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Luther

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

Season Three of the critically acclaimed BBC series, Luther, is arriving on our shelves even as I write.

If you have not yet seen this one treat yourself to one of the finest British crime dramas of recent years. And given how very good the British track record for this kind of programming is, that’s saying something.

Superior writing, fine, fine acting and some very unique storylines, this series has it all. They are also very dark and occasionally disturbing. You may know the star Idris Alba from some of his other recent offerings. He had a starring role in this summer's block buster, Pacific Rim and was in Ridley Scott's Prometheus from 2012. He was in the excellent multi award winning American crime drama from several years ago, The Wire. He has even been touted as possibly taking over the helm for the James Bond franchise, after Daniel Craig hangs up his martini glass- a rumour he is vigorously denying. Somebody else who is having their name thrown around? Michael Fassbender, who was also in Prometheus.

Do watch this series in order or you'll be lost. Besides they are that good you really don't want to miss a single episode. His star is definitely on the rise so expect to see a lot more of him.

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Monthly Film Night

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

Join us from 6:30-8:30 on Thursday the 19th at Crowfoot Library. We are offering a new to DVD release and this one is suitable for 13 plus. For film night at Crow, I am not able to print the title, so as always if you want to know check in-branch where we have posters up, or give us a call at 221-4122. No registration is required.

Or pop in to our John Dutton Theatre at Central (1:00-3:30) this Thursday as well. We are showing a true classic, and one of my favourite movies of all time. I would not be lying if I said I've seen this 40 times---and this one I CAN tell you the title-The Magnificent Seven. A huge all star cast of Steve McQueen, Yul Bryner, Charles Bronson, James Coburn and Eli Wallach. Now these names might not mean much to the younger crowd, but trust me when I say it is the equivalent of current films like Marvel's The Avengers, which showcase seven current A-Listers in one film.

The Magnificent Seven is a western remake of the Japanese classic by Akira Kurosawa, Seven Samurai. Plenty of action, lots of iconic images, actors at the top of their game and one of the best music scores of all time.

Best Westerns Vll

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

I put up a Western post in time for Stampede every year, but that didn't pan out this year because of the flooding in our beautiful city around that time! They have been a very popular recurring theme here at Movie Maniacs and we have dozens and dozens of our faves recommended in previous posts. But westerns are worthy of being watched anytime---I’ve tried to find some of the newer titles but of course they don’t make Westerns nearly often enough these days. Which is too bad, because a well-done Western is worth it's weight in oats.

Take a look at any of the following:

Kevin Costner’s The Hatfield’s and McCoy’s- great cast, big budget, multi award winning mini-series

Rango, for the whole family, as opposed to Django Unchained which is only for adults of strong constitutions

Cowboys and Aliens- the title says it all---very entertaining, with a strong cast including Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Paul Dano and Sam Rockwell


Hell on Wheels, this one is filmed in and around Calgary. We've blogged this more than once- it's an excellent series

Brand new to our collection, the Adventures of Brisco County Jr is just a lot of silly fun. This series from 1993 is available in one big 27 episode collection, so before you embark on this adventure set aside 23 hours! Featuring a Harvard graduate bounty hunter, robber baron's, and a recurring mysterious golden orb. Set this in the 1890's, reel it out like vintage movie serials, add a lot of tongue in cheek and keep it "just under over the top". It was well regarded by the critics and had a fierce and loyal following but in spite of that was not renewed beyond the initial first year.

And speaking of filmed in and around Calgary, try any of these sure bets: Shanghai Noon, Unforgiven, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Legends of the Fall and Open Range. And although not filmed near here, I'd feel remiss if I didn't plug my fave western of all time, the wonderful mini series Lonesome Dove.

Fantastic Films at the Library

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

 

The brand new program guide has just come out and CPL has dozens of opportunities for film lovers.

For years now the Central branch has been offering a movie every Thursday afternoon (1:00–3:30 p.m.) in our John Dutton Theatre. From Sept 5th to Dec 5th we are showcasing a total of 14 films from classics to contemporary.

