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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.

Steve Carell is Despicable

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

Despicable Me 2 is in theatres at the moment and blowing the doors off all the other summer blockbusters. I found the original, Despicable Me to be one of the funniest and most endearing movies I have seen in a long time. If you haven't yet seen it borrow it here from CPL. It's always fun in these movies to try and place the voices and Steve Carell does a wonderful job as 'Gru', the gruff, lovable anti-villain.Maxwell Smart Sit down and watch this one with the whole family.

There's no denying Carell is funny, talented and versatile. From his early days on SNL and the Daily Show, he shot to fame opposite Jim Carrey in Bruce Almighty. While being offered more and more roles in films he maintained a successful career in television, starring as Michael Scott in the American remake of the British comedy, "The Office". He received the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in Television Comedy for this role in 2006, and earned both Emmy and Golden Globe nominations each consecutive year until he departed in 2011.

The 40 year old virginAmong my favourite of his many films are; The 40 year old virgin, which he co-wrote; Little Miss Sunshine, a movie populated with quirky characters, including Alan Arkin in a well deserved Oscar winning performance for best supporting actor; as Maxwell Smart in the 2008 remake of Get Smart; Date night with Tina Fey and Mark Wahlberg---silly light hearted fun; Seeking a friend for the end of the World---we've blogged this one more than once---for an end of the world movie it's remarkably uplifting; The Incredible Burt Wonderstone with Steve Buscemi and Jim Carrey (Carrey in a role that intrigued rather than annoyed me, as he usually does).

With two movies in post-production and two more in pre- production, we can expect to see Carell's talents at play for hopefully many more years. He has a real everyday 'guy next door' appeal--you'd like to go out for a beer with him.

Free Advanced Screening Passes

by Moe - 3 Comment(s)

ALL GONE

All 80 passes have been scooped up! Remember to check Movie Maniacs often.

Tickets come up regularly and without any advance notice!

It's time to dust off your GoFoBo account and claim yourself a free double pass to an advanced screening on Monday, July 22.

It takes place at Scotiabank Chinook at 7:00 PM.

The movie is called "The Way Way Back" and stars Steve Carrell, Toni Collette and Sam Rockwell. It is rated PG 13 -parents strongly cautioned. Follow this link to the GoFobo site, where you'll see our Movie Maniac logo. You will need to enter the following password to claim two tickets CPLMMM9TY.

Just a couple of reminders. You are being redirected to an external site, so judge your own comfort level in providing the information they ask for. If you don't have an account yet set one up, but these tickets do tend to get claimed pretty fast- but if you miss out this time, you'll be ready for next time.

And lastly, if you claim a ticket and find you can't use it, please go back into GoFoBo and release it so that somebody else can use it.

Join us at Crowfoot or Nose Hill or both!

by Moe - 4 Comment(s)

 

Join us at Crowfoot on Thursday July 18th for our monthly film night. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. and the show starts promptly at 6:30 p.m. This month's choice is a little longer so you will need to set aside two hours and 15 minutes. It is rated PG13 for violence, language and some drug use.

As usual I can not reveal the title here due to copyright restrictions, but give us a call at 221-4122 and we will give it to you. But here's a huge hint: it features an A-Lister and is based on the very popular Lee Child novels...

ALSO on Thursday July 18th, pop into Nose Hill Library and join them for the Summer Fun in the NorthWest kids' program. This runs from 11-3 p.m. and is drop in: no registration required. Among other things they will be showing a family movie. If you want this title or to see what else they have lined up in the way of games/crafts/fun, give them a phone call at 403-221-2030.

Summer Fun in the NorthWest

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

The Northwest branches are joining together to plan fun activities over four consecutive weeks. Among the other things offered are family movies each week. There is no registration required but seating is limited.

Crowfoot Thursday July 11 11-3 403-221-4122

Nosehill Thursday July 18 11-3 403-221-2030

Bowness Thursday July 25 11-3 403-221-2022

Riley Thursday Aug 1 11-3 403-221-2046

For more detail as to what is being offered at each branch (specific activities, name of the movie) please phone the appropriate branch.

Film Night at Crowfoot Library

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

 

Join us at Crowfoot on Thursday June 20th for our monthly film night. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. and the show starts promptly at 6:30 p.m. This month's choice is a little longer so you will need to set aside two hours and 15 minutes. It is rated R for drug and alcohol abuse, language, sexuality/nudity and intense action sequence, so please do not bring the kids!

As usual I can not give you the title here due to copyright restrictions, but give us a call at 221-4122 and we will give it to you. I can tell you that the lead actor was up for a Best Actor at this years Oscars. It's a very good movie, still with lots of holds, so this is a great way to beat the wait.

It's a bird! It's a plane!

by Moe - 1 Comment(s)

The newest incarnation of Superman is set to hit the theatres on June 13th and no doubt will be hugely popular. The trailers actually look quite good for this one and I'm sure it will do very well for itself and spawn all sorts of lunch bags, giant drinking cups and kid's pajamas. Superman is actually one of my more favorite Superheroes and I am likely to go see it. But thinking about the new Superman got me thinking about the old Superman and that of course got me thinking about Christopher Reeve.

Now he didn't have a chance to make a lot of movies before his terrible horse riding accident in 1995 which left him a quadriplegic. But what he did do I liked a lot. All of the 1, 2, 3, 4 Superman films that he made were not equally good, but I enjoyed the first one very much. However I do have two other films of his to recommend. One is Deathtrap starring another of my favorite actors, Michael Caine. This one is just unexpected fun with some good twists and turns. The next one is the bittersweet Somewhere in Time with Jane Seymour and Christopher Plummer. I just re watched this one recently and it still makes me cry---I give it a 3 out of 5 in the soggy hankie category. And you would be hard pressed to find a more lovely sound track. He also had some small roles in a couple of Ivory and Merchant films, including Remains of the Day and The Bostonians.

Confined to a wheel chair for his last 10 years he lived a life of meaning, using his fame and his own circumstance to advocate on behalf of spinal cord injuries and stem cell research.

After he died in 2004, a number of memorial cartoons were Superman-themed. Many artists drew Reeve as Superman flying away from the wheelchair. In one picture, Superman came to Reeve's grave with flowers. In another picture, a grief-stricken Superman reads the news of Reeve's death in The Daily Planet newspaper and says to the reader, "He was my hero." In another, Captain America, Spider-Man, and Batman come to Reeve's grave with Batman, commenting, "He really was a super man." In another, a young boy in a wheelchair tells the reader, "He was the Man of Steel. He had incredible vision. He used his powers to save people. Nothing could stop him. And I think before that he acted in some Superman movies."

You can also read two book written by Reeve, including Still Me and Nothing is Impossible: reflections on a new life. There is also a pretty inspirational DVD from 2002 which follows his life after the accident and his stunning ability to regain partial muscle control; Hope in Motion.

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