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The Great Directors: Alfred Hitchcock

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119 years after his birth, Alfred Hitchcock remains the Master of Suspense. In a filmmaking career that lasted for over 60 years, Hitchcock directed over 50 feature films, making him a legend around the world. His films continue to captivate audiences of all ages.

Known for his carefully composed images and fluidly choreographed camera movements, filmakers today still strive to imitate his unique style. Hitchcock is known as the pioneer of the modern psychological and suspense genre. Rarely relying on the element of suprise, Hitchcock instead preferred manipulating his audience through carefully controlled suspense, or as he called it, "playing the audience like a piano." On set, Hitchcock was known as bit of a control freak, storyboarding every shot in a movie and leaving nothing to chance.

Rarely before or after has great entertainment and great art joined together as well as in the films of Alfred Hitchcock. The joy of filmaking shines through in his films. Here are a few of my favourite Hitchcock films, :

Rear Window[1954] -- A perfect introduction to the films of Alfred Hitchcock. Jeff (Jimmy Stewart), a photographer who is confined to a wheelchair with a broken leg, spends the summer spying on his neighbours through the rear window of his apartment. Trouble ensues when Jeff thinks he may have witnessed one of his neigbours killing their wife and disposing of the body. A fascinating study of voyeurism, both Jeff and our's.

The Lady Vanishes[1938] -- A young woman investigates the disappearance of an elderly lady on a fast moving train, bound for England. She is especially shocked to learn that the other passengers claim the old lady never existed. A witty and fast-paced mystery, suitable for everyone.
North by Northwest[1959] -- Cary Grant gets pursued across the US when he is mistaken for an international spy. From a swooping crop duster in Indiana, to a race to the top of Mt. Rushmore, the film results in one iconic sequence after another. One on the greatest chase films ever made. Here are some other great Hitchcock films available at the CPL: The 39 Steps[1935] Rebecca [1940] Foreign Correspondant[1940] Saboteur [1942] Notorious [1946] To Catch a Thief[1955] Dial M for Murder[1955] The Wrong Man[1956] Vertigo[1958] The Man Who Knew Too Much[1959] Psycho [1960] Frenzy [1972]
Nobody's perfect, Hitch included. Here are a few of his average/weaker works, also available from your local library: Mr. & Mrs. Smith[1941] Stage Fright[1950] I Confess[1953] Marnie [1964] Torn Curtain[1966] Topaz [1969]

Best Westerns I: Weird and Wonderful

by Melanie Kolbeins - 0 Comment(s)

What is it about westerns? The wide open spaces? The sense of closure? The action scenes? Whatever the answer, here's the ones I think are sharp-shootin'...Dagnabit, there's so many, I'll review more later.

Meantime...Here's a few I reckon are a little different from the pack...

Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

Humphrey Bogart goes mad in pursuit of gold in John Huston's classic. This movie has all the fun cliches that shape the imagination of the west: the cackling old toothless prospector, the mexican posse, the frontier quest for riches and, of course, the unforgettable line "Badges?! We don't need no stinkin' badges!"

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Some coworkers say this is a drama, not a western, but it reflects more recent westerns' focus on human motivations rather than shootouts. Brad Pitt is convincing as the weary James. Casey Affleck is eerie and believable as a fan and nemesis.

Unforgiven (1992)

Posted: May 11 2009,

Clint Eastwood came out of retirement as an actor and as a gunslinger in film for the Oscar-winning Unforgiven. A group of prostitutes band together and raise money to convince his character to seek out and eliminate whomever is killing their own.

There will be blood (2007)

Daniel Day Lewis appears as a terrible man, driven by lust for money, who destroys everyone he comes into contact with. This probably falls outside traditional definitions of a Western, but oil prospecting themes and dry dusty scenes compelled me to include it. It is based on Upton Sinclair's novel Oil!


Yul Brynner is a robot run amok in Michael Crichton's early examination at virtual reality/role playing games. How about living out your fantasies of going back to the old west, where those around you are really robots. It's perfectly safe...really...

Paint your Wagon (1969)

Clint Eastwood again with Lee Marvin and Jean Seberg in a psychadelic, polygamist musical. 'Nuff said.
If you prefer more traditional westerns, we have plenty of John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart movies also. Check them out...

Dare you to watch alone

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Judging from the number of hits on the Stephen King post it would appear that horror movies are a very popular genre with CPL viewers-and I couldn't agree more-there's nothing like having your socks scared off!! I'm not talking slasher fliks (of which there is no shortage)---you know the type---mad as a hatter backwoodsmen who mame and torture their way through 90minutes. I'm talking well crafted, intense stories that build to a nail biting finale (okay, and maybe just a little bit of blood and guts). If you aren't normally a fan don't be too eager to dismiss horror movies as cheesy. These selections represent hundreds of nominatons from Oscar, BAFTA, Golden Globes etc and many, many wins . I've pulled these movies from several genres-ScFi, fantasy and horror but they all have one thing in commom-they are scary. Some are good old fashioned fun scary, while some fall under the truly terrifying. So lock the doors, pull down the blinds, grap someone to hang onto, or watch alone if you dare.

Pan's Labyrinth---2006. Perhaps this movie is best understood as a metaphor for facist Spain of 1944. It is dark and disturbing, yet also compelling and beautiful. It also has one of the more truly terrifying chase scenes I've ever seen.

Psycho---Hitchcock. Need I say more?

Alien Quadrilogy ---1 is great, and 2 is tremendous, 3's not bad and 4 starts out strong and ends an absolute mess. When first released Alien had the tagline "in space no one can hear you scream"---and I was hooked. A kick butt heroine, a truly malignant alien, and enough special effects to satisfy even the most jaded. If you like them and also liked the Predator series check out AVP (Alien versus Predator). It's actually surprisingly good. Avoid AVP 2.

Rosemary's Baby-the ultimate in horror movies---at the end of it all you'll be amazed at how scared you were and how little you really saw. A deft hand by director Roman Polanski and inspired casting including Mia Farrow as the fey Rosemary, make this among the best.

Invasion of the body snatchers- we just received the 1978 version starring Donald Sutherland and Leonard Nimoy and the 1956 Kevin McCarthy versionis on order. They are both well done, with the earlier one being a little more atmospheric (black and white) and the 78 being a little more graphic. Great endings in both, with the 78 being really freaky.

Sixth sense---one of those quiet little movies that came out of nowhere and grabbed everyone by the throat. By M Night Shaymalan who also brought us "Signs" (also worth a look).

I am Legend---this is the 2007 remake of a 1971 remake (Omega Man with Charlton Heston) of a 1964 remake (Last Man on Earth with Vincent Price) of an original 1954 story by master horror writer Richard Matheson. Phew! Matheson is considered very influential in developing the modern vampire/zombie genre and among his many fans are writer Stephen King and producer/director George Romero. This Will Smith version is good, creepy fun.The scene in which he is searching for his dog in an abandoned building is particularly well done. You'll never look at Rover in quite the same way again.

Movies we dont have but you should see if you like being scared. Not for the faint of heart!!

Blair Witch Project



And should you find yourself in a potentially horrifying situation, remember these two cardinal rules:

1) never dig anything up "just to make sure it's really dead''

2) never let anyone tell you "let's split up and check this out"-especially if you're a teenager