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Redux-Sherlock Holmes

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Has there ever been a more redoubtable character than Holmes? According to the Holmes Museum website he has been played on screen more times than any other fictional character. Created just before the birth of cinema, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous detective has drawn moviegoers across the world and for nearly 100 years. . At CPL he turns up across all formats---dvd, bookcd, book, graphix novels, e-books---for every age (adult, YA and J)---and in several different languages. There are over 300 listings in all! Lets take a look at some of the best that CPL has to offer on dvd.

For me there is no one who personifies Holmes better than Jeremy Brett in the wonderful Granada Television productions. Brett played Holmes fourty times between 1984 and 1994. He is supported by Edward Hardwicke as an equally engaging Watson. Brett's performances show a great respect for the character he is playing, as well as for his audience. When he learned that his Sherlock Holmes was very popular with children he was troubled with the fact that Holmes was a cocaine user. Brett then sought and obtained permission from Arthur Conan Doyle's daughter to have Holmes overcome his addiction, signified with Holmes burying his syringe in the episode The Devil's Foot.

The new Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey Junior, Jude Law (who appeared in a small role in one of the Granada productions) and Rachel McAdams is definitely worth a look, although you will have to wait awhile due to the high number of holds. This has a younger much more physical Holmes than we are used to but Downey plays it well. Strong plot, excellent CGI's for a dark and moody London and enough to likely bring you back for the planned sequel. Rumours abound that Brad Pitt will play arch nemesis Moriarity.

Now for the most original interpretation of Holmes---Without a Clue. In this retelling Watson is really the mastermind and Holmes is merely an actor hired to play the famous detective. This has some great laughs, played to perfection by one of our favourite Movie Maniacs regulars- Michael Caine---with Ben Kingsley as the long suffering Watson.

From funny to terrifying---this is a repeat of a recommendation by Mat from Oct 2008 (only the third thing we ever posted). It is the excellent Murder by Decree. Sherlock Holmes (Christopher Plummer), aided by his loyal Dr Watson (James Mason) investigates London's most infamous case, Jack the Ripper. Holmes and Watson uncover a rich conspiracy involving Freemason lore, corrupt officials and anti-monarchists. This multiple Genie Award winning film features fantastic camera work, strong performances and a wonderfully suspenseful atmosphere.

A few of the many other actors who have donned the deerstocker cap include John Barrymore (silent), Peter Cushing, Rupert Everett, Sir Ian Richardson, Johnathan Pryce, Charlton Heston, Basil Rathbone and Edward Woodward. And if anybody remembers Max Headroom from the 80's tv series, even Matt Frewer.

Before He was House

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Familiarize yourself with Hugh Laurie! You may know him from his role on tv as House, the cantankerous, misfit doctor who diagnoses rare disorders. This series is now available at CPL. Click here to place a hold on season one. Before he was House...

He was a comedian:

My personal favorite is the adaptation of P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster series. Hugh plays the fool (Wooster) to his wise "gentleman's gentleman" (aka butler) Jeeves who gets his master out of all kinds of self-inflicted scrapes brought on by an excess of leisure-class free time. Jeeves is played by another great British Comedian,Stephen Fry. You will also enjoy Laurie's singing and piano in this series. He's and old fashioned, multi-talented actor and, if he dances (does anyone know?), a "triple threat."

Can't get enough of the Wodehouse duo? Check out A Bit of Fry and Laurie. If you reeally like him as a misfit, watch made for tv movie All or Nothing at all where he plays a con-man.

Fans of Blackadder will remember him in this popular historical comedy series starring Mr. Bean's Rowan Atkinson.

Before he was House, he was for kids!:

If you think Hugh's just for older folks, check out Stuart Little, where he plays the charming adopted father of a white mouse, along with Geena Davis. How about Discovering the Real world of Harry Potter with Hugh in the documentary of the same name?

He was in Costume Drama:

See him as Mr Palmer in Ang Lee's (1995) adaptation of Austen's Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant.

He was in Adventure: Flight of the Pheonix

Now that he's House, He's a writer, too!:

Check out his novel, The Gunseller

and, sadly, for some of you, he is also married.

Coen Brothers

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Can you believe we haven't devoted a post to the Coen Brothers until now? It was just too obvious. Often called 'the two-headed director' because any question that you ask of either of them, you get an identical answer. They burst onto the scene in 1984 with Blood Simple and haven't looked back. Definitely not to everyone's taste, but chances are good that if you like even one of their films, you will like others. Be warned that their films almost always contain some sort of extreme violence, often in a humorous context.

Big Lebowski Excepting Johnny Stecchino, this is Mel's favorite comedy of all time. See Moe's review in the Jeff "The Dude" Bridges post. Julianne Moore has a great role as a 80s performance artist. This is a safe intro to the Coens and a good movie if you need a lift.

