While We’re on the Subject of Alfred Hitchcock . . .

While working on my review for Rebecca, I found myself looking up the entire filmography of Alfred Hitchcock, wondering how many of his movies I’d actually seen. The answer: not that many, at least, not in comparison to how many movies that guy actually made. But I decided to post a list anyway, color-coded for my your convenience. As with my AFI list, purple means yay, red means boo, green means meh-okay, and black means I haven’t actually seen the movie. Also, I think I’ll add a new color: blue, for movies I’m actively interested in. (Not just ‘yeah, yeah, it’s a classic, I’ll get to it eventually,’ but, ‘hey, that sounds kind of fun.’)

And if the first half of the list seems considerably less colorful than the second, well, I should probably mention that the first eight movies are silent films, and the first 25 were all made prior to Hitchcock’s arrival in Hollywood. Still. I can do better. Dammit, Carlie.

The Alfred Hitchcock Filmography

The Pleasure Garden
The Mountain Eagle
The Lodger: a Story of the London Fog
Downhill
Easy Virtue
The Ring
The Manxman
The Farmer’s Wife
Champagne
Blackmail
Juno and the Peacock
Murder!
The Skin Game
Number Seventeen
Rich and Strange
Waltzes from Vienna
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)
Sabotage
Young and Innocent
The Lady Vanishes
Jamaica Inn
Rebecca
Foreign Correspondent
Mr. and Mrs. Smith
Suspicion
Saboteur
Shadow of a Doubt
Lifeboat
Spellbound
Notorious
The Paradine Case
Rope
Under Capricorn
Stage Fright
Strangers on a Train
I Confess
Dial M for Murder
Rear Window
To Catch a Thief
The Trouble with Harry
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
The Wrong Man
Vertigo
North by Northwest
Psycho
The Birds
Marnie
Torn Curtain
Topaz
Frenzy
Family Plot

Favorite Hitchock films? Least favorite Hitchcock films? The many directors you think are superior to that overrated Hitchcock guy? Let me know in the comments.

Posted in BLASPHEMIES, LISTS | Tagged | Leave a comment

“Last Night I Dreamt I Went to Manderley Again.”

I assigned myself a few books at the beginning of the year, Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca being one of them. It was . . . how shall I put this? A challenging read.

But I knew I wanted to watch the 1940 adaptation, anyway.

nd

Rebecca won for both Best Picture and Best Cinematography. It is, unfortunately, not one of my favorite Alfred Hitchcock movies.

Continue reading

Posted in BLASPHEMIES, SLIGHTLY LESS EPIC REVIEWS | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Coming Soon-Ish: Fairy Tales, Walruses, and Fifty Shades of Grey

Into the Woods

Interesting. I do plan to see this, although I kind of wish I could watch the actual play before the movie comes out, as I’ve never seen it before, and I absolutely want to be one of the people who goes, “That’s not how it happens!” (Also, cause it looks awesome.) I literally only just found out that it’s been playing in SF all summer, but the likelihood of my getting to see it before it closes on September 6th is not high, fuck it all.)

This trailer doesn’t show you much, but it does give you fairy tales without machine guns or CGI werewolves. So, you know. Things are looking up, right? Admittedly, even I think it’s a little weird to have a trailer for a musical where no one sings, but they’re probably saving that for the next trailer. Like when everyone watched the first preview for The Giver and were like, “Uh, what’s with all this color bullshit?”

Fingers crossed, people. I want an awesome live-action fairy tale movie. Or even just a decent one, at this point.

Interstellar

I know as a good nerd, I’m supposed to be super excited about this movie, but . . . I’m kind of not. I mean, I’ll see it. I’ve seen pretty much all of Christopher Nolan’s films. (Except The Prestige and something I’ve never heard of called Following.) And it might be totally, completely awesome, but at this point, the trailer isn’t fully winning me over. I like my Dylan Thomas used pretty sparingly, you know? And I’m just not really feeling this story, at least not yet. The cinematography looks gorgeous, but that’s usually not enough to push my Holy Shit I Need To See That button.

Fifty Shades of Grey

The fact that this is coming out on Valentine’s Day is continuing to bring me all the giggles.

I have not read this book. My mother has read this book, but not me, to yet. Sometimes, I feel like I should, just so I know for myself what it’s like, but then I look at the stack of books I actually am interested in, and it seems unlikely that I’m ever going to get there. As for the trailer itself . . . I’ve got to say, this looks a lot better than I would’ve thought. Which, admittedly, is a far cry from, “I’ll be there with bells on for V-Day,” but still. I thought it would look a lot worse. Then again, I had a pretty huge crush on Jamie Dornan when he was in Once Upon a Time, so, you know. That helps. (Probably not enough, though. Maybe if he had his Irish on.)