Crowfoot runs a film night on the third Thursday of every month featuring brand new DVD releases. Join us 6:30–8:30 p.m. on Sept 19th, Oct 17th, Nov 21th and Dec 12th. To find out what film we are featuring call us at the beginning of each month at 221-4122. No registration required.

New this year we are offering a four part series called Alfred Hitchcock: Master of Suspense. Just in time for Halloween, this series rotates through four different branches/venues. Immerse yourself in the cinematic world of Hitch, the visionary director and icon whose films continue to shock and amaze audiences old and new. From 2:00–3:30 p.m. at Country Hills Thursday Sept 19; Shawnessey Friday Sept 27th; Signal Hill Sunday Sept 29; and Bowness Oct 24th.

Our Celebrate National Library Month Film Series kicks off with Hollywood Librarian: "A touching and insightful film that shows how librarians have been portrayed in the movies - often bespectacled, occasionally glamorous, sometimes too brainy for their own good — compared with real-life librarians in an increasingly digital and globalized world."  Or have a peek at these: Remote Access- Distant Libraries of the World; The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore; The Great Book Robbery; or Modern Marvels: The Real National Treasure.

Many of the branches also show films on school PD days, so call your local branch to see if they have something lined up.

Join old friends, meet new ones and enjoy a great movie from classics to contemporary.

They're Back!

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

After a two month hiatus because of the flooding at Central, new DVDs are starting to arrive at the branches again. All 18 of our locations get new selections several times a week and we have lots of hot new titles like Oblivion (Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman), GI Joe: Retaliation (Bruce Willis and The Rock), What Maisie Knew, The Place Beyond the Pines (Bradley Cooper and Ryan Gosling), Olympus Has Fallen (Gerard Butler and Morgan Freeman again), Broken City (Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe), and The Company you Keep (Robert Redford and Shia LeBeouf).

I've seen four out of the above seven with various results. The Place Beyond the Pines I ended up liking a lot more than I thought I would, given I'm not a big fan of either Bradley or Ryan.Trust me on this one—stick with it and you're in for a very good film.

Is there a film you would like to see in our collection? Do you know that you can make recommendations? We welcome suggestions on specific titles we might add to the Calgary Public Library's collections. Check our online catalogue, and if you don't see what you want, take a few minutes to tell us about the item. (We automatically consider all items on all popular best seller lists, so there's no need to let us know about those).

Is there something a little more obscure we may have missed? Something you haven't seen in years but remember fondly and would like to introduce to others? Feel like going a step beyond a recommendation? Why not consider buying a title and adding it to our collection for others to enjoy. Here's how.

And if you do sponsor a title, leave a comment, and let me know what you chose and why. I'd love to post your thoughts on your selection.

Summer of the Sequels

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

This summer every film seems to have the number two behind it—or three, or is a sequel, prequel or some such thing. Currently in the theatres we have Despicable Me 2, Red 2, Smurfs 2, Grown-Ups 2, Iron Man 3, Kick A** 2, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters and Wolverine. Now if you remember the original story line and don't need catching up, just head off to the theatres. But if you want a refresher here are the links to the originals.

Despicable Me (I love this movie-fun for the whole family), Red (big big cast,, suspend logic and just enjoy—especially Malkovich), Smurfs, Grown-Ups (they aren't really), Iron Man 1, 2 (Robert Downey at his best), Kick A** (a different kind of Super hero Movie), Percy Jackson: Lightning Thief (the best Medusa ever), X-Men 1, 2, and 3 and X Men Origins-Wolverine.

 

 

Now as somebody who never needs encouragement to re-watch something I enjoy, I found this fact from a recent Ipsos poll very interesting: The average Canadian parent has seen their children's favourite movie about 33 times. And while I can rewatch Casablanca, Bridge on the River Kwai and To Kill a Mockingbird over and over, I blanche at the thought of how many times I sat through a taped Cirque de Soleil special with my daughter to watch the same clown climb out of the same box to get the same pie in his face. As I recall though it was very funny—at least the first 33 times!

