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.

WHALE MUSIC  * * 1/2
(1994) Maury Chaykin, Cyndy Preston, Jennifer Dale, Paul Gross, Kenneth Welsh, Blu Mankuma, Jim Byrnes, Deborah Duchene, Alan Jordan.....A reclusive rock star (Chaykin), devastated by his brother-and-bandmate's death years before, works on a symphony for whales...only to have his isolation disturbed by a runaway teen (Preston). Comedy-drama has good performances, dialogue, mood, music (by the Rheostatics), but is ultimately kind of thin and insubstantial, fumbling many of its own ideas by the end and relying a lot on Preston's scantily-clad form to carry it over the dull spots -- though she does, in fact, remain clad. Entertaining if you're in an undemanding mood. Most of the recognizable cast (including Gross as the dead bro) have just small parts. Chaykin received the Best Actor Genie. sc: Paul Quarrington, Richard J. Lewis (from Quarrington's novel). dir: Richard J. Lewis. - partial female and male nudity, sexual content.- 111 min.

WHAT KATY DID  * *
(1999) (/U.K.) Alison Pill, Megan Follows, Martha Burns, Kevin Whately, Sophie Bennett, Catherine Fitch, Dean Stockwell, Jan Rubes.....Story of a rambunctious, troublesome, head strong girl (Pill) in the 19th Century, who finds a kindred soul in her sickly aunt (Follows), then must endure a tragedy. Odd-ball family drama starts out a seeming Anne of Green Gables wannabe, depicting the light-hearted misadventures of its plucky heroine, then veers into a kind "crisis of the week" TV movie. Not as stodgy and mannered as these sorts of Canadian-made family period films often are (while still being a tad mannered) but it seems kind of unfocused and meandering. It wants to be something where the characters have grown by the end, but forgets to actually portray that growth (Pill doesn't even have much dialogue for a chunk of the film). Based on the first of three young people's books, one can't help feeling nuances may've been lost in the translation. American import Stockwell has a kind of extraneous part as a hobo, a role that doesn't really seem to warrant celebrity casting, and Rubes appears only briefly as a doctor. sc: Olivia Hetreed (from the book by Susan Coolidge). dir: Stacey Stewart Curtis. 88 min.
 
WHAT IT'S LIKE BEING ALONE  (TV Series)

(2006)  * /2  .....Stop-motion/claymation not-for-kids black comedy about the bizarre, misfit orphans at a gothic-looking orphanage in a surreal no man's land -- including a boy with only one limb, a fish-boy, a boy with an over-developed brain, a gay boy who's always on fire (get it? he's "flaming"), a grey, shrill creature who calls herself "Princess Lucy", etc., with the most normal one a teen-age girl nihilist who dresses in Goth black. 

Comedy is basically trying to be the "Addams Family" meets the vulgar crudity of "South Park" with an "anything goes" approach to stories with plenty of in-your-face "politically incorrect" humour, blood, bodily functions, etc. It boasts some interesting visuals and tries really, really hard to be an edgy, cult thing...now if only it was particularly funny, it might be a winner. Too many of the characters are worse than not funny...they're shrill and aggravating (especially Princess Lucy) and one-note. Even in a comedy it helps to, you know, like the characters, or at least have characters with dimension. Probably destined for a minor cult following, but it's more something you can applaud for its unusualness (the only stop motion series on North American network TV) rather than actually enjoy as being a comedic success. Created by Brad Peyton. Thirteen half-hour episodes (so far) on the CBC.


 
WHATEVER, LINDA  (Web Series)

(2015-)  * * Hannah Cheesman ("Linda"), Terra Hazelton, Cara Ricketts, Martha MacIsaac, Brendan Gall, Sheila McCarthy, Julian Richings .....Dramedy about a young woman and her pals at a New York investment firm who, desperate for money and stifled for career advancement, start an illegal Ponzi scheme.

