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.

SUBLET  * * 1/2  setting: USA.
(1998) (/U.S.) Danny Nucci, Victoria Sanchez, Jack Langedijk, David Carradine, Mark Camacho, Dean Fleming.....Nebbishy cub reporter (American actor Nucci) moves to New York and sub-lets an apartment from its mysterious tenant whom he suspects is more than he seems -- only to get caught up in intrigue and murder. Light-hearted suspenser in a Hitchockian vein, with engaging enough performances from American Nucci and Canadian Sanchez, and starts out quite promising. But it plays too many of its cards too soon, dropping the same shoe a few too many times, though does pick up again in the final act, throwing in a few extra curves. The result...not as good as it seemed like it was going to be, but a decent little time killer. sc: Tim Kring. dir: John Hamilton. - violence.- 90 min.

SUCH A LONG JOURNEY * * *  setting: other
(1999) (/U.K.) Roshan Seth, Om Puri, Soni Razdan, Naseeruddin Shah, Sam Dastor, Ranjit Chowdhry, Vrajesh Hirjee, Kurush Deboo.....In 1971 India, a bank employee (Seth) tries to muddle his family through life's complications (unsanitary housing conditions, illness, rebellious children), complications that are added to when a long vanished friend tries to recruit his aide in what he claims is secret government work. Over long but interesting, evocative serio-comic drama. Well acted (though Indo-Canadian Chowdhry and Indian star Puri, actors more likely to be recognizable to Canadian audiences, have relatively small parts -- one as a street painter and the other as a go-between between the protagonist and his long vanished friend). Based on the critically acclaimed Indo-Canadian novel. Received three Genies including for Seth for Best Actor. Actor Simon MacCorkindale was one of the producers. sc: Sooni Taraporeuala (from the novel by Rohinton Mistry). dir: Sturla Gunnarsson. - violence, partial male nudity, sexual content.- 117 min.

SUCK  * * *   setting: CDN./USA.
(2009) Ron Stefaniuk, Jessica Paré, Paul Anthony, Mike Lobel, Chris Ratz, Malcolm McDowell, Dave Foley, Alice Cooper, Nicole DeBoer, Iggy Pop.....When one of the members (Pare) of a struggling bar band gets turned into a bloodsucking vampire, the band finds it has to deal with a lot of unwanted corpses...and a sudden spike in their popularity! Leaving their nominal leader (Stefaniuk) a little ambivalent about the situation. Black comedy, though modestly budgeted, is stylishly quirky (including using stop motion to depict their travels from town to town, or editing in clips from the 1974 film "Oh, Lucky Man!" for a flashback scene to McDowell -- a genre icon cast here as an aging vampire hunter -- in his youth) and very well acted, both from the main cast (with Ratz a scene stealer as roady Hugo) and even a plethora of rock musicians in acting roles (both cameoes and actual small parts) that are more effective than you might expect. The humour veers from sly and witty to outrageous and macabre and it's a clever premise that's partly a horror comedy about rock musicians...but equally a showbiz satire with plenty of music on the soundtrack and with vampirism serving as a Faustian metaphor (think of it in the same vein as "The Phantom of the Paradise"). Doesn't fully shake off its "indie film" feel, but entertaining and easily the best vampire-comedy to come out of Canada to date (and there have been a few!) Stefaniuk, in addition to being an actor and filmmaker, is also a musician (including performing in the band Mamabolo, fronted by singer-actress Barbara Mamabolo who has a small part here as McDowell's long lost love) perhaps explaining the sub-text and even shots homaging classic album covers. He had also previously ventured into the realm of "genre satire" with the aliens-among-us SF comedy Phil the Alien. sc./dir: Ron Stefaniuk. - extreme violence.- 91 min.

