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Foyle Fans Take Note

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If you enjoy actor Michael Kitchen of Foyle's War, we have a new dvd set called The Guilty filmed in the early 90s. Kitchen plays a troubled lawyer, and the extent of the crime he commits is uncertain. The two-dvd drama follows his victim and a seemingly unconnected young man who befriends her.

If you enjoyed the Foyle's War series themes, you might enjoy a new dvd in our non- fiction collection: World War II Crimes on the British Home Front. This documentary chronicles the illegal activities taking place while most of the country was focused on the war effort. Much of the Foyle's War series deals with this subject, so the dvd should provide interesting factual background.

Don McKellar Jubilee

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Don't miss our dvds featuring Canada's own writer/actor Don McKeller, co-creator of the Broadway hit and Tony award winning play, The Drowsy Chaperone, which played in Calgary recently. McKellar has worked with Canada's most prominent directors, so his body of work is a partial crash-course in Canadian film history. Place your holds now for the titles on order.

Last Night

Sandra Oh (Grey's Anatomy) hit the big-time after her quirky role in this humourous last-day-on-earth themed movie also starring Genevieve Bujold and Sarah Polley.

The Red Violin

This beautiful film follows a violin from its creation through the various hands it passes through and dramas it witnesses until it ends in the hands of Samuel L. Jackson's character.

Cooking with Stella

Co-starring Deepa Mehta's lead Lisa Ray (Bollywood Hollywood and Water). McKellar plays an unemployed chef living in India who learns cooking secrets from the head of the household staff.

Highway 61 and Roadkill (dir.Bruce Macdonald)

In the first, Don Mckellar's character is waylayed by a tough gal and driven down to the Southern states...with a body in the car. Roadkill follows a punk band across Northern Ontario.

eXistenZ (sic) (dir. David Cronenberg) Check out the graphic novel as well as the dvd starring Jude Law, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Willem Dafoe. Imagine a world where you can enter the world of a computer game...Hey, wait a minute!

Not yet at CPL but worth watching:

Way Downtown

Calgary's +15 system of raised walkways is the real star. A group of friends have a contest to see how long they can stay indoors in their workplaces.

Thirty-two short films about Glenn Gould

You don't have to be a concert pianist to figure what this one's all about but the structure is unique and follows the Goldberg Variations. Carlo Rota appears (Little Mosque on the Prairie) and Colm Feore (Bon Cop, Bad Cop) stars as Glenn Gould.

Exotica and The Adjuster (dir. Atom Egoyan)

McKellar does a fine job in his roles but some viewers find Egoyan's work troubling. Exotica features a missing girl, and her babysitter-obsessed father. The Adjuster is brilliantly set in the surburban wasteland of a new home surrounded by undeveloped land and focuses on a woman working for the censor board. Caution: adult themes and disturbing content.

Witty and insightful- Neil Simon

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A Pulitzer prize, Tony's, Emmy's, Oscars, Honorary degrees from numerous Universities, Golden Globes, a Mark Twain Prize, Kennedy Centre Honoree---Simon has a list of awards that would be the envy of anyone. And with good reason-the man tells a great story. His observations on human nature are insightful, his take on human folly is good natured and his movies are always a lot of fun to watch.

The Odd Couple---what can you say about Oscar and Felix---probably two of the funniest room mates ever. Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau are hilarious. At the moment we have Odd Couple 2, and the complete series which was also very good. This starred Tony Randall and Jack Klugman.

Prisoner of Second Avenue---Jack Lemmon and Anne Bancroft in a wonderful story of an everyday man pushed to the edge by everyday events.

Biloxi Blues---semi autobiographical story of life in a Mississippi WWII boot camp. Matthew Broderick and Christopher Walken are excellent as the protagonists.

Brighton Beach Memoirs- life in a New York community in the 1940's. This is a real charmer.

Goodbye Girl- this turns up on tv regularly, but watch it from us commercial free. Stars Richard Dreyfuss in his well-deserved best actor win, and Marsha Mason, Simon's then wife.

Murder By Death--- a send up of crime solving detectives---big cast.

Spotlight on Donald Sutherland

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As often as not, Donald Sutherland appears in supporting roles, tv commercial voice-overs, or narrating book cds, so he may seem an unlikely lead, but Fellini saw enough to cast him in his film, Casanova. Lanky but loaded with charisma, Canadian Donald Sutherland continues to deliver great performances. He is one of those actors who's been in everything ever made (well, anything that doesn't star Gene Hackman already) and he's as convincing in space as he is in thrillers, or family drama. For a Sutherland mini-bio, read Pioneer Canadian Actors by Stone Wallace (791.43028 WAL) and enjoy the following selection of his starring roles from the library's collection:

The Assignment co-stars Ben Kingsly and Aidan Quinn. The government hires a naval officer to impersonate a terrorist.