Web series can kind of waffle between being maverick creative endeavours made outside the normal studio/network channels...or, more cynically, self-employment projects by the people involved (where the star is often the co-creator). This is a professionally put together effort -- but lacks a sense of why it exists! It's a comedy-drama -- which can be a polite way of saying: it's not funny enough to be a comedy and not serious enough to be a drama. It's a quasi-"caper" story, without any real suspense, intrigue, or awareness of its own moral ambiguity (the filmmakers suggested they were inspired by the Bernie Madoff scandal -- but seem to forget that Madoff is largely reviled). All the while lacking any fresh ideas, from the white collar scheming itself to the theme of the put-upon-gals pulling one over on their sexist boss. The series comes across a lot like the movie "9 to 5" only without the humour, the wackier plot aspects...and more than three decades after that movie was seen as progressive (though might explain why this is set in 1978)! The filmmakers seem to want to take the "feminist" subtext seriously (the web site even featuring a page about feminism) without them saying anything new for feminists, nor saying it well enough to prod the consciences of sexists. Even the fact that this Canadian web series is set in New York probably says as much as anything about its (lack of) creativity. If this sounds like I'm overly harsh it's because wasted potential is more annoying than egregious badness -- in this case the actors are capable, it looks decent enough (within its budget limitations), the dialogue is fine (albeit in its not-that-funny/not-that-serious way) but it just feels like they needed someone looking over their shoulders asking: "Uh...so what are you trying to do here?" 10 mini-episodes. sc: Hannah Cheesman, Julian De Zotti. dir: Matt Eastman.

WHEN ANGELS FLY  *
(1983) Jennifer Dale, Robin Ward.....Nurse (Dale) takes a job at a special clinic in order to investigate her sister's death. Weak, low-budget made-for-TV drama.

WHEN JUSTICE FAILS * 1/2  setting: USA.
(1997) Jeff Fahey, Marlee Matlin, Carl Marotte, Chuck Shamata, Charles Powell, Sean Milliken, Monique Mercure.....Two New York police detectives (American Fahey and Canadian Marotte) investigate a couple of vigilante killings, but Fahey falls for the main suspect, an enigmatic District Attorney (American Matlin). Suspenser has a good cast, and starts out with some O.K. banter, but quickly bogs down with turgid direction and a slow, cliched plot where, perhaps for budget reasons, the characters spend a lot of time sitting around discussing previous scenes or describing investigations that take place off-camera. The score isn't an asset either. At one point the characters describe the premise of the movie "Basic Instinct" (acknowledging the inspiration, I guess) but the movie poster is for a completely fictional movie! Presumably they couldn't get the rights to actually use the "Basic Instinct" poster. sc: Tony Kayden. dir: Allan A. Goldstein. 91 min.

WHEN NIGHT IS FALLING* * 1/2  setting: Ont.
(1994) Pascale Bussieres, Rachel Crawford, Henry Czerny, David Fox, Don McKellar, Clare Coulter, Tracy Wright.....A female teacher at a Christian college (Bussieres), involved in a relationship (with Czerny), finds herself becoming attracted to a female circus performer (Crawford). Rozema is one of this country's most visually stylish directors and humane story tellers, but this film is more a pretty postcard than a letter: a sensual, sweet-tempered romantic drama featuring two exceptionally beautiful actresses (with a surprisingly explicit sex scene thrown in) but slow and thin. Bussieres' performance inparticular is ultimately opaque. sc./dir: Patricia Rozema. - female nudity, explicit sexual content, brief male nudity.- 94 min.

WHEN SPARKS FLY * * 1/2  setting: USA.
(2014) (/U.S.) Meghan Markle, Christopher Jacot, Kristina Pesic, Lochlyn Munro, Keith MacKechnie, Jacqueline Samuda, P.J. Prinsloo.....A big city American reporter (Markle) returns to her hometown to act as a bridesmaid at her best friend's 4th of July wedding -- only to discover the groom is her high school sweetheart (Jacot), and that the old emotions are still there. There's a whole industry of these modestly-budgeted Canadian-made TV movies intended for U.S. channels like Lifetime and, in this case, the Hallmark Channel. And they tend to be doggedly innocuous and shamelessly cloying, unfolding pretty much the way you expect from scene one. It's a romantic comedy -- though often more just light-hearted than actually funny-funny (though there are some cute quips). But it coasts by on a pleasant cast, a few more twists to the plot than in some comparable flicks, and maybe more weight to the central emotional/ethical dilemma. And gets a boost because the scenes between Markle and Jacot are grounded (thanks to the actors, their on-screen chemistry, and the writing), providing oases of almost-gravitas among the saccharine. So, decent (for its type). These Canadian-made movies are often exaggeratedly American, this moreso than most with its 4th of July setting -- though it's used for humour (the bride goes overboard on a patriotic theme) and to provide a double entendre title (referring both to romantic chemistry and to the fire works). Appealing American actress Markle co-stars in the Toronto-shot American TV series, "Suits," so, in a sense, could almost be viewed as an honourary Canuck -- making this sort of an all-Canadian cast. sc: Carol Starr Schneider. dir: Gary Yates. 83 min.

