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.

Michael and Kitty   * * *  setting: CDN.
(1986) Booth Savage, Janet-Laine Green.....Married couple, breaking up on the eve of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's retirement, reflect back on their marriage and its origins during Trudeau's '68 leadership victory.  Well-acted, effective hour-long intimate drama benefits precisely because of its very Canadian thread -- including the appearance of a mythical "Trudeau" figure.  Savage and Green are married in real life.  First aired on the CBC.
 
 
MICHAEL: Tuesdays & Thursdays (TV Series)

(2011-2012)  * * *   Bob Martin ("Dr. David Storper"), Matt Watts ("Michael/Miguel"), Tommie-Amber Pirie ("Claire"), Jennifer Irwin ("Sammy"), Pablo Silveira ("Carlos"), with Martha Burns, Al Karim, Ed Asner.....Comedy about the co-dependent relationship between a long time therapy patient, Michael (Watts), and his compassionate but slightly neurotic psychiatrist (Martin) -- while the psychiatrist is also working on a book about him (pseudonymously identifying him as "Miguel"). Pirie plays the receptionist, who begins dating "Michael" and Irwin the book editor who begins dating "David". Silveira plays "Michael"'s antagonistic co-worker at the PR firm where he works. Burns the managing editor at "David"'s publishing house. Karim "Michael"'s boss. American actor Ed Asner cropped up occasionally (and hilariously stole a few scenes!) as "David"'s own, slightly senile therapist. The series may well have been hurt a little by its confusing title, leading viewers to assume it was called "Michael"...and aired Tuesdays and Thursdays -- and it was initially aired on Wednesday (!) before being switched to Tuesdays. Though the series was cancelled after one low-rated season, in a truly out-of-left-field announcement, in 2015 the CBC announced they were bringing it back!

Tepid ratings married with great reviews (some critics calling it the best comedy on TV -- and not just the best Canadian comedy) seemed to accompany this TV series. Filmed more like an independent feature film than a sitcom, with an attractive almost sepia visual feel, this is very funny, and with an unusually empathetic approach to its characters (seeming to like and respect them...flaws and foibles included). The humour can veer from the obvious set up and pratfall to more low-key...sly and subtle, more about the delivery or the reaction than the "gag". Martin is especially good, juggling understated comedy with a fleshed out personality (and convincingly evoking a psychiatrist's emotional reserve), but the whole cast is effective. It's a genuinely "smart" series, in its approach to characters and human frailty...not just a superficially "clever" one. At the same time, it is low-key (despite genuine belly laughs from time to time) and perhaps suffers a bit from a premise that, while off-beat...can also be a bit repetitive and formulaic (many episodes wrapped around "Michael" given a therapy exercise to confront one of his many neuroses). It's a likeable, funny, quirky series...but you can find yourself liking it affectionately more than loving it passionately. And, well, if one were to dig, psychologically, into the material, there is maybe a slightly uncomfortable "white" bias. Silveira's part (the only regular non-white character) seems to exist just to be the "bad" guy -- in a series otherwise unstintingly empathetic to its flawed characters (it only stands out because most of the characters seem more rounded). Other times, the use of non-white characters/extras seems almost intended to (comically) exacerbate "Michael"'s discomfort. Reading too much into it? Maybe. But, as I say, it is a series about a psychiatrist analyzing underlining impluses, so surely it invites just such considerations of the intent, eh? Created by star Bob Martin (in conjunction with Watts, the series' being "based" on Watts' own neuroses). One season (well, so far) of half hour episodes on the CBC.

THE MICHELLE APARTMENTS see The Michelle Apts.

