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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.
(2008) * * 1/2 Kristin Booth ("Connie"), Lucas Bryant ("Gabe McCall"), Peter Miller ("Damon Trebuchet"), Dillon Casey ("Trevor Lemonde"), Deborah Odell ("Evelyn McBride"), Matthew Bennett ("Malcolm LeBlanc"), many others.....Night time soap chronicling the behind-the-scenes shenanigans of a popular, but floundering, Hockey team, the Mustangs -- but unlike previous hockey-themed programs, the focus remains off the ice. In other words, it was marketed as being just an unapologetic pulpy soap aimed as much -- if not more -- at female viewers than male hockey fans.
TV series has a lot going for it -- sincere in its unpretentiousness, it boasts good production values, a decent cast, and some well done scenes; even a clever (if overly lurid) title sequence juxtaposing the players with their up-scale wives (a shot of skated boots stepping onto the ice is cut with a shot of stiletto heels slinking down a corridor). But what seems to be missing is a clear focus. Initially hyped as a kind of Canadian "Desperate Housewives", but MVP lacked a "mystery" hook. It has a lot of characters, but none that really emerge as focal heroes or heroines (top-billed Booth mugs like comic relief) that we care about or who draw us back. In a sense, it's as if the milieu of the glamorous side of the hockey world took precedence over the development of the characters, who fit convenient archetypes more than they work as sympathetic protagonists. Heck, the series was billed as "MVP: The Secret Lives of Hockey Wives" in promos when the on-screen title was only "MVP"...indicating trouble even deciding on the title! Add to that the (unacknowledged) fact that hockey-themed dramas rarely do well in English Canada, it's perhaps unsurprising the ratings were unimpressive. Ultimately, it can maintain a mild interest for a few episodes, as you wait for it to click...but it never fully does. Cancelled after one season, the finale left some threads dangling...even as it sort of wrapped up some others. Ironically, some press was made of the fact that, after it was cancelled, reruns were picked up by a U.S. soap opera station. Hour long episodes on the CBC.
* 1/2 setting: other
(1961) Sean Connery, Zoe Caldwell, William Needles, Powys Thomas, Ted Follows, Robin Gammell, Sharon Acker (a.k.a. Sharon Ackerman), Gillie Fenwick.....A Scottish noble (Connery) plots treachery when promised the crown by three soothsaying witches. Staged by the CBC, this black and white presentation of William Shakespeare's play (somewhat truncated) is competently acted overall (Follows is a particular stand out as Macduff). But, like a lot of Shakespeare productions, it probably helps to already be familiar with the story -- especially with the cuts to the script and an occasionally muddy sound quality (partly attributable to echoes from the sets). It's brisk, which might make it more enjoyable for those who find Shakespeare turgid, but it also means a lot of the scenes seem as though they're rushing through them in a Classics Illustrated way. Its main attributes are its eerie, shadow drenched production design (and some attempts at stylish direction) and, perhaps surprisingly, imported Connery's performance. Hired shortly before his super stardom, he apparently wasn't trained in the classics, which may be his strength. Instead of relying on dogmatic delivery, he really sells the part, enlivening it with passion and conviction. It's easy to look on it now as just a novelty, but he really is very good in it. Originally made as part of a CBC Schools project, and shown in instalments, it was re-aired on the main CBC network in proper movie format in 2004. dir: Paul Almond. 83 min.
