Kimberly C's blog

The Year of the Spy

spiesIn just a few weeks, Spectre, one of the movies I’ve been looking forward to all year finally opens in theaters. The latest in the Daniel Craig-helmed Bond films, Spectre is the highly anticipated follow-up to Skyfall, which opened to critical and audience praise in 2012.

In an odd turn of events, however, Spectre is just one of many spy movies released in theaters this year. These spy movies run the gamut from comic book-inspired (Kingsman: The Secret Service) or funny (Spy), to big-budget sequels (Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation) or TV spin-offs (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.). This weekend also sees the release of another addition to the genre, Bridge of Spies starring Tom Hanks as a lawyer negotiating a prisoner exchange during the Cold War.

Spies have long been an object of fascination for movie producers. James Bond alone has been the star of many movies over more than 50 years. There is something oddly compelling about their confidence and poise, their ability to read every situation and succeed in their mission. Looking at the diverse array of spy movies coming out this year alone, it is clear that Hollywood’s fascination with that occupation is still holding strong.

If you’re in the mood for a spy movie this weekend, browse the HCPL catalog and request a copy today!

The Master of Suspense

hitchcockIt’s finally October, which means Halloween is just around the corner! If I’m being completely honest, Halloween isn’t my favorite of the fall holidays. I much prefer the food and family togetherness of Thanksgiving and, well, everything about Christmas. One of my favorite things about Halloween, though, is the movies.

As a kid I loved classic horror movies like Frankenstein, Dracula and The Wolfman. They weren’t really that frightening, but they still gave me a scare! Now I tend to gravitate towards a different sort of movie at Halloween: psychological thrillers. These are the movies where every character has a secret, no one knows who to trust, and the tension is palpable. In my opinion, no one in Hollywood understood psychological thrillers better than the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock.

In a career spanning almost six decades, Hitchcock saw the transition from silent films to talking pictures, and black and white to color. He directed movies in both England and the United States, and successfully captured television audiences with his long-running show Alfred Hitchcock Presents. His movies were famous for their psychological twists and turns, unusual camera angles, use of music (or the lack thereof) to underscore tension, director cameos, and blonde heroines. Not only was Hitchcock a master of creating and sustaining suspense (the playground scene in The Birds is a classic example), but he also found ways to push what was acceptable in movies. The shower scene in Psycho, for example, was more violent than American audiences were used to at the time and ushered in a new wave of horror films. Although Hitchcock never won an Academy Award for his direction (he was nominated five times), he remains one of the most influential filmmakers of all time.

If you’re in the mood for a Hitchcock classic this cool weekend, browse the list below and request your favorite!

It’s TV Time, Again

tvEvery year I look forward to fall and all it brings with it: cooler temperatures (scarf weather!), pumpkin-flavored everything, my favorite holidays (Thanksgiving & Christmas), and new episodes of favorite TV shows. I love TV, but I admit that last season I somehow fell drastically behind with many of my favorite shows. In fact, I didn’t clear several shows from the DVR until just a couple of weeks ago. And, I still have 2 shows that are only half watched! It wasn’t that I didn’t want to watch the shows as they aired. I just, for one reason or another, didn’t have time. Now I’m enjoying binge-watching episodes each weekend in preparation for the upcoming seasons.

If, like me, you fell behind last season, or you’re simply curious about a new (or older!) show currently airing, check out the list below and see what HCPL has to offer! Most of these shows premiere on TV in the next two or three weeks. But with cliffhanger endings the norm for many shows nowadays, new episodes can’t come fast enough!

  • Fall TV Picks:

Have Fun Storming the Castle!

princess bride mapIn general, I’m not much of a nonfiction reader. I tend to be a plot-driven reader, and plot just isn’t what drives a nonfiction book. But over the past year and a half, I have broadened my horizons, listening to several celebrity memoirs and essay collections during my commute to and from work. The first three of these (Tina Fey’s Bossypants; Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me? (and Other Concerns); and Amy Poehler’s Yes, Please) were all in theme: life lessons from smart, funny women working in comedic television and movies. I’m not that well-versed in sitcoms and sketch comedy, but I enjoyed listening to these women reflect on their lives, the lessons they have learned through their work in television and comedy, and the people who helped them along the way.

This past week, I have been listening to yet another nonfiction audiobook, As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride. Written by Cary Elwes, who played Westley, the dashing hero in The Princess Bride, this book is full of behind-the-scenes stories and fond reminiscences. The Princess Bride has long been one of my favorite movies, so listening to Cary Elwes (with guest appearances by various other members of the cast) recount stories about the experience of making it has made for an enjoyable commute.

Here are some of my favorite stories shared by Elwes:


yard linesWe’re now partway through the NFL preseason and football fever is well and truly in the air. If I’m being honest, I’m a pretty terrible example of a football fan. My football knowledge is pretty basic, watching games live gives me anxiety (Will my team win? Why are we losing at the half?! That was a terrible call!), and I am really only invested in one or two teams at a time (the Houston Texans and, in college football, my beloved Texas Aggies). Despite all that, each year I find myself more and more caught up by the football fervor that sweeps over the country.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be a super fan to enjoy a football movie. I say fortunately because, as you’ve no doubt noticed, there are an awful lot of football movies coming out of Hollywood. It would be a shame to miss them when most feature actors popular with both critics and audiences (i.e., Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side and Mark Wahlberg in Invincible), and many are based on inspiring true stories. Some football movies add humor to the game, while others, like We are Marshall inspire viewers to rise above and persevere.