The relatively recent Instinct starring Cuba Gooding Junior as an athropologist is coming soon to CPL. Anthony Hopkins stars as the man who has gone wild.

Smaller Sutherland roles include: The Bedford Incident (see our Life of the Sea review), Animal House, Backdraft, and Cold Mountain, A Time to Kill, and The Dirty Dozen--all available at CPL

M*A*S*H (the movie) Sutherland plays the iconic inconoclast and Korean War army surgeon, Hawkeye Pierce.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (the first remake, 1978). The title says it all.

Eye of the Needle Fans of Ken Follett (Pillars of the Earth, the tv adaptation of which is currently showing on CBC and stars you guessed it-Donald Sutherland) will enjoy this adaptation of his novel. Sutherland stars as a German spy hiding with a family in England during World War II.

Murder by Decree See Moe's earlier review of this suspense film centered around the Jack the Ripper-Royalty conspiracy theory.

Great Train Robbery An early Michael Crichton film with the classic gold delivery train scenario.

Italian JobAnother heist movie, this time set in contemporary LA costarring Mark Wahlberg and Charlize Theron

Ordinary People When this film came out, audiences were shocked by the candid portrayal of family strife--a taboo before that.

Space Cowboys Old aerospace buddies reunite to save the earth from a rogue satellite

Six degrees of Separation see the Numbers review for this one. Sutherland plays the husband resistant to his wife's involvement with a young man (Will Smith) from the streets.

Klute Sutherland stars as a police officer who falls for a prostitute threatened by a serial killer. The chemistry between him and Jane Fonda is electric and the plots seems fresh even with all the tv crime shows focused on this type of criminal.

Charlie Chaplin

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Considered one of the greatest filmmakers in the history of American cinema, his numerous movies have remained hugely popular and even reached cult status worldwide for close to 100 years.

His personal life was subject to as much scrutiny as his films---he fathered 11 children with 4 different wives (his last a 17 year old to his 54); he was investigated in the 1940's by FBI chief J Edgar Hoover and the House Un-American Activities Council; his identification with the left ultimately forced him to resettle in Europe during the McCarthy era in the early 1950s.

He was ranked #10 Greatest Male screen legend in 1999 by The American Film Institute. He received a knigthhood and won three Academy Awards. He directed and starred in four of the American Film Institute's 100 Funniest Movies: The Gold Rush (1925) at #25, Modern Times (1936) at #33, The Great Dictator (1940) at #37 and City Lights (1931) at #38. The Great Dictator was both critisized and heralded for its humorous caricature of Hitler. His 'little tramp' is one of most widely recognized and beloved characters of all time. It has even been suggested that Adolph Hitler was well aware of how loved Charlie was throughout the world at that time, and this was the reason he grew the Chaplin moustache: he thought it would endear him to the people (Source: The Tramp and the Dictator).

In 1919, he and fellow director D.W. Griffith, and the silent screen legends Doulgas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford founded United Artist studio(UA), the better to control their own destinies during the emerging studio system. He served on the board of UA until the early 1950s. Regardless of the ups and downs of his personal life there is no denying his genius as director, actor, composer, song writer, coreographer and producer.

The four listed above are all excellent---also consider The Kid, a 10/10 on the sob-o-meter; The Essential Charlie Chaplin featuring 4 shorts; Charlies Essanay Comedies, volume1,2,3 (The Essanay Film Manufacturing Company was an American motion picture studio best known for its series of Charlie Chaplin comedies of 1915); Unknown Chaplin. We also have numerous books on the man and his films. Use Charlie Chaplin as your search term in our on-line catalogue to bring up everything CC, or follow this link.

Leslie Nielsen

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Canadian funny man Leslie Nielsen has just died at the age of 84. His career spanned nearly 60 years and although he started as a serious actor and leading man he will forever be known for his lighter comedic rolls and his dead-pan serious delivery of absurd one liners. He appeared in many movies and during the 60's, 70's, and 80's there was hardly a television series that he did not guest on, including but not limited to: Wild Wild West, Hawaii Five-o (1970's), The Love Boat, Murder She wrote, Highway to Heaven and Due South ( all television series which CPL carries, although you will have to spend some time searching for the Leslie episode!). Interestingly, he started his career as an announcer at a Calgary radio station--- hired on the spot for his mellifluous voice.

Check out Forbidden Planet for a look at the serious actor; also Men with Brooms; The Naked Gun, The Naked Gun 33 1/3; Airplane. We have no circulating copies of Naked Gun 2 1/2.

