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by Moe - 2 Comment(s)

I decided to take advantage of the free tickets we were offering to the new Daniel Radcliffe movie, The Woman in Black, and send myself. I enjoy a good gothic ghost /horror story, but mostly I was interested in seeing how Daniel acquits himself post Harry Potter. I am a fan of the Potter movies (well, most of them), but I always thought that Daniel, as Harry was – well--- a little one dimensional. I am not sure if this was his young age and total lack of experience when starting, the direction he was given, or his style. So I was eager to see this performance..

As I said I like gothic, but I am coming to the conclusion that if you’ve seen about five, you’ve likely seen them all! Madwomen in the attic, tormented spouses, angelic faced children, and souls that simply refuse to cross over. So it was really no surprise that the plot followed a pretty well traveled trajectory. Daniel was convincing enough playing 'tormented spouse' and I could believe he had a four year old child. However, as the story progressed and the inevitable ‘gotchas’ occurred, I kept on looking around for Hermione, Ron and a wand to make an appearance to help get him out of the situation. My conclusion- he was- well---a little one dimensional.

Here is a review from someone else who saw the movie:

I scored a couple of your free passes to Woman in Black- thanks for the chances for these and you asked people to write if they went to it, so just thought I’d write what I thought of it. I haven’t seen a lot of movies like this- usually lots more horror kind of stuff but it did a pretty good job of scaring me anyways. I thought Radcliffe was pretty good- he was kind of creepy too. And I liked the ending- I guess there was really only two ways it could end and I kind of guessed wrong, so it surprised me. If you like being kind of scared, but don’t like the real gross stuff this is pretty good fun.

For a few more gothic choices, try any of these from our collection.

The Innocents- based on the Henry James story, Turn of the Screw.

Jane Eyre- there are many versions but I like the original with Orson Wells and Fontaine from 1944 or the 1986 with Ciaran Hinds and Samantha Morton. You’ll know Hinds when you see him- he is actually also in The Woman in Black.

Wuthering Heights-again, lots of versions to choose from

Rebecca- the best one is with Olivier and Fontaine and directed by Hitchcock.

Gaslight- with Ingrid Berman and Charles Boyer.

Frankenstein-the version that is most true to the original Mary Shelley literary creation happens to also be my fave version - it is with the multi talented Kenneth Branagh who wrote, directed and starred and the monster is played convincingly by Robert deNiro. From 2004.

Even More Midsomer Murders!

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This series, based on Caroline Graham's novels, is ongoing, and we have new episodes in (on blue-ray, too). Get your holds on now for set 19 of Midsomer Murders which will be in the collection soon. Place a hold on set 18, which has 3 mysteries on 3 dvds-one with a sleepwalker...See our earlier reviews and episode lists. These newer sets will be one of your last chances to watch Tom Barnaby solve crimes and tease his wife Joyce, since actor John Nettles is retiring this year, according to The Daily Mail online. Will the show go on after Nettles retires? I suspect not. The show has been criticized for its limited view of village life and lack of cultural diversity--it's a bit like that parodied in the comedy Hot Fuzz. Stay tuned to see in what direction the show goes.

by Mel

George Gently

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I almost called this post "Swinging Durham" because this newer mystery series from the UK is set in 1960s Northern England. That would have been too grim altogether since the death sentence by hanging was still in practice at the time. It realistically takes on still serious topics such as racism in the context of the time and place. We haven't spotted any anachronisms yet.

I was a skeptical before starting on this series because we've seen a lot of these co-detective shows coming from Britain (Morse, Midsomer Murders) but don't be put off. Gently and Bacchus' relationship is fresh and new enough with a little humour, and a bit of debate. Martin Shaw is perfect as the principled Chief Inspector George Gently. His young "mop topped" assistant is John Bacchus struggling with ambition and his marriage breakdown.

We have George Gently both in dvd and blu-ray. Season One is available from the library in individual episodes while two and three come as full seasons. Season four was broadcast in 2011 so look for more episodes in future.

Northern Skies

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While Moe's away in the warmer Antipodes, I'm stuck here in the frozen North!

