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"Far From Heaven" Redux.
Todd Haynes only made 2 other feature films in the last 15 years. The last one was I'M NOT THERE and before that (nearly 13 years ago) was FAR FROM HEAVEN. CAROL is extremely reminiscent of FAR FROM HEAVEN. The obvious similarity is the plot involving a person coming to terms with their spouse's homosexual tendencies. However, there are other similarities: the 1950s setting, the deliberately slow pace, the stuffiness of East Coast society.
I liked FAR FROM HEAVEN's atmosphere, much like classic Douglas Sirk films. CAROL seems to be lacking that and, for that fact, I think FAR FROM HEAVEN is the better film. All in all, CAROL is a suitable companion piece to FAR FROM HEAVEN.
We Were Children (2012)
Parallel Paralyzing Pain in a Docu-Drama.
At times, the interspersed interviews with the real life Glen Anaquod and Lyna Hart seemed intrusive. That's because the dramatizations were so strong. However, without this real life touch by the two children as elders, the overall impact of the film would have been lessened. The abuse (psychological, physical, spiritual, emotional, sexual, cultural) of the girl from Manitoba and the boy from Saskatchewan was so similar the viewer gets the sense that their experience was typical of all residential students at that time. The director, Tim Wolochatiuk, does a good job of bringing these parallels together. I also enjoyed the symbolism Wolochatiuk employed, especially that of Lyna's horses in her secret place. In the midst of the Idle No More and similar grass roots movements, this docu-drama is very timely. Showing Prime Minister Stephen Harper's parliamentary apology at the end of the show seemed to be done tongue in cheek, the irony apparent to all who know of Mr. Harper's plans to dismantle the First Nations people's rights.
Dark Shadows (2012)
Great Gothic Romp
Despite the very disappointing and unpromising trailers that tried to make this movie look like a spoof or satire, Tim Burton has actually created a very worthy tribute to the late 60s TV cult classic. The characters names remain the same and some even resemble the originals (ex. Roger Collins). Even names of minor locations (Windcliff Santorium, Blue Whale pub, Widow's Hill) remain the same. Of course, some composite characters and unique plot lines are used trying to cram 1500 plus episodes into 2 hours. As a fan of the TV series and Tim Burton, I am pleased with the outcome. The soundtrack is amazing with great songs from the era. Alice Cooper is a very good choice for the Collin's "happening" as he is the Godfather of Goth. So, if you are a fan of "Dark Shadows", don't be dissuaded by the trailers and go and see this dark gem.
Love Handles (1996)
A bland Great White North version of THE NEWLYWED GAME.
Viewers flipping the channel selector on Canadian satellite might end up watching "Love Handles" and think they are watching "The Newlywed Game". The host Stu Jeffries is now, as always, smug and unoriginal. On radio in Yorkton, he used to blatantly copy whole routines from a DJ from Moose Jaw. On TV in Vancouver, he did not last long when he tried to pretend he was Terry David Mulligan. On "Love Handles", he doesn't so much copy Bob Eubanks as make as long for him. Some of the amateur couples produce much more laughs and spontaneity than the bland host. The man who pretended to love rock music on Yorkton Radio and CBC's "Good Rockin' Tonight" has recently been demoted to cover Country Music on CMT. If you prefer smarmy over charming, than you might enjoy "Love Handles". If not, stay clear.
Money-puck: How to win with character rather than money.
Jared Keeso returns two years later to continue the story of Don Cherry. This one covers his segue from coach to commentator in a 2 part mini-series (3 parts if you consider KEEP YOUR HEAD UP, KID as the first part).
The makers of this sequel wisely chose to intersperse flashbacks of Cherry's early years to balance the more familiar events of recent times. We see him working on a railroad team at the behest of his father, leaving home at 15 years of age, playing junior with the Boston Bruins farm team, and playing (mostly fighting) with the Rochester Americans where he played with such greats as Al Arbour and Ed Litzenberger. The production of these flashbacks (1940s Kingston, 1950s Springfield, 1960s Rochester, 1970s Denver) is meticulous with automobiles, clothing, furnishings appropriately provided. As coach and general manager, Don Cherry built competitive teams out of, as he put it, "character not money" both battling the frugal Harry Sinden in Boston and the cash strapped owners in Denver. For example, he tries to convince Rockies' management to hire grinder Ron Delorme and the ilk to make his team tougher.
