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Not the Movie About the Doctor

by Melanie

The Awakening is a 2011 ghost story/suspense feature. It is set in England, post World War I , in a manor house converted to a school. Naturally, there are unexplained deaths and an extra student body who appears blurrily in the yearly group portait.

Enter Florence Cathcart, played by hot ticket actress Rebecca Hall (The Prestige) a non-believing ghosthunter hired to expose fakes and chicanery. Lucky for her, and us, one of the teachers is played by Dominic West (The Wire, The Hour) and romance ensues! Imelda Staunton (Vera Drake, Cranford) plays the over-friendly schoolmistress.

There's plenty of make-you-jump-scenes, but be forewarned, this is a psychological thriller for those who enjoyed The Woman in Black, and The Village and movies of that ilk, not horror movies like Saw. The "awakening" in the movie is downright psychiatric, but I'll leave it at that. Fans of Midsomer Murders and period British fare such as Downtown Abbey might enjoy this one, too.

Ghosties and Ghoulies and Things That Go Bump

by Moe - 1 Comment(s)

Okay, it's that time of year-when we offer up some more choices to help keep you up at night.

First up and one I highly recommend is Jekyll, starring the talented and versatile James Nesbitt. This is yet another excellent BBC mini series from 2007. It is one of those series that I started watching and all else had to wait. It is wicked great fun, with a tremendous ending. You may also know Nesbitt from Monroe and Murphy's Law, both of which CPL carries. And if you don't know him yet you will soon because Nesbitt is playing one of the dwarves in the big Peter Jackson production, The Hobbit.

Although it's never appealed to me it does to a lot of people- Paranormal Activity- we have one, two and three. Four is in the theatres just in time for Halloween. Interesting bit of trivia about PNA. Each of the films cost less than $5 million to make but the first 3 have grossed a combined $576 million worldwide. PNA Five anybody?

We have the original campy and popular 70's television series Barnabas/Dark Shadows and there are a lot of them from which to choose. The remake by Tim Burton, Dark Shadows is new on our shelves. It is only for die hard Depp/Burton fans- which I am not. Depp yes, Burton not so much. There are some other Depp/Burton pairings that I like better, that you can access down at the bottom of this post. John Cusack I do like and you might want to take a look at The Raven. Cusack plays Edgar Allen Poe, aiding the Baltimore police in solving some gruesome crimes that appear to be based on his stories. Woman in Black with Mr. Harry Potter - Daniel Radcliffe- is a fairly decent gothic horror story.

Now another remake that I really did like is Fright Night . With Colin Farrell as your next door neighbour you'd think all would be good- you'd be wrong. Watch for the scene with the Century 21 sign. It is equal parts macabre and hilarious.

Latest installment in the Vampires versus the Lycans saga- Underworld Awakening. I really liked the first installment in this quadrilogy, especially that tremendous fight scene at the end between Beckinsdale and Nighy. This latest one I found was only so so. Two (Evolution)is okay and three (Rise of the Lycans) is not bad. However, they have left it wide open for another sequel, but it'll need an infusion of fresh blood.

The Walking Dead is very popular and we have season one. Season two just started last weekend on tv and those that saw it say it was very good.

Just spoke to our crack team of 'Selectors' and I am really happy to tell you that we are getting Abe Lincoln Vampire Hunter. I was going to pass on this at the theatres this summer and wait for it to come out on dvd, but I ended up going when the one I really wanted to see was sold out. I thought it was great fun, and deserved more attention than it got- great CGI's, lots of jumps and giggles, a very convincing plot (once you accept that Abe Lincoln really was a vampire hunter, not just a president). There is a truly evil vampire master played to perfection by Rufus Sewell. And the best train heading towards a burning trestle action sequence that I have ever seen. Can't link this one yet, but keep checking our catalogue.

The Mist by Stephen King is actually better than you would think given the rather shaky start. Stick with it past the first appearance of a rubberized tentacle, and you are in for a pretty darn good movie. It has a really strong performance by Marcia Gay Harden and an ending that surprised and challenged me.

Still need some more choices? Follow theses links to see some previous Halloween posts---one, two and three, another one entirely devoted to Stephen King and some Gotchas! Oh man, I just love being scared.

Now, if you like your monsters in print as well as on the screen, let me recommend a wonderful YA trilogy by Rick Yancey. It is the Monstrumologist, Curse of the Wendigo and The Isle of Blood. It has two of the most memorable characters I have read recently- Dr. Pellinore Warthrop and Will Henry. I spent many enjoyable hours reading them, and almost as many imagining who would be the best choices to play the characters if they ever turned the books into movies. And these are books that are just begging to be turned into movies.

And what would Halloween be without Frankenstein?

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.

Johnny D & John C

by Moe - 1 Comment(s)

Whenever I think 'quirky', two actors come to mind. One is Johnny Depp and the other is John Cusack. Both have been around for a lot of years, both are highly versatile and both can be counted on to give solid performances---especially in very offbeat films. It's interesting to see that both also have new releases in the theatres at the moment. The Raven is loosely based on Edgar Allan Poe's poem of the same name and features Cusask. Dark Shadows is a re-imagining of the 1966 TV cult classic and features Depp as an imprisoned vampire, Barnabas Collins. Truth be told, I will give both of these a pass until they come out on DVD, but we have lots of other Depp and Cusack titles that showcase their talents.

Forget the mainstream Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, we've all seen and enjoyed them, and try these from Depp: Edward Scissorhands, Rango, Don Juan DeMarco, Benny and Joon and the wonderful and truly strange Ed Wood. We also have the original tv series that launched his career and made him the heartthrob of most North American teens---21 Jump Street. I recently watched The Rum Diary and although not a great film it did qualify as mildly quirky, is well acted, and had more than enough to keep me with it.

Cusack has never really been main stream, or at least not since his days as a member of the brat pack in the 80's. Try him out in what is likely one of the most bizarre movies ever---Being John Malcovich. Also Grosse Pointe Blank and the same roll reprised in War Inc ---written by Cusack---and yes that is him doing his own stunts-he has a black belt in kick boxing.

Now to end this post, let me say that the two Johns have in their filmography to my mind several VERY scary movies. 1408 with Cusack just scares the milk and cookies out of me every time I watch it- and I can't stop watching it. And Depp is often at his best when he plays the 'in over his head' protagonist like in Sleepy Hollow. Also, From Hell (a Jack the Ripper retelling-very bloody and dark) and Secret Window.

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.

Whatever you do, stick together !

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

Well, myself and fellow Movie Maniac Mat are off to see Cabin in the Woods next week. This one is getting a lot of buzz- the ultimate 'fanboy' horror movie. The film has been produced and co-written by Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and other iconic TV shows and directed by his longtime collaborator Drew Goddard, writer of Cloverfield. Now I have never been much of a Buffy fan although it still remains hugely popular, but Angel is certainly a lot of fun. Cloverfield, once you get past the 'queasy-cam' is quite effective, and I loved the look of the aliens/monsters. So I am quite interested to see what is going on in, and under The Cabin the Woods---I'll let you know.

I recently watched the remake of Fright Night with Colin Farrell as the Vampire next door. Round out the cast with Toni Collette from United States of Tara, Anton Yelchin from Star Trek Year One, and David Tennant, the 10th incarnation of Doctor Who, and you have a pretty good flick. I thought Colin struck just the right note between campy and evil. I found myself in equal measures, jumping, laughing, thinking 'great special effects and ' oh, that's just plain nasty'. What fun !!

Redux-Frankenstein

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

I am always on the lookout for a retelling of a a classic tale- especially one as powerful as Frankenstein. It has remained popular since 1931 when Boris Karloff first donned the giant shoes and neck bolts. And while I enjoy almost all of the offerings and their various interpretations, until now my fave has been the Kenneth Branagh version from 1994, with de Niro suiting up as the monster. However, this past weekend I stumbled across a version that I think is the most true to the original intent of Mary Shelly- the horror, not of the monster, but of science run amok. Of a creaure who is knowledgeable, wise and possessed of a conscience. And after being abadoned by his creator decides "if I cannot inspire love, I will inspire fear".

This is a mini series so it runs a little longer at 204 minutes, but I think you'll find it to be worth your time. Some great locations shots, some fine acting and a really nice Gothic feel to it. It also has what might be the best looking monster ever. Even though he still looks pretty awful---especially immediately pre and post creation! Now I don't think this is a case of miscasting nor an attempt to be campy---it just gave him a humanity that really works.

In addition to these three, CPL also has the Bride of Frankenstein from 1931, History Channels In Search of the Real Frankenstein, one with Robert Foxworth that may be fine but in all honesty I can't be bothered to watch as he strikes me as a little lightweight for the role, and of course the hilarious Young Frankenstein. There is also a boxed set which features 5 in 1- the original with Boris Karloff - The bride of- The House of- The Ghost of- the Son of........ you get the picture.

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.

6 Degrees of Separation

- 0 Comment(s)

Thanks to guest blogger Alex who does another tremendous job stringing a '6 degrees post' together.

I was wondering how I could possibly write a post about “Real Steel” without losing the respect of every Movie Maniac out there… I mean, really? Hugh Jackman as an ex-UFC fighter and gambling addict, whose estranged 10-year-old son helps him revamp an old robot and enter the popular Automaton Boxing competitions of the not-so-distant future? It’s ridiculous! It’s juvenile! It panders to an audience that revels in video games and violence and not much else!

And… it’s AWESOME. I’m serious. This movie was fun, visually compelling, the plot followed a perfect (if predictable) arc, the acting was fine, the soundtrack was catchy… I even think I cried a little!

And let’s be honest. You could put Hugh Jackman in a poncho, wrestling tights, and a Ronald MacDonald wig, and the man would still be worth the price of admission.

So starting with Hugh Jackman in “Real Steel” and a 2ndgeneration sparring-Bot named “Atom” let's use Robots as our common denominator and see how this 6 degrees rolls out.

"I, Robot” is RIFE with Androids trying to take over the world, but we like Sonny, the main one. It stars Will Smith (another perfect human specimen), but, much better for my purposes, Shia LaBeouf has a bit part as a character named Farber.

