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The 66th Annual Emmys

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

The 66th annual Emmys nominations came out last week, and while there really aren't too many surprises, there are a few glaring omissions. Many of the nominees have been up before and many are previous winners from established series like Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey, The Good Wife, Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Modern Family, Homeland, Big Bang Theory, Luther, Orange is the New Black, Veep. We have blogged all of these excellent offerings more than once and there is something in here for everybody.

New this year is True Detective, (12 nominations) which I recommended in a Matthew McConaughey post a while back. This is dark, darker, darkest, but if there were better performances this year than Matthew and Woody Harrelson I don't know whose they were. They are both nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series and are up against a lot of the usual suspects—Jon Hamm, Bryan Cranston, Kevin Spacey and Jeff Daniels. Jon Hamm keeps getting nominated but has never won, Bryan Cranston has already won three, Kevin Spacey has two Oscars, and Jeff Daniels won last year for The Newsroom. Harrelson won for supporting actor way back in 1989 for Cheers and I wouldn't mind at all if he took it home—he also was riveting in True Detective. But my money is on Matthew as his really is a brilliant performance and he is hot off his Oscar win earlier this year.

As far as omissions, to my mind the most egregious was Canadian Tatiana Maslany for Orphan Black. This is a powerful series and deserves its own post, so watch for this in the next few weeks.

The ceremony will be held on Monday August 25. The ceremony is one month earlier than usual due to NBC's conflicts with the broadcast of Sunday Night Football and the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards. Comedian and late-night talk show host Seth Meyers will host the show for the first time.



by Moe - 2 Comment(s)

If you haven't started watching Borgen yet, you're missing out on an excellent series. This first aired on Danish television in 2010 and CPL now carries all three seasons. It follows the rise to power of the first female prime minister and her struggles to keep her feet on the shifting sands of a barely stable coalition government. The episodes revolve around the PM and her spin doctor as they try to navigate through the corruption, changing allegiances, scandals and political dilemmas. Counter this with a relentless female reporter who digs deep to get to the truth behind all the spin. A third recurring story line includes a former MP who has turned into a truly reptilian tabloid editor. Machiavellian political machinations abound, there's plenty of sex and scandal and fine, fine acting! The PM, Birgitte Nyborg, is one of the most finely crafted female characters I have seen in years.

One of the things I have always loved about British, European, and Australian television, is that their series tend to be populated with 'real' people. They are not all cookie-cutter perfect like the characters in North American television, with an overabundance of white teeth, chiseled physiques and just-returned-from-the-hair-dresser hair. Although having said this, all the main characters in Borgen are pretty fine looking—plus they can show you really great ways to wear big scarves! But it's not their looks that are going to keep you coming back for more. It's the great acting, the au courant storylines and a look at a political system that makes me so glad we don't have six parties from which to choose.

Unless you speak Danish you will be watching Borgen with sub-titles, but it's worth the effort. This is a BAFTA award winner for the Best International T.V. series, a win for Mrs. PM in the best actress category plus numerous other international awards. I wish it was more than three seasons long and I hope that the U.S. networks leave it alone and don't try to re-imagine it for a North American audience, as they did with the fine British series, House of Cards. The Kevin Spacey version has proved popular but falls far short of the original.

Thanks Sue for bringing this one to my attention.

Monuments Men

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

So the movie night has come and gone and thanks to those who attended. If you didn't make it, make sure to put it on hold.

Join us at 6:30 on July 17th at the Crowfoot branch for the very good 'The Monuments Men'.

Based on a true story, this flm features a tremendous cast of A-listers including George Clooney, Matt Damon, Jean DuJardin, Hugh Bonneville and Cate Blanchett. It tells the story of an unlikely WW2 platoon, tasked with going into Germany to rescue artistic masterpieces that the Nazis have stolen from private collections, museums and historical buildings.

There are lots of holds on this at the moment, so this is a really good way to avoid the wait. The film is rated PG 13 and runs 118 minutes.

What's all the Hoopla?

by Melanie - 0 Comment(s)

I've been meaning to screen shows on my TV via my phone, and Hoopla, the library's new provider of downloadable movies and music finally pushed me to get it done. All I needed was my smartphone, an HDMI cable, and an adaptor that allows the phone to connect to the cable and charge at the same time so the battery doesn't run down. If you are using a portable device, you will access Hoopla from the app which is a free download from the usual places.

Hoopla has a wide offering of movies, TV shows and documentaries. I was thrilled to see that a movie I'd seen a trailer for years ago but couldn't find anywhere, Grace of My Heart, was right there on the main page. Grace of my Heart has a cast of 90s all-stars (watch Bridget Fonda sing!) and features the always great Ileana Douglas as an aspiring 60s songwriter and the musical movements she influenced.

