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Off Line

COMIC EXPO

by Moe - 4 Comment(s)

I had the pleasure of attending the Comic Expo held April 27-29 at the BMO Centre as a representative at the library booth. The Event was a huge success with an estimated attendance at the three day event in the 45,000 + range. At one point on Saturday afternoon Calgary’s Fire Marshall actually closed the event to further entry as maximum saturation had been reached. And boy was it saturated.

The crowds were amazing, the costumes dazzling, and the atmosphere electric.

We engaged with hundreds of people and once again I am struck with how responsive people are to public libraries and their presence at such events. I talked to people from Fredericton, Houston, Los Angeles, Wyoming, a lot from Vancouver and Edmonton and one lady who had travelled all the way from Pool, England to see James Marsters- and who can blame her. She is a librarian and was thrilled to hear that libraries are alive and well in Calgary as she herself had recently been made redundant as a “soft target” of England’s budget cuts.

I asked dozens of attendees to pose for pictures in front of our “EVERYTHING YOU'RE INTO“ banner, and without exception, everyone agreed. They loved the banner and thought it really spoke to their own wide variety of interests.

If there was ever an event that more readily embraces the diversity of people’s interests, I have yet to find it. Steam Punk, Horror, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Anime, Graphix, Gothic, cartoonists, animators, illustrators, self-publishers, all very enthusiastic and ready to share what Public Libraries mean to them. There was one very charming young lady, Melissa, who along with her entire family had a wildly successful, heavily-attended ‘Steam Punk’ booth. She had an amazing hand-made costume and I asked if she would be willing to come over and let me take her picture in front of our banner. She did, stayed for around 10 minutes, drew a huge crowd, and proclaimed "Reading is Sexy, Libraries are wonderful, Support your local library.” She makes costumes, jewelry, accessories and specializes in the most amazing steam punk goggles, monocles, field glasses etc-- she does her research at her local library -- and yes, I bought a pair- I LOVE the steam punk look.

Freddy Kruger, Q , Skeletor, Wolverine (old and new versions), an entire family of Superman[s], Lady Galadriel, Orcs from the White Tower, The Fly, Rorschach, Darth Maul, Spider-Man, Red Skull, The Mad Hatter, Star Trek, and Steam Punk galore --- all happy to stop and pose with our banner. One of the people who I asked to pose, Red Skull, was on his way to the judging for best costume, but agreed to take the time for a picture with us. He went on to become one of the finalists. What an amazing costume! Thanks Skull. Freddy K, who I have always found to have one of the most disturbing faces ever, took a little bit of the edge off for me when he said "Who doesn't like libraries!" My Darth Maul guy actually physically implanted his horns; that's an amazing degree of committment...

And if you are wondering if I sprung for my own big photoshoot with the entire Star Trek- Next Generation cast- the answer is--- sadly not. At $495.00 it was a little too rich for my blood.

IIFA

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The Indian International Film Academy Awards just took place this past weekend in Toronto. Now in its 12th year, the festival is famous for promoting Indian movies, culture and fashion and Toronto marks the North American debut. This is truly a global event with previous venues being London, Sun City, Malaysia, Jo'burg, Singapore, Amsterdam, Dubai, Yorshire, Thailand, Macao and Colombo. The expected global audience is estimated in excess of 900 million and the event will draw huge crowds into Toronto for the four day event.

If you are a fan of Bollywood films you know they are anything but boring. They are exuberant, flamboyant, full of song, dance, drama, action and just plain entertaining. Bollywood turns out thousands of movies a year, nearly 3 times as many as Hollywood and their actors are as famous or more throughout the world. And very prolific. The next time you are playing trivia and someone (like us) tries to tell you that Gene Hackman seems to be in a heck of a lot of movies, you can smile knowingly and say 'well Adoor Bhasi has been in over 600!

To get a glimpse of what Hindi movies CPL has to offer, use dvd fiction Hindi as your search term in our on-line public catalogue to see some of the more that 400 titles we carry.

by Moe

Way Calgary

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The Stampede looming and high gas prices encouraging stay-cations have me thinking about local viewing. A few posts back in a review of films starring Don McKellar ("Don McKellar Jubilee"), I mentioned Waydowntown. We do have this dvd in the collection! Set in Calgary's Plus-15 system, this comedy by Gary Burns features downtown office workers who wager to see who can live indoors the longest, using our series of walkways to obtain provisions. Burns also directed the must-see mocumentary Radiant City, examining life in Calgary's sprawling suburbs. It feels like a real documentary.

Don McKellar Jubilee

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Don't miss our dvds featuring Canada's own writer/actor Don McKeller, co-creator of the Broadway hit and Tony award winning play, The Drowsy Chaperone, which played in Calgary recently. McKellar has worked with Canada's most prominent directors, so his body of work is a partial crash-course in Canadian film history. Place your holds now for the titles on order.

Last Night

Sandra Oh (Grey's Anatomy) hit the big-time after her quirky role in this humourous last-day-on-earth themed movie also starring Genevieve Bujold and Sarah Polley.

The Red Violin

This beautiful film follows a violin from its creation through the various hands it passes through and dramas it witnesses until it ends in the hands of Samuel L. Jackson's character.

Cooking with Stella

Co-starring Deepa Mehta's lead Lisa Ray (Bollywood Hollywood and Water). McKellar plays an unemployed chef living in India who learns cooking secrets from the head of the household staff.

Highway 61 and Roadkill (dir.Bruce Macdonald)

In the first, Don Mckellar's character is waylayed by a tough gal and driven down to the Southern states...with a body in the car. Roadkill follows a punk band across Northern Ontario.

eXistenZ (sic) (dir. David Cronenberg) Check out the graphic novel as well as the dvd starring Jude Law, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Willem Dafoe. Imagine a world where you can enter the world of a computer game...Hey, wait a minute!

