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Grand Budapest Hotel

by Moe - 1 Comment(s)

Wes Anderson is one talented guy. In fact no less an icon than Martin Scorsese chooses him as his favourite director, and when pressed in an Esquire magazine article Marty says he may be the next Martin Scorsese. High praise indeed.

He started in his childhood writing plays and making Super-8 movies. While attending the University of Texas, where he majored in philosophy, he met Owen Wilson. They became friends and began making short films together. One of their shorts was Bottle Rocket (1994), which starred Owen and his brother Luke. The short was screened at the Sundance Film Festival, where it was successfully received and from this he got funding to make a feature length version.

He frequently casts the same actors while also being able to draw upon the talents of many A listers. Like Woody Allen, it is becoming a feather in your cap to be chosen to appear in one of his films.

His most recent offering is the delightful The Grand Budapest Hotel. Starring among others, Ralph Fiennes, Adrien Brody, Edward Norton, Saorise Ronan, and Jude Law, there are many more fine actors in it and half the fun of watching his films is spotting performers who are often on only for a very brief period. This movie is quirky, charming and original and is Fiennes' best role in years.

Among some of his others — and he takes his time in between films so they don't come out as fast as his fans might wish — are The Royal Tenenbaums, Moonrise Kingdom, Rushmore, The Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Darjeeling Limited. If you don't want to commit to a full retrospective of his films, treat yourself to Grand Budapest. It may be enough to hook you, and if it doesn't I don't think you'll regret the two hours spent.

I'd Rather Do It Myself

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

Another Earth

I recently stumbled across this little gem sitting on our shelves. It won the Special Jury Prize (World Cinema, Dramatic) at the 2011 Sundance Festival, as well as several other nominations and wins at various other venues. The story is a compelling mix of devastating loss and forgiveness, love and redemption, and if this is making some of you think it is too treacly, don't be put off. It is a very intelligent and provocative movie.

Need something else to convince you to give it a try? 28-year-old Brit Marling, who plays the lead character, wrote the story herself. She set out to start her adult life as an economy major with a job offer at Goldman Sachs, but got bitten by the acting bug. She hung around Hollywod for awhile but got tired of only being offered roles as the cute blonde in horror movies. So she taught herself to write — the idea being if she wanted decent parts she had to write them herself. She got the movie produced, entered it at Sundance and that's that! It's an impressive start.

Great Adaptations-YA Fiction

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Twilight and Harry Potter seem to get all the press, but there are some fantastic, yet little seen, films being adapted from young adult fiction. You can browse the Teen titles in our collection by doing a subject search of 'teen films'.

Here are a few suggestions to hold you over until the Hunger Games trilogy makes its way to the theatre.

Paranoid Park (2008) is a haunting portrait of a young skateboarder who accidently kills a security guard. The film was adapted and directed by Gus Van Sant, from the novel of the same name by Blake Nelson. This is a smart and expertly crafted coming-of-age film, that was well reviewed and little seen. It was released the same year as Van Sant's 'Milk' and seemed to get forgotten about. Which is strange because once seen, this film is hard to forget. The film also boasts a strong soundtrack by Elliott Smith and Nino Rota.

One of my favourite YA novels is Skellig by David Almond. The story centres around a young teen who befriends a bird/angel-ish creature hidden in his garage. The books was adapted for British TV in 2009 with Oscar-nominee Tim Roth in the title role. The movie 'Skellig: The Owl Man" was recently added into the CPL catalogue.

For something a little lighter, try Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging. The quirky tale of 14 year old Georgia Groome, who only wants a boyfriend and to throw the greatest birthday party ever. A charming film by Gurinder Chada, the director of the equally charming Bend it like Beckham.


Gems you may have missed 2008

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2008 was a year when slumdogs, superheroes and sad-eyed robots ruled our imagination. As audiences lined up for grand entertainment, many of the year's best films and performances went largely unnoticed. Here are some of my favourite films from last year. Click on the links to place a request for a film.

Shotgun Stories:The story of a group of half-brothers that become embroiled in a dispute after the passing of their father. This parable like story provides an astute examination of what incites youth to violence and the struggles of the brave few who will stand against it.

Son of Rambow: Please don't let the title scare you off. This is a charming and stylish story of two English schoolboys of vastly different backgrounds attempting to re-create their favourite movie, Rambo: First Blood. The experience of filming their masterpiece helps the boys cope with their troubled family relationships.

Happy Go Lucky: Sally Hawkins gives an incredible performance as Poppy, a seemingly incurable optimist. This slice-of-life feature follows Poppy through driving lessons, dance classes and nightclubs, as she tries to bring joy to those who would bring her down. British director Mike Leigh gives us a funny, thoughtful and very touching story of the struggles of maintaining a positive outlook on life.

Tell No One: "8 Years ago, Alex's wife was murdered... Today she e-mailed him." So says the tag-line from this absorbing thriller. A pediatrician struggles to prove his innocence in the brutal murder of his wife, while trying to outrun those who pursue him. This "Fugitive" like film is a truly international effort: a French Director (Guillaume Cane) filming an American novel (by Harlan Coben), starring French-Canadian and British actresses (Marie-Josée Croze & Kristin Scott Thomas).

The Fall: In a hospital in 1920's California, a bed-ridden stuntman befriends a young girl with a broken arm. He enchants her with a magical tale of heroes and villains. Real-life people and situations are gradually incorporated into his story and the line between story and reality become blurred. Like "Pan's Labyrinth" this film uses a fairytale approach to deal with some heavy subject matter. What begins as an escapist tale for the child ends up a cathartic one for the stuntman. Filmed in 20 countries over the period of four years, the images and scope of this film are awe-inspiring.