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.

"Rock and Roll", John Gray's musical was turned into a CBC special by its author under the title The King of Friday Nights

ROCK & RULE  * 1/2  setting: USA.
(1983) voices of Paul Le Mat, Susan Roman, Don Francks, Dan Hennessy, Sam Langevin, Catherine O'Hara.....In a post W.W. III future an aging, malevolent pop star (Francks) decides to release a demon into his reality but needs an aspiring singer (Roman) in order to breach the dimensional barrier. Adult animated SF musical has good vocal performances and some great, even amazing, animation (better than Heavy Metal, the movie that probably inspired it) though it's considerably less raunchy (which, depending on your point of view, might be a minus). But like so much "adult" animation, it's thin on plot and true characterization (despite stabs at the latter) and suffers from an awkward mix of mature subject matter and juvenile delivery. If only all this effort could have been expended on a truly grown-up animated movie. Largely unmemorable soundtrack performed by American pop stars Debbie Harry, Lou Reed and others -- these folks are fine on the radio, but for a musical you need singers (and songs) with more oomph. sc: Peter Saunder, John Halfpenny with additional dialogue credited to five other writers (story Patrick Laubert, Saunder). dir: Clive A. Smith. - violence, brief nudity.- 85 ...78 min.

THE ROCKET  see Maurice Richard

ROCKET BOY  * * 1/2
(1984) Dave Thomas, Ron James, Robert Denner, Gillie Fenwick, Kathleen Laskey, James Hong, John Candy, Mark Parr.....Super hero Rocket Boy (Thomas) must stop an alien (Denner) from stealing everyone's hair and destroying the earth. Low-budget (and low-brow) made-for-TV SF/super hero spoof looks like an extended sitcom (with a laugh track, yet!) but it's pretty inoffensive and does manage some chuckles. Stick with it. Denner and Candy (in a bit part) come off best. sc: Dave Thomas, Tom Gammill, Max Press. dir: John Blanchard.
ROGUE (TV Series)

(2013-2017)  * * * ... * * 1/2   (/U.K./U.S.) Thandie Newton ("Grace Travis"), with Sarah Jeffery/Sarah Jeffrey ("Evie Travis"), and Kavan Smith, Martin Donovan; (1st season): Marton Csokas ("Jimmy Laszlo"), Ian Tracey ("Lucas Mitchell"), Joshua Sasse ("Alec Lazlo"), Jarod Joseph ("Nicholas Flemming"), Ian Hart ("Buddy Wilson"), Leah Gibson ("Cathy Laszlo"), Claudia Ferri ("Lt. Hernandez"), Matthew Beard ("Max Laszlo"), others; (2nd season) Cole Hauser ("Ethan Kelly"), Andrea Roth ("Marlene"), Clare Higgins ("Vivian"), Alec Newman ("Ray"), Brendan Fletcher ("Spud"), Rupert Evans ("Elliott"), Aleksa Palladino ("Sarah"), others.....Dark crime-drama about an American undercover cop (British actress Newton). It's a bit hard to summarize because, perhaps taking its nod from the 1980s American undercover cop series, "Wiseguy," each season is almost a mini-series, involving a different plot and supporting cast, with only Newton and Jeffrey (as her embittered teenage daughter) mainstays. Though other characters reoccur, such as Kavan as her husband -- a regular in the first season, but only an occasional player in the second season (now as her ex) -- or Donovan as a corrupt police official. And even Newton (and Jeffrey) were written out partway through the third season -- with Hauser brought back from the second season as the new lead (and though one can wonder about the optics/politics of replacing their black female lead with a white man, equally it may simply be a case of them scrambling to pull something together because Newton's departure was precipitated, I believe, by her pregnancy). Anyway, as such, each season maybe warrants its own description/review.

SEASON ONE: An emotionally troubled undercover cop (Newton) goes back on the job -- without her bosses' authorization (hence why she's gone "rogue") -- when she learns some recent mob hits may be connected to the unsolved murder of her young son. Csokas plays the mob boss who discovers her dual identity in the first episode, resulting in a covert alliance against their mutual (unknown) enemy -- and a sexual attraction. Tracey plays "Grace"'s former mentor; Sasse "Jimmy"'s reckless heir apparent (and Gibson the son's wife); and Beard the favoured son. Hart plays "Grace"'s weasely, slightly corrupt handler. Ferri plays the local police c.o. and Joseph an up-and-coming detective. There is an irony to a series featuring British, New Zealand, Canadian and some American actors, and with a similar mix behind the cameras, shooting in Vancouver (which arguably gives the series its singular, moody look -- the environment almost a character in itself) and yet the best they can do when they pool their collective have everyone adopt American accents and set the story in California, arguably the most oft-used locale in English-language television. And who says creativity is dead, eh?

