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by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

I am always on the lookout for a retelling of a a classic tale- especially one as powerful as Frankenstein. It has remained popular since 1931 when Boris Karloff first donned the giant shoes and neck bolts. And while I enjoy almost all of the offerings and their various interpretations, until now my fave has been the Kenneth Branagh version from 1994, with de Niro suiting up as the monster. However, this past weekend I stumbled across a version that I think is the most true to the original intent of Mary Shelly- the horror, not of the monster, but of science run amok. Of a creaure who is knowledgeable, wise and possessed of a conscience. And after being abadoned by his creator decides "if I cannot inspire love, I will inspire fear".

This is a mini series so it runs a little longer at 204 minutes, but I think you'll find it to be worth your time. Some great locations shots, some fine acting and a really nice Gothic feel to it. It also has what might be the best looking monster ever. Even though he still looks pretty awful---especially immediately pre and post creation! Now I don't think this is a case of miscasting nor an attempt to be campy---it just gave him a humanity that really works.

In addition to these three, CPL also has the Bride of Frankenstein from 1931, History Channels In Search of the Real Frankenstein, one with Robert Foxworth that may be fine but in all honesty I can't be bothered to watch as he strikes me as a little lightweight for the role, and of course the hilarious Young Frankenstein. There is also a boxed set which features 5 in 1- the original with Boris Karloff - The bride of- The House of- The Ghost of- the Son of........ you get the picture.

Great TV Part 1 - HBO

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Another excellent list of recommendations from guest blogger Trevor- and the good news is, as he has called this Part 1, we know that he already has more titles in mind for part 2. There are several 100's of hours of great viewing here........

Though MM traditionally highlights the great film collection here at the Calgary Public Library, our many movies are by no means the only draw. Regular customers will have undoubtedly come across a TV season or two whilst perusing the DVDs. In fact, a quick search of the collection gives over 2000 hits for television seasons on DVD. Choosing from such a large collection is a challenging task but this post will hopefully help you sift through the collection to find the standout gems most worth your time.

HBO – “It’s not TV, it’s HBO” is a very fitting tagline for the subscription TV service. In general, HBO series greatly surpass anything that you could find on regular stations (with the added benefit of being commercial free). Pretty much anything HBO touches turns to gold but here are a few of the most noteworthy.

Rome – An epic period piece that details the greatest empire the world has ever known. Rome’s splendour is emphasized nearly as much as its depravity. The first season chronicles Julius Caesar’s rise to power while the second focuses on his nephew Augustus.

In Treatment – The always excellent Gabriel Byrne plays a psychiatrist, struggling to balance his own problems as he grows increasingly invested in his patients. episode focuses on one of 5 patients, cycling through their appointments on each day of the week. The most interesting aspect is that Byrne is the 5th patient, seeing his own psychologist to deal with the pressures of his life. Absolutely riveting.

Big Love –Bill Paxton plays a righteous Mormon man, trying to raise his family just like any other man. A difficult task considering he has three households and three wives. There’s a surprising amount of excitement to be found in Big Love as Bill tries to protect the secret of his family while battling against the corrupt leadership of his former Mormon commune.

True Blood - For those of you who cringed from the Twilight series and its neutered portrayal of vampires, look no further than True Blood. With more sex, more gore, and more violence than any other show on this list it true-ly pushes the limits of what we consider TV. It’s also good campy fun.

The Sopranos - There’s a reason there are university classes based entirely around The Sopranos. It is the most profitable series in the history of cable television and is one of the most critically acclaimed television shows of all time. Traditional mob movie tropes are twisted and distorted as viewers delve into the psyche of emotionally troubled mob boss Tony Soprano. If you’ve ever enjoyed a Martin Scorsese film, The Sopranos should be a no brainer.

Six Feet Under - is perhaps the most ambitious television series I have ever seen. It’s not the big summer blockbuster type of ambitious, nor is it the type of trendsetting ambition found in experimental films. No, Six Feet Under is ambitious because it tries, and in my opinion succeeds, in answering a very difficult question: what does it mean to die? It’s humorous, depressing, heartfelt, and macabre in equal measure and it is well worth your time.

by Trevor

Funny Ladies

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We do love our dramas here at Movie Maniacs and often go months without recommending anything on the lighter side. So let's correct that right now and have a look at some fine comediennes.

