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.
 
THE RELIC HUNTER (TV Series)

(1999-2002) (/France/U.S.A.)  * *  Tia Carrere ("Sydney Fox"), Christen Anholt ("Nigil Bailey"), Lindy Booth ("Claudia") (-2nd), Tanja Reichert ("Karen") (3rd).....Light-hearted adventure about a two-fisted American professor of archaeology (American actress Carrere) who travels around the world to exotic locations (but since this is a Canada-France co-production, "exotic" usually means somewhere in the United States) tracking down lost artifacts from Buddha's rice bowl to more contemporary (and prosaic) things like Elvis' guitar, or John Dillinger's gun, usually encountering no-goodniks along the way. British actor Anholt plays her affable, but inexperienced assistant. Booth played her flaky secretary, followed by Reichart as a slightly less flaky (though even more curvaceous) secretary. Naturally, since this is a Canada-France co-production, none of the regular characters are supposed to be Canadian (or French for that matter) though Booth and Reichert are Canadian actors.

After the success of "Raiders of the Lost Ark", TV tried imitations like "Tales of the Gold Monkey" and "Bring 'em Back Alive"...series that failed, in part, because TV budgets couldn't procure the necessary sets and stunts to do a globe-hopping adventure. It's twenty years later, with computer graphics and new technologies available, and -- guess what? -- they still can't get it right! It's harrd to evaluate this series, though, because it's hard to figure out even what it wants to be. Initially it does seem like a poor man's "Raiders of the Lost Ark", mired in dull, slow-moving plots (usually with a bar fight thrown in) and "exotic" locales that tend to be various urban centres, lacking the mythic sense of wonder, the romanticism (and budget) needed. But after further viewings, it's possible that it's trying to be just slightly rambunctious comedies with a nod toward Nancy Drew, and relying on the wit and chemistry of the leads to pass the hour. Unfortunately, the plots are still often dull and slow-moving and the humour rarely actually chuckle-inducing. It seemed to improve slightly in the second season, with plots a bit better paced out as well as greater emphasis on the fantastic (voodoo mysticism, etc.). But it remains a tad...dull, though throws in some cheesecake/beefcake with Carrere sometimes in a bra and Anholt shirtless.

American actress Carrere is a competent, somewhat bland actress. Yet, according to the series' makers, the show was conceived solely as a vehicle for her! If they felt she was the best actress for the part, fine, whatever, but who develops an entire series around someone probably best known for M&M commercials? Her character remains largely undefined, not really given any quirks (or vulnerabilities) that would make her interesting. Anholt does slightly better, with a better realized character, but suffers because he serves no useful function (in a "buddy" series, each character should have a skill or expertise that complements the other). And the actors/characters don't really demonstrate any rapport. Still, if you groove to the characters, the series might be moderately fun, but otherwise...not. Shortly after it was cancelled, another series came along utilizing a similar premise, Adventure, Inc. Three seasons of hour long episodes in syndication.

RELUCTANT ANGEL  * *  setting: Ont.
(1997) Megan Follows, Jaimz Woolvett, James Gallanders, Martin Villafana, Anne Marie Loder, Victor Ertmanis.....A small time thief and wanna-be artist (Follows) takes up with a suicidal drunk (Woolvett) who kind of thinks she might be an angel...to the displeasure of her thrill-criminal ex-boyfriend (Gallanders). Serio-comic flick seems like something from out of Hollywood back in the early '70s...but misses by a narrow margin. The story lags and the grittiness and the fringe dwelling characters are more uncomfortable than quirky or ingratiating. Follows remains obnoxious, Woolvett weird, and Gallanders a demented psychopath. Though there's a cute twist involving Villafana (as a homeless guy). sc: Denise O'Rourke. dir: John Helliker. 100 min.
 
REMEDY (TV Series)

