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Redux Wuthering Heights

by Melanie Kolbeins - 0 Comment(s)

I'm popping into Moe's blog column to look at the many faces of Wuthering Heights on dvd. Each adaptation of Emily Bronte's novel has its own attractions, and we have five to compare here at the library. Is WH a story of eternal love or the annals of the world's most dysfunctional relationship? You tell me. Pick your favorite craggy Heathcliff and moorswept Catherine and away you go...

BBC Wuthering Heights CPL just introduced this 1967 version starring Ian McShane (Lovejoy, Deadwood). You'd be hard pressed to find a hairier Heathcliff.

Wuthering Heights starring Timothy Dalton (1970): This version is true to the novel and the setting is darkly appropriate. It emphasizes how the family dynamic leads to all the conflicts between the players.

Masterpiece Theatre's 1998 Wuthering Heights: Heathcliff is not a nice man in this tv version. The focus is his and Cathy's obsession with one another and the ensuing destruction they wreak around them--starring Orla Brady and Robert Cavanah. It's a compelling adapdation and my favorite of the ones listed here.

Wuthering Heights (1992) with Juliette Binoche and Ralph Fiennes. If you ask me, these two are just too nice looking for these roles, but they are fine actors.

Masterpiece Theatre strikes again with Tom Hardy and Charlotte Riley in Wuthering Heights (2008). This one will appeal to younger viewers, with younger actors, but it didn't sustain my interest.

You can't beat the cast in this 1939 version with Laurence Olivier, Merle Oberon and David Niven. However, it is not true to the novel's plot or feeling and is largely responsible for Wuthering Heights' dubious designation as a romance novel. It is not in our collection yet.

This could become the blog post that never ends...according to IMDB, two new versions are on their way. I'm still trying to find the tv version with the very affected blond Edgar Linton...anyone?

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Great Escapes

by Melanie Kolbeins - 0 Comment(s)

Of course you can not do any such list without having the quintessential Great Escape from 1963. It is the incredible true story of the mass escape of 76 Allied POWs from Stalag Luft III in March of 1944. This has a huge all-star cast, featuring many of the heavy hitters of the day--- Steve McQueen, James Garner, Charles Bronson, and James Coburn (incidentially McQueen, Bronson and Coburn appeared together in the Magnificent Seven, one of my favorite westerns). This movie appears fairly regularly on television (actually they both do), but if you missed it, or just want to revisit it, now is the time. It is a great story.

Rescue Dawn from 2006. This film tells the real-life story of U.S. fighter pilot Dieter Dengler, a German-American shot down and captured in Laos during the Vietnam War. He was the only known POW to escape from a Laos prison. It features Christian Bale (Batman Begins) as Dengler. Bale looks rail thin here, but not as bad as in The Machinist, a role for which he lost an astonishing 63 pounds. Bale, an actor known for fully embracing his characters (as witnessed by what he regularly puts his body through) does in fact, eat those maggots.

Papillon from 1973 again with Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman as inmates of the notorious Devil's Island in French Guiana circa 1930's. This movie was incredibly popular at the time of its release, and being a period piece actually stands up well. Ocassionally a little campy, it still tells a remarkable tale of hardship, endurance and ultimate triumph.

The Killing Fields--- Covering the U.S. pullout from Vietnam in 1975, this is the story of two men---a New York Times correspondent and his Cambodian friend and translator Dith Pran. The reporter coerces his friend to remain behind in order to keep filing news reports. As Saigon falls the correspondent is released, but Pran is captured by the dreaded Khmer Rouge. The rest of the film details Pran's harrowing experiences at the hands of the Khmer Rouge, and his attempt to escape. This is an excellent movie but has very graphic scenes of violence.

These first four are all movies based on real life events. For some good fictional 'triumph over adversity' stories, try Cast Away with Tom Hanks from 2000---the plane crash is amazing, as is the self dentistry!

Or how about the popular television series Prison Break from 2005.

Want to get your head bent? Try any or all of the 17 near psychedelic episodes of The Prisoner from 1967. Not into the 60's groove? How about Alexander Dumas' Count of Monte Cristo--- we have two versions---French with Gerard Depardieu and the quite stylish 2003 with Guy Pearce and Jim Caviezel---who is currently starring on tv in a remake of----The Prisoner.

Give me life of the sea

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We are pretty much landlocked here in Calgary (no, rivers and prehistoric seas don't count) so some ocean viewing is essential.

Behold these watery wonders

The Ebb Tide

Based on Robert Louis Stevenson's fiction, The Ebb Tide stars Robbie Coltrane in a 19th Century adventure on the high seas. Coltrane is famous for his role as a forensic psychologist in the British series Cracker, and he's great in this role as a fortune seeker with a leaky ship.

Ah, the Kraken!...Watch National Geographic's Devils of the Deep: the Jumbo Squid and you'll question whether "jumbo squid" sounds like a tasty dish. This documentary explores squid communication and intelligence but also exposes their violent side. They'll eat ya as soon as look at ya with their great, staring eyes.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Based on fashion editor Jean-Dominic Bauby's memoirs transcribed by a therapist, the movie gives insight into a man trapped in his own body after a stroke. In his hospital beside the sea, Bauby has time to reflect on his past loves.

We could do a whole post (at least) on naval movies. In the "let's question the captain's judgement" category of cinema, one of the best is The Bedford Incident starring Sidney Poitier. Poitier plays a journalist sent to work aboard ship with a taciturn captain (Richard Widmark) obsessed with destroying a Soviet submarine.

The Piano. Holly Hunt stars in this award winning film in colonial new zealand. Hunt's character is a mute pianist with a daughter from a forbidden love affair sent to New Zealand to marry a colonist in want of a wife, played by Sam Neal. Harvey Keitel is unforgettable as the rival for Ada's affections. The ocean features prominently.

If you like pirates, watch The Pirate Queen: Grace O'Malley (part of the Warrior Woman series) and National Geographic's The Pirate Code: Real Pirates ,which examines the wreck of the Wydah and the life of Samuel Bellamy. We learn from these documentaries that O'Malley was a chieftan protecting her clan's rights to resources while Bellamy stole from slave traders to raise money to win his lady love.

Speaking of pirates, try Johnny Depp in the three fun Pirates of the Caribbean movies if you missed them in the theatres: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Dead Man's Chest and At World's End.

We also have two versions of Mutiny on the Bounty, with Clarke Gable (1935), or Marlon Brando (1962), The Horatio Hornblower series, based on D.S. Forrester's novels and, of course, Spongebob Squarepants.

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Christmas time at CPL

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You know what this means folks---it's getting close! I did a comprehensive list this time last year, so to check out those recommendations go to Tags on the left side of the blog and click on Christmas. To search our entire catalogue including all the new additions of the last 12 months, from our homepage enter Christmas DVD in the Enter Catalogue Search here box and it will bring up 217 titles. There is something for everyone in this list. But my favorites from last year are still my favorites this year.

In conjunction with Casablanca Video CPL is showing "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" on December 17th from 1:00-3:30 in the John Dutton Theatre at the Central Library. No registration required, but everyone attending must have a valid library card; and of course there is no charge for a card for children12 and under. What a deal! It's also not too early to start picking up your children's holiday books. Demand gets high this time of year.