Not yet at CPL but worth watching:

Way Downtown

Calgary's +15 system of raised walkways is the real star. A group of friends have a contest to see how long they can stay indoors in their workplaces.

Thirty-two short films about Glenn Gould

You don't have to be a concert pianist to figure what this one's all about but the structure is unique and follows the Goldberg Variations. Carlo Rota appears (Little Mosque on the Prairie) and Colm Feore (Bon Cop, Bad Cop) stars as Glenn Gould.

Exotica and The Adjuster (dir. Atom Egoyan)

McKellar does a fine job in his roles but some viewers find Egoyan's work troubling. Exotica features a missing girl, and her babysitter-obsessed father. The Adjuster is brilliantly set in the surburban wasteland of a new home surrounded by undeveloped land and focuses on a woman working for the censor board. Caution: adult themes and disturbing content.

Spotlight on Donald Sutherland

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As often as not, Donald Sutherland appears in supporting roles, tv commercial voice-overs, or narrating book cds, so he may seem an unlikely lead, but Fellini saw enough to cast him in his film, Casanova. Lanky but loaded with charisma, Canadian Donald Sutherland continues to deliver great performances. He is one of those actors who's been in everything ever made (well, anything that doesn't star Gene Hackman already) and he's as convincing in space as he is in thrillers, or family drama. For a Sutherland mini-bio, read Pioneer Canadian Actors by Stone Wallace (791.43028 WAL) and enjoy the following selection of his starring roles from the library's collection:

The Assignment co-stars Ben Kingsly and Aidan Quinn. The government hires a naval officer to impersonate a terrorist.

The relatively recent Instinct starring Cuba Gooding Junior as an athropologist is coming soon to CPL. Anthony Hopkins stars as the man who has gone wild.

Smaller Sutherland roles include: The Bedford Incident (see our Life of the Sea review), Animal House, Backdraft, and Cold Mountain, A Time to Kill, and The Dirty Dozen--all available at CPL

M*A*S*H (the movie) Sutherland plays the iconic inconoclast and Korean War army surgeon, Hawkeye Pierce.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (the first remake, 1978). The title says it all.

Eye of the Needle Fans of Ken Follett (Pillars of the Earth, the tv adaptation of which is currently showing on CBC and stars you guessed it-Donald Sutherland) will enjoy this adaptation of his novel. Sutherland stars as a German spy hiding with a family in England during World War II.

Murder by Decree See Moe's earlier review of this suspense film centered around the Jack the Ripper-Royalty conspiracy theory.

Great Train Robbery An early Michael Crichton film with the classic gold delivery train scenario.

Italian JobAnother heist movie, this time set in contemporary LA costarring Mark Wahlberg and Charlize Theron

Ordinary People When this film came out, audiences were shocked by the candid portrayal of family strife--a taboo before that.

Space Cowboys Old aerospace buddies reunite to save the earth from a rogue satellite

Six degrees of Separation see the Numbers review for this one. Sutherland plays the husband resistant to his wife's involvement with a young man (Will Smith) from the streets.

Klute Sutherland stars as a police officer who falls for a prostitute threatened by a serial killer. The chemistry between him and Jane Fonda is electric and the plots seems fresh even with all the tv crime shows focused on this type of criminal.

Mel's Desert Island Classics:

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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.

Spotlight on Madeleine Sherwood

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I was lucky enough to go to the launch of the Victoria international film festival last weekend and attended a talk by actor Madeleine Sherwood. Born in Montreal, Sherwood escaped from a mental institution and moved to New York and studied under Elia Kazan at the Actors Studio with many Hollywood greats such as Marilyn Monroe, Marlon Brando, and playwright Tennessee Williams. The studio encouraged actors to dig deep into their personal pasts to make their characters come to life. Sherwood was black-listed during the McCarthy era for her friendships with other actors and playwrights suspected of Communist leanings. She worked mainly on Broadway and is famous for her role in The Crucible. At CPL, you can see her as sister woman in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and a smaller role in The Changeling. She appears also in Alfred Hitchcock presents in Season 6 Episode 37 "Make my Death Bed" (1961). Sherwood is the subject of a new documentary by Miriam Lawrence. It is an inspiring short film for actors and fans, so catch it if you can at a film festival.

Fire, Earth and Water

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These three films garnered considerable attention and critical acclaim for Deepa Mehta, the Indian born, Toronto based film maker.

Two women, one who is married to an ascetic who has taken a vow of celibacy, the other to a philanderer, turn to each other to help fulfill their empty lives. Fire from 1996 was especially controversial.

Second in the trilogy was 1998's Earthwhich follows the lives of two young lovers, one Hindi, one Muslim who live in the cosmopolitan city of Lahore, India. As the 1947 partition of India takes place, the lives of the lovers are ripped apart---as is the city and the entire sub continent. Perhaps as many as 10 million people were displaced as entire communities travelled between the newly formed countries of Pakistan and India. By some estimations as many as one million were killed.

The final installment is 2005's Water--- the story of a young widow--young as in about 8 years old, circa 1938. After the death of a husband she has never met, she is left with three choices-marrying the younger brother of the deceased, self emolation on a funeral pyre or a life of celibacy, discipline and solitude amongst other widows. While living in the widow's ashram she becomes friends with a young woman who is hoping to take advantage of a newly passed law and marry a man of her own choosing.

All three have strong cinematograhic appeal, absorbing characters, and compelling subject matter.