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.

9B   * *  setting: B.C.
(1986) Robert Wisden, Joanne McIntyre, Ron White, Rachel Crawford..... Idealistic British teacher (Wisden) takes a job in northern B.C. where his class is made up of the most difficult students.  After getting nowhere with the regular course, he persuades them to put on a play.  No real feel for the personalities of the students in this made-for-CBC TV drama and conflicts arise and are resolved before the viewer can get interested.  Well intentioned, but lacks something.  Inspired by a true story.  It later became a (much better) short-lived TV series.  sc: Grahame Woods. dir: James Swan. app. 100 min.

9B (TV Series)

(1988)   * * * 1/2  Robert Wisden, with John Bayliss, Zachary Ansley, Joanna Vannicola, Robyn Stevan, Rachel Crawford, John Bayliss, Graham Greene, others.....Drama focusing on a school teacher (Wisden) in a small, northern B.C. town, and the problems of various students and fellow teachers.  Bayliss played the affable Aussie principle.

Though a regular TV series that was cancelled very quickly, since the individual episodes form a kind of coherent whole thanks to sub-plots, it could be thought of as a mini-series.  Strong, emotionally dramatic drama was better than the vaguely similar Degrassi series, partly because it was aimed at an adult audience, and partly because of the professional actors and the exotic, quasi-arctic locale.  Exceptional performances from all concerned.  This was a follow-up to the TV movie.  Filmed in B.C. (exteriors) and Toronto (interiors).  5 hour long episodes on the CBC. 

-984- PRISONER OF THE FUTURE a.k.a. The Tomorrow Man

19 MONTHS  * *  setting: CDN.
(2003) Benjamin Ratner, Angela Vint, Kari Matchett, Sergio Dizio, Carolyn Taylor, Scott McClaren, Chuck Shamata.....Concluding relationships fizzle after 19th months, a man (Ratner) persuades his girlfriend (Vint) they should amicably split up and seek new partners while they still have the comfort of the other for support, while a documentary crew films the process...but, of course, things don't work out so neatly. Comedy is slickly put together, with nice performances all around, particularly Ratner and Vint. But this isn't a romantic-comedy, but rather an unsentimental satire of neuroses, with Ratner a self-obsessed pseudo-intellectual...and deliberately obnoxious. The result is moderately amusing, but maybe not enough so to compensate for its lack of heart. A borderline call, one that could go either way depending on how easy going a mood you're in. a.k.a. Nineteen Months. sc./dir: Randall Cole. 88 min.
19-2 (TV Series)

(2014-)  * * *  Adrian Holmes ("Nick Barron"), Jared Keeso ("Ben Chartier"), Benz Antoine ("Tyler Joseph"), Mylène Dinh-Robic ("Beatrice Hamelin"), Maxim Roy ("Det. Isabelle Latendresse"), Laurence Leboeuf ("Audrey Pouliot"), Dan Petronijevic ("J.M. Brouillard"), Conrad Pla ("Sgt. Julien Houle"), Bruce Ramsay ("Cmdr. Gendron"), Sarah Allen ("Catherine Lariviere"), Victor Cornfoot ("Jean-Pierre Harvey"), Tyler Hynes ("Vince Legare"), with Zackaryer Abdillahu ("Theo Barron"), Tattiawna Jones ("Amélie de Grandpré"), others.....Drama about beat cops in Montreal, focusing on a gruff veteran (Holmes), still carrying the emotional baggage of his previous partner being crippled. And his so-called "rookie" partner (Keeso), though he has a few years as a small town cop behind him -- a by-the-book cop who even arrested his own father. This series has an unusual pedigree, being an English-language remake of a French-Canadian series (though a bit more multi-racial than the French original). Such transitions had been tried before (notably Sophie and Rumours, with uneven results) and initial reports were it was being developed by the CBC...but when it finally hit the air, it had moved over to Bravo. It's in English, with mainly Anglophone actors (or Francophones who speak unaccented English), but the audience is supposed to imagine the characters as Francophones speaking French. Though an interesting idea for bridging the "Two Solitudes" it essentially means the series has to ignore any question of French-English duality (since how would you convey someone is supposed to be speaking English?) Meaning though explicitly set in Montreal -- it's a Montreal that seems like any generic, unilingual North American big city (and ignores issues of minority language rights or cultural tension).

