Lights, cameras, inaction

Bob Wakeham
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It's movie night in Newfoundland, and time to consider what a few famous productions would be like, set here.

"House on Haunted Hill" - Six months in the making, this film tells the unprecedented story of a House of the people that remains unoccupied, except by the ghosts of past debates. It's frightening, say the critics. The movie stars best-actress nominee Kathy Dunderdale, who's been cited for her incredible performance in convincing audiences from Happy Valley to Holyrood she believes in transparency and accountability. There are memorable scenes that will leave you aghast: Kathy opens the window of her eighth-floor office and, waving her latest popularity numbers, screams "let them eat cake" to fish plant workers from Marystown who have gathered near the People's House, hoping in vain that questions about their future will be asked and answered. Other supporting roles are played by citizens outside the House wondering about an assortment of matters, including the safety of workers flying by helicopter to offshore rigs, the worrisome comments from Nova Scotia concerning the eventual price of Muskrat Falls power, and the perpetual issues in education and health. Actress Dunderdale is simply amazing as she slams her window shut with a dismissive, "Come back in the spring!"

"The Invisible Man" - Peter Penashue is the star of this rather sad tale of a once proud Labradorian now silenced in Ottawa. There's not a great deal of dialogue in the movie, except for a fairly constant reminder from our main actor that he "hears no evil and sees no evil."

"Deliverence" - This remake stars newcomer Peter MacKay in his ever-changing version of what actually happened on the Gander River. There are no duelling banjos or squealing pig scenes here, but there's a remarkable sequence in which our principal performer, a glass in one hand, a fishing rod in the other, a salmon still apparently twisting at the end of the line, is hoisted by a helicopter from a luxurious fishing camp. Preview audiences have been heard howling with laughter as our hero tries to explain that the airlift took place strictly as a training exercise, and that he was proud to do his part. MacKay is planning a future movie, an updated version of "Forrest Gump"; "stupid is as stupid does" is a line that should have some meaning for our chopper chap. There's some speculation MacKay might star in "Pinocchio," as well.

"The Iceman Cometh" - A revenge flick in which Paul Watson is tricked by a group of Twillingate fishermen into eating seal flippers and seal penises. Once he realizes what he's eaten, Watson's projectile vomiting is rather gruesome.

"All Creatures Great and Small" - Your heart will break or your cynicism will grow with this story of how the new directors of the SPCA, along with their Heavenly Creatures cohorts, expand their no-kill policy from dogs and cats to rabbits, squirrels, mice and earwigs.

"It's a Wonderful Life" - The story of an existence you'll have to see to believe, a movie about the Canadian Senate, with a star-studded cast of hundreds. Among the performers are local favourites Fabian Manning (who once performed admirably in "The Color of Money"), Elizabeth Marshall (a one-time budding star who displayed her acting chops in "Dangerous Liaisons," co-starring Stephen Harper), and George Baker (who once headlined in "Damn Yankees," the film and Broadway play about a baseball player who sells his soul). There are some X-rated scenes here, and good taste prevents any further details; suffice to say they have to do with the expedient kissing of rear-ends. Newfoundlanders barely able to get by on their Canada pension cheques will probably be enthralled with the storyline.

"To Sir With Love" - "There's no such thing as a bad boy or girl" is one of the themes of this movie about modern-day teaching in Newfoundland. "There's no such thing as a stunned boy or girl" runs constant as well, along with "cheaters always prosper." Teachers are shown dreaming of a retirement that will shed them of their ivory-towered bosses in the Department of Education and parents wearing rose-coloured glasses.

"The Exorcist" - This film stars Jerome Kennedy as the latest candidate trying to exorcise devilish memories of the Upper Churchill contract from the current Muskrat Falls development. Its most repeated line, according to preview audiences, appeared to be: "your mother does the French in hell." There's a guest appearance by Joey Smallwood, swearing he knew what he was doing in 1969, and that everybody will see by 2041 that he was well ahead of his time.

"The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle" - The original starred the finest actor of our generation, Robert De Niro, and was a flop, but this version is sure to draw record-breaking crowds in Newfoundland. Previews show Bullwinkle the moose buckled over in stitches as he watches fences being built along the highways to keep him and his crowd in the woods. "Thanks be to St. Francis of Assisi that they didn't do the sensible thing and just give out more licences," Bullwinkle remarks at one point.

"A Thousand Clowns" - simply put, this is the story of the only people left in Newfoundland who believe the Liberal party will form the government within the next decade. They also have roles in "The Crying Game."

Bob Wakeham has spent more than 30 years as a journalist in Newfoundland and Labrador. He can be reached by email at bwakeham@nl.rogers.com.

Organizations: Canadian Senate, Department of Education

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Happy Valley, Holyrood Marystown Nova Scotia Ottawa Gander River Twillingate Broadway Canada Assisi

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