LaBeouf, is, of course, the headliner for the hugely popular (though-no-one-knows-why) “Transformers” series, which stars more robots than it does humans. See him here with Optimus Prime.

The 2005 revamp of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” had a star-studded cast, least of which were the robots. Of the human actors, the brilliant Bill Nighy appears as Slartibartfast. (I had to sneak Marvin in the background there... but there are still TONS of robots in this movie...)

Now… here’s my only bridge that doesn’t include Bots… and I’d label it cheating if it wasn’t such an awesome movie. Bill Nighy and Kate Beckinsale star in “Underworld", a kick-butt romp through the age-old Lycan vs. Vamp family feud. (There's a lot of technology in this movie... that counts, right?)

Kate Beckinsale, who was a Vampire in “Underworld”, turns Vamp HUNTER in “Van Helsing”, which brings us back to Beefcake Hugh Jackman, AND an especially robotic monster of Frankenstein.

Not quite making the cut are some of my fave Artificial Intelligence movies, where the robot is played by an actor (and not just say, voiced by one), and therefore doesn’t count as a robot. You could say the same for Shuler Hensley in "Van Helsing", but there was a LOT of CG in that one.

A.I.- from 2001 and directed by Steven Spielberg, with the talented young Haley Joel Osmont and Jude Law.

Bicentennial Man- like "I,Robot", this is based on an Issac Asimov story and features Robin Williams in the tin suit.

Star Trek- I had to check with MM Moe because I am not the Trekkie that she is---she says while S.T. has a proliferation of robots, androids, cyborgs, and automotons, her own personal faves are any episodes that have The Borgs: 'the scourge of the Alpha and Delta quadrants and the cybernetically-enhanced humanoids that everybody loves to hate' (yeah- she actually said that!). In fact she is such a fan she has previously given Star Trek it's own featured spot (actually more than one!).

Halloween Movies

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

A big thanks to guest blogger Trevor who says he actually lost sleep over some of these movies. Now I call that a recommendation. I have to tell you that in spite of taking it home at least 4 times, I still have not had the nerve to put 'Paranormal' in my player and actually turn it on. Want to see some previous picks- just click on SCARY under tags on the left . Great fun for those who like their movies dark---just don't say we didn't warn you.Moe.

Not a typical haunted house film, Insidious flips the formula by having a haunted child instead. A very divisive film (I have friends who were so scared they cried and others who were laughing out loud throughout), Insidious is nothing if not unique. Horror fans should check it out for something new.

The Crazies – Residents of a small town start going kooky and, you guessed it, CRAZY and it’s up to the always excellent Timothy Olyphant to set things right. A tense and suspenseful zombie-esque flick. Fans of speedy zombies will be right at home.

Paranormal Activity and Paranormal Activity 2 – You often hear the phrase “scariest movie since the Exorcist” and most of the time it is nothing more than a marketing ploy. In the case of the Paranormal Activity films however, it is undeniably true. In my opinion, these are the scariest movies on this list and are not for the faint of heart. Following the “found footage” trend that has become increasingly popular since the Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity tells the tale of a house menaced by a demon. The second film is actually a prequel which details the events leading up to the original and can be enjoyed regardless of your familiarity with the first film. The scares are simple (the first film only had a $15,000 budget) and aren’t the typical cat jumps into frame or phone rings loudly gotcha-moments that lesser films rely on. I’m not embarrassed to say that I lost sleep over these ones.

Let Me In is the American remake of the Swedish Let the Right One In. A lonely young boy befriends a lonely young girl (who also happens to be a vicious blood-sucker). While I haven’t seen the remake, I hear it’s a note for note adaptation that is just as chilling and thought provoking as the original (which happens to be my favorite vampire film).

Predators - Nostalgia is the best word to describe this film. It looks like the original Predator, it sounds like it, it feels like it, and it’s just as suspenseful when the new predators are hunting their unsuspecting (human) prey. Fans of the original will find much to love.

Day Breakers –Excessive blood and gore meets subtle consumerist satire in this tale of a vampire apocalypse. The twist: our protagonist is a vampire himself, living in a world of vampires, trying to find an alternate food source as the last of human race slowly wastes away.

Frozen – If you ski or snowboard, you just may want to avoid this film. I’m not too anxious to hit the hill after watching a trio of college kids get trapped on a chairlift, at night, halfway up the mountain, over a long weekend, in freezing temperatures, with no one to help them…did I mention there’s frostbite and ravenous wolves?

The Mist – Stephen King adaptations are hit and miss most of the time but thankfully this film is one of the hits. A thick, mysterious mist envelopes a small town. The mist contains hungry creatures and it’s up to Thomas Jane to keep his group of survivors safe inside the town’s grocery store. A tense and chilling flick, The Mist keeps you on the edge of your seat until the very satisfying conclusion.


Maureen here-thanks again Trevor. I have once more taken 'Paranormal' home with me for the weekend and this time I intend to watch it---really! And just in time, as Paranormal 3 is being released on Oct 21st.

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