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Peter Jackson

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

The world premiere of The Hobbit took place in Wellington New Zealand last night. The capital city spent over one million dollars to host the event, with fans lining up in costumes days ahead. As to the movie itself there's not really much that I can write about The Hobbit that you won't be able to read elsewhere. It's either on your radar or it's not. So let's take a look instead at Peter Jackson. He's actually been at this awhile, although most people only started hearing about him with his epic achievement of bringing the Lord of the Rings trilogy to the big screen.

Also in his filmography is Heavenly Creatures, a truly bizarre film of a bizarre event that took place in the 50's in New Zealand. Two teen girls become so obsessed with the fantasy world they have created that it leads to a real world murder. Want more bizarre? One of the girls grows up to become international best selling mystery author, Anne Perry. I kid you not!

District 9- another bizarre movie- this one's about Aliens forced to live in detention centres on earth. ET as the protagonist and mankind as the heavy.

Lovely Bones- Peter Jackson's attempt to bring the very popular Alice Sebold novel to the big screen. Wasn't my cup of tea, but then neither was the book.

King Kong- now this one I did like. Over the top, excessive and just a huge amount of fun. I'm a sucker for the big ape, and have seen him in all his incarnations.

And of course the Lord of the Rings trilogy: Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and Return of the King.

CPL also carries a biography, fetchingly titled Peter Jackson: from Prince of Splatter to Lord of the Rings.

Is The Hobbit on my radar? You better believe it. This time last year we were on a touring holiday of NZ when we stumbled upon a Hobbit set. We got a pretty good look-albeit from quite a distance-before we got chased away by security. Can't wait to look for it in the film.

Prometheus

by Moe - 3 Comment(s)

Like a lot of rabid fans I am counting the days to the release of Prometheus on June 8th. This is Ridley Scott’s—SIR Ridley’s that is—highly anticipated latest movie and it looks epic. It may or may not be a prequel to his iconic film Alien---they---as in the actors, the Studio, and almost anyone associated with it are playing it pretty close to the chest. Alien was the first instalment of the Aliens quadrilogy and the movie that launched Sigourney Weaver’s career, made kick butt heroines acceptable, and upped the ante for filmmakers for years to come.

Scott got his start 35 years ago working as a high powered ad-man. He then tried his hand at movies and had just finished making a feature film called The Duellist (actually pretty good) that hardly anybody saw because they were all lined up to go see another new release – Star Wars. Scott’s next release was to be a retelling of Tristan and Isolde, but after he himself saw Star Wars, he is quoted as saying “this changes everything – it’s time to get down to business”.

6 weeks later he signed on to direct Alien—he was actually 20th Century Fox’s fifth choice. With its wonderful tag line 'in space no one can hear you scream' it was a phenomenal success. The franchise had a total run of 4, with the first sequel, Aliens (directed by another developing heavy weight – James Cameron) being even slightly better than the original. Unfortunately 3 and 4 ran out of steam. Out of all his movies since, Scott says that Alien is the one that has called to him over the years as unfinished business.

He has had a hugely successful career and any movie with him at the helm is an event. Here are some of his titles which are available at CPL: Thelma and Louise; Gladiator; Kingdom of Heaven; Robin Hood; Body of Lies; American Gangster; Blade Runner.

Prometheus features an excellent cast including Michael Fassbender (X-Men First Class); Noomi Rapace (Dragon Tattoo trilogy – original Swedish version); Charlize Theron – currently having quite a resurgence in her career with another big draw having just opened – Snow White and the Huntsman (here's the trailer). Check out this excellent teen zone post from earlier; Idris Alba (Luther) and Guy Pearce (Mildred Pierce).

Next on Scott’s plate – a prequel --- or maybe a sequel --- again, he is not saying, to his other cult classic—Blade Runner.

The Bible and the Epics

by Maureen May

For many years when looking for a sure fire hit, film makers turned to the Bible. As a result a lot of truly classic films were born, with great casting, wonderous sets and stunning live action sequences. There were also some epic mistakes- serious miscasting and barely recognizable interpretations. Now I know you can find these perennial favourites on t.v. espcially as Easter approaches but why not watch them commercial free, and at a time of your choosing. And if you have a large screen with surround sound you're in for a treat.