(2014-2015)   * * * 1/2   Enrico Colantoni ("Dr. Allen Connor"), Sarah Allen ("Sandy Conner"), Sara Canning ("Dr. Mel Conner"), Dillon Casey ("Griffin Conner"), Matt Ward ("Dr. Brian Decker") (1st), Genelle Williams ("Zoe Rivera"), Niall Matter ("Dr. Peter Cutler"), Diego Fuentes ("Bruno Dias"), with Patrick McKenna, Salvatore Antonio, Catherine Disher, Stephanie Belding, Brendan Gall, others.....Drama set at a big city hospital, Bethune General -- that manages to be a familiar medical drama, mixing character soap opera with medical crises and dilemmas of the week, while also offering some novel spins on the traditions. For one, at the heart of the hospital is a family, adding personal history to the professional relationships. The other is an unusual (for a medical drama) "Upstairs/Downstairs" approach, with the main cast ranging from the chief of medicine to nurses to orderlies to cleaning staff -- each character as important in the ensemble as the others. Colantoni plays the chief of medicine, and the patriarch of the family clan. Canning one of his daughters, a hot shot surgeon; Allen the other daughter, a nurse; and Casey the black sheep son who dropped out of medical school (after a drug addiction) and now finds himself reluctantly back in the fold, working as an orderly. Ward plays a doctor (with a problematic bed side manner) and also "Sandy"'s fiancee. Williams a willful cleaning woman (and a possible romantic interest for "Griffin"); and Fuentes an immigrant orderly -- who was a doctor in his old country. McKenna plays the head of the menial services; Antonio the hospital's legal eagle, etc. Matter was added in the second season as a hot shot doctor and romantic interest for "Mel" (forming a romantic triangle with Gall's character).

The second "big" medical drama on Canadian network TV for its era (after Saving Hope, not to mention the less high-profile Hard Rock Medical), yet it didn't score an American network window (unlike Saving Hope -- though Saving Hope was dropped in its first season in America). Which is too bad because Remedy hit the ground running and is the better series -- and offers the more unusual twist on the medical drama (Saving Hope's "I can see ghosts" concept notwithstanding). Remedy smoothly manages to blend a tightly-paced, traditional hospital drama with its slightly unique perspective and character focus. A mix of comedy and pathos with strong performances across the board combine with compelling, sympathetic (but flawed) characters means even as episodes cut between different sub-plots, each holds your attention equally (and even when the characters are at odds with each other, you can understand their different POVs). By focusing also on the hospital "underclass" it can still play up the heroic miracles performed by the doctors and the last Act surprise diagnoses while, at the same time, pricking the traditional glorification of them, by seeing it from the point of view of characters often marginalized or ignored by the medical staff. And unlike Saving Hope, Remedy isn't desperate to conceal its Canadian identity (even calling the fictional hospital Bethune General is a decidedly Canadian nod). Funnily enough, Remedy was created and produced by some of the same people behind the crime-drama King -- which was arguably similar: on the surface a standard genre (in that case, a cop-drama) but made interesting and unexpected by its characters and how they shook up the traditional plots. Created by Greg Spottiswood. Two seasons of hour long episodes on CanWest-Global.

REMEMBERING MEL  * *  setting: P.Q.
(1986) Robert Kolomeir, Arthur Holden, Jim Connolly, Guy Laprade, Natalie Timoschuck.....Story of a group of filmmakers doing a documentary about a total loser, Mel (Kolomeir), and how by trying to film his life, they change it. Good premise in this low-budget comedy and sometimes very funny, but the weak performances hurt it. sc: Doug Harris, Larry Raskin (story Harris, Raskin, Andrew Levine). dir: Doug Harris. - sexual content, brief female nudity.- 78 min.

THE RENDERING  * * 1/2  setting: USA.
(2001) (/U.S.) Shannen Doherty, Peter Outerbridge, Stephen Young, John H. Brennan, Conrad Pla, Tammy Isbell, Sean Devine.....Ten years after she was attacked, and her assailant incarcerated, an American woman (Doherty), moonlighting as a police sketch artist, discovers someone is framing her husband (Brennan) for a series of assaults and murders. Suspense-drama isn't great by any stretch, or even especially good, but it is a watchable enough time killer on whatever level, as a suspense film, or just to watch American actress Doherty in clingy shirts. Though it's not clear if the viewer is actually supposed to be surprised by who the bad guy is. a.k.a. Portrait for Murder. sc: David Amann. dir: Peter Svatek. - violence.- 92 min.