Top of any current list would have to be Tina Fey. This former head SNL writer has the very popular 30 Rock to her credit- she writes and stars in this sitcom about a head writer for a sitcom. The 5th season is currently airing and CPL has the first 4. Date Night with Fey, Steve Carell and Mark Wahlberg is an engaging 'mistaken identity' romp. Mean Girls, written by Tina Fey and starring Lindsay Lohan pre melt-down days is a pretty good bet for older teens and adults.

We have any number of television series featuring very funny ladies- I love Lucy, The Golden Girls, Carol Burnett and Barbara Feldon in the original Get Smart series.

Ever since she first appeared in Annie Hall, Diane Keaton has remained very popular. There are many of her movies to choose from but for my money I prefer her earlier stuff- like Baby Boom, Sleeper and Father of the Bride. Or watch the far superior original with Spencer Tracy.

Cutie-pie Meg Ryan has a nice comedic touch in two of Nora Ephron's big hits- You've Got Mail and Sleepless in Seattle. Also worth a really good laugh is the oldie but goodie When Harry Met Sally.

In the 1930's there was nobody more popular than Myrna Loy. She was a huge box office draw and in 1936 was named Queen of the Movies (and Clark Gable the king), in a nationwide poll of movie goers. Cast in the role as the witty and urbane Nora Charles to William Powell's Nick in the Thin Man series (six in all), these movies still hold a lot of appeal. She is charming in the Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer with funny man Cary Grant.

One of my all time fave funny ladies is Madeline Kahn and we have two of her best- Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles. Saddles is Mel Brooks at his most crass, but if Lili von Schtupp doesn't break you up

More Film Festivals in a box

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The Turner Classic Movie boxed sets have proved very popular---so much so that CPL has a whole bunch more headed your way. Each set comes complete with four thematic based movies. TCM has done a great job putting these together---there are hours and hours of excellent viewing here. All these sets are on order at the moment, so they aren't ready to take out quite yet. But they are coming and once they do they will fly off the shelves so get your holds on now and sit back and enjoy the anticipation. I can't wait to revisit them---my holds are already on. How about yours?

Westerns: Ride the High Country, Stalking Moon, Chisum, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid

War: Dawn Patrol, Gunga Din, Operation Pacific, Battle of the Bulge

Sci-FI: Them, Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, Satellite in the Sky, World Without End

Romance: Splendor in the Grass, Mogambo, Now Voyager, Love in the Afternoon

Marx Brothers: A day at the Races, Room Service, At the Circus, A Night in Casablanca

Family :Lassie, Flipper, National Velvet, Incredible Mr. Limpet

Hitchcock Thrillers: Suspicion, Strangers on a Train, The Wrong man, I confess

Comedy: The Long Long Trailer, Father of the Bride, Night at the Opera, Arsenic and

Film Festival In-a-Box

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When I wrote the post for Space Time Continuum I recommended a Science Fiction collection put together by Turner Classic Movies. They feature four movies each and CPL has several other of these thematic based sets. There's lots of good viewing here, with the Murder Mysteries, Sci Fi and Horror compilations being particularly strong. So if you aren't watching the Olympics, or just need a bit of a break from all that reality, grab one of these and away you go.

Sc Fi: Soylent Green, Forbidden Planet, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Time Machine

Horror: House of Wax, The Haunting, Freaks, Dr. Jeckll and Mr. Hyde

Murder Mysteries: Maltese Falcon, Big Sleep, Dial M for Murder, Postman Always Rings Twice

Best Picture: Casablanca, Mrs. Miniver, Gigi, American in Paris

Wsterns: Wild Bunch, McCabe and Mrs Miller, Jeremiah Johnson, Train Robbers

Broadway Musicals: Show Boat, Annie Get Your Gun, Kiss me Kate, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

American Musicals: Band Wagon, Meet me in St. Louis, Singin' in the Rain,Easter Parade