Movies & TV

Maureen O’Hara (1920-2015)

She was truly born and bred in Ireland.  Her given name was Maureen FitzSimmons.  If she could have, she would have stayed with that name.  But her fellow actor and mentor Charles Laughton said that no one would get the last name right and said she should change it to O’Mara or O’Hara.  She balked, saying she wanted to stay FitzSimmons.  Laughton replied, “Very well, you’re Maureen O’Hara.”

Welcome Back to the Big Screen, Charlie Brown!

My brother introduced me to Charlie Brown and the gang.

For whatever reason, the evening newspaper my family got did not carry the Peanuts comic strip.  Perhaps it was in the morning paper.  (Yes, there was a time when cities had a morning paper and an evening one.)  So if my brother had not discovered Peanuts and bought paperback compilations of the daily strip, I’m not certain when I would’ve found the wonderful characters created by Charles M. Schulz.

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!

All Aboard!

It starts when we’re very young.  We hear the story about The Little Engine That Could.  We watch Thomas the Tank Engine.  We see the trains on the tracks and count the cars as they pass before us.  And we become fascinated by trains.

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.

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