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So Long Mike Nicols

by Moe - 2 Comment(s)

The film world has lost a major talent with the recent passing of Mike Nicols.

He is one of only 12 people who can lay claim to having achieved the highly conveted EGOT and only one of seven directors. This means you have won at least one in all of the four major entertainment awards: Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony. You can find the other winners here.

Two of his films are on the American Film Institute's 100 Most Inspiring Movies of All time. They are Working Girl (1988) at #87 and Silkwood (1983) at #66. He has directed 17 different actors in Oscar-nominated performances: Elizabeth Taylor, Sandy Dennis, Richard Burton, George Segal, Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, Katharine Ross, Ann-Margret, Meryl Streep, Cher, Melanie Griffith, Sigourney Weaver, Joan Cusack, Kathy Bates, Natalie Portman, CliveOwen, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

He won more Tony's for best direction of a play than any one else, a record six.

While paying tribute to Nichols during his 2003 Kennedy Center Honors, Meryl Streep and Candace Bergen read Nichols' "Five Rules for Filmmaking":

1: The careful application of terror is an important form of communication.

2: Anything worth fighting for is worth fighting dirty for.

3: There's absolutely no substitute for genuine lack of preparation.

4: If you think there's good in everybody, you haven't met everybody.

5: Friends may come and go, but enemies will certainly become studio heads.

We don't have all of his films in the system at the moment, so do look for Biloxi Blues, Silkwood, Heartburn and Catch 22, all well worth your time.


However we do have all of these...

David Tennant

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

The deceptively young-looking David Tennant is a remarkably versatile actor, but the same can be said of many actors who are classically trained. When he was 16 he auditioned for and won a place at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, the youngest student to ever do so. A three year stint as a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company helped hone his skills.

At the advanced age of four he decided to become an actor, inspired by his love of the BBC show Doctor Who. How ironic then that he would play the iconic Doctor and in the process make himself a household name.

Since leaving Doctor Who his career has continued to rise, with lead roles in films, TV series and theatre. He also voices many audiobooks ranging from Shakespeare to the popular children’s ‘Dragon’ series by Cressida Cowell.

Check him out in 2014’s Masterpiece Mystery, The Escape Artist. This is a dark, taut and well-crafted mini-series with a devilishly good unexpected ending.

United is based on the true story of Manchester United, the youngest championship team in English soccer history and their rise from the ashes of a tragic plane crash that devastated the team.

He seems to really like doing mini-series and Casanova, The Secret Smile and Spies of Warsaw are all well rated in IMDB. A little harder to get your hands on due to current popularity (but worth the wait) is Broadchurch, now starting its second season in Britain, with season one available for holds at Calgary Public Library.

Also, check out the documentary Earthflight narrated by Tennant. Earthflight is a nature documentary filmed with a bird's-eye view of the natural world, joining the journeys of snow geese, cranes, albatrosses, eagles and other birds across six continents. It's very good and worth a watch.

Grand Budapest Hotel

by Moe - 1 Comment(s)

Wes Anderson is one talented guy. In fact no less an icon than Martin Scorsese chooses him as his favourite director, and when pressed in an Esquire magazine article Marty says he may be the next Martin Scorsese. High praise indeed.

He started in his childhood writing plays and making Super-8 movies. While attending the University of Texas, where he majored in philosophy, he met Owen Wilson. They became friends and began making short films together. One of their shorts was Bottle Rocket (1994), which starred Owen and his brother Luke. The short was screened at the Sundance Film Festival, where it was successfully received and from this he got funding to make a feature length version.

He frequently casts the same actors while also being able to draw upon the talents of many A listers. Like Woody Allen, it is becoming a feather in your cap to be chosen to appear in one of his films.

His most recent offering is the delightful The Grand Budapest Hotel. Starring among others, Ralph Fiennes, Adrien Brody, Edward Norton, Saorise Ronan, and Jude Law, there are many more fine actors in it and half the fun of watching his films is spotting performers who are often on only for a very brief period. This movie is quirky, charming and original and is Fiennes' best role in years.

Among some of his others — and he takes his time in between films so they don't come out as fast as his fans might wish — are The Royal Tenenbaums, Moonrise Kingdom, Rushmore, The Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Darjeeling Limited. If you don't want to commit to a full retrospective of his films, treat yourself to Grand Budapest. It may be enough to hook you, and if it doesn't I don't think you'll regret the two hours spent.

Matthew McConaughey Finally Launched

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

I wouldn't be lying if I said I've gone out of my way to avoid Matthew McConaughey movies. For many years all he seemed known for was getting his shirt off and cheesy Rom Coms. It wasn't always like this. Early in his career he turned in some very good performances in very good movies like Amistad and A time To Kill. Then there was a dry spell when he seemed just to be paying the rent with movies like Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, The Wedding Planner and Failure to Launch. Even a very popular literary character turned into film, such as Dirk Pitt in Sahara didn't bring him any more credibility and it was hard to take him seriously as an actor.

However, seeing him in several recent performances has caused me to reconsider the man and his acting chops. You'll be aware he just won Best Actor for his role in The Dallas Buyers Club. I'm not sure if it was the best performance of the year but it was a very good performance of a very unsympathetic character. Anybody willing to lose 22% of their body weight to realistically portray somebody deserves a lot of kudos. Just prior to this role he had a very good turn as the title character in Mud. What started turning me around was 2011's The Lincoln Lawyer. I thought he was a great casting choice in this John Grisham book/film. Magic Mike I did not care for but I'm pretty sure I'm in the minority -- he got his shirt off in this one, and a whole lot more. This did so well there is a sequel planned.

But far and away the best performance of his long career is in television's True Detective which just finished airing on HBO and is scheduled for DVD release in early June. Woody Harrelson and he play two detectives trying to solve a gruesome crime over a seventeen year period. Everything about this show is superlative- the writing, the direction, the cinematography, and especially the acting. I can't stop thinking about what an amazing performance he turned in---best thing I've seen since Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad.

The Eye Has to Travel

by Melanie - 4 Comment(s)

This a great DVD for viewers with the so-called "passion for fashion" and naysayers alike. Those who consider the industry to be made up merely of dictatorial European designers and mal-nourished teenaged models are forgetting about the powerhouses like Diana Vreeland who shaped so much of what we see visually today. She was no fashion victim.

The Eye has to Travel (checkout the book also via this link) stitches together interview footage with Vreeland with film clips of Funny Face and Who are you, Polly Maggoo?, and even animation to bring the woman to life. Vreeland was editor of Harper's Bazaar (available in the library and through our Zinio subscription), then Vogue (in branches), then head of the Fashion Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of New York where she allegedly scandalized archivists by treating 18th Century gowns as wearable clothes.

Interviews with Ali McGraw, Verushka, Diane von Furstenburg, Lauren Hutton and others highlight Vreeland's pioneering approach to life, first as a counter-culture flapper, then as an editor who valued a multicultural outlook and chose models with unique features and personalities, like Angelica Huston, whose careers she helped launch because she saw their inner potential.

Vreeland is ostensibly the spoofed arbitar of fashion in Who are you, Polly Maggoo? and some say also in The Devil wears Prada, not the current editor of Vogue as has been suggested. I'll leave you to decide.

The Versatile Steve Buscemi

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

I did a post on Sam Rockwell not too long ago, and that got me thinking about Steve Buscemi. With his wonderful snaggle tooth and slightly protuberant eyes he doesn't fit the leading man role, but he certainly has screen presence and has forged an excellent career as a character actor. Like Rockwell he takes on some really challenging roles and isn't afraid to play loathsome characters. He has been kicking around a long time and often turns up in Coen Brothers films.

The one most people likely remember him from was Fargo, one of the more twisted offerings from the 'director with two heads' as the Coen's are often referred to. Now I must say this movie creeped me out something terrible, Oscar wins aside, but it turns up on a lot of must see lists. Barton Fink, The Big Lebowski and The Hudsucker Proxy are worth your two hours, and Big Fish is also worth a look.

He had recurring roles in two very popular series, The Sopranos and 30 Rock which have both finished their long runs. But he can be seen headlining in Boardwalk Empire (now in its 4th season), which chronicles the life of fictional gangster/politician Nucky Thompson, the undisputed ruler of Atlantic city. Boardwalk Empire has won numerous awards including a Golden Globe for Buscemi as Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Drama. Martin Scorcese is involved in this series and we all know nobody does gangstas better than Marty S.

And because he is so darn versatile, he had me howling with laughter in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, playing opposite Steve Carell. This was a lot of fun, and these two guys played off each other very well. Throw in the always good Alan Arkin and the sometimes good Jim Carrey—and he is good here—and this one works.

Sam Rockwell

by Moe - 3 Comment(s)

Moon

Sam Rockwell is one of those actors that quietly goes about the business of acting, seeking challenging roles to perfect his skills, and as a result has amassed a very impressive filmography. If you don't know him or aren't looking for him it sometimes takes you awhile before you say "oh yeah, it's that guy, he was in......"

 

His first role was at the age of 10 in 1979 and he has been busy ever since. He flips back and forth between big budget, Indie films and the theatre, and currently has four movies in post-production. Entertainment Weekly said "he has an excessive interestingness" and grammar aside I think that is as apt a description as any. An excellent character actor, his range is broad and he deftly handles both comedy and drama.

 

On more than one occasion he has played a psychopath and I must say he does it very well. Wild Bill in The Green MileYou'll likely recall him as Wild Bill in the wonderful movie The Green Mile with Tom Hanks. Rockwell described Will Bill as 'Huck Finn meets Satan'. Seven Psychopaths won't be for everyone, but many liked it and I thought it was very good. Big cast including Colin Farrell, Woody Harrelson, and another perennial 'psycho', Christopher Walken. In Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, he may or may not be a psychopath, but he certainly is strange.

 

Guy Fleegman of Galaxy QuestOne of my fave movies, Galaxy Quest is not so much a spoof as an homage to the Star Trek franchise. He plays Guy Fleegman, one of the numerous expendable security guards. This is a really fun movie suitable for the entire family, and you don't have to be a Star Trek fan to enjoy it.

 

In a lesser known film of his called Moon, he plays a man who has a three year contract to work as the sole employee based on a lunar energy station. There is no direct communication link available between the lunar station and Earth, and strange things start to happen as his time to return home draws nearer. I really enjoyed this.

 

Give Conviction a look...a working mother puts herself through law school in an effort to represent her brother (Rockwell), who has been wrongfully convicted of murder and has exhausted his chances to appeal his conviction through public defenders.

 

He is very good as Tony Stark's competitor in Iron Man 2. Interesting factoid: Jon Favreau initially considered Rockwell for the lead in the original Iron Man when he feared that Robert Downey Jr. might be too difficult to work with. As fine an actor as Sam is it would have been a far less playful Tony Stark with Rockwell inside the red and gold suit.

 

These are just a few of the many films CPL carries that display his fine talents.

 

Silver Linings - Nic Cage Special

by Trevor - 0 Comment(s)

I’ve written about movies with silver linings in the past. Mediocre or just plain bad movies that have one redeemable facet that makes them watchable. This time I’m going to talk about a silver lining actor.

Nicolas Cage is almost always the silver lining of the movie he’s in. This isn’t because of his amazing acting talent but rather because he truly does not seem to realize how bad most of his movies are. Yes yes, I know he’s won an Oscar but that almost doesn’t count when you compare it to his entire filmography. He picks ridiculous roles in ridiculous films with ridiculous plots. He unironically spouts off terrible dialogue with the commitment of a Shakespearian trained actor. He seems entirely oblivious to the fact that he has become not only a joke but an internet meme. He is entertaining however, whether or not in the way he intended to be. Here are some of Nic’s "silvery-est lining" roles.


Drive Angry – Cage, an undead felon, breaks out of Hell to avenge his murdered daughter and rescue her kidnapped baby from a band of cult-worshipping savages. Need I say more?

The Rock – Cage seems to enjoy playing the everyman turned hero and I can think of no better example than The Rock. Despite the generous helping of Michael Bay's moronic machismo, Cage’s trademark overacting makes this a perfectly watchable action flick.


Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance – It’s well know that Cage wants to be a superhero (he named his child after Superman) and he finally got the chance as Ghost Rider. Spirit of Vengeance is the better of the two, mainly because Cage screams and flails maniacally (ie. hilariously) as he transforms into his fiery skulled alter ego.


Kick-Ass –Though this film doesn’t really qualify as a silver lining as it is excellent, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include it. Cage very nearly steals the film in his Adam West-esque portrayal of the ruthless vigilante Big Daddy. Cage’s unique brand of unknowing campiness was finally put to good use!

There are few A-list actors that make as many bad movies as Nicolas Cage. There are even fewer who do so while remaining entertaining. Perhaps Nic deserves all the joking and ridicule the internet throws at him. Or perhaps he is an acting genius, deliberately reveling in mediocrity so that his future rise to greatness will be all the more unexpected. Or perhaps it is because he needs every penny he can get to escape from under the crushing debt he incurred in the 90's---buying among other things, two yachts, 18 motorcycles, 30 luxury cars, 7 worldwide residences, including a German castle and a private Bahamian Island, a Gulfstream Jet, a quarter million dollar dinosaur skull, shrunken pygmy heads, and a private tomb worthy of a head of state---all while somehow forgetting to pay about 6 million to the IRS.

Who's to say?

Steve Carell is Despicable

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

Despicable Me 2 is in theatres at the moment and blowing the doors off all the other summer blockbusters. I found the original, Despicable Me to be one of the funniest and most endearing movies I have seen in a long time. If you haven't yet seen it borrow it here from CPL. It's always fun in these movies to try and place the voices and Steve Carell does a wonderful job as 'Gru', the gruff, lovable anti-villain.Maxwell Smart Sit down and watch this one with the whole family.

There's no denying Carell is funny, talented and versatile. From his early days on SNL and the Daily Show, he shot to fame opposite Jim Carrey in Bruce Almighty. While being offered more and more roles in films he maintained a successful career in television, starring as Michael Scott in the American remake of the British comedy, "The Office". He received the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in Television Comedy for this role in 2006, and earned both Emmy and Golden Globe nominations each consecutive year until he departed in 2011.

The 40 year old virginAmong my favourite of his many films are; The 40 year old virgin, which he co-wrote; Little Miss Sunshine, a movie populated with quirky characters, including Alan Arkin in a well deserved Oscar winning performance for best supporting actor; as Maxwell Smart in the 2008 remake of Get Smart; Date night with Tina Fey and Mark Wahlberg---silly light hearted fun; Seeking a friend for the end of the World---we've blogged this one more than once---for an end of the world movie it's remarkably uplifting; The Incredible Burt Wonderstone with Steve Buscemi and Jim Carrey (Carrey in a role that intrigued rather than annoyed me, as he usually does).

With two movies in post-production and two more in pre- production, we can expect to see Carell's talents at play for hopefully many more years. He has a real everyday 'guy next door' appeal--you'd like to go out for a beer with him.

It's a bird! It's a plane!

by Moe - 1 Comment(s)

The newest incarnation of Superman is set to hit the theatres on June 13th and no doubt will be hugely popular. The trailers actually look quite good for this one and I'm sure it will do very well for itself and spawn all sorts of lunch bags, giant drinking cups and kid's pajamas. Superman is actually one of my more favorite Superheroes and I am likely to go see it. But thinking about the new Superman got me thinking about the old Superman and that of course got me thinking about Christopher Reeve.

Now he didn't have a chance to make a lot of movies before his terrible horse riding accident in 1995 which left him a quadriplegic. But what he did do I liked a lot. All of the 1, 2, 3, 4 Superman films that he made were not equally good, but I enjoyed the first one very much. However I do have two other films of his to recommend. One is Deathtrap starring another of my favorite actors, Michael Caine. This one is just unexpected fun with some good twists and turns. The next one is the bittersweet Somewhere in Time with Jane Seymour and Christopher Plummer. I just re watched this one recently and it still makes me cry---I give it a 3 out of 5 in the soggy hankie category. And you would be hard pressed to find a more lovely sound track. He also had some small roles in a couple of Ivory and Merchant films, including Remains of the Day and The Bostonians.

Confined to a wheel chair for his last 10 years he lived a life of meaning, using his fame and his own circumstance to advocate on behalf of spinal cord injuries and stem cell research.

After he died in 2004, a number of memorial cartoons were Superman-themed. Many artists drew Reeve as Superman flying away from the wheelchair. In one picture, Superman came to Reeve's grave with flowers. In another picture, a grief-stricken Superman reads the news of Reeve's death in The Daily Planet newspaper and says to the reader, "He was my hero." In another, Captain America, Spider-Man, and Batman come to Reeve's grave with Batman, commenting, "He really was a super man." In another, a young boy in a wheelchair tells the reader, "He was the Man of Steel. He had incredible vision. He used his powers to save people. Nothing could stop him. And I think before that he acted in some Superman movies."

You can also read two book written by Reeve, including Still Me and Nothing is Impossible: reflections on a new life. There is also a pretty inspirational DVD from 2002 which follows his life after the accident and his stunning ability to regain partial muscle control; Hope in Motion.

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