SUDDEN FURY  * * * 1/2  setting: Ont.
(1975) Dominic Hogan, Gay Rowan, Dan Hennessey, Hollis McLaren, David Yorston, Eric Clavering, Sean McCann.....After an auto accident in the middle of nowhere, a man (Hogan) decides to murder his wife (Rowan) by simply leaving her to die, but complications arise when another motorist (Hennessey) happens along. Engrossing, extremely well done low budget thriller starts out innocuously but gradually glues you to the edge of your seat. A must and one of this country's most neglected gems! Only the ending, though expected, hurts it. sc./dir: D. Brian Damude. 92 min.

SUDDENLY NAKED  * *
(2002) Wendy Crewson, Joe Cobden, Peter Coyote, Nicola Cavendish, Michael Shanks, Enuka Okuma, Emmanuelle Vaugier.....Abrasive, self-centred, sexually rapacious writer (Crewson) begins an affair with an un-and-coming author (Cobden) who's half her age, but begins to become self-conscious of the discrepancy. Comedy suffers from the nature of Crewson's character...sure, she's supposed to be obnoxious, and becomes a better person as the movie progresses. But it's still hard to care enough to wait for her to grow. Becomes better as it goes along, and there are a couple of amusing farcical scenes, but it might have been better played as a straight drama. Because as a romantic comedy, it's not very funny (comedy just may not be Crewson and Wheeler's forte, based on this and Better Than Chocolate) and as a romance, it never quite makes you believe in, or care about, the relationship, or warm the cockles of your heart (perhaps in part because scripter Friedman has trouble raising her sights higher than the belt-line). Still, you gotta like any movie where the climax takes place at a PEN conference. sc: Elyse Friedman. dir: Anne Wheeler. - sexual content, brief female and male nuudity.- 103 min.
 
 
SUE THOMAS, F.B.Eye (TV Series)

(2003-2005) (/U.S.)  * * 1/2  Deanne Bray ("Sue Thomas"), Yannick Bisson ("Jack Hudson"), Rick Peters ("Bobby Manning"), Marc Gomes ("Dimitrius Gans"), Enuka Okuma ("Lucy Dotson"), Ted Atherton ("Myles Leland III"), Tara Samuel ("Tara"), with Eugene A. Clark ("Ted Garrett").....Cop drama inspired by a real life deaf F.B.I. agent (played by Bray). The rest of the cast play other agents in her squad -- heart throb Bisson as the nominal leader (and potential romantic interest?), Okuma who is also her room mate, Atherton as an agent who is condescending to our heroine, etc. Clark cropped up occasionally as their boss. Deaf actress Bray is an American and the series, obviously, is set in Washington, D.C. None of the characters are Canadian (though most of the actors are), but Peters plays an Australian F.B.I. agent. Yeah, you read right. The filmmakers can work in an Australian character, but not a Canadian character?!? Trivia note: Bisson and Atherton used to co-star in Nothing too Good for a Cowboy. 

Frequently light-hearted series seems as though it's definitely aiming to be family friendly (particularly with a 7:00 PM time slot in its first season). Sure, the characters investigate serious crimes, including murder, but the mayhem generally takes place off camera, and each episode usually pads things out with a jokey, not altogether sophisticated sub-plot. As such, those looking for a hard edged, gritty series will be bored, but that can be its appeal, too. To its credit it's unpretentious, and boasts a certain ingratiating charm, and benefits from an appealing enough cast. There's also a nice attempt to really put the viewer inside the world of a deaf character, so that the premise is more than just a catchy gimmick, but seems sincere (including occasional sign language scenes translated by sub-titles). Though, at other times, the series seems not so ingratiating and harmless: an episode about Islamic terrorists bordered on being offensively intolerant towards all muslims (an episode that becomes more troubling when you realize the series is made for a U.S. Christian TV station and, though that's not overt in the episodes, behind-the-scenes some of those involved trumpet their Christian values). But aside from such lapses, the series is generally well-intentioned, and gets credit for its bi-racial casting (albeit, not so much multi-racial). Created by Gary R. Johnson & David Alan Johnson. Three seasons of hour long episodes, show in Canada on CTV.