MACHINE GUN MOLLY see Monica
MAD ABOUT MAMBO * * * 1/2 setting: other
(2000) (/Ireland/U.K./U.S.) William Ash, Keri Russell, Brian Cox, Maclean Stewart, Kelan Lowry O'Reilly, Tim Loane.....Working class Northern Irish teen (Ash) figures that learning rhythm will improve his soccer game, so he takes dance lessons, but starts to fall for his slightly stuck up fellow dance student (Russell). Film boasts an appealing cast, colourful characters, and plenty of twists and complications to make for a funny, quirky, and charming, romantic comedy. It didn't receive the same exposure as such previous U.K. hits as "The Full Monty" and "The Committments", despite being more likeable and quirky than those other films. The dance and soccer aspects are handled such that you don't need to be particularly interested in either to appreciate the film...though the down side is that, when the climactic dance scene comes, it seems too curt. Setting the story in Northern Ireland, and matter-of-factly acknowledging the conflicts while remaining a light comedy, gives the movie a refreshing uniqueness -- but the fact that all the good guys are Catholic and the bad guys Protestant suggests something of an agenda, reinforcing stereotypes, rather than breaking them down. American actress Russell is beautiful, and does fine playing a character a little less sweet than her persona from TV's "Felicity" (while still being the romantic interest), but her Irish accent leaves much to be desired. Perhaps they should've relied on that old cinematic convention of claiming the character was educated abroad to explain away a foreign accent. Actor Gabriel Bryne was one of the executive producers. Supposedly this was partly Canadian...but there's nothing on screen or in the credits to indicate that. sc./dir: John Forte. 91 min.
This supposed satire of the Canadian TV industry won almost universal praise from critics, but what people failed to mention was: it wasn't very funny. The acting was uneven (often kind of broad) and Mercer, best known for his stand-up style work on This Hour Has 22 Minutes, was less effective when it came to an actual acting role. The plots were thin, the pacing lethargic, and Mercer's elitist pretentions disturbing (in one episode decrying the viewing habits of low-income viewers -- in other words, only the rich can appreciate "good" TV). The idea of revolving a comedy around an anti-hero is a very British idea ("Fawlty Towers"; "Black Adder"; even "Yes, Minister") but that humour comes from watching the character juggle some complex, desperate scheme that threatens to unravel at any moment, often putting them in positions of vulnerabilty so that the viewer has a kind of, grudging, empathy for them. But Mercer (who co-wrote with Mark Farrell) obviously wanted his super-stud persona to be unflappable, untouchable...and unfunny. Though later seasons seemed more inclined to that idea...except the schemes weren't particularly complex or clever!
Equally annoying was the fact that the send-ups and satires were based on generic (often Hollywood) archetypes that, frankly, smacked little of "insider knowledge"... let alone actually relating to the Canadian industry (a business begging to be savaged and lampooned). A recurring joke spoofed the idea of a "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys" series, instead of spoofing the Canadian-made Adventures of Sinbad rip-off; the fact that Mercer and co. probably wouldn't recognize the distinction is just one more indication of what's wrong with the Canadian business (and another target for parody). Actually, Mercer could have spoofed the way networks give carte blanche to actor/writers so they can create an unfunny sitcom with themselves in the lead, narcissistically bedding nubile young starlets (ala More Tears, Twitch City and, of course, Made in Canada). This series was given the O.K. for a second season before the first episode had even aired, something critics cited as proof of its brilliance...when in fact it was just another great fodder for parody -- 'cause it's almost unheard of for a Canadian series not to get renewed! It's cheaper to keep a series going than it is to make a new one! Half-hour episodes on the CBC.
* * setting: B.C.
(1971) Nicola Lipman, John Juliana, Gordon Robertson, Wayne Specht..... Story of an innocent, career oriented girl (Lipman), and her relationships with both a revolutionary (Juliana) and a fantasy clown (Specht) who is mirrored in reality. Odd little film is more interesting as a period piece (the counter-culture '60s) than as a drama. This was the first feature to be directed by a woman in Canada. sc: Sylvia Spring, Kenneth S. Specht. dir: Sylvia Spring. -- partial female nudity, sexual content.- 90 min.
