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Teen Fright Night at CPL

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As a special event for Halloween, 6 locations are hosting a teen movie night (13-17) with the truly terrifying movie The Haunting. This is the 1963 version, not the appallingly bad 1999 remake. For those teens used to modern horror movies filled with blood and gore and leaving nothing to the imagination, this movie should be a real treat. As horror writer extrordinaire Stephen King has said, you don't necessarily need to describe or show everything...just put the suggestion out there and most people's imaginations can conjur up something much more horrifying. He also said about the writer of this story, Shirley Jackson, "she never had to shout". This is how this movie works. Subtle, dark and with an atmosphere positively dripping with possiblities---all of them awful! What fun !

This movie will be available to the general public after the event, so get your holds on now. Or read the original book---The Haunting of Hill House. Just don't start it too late at night.


A look at Paul Haggis

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Paul Haggis is a filmmaker/screen writer who burst into the public eye in 2005 when he won back-to-back Oscars for two movies he scripted. Although he seemed an overnight success with these two wins, in fact Haggis has been writing successfully for years, although just not on this grand a scale.

Million Dollar Baby(2004) directed by Clint Eastwood, and starring Eastwood, Morgan Freeman and Hilary Swank, was the first win and deservedly so. It follows three down-on-their-luck individuals who risk everything for a chance to change their lives. Freeman and Swank both picked up Oscars for their performances.

He followed this up in 2005 with Crash which he directed himself. Crash won an Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. The film also received an additional four nominations including one for Haggis' direction. This has a huge ensemble cast and follows the interconnectivity of seemingly random events in a 24 hour period in Los Angeles. Gritty and dark but very compelling.

In 2006, Haggis' screenplay collaborations included two Clint Eastwood productions-Flags of our Fathers(which tells the story of the 6 men who raised the flag in the iconic picture) and Letters from Iwo Jima (which is told from the perspective of the Japanese). The latter earned him his third screenplay Oscar nomination. He also helped pen Casino Royale, which garnered considerable acclaim for reinvigorating the James Bond franchise and then went on to co-write the screenplay for Bond's next outing in Quantum of Solace.

Haggis' directorial follow-up to Crash wasIn the Valley of Elahwhich he wrote, directed, and produced. The film, which stars Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron and Susan Sarandon, tells the story of a father's search to uncover the truth behind his son's disappearance following his return from a tour of duty in Iraq. Jones earned a Best Actor nod for his performance in the film.

He currently has four more fims in development and given his track record they should be good---the man knows how to tell a story.

Attention Trekkies

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Since the post of July 20th we have had several new additions to the Star Trek family. In the original post I had a hard time narrowing down what to watch if you didn't have around 800 spare hours for all of them. But these latest dvd's have made the choice a little simpler. Whether you are new to the phenom or want to revisit some of your favorites, try these thematically based collections. The fun thing about them is because they are based on a theme they pull from all of the different series to make the compilation---you get a nice cross section from all the series.

Star Trek Fan Collective:

Alternative Realities; Captain's Log; Borg (this is my own personal favorite- as previously stated, I love to hate the Borg!); Q (my next favourite Star Trek protagonist); Klingon; Best of The Next Generation; Best of the Original Series; Time Travel.

LeVar Burton, the Emmy and Grammy Award-winning actor and huge literacy advocate is coming to CPL. Join us in celebrating the best of Alberta’s literary community on Thursday, September 24, 2009 at Sun Life Plaza for the Calgary Public Library Foundation Literary Awards. The evening includes a special cocktail reception, ‘The Art of the Book’ art show and auction, and the awards program featuring a keynote address by Mr. Burton.

Browsing the collection

One of our blog fans asked if s/he could search for dvds in the Criterion collection. Yes you can! Simply type criterion in the search field on our main page and 250 dvds are listed. You can also type in some actors' names and dvds will then be listed. Thanks for asking!

We have provided a list of tags or keywords on the left hand side of our blog. Click on these to find the content and link to the catalogue.


Accidental Film Festival

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Many years ago, a couple of friends introduced me to the pop culture game "Six degrees of Kevin Bacon," a pun on the movie title "Six degrees of Separation." The goal of the game is to link several movies via the characters who appear in each, eventually leading to actor Kevin Bacon. It's not very easy.

