Kimberly C's blog

Here, There Be Dragons

dragonOpening this weekend in theaters is a movie I have been looking forward to seeing for months: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the newest addition to the Harry Potter universe created by J.K. Rowling. This chapter in the franchise follows Newt Scamandar and his briefcase full of magical creatures through the magic community in 1920s New York City. This film not only gives Harry Potter fans a look at the magic community in the United States, but it brings focus to the magical creatures, some of which were not even introduced in the original series.

One of my favorite magical creatures to see on film is, of course, the dragon. Although there may not be dragons in Fantastic Beasts (I’ll report back once I’ve seen the movie!), these creatures did feature in three of the original Harry Potter films: with Norbert in Sorcerer’s Stone, during the Triwizard Tournament in Goblet of Fire, and at Gringott’s in Deathly Hollows: Part 2. Each of these dragons played a unique and crucial role in Harry’s journey.

Of course, dragons aren’t exclusive to Harry Potter films. In fact, dragons have featured in many films in the past 40 years. In some movies, like Reign of Fire, the dragon is decidedly the enemy of mankind, while in others dragons and humans work together. Often, the dragon is a serious or destructive force, as in The Hobbit. But, dragons also appear as humorous sidekicks or companions, as in Mulan. No matter the physical appearance or their role in the plot, dragons continue to be a popular magical creature in films.

If you’re in the mood for a movie featuring dragons this weekend, check out the list below and request a movie today! What’s your favorite dragon movie?

From Page to Screen in 2016

fantastic beastsOver the years, I have attended many Q&A’s with popular authors. No matter who the author or what type of book they write, they are nearly always asked to talk about where they find inspiration. This question can also easily be applied to screenwriters and, like authors, I am sure they find inspiration in everything around them. Whether in their own lives or in world events, complete fantasy or rooted in reality, screenwriters (and authors!) can turn even the most simple of ideas into a beautiful, complete story.

But screenwriters also find inspiration in the written word. In fact, movies based on books are so popular, that the Oscars have separated the screenplay category into two awards: original and adapted.  Each year there are more and more movies released in theaters that are based on books, and this year is no exception. 2016 has seen movies based on Young Adult novels, classic literature, literary fiction, genre fiction, and nonfiction.

Avid readers will understand why books are so often turned into movies. Some books are so stunningly descriptive that the words on the page are practically begging to be transformed into a visual format. And some books are full of so much creativity and imagination that turning them into a movie enhances the story.

The question then becomes, if a movie is made out of your favorite book, do you go see it? Personally, I have had this happen with a few books and, I admit, I haven’t had the courage to see the movie versions of all of them. On the other hand, there have been books I wasn’t particularly attached to that have become some of my favorite movies. Sometimes a difference in presentation makes all the difference.

Below, I have put together a list of some of the 2016 movie releases based on books. Click on the author to request a copy of the book and, when possible (because some of the movies aren’t yet out on DVD), click on the title to request a copy of the movie.

Fall Into TV

fall leafIt feels cliché to admit this, but fall is my favorite time of year. After a long, hot summer, I can’t wait for the slightly cooler temperatures that herald fall and all it has to offer. Wearing cardigans without roasting, grilling outside without melting, eating pumpkin spice everything, and, most important of all, prepping the DVR to record all my favorite television shows.

That’s not to say that I haven’t watched any TV at all this summer. In fact, I have spent all summer binge watching random TV shows and it has been fantastic. I’ve discovered shows I never knew existed (all crime shows, because I’m obsessed with them), fallen in love with shows I originally passed over without a second glance, and caught up on shows I’d previously abandoned. Despite that, I miss my usual shows. I miss familiar settings and plots that feel comfortable while still moving the plots forward. But most of all, I want to catch up with my favorite characters and see how they fared after last season’s cliffhangers!

If you’re looking to pick up a new TV show this season, or just want to binge watch old episodes of a favorite series, check out the list below and see what HCPL has to offer. You just might find a new favorite show!