This TV series -- marketed as the first series made for the U.S. satellite station, Direct TV (though shown in Canada on The Movie Network) -- is slick, boasting an atmospheric, murky visual look (credited the Vancouver location masquerading as the U.S.). The first season started out a bit uneven, feeling forced in trying to seem dark and noirish, the actors almost overly intense, and the scripts struggling to find the right tone, the characters sometimes inconsistent and unconvincing. But worth sticking with, as it got more sure footed, the character dynamics more involving, the twists and turns more intriguing. It could be uneven -- strong, effective scenes, surprise twists, and nuanced characters and emotional complexity, sometimes still sitting next to more simple-minded or dubious plot points -- but the strengths out weighed the weaknesses. British actress Newton is engaging, and New Zealand actor Csokas particularly effective, alternating between charming and vulnerable, and feral and dangerous, with the rest of the cast growing into their parts.

Arguably echoing the earlier Canadian-made crime drama, Intelligence (in which Tracey starred) -- both series chronicling the parallel worlds of cops and crooks, steeped in moral ambiguity and focusing on the tentative alliance between a cop and a mobster (both even about a black female cop and a white male mobster named Jimmy). But if there is a connection, Rogue is the darker, pumped up, more emotional take on that milieu. The first season of 10 episodes built to a climax -- resolving most key questions even as it deliberately left aspects hanging for a second season...yet in a way that it's hard to imagine where the plot would go. But that's because each season is meant to act as its own story, changing the plot, setting, and supporting cast. Made for non-commercial network broadcast (the episodes often 55 min. without commercials), there's profanity, violence, and even nudity and explicit sex (including a surprising amount of nudity from Newton!) which might hold your attention as well.

SEASON TWO: "Grace" has been loaned to the F.B.I. and reluctantly goes back undercover after a fellow cop disappears while investigating ex-army buddies who run a private security firm (Hauser, Newman, and Fletcher) and who have a mysterious stockpile of hidden money. Evans and Roth play "Grace"'s immediate superiors (often at odds with each other) and Higgins her estranged mother who comes to stay with her. Palladino plays the cop whose possible murder sets things in motion. On one hand it can seem like a slightly more ambitious plot -- much more cryptic and mysterious as to who's doing what to whom and why and like with the first season as much about the guys being investigated, and how their world and friendships start to unravel, as about the cops investigating. Unfortunately -- it's less compelling than the first season. Despite some genuine twists, the ultimate revelations about what's going on and why aren't that unexpected, and the plot lacks the emotional intensity of the first season where "Grace" was investigating her own son's murder and drawn into a doomed romance (the motivation this time around -- "Grace" maybe feeling guilty about the missing cop -- never really seems as all-consuming). And "Ethan" just isn't as interesting as "Jimmy." It isn't that American actor Hauser doesn't deliver a fine performance -- he does! (as do Newman and Fletcher as his buddies) -- but it's just not as riveting a character (Csokas' "Jimmy" was all feral intensity, Hauser's "Ethan" is cool restraint). And the story itself was slower to develop -- maybe they thought this would make it seem more sophisticated, but it just seemed slow. The first season took a few episodes to start to cook, and the second season took even longer, though, likewise, improved as it went. Though seeming to climax the story arc, answering most questions, it ended on an even more blatant cliff-hanger than the first season. The R-rated sensibilities seemed to be toned down for season two. Still with profanity, and a bit of nudity and violence, but considerably less than in season one (Newton kept her clothes on this season!) -- maybe the story just didn't call for it or maybe the more gratuitous first season was just to establish some cable TV "cred."

SEASON THREE & FOUR: unreviewed at this point.

