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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.
This TV series was one of a few (Katts and Dog was another) which tried to take adult plots (involving fight scenes, murder, drug dealers, etc.) and put them in a more juvenile format...with very uncomfortable results. Technically slick, but kind of blah and U.S. personality Mr. T's performance wasn't exactly an asset. The pilot was a TV movie called Straight Line and is shown as part of the series as a four episode story. Half-hour episodes, originally on Global. - violence.-
THE TADPOLE AND THE WHALE see La grenouille et la baleine
TAGGED: The Jonathan Womback
Story * * * setting: Ont.
(2001) Tyler Hynes, Ron White, Marnie McPhail, Janet-Laine Green, Christopher Jacot, Charlotte Sullivan, J. Adam Brown, Ali Mukaddam.....Story of a teen (Hynes) who becomes embroiled in a gang feud and gets beaten into a coma. Made-for-CTV true story has a nice cast and works precisely because it doesn't always head where you think it's going to head, covering various issues, such as the problem with teen gangs (even in affluent suburbs), and weaknesses with the Young Offenders Act. But its main strength -- and social value -- is dealing with the true, gritty repercussions of violence that are often glossed over in neat n' tidy films and TV. On the other hand, precisely because the movie covers so many facets, it's not entirely clear what it's, principally, trying to be about, with even the court room stuff, and the debates about the value of the Young Offenders Act, seeming more just side issues. Even the investigation: one moment a cop is claiming there were no witnesses, the next moment, they've made arrests! sc: Elizabeth Stewart, Michael Amo (story by Stewart). dir: John L'Ecuyer. 93 min.
TAIL LIGHTS FADE *
* 1/2 setting: CDN.
(1999) Tanya Allen, Jake Busey, Breckin Meyer, Denise Richards, Elizabeth Berkley, Lisa Marie, Jaimz Woolvett, Marcus Hondros.....Two couples (Allen & Meyer and Busey & Richards) drive from Toronto to Vancouver to prevent the secret marijuana garden of a friend (Woolvett) from being discovered after he's arrested, turning it into a good natured race along the way, much to the chagrin of the arrested guy's sister (Allen). Meanwhile, others are also looking for the crop for their own reasons. Comedy-drama boasts a personable cast (particularly Busey), smart dialogue and characters that generally avoid being cardboard personalities. But road movies are usually made up of colourful vignettes along the way -- here, other than an amusing sequence involving a drag race in a small town, most of the movie is just the characters, well, driving. By the end you feel like you've spent the last few hours in a car yourself! A minor scene involving roadkill seems like it was just stuck in because modern filmmakers want to pretend they're dark 'n edgy, but it's pointless and out of place in the rest of the film. Despite the explicit Canadianess of the setting, of the principals only Allen and Woolvett are Canadian. American indie filmmaker Kevin Smith served as an advisor and frequent Smith actor Jason Mewes has an unspeaking cameo at the end. Intriguing acknowledgements in the end credits. sc: Matt Gissing (story Gissing & Ingram). dir: Malcolm Ingram. 88 min.
TAKE THIS WALTZ *
* setting: Ont./N.S..
(2011) Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, Luke Kirby, Susan Silverman.....A happily married but vaguely dissatisfied young woman (Williams) begins a tentative flirtation with the guy across the street (Kirby). Good looking drama boasts nice performances from the principals, particularly American actress Williams and Kirby, who are maybe more endearing than their roles, and has nice naturalism to some scenes, and some bracing emotional vulnerability (the scene where Williams' tells husband Rogen how hard it is to be sexually forward with him)...even as at other times it suffers from heavy handed Art House dialogue, unconvincing set ups, idiosyncracies in lieu of actual characterization, and a kind of thin story where a lot of scenes just feel like repeats of earlier scenes. Arguably offers a twist ending on the expected -- though even then the movie's point can basically be summed up in a single line a character says part way through. Clearly wants to push outside expected comfort zones, with some odd bits, and some gratuitously non-gratuitous nudity (or is that non-gratuitously gratuitous nudity?) Ultimately strengths clash with weaknesses for an uneven result. sc./dir: Sarah Polley. - female nudity; explicit sexual content.- 111 min.
* * 1/2 setting: USA.