RENE LEVESQUE  * * 1/2  setting: P.Q.
(2006) Emmanuel Bilodeau, Pascale Bussieres, Dan Bigras, Gilles Renaud, Evelyne Rompre, Frank Schorpion, Lucie Laurier, Roger Leger, Roc Lafortune, Pierre Gendron.....Story of the middle years of Rene Levesque (Bilodeau), from the late 1950s to 1970, detailing his times as a popular TV reporter, to joining the Quebec Liberal party and battling the corruption of the ruling Union Nationale, forming a government, and to his increasing nationalism/separtiste beliefs. Filmed simultaneously in French and English, this is a good looking, well acted production, with a nicely evocative performance from Bilodeau (despite little overt physical resemblance) -- and, though clearly a paean to the man, it's also a warts and all portrait, including detailing Levesque was a serial cheater and, essentially, a bigamist (fathering a child with a mistress). But the series is over long, with aspects that just seem repetitive. Perhaps worse, at least for an English-Canada/federalist audience, the movie fails to really explain or justify Levesque's belief in Quebec sovereignty -- most of his depicted battles are with corruption within Quebec. It's not that the show should convince its audience of the value of separatism...but it needed to better convince us why Levesque believed in it. The result is that Levesque, despite his insistence on minority and (English)-language rights, can come across as precisely what he claimed he wasn't...a xenophobe who just didn't like Canadians. Likewise, his romantic entanglements also seems unjustified, emotionally. The result is not uninteresting, and serves as an intriguing companion piece to Trudeau II: Maverick in the Making, as it covers the same time period, and even scenes (Gendron, Lafortune and Leger play Pierre Trudeau, Gerard Pelletier and Jean Marchand)...but remains a tad superficial and overlong. For a non-Quebec audience some of the real life figures could be explained better, such as Bigras as star wrestler Johnny Rougeau, or Yves Jacques in a recurring bit part, with a weird cackle and sometimes in old man make-up, as Doris Lussier, a then-popular actor/comedian. Levesque's life was earlier chronicled in a 1996 French-language mini-series. 6 hours. sc: Genevieve Lefebvre (from the biographies by Pierre Godin). dir: Giles Walker. - sexual content.-

RENO AND THE DOC  * *  setting: Alt.
(1984) Kenneth Welsh, Henry Ramer, Linda Griffiths, Charles Dennis, Damian Lee.....Hustler (Ramer) discovers he has a psychic connection with a naive, middle-aged, mountain man (Welsh), who happens to be a skier of championship potential. Odd comedy is uneven but has some likeable performances. sc./dir: Charles Dennis (story by Damian Lee). - sexual content, casual male nudity.- 88 min.
 
RENT-A-GOALIE (TV Series)

(2006-2008)  * *   Christopher Bolton ("Cake"), Inga Cadranel ("Francesca'), Joe Pingue ("Joey Almost"),Carlos Diaz ("Looch"), Jeremy Wright ("Short Bus"), Mayko Nguyen ("Goth Girl"), Louis Di Bianco ("Johnny"), Matt Gordon ("Doc"), Pascal Petardi ("Sh*t Pants"), Philip Riccio ("Puker"), Maria Vacratsis, with Gabriel Hogan ("Lance"), Oliver Becker ("O'Malley"), others....Comedy about a guy (Bolton) with an enigmatic past who, kind of, looks out for his friends, and works at a coffee shop in Toronto's Little Italy and also runs a sideline business providing last minute, pinch hit hockey players for minor league teams. His nickname -- "Cake" -- is derived from "mangia cake", Italian-Canadian slang for a non-Italian. 

Made for the "edgy" Showcase cable station, this comedy is thick with profanity, vulgarity and (appropriately considering the premise) locker room humour and could kind of be likened to Trailer Park Boys meets King of Kensington...with a bit of "Cheers" thrown in. Bolton and the actors are good (Cadranel exudes a palpable sensuality), but it's such a large cast, many are often under-utilized in undeveloped parts. There is a cosy appeal to the coffee shop where "everybody knows your name" (to borrow a catch phrase from "Cheers") and it does an okay job immersing itself in an Italian-Canadian ambience without getting too buried in over-the-top stereotypes (unlike Ciao Bella). But it is a comedy...and it's more sporadically cute than actually funny, and with plots that, though trying to be wacky things where oddball schemes snowball out of control, can often just kind of careen about drunkenly, where even the climaxes can seem anti-climactic. And though the R-rated material is clearly what the series is selling (and what Showcase is buying) it kind of wears after a while, as one begins to feel story isn't always dictating the profanity and vulgarity, as the need for profanity and vulgarity is dictating the stories. If you took out every four letter word...the episodes would probably run ten minutes shorter. Sill, it has its moments and some potential if the rough edges can be smoothed over. Some real life hockey legends make cameos in various episodes. This joins the loooonnng list of recent Canadian comedies where it's created by its actor-star...in this case, former teen actor Bolton. Half-hour episodes on Showcase. - casual male nudity.- 