THE MICHELLE APTS.   * 1/2
(1995) Henry Czerny, Mary Elizabeth Rubens, Daniel Kash, Peter Outerbridge, Nancy Beatty, David Calderisi, George Buza, Ian D. Clark..... Auditor (Czerny) arrives in a company town to audit the local factory and while staying at an apartment building becomes involved with his weird neighbours: a femme fatale (Rubens) and her thugish boyfriend (Kash).  Total misfire wants to be a black suspense-comedy with shades of David Lynch, Kafka, the Cohen brothers, etc. but misses on almost all levels.  And for something that wants to be weird and off-beat, there's little that's fresh or unexpected here.  sc: Ross Weber. dir: John Pozer. -- sexual content.- 93 min. (video)

THE MIDDAY SUN   setting: other
(1989) Isabelle Mejias, George Seremba, Robert Bockstael, Jackie Burroughs, Roland Hewgill, Dominic Kanavanti, Kathy Kuleya.....Naive Canuck (Mejias), doing mission work in an African nation, finds romance, corruption, and that her attitudes may be out of place and even hypocritical.  Lethargic drama doesn't develop characters or plot beyond the superficial.  The dialogue's trite, the actors lost and unconvincing and the voice-over by Susan Hogan seems out of place.  Even the film's "liberal" stance seems hollow.  Filmed in Zimbabwe.  sc./dir: Lulu Keating. -- sexual content.- 92 min.

MIDDLE AGE CRAZY  * 1/2  setting: USA.
(1980) Bruce Dern, Ann-Margret, Graham Jarvis, Eric Christmas, Helen Hughes, Deborah Wakeham.....Wealthy Texan (Dern) goes through a mid-life crisis, starts to daydream, buys a porsche, has an affair -- the usual cliches. If it's a comedy itt's not very funny, if it's a drama it's not very interesting.  Suggested by the then-hit song.  sc: Carl Kleinschmitt. dir: John Trent. 95 min.

MIDNIGHT IN SAINT PETERSBURG * 1/2  setting: other
(1996) (/Russia/U.K./U.S.) Michael Caine, Jason Connery, Michelle Rene Thomas, Michael Gambon, Michael Sarrazin, Tanya Jackson, Serge Houde, Anatoly Davidov, Vlasta Vrana, John Dunn-Hill, Lev Prygunov..... Moscow-based, freelance British investigator, Harry Palmer (Caine) is hired to trackdown stolen plutonium.  Meanwhile, his young partner's (Connery) girlfriend is kidnapped.  Second reprisal of Len Deighton's spy (after Bullet to Beijing) has some funny bits, but is otherwise pretty bad.  Lethargic direction, with a script that wants to be a murky, convoluted spy thriller, but is just really thinly plotted and pretty dumb in spots.  Not actually based on any story by Deighton.  a.k.a. Len Deighton's Midnight in Saint Petersburg.  sc: Peter Welbeck. dir: Douglas Jackson. -- violence.- 89 min.

MIDNIGHT MAGIC (1988) Jennifer Dale, James Wilder, dir: George Mihalka. see Shades of Love.

MIDNIGHT MAN see Jack Higgins' Midnight Man

MIDNIGHT MATINEE a.k.a. Matinee

MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN  * * 1/2  setting: other
(2012) (/U.K.) Shahana Goswami, Satya Bhabha, Seema Biswas, Ronit Roy, Rajat Kapoor, Shriya Saran, Anita Majumdar, Zaib Shaikh, Charles Dance, Salman Rushdie (narrator).....Sprawling multi-generational saga set in India and Pakistan stretching from 1917 to 1977, chronicling the various social and political upheavals as witnessed by an upper middle class family, and coming to focus on the scion born the night when India and Pakistan were divided in 1947 -- a boy switched at birth with the real son. Ambitious attempt to adapt Salman Rushdie's critically acclaimed novel -- but the novel itself was probably too much for a single movie, encompassing not only the large time span, but a multitude of characters, and various tones and focus, from the family drama to the bigger political events, sometimes dark and gritty, often whimsical and comic, mixing both realism but, then, some ways into the film, fantasy and magic realism, and even surrealism and absurdism. The acting is fine throughout, but a format that works in a novel, read over many nights, can be problematic in a single sitting where who the "main" characters are changes. To its credit, it generally holds your attention (though does lag toward the end, with no clear "plot" it's hard to build toward the climax) even as it never quite makes the leap up to being fully riveting, not really allowing you to invest in many of the characters. Partly because, as noted, we're shifting focus, but partly due to some inconsistency in motives and actions (and perhaps hurt a bit by a certain aloof direction). The only Canadian actors in this Canadian co-production -- Shaikh and Majumdar -- have relatively small parts. Though primarily in English, with some Hindi and other languages, tiny subtitles -- at least in some prints -- are hard to see on the small screen and may also affect the flow of the story. sc: Salman Rushdie, Deepa Mehta (from Rushdie's novel). dir: Deepa Mehta. - violence, brief female nudity.- 148 min.

