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.

Waiting for Time, a novel by Bernice Morgan, served as part of the source for the CBC mini-series, Random Passage.

THE WAITING GAME  * * 1/2  setting: USA.
(1998) Chris Potter, Chandra West, Art Hindle, John Pyper-Ferguson,  Jonathan Crombie, Paula Abdul, Pedro Salvin, Shaun Clarke.....After her enigmatic uncle (Hindle) disappears, and his mysterious friend shows up (Potter), an American gallery owner (West) -- engaged to a dependable guy (Crombie) -- finds herself drawn into intrigue. Like most of the Harlequin movies, there's a workmanlike feel to this film. The suspense stuff works better than the romance, thanks to a kind of blandly written and played lead (who doesn't even clue to the cloak and dagger stuff till more'n half way through), though Potter shows once again that he's an underappreciated talent. Good cast overall. singer Abdul (an American but apparently with a Canadian mom) plays the heroine's best friend, and is competent...rather like the film. An O.K. time-waster. sc: Barbara O'Kelly, Peter Lauterman, Jennifer Black (from the novel  by Jane Ann Krentz). dir: Vic Sarin. 91 min.

The Wake  * * *  setting: Alt.
(1986) Victoria Snow, Timothy Webber, Frank Adamson, Diane Debassige.....A metis woman (Snow) embarks on a relationship with a white Mountie (Webber), only to have prejudice lead to tragedy. Fine hour long drama boasts convincing atmosphere and strong performances. Snow is required to carry it and she's excellent, picking up a Best Actress Gemini (unusual for a non-feature that had only had limited exposure). One of the Daughters of the Country series. sc: Sharon Riis. dir: Norma Bailey. (video)

WAKING UP WALLY: The Walter Gretzky Story  * * * 1/2  setting: Ont.
(2005) Tom McCamus, Victoria Snow, Tara Spencer-Nairn, Matthew Edison, Kristin Holden-Ried, Robert Bockstael, Dave Brown, Shaun Johnston.....Story of hockey superstar Wayne Gretzky's dad, Walter (McCamus), and his slow, but heroic recovery from a stroke that left him brain damaged and partially amnesiac. As Canadian TV movies have increasingly been stuck in the rut of true stories and bio pics, at first glance this CBC movie might seem like mercenary desperation -- hey, let's do a movie, not about a famous person, but about a famous person's dad! Surprisingly, though, what emerges is a compelling, genuinely affecting drama in which the younger Gretzky (played by Holden-Ried) appears only in a supporting part. Sure, it's a little formulaic, with McCamus superb as the wilful but damaged Wally, and Edison as the sensitive therapist trying, along with the family, to breakthrough to him, but it's a formula that is well handled here. Gritty and unsentimental enough to not seem too sappy or white washed, while being involving and ultimately uplifting. This aired almost at the same time as the conceptually similar CTV bio-pic, The Man Who Lost Himself. sc: Carol Hay (from the autobiography Walter Gretzky: On Family, Hockey and Healing by Walter Gretzky). dir: Dean Bennett. app. 90 min.

"Walk Well, My Brother", a story by Farley Mowat, became the motion picture The Snow Walker.

(1988).....Ringo Starr hosts this documentary about past-life experiences featuring famous celebrities including, among others, Rae Dawn Chong, k.d. lang, Helen Shaver, the Dalai Lama and most prominently, Martin Sheen. Interesting, with some neat visuals, film clips and re-enactments, but ultimately it seems a little too thin to sustain a feature length documentary and has little that will sway a skeptic. sc. ... dir: Jonathan Kay. - sexual content.- 92 min.

WALL OF SECRETS  * * 1/2  setting: USA.
(2003) (/U.S.) Nicole Eggert, Dean McDermott, Bruce Gray, Stephen McHattie, Conrad Pla, Sarah Allen, Mary Morter, Matthew Boylan, Steve Adams....Young couple (Eggert and McDermott) move to a Chicago apartment, and she starts to notice strange things: floor boards creak at night, muttering voices can be heard in the walls, and a neighbour dies mysteriously. O.K., if workmanlike, suspenser, though, as is to be expected, the questions are more intriguing than the solutions. Odd decision having American actress Eggert play an ex-lawyer...since her character's actions and demeanour don't really seem to gel with that background. One of those movies that begins with a sex scene...featuring character who don't appear later in the film! sc: Ronnie Christensen. dir: Francois Gingras. - partial female nudity, sexual content, violence.- 105 min. (video)