(1998) (/U.S.) Dabney Coleman, Stewart Bick, Dennis Boutsikaris, Linda Smith, Dorothee Berryman, Michael Rudder.....U.S. clothing manufacturer (import Coleman) is kidnapped, to the ambivalence of his philandering wife (Smith) and his embezzeling partners. Made-for-cable TV suspenser, one of TMN's Tales of Intrigue, is a notch above some of the others in the series, maintaining a moderate level of interest. Boutsikaris, another American import, is particularly good as the kidnapper. sc: Pierre LaPointe, Richard O. Lowry. dir: Max Fischer. - violence, really brief female nudity.- 966 min.
TAKING CARE *
* 1/2 setting: Ont.
(1987) Kate Lynch, Janet Amos, Saul Rubinek, Bernard Behrens, Allan Royal, Sean McCann.....A nurse (Amos) is charged with the murder of some patients, though hospital officials know they were accidents, and a fellow nurse (Lynch) tries to prove the woman's innocence. O.K. atmosphere (thanks to the music) and an interesting, realist antidote to usual, pollyanna medical dramas (hospitals, like any other big organization, are rife with screw-ups and mistakes), but kind of blah and the cliched baddies make the movie lean towards cheap sensationalism. McCann is a stand-out. a.k.a. Prescription for Murder (a misleading title). sc: Rebecca Schechter. dir: Clarke Mackey. 88 min.
This TV series, with shades of Due South (an action/comedy about mis-matched partners) was largely sold as a vehicle for ex-Street Legal actress Dale, promising to change public perception of her with a departure from her role in that series. Unfortunately, Dale was one of the many problems: though going all out, she wasn't convincing, and instead of being likeably unpolished, she was frequently obnoxious. But then, all the characters were remarkably unappealing and the series suffered from a mean-streak. Everything was overplayed, ruining both the comedy and the drama, and the scripts were pretty lame to begin with...despite potentially flamboyant ideas and the carnival-mileu of a tourist town. At its worst, the series was downright amateurish. Created by Peter Mohan (who worked on Sweating Bullets). 12 hour long episodes on CTV.
Tales for All.....A series of unrelated movies aimed at children and families, spearheaded by producer Rock Demer, made by a variety of writers and directors, and alternating between French and English. titles include: Bach et Bottine, Le Guerre de tuques, The Peanut Butter Solution, La grenouille et la baleine, Tommy Tricker and the Stamp Traveller, Le jeune magicien, and others.
TALES FROM A PARALLEL UNIVERSE a.k.a. Lexx, the Dark Zone Stories
Tales From Muppetland .....The late American Muppet creator Jim Henson (Muppets being a blending of puppetry and marionettes) made at least two nice TV specials in the late '60s early '70s based on fairy tales: Hey, Cinderella, and The Frog Prince...long before the phenomenal success of his "The Muppet Show" and the subsequent feature films. Both specials were filmed in Canada, using Canadian actors (some who would later go on to success in U.S. TV) for the human roles. Whether they technically were Canadian, or even part-Canadian, is hard to say, but they have been reviewed in this book (under their individual titles) anyway. Since Henson worked in various countries, producing shows in England, the U.S., and the CBC-produced children's series Fraggle Rock, it is not unlikely Tales from Muppetland was Canadian. In fact, it is not clear whether The Frog Prince -- the superior of the two -- was even ever aired in the United States until almost a decade after it was made (an e-mailer reported seeing it in the 1980s on the U.S. cable station, Nickleodeon).
TALES FROM THE GIMLI HOSPITAL
* * setting: Man.
(1988) Kyle McCulloch, Michael Gottli, Angela Heck, Margaret Anne MacLeod.....Surrealistic fable about two men (McCulloch and Gottli) in the '20s, quarantined during an epidemic, who become friends and then bitter enemies. Guy Maddin's first feature sets the stylistic tone for his later work: a serio-comic tale with all the coherence of a dream, done in black and white as both an ode to, and a parody of, the early days of cinema. As art, it's certainly interesting and was a big hit with the critics, but as movie-making it's, well, kind of boring. sc./dir: Guy Maddin (his first feature). - extreme violence.- 68 min.