However, her old Kenneth Branagh post reminded me of a consolation, and it is a prize: I get to watch Wallander, based on Henning Mankell's mystery novels while she's away, and write about it, too!

Wallander features an all-British cast, but is set and filmed in Sweden. The cinematography almost takes centre-stage. There's incredible shots of modern interiors, canola and wheat fields, the seaside and sweeping views of the countryside. Emily Barker's "Nostalgia" is the haunting themesong to this series of longer featurettes.

As for Branagh...I really enjoyed his Henry V, but I wondered if he was all energy in later roles. As Wallander, he's completely different and is really impressing me. Branagh plays the growth of beard-ed, sleep-deprived, haunted, sad, and morally driven character to perfection. Wallander's struggle with his personal relations while working on unusual murder cases plays out in a subtle, atypical way that points to Mankell's great plots.

So far we have 2 dvds with 3 novel-based features from 2008 and 2010 (click on the dates to go to the catalogue), and there's more in production. Hooray!

I'm thoroughly enjoying this brooding, cool northern series. So there!

by Mel

More Midsomer Murders

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Just a quick update for fans.... CPL has the dvd Super Sleuths, which is part of the series but is actually a documentary about the series. We also are getting re-releases of earlier episodes bundled together as sets entitled "Midsomer Murders: Village Case files." These are great for those who are new to the series and want to keep track of what they've watched of the over 80 titles. Take a pass if you've already seen most shows; you will be covering old ground, but the good news for old viewers is we have titles previously not held by the library from set 17, including: The Glitch, The Dogleg Murders, Secrets and Spies and The Black Book.


Midsomer Murders

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We are working our way through the 1990s British TV series Midsomer Murders. According to some, this is proof we were born old. Regardless of one's age, this series a good choice if you want to watch a one-hour whodunnit rather than a feature-length show. The bonus is the beautiful scenery around the fictional Midsomer villages.

Like Inspector Morse, Detective Barnaby solves an improbable number of small town murders with his assistant's help. Midsomer Murders is a bit lighter, with humour provided by Detective Barnaby's family dynamic. Because there's over 80 episodes to sign out and titles are similar, here's a list of episodes. Cross off and enjoy!

Killings at Badger's Drift, Written in Blood, Death of a Hollow Man, Faithful until Death, Death in Disguise, Death's Shadow, Strangler's Wood, Dead Man's Eleven, Blood will Out, Death of a Stranger, Blue Herrings, Judgement Day, Beyond the Grave, Garden of Death, Destroying Angel, Electric Vendetta, Who Killed Cock Robin?, Dark Autumn, Tainted Fruit, Market for Murder, A Worm in the Bud, Ring Out your Dead, Murder on St. Malley's Day, A Talent for Life, Death and Dreams, Painted in Blood, A Tale of Two Hamlets, Birds of Prey, The Green Man, Bad Tidings, The Fisher King, Sins of Commission, The Maid in Splendour, The Straw Woman, Ghosts of Christmas Past, Things that go bump in the Night, Dead in the Water, Orchis Fatalis, Bantling Boy, Second Sight, Hidden Depths, Sauce for the Goose, Midsomer Rhapsody, The House in the Woods, Dead Letters, Vixen's Run, Down among the Dead Men, Death in Chorus, Country Matters, Last Year's Model, Four Funeral's and a Wedding, Dance with the Dead, The Animal Within, King's Crystal, The Axeman Cometh, Death and Dust, Picture of Innocence, They Seek Him Here, Death in a Chocolate Box, Shot at Dawn, Blood Wedding, Midsomer Life, Left for Dead, The Magician's Nephew, Talking to the Dead, Days of Misrule, The Dogleg Murders, Secrets and Spies, The Black Book, The Glitch, Small Mercies, The Creeper, The Great and The Good, The Sword of Guillame, the Made -to-measure Murders, Blood on the Saddle, The Silent Land, Master Class The Noble Art, Not in my Backyard, Mourning has Broken, and The Echoing Green.

Sorry for not linking all of these titles, folks! For a hilarious parody of murder-ridden English village life, don't miss Hot Fuzz.

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]
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