WHEN THE BULLET HITS THE BONE  * 1/2  setting: USA.
(1995) Jeff Wincott, Michelle Johnson, Doug O'Keeffe, Richard Fitzpatrick, Phillip Jarrett, Roy Lewis, Torri Higginson, Howard Jerome.....New York doctor (Wincott), feeling he can't make a difference in all the violence he's treating the results of, gets badly wounded while trying to intercede between a woman (American Johnson) and some mobsters; so he decides to take to the streets and make a difference by helping her -- unaware her mob cronies have C.I.A. connections. Good, off-beat premise in this low-budget thriller, with Wincott eschewing his action movie persona for more of an everyman, but awkwardly structured and paced with an over reliance on brutality. Works only in fits and starts. Lewis is a memorable thug. sc./dir: Damian Lee. - extreme violence.- 92 min.

WHEN TOMORROW DIES  * *  setting: CDN.
(1966) Patricia Gage, Douglas Campbell, Neill Dainard (a.k.a. Neil Dainard), Nikki Cole, Desmond Smiley, Francie Long, Patricia Wilson.....Upper middle class housewife and mother (Gage), feeling smothered by her sterile life, rebels, and goes to university where she becomes infatuated with her professor (Dainard). Black & white drama is another of director Kent's blistering exposes of the middle class "dream"...but it's more a polemic than a drama, with too little in the way of story, and suffers from a manneredness at times that works against the reality. Gage and Dainard's feature film debuts, and both are fine; Campbell doesn't seem to be the respected stage actor (and Great Detective star) of the same name. Nice scene (irrelevant to the film's main theme) where Dainard lectures about Canadian literature and identity. sc: Robert Harlow, Larry Kent. dir: Larry Kent. 87 min.

Where She Has Gone, the novel by Nino Ricci, served as part of the source for the mini-series, The Lives of the Saints

Where the Heart Is  * * 1/2  setting: N.B.
(1984) Margo Kane, Gary Farmer, Tantoo Martin (Cardinal), Tom Jackson, Graham Greene, Paul Stanley.....After her divorce from a white man, a Native woman (Kane) moves back to the reserve only to find she no longer has Indian status...and with other local women, begins protesting the sexist law and band corruption in general. Interesting hour-long drama, as much about political corruption on reserves as sexism and Federal laws, but it's a bit static at times. The characters, good, bad and indifferent, avoid stereotypes (positive and negative) and are allowed to be real people. Playwright Tomson Highway provided the music. Made for For the Record. sc: Suzette Couture. dir: Carol Moore-Ede.

WHERE THE SPIRIT LIVES  * * 1/2  setting: Alt.
(1989) Michelle St. John, Ann-Marie MacDonald, Heather Hess, David Hemblen, Ron White, Chapalle Jaffe, Patricia Collins.....In the '30s, a Native girl (St. John) is taken from her family and put in a Residential school to be brutally indoctrinated into white society. Emotionally charged subject matter, surprisingly, ends up being rather uninvolving in this CBC TV drama. Won Geminis for Best TV-Movie, Actress (St. John) and Supporting Actress (MacDonald). sc: Keith Ross Leckie. dir: Bruce Pittman. - violence, brief female nudity.- app. 966 min.

WHERE THE TRUTH LIES  * 1/2  setting: USA.
(2005) (/U.K.) Kevin Bacon, Colin Firth, Alison Lohman, David Hayman, Rachel Blanchard, Maury Chaykin, Kristin Adams, Sonja Bennett, Deborah Grover, Beau Starr.....Story, cutting between the early 1970s and the late 1950s, about an American journalist (Lohman) trying to write a book/expose about a once legendary Martin & Lewis-esque comedy duo (Firth and Bacon) whom she admires -- and who broke up 15 years previous after a dead body was found in their hotel room. Ambitious film wants to cover a lot of themes and ideas, from being a mystery, to a rumination on fame, sexuality, ambition, childhood, and more...and, unfortunately, ends up mostly a confused mess. At its best, there are good bits, with Bacon and Firth having moments (though only Blanchard, in a small part as the murder victim, delivers a consistently strong, convincing performance), and some potentially intriguing plot twists...and at its worst, it comes across a bit like a Mel Brooks' parody of a film noir melodrama. There are so many things that just don't work -- the movie spends ages not really dealing with the central mystery, then delivers clues with heavy-handed "thumps!" or the fact that Bacon and Firth, playing a comedy duo, aren't particularly funny! And Lohman proves a problematic lead. Like with his previous "big budget" effort, Ararat, Egoyan tries a jumbled chronology approach to the narrative (now with voiceover layered on voiceover) and ends up with a frequently incoherent collection of disjointed scenes (though is a bit clearer with a second viewing). Though controversial for its sex scenes, the movie doesn't really sustain an aura of decadent sensuality, meaning those scenes just seem to come out of nowhere. The bottom line is: you don't really care about these characters, what happened to them, or why -- which, in a story, and especially a mystery/whodunit?, is kind of important. Egoyan has long been heralded (by critics) as an icon of Canadian cinema -- yet this, his biggest budgeted, most "mainstream" movie to date...is set in the United States and features mainly imported actors in the lead roles. Wow! Gives you a rush of patriotic pride, don't it? Received the Genie for Best Adapted Script. sc./dir: Atom Egoyan (from the novel by Rupert Holmes). - female and male nudity, sexual content.- 106 min.