TALES OF THE HAUNTED a.k.a. Evil Walks This House
Tales of Intrigue * * .....Umbrella title for 12 made-for-cable (The Movie Network) movies, produced by Allegro Films. Suspense films, usually set in the United States (with Captive being at least one exception) featuring an American actor in the lead role. Slicker than similar "assembly-line" films made for TMN, the films nonetheless still failed to work dramatically...let alone as thrillers. Good-looking and decently acted, but the technical craftsmanship couldn't quite compensate for the lack of genuine creativity. At least, based on the films I've seen. I made a little deal with myself that, unlike other such series (Tales of the Wild, The Mary Higgins Clark Collection), I would watch a few sample films and, assuming there seemed to be a consistent quality (whether good or bad), I would review them en masse rather than individually. Therefore, there are individual reviews of Captive, 36 Hours to Die, The Witness Files, Taken, but the rest are simply listed here (though I may see them at a later date). Other films in the series include: Eternal Revenge, Fatal Affair, The Pact, Press Run, Random Encounter, Requiem for Murder, Running Home, Someone is Watching.
Tales of the Wild.....Series of six made-for-TV (specifically The Movie Network) movies. The common theme here was to tell old fashioned period adventure-dramas set in northern Canada and based on the writings of Americans Jack London and James Oliver Curwood. Curwood's stuff, inparticular, had been a popular source for movies decades ago, including the Canadian silent film Back to God's Country...but the results here were less-than-inspiring. Canada-France co-productions they, therefore, featured an American actor, usually teamed with a French one, while Canucks were given the supporting parts -- though occasionally (in films like Baree) the more principle role was played by a Canadian. Gritty at times, they nonetheless remained largely PG oriented -- a couple of installments threw in nudity, but so brief and so obscure, as to be hardly worth mentioning. Despite the artistic short-comings of these films, plans were made for another Canada-France series using the same locale and ambience called The Adventures of Smoke Belliou -- before these films had even aired! Some of the films are available on video. titles in order of airing: Warrior Spirit, Legends of the North, Blood of the Hunter, The Other Side of the Law and the interconnected Kazan (a.k.a. Eye of the Wolf) and Baree (a.k.a. Northern Passage).
Talk Nineteen *
* * setting: Ont.
(1993).....Sequel to the documentary Talk 16 reinterviews the same five girls three years later, seeing where they are and what their beliefs are now. Solid, and shorter, follow-up (it's under an hour) is like its predecessor, interesting and entertaining...and also somewhat more downbeat. dir: Janis Lundman, Adrienne Mitchell.
TALK 16 *
* * setting: Ont.
(1991).....Documentary which chronicles a year in the life of five different (though not that different) teen-aged girls, their beliefs, hopes, etc. Entertaining, good-natured, well-made film is an intriguing glimpse into the lives and attitudes of its subjects, and benefits from a general lack of a patronizing attitude. But ultimately it's more of a pop document than a truly deep and insightful social study. Followed by the shorter Talk 19. dir: Janis Lundman, Adrienne Mitchell.
"The Talking Cure", a play about Jung and Freud by Christopher Hampton, served as part of the source for the movie A Dangerous Method
TALONS OF THE EAGLE *
* setting: Ont.
(1992) Billy Blanks, Jalal Merhi, James Hong, Priscilla Barnes, Matthias Hues, Master Pan Qing Fu.....New York cop and Toronto cop (Blanks and Merhi) use their martial art skills to ingratiate themselves with a crime tsar (Hong). Low-budget action pic somehow manages to be better than it should; not great, not even good, but watchable -- though the action scenes, surely the guts of the thing, aren't very exciting. Merhi (who produced) and Blanks provide the chop-socky, Hong and Barnes the decent performances, and Hues both. sc: Stephen Maunder. dir: Michael Kennedy. - violence, partial female nudity, sexual ccontent.- 97 min.
TANGERINE TAXI (1988) Roberta Weiss, Marshall Colt, dir: Mort Ransen. see Shades of Love.
(2010) Sarah Wayne Callies, Leslie Hope, Bill Ward, Barbara Eve Harris, Conrad Pla, Victoria Sanchez .....After a botched assignment where a charmingly roguish double agent (Ward) escapes, an undercover agent for a North America spanning agency (Wayne Callies) resigns partly out of disillusionment when she learns an ex-agent is being targeted and the agency doesn't seem interested in protecting the ex-agent -- so she goes to Montreal, on her own, to investigate, reconnecting with the roguish double agent and with her estranged sister (Hope). Hour-long pilot for a possible series. On one hand, unlike some other "orphan pilots" that crop up on Canadian TV (a series never resulted) the basic plot stands enough on its own that it can be watched for itself (even as cryptic threads hint at revelations to come). But...it's a problematic effort, seeming less like a murky spy show and more like something trying to imitate a murky spy show, but not quite getting it -- even the tone seems muddled: sort of trying to be dark and mysterious, with jiggly camera work and harsh, unflattering lighting...and sort of trying to be light and flippant like a re-run of "Scarecrow and Mrs. King". It's not that it's bad, per se...but it's not really good, either, the actors, characters, situations, and premise never really becoming that interesting...nor even the core premise/tone of the proposed series being that clear. sc: Phil Bedard & Larry Lalonde and Megan Martin. dir: Bronwen Hughes.