Fall TV Picks:

I Am A Librarian!

librarianIn 1999, the action-adventure film The Mummy was released in theaters. It opened to middling critical reception, but, ultimately, was a box office success. I remember seeing it at the movie theater shortly after it was released and enjoying it immensely. Since then, it has become one of my favorite movies and is, in my opinion, a perfect genre film.

In The Mummy, Brendan Fraser plays Rick O’Connell, an erstwhile adventurer who agrees to lead Evelyn, a librarian and Egyptologist played by Rachel Weisz, and her brother to the lost city of Hamunaptra. Of course, things don’t go as planned – they never do when you accidentally raise a cursed mummy from the dead. One of my favorite pieces of dialogue in the movie occurs while Evelyn is talking to Rick:

  • Evelyn: Look, I... I may not be an explorer, or an adventurer, or a treasure-seeker, or a gunfighter, Mr. O'Connell, but I am proud of what I am.
  • Rick: And what is that?
  • Evelyn: I... am a librarian!

As a librarian myself, I have always loved this piece of dialogue. Librarians don’t often show up in movies, and when they do, they are generally written to the old stereotype: stuffy, staid, and grouchy. Evelyn isn’t like that at all, and it makes for a refreshing change of pace. While I don’t necessarily want to go off and battle reanimated mummies, I do appreciate that someone thinks that I could with my librarian know-how.

Below, I have put together a list of movies that feature a librarian or other library staff member. Some of these movies hammer straight through the stereotypes, while others embrace them. Either way, it is fun to see what Hollywood imagines my job!

Here Comes the Bride

heartsLast weekend, I attended the wedding of one of my younger siblings. It was a crazy weekend full of unexpected issues, but, ultimately, the wedding was beautiful for all involved. This wedding was only the latest in a string of ceremonies and receptions I have attended in the last six months. Love is definitely in the air!

Weddings, both the planning and the actual event, have long been a favorite topic in film. They can be the overarching theme of a movie, as in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, or simply a pivotal part of the plot, as in The Princess Bride. The wedding day in movies is often one where anything that can go wrong, will. While no one wants their wedding day to be a catastrophe (or even a little bit bumpy) in real life, it provides plenty of laughs on screen!

If you’re in the mood for a movie this weekend (and, let’s face it, it’s far too hot to be outside!), check out one of these wedding favorites.

68th Primetime Emmy Nominations

emmy Last week the nominations for the 68th Primetime Emmys, which honor excellence in television, were announced. Like every year, the nominations in the drama and comedy categories are a mix of familiar names and newcomers. Since the television shows nominated in these categories run for multiple seasons, it makes sense that there would be repeat nominations each year. It is refreshing, however, to see new faces and titles added to the nominations list.

Although the nominations in the drama categories remain similar to last year, there are few new additions. New favorite Mr. Robot received multiple nominations for its first season, as did The Americans, finally recognized for its stellar fourth season. Game of Thrones also did well this year, with five acting nominations for Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, Kit Harington, Lena Headey, and Maisie Williams.

The comedy categories also showcase a few new faces. Nominated for outstanding comedy series, black-ish and Master of None also received additional acting nominations. Additionally, new actors in shows like Veep and Transparent received nominations for their work this past season.

Below, I have listed the nominees in the drama and comedy categories for Outstanding Series, Lead Actor and Actress, and Supporting Actor and Actress. With the mix of old and new in each category, it will be interesting to see which way the votes fall at this year’s Primetime Emmys. Who would you like to see win an Emmy?

A Murder of Crime Dramas

police lightI am a huge fan of TV - particularly of procedural crime dramas. For years, my favorite TV show has been Criminal Minds and I’ve watched the series so many times that I can pretty much place any episode within the first five minutes. (I honestly don’t know whether that’s a silly skill to be proud of, or if I need to find a better use for my time.) During the regular television season, I spend most of my TV time watching the whole gamut of network crime shows: NCIS, NCIS: New Orleans, Criminal Minds, Person of Interest and Elementary. But once the season finales air, I have to explore new TV options to fill the summer hiatus.