Grand daddy of them all - Ben Hur. This is one of my favourite movies of all time and I would not be exaggerating if I said I have seen it 30 times (at 3 hours and 32 minutes that's a lot of Ben!). And I've had the joy of seeing it on the big screen. The sets are real- no CGI's here and the chariot race really is Chuck and Stephen Boyd tearing around the track. Still considered one of the greatest action sequences ever captured, the race took 3 months to film and used 15000 extras on the largest set ever built (see the picture- that's a set - with real people- and I can't get the whole thing to fit!). It won 11 Oscars, equaled only by Titanic and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy- and think of all the CGI in those films. It is a brilliant movie.

Spartacus- Kirk Douglas, Jean Simmons (not the lead singer of Kiss- the other Jean Simmons!). This was made the year after Ben Hur as compensation to Douglas for being turned down in favour of Heston for Ben Hur (Kirk was offered Messala in Ben Hur but did not want to play second banana). Again a cast of 1000's (10,000 plus for the battle scene). Co-produced by Douglas, he got so many great actors to appear in smaller roles by showing them each a different script that emphasized their character over the others.

 The 10 Commandments- again with Charlton Heston- this time playing Moses, and Yul Bryner as Ramses. This is a movie that has so many truly epic scenes-parting of the Red Sea/erecting the giant obelisk- it is hard to count. This is also one of the most financially successful movies ever made- adjusting for inflation its North American box office revenue is around $977 million. It is grandiose. We have over 20 new copies coming shortly.

We also have a good animated offering of the Moses story. From 1998- Prince of Egypt. And while we are on animated stories there is also 2000's Joseph, King of Dreams. Also the charming Veggie Tales, which convey moral themes based on Christianity.

The Robe- Richard Burton and Jean Simmons again, in the imagined tale of the Roman centurion who comes into posession of Christ's robe after His crucifixion.

Quo Vadis- Robert Taylor, Deborah Kerr and Peter Ustinov doing a wonderfully mad Nero.

The Passion of The Christ- this is Mel Gibson's bloody, violent and to my mind over the top re-telling of the crucifixion. Of course crucifixion was bloody and violent and most movies do sanitize it, but Gibson seems to relish it. I recommend it with reservations and mostly because it was so popular and controversial at the time of its release. Heads up- for authenticity Gibson has everyone speaking Latin, Aramaic and Hebrew with English sub-titles. Completly financed by Gibson (at around $30 million) it made him a fortune-best estimations are around $580,000,000.00.

Greatest Story ever Told- anyone who was anyone in 1965 seems to have been in this movie. Not the best retelling, but worth a look.

Jesus Christ Superstar---is one of the very first rock operas by the wonderful team of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. First staged on Broadway in 1971 it too was highly controversial. A musical about the crucifixion-what were they thinking? I think it works.

Jesus of Montreal- by Canadian director Denys Arcand and on Mel's must have list when stranded on a desert island.

by Moe

Countdown to the Oscars

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

 

The 84th Oscars are airing on Sunday Feb 26th on every other station. So gather your friends, organize your pool and settle in for 3 plus hours of everything movies. This years host was scheduled to be Eddie Murphy, which I thought was a bold and daring choice- if you know Murphy live, you know how he rolls. This was hoped to revive his career, but in a show of uncommon solidarity for Hollywood, he opted out after his buddy Brett Ratner stepped aside after some controversy. Now Murphy has more to lose from this move than Ratner, who has a pretty solid string of hits under his belt, while Murphy has been flagging for years.

Anyway---enter Billy Crystal. This is his 9th turn at the wheel and to my mind there is no one better suited to the job. Think of last year’s disaster with Anne Hathaway and James Franco- both talented actors, but clearly out of their depth. Even very accomplished ‘live’ performers can struggle with the format/venue-remember Steve Martin who was marginal at best, and David Letterman who was one of the worst ever. So with Crystal as host and heavyweight Brian Grazer producing, I expect a great evening.