This TV series is essentially a mix of character soap opera with a "day in the life" drama-procedural, the crimes they investigate often presented as incidents and episodic vignettes as often as they are sustained plots or detective-mysteries threaded through the hour. In a way you could liken it a bit to Rookie Blue, although with a slightly older cast and much, much, darker, with angst riddled protagonists dealing with inner demons, alcoholism, etc. Holmes and Keeso are good and the cast is solid all around. Though stylistically perhaps a bit different than some cop dramas (low-key and slower-paced -- almost deliberately plodding at times to create mood), and with its soap opera/character focus over the crimes/cases, but it isn't necessarily finding anything that new to say in terms of plots, themes, dilemmas or ideological perspective compared to other cop dramas. The first couple of episodes were struggling to find a voice, and steeped in lame cliches (the new guy pressured by a sinister superior to "spy" on his partner), but is definitely worth sticking with as it gets better and the series grows on you, as you become involved in the characters. Hour long episodes on Bravo (Canada). - violence; sexual content; brief male nudity.-  

1995 QUEBEC - CANADA setting: Ont.
(1983) Kenneth Welsh, Martha Henry, John Neville, Jackie Burroughs, Albert Millaire, Louise Marleau.....In the future, Canada and an independent Quebec are on the verge of war so the Secretary General of the U.N. (Neville) brings the P.M. (Welsh) and the Quebec president (Millaire) together, along with their wives, to try and solve their problems peacefully.  Low-budget made-for-TV allegory raises some good points, but is simplistic, wordy, heavy-handed and not very interesting.  Laudable intentions, but a boring movie.  Sometimes billed as a comedy!  a.k.a: Quebec - Canada 1995.  sc: Richard Nielsen. dir: John McGreevy. 84 min.

90 DAYS   * * 1/2  setting: P.Q.
(1984) Stefan Wodoslawsky, Christine Pak, Sam Grana, Fernanda Tavares..... One man (Wodoslawsky) trys to get to know his mail-order bride (Pak) while his best friend (Grana) is thrown out by his girl friend and considers being a sperm donor.  Low budget, very low-key comedy that works thanks to superb performances though not a lot happens.  Follow up to The Masculine Mystique.  Sequel: The Last Straw.  sc: Giles Walker, David Wilson. dir: Giles Walker. 99 min. (video)

NO  * * *  setting: P.Q./other
(1999) Anne-Marie Cadieux, Marie Gignac, Richard Frechette, Alexis Martin, Eric Bernier, Marie Brassard, Patrice Godin, Jules Philip, Jean Charest, Tony Conte, Normand Bissonnette.....In 1970, a French-Canadian actress (Cadieux), in Japan as part of the Canadian pavilion at Expo '70, grapples with the realization that she's pregnant, while back home, her separatist boy friend (Martin) gets caught up in the events of the October Crisis. Comedy-drama is a mixture of many elements: an ensemble following a diverse group of interwoven characters, a political drama-satire, and, surprisingly, a silly farce (but told with restraint). Good looking, amusing and atmospheric, nicely evoking its period in costumes and feel. The disparate elements work better than might be expected. Not for all tastes, but arguably Art House director Lepage's most mainstream, most accessible film to date. The title, NÕ, refers to a traditional kind of Japanese theatre -- though its significance is unclear (othher than the play on the English word). In French. sc: Robert Lepage, Andre Morency, with the cast (from the play "The Words" based on "The Seven Streams of the River Ota"). dir: Robert Lepage. - male nudity.- 84 min. (video)