The second part of the story covers Cherry's controversial but maddeningly popular tenure on CBC's "Hockey Night in Canada". Here, the film makers cover his anti-Francophone comments and his adamant adoption of hockey advise. Part 1 ends with a comment of his dislike of hockey visors. These issues did not endear him with many viewers, especially calling all-stars Mario Lemieux a "floater" and Brian Propp "a coward" for promoting visors.
Keeso seems to be perfecting his Cherry mannerisms and Tyler Johnston ("Less Than Kind") does a good version as the teen Cherry. Another beauty, eh!
Mr. D (2012)
Education, or as they say in French, Edu-CAY-SHAWN
CBC seems to be looking for "Mr. D" to be the replacement to Monday night's popular "Little Mosque on the Prairie" which is ending in 2012. By the looks of it, they have a keeper. Gerry Dee plays Mr. Duncan, a substitute Phys. Ed. teacher starting his full time career as a Social Studies teacher. His lack of historical knowledge is hilarious. He says he will teach his kids such Canadian history as learning who the other three Dionne Quintuplets are, besides Marcel and Celine and promises to teach them all about the Underground "Subway System". When a parent asks him to name the first man on the moon, Mr. D says, "Louie Armstrong" but then quickly corrects himself with "Lance Armstrong". Joining Gerry Dee in the cast is stand up star Bette MacDonald as the school secretary, reality youth sensation Jonathan Torrens as the principal, and the great Booth Savage as the school Sports head. The sit com should appeal to not only teachers but parents and anyone who was ever a student, in Canada or, really, anywhere.
Mixed Blessings (2007)
A endearing Canadian version of "The Brady Bunch"
"Mixed Blessings" is a real blessing for Canadians. It showcases 3 popular cultures from our mosaic landscape: the Cree Indians, the Ukranians, and mixed families. The makers of this series seem to be making this series in a piecemeal style, releasing about 5 episodes a year, not exactly prolific by USA standards but creating a nice body of work. The creators/writers include Drew Hayden Taylor, a man well known in the Native Theatre circles. "Mixed Blessings" usually includes DHT's patented blend of humour and sentiment. The film is set in the bustling community of Fort MacMurray, Alberta which is appropriate as it is a town that nicely intersects the White and Native populations of Canadian North West. The series begins as a Canuck "Brady Bunch". By the third season, with the arrival of a new baby, the plot lines become reminiscent of YOURS, MINE, AND OURS. Besides the ready made step brothers and step sisters, we have other extended family members coming and going. One of the most interesting of the secondary characters is the sexy, self absorbed sister in law played by the charming Michelle Thrush who played Nobody's wife in Jim Jarmusch's DEAD MAN. The father is also played by an actor with Hollywood experience: Gary Basaraba was one of the disciples on Martin Scorsese's LAST TEMPTATION OF Christ. I can see this show having a successful syndication run in countries like Australia and Germany but it seems to have universal appeal that may allow it into many more homes than the originators may have ever imagined.
It's a beauty.
This biography of Don Cherry is a labour of love but for Canadians and hockey fans it will be well received. Written by Grapes' son Tim and dedicated to his wife Rose, KEEP YOUR HEAD UP KID is another fine hockey biopic, a worthy companion to NET WORTH. The story is well cast. The familiar faces of the Boston Bruins (Phil Esposito, Bobby Orr, etc.) bare striking resemblances to the star players. Notorious miser Harry Sinden is played by Ian Tracey who has appeared as many real life Canadians in past films (David Milgaard, Dwayne Johnston, Tommy Douglas supporter Charlie Lawson). The star, though, is future star Jared Keeso who plays the arrogant coach turned commentator ringing true. The film is at turns touching and humorous. It will have you cheering on Cherry whether you know the outcome or not. The Canadian soundtrack (BTO, Lighthouse) adds to the 1970s feel of the film. Overall, it's a beauty, eh!
