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by Moe

Today I actually found an area where they are filming the Hobbit!! We joked about all the backroads we love to travel down on holidays, and lo and behold- we found a location! We are in the Christchurch area and we were heading down (or is it up ?) to a place called Glenorchy. It is a place of stunning beauty and has actually been voted one of the best drives in the world -- it is magnificent... panorama after panorama! We were kind of off the main road and had pulled onto a gravel path to take a shot of Lake Wakatipu when all of a sudden a convoy drives by: semis, rental vans, portable generators, unmarked buses. I hopped back in the car and told my husband "we are definitly following them!" Not only did we follow them, but we kind of ended up in the convoy when another couple of trucks came up behind us. Down some incredible roads, past breath taking scenery, and even forded across a little stream in the middle of the road (don't tell the car rental company)! When we came out of the dense bush , around a corner and into ----well----

Now in all honesty we didnt see too much beyond large white tents, lots of security - and one very cool large thatched roof "inn" being built right up against the hills. By this time though, we had passed several security stations and even though it is a public road, we didn't want to push our luck.

But we definitely saw something and if it is NOT to do with The Hobbit- I'll eat my sun visor!!

Darn, I was trying to upload a picture and I am running out of time on this interent kiosk!!!!!! Just google Glenorchy and what you see in the images is pretty much what the place looks like----so bye for now from Middle Earth!

More 6 degrees of separation-

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We know this game is fun.... seems a lot of you out there are playing it too. Here are two loops sent into us by readers Mateusz and Claire. We'd love to hear yours.....get in touch with us through COMMENTS at the end of the post.

George Clooney directs and stars in "The Ides of March" which stars Ryan Gosling. Ryan Gosling also recently starred in the fantastic 80's noir love letter, "Drive" which was directed by Nicolas Winding Refn. Refn in his early years also directed a small indie thriller by the name of "Fear X" which starred John Turturro in a great understated performance. Turturro, who is a fabulous character actor, starred in "Barton Fink" a great Coen Brothers film about a writer suffering from writer's block. The Coen's finally have made a number of films with a well known Hollywood actor, including my personal favorite "O Brother where art thou?" starring who? George Clooney. Big thanks to Mateusz for this one.

Liam Hemsworth stars in the film adaptation of the Hunger Games with Jennifer Lawrence. Jennifer Lawrence was in The Beaver with Mel Gibson. Mel was in What Women Want with Helen Hunt. Helen was in As Good As It Gets with Greg Kinnear. Greg Kinnear was in The Last Song with guess who: Liam Hemsworth!! Thanks a lot Claire.

And now for something completely gritty

by Moe - 2 Comment(s)

Guest blogger Trevor has gone to a darker and grittier area of our collection. Some excellent recommendations here, but as he warns there is a fair share of language, sex and violence.

Now that the deluge of summer family blockbusters has finally subsided I find myself hankering for some comic book films that don’t have to cater to the younger demographics. Here are comic book films that should appeal to a more sophisticated crowd.

Watchmen – Are masked-heroes really saviours of society or are they merely fascist vigilantes, corrupting the American ideal as they practice their twisted form of justice? This theme, and others just as thought-provoking, helped solidify Watchmen as one of Time Top 100 Novels of All Time. The film does an excellent job of translating the deep and complex tale.

A History of Violence – An unflinchingly brutal film about one man’s journey to overcome his violent past, A History of Violence is not your typical comic-book fare. David Cronenberg direction is as stark and visceral as ever and Viggo Mortensen delivers a strong performance.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World - The tale of a young man’s quest to get a girl (complicated by the need to first defeat her 7 evil ex-boyfriends). This one isn’t particularly violent or kid-unfriendly, it’s just aimed at an older crowd. The videogame references are a perfect wink and high-five for the 20-30 year old crowd who grew up glued to their Nintendos.

Kick-Ass – The “teenage boy decides to become a superhero” story certainly sounds like it would fit into a family friendly mould. The extreme violence and ubiquitous (and hilarious) profanity, take it to a whole other level though. Nicholas Cage gives his bar-none best performance as an Adam West-esque Batman lookalike.