I can’t pretend to know a lot about dom/sub culture that I didn’t pick up from Secretary and fanfiction, but I will say, I’m a little concerned that this girl’s all, ‘oh, I’m nobody, look at me, what a shy, timid flower I am’. I get that she’s the sexual submissive in the relationship, but it doesn’t seem to me like that should necessarily translate to deep insecurity in her everyday life. Or maybe the idea of watching a man dominate a weak-willed woman for two hours just sounds kind of horrifying to me.

If I do watch this movie, it will be in the privacy of my own home, where I can pause the film for extended temper tantrums and stuffed animal abuse if need be.

Houdini

I’ve never been much of a History Channel person (I failed to watch either Hatfields & McCoys OR The Bible), but I’ll admit, I’m intrigued by this particular trailer. Intrigued enough to actually watch Houdini? Haven’t decided yet. You know, I have a fair idea how it ends. But it looks pretty cool, and that’s worth something. Also, I was kind of feeling that song. Think I might need to look up this Jake Bugg fellow now.

Tusk

Um. I don’t even . . . yeah. Yeah, okay, this appears to be a Canadian horror comedy where Michael Parks tries to turn Justin Long and his ridiculously bad mustache into a walrus. Grown up Haley Joel Osment costars.

Really, I don’t even know what to say to that. Except that I’m probably going to have to see this movie because holy shit, somebody made this movie. And not just anybody — Kevin Fucking Smith. I’m just . . . blinking at my screen right now. Repeatedly, because maybe that will make what I’ve just witnessed make sense.

Posted in COMING SOON-ISH | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

“A Half-Finished Book, After All, is a Half-Finished Love Affair.”

I never had much interest in watching Cloud Atlas. I didn’t read the book, and while the trailer looked somewhat intriguing, everything I heard about the story itself kind of made the movie sound like a convoluted nightmare. And if it had been a convoluted nightmare starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Tatiana Maslany, I’m sure I wouldn’t have hesitated, but Tom Hanks and Halle Berry aren’t particularly big draws for me, and what little interest I did have quickly dwindled after the film left theaters.

But recently my sister struggled through Cloud Atlas (the book) and wanted to watch the movie to compare. And I had just finished struggling through Rebecca (the book) and wanted to watch that movie to compare.

somni 2

A compromise was arranged and a review was born. (A review for Rebecca may come next week.)

Continue reading

Posted in EPIC REVIEWS | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

RIP: Robin Williams

Man, this doesn’t even seem like it can be real. Robin Williams has died in what was apparently a suicide at the age of 63.

It’s hard to remember the first thing I saw Robin Williams in. He’s one of those actors that have always just been there. I was probably six or seven when I saw Aladdin for the first time, although I’m not sure how long it took me to associate the voice of the Genie with an actual, living person. Mrs. Doubtfire is probably the first live-action movie I ever saw him in. Although I did watch a few Mork & Mindy reruns when I was a kid, too. And Toys is also a possibility — that came out the same year as Aladdin. Oh, and Hook actually came out the year before, when I was five or six. It’s weird to imagine a world without Robin Williams in it, making children laugh.

I’m not sure I can pick a favorite or best role. I’m primarily familiar with Williams’s work from comedy, not drama — I’ve never seen Good Morning, Vietnam, for example, or Dead Poet’s Society. I really do like him in Good Will Hunting, though, for which he won an Academy Award. I also have a special place in my heart for Jumanji. It’s a silly movie, I know, but I still love it. (About half the time, when one of us gets home from wherever, Mekaela or I will come through the front door and yell, “It’s me! It’s me, Alan!” I . . . don’t really have a good explanation for this, but we’ve done it for years.)

Rest in peace, Mr. Williams. My sympathy with you and your family both.

Posted in MISCELLANEOUS | 2 Comments

5 Beloved Fantasy Books That I Never Liked

When I talk about blasphemies on this blog, I’m generally talking about movies, but I certainly have my fair share of book blasphemies too. In particular, there are a decent number of beloved classic fantasy novels or series of novels that I either actively dislike or just never connected to, which might not mean much if I primarily wrote romantic westerns in the vein of Joan Wilder, but considering I’m a speculative writer who heavily favors fantasy . .  . you know, it seems like a bigger sin.

But sins are best when shared, right? So, I present to you a list.

The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe - C.S. Lewis

lionwitchwardrobe

Part of the problem here might have been age. Most people presumably read The Chronicles of Narnia when they’re still in their single digits; I received it as sweet sixteen present and muddled through two books before quickly giving up in the beginning of Prince Caspian.

I actually didn’t mind The Magician’s Nephew too much. You’d think at sixteen I’d have been old enough to grasp the whole Christian allegory thing, but to be perfectly honest, I never did — for someone who grew up in a town where the church to bookstore ratio is something like seven to nothing, I really had a very tenuous grasp on Christian mythology and was pretty unfamiliar with either of the Creation myths. So I thought that watching the whole formation of a world was actually pretty interesting. I was less impressed with the Jesus Allegory Lion.

