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Children with Questionable Existences

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As this is my first post, not only as a 'Movie Maniac' but also in the history of all time, I will keep it short. Moe wrote about El Orfanato-The Orphanageback in October, and as this film came highly recommended from others I put it on hold... and waited.

But wait. There's more.

I soon forgot that I had requested the movie and picked up a few others to watch. Among them was Bunny Lake Is Missing (1965) directed by Otto Preminger and adapted from the novel of the same name byEveyln Piperwho is also known as Marryam Modell.

As an aside, my youngest sister respectfully declined my invitation to watch the movie after realizing that it was in black and white and had 'funny' music.

I encourage you to look past all this and borrow Bunny Lake Is Missing as well as El Orphanato and The Children of Men(starring Julianne Moore and Clive Owen). In addition to a very 'deja vu' connection between Bunny Lake Is Missing and El Orphanato these three films share an interesting theme involving children with questionable existences. As in... do they exist? will they exist? have they ever existed?

Julianne Moore's other film The Forgotten also follows this formula and coincidently enough has a trailer in the Bunny Lake Is Missing previews. Unfortunately the Calgary Public Library currently does not have any copies of this one, but rest assured there are more in our collection to choose from. The Changelingfrom 2008 comes to mind as does other variations of the questionable existence theme such as The Sixth Sense. As a further aside, Bunny Lake Is Missing is supposedly up for a remake. See IMDB for more information about the new production.

So just to recap Bunny Lake Is Missing shares an interesting connection to El Orphanato, see if you can find out what I am refering to, the previews of which feature The Forgotten starring Julianne Moore who also appears in The Children of Men.

If you're in the mood for some existential suspense give these a try.

Political Themes and Schemes

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Need a break from the reality of our current Canadian political climate? Not sure you want to sit through another CNN special report on President-Elect Obama? Then try out some of these and escape into the surreal world of politics as seen through the eyes of the dramatic lens.

High in the ratings has to be Doctor Strangelove:or how I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb. This 1964 multi award winning film by Stanley Kubrick (2001:A Space Odyssey; Full Metal Jacket; Spartacus; Paths of Glory) consistently turns up on list after list--often across different genres. Set against the very real fears of nuclear annihilation during the height of the cold war, Kubrick somehow manages to turn this storyline into a comedy- albeit a very black one. Peter Sellers is brilliant playing three different characters, and watching Geroge C Scott as General Buck Turgidson is to see an actor at the top of his craft. An indictment against the insanity of nuclear deterance through nuclear proliferation, the movie is both absurd and profound--and a must see. Trivia: the films original release was delayed by the studio because of the Kennedy assasination of 1963.

House of Cards/To Play the King/Final Cut. These BBC productions from 1991 star Sir Ian Richardson as the political pyschopath Francis Urquhart. Starting out as Party Whip, he dreams, schemes and murders his way to become Britain's Prime Minister. Once there, he rules with an iron fist, destroying all comers and even trying to bring down the monarchy. The acting is excellent, the storylines are complex and well crafted, and the ending is superb. It is a real committment to watch these as it amounts to close to 20 hours, but it is absolutely worth it. Do watch them in order or you will be lost.

Last King of Scotland2006

This is an excellent historical fiction that tells the story of the murderous reign of Idi Amin, as seen through the eyes of his personal physcian, a naive yet arrogant young Scotsman. As Uganda falls deeper into ruin under Amin's despotic rule, the young doctor looks for a way to escape the clutches of the increasingly mad dictator. Forest Whitaker (Vantage Point, Crying Game, Bird) won an Oscar for best actor and James McAvoy (Narnia, Atonement,) adds another strong performance to his growing list of achievements. Quite a few Oscars have gone to actors representing living or dead historical figures, and while there is no denying that Whitaker is excellent as Amin, I wonder if there shouldn't be a category for " Best Resemblance and Impersonation of a Real Person" award. Think of Helen Mirren as The Queen, Philip Seymour Hoffman as Capote, Ben Kingsley as Gandhi and Jamie Foxx as RayCharles- I feel a new blog coming !!

The Candidate1972

A well crafted character study depicting what happens to an idealistic young man who gets swept up (and away) after agreeing to run for public office. Robert Redford losses himself in the political process and mutates from a commited individual into just another cliche. Like the candidate himself we are left wondering "'what do we do now?"

Also worth a watch:

Manchurian Candidate- 2004 Denzel Washington

Wag the Dog- 1997 Hoffman/De Niro

13 Days- 2000 Kevin Costner

Missing- 1982 Jack Lemmon

Quiet American- 2003 Michael Caine

H2O- 2004 Paul Gross

3 Days of the Condor- 1975 Robert Redford

All the President's Men- 1976 Redford/Hoffman

Proof- 2006 Finbar Lynch

and if all these political machinations prove too much for you, lighten up with the BBC series Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister.

Mel's Desert Island Classics

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Another film I want on the Island with me....

A friend introduced me to Charles Laughton's Night of the Hunter a few years ago, and I found it both strange and compelling. It is not to be confused with Night of the Iguana, Day of the Jackal, Night of the Jaguar, or Dawn of the Dead! Night of the Hunter is a suspenseful moral tale, with great black and white film techniques such as Laughton's use of silhouette and almost 2-D backdrops. A thief dies, leaving his family alone, but not before mentioning hidden treasure to his cell-mate. Only his little girl knows where it's hidden, and very soon a charismatic preacher (Robert Mitchum) arrives to woo the dead man's wife (Shelley Winters) and raise the son and daughter. Mitchum's character becomes increasingly controlling and violent, and while the town loves the charming false prophet, we see him through the terrified children's eyes. When his motives become clear, they flee for their lives in a rowboat.

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