Almost everything you can imagine appears in the movie selection, and the documentaries offer everything from Lewis and Clark to Kim Kardashian. I checked out West Coast Modern, which had great architect and artist interviews.

Access Hoopla from the Featured Digital Content link on our main library page or via the Hoopla website or app.

I know, I know, there are other sources, but Hoopla is free with your library card and legal! Consider me hooked!


Talking Westerns

by Moe - 1 Comment(s)



Westerns have been a highly popular recurring theme here at Movie Maniacs. After all they are a bit of everything — morality play, cautionary tale, heroic epics, romance, adventure — more often than not set against glorious scenery that takes you back to when the earth was unblemished. And quite often filmed in Calgary and surrounds.

While Vancouver is often used as a location shoot because it can represent just about any large American city (only more beautiful), Cochrane, Longview and Kananaskis are filmed because they capture the unspoiled vistas we associate with a by-gone era. Often to the extent that the location is so powerful it can take on the importance of another character in a film. Clint Eastwood, Kevin Costner, Ang Lee and Brad Pitt have all chosen local areas for westerns.

Some of the more famous are Legends of the Fall, still one of my favourite sagas; Little Big Man, way too campy, but it did have its moments, and the scenery was spectacular; Unforgiven, granddaddy of them all and a big Oscar win for Clint; The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, very good performances, especially by Casey Affleck who turned puling into an art form; Brokeback Mountain, which will not be for everybody and is a 'western' only in the sense that they wore western clothes. Until they didn't. Open Range was filmed on the Stoney Reserve in southern Alberta and stars two perennial cowboys, Kevin Costner and Robert Duval.

Which brings us to Hell on Wheels. Filming of the first season took place in Calgary, and areas in central and southern Alberta. The T'suu T'ina Reserve was the location for most of the exteriors. Filming of the third season was suspended part way through when the location was included in the mandatory evacuation due to the 2013 floods. The fourth season's filming will also take place along the Bow and wind up around September 24, 2014.

The film and television industries are an important part of the Alberta economic landscape.The construction of a new $22 million Calgary Film Centre will include 50,000 sq ft of purpose-built sound stages, 20,000 sq. ft. of warehouse space and an additional 15,000 sq ft. for production, props, sets and wardrobes.

Have a wonderful Stampede! If you have visitors, watch one of these westerns and then try and show them the locations!

Old Dogs When Younger

by Melanie - 0 Comment(s)

New Tricks is a British crime series that has aired for ten seasons. What distinguishes it is the mix of humour and investigation (it has more ongoing humour than in Midsomer Murders). I was skeptical at first but the show offers serious police procedure and a different cold case each week. On the plus side, it's not gory or forensic-based unlike nearly every show on TV for the last few years.

In New Tricks, retired police make up the Unsolved Crimes and Open Case Squad. Brian is a recovering alcoholic with OCD, Jerry the lad with multiple ex-wives and a gambling urge, and Jack, a widower who still converses with his wife who's buried in his back yard. Heading up the team is Sandra, the long-suffering chief superintendent whom everyone assumes is someone's girlfriend.

If you are already enjoying this series, check out their earlier endeavors:

Circles of Deceit, starring Jerry (Dennis Waterman) and Brian's wife (Susan Jameson) in a not-so-meek-and-mild role as the Controller.

Garrow's Law, the 18th century courtroom drama, in which a younger Brian (Alun Armstrong) plays a judge.

The One That Started It All

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

I’m a sucker for Godzilla, going all the way back to the 1954 Japanese original — ‘Gojira’. In 1956, it was re-released as Godzilla, King of the Monsters!, which utilized much of the original film. This version featured newly shot scenes with Canadian actor Raymond Burr spliced into the original Japanese footage. We have a great two DVD set that features both of these titles for comparison.

In the early films Godzilla is used as a symbol to represent the horror of nuclear war and ever since the film's initial release, Godzilla has been culturally identified as a strong metaphor for the danger of nuclear proliferation.

Putting an actor in the Godzilla suit had actually been a last resort. The studio had been deeply impressed with the stop-motion animation method used in King Kong but it was considered far too costly and time-consuming. It was decided that the easiest way to go was a stuntman in a monster suit, and a scale-model of Tokyo. This also proved difficult. The first attempt at a Godzilla suit was far too stiff and heavy, & nearly impossible to use. They finally hit on a design that worked but that too was gruelling. The stuntmen would suffer numerous bouts of heat exhaustion and dehydration and the suit had to have a valve to drain the sweat from it. Also, in order to avoid suffocation, the suit could only been worn for three minutes at a time — some estimates put it at weighing in at 200 pounds.