LA REPETITION  * *  setting: other
(2001) (/France) Emmanuelle Beart, Pascale Bussieres, Dani Levy, Jean- Pierre Kalfon, Sami Bouajila, Marilu Marini, Clement Hervieu-Leger.....Two estranged friends reunite, one now a rising actress (Beart) and the other (Bussieres) secretly obsessed with her. Drama is decently acted, and the two stars are certainly nice to look at (particularly French actress Beart), but given that, of the two lead characters, one is borderline psychotic, the other neurotic, it's hard to get involved, particularly as the film is presented in an aloof sort of way. Can sort of maintain a certain level of interest once you get into it, but even then kind of peters out by the end. The point may be that the characters are kind of locked in a cycle (hence the title) where they miss each other when apart, but bring out the worst in each other when together...or something like that. Some white sub-titles on white backgrounds lose some dialogue. a.k.a. Replay. sc: Catherine Corsini, Marc Syrigas, with Pascale Breton, Pierre-Erwan Guillaume. dir: Catherine Corsini. - partial female nudity, sexual content, male nudity.- 92 min.

REPLAY  see La Repetition

REPLIKATOR  * setting: USA.
(1994) Michael St. Gerard, Brigitte Bako, Ned Beatty, Lisa Howard, Peter Outerbridge, Ron Lea, David Hemblen, La Cicciolina.....In a cyberpunkish future, a man (St. Gerard) finds his replication device causing trouble when it creates an evil twin of himself and bad guys want the technology. Low-budget and pretty bad thriller seems to want to be intelligent but is mainly dumb and often incoherent -- perhaps a product of so many writers. And despite the recognizable cast (even imported St. Gerard played Elvis in a U.S. series) no one can exactly brag about their performance here, though Beatty does O.K. Italian porn star/politician (really!), La Cicciolina (a.k.a. Ilona Staller), plays a stripper. sc: Tony Johnston, John Dawson, Michelle Bellerose (six or seven additional writers are listed at the end). dir: G. Philip Jackson. - female nudity, extreme violence.- 97 min.
 
THE REPUBLIC OF DOYLE (TV Series)

(2010-)   * *  Allan Hawco ("Jake Doyle"), Sean McGinley ("Malachy Doyle"), Lynda Boyd ("Rose Miller") Rachel Wilson ("Dr. Nikki Renholds"), Krystin Pellerin ("Sgt. Leslie Bennett"), Marthe Bernard ("Tinny Doyle"), Mark O'Brien ("Des").....Light-hearted private eye series about a father-son detective duo in St. John's, Newfoundland -- Hawco playing the rough and tumble younger Doyle and Irish actor McGinley the older, more laid-back ex-cop senior Doyle. Boyd plays Sr.' girlfriend, who also managed the business affairs, and Bernard his young, rebellious grand daughter (and "Jake"'s niece). Wilson plays "Jake"'s ex-wife, though they still had a thing for each other, and Pellerin a local cop who had a love/hate relationship with him. O'Brien plays a delinquint who got roped in to being their assistant.

TV series was hyped as an unapologetic throwback to the old school private eye series of the 1970s, ala "The Rockford Files", the makers betting on there being an audience for what could be seen as old fashioned (albeit, done with a modern penchant for soap opera-y threads and on going sub-plots) -- even his car looks like it belongs in the '70s. And it proved a good bet, as the series enjoying solid ratings from the get-go. And if it fell short in audience numbers compared to Flashpoint and Rookie Blue (both with U.S. money and publicity behind them) it didn't fall too far behind, proving a Canadian crime-action series could go it alone and still hold its own. Perhaps equally interesting, although Atlantic Canada series and performers had long appeared on the CBC (not so much the private networks) those were always comedies, while this, though comedic, is equally an action-drama with car chases and fist fights, and makes no apologies for its Newfoundland setting or accents -- indeed that gives it a refreshing sense of place and identity compared to most TV crime-dramas (including using a song by Newfoundland band, Great Big Sea, for the theme). Unfortunately...as much as all that is good, and the milieu a definite plus, the actual results are more mixed. The actors and the characters they are playing are okay, without either quite strong enough to boost the other -- or even that likeable. And yet the series counts on our interest in the characters, as the soap opera-y and comic sub-plots often seem more significant than the mysteries. Boyd comes across best. The heroes are low rent private eyes, so basically their circle of acquaintances tend to be low lifes and fringe dwellers...making for a colourful milieu, but also a kind of unsavory one. And though the filmmakers are clearly fans of the old time detective series, the stories are marred by implausibility and logic gaps, or the heroes just wandering back and forth from scene to scene, often with little sense the case is progressing -- and with directing/technical problems (like scenes where characters are having confidential conversations...well within earth shot of other characters, yet supposedly aren't overheard!). It's almost as if, because it's a comedy-drama, the filmmakers don't really feel they have to worry about sense -- yet without it being funny enough to just score as a slapstick farce. Some of these are minor problems by themselves, but they tend to pile up -- making for just enough flaws in story and characterization to make it a poor man's version of the classic TV series it's emulating. Though where the series was fun was, as a part of its Newfoundland soul, its tendency to woo back the East Coast acting diaspora for guest starring roles (in addition to using the general Canadian talent pool), from Gordon Pinsent to Shannon Tweed, with the likes of Shawn Doyle (in a couple of appearances) clearly revelling in a chance to adopt a thick-as-molasses Newfoundland brogue for his role. Though the series' biggest casting coup had nothing to do with Newfoundland -- landing Australian movie star Russell Crowe to guest star in the third season premiere, Crowe not usually one to do TV guest stints in any country (apparently he and Hawco share a circle of friends). So, though personally I find the series problematic, even sloppily put together, it's applaudable as a Canadian -- and a Newfoundland -- success! Hawco co-created, joining the long list of Canadian series created by actors as vehicles for themselves...and where they cast themselves as super studs! Created by Perry Chafe, Allan Hawco, Malcolm MacRury. Hour long episodes on the CBC.