WHISKEY ECHO (TVMS) * * *  setting: other
(2005) (/Ireland) Joanne Kelly, Dominique McElligott, David Alpay, Jason Barry, San Shella, Callum Keith Rennie, Frederick McCormack, Nthati Moshesh, Lenny Juma Onyango, Thapelo Ragedi.....Story of life at an isolated refugee hospital manned by international volunteers (Canadians, Irish, Italians, Indians, etc.) in war torn Sudan, chronicling the various personalities and relationships, and how one of the personnel (Kelly) bucks protocols by trying to form an alliance with a local, handsome warlord (McCormack). Slickly put together drama is involving and features a nice ensemble of well drawn characters, portrayed by an engaging cast. Part social drama (creator Young spent time with real life organizations) part soap opera (but not too chintzy a one). Lags a bit in the final hour, with protracted farewell scenes, and a shift away from the hospital to inter-tribal politics, and where even some of the character/soap threads peter out rather than pay off. Still, overall, a compelling and effective drama...one where, despite my criticisms of the final quarter, the characters and the milieu are sufficiently interesting that it actually could've been longer! Though the masala of different accents, some real, some put on, will keep your ears on their toes, and the sub-titles in sub-titled scenes are a little too small to make for easy reading. Arguably influenced by the earlier "event" CBC mini-series, Human Cargo, in which one of the plot threads involved a woman working at an African refugee camp (or maybe even an episode of "ER"). Filmed in South Africa. Four hours (originally shown in two hour segments, but filmed as four hour long episodes, presumably for syndication purposes). sc: David Young, with R.B. Carney, Shelley Eriksen. dir: Harry Hook. - violence.-

A WHISPER TO A SCREAM  * 1/2
(1989) Nadia Capone, Yaphet Kotto, Lawrence Bayne, Silvio Oliviero, Michael Lebovic, Denise Ryan, Klea Scott.....Actress (Capone), working at a phone-sex service, becomes a fixation for a psycho who murders women and uses their screams to make music. Pretentious talk about art and artists aside, this is a dumb and boring thriller. Despite exposed flesh, it's pretty un-sexy too, which may be intentional. Kotto has just a small part. sc: Gerard Ciccoritti, Robert Bergman. dir: Robert Bergman. - sexual content, partial female nudity, violence.- 97 min.

WHISPERS  * 1/2  setting: USA.
(1990) Victoria Tennant, Jean LeClerc, Chris Sarandon, Peter MacNeill, Eric Christmas.....A woman (imported Tennant) is attacked; the cops don't believe her. She's attacked again and she kills him; now the cops believe her. She's attacked a third time -- by the dead man! -- and she and a cop (imported Sarandon) start looking into the mysterious goings on. Weak suspenser was probably intended to have a creepy, occult ambience (kind of like films from the early '70s) but the director doesn't seem to realize that; add to that a first half where the heroes aren't really driving the action and Tennant's lackluster performance and the film basically misses the boat entirely. LeClerc is good as the psycho/baddie. sc: Anita Doohan; from an adaptation by Don Carmody (based on the novel by Dean R. Koontz). dir: Douglas Jackson. - violence, partial female nudity, sexual content.- 95 min.