Created by Matthew Parkhill. Hour long episodes. - female nudity, male nudity, explicit sexual content, extreme violence.-

ROLLERCOASTER  * 1/2  setting: B.C.
(1999) Brendan Fletcher, Kett Turton, Crystal Buble, Brent Glenen, Sean Amsing, David Lovegren.....A group of troubled, anti-social teens sneak out of their group home to spend a day at an abandoned amusement park, where two of them intend to end the day by committing suicide. Nice performances from the cast, and director Smith puts together a slick, good looking film...but writer Smith produces an aimless, pointless script that never delivers the promised insight into either the characters...or disaffected young people in general. Frankly, it seems a little like the movie was given the go-ahead before Smith had a script, or even a clear idea. Presumably it's hoping to be a Canadian "River's Edge", but one can't decide if Smith knows his world of nihilistic, "lost" youth too well, and needed to take a step back...or doesn't know it at all! sc./dir: Scott Smith. 87 min.

(1987) Don Michael Paul, Lawrence Dane, Ned Beatty, Lisa Howard, Todd Duckworth.....Trucker (Paul) uses a monster truck to go after the local red-neck clan (headed by Beatty) who killed his father (Dane). Lethargic, stupid revenge flick is really awful. It doesn't work as a drama, comedy or even a catharsis. Dangerous attitudes, too. sc: Michael Montgomery. dir: Steven H. Stern. - violence, brief female nudity.- 90 min.

ROMANTIC LADIES see Dames galantes

ROMANTIC UNDERTAKINGS  * * 1/2  setting: Ont.
(1995) (/U.K.) William Katt, Valerie Buhagiar, Ishwar Mooljee, Paul Berry, Greg Blanchard, Simon Richards.....Story of the love-hate relationship that evolves between a woman (Buhagiar) who reluctantly inherits her father's funeral home, and her border (import Katt), a short order cook whose shady past starts to catch up with him. Modest but amusing and genuinely likeable romantic comedy. sc: Melissa R. Byer, Treena Hancock (story Chuck Micallef). dir: Peter McCubbin. 94 min.

(2015-)  * * * ... * *  Andrew Airlie ("Wolfgang"), Jenny Chen ("Lily") (1st), Juan Riedinger ("Rufus"), Stephanie Bennett ("Dee") (1st), Eugene Lipinski ("Al"), Manny Jacinto ("Wing Lei"), Sophia Lauchlin Hirt ("Eva") (1st), Mathias Retmal ("Miguel") (1st), Brian Markinson (2nd), Leeah Wong ("Lily Song" II) (2nd), Fei Renn ("Mei Mei") (2nd), Jorge Montesi ("Harry") (2nd),others.....Crime-drama set in the murky and overlapping worlds of organized crime and government intelligence and espionage. And I've decided to review the first two seasons separately (for reasons that might become obvious):

SEASON ONE: Airlie plays a university professor who is really a spy master and "handler," whose job involves recruiting and running various assets. Riedinger plays one of his assets, embedded with a local drug lord just as the criminal organization itself has to adjust to new Chinese partners. Chen plays a Chinese-Canadian fellow professor with whom "Wolf" begins a romantic relationship, while also trying to subtly recruit her (for her connections to the Chinese government) -- unaware she's actually working for the Chinese and trying to play him, too. Plus there are many other characters and threads.

After a long relationship with the CBC, Chris Haddock broke rather publically with the network after they cancelled his last series (Intelligence). Haddock stormed off south with the presumption being Hollywood would treat him right. But whereas in Canada he had been granted carte blanche to create his own series, in Hollywood he ended up working on "Boardwalk Empire" -- someone else's series (better to serve in heaven than to rule in hell, I guess). But Haddock and the CBC eventually kissed and made up (the reconciliation presumably mutually beneficial: the CBC had continued to be lambasted by critics for letting Haddock slip away -- the same sort of critics who otherwise deride the network for supporting low-rated series -- and Haddock presumably missed the creative freedom of being a big splash in a little pond). And in The Romeo Section it can feel a bit as if Haddock is picking up where he left off -- essentially doing a re-boot of Intelligence. Once more he's exploring the parallel and intertwined worlds of criminals and cops/spies, where the latter are more concerned about making contacts and recruiting informants than they are making immediate arrests, all presented with a subdued cool, with lots of hushed conversations, clandestine meetings and uncertain loyalties. But it's a bigger, more ambitious version of the premise, with more characters, and more story threads, and maybe Haddock's sojourn in Hollywood taught him a few tricks. Because though the new series is still deliberately paced, and exudes an aura of thinking it's "smart" (whether it actually is smart is up to the individual viewer to decide) it is a bit tighter paced than Haddock's other series, with a (slight) sense of urgency to some of the plot threads, as if things are actually happening (though Haddock is still prone to stretching threads out and sometimes there's a feeling as though they can turn into shaggy dog stories). There's more of a "human" factor to this series than in some of Haddock's previous efforts, while still seeming a bit academic, where you observe the characters more than become emotionally invested in them. And with who they are inside, or even why they do what they do left vague. Still, this is probably the best compromise, retaining what Haddock's fans like about his work while being more accessible and compelling than some of his earlier efforts. The acting is solid throughout, with Airlie -- traditionally more a supporting/character actor -- easily settling comfortably into the centre chair.