Milena, the book by Jana Cerna, became the movie Lover

MILE ZERO  * *  setting: B.C.
(2001) Michael Riley, Connor Widdows, Sabrina Grdevich.....Troubled divorcee (Riley), unable to move on emotionally, illegally absconds with his young son (Widdows) for a road trip with a vague idea of retreating to the wilderness. Brooding drama boasts strong performances (particularly Riley), and well presented scenes...but the whole never quite amounts to much. Jumbled use of flashbacks and mixed chronology can be more disorienting than enlightening (maybe the scenes should've been assembled chronologically, so that the movie feels more like it's progressing somewhere). Basically a study of Riley's lonely, confused character...but there's not quite enough to sustain 90 minutes. A childbirth scene (in a flashback) is probably the most graphic shown in a Canadian movie. sc: Michael Melski (story Melski and Currie). dir: Andrew Currie. - female nudity.- 92 min. (video)

THE MILES AHEAD  *  setting: Ont./other
(1988) David Murray, Allan Fawcett, Mark Duffus, Lillian Imhof, Ludvik Bogner, Zack Nasis, Damian Lee.....Accountant (Murray) becomes a track runner with the help of a guardian angel (Fawcett), but he finds that some unscrupulous people are after his secret.  Cheap, weakly acted comedy is generally pretty lame and the Russian baddies are all but unintelligible.  a.k.a. Hot Shoes.  sc: Damian Lee, David Mitcell. dir: Ruben Rose. 81 min. (video)

MILGAARD  * * 1/2  setting: CDN.
(1999)  Ian Tracey, Gabrielle Rose, Tom Melissis, Garwin Sanford, Sabrina Grdevich, Jaimz Woolvett, Bernie Coulson, Joseph Griffin, Kim Schraner, Pamela Sinha.....True story of David Milgaard (Tracey), convicted of a brutal rape-murder in 1969, and spending the next twenty years in prison until being exonerated through the actions of his mother, Joyce (Rose). Well-acted, especially by Tracey, made-for-CTV movie is glossy...which is part of the problem. The way this horrific true story is treated at times more like a pop music video, with slow motion and funky camera angles, not to mention the usual TV movie proclivity for dwelling excessively on rape scenes and descriptions of rape scenes, is a bit disconcerting, and insensitive. Competent, but unsatisfying handling of the material -- you'd be hard-pressed to find a Canadian who isn't already familiar with the gist of the Milgaard story, but it doesn't provide much new insight (other than learning that there was no happy ending, that Milgaard ended up psychologically damaged by his ordeal). And like a lot of filmed true stories, there's a timidity on the part of the filmmakers as far as finger-pointing is concerned (other than a swipe at former Justice Minister Kim Campbell) as if the makers were worried about being sued: hard questions aren't really asked about the initial investigation. At one point, the good guys mention they've punched holes in the forensic evidence...but in the original trial scene, no such evidence was depicted! The real life Joyce Milgaard appears as a spectator during the Supreme Court scene near the end. Good score by John McCarthy. Received six Geminis including Best Movie, Actor (Tracey) and Director. sc: Keith Ross Leckie, Alan Difiore. dir: Stephen L. Williams (Stephen Williams). - violence.- 91 min.

MILK AND HONEY   * * 1/2  setting: Ont.
(1988) Josette Simon, Lyman Ward, Djanet Sears, Fiona Reid, Leonie Forbes, Richard Mills, Errol Slue.....Jamaican nanny (British import Simon) in Canada finds herself being exploited, cheated and lied to and haunted by the spectre of deportation, especially when she brings her son in illegally.  Good, certainly earnest little drama may have been hurt by the much-puplicized fighting between the directing team and the producer.  Won Genie for Best Script.  sc: Glen Salzman, Trevor Rhone. dir: Rebecca Yates, Glen Salzman. 89 min. (video)