TANYA'S ISLAND *
(1980) D.D. Winters (a.k.a. Vanity), Richard Sargent, Don McLeod.....Story of a beautiful woman (Winters) on a tropical island who befriends an ape-like creature, which causes her artist boyfriend (Sargent) to grow increasingly jealous and unhinged. Odd little low-budget movie is sort of just an excuse to have Winters wander about in very little -- and sometimes nothing -- but also seems to have vague, artsy ambitions to be a kind of Lord of the Flies parable. The problem is it doesn't have remotely enough plot (nor technical professionalism) to work as a story, while it has just enough that it interrupts the, uh, aesthetics of staring at a beautiful woman on a tropical island! The result is it's not erotic enough to just be softcore titillation (the "best" sequence is during the opening credits!)...and not smart enough to be a real movie. And it's kind of poorly lit, too. The framing sequence, which suggests the whole movie is a dream (but makes little sense itself) was apparently thrown in so they could claim to funding agencies that it was set in Canada (not that they say it's Canada, of course). Sargent is pretty good, and the ape suit was partially designed by Hollywood wunderkind, Rick Baker. sc: Pierre Brousseau. dir: Alfred Sole. - female nudity, sexual content, brief male nudity.- 85 min.
TAR ANGEL see l'ange
Environmentally conscious but poor action TV series with weak performances, clumsy direction and dumb scripts. Might appeal to young kids just because it is Tarzan, though. And, to be fair, reruns have hardly ever been gone from Canadian airwaves. The show had a curious broadcast history in the U.S.: apparently only the first season was shown during its initial run. However, in the '96-'97 season an American series called "Tarzan: the Epic Adventures" was aired using supernatural themes in keeping with the trend started by the hit "Hercules: the Legendary Journeys" (Canadians got in on the act with The Adventures of Sinbad) but when that "Tarzan" was cancelled after just one season, episodes of this series were edited together into one-hour programs and aired in its stead to make a second season. Best bets: "Tarzan and the Amazon Women". Half-hour episodes originally shown in syndication.
* * setting: P.Q./other/USA.
(2000) Alex Carter, Richard Robitaille, Patrick Goyette, Clark Johnson, Maxim Roy, Tony De Santis, Serge Houde, Chip Chuipka, Catherine Colvey.....Montreal police detective (Carter) spearheads an investigation targeting a super-slick drug smuggler (Goyette) and his international connections. Made for CanWest-Global TV, this crime-drama is "inspired by fact" in such a way that you believe it -- because it's draggy in spots, almost incoherent in others, with scenes and characterization that never really go anywhere -- but other times you can't help thinking it's been heavily fictionalized, which makes the narrative/dramatic shortcomings all the more glaring. A couple of good scenes (including an amusing one discussing protocols in naming the investigation) but generally pedestrian with direction that can't make the distinction between vacuously stylish and genuine mood; there's lots of flashy edits, but little that helps the story or atmosphere. A decent cast, particularly Robitaille as the hero's mountie partner, Johnson (natch), and the undervalued Colvey as a secretary. But why-oh-why are we still seeing the same old (arguably racist) cliche where black Canadian actors (Johnson) only get cast as Americans?!? a.k.a. Task Force: Caviar. sc: Wayne Grigsby. dir: Richard Ciupka. 95 min.
TAXI TO L.A. *
* 1/2 setting: CDN./USA.
(1996) Alexandra Woodward, Mark Houghton.....Breaking up with her fiancee, an upper class woman (Woodward) hires a working stiff cabbie (Houghton) to drive her from Montreal to Los Angeles. They bicker, they argue...they fall in love. Romantic comedy-drama is uneven, with the characters not especially likeable in the beginning, but gets better as it goes along. It works more than not, thanks in no small part to Woodward and Houghton's performances. Often with Shbib's low-budget, gurreuilla-style films, the performances are "good considering the budget" -- not so here. Nice score by Jean-Francois Fabiano. One of Shbib's "Senses" films. sc: Bashar Shbib, Diane Carlson (story Liz Shannan). dir: Bashar Shbib. - partial female nudity, sexual content.- 777 min.
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