Barton Fink - "I'll show you the life of the mind" John Goodman in his best role alongside John Turturro, a struggling screenwriter whose preoccupation with his writer's block distracts him from the trouble around and pointing to him.

Blood Simple - This juicy modern film noir was the brothers' directorial debut and Francis McDormand's acting debut. The screenplay does a wonderful job up keeping the audience in the know, while the characters remain clueless.

Serious Man - Just watched this one on the weekend and I really enjoyed it. Quietly profound story of a man's search for meaning in his life, set in 1960's Minnesota suburbia.

The Man Who Wasn't There - The Coens pay homage to 1940's style film-noir in this beautifuly photographed Black and White film. Billy Bob Thornton stars as a surburban barber who gets mixed up in a complex blackmailing scheme. A sadly underrated film with great supporting performances from Frances McDormand & James Gandolfini.

Paris, je taime - The Coen's wrote and directed a short film ("Tuileries") for this collection of shorts set in and around Paris. "Tuileries," is a comic short involving Steve Buscemi's wait for a train at the Paris Metro Station.

The Hudsucker Proxy - A tribute to the '40s screwball comedies of Sturges, Hawks, and Capra. A highly stylised film, starring Tim Robbins as a mail clerk who gets an overnight promotion to CEO. Over-the-top and silly ... but still kind of fun.

Intolerable Cruelty - One of the brothers weaker efforts. George Clooney stars as a womanizing divorce layer with eyes for one of his rich clients (Catherine Zeta Jones). Nevertheless, this romantic comedy was popular with wider audiences.

No Country For Old Men - Winner of the 2007 Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director. This is the story of a hunter who stumbles across $2 Million from an apparent drug deal gone bad. Brilliant and disturbing, with great performances from Tommy Lee Jones and Javier Bardem.

Burn After Reading - A star cast including Pitt, Clooney, McDormand, Malkovich,Tilda Swinton and Richard Jenkins (who, you ask? you'll know him when you see him, you just didn't know his name). This is darkly funny and classic Coen. Lots of plot lines converge around a woman who's "gone as far as she can with what God gave her" and now needs some surgical intervention. This is Moe's fave.

Raising Arizona - Still one of Nicolas Cage's best movies. See our Nicolas Cage Revisited post.

Oh Brother, where art Thou? One to rewatch. Technically it's a musical and some say a reworking of Homer's Odyssey through the depression era Southern States. George Clooney's best role still. He and his jailbird companions escape the law and various snares.

Happy viewing!

Four from Fritz

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The Austrian born Fritz Lang was a film maker who spent his early career making movies in Germany. As the Nazi party grew more powerful Lang left for America, where he lived until his death in 1976. Although some consider Lang's work to be too melodramatic he is ofen credited with helping to establish the characteristics of film noir. His movies are full of paranoia, psychological conflict, and characters with very unsteady moral compasses. They can also be rather brutal. He co-wrote both M and Metropolis with his wife Thea von Harbou.

M---I alluded to this film in the post Mob Rule, and I am happy tp report that it is now on order. Unless you "sprechen sie Deutsch" you will be watching this one with sub-titles, but it is absolutely worth it. During the climactic final scene in M, Lang allegedly threw star Peter Lorre down a flight of stairs in order to give more authenticity to Lorre's battered look.

Scarlet Street---a married man, a mid-life crisis, a greedy, lazy woman, and an amoral boyfriend---this can't end well.

House by the River---what a well done creepy movie. The cinematography is wonderfully dark, the scenes on the river are eerie, and somehow the antagonist manages to be both whiny and scary.

Metropolis---I'm not even going to try to tell you about Metropolis---just take my word and watch it. As it is a silent film (from 1927) make sure you have your glasses handy as well as your remote. Beautifully restored, it is an amazing accomplishment. It shows up continually on must see lists and in researching this post I came upon this interesting fact: it used 26,000 male extras, 11,000 female extras, and 750 child extras.Truly a cast of 1000's.

Mel's Desert Island Classics: Wings of Desire

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Wings of Desire is one of the most beautiful movies ever made. It begins with a calm still observation of life from the point of view of angels protecting people on earth. One of them falls in love with a trapeze artist and must decide if he will become human and mortal to be with her.

The plot may seem familiar. Meg Ryan and Nicolas Cage starred in City of Angels, a remake of director Wim Wenders' original film. Wenders' vision extends beyond the angel-mortal love story and the film moves from black and white to colour and introduces comedic elements, such as the surprise appearance of a certain television detective in his famous raincoat.

Wim Wenders is a master storyteller, known for his documentary of Ry Cooder's collaboration with Cuban Jazz greats Ibrahim Ferrar, Eliades Ochoa, and others in Buena Vista Social Club. We have the Spanish edition of this dvd at several branches and it is the same as the English non fiction copy.

We also have Wenders' acclaimed Paris, Texas, starring Harry Dean Stanton and Nastasia Kinski as father and daughter.