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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.
* setting: Man.
(1989) John Vernon, Al Waxman, Kate Vernon, Margot Kidder, Robert Morelli, Diana Barrington, Angelo Pedari.....New York mobster (Vernon) goes to Winnipeg to see his illegitimate son (Pedari), while a fellow mobster (Waxman) is trying to have him killed. Familiar Canuck terrain of small-time dreamers in this supposed slapstick comedy -- only problem is it's embarrassingly unfuunny with a dumb music score. Despite the Canadian setting, there's a real sense this was made for the U.S. market, not us. sc: Jancarlo Markiw, Gabriel Markiw, David Flaherty. dir: Jancarlo & Gabriel Markiw. 104 min.
(2004-2006) * * 1/2...* * * Justin Toto ("Dillon Redsky"), Landon Montour ("Jonathon Bearclaw"), Kristin Friday ("Sarah"), Mathew Strongeagle ("Mathew Merasty"), Michelle Thrush ("Laura Alchenyum"), Andrea Menard ("Const. Amanda Strongeagle"), Gordon Tootoosis ("Joe Redsky"), Tantoo Cardinal ("Betty Merasty"), Joanna Anaquod ("Rita Redsky"), Nathan Strongeagle ("Nathan Redsky"), Sarah Podemski ("Tara" (2nd-), others.....Gritty drama/soap about life in a suburban Regina aboriginal ghetto. Focusing on a teen (Toto), on the verge of moving away to university, and struggling to keep his head (figuratively and literally) when he falls for a prostitute, arousing the ire of her pimp. As well as other sub-plots involving the uncovering of a decade old murder and more.
This TV series could be seen as the stepchild of North of 60 -- a drama with a predominantly Native Indian cast that treats them, not as stoic archetypes, but as real people. But it's a far coarser, grittier view (including cussing and occasional nudity) than North of 60, set within an inner city milieu that owed more to visions of African-American ghettos (right down to the rap music). The other significant thing was that some of the people behind the scenes were also Native Indian, including people better known as actors like Jennifer Podemski (who has a small, recurring part as a city forensics scientist -- a part that became bigger in the later seasons) and Darrel Dennis. Though whether this really lends the series an authenticity is for others to debate (just because you're Native Indian, doesn't mean you necessarily know this milieu) -- most of the characters have stereotypicaal "Indian" names (Redsky, Bearclaw) but few of the actors do! Anyway, the series is definitely rough and unpolished, showing the strains of a low-budget and a cast where many of the actors are inexperienced. But, you know what? Stick with it. Because the actors do bring out the heart and soul of the characters, and the soap opera threads are kind of intriguing, and the frank approach to the subject matter refreshing (not just the bad stuff like Native pimps and drug dealers, but just other, realist things, like depicting a lesbian relationship evolving between cop Menard and social worker Thrush). It threatens to be overwhelmingly bleak...but offers just enough hope and optimism to mitigate the aura of fatalism. And the first season was structured to form a relatively self-contained story arc, making it act almost like a mini-series. Subsequent seasons demonstrated an increase both in technical professionalism and (to some extent) budget. Created by Laura J. Milliken, Jennifer Podemski. Story editor Penny Gummerson. Half hour episodes, shown on both the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network and Showcase.
MODEL BY DAY *
* 1/2 setting: USA.
(1993) (/U.S.) Famke Janssen, Stephen Shellen, Clark Johnson, Von Flores, Traci Lind, Kim Coates, Nigel Bennett, David Hemblen, Sean Young, Shannon Tweed, Tony De Santis.....After a friend is mugged, a fashion model (Janssen) takes to the streets as a costumed kung fu fighting vigilante. O.K. flick has solid performances (and Johnson, finally, gets a change-of-pace role as a wheelchair-bound sensei) but is kind of slow and thin on story. Hurt by Duguay's usual music video-inspired direction which is stylish but largely ineffective. Supposedly a more explicit version of this TV movie was released in Europe. sc: Joseph Loeb III, Matthew Weisman (from the comic book by Kevin J. Taylor). dir: Christian Duguay. 88 mim.