MILLENNIUM   * 1/2  setting: USA.
(1989) (/U.S.) Kris Kristofferson, Cheryl Ladd, Daniel J. Travanti, Robert Joy, Brent Carver, Maury Chaykin.....While investigating a plane crash, an investigator (Kristofferson) encounters a time-traveller (Ladd) from the far future -- and then the story gets repeated from her point of view.  Frequently illogical sci-fier is a romance, rather than a suspenser, and is dull even on that level.  Travanti (in a bit part) heads a good supporting cast, but the leads are a write-off.  sc: John Varley (from his short story "Air Raid"). dir: Michael Anderson. -- sexual content.- 106 min. (video)

MILLENNIUM: Tribal Wisdom and the Modern World (TVMS)   * * 1/2
(1993) (/U.K.).....Documentary/docudrama series hosted by anthropologist David Maybury-Lewis looks at various cultures, mainly tribal, to explore different ways of looking at the world and our relationship to it than is commonly expounded in industrialized societies.  This exploration is done through segments focusing on the stories of various individuals (narrated by professional actors).  Atmospheric, highly unusual and ambitious series never quite achieves the spiritual and mystical revelation it seeks, but is nonetheless interesting for its peek at other cultures.  Though as journalism, it seemed a bit lax.  Maybury-Lewis was a suitably effective host.  Strong, mood-setting theme music by Hans Zimmer and arranged and performed by John van Tongeren.  10 hour long episodes, originally on Global.

MILLION DOLLAR BABIES (TVMS)   * * 1/2  setting: Ont.
(1994) (/U.S.) Beau Bridges, Roy Dupuis, Celine Bonnier, Kate Nelligan, Sean McCann, Monique Spaziani, James B. Douglas, Remy Girard, Ginette Reno, Domini Blythe, Pierre Curzi.....Story of the Dionne quintuplets -- the world's first -- born during the DDepression, and how they were taken from their poor parents (Dupuis and Bonnier) and put on public display under Dr. Allan Roy Dafoe (Bridges).  O.K. flick is at times emotionally effective, but too often just really broad and obvious.  A story with no good guys, only victims, the filmmakers seem to have had trouble making it work and it ends up more about the events rather than really working as a character drama.  Budgeted at almost 10 million, this was the first CBC program to be broadcast simultaneously on an American network (CBS) -- previous movies had been aired after the CBC's showing.  Received four Gemini Awards including Best Director.  Four hours.  sc: Suzette Couture (from the book The Time of Their Lives by John Nihmey, Stuart Foxman). dir: Christian Duguay.

THE MILLS OF POWER (TVMS)   * *  setting: USA/other/P.Q.
(1990) (/France) Gratien Gelinas, Aurelien Recoing, Michel Forget, Pierre Chagnon, Gabrielle Lazure.....Story of both a rich French family, who run New England cotton mills, and the poor Quebecois who work there, set against the political and linguistic turmoil around the turn of the century, and told in flashbacks by an old man (Gelinas) protesting, at gun-point, the cancelation of French-language TV.  Disjointed socio-political soap opera suffers from a lack of real characterization and an ambivalence to racist attitudes expressed by the main characters.  Also shown as two feature films.  Six one hour segments.  sc./dir: Claude Fournier (from his novel). - female nudity and partial male nudity.-

MIND SHADOWS   * * * 1/2  setting: N.S.
(1987) (/Netherlands) Joop Admiraal, Marja Kok, Melanie Doane, Robert Dodds, Inge Marit van der Wal.....Story of an aging immigrant (Admiraal) who begins to show signs of Alzheimer's disease, and of his deterioration.  Simple yet sadly (and surprisingly) effective, moody, dreamlike drama -- though the disease progress' rather rapidly for the sake of the film.  Strong performance from Admiraal.  The dialogue switches between Dutch (with subtitles) and English. Dutch title: Hersenschimmen.  sc: Heddy Honigmann, Otakar Votoce (from the novel Out of Speech by J. Bernlef). dir: Heddy Honigmann. - female nudity.- 113 min.