Opie-All Grown Up

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Who would have thought that adorable little Opie from the Andy Griffith show would grow up to be one of the most respected and successful directors of his time? Well Ron Howard did just that and he has an impressive number of hits in his c.v. Try any or all of the following- he is almost without fail a good bet.

Ransom -1996- now I know Mel Gibson isn't on a lot of peoples must see list at the moment, but that aside this is still a good movie. Gary Sinise co-stars.

Backdraft- 1991- Kurt Russell, Scott Glen, Robert deNiro, Donald Sutherland and some really well done pyrotechnics.

da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons---Howards' go-to guy, Tom Hanks stars in both of these movies, which are based on the incredibly popular Dan Brown books. I prefer the second title---suspend disbelief and just go along for the ride.

Apollo 13- 1995--- again with Hanks, Gary Sinise, Ed Harris and a very unhappy Kevin Bacon. Why, you ask? In order to get the amazing shots of weightlessness they filmed in something called the 'vomit comet'. This is the nickname for an aricraft that briefly provides a weightless environment and is used to train astronauts, conduct research and film motion pictures. For about 25 seconds out of a 65 second loop, you become nearly weightless. Kevin Bacon had a particularly hard time with the shoot as the loops can produce extreme nausea. You can see in most of the shots that he is pretty close to loosing his lunch---and it works great because it just looks like extreme anxiety, fitting the situation in which the astrounauts find themselves.

A Beautiful Mind---this won Howard an Oscar for best director and the movie received best picture that year (2002). Starring Russell Crowe, Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly, and Paul Bettany. Biopic of the famed mathematician John Nash and his lifelong struggles with his mental health.

Splash-largely responsible for launching Hanks movie career, this 1984 film is still good for quite a few laughs. Mermaids and a very funny John Candy.

And of course we have all 8 seasons of the Andy Griffith Show, which is just wholesome fun at its best and a real trip down memory lane for lots of people. Or join Richie Cunningham, Potsie, Ralph Malph and The Fonz in the hugely successful Happy Days, which ran for 11 seasons---which was several more than it should have. But we have the first 4 and they were very good.

Gregory Peck

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My previous Guaranteed Embarrassment Free post (The Yearling) got me thinking about Gregory Peck---not a bad way to while away a few hours! He started making movies in the 40's, remained very popular for the 50's and 60's and then hit a dry spell after his oscar win. He saw a resurgence of his career with the unexpected 1977 hit, The Omen. More roles appeared after this and he did several turns on television. He was the recipient of many awards, including an Oscar for Best Actor, the Academy's Jean Hershold Humanitarian Award and the Medal of Freedom. On June 12, 2003 just days after the AFI named him as the screen's greatest hero for his role as Atticus Finch, Peck died at the age of 87. Tall, rugged, handsome and by all accounts a very decent human being, he played many a heroic character over the years.

To Kill a Mockingbird---Atticus Finch, a lawyer in the depression-era South, defends a black man against an undeserved rape charge, and his kids against prejudice. Depending on the age of your own children, say about 12 and up, it's one for the whole family to watch and discuss. This won Peck the best actor Oscar and was his own personal favourite from his many roles.

Captain Horatio Hornblower---if you've been reading our blog over the past months you know that we have recommended the Hornblower series from A&E. This film predates it by several years-decades actually, and Peck does an excellent job playing the swashbuckling hero.

Roman Holiday---with Peck and Audrey Hepburn in her Oscar winning role. A lovely, charming movie. Interesting bit of trivia here. The on-screen credit and Academy award for best Screen Writing were originally credited and given to Ian McLellan Hunter. Hunter was the 'beard' for Dalton Trumbo, who was one of several Hollywood writers blacklisted during the infamous McCarthy era. In December 1992 the Academy decided to change the records and to credit Trumbo for his achievment. Ian Hunter was removed from the Motion Picture Story category and the Oscar was posthumously present to Trumbo's widow on May 10 1993.

Boys From Brazil---one of his very few outings as a villian---and what a villian! He plays an aged Doctor Josef Mengele to Lawrence Olivier's equally aged Nazi hunter. I particularly like the scene with the telephone encounter between the two. This is based on the book of the same name by Ira Levin---who wrote many good stories adapted for theatrical release, including Rosemary's Baby.

Cape Fear--- the styish film noir original from 1962 (not the abysmal Robert De Niro remake). He plays another small town lawyer---this time one being stalked by a truly terrifying Robert Mitchum. (This makes the second time we have recommended a movie in which Mitchum is the heavy---the other being Night of the Hunter. One of our regular followers suggested a 'who's afraid of Robert Mitchum' post. After seeing this movie I'm sure you'll agree we ALL are).

