Archive for the ‘Tanya Allen Oeuvre’ Category

Guide Post to Reviews of Tanya Allen Movies   Leave a comment


Jason Priestley and Tanya Allen in Fancy Dancing (2002)

(The image is a screen cap.)


This post should simplify then process of navigating my guide to selected movies with Tanya Allen in them.




Behind the Lines, a.k.a. Regeneration (1997)

White Lies (1998)

Fancy Dancing (2002):

Lyddie (1996):



Posted July 16, 2013 by neatnik2009 in Tanya Allen Movies

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Guide Post to Starhunter 2300 Episode Reviews   Leave a comment


Tanya Allen as Percy Montana


This post should simplify then process of navigating my episode guide.





Star Crossed:


Chasing Janus:


Becoming Shiva:

The Third Thing:



Skin Deep:

Supermax Redux:

Pandora’s Box:

Stitch in Time:

The Prisoner:



The Heir and the Spare:

Just Politics:

Negative Energy:

Licence to Fill:

Hyperspace I:

Hyperspace II:


Posted July 16, 2013 by neatnik2009 in Starhunter 2300 (2003-2004)

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Guide Post to Starhunter (Series 1) Episode Reviews   Leave a comment


Title Card for Starhunter


This post should simplify then process of navigating my episode guide.




The Divinity Cluster:


Family Values:

Siren’s Song:

The Man Who Sold the World:

Peer Pressure:


Past Lives:


Cell Game:

Black Light:

Goodbye, So Long:

The Most Wanted Man:

Half Dense Players:

Dark and Stormy Night:

Super Max:

A Twist in Time and Eat Sin:

Bad Girls:

Bad Seed:




Posted July 16, 2013 by neatnik2009 in Starhunter (2000-2001)

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Lyddie (1996)   2 comments

Tanya Allen as Lyddie Worthen

LYDDIE (1996)


Tanya Allen as Lyddie Worthen

Daniel Mulvihill as Charlie Worthen

Andrea Libman as Rachel Worthen

Patricia Worthen as Ma Worten

Simon James as Luke Stevens

Alan Bratt as Mr. Stevens

Nathaniel DeVeaux as Ezekial

Produced for BBC Children’s International by the BBC and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Distributed on DVD by Feature Films for Families and Bonneville Communications

Based on the novel Lyddie, by Kathereine Paterson

Directed by Stefan Scaini

My tour of the Tanya Allen filmography continues with Lyddie, a movie about a young woman who struggles to reunite her family, which unfortunate circumstances have rent asunder.

The movie opens in Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada, in 1860.  Ontario looks amazingly like Lancashire, in England, and parts of Saskatchewan, however, for those were the filming locations.

Although Lyddie would quite easily be G-rated in the United States, scenes of child labor and unsafe working conditions in the textile mill render it better for older children than for younger ones.  This is my parental alert.

Now, for the beginning of the story:

Charlie and Lyddie

The purpose of this post is to peak interest in seeing the movie, not to divulge every important plot detail.

As the movie opens, the Worthen family (sans the father, who left a few months prior in search of mineral wealth) is barely holding out on their small farm.  The mother and four children–from a baby to a late adolescent–are in dire straits.  An aunt and uncle take the mother, the baby, and Rachel the daughter to live with them, leaving Lyddie and Charlie to fend for themselves–until their father returns, they hope.  But the father never returns.

Lyddie and Charlie manage fairly well until they receive word from their young neighbor,

Luke Stevens (pictured above), that their mother has hired them out–Lyddie to an innkeeper and Charlie to the owner of a livery stable.  So Lyddie and Charlie depart for the futures.  Lyddie’s job at the inn is rather short-lived, for the lady who runs the business is a harsh taskmistress.  Lyddie then runs away back to the farm, where she meets…

…Ezekial, an escaped slave preacher from Alabama.  (No, Michele Bachmann, the Founding Fathers of the United States did not work tirelessly until they abolished slavery.  As a teacher of U.S. history, I know my subject.)  Ezekial plans to bring his wife and two children to freedom in Canada.  In the meantime, Lyddie, who has little, gives him shelter, water, and some money she has earned from the sale of a calf.  Ezekial tells Lyddie that education is the key to freedom, prompting her to think about her direction in life.  Our heroine is barely literate, and she needs to earn money to reunite her family, for poverty has split it up.