THE REPUBLIC OF LOVE* *  setting: Ont.
(2003) (/U.K.) Bruce Greenwood, Emilia Fox, Edward Fox, Martha Henry, Jan Rubes, Gary Farmer, Lloyd Owen, Jackie Burroughs, Claire Bloom, Juan Chioran.....A thrice-married, thrice-divorced, unlucky at love late night DJ (Greenwood) and a woman (Fox) who has trouble with commitments live in the same apartment building unaware of each other, and when they meet...it's literally love at first sight; but complications eventually occur. Romantic comedy-drama is sweet tempered, visually stunning and stylish, with appealing performances from the two leads (age discrepancy aside) and a great supporting cast...most of whom are wasted in nothing parts (including the likes of Rebecca Jenkins and Suleka Mathew in thankless roles as supporting characters' spouses). There's even an appealingly unapologetic ethnic pluralism, and a haunting Indian music score. It wants almost to have an aspect of a dreamlike fairy tale -- but the result is plausibility is frequently tenuous, as the characters say and do things to demonstrate a theme or plot point, rather than because it really seems real (particularly toward the end). Too often ideas or scenes are thrown in...that are never developed into anything (including that Greenwood was raised by a home ec. class, or the whole six degrees of separation notion that the two leads live in the same building and travel in the same circle of friends, but hadn't met before). And the very beauty of the imagery can swamp the narrative. It's as if the movie is torn between being a mainstream, sprightly romance...and a ponderous art film, and the conflicting impulses threaten to cancel each other out. There's so much to like about this film...but the whole is less than the sum. The two Foxes are daughter and father in real life, too. sc: Deepa Mehta, Esta Spalding (from the novel by Carol Shields). dir: Deepa Mehta. - sexual content.- 96 min.

REQUIEM FOR A HANDSOME BASTARD see Requiem pour un beau sans-coeur

REQUIEM FOR MURDER
(1998) Molly Ringwald, Christopher Heyerdahl, see Tales of Intrigue

REQUIEM POUR UN BEAU SANS-COEUR  * * 1/2  setting: P.Q.
(1992) Gildor Roy, Jean-Guy Bouchard, Brigitte Paquette, Sabrina Boudot, Klimbo, Stephane Cote, France Arbour, Louis-Georges Girard.....Story of an out-of-control escaped convict (Roy) -- told from point of view of those around him -- and of the one person who betrays him. Interesting premise and technique in this suspense-drama, but the movie doesn't start working until half-an-hour into it, when we start following those with him. Gritty and, at times, unpleasant. English title: Requiem For a Handsome Bastard. sc./dir: Robert Morin. - violence, sexual content.- 93 min.