NO ALIBI  * *  setting: USA.
(1999) Dean Cain, Lexa Doig, Eric Roberts, Peter Stebbings, Richard Chevolleau.....New York executive (import Cain) falls for an enigmatic woman (Doig) while his hustler brother (Strebbings) inadvertently steals goods from a mysterious thug (import Roberts). Suspenser wants to be one of those films that takes its time, so you're not quite sure how the different plot threads relate (including half-hearted stabs at being an erotic thriller, but no one seems much enthused about it). But it ends up more meandering, rarely actually surprising with its twists (including such cliches as the rumbled private eye who gets killed after making the fateful phone call. Y'know, the "I can't talk now but I have important info so meet me later - uurk!" sort of call). Never quite establishes any character's P.O.V., so you never quite get inside anyone's head. The performances are respectable enough and, despite the cliches, if the writers and director had put a touch more effort into it, the basic ideas might've worked better. sc: Ivan Kane, John Schafer. dir: Bruce Pittman. - partial female nudity, sexual content, violence.- 93 min. (video)

(1992) Domenic Cuzzocrea, Susan Hamann, Lynn Blackadar, Paul Amato, Chuck Wood, Les Makita (a.k.a. Lubomir Mykytiuk), Lynette Louise.....Womanizing public relations executive (Cuzzocrea) finds the tables turned when he falls for an enigmatic woman (Hamann) and his life is throw into chaos, complicated by the fact his company's latest client has connections to a mobster (Mykytiuk, billed as Les Makita) who is the woman's ex-lover. Low-budget, light drama suffers from uneven though O.K. performances, but mainly because it can't quite settle on what it wants to be. It's amusing...but not a comedy. It's serious, but not quite a drama. It has elements of suspense -- as it becomes clear the woman has a hiddden agenda -- but one can't quite call it suspenseful. It has some sex and nudity, but not enough to qualify as out-and-out erotica. The writer-director appears as the bumbling guy shadowing the hero. sc./dir: Frank A. Caruso. - partial female nudity, brief male nudity, sexual content.- 100 min.

NO APOLOGIES   * *  setting: Nfld.
(1990) Barrie Dunn, Bryan Hennessey, Maisie Rillie, Tony Quinn, Ken Mercer, Mary Lewis, Frances Knickle, Frankie O'Flaherty, Rick Mercer.....A troubled extended family gathers when their father is dying and must deal with personal problems and reflections on the Newfoundland economy.  So-so drama lets its (vague) politics get in the way of character and story.  Technically clumsy, but O.K. performances.  sc./dir: Ken Pittman. 90 min.

NO BLAME   * *  setting: CDN.
(1988) (/France) Helen Shaver, Stephen Macht, Marie Christine Barrault, Robert Bednarsk, Linda Smith, Joanne Vannicola, Jan Rubes.....Successful fashion editor (Shaver), married (to imported Macht) and pregnant, discovers that she may test positive for the AIDS virus.  Well-intentioned but rather toothless, paint-by-numbers made-for-TV drama.  It sort of deals with the issues...and it sort of doesn't.  sc: Donald Martin, Daniele J. Suissa. dir: Daniele J. Suissa. 90 min.

NO CLUE  * *  setting: B.C.
(2014) Brent Butt, Amy Smart, David Koechner, David Cubitt, Dustin Milligan, Kirsten Prout, Dan Payne, Garwin Sanford.....A hapless salesman (Butt), mistaken for a private eye by a beautiful damsel-in-distress (American actress Smart), engages in a search for her video game-designer brother who's gone missing. Stand up comic Butt's first feature film vehicle (after the success of the sitcom, Corner Gas) takes his mix of everyman befuddlement and wisecracking asides and applies it to the private eye genre. It's a humorous detective-mystery more than a parody, in that the plot is supposed to make sense and the clues really do lead somewhere -- but to mixed effect. The problem is that it never really becomes that suspenseful or involving -- while the comedy is mainly Butt wandering through the scenes uttering quirky asides. There are laughs and Butt's funny -- but not necessarily enough so to prop up 90 minutes (or a strong enough actor -- in Corner Gas he played in an ensemble). A lot of the other actors (like Smart) are left in limbo -- not expected to be funny, but not meant to be serious, they're deserted both by the script and by the director (most of the funny supporting turns are from bit players). A middling budget and flat direction don't help. It is funny in spots, and the mystery more-or-less holds together, but feels like an amiable sitcom bloated into a feature film. sc: Brent Butt. dir: Carl Bessai. 92 min.