Stylish, off-beat TV series veered all over, from slapstick humour to serious drama, experimenting with look and style, and featured strong characterization of the leads (excellently played by Dunsmore and Margolin, who had great on-screen chemistry). Unfortunately, and maybe because of the dumb title, many critics never quite clued into the fact that this so-called "family" series was more intelligent and adult than supposedly adult ones like E.N.G. and Street Legal, and it died after only a couple of seasons. At its best, reminiscent of Seeing Things. Created by Chris Haddock. 19 half-hour episodes originally on the CBC.
MON AMI MAX *
* 1/2 setting: P.Q.
(1994) (/France) Genevieve Bujold, Marthe Keller, Johanne McKay, Marie Guillard, Rita Lafontaine, Michel Rivard, Veronique Le Flaguais, Patrice Bissonnette, Rosa Zacharie.....Story of a troubed woman, Max (Bujold), who decides to try and find the son she was forced to give up for adoption decades before. Keller plays her best friend. Drama is well-acted but largely lacks quirks or story twists to make it more than a generic depiction of an issue. Conversely, when the film finally does indulge in a melodramatic twist at the climax, it just seems silly, as though tacked on at the last minute. Similar to Les noces de papier (which was by the same people): a professional, but unimaginative story, recommended to fans of Bujold since her starring roles are few and far between these days. sc: Jefferson Lewis, with Guy Fournier. dir: Michel Brault. 106 min.
MON ONCLE ANTOINE
* * * setting: P.Q.
(1971) Jean Duceppe, Jacques Gagnon, Olivette Thibault, Claude Jutra, Lyne Champagne, Helene Loiselle.....Life in a repressed mining town is observed by a young orphan (Gagnon) on Christmas eve in the '40s. Atmospheric, slice-of-life drama is nicely told with touches of humour and compassion. Jutra (acting) is especially good. Won eight Etrogs including Best Picture. English title: My Uncle Antoine. sc: Clement Perron. dir: Claude Jutra. - partial female nudity.- 104 min.
* 1/2 setting: other
(1991) (/France/Italy) Eric Stolz, Bruno Cremer, Christopher Plummer, Maryam D'Abo, Mario Adorf, Anna Kanakis, Bernard Fresson, F. Murray Abraham.....Story of a young, reckless entrepeneur (Stolz) and his globe-hopping schemes to financially ruin those who cheated him of his inheritance. Interesting premise but, despite a voice over to patch holes, it's really choppy -- as though originally much longer. Sometimes the wheeling and dealing is too complex to follow, other times it's silly and simplistic. sc: Gordon Roback, Larry Pederson (from the novel by Paul-Loup Sulitzer). dir: Steven H. Stern. 99 min.
MONICA LA MITRAILLE
* * setting: P.Q.
(2004) Celine Bonnier, Roy Dupuis, Patrick Huard, Frank Schorpion, Isabelle Blais, Remy Girard, Marc Labreche, Mario Jean, Julien Poulin.....Story of a woman (Bonnier) in the 1960s, growing up in a Montreal slum and the various men in her lives, most crooks and bank robbers, and how she eventually becomes a notorious bank robber herself. Energetic, good-looking drama is a bit rambling and may not offer much in the way of a morality tale, with anti-heroes who aren't even of the folk hero/Robin Hood variety, being basically just thieves...but thieves with their own loyalties and codes of honour. But it's held together by strong performances -- nuanced and quirky -- good scenes, unexpected character shadings, a lightness at times that makes this more than a "gritty crime drama", and a palpable sense of period -- all making for fairly compelling viewing. Inspired by a true story. Received the Genie for Best Adapted Screenplay. English title: Machine Gun Molly. sc: Luc Dionne, Sylvain Guy (from the book Souvenas de Monica by Georges-Hebert Germain). dir: Pierre Houle. - sexual content; casual male nudity.- 205 min.
THE MONKEY HOUSE see Kurt Vonnegut's Monkey House
MONSIEUR LAZHAR *
* 1/2 setting: P.Q.