18 to Life (2010)
A Canadian comedy with universal teen appeal.
Michael Seater really has the magic touch with teen sitcoms. Up until now, the greatest Canadian sitcom with teen appeal was "Life With Derek"; the show was of high enough quality that Disney picked it up for its channel. Now, Michael Seater (who played Derek) stars on the next best teen sitcom to come from Canada and is arguably the best teen sitcom on the air today. Michael plays a teen newlywed married to the girl next door played by Stacey Farber. This new "Life" series is hilarious. The supporting cast, especially the four parents, are played to perfection. My favourite character is Michael's father played by the incomparable Peter Keleghan. US viewers will recognize him as Ranger Gord from "The Red Green Show". Keleghan's square-jawed good looks and comic timing make him perfect for sitcoms. Some might remember him as the pretentious boss Alan Roy in "Made In Canada". Many who know this character will find Roy Donaghy's character in "30 Rock" less than impressive as Keleghan puts Alec Baldwin to shame. I hope "18 to Life" lasts longer than "Made in Canada" did. I watched the pilot quite by accident when I turned to CBC waiting for "Little Mosque" and I have been hooked ever since. I don't watch a lot of television anymore but "18 to Life" is going to be a Monday evening ritual, just like "Corner Gas" was.
Battle of the Blades (2009)
An originally Canadian reality show.
Canada has had its fair share of Reality Shows but most of them are Canadian versions of popular American shows: Canadian Idol, So You Think You Can Dance Canada, etc. We have had some semi originals like DRAGON'S DEN and TRIPLE SENSATION but they usually have a Hollywood feeling to them. While some may same BATTLE OF THE BLADES is a rip off of DANCING WITH THE STARS, it is uniquely Canadian. By that I mean that no other country has had the ice hockey and figure skating success as Canada and would dare take a chance on a show like this. I think it is safe to say that we put skaters on a higher pedestal than any other country and would be the only country that could make a show like this succeed. The success is partly due to the blending of its demographics. People who love figure skating (mostly women) and people who love hockey (mostly men) can actually enjoy a skating competition together. No more fighting over the remote control as husbands and wives can peacefully watch TV together. Take back the Nobel Prize from Obama and give it to the creators of this show. Some hockey players are naturals (like Stéphane Richer); some of the token goons are clearly a fish out of water (Ken Danyeko and Tie Domi). The results overall are quite impressive thanks to great training and choreography people. The Jamie Salé and Craig Simpson performance on Sinatra night was particularly impressive. I can't wait for CBC to create more deadly combinations. Perhaps Curling stars can perform with Canadian musicians. They can call it "Get Your Rock Off".
Iron Road (2009)
The National Dream of Two Nations.
Not long ago, I was watching Cecil B. DeMille's film UNION PACIFIC and started thinking that they should make a new film about building the Canadian railroad. Sure, we have Pierre Burton's THE NATIONAL DREAM but that to me seemed too documentary like and lacked a human element like UNION PACIFIC. I also thought it would be good to have a large part of the plot involve the Chinese contribution. About a month later, I heard about a project called IRON ROAD that was nearly ready to air on CBC. Needless to say, I anticipated this miniseries. After seeing it, it held some similarities to UNION PACIFIC: the romantic element, the sense of urgency to get the railroad done, etc. Even Barbara Stanwyck's Irish accent is echoed by Ian Tracy who plays a villain to rival the best Lloyd Bochner or Kenneth Welsh villain. The movie was not what I expected but it was entertaining. Betty Sun's character Little Tiger is one of the strongest female characters I have seen in a while. A 19th century Chinese woman with her skills (martial arts, explosives expertise, psychology) would be truly amazing. Couple that with the fact that she refuses to be Luke MacFarlane's Celestrial mistress makes her a heroine par excellence. Betty Sun gives a forceful performance as does MacFarlane, an actor many Americans will know as Scotty Wandell from "Brothers and Sisters". The miniseries does connect to this dynamic era in Canadian history but should have universal appeal with its handsome stars, romantic subplots, mystery, martial arts action, and cliffhanging (literally, at times) suspense. It is the NATIONAL DREAM doubled. It deals with two nations' dreams: Canadian pioneers' dream to unite their country by rail and Chinese immigrants' dream to make a good life for its citizens, free from gangsters and corrupt leaders. The Chinese workers dealt with poor wages (the Irish workers made twice as much as them), dangerous conditions (working with short fused dynamite), political prejudice like the exorbitant head tax they had to pay after the railroad was built. Despite this, they saw potential in this new land and their efforts will never be forgotten, thanks to movies like this.