SEASON TWO: Unfortunately, if the first season was evidence of Haddock having learned from his Hollywood sojourn...the second season was Haddock falling off the waggon and back into his worst vices. Discarding any sense of a unifying theme/plot, the storylines have only tenuous links to each other -- largely forgetting about the whole recruiting and running "assets" idea! It's as if Haddock saw this hour as just his creative free-time (not unlike some of the efforts of another one-time CBC auteur, Ken Finkleman). "Wolfgang" is asked to re-investigate a terrorist attack from a few years before (aided by Markinson as a boozy ex-agent); "Rufus" cut his ties at the end of the first season, so no longer an undercover operative his plot line is pretty much just a mob/gangland story; and a plot involving the filming of a Chinese historical movie in Vancouver seemed in part so Haddock could try his hand at a historical epic (and to articulate his theme of parallels between the modern "war on drugs" and the old opium trade). Some of the changes may have been pragmatic: Chen was replaced by Wong in the same role (with little public explanation of the behind-the-scenes shift, though an unexpected pregnancy may have led to Chen being let go rather than re-writing the character to accommodate her); but aside from Chen being a sympathetic presence (something it's hard for a new actor to compensate for) the character was shunted off into a seeming extraneous plot line, dropping the relationship between her and "Wolf" from the first season. Aside from the lack of central focus, the second season suffered from glacial-slow pacing in service of thin, largely emotionless plots that aren't anywhere near as smart or clever as they seem to think they are, being often tritely cliched. The high points of the second season were few (Markinson's performance, being one; the movie-within-a-movie scenes might have been interesting if they didn't suffer from repetition). Despite years of critics lambasting the CBC for having let Haddock go after Intelligence...this new series was, unsurprisingly, cancelled after its second season.

Hour long episodes on the CBC.


(2010-)  * * * 1/2   (/U.S.) Missy Peregrym ("Andy McNally"), Gregory Smith ("Dov Epstein"), Enuka Okuma ("Traci Nash"), Travis Milne ("Chris Diaz"), Charlotte Sullivan ("Gail Peck"), Ben Bass ("Sam Swarek"), Eric Johnson ("Det. Luke Callaghan"), Matt Gordon (Oliver Shaw") , Noam Jenkins ("Det. Jerry Barber") (-3rd), Peter Mooney ("Nick Collins") (3rd-), Melanie Nicholls-King ("Noelle Williams"), Lyriq Bent ("Frank Best"), Aidan Devine ("Sgt. Boyko") (1st), with Peter MacNeill.....Serio-comic crime drama focusing -- initially -- on a quintet of rookie police officers and the various veteran cops and supervisors. This joins the recent trend of all-Canadian (actors, writers, etc.) TV series made with some American financing and winning a spot on American prime time which followed the success of Flashpoint (and was initially kick started by a Hollywood writers' strike -- though the strike was long over by the time this hit the air). The significance of this new wave is that previous generations of US-Canada co-productions usually involved Americans as the dominant partner, with an American actor or two brought up to star, and explicitly set in the United States -- and those rarely, if ever, landed coveted network primetime slots! Although, Rookie Blue may not be overtly "Canadian", it still seems to be set in Canada (as opposed to a deliberate Anytown, North America).

This TV series was hyped a bit as a cop version of "Grey's Anatomy" (the latter being a comedy-drama about a bunch of medical rookies) -- the second Canada-US co-production to use that comparison (after Defying Gravity, which was hyped as "Grey's Anatomy" space). In execution, it's well done, boasting a solid, engaging cast from Peregrym who, as the nominal lead, is appealing (and, yes, beautiful) to the always effective Gordon as a jaded veteran cop, and everyone inbetween, including Okuma, Bass, Johnson, etc. With surprising deftness it juggles the serious plots with the light-hearted and comic ones (eschewing the film noir sleaze of The Bridge or the intensity of Flashpoint), boasting nicely done scenes that make the hour pass easily. BUT...we've seen it all before and, ultimately, it is what is, and isn't much more than a 21st Century version of "CHiPs" or "Adam 12" or even "Hill Street Blues". And though the "Grey's Anatomy" comparison isn't inappropriate (both even feature a female lead -- despite being nominally an ensemble -- who has a troubled relationship with a parent who used to be part of the same profession, here played by MacNeill) it doesn't entirely succeed in finding its own voice the way "Grey's Anatomy" did. The characters are personable enough (generally level-headed and well meaning rather than hyper-macho, gun waving characters) without being entirely compelling. Still, on an episode-by-episode basis, it's entertaining. Its ambitions may be modest, but it's reaching them with confidence, and strong ratings in both Canada and the US (in a summer/mid-season slot) suggests there's an audience looking for a (quasi-)realist cop show that's not too glib or cartoony (with quirky detectives solving impossible crimes) yet not too gritty or nihilistic. And the series perhaps boasts the greatest claim to success: emulators! In 2012 the American CBS network announced a new series -- "NYC 22" -- about a group of mismatched rookie cops learning the ropes on the streets of a big city (some reports even suggested it was originally going to be called..."Rookies"). Hour long episodes, shown in Canada on CanWest-Global.

ROOKIES  * *  setting: Ont.
(1990) Yannick Bisson, Peter MacNeill, Ian Tracey, Dean McDermott, Jason Blicker, Andrea Roth, Christianne Hirt.....Talented, small town hockey player (Bisson) goes to the big city to play for a minor league team. Slick, well-acted made-for-CBC TV drama drags out too many cliches and the protagonist never comes into focus. Recommended only to hockey fans since it lacks the character emphasis to appeal to those who don't care about the sport. sc: Paul Shapiro, Jeffrey Cohen. dir: Paul Shapiro.

ROSWELL: The Aliens Attack  * *  setting: USA.
(1999) (/U.S.) Peter Flynn, Kate Greenhouse, Heather Hanson, Brent Stait, Sean McCann, Donelly Rhodes a.k.a. Donnelly Rhodes.....In 1947, a couple of aliens arrive in Roswell, New Mexico (USA) to destroy the earth by sabotaging an army base...only to have the male alien (Flynn) start to have second thoughts when he befriends a local woman (Greenhouse) who works at the base. Made-for-U.S. TV SF thriller (inspired, after a fashion, by the real life Roswell incident) is well-acted all around and good looking, and wants to be smart and character driven, but is slow and meandering, without enough plot -- or character -- to keep it interesting. Not to mention it's kind of dumb in spots. Too bad. Donnelly Rhodes' name is misspelled in the credits! sc: Jim Makichuk. dir: Brad Turner. app. 90 min.

THE ROWDYMAN  * * * 1/2  setting: Nfld.
(1972) Gordon Pinsent, Frank Converse, Linda Goranson, Will Geer, E.P. "Ted" Henley.....Irresponsible, devil-may-care man (Pinsent) finds his care-free lifestyle conflicts with the attitudes of other members of his small hometown. Fine comedy/drama, marred by occasionally excessive melodrama. Strong dialogue, direction and cast, particularly Pinsent, who's exceptional and won the Best Actor Etrog, and Converse is strong as his best friend. This was the first talkie to come out of the Rock and it makes good use of Newfoundland locations (even American imports Converse and Geer adopt Newfoundland accents). It was later turned into both a musical and a novel by its author. sc: Gordon Pinsent. dir: Peter Carter. 95 min.