WHISPERS OF LOVE see Les Amoureusse

THE WHISTLEBLOWER  * * * setting: other/USA.
(2011) (/Germany) Rachel Weisz, David Strathairn, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Anna Anissimova, Roxana Condurace, Vanessa Redgrave, Monica Bellucci, David Hewlett.....True story of Kathryn Bolkovac (Weisz), an American police officer who takes a job with a government licensed private security firm helping in the re-construction of post-war Bosnia, only to uncover a rampant, misogynist criminal sub-culture of human trafficking, forced prostitution, rape and murder that not only is patronized by many of the workers in her own company and the U.N....but some are actually involved in running it! Yet the corruption is so systemic, she finds few people willing to investigate. Gritty, unvarnished expose (including some disturbing scenes) is capably put together, and makes its point -- though arguably is one of those films where the earnest subject matter maybe forgives some weaknesses in the filmmaking. The plot can be a bit muddled at times, the tension not consistently maintained. British actress Weisz is good (adopting an American accent) but is left to carry it mainly by herself, with even "names" like Strathairn and Redgrave in fairly small parts. Perhaps the most shocking thing about the story...is that the real life events had so little impact. Prior to this movie, chances are most people hadn't even heard of Bolkovac or what she exposed (she...and others, Bolkovac not being the only whistleblower about such atrocities). And with little sense it resulted in charges being laid or any changes in how these situations are handled or these organizations police themselves. sc: Eilis Kirwan, Larysa Kondracki. dir: Larysa Kondracki. - violence, sexual content.- 112 min.
 
 
WHISTLER (TV Series)

(2006-2007)  * *  Nick Lea ("Ethan MacKaye") (1st), Jesse Moss ("Quinn MacKaye"), David Paetkau ("Beck MacKaye), Ingrid Kavelaars ("Jen MacKaye"), Amanda Crew ("Carrie Miller"), Holly Dignard ("Nicole Miller"), Adam J. Harrington ("Ryan MacKaye"), Brendan Penny ("A.J. Varland") (1st), Christopher Shyer ("Adrian Varland"), Tamara Hope (2nd) with Brandy Ledford, Steve Bacic (1st), Kandyse McClure (1st), Kim Hawthorne (2nd), others.....Drama/soap about the characters in the winter resort town of (the real life) Whistler, B.C., initially held together by a thread involving the mysterious death of an Olympic ski boarding champion (Paetkau -- who continues to appear as a cryptic hallucination to various characters). Moss plays the brother, investigating his brother's life and death, Lea and Kavelaars the parents who run a local bar. Crew the dead boy's girlfriend, Dignard her big sister who works at the local posh hotel, Harrington, another concierge at the hotel, Penny the dead boy's best friend and troubled son of the hotel owner, and Shyer the wealthy, wheeling and dealing hotel owner. Ledford plays the hotel owner's sexy new wife, Bacic a reporter arrived to do a story on the dead boy, and McClure a bartender at the family bar. Hawthorne a financial manager sent to oversea the hotel after some fiscal mismanaging. 

CTV's answer to CanWest-Global's Falcon Beach, but though seeming slicker and more expensive, isn't as interesting. Somewhat slow moving, and though the focus on the family's grief over the son's death seems admirably like the writers want to deal with tragedy unflinchingly...it ain't exactly entertaining. A late night time slot and a heavy emphasis on lurid (mainly implied) sex (a character literally prostitutes herself...then it's barely even alluded to in subsequent episodes!) suggests it's aimed at an older audience, as does the number of adult characters...even as, in other ways, it seems more a teen drama, with its emphasis on teen characters, and incessant Easy Listening pop music on the soundtrack (prior to a Whistler soundtrack CD being released). Unfortunately, instead of bridging the two demographics, the result may've polarized them. The series failed to score a big audience but of those who did watch, based on some internet message boards, teens (defined as people who like to write using letters and idiosyncratic spelling in their messages -- as in "U R sew KEWL dude!") seemed to like the teenage characters...but didn't like the adults, whereas older viewers will find many of the teen characters, though decently acted, to be rather dull, shallow and obnoxious. Some of the older characters, though, start to grow on you, particularly Dignard, Harrington, and Shyer (the latter a villain, but a well played, nuanced villain). Too many of the sub-plots seemed kind of half-hearted or hastily introduced and then discarded (such as a thread where Lea has an affair with the very lovely McClure) and the initial mystery is, itself, not that intriguing as there are no bizarre or curious clues to ponder (ala "Twin Peaks" or "Desperate Housewives") -- in fact, the "was he murdered?" plot actually seems to be dropped part way through, only to resurface again toward the end of the first season. Curiously enough though, if the first season is viewed less as a series, and more as a mini-series (many of the plot threads are answered or resolved in the finale) it can actually be more enjoyable to look back upon. But despite tepid ratings and CTV itself bouncing it around the schedule, it returned for a second season...which proved even less compelling than the first. Without even the token hook of a murder mystery, the characters and soap opera-y threads were all that was left and even the previously sympathetic characters were by now pretty obnoxious, and the plots often inane and, frankly, questionable (like an episode basically endorsing humiliating hazing rituals!) No third season was commissioned. The series also provoked some controversy, with a real life Whistler-based Olympic snowboarding champion threatening legal action. Created by Kelly Senecal. Hour long episodes on CTV. 