MINDFIELD  * *  setting: P.Q.
(1989) Michael Ironside, Lisa Langlois, Sean McCann, Stefan Wodoslawsky, Robert Morelli, Christopher Plummer.....Cop (Ironside), the victim of mind control experiments many years before, suffers from flashbacks while investigating a couple of murders.  Good premise and nice ideas in this thriller, but it's poorly put together.  Fast-paced without going anywhere, illogical and there's no real suspense.  Wodoslawsky brings his quiet charm to a supporting role.  Scripter Deverell subsequently turned it into a novel.  Though this movie is entirely fictional, the core premise of mind control experiments in Montreal is inspired by fact...and later served as the basis of the docudrama, The Sleep Room.  sc: William Deverell (with Tom Berry and George Mihalka). dir: Jean-Claude Lord. - violence, sexual content, casual male nudity.- 92 min. (video)

MINDSTORM  * * 1/2  setting: USA./other
(2001) (/U.S.) Antonio Sabato Jr., Emmanuelle Vaugier, Eric Roberts, Clarence Williams III, Michael Ironside, Ed O'Ross, Michael Moriarty, William B. Davis, Sarah Carter, William Taylor, James Kirk.....Psychic investigator (Vaugier) who works for the F.B.I., investigates a religious cult at the behest of a senator (Ironside) -- a cult whose leader (Roberts) also has psychic abilities...and it's all tied to secret government experiments from her childhood that she can no longer remember. O.K. science fiction-flavoured thriller is a bit rough around the edges...but is briskly paced and somewhat ambitious. It certainly doesn't lack for ideas in a surprisingly convoluted plot (mayhap a little too convoluted). Seems to owe a bit to Scanners (though minus the gory violence)...right down to having Ironside in the cast. American actor Sabato Jr. is top-billed, but Canadian Vaugier plays the true lead character. Sabato Jr., Roberts, Williams III and O'Ross (in an extraneous bit part as a serial killer) are all American imports...while prominently billed Moriarty and Davis just have small roles. sc: Paul A. Birkett (story Richard Pepin, Michael Derbas). dir: Richard Pepin. 97 min. (video)

LA MISERE DES RICHES (TVMS)   * * 1/2  setting: P.Q./other
(1989) Patrice Tulasne, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Danielle Darrieux, Gilles Pelletier, Jean LeClerc, Ursula Karven, Carl Marotte.....A woman (Tulasne) inherits her family's steel company after her brother's (Marotte) mysterious death...unaware that her husband (Cassel) is trying to drive her insane.  Suspenser could have been tighter, but is generally entertaining and likeable and benefits from a good cast and interesting characters.  A series followed a couple of years later.  First aired in English (with sub-titles) in 1996.  English title: Jet Set.  8 hour-long episodes.  sc: Claude Veillot, Suzanne Ratelle-Desnoyers (from Ratelle- Desnoyers' novel). dir: Richard Martin. - female nudity.-
 

LA MISERE DES RICHES (TV Series)

(1991) (/Europe)   * 1/2  Patrice Tulasne, Rene Gagnon, Yvan Ponton, Gilles Pelletier, Andree Lachapelle, Gabriel Gascon, Denis Bernard, Louise Lapare, Catherine Colvey, many others.....Nightime soap opera set in the world of international business, focusing on the dealings between an areonautics firm, a steel company, and others.

This TV series seems to prove that even in Canada a pre-sell "name" is important -- because the name is practically the only thing that connects this to the better 1989 mini-series.  The focus, instead, is shifted to the intrigue and machinations at a family-owned airplane company, with Tulasne (the star of the mini-series) largely relegated to the peripheries. The series lacked the bite of its predecessor (being a drama rather than suspense) and featured largely unappealing characters and a not-altogether-welcome ideological shift.  Even the few characters retained from the original were turned into unpleasant figures.  It also suffered from repetative dialogue and too many scenes that just went on and on and on.  Inspired by the novel by Suzanne Ratelle-Desnoyers.  English title: Jet Set.  Shown in a subtitled version on Showcase in 1996. 