The first season of this TV series was almost an anthology, focusing on a different character each episode, and though slickly written, directed and acted, it also seemed a bit light-weight. Despite being about tough issues like drug abuse, the stories were simplistically handled. The second season went for more of a Northwood-type soap opera feel, while maintaining its "issues" focus (covering teen pregnancy, race, and lesbianism). Though capable of some approximation of realism, too often the didactic dialogue -- never letting the viewer forget the show was GOOD for 'em -- was obvious and unconvincing and the series suffered from being cloyingly hip (hand-held cameras and pseudo-"attitude")...all of which was likely to alienate it from, rather than ingratiate it with, its intended audience. The problem with teen-aimed series is that they are generally made by middle-aged filmmakers, sold to middle-aged broadcasters, and praised for their "realism" by middle-aged reviewers...but do teens even want to watch "serious" shows about other teens?
It had a good cast (most of whom have kept working -- no small feet in the biz) and some with notable bloodlines: Scarfe is the son of actor Alan Scarfe and Sara Botsford, and Collins (who received a Gemini award) the Canadian daughter of British pop singer Phil Collins. Filmed in Vancouver (but rarely being obvious about its Canadianess). Two seasons were shown on CanWest-Global, then WIC and some independents for its third season, as well as being re-aired on YTV. Eventually it ran for five seasons totalling 65 half-hour episodes.
MADLY IN LOVE see Amoureux Fou
* * 1/2 setting: P.Q.
(2000) Marie-Josee Croze, Jean-Nicolas Verreault, Stephanie Morgenstern, Pierre Lebeau, Klimbo, John Dunn-Hill, Marc Gelinas.....After having an abortion, losing her job, and hitting a man with her car (and fleeing the scene) a beautiful young woman (Croze) starts to unravel from guilt, then she encounters her victim's adult son. Quirky drama -- narrated by a butchered fish! -- is moody and visually striking with its washed out colours and has nice performances (particularly Croze) and some clever ideas (like the restaurant scene, which is shown from two different perspectives). But once you strip away the Art House flash and sizzle, and the constant fish motif, and Croze's nude scene, you're left with a familiar idea, spartanly written and developed. O.K., and eccentric at times, but a bit too minimalist. In French. Received Genies for Best Picture, Actress (Croze), Script, Direction, and Cinematography. sc./dir: Denis Villeneuve. - violence, female nudity, sexual content, brief male nudity.- 86 min.
Maggie's Secret *
* * 1/2 setting: Ont.
(1991) Joanna Vannicola, Mimi Kuzyk, Joseph Bottoms, Jaimz Woolvett..... Teen (Vannicola) begins to buckle under the strain of looking after her little brother and dealing with her parents alcoholism. Effective, emotional hour long drama with strong performances, especially Vannicola. On the CBC. Co-written by Garfield and Judith Reeves-Stevens. dir: Al Waxman.
MAGIC IN THE WATER
* * * setting: USA./B.C.
(1995) (/U.S.) Mark Harmon, Sarah Wayne, Joshua Jackson, Harley Jane Kozak, Frank Sotonoma Salsedo, Willie Nark-Orn, Ben Cardinal, Morris Panych.....American family comes to small town Canada where the daughter (Wayne) befriends the local sea serpent and the initially business-occupied dad (Harmon) has a mystical encounter with it; as well, there's a baddie dumping toxic waste. Solid family drama manages to take a common concept and inject it with some off-beat turns and occasional flashes of lyricism. Good cast and a hard-working score by David Schwartz. Stiffed at the box office, but it faired better than Disney's similarly-veined "Loch Ness" (made around the same time) -- that film never got released to the theaters (though isn't without its own virtues). sc: Rick Stevenson, Icel Dobell Massey (story Ninian Bennett and Stevenson & Massey). dir: Rick Stevenson. 98 min.
MAHONEY'S LAST STAND
* * 1/2 setting: CDN.
(1975) (/U.K.) Alexis Kanner, Sam Waterston, Maud Adams, Diana LeBlanc, Irk Shunk.....Odd young man (Kanner, natch), getting away from his wilder days, settles down on a farm, but gets distracted by his own eccentricities and various people who crop up. Off-beat serio-comic pic is carried along by the perpetually weird Kanner (who also produced) but is ultimately too thin to entirely sustain itself. Choppy directing-editing style doesn't always work and the dialogue isn't always synced properly -- still, oddly appealing and it's definitely a product of its time. Waterston's also good. sc: Terence Heffernan, Alexis Kanner. dir: Harvey Hart. -- partial male and female nudity.- app. 115 min.