I didn’t hate The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, but I sure was bored by it. I didn’t really care about any of the kids, and I seem to remember thinking Edmund’s betrayal came off as contrived and annoying. When I finished the book, I couldn’t understand why everybody loved it so much, and I only gave Prince Caspian a half-hearted effort before giving up on the whole thing altogether.

The Dragonriders of Pern - Anne McCaffrey

pern

(Yes, I know these are SF stories, but I’m also counting them as fantasy because, you know. Dragons.)

People who are gasping in horror now — I’m sorry, I don’t have much justification to offer you here. I actually did try out the Pern books at the appropriate age, but I’m afraid that the reasons for my dislike are long since lost to me over the past twenty years. I know that, as an author, Anne McCaffrey didn’t seem to do much for me as a kid — I distinctly remember not being a big fan of Acorna, either. (Although I feel like I might’ve even liked that better than The Dragonriders of Pern series, which must have totally horrified me, as I was never particularly partial to unicorns and very much considered them to be things that Other Girls Liked. {Also in this list: dolphins, beads, stationary.})

I remember wanting to like this series — when your last name is St. George, you do tend to gravitate towards dragon fiction — but I just didn’t for some reason. (As a side note, it’s kind of unacceptable that I haven’t read Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series, right? Maybe I’ll get on that later this year.)

The Wheel of Time – Robert Jordan

wheel

When I was about 13, my friend Brook and I exchanged our favorite fantasy series. Neither of us were much impressed with the other’s choice. (My series, if you’re interested, was The Belgariad. I read it when I was eleven, and it was a Big Deal to me. If you read it when you’re older . . . or if you’re a more sophisticated reader, as Brook certainly was . . . the writing does often leave a little to be desired in certain places. I will always love it, though. Silk still remains one of my favorite characters of all time.)

Brook liked The Wheel of Time, though, and I suffered through, I think, five books of that before I gave up. I remember very little about the universe now — like, I couldn’t give you even a basic plot description of the first novel — but I do know what I hated about it: the characters. I disliked everyone in these books. I especially disliked Rand, the main protagonist. For years, anytime I came across a character who I found insufferably whiny, I called him Rand. My actual favorite character was Mat, and even Mat was a total asshole — I suspect I just picked the snarkiest guy in the book so I would have someone to root for. Eventually, that wasn’t enough, and I gave up on the series entirely.

The Mists of Avalon – Marion Zimmer Bradley

mists of avalon

It’s hard to talk about this book right now, considering all the controversy surrounding it and its author. In a way, I’m grateful that I didn’t love this one like I was supposed to, because I’m not faced with the same moral quandary: can you still love a story that means so much to you if the author who wrote it did some truly unspeakable things?

I never actually finished reading The Mists of Avalon. I started it twice in middle school and gave up on it, presumably distracted by other, shinier books, but in high school, I was determined to make it through. And I was doing it, too; I got halfway through that fucker before I just. Couldn’t. Do it anymore.

Because . . . Gwenhwyfar.

I cannot properly express to you how much I hated reading Gwenhwyfar’s POV. I despised her. I loathed everything about her. If she had spontaneously caught fire in the middle of the book for no apparent reason, I would not have cared how much that would’ve changed the story; I would simply have laughed. Gwenhwyfar was such an unlikable character that I abandoned a book that I’d already read at least 400 pages of, and generally, if I’m over a 100 pages into anything, I’m going to finish that story. Like, I can’t actually think of another exception to that rule EXCEPT The Mists of Avalon.

Fucking Gwenhwyfar, man.

The Hobbit

hobbit

Like The Chronicles of Narnia, I suspect I didn’t read The Hobbit until too late because I didn’t finish this book until I was eighteen. And like Narnia, I couldn’t understand why people loved it so much. That a bazillion people DO love it is certainly undeniable, and I’d never try to make them feel like shit for loving it just because I couldn’t see the appeal, but . . . I still really don’t see the appeal. (And the movies aren’t helping me out any. Stupid movies.)

Overall, I found The Hobbit pretty dull. I didn’t care much about the dwarves. I know I actively disliked Bilbo, and the only character I did find even a little interesting was Gandalf — which was basically my impression when I skimmed through the LOTR books, too. (I didn’t add the trilogy to this list because I never gave it a very serious chance. I just flipped through the books after seeing the Peter Jackson movies, all the while thinking to myself, How can I like everyone in the films and be so freaking ANNOYED with everyone in the novels?)

What about you guys? Do unlikable characters consistently get you down, too? What are novels that you never particularly liked — and no need to stick to just fantasy. I’m interested in book blasphemies in every genre.

Posted in BLASPHEMIES, LISTS | Tagged | 9 Comments

“I Am Groot!”

Guardians of the Galaxy came out last Friday. Obviously, that was too long to wait, so I saw it at 7:00 on Thursday instead.

cover2

I had a few problems with the movie, mostly minor, but overall I had a pretty great time watching this.

Continue reading

Posted in EPIC REVIEWS | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment