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  • Jul 28 - The 66th Annual Emmys - Need to catch up on any of the nominees? We've got you covered!
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Redux-Jane Eyre---and also William Hurt

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Charlotte Bronte's gothic classic of love, madness and ultimate redemption. We have no less than 6 copies available at CPL. IMDB lists no less then 23 versions, so if brooding tortured souls are your thing you might want to see if you can get your hands on some of those more obscure offerings for comparison. Or just stick with our six as several of them are mini series and offer more than a watered down 90 minute retelling of the book. Coincidentially Mel did an ealier Redux post on Wuthering Heights, by sister Emily. CPL also has a non-fiction A&E dvd on The Bronte Sisters.

Our first movie goes all the way back to 1944 and features Orson Wells as the dark and enigmatic Edward Rochester and Joan Fontaine as his timid but loyal Jane.

An A&E Home Video from 1997 with Samantha Morton and Ciaran Hinds (you'll know him when you see him- he played Julius Caesar in the excellent series Rome, Season 1 and 2---give this one a look while you're at---it's quite addictive); BBC from 1973 with Sorcha Cusack and Michael Jayston; from BBC in 1983 we have Timothy Dalton and company; and because BBC really seems to like remaking this we have a 2006 offerring with Toby Stephens, Ruth Wilson, and Francesca Annis; there is also a studio release from 1996 with William Hurt, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Joan Plowright, Anna Paquin---along with Orson, this is a personal fave.

I have always thought William Hurt an excellent dramatic actor and although this started out as a Jane Eyre post, I think I'll wander over into some of Hurt's best and kill two birds with one stone. In the 80's he was well entrenched on the A-list, being one of those movie stars who could also act. A string of hits, an Oscar nod and win on his first nomination for Kiss of the Spider woman, two consequetive best actor nominations followed---for Children of a Lesser God and Broadcast News, and then --well,not so much. Although he has managed to stay busy,he never maintained or regained his earlier status and is typically just in supporting roles these days, never headlining. And that is too bad, because this guy knew how to command the screen. Along with the aforementioned, also check out the excellent Body Heat (featured in my earlier Gotcha post); stylish Russian thriller Gorky Park; perennial favourite The Big Chill; and popular writer Anne Tyler's The Accidental Tourist. We are missing one of his best- Altered States- the 1980 movie that put him on the map- try to find this one, it's worth it. Any of these movies show you how good this guy is and why I still go out of my way to see him.

So here you are- Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, William Hurt, Rome, the Brontes and Gotcha! Hours and hours and hours of viewing.

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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

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Sensational Series at CPL

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Many fans of CPL who were using the dvd collection are familiar with the variety of television, film and mini- series that were available early on when dvds were a new technology. Many of these were PBS or BBC productions that continue to be popular: mysteries such as Poirot, sitcoms such as As Time Goes By, and costume dramas and dramatizations such as I, Claudius, Anne of Green Gables and Little House on the Prairie. We still have these, but CPL has really expanded its collection of dvds. If you don't have cable or can't stand commercials, CPL's dvd series are for you.

If you don't already know, CPL has added more British, Canadian and American popular television series to the collection. We have tv "classics" like Columbo, Magnum P.I., Hill Street Blues, The Waltons, Rockford Files, and Get Smart...

We also have newer HBO, Bravo, History Channel and Showcase mini-series such as Deadwood, Six Feet Under, and Rome. These are great if you are a season or two behind, like me, but still want to discuss the shows with friends. You could catch up on season one of The Tudors, for instance.

We are currently watching The Wire. Just when I thought I couldn't watch another crime show, I come across this series set in Baltimore. The Wire follows several detectives infiltrating a narcotics syndicate in the hopes of prosecuting their previously unknown leader. We see the officers human flaws and the systemic problems and limited technology that inhibit their investigation. The Wire also follows the workings and struggles of the drug dealers and addicts. So far, Season One has been free of many of the cliches one would expect in a police show. Because it focuses on the challenges of the individuals on both sides of the law, it is less graphically violent than many current crime series.

Foyle's Waris another great crime series that recently aired on tv. Anglophiles and Michael Kitchen fans will enjoy him as mild-mannered but determined DCS Foyle who solves crimes during World War II in and around Hastings, England. All of the crimes are connected with war-time life, and the series deals with some of the moral ambiguities that arose at the time. This series is divided into sets and series of discs, so for a useful chronology of the episodes, see the fan website: www.foyleswar.com.

Don't forget our non-fiction (numbered) series, featuring a range of topics. This is where you'll find National Film Board animation classics such as "Blackfly" and Rodney Yee's yoga series for Gaiam. You will also find many travel series highlighting countries or cities for airmchair or actual travel. Opera buffs will find many choices also. How about Hockey: A People's History? or The Red Green Show?

I really enjoyed Terry Jones' The Crusades. In spite of Jones' Monty Python affiliation, this is not a spoof. The two-part series outlines the political and material motivations behind the crusaders and profiles the recruits. It contrasts the crusaders' ideals versus the actual effects of the crusades. The dvds present great cinematographic views of Accra and other areas and a good biography of Saladin. This series really stands out from other "knights and armour" focussed accounts, not that the somewhat portly Jones doesn't try some armour on for size.

If you did already know about our great series...tell someone who doesn't!

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