SUGAR  * 1/2
(2004) Brendan Fehr, Andre Noble, Haylee Wanstall, Maury Chaykin, Michael Riley, Marnie McPhail, Sarah Polley.....Story of a virginal gay teen (Noble) who hooks up with, and becomes infatuated, with a male prostitute (Fehr). Serio-comic drama covers well-trod ground in its tale of a neophyte being drawn into a fringe sub-culture of junkies and hustlers (from The Rubber Gun to Twist to many others), and it has some effective scenes and performances, especially Fehr who was presumably hoping this would reposition him as an edgy performer -- too bad his performance, and the good tthings about the movie, couldn't have been saved for a film with a better grip on narrative. As it is, it seems like a movie where half of the scenes were left on the cutting room floor...the half establishing who these people are and why, how scenes relate to each other, or even the point. The filmmakers seem more interested in "shock" scenes of graphic male nudity and kinky sex than in developing the plot and characters. The movie was based on a number of short stories...which could explain some of the problems. Chaykin (who is especially good), Riley and Polley just have small parts. Young Noble died shortly after this was made. sc: Jaie LaPlante, John Palmer, Todd Klinck (from short stories by Bruce LaBruce). dir: John Palmer. - male nudity, sexual content, brief female nudity.- 78 min.

THE SUICIDE MURDERS * * * 1/2  setting: Ont.
(1986) Saul Rubinek, Kate Trotter, Michael Hogan, Chuck Shamata, Tanja Jacobs, Gerard Parkes, Ken Pogue.....Small town private eye Benny Cooperman (Rubinek) investigates a case of possible marital infidelity that leads him into a series of alleged suicides and a decade old secret. Entertaining, well written made-for-CBC TV mystery with an excellent, comic performance from Rubinek. Nicely cliched music score. Look for author Engel as a customer in a diner. Sequel: Murder Sees The Light. sc: Howard Engel (from his novel). dir: Graham Parker. app. 100 min.

SUMMER  * * *  setting: P.Q.
(2002) Joe Cobden, Karen Cliche, Michael Rubenfeld, Amy Sloan, Danny Gilmore, Stephanie Buxton, Ben Ayres, Sara Bradeen, Victor Knight.....A small circle of free-wheeling friends spend one last summer together after graduating university, with one inparticular (Cobden) torn between holding on to his shiftless life, and facing the responsibilities of the future. Enjoyable comedy-drama meanders a bit (predictably enough) but has an appealing cast playing quirky enough protagonists, and boasts a slick, professional sheen -- one assumes it's a low budget effort, but it's put together with enough polish that you don't notice if it is. Nothing ground-breaking, but it benefits from a general absence of crudity. There's more of "Singles" than of Porky's here. Though Cliche's final act coffee house monologue smacks a little too much of something a man would write, rather than a woman would say. sc: Myles Hainsworth. dir: Phil Price. 89 min.

SUMMER'S CHILDREN * *  setting: Ont.
(1979) Thomas Hauff, Paully Jardine, Don Francks, Patricia Collins, Kate Lynch, Ken James, Wayne Best.....Man (Hauff), living in the big city, is told his sister (Jardine) is also there and he becomes obsessed with tracking her down, though she doesn't seem to want to be found. Through flashbacks, meanwhile, we learn their not-so mysterious secret. So-so drama almost rates higher because of the pseudo detective story format and the effective atmosphere, but it's a little to slow-moving. Yes, that's Michael Ironside as the pimp. sc: Jim Osborne. dir: Julius Kohanyi. - partial female nudity.- 82 min.

