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The Gazette from Montreal, Quebec, Canada • Page 75
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The Gazette from Montreal, Quebec, Canada • Page 75

The Gazettei
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
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F9 lie uscttc rsA kJi ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR: LUCINDA CHODAN 987-2568 CROON ME TO THE MOON REVIEW Godzilla THE GAZETTE, MONTREAL. WEDNESDAY. MAY 20. 1993 dwarfed. 'by its hype Latest incarnation of monster is less than the sum of its parts f-- lAwy If -fniif' -InirnnffiT'iT Having lured the audience with a publicity blitz that kept it in the dark until today and teased it with a show of a scaly foot here and a flash of claw there, Godzilla can't help but disappoint The new monster is not only HUGE, it's agile, fast and fecund, but when it does finally appear in its full glory, nearly two hours into the movie, the expectations have been pegged so high nothing short of a live appearance could possibly meet them.

Worse, shortly after this point many in the audience are on their feet, thinking it should all be over, when in fact there is still a 20-minute finale to be endured before the 139-minute special effects epic wraps up. If the crowd hasn't grown sick of Godzilla by this point, they certainly have had enough of the full-volume soundtrack designed to pummel them into submission with monstrous shrieks and Wagnerian crash of urban ALLEN GAZETTE Hometown star-in-the-making Rufus Wainwright, 24, crooned a few tunes from his debut CD yesterday at Metropolis, officially launching the highly anticipated recording on the exclusive DreamWorks label before a gathering that included bis mother, Kate McGarrigle, of folk-music fame. Theme of convention: cable cares Distributors wary of having to force more channels on to customers it ---T? carte basis. But the applicants for French licenses (a field that includes Radio-Canada, TVA, Radiomutuel, Astral and Cancom) may assume that they are entitled to the maximum reach that has benefited the current group of license-holders. "There are cultural considerations," said Audet, acknowledging the desirability of maximizing choice for French-speaking viewers.

"But if it comes at the cost of imposing it on everyone well, these are tough issues." Michele Fortin, vice-president of television at Radio-Canada, has stated that new French specialty channels merit favourable placement on cable channel grids even if it means moving English services to premium or digital tiers. "As a consumer, I would prefer services a la carte," Chagnon said. "But given the economics of introducing new specialty channels in Quebec, the CRTC might have to impose some sort of carriage requirement. We'll have to see. It's getting more complicated." The complexity of the cable business was in ample evidence on the convention floor.

Specialty channels shared space with exhibitors of new cable products, including video on demand MATT RADZ The Gazette Godzilla has always been a problem monster. This time that problem is one of excess. The $140-million contender for the summer box-office championship, Godzilla the movie opens at theatres today with the warning: "size matters." It certainly does. The new Godzilla's trouble is that so much technological wizardry and glossy craft add up to so little movie. In this case, too much is not nearly enough.

This judgment was shared by a test audience, whose lukewarm reaction Monday night was a combination of confusion and indifference. "It's not all that good," one 19-year-old was overheard saying afterward. A perceptive bit of criticism because it expressed disappointment at the movie's shortcomings while throwing open the door to the opposite and equally true view, that Godzilla "is not all that bad." The movie does have some real strengths. The editing is snappy, the production has a lavishly consistent look and the cutting-edge action sequences are destined to be analyzed into the fall and beyond by film students and monster-movie buffs. Much of this production's appeal is due to Matthew Broderick's typically casual, deceptively skilled performance as a scientist who helps authori ties track down Godzilla, so the monster can be destroyed before it stomps New York into the ground.

Jean (The Professional) Reno plays the leader of a French secret-service cell on Godzilla's trail. This is another piece of inspired casting because only the taciturn Reno could manage a straight face in delivering the explanation of the French presence in the Godzilla hunt they are doing it because they feel responsible for having given birth to the Godzilla monster through their nuclear tests in the South Pacific. MUTANT HAS NUCLEAR BREATH Reno doesn't have to do much else, so he just walks through the film and complains about the foul taste of American coffee. He earns his fee with an Elvis impersonation, a nice light touch among many in this movie. A mutant with an attitude and nuclear breath, Godzilla could never quite shake the tag of being "just a guy in a rubber suit." Since it was born in 1954, Godzilla has always managed to appear more tacky than scary A complex creature, it has sustained its appeal through 22 sequels, thanks to showings of model-destroying frenzy that were more camp than terror.

So what about the new monster? How does this latest piece of amphibian creepiness stack up against its predecessors? As revived from its B-movie anguish by the same creative team that scored two summers ago with Independence Day, Godzilla adds coy to the list of its monster character flaws. New York is about to be bowled over, a but MIKE BOONE TV RADIO until Videotron introduces Digital Video Compression, a technology that increases the number of channels that can be pumped through a cable into our homes. Claude Chagnon, president of Videotron, talked about implementing digital compression at the end of the year. Ted Rogers was more cautious: the man who runs Canada's largest cable company sees digital technology as an expensive upgrade that will not come on stream until 2000 at which point it will be a niche product, appealing to owners of large-screen home-theatre systems. What happens if the CRTC licenses new specialty services before digital decoder boxes become affordable, widely accepted add-ons that expand the channel capacity of our TV sets? "I'm sure we will find a way to accommodate most, if not all, of the channels that will be licensed," Chagnon said.