Although crime dramas are hugely popular on TV, they don’t all fit the same mold. Some are fairly formulaic, yes, but many bring something extra to the viewing experience. Sometimes it’s a plot full of twists and turns or a case that lasts the whole season; at other times it’s a unique detective or interesting setting. Last night, in my quest, I started watching Longmire, which features a Wyoming county sheriff who solves major crimes. With its rural setting, sweeping landscapes, and a sheriff reminiscent of classic Westerns, it’s a compelling show that fills the gap in my TV schedule.

If you’re looking for a new show to watch this summer, I have listed out some non-network crime dramas below. Each of these shows has multiple seasons and would make for a great summer binge session.

A Little Bit of Product Placement

reese's piecesIt’s impossible to escape advertising during a trip to the movies. From the cardboard standees in the lobby, to the commercials and trailers before the movie starts, we are inundated with advertisements the moment we walk inside the theater. And that advertising doesn’t stop when the opening credits role. Now, many movies make some of their profit product placement before the film even opens. Product placement is a technique that allows companies to promote their product or brand through unusual methods.

One of the most well-known examples of product placement in film is with Reese’s Pieces in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Originally, M&M’s were considered for the movie, but when Mars turned the offer down, it allowed a deal to be made with Hershey. After the movie hit theaters, sales for Reese’s Pieces, a less-popular candy at the time, went up dramatically.

Of course, not all product placement in movies is as subtle or as seamlessly integrated into the plot as Reese’s Pieces in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. There are some movies, like The Internship (a movie I enjoy but that is not universally appreciated), that feel too much like one long commercial for a product. Other movies blatantly force advertising into the script, like an awkward conversation about the Omega watch in Casino Royale, instead of subtly using it. And some movies, like Transformers: Age of Extinction, are so overrun with product placements that don’t fit the plot or that are targeted toward one market at the detriment of another that it actually detracts from the action.

Below I have listed some of the most well-known products or brands seen in movies. Are there any product and movie pairs that I left off the list? Let me know in the comments!

After the Apocalpyse

maze runner character cardEarlier this week, I finally had the chance to watch The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, the sequel to 2014’s The Maze Runner. Based on a bestselling Young Adult series by author James Dashner, these movies follow a group of teenagers with no memory of who they are as they try to navigate a post-apocalyptic world they don’t understand and stay one step ahead of the organization chasing them.

Novels like these have become increasingly popular over the past ten years, as have movies along the same theme. Some, like The Maze Runner and The Hunger Games, are based on popular YA books. Many, like Elysium and Mad Max: Fury Road, are original concepts dreamed up for the medium of film. Regardless of their origin, all movies in this genre seek to understand what compels humanity to survive and rebuild in the face of utter devastation.

If you’re in the mood for a post-apocalyptic or dystopian movie this week, check out the list below. I have also included a few TV shows that also fit the bill – just in case you’re in the mood to binge watch a series.

College Bound

New to movie theaters this April is Richard Linklater’s newest film, Everybody Wants Some!! (And, yes. The exclamation points are an official part of the title.) A sequel in spirit to his classic high school film Dazed and Confused, Everybody Wants Some!! follows an incoming college freshman during his first weekend living on campus with the school’s baseball team. The film premiered earlier this month at South by Southwest to stellar reviews, and promises to be lighter and more humorous in tone than Linklater’s last film, Oscar-nominated opus Boyhood.

College has long served as a backdrop for movies. This is no surprise because it is generally a time of immense change. Freedom from parental figures allows teenagers to finally begin to grow up, reinvent themselves, and experience the world on their own. It also, as many movies set in college focus on, means new friendships, new relationships, and parties. The freedoms of college allow filmmakers to approach their movies from a variety of genres, whether serious (Good Will Hunting) or humorous (Animal House), animated (Monsters University) or empowering (Legally Blonde).

If you’re in the mood for a college movie and can’t wait for Linklater’s newest film to reach Houston’s theaters, browse the HCPL catalog and request something off the list below!

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