SUMMER'S END * * *  setting: USA.
(1999) (/U.S.) James Earl Jones, Brendan Fletcher, Jake LeDoux, Wendy Crewson, Al Waxman, Randy Hughson, Jonathan Kroeker, Gary Reineke, voice of Victor Garber.....Set in Georgia, U.S.A. in the early 1980s, the story concerns the emerging friendship between a young white boy (LeDoux) and a retired black doctor (Jones) who has moved back to the town from which all the black people fled decades before, weathering racism in the process. If you can get past the cliches of the sleepy southern town, at once idyllic, but also tainted, the narrator reflecting back on that pivotal, life-defining summer, or even the fly fishing, what emerges is a fairly atmospheric, evocative drama, very well acted by American Jones and Canadians LeDoux and Fletcher (the latter as the hero's brother who's allied with the bigots) and confidently directed by actress-turned-director Shaver. But the motivation remains murky (the brother's dislike of Jones is supposed to stem from his jealousy of the friendship...but he was picking on him even before that) with a kind of weak, hokey resolution. And when Canadians do stories about U.S. (specifically Southern U.S.) prejudice, isn't that kind of a safe topic for filmmakers who want us to believe they're tackling edgy material? What about prejudice in Canada, hmmm? sc: Grant Scharbo, Jim Thompson (story Scharbo). dir. Helen Shaver. 101 min.

THE SUMMIT (TVMS)  * * * 1/2   setting: Ont./USA/other
(2008) (/U.S.) Bruce Greenwood, James Purefoy, Rachelle Lefevre, Mia Maestro, Wendy Crewson, Christopher Plummer, Stephen McHattie, Raoul Bhaneja, Nigel Bennett, Peter MacNeill, Rob Stewart, KC Collins, Krista Bridges.....A G8 summit in Ontario, where a left-leaning Canadian prime minister (Greenwood, delivering a flawlessly good performance) is hoping to push third world relief and a conservative U.S. president (Plummer) is pushing an anti-terrorism protocol, gets embroiled in murder and military conspiracies involving a Columbian activist (Maestro) who arrives in Toronto with a vial of a small pox strain from a covert U.S. operation that killed her son. Bland title aside, this is a pretty riveting CBC thriller, sprawling and lavishly filmed. It has a large cast (also including Purefoy as a medical investigator and Lefevre as the PM's activist-filmmaker daughter) playing out a complex scenario juggling backroom negotiations, hitmen, chases, kidnappings, outbreaks and more...and is probably the kind of thing the term "world class" was invented for. It even delivers a less downbeat resolution than you might expect for this sort of project, though the final scene seems a bit rushed and confused. It plays its politics a bit heavy handedly (Crewson as the sinister U.S. Secretary of State is pretty one note -- though Plummer is less of a "bad guy" than you might expect) but that can also be a little...refreshing. In fact, it isn't really that much more manipulative than a lot of Hollywood films (on the left and right) save it actually seems more sincere than a lot of them! Granted suffers from some technical problems (the Centres for Disease Control -- erroneously referred to in the singular throughout -- is a U.S. organization, so I'm not sure it has any jurisdiction outside of the U.S.) but, again, no moreso than any similar film. The title does make it sound like a mountaineering flick -- particularly as Greenwood even appeared in the film Summits of Glory (reviewed below). Four hours. sc: John Krizanc. dir: Nick Copus. - violence.-

SUMMITS OF GLORY  * *  setting: other
(1987) (/U.K.) Bruce Greenwood, Kenneth Welsh, Jenny Seagrove, Oliver Tobias, Bernard Hill, Mick Ford.....Scott Hylands hosts this anthology of three real life historical mountain climbing expeditions. Actually, it's edited versions of three feature films: two British, one Canadian -- the latter being The Climb. As such, the film suffers because the stories aren't much more than synopsis. Might appeal more to fans of the sport. sc: Don Shebib, Fay Weldon, David Pownall. dir: Don Shebib, Colin Godman. app. 100 min.

A SUNDAY IN KIGALI  see  Un dimanche a Kigali

SUNDAY IN THE COUNTRY  * * *  setting: USA.
(1973) Ernest Borgnine, Michael J. Pollard, Hollis McLaren, Cec Linder, Louis Zorach, Vladimir Valenta, Albert Waxman, Tim Henry.....Aging farmer (Borgnine), of the Protestant-work-ethic-school, decides to turn the tables on a trio of homicidal bank robbers (Zorach, Pollard and Linder) who arrive at his farm. Thoughtful suspense-drama starts out seeming a standard psychos-terrorize-family flick, but turns out to be something else entirely. Good performances and ambience. Ralph Endersby and Susan Petrie get killed off right at the beginning. Poor transfer of the wide-screen format to TV means that the actors sometimes aren't even in the shot! a.k.a. Vengeance is Mine and Blood for Blood. sc: Albert Maxwell, John Trent, additional dialogue Andrew Sinclair, Peter Jones. dir: John Trent. - extreme violence, brief female nudity.- 93 min.
 