A Maiden's Grave, a novel by Jeffery Deaver, was made into the movie Dead Silence
* * setting: CDN
(2013) Roseanne Supernault, Ipellie Ootoova, Uapeshkuss Thernish, Tantoo Cardinal, Eric Schweig, Graham Greene, Flint Eagle, Natar Ungalaaq, Annie Galipeau.....After a conflict between Innu and Inuit tribes (pre-colonization) a headstrong young Innu woman (Supernault) sets out to rescue a boy from her tribe only to be captured and brought to live among the Inuit. Effective historical adventure-drama can be likened a bit to an all-Native "Dances with Wolves" (ie: instead of a white guy living among Indians it's an Innu living among Inuit) or a more commercial Atanarjuat (the actors speak sub-titled Indigenous dialogue but the voiceover narration is in English/French and the editing/pacing is more mainstream, and with some familiar faces to fill out the background such as Cardinal, Greene and Scwheig -- albeit somewhat under-utilized). It can feel a bit choppy at times (a character you assume will be the villain gets killed off part way through) and shifts from a fast-paced adventure in the first half to a drama in the second, but nonetheless holds your interest -- and does the tricky job of trying to respect historical realism while adpting them to modern mores (the heroine is essentially a proto-feminist). sc: Pierre Billon (from the novel by Dominique Demers). dir: Michel Poulette. - violence.- 90 min.
MAJOR CRIME (TVMS) *
* setting: Ont.
(1997) Michael Moriarty, Nicholas Campbell, Megan Follows, Vincent Gale, David Cubitt, Sabrina Grdevich, Lane Gates, Elisa Moolecherry, Mary Walsh, Nicky Guadagni, Maria Vacratsis.....Chronicle of a Toronto crime squad's attempt to bring down a suspected child molester (Cubitt). Gritty CBC suspense-drama may herald the beginning of the commercialization of child abuse: previous dramas exploiting -- uh, exploring -- the issue in the name of ratings (Boys of St. Vincent, etc.) have usually done so in the guise of social relevance, but this seems to be essentially a run of the mill police procedural in which the crime just happens to be child abuse. Regardless, the first half (involving the investigation) is really slow, and the second (involving the trial) is a bit of a mess: confusing and unconvincing, as if important scenes are missing (like how the villain, a veritable recluse in the first half, has a court room full of supporters in the 2nd). Perhaps it's intended to show how slow and plodding police work can be, but as a drama it desperately needs more plot (or it should've been cut down to movie length) and revealing Cubitt as the villain at the beginning was a bad call story-wise. Campbell, as the undercover cop, is good (and received the Best Actor Gemini), but Moriarty (as the unorthodox head investigator) and Cubitt are problematic: both give superficially interesting performances, but Moriarty's lacks the finesse to convey motivational nuances, and Cubitt (presumably) is supposed to be the creepy, repulsive black hat...but comes across as severely retarded and almost pathetic. Though set in Ontario, it was filmed partly in Nova Scotia...and it shows in some of the architecture and even accents. It was considered as a pilot for a series of possible TV movies that never materialized. Four hours. sc: Steve Lucas. dir: Brad Turner.
MAKE MINE CHARTREUSE (1987) Catherine Colvey, Joseph Bottoms. See Shades of Love
"Making It", the short story by Margaret Gibson, was the source for the film Outrageous!
MALAREK a.k.a. Malarek: A Street Kid Who Made It
MALAREK: A Street Kid Who Made
It * 1/2 setting: P.Q.
