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Orphan Black

by Moe - 1 Comment(s)

In my recent Emmys post I mentioned the series Orphan Black. This Canadian offering first hit the airwaves in March of 2013 and we have seasons one and two---and it has been renewed for a third season. Filmed in Toronto and populated almost exclusively with Canadian talent, it does not necessarily take place in Toronto. Although it makes no effort to disguise its Ontario locales, Toronto is mostly intended to stand in as 'Generica'- any large modern city.

It has already been nominated for and won numerous awards but inexplicably isn't up for any Emmys. This is a head scratcher for me because Tatiana Maslany is easily as good as Claire Danes (Homeland) and Michelle Dockery (Downton), and way better than Robin Wright (House of Cards) and Julianna Marguiles (The Good Wife), both of whom put me to sleep with their performances. And the series itself far surpasses Mad Men and House of Cards, and is as good as Breaking Bad and Downton Abbey (although the one to beat in the Outstanding Drama category still remains for me, True Detective). Now having said this, it won't appeal to as broad a base as some of the above mentioned, but I still strongly maintain it deserves some nods.

I can't tell you too much about Maslany's performance without giving stuff away, but if and when you do watch it you'll know why I choose hers as the best performance. This is a near-future Sci-Fi/ Thriller combo, with great pacing, lots of plot twists and very compelling characters. Many things here to keep even the most seasoned or jaded viewers guessing.

The One That Started It All

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

I’m a sucker for Godzilla, going all the way back to the 1954 Japanese original — ‘Gojira’. In 1956, it was re-released as Godzilla, King of the Monsters!, which utilized much of the original film. This version featured newly shot scenes with Canadian actor Raymond Burr spliced into the original Japanese footage. We have a great two DVD set that features both of these titles for comparison.

In the early films Godzilla is used as a symbol to represent the horror of nuclear war and ever since the film's initial release, Godzilla has been culturally identified as a strong metaphor for the danger of nuclear proliferation.

Putting an actor in the Godzilla suit had actually been a last resort. The studio had been deeply impressed with the stop-motion animation method used in King Kong but it was considered far too costly and time-consuming. It was decided that the easiest way to go was a stuntman in a monster suit, and a scale-model of Tokyo. This also proved difficult. The first attempt at a Godzilla suit was far too stiff and heavy, & nearly impossible to use. They finally hit on a design that worked but that too was gruelling. The stuntmen would suffer numerous bouts of heat exhaustion and dehydration and the suit had to have a valve to drain the sweat from it. Also, in order to avoid suffocation, the suit could only been worn for three minutes at a time — some estimates put it at weighing in at 200 pounds.

CPL also has King Kong versus Godzilla, a 1962 Japanese Kaiju film produced by the same Toho Studios that first conceived the original Gojira. It was the third instalment in the Japanese series of films featuring the much maligned monster. There is also a Matthew Broderick Godzilla version from 1998 but don’t waste your time looking for it- it is marginal at best.

Kaiju , is a Japanese word that translates to "strange creature." Kaiju films usually showcase monsters of any form, typically attacking a major Japanese city or engaging another monster in battle. This concept was put to great effect in last year’s Pacific Rim, another movie I really liked and have blogged before. Put aside all your critical reasoning and just enjoy as you watch giant malevolent Kaijus battle massive robots called Jaegers. Good clean (if highly destructive) fun!

This post was inspired by the latest Godzilla currently showing in theatres. If you are a fan you'll like the homage they pay to the original concept and if you aren't, chances are good you'll like it anyway. Worth your time and your money and the first film in what looks like a fairly good summer season shaping up.

THOR: The Dark World

by Moe - 2 Comment(s)

Join fellow movie lovers at Crowfoot library on Thursday March 20th at 6:30. This month we will be showing the new to DVD release THOR: The Dark World. Starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgard, Idris Elba, and Tom Hiddleston. It is directed by Alan Taylor who up until now has mostly directed television series, but ones with good credentials like Mad Men, Nurse Jackie and Game of Thrones. They must think he can manage the job because he's also at the helm of Terminator: Genesis, due for release in 2015.

Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, and some minor suggestive content. Action-packed, cool looking bad guys, good CGI, tons of other-worldly gizmos and Tom Hiddleston once again stealing the show as Loki.

No registration required and doors open at 6:00. Do what our regulars do---stop for a slurpee on the way in, bring a bag of popcorn and beat the holds list which curently stands at around 500 plus!