SUNNYSIDE (TV Series)

(2015-)  * * 1/2  Kathleen Phillips, Pat Thornton, Patrice Goodman, Kevin Vidal, Alice Moran, Rob Norman, Norm MacDonald.....Sketch comedy. This series takes a slightly off-beat approach to the sketch comedy genre. It features a regular cast, each playing multiple characters in usually short, often surreal or absurdist bits -- but it's nominally meant to occur all in the same neighbourhood, with the actors having a bag of recurring characters they portray from episode to episode, such as Thorton's coffee shop clerk. The series was promoted as a kind of hybrid of a sketch comedy (random, non sequitur scenes) and a sitcom (with a regular cast of recurring characters). Of course, even normal sketch comedies often employ recurring bits, but here most of the characters crop up again and again -- even if there isn't any overall continuity being adhered to (in one episode the moon explodes). Former "Saturday Night Live" player Norm MacDonald's only contribution is as a voice that emanates from a man hole pit and dispenses sarcastic or ironic advice to neighbourhood residents who line up to consult him/it.

This TV series is hit and miss. A talented cast (with arguably Vidal as the stand out in his ability to lend an almost believable realism to wacky character) and a willingness to just be crazy and surreal, and wisely keeping the sketches punchy and short. But sometimes it's funny, sometimes it's just mildly amusing, and sometimes you can find yourself just staring at the screen. The balance shifts from episode to episode, but there's enough of the former to make it worth at least sampling. Created by Dan Redican and Gary Pearson. Half-hour episodes on City TV.

SUNSHINE  * * 1/2  setting: other.
(1999) (/Hungary/Germany/Austria) Ralph Fiennes, Rosemary Harris, Rachel Weisz, Jennifer Ehle, Deborah Kara Unger, William Hurt, Molly Parker, James Frain, David de Keyser, John Neville, Mark Strong.....Epic saga of three generations of wealthy Hungarian Jews (each played by Fiennes) as they live through successive regimes (Emperors, fascists, communists), and every time they think they've made it and are accepted by one regime (even converting to Christianity), they face new persecution. Lavishly-mounted, well-acted drama is uneven, particularly in the earlier part where, in order to cram so much into one movie, the use of a voice-over becomes a crutch occasionally, telling us things that we should be shown instead. But it gets better as it goes and, overall, is fairly compelling, and disquieting (particularly with a brief but horrific Concentration Camp scene) with its portrait of a tragic country that seemed to go from one repressive regime to another. Yet the movie is not unrelentingly dark, making it more palatable than one might expect (perhaps a result of the characters often achieving temporary success in their lives). Suffers from a certain aloofness, with outraged characters describing things (poverty or prejudice) that we never see, and Fiennes' various characters are a little cold and distant (a hallmark of his usual performances, but also intentional in the script) which renders the various romantic relationships rather hollow as well, despite the emotional potential in the various taboo romances. In fact, even friendships are often non-existent. Still, flaws notwithstanding, it remains provocative and maintains interest throughout, which is perhaps the best compliment one can say about a three hour film. Of the cast, only Unger, Parker and Neville are Canadian, with Neville and, especially, Parker in relatively small parts. Received three Genies including for Best Picture. sc: Istvan Szabo, Israel Horovitz. dir: Israel Horovitz. - violence, explicit sexual content, female nudity, brief male nudity.- 180 min.