RESIDENT EVIL: Apocalypse* * 1/2  setting: USA.
(2004) (/U.K./France/Germany/Germany) Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory, Oded Fehr, Thomas Kretschmann, Sandrine Holt, Jared Harris, Sophie Vavasseur, Mike Epps, Raz Adoti, Zack Ward.....When a sinister corporation's bio-weapons project goes awry, the entire city is infected with a zombie virus that turns the dead into the living dead. A group of (heavily armed) survivors -- most cops or survivors of a tactical squad unit -- must band together to survive, while the corporation engages in a few additional experiments. Sequel to the first Resident Evil (both based on a video game) with Jovovich reprising her role. Action-horror flick, yet another entry in the "living dead" sub-genre, is actually better than the first Resident Evil and though, very violent, surprisingly, not quite as gory. It's better than you might expect, briskly paced and with generally decent performances, a slick, expensive look, and basic concepts that are O.K. But because it wants to be an "action" movie, we're rushed through it all, allowing little time for genuine suspense, or to really become interested in the characters, and with the action scenes presented in a choppy, quickly edited way that makes them hard to follow -- and there are a lot of action scenes. An "official" Canadian co- production, but of the main cast, only Holt is Canadian (quite good as the reporter)...and she doesn't last the whole show! Filmed in Toronto (though pretending it's a fictional American city), with Toronto's city hall serving as the climactic set. Ironically, it's a movie about a viral outbreak that was shot during Toronto's SARS crisis! sc: Paul W.S. Anderson. dir: Alexander Witt. - extreme violence; brief female nudity.- 93 min.

RETURN ENGAGEMENT  * 1/2  setting: P.Q.
(1992) (/France) Roland Giraud, Marcel Leboeuf, Rufus, Olivia Brunaux, Therese Liotard, Danielle Schneider, Marcel Sabourin.....After death, a business man (Giraud) is offered another chance at life if he can prevent the suicide of a surly, depressed man (Leboeuf). Good premise in this drama, but blah and flatly presented with the humour inparticular awkwardly done. Nice performance from Giraud. This should be listed under its French title, but I don't know what that is. sc: Pierre Aknine, Didier Kaminka, Serge Lascar. dir: Pierre Aknine. 88 min.

THE RETURN OF HICKEY * *  setting: USA.
(1987) (/U.S.) Zach Galligan, Nicholas Rowe, Edward Herrmann, Tony Van Bridge, Stephen Baldwin, Hans Engel, Josh Hamilton, Keith Knight, David Foley, Albert Schultz, Robert Joy.....Hicks (Galligan) returns to school and discovers a rival for his mantle of king of the pranksters. Sequel to The Prodigious William Hicks follows the same formula -- therefore, pleasing to those who liked the first, and not-so-much to those who didn't. If only the characters weren't so bloody obnoxious... Co-produced by American PBS. Followed by Hickey and Co.. sc: Jan Jaffe Kahn (from the Lawrenceville stories by Owen Johnson). dir: Allan A. Goldstein. 90 min.

RETURN TO SENDER  see Le colis

RETURN TO THE LOST WORLD  * * 1/2  setting: other
(1993) (/U.K.) John Rhys-Davies, David Warner, Eric McCormack, Nathania Stanford, Tamara Gorski, Darren Peter Mercer, Fidelis Cheza, Geza Kovacs.....When the lost world is threatened by both a ruthless industrialist and a volcano, our heroes reunite to rescue it. Sequel to The Lost World (and filmed simultaneously) is faster paced, but a bit clunky, particularly in the beginning. Still, the dialogue, though uneven, can be quite witty and there are some strong, engaging performances from the principals. Though some violence and brief nudity seems a tad out of keeping with the tone of the original (though gorgeous Stanford skinny-dipping is hardly unpleasant). Hokey fun if you're in the right mood. sc: Peter Welbeck. dir: Timothy Bond. - violence, brief female nudity.- 93 min.

THE RETURNED  * * 1/2  
(2013) (/Spain) Emily Hampshire, Kris Holden-Ried, Shawn Doyle, Claudia Bassols, Barry Flatman, Melina Matthews, Paulino Nunes, Olunike Adeliyi, Megan Fahlenbock, David Tompa.....In a world where a "zombie plague" has ended, and the infected can control their condition with daily drugs -- although still weathering suspicion and prejudice -- a doctor who treats them (Hampshire) and her lover (Holden-Ried), who is a "returned", are faced with difficult choices when government stocks of the drug start to run low. Living Dead/zombie stories have become so ubiquitous that even variations on post-zombie stories have been done, such as the British mini-series, "In the Flesh," and the Canadian black comedy, Fido. This is a brooding drama-cum-suspenser more than an overt horror film (more about the fear of the living dead than the living dead themselves) and with obvious allusions to AIDS and bigotry. It's subdued and stylish, with solid performances from its Canadian and Spanish cast (especially Holden-Ried), and does offer some surprise twists -- yet in other ways, basically unfolds the way you expect, with characters that aren't one dimensional, yet don't entirely feel like more than figures to serve the story and the themes. And because it's as much a drama as a thriller, between the suspense scenes it can seem deliberately-paced, even plodding at times. The result is certainly a good movie that, ironically, because it's smart and ambitious -- draws attention to the fact that it isn't as smart or ambitious as it should've been. The setting is unclear: there's a shot of the CN Tower and references to a government "ministry" (indicating Canada), yet the currency is American. Perhaps the Spanish director didn't realize there was a difference. sc: Hatem Khraiche Ruz-Zorrilla. dir: Manuel Carballo. - violence.- 98 min.