 

WHITE FANG (TV Series)

(1993) (/France/New Zealand)  * * *  Jamiz Woolvett ("Matt Scott"), David McIlwraith ("Adam"), Denise Virieux ("Kate"), Ken Blackburn ("Hank"), Lee Grant ("Vera Dillon"), Kevin Atkinson ("David"), with Veronika Logan ("Maggie").....Family drama about a modern teen (Woolvett) living on a rural ranch with his dog, White Fang (played by a dog named Fang). McIlwraith played his judge father and beautiful Virieux his veterinarian mom. Blackburn was a ranch hand; Grant -- no relation to the American actress of the same name -- was the local store owner; and Atkinson the police chief. Logan cropped up occasionally as Woolvett's sort-of girlfriend.

This TV series had little connection to the period novel by Jack London and had largely unremarkable plots but was expensive-looking and well-put together with solid performances. Not to be confused with The Legend of White Fang, a Canadian-made animated series from around the same time...though many TV guides did confuse them. Ironically, both Woolvett and Virieux had had experience with "dog" shows before -- Woolvett appeared in Dog House and Virieux in Katts and Dog. Developed by Guy R. Mazzeo. Filmed in New Zealand but set in Alberta. One season of half-hour episodes. 

WHITE LIES  * *  setting: Ont.
(1998) Sarah Polley, Tanya Allen, Jonathan Scarfe, Lynn Redgrave, Albert Schultz, Joseph Kell, Brenda Bazinet.....Disaffected teen (Polley) becomes involved with the White Supremicist movement. Glitzy made-for-CBC TV drama is arguably earnest...but that doesn't make it effective. The film fails to give us any real insight into the characters or their evolution thanks to direction that wants to be a music video rather than a character drama; a script which wants to show "both sides" (by portraying the anti-racists as ineffectual, obnoxious, thugs) while failing to properly convey the character's infatuation with, and ultimate rejection of, the movement; and hot young actors who are good at the surface, without really giving us the guts of the characters. Add to that the characters' evolving disillusionment having more to do with feeling betrayed by the movement than any recognition that racism is bad and you have a not particularly enlightening...or entertaining...flick. And, cynically speaking, who would make a movie about racism where none of the main characters belong to a minority? A good, disturbing film could probably have been made from the premise, but this ain't it -- and it'd be difficult anyway since the audience'd have to empathize with a character who sympathizes with racists. A more effective expose of the subject was the U.S. movie "The Infiltrator" about a Jewish reporter who went undercover with neo-Nazis. Look for Michelle St. John as a reporter at a hospital. sc: Dennis Foon. dir: Kari Skogland. 92 min.

WHITE LIGHT  setting: Ont.
(1990) Martin Kove, Allison Hossack, Martha Henry, Heidi von Palleske, James Purcell, Bruce Boa, George Sperdakos, Heath Lamberts, Raoul Trujillo.....Undercover cop (import Kove) has a near death experience in which he falls in love (with Hossack); when revived, he begins looking for the woman, and his would-be killers start looking for him. Muddled suspenser never really explores its themes and characters, and suffers from poor editing and over-exposed shots. Prominently billed von Palleske has just a small part. Kove and Waxman acted together in the U.S. TV series "Cagney and Lacey". Base associate produced. sc: Ron Base. dir: Al Waxman. - violence, sexual content, casual femalee and male nudity.- 97 min.

WHITE NOISE  * *
(2005) (/U.K./U.S.) Michael Keaton, Deborah Kara Unger, Ian McNeice, Chandra West, Sarah Strange.....After his wife (West) dies, a man (Keaton) gradually begins to investigate the possibility of contacting her spirit using technology that can record vocal and even visual impressions from the other side (a paranormal process called E.V.P.) -- but finds strange things start occurring, and he seems to pick up sinister voices and images. Supernatural thriller is good looking and nicely restrained (that is, not gory), but suffers from the paradox of seeming as though the filmmakers were inspired by a bunch of different supernatural thrillers, and tried cramming too many disparate ideas into one movie...while it's also really slow moving and seems padded, as if they don't really have enough story to make a movie. Unger and the rest of the supporting cast have rather undeveloped roles. Some occasional chilling moments, but too little is explained or even makes sense by the end. Too bad. Followed by a largely unrelated sequel. sc: Niall Johnson. dir: Geoffrey Sax. - violence.- 97 min.

