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Exit through the Gift Shop

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This documentary has such a great title, why change the title of my blog post to something else? It asks us to question the status of the gallery or museum as the sole site for aesthetic practice. Narrated by Bristol bred artist Banksy, Exit follows videographer Thierry Guetta as he records street artists in action, including his cousin "Space Invader," whose mosaic tile recreations of vintage video game creatures can be seen around the world. If you think street art (aka graffiti) is merely senseless defacement of public spaces, you might shift your view after watching Exit. Some of the art is politically challenging ("One Nation under CCTV"), some gives viewers a chuckle, and others inspire wonderment, like the permanent shadows of objects painted on the ground. Whether you decide that Exit is a mockumentary or not you will thrill to the artists' death defying climbs on the sides of buildings, mourn their citation by often reluctant authorities, and look at your urban setting differently. Ponder as the film-maker becomes instant street art sensation "Mr. Brainwash" and leaves his former subjects, including Banksy, scratching their heads...

Further dvds to study:

The California underground art angle> Crumb

The autheticity/fine art/value angle> F for Fake

Not at CPL but free online: The Mona Lisa Curse by Robert Hughes... the contemporary- art speculation-driving up prices/autheticity angle

Non-Fiction Films

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Although I enjoy watching non-fiction (and CPL has a great selection from which to choose), I always seem to get side tracked by all the feature films I want to recommend. So let me correct this right now and point you at four titles definitely worth a look.

The Crusades---they began as a holy mission to liberate Jerusalem and became the largest mass migration in European history. When they ended 200 years later, the Crusades had created a mythology of knights and chivalry, and left a legacy of distrust between East and West that continues to shape our world today. Filmed on location throughout Europe and the Middle East. By Terry Jones of Monty Pythons fame with none of the silliness of The search for the Holy Grail.

Babies---this is a real charmer which the whole family can watch and enjoy. A look at one year in the life of four babies from around the world--- Mongolia, Namibia, San Francisco and Tokyo and the culture and nurturing that informs their lives.

How many people can live on planet earth- the always highly informative Sir David Attenborough presents this look at the growth of the world's population and the future of the earth with a population that is projected to grow to 9 billion within the next 40 years. Researchers study densely populated regions to try to understand the problems of overpopulation.

The Medici, godfathers of the renaissance---(not to be confused with The Borgias which is currently running on tv), this is an excellent look at this powerful family and the influence they had over the course of western civilization.

by Moe

Horses, horses and more horses

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In recognition of all the horses who participated in the Stampede, as well as Spruce Meadows recent North American show jumping contest, I thought it would be fun to look at the many titles that CPL has featuring man's second best friend. Several of these horse titles have been recommended previously under Guaranteed Embarrassement Free, but lets see what else we have.

Secretariat---Behind every legend lies an impossible dream. Witness the journey of Secretariat and the moving story of his unlikely owner, a housewife who risked everything to make him a champion. Includes bonus features.

The Horse Whisperer---heads up on the opening scenes, it is very intense, but the movie settles down afterward---good cast in this one.

The Man from Snowy River---there are several incarnations of this Aussie drama. My fave is still the original from 1982 with Kirk Douglas. There is also a series with the fine talents of Guy Pearce and Hugh Jackman.

Hidalgo---Set in 1890, this is the story of a Pony Express courier who travels to Arabia to compete with his horse, Hidalgo, in a dangerous race. This stars Viggo Mortensen fresh off his huge success as Aragorn in Lord of the Rings. It certainly isn't his strongest performance, nor the best movie, but the man sure knows how to sit a horse.

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron---As a wild stallion travels across the frontiers of the Old West, he befriends a young human. Animated.

Seabiscuit---during the Great Depression this horse became an unlikely champion and a symbol of hope to many. Another very stron cast including Jeff Bridges, Tobey Maguire and Chris Cooper.

Lonely are the Brave stars Kirk Douglas as a modern day cowboy trying to maintain his fiercely independent lifestyle as civilization steadily encroaches upon him. This is a really good film and you'll be glad you gave it a look.