For decades there were only 5 nominations for best movie, but a few years ago they changed that. This year, they have chosen the seemingly random number of 9. Now a lot of these movies are still in the theatre at the time of this post, and some are still too recent to be out on DVD, but rest assured that CPL’s crack team of selectors will have these ordered as soon as they become available. We do however have 4 of the 9 on the shelves at the moment- well, maybe not on the shelves so much as available to place holds on. The 9 nominees are:

The Artist, The Descendants, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, War Horse.

There are some real heavyweight producers/directors/usual suspects in these 9 choices- Spielberg, Woody Allen, Scorsese, Fincher, Columbus, Kennedy. There are also some more obscure and unknown---and the movies of course have spawned nominations in many other categories. Interestingly, although they chose 9 nominations for best picture, they only chose 5 for best director. I guess the other 4 movies directed themselves ! But this isn't unusual. Sometimes best picture doesn't win best director and visa versa - think of 1972 where The Godfather won for movie, but Coppola didn't for director. It went to bob Fosse for Cabaret. 2005's best picture was Crash, but Paul Haggis lost on best director to Ang Lee for Brokeback Mountain. And Roman Polanski won for best director for The Pianist,- in 2002, but Chicago won for best picture.

I have two left to see and plan to get through them before the 26th. From where I sit right now, I am hoping for Spielberg's War Horse, but I think it will go to The Artist- which was something different than usual and sometimes different gets the Academy's attention.

Bridge on the River Kwai

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

If you took my recommendation and saw Ben Hur at the theatres back in November when it was re released in digital, you know how amazing these epics look on the big sceen.

So try not to miss The Bridge on the River Kwai which is playing at Crowfoot and Scotia Centre on Wed Jan 11 at 7:00. Winner of 7 Academy Awards in 1957 including Best Actor- Alex Guiness, Best Director- David Lean, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Musical Score, Best Writing, and of course you couldn't win all of these and not win Best Picture.

This is on every 'best list' you can imagine (including my own) and has been for over 50 years. It is a magnificent movie- self sacrifice, madness, obsession, heroism. Oh man I love this movie and although I have seen it 40 plus times (that's another list of mine it is on- movies I have seen more than 25 times!) I have not yet seen it on the big screen. I know what I am doing on Wed the 11th.

It's not just Christmas around the corner

- 0 Comment(s)

The Golden Globe nominations have just been announced and thus begins the awards seasons--- all which culminates with the 84th Oscars on February 26, 2012.

A lot of the nominees are very current releases, but you will likely recognize many of the titles- The Help, Ides of March, Moneyball, Bridesmaids to name but a few. Lot of the usual suspects for personal awards ---Clooney, Leo di, Meryl, Tilda, Brad, Scorcese and Branagh. For a full listing of the GG's follow this link- the awards will be given on Jan 15/12. Also just announced are the Critics Choice Awards (Jan 12/12) and the Screen Actors Guild Awards or SAGS on Jan 29th,2012.

It's actually been a great year for any movie maniac---lots of worthy nominees. I know what I am going to be doing on any days off over Christmas.

Location Location Location

- 3 Comment(s)

First we had numbers, then we had colours, now we are featuring movies with name places in the title. Oh there are SO many to choose from--- in fact I almost considered doing a post just on 'M's'. Some are classics that hardly need pointing out, yet I will-well, because that's what I do. Others are a little more obscure but all are worth a look.

Casablanca--- previously featured in its own post, it bares mentioning again. This is one of my all time faves- it's right up there with Ben Hur (did you follow my recommendation and go see it's re-release on the big screen?). To my mind, this is one of the world's most perfect movies- love, honour, self sacrifice-all set against the backdrop of WW 2. Best writer, best director and best picture for 1942. You won't believe the famous lines that came out of this movie. Bogart, Claude Rains, and Ingrid Bergman at their very best. And don't forget Conrad Veidt.

In Bruges--- this should be a controversial one- love it or hate it, but I doubt you will be ambivalent towards it. This is just really hard to pigeonhole into any specific genre. But it you like bizarre and unexpected this is the movie for you. A close second in the bizarre and unexpected category would be the Coen's brothers Fargo. Except having said that, if you are a fan of the Coen brothers, you know to expect the unexpected.