ROWING THROUGH  * * 1/2  setting: USA.
(1996) (/Japan) Colin Ferguson, Leslie Hope, Peter Murnik, Kenneth Welsh, James Hyndman, Helen Shaver, Michiko Hada, Christopher Jacobs.....Story of the career of U.S. rower, Tiff Wood (Ferguson), and the conflicts that arise during the 1984 training camp for placement in the Olympics -- his last shot at the Olympics. Hope plays a journalist and long-time friend, who narrates. O.K. drama is slick enough, though not much more. Filmmakers, particularly Canadian ones, make an awful lot of sports-themed movies -- and few of them actually work, critically or commercially, largely because they make sports movies, as opposed to dramas that happen to be about an athlete. Still, it's jolly nice to see a Japanese filmmaker capturing the essence of so many Canadian movies: it's set in the States and features characters that never manage to be particularly likeable. Based on a true story. sc: Masato Harada, Will Aitken, with Rebecca Ross (from The Amateurs by David Halberstam). dir: Masato Harada. - female nudity, casual male nudity, sexuual content.- 116 min.


(1993-2010)  * * 1/2   Roger Abbott, Don Ferguson, Luba Goy, John Morgan (-8th), with Jessica Holmes, Alan Park, Craig Lauzon, Penelope Corrin..... Sketch comedy and current affairs satire.

After decades on the radio and occasional TV specials, the troupe was finally given a weekly series and immediately brought in solid ratings. As with most sketch comedies, the show was uneven and given to the old Canadian comedy stand-by -- if it's not funny to begin with, do it really broad! And as the series continued, it seemed to get creakier and creakier, the big laughs fewer and farther between. Half-hour episodes on the CBC. 

THE ROYAL SCANDAL * * *  setting: other
(2001) (/U.S.) Matt Frewer, Kenneth Welsh, Liliana Komorowska, Daniel Brochu, Seann Gallagher, Robin Wilcock, R.H. Thomson.....Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson (Frewer and Welsh) get involved in a case involving blackmail, espionage, Irene Adler (Komorowska) and Holmes' brother Mycroft (Thomson). Third made-for-TV teaming of Frewer and Welsh as Holmes and Watson might cause purists to balk as it strays further from the source than had their previous outings. This time trying, not always convincingly, to adapt a couple of Holmes stories into one plot, while giving it a modern ambience of conspiracies and shadowy spies, and Adler (the woman in the Holmes' mythos) as an international thief, the story may not entirely hold together logic-wise. Worse, the movie loses some of the point of the Adler character because she doesn't out fox Holmes (well, except in a muddled flashback). With all that being said, it's still a fun romp. Avoiding the stodginess of some Holmes movies, it's told with energy and fun, while still maintaining a reasonable respect for the character. Probably Frewer's best performance in the role to date, as the plot allows more room for character development and nuance. Though added to the suspect British accents are some dodgy German accents. At least Komorowska's accent is real. See Sherlock Holmes. sc: Joe Wiesenfeld (from the stories "A Scandal in Bohemia" and "The Naval Treaty" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle). dir: Robin Gibbons. 88 min.

RUB & TUG  * * 1/2  setting: Ont.
(2002) Don McKellar, Kira Clavell, Tara Spencer-Nairn, Lindy Booth, Richard Zeppieri, Michael Cram, Anthony Lemke, Susanne Sutchy, Pascal Petardi.....Story of the goings on at a shady massage parlour, with the novice, nebbishy manager (McKellar) finding the girls (Clavell, Spencer-Nairn, Booth) are more in charge than he is. Serio-comic flick is O.K., as long as you aren't too demanding, like asking yourself: where is this headed? or do I really care? Particularly when at least one plot question seems to go unresolved (McKellar is suspicious that one of the girls is offering "full service" -- ie: sex -- which would shut them down). But, admittedly, it benefits from a general watchability, with a brisk tempo to the scenes, and a decent cast (though Clavell's part is an awkwardly written immigrant cliche...though, ironically, the guilessness of her character makes her the most sympathetic). And are all massage parlours really just one step removed from brothels, or is that a cinematic cliche that, frankly, slurs what may be a legitimate business? Despite the, intentionally, lurid, racy premise, it's mainly the guys, not the women, who flash their skin (save Sutchy in a brief part as a new employee). a.k.a. Rub and Tug. sc: Soo Lyu, Edward Stanulis. dir: Soo Lyu. - casual male nudity, partial female nudity, sexual content.- 89 min.

