You are here: Home > Blogs > Movie Maniacs

Latest Posts

Off Line

Peter Jackson

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

The world premiere of The Hobbit took place in Wellington New Zealand last night. The capital city spent over one million dollars to host the event, with fans lining up in costumes days ahead. As to the movie itself there's not really much that I can write about The Hobbit that you won't be able to read elsewhere. It's either on your radar or it's not. So let's take a look instead at Peter Jackson. He's actually been at this awhile, although most people only started hearing about him with his epic achievement of bringing the Lord of the Rings trilogy to the big screen.

Also in his filmography is Heavenly Creatures, a truly bizarre film of a bizarre event that took place in the 50's in New Zealand. Two teen girls become so obsessed with the fantasy world they have created that it leads to a real world murder. Want more bizarre? One of the girls grows up to become international best selling mystery author, Anne Perry. I kid you not!

District 9- another bizarre movie- this one's about Aliens forced to live in detention centres on earth. ET as the protagonist and mankind as the heavy.

Lovely Bones- Peter Jackson's attempt to bring the very popular Alice Sebold novel to the big screen. Wasn't my cup of tea, but then neither was the book.

King Kong- now this one I did like. Over the top, excessive and just a huge amount of fun. I'm a sucker for the big ape, and have seen him in all his incarnations.

And of course the Lord of the Rings trilogy: Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and Return of the King.

CPL also carries a biography, fetchingly titled Peter Jackson: from Prince of Splatter to Lord of the Rings.

Is The Hobbit on my radar? You better believe it. This time last year we were on a touring holiday of NZ when we stumbled upon a Hobbit set. We got a pretty good look-albeit from quite a distance-before we got chased away by security. Can't wait to look for it in the film.

Free Advanced Screening Passes

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

Log onto your Gofobo account to receive a free double pass to an advanced screening of Hitchcock. If you don't have an account yet, you will need to create one. This is an external site so you will need to judge your personal comfort level in providing the information they are asking for. Many people create a gmail account for such purposes. ID is not required at the theatre, you just need to present the ticket for redemption and admission.

Already have an's what you need.


Summary: Hitchcock is a love story about one of the most influential filmmakers of the last century, Alfred Hitchcock and his wife and partner Alma Reville. The film takes place during the making of Hitchcock’s seminal movie Psycho. Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Danny Huston, Toni Collette, Jessica Biel, Michael Stuhlbarg, James D’Arcy, Michael Wincott, Richard Portnow, Kurtwood Smith.

Thursday, December 6

Eau Clair Market

7:00 PM

And one last thing- if you request a ticket and find you can't use it, you can go back onto Gofobo and release it for someone else to use. Enjoy!

Les Mis

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

Way back in November of 2009 I did a post called Redux. This was the first in a stream of posts that features movies that have been done over many times. We know Hollywood does this with increasing frequency — just think of this summer's remake of Spider-Man a mere 5 years after the last of the Tobey Maguire offerings.

The film I chose to feature then was Les Miserables—easily one of my favourite stories of all time, not to mention absolutely my favourite musical. This is a story that has been retold many times on film—in fact, going all the way back to 1909!

Unless you have been living on Mars, if you are a fan of musicals you know that in December the big screen adaptation of the very successful stage musical will be released to the world. The cast is wonderful with some of the choices more than a little surprising but nonetheless inspired. Hugh Jackman stars as Jean Valjean—yes all you X-Men fans, not only can the man lay down a serious butt kicking, he also sings like a dream. Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen are but a few more in lead roles and it is being directed by 2011's Oscar winner Tom Hooper (The King's Speech). They have thrown a lot of $$ at this and the returns should be huge. If you've been fortunate enough to catch a trailer at the theatre you know how glorious it looks. If you haven't there are only about a billion sites. If you live in Hong Kong you can see it on Dec 20, Japan on Dec 21, but if you are Canadian you have to wait until Christmas Day. Some of you are thinking Christmas is coming too fast—for me and millions of others, it can't get here soon enough.

To get your fix prior to the 25th try any of these very good Les Mis productions:

1935 and 1952 This is one DVD that has two versions included. Side A is with the incomparable Charles Laughton as Javert and Frederick March as Jean Valjean. Side B is the Michael Rennie interpretation. Both are good.

1934 Widely considered one of the greatest film adaptations of the story, this 5 hour film is in French with English subtitles.

1998 Geoffrey Rush as Javert, Liam Neeson as Valjean and Claire Danes as daughter Cosette. I rank this one right up there.

2000 A mini series of Les Mis from our French DVD collection which I have not seen. It features Gerard Depardieu and rather surprisingly John Malkovich as Javert. Surprising only in that until this post I did not now that Malkovich was fluent in French, having lived and worked there for nearly 10 years.

The musical version of Les Misérables opened at the Broadway Theater on March 12, 1987 and ran for 6680 performances, making it the third longest running show on Broadway. We have two versions of the musical—the 10th anniversary Concert at London's Royal Albert Hall and the 25th anniversary Concert. Experience the event of a lifetime with this spectacular 25th anniversary celebration of one of the most popular musicals ever written. Honoring 25 years of this incredible show, this momentous film captures the excitement of two magnificent sold-out performances that were watched live around the world. With a phenomenal all-star cast and a company of over 500 additional artists and musicians.

They are both excellent productions. The tenth features a wonderful tribute wherein all the Jean Valjeans from around the world march onto the stage singing in their native language.


Head Scratchers Part One

by Moe - 2 Comment(s)

Thanks to guest blogger Trevor, who as always provides great insight into the movies he recommends. Even if as he says, he's not entirely sure he understands them all....

I consider myself a fairly intelligent filmgoer. I enjoy complex plots and don’t mind having to scratch my head for a while until I figure things out. There are however, some films where I continue to scratch my head long after seeing it. I’m not talking about the films that are needlessly convoluted or confusing due to poor writing. I’m talking about the films that leave me with the disconcerting feeling that I am simply not smart enough to understand them.

Donnie Darko is a teenage tale of metaphysical existentialism. If that sentence confused you then you’re all set for the film. When a being in a ghoulish bunny suit tells Donnie the world will end in 28 days, the stage is set for quantum-physics fueled conundrums. Exceptional performances and excellent writing make it a film I’ve enjoyed all 10 times I’ve seen it. I still don’t get, but I can’t stay away.

Tree of Life is the film that sparked the idea for this post. An undeniably beautiful film with some of the most interesting cinematography I’ve ever seen. At its most basic, it is the story of a childhood spent under a domineering father. Look closer however, and it is a poignant philosophical examination of nothing less than the very meaning of life. The film left me with the feeling that I was tantalizingly close to discovering a deeply important secret. If only I could wrap my head around it!

2001: A Space Odyssey is a true sci-fi epic. The film details the evolution of humanity from our crude apelike origins to space-faring astronauts. Though the majority of the movie is fairly easy to understand (neanderthals develop tools, astronauts journey to Jupiter, artificial intelligence tries to kill astronauts, etc.) the last moments of the movie confound the mind with a psychedelic trip into pure metaphysical abstraction. I was left with a feeling that something momentous had happened, I just wasn’t sure what.

Inception: With great acting, superb direction, and excellent action, “Inception” is a film that works on many levels. It is also a film that is about many levels. As we delve to deeper and deeper levels within the film’s dreamscape, following our characters further and further in the rabbit hole, we ourselves begin to lose track of what is real. We don’t quite remember where reality is; unsure whether what we are seeing is dream, memory, or perhaps something in between the two. An ambiguous ending leaves us head-scratching, wondering whether or not we’ve truly woken up. This one truly warrants a few re-watches, perhaps with a diagram or map to guide us through.

Synecdoche New York:Perhaps the most baffling film on this list, Synecdoche New York features a disillusioned playwright (played by the excellent Philip Seymour Hoffman) trying to find meaning in his life by creating the ultimate play. He rents a city sized warehouse to contain a city sized set populated by millions of actors all playing regular citizens. He hires an actor to play himself in the play, then he hires another actor to play that actor, then he hires an actress to play him as director, then he takes on the role that actor previously played and then he…I could keep going but I think you get the picture. With more layers and depth then you can shake a stick at, Synecdoche New York certainly fits the list.

If you can conclusively say you understand any of these films, add a comment. I’d love to stop scratching my head about them.

Join us at Crowfoot for our monthly movie night

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

Crowfoot's monthly movie is showing at 6:30 on November 15th. As always, copyright considerations prevent me from naming the title in this post, but a quick phone call to 221-4122 and we will be happy to tell you what it is. Typically we show new release fiction but this time our movie will be a multiple award winning documentary. Its' run time is 77 minutes.

You can actually see it at several locations besides Crowfoot this time. Catch it at Shaganappi on Nov 14th at 7:00, Central on Nov 25th at 1:00 in the John Dutton theatre and Signal Hill on Nov 26th at 7:00.

Commissario Brunetti

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

The American born author Donna Leon has lived in Italy for the past 25 years. She has created an excellent series of books featuring her fictional hero, Commissario Guido Brunetti.

The very popular novels, all situated in or around Venice, are written in English and translated into many languages for world wide consumption. Except funnily enough, into Italian, at the author's request. So when it came to producing them for television the Italians were out of the loop so to speak. Enter the Germans. They have been producing the series since 2000 and are currently up to season 11.

Just released to DVD for North American audiences in 2011, Calgary Public Library has a great array of these well produced, finely acted crime dramas. I haven't seen a lot but I have certainly enjoyed the ones I have. They are dark stories, but this is offset by the real humanity of the principal characters. These are not your Midsomer or Foyle's Wars- they are more in the line of Luther, Prime Suspect, and The Wire (all series we carry).

So if you are looking for another good series to sink your teeth into check out this Italian crime drama - but unless you speak German, you'll be sinking your teeth into it with English subtitles.