Movies & TV

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!

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with Movies


Since September is Hispanic Heritage Month, I wanted to share some great movies by Hispanic filmmakers, which are available in our collection.

For the kiddos!

Carlos Saldanha and Robert Rodriquez

Gulf Coast Reads -- The Promise

October brings the beginning of autumn – although in Southeast Texas, it still feels like summer.  Still, it’s a time of change.  School has been in session for a while and we get settled into the routines associated with that.  Holidays are getting close, and we start planning where we’ll be and who we might visit – or who will visit us.  We take advantage of the warmth and get in some outdoor activities before the winds change and we get cool, rainy weather.

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:

Wes Craven (1939-2015)

Whether you love horror movies or absolutely hate them, one thing is certain – Wes Craven turned the genre on its head and reinvented it into something new and exciting.  Or maybe I should say, more terrifying.

Rainy Days and Nights

I love the rain.  Not a heavy downpour, of course.  No, I’m talking about when there’s a soft, steady rain and it’s kind of cool out and it’s possible to stay home and read or watch old movies and sip cocoa and listen to the rain on the roof and windows – well, what’s not to love?  Okay, I confess that I do tend to enjoy thunderstorms, too.  I even like to watch the lightning streak across the sky and hear the thunder – from safe inside and not too close, that is.


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!

Who? What? Where? When? Why? And maybe How?

There’s nothing like a good mystery movie.  I love them.  I like observing and putting together the clues and trying to figure out whodunit. 

But what if a character in a movie has the daunting task of trying to figure out “Who am I?”

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.

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