See you on the 20th..............................


Disruptions to the Space Time Continuum

by Moe - 1 Comment(s)

I do love anything to do with the bending of the space time continuum- even if it doesn't always make sense and often leaves me scratching my head. And the really bad ones have been known to leave me yelling at my tv that just wouldn't work!!! In fact I enjoy them so much I've devoted entire posts to just such movies.

Now fellow movie maniac Mat introduced me to this little gem from Spain---Los cronocrimenes---Timecrimes, and I must say it lived up to everything he said about it. Done without a bunch of CGI that leaves you looking for a quiet place to rest your eyes, this movie is lean, even sparse. No fancy sets, no high profile actors, just a nice tight sci-fi thriller. You aren't here to watch the special effects, you are here to try to figure out what happened and more importantly, could it work.

It won't be everyone's cup of tea but it sure worked for me. Even with English sub-titles.


by Moe - 3 Comment(s)

Like a lot of rabid fans I am counting the days to the release of Prometheus on June 8th. This is Ridley Scott’s—SIR Ridley’s that is—highly anticipated latest movie and it looks epic. It may or may not be a prequel to his iconic film Alien---they---as in the actors, the Studio, and almost anyone associated with it are playing it pretty close to the chest. Alien was the first instalment of the Aliens quadrilogy and the movie that launched Sigourney Weaver’s career, made kick butt heroines acceptable, and upped the ante for filmmakers for years to come.

Scott got his start 35 years ago working as a high powered ad-man. He then tried his hand at movies and had just finished making a feature film called The Duellist (actually pretty good) that hardly anybody saw because they were all lined up to go see another new release – Star Wars. Scott’s next release was to be a retelling of Tristan and Isolde, but after he himself saw Star Wars, he is quoted as saying “this changes everything – it’s time to get down to business”.

6 weeks later he signed on to direct Alien—he was actually 20th Century Fox’s fifth choice. With its wonderful tag line 'in space no one can hear you scream' it was a phenomenal success. The franchise had a total run of 4, with the first sequel, Aliens (directed by another developing heavy weight – James Cameron) being even slightly better than the original. Unfortunately 3 and 4 ran out of steam. Out of all his movies since, Scott says that Alien is the one that has called to him over the years as unfinished business.

He has had a hugely successful career and any movie with him at the helm is an event. Here are some of his titles which are available at CPL: Thelma and Louise; Gladiator; Kingdom of Heaven; Robin Hood; Body of Lies; American Gangster; Blade Runner.

Prometheus features an excellent cast including Michael Fassbender (X-Men First Class); Noomi Rapace (Dragon Tattoo trilogy – original Swedish version); Charlize Theron – currently having quite a resurgence in her career with another big draw having just opened – Snow White and the Huntsman (here's the trailer). Check out this excellent teen zone post from earlier; Idris Alba (Luther) and Guy Pearce (Mildred Pierce).

Next on Scott’s plate – a prequel --- or maybe a sequel --- again, he is not saying, to his other cult classic—Blade Runner.


by Moe - 4 Comment(s)

I had the pleasure of attending the Comic Expo held April 27-29 at the BMO Centre as a representative at the library booth. The Event was a huge success with an estimated attendance at the three day event in the 45,000 + range. At one point on Saturday afternoon Calgary’s Fire Marshall actually closed the event to further entry as maximum saturation had been reached. And boy was it saturated.

The crowds were amazing, the costumes dazzling, and the atmosphere electric.

We engaged with hundreds of people and once again I am struck with how responsive people are to public libraries and their presence at such events. I talked to people from Fredericton, Houston, Los Angeles, Wyoming, a lot from Vancouver and Edmonton and one lady who had travelled all the way from Pool, England to see James Marsters- and who can blame her. She is a librarian and was thrilled to hear that libraries are alive and well in Calgary as she herself had recently been made redundant as a “soft target” of England’s budget cuts.

I asked dozens of attendees to pose for pictures in front of our “EVERYTHING YOU'RE INTO“ banner, and without exception, everyone agreed. They loved the banner and thought it really spoke to their own wide variety of interests.