CPL also has King Kong versus Godzilla, a 1962 Japanese Kaiju film produced by the same Toho Studios that first conceived the original Gojira. It was the third instalment in the Japanese series of films featuring the much maligned monster. There is also a Matthew Broderick Godzilla version from 1998 but don’t waste your time looking for it- it is marginal at best.

Kaiju , is a Japanese word that translates to "strange creature." Kaiju films usually showcase monsters of any form, typically attacking a major Japanese city or engaging another monster in battle. This concept was put to great effect in last year’s Pacific Rim, another movie I really liked and have blogged before. Put aside all your critical reasoning and just enjoy as you watch giant malevolent Kaijus battle massive robots called Jaegers. Good clean (if highly destructive) fun!

This post was inspired by the latest Godzilla currently showing in theatres. If you are a fan you'll like the homage they pay to the original concept and if you aren't, chances are good you'll like it anyway. Worth your time and your money and the first film in what looks like a fairly good summer season shaping up.

The Last of the Oscar-Nominated Movies

by Moe - 2 Comment(s)


Well I finally made it through all of the 2014 Oscar-nominated films. With the exceptions of Wolf of Wall Street which I thought a waste of talent, time and my $13.00, and Gravity which I found only mildly engaging, I must say I enjoyed everything else and thought them nomination worthy.

The last one on my list and the one I just finished viewing was Nebraska. Starring Bruce Dern, who was up for a Best Actor Oscar, was wonderful. I have always liked Dern, who has had a long career spanning all the way back to the early 60's. IMDB says of him:

"Bruce Dern had established himself as the movies' premier heavy, playing sociopaths, psychotics and just plain criminals by the time he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Coming Home (1978). Some perceptive critics had noted that Dern was a finer actor than his roles generally allowed one to believe, repelled as one was by the neurotic persona that Dern was able to project..."

This is a movie that looks realistically at some of the difficulties of aging, family dynamics and a world that can be cold and mean spirited. Yet for all that this movie is also remakably poignant and endearing. I highly recommend this movie to anybody — very little bad language, compelling, well drawn characters that you really grow to care about, and as in the case of the air compressor, some very funny moments.

Enjoy a Free Movieā€”On Us!

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

Movie Maniacs has 30 double passes available for Fox Searchlights advanced screeing of their new release Belle.

BELLE is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the illegitimate mixed race daughter of Admiral Sir John Lindsay (Matthew Goode). Raised by her aristocratic great-uncle Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) and his wife (Emily Watson), Belle's lineage affords her certain privileges, yet her status prevents her from the traditions of noble social standing.

To claim tickets for this event you will be taken to a third party site that is not affiliated with CPL. You will be asked to create an account with Fox Searchlight - standard info- valid email address, name, age etc. People often use a secondary email for such offers and information doesn't have to be accurate--- it is not verified against your real ID when you redeem your ticket at the box office. If you are comfortable with this, go ahead and sign up. We have done this type of redemption before with goFobo tickets. It's up to you.

To get a free double pass follow this link and enter the code: BelleCalCPLMM

Once claimed simply print off your tickets from your own computer. Come a little early to the theatre as you have to redeem your pass for an actual ticket .

Screening Info:

Wednesday, May 14 Eau Claire Market Cinemas 7PM

Enjoy, and if you do see it drop me a line through comments and tell me what you thought of it.

Above Suspicion Season 3

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)


Season 3 of Above Suspicion has just hit our shelves. Written by the multi-talented Lynda La Plante, she has a string of hits to her credit, most famously the dark, gritty and completely addictive Prime Suspect starring the completely addictive Helen Mirren. She also created the long running Trial and Retribution series.

Above Suspicion is a little lighter, but only a little. It stars the highly recognizable Ciaran Hinds from — well, everything. He was Julius Caesar in the series Rome from a few years back, he was a baddy in the second Laura Croft, he was in The Debt, Deathly Hallows part 2, Game of Thrones, In Bruges, Mayor of Casterbridge, Jane Eyre, There will be Blood, Ivanhoe and on and on. Very busy man because he is very talented. Check out everything we have in our collection on the guy. His co-star is Kelly Reilly who also has a good resume although not nearly as long. You’ll know her as Jude Law’s wife in the Sherlock Holmes theatrical movies and from Flight opposite Denzel Washington.

There are only three episodes per season, but do watch series one and two first if you can, as they build on each other. If you watch any of the seasons as a stand alone they're fine and you're likely to enjoy them, but watching all nine episodes just gives you the complete experience of the character and plot developments.

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