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Live From Wembley Stadium

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We all know that CPL has an amazing collection of CD's. Everything from Slayer to Shostakovich-Justin Bieber to Alice Cooper! But do you know that we also have a huge collection of performances/concerts on dvd? In fact, my recent search brought up over 200! These are concerts performed around the world at international venues by a huge and diverse group of performers. For example:

Fleetwood Mac: Rumours

The 4 Complete Ed Sullivan Shows Starring the Beatles

Eagles: Farewell tour live from Melbourne

Queen: Live at Wembley Stadium

Simon and Garfunkel; the concert in Central Park

U2: Live at Red Rocks

This just barely begins to scratch the surface of some of my own faves. Music--performance as a search term will bring up everything and show you the depth of the collection; my above mentioned faves came by searching Rock Concerts dvd;

by Moe

Royals Behaving Badly

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The British monarchy has always been a great go-to for directors, screen writers and actors. And with good reason---the history is rife with scandal, sex, murder, revolt, religion, politics and royalty generally behaving badly. With all the buzz around this years front runner -The King's Speech (with 11 nominations and currently on order ot CPL) I thought I'd recommend some other movies and series based on Royals. A great many of these are previous Oscar nominees and big winners.

Anne of the thousand days/Mary Queen of Scots---you all know the story---and these are excellent retellings.

Becket-Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole---the story of the friendship between Henry 2 and his close friend and confident.

A Man for All Seasons- an Oscar win for Paul Scofield playing Thomas Moore, the man who stood up to King Henry VIII when the King rejected the Roman Catholic Church for not allowing a divorce and remarriage.

The Queen---Helen Mirren's big win from 2006 as Q E 2. The resemblance is uncanny, the performance excellent, the story highly respectful.

Elizabeth and Elizabeth the Golden Age with Cate Blanchett ---there are actually many more Liz the First to choose from in our collection (so many in fact it almost needs it's own post). Another fave of mine is The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex with Errol Flynn and Bette Davis.

The Lost Prince- a big Golden Globe winner for TV drama from 2003. The story of the British royal prince locked away because of his epilepsy.

Lady Jane---from 1986 with Helena Bonham Carter (nominated this year for Best supporting Actress in The King's Speech), and Cary Elwes. A not so well known story about the 9 day reign of Lady Jane Grey.

Lion in Winter- two versions, the Peter O'toole, Katherine Hepburn and the Glenn Close Patrick Stewart television remake. Hepburn won an Oscar for best Actress for hers. At the time she became only the third perfomer to win consecutive best acting awards and the first prerformer ever to win three Oscars for a lead.

Young Victoria---Emily Blunt as Victoria during her early turbulent years

Mrs. Brown---Judi Dench as Victoria during her later widowed years.

The Tudors--- the steamy, highly popular television series wherein Henry VIII comes off as incredibly sexy and not terribly despicable. I don't know how historically accurate it is, but it certainly is entertaining. We have four complete seasons.

The Madness of King George---in his case, it was not good to be King. The royal who 'lost the colonies'.

And just becuse it is so much fun, the wonderful musical Camelot.

You'll be surprised (or maybe not) how the same faces keep recurring- O'Toole, Burton, Jacobi, Stewart, Dench, Mirren.

Joust For Fun

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Medieval themed movies have always been very popular. After all, there is lots to draw from--- knights in shining armour, damsels in distress, Arthurian legend, Grail quests, secret societies, dragons and maidens hearing God's voice. Let's see what CPL has to offer in this genre.

Camelot-the Lerner and Lowe musical from 1967 with Richard Harris, Vanessa Redgrave and Franco Nero. Some wonderful music and songs in this. More Arthurian retelling with Merlin (Sam Neill) and King Arthur (Clive Owen).

Ivanhoe-we actually have a couple worth a look. There is a two part mini series from 1997 that is pretty good. And on order is the wonderful 1952 film with Robert Taylor, Elizabeth taylor (not related), and George Sanders. Don't miss this one. Elizabeth was never more beautiful, Robert never more handsome and George never more evil and conflicted !

Kingdom of Heaven-directed by Ridley Scott (Gladiator, Alien) so it is a little over the top, but there is enough here to keep your interest, including Orlando Bloom,Liam Neeson and Jeremy Irons.

Goofy fun with Martin Lawrence in 2001's Black Knight. I always expected them to make a sequel to this, but maybe it just didn't do well enough at the box office. I still get quite a kick out of this movie.

Speaking of goofy, it doesn't get much more so than Monty Python and The Holy Grail. Perhaps the most original reimagining of the Grail quest legend and in typical Python style, something to offend everyone.

A Knights Tale- with Heath Ledger and Paul Bettany. This is lots of fun.