(1988) Elias Koteas, Kerrie Keane, Al Waxman, Daniel Pilon, Kahlil Karn, Michael Sarrazin, Vittorio Rossi.....Cub reporter Victor Malarek (Koteas), a former juvenile offender, becomes obsessed with exposing corruption in the police and social service departments. Earnest with some truly harrowing scenes but ultimately it's a disappointing, badly made suspense-drama that never gets below the surface of either Malarek or those he's after. Based on a true story and it inspired the TV series Urban Angel. Look for the real Malarek (who later went on to join CBC TV's investigative news series, The Fifth Estate) at a table in a pool hall. sc: Avrum Jacobson (from the book Hey, Malarek! by Victor Malarek). dir: Roger Cardinal. -- violence, brief female nudity.- 105 min.
LES MALES *
* 1/2 setting: P.Q.
(1971) (/France) Donald Pilon, Rene Blouin, Andree Pelletier, Katherine Mousseau, Guy L'Ecuyer.....Two hermits who've retreated to the wilderness (Pilon and Blouin) find celibacy is driving them crazy, so set off to find (or capture) a woman and, after some misadventures in town, find a free spirit (Pelletier, frequently undressed in her film debut) shows up, literally, on their doorstep...but discover that only complicates things. Whimsical comedy-drama is more cute than funny (and is the idea of two wild men plotting to kidnap a woman really funny anyway?), and seems a product of its counter culture era (which will appeal to some, and turn off others). But gets by with lots of beautiful scenery, appealing rustic atmosphere, and a pleasant enough cast. English title: The Males. sc./dir: Gilles Carle. - partial female nudity, casual male nudity.- 96 min.
MALIBU SHARK ATTACK *
1/2 setting: USA.
(2009) (/Australian/U.S.) Peta Wilson, Warren Christie, Chelan Simmons, Sonya Salomaa, Remi Broadway, Jeff Ganon.....A tsunami floods the California coast, leaving a life guard team stranded and at the mercy of deepwater sharks stirred to the surface. On one hand, this boasts a solid cast, and some decent enough character interaction at the beginning. At the same time, the characters aren't really interesting or developed much (a romantic triangle involving Wilson literally goes nowhere). Slick looking and thanks to CGI, lots of sharks -- but it fails to generate much tension or suspense, the action scenes rather perfunctory and clumsily put together. There are lots of shots of the sharks...but they seem to be recycling a lot of them (heck, they even recycle shots of girls sunbathing on the beach!) The tsunami premise might conjure in your mind cool scenes of sharks cruising through flooded streets...but, presumably for budget reasons, being set on a flooded beach it just looks like any other ocean setting. Curiously, the goblin sharks (the fish of choice here) really exist, but they aren't believed extinct (as a character says), nor are they ranked high as man-eaters...but they do inhabit lower depths, and apparently have occasionally been stirred to the surface by tsunamis. Though this Canada-Australian co-production is set in the US, most of the cast do seem to be Canadians and Australians (adopting American accents). a.k.a. Mega Shark of Malibu. sc: Lindsay James. dir: David Lister. - extreme violence.- app. 90.
MAMA'S GOING TO BUY YOU A MOCKINGBIRD
* * 1/2 setting: Ont.
(1988) Linda Griffiths, Louis Tripp, Marsha Moreau, Geoffrey Bowes, Rosa Anderson-Baker, Martha Gibson, Ken James.....Young boy (Tripp) has trouble adjusting after his father (Bowes) is stricken with cancer and eventually dies. Made-for-CBC TV family drama starts out awkward but isn't bad. sc: Anna Sandor (from the novel by Jean Little). dir: Sandy Wilson. app. 100 min.
MAMAN LAST CALL *
* setting: P.Q.