Sin City-is a pitch perfect blending of classic film noire and modern action ideals. It masterfully weaves three tales of vice, violence, and revenge and does so in beautiful black and white. The all star cast of Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, and Clive Owen (among many others) adds substance to this stylistic flick.

by Trevor

Northern Skies

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While Moe's away in the warmer Antipodes, I'm stuck here in the frozen North!

However, her old Kenneth Branagh post reminded me of a consolation, and it is a prize: I get to watch Wallander, based on Henning Mankell's mystery novels while she's away, and write about it, too!

Wallander features an all-British cast, but is set and filmed in Sweden. The cinematography almost takes centre-stage. There's incredible shots of modern interiors, canola and wheat fields, the seaside and sweeping views of the countryside. Emily Barker's "Nostalgia" is the haunting themesong to this series of longer featurettes.

As for Branagh...I really enjoyed his Henry V, but I wondered if he was all energy in later roles. As Wallander, he's completely different and is really impressing me. Branagh plays the growth of beard-ed, sleep-deprived, haunted, sad, and morally driven character to perfection. Wallander's struggle with his personal relations while working on unusual murder cases plays out in a subtle, atypical way that points to Mankell's great plots.

So far we have 2 dvds with 3 novel-based features from 2008 and 2010 (click on the dates to go to the catalogue), and there's more in production. Hooray!

I'm thoroughly enjoying this brooding, cool northern series. So there!

by Mel

Take me with you!

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Moe is on holidays right now, so she's asked a few other Movie Maniacs to step in and write some guest blogs for her while she's away. I was totally fine with this prospect until she revealed exactly where it was that she'll be vacationing.

Hint: It's New Zealand.

Now! This is a pretty excellent destination to choose at any given time, but it just so happens to be the BEST destination at THIS given time.

Don't know what I'm talking about? Clearly you're not as big of a fan-girl as I am (neener neener)...

The reason why New Zealand is the place for any Movie Maniac to be right now is because Peter Jackson is currently working on the second leg of his new Tolkien epic, "The Hobbit" in that glorious country as I type.

Now what you have to understand, is that we're still AGES away from the release of this movie. The first phase of it JUST got into post-production, and they've still got loads of editing and tweaking and awesome-ifying to do yet, and everything else is in pre-production. This is ALSO only the first half of the journey -- they're splitting the novel into two films, like any smart adapter does these days.

Which means, my friends, that they are filming RIGHT NOW, in all their dwarvish make-up glory, in beautiful locations all across the land of the Kiwis. And I couldn't be more jealous of Moe for getting to be there.

If the set production vlogs are anything to go by (which I'm hoping they are, even though Jackson is not releasing them NEARLY as often as he should be...) this second leg of shooting will carry on well into December. And even though the sites and sets are a very closely guarded secret, this makes me hopeful that Moe might just stumble across a hobbit or an elf or a dragon here and there. She has told me they love drivng down back roads just to see where they come out, so with a little luck... At any rate, I've told her it's probably best to bring her lady-dwarf costume (beard and all) and some speedy running shoes for dodging the security guards.

As a tribute to the epicness that is Jackson's work in New Zealand, I've decided to include a couple of OTHER movies shot in this locale. Click on the titles for links to the Calgary Public Library catalogue!

Whale Rider, possibly the biggest film to actually focus on Kiwi culture and life, revolves around a young Maori girl and her search to fulfill her destiny. Beautifully filmed, beautifully acted, this one was up for an Oscar and 28 other awards. It won most of them.

King Kong and Lovely Bones (both directed by Jackson) are not set in NZ, but do use its gorgeous locations as backdrops. Both are written by Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, two collaborators of Jackson's on LOTR. Both also have all-star casts, and one of them has Jack Black. What more can I say?

If you're into horror, 30 Days of Night (originally a graphic novel series) is a terrifying, and R-rated, Vampire flick... I promise these blood-suckers don't sparkle. Almost half of the cast is either Kiwi or Aussie, but you can't tell, because they're all pretending to be from Alaska.

I swear, New Zealand must have the most diverse climates and landscapes of any country... where else could pass for Pennsylvania, Alaska, Middle Earth... or Pandora?

That's right, James Cameron's epic Avatar was shot there too. Wanna know why? Check out this article from "Film New Zealand".

