt (and shows that, minimalism aside, it does have money for creepy special f/x). But even then, doesn't really bring anything fresh to the exercise (even relying on the old crutch that the hero has had some -- vague -- past mental health issues, so he conveniently questions his own perceptions). The problem with doing a stripped down version of a cliched idiom is that it's in the added details (characterization, relationships, plot twists) that it can be made fresh. Might have made a nice short film, but feels stretched even as a short feature. sc./dir: Rodrigo Gudiņo. 80 min.

THE LAST WINTER * * 1/2  setting: Man.
(1990) Joshua Murray, Gerard Parkes, David Ferry, Wanda Cannon, Marsha Moreau.....In the '50s, a contented farm-boy (Murray) is faced with the unappealing prospect of moving to the city when his father gets a job offer.  Some truly original vignettes and a feeling of sincerity help the cliched premise (growing-up-on-the-prairies!) in this gentle drama, but the dialogue and (strangely) performances are overly stiff and mannered.  sc./dir: Aaron Kim Johnston.

THE LAST WITNESS  * *  setting: USA.
(1999) Natasha Henstridge, Johnathon Schaech, Michael Filipowich, David McIlwraith, Robin Brule, Laura Hutton, Frank Moore, Kate Greenhouse, Roy Lewis .....American woman (Henstridge) agrees to let some men claiming to be F.B.I. agents use her apartment for a surveillance job...which draws her into an assassination attempt. Suspense-thriller starts out seeming slick and well put together, but is frankly, slow-moving, where it takes a long time between the proverbial other shoe(s) dropping, and becomes less interesting -- and overly murky -- as it goes. One of those flicks where a lot of emphasis is put on the character-stuff (like Henstridge's relationship with Hutton as her estranged, alcoholic mom, and metaphorical stuff involving predators and prey) to the detriment of the thriller aspect...without the character stuff being developed enough to justify it. There's an effective suspense scene, and Henstridge appears in a sex scene, but those are both within about the first half hour. After that... Henstridge is a capable lead, but Hutton and Brule (as her best friend) steal a few scenes. A few too many shots of Henstridge's pet falcon munching on rodents will turn off viewers. a.k.a. Caracara. sc: Craig Smith. dir: Graeme Clifford. - violence; partial female nudity; sexual content.- 92 min.

LAURA LAUR   * 1/2  setting: P.Q.
(1989) Paula De Vasconcelos, Dominique Briand, Andre Lacoste, Eric Cabana, Andree Lachapelle, Johanne Fontaine.....An attractive, enigmatic young woman (De Vasconcelos) disturbs and fascinates those she meets, including the married older man with whom she has an affair.  Vaguely reminiscent of the Almond-Bujold films of the late '60s (ie: emotionally unstable woman), but is hurt by its ponderous pretentiousness and poor characterization (not to mention poor lighting in some prints).  We never care about the characters and it's not the actors' fault.  An undercurrent of sexist violence is disturbing in its matter-of-factness.  sc./dir: Brigitte Sauriol (from the novel by Suzanne Jacob). - partial female nudity, explicit sexual content.- 105 min.

LAURIER (TVMS)   * *  setting: P.Q./Ont.
(1987) Albert Millaire.....Chronicle of Sir Wilfred Laurier (Millaire), Canada's first Francophone prime minister, and his attempts to drag the country into the 20th century.  Handsome but rather long winded and not really engrossing.  Dubbed from the French.  8 hours.

THE LAW OF ENCLOSURES  * *  setting: Ont.
(2001) Sarah Polley, Brendan Fletcher, Sean McCann, Diane Ladd, Shirley Douglas, Kristen Thompson.....Parallel story of two couples -- one young and just met (Polley and Fletcher) and one middle-aged (McCann and American actress Ladd) -- who seem to represent the beginning and end of the same relationship, though, surrealistically, they exist at the same time. Drama about dysfunctional relationships is sort of atmospheric at times, has an intriguing concept in the parallel stories idea, and starts out kind of interesting in a High Concept way with Fletcher suffering from a potentially fatal illness -- but once he's cured, there's little singular about the proceedings. Suffers from the Art House manneredness, in direction and performances, that has become de rigeur in Canadian movies (where once realism was the style of choice) and that tends to push the viewer away and mute involvement. Though sometimes it's meant to seem silly -- I think. Lot's of symbolism and sub-textt that presumably means something (like setting things against the backdrop of the Persian Gulf War)...but it's hard to know what. It's a character drama where you don't really understand the characters or their motivation, though McCann's performance lingers with you. At times, Polley's character seems the weirdest of them all...but I'm not sure she's supposed to seem that way. Fletcher received the Best Actor Genie. sc./dir: John Greyson (from the novel by Dale Peck). - sexual content, partial male and female nnudity.- 110 min.

(1994) Jeff Wincott, Paco Christian Prieto, Christina Cox, Richard Yearwood, Michael Copeman, Doug O'Keeffe.....Kick-boxing, idealistic U.S. lawyer (Wincott) has his life ruined by a vindictive mobster (Prieto), a childhood friend turned bitter enemy, in order to coerce him into participating in illegal kickboxing games.  Badly done, disjointed action-drama.  Wow, though, talk about a tough town: even the hotel clerks are nasty in this picture!  sc./dir: Damian Lee. - violence, partial female nudity, sexual content, casual male nudity.- 88 min.

"The Lawrenceville Stories" by Owen Johnson were turned into a trilogy of TV movies: The Prodigious William Hickey, The Return of Hickey and Hickey and co

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