Joan of Arc-we have four here to choose from, including a non fiction. Also the 1999 version with Leelee Sobieski and the 1948 Ingrid Bergman offering. And from 1928 a silent version.

We have a few documentaries on the mysterious Templars. Try either Knights Templar or The Templar Code.

And because your library has something for everyone, we also have Bob the Builders: Knights of Fix-a-lot.

Charles Dickens-Redux

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I love stories by Charles Dickens and as a result I love movies about stories by Charles Dickens. They really lend themselves to retelling on the screen. I love the large array of truly quirky characters--- I love the struggles against social injustice and against class---I love the overwhelming humanity of it all. We have a truly impressive collection of Dickens on film and a lot of them are excellent mini series---many of which have been done more than once. Amongst my favourite are:

Bleak House--- the 1985 with Diana Rigg and Denholm Elliot and the 2005 with Jillian Anderson and Charles Dance. Both are very good and this is a wonderful story.

Tale of Two Cities---ah, my favourite Dickens of all. We have the 1980 with Peter Cushing and the 1989 from Masterpiece Theatre. Oh, how I wish we had the original 1935 with Robert Colman taking on the role of Charles Darnay. But both of these others will work well.

David Copperfield---this has been done over the years at least 15 times. We have three versions; 1935 with Lionel Barrymore and Freddie Bartholomew; 1979 with nobody I have ever heard of and 2000 with no less than Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellan) and Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe). I like the 1935.

Great Expectations---now this is not one of my favourite stories as I think Miss Haversham just needs to lighten up a little. But it is a perennial favourite of both Hollywood and the BBC. We have two worth seeing. 1949 with Alec Guinness (can't go wrong with anything Guinness is ever in) and 1999 with Ioan Gruffund (Horatio Hornblower/Fantastic Four).

Oliver Twist---according to IMDB there are at least 24 versions of this one. CPL has no less than 6! Try either the 1949 (again with Guinness) or the wonderful 1966 musical with Oliver Reed (5 Oscars wins including Best Picture). There is also the animated Disney version with dogs as the orphaned street urchins.

The Con is On

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To do a good con artist movie requires a deft hand. You don't want to make it so complicated you need to be a rocket scientist to figure it out---on some level it has to be plausible. You want your audience to come along with you for the ride to see whether the characters get away with it---but it's also fun to be conned a little ourselves as we watch. What works best is a combination of the two---let me in on it but hold a little something back for the big reveal! Here are my favorites.

The Sting---the standard by which all such movies should be measured. Robert Redford and Paul Newman at their absolute best--- handsome, cunning, charming. Robert Shaw is the perfect foil---you can't wait to see if they get away with this. Big Oscar winner.

Catch Me If You Can--- another one with a big name cast---Tom Hanks and Leonardo Di Caprio. All the more entertaining when you realize it is based on an actual person doing these things.

The Music Man---an old musical from 1962, this is quite a lot of fun. Do you remember that Ron Howard wasn't always one of today's best known directors? He started life as a child actor and is adorable in this movie.

MatchStick Men---clever and stylish. See Mels' earlier post 'Nicholas Cage Reconsidered'. Definitley worth a look.

Paper Moon---another one previously recommended under Pick of the Week. But like Matchstick Men, it is good enough to deserve a second review---excellent performances, including an Oscar for the very young Tatum O'Neal.

The Producers---we have both copies of this zany musical from the bizarre mind of Mel Brooks. The original with Zero Mostel and Gene Hackman, and the remake with Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick.

You will have to go elsewhere to get Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with Steve Martin and Michael Caine, but it you have never seen it, make the trip. It is worth the effort---absurdly funny.

Film Festival In-a-Box

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When I wrote the post for Space Time Continuum I recommended a Science Fiction collection put together by Turner Classic Movies. They feature four movies each and CPL has several other of these thematic based sets. There's lots of good viewing here, with the Murder Mysteries, Sci Fi and Horror compilations being particularly strong. So if you aren't watching the Olympics, or just need a bit of a break from all that reality, grab one of these and away you go.

Sc Fi: Soylent Green, Forbidden Planet, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Time Machine

Horror: House of Wax, The Haunting, Freaks, Dr. Jeckll and Mr. Hyde

Murder Mysteries: Maltese Falcon, Big Sleep, Dial M for Murder, Postman Always Rings Twice

Best Picture: Casablanca, Mrs. Miniver, Gigi, American in Paris

Wsterns: Wild Bunch, McCabe and Mrs Miller, Jeremiah Johnson, Train Robbers

Broadway Musicals: Show Boat, Annie Get Your Gun, Kiss me Kate, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

American Musicals: Band Wagon, Meet me in St. Louis, Singin' in the Rain,Easter Parade

Shall We Dance

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We all know of the great pairing of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. But check out Fred and the only partner he said ever intimidated him- Eleanor Powell. The movie is Broadway Melody of 1940 and even though it is a simple 'mistaken identity' plot it is very much worth a watch for the dancing. Considered to be the best tap sequence ever put down on film, Begin the Beguine is simply amazing. It's everything it should be- Fred in a bolero jacket, Ellie in a flowing gown, a beautiful Cole Porter score- two of the most gifted dancers of their time taking your breath away.