Other epic NZ-based movies include The Chronicles of Narnia,The Bridge to Terabithia (starring The Hunger Games' Josh Hutcherson), and Spielberg's highly anticapted Tintin movie, out this Christmas.

6 Degrees of Separation

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Thanks to guest blogger Alex who does another tremendous job stringing a '6 degrees post' together.

I was wondering how I could possibly write a post about “Real Steel” without losing the respect of every Movie Maniac out there… I mean, really? Hugh Jackman as an ex-UFC fighter and gambling addict, whose estranged 10-year-old son helps him revamp an old robot and enter the popular Automaton Boxing competitions of the not-so-distant future? It’s ridiculous! It’s juvenile! It panders to an audience that revels in video games and violence and not much else!

And… it’s AWESOME. I’m serious. This movie was fun, visually compelling, the plot followed a perfect (if predictable) arc, the acting was fine, the soundtrack was catchy… I even think I cried a little!

And let’s be honest. You could put Hugh Jackman in a poncho, wrestling tights, and a Ronald MacDonald wig, and the man would still be worth the price of admission.

So starting with Hugh Jackman in “Real Steel” and a 2ndgeneration sparring-Bot named “Atom” let's use Robots as our common denominator and see how this 6 degrees rolls out.

"I, Robot” is RIFE with Androids trying to take over the world, but we like Sonny, the main one. It stars Will Smith (another perfect human specimen), but, much better for my purposes, Shia LaBeouf has a bit part as a character named Farber.

LaBeouf, is, of course, the headliner for the hugely popular (though-no-one-knows-why) “Transformers” series, which stars more robots than it does humans. See him here with Optimus Prime.

The 2005 revamp of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” had a star-studded cast, least of which were the robots. Of the human actors, the brilliant Bill Nighy appears as Slartibartfast. (I had to sneak Marvin in the background there... but there are still TONS of robots in this movie...)

Now… here’s my only bridge that doesn’t include Bots… and I’d label it cheating if it wasn’t such an awesome movie. Bill Nighy and Kate Beckinsale star in “Underworld", a kick-butt romp through the age-old Lycan vs. Vamp family feud. (There's a lot of technology in this movie... that counts, right?)

Kate Beckinsale, who was a Vampire in “Underworld”, turns Vamp HUNTER in “Van Helsing”, which brings us back to Beefcake Hugh Jackman, AND an especially robotic monster of Frankenstein.

Not quite making the cut are some of my fave Artificial Intelligence movies, where the robot is played by an actor (and not just say, voiced by one), and therefore doesn’t count as a robot. You could say the same for Shuler Hensley in "Van Helsing", but there was a LOT of CG in that one.

A.I.- from 2001 and directed by Steven Spielberg, with the talented young Haley Joel Osmont and Jude Law.

Bicentennial Man- like "I,Robot", this is based on an Issac Asimov story and features Robin Williams in the tin suit.

Star Trek- I had to check with MM Moe because I am not the Trekkie that she is---she says while S.T. has a proliferation of robots, androids, cyborgs, and automotons, her own personal faves are any episodes that have The Borgs: 'the scourge of the Alpha and Delta quadrants and the cybernetically-enhanced humanoids that everybody loves to hate' (yeah- she actually said that!). In fact she is such a fan she has previously given Star Trek it's own featured spot (actually more than one!).

Did he or didn't he?

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How does a country kid from Stratford, England, with little verifiable education, go on to become one of the greatest literary geniuses of all times? How does a man who lived in the 16th century become one of the most recognizable faces in the world today -- right up there with Jesus, Ghandi and Bob Marley? How does a person from 500 years ago become one of the most oft-quoted people in history?

We are of course talking about Shakespeare, and depending on your school of thought, he either was all of these things, or none. If you are an Oxfordian, you believe all these kudos belong to the Earl of Oxford; if you are a Stratfordian, then you are firmly in the Shakespeare camp.

The new movie "Anonymous" (currently playing in theatres) has once again stirred up this debate, positing some fun and racey alternatives to who can claim the title "The Bard".

But irrespective of who wrote the 38 plays, hundreds of sonnets and other various literature, there is no denying the genius. And CPL is loaded with everything Shakespeare. A quick search of just the name brings up some 1600 offerings! There are 114 titles just for dvd's -- far too many to name, so use Shakespeare DVD as your search term to see some of the greatest names in acting take on some of the greatest words ever put down on paper.