Philadelphia-with Denzel Washington and Tom Hanks in one of his back-to-back Oscar winning roles. This is an award worthy performance -also a sad and occassionaly difficult movie to watch. Not to be confused with its' polar opposite 'The Philadelphia Story'. With Katherine Hepburn, Jimmy Stewart (Oscar winner for Best actor) and Cary Grant--- from 1940. Light-hearted and easy to watch.

L A Confidential- from 1997 with Kim Bassinger, Kevin Spacey, James Cromwell, Guy Pearce. This is the film that really brought Russell Crowe to North American audience's attention. Dark, brooding, moody, excellent plot- very 'film noir'.

Munich- I've seen this Spielberg offering twice and I am still not sure what I think of it. Depending on your age you may be unaware of the back story. The 'Munich Massacre' is the name for the real events that occurred during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich Germany, when members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage and eventually killed by the Palestinian group Black September. By the end of the ordeal, the kidnappers had killed eleven of the athletes and coaches and a West German policeman. Five of the eight members of Black September were killed by police officers during a failed rescue attempt. The three surviving kidnappers were captured, but later released by West Germany following the hijacking by Black September of a Lufthansa airliner. That part is true. This movie is the story of the aftermath of these events, and the five men chosen to eliminate the ones responsible for that fateful day. Being as it was a highly secret black op it remains for the viewer to determine the degree of reality. But that is the case with most movies based on 'true events'.

With the exception of Philadelphia Story, all these recommendations are dramatic offerings. So for something a little lighter in the location department try Brigadoon and An American in Paris---all you dance fans should enjoy these charmers with Gene Kelly dancing his feet off, wonderful music and lyrics by Lerner and Lowe, and Vincent Minelli's excellent directing.

(Nice map huh!)

Take me with you!

- 1 Comment(s)

Moe is on holidays right now, so she's asked a few other Movie Maniacs to step in and write some guest blogs for her while she's away. I was totally fine with this prospect until she revealed exactly where it was that she'll be vacationing.

Hint: It's New Zealand.

Now! This is a pretty excellent destination to choose at any given time, but it just so happens to be the BEST destination at THIS given time.

Don't know what I'm talking about? Clearly you're not as big of a fan-girl as I am (neener neener)...

The reason why New Zealand is the place for any Movie Maniac to be right now is because Peter Jackson is currently working on the second leg of his new Tolkien epic, "The Hobbit" in that glorious country as I type.

Now what you have to understand, is that we're still AGES away from the release of this movie. The first phase of it JUST got into post-production, and they've still got loads of editing and tweaking and awesome-ifying to do yet, and everything else is in pre-production. This is ALSO only the first half of the journey -- they're splitting the novel into two films, like any smart adapter does these days.

Which means, my friends, that they are filming RIGHT NOW, in all their dwarvish make-up glory, in beautiful locations all across the land of the Kiwis. And I couldn't be more jealous of Moe for getting to be there.

If the set production vlogs are anything to go by (which I'm hoping they are, even though Jackson is not releasing them NEARLY as often as he should be...) this second leg of shooting will carry on well into December. And even though the sites and sets are a very closely guarded secret, this makes me hopeful that Moe might just stumble across a hobbit or an elf or a dragon here and there. She has told me they love drivng down back roads just to see where they come out, so with a little luck... At any rate, I've told her it's probably best to bring her lady-dwarf costume (beard and all) and some speedy running shoes for dodging the security guards.


As a tribute to the epicness that is Jackson's work in New Zealand, I've decided to include a couple of OTHER movies shot in this locale. Click on the titles for links to the Calgary Public Library catalogue!


Whale Rider, possibly the biggest film to actually focus on Kiwi culture and life, revolves around a young Maori girl and her search to fulfill her destiny. Beautifully filmed, beautifully acted, this one was up for an Oscar and 28 other awards. It won most of them.

King Kong and Lovely Bones (both directed by Jackson) are not set in NZ, but do use its gorgeous locations as backdrops. Both are written by Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, two collaborators of Jackson's on LOTR. Both also have all-star casts, and one of them has Jack Black. What more can I say?