Ezekial and Lyddie part ways, with Lyddie going to nearby Cornwall, to work in a textile mill, her best option for earning money.

Later, by the way, Lyddie learns that her gift to Ezekial accomplished far more than she could have imagined.


Lyddie gets a job at the textile mill in Cornwall.  The owner requires his employees to avoid “moral turpitude,” or to risk firing.  He has a narrow definition of moral turpitude, however, for he cares nothing about providing a safe working environment, does not respect the rights of workers to defend their basic rights, and hires children.

Diana, one of Lyddie’s coworkers, improves her literary, introduces her to the world of books, and prompts Lyddie to consider educational opportunities.  Alas, Diana succumbs to a fatal case of cotton lung.  The mill is quite hazardous to the health of employees.

Lyddie and Rachel

Charlie visits Lyddie from time to time, updating her regarding the family.  Ma Worthen, her mind broken by all the stress, enters an asylum.  And Lyddie must assume a parental role relative to Rachel, who gets a job at the mill, but whom Lyddie refuses to permit to reenter the mill after the younger sister becomes ill as a result of the conditions there.

Will Lyddie be able to save enough money to reunite as many members of her family as possible?  Will her path to security run through education or through marriage?  Watch the movie to discover the answer to these and other questions.

The movie’s packaging and special features come with four questions for parents to discuss with children.  Unfortunately, all of these questions concern individual matters, ignoring societal sins.  The movie does not shy away from addressing slavery, child labor, workers’ rights, and unsafe working conditions, but the four questions do.  My problem, then, is with whoever drafted and approved the questions, not with the movie itself.



All images are screen captures I took via PowerDVD.

Posted July 26, 2011 by neatnik2009 in Tanya Allen Movies

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Anyone’s Game/Chicks with Sticks (2005)   1 comment

Tanya Allen as Kate Willings, one of the Black Widows



Jessalyn Gilsig as Paula Taymore

Andrew Chalmers as Stewart “Stewie” Taymore

Margot Kidder as Edith Taymore

Kevin Kruchkywich as Ross Taymore

Pascale Hutton as Charlene

Michie Mee as Heather Desmond

Chantal Perron as Brigitte

Vanessa Holmes as Brenda

Tanya Allen as Kate

Juliette Marquis as Felicity

Natassia Maltbie as Marcie

Jason Priestley as Steve

Directed by Kari Skogland

1 hour, 38 minutes long

Rated PG in Canada; PG-13 in the United States


Canadian movies can be very good.  My tour through filmed works of Tanya Allen has brought me across films I would not have watched otherwise, but am glad I did.  Anyone’s Game/Chicks with Sticks is among these.  I have also noticed connections between this movie and others.  For example, Kari Skogland also directed Tanya Allen in White Lies (1998), my review of which is here:  And Jason Priestley was also in Fancy Dancing (2002), my review of which is here:

I begin by setting up the story.

Jessalyn Gilsig as Paula Taymore

Paula Taymore is a newly single mother with a hardhat job in the small town of Red Deer, Alberta, Canada.  (Calgary and Okotoks substitute for Red Deer as filming locations.)  Being short on money, she evades the washer repo man during the opening credits.  Paula hopes for a promotion and the corresponding 20% raise at work, but this uncertain.  And her alternator is on the fritz. Ross, her brother and a mechanic, has the part but not the time to replace the alternator.

A few years ago, Paula almost made the Olympic hockey team, but events, including an automobile accident involving her son, Stewart, and mother, Edith, pulled her away from the camp.  She still follows the sport religiously, playing it when she can.