MISERY HARBOUR  * * 1/2  setting: Nfld./other
(1999) (/Norway/Denmark/Sweden) Nikolaj Coster Waldau, Stuart Graham, Graham Greene, Hywel Bennett, Anneke Von Der Lippe, Bjorn Floberg, Margot Finley.....Story of a young Danish man (Waldau) in the 1920s who runs away from home, joins up with a scummy Canadian sailing vessel, then ends up in Newfoundland and a feud with another man. Evocatively old fashioned melodrama (save for some modern grittiness) keeps your interest while watching, but reaches its climax long before it seems like it had adequately built to anything. And the framing sequence, with the hero writing his memoirs of his experiences, seems undeveloped, as though drastically edited down from a longer sequence. A good movie while you're watching...but only a decent one when it's over. sc: Kevin Sanders, Sigve Endresen (from the book A Sailor Goes Ashore by Aksel Sandemose). dir: Nils Gaup. - casual male nudity, sexual content, violence, brief female nudity.- 97 min.

MISSES 'ARRIS GOES TO PARIS see Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Paris


MISSION GENESIS (TV Series) a.k.a. Deepwater Black

MISTAKEN IDENTITY  see Erreur sur la personne

Mister Jinnah -- the crime reporter protagonist that appeared in the novel, Mr. Jinnah: Securities by Donald J. Hauka, came to TV in the movie Jinnah on Crime: Pizza 911.

most movies/series with "Mister" in the title were spelled as "Mr."...so are reviewed under the MR section

MISTLETOE OVER MANHATTAN  * 1/2   setting: USA.
(2011) (/U.S.) Tricia Helfer, Greg Byrk, Tedde Moore, Ken Hall, Peter DaCunha, Olivia Scriven, Mairtan O'Carrigan, Damon Runyan......Mrs. Claus (Moore) heads to New York in order to rekindle Santa's Christmas Spirit, and ends up taking a job as a nanny to the kids of a soon-to-be-divorced couple (Helfer & Byrk). One feels like a bit of a Scrooge knocking a Christmas movie, but this made-for-TV movie seems a particular misfire, including the awkward mix of styles (the slapstick tone of the Santa and Elves scenes, with the essential realism of the New York family). Some haphazard direction, and it feels thin, with scenes that seem stretched (or repetative) as though stuggling to fill the running time...even as it can seem a bit scattershot in what it wants to be about, or to focus on. The emotional core is the attempt to re-unite the bickering couple...yet the movie gives us hardly any scenes between them that makes us believe there's a relationship worth fighting for. Indeed...none of the characters, young or old, are particularly endearing! sc: Hilary Hinkle, Linda Engelsiepen, Rickie Castaneda. dir: John Bradshaw. app. 90 min.

Mistress Madeleine * *
(1986) Mireille Deyglun, Neil Munro.....In the 1800s, a metis mistress (Deyglun) to a Hudson Bay Company official (Munro) is betrayed when he returns from a trip with a white wife, and so she joins her renegade brother.  Hour long drama is the least effective of the Daughters of the Country series.  Pedestrianly assembled, it lacks any real dramatic punch.  sc. Araon Kim Johnson, Anne Cameron. d. Araon Kim Johnson. (video)
 
 
MIXED BLESSINGS (TV Series)

(2007-2009)  * * 1/2   Gary Basaraba ("Hank"), Tina Lameman ("Josie"), Griffin Powell-Arcand ("Donnie") Clare Stone ("Vicky"), Allen Belcourt ("Mick"), with Big Daddy Tazz ("Tazz").....Comedy/drama set in Fort MacMurray about a good natured, white blue collar guy (Bararaba) and a Native Indian waitress (Lameman), both with kids from previous marriages, who fall in love and get married, and dealing with the repercussions from their family and friends. 

When you think of it, this could almost be viewed as "The Brady Bunch", except with an added "race" element (interestingly enough...in the history of North American TV, is this the only time anyone's done that?); though unlike the Brady Bunch, the focus is on the adults, and this isn't a "laugh track" sitcom, but a more gentle comedy-drama. Instead of casting two svelte super models, the leads are plump, middle aged (perhaps anticipating the U.S. comedy "Mike & Molly")...and emerge as one of the more engaging couples in recent television. You like them, you care about them, and the series largely avoids cheap gags or falling into stereotypes. Modestly budgeted, and has the problem that, like a lot of dramedies, it can suffer from a neither fish/nor fowl syndrome which might make it hard to connect with an audience, but unlike most dramedies (whether Canadian or American) it seems to wear the label well. Three seasons of half hour episodes on APTN. 

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