If you're into horror, 30 Days of Night (originally a graphic novel series) is a terrifying, and R-rated, Vampire flick... I promise these blood-suckers don't sparkle. Almost half of the cast is either Kiwi or Aussie, but you can't tell, because they're all pretending to be from Alaska.

I swear, New Zealand must have the most diverse climates and landscapes of any country... where else could pass for Pennsylvania, Alaska, Middle Earth... or Pandora?

That's right, James Cameron's epic Avatar was shot there too. Wanna know why? Check out this article from "Film New Zealand".

Other epic NZ-based movies include The Chronicles of Narnia,The Bridge to Terabithia (starring The Hunger Games' Josh Hutcherson), and Spielberg's highly anticapted Tintin movie, out this Christmas.

Mark Nov 9th on your calendars

by Moe - 1 Comment(s)

 

Oh man, I am so excited about this I am actually counting the days. On Nov 9th, two Cineplex Odeon Theatres in town will be re-releasing BEN HUR on the big screen.

If you have read some of my posts before, you know that I am one of these movie maniacs who when they find something they like will watch it over and over and over again. Ben Hur makes it onto my top 10 fave movies of all time. In fact, I just recommended it in April of this year in my post The Bible and the Epics. (excerpt from that post follows).

Grand daddy of them all - Ben Hur. This is one of my favourite movies of all time and I would not be exaggerating if I said I have seen it 30 times (at 3 hours and 32 minutes that's a lot of Ben!). And I've had the joy of seeing it on the big screen. The sets are real- no CGI's here and the chariot race really is Chuck and Stephen Boyd tearing around the track. Still considered one of the greatest action sequences ever captured, the race took 3 months to film and used 15000 extras on the largest set ever built (see the picture- that's a set - with real people- and I can't get the whole thing to fit!). It won 11 Oscars, equaled only by Titanic and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy- and think of all the CGI in those films. It is a brilliant movie.

 

Don't miss this one folks - take the kids, take the grandparents, take everyone you know. Did I mention that I am counting the days?

And tickets are only $5.00!

 

Horses, horses and more horses

- 0 Comment(s)

In recognition of all the horses who participated in the Stampede, as well as Spruce Meadows recent North American show jumping contest, I thought it would be fun to look at the many titles that CPL has featuring man's second best friend. Several of these horse titles have been recommended previously under Guaranteed Embarrassement Free, but lets see what else we have.

Secretariat---Behind every legend lies an impossible dream. Witness the journey of Secretariat and the moving story of his unlikely owner, a housewife who risked everything to make him a champion. Includes bonus features.

The Horse Whisperer---heads up on the opening scenes, it is very intense, but the movie settles down afterward---good cast in this one.

The Man from Snowy River---there are several incarnations of this Aussie drama. My fave is still the original from 1982 with Kirk Douglas. There is also a series with the fine talents of Guy Pearce and Hugh Jackman.

Hidalgo---Set in 1890, this is the story of a Pony Express courier who travels to Arabia to compete with his horse, Hidalgo, in a dangerous race. This stars Viggo Mortensen fresh off his huge success as Aragorn in Lord of the Rings. It certainly isn't his strongest performance, nor the best movie, but the man sure knows how to sit a horse.

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron---As a wild stallion travels across the frontiers of the Old West, he befriends a young human. Animated.

Seabiscuit---during the Great Depression this horse became an unlikely champion and a symbol of hope to many. Another very stron cast including Jeff Bridges, Tobey Maguire and Chris Cooper.

Lonely are the Brave stars Kirk Douglas as a modern day cowboy trying to maintain his fiercely independent lifestyle as civilization steadily encroaches upon him. This is a really good film and you'll be glad you gave it a look.

They Shoot Horses Don't They---despite this title it has absolutely nothing to do with horses, but I wanted to put it in somewhere and this was as good a place as any! It is a very compelling movie set during the depression and gives us a look at the strange phenomenon of dance marathons-4 months anyone? By one of my favourite directors, the late Sydney Pollack and starring Jane Fonda in an Oscar nominated role.

There is always the 1947 Fury with Spenser Tracy, National Velvet, and Black Beauty, which we have just got as a series.

by Moe

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