Finally, we have one of the coolest E-Library resources at CPL... "Theatre in Video".

Just go to "E Library" ---> "Art & Music" and scroll down to the bottom of the list to watch FREE streaming vids of some of the best live performances of Shakespeare. Great for theatre buffs (it's got WAY more than just Shakespeare) and students who just can't quite grasp that Elizabethan rhetoric until they hear it out loud.

by Anonymous

Sunny days, chasing the clouds away

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Many of you remember the charming children's show of the 1970s and, due to popular demand, it's back on dvd at the library! Your teens will probably enjoy the original cast and crew of Sesame Street as well. There has been some controversy in the last few decades centering on the original series content such as Oscar the Grouch's perennial bad attitude and the persistent denial of Snuffalufagus' existence, which led to the form you now see today (I'm not sure that Cookie Monster wasn't formative in my development). Popular characters such as Grover prevailed, however, and are also known as Jim Henson's Muppets. The non-muppet cast included the fabulous Rita Moreno and a great inner-city New York set when the series was broadcast as The Electric Company with its funky theme song. The award winning show, like the library, promotes early childhood literacy.

We have Sesame Street Old School 1969-1974: Volume One and Volume Two

The blog post was brought to you by the letters M, E, & L

Because everybody loves lists

by Moe - 7 Comment(s)

There are lists of and for everything. There are lists of lists, and books of lists, and how to write lists books and tens of thousands of web pages devoted to lists. Because lists are fun- unless it's a list of things you need to do, but even that can be fun because you can get satisfaction crossing something off the list. Movie lists are especially fun because the permutations are almost endless. If you follow my posts you have often heard me say things like---'I have seen this movie 20- 30 etc times'. It's not for nothing I call myself a movie maniac, so following in no particular order is my list of 10 movies that I have seen at least 30 times. And CPL has everyone of them!

Ben Hur

Bridge on the River Kwai

Witness for the Prosecution

Dail M for Murder


Alien and Aliens (I know, I know, two separate movies!)

A Few Good Men

Star Trek:Wrath of Khan

The Shining

To kill a Mockingbird

I tell you this for true--- although I own every one of these movies and can sit and watch anytime I choose, if I was to go home tonight and one of them happened to be on TCM, Encore Avenue, Space or AMC, I would likely sit down and watch it---again.

I would love to hear your choices- send me the name of movies that you see again and again (it doesn't have to be 10) and I'll post them on the blog. Come on fellow Movie Maniacs- I know you are out there---probably watching something right now for the 30th time!!!

Shall We Dance?

by Moe - 1 Comment(s)

Several weeks ago we ran a contest for free tickets to the remake of Footloose. To have a chance to win we asked you to tell us your favourite dance movie ever. There was a huge response to the contest with many titles suggested. So now I thought I would pass on what some of your choices were.....

Dirty Dancing came up time and time again. Our grand prize winner had this to say: It is my favourite ever because at that time it truly did step out onto the edge of risqué! Sultry dance moves both on and off the dance floor performed by Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey.....a coming of age movie that made such an impact on me and that I was proud to pass on to my daughter....a rebellious but feel-good-movie. It was made more perfect when I went on to read the biography of Patrick Swayze and learn that he was truly the gentleman that he portrayed in the movie.

Our second runner-up said: My favourite dance movie for now (and it was a close one) is Black Swan. While it was a twisted mind-turner, I watched it primarily for the ballet.... I thought it was just beautiful.... aside from the weird bits!

Other choices included:

The “Step-Up” franchise 1, 2, 3

The original Footloose with our 6 degrees of separation guy- Kevin Bacon

High School Musical 1, 2 , 3 from Disney

Fame the original series

Singing in the Rain- an oldie but goody with Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Dennis Oconner

Shall we Dance- Richard Gere and J-Lo

You can check out some other recommendation from a previous dance post plus see all the many DVD’s you can take out that will show you HOW to dance. I enjoyed all your choices, and have to say I am pretty firmly in the Dirty Dancing camp. As for the new Footloose which I just saw---I couldn’t get too much behind any of the characters, particularly Ariel, but I thought the dancing was great..