One night Ross arranges for Edith, the grandmother, to babysit Stewart so that Paula can play on his local hockey team against another local team, the Chiefs, who lose the game.  At the gathering following the game some knuckle-dragging men make sexist comments about women’s hockey, and Paula accepts the challenge to field a women’s team to play the women’s game against the Chiefs in four weeks.  Ross will keep track of the roster.  And there will be money involved, with men matching any funds the women can raise.

The diverse women’s team, called the Black Widows, consists of, among others, an ex-con and a Ph.D. candidate in women’s studies writing her thesis, “Wicca in the Workplace.”  The Black Widows:

Marcie replaces Charlene:

The end of the movie is never in doubt, as the DVD box art gives it away.  Furthermore, one of the songs in the movie is “Girl Out of the Ordinary.”  In other words, one might as well chant “You go, girl!” while watching this film.

This is an unabashed hockey chick flick.

Michie Mee as Heather Desmond

Heather Desmond is the spunky radio DJ with an urban attitude in rural west Canada.  She encourages Paul’s hockey battle of the sexes.

Margot Kidder as Edith Taymore

Margot Kidder, who played Lois Lane in four Christopher Reeve Superman movies, does an excellent job as Paula’s supportive and spunky mother, who plays cards with her grandson and becomes the den mother to the Black Widows.

Mother and Son

Stewart “Stewie” Taymore, who is in the Second Grade, is actually one of the two most mature males in the movie.  (Most of the others spend time speculating foolishly about the menstrual cycles of the Black Widows.)  The relationship between Paula and her son is quite endearing.

Steve and Paula

Jason Priestley’s Steve is the other mature male.  He, also a single parent, has something in common with Paula:  his daughter and Stewart have the same teacher.  So Steve and Paula meet at school, between parent-teacher conferences.  These two fall in love.  But, more importantly, Steve has both the time and ability to replace her alternator.

Anyone’s Game/Chicks with Sticks contains both dramatic and comedic moments.  It is predictable, yes, but good and harmless viewing.

You go, girls!



All images are screen captures I took using the PowerDVD program.

Fancy Dancing (2002)   2 comments

Tanya Allen as Karen in Fancy Dancing



Jason Priestley as Asa Gimmel

Tanya Allen as Karen

Ewen Bremmer as Bernard Schiff

Dave Thomas as Uncle Billy

Dave Foley as Nat Porter

Deborah Odell as Charity

Connor Price as Michael Pelham/Stuart Gimmel

Dan Chameroy as Mar Stoddard

Stephanie Graham as Doreen Gaynor

Directed by Brock Simpson

91 Minutes Long

No MPAA Rating


With this post I continue my series of reviews of selected Tanya Allen movies.  Per my custom, I choose to leave most of the film’s content for a viewer to discover, but I endeavor to encourage one to do that.  Know also that I write this post immediately after having watched the movie again and taken screen captures.

Fancy Dancing is a pleasant and sweet movie, maybe even a good date movie, assuming that one’s date enjoys singing and dancing in the style of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.  To state the case differently, one who likes stoner comedies and scatological humor will certainly dislike this film, which, if rated in the U.S.A., would probably be PG.

Asa Gimmel

Asa Gimmel has lived off a trust fund for too long.  He sleeps rather late and spends many nights in a jazz club, where he lives in a time warp.  Asa, you see, is stuck in the 1940s.  He knows the songs of that era and spends too much time watching cheesy musicals starring Mar Stoddard, the Canadian counterpart to Fred Astaire, and his frequent costar, Doreen Gaynor.

Asa also likes to pursue women he meets in the jazz club.  Early in the movie, he follows one young woman home.  Consider this clever writing:

WOMAN:  Who’s that?

ASA:  “Tis I.

WOMAN:  O, you’re that guy who lives at the Winchester Hotel.

ASA:  I beseech you, please do not steal into the darkness of your chamber, but lend an ear to an unworthy suitor.

WOMAN:  Okay, but I should warn you that it’s going to take more than arcane pronouns to get me into bed.