WHITE NOISE: The Light  * * 1/2
(2007) (/U.S.) Nathan Fillion, Katee Sackhoff, Craig Fairbrass, Terry Rotheryl, Adrian Holmes.....After a failed suicide following witnessing the murder of his family, a man (Fillion) finds himself haunted by scary, ghostly apparitions,,,but also the ability to anticipate when someone is in mortal danger. Supernatural thriller is a name only sequel to the previous White Noise (even the EVP phenomenon that inspired the title of the first film is largely irrelevant here). It's actually a slightly better film, albeit with similar positives and negatives. It's good looking, anchored by a strong performance from Fillion, but is slow moving and thinly plotted. There are one or two surprise twists, but overall the plot is kind of obvious, without embellishing the scenes and characters enough to distract from that (most of the cast are in minor roles -- even Sackhoff to some extent). Some "in jokes" include a "Captain Tightpants" reference that harkens to Fillion's Firefly TV series, and a ghostly child in a red raincoat seeming a homage to "Don't Look Now". Surprisingly -- for this kind of Hollywood North-style film -- nothing in it seems to say it isn't supposed to be set in Canada. American actress Sackhoff was even working in B.C. on the new "Battlestar Galactica" TV series at the time. Not to be confused with White Light. a.k.a. White Noise 2. sc: Matt Venne. dir: Patrick Lussier. - violence.- 97 min.

WHITE ROOM  * * *  setting: Ont.
(1990) (/U.K.) Kate Nelligan, Maurice Godin, Sheila McCarthy, Margot Kidder, voice of Nicky Guadagni.....Young man (Godin) witnesses the murder of a singer, then, searching for literary inspiration, becomes fascinated by a mysterious woman (Nelligan) who has some conection to the singer and who lives in almost complete isolation. Strange, atmospheric urban fairytale veers between humour and tragedy with some surrealism thrown in to make for an interesting look at the tension between artists and their public. Good music. Kidder has just a bit part. sc./dir: Patricia Rozema. - casual male nudity, sexual content, violence.- 94 min.

White Shark, the novel by Peter Benchley, was made into a TV mini-series called Creature

WHITE SKIN see La peau blanche

WHITE TIGER  * setting: USA.
(1994) (/U.S.) Gary Daniels, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Julia Nickson, Matt Craven, Lisa Langlois, Ron Winston Yuan, Dana Lee, George Cheung, Philip Granger.....A U.S. narc (Daniels) goes after the drug lord (Tagawa) who murdered both the cop's partner (Craven) as well as most of his crimelord rivals. Sluggish B-grade actioner hoping to turn Daniels into the next Jean-Claude VanDamme -- but it's pretty bad even for that, despite decent performances from imports Tagawa, Nickson, etc. A comedown for the likes of Martin (Matinee) and Melbourne (Killer). Canucks Craven and Langlois just have bit parts despite prominent billing. sc: Don Woodman, Gordon Melbourne, Roy Sallows (story Bey Logan). dir: Richard Martin. - violence, partial female nudity and brief male nudity, sexual content.- 93 min.

The Whiteoaks of Jalna series of novels by Mazo de la Roche were turned into a couple of TV mini-series under the title Jalna

WHO HAS SEEN THE WIND* *  setting: Sask.
(1977) Brian Painchaud, Douglas Junor, Chapelle Jaffe, Gordon Pinsent, Helen Shaver, Ed McNamara, Jose Ferrer, Gerard Parkes.....Life in a small prairie town during the '30s as seen through the eyes of a young boy (Painchaud). At times obvious drama is very atmospheric -- too an oppressive degree. A little too heavy-handed for its own good. sc: Patricia Watson (from the novel by W. O. Mitchell). dir: Allan King. 100 min.