SUNSHINE SKETCHES OF A LITTLE TOWN  * *   setting: Ont.
(2012) Jill Hennessy, Donal Logue, Owen Best, Katie Douglas, Dylan Everett, Skyler Wexler, Peter Keleghan, Colin Mochrie, Michael Therriault, Eric Peterson, Rick Roberts, Caroline Rhea, Raoul Bhaneja, Patrick Kwok-Choon, Gordon Pinsent.....Story of the various denizens of a small Ontario town, circa the late 19th/early 20th Century, focusing, in part, on the battle of values between a likeably roguish tavern owner (Logue) and the prim single mother (Hennessy) who wants him shut down -- and her son (Best) caught in the middle. English-Canada has few pre-mid 20th Century literary touchstones -- the Northern adventures of Jack London and James Oliver Curwood (both, ironically, American), Anne of Green Gables...and, of course, celebrated humorist Stephen Leacock, particularly his book Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town. It had previously served as the source for a TV series and radio production back in the 1950s, making it some 60 years before this TV adaptation once more brought it to life -- albeit here liberally mixed with plot elements not from the book, but loosely inspired by Leacock's own youth, with Owen as a young Leacock and Hennessy as his mother. Marketed as a lavish, all-star extravaganza (though most of the "stars" are just the usual suspects -- Mochrie, Keleghan, etc.) it's certainly sincere...but whether it's that successful is another question. Not a straight comedy, given its moments of drama (Hennessy's role is essentially serious), but the humour can feel whimsical more than funny (even as paradoxically it's sometimes broad), and the drama not that involving. There are too many characters (as the title might imply), with too few developed as personalities or as stories to hold your interest -- even the main plot thread you might only realize had reached its climax...because the movie ends! Hennessey is quite good (in a rare Canadian film/TV appearance), and Pinsent's warm narration appealing, but a lot of the actors seem torn between the tones (is it realist, comedic, camp?) And Leacock's humour -- often sly, delivered with oblique phrasing -- might not translate easily to film. Still, fans of the old Kevin Sullivan-type dramas (like Road to Avonlea) might find it appealing...but others, not so much. Evokes the spirit (and language) of the source, though occasional "potty" humour involving animal droppings seems maybe intended to make it seem "hip" for the younger crowd, as do some deliberate anachronisms (like Keisha Chante, in a small part, singing Burton Cumming's late 20th Century song, "I'm Scared" -- though the movie isn't otherwise a musical). Likewise, there's an attempt to pluralize the casting, presumably to make this century old story seem relevant to modern, multi-racial Canada...without really bothering to give too many of the main roles to non-white actors (though, to be fair, too few of the roles emerge as "main" roles anyway). Ultimately...culturally laudable, but as entertainment, more iffy. Among the familiar faces, see if you can guess the identity of the guy perpetually behind a towel in the barber shop. sc: Malcolm MacRury (from the book by Stephen Leacock). dir: Don McBrearty. 91 min.

SUR LE SEUIL  * * 1/2  setting: P.Q.
(2003) Michel Cote, Patrick Hubard, Catherine Florent, Albert Millaire, Jean L'Italien, Jacques Lavalee, Jean-Pierre Bergeron.....Psychiatrist (Cote) is called in to assess a successful horror novelist (Hubard) who attempted suicide...only to discover evidence that all his novels were written before the real life tragedies that seemed to inspire them. Occult thriller starts out well -- moody and creepy -- starts to lag in the middle as the plot seems to stall, picks up as the back story is finally explained...then builds to a predictable, disappointing -- and surprisingly bloody -- climax. In other words, it's a mix a strengths and weaknesses. Still, worth a view on Halloween or something. English title: Evil Words. sc: Patrick Senecal, Eric Tessier (from Senecal's novel). dir: Eric Tessier. - extreme violence.- 101 min.

SURFACING  *  setting: Ont.
(1980) Joseph Bottoms, Kathleen Beller, R.H. Thomson, Margaret Dragu, Michael Ironside, Larry Schwartz.....Young woman (Beller) and three companions go on a wilderness hike to search for her missing father -- and, supposedly, some self-discovery. Unpleasant, badly written drama and poorly acted by the two imported leads. sc: Bernard Gordon (from the novel by Margaret Atwood). dir: Claude Jutra. - partial female nudity.- 90 min.