They Shoot Horses Don't They---despite this title it has absolutely nothing to do with horses, but I wanted to put it in somewhere and this was as good a place as any! It is a very compelling movie set during the depression and gives us a look at the strange phenomenon of dance marathons-4 months anyone? By one of my favourite directors, the late Sydney Pollack and starring Jane Fonda in an Oscar nominated role.

There is always the 1947 Fury with Spenser Tracy, National Velvet, and Black Beauty, which we have just got as a series.

by Moe

Contest-Captain America:The First Avenger

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Wednesday, July 20th at 7pm at Chinook.

Once again Movie Maniacs is teaming up with Paramount Pictures to give some lucky readers the chance for a double pass to an advanced screening. On offer is another highly anticipated summer release based on a Marvel Comic hero---Captain America: The First Avenger. This one stars Chris Evans from The Fantastic Four, Hugo Weaving from LOTR trilogy, and the multi talented Stanley Tucci and Tommy Lee Jones. They've lined up a solid cast, and director Joe Johnston has a good track record, including Jumanji, Jurassic Park 3, and October Sky- all of which are previous recommendations under Guaranteed Embarrassment Free posts.

You know the drill-send in your name and phone number (won't be posted) and we may pick you to go see Captain America: The First Avenger (opens in theatres July 22).

Silver Linings

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Just as every cloud has its silver lining so too does every film. Even the most mediocre of movies can have a spot of greatness if you watch with an open mind. This post is dedicated to the not so great films that nonetheless have some pretty great elements.

Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace---though Episode 2 and 3 share many of the same problems as “The Phantom Menace”, neither was quite as disappointing as this long awaited prequel. The questionable acting, convoluted plot, and the Jar Jar Binks fiasco certainly brought the movie down. The faults don’t seem quite as large however, when you’re watching the lightsaber duel between Darth Maul and the two Jedi heroes. Great action even by today’s standards.

50 First Dates---this is another typical, mediocre Adam Sandler romantic comedy. There’s nothing terribly special or memorable about it except for the final scene. Sandler sings a humorous and touching ballad for his true love which completely validates the rest of his childish antics.

King Kong (2005)---Peter Jackson’s long, self-indulgent homage to the 1930’s classic is at times quite yawn inducing. Kong’s epic fight against the two tyrannosaurs however, is more than enough to wake you up. That scene alone justifies the price of admission.

A.I. Artificial Intelligence---this science fiction tale about an artificial boy who wants to be loved is unfortunately a bit of a mess. Likely due to the fact that Kubrick began production 30 years before Spielberg finished it. Despite its less than logical plot and story progression, the film’s final moments are so heart-achingly, tear jerkingly wonderful that you immediately forget any complaints you may have had.

Lady in the Water, condemned by critics for being pompous and pretentious, was M. Night Shyamalan’s first real failure. Though this fairy tale film does have its faults, it also has some truly great characters. Freddy Rodriguez plays a lopsided muscle man who only exercises one side of his body, Bryce Dallas Howard plays an ethereal nymph named Story, and little known Bob Balaban plays a hyper-cynical movie critic.

Speed Racer---Coming from the same minds that brought us “The Matrix”, Speed Racer nonetheless proved a disappointment for many. It stayed true to the anime cartoon that inspired it, right down to the annoying pet chimpanzee. Immature though it may be, the film still has spectacularly entertaining racing sequences with cars flipping and battling through the air at ridiculous speeds. Plus it stars Emile Hirsch, John Goodman, and Susan Sarandon which certainly doesn’t hurt.

Thanks to our guest blogger and fellow movie maniac Trevor for this post.

Best Westerns V: Yahoo!

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Here's a couple more western favorites in time for Stampede.

Either version of 3:10 to Yuma is great but I particularly enjoy the 2007 version with Christian Bale. What can't he do? The suspens is great as we wait to see if he makes it on the train---and the color and pacing of the film is perfect.

Don't forget the great tv westerns of the 1950s. I was surpised by how contemporary the characterizations are in Gunsmoke, which also has the famous and cracking good theme song. Miss Kitty is a strong, experienced woman and that's just okay with Marshall Dillon who's a sensitive fellow. It makes Mad Men look like a throwback,

although I'll probably have to get out of Dodge for saying, so. Don't shoot me!

by Mel