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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.

New and Notable

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

Back in my Halloween post a mere 6 weeks ago I mentioned Abe Lincoln Vampire Hunter and how much I enjoyed it at the theatre. Well, it's available now so get your hold on. Once you accept that Abe wasn't just the 16th president of the United States, but a very accomplished vampire hunter, you're in for a fun two hours. I watched it again this past weekend and enjoyed it just as much as the first time. The cinematography is stunning. and the axe-work is pretty excellent as well. Abe sure can make those heads fly when his blade swings!

Expendables 2 -- didn't I just post about this one too when it first hit the theatres? Well, nothing says Christmas like a bunch of testosterone-fuelled mayhem with every action star of the last 30 years. Ditto The Dark Night Rises. The last in the Christopher Nolan trilogy, we see Batman battle against the latest threat to Gotham, the terrorist Bane, played to perfection by the very versatile Tom Hardy. If you've read my posts before, you know Batman is my least fave Superhero, but having said that, this latest is pretty good.

Tom Hardy's had a busy year. He is also in another new release, Lawless, with Shia Lebouef.

Men in Black 3 --much lighter than Batman and Lawless and nowhere near as bloody as Abe or Expendables, this is another fun way to spend two hours. I enjoyed this much more than MIB 2, and thought that Josh Brolin was brilliant playing a young Agent K. He absolutely nailed his impersonation of Tommy Lee Jones. I actually thought that they might have been dubbing his voice, but no, that is all Brolin.

On a much much lighter note, try Tommy Lee Jones and Meryl Streep in Hope Springs.

And for the kids we have Paranorman, a misunderstood boy who takes on ghosts, zombies and grown-ups, to save his town from a centuries-old curse. This was surprisingly intense so if you take it home take the PG rating seriously. There is also the rather quirky Disney offering, The odd life of Timothy Green.

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.

Animation Greats: check out our shorts!

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Blogger Curness tells me that Switzerland has clothing lending libraries. We're not there yet, but you can still check out shorts. Don't have time for feature length films? Enjoy short animated films from your own sofa any day and save money on popcorn besides.

CPL is reknowned for its collection from National Film Board. Remember when the NFB was in the building attached to the Castell Central Library? Now you can pick up NFB dvds from any branch.

A new one is Land of the Heads, a hilarious short film about a vain vampire and her aggravated husband. Other great shorts on this dvd include the moving French- language film "Icefloe," and the goofy "The Genie in a can of Ravioli," and "Sainte Barbe," a touching story about an old man with a magical beard. All of the french language shorts have subtitles.

Beloved of Canadians are "The Snit" and the musical "Blackfly" and "The cat came back". These can be found on Nfb's Animation Greats dvd. Be sure to look out for The Log Driver's Waltz on Leonard Maltin's Animation favorites from the NFB with folk legends Kate and Anna McGarrigle.

Torrill Kove won best Animated short film in the 1997 Oscars for The Danish Poet, a 15 minute story of how she herself came to be, by way of a young man's trip to meet Norwegian author Sigrid Undset.

Would-be animators should check out our Norman Mclaren dvds. His drawing on film has influenced a generation of Canadian Animators. We have Creative Process, Norman Mclaren and The Genius of Norman Mclaren. You may also enjoy the Hothouse series of dvds which spotlights the work of emerging animation talent.

Guaranteed Embarrassment Free 7

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Guaranteed Embarrassment Free 7

This post has proved consistently popular, so here is another round of movies for everyone--- grab the kids, the grandparents, and everyone in between and check out some of these for freedom from bad language, inappropriate sexual content and otherwise embarrassing moments. Want to see what else has been recommended in this category? Click on the family oriented tag on the left and the six previous posts will come up.

The Witches - 1990. Based on the popular Raold Dahl story and featuring Angelica Houston, this might be a little intense for the under 8 crowd, as the witches are really quite scary. Especially in the big 'reveal' scene towards the end. But all-in-all a very good retelling of a good story.

Peter Pan- Three to recommend here. Of course we all know the original 1953 animated Disney version which still holds up well.

But also try Hook from 1991, with Dustin Hoffman trying his hand as the nefarious Captain, playing opposite a grown up Peter, as portrayed by Robin Williams. Julia Roberts as Tinkerbell rounds out this all-star cast.

And last, but in my opinion the best of the three, is the 2003 Peter Pan; with Jason Issacs (Lucias Malfoy from the Harry Potter series) as a very menacing Hook. The actions scenes in this are especially good. As is the crocodile.

Enchanted - 2007. A twist on the classic fairy tale, Princess Giselle is sent to modern day New York by an evil witch, and must arise to the challenges she encounters. This one is a lot of fun with some wonderfully catchy tunes.

Brother Bear - 2003. A young Inuit hunter seeking revenge against a bear, is magically changed into a bear. A classic ' walk a mile in my shoes' story, this movie will really appeal to the younger crowd. Nice message, nice animation, overall a nice look to this movie.

