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Jeff "The Dude" Bridges

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Nothing like a nod from Oscar to catapult someone back into the public eye. After 40 some years in the biz, Bridges picked up a well deserved Best Actor Award for his performance in Crazy Heart. Big in the 80's and mid 90's, he has made a lot of movies over the years. Now he isn't the headlinder in all of these but you can depend on Bridges' performances to be consistently good. Here are some of my favorites.

The Big Lebowski---from the weird and wonderful Coen brothers, this movie is good on so many levels. A cult classic, it is also just plain fun, and is the role that garnered him his nickname "the dude".

Arlington Place---from 1998 with Tim Robbins and Joan Cuscak, a solid pyschological thriller, with conspiracy overtones.

Seabiscuit---based during the depression, this tells the story of the real life racing horse of the same name. Also features Tobey Maguire and Chris Cooper.

The Last Picture Show from 1971. If you have never seen this you owe it to yourself to have a look. Set in a small Texas town in the 50's it is a gritty coming of age story---at times almost unbearably real. Lots of familiar faces in this one, including a very young Cybil Shepherd.

Iron Man--- in a supporting role to the headliner Robert Downey Jr. This movie is a real departure from the usual super hero genre and very watchable.

Men Who Stare At Goats. This movie is currently on order, so get your holds on now. With Ewan McGregor and George Clooney, it is quite hard to pigeon hole this one into a genre---but I do know that I found it quirky and entertaining.

We have others---follow this link to more Bridges

Desert Island Classic

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Dersu Uzala

Our desert island image really represents the polar opposite of the subject of this film but what better movie to watch when you are stuck on the hot sand than one that takes place in the cold? Akira Kursawa's Dersu Uzala makes viewers feel as if they are really in the frozen landscape of Russia.

There is only one copy of this dvd at the library, but try to see it. It is in our Russian dvd collection but is subtitled in English. Dersu Uzala won an academy award in 1975. Another great from the Japanese director of our previous desert island classic, it was filmed in the Soviet Union when Kurosawa's career had stalled in Japan.

Dersu Uzala tells the story of two men who develop a mutual respect and friendship while Dersu, a man who lives off the land, leads the other, socially rising army captain Arseniev on a journey through the remote, extreme climate of Russia. This is one of the great survival stories, and fans of storytellers such as Jack London will enjoy the narrative and 19th century setting. Maxim Munzuk's embodiment of the Russian native Nanai (or "Goldi") scout warms and then breaks your heart.

CPL's multilanguage dvd collection offers many fantastic films, most subtitled or captioned in English...Try one!

The Great Directors: Alfred Hitchcock

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119 years after his birth, Alfred Hitchcock remains the Master of Suspense. In a filmmaking career that lasted for over 60 years, Hitchcock directed over 50 feature films, making him a legend around the world. His films continue to captivate audiences of all ages.

Known for his carefully composed images and fluidly choreographed camera movements, filmakers today still strive to imitate his unique style. Hitchcock is known as the pioneer of the modern psychological and suspense genre. Rarely relying on the element of suprise, Hitchcock instead preferred manipulating his audience through carefully controlled suspense, or as he called it, "playing the audience like a piano." On set, Hitchcock was known as bit of a control freak, storyboarding every shot in a movie and leaving nothing to chance.

Rarely before or after has great entertainment and great art joined together as well as in the films of Alfred Hitchcock. The joy of filmaking shines through in his films. Here are a few of my favourite Hitchcock films, :

Rear Window[1954] -- A perfect introduction to the films of Alfred Hitchcock. Jeff (Jimmy Stewart), a photographer who is confined to a wheelchair with a broken leg, spends the summer spying on his neighbours through the rear window of his apartment. Trouble ensues when Jeff thinks he may have witnessed one of his neigbours killing their wife and disposing of the body. A fascinating study of voyeurism, both Jeff and our's.

The Lady Vanishes[1938] -- A young woman investigates the disappearance of an elderly lady on a fast moving train, bound for England. She is especially shocked to learn that the other passengers claim the old lady never existed. A witty and fast-paced mystery, suitable for everyone.
North by Northwest[1959] -- Cary Grant gets pursued across the US when he is mistaken for an international spy. From a swooping crop duster in Indiana, to a race to the top of Mt. Rushmore, the film results in one iconic sequence after another. One on the greatest chase films ever made. Here are some other great Hitchcock films available at the CPL: The 39 Steps[1935] Rebecca [1940] Foreign Correspondant[1940] Saboteur [1942] Notorious [1946] To Catch a Thief[1955] Dial M for Murder[1955] The Wrong Man[1956] Vertigo[1958] The Man Who Knew Too Much[1959] Psycho [1960] Frenzy [1972]
Nobody's perfect, Hitch included. Here are a few of his average/weaker works, also available from your local library: Mr. & Mrs. Smith[1941] Stage Fright[1950] I Confess[1953] Marnie [1964] Torn Curtain[1966] Topaz [1969]

Mel's Desert Island Classics

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Movies I want on the island with me-Nov 19th 2008

Everyone should watch Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samuraiat some point. Set in feudal Japan, the film follows a group of farmers struggling to protect their village from bands of brigands. With their crops and families at risk, they set out to the city to hire samurai to protect them, but they don't have any money to pay the warriors. The gathering of the samurai is my favorite part of the film. Kurosawa's usual leading man Toshiro Mifune is terrific as the trickster tag-a-long who wants to become a samurai. Others may enjoy the big battle scene in the rain (everyone getting soaked being a common scenario in Kurosawa's films--beautifully shot). All the emotions are covered. Seven Samurai is said to have inspired Star Wars and The Magnificent Seven. See the Britannica Encyclopedia in CPL's E-library for biographies and history.

If you want to learn about Kurosawa in more detail, check out these books: Waiting on the Weather, The Emperor and the Wolf, The Films of Akira Kurosawa, Perspectives on Akira Kurosawa. Other Kurosawa films in the library's collection include Rashomon, a tale told from multiple points of view, The Hidden Fortressand High and Low.

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