In the greatest darkness, the brightest lights shine.
Hallmark's sentimental touch has never been more appropriate than for this story of a Polish nurse that saved the life of 2500 Jewish children during WWII. Anna Paquin (BURY MY HEART AT WOUNDED KNEE) is quickly becoming the Queen of TV movies. Her performance here is amazing. Marcia Gay Harden, who plays her equally brave mother, also gives a fine performance. The editing is quite sharp. The violent scenes, like the Gestapo's torture scenes, are jarring to say the least. I was expecting a female version of SCHINDLER'S LIST but after the film was over I could not help but compare this story to THE HIDING PLACE. Irena Sendler is a worthy heroine in the same league as Corrie Ten Boom. Some viewers might think "Enough already" with these kind of stories but when they are as good as this I will respond "Keep them coming!"
One's a Heifer (1984)
What's behind the door?
What seems at first to be a simple story about Depression life on the Prairies becomes an interesting mystery with a twist ending. This film is based on the short story by the great author Sinclair Ross. IMDb gives both Anne Wheeler and Donaleen Saul a writing credit which is too bad as it is basically taken word for word from Ross's story and Ross is already bordering on unjust anonymity. The story is about a young boy (Peter in the film, unnamed in the story) who seeks to find his uncle's missing calves and finds much more than this. The antagonist is played to menacing perfection by Robert Clouthier who, a few years later, would take his menacing persona to national fame as Relic on "The Beachcombers". He is even more psychopathic that Relic. To give the ending away would be criminal but if you can not find this film through the NFB catalogue or elsewhere, at least get a copy of Sinclair Ross's short stories and prepare yourself for a treat.
Passchendaele of the Christ.
I am passionate about PASSCHENDAELE. In complete antithesis to another reviewer, I feel this film has succeeded on so many levels. I went in to the theatre out of pride for Canada but went out of the theatre with the joy of seeing a contemporary classic, worthy of many Genies and even Oscars. It reminded me of THE English PATIENT which was also based on a Canadian story and did win Best Picture. The things I found lacking in this Minghella film seemed to be more satisfying in Paul Gross's film. This is the man who directed MEN WITH BROOMS not long ago. What an incredible leap of skill. PASSCHENDAELE has award worthy cinematography, music, acting, writing, direction, costume, and nearly every other category. I can't think of any other film that captures the life and times of World War I. ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT comes to mind (this also won the Best Picture Oscar) and the two films due share similar sensitivity and symbolism. With ALL QUIET, we have the butterfly as the Peace symbol. In PASSCHENDAELE, we have the dove (and, in contrast, the kestrel). In the climax, Michael Dunne, the Christ figure, is "carrying his cross" and his strength fails him. Then, he looks up and sees the dove, not the kestrel which symbolizes his love of woman (Sarah) but the dove which symbolizes his love of mankind. The dove in Christian symbolism represents the Holy Spirit which, like it did for Michael Dunne, gives us the strength to carry our cross. Earlier in the film, Michael Dunne says that "Jesus did not die for our sins but he laid down the template". Gross's soldier is the perfect template of this agape love, that there is "no greater love than to lay down ones' life for ones' brother". Many might have been disappointed in the film's ending but in the context of this Christian sacrifice, one can see the film's ending as a great victory and the spirit of Michael Dunne lives on. PASSCHENDAELE is a story of redemption so it is appropriate to have allusions to the Redeemer.