(2011) Fellag, Sophie Nélisse, Émilien Néron, Danielle Proulx, Brigitte Poupart, Louis Champagne, Jules Philip.....After a beloved teacher commits suicide, a new teacher takes over the elementary school class -- an immigrant refugee (Fellag) with his own emotional baggage. Low-key, empathetic drama boasts a sympathetic performance from Algerian actor Fellag and is likeable enough...but fails to justify the hype and accolades. It's both deliberately paced and yet can feel a bit undeveloped, with a thin plot and vague supporting characters, and doesn't invite thinking about too much after the fact, suffering from plausibility issues and suspension of disbelief demands. Yet it's a pretty familiar scenario (of the teacher who inspires his students). As I say: it's likeable enough, and not a bad film...just not a great film, either. Received 6 Genie Awards including Best Picture, Actor (Fellag), Direction, Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actress (Nélisse) and Editing. Nominated for Best Foreign Language Oscar. sc./dir: Philippe Faladreau (based on the play Bashir Lazhar by Evelyn de la Chenelière). 95 min.
"A Month of Sundays", the play by Bob Larbey, became the TV movie Age-Old Friends.
MONTREAL SEXTET see Montreal vu par
MONTREAL VU PAR *
* 1/2 setting: P.Q.
(1992) Sheila McCarthy, Helene Loiselle, Jean Mathieu, Maury Chaykin, Arsinee Khanjian, Domini Blythe, Remy Girard, Raoul Trujillo, Guylaine St. Onge.....Six tales -- "variations on a theme" -- commemorating Montreal's 350th anniversary. Anthology, no doubt inspired by the U.S. film "New York Stories", features segments that are more interesting for their style and technical innovations than as dramas. A bit blah but not bad, though not that varied, and it drags in spots. First and last are the best. English title: Montreal Sextet. sc: Patricia Rozema; Marie-Carole De Beaumont, Jacques Leduc; Helene Le Beau, Michel Brault; Atom Egoyan; Lea Pool; Paule Baillargeon. dir: Patricia Rozema; Jacques Leduc; Michel Brault; Atom Egoyan; Lea Pool; Denys Arcand. - partial female and male nudity, sexual coontent.- 124 min.
* * setting: P.Q./USA.
(1991) Michel Cote, Claire Nebout, Andree Lachapelle, Philip Spensley, Johanne-Marie Tremblay, Stephanie Morgenstern.....Sullen man (Cote) suffering from a mid-life crisis, goes down to his late mother's house in Florida, only to become involved with the enigmatic squatter (Nebout) who's living there. Film is well titled: these characters are moody, but they aren't that interesting and the film quickly starts to drag without enough character revelations or story to keep it going. In French, with some sequences in English. Occasional white subtitles on white backgrounds are a problem. sc./dir: Richard Roy. - partial female and male nudity, sexual content.- 94 min.
MOONLIGHT FLIGHT (1987) Peter Reckell, Elizabeth Mason. sc. Cajun Faune, George Arthur Bloom (from a story by Serita Deborah Stevens). d. Jim Kaufman.....see Shades of Love
Moonwebs, the non-fiction book about religious
cults by Josh Freed, was turned into the movie Ticket
to Heaven -- although names had been changed.
(2007-) * * 1/2 Adam Beach ("George Keeshig"), Nathaniel Arcand ("Clifford Mathew"), Gary Farmer ("Gerry Keeshig"), Michelle Latimer ("Robin Cheechoo"), Jennifer Podemski ("Alice Cheechoo"), Diane Flacks ("Joan Whitney"), Billy Merasty ("Uncle Leonard Sky").....Comedy about the denizens of a small, predominantly Native Indian town, revolving around the local TV station, with Beach as the newly arrived program director full of big ideas, and not always above-board schemes. Arcand plays the more level-headed floor manager; Farmer the corrupt mayor; Latimer the perky station manager; Podemski her loose-living, big city sister; Flacks as the eccentric host of a children's show; and Merasty as Farmer's none-too-bright right-hand-man.
Presumably the world's first Native Indian sitcom, this seems to be part of a comedy renaissance in Canada. Whereas once Canadian sitcoms tended to be pretty dire, more and more actually, kind of, work. Moose TV is rough around the edges, still working out some bugs (Merasty's broad, slapsticky character seems out of place), and the jokes hit and miss, but there's an engaging charm to the cast, and it can get you chuckling unpretentiously. Most of the familiar cast are better known as dramatic actors, but handle the light comedy surprisingly well (save Merasty, again, more a fault of the character than the actor). Though like a lot of modern series -- including comedies -- it threads on going character sub-plots through the episodes (relating to the relationships, or Beach's "mysterious" past) meaning watching the random episode, there will be nuances you'll miss to the interplay. Half-hour episodes shown on Showcase.
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