(2005) Sophie Lorain, Patrick Huard, Stephane Demers, Anne-Marie Cadieux, Patricia Nolin, Julie LeBreton, Anick LeMay, Robert Toupin, Denis Bouchard .....A career-oriented, somewhat hedonistic journalist (Lorain) finds her life turned upside down when she discovers she's pregnant...to the delight of her long-time boyfriend (Huard). Light-hearted flick boasts a solid cast and is slickly put together, but seems kind of thin, dragging too often. Maybe if it was funnier (it's a comedy, but more a light-hearted one than a laugh-out-loud one) or had some secondary plots (a subplot involving a story she's covering just kind of peters out). It's also kind of didactic, touching on issues that are valid, but also seeming a little one sided in its views, taking swipes at feminists, abortion, etc. In French. sc: Nathalie Petrowski, Alain Chartrand, Marcel Beaulieu (from Petrowski's novel). dir: Francois Bouvier. 102 min.
* * * 1/2 setting: P.Q.
(2003) Luke Kirby, Ginette Reno, Paul Sorvino, Peter Miller, Claudia Ferri, Mary Walsh, Sophie Lorain, Pierrette Robitaille, Tim Post, Mark Camacho, Dino Tavarone.....Gay, Italian-Canadian man (Kirby) decides to come out to his neurotic family, including his conservative, immigrant parents (Reno and American actor Sorvino), leading to various complications, including alienating his happily in-the-closet boyfriend. Sure, there are broad, Italian-based stereotypes, and over-the-top, Italian-American accents that would make Martin Scorsese cringe, but it's meant as a comedy -- and, if you don't take it too seriously, by gum, it is! Presumably inspired a little by the ethnic flavour of the American hit, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" (created by a Canadian!), this is genuinely laugh-out-loud funny, while being anchored by some legitimate serious concerns, a snappy pace, a twisty, quirky plot, and (generally) affection for its characters (albeit the humour is intentionally in your face, lampooning Italians and homosexuals even as it's celebrating them!) There may be hope for an English-language Canadian cinema after all (even if it was made partly by francophones). This was the most successful, English-language Canadian movie (at the domestic box office) in years -- and it actually deserved to be! Tavarone has just a bit part as a neighbour, and look fast for Victoria Sanchez as a temptress walking down the street. sc: Emile Gaudreault, Steve Galluccio (from Galluccio's play). dir: Emile Gaudreault. - sexual content.- 88 min.
A MAN CALLED INTREPID
(TVMS) * * * setting: other/Ont./USA.
(1979) (/U.K./U.S.) Michael York, Barbara Hershey, David Niven, Paul Harding, Flora Robson, Peter Gilmore, Renee Asherson, Nigel Stock, Gayle Hunnicutt, Robin Gammell, Chris Wiggins.....Story of W.W. II espionage focusing on the Canadian-born British spy William Stephenson -- no relation to the author -- a.k.a. Intrepid (Niven, arguably a little too British, and too old, for the part, but still effective) who oversaw much of the allied espionage effort; and star-crossed lovers York, as a civilian filmmaker employed for his skill at deception, and Hershey, as a spiritual spy parachuted into occupied France. Fact-based mini-series, based on the hit book, like a lot of mini-series seems a bit padded (particularly in a draggy first episode) but gets better as it goes along with a good cast and some nice scenes...surprising since it has to interweave what are really two or three incidents and make them seem like a whole. Perhaps one of the earliest examples of the large scale internationally co-produced mini-series that would, for a time, become the norm for Canadian producers. A bit muddled at first for those not familiar with history (which is ironic since the characters lament how little later generations know about the war, then the filmmakers themselves fail to properly take that ignorance into account), or who Stephenson was that he should be selected for the task, then gets more informative, but still not something you'd want to base a term paper on. For instance, Wiggins (in a small part) seems to be playing an allied double agent named Heisenberg who passes a note from Albert Einstein to Danish physicist Niels Bohr -- now German physicist Werner Heisenberg did meet with Bohr, did show him something, and the true nature of the meeting has been debated by historians...but never that Heisenberg was actually working for the allies or that he had a note from Einstein. 6 hours. sc: William Blinn (based on the book by William Stevenson). dir: Peter Carter
THE MAN IN THE ATTIC
* * 1/2 setting: USA.