REUNION: The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra Presents Procol Harum Live * * 1/2 (1992).....Reunion concert film (with a few brief interviews at the beginning) of the British rock band Procol Harum and the Edmonton Symphony twenty-odd years after they first collaborated. O.K., no frills document probably won't make any new Procol Harum fans, but will appeal to those who already are. dir: Michael Watt. 97 min.

REVENGE OF THE LAND (TVMS)  * * 1/2  setting: Sask.
(2000) Kenneth Welsh, Chandra West, Jennifer Dale, Seann Gallagher, Chip Chiupka, Vlasta Vrana.....Saga of a ruthless land baron (Welsh) in late 19th Century Saskatchewan, and those around him, including a feisty farm girl (West) who becomes the family servant, then shucks her values to weasle control of a hotel; the spiteful wife (Dale); and the son (Gallagher) who becomes a crusading reporter out to bring down his daddy while simultaneously having a star-crossed affair with West. Lavishly mounted made for CBC TV mini-series has unabashed ambitions to just be a pulply soap of greed, infidelity, vendettas, etc. and gets better in the second half. O.K., but maybe it isn't pulpy enough, failing to fully rise to the level of cheesy (fun) melodrama. As well, the various threads aren't always fully developed (including the on again/off again romance between Gallagher and West) -- heck, Dale disappears from the story before the end! Gallagher, who plays essentially the saga's hero, is rather charisma-less, perhaps reflecting a problematic artistic decision on the part of the filmmakers...namely they're more interested in villains, or at least characters with "wicked" streaks. Based rather loosely on a non-fiction book that chronicled a Century of misdeeds in Saskatchewan, this is fully fictionalized, though still probably allows some insight into historical Western Canada, the plight of farmers, the impact of the railroads, etc. Almost 20 years ago Welsh and Dale co-starred in Empire, Inc., this show's spiritual predecessor...only then they played father and daughter! sc: Sharon Riis (from the book by Maggie Siggins). dir: John N. Smith.

REVOIR JULIE  * * 1/2  setting: P.Q.
(1999) Dominique Leduc, Stephanie Morgenstern, Marcel Sabourin.....Two women, one-time best friends, reunite at one's rural home, reviving a long ago friendship, but one of them (Morgenstern) is hoping they can become more than just friends. Sweet tempered but rather slight light-drama benefits from the ingratiating performances from the two leads, who are basically the whole show, and from its laid back ambience (while benefitting from a certain sprightliness). Likeable, even sort of endearing if you're in an easy going mood, but not exactly riveting. Not wanting to pidgeon hole the film, but it should play better for a lesbian audience -- it's one of those films where, if not for the lesbian "hook" (that is, if the story was about, say, a man and a woman) it probably wouldn't have been made at all! Nice to see Morgenstern, an appealing but chronically underappreciated actress, in a lead role. In French but with a smattering of English, adding to the film's good natured, inclusive feel. English title: Julie and Me. sc./dir: Jeanne Crepeau. 91 min.

REVOLVER  see Caboose

THE REVOLVING DOORS see Les Portes tournantes
 

THE REZ (TV Series)

(1996-1998)  * *  Ryan Black ("Silas Crow"), Jennifer Podemski ("Sadie"), Darrel Dennis ("Frank Fencepost"), Patricia Collins ("Eleanor Nanobush"), Kari Matchett ("Tanya") (2nd-), Tamara Podemski ("Lucy"), with Shirley Cheechoo ("Ma"), Herbie Barnes ("Joseph"), Gary Farmer ("Chief Tom") (2nd-), Adam Beach ("Charlie") (2nd-), Elaine Miles ("Etta") (2nd-), others.....Serio-comic drama about teen/young adults on the ficitional Kidiabinessee Indian Reserve in Ontario. Black and Dennis played the principals, the former the more thoughtful of the two, but still seeming a bit like Bob and Doug MacKenzie (see SCTV if you don't get the reference). J. Podemski played Black's level-headed girlfriend. Collins the boozy, white owner of the marina where the guys worked. T. Podemski and Beach (who had played the "Frank" character in the movie) played other locals; Matchett, Collins' adult daughter; Cheechoo, Black's mother and Barnes his mentally challenged brother; Farmer the corrupt Chief; etc.