WALLS  * * 1/2  setting: B.C.
(1984) Winston Rekert, Andree Pelletier, Alan Scarfe, John Wright, John Lord, Lloyd Berry.....Convicts at a maximum security prison (led by Rekert) take hostages, including a sympathetic social worker (Pelletier), to escape intolerable prison conditions. Fairly well done, gritty drama is somewhat hurt by weak supporting performances and dialogue that, in its preachiness, occasionally becomes unbelievable. Based on a true story. sc: Christian Bruyere. dir: Tom Shandel. - violence, casual male nudity.- 88 min.

(2001) Wendy Crewson, Victor Garber, Robin Dunne, Thur Reifenstein, Jim Boeven, Cynthia Gibb, Fiona Reid, Jennifer Podemski, Kerry McPherson, Joanne Vannicola.....Amateur detective Joanne Kilbourn (Crewson) investigates when an ex-hooker is murdered outside her daughter's shop, and her son's fiance subsequently commits suicide. Third made-for-CTV Joanne Kilbourn Mystery is slickly produced, but the underlying emotional threads of the novel (involving guilt and self-recrimination) are kind of muted, making it no more than an O.K. detective story. As well, the heart of the original novel -- dealing with child molestation and kiddie porn -- has been eliminated entirely from the film! Joanna Vannicola (a.k.a. Joanne Vannicola) replaces Colombe Demers as Kilbourn's eldest daughter. sc: R.B. Carney, Andrew Wreggitt (from the novel by Gail Bowen). dir: Brad Turner. 88 min.

Wapi, the Walrus, a novel by James Oliver Curwood, served as the source for the Canadian silent classic Back to God's Country.

THE WAR BETWEEN US  * * *  setting: B.C.
(1995) Shannon Lawson, Mieko Ouchi, Robert Wisden, Robert Ito, Ian Tracey, Juno Ruddell, Edmond Kato, Ruby Truly, Jennifer Clement, Kevin McNulty.....Story of the forced relocation of coastal Japanese-Canadians during W.W. II to a small interior town, focusing on a young woman (Ouchi) and her family and her developing relationship with a local family (Lawson and Wisden). Solid made-for-CBC TV drama is well written and directed and boasts an excellent ensemble cast from top to bottom. The film, though, lacks something somewhere, because it only occasionally engenders the emotion one would expect. Received the Gemini for Best Musical Score. sc: Sharon Gibbon. dir: Anne Wheeler. 92 min.

THE WAR BOY  * 1/2  setting other
(1985) Jason Hopley, Helen Shaver, Kenneth Welsh, Ingrid Venninger..... Story of life in a Yugoslavian village during Word War II as seen through the eyes of a boy (Hopley). Clunky drama with somewhat stilted performances and dialogue (presumably thinking it will evoke European peasants). It's choppy and confusingly disjointed, resulting often in brief scenes meant to highlight various aspects of wartime life (see the boy forage for potatoes in a field, see his father hide Jews, etc.) without developing most of the characters or the scenes. Ironically, improves a little toward the end...after the war seems to be over! Doubtless sincere, but sincerity doesn't necessarily guarantee a good movie. Still, one can appreciate a passing Canadian reference, by having it be that the kids were born in Canada, but moved back to Europe prior to the war (though little is done with the idea). sc: Jim Osborne, Julius Kohanyi. dir: Allan Eastman. - violence.- 86 min.

WAR BRIDES  * * 1/2  setting: CDN.
(1980) Sonja Smits, Layne Coleman, Elizabeth Richardson, Geoffrey Bowes, Wendy Crewson, Timothy Webber, Sharry Flett, Ken Pogue.....Tale of four "war brides" who come to Canada after W.W. II to be with their new husbands. Strong cast and good scenes, especially with German Smits and the prejudice she encounters. However, too many plots make this CBC TV movie too unfocused and episodic to really get into. Won Best script Nellie. sc: Grahame Woods. dir: Martin Lavut. app. 100 min