Seems like a cross over episode.
When I watched this episode, which was the season finale of "Mary Tyler Moore"'s second year, I thought that they were trying to pass it off as a spin off/crossover/pilot for a new series. First of all, the plot and majority of the dialogue focus on Bill Daily's simple minded councilman, his two loyal office workers and one of their mothers. Also, it was written by Jim Parker and Arnold Margolin (Stuart's brother). This was their only MTM script and seemed to be written as a springboard to a new series that never got off the ground. In a few years Bill Daily and Isabel Sanford achieved TV success with the help of NEWHART and ALL IN THE FAMILY/THE JEFFERSONS but Carole Androsky and Janet MacLachlin never did make their mark on TV (although both did appear with Isabel in some of her later series). Even a character we never see (Mack Truck Tarkis, the ex football pro who becomes the Councilman's chauffeur, seems like a regular sit com character. Now, of course, MTM had many great spin-offs (RHODA, PHYLLIS, LOU GRANT) but it would have been nice to see how this one would have managed. The storyline of a simple minded politician being helped along by loyal staff did of course resurface in American shows like BENSON and SPIN CITY and, sadly, in American real life politics as well.
Dorogoy tsenoy (1957)
A minor DR. ZHIVAGO by a minor Russian director.
When I watched this film, I had no idea who Mark Donskoy was or how he fit into Russian cinema history. I know now that he studied film under Eisenstein in 1926 and that Maxim Gorky is a major influence. Knowing that Donskoy's MAXIM GORKY trilogy is a classic is no surprise. He's been linked to Eisenstein and Dovzhenko. A lot of the pastoral shots are indeed reminiscent of Dovzhenko's film EARTH. The film is two stories in one: one is a love story between Ostap(Yuri Dedovich) and Solomia (Vera Donskaya) played by two beautiful looking actors (Donskaya has Sophia Loren type beauty and Dedovich is a dead ringer for Omar Sharif) ; the other is a serf vs. seigneur story that fits in well with Gorky's"socialist realism" themes. The film has many unbelievably realistic scenes and a few phony ones. The Ukrainian heritage (costume and dance) are worth the view alone. There are several scenes that leave a lasting impression: one with a jealous man trying to whip a laughing, dancing maiden and another a tableaux involving a huge windmill. The fade in and out between scenes is red and not black, probably not symbolic but it might be. It's a neat effect, anyway. The music at times seems to recall DR. ZHIVAGO and I would not be surprised if it was discovered that David Lean viewed this film as a starting point. Overall, this is a pleasant view that will have you cheering for the young couple Ostap and Solomia as their race for freedom and unity take us through the highs and lows of life in 1830 Ukraine.
Just Say No, Elijah.
Elijah Harper holding an eagle feather is as vivid a visual of Canadian history as Terry Fox running or Paul Henderson jumping. That scene is captured in this biopic that shows the makings of a hero. The film starts off with the early life of Elijah. The first 40 minutes is done with satirical humour and snappy editing and voice over in the style of Michael Moore's documentaries. The film segues into the dramatic life of Elijah's political career. In between Harper's political struggles are scenes of his personal struggles with his wife and children. His fight against solvent/drug abuse is shown as a major issue in his life, from his gas sniffing youth, to his anger over his daughter's marijuana experimenting, and the "Indian Finder" scene that propels his courage in the political realm. The main story shows how Elijah Harper and his First Nations crew including Chief Archie (Lorne Cardinal) and Phil Fontaine (Glen Gould) stopped the Meech Lake Accord from passing, a piece of legislation that would have been, in their opinion, devastating for First Nations. Cardinal, as he is on TV's "Corner Gas", is comic relief and actor Glen Gould bears a striking resemblance to Chief Fontaine. Besides "Corner Gas", the cast of "North of 60" is also well represented, especially by Wilma "Elsie" Pelly who plays Elijah's Old Woman Spiritual Guide at important intervals in his life. Errol Kinistino, who starred on both CTV series, has a small speaking role but is not mentioned in IMDb's cast list. Also absent in the IMDb list is the soundtrack which is dominated by lively surf music and snippets of Earl Thomas's song "Elijah Rock". The best thing about this film is the revival of Billy Merasty's career. I met Mr. Merasty right at the beginning of his career after making "Justice Denied" and stayed in touch with his career through a co-worker who happened to be Billy's first cousin. I wanted to like this film and I did. Merasty showed the essence of Harper's personality and many scenes(like his painful phone call to wife and daughter) show how well he has honed his craft. I hope he and his film will get some recognition with the Geminis (Canadian Emmys) roll around.