The cast was promising, and Jennifer Podemski inparticular very good, though veteran Collins easily stole more than a few scenes (not surprising, given her extensive experience). This series was spun-off from the film Dance Me Outside (featuring many of the same cast) and was, arguably, one of the most consistently repellant series, morally speaking, ever produced in Canada. The two beer drinking, cigarette smoking, deer jacking leads came across like an archetypal profile of a serial killer pair (with "Frank" the dominant sociopath, and "Silas" the passive borderline) and the whole series suffered from weird ethics. Memorable episodes include the one where "Lucy" decides to leave the Rez (and Frank), so "Frank" and "Silas" lock her up...eventually they decide it's the wrong thing to do, but it still was in extremely bad taste in this age of concerns over domestic violence. In another episode "Sadie" (the level-headed one, remember) supports a candidate for Chief (played by Raoul Trujillo) who spouts racist, anti-white sentiment (directed at "Eleanor")..."Sadie" only turns on him when she discovers he was lying, that he doesn't hate white people after all -- the blackguard! Combined with the original movie (in which our heroes plot a cold-blooded revenge murder) and you have a really creepy series...and arguably a racist one. After all, would anyone do a series with white actors and these storylines? "Tonight on King of Kensington, Larry supports a neo-Nazi trying to drive all immigrants out of the neighbourhood; later, on Street Legal, Chuck locks his wife in the bathroom until she promises to stay with him forever" -- nyah, I don't think so. Developed by John Frizzell, Brian Dennis from the stories by W.P. Kinsella (stories which, ironically, came under attack by Natives for what was perceived as racist elements). 17 half-hour episodes on the CBC. 

THE RHINO BROTHERS   * * *  setting: CDN.
(2001) Gabrielle Rose, Curt Bechdholt, William MacDonald, Alistair Abell, Deanna Milligan, Craig March, Andrew Kavadas, Rob de Leeuw, Heather McCarthy.....Going through a slump, and with his own secrets, a hockey pro (Bechdholt) returns to his dysfunctional, small town, hockey-obsessed family: his domineering, success-obsessed mother (Rose), his embittered, ex-pro player brother (MacDonald), and the affable younger brother (Abell) who never made it professionally, but is captain of the local amateur team. Dark drama offers a more blistering look at Canada's so-called "national sport" than most hockey movies, and is basically a hockey drama as envisioned by someone like Eugene O'Neil. Uneven, and goes too far over the top in a few scenes (almost to the point of parody), but emerges as oddly compelling for all that. Though the decision to have Milligan, as Bechdholt's level-headed, outsider girlfriend, disappear from the story part way through is problematic. sc: Rudy Thauberger. dir: Dwayne Beaver. 92 min.

RHYMES FOR YOUNG GHOULS   * * 1/2   setting: CDN.
(2013) (2013) Kawennahere Devry Jacobs, Glen Gould, Brandon Oakes, Mark Anthony Krupa, Roseanne Supernault.....Story of a hard-bitten precocious teenage Mi'gmaq girl (Jacobs) on an impoverished Reserve in the 1970s (she and her friends run the local grow op), her dad (Gould) just recently released from prison, and her conflict with the sinister Indian Agent (Krupa) who runs the local Residential School (among other things). Gritty drama is slick-looking and atmospheric, with good individual scenes and compelling performances (especially Jacobs and Gould) and effectively draws upon darker aspects of Canadian culture and history as the background for its narrative (like Residential Schools). But falters a bit in the overall narrative. Some story aspects are poorly articulated (compounded by an aspect of fable/parable so that you presumably aren't supposed to analyse things too closely) and there's a feeling the filmmaker couldn't settle on what exactly he wanted to focus on, resulting in a meandering story that rarely takes you anywhere unexpected. Sort of marketed as a pulpy thriller with serious/drama undercurrents -- but really it's a drama with occasional thriller pretensions. Some technical hiccups, too, like opening titles referring to the "reservation" when in Canada they're "reserves." sc./dir: Jeff Barnaby. - partial female nudity, brief male nudity, extreme violence.- 88 min.

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