Moby Dick---he is riveting as the maniacal, obsessed Captain Ahab. I once heard the book described as 600 pages of how to boil whale blubber, and after two failed attempts at reading it I just gave up. This movie will fair you much better.

On the Beach-based on Aussie writer Nevile Shute's story of the same name. In 1964 after atomic war has wiped out the northerrn hemisphere, all that remains of civilization is to be found in Australia. With the growing realization that their days are numbered as well, people struggle to carry on with a normal life. This is not your typical post apocalpytic movie.

Guns of Navarone--- the plot is so convincing that for years many believed that this movie was a retelling of an actual war time event. It is entirely fictitious and is an above average war/adventure movie.

The Big Country---Peck was no stranger to westerns, and this is a solid offering even though having a fairly well-worn 'fighting over water rights' plot. With Jean Simmons, Charlton Heston, and Burl Ives.

Christopher Nolan

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With all the buzz around the new Leo DiCaprio movie, Inception, it got me thinking I must do a post on Christopher Nolan, who wrote and directed it. Catch it at the theatres or save yourself some money and wait for CPL to bring it in in a few months time. This is a really interesting movie which also features Marion Cotillard, whom Mel recently blogged about. Nolan already has a good track record and this latest effort will only enhance it, and deservedly so.

Along with his brother Jonathan, he co wrote the screenplay for The Dark Knight (the last Batman to be released). Now Batman has never been a superhero I like much- too full of angst for me. And I didn't really care for Dark Knight, although it was hugely popular and did garner Heath Ledger a posthumous Oscar for best supporting actor. But I did enjoy the earlier effort which was responsible for revitalizing the franchise- Batman Begins. Nolan is currently directing another as yet unnamed Batman project. Dark Knight is currently on order in Blue Ray.

Memento-from 2000 with Guy Pearce, Carrie Ann Moss and Joe Pantoliano. This one is harder to pigeon hole into a genre, but if you like surreal, highly imaginative, non linear thrillers (and who doesn't), you'll really like this. Less abstruce and for me more watchable than The Matrix (another highly imaginative, surreal thriller with Moss and Pantoliano, although not a Chris Nolan project). Memento is intelligent and asks the viewer to pay very close attention---you might end up rewinding occassionaly through the viewing but stick with it---you'll enjoy the ride.

Another worth a look is Insomnia. Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, and starring 3 Oscar winners---Robin Williams, Hillary Swank, and Al Pacino. A little slow in spots, but overall a solid murder mystery/pyschological thriller. This is one of the few Pacino movies I actually don't find his acting completely over the top. Apparently he did suffer from insomnia during the filming in Alaska and it lends a real authenticity to his performance.

There is another movie of Nolan's that I absolutley love, but I am not going to give you that title just yet. I am working on another post which will feature it and I don't want to give it away. All you Chris Nolan fans out there will know to what I am referring. And for those of you who don't, it's something to look forward to! It is one of my all-time favourtie movies.

Spotlight on Marion Cotillard

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Open any celebrity gossip or fashion magazine, and you will see glamorous Marion Cotillard featured. Don't miss her in CPL's dvds.

She looked familiar to me and sure enough, I had seen her spectacular performance as Edith Piaf in Academy award winning movie La Vie en Rose (whose alternate title is La Mome or The Passionate life of Edith Piaf). Cotillard is perfect as France's best-loved chanteuse from her rise from the street as a child singer to her last days. She is so much like Piaf, you won't recognize her.

Equally comfortable in English-language films, she has starred more recently in Public Enemies which depicts bank robber Dillinger's last days and the rise of the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover. Johnny Depp stars, but the show stealer is Cotillard. She plays Dillinger's soulful girlfriend who, as in the song "Leader of the Pack" believes Dillinger (who never robs or shoots civilians in the film) is not bad; "he's just sad."

Cotillard also plays romantic co-star in A Good Year (2006). In a nutshell: Boy (Russell Crowe) is a stockbroker run amok. Boy meets girl; boy loses girl; boy tries to sell family vineyard. Provence + fine wine + misunderstandings + romance = a pretty good movie formula.

Most of Cotillard's earlier performances were in French film and tv, but she had a cameo role as Josephine, in Big Fish (2003), Tim Burton's somewhat surreal movie starring Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney, Jessica Lange, and Helena Bonham Carter. A dying man recounts his life and his wooing of his wife through the proverbial "big fish tale" including giants, circus acts, witches, and incredible luck.

So far, so good. I think she's in for the long haul...

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