Deja Vu for Michael Landon fans.
While I watched the episode "Little Lou" when it first aired in 1982, I kept thinking I've seen this story before. The story is about a circus midget who gains respect by an act of heroism. I was sure this same story was on Lorne Greene's classic series BONANZA ("It's A Small World"). Both episodes starred Michael Landon which only added to the deja vu. I was a bit disappointed that Michael Landon would redo the same story. I see Michael Landon wrote both episodes so at least he wasn't ripping off someone else. Both stories are deep in pathos and suspense but it is a bit of a let down that a well respected show would rehash a plot line from a similarly well respected show that I'm sure many viewers would have been familiar with.
The Englishman's Boy (2008)
De-glamourizing Hollywood's Wild West.
How fitting that Guy Vanderhaeghe's novel about Hollywood's misguided love affair with Cowboys and Indians has finally made it to the screen, even if it is the small screen. The two part TV movie has many great strengths. One strength is its glimpse into Tinseltown's treatment of First Nations people. The Louis B. Mayerish producer (played by Oscar nominee Bob Hoskins) is determined to have his way to show a realistic Cowboy movie. When an underling suggests rounding up some Mexicans to play the Indians (which was what happened in those days), Mr. Chance insists they get real "Indians". This is a huge irony as the movie mogul is not concerned with the real truth. He wants Tom Hardwick to be the hero in his film, when in fact the real Mr. Hardwick is shown, through Shorty McAdoo's flashbacks, to be the villain in the actual story. The real hero is Shorty McAdoo, a wrangler and stunt man who is already upset with the movie mogul after a young co-worker is seriously injured by Mr. Chance's hazardous practices. He is the one who's life history is the background for Mr. Chance's Western called "The Besieged". Another of the film's strengths is the casting. Besides Bob Hoskins, we have ubiquitous Canadian TV man R.H. Thompson. Thompson, who usually plays the Canadian hero, plays the villain here. The hero is played with unusual restraint by Nicholas Campbell, who will be a familiar face to many viewers. Harry Vincent, the man who tries to convince the movie mogul to tell the real story, is played by Michael Therriault. Therriault is a relative newcomer to the screen although he has previously starred as Tommy Douglas in the last great Canadian prairie TVM. Anyone keen on Prairie history will appreciate a film that depicts the Cypress Hills massacre. Unfortunately, great First Nations performers like Tyrone Tootoosis (BIG BEAR) and Tantoo Cardinal (DANCES WITH WOLVES) do not have much to work with here. One other great strength of this movie is the parallels made between Shorty's witness to the insensitivity of his cowboy boss Mr. Hardwick during the 1870s scenes and the insensitivity of the movie boss Mr. Chance in the 1920s. The drama weaves effortlessly in and out from flashback to present history (in this case, the Silent Film era) . Some may dismiss this film as an attempt to cash in on the recent popularity of Westerns like 3:10 TO YUMA on the big screen and successful small screen efforts like Spielberg's "Into the West" and AMC's "Broken Trail". Truthfully, the novel was written a decade ago and was in the works for years. I just call it good timing... and good entertainment.
A Raisin in the Sun (2008)
DIDDY? Oh, no he diddn't!
