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Spotlight on Toni Collette

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Japanese Story finds Toni Collette playing an Australian mining company employee. When asked to give a Japanese investor a tour of the mines, she grudgingly drives Gutaro Tsunashima to the blistering outback where the two are forced to confront each other as human beings. Just when the film appears to be taking a conventional turn, there's a twist. If you are looking for moving and insightful, this is it.

It seems that Collette chooses or is chosen for roles that explore human motivations and values. Other great Toni Collette movies at CPL:

The Night Listener: A blind caregiver played by Collette protects a young abuse survivor who has contacted a radio personality (Robin Williams). Spooky...

Little Miss Sunshine: Fun look at a wacky intergenerational family dragged on a road trip by their young would-be beauty pageant contestant.

Muriel's Wedding: Woman obsessed with being a bride--Humorous and disturbing.

The Hours: With Nicole Kidman. Based on Virginia Woolf's novel, The Hours follows different women's life struggles during different time periods.

We also have: In her Shoes and Towelhead

Guaranteed Embarrassment Free 8

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As the days get colder and the nights get longer, snuggle up with the whole family with any of these embarrassment free suggestions. Need more ? Check out embarrassment free under TAGS on the left hand side of our blog and you will find the seven previous installments.

Ratatouille---Pixar just seems to keep getting it right. Academy award winner for best animated feature for 2007, this is a story about a French rat who wants to be a chef. As always the animation is brilliant and realistic---but don't let the thought of a rat in a kitchen put you off---this is great fun.

My dog skip---1940 rural Mississippi coming of age story. Sweet but not gaggily (? is this a word) so. Starring Frankie Muniz from Malcolm in the Middle--- I always enjoy this young man's performances.

Sandlot---this 1993 offering spawned a lot of sequels but as is often the case, the original is still the best. Baseball, best friends, beautiful summer days--- but whatever you do, don't hit the ball over the back fence.

Muppets treasure island ---I have always been a big Muppets fan, and this one from 1996 is good and goofy. A retelling of the classic Robert Louis Stevenson tale complete with all of your favorite muppets and real-life Tim Curry as the villian. Boom-shaka-laka-laka.

While we are on the topic of Robert L Stevenson try the 2005 Masterpiece Theatre/BBC production of Kidnapped. Better for older children-about 10 and up.

Ladyhawke---1985 with a very young Matthew Broderick. Combination romance, adventure and fantasy story that actually stands up fairly well even twenty two years on. With lovely Michelle Pfeiffer and handsome Rutger Hauer as the love interests.

Halloween at CPL

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We have featured scary movies several times over the past year. To find previous recommendations go to the left side of the screen and check out ARCHIVES. There you will find our first Halloween post under October 2008. In February 2009 we reviewed Stephen King; check out May of 2009 which had Dare You to Watch Alone as well as a Hitchcock homage.

A couple of new titles worth a look-see are Joshua with Sam Rockwell. This one is genuinely creepy and I watched it with the lights on. An oldie but goodie is the intelligent look at the nature of evil---The Picture of Dorian Gray. Although it wasn't able to maintain the same high quality throughout its entire run, the first 3 years of The X Files had some truly terrifying offerings.There are cheesy scares with two classics from Vincent Price in The House on Haunted Hill and the Pitt and the Pendulum; and a wonderful story, again with Price, and Johnny Depp in Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands. And one that should be on everybodies must see list is our teen fright night offering of The Haunting.

Just arriving on our shelves at the moment is a wonderful ghost story from Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy). This fim has a great look and is genuinely scary and yet also tragic. My usual approach to scary parts is to watch through my fingers but this made it impossible to read the sub-titles in this Spanish film, so I had to watch! This is my kind of scary story- no blood, no guts, no chain saw wielding in-bred maniacs. Just a tightly developing plot, characters you sympathize with and moment building upon moment until---well, you have to peek through your fingers! Check out El Orfanato---The Orphanage.

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Michael Caine-Jude Law Triple Bill

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It wasn't really my intention to turn this blog into the Michael Caine show--we've reviewed many of his films--- but his cinematic entanglements with Jude Law really are worth viewing.

Try 1966 classic Alfie in which Michael Caine plays what used to be referred to as a playboy who breaks hearts right and left around swinging London. His inability to commit to anything catches up to him, with heartbreaking results. Caine's monologues and asides make the movie.

It turns out that Jude Law is a dead ringer for a young Michael Caine, see the 2004 remake of Alfie if you don't believe me.

Second, watch the chilling yet humorously absurd adaptation of Anthony Shaffer's play, Sleuth, with Jude Law as the young lover confronting the wealthy husband played by Caine, at his country estate. Cat and mouse game ensues. This dvd is a great choice for theatre lovers. Harold Pinter wrote the screenplay, and Kenneth Branagh directed. In the original 1972 film (not yet at CPL) Caine plays the young lover with Laurence Olivier in the cuckold's role.

If you can't forgive real life Jude Law for alleged Alfie-like behaviour, check out Factory Girl with Sienna Miller playing Warhol circle socialite Edie Sedgewick.