NO CONTEST   * 1/2
(1995) Shannon Tweed, Robert Davi, Andrew Clay, Roddy Piper, Nicholas Campbell, John Colicos, James Purcell, Judith Scott, Keram Malicki-Sanchez, Polly Shannon.....Terrorists (led by Clay) take a group of beauty pagent contestants hostage, unaware the host of the show (Tweed, obviously hoping to break away from her sex-symbol roles) happens to be a kick-boxing action movie star.  How can you tell the difference between a real action/adventure movie and something like this?  The filmmakers seem more interested in violence and sadism for its own sake, rather than as part of a story.  Add on poor direction, scripting, and ineffective villains and you have a limp little thriller.  Nevertheless, it was followed by a sequel.  But if you really want to see a Canadian-made "Die Hard" rip-off, check out Gridlock or even Crackerjack instead.  sc: Robert Cooper (from a concept by Arthur Baysting). dir: Paul Lynch. - extreme violence.- 99 min. (video)

No Limit, a book by Gary Ross, served as the inspiration for the movie Owning Mahowny.

NO MORE MONKEYS JUMPIN' ON THE BED  * * 1/2  setting: B.C.
(2000) Tom Scholte, Nancy Sivak, Frida Betrani, Babz Chula, Cam Cronin, Sophie Yendole, Erik Whittaker.....Story of various friends and acquaintances and their dysfunctional relationships, focusing on a nice guy (Scholte) who has trouble with women, and his best friend, a woman (Sivak) whose relationship may be on the rocks. Low-budget serio-comic flick (filmed in black and white on video) covers Bruce Sweeney territory, including utilizing some of the same actors. But though maybe not as polished, it's more human, treating its characters with more compassion. The tendency to use a lot of medium and long shots can make it hard to keep track of who's who, though, and it builds to a predictably non-ending. Prominently billed Chula has just one scene as a character's mother. sc./dir: Ross Weber. 76 min.


(1991)   * * *  Patricia Gage ("Elizabeth"), Jennifer Dale ("Kitty"), with Patricia Phillips, Thomas Cavanagh, Gigi de Leon, others.....Drama about an out-of-work soap star (Dale) who comes to live with her sister (Gage) and, to make ends meet, they take in borders.

Low-key but likeable TV series was part drama, with self-contained episodic stories, and part soap, with on going sub-plots.  Stylishly directed with a good cast it, unfortunately, didn't last long.  An independently produced show, it was financed by a host of local stations, perhaps explaining why it continues to be rerun in odd timeslots despite having only a handful of episodes.  Denny Doherty was a memorable guest star in one episode.  Created by Thomas E. Stewart.  6 half-hour episodes. 

NOBODY WAVED GOODBYE   * * * *  setting: Ont.
(1964) Peter Kastner, Julie Biggs, Claude Rae, Charmion King, John Vernon, John Sullivan.....Young man (Kastner), who fancies himself an intellectual and a rebel, rejects his parents' middle-class lifestyle and wants to find a better life with his girl friend (Biggs).  This classic of Canadian cinema remains a kinetic, vividly unpolished, true-to-life drama (much of the dialogue was improvised) capturing both the good and the bad of youthful idealism.  The two leads are especially good.  Followed (20 years later) by Unfinished Business.  sc./dir: Don Owen. 80 min. (video)

LES NOCES DE PAPIER   * * 1/2  setting: P.Q.
(1989) Genevieve Bujold, Manuel Aranguiz, Dorothee Berryman, Gilbert Sicotte, Jean Mathieu, Theo Spychalski, Monique LePage, Jorge Fajardo..... Melancholy professor (Bujold) reluctantly agrees to a "paper wedding" with a refugee (Aranguiz) so he can stay in Canada and, while trying to fool the authorities, they grow to like each other.  Moody, character-oriented drama is slow and overly pretentious, but lingers long after it's over.  Strong performances all around and buoyed by funny bits.  Bujold's first real starring role in ages, though, which alone makes it worthwhile.  It came out around the same time as the similarly-themed U.S. comedy, "Green Card".  Plays better on TV (for which it was originally intended).  English title: Paper Wedding.  sc: Jefferson Lewis (dialogue Lewis, Andree Pelletier, Helene LeBeau, Alberto Kurapel). dir: Michel Brault. 95 min. (video)

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