Whether you’re playing football, fantasy football or armchair football this season, check out one of these movies for a little bit of inspiration!

The Western

west texas stormLast weekend, I went on a road trip to West Texas to visit family. If you have ever made that trip yourself, you know that driving across Texas is always a crazy experience. First, it takes a really long time to get anywhere by car because Texas is just that big. Not even the 80 mph speed limits make that much of a dent. Second, the scenery outside the car window is always changing as you travel across the state. From cityscapes and flatlands to the green trees of hill country and the brown expanse of West Texas, it is hard to believe it all belongs in one state.

67th Primetime Emmy Nominations

emmyLast week, the nominations for the Primetime Emmys were announced. Honoring excellence in primetime television, the Emmys are highly anticipated by those in the field and those of us who simply love television. As a self-professed lover of all things TV, the Emmys align perfectly with my interests.

Like most years at the Emmys, there are many familiar titles and faces nominated in the comedy and drama categories. Because of the multi-season nature of most television shows, this makes sense. This sort of repetitive nomination pattern is less likely to happen at, for example, the Oscars, where new movies are released in theaters each year, starring different actors and actresses, and written, directed and produced by different people. In television, a show might be nominated every year it runs, like Modern Family, or it might receive a nomination its first season, only to be replaced in future years by the next big show.

This year, however, there are a number of new names amongst the nominations. The Lead Actress in a Drama category is a prime example of this, with three new faces including Viola Davis and Taraji P. Henson, both strong, talented actresses who made the switch from movies to television, and Tatiana Maslany, who is finally nominated for her third season of incredible work on Orphan Black. This year also sees an increase in television produced by streaming companies like Netflix and Amazon. It will be interesting to see how this new format of television continues to impact the field in years to come.

With such an eclectic group of nominees, I, for one, am curious how the votes might fall this year. Will the Emmys go to the familiar faces in television, or will the new shows and faces be recognized for their addition to Primetime television?

Below, I have listed the nominees in the drama and comedy categories for Outstanding Series, Lead Actor and Actress, and Supporting Actor and Actress. Who would you like to see win an Emmy this year?

You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

sharkHappy Shark Week! In 1988, the very first Shark Week, an annual event that offers movies and documentaries that promote shark awareness, premiered on the Discovery Channel. Now in its 28th year, Shark Week is more popular than ever.

Of course, this fascination with sharks didn’t start with Shark Week. Thirteen years previously in 1975, Jaws was released to massive critical and fan acclaim. With masterful direction by Steven Spielberg, a script co-written by Peter Benchley (who wrote the novel the film was based on) and Carl Gottlieb, an ominous main theme by John Williams, and memorable performances by stellar actors and an often-faulty mechanical shark, Jaws has become not only a cult classic, but one of the greatest movies of the twentieth century.

Since that time, sharks have repeatedly served as the inspiration for movies – often in a slightly campy, yet terrifying capacity. In fact, many a sci fi creature feature has starred an outrageously unrealistic shark terrorizing beachgoers. But that’s not to say that sharks can’t be friendly. In Pixar’s Finding Nemo, for example, the sharks are learning that “fish are friends, not food!” No matter the role, sharks remain a familiar feature in movies.

If you’re in the mood for a shark movie or two, but missed some of this year’s Shark Week programming, the library has you covered! Check out the list below and request a shark movie today!


secretsEarlier this week, I finished watching the first season of Graceland, a current television show about a group of undercover federal agents living and working out of a government-seized beach house in California. The show is addictive, suspenseful and smart, with secrets and lies in every storyline. By the end of the season, my opinions about each character had changed so many times that I wasn’t quite sure who to trust. 

The world of undercover cops and federal agents has long been a source of inspiration for filmmakers. Audiences are fascinated by the idea of cultivating an undercover identity and infiltrating the criminal underworld. There is danger at every turn, secrets to guard and to uncover, and even the smallest misstep can lead to the very real possibility of exposure. Movies about undercover work not only give us a sneak peek into the criminal world, but into the psychology of what it might be like to live a lie. In nearly every undercover movie, there is a point where viewers worry the character might have crossed over the line and is in danger of becoming the very person they are trying to catch. It is this delicate balance between good and evil that invites filmmakers and audiences to explore the world of undercover cops time and again.

Of course, not every movie about undercover cops is dark and suspenseful. Some of them, like Miss Congeniality and 21 Jump Street, take a funnier, more light-hearted approach to undercover work. These movies may not delve as deeply into the psychology of undercover, but they certainly have their place.

If you’re in the mood for an undercover movie this weekend, browse the HCPL catalog and request one today!

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

San AndreasIn my years enthusiastically discussing movies with everyone I meet, I have noticed that even when people have wildly different tastes in films, they always (and this is a blatant generalization) agree on one thing: The Rock. Everyone loves The Rock. He is effortlessly cool and charismatic, imposing in stature, but an overall nice guy with a strong work ethic and a healthy appreciation for his fans.

Despite his immense popularity as an actor, Dwayne Johnson (better known as The Rock) didn’t start out in movies. In college, he played football for the University of Miami and had dreams of eventually going pro. But after a series of injuries left him benched, he turned to professional wrestling, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. The first third-generation professional wrestler for the WWF, Johnson quickly made a name for himself in the ring. 

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