The Full Monty1997- a movie about a group of unemployed, down on their luck steel workers, who decide they have nothing left to loose- except their clothing.

That's Entertainment 1 and 2- hugely popular in the 70's, these DVDs offer retrospectives of some of MGM's best films over the previous 40 years. There are many dance sequences with the biggest and best- Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Ann Miller, Judy Garland, Cyd Charisse, Mickey Rooney. If you aren't sure that musicals or dance movies are for you, this is a good way to get a broad overview. These really are entertaining.

Billy Elliot 2000 - this is a wonderful story of young boy who much to his coal mining father's displeasure would rather do ballet than boxing. As the family continues to disintegrate during the hardship of a strike, Billy and his father must find a way to overcome their differences.

Waiting for Guffman- not technically a dance movie or musical, I have included this because it has the funniest 60 second dance that I have ever seen. From the delightfully irreverent minds of Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy--it is actually funny on every level.

Hairspray- we have both versions of this- the 1988 with Sonny Bono and Debbie Harry and the 2007 with John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer and Queen Latifah (I prefer the new one). The story revolves aroung a 1960's television dance show and the pervasive racial segregation of the time. This is an enjoyable couple of hours.

And just in case you would rather actually do the dancing than watch it, we have instructional dvds on tap, ballet, waltz, belly, tango, swing, rumba, mambo, lambada, foxtrot, cha-cha, hip hop, hula, highland, country, Persian, funk, jazz, improvisational, baroque, meringue, pasa doble, disco, nightclub and Celtic---phew, my feet are killing me! To find what you want, do a keyword search of dvd dance-- which will bring up over 150 titles.

Guaranteed Embarrassment Free 2

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Miracle Worker1962

This movie tells the story of Helen Keller, born deaf and blind, and young Annie Sullivan who is brought in with the aim of reaching into Helen's dark and silent world. The parent's expectations are low- hoping only for some peace from the animal like child that rules their lives. What ensues is a gigantic battle of wills- and one of the world's best-known stories of triumph over adversity. Anne Bancroft won an Academy Award for best actress and Patty Duke (aged 16) won best supporting actress. This win made Patty the youngest performer ever to receive an Oscar- a title that she held until 10 year old Tatum O'Neal's win for Paper Moon in 1973 (another very good movie, but definitely not embarrassment free).

Jurassic Park1993

If you missed this first time around or just want to revisit it, sit down with the family, make a big bowl of popcorn and grab a pillow to scream into, because there are lots of scary moments. But scary in a heart-thumping, squeeze your eyes shut and peek kind of way. The first in the franchise of three, this is my favorite, although the others are good as well. Director Steven Spielberg is in top form here, all the actors turn in good performances and you will not believe how real the dinosaurs look. The scene with the children trying to hide from the raptors in the kitchen is terrific. This was based on the book by Michael Crichton, considered one of the foremost writers of speculative/technological fiction. Crichton, who has just passed away at the time of this post, is well represented in several formats at CPL--print, audio and dvds. Look for him under author search for a full listing of titles.

Free Willy1993

This movie was a big hit when first released, spawning two sequels and a short lived animated tv series. It tells the story of a young street boy and the orca whale that he encounters while vandalizing a marina. As part of his rehabilitation the boy is sent to work at the marina and a friendship soon develops between the misfit boy and the displaced whale. When things take a turn for the worse for Willy, the boy decides to try and set him free. A very heart warming story-you'll be rooting for Willy and Jesse all the way.

The King and I1956

This wonderful musical features Yul Brynner as the king of Siam and Deborah Kerr as Anna, the governess imported from England to tutor the kings many children. Obviously there are culture clashes- some tender- some severe enough to cause real problems. With a wonderful score from Rodgers and Hammerstein, this old classic still stands the test of time. Now, I know that musicals are not for everyone, but I defy you to not come out with at least one of the songs stuck in your head. This was remade in 1999 with Jody Foster and Chow Yun-Fat, and although quite lavish, I prefer the musical.

Home Alone 1990

This perennial Christmas favorite from 1990 is still a good bet. Eight year old Kevin is accidentally left behind during his family's mad rush to start their holiday abroad. Alone in the house with only his wits, he must cope with his fears and also try to outsmart two bungling but determined burglars. His clever use of available resources brings to mind a young MacGyver.