You are here: Home > Blogs > Movie Maniacs

Latest Posts

Off Line

Guaranteed Embarrassment Free 11

- 0 Comment(s)

Wizard of Oz---I am probably one of the few people on the planet that doesn't like this movie, so why would I recommend it? Because it turns up on every list imaginable as a must see children's classic. I will grant you that Judy Garland is amazing, but the rest of the characters just annoy the heck out of me. Watch it anyway, chances are good you will like it.

Karate Kid--- with the release of the new blockbuster starring Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith (Will Smith's son), why not skip the lineups and revisit the original from 1984. This stands up well and is full of meaningful life lessons without beating you over the head with these meaningful life lessons. We also have KK 2, which is not as good as the original, but still worth a look. Wax on, wax off.

The Yearling---this has been on my radar forever, but I only just saw it for the first time 3 weeks ago. It is a lovely tender story of a boy and the yearling deer he takes under his protection. Features an unbearably handsome 30 year old Gregory Peck as the father. The cinematography is breathtaking, and in fact won an Oscar.

National Velvet---speaking of unbearably beautiful people, 13 year old Elizabeth Taylor takes the lead in this movie about a young girl who prepares a wild but gifted horse for England's Grand National Sweepstakes (steeple-chasing). Another Oscar winner.

The Court Jester from 1956 with Danny Kaye. This is good old fashioned silly fun- especially the sword fight.

The Kid---one of Charlie Chaplin's silent masterpieces.

Spirited Away---Don't avoid it because of what you think you know about animation from Japan. This is a beautifully crafted movie, and an Oscar winner from 2003. It is seemlessly dubbed into English.

Wallace & Gromit and the Curse of the Were-Rabbit---two of the most lovable animated characters ever attempt to solve the mystery of what plagues their village and threatens the annual giant vegetable growing contest.

Mel's Desert Island Classics:

- 0 Comment(s)

Director Denys Arcand is probably best known for his two films portraying a group of friends, middle-aged intellectuals who meet to share stories of their struggles and romantic conquests, summing up the spirit of our times in the process: Decline of the American Empire and its sequel, the Barbarian Invasions . These movies are French-language films, with English subtitles. Arcand is also well known internationally for Love and Human Remains starring Phoebe Cates (not at CPL), his adaptation of Brad Fraser's play Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love. Arcand's beautiful Jesus of Montreal is my pick as another film to watch multiple times and therefore qualifies as a film to have on your desert island.

An actor hired to direct a Passion play and star in the main role finds himself increasingly taking on the characteristics of Jesus. As he struggles to work on the production of the play, events unfold that reveal incidents in the life of Christ but on the streets of Montreal at that moment. One of the most compelling scenes is the young actor in effect driving the money-changers from the temple. Moving and profound, Arcand once again looks at society's collective loss of compassion and individuals' impact.

Christopher Guest

- 0 Comment(s)

Actor, director, writer, musician and composer, Guest is the full-meal deal. Best known for his "mocumentaries" which poke fun at everything from heavy metal music, to small town theater, to dog shows. In my opinion he has two of the funniest characters ever created to his credit---Corky St Clair and Nigel Tufnel---all the more hilarious because they take themselves so seriously. He draws from a regular cadre of gifted comedic performers including among others Eugene Levy, Catherine O' Hara, Jane Lynch, Fred Willard, Michael McKean and Jennifer Coolidge. He turns up in the most unexpected places and is remarkably chameleon-like in his own performances/appearances. For some seriously great laughs try any of the following:

This is Spinal Tap from 1984---the cult classic that introduces us to Nigel Tufnel.

A Mighty Wind---send up of the folk music of the 60's

Best In Show---this time he lampoons the pompous and bizarre world of dog shows

Waiting for Guffman---small town community theatre in his crosshairs. This features Corky St. Clair and the funniest 45 second dance you will ever see.

For Your Consideration---in this movie three actors learn their performances are generating award season 'buzz'. In a case of life imitating art, this movie generated a lot of buzz for Catherine O'Hara's performances as the actress generating buzz--- you get the picture.

He plays the evil and cunning Count Rugen in the perennial favourite The Princess Bride.

Top 20

- 0 Comment(s)

Just came across the June 4/10 copy of Entertainment Weekly magazine (which the library carries) and they had an interesting article called the 100 Greatest Characters of the last 20 years. They pulled from both the big and little screen and the list is meant to comprise characters who 'moved us' over the last 20 years. As with any such list there is lots of room for discussion or outright disagreement---but it made for entertaining reading. So I thought I would feature the top 20 choices---for the remaining 80 you will have to read the article either in the mag or by going online into CPL''s e-library and then accessing the extensive MasterFile Premier database. This features 100's of popular magazines that you can access free with your Library card. Not sure how to use it yet? Stop in at your nearest location where our helpful staff will be happy to show you---once you are introduced to this resource you will wonder how you got along without it! Can you believe that out of the 20 listed below there are only 2 that CPL doesn't carry---Ally McBeal (and in my opinion, no great omission- she drove me up the wall) and Laura Croft 1 &2 which are actually pretty good.

1. Homer

2. Harry Potter

3. Buffy the vampire Slayer

4. Tony Soprano /Sopranos

5. The Joker/DarkKnight

6. Rachel Green /Friends

7. Edward Scissorhands

8. Hannibal Lecter /Silence of the Lambs

9. Carrie Bradshaw /Sex and the City The Movie

10. Spongebob Squarepants

11. Cosmo Kramer /Seinfeld

12. Agents Mulder and Scully /The X-Files

13. Jack Sparrow /The Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy

14. The Big Lebowski

15. Shrek

16. Bridget Jones /The Edge of Reason

17. Laura Croft /Tomb Raider 1&2

18. Sue Sylvester /Glee

19. Morpheus /Matrix 1 2 3

20. Ally McBeal


Who's Afraid of Gene Hackman?

- 0 Comment(s)

Gene Hackman's entire career is made of tough-as-nails types, but he does it so well, I can't stop watching. According to Internet Movie Database, Hackman was a marine, which explains why he's convincing as the military figure or patriarch.

Hackman's also one of those actors who has been "in every movie ever made," I commented to blogger Moe recently, who found that he has been in over 99 productions... To see the starring roles he's allegedly turned down (the lead in Indiana Jones (!), for one), see Because he's "been in every movie ever made," I can't review them all here. Lean way back in your seat, grit your teeth and be prepared to watch these features from CPL's collection of Gene Hackman movies:

Hackman plays Little Bill in Unforgiven (see the Best Westerns post on this blog for a review). According to IMDB, he scared himself into avoiding violent films after this edgy role.

In another pairing with Clint Eastwood, Absolute Power, Hackman plays the president of the U.S., who is connected to a woman's murder. This movie is based on David Baldacci's novel, also in the collection.

In John Grisham's Runaway Jury, the tension is in the courtroom battle between a manufacturer and litigant. Hackman is the scary expert who attempts to discredit witnesses.

I haven't yet watched Twilight starring Hackman and Susan Sarandon as husband and wife, but I just get the feeling Hackman will be scary. The plot has Paul Newman's character investigating the mysterious disappearance of a woman's first husband. Guess who plays the sinister second husband? Don't confuse this with the teen vampire movie blockbuster of the same name.

Hackman is less scary as a conservative father meeting his future son-in-law's same-sex parents in the charming comedy The Birdcage (a remake of La Cage aux folles) starring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane. Don't miss him in The Royal Tenenbaums as the misguided patriarch of a kooky family. A kinder, gentler Hackman in the end but he's still pretty grumpy...

To find many more Gene Hackman roles on dvd at CPL enter "Gene Hackman" in the search field. You will notice that he is now a novelist.

Dennis LeHane

- 0 Comment(s)

This is an author who really knows how to write a great story. Three of his books have been turned into excellent films and the first two have been nominated for a total of 9 Oscars. Watch for Shutter Island to get a lot of Oscar nods for next years event, including I hope, a nomination for Leo for best actor.And Lehane stories attract the big guns- Scorcese and Eastwood as directors and A list for actors.

You can also check out his books---they are great reads. Do an author search under Lehane Dennis to see everything else by him.

For another one of my favorite writers check out the earlier post on Paul Haggis.

Mystic River---2003---this was Sean Penn's first win for Best actor (his 2nd being Milk in 2008). Who would have thought the misfit character from Fast Times at Ridgemont High would become one of the best dramatic actors of the decade? The movie also scored a well-deserved best supporting statuette for Tim Robbins. Also features Kevin Bacon, Laura Linney, Laurence Fishburne and Marcia Gay Harden.

Gone Baby Gone--- Ben Affleck directs younger brother Casey in this tale of two Boston area detectives investigating a little girl's kidnapping. Like Mystic River this one also deals with very dark subject matter and can be almost painfully real at times. Strong supporting performances are turned in from Morgan Freeman and Ed Harris (when do they not?). The decisions made at the end of the movie should provide lots of foder for discussion. What would you have done?

Start lining up now folks---we are getting Shutter Island and you do not want to miss this one! This features another excellent performance from Leo DiCaprio, who is fast turning into one of my 'never miss' performers (I think I will have to devote an entire post to him shortly). Martin Scorcese directs this and it is quite an achievment. Along with Leo it also includes Sir Ben Kingsley, Mark Ruffalo, Max von Sydow (still able to command the screen at 81 years old), and Patricia Clarkson. If anybody tries to tell you anything about it before you watch it, beg them to keep quiet, or if they won't, walk away! You deserve to be astonished by the ending.