From the same poll; with its release right around the corner, 27% of Canadians would most want to be in 'The Smurfs 2' if they woke up and found themselves to be an animated character.

The Ken Burns Effect — Part One

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

Ken Burns has an impressive filmography to his credit. In the world of current film styles the camera seldom seems to rest on any one image for more than a nano second before it is off to the next blow-up, melt-down, gargantuan special effect or drooling miscreation. All while being punctuated by a strident soundtrack. Burns' style is so laid back that if you aren't used to it it can at first glimpse seem a trifle boring. But stick with it and you will be rewarded with superior documentaries and it won't take you long to get hooked on "The Ken Burns Effect "—slowly zooming or panning over vintage still photographs while in-depth research is narrated by a pleasing voice.

The Dust Bowl just aired last year on PBS as a 240-minute series. In it Burns documents the worst human-made ecological disaster in American history that was the result of the 'Great Plow-up'. Vivid interviews, dramatic photographs, and seldom-seen movie footage bring to life incredible stories of human suffering and perseverance. You'll be stunned by what you didn't know about this decade long event.

And after you watch the mini series, here are three excellent 'companion' feature films.Sinise and Malkovich

First up is the powerful Of Mice and Men, a John Steinbeck classic. It tells the tragic story of George Milton and Lennie Small, two displaced migrant ranch workers, who move from place to place in search of new job opportunities during the Great Depression. This is before the arrival of the Okies who Steinbeck vividly describes in The Grapes of Wrath. Required reading in many schools, Of Mice and Men regularly appears on the America Library Association's list of the Most Challenged Books of 21st Century. We have two versions and they are equally compelling. The 1939 with Burgess Meredeth and the 1992 made for television, with Gary Sinise and John Malcovich.

Secondly is Steinbeck's Pulitzer Prize winning Grapes of Wrath (1940), directed by John Ford and starring Henry Fonda. In 1989, this film was one of the first 25 films to be selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

And the third offering is Places in the Heart, which won Sally Field her second Oscar for Best Actress in 1984. Also starring John Malkovich, Ed Harris and Danny Glover.

From the grapevine … Steven Spielberg is set to acquire the rights to The Grapes of Wrath, with a view to producing a new film adaptation for DreamWorks. There are many movies that I think were perfect the first time and don't need to be redone, and Grapes of Wrath is one of them. But having said that, if anybody can do it justice it would be Spielberg. However he is unlikely to direct the movie, and likely will oversee the project as producer.

Monthly Film Night at Crowfoot Library

by Moe - 1 Comment(s)

Join us at 6:30 on Thursday August 15th for our latest offering of a new DVD release. As always we find something that did very well at the theatres, and therefore has a lot of holds on it. Avoid that wait, and come see it with other film lovers.

This month's film features Naomi Watts in an Oscar nominated role. The visuals are stunning, the story gut wrenching, and the acting well worth her nomination. If this isn't enough of a clue, phone as at 221-4122 for the actual title. And if any readers want to weigh in with their own clues, like "Jack" and "Tom" did last month, I'd be happy to hear from you. See you on the 15th.

Silver Linings - Nic Cage Special

by Trevor - 0 Comment(s)

I’ve written about movies with silver linings in the past. Mediocre or just plain bad movies that have one redeemable facet that makes them watchable. This time I’m going to talk about a silver lining actor.

Nicolas Cage is almost always the silver lining of the movie he’s in. This isn’t because of his amazing acting talent but rather because he truly does not seem to realize how bad most of his movies are. Yes yes, I know he’s won an Oscar but that almost doesn’t count when you compare it to his entire filmography. He picks ridiculous roles in ridiculous films with ridiculous plots. He unironically spouts off terrible dialogue with the commitment of a Shakespearian trained actor. He seems entirely oblivious to the fact that he has become not only a joke but an internet meme. He is entertaining however, whether or not in the way he intended to be. Here are some of Nic’s "silvery-est lining" roles.