THE RUBBER GUN  * * * *  setting: P.Q.
(1977) Stephen Lack, Allan Moyle, Pam Holmes-Robert, Pierre Robert, Peter Brawley, Joe Mattia.....Story of a group of counter-culture drug suppliers -- as opposed to drug pushers -- (led by Lack) and the university student (Moyle) who wants to study them. Effective, fascinating and off-beat drama is hip and extremely well- done with a atypically charismatic performance from Lack. Despite the realist, improvised-feel, it has a strong narrative and character development. Not for all tastes. Great music by Lewis Furey. sc: Stephen Lack with John Laing, Allan Moyle. dir: Allan Moyle. 86 min.

RUDE  * * 1/2  setting: Ont.
(1995) Maurice Dean Wint, Rachel Crawford, Clark Johnson, Richard Chevolleau, Sharon M. Lewis, Melanie Nicholls-King, Steven Shellen, Andy Marshall.....Three stories are intercut (as opposed to interwoven) revolving around black characters in downtown T.O. over the Easter week-end while a pirate radio d.j., Rude (Lewis), broadcasts. Moodily atmospheric but a kind of shallow and insubstantial drama; writer/director Virgo wants to look at serious issues like unwanted pregnancies, homophobia, and drugs, but has trouble coming up with much to say about them. The most developed storyline, with Wint as an ex-con resisting the urge to return to his dealer ways, is still awfully undeveloped. Still, stylish with good dialogue and performances (especially from Johnson, Wint and Shellen) -- enough so to be worth catching. sc./dir: Clement Virgo. -casual male nudity, brief female nudity, sexual content.- 90 min.

(1998) Claudia Christian, Kristian Ayre, see Tales of Intrigue

RUNNING WITH THE HITMAN  a.k.a. Zeyda and the Hitman

RUGGED GOLD  * *  setting: Ont./USA.
(1995) (/New Zealand) Jill Eikenberry, Art Hindle, Ari Magder, Graham Greene.....True story of a proper Toronto bred widow (American Eikenberry) who, in the '50s, moves with her son to the wilds of Alaska with her gold prospecting new husband (Canadian Hindle). Middling drama is slow and even kind of extraneous -- after all, similar stories have been done before. Often. Eikenberry whines, Hindle offers sage advice, and both actors are a little bland. Greene adds some flare as Hindle's curmudgeonly partner. This TV movie aired only weeks before Legend of the Ruby Silver, a superficially similar (and slightly better) film. Filmed in New Zealand. sc: Sarah James (from the published journal O Rugged Land of Gold by Martha Martin). dir: Michael Anderson. 94 min.

(2006-2007)  * *  David Hadyn-Jones ("Ben Devlin"), Amy Price-Francis ("Sarah Barnaby"), Sadie LeBlanc ("Helen Chartlon"), Jennifer Dale ("Michelle Lawrence"), with Elliott Larson-Gilmore ("Felix"), Stephanie Mills ("Kate Devlin"), Lucinda Davis ("Emily"), Phillip Jarrett ("Frank"), Cindy Sampson ("Sandra"), others.....Comedy about the two mismatched co-editors of a frothy "women's" magazine, she (Price-Francis) with ambitions to turn it into something provocative and sophisticated, and he (Hadyn-Jones) an ex-sports writer who only took the job, reluctantly, for the money. LeBlanc plays her wild living best friend. Dale their publisher. 