Who Killed Sir Harry Oakes?, the non-fiction book by James Leasor, was a partial source for the CTV mini-series Passion and Paradise (the Oakes case was also examined in a Scales of Justice episode)

WHO LOVES THE SUN?  * *
(2007) Lukas Haas, Molly Parker, Adam Scott, RH Thomson, Wendy Crewson.....A man (American actor Haas) shows up at the summer cottage of his ex-best friend's parents (Thomson and Crewson) after having run off fives years before when he caught his wife (Parker) and said ex-best friend (American actor Scott) together -- leading to an impromptu reunion. Comedy-drama (kind of "The Big Chill" only with a smaller cast, maybe) has solid performances, some quirky humour (part of the joke is these thirtysomething characters act like adolescents when together) and some scenes that hold your attention. Unfortunately the thinly drawn characters, though sometimes funny, are mainly annoying and obnoxious, not really leavened with any other side to their personalities to make you care about them. And there isn't much to the background or the relationships to be explored, so it quickly becomes repetative. There's a "revelation" in the final act -- except it doesn't really affect the relationships or the story (almost as if left over from an initial conception of the film). Likewise, the title is supposed to gain meaning by the end. A character-intensive comedy-drama that hasn't presented interesting or altogether plausible characters. Disappointing. sc./dir: Matt Bissonnette. - brief sexual content, brief female nudity.- 94 min.

WHOLE NEW THING * * 1/2 setting: N.S.
(2005) Aaron Webber, Rebecca Jenkins, Robert Joy, Daniel MacIvor, Kathryn MacLellan, Callum Keith Rennie, Hugh Thompson.....Story of a precocious, sexually confused teenage boy (Webber), homeschooled by his hippy-esque parents (Joy and Jenkins) -- whose marriage is starting to fracture -- and how, when he is sent to a real school, he gradually becomes romantically infatuated with his kindly (and gay) English teacher (MacIvor). Serio-comic drama boasts well put together scenes and superb performances from the principles, though the story itself seems a little fractured, trying to cover a lot of disparate ideas, from the parent's relationship problems, to the teacher's troubled personal life, to the kind of "Dead Poet's Society" thing of a student and teacher who inspire each other and the moribund class itself, to the kid's troubled infatuation and the teacher's attempt to deal with it responsibly. It isn't that these threads can't exist in the same film, but here they don't fully mesh, and often seem undeveloped (Rennie has a kind of nothing part as a man with whom the mother begins an affair) -- and there are a few unconvincing scenes. It's a good movie...but doesn't fully gel into a great one. Jenkins briefly doffs her clothes a couple of times -- giving meaning to the slang MILF! sc: Amnon Buchbinder, Daniel MacIvor. dir: Amnon Buchbinder. - female nudity, sexual content. - 92 min.

THE WHOLE OF THE MOON  * * *  setting: other
(1996) (/New Zealand) Toby Fisher, Nikki Si'ulepa, Pascale Bussieres, Paul Gittins, Jane Thomas, Nicola Cliff, Elliot O'Donnell.....Active New Zealand teen (Fisher) finds himself hospitalized with Cancer of the leg, and at first clashes with, then slowly befriends, a street-tough female fellow patient (Si'ulepa) with an attitude. Earnest drama starts out as too much of a Public Service-style step-by-step guide to Cancer treatment (though evoking hospitals better than many movies) then gets better as it turns into the relationship story. Suffers from lapses into heavy-handed obviousness, and an overly abrasive main character (she's supposed to be, he doesn't have to be), but ultimately fairly powerful. sc: Richard Lymposs, Ian Mune (story Lymposs). dir: Ian Mune. 95 min.

WHY ROCK THE BOAT?  * 1/2  setting: P.Q.
(1975) Stuart Gillard, Ken James, Tiiu Leek, Henry Beckman, Budd Knapp, Sean Sullivan, Patricia Gage.....Naive cub reporter (Gillard) in '47, goes to great lengths to impress a lady reporter (Leek) he's infatuated with, including a ski weekend and spouting socialist philosophy. Billed as a romantic comedy, but the low-key humour isn't very funny and the "romance" is just talking about sex. Rambling and lackluster with the politics -- which should be crucial -- being shrugged off. Gillard won Best Actor Etrog. sc: William Weintraub (from his novel). dir: John Howe. 113 min.

WHY SHOOT THE TEACHER  * * *  setting: Sask.
(1977) Bud Cort, Samantha Eggar, Chris Wiggins, Gary Reineke, John Friesen, Michael J. Reynolds.....Teacher (import Cort) arrives in a tiny prairie town during the Depression, and must adjust to both it and its eccentric inhabitants. Good, likeable comedy/drama is nicely acted (especially import Cort). sc: James Defelice (from the book by Max Braithwaite). dir: Silvio Narizzano. 101 min.

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