THE SURROGATE  * 1/2  setting: USA.
(1984) Art Hindle, Carole Laure, Shannon Tweed, Jim Bailey, Michael Ironside, Marilyn Lightstone, Jackie Burroughs.....U.S. car dealer (Hindle), suffering from black-outs and tantrums, and his wife (Tweed) are persuaded to see a sexual surrogate (Laure) who may be crazier than he is. Meanwhile, the cops are investigating a brutal serial killer. Somewhat sleazy, would-be thriller is dull and not well thought out. None of the characters are very likeable, either, though the film gets marks for its all-Canuck cast. sc: Don Carmody, Robert Geoffrion. dir: Don Carmody. - partial female nudity, sexual content.- 100 min.

SURVIVAL CODE  a.k.a.   Borealis

SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD  * * 1/2  setting: USA.
(2009) (/U.S.) Alan Van Sprang, Kenneth Welsh, Kathleen Munroe, Devon Bostick, Richard Fitzpatrick, Athena Karkanis, Stefano Di Matteo, Joris Jarsky, Eric Woolfe, Julian Richings, Wayne Robson, Matt Birman.....In a world overrun by cannibalistic living dead, a small group of AWOL soldiers head toward a reputed island sanctuary, only to get caught between feuding family clans with clashing ideas on what to do about the undead. American filmmaker Romero largely started the living dead genre with 1968's "Night of the Living Dead" (this being at least the sixth "...of the Dead" movie with him at the helm). Whether they are technically a series, or simply variations on a theme is, perhaps, for fanboys to debate (a brief scene where Van Sprang's group stops an RV of filmmakers is meant to connect to the previous Diary of the Dead). As such, one could argue the well is running a bit dry. This entry is hit and miss, but despite a clumsy opening scene that reminds you they probably had a smaller, practical, budget than the average episode of TV's "The Walking Dead", it's a briskly paced, quirky effort. And tries a little of everything: so it's a violent horror-thriller...but it's also comic and tongue-in-cheek (Romero clearly trying to come up with novel, and gory, ways of braining the undead); it's a character drama, with a large ensemble, but with obligatory social satire and philosophical commentary (the point less the undead...than humanity's reaction to the undead). Some scenes are well done and nuanced, with good interaction...and others can feel like Romero forget to tell the actors they were in the shot! There's a lot going on, as if maybe two or three scripts were folded into one, but that's kind of what keeps it from getting bogged down or boring. Some solid performances -- particularly from Van Sprang, Munroe, Karkanis and a scene-stealing Welsh -- also hold your attention. So not a "great" movie...but quirky and somewhat ambitious, if uneven. Probably plays best for viewers comfortable with the "living dead" genre...but who haven't maxed out by seeing every other entry in the field. Talk show host George Stroumboulopoulos has a cameo as...a talk show host. sc./dir: George A. Romero. - extreme violence.- 90 min./font>

SURVIVE THE NIGHT  * *  setting: USA.
(1992) (/U.S.) Stephanie Powers, Helen Shaver, Kathleen Robertson, Currie Graham, Larry Gilliard Jr., Simon Reynolds, Frances Hyland, Chaz Lamar Shepherd, Booth Savage, Peter MacNeill.....U.S. 'burbanites (Powers, Shaver and Robertson) take a wrong turn late at night and end up in the bad part of town, pursued by a gang. Blah suspenser suffers from unconvincing characters and an overwhelming visual style. So-so performances, though Shepherd is notable as the psychotic gang leader. This TV movie came out before the similar-themed U.S. feature, "Judgement Night". a.k.a. Night Hunt. sc: Steven Whitney (story Jerry Lazarus, Steven Whitney). dir: Bill Corcoran. 94 min.