Anne of Green Gables I'm sure no one needs too much of a synopsis for this classic Canadian coming of age tale set on Prince Edward Island. This mini-series was made for television in the 80's and has several sequels, all equally engaging, all available at CPL. It is worth revisiting if you haven't seen it in awhile, and is definetely worth introducing your children to.

Guaranteed Embarrassment Free 6

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I've gone into my movie memory banks to pull out a few of the following titles. Little older, and they don't turn up on television too often, so they might have escaped your movie radar.

The Flintstones ---1994 A live action film based on the 60's cartoon, this is a lot of fun. Many recognizable faces including John Goodman, Rick Moranis, Kyle MacLachlan, Halle Berry, Rosie O'Donnell and even a cameo by Elizabeth Taylor. The sets are quite ingenious, and there are many cultural references for the adults to enjoy.

Fern Gully---now here is an old one from 1992 that was one of my favorites to watch with my children. Timely then, and even more so now, it tells the story of a rain forest under seige from a lumber company.

Black Knight is great fun, but does have 2 very brief scenes that are a little suggestive. Given that this post is supposed to be embarrasment free I momentarily hesitated adding this title; but it works so well and has such good overall value that I thought I'd add it and just give you a heads up. A modern day theme park attendant is transported back to medieval England.

If you are one of the few people who hasn't yet seen Wall E, treat yourself to this 2008 release from Pixar. This is an absolute joy of a movie---you will fall in love with Wall E and EVA. We have dozens of copies and the number of holds are way down from where they were a few months ago.

Freaky Friday--- we have both versions of this; the 1976 with a very young Jodi Foster, and the 2003 with Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis. I'm not too much of a Lohan fan, but she does a good job here, and Curtis strikes just the right note when she plays the teenage daughter. Mom and daughter exchange bodies and really get to understand what it's like to be in someone elses shoes.

City of Ember from 2008---story of a civilization that has been forced to live underground for the last 200 years and is now trying to regain the surface as their power supply starts to fail. This movie has a great look to it- muted colors that capture the feel of their failing light source; rag tag clothing where everything has been mended and remended; hobbled together contraptions that display the inhabitants ingenuity.With Bill Murray and Tim Robbins, I quite enjoyed this.

Sensational Series at CPL

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Many fans of CPL who were using the dvd collection are familiar with the variety of television, film and mini- series that were available early on when dvds were a new technology. Many of these were PBS or BBC productions that continue to be popular: mysteries such as Poirot, sitcoms such as As Time Goes By, and costume dramas and dramatizations such as I, Claudius, Anne of Green Gables and Little House on the Prairie. We still have these, but CPL has really expanded its collection of dvds. If you don't have cable or can't stand commercials, CPL's dvd series are for you.

If you don't already know, CPL has added more British, Canadian and American popular television series to the collection. We have tv "classics" like Columbo, Magnum P.I., Hill Street Blues, The Waltons, Rockford Files, and Get Smart...

We also have newer HBO, Bravo, History Channel and Showcase mini-series such as Deadwood, Six Feet Under, and Rome. These are great if you are a season or two behind, like me, but still want to discuss the shows with friends. You could catch up on season one of The Tudors, for instance.

We are currently watching The Wire. Just when I thought I couldn't watch another crime show, I come across this series set in Baltimore. The Wire follows several detectives infiltrating a narcotics syndicate in the hopes of prosecuting their previously unknown leader. We see the officers human flaws and the systemic problems and limited technology that inhibit their investigation. The Wire also follows the workings and struggles of the drug dealers and addicts. So far, Season One has been free of many of the cliches one would expect in a police show. Because it focuses on the challenges of the individuals on both sides of the law, it is less graphically violent than many current crime series.

Foyle's Waris another great crime series that recently aired on tv. Anglophiles and Michael Kitchen fans will enjoy him as mild-mannered but determined DCS Foyle who solves crimes during World War II in and around Hastings, England. All of the crimes are connected with war-time life, and the series deals with some of the moral ambiguities that arose at the time. This series is divided into sets and series of discs, so for a useful chronology of the episodes, see the fan website:

Don't forget our non-fiction (numbered) series, featuring a range of topics. This is where you'll find National Film Board animation classics such as "Blackfly" and Rodney Yee's yoga series for Gaiam. You will also find many travel series highlighting countries or cities for airmchair or actual travel. Opera buffs will find many choices also. How about Hockey: A People's History? or The Red Green Show?

I really enjoyed Terry Jones' The Crusades. In spite of Jones' Monty Python affiliation, this is not a spoof. The two-part series outlines the political and material motivations behind the crusaders and profiles the recruits. It contrasts the crusaders' ideals versus the actual effects of the crusades. The dvds present great cinematographic views of Accra and other areas and a good biography of Saladin. This series really stands out from other "knights and armour" focussed accounts, not that the somewhat portly Jones doesn't try some armour on for size.

If you did already know about our great series...tell someone who doesn't!