(1988-1990) (/U.S.)  * *  Jared Martin ("Harrison Blackwood"), Lynda Mason Green ("Suzanne McCullough"), Philip Akin ("Norton Drake") (1st), Richard Chaves ("Lt.Col. Paul Ironhorse") (1st), Adrian Paul ("John Kincaid") (2nd), with Rachel Blanchard ("Debi McCullough"), Richard Comar (1st), Denis Forest ("Malzor") (2nd), Catherine Disher ("Mana") (2nd), Julian Richings ("Ardix") (2nd), others.....Science fiction/horror about a U.S. team battling a covert alien invasion. Martin was the scientist leader; Green the biologist and mom of Blanchard; Akin the wheelchair bound computer expert; and Chaves the military man. Comar was the leader of the aliens. This TV series was intended as a sequel to the 1953 U.S. film (Martin's character I think was supposed to be the son of Gene Barry's character from that film) which in turn was based on H.G. Wells classic novel, though the series' connection to either was rather loose (they were about a full scale war, not a covert invasion, and the aliens didn't go around adopting human forms ala "Invasion of the Body Snatchers").

The first season was set in modern times and was campy and clumsy, emphasizing truly disgusting violence. The second season brought enormous changes, dropping half the cast and adding Paul -- pre-Highlander TV series -- as a brooding soldier (who was quickly written to dominate the stories); Forest as the leader of the now-human looking aliens; Disher as his chief scientist; and Richings as another alien. The violence was toned down and it became ultra serious and better looking, set "Almost tomorrow" in a decayed (and rather ill-defined) near future. But though it tried hard, the second season was slow-moving and not much better.

Import Martin was good, but Green was given little to do (and Martin himself was often shunted aside in the 2nd season in favor of the hunkier, but less effective, Paul). Forest also was notable. The final episode, disregarding most of the atrocities that went before, had the aliens turn out to be not so bad, merely misled. But the cleverest change had to be the aliens' slogan: initially they exclaimed, "To life immortal", but in the 2nd season they worshipped an entity called The Immortal and they would proclaim, "Life to the Immortal". Best bets: the 2nd season premier (a transition episode). Two seasons of hour long episodes (including a two-hour opener) in syndication, and sometimes viewed as two separate series. In the fall of 1997, for instance, Showcase Television was airing the first season, while Space was showing the 2nd. - extreme violence./violence.


Just the name that the second season of War of the Worlds was sometimes listed under (though it was never an official, on-screen name)

WARRIOR SPIRIT  * *  setting: USA./Yuk.
(1994) (/France) Lukas Haas, Allan Musy, Jimmy Herman, Jean-Pierre Matte, Jessica Welch, Byron Chief-Moon, Daniel Gelin.....Two teens, one white (Haas) and one metis (Musy), become friends in a U.S. boarding school in the 1800s, then reunite in the far north where they work as trappers, search for gold and get involved in a blood feud. More-or-less family-aimed drama/adventure is slow and a little awkwardly directed in spots. And the "environmental" attitudes expressed will leave modern day environmentalists slack-jawed. See Tales of the Wild. sc./dir: Rene Manzor (from the stories "The Wolf Hunters" and "The Gold Hunters" by James Oliver Curwood). - violence.- 94 min.

WARRIORS * *  setting: USA.
(1994) (/Israel) Gary Busey, Michael Pare, Wendii Fulford, Liz Macrae, Catherine MacKenzie, Aron Tager.....A top-secret U.S. government commando (Busey) goes AWOL for unknown reasons, along with a hooker (Fulford) he meets, and a former friend (Pare) is assigned to bring him in...dead or alive. Surprisingly, the actors, director and writers put more effort into this action-suspenser than you'd expect, making it hard to dismiss. But it's kind of slow with rarely more than standard scenes and ideas...right down to the usual conflicting morality messages. Though the train chase is pretty original. sc: Alexander Epstein, Benjamin Gold. dir: Shimon Dotan. - violence, brief female nudity.- 101 min.

THE WARS  * * * *  setting: Ont./other
(1983) (/German) Brent Carver, Martha Henry, William Hutt, Jackie Burroughs, Jean LeClerc, Ann-Marie MacDonald, Alan Scarfe.....Pacifist (Carver), driven from his wealthy but lifeless family and his domineering mother (Henry), joins the army during W.W. I. Handsome, atmospheric and slow moving drama is a powerful anti-war picture. Fine cast, particularly Henry and Hutt. Won three Genies including Best Actress (Henry's first) and Supporting Actress (Burroughs). Music by Glenn Gould. sc: Timothy Findley (from his novel). dir: Robin Phillips. - male nudity and partial female nudity, sexual content.- 120 min.

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