SURVIVOR  * 1/2
(1999) (/U.S.) Greg Evigan, Rachel Crawford, Claudia Michelsen, David Hewlett, Diego Matamoros, Gene Mack.....An arctic oil drilling station -- sorry, an American arctic oil drilling station (this is a Canadian movie after all) -- inadvertently unearths a cure-all sludge...and a homicidal monster. Oft-used premise misfires here in this formulaic horror-thriller, with truly obnoxious characters (interpersonal conflict can make great drama...characters who snipe and bitch at each other incessantly for no reason, doesn't) and no real tension. You don't want to examine the logic of the thing too closely...nor does it really convince you it's set in the middle of the freezing north! Made for TV, it has some awkwardly edited scenes as if originally planned for video, and then censored for TV showings; "gore" scenes are confusingly edited and a non-gore scene with Crawford and the monster, uh, that is, the monster, um, see it...and then...well, anyway. Poor sound mix, too. Vaguely reminiscent of an old TV movie called "Intruder Within" which was filmed in Canada but I don't think was actually a Canadian production. sc: Joshua Michael Stern. dir: David Straiton. - violence.- app. 90 min.

SUSPICIOUS MINDS  * *  setting: USA.
(1996) Patrick Bergin, Jayne Heitmeyer, Vittorio Rossi, Gary Busey, Daniel Pilon, Liliana Komorowska, Ellen David (a.k.a. Ellen Cohen), Bruce Dinsmore.....Private eye (Bergin) gets embroiled in a twisty case involving an industrialist (Pilon) and murder, a case complicated by his falling in love with his client's wife (Heitmeyer). Mystery suspenser is watchable, though you don't actually care much about anyone, and as a production it's a little rough around the edges, with some lapses in the direction, writing, and performances. Irish actor Bergin tries hard (though is likewise uneven). American actor Busey has a small part as an eco-terrorist. sc: Alain Zaloum, Brenda Newman. dir: Alain Zaloum. - sexual content, partial female nudity, violence.- 94 min.

SUSPICIOUS RIVER  * *  setting: USA.
(2000) Molly Parker, Callum Keith Rennie, Mary Kate Welsh, Joel Bissonnette, Deanna Milligan, Norman Armour, Sarah Jane Redmond, Michael Shanks, Byron Lucas, Paul Jarrett.....American motel clerk (Parker), in a lifeless marriage, moonlights as a prostitute, and starts to fall for a dangerous john (Rennie); while, in a parallel story, a little girl (Welsh) observes her mother's infidelities. Dark, brutal drama, not for sensitive viewers with repeated scenes of degradation and rape, is appalling and unpleasant (which was probably the filmmaker's intent) but also dreary and extremely monotonous (which probably wasn't). Once we've established that these are sad, pathetic, hopeless, creepy people...the movie has nothing more to say. Even the revelation of the heroine's trauma is unenlightening (it still doesn't answer why she acts as she does). Might be of value as a cautionary video to show at drop in centres to girls thinking of becoming hookers...but otherwise, kind of pointless and empty, like its main character. One can't even give the movie points for integrity, since this "Canadian" art movie pretends it's set in the States! sc./dir: Lynne Stopkewich (from the novel by Laura Kasischke). - sexual content, violence, partial female nudity.- 93 min.

SUZANNE  * *  setting: P.Q.
(1980) Jennifer Dale, Gabriel Arcand, Winston Rekert, Ken Pogue, Michelle Rossignol, Marianne McIssac, Gordon Thomson, Gina Dick, Michael Ironside.....Teen aged and poor Suzanne (Dale), in the '50s, gets involved with a bad boy (Rekert, in his film debut) while ignoring a more studious suitor (Arcand), and problems arise over the next few years. Increasingly tedious melodrama trots out the cliches without finding much new to say. Most of the actors look too old for their initial ages and though the performances are O.K., only nice-guy Arcand convinces. Dale's first big starring vehicle (co-produced by her then-husband Robert Lantos). sc: Ronald Sutherland, Robin Spry (from Sutherland's novel Snowlark ). dir: Robin Spry. - partial female nudity, sexual content.- 103 min.

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