Drive Angry – Cage, an undead felon, breaks out of Hell to avenge his murdered daughter and rescue her kidnapped baby from a band of cult-worshipping savages. Need I say more?

The Rock – Cage seems to enjoy playing the everyman turned hero and I can think of no better example than The Rock. Despite the generous helping of Michael Bay's moronic machismo, Cage’s trademark overacting makes this a perfectly watchable action flick.


Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance – It’s well know that Cage wants to be a superhero (he named his child after Superman) and he finally got the chance as Ghost Rider. Spirit of Vengeance is the better of the two, mainly because Cage screams and flails maniacally (ie. hilariously) as he transforms into his fiery skulled alter ego.


Kick-Ass –Though this film doesn’t really qualify as a silver lining as it is excellent, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include it. Cage very nearly steals the film in his Adam West-esque portrayal of the ruthless vigilante Big Daddy. Cage’s unique brand of unknowing campiness was finally put to good use!

There are few A-list actors that make as many bad movies as Nicolas Cage. There are even fewer who do so while remaining entertaining. Perhaps Nic deserves all the joking and ridicule the internet throws at him. Or perhaps he is an acting genius, deliberately reveling in mediocrity so that his future rise to greatness will be all the more unexpected. Or perhaps it is because he needs every penny he can get to escape from under the crushing debt he incurred in the 90's---buying among other things, two yachts, 18 motorcycles, 30 luxury cars, 7 worldwide residences, including a German castle and a private Bahamian Island, a Gulfstream Jet, a quarter million dollar dinosaur skull, shrunken pygmy heads, and a private tomb worthy of a head of state---all while somehow forgetting to pay about 6 million to the IRS.

Who's to say?

REDUX

by Moe - 1 Comment(s)

If it worked once it can work again is Hollywood’s Golden Rule. Often it seems impossible to find a movie that isn’t a prequel, a sequel, a ‘re-imagining’ or just a plain old let’s see if we can make some more money off this and to heck with anything else. And with all such things a few, but not many, are better, some are equally good but in different ways, some just make it , some don’t and some completely miss their mark and may be responsible for killing off their franchise for good.

Here are three new CPL acquisitions that for me have varying degrees of success.

H&G:The Witch HuntersHansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters starring currently ‘see him everywhere’ Jeremy Renner (Mission Impossible, Marvel's The Avengers, Bourne Legacy) and Gemma Arterton (Clash of the Titans and Prince of Persia). It’s not great, but it’s entertaining enough. In the movie, Hansel is diabetic as a result of his childhood experience in the gingerbread house. In the original script, Gretel was also supposed to have an eating disorder as a result of her childhood trauma, but it was cut from the final version. Talk about trying to make something current.

Oz the Great and Powerful is the prequel to The Wizard of Oz. Now Oz is a movie I have never been able to get behind. Considered a classic by millions and appearing on more must see lists than you can shake a wand at, it just never did a thing for me. Perhaps it is the flying monkeys which still haunt my dreams; perhaps it is the cowardly lion who just drives me up the wall. It certainly isn't Judy Garland! So I am always on the lookout for a ‘re-imagining’ of the tale that might suit my tastes better. This film is visually stunning, and the story line is okay, but this didn’t work for me either. Perhaps it is James Franco smirking through the entire film. You would be hard pressed to see three more beautiful witches in Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams and Mrs. James Bond, Rachel Weisz. As I say, not for me, but many will enjoy.

A Good Day to Die Hard should have been the franchise killer that I was talking about, but Die Hardest (the 6th) is slated for 2015. The Die Hard’s have been popular since the first release in 1988 and have been consistently watchable. Over the top action, entire city blocks blowing up, a bloody but unbowed John McLane running barefoot over broken glass—what’s not to like? Sadly, they lost the thread here and it really didn’t work. But don’t feel too bad for Bruce Willis. Collectively, he has appeared in films that have grossed in excess of $2.5 billion USD placing him in the top ten stars in terms of box office receipts. And that is enough to save the franchise.

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