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Speaking of Costume Dramas...

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

 

 

There is no denying the huge popular and critical appeal of the granddaddy of all costume dramas, Downton Abbey. And with good reason: a tremendous cast, a glorious real life manor for a location, attention to period detail like you can't believe, costumes that leave you drooling, love, death, revenge, war, plague — I ask you, what's not to like!

For all those of you eagerly awaiting the start of Season Four on January 5, 2014 why not take the opportunity to catch up on the first 3 seasons. Haven't seen it yet? What on earth are you waiting for? Find out why people have been talking about this series for the past three years.

And because we here at CPL know how tremendously popular this series is, even though it has not yet aired, we have it on order and you can place your holds on Season 4 already! How's that for proactive?

Fan of Period/Costume Dramas?

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

 

 

Perhaps you are currently watching the new Masterpiece Classic production "The Paradise", which follows the exploits of a fictional early department store in Victorian England — it's really quite good and no doubt we will be adding it to our collection once it is ready for release.

If you are a fan of costume dramas chances are good you will enjoy Mr. Selfridge. This series centers on the real-life story of the flamboyant and visionary American founder of Selfridge's, a London department store.

This is a brand new release that just wound up its first season. We have the three disc, ten-part-series available, and the good news is there are not a lot of holds on it at this time.

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The Versatile Steve Buscemi

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

I did a post on Sam Rockwell not too long ago, and that got me thinking about Steve Buscemi. With his wonderful snaggle tooth and slightly protuberant eyes he doesn't fit the leading man role, but he certainly has screen presence and has forged an excellent career as a character actor. Like Rockwell he takes on some really challenging roles and isn't afraid to play loathsome characters. He has been kicking around a long time and often turns up in Coen Brothers films.

The one most people likely remember him from was Fargo, one of the more twisted offerings from the 'director with two heads' as the Coen's are often referred to. Now I must say this movie creeped me out something terrible, Oscar wins aside, but it turns up on a lot of must see lists. Barton Fink, The Big Lebowski and The Hudsucker Proxy are worth your two hours, and Big Fish is also worth a look.

He had recurring roles in two very popular series, The Sopranos and 30 Rock which have both finished their long runs. But he can be seen headlining in Boardwalk Empire (now in its 4th season), which chronicles the life of fictional gangster/politician Nucky Thompson, the undisputed ruler of Atlantic city. Boardwalk Empire has won numerous awards including a Golden Globe for Buscemi as Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Drama. Martin Scorcese is involved in this series and we all know nobody does gangstas better than Marty S.

And because he is so darn versatile, he had me howling with laughter in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, playing opposite Steve Carell. This was a lot of fun, and these two guys played off each other very well. Throw in the always good Alan Arkin and the sometimes good Jim Carrey—and he is good here—and this one works.

Luther

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

Season Three of the critically acclaimed BBC series, Luther, is arriving on our shelves even as I write.

If you have not yet seen this one treat yourself to one of the finest British crime dramas of recent years. And given how very good the British track record for this kind of programming is, that’s saying something.

Superior writing, fine, fine acting and some very unique storylines, this series has it all. They are also very dark and occasionally disturbing. You may know the star Idris Alba from some of his other recent offerings. He had a starring role in this summer's block buster, Pacific Rim and was in Ridley Scott's Prometheus from 2012. He was in the excellent multi award winning American crime drama from several years ago, The Wire. He has even been touted as possibly taking over the helm for the James Bond franchise, after Daniel Craig hangs up his martini glass- a rumour he is vigorously denying. Somebody else who is having their name thrown around? Michael Fassbender, who was also in Prometheus.

Do watch this series in order or you'll be lost. Besides they are that good you really don't want to miss a single episode. His star is definitely on the rise so expect to see a lot more of him.

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Best Westerns Vll

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

I put up a Western post in time for Stampede every year, but that didn't pan out this year because of the flooding in our beautiful city around that time! They have been a very popular recurring theme here at Movie Maniacs and we have dozens and dozens of our faves recommended in previous posts. But westerns are worthy of being watched anytime---I’ve tried to find some of the newer titles but of course they don’t make Westerns nearly often enough these days. Which is too bad, because a well-done Western is worth it's weight in oats.

Take a look at any of the following:

Kevin Costner’s The Hatfield’s and McCoy’s- great cast, big budget, multi award winning mini-series

Rango, for the whole family, as opposed to Django Unchained which is only for adults of strong constitutions

Cowboys and Aliens- the title says it all---very entertaining, with a strong cast including Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Paul Dano and Sam Rockwell


Hell on Wheels, this one is filmed in and around Calgary. We've blogged this more than once- it's an excellent series

Brand new to our collection, the Adventures of Brisco County Jr is just a lot of silly fun. This series from 1993 is available in one big 27 episode collection, so before you embark on this adventure set aside 23 hours! Featuring a Harvard graduate bounty hunter, robber baron's, and a recurring mysterious golden orb. Set this in the 1890's, reel it out like vintage movie serials, add a lot of tongue in cheek and keep it "just under over the top". It was well regarded by the critics and had a fierce and loyal following but in spite of that was not renewed beyond the initial first year.

And speaking of filmed in and around Calgary, try any of these sure bets: Shanghai Noon, Unforgiven, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Legends of the Fall and Open Range. And although not filmed near here, I'd feel remiss if I didn't plug my fave western of all time, the wonderful mini series Lonesome Dove.

"The dream of the 90s is alive in Portland"

by Melanie - 0 Comment(s)

I am happy to say that we now have Portlandia Season One available in both DVD and Blu-ray, recommended to me by a Library Story Van staffer.

As Moe mentioned in her last post about gentle viewing, we sometimes need a break from the heavy stuff and the thrillers. Mind you this parody of free-range coffee house cyclista culture in heart of Oregon state is not that gentle.

The comedy duo Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen play nearly every Portland-dwelling character and poke fun at a lot of West-Coast stereotypes, from the womyn-centered bookstore owners to the young couple drawn into a back-to-the-land cult. My favorite character is the tribal pierced cyclist/activist outraged by absolutely everything.

Enjoy the ridiculousness of Kyle Maclachlan as Mayor outed by the press as the member of a roots Reggae group. Musicians Aimee Mann (theme music from Magnolia), Sarah Mclaughlin and Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire) also make guest appearances.

You don't have to be hiding a tattoo under your sock to enjoy this fast-paced laughapalooza.

More Commissario Brunetti

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

 

 

If you have been following this really well crafted series you will be happy to know we have four more titles. Episodes 15/16 and 17/18 are just arriving on the shelves and don't have too many holds on them.

Never heard of it? Read our previous post about this very popular series based on Donna Leon's Italian detective.

The BBC strikes again

by Moe - 2 Comment(s)

Time and time again BBC turns out superior miniseries. With a seemingly endless pool of classically trained talent from which to draw, multi award winning directors, and truly original storylines, they just have an excellent product. When you can't take the endless banality of Hollywood offerings, with their regurgitated plots and their cookie cutter actors and actresses, turn your attention across the pond.

Their latest is the excellent "The Hour". This BBC production is actually about a fictitious BBC show. Set in the mid 50's in the early days of television, it follows the launch of a new sixty minute long current events show. With the always excellent Dominic West acting as the show's anchor, it follows their struggles to strike the right balance between informing and entertaining their audience.

We have just recieved season two, and it is even better than the first, and that's saying something. Set aside 5 hours to watch season one. As I so often do, I went to watch episode one, and stayed up far too late devouring the whole show in one sitting.

Excellent acting, compelling three dimensional characters, several tight, well crafted intersecting plots running throughout the 5 hours, and amazing attention to period details. It was recently nominated for a Golden Globe for Best MiniSeries or Motion Picture made for Television.

Great TV Part 3 - AMC

by Trevor - 0 Comment(s)

It was a while in the making but here's the third list of great shows you just can't find on cable. Just like HBO and FX, AMC produces television that is far better than the majority of shows the basic cable networks put out. Expect all of these shows to be gritty, realistic, and extremely entertaining.

Walking Dead – If you hadn’t noticed, we’re living in a bit of a Zombie renaissance. Like the infectious horde they are, they’ve taken over every media outlet whether it’s film, TV, videogames, or books. Walking dead is a perfect example of why this is a good thing. A Zombie show that is much more about the living survivors than the monsters trying to get them, The Walking Dead positively oozes drama and tension. In a world ruled by the dead, we’re finally forced to start living.

The Killing – I’m cheating a bit with this one as I’ve only seen the first few episodes but this one certainly seems to deserve the praise it’s recieving. The entire series revolves around the murder of a teenage girl and the show pulls no punches when showing the despair such a loss can cause. Far more realistic than the typical Law and Order crime procedural, The Killing looks to be something special.

 

Breaking Bad – Bryan Cranston has won 3 Emmys for his role as a Nobel prize nominee turned high school teacher turned cancer victim turned meth cook. To say that his acting is phenomenal is an understatement as this is one of the most complex TV characters I’ve ever seen. We root for him while at the same time cringing at the horrible things he does. We hold our breaths as he nearly gets caught, but we know that he deserves to. His motives are crystal clear one minute and inscrutable the next. As exciting as it is emotional, Breaking Bad deserves your attention.

Mad Men is a great show for the same reasons as Breaking Bad: characters that are complicated, nuanced, and realistic. Though the show undeniably belongs to the suave and chauvinistic Don Draper, the supporting characters are just as well developed and intriguing. So well are the characters developed that a single interaction or offhand comment may give insight into seasons worth of wondering. This one will get you hooked.

Check out Great TV Part 1: HBO and Great TV Part 2: FX for more suggestions.

Benedict Cumberbatch

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

Benedict Cumberbatch is popping us everywhere these days. He is currently Sherlock in the very modern retelling of Holmes solving crimes in 21st century London. This is a popular series and we have blogged it more than once.

He is the voice of Smaug and The Necromancer in Peter Jackson's latest- The Hobbit. (Sherlock's sidekick John Watson is played by Martin Freeman, who plays Bilbo in The Hobbit). He is to be the next heavy in the new Star Trek. He had smaller roles in The War Horse, and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy earlier this year. He's been in Atonement, The Whistleblower, The Other Boleyn Girl. With the exception of TTSSPY, I enjoyed everyone of these movies. He is a fine dramatic actor.

I quite liked The Last Enemy, a 2008 BBC mini series, which first aired on 'Masterpiece Contemporary'. He plays a disaffected researcher who returns from abroad after the death of his brother, only to find an England he barely recognizes. A government bent on controlling its citizens at all costs, information gathering technology run amok, and a deadly plague. What more can you ask for in a thriller?

And speaking of The Hobbit, I saw it opening night — in glorious Imax, 3D, 48 frames per second. I am a rabid LOTR 's fan and was happy to return to Middle Earth with Peter Jackson at the helm- a few minor complaints such as it was a lot darker than I was expecting for the more light hearted Hobbit, but then that's P Jackson isn't it. Let me say this. While I enjoyed it very much, I do not feel compelled to rush right back to the theatre to see it again like I did with the other three LOTR installments.

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