(1995) Anne Archer, Neil Patrick Harris, Len Cariou, Alex Carter.....True story of a married American woman (American Archer) who kept her young lover (American Harris) in her attic, unbeknownst to her husband (Cariou), for 20 years between the world wars. Slick made-for-cable drama never becomes much more than a chronicle of a curious incident, with the characters and their motivations remaining unconvincing. sc: Duane Poole, Tom Swale (from a case history in the book Sex and the Criminal Mind by Norman Winski). dir: Graeme Campbell. - partial female nudity, sexual content, brief male nudity.- 98 min.
MAN IN UNIFORM a.k.a. I Love a Man in Uniform
THE MAN INSIDE *
1/2 setting: Ont.
(1975) James Franciscus, Jacques Godin, Stephanie Powers, Len Birman, Donald Davis, Allan Royal(e).....Mounties, trying to get a druglord, plant an undercover cop (American actor Franciscus) inside the organization -- but he starts to forget which side he's on. Disappointing suspense-drama could've been an effective character study, but has hardly any character scenes. Nor is it detailed enough to be a procedural. Too bad. Godin stands out. This was the first movie made by the CBC. sc: Tony Sheer. dir: Gerald Mayer. 96 min. (video)
A Man of Honor, the autobiography co-written by mobster Joseph Bonanno, served as part of the source for the mini-series Bonanno.
THE MAN OF MY LIFE see L'homme de ma vie
THE MAN ON THE WHARF see L'homme sur les quais
THE MAN WHO GUARDS THE GREENHOUSE (1988) Rebecca Dewey, Christopher Cazenove. See Shades of Love
THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF *
* 1/2 setting: CDN.
(2005) David James Elliott, Wendy Crewson, Katie Boland, Clare Stone, Tatum Knight, Joshua Close, John Bourgeois, Nanci Chambers.....Fact-based story of Canadian Football star Terry Evershen (Elliott) and his struggle back from a brain injury that left him almost a total amnesiac -- forgetting not only his family, but even how to behave and react -- and of his wife's (Crewson) struggles to be supportive even as she began to despair. Made-for-CTV drama has good performances from Crewson and Elliott, but suffers from some awkward, unconvincing scenes at first (particularly in its hospital scenes) and, though portraying a harrowing situation, feels a bit like they're struggling to fill up the running time. But improves significantly as it goes, particularly as he begins to improve and the family dynamics shift. Ironically, this aired within a week or so of the remarkably similar CBC movie, Waking Up Wally -- and suffers in the comparison. a.k.a. The Stranger I Married. sc: Suzette Couture (from the book by June Callwood). dir: Helen Shaver. app. 90 min.
THE MAN WHO SAVED CHRISTMAS *
* * setting: USA.
(2002) (/U.S.) Jason Alexander, Kelly Rowan, Ari Cohen, Ed Asner, C. David Johnson, Jayne Eastwood, Daniel Kash, Jake Brockman, Kenneth Welsh.....Fact-inspired story of American toy maker A.C. Gilbert (American actor Alexander) during World War I, who turns his factories over to the war effort...but begins to balk when it is proposed that Christmas itself be cancelled. Made-for-TV movie mixes light-hearted and serious with a variety of elements -- a Christmas-themed holiday movie, a bio-pic about Gilbert, and a homefront period drama -- with mostly successful results, buoyed by a nice cast in general, and a sympathetic Alexander inparticular (at the time best identified with his obnoxious character on the sitcom "Seinfeld"). Although, as often happens with such Canadian movies, the over-the-top Americanism can be a bit distracting. But a decent, slightly atypical, entry in the holiday movie canon. And is it just me, or has Ed Asner appeared in more Christmas movies than any other actor? sc: Joe Maurer, Debra Frank, Steve L. Hayes. dir: Sturla Gunnarsson. app. 90 min.
THE MAN WHO WANTED TO LIVE FOREVER a.k.a. The Only Way Out is Dead
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