Digital compression guarantees a place for everything, but putting everything in its proper place is a sensitive, politically charged issue for the CRTC and Quebec's major cable operators, Videotron and Cogeco. Each company serves areas with appreciable numbers of English subscribers, Videotron in western Montreal and the South Shore, Cogeco in the Eastern Townships and the Hull region. Because of the size of the French-speaking cable market, specialty channels such as RDI, Canal Teletoon, Canal Vie and MusiMax have been offered either as parts of basic service or in an extended package that is priced and marketed to reach the maximum number of cable subscribers. Louis Audet, president of Cogeco, told CCTA delegates that new specialty services ought to be offered on an a la TV TONIGHT destruction. WHY NEW YORK? In Independence Day, director Roland Emmerich and producer Dean Devlin tapped into the audience's fears of an alien invasion.

The premise of humanity pulling together against a common enemy was clear enough. Here, there is no apparent reason why Godzilla picks New York. Cinematic thrills of seeing familiar landmarks like the Chrysler Building razed, attractions of Broadway, the great fish restaurants, all could have figured in the decision. We never find out. The Emmerich-Devlin formula remains the same "let's call in the armed forces and start shootin'," plus lots of reaction shots that say: "This is the scariest thing I've ever seen." What's missing is the feeling of human solidarity that drew crowds to Independence Day It's a bit difficult not to cheer the stomping of Manhattan, where all the world's over-achievers have flocked seemingly for the purpose of being able to trade insults on a daily basis.

(Destruction of New York City is emerging as a strong cinematic theme. It should be noted that this experiment in urban renewal is accomplished with greater efficiency in Deep Impact, the other contender for this year's big summer flick.) It is equally unclear why Godzilla chooses to lay monster eggs at Madison Square Garden, which has to be bombed into rubble in order to end the reptilian threat. But let's not quibble, if it throws the Rangers off their game for next season bombs away 4 Godzilla opens today in English at the Atwater, Egyptien, LaSalle, Cote des Neiges, Cavendish, Odeon Pointe Claire, Lacordaire, Famous Players Versailles, Saint-Bruno, Carrefour Laval, Brossard, Saint-Eustache, Rock Forest, Sainte-Adele, Chateauguay Encore, Carrefour Dorion, Chateauguay Drive-in and Laval Drive-in. Parents' guide: Mild profanity, possibly ear-damaging soundtrack and relentless violence. will movie audiences? Next time the cable convention comes to town, it probably will need more floor space.

The main hall of the Palais des Congres was chockablock yesterday as more than 2,000 Canadian Cable Television Association delegates began three days of backslapping, business card-exchanging and future-of-the-biz projecting. Exhibitors included the full range of specialty service channels, from to YTV As a pipe-and-drum corps, in the period military garb of New France, worked its way up and down the crowded aisles, conventioneers could gawk at a comedian (Mike Bullard at the Comedy Network booth); hockey players working opposite ends of the hall (Guy Lafleur at the RDS exhibit, Chris Che-lios and junior sensation Vincent Lecavalier at CTV SportsNet); and a news anchor (Alison Smith at the Newsworld booth). 71 APPLICATIONS The multi-channel cable universe is loud, it's colourful and we ain't seen nothin' yet. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission -whose chairman, Francoise Bertrand, delivered the convention's opening speech has received 71 applications for new specialty services. Hearings will not begin until December, but the cable companies are beginning to stake out a position on new specialty services.

Several of the industry's heavy-hitters believe that cable customers will not accept more specialty channels crammed down their throats in basic and extended-basic packages. The issue of channel capacity also weighs on the minds of cable operators as they think about new services. Limited capacity is a particularly contentious issue in Montreal, where Videotron was not able to add the full range of new English specialty services that signed on late last year. Several of the convention exhibitors including the Comedy Network, Space: the Imaginations Station, Prime, Outdoor Life, and Home and Garden Television are not available to Montreal subscribers. These channels, plus any new ones that might be licensed by the CRTC, won't be offered Season ends for Gazette television columnist Mike Boone picks the best of tonight's programs: members.

Beverly Hills 902 1 0 (CKMI-46 at 8): Two-hour season finale. Spin City (CFCF-12 at 8): Season ends. In the Wild (VPT-33 at 8): Julia Roberts visits orangutans. Biography at 8): Lee Stras- (watch any movie you want, when you want), high-speed Internet access and local telephone services. 'CLOSER TO YOU' The theme of the convention is "Closer to you." The somewhat ominous slogan is meant to convey the cable industry's desire to cuddle up and cater to customers who can choose among service providers.

Direct-to-home satellite Canadian and "gray market" is try ing to lure away cable's clientele. A new multipoint distribution service, Look TV offering 90 channels plus digital audio, will be launched later this year. And the mighty telephone companies are poised to start pumping TV signals through their wires. "We are no longer a monopoly," CCTA president Richard Stursberg told delegates, warning that "multiple players, using multiple technologies" have invaded what used to be a tight little market. sion, with Marlon Brando, James Mason.

Working (Channel 12 at Season finale. Law Order (Channel 12 at 10): Season ends. Barbara Walters Presents (WVNY-22 at 10): Six to Watch, including Jenna Elfman, Minnie Driver, Kobe Bryant. Tonight Show (WPTZ-5 at LisaKudrow. Prime-time schedule.

Page F12 -fW vr "ft til ti 'fJMl S. Law Order, Dharma Greg berg. Masterpiece Theatre (WCFE-57 at 8) The Woman in White. Dharma Greg (WVNY-22 at Season ends. CBS: the First 50 Years (WCAX-3 at 9): Two-hours of clips and reminiscences.

3rd Rock From the Sun (WPTZ-5 at 9) Season finale. Drew Carey (Channel 12 at 9): Season ends. Julius Caesar (Bravo at 9): 1953 ver.

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