If there was ever an event that more readily embraces the diversity of people’s interests, I have yet to find it. Steam Punk, Horror, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Anime, Graphix, Gothic, cartoonists, animators, illustrators, self-publishers, all very enthusiastic and ready to share what Public Libraries mean to them. There was one very charming young lady, Melissa, who along with her entire family had a wildly successful, heavily-attended ‘Steam Punk’ booth. She had an amazing hand-made costume and I asked if she would be willing to come over and let me take her picture in front of our banner. She did, stayed for around 10 minutes, drew a huge crowd, and proclaimed "Reading is Sexy, Libraries are wonderful, Support your local library.” She makes costumes, jewelry, accessories and specializes in the most amazing steam punk goggles, monocles, field glasses etc-- she does her research at her local library -- and yes, I bought a pair- I LOVE the steam punk look.

Freddy Kruger, Q , Skeletor, Wolverine (old and new versions), an entire family of Superman[s], Lady Galadriel, Orcs from the White Tower, The Fly, Rorschach, Darth Maul, Spider-Man, Red Skull, The Mad Hatter, Star Trek, and Steam Punk galore --- all happy to stop and pose with our banner. One of the people who I asked to pose, Red Skull, was on his way to the judging for best costume, but agreed to take the time for a picture with us. He went on to become one of the finalists. What an amazing costume! Thanks Skull. Freddy K, who I have always found to have one of the most disturbing faces ever, took a little bit of the edge off for me when he said "Who doesn't like libraries!" My Darth Maul guy actually physically implanted his horns; that's an amazing degree of committment...

And if you are wondering if I sprung for my own big photoshoot with the entire Star Trek- Next Generation cast- the answer is--- sadly not. At $495.00 it was a little too rich for my blood.

6 Degrees of Separation

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Thanks to guest blogger Alex who does another tremendous job stringing a '6 degrees post' together.

I was wondering how I could possibly write a post about “Real Steel” without losing the respect of every Movie Maniac out there… I mean, really? Hugh Jackman as an ex-UFC fighter and gambling addict, whose estranged 10-year-old son helps him revamp an old robot and enter the popular Automaton Boxing competitions of the not-so-distant future? It’s ridiculous! It’s juvenile! It panders to an audience that revels in video games and violence and not much else!

And… it’s AWESOME. I’m serious. This movie was fun, visually compelling, the plot followed a perfect (if predictable) arc, the acting was fine, the soundtrack was catchy… I even think I cried a little!

And let’s be honest. You could put Hugh Jackman in a poncho, wrestling tights, and a Ronald MacDonald wig, and the man would still be worth the price of admission.

So starting with Hugh Jackman in “Real Steel” and a 2ndgeneration sparring-Bot named “Atom” let's use Robots as our common denominator and see how this 6 degrees rolls out.

"I, Robot” is RIFE with Androids trying to take over the world, but we like Sonny, the main one. It stars Will Smith (another perfect human specimen), but, much better for my purposes, Shia LaBeouf has a bit part as a character named Farber.

LaBeouf, is, of course, the headliner for the hugely popular (though-no-one-knows-why) “Transformers” series, which stars more robots than it does humans. See him here with Optimus Prime.

The 2005 revamp of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” had a star-studded cast, least of which were the robots. Of the human actors, the brilliant Bill Nighy appears as Slartibartfast. (I had to sneak Marvin in the background there... but there are still TONS of robots in this movie...)

Now… here’s my only bridge that doesn’t include Bots… and I’d label it cheating if it wasn’t such an awesome movie. Bill Nighy and Kate Beckinsale star in “Underworld", a kick-butt romp through the age-old Lycan vs. Vamp family feud. (There's a lot of technology in this movie... that counts, right?)

Kate Beckinsale, who was a Vampire in “Underworld”, turns Vamp HUNTER in “Van Helsing”, which brings us back to Beefcake Hugh Jackman, AND an especially robotic monster of Frankenstein.

Not quite making the cut are some of my fave Artificial Intelligence movies, where the robot is played by an actor (and not just say, voiced by one), and therefore doesn’t count as a robot. You could say the same for Shuler Hensley in "Van Helsing", but there was a LOT of CG in that one.

A.I.- from 2001 and directed by Steven Spielberg, with the talented young Haley Joel Osmont and Jude Law.

Bicentennial Man- like "I,Robot", this is based on an Issac Asimov story and features Robin Williams in the tin suit.