P-Diddy's performance in the film is P-thetic. Apparently tired of saying the same words night after night on stage has dulled Mr. Combs into a stunned stupor to which his bland expressions and monotone delivery attest. He seems at home with "da Homies" (Willy Harris and Bobo) at "da Club"(The Green Hat) but he can't switch his New York gangsta talk with a Southside Chicago accent. The fact that Willy Harris is a dead ringer for Snoop Dog didn't help. Mama was right; Walter does look (and sound) "like somebody's hoodlum". Mama, by the way, played by Phylicia Rashad, was amazing. She looks younger than other Lena Youngers on screen which is good as Walter is only 35 so Mama is probably not the white haired old lady directors like Daniel Petrie tried to make her look. Besides the youthful look, Rashad gives a very heartfelt performance making me think that Bill Cosby did the world a disfavour by holding her back from honing her serious side. Audra McDonald, in my opinion, is the best performer in the group. As wife Ruth, she really hits home with her every emotion.When she cries, we want to cry with her although at times it seems she's just crying at the atrocious performance by her lesser half, the Puffster. Rounding out the cast is David Oyelowo as the Nigerian Asagai (Oyelowo is, himself, Nigerian) and John Stamos as a handsome Mr. Lindner (alas, the not so handsome John Fiedler is no longer available for the role). I watched this film continually thinking what heights it might have reached if someone more competent was in the Walter role. Maybe they can use Computer Generation to insert Sidney Poitier's performance. That would be great.
A high quality little gem that dispels a lot of myths regarding Creation.
Many people, even some Christians, consider Creation as told in Genesis a myth. If you believe that all scripture is the inspired word of God, then you have to see the Creation story as truth based. This well made animation gives a valiant attempt to dispel some of the early myths.
First of all, did dinosaurs exist? Well, if you read the book of Job, the Leviathan and the Behemoth are clearly like no animal alive today. This cartoon indeed shows Adam naming the animals and a dinosaur is clearly visible. Kudos to the animators for having the courage to show this.
Second of all, what was the fruit with which the snake tempted Eve? Well, it was clearly not an apple as many modern myths say. It was from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Kudos to the animators again for showing this fruit to be unique fruit, something like an orange, heart shaped onion.
Thirdly, the serpent has feet, making it look more like a dragon than a snake. This is also a nice variation as it shows that the serpent was not really a snake but Satan in disguise. Perhaps the snake had feet before it was cursed and made to thread on it's belly.
These are just three of the brave additions that make this cartoon educational and scripturally accurate.
The quality of the animation is also at a high level. It is done by Hanna-Barbera (Yogi Bear, Flintstones) and stars some of Hollywood's finest. Adam is voiced by Canadian star Marc Singer(from mini-series "Roots: the Next Generation" and "V"); Eve is voiced by Stephanie Zimbalist ("Remington Steele").
IMDb credits Melissa Sue Anderson ("Little House on the Prairie") as the voice of the Serpent but if you watch this cartoon you will know it's really Tim Curry who plays the evil one. I guess that means Mary Ingalls plays God. Her TV dad would like that.
This cartoon is quite a treat and any parent or educator that wants to show their children a version of Creation that maintains it's scriptural integrity, this is the one for you.
Inside the Box (2006)
Finally, a Canadian game show that gives away decent cash.
It's been a long time coming: a Canadian game show that offers a chance to win $10,000 every game. Canadian game shows in the past have been entertaining but frugal in the prize department. It was quite a common occurrence on shows like DEFINITION for a 5 time winner to walk away with the grand prize of a stereo system. Even the more recent game show YOU BET YOUR A$$ only offered a $2500 maximum.
That's not the only appeal to this TV series that airs currently on TV Tropolis. If you love television trivia, you will love to play along with Sam Kalilieh, the nerdy yet genial host. Mr. Kalilieh can be seen on other TV series like HISTORY BITES where he's appeared on more episodes than IMDb credits him for. However, it is on INSIDE THE BOX where Sam shines.