Still, have you noticed that sometimes when you get home and start watching your dvd choices that you have inadvertently done the same, having a sort of so-and-so film festival that weekend in your own home? The possibilities are endless with CPL's dvd collection. You could purposely pick out connected dvds or let the coincidences appear on their own, as in last weekend's choices from the 1970s:

Columbo season 1: Eddie Albert appears as a murderous military official whose crime is witnessed by a ditzy artist(Suzanne Pleshette). In another episode, Ray Milland plays a husband whose wife is murdered by the private investigator he had hired to follow her. After Columbo, we watched the original Disney film adaptation of Alexander Key's children's novel, Escape to Witch Mountain, and who should appear before us but Eddie Albert, as the kindly lonely RV-er who helps Tony and Tia elude a wealthy villian bent on harnessing the children's psychic powers, played by, you guessed it... Ray Milland.

Just don't ask me to link these to Kevin Bacon...wait a minute Ray Milland was in Dial M for Murder with Grace Kelly who was in...


Two by Trollope

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It's fall, so my fancy turns to thoughts of costume drama. Don't overlook these two BBC adaptations of novels by Anthony Trollope:

He Knew He Was Right (2004)

Louis Trevelyan, who marries lovely Emily from the colonies, finds her visited once too often by her father's friend, played by Bill Nighy. The Colonel with dubious intentions drives a wedge between the newlyweds, driving Louis to extremes. So convinced of his wife's infidelity, he banishes her and her sister to the countryside and himself to Italy. Sympathy turns to Emily when Louis' madness leads him to seize their child. Victorian social conventions conflict with personal desire throughout the 2-part film.

The Way We Live Now (2001)

Trollope's insights into how mercantile classes conduct themselves is as relevant today as it was in 1875. Compulsive gambling, fraudulent investment schemes, financial dependence, and old and new money swirl about as we watch dictatorial and Continental Augustus Melmotte encourage speculation in a new North American railroad and win a place in London society while his petulant daughter looks for love and independence. Watching these great character actors in action, I wonder why we need Hollywood celebrities.

Posted: Sep 09 2009


Conrad Veidt

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Who in the world you ask, is Conrad Veidt? As I was watching Casablancaon TCM for maybe the 40th time, I was reminded of the interesting story of Veidt, who plays the ruthless Major Strasser in the movie. If you don't already know his story this makes a fun bit of trivia to add to your repertoire. Incidentially, although not the star, he was the highest paid cast member, beating out Bogey, Bergman and Claude Rains, to take home the not inconsiderable salary of $5000 per week.

From 1916 until his death, he appeared in well over 100 movies. He starred in two of the most well-known films of the silent era: as a murderous somnambulist in director Robert Wiene's The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) and as a disfigured circus performer in The Man Who Laughs (1928). Very versatile in the silent movies, when talkies came out he became limited in his roles because of his German accent. Well known and popular at home, he was also known in German theatrical circles as a staunch anti-Nazi. So much so that as his activities came under the scrutiny of the Gestapo, a decision was made by Hitler to assassinate him (1933). Veidt found out about the plot and managed to escape Germany just ahead of the Nazi death squad sent to kill him. When Britain went to war, Veidt by then a British citizen, gave most of his estate to the war effort. He also donated a large portion of the salary from each of his new movies to the British war relief. Money he made portraying Nazi's !

He is wonderful as Strasser and Casablanca should be seen by everyone, if not 40 times, at least once.

Fire, Earth and Water

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These three films garnered considerable attention and critical acclaim for Deepa Mehta, the Indian born, Toronto based film maker.

Two women, one who is married to an ascetic who has taken a vow of celibacy, the other to a philanderer, turn to each other to help fulfill their empty lives. Fire from 1996 was especially controversial.

Second in the trilogy was 1998's Earthwhich follows the lives of two young lovers, one Hindi, one Muslim who live in the cosmopolitan city of Lahore, India. As the 1947 partition of India takes place, the lives of the lovers are ripped apart---as is the city and the entire sub continent. Perhaps as many as 10 million people were displaced as entire communities travelled between the newly formed countries of Pakistan and India. By some estimations as many as one million were killed.

The final installment is 2005's Water--- the story of a young widow--young as in about 8 years old, circa 1938. After the death of a husband she has never met, she is left with three choices-marrying the younger brother of the deceased, self emolation on a funeral pyre or a life of celibacy, discipline and solitude amongst other widows. While living in the widow's ashram she becomes friends with a young woman who is hoping to take advantage of a newly passed law and marry a man of her own choosing.

All three have strong cinematograhic appeal, absorbing characters, and compelling subject matter.