Living in fantasy land with Asa is his good friend and fellow musician, Bernard Schiff, or just Schiff.  He speaks in a frantic and barely understandable variety of English, but he comes with subtitles in the middle of the screen.  Schiff spends much of the move fretting over the loss of the “groove,” which he swears his girlfriend stole from him.  Later, however, he concludes that he did not lose the groove and could never have lost it, for “the groove is within.”  There is your motivational thought for the day, O reader.  “The groove is within.”

A Business Idea

Schiff decides to turn lemons into lemonade.  So he creates a new board game, Co-Dependent Quandries.

The Game

As you can see, O reader, it comes with a heart-shaped board.  Wow!

Asa with his son and ex-wife

Asa is also irresponsible and on the outs with his former wife, Charity.  She calls their son Michael Pelham, but he insists on referring to the boy as Stuart Gimmel.  And Asa thinks that a highland sword is an appropriate gift for the boy.  This disturbs Charity, who also objects the fact that Asa’s most recent child support check bounced.


And Asa keeps his son up much too late at the jazz club.  As Asa asks, “What kid doesn’t like the cabaret?”

Charity and her parents, whom Asa calls “cricket-playing Anglicans” contemptuously (At least it is better than “limey bastards.”), read Asa and his uncle and aunt the riot act.  Asa will either become responsible immediately or lose visitation rights to Michael.

Uncle Billy

Asa’s Uncle Billy, who owns an advertising agency, agrees that Asa needs to learn responsibility.  So he forces Asa to go to work in the family business immediately.  So Asa learns how to get to work on time and how to plan an advertising campaign.

Nat Porter

Asa works under Nat Porter, an annoying man who prefers to have a lamp at eye level between himself and any other person.

He becomes concerned when someone lowers the map.


Asa works with Karen, who designs the advertisements themselves.  Asa concludes that Karen is weird, but that he likes her.  She thinks that he is also odd, but in a good way.

Karen and Asa

Asa is thrilled to learn that he and Karen have the same taste in movies and music.

At a Movie

They attend a screening of a Mar Stoddard-Doreen Gaynor movie, Song of the North.

It is really cheesy, but they enjoy it.

Asa and Karen

Asa and Karen get along very well.

That which follows is a sweet and predictable plot about how an interest in Mar Stoddard movies can lead to a successful advertising campaign.  Asa and Karen fall in love, of course, and everyone lives happily ever after.  Along the way we encounter a healthy dose of singing and dancing, some of it involving Jason Priestley and Tanya Allen.

True Love

I recommend Fancy Dancing highly.  There ought to be plenty of room for something as positive as this in a film fan’s life.



White Lies (1998)   3 comments

The Main Menu to the DVD

All images are screen captures courtesy of a legal DVD and the PowerDVD program.



Sarah Polley as Catherine Chapman

Tanya Allen as Erina Baxter

Jonathan Scarfe as Ian McKee

Lynn Redgrave as Inga Kolneder

Made for Canadian Broadcasting Corporation television

Directed by Kari Skogland

Rated R in the U.S.A.


This is another in my series of occasional posts in which I review selections from the filmed work of Tanya Allen, a Canadian actress whose film and television work more people should watch.  This time I cover a well-made television movie about Canadian Neo-Nazis.

White Lies boasts an excellent cast.   There is Tanya Allen, of course.  Then we have the pleasure of watching Sarah Polley work.  You, O reader, might have seen Away from Her, a movie about the effects of Alzheimer’s Disease on a marriage.  Sarah Polley directed that one a few years after making this.  As for her other screen work, you might have come across The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Exotica, The Claim, The Weight of Water, Beowulf and GrendelThe Sweet Hereafter, My Life Without Me, No Such Thing, GuinevereThe Secret Life of Words, and John Adams.  That is the list I can muster off the top of my head.  Polley has been an activist since her youth, when the Walt Disney corporation blacklisted her for opposing the First Gulf War (1990-1991) publicly;  she refused to remove a peace symbol at a children’s programming awards event in Washington, D.C.  She doesn’t need Disney anymore, fortunately.