On the show, three contestants vie for the money. They alternate going inside the box, asking the other two clues to narrow down the answer which is either a character, an actor, or a series. The other two, who only have a picture to go on, must say yes or no to their questions. It's a simple and fun formula that works. It's even fun to play with family and friends, especially on long car trips.
This show often wears its maple leaf on its sleeve, showing a bias towards Canadian TV stars and series but it has enough universal appeal that it could catch on in the States or elsewhere.
I wake up early every weekday to watch it. Check it out.
Goosebumps: Click (1997)
Who ripped off whom?
Many people might see this episode of GOOSEBUMPS and say "Hey, this is very much like that Adam Sandler movie called CLICK" and they'd be right. Now, before the writer of this GOOSEBUMPS episode starts thinking lawsuits, let's consider something else. The plot of the "Click" is very reminiscent of the TWILIGHT ZONE episode "A Kind of Stopwatch". Even the denouement is parallel, where the world is on pause for eternity because the mechanism breaks.
Now, they didn't have universal remote controls in the 1950s but if they did, I'm sure Rod Serling and gang would have made the best of this device. Even now, IMO, the TWILIGHT ZONE version is the superior production.
While my kids were growing up in the 1990s and I watched the GOOSEBUMPS episodes with them, I started to compile a list of episodes that were basically new versions of classic TWILIGHT ZONE episodes. One that was very popular was called NIGHT OF THE LIVING DUMMY that seemed to have been based on spooky THE DUMMY with Cliff Robertson. I hope the kids that were brought up on GOOSEBUMPS will overcome their Black and White prejudices and check out some of the old TWILIGHT ZONE episodes in syndication or on DVD and see what kind of high quality television there was in the 1950s and 1960s. Maybe someone will even say "Hey, they ripped off GOOSEBUMPS!"
The Winter of Our Discontent (1983)
Money can't buy happiness
This is a powerful film about how the lusts of the modern world give one an empty feeling. I watched this movie for two main reasons: my respect for the prose of John Steinbeck and the acting skill of Donald Sutherland. Sutherland made this film about 3 years after starring in the Best Picture winner ORDINARY PEOPLE. In ways, his two characters are similar, a suburbanite who can't stave off tragedy with financial success. Teri Garr gives an equally effective performance as his wife. As much as I admire Donald Sutherland, I'd have to say my favourite actor in this film is Richard Masur. He plays the mentally handicapped neighbour of Sutherland and Garr who has been forced to live on his own by his rich family. He has all the toys a person could want but still he's unhappy. The movie's theme of misunderstanding the mentally handicapped is common in Steinbeck stories (Lennie in OF MICE AND MEN and Noah in THE GRAPES OF WRATH). However, the setting seems to be atypical for John Steinbeck. Most of his stories are set in Great Depression rural area. So, to have one set in a modern, urban setting is a bit unsettling. All and all, this is a very memorable film with a very able cast of characters.
Hank William's First Nation (2006)
Jimmy Herman is alive and well and sometimes living in Dillon, Saskatchewan
As an inside joke, Gordon Tootoosis's character tells the audience that his brother Martin (played by Jimmy Herman)is not dead, that he only died in the movie version but in real life (that is, on the spin off TV series)he lives on. A neat cinematic trick but it's good to see Jimmy back for the series. In the series' second episode, he and a bear mischievously wander around the local grocery store. Another nice addition to the TV series is the personable Sheldon Elter as the crafty entrepreneur Huey Bigstone. Hot off of Canadian IDOL (yes, that Sheldon), Elter replaces Bernard Starlight in this role. Also new to the franchise is Mexican Teneil Whiskeyjack who replaces Stacy DaSilva as Huey's girlfriend, Sarah Fox. The script, aided immeasurably by the talented Jordan Wheeler, is humorous and life size. If the first few episodes are any indication, this could be a big hit for Canadian television (the next CORNER GAS). Right now, only APTN carries this show but it would be nice to see the big boys (CBC, CTV, Global) pick up this series. It's bound to be a Canadian classic.