Star Trek- I had to check with MM Moe because I am not the Trekkie that she is---she says while S.T. has a proliferation of robots, androids, cyborgs, and automotons, her own personal faves are any episodes that have The Borgs: 'the scourge of the Alpha and Delta quadrants and the cybernetically-enhanced humanoids that everybody loves to hate' (yeah- she actually said that!). In fact she is such a fan she has previously given Star Trek it's own featured spot (actually more than one!).

When Machines Go Bad

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Several of these films have been previously recommended under a variety of different posts. We humans do love our machines---anything that makes our lives easier, happier, less tedious. Things can look so good on the surface, but of course it is often just a facade to hide the underlying dystopia. And in a couple of the films there is no facade. The dystopia is real and the machines are in charge. I know I'm not an android---how about you.............

2001- A Space Odyssey- people tend to find this movie brilliant and prophetic or completley inscrutable. Either way, there is no denying that HAL was a great villian.

Blade Runner- Ridley Scott's classic from 1982. Harrison Ford has to track down and terminate 4 replicants who hijack a ship in space and return to earth seeking their maker.

Day the earth stood still- watch the far superior original with Michael Rennie. It should be perfect casting to have Keanu Reeves as the flat and emotionless Klatu in the remake, but alas, Reeves can't even pull this off.

Metropolis- Fritz Lang's classic silent movie- this should be on everybodies must see list.

I Robot- with Will Smith. Pretty decent flick---part science fiction, part murder mystery.

Westworld- Mel reviewed this one previously in one of her western posts. This was hugely popular when it came out in 73 and still stands up well.

Stark Trek First Contact- oh how I love to hate the Borgs- to my mind the best alien/villian/cyborg ever.

Iron Giant- this is one for the whole family, even the little ones. It is a wonderful cautionary tale told without beating us over the head with the message. And speaking of the whole family, you must see Wall-E. Neither one of these are in any way scary-just delightful.

Logan's Run-not a lot of robots in this, but certainly a lot of dystopia.

Transformers- loud, fast and too much going on at any given moment, this one is for either die hard fans of the series or die hard fans of Michael Bay. We also have the complete first season- animated.

No such post would be complete without The Matrix trilogy (1 2 3 ) and Terminator (1 2 3 4 ). Some are great, some our merely adequate, and some are bad. Yes, I am talking about you Terminator Salvation.

by Moe

Armageddin' outta here

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Okay I know, I know---this is a cheesy title but it was just too much fun to resist. So lets take a look at end of the world movies and see if they can give us ideas on how fast we need to run, how long we have to tread water, what SPF sunscreen we need to use---or any other hints on how to survive when IT (whatever IT is) happens. Maniaical birds, the sun behaving badly, alien intervention, plagues, ecological disaster, war, using the planet as a giant garbage dump- just a few of the scenarios these movies address.

The Birds from Hitchcock---end of the world you ask? Well yes, actually. Without giving away any more than the title already does, these birds are quietly scary. Watch for the scene with the crows at the playground--- it is amazing.

Knowing---I can run hot and cold on Nic Cage, but this is one of his better. See Mels earlier post Nicolas Cage Reconsidered for more Nic. Watch this movie then ask yourself- if it were you, would you rather know or not?

12 Monkeys---also a repeat recommendation---from the Space-Time Continuum post. Only at the time of that post, we didn't yet have it at CPL. Now it is on order and I am delighted---I love this movie. Bruce Willis is very good and this is my favorite Brad Pitt role---one for which he got a nod from Oscar, but not a win (Kevin Spacey took it that year for the Usual Suspects). I think it should have gone to Brad.

The Day the Earth Stood Still--- the original from 1961. Although we also have the 2008 remake with Keanu Reeves, the Michael Renee is far superior.

2012- the complete and utter destruction of absolutely everything! Impressive, if not always believable F/X.

Sunshine---from director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slum-Dog Millionaire). This should appeal to real hard core science fiction fans. And brainiacs- the film's science adviser was a particle physicist from CERN (Conseil Europeen Pour le Recherche Nucleaire [European Laboratory for Particle Physics]). He probably knows what he's talking about. I liked it a lot, even if I didn't understand all the science!

Of course there is always Schwarzengger's Terminator series (we have all 4---I only like 1 & 2), Gibson's Mad Max (dystopia populated by humanganoids), and Will Smith in I am Legend (very good).

And just to lighten things up a whole lot, try Wall-E from Disney. And invite the kids to join you- and also for the original Day the Earth Stood Still, but none of the others.

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

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