Lynn Redgrave as Inga Kolneder

Lynn Redgrave, sister of Vanessa and daughter of Michael, both respected thespians as well, plays Inga Kolneder, leader and cofounder (with her late husband) of the National Identity Movement, a Neo-Nazi organization.  It is everything a clearheaded person expects:  violent, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, unapologetically racist, and full of Holocaust deniers.  It is safe to say that, given the international politics of the Redgrave family, the only similarity between the late Lynn Redgrave and her character was outward appearance.

Tanya Allen as Erina Baxter

As for Tanya Allen, she made her disapproval of hatred plain in one of the special features.  It is odd to watch her act in White Lies, for she has to utter some extremely hateful language.  It must have been uncomfortable for her.

Consistent with my usual pattern in movie reviews, I will leave most of the film’s plot for the viewer discover.  So I choose to set up the premise and make some comments here.

A One World Week Event in a High School

White Lies opens with a high school assembly.  Allen Green, a liberal newspaper columnist, concludes a presentation in which he extols the virtues of a multi-racial and multi-cultural society which embraces and accepts differences.

An Important Question

Senior Catherine Chapman thinks that Green is not entirely correct.  She does not think of herself as a racist.  Indeed, she is not one at the beginning of the movie.  Yet she does have a legitimate complaint which Green brushes off by accusing her of being a racist.  Recently Catherine applied for a job flipping burgers at a local mall.  The manager asked if she were bilingual.  She replied yes; she was fluent in English and French.  That was not the bilingual combination the manager wanted, however.  Catherine did not get the job because she did not speak Cantonese.  Her allegedly racist question at the assembly regarded how many questions she needs to know to get a job flipping burgers.

One of Catherine’s teachers gives a classroom assignment to write about One World Week.  She “does not get into the spirit,” however, so the teacher gives an “F” to her critique, “Christmas is Dead.”  The teacher offers Catherine a chance to write a positive essay, but she declines.  Instead, she uses a pseudonym, Hot Head, and submits it to a contest she finds in an online chat room which, as it turns out, belongs to the National Identity Movement (NIM).  Thus Catherine makes her entrance into NIM via her first contact, Erina Baxter, and begins to write tracts under her nom de plume, Hot Head.  Catherine finds herself immersed in a world of hatred, violence, and Holocaust denial.  Catherine, now a freshman at a local university, goes along for a while, but she begins to experience doubts.  Entering a Neo-Nazi organization is easier than leaving it, however.

So, what is the moral of the story?  To say, “Neo-Nazism is bad,” although accurate as a stand-alone statement, does not answer the question well.  No, I think that one correct answer is to avoid the two extremes of ethnocentrism, in which one dismisses out of hand other cultures, and cultural relativism, which leads to a mushy embrace of differences and an abandonment of all standards while assuaging guilt over millennia and centuries of ethnocentrism.  The second good answer to the question is that we ought provide honest and thoughtful answers to real questions, and not fuel resentment.  “How many languages do I need to know to flip burgers?” was a legitimate question.  It deserved a real answer.

The good news about White Lies is that it avoids the stereotypical afterschool special formula.  (Those were annoying and overly simplistic programs.)  Truly bad and irrevocable results (especially for the younger members of NIM) flow from becoming a Neo-Nazi.  Yet the movie avoids becoming too preachy, thereby avoiding the unpardonable sin rampant in most 1980s U.S. afterschool specials, which have scarred my consciousness.  Rather, the screenwriter and the director allow the consequences to speak for themselves.

Some online reviewers have complained that the Neo-Nazis come across as insufficiently complex and, oddly enough, as too unsympathetic.  Let me be clear:  We are talking about Neo-Nazis–racists, arsonists, Holocaust deniers, and domestic terrorists–not Gandhians.  True, they have some legitimate complaints about vigilante violence directed at them, but they commit their share vigilante violence too.  They are not innocents.  How sympathetic ought they to seem?

Next in my Tanya Allen series, I will lighten the tone greatly and move toward the whimsical with Fancy Dancing.