This TV series was an unusual effort in English-Canada: to try and capture the success of French-Canadian TV by taking a successful Quebec series (Rumeurs) and simply remake it in English with an anglophone cast, but keeping the same scripts, directors, sets, etc. Unfortunately, the results are uneven and fault lies, mainly, with the basic material. Price-Francis and Hadyn-Jones are good, and there are some amusing zingers and, more important, at times, there's some genuine warmth and chemistry between the two characters (when they're not snapping at each other). But as a comedy, it's just not that funny, and as a stylish, sophisticated urban series, it's not that sophisticated. In fact, it seems completely unsure of its basic tone -- a lot of the scenes seem as though they're more meant to be "observational" humour, rooted in reality more than the one-liner, even as a lack of care and consistency to the characters and plotting seems as though it's just meant to be a wacky gag fest where we aren't supposed to really buy into the characters as real people! Even what the show is about seems vague. It was sort of marketed as a will they/won't they romantic-comedy, except often the two leads barely have any scenes together, it's sort of about the magazine, except we spend a lot of time away from that locale, particularly with Haydn-Jones' family scenes of raising his kid. And LeBlanc's character often consumes whole chunks of the episodes in separate plot lines, yet she is neither one of the "main" characters, not does she work at the magazine (tuning into some episodes, a viewer might wonder who this character is we keep cutting to) and, frankly, her character's just an annoying personality. The episodes are often awkwardly structured, trying to be fast and zippy (but more seeming frantic), while juggling two or three plots per episode, but the climaxes can sometimes seem confused or unfocused. Ironically, as Langlois is just recycling her original scripts, you'd think this would be a chance to refine and polish them, but that doesn't seem to have happened. The result? Can elicit a few smirks and an occasional chuckle...but not enough, particularly when you just don't really like the characters! Created by Isabelle Langlois. One season of half-hour episodes on the CBC.

(2006) Chris Gibbs, Lara Kelly, Peter Mooney, Christian Potenza, Sandi Ross.....In the near future, a colourless, repressed corporate worker (Gibbs) gets jealous when his company hires a handsome android (Mooney) as a new employee -- and the robot is more likeable than he is, even seeming to win the affections of the co-worker (Kelly) he likes! Comedy is clearly struggling with a minuscule budget, and in that sense is arguably better than you might expect...without being as good as it needs to be. The actors are competent, the individual concepts are okay, the script is cute, but without being witty or funny enough. It can seem more like a collection of sketches (as he tries various ways to sabotage the robot) rather than a story with a well developed plot. Perhaps another problem is when the whole premise of a feature film is that the hero is supposed to be kind of dull and unlikeable (and even the robot is more a caricature of a nice guy, rather than being a nice guy). Ultimately, given the budget, is it something anyone involved in has to be ashamed of? No. But does it work? Not really. sc./dir: Daniel O'Connor. 82 min.

Runaway: Diary of a Street Kid, Evelyn Lau's memoir, became the CBC TV movie The Diary of Evelyn Lau

RUNNING  * * 1/2  setting: USA./P.Q.
(1979) Michael Douglas, Susan Anspach, Lawrence Dane, Eugene Levy, Charles Shamata, Philip Akin, Jennifer McKinney, Jim McKay, Gordon Clapp.....American (Douglas) who's never managed to stick with anything for long, decides to become a marathon runner in the '76 Olympics while, at the same time, patch things up with his ex-wife (Anspach). Good-looking, well-acted drama has some good scenes, as well as some manipulatively hokey ones. Not bad if you take it on its own level. sc./dir: Steven Hilliard Stern. 103 min.

RUNNING BRAVE  * *  setting: USA.
(1983) Robby Benson, Pat Hingle, Claudia Cron, Graham Greene, Denis LaCroix, Jeff McCracken, August Schellenberg.....Fictionalized bio of native U.S. runner Bill Mills (Benson) who became an Olympic champion in 1964. Well done but no soul to the film, nor is it very exciting. Questionable values too (like painting up white-man Benson). Greene is especially good. sc: Henry Beam, Shirl Hendryx. dir: D.S. Everett (alias Don Shebib). - casual male nudity.- 105 min.

RUPERT'S LAND  * * *  setting: B.C.
(1998) Samuel West, Ian Tracey, George Wendt, Susan Hogan, Gabrielle Miller, William MacDonald, Suzy Joachin, Bernie Coulson, Ted Kozma..... Rupert, a prim British solicitor (West), and his coarse Canadian half-brother (Tracey), reunite for the first time since childhood, taking a road trip through the backroads of B.C. to attend their father's funeral. Smart serio-comic flick is well-acted (particularly British actor West and the always reliable Tracey) and well-put together, with a sturdy plot and well-rounded characters...moreso than the "road trip" premise might imply. Though the penchant for drinking and driving is unfortunate (despite the end disclaimer that such scenes aren't meant to endorse such behaviour -- if the filmmakers don't mean to endorse it, why include the scenes in the first place?). Rupert's Land was the name originally for much of pre-Confederation northern and western Canada -- but you knew that, right? sc: Graeme Manson. dir: Jonathan Tammuz. 97 min.

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