In 1982, Philip K. Dick passed away at the age of 53. He was a well-known author, publishing over 40 works, primarily science fiction. He influenced many authors and filmmakers, and some of his works provided the basis for films such as Blade Runner, Total Recall, and Minority Report. His fiction explored questions on identity, perception, and human nature. Characters often struggled against science fiction elements such as alternate realities, authoritarian governments, and simulacra.
If you’ve enjoyed films like Donnie Darko, Inception, or The Truman Show, you can thank Philip K. Dick for influencing those filmmakers. And that means you’re ready to dive into some of his own works!
It’s officially time to cozy up with a fluffy blanket and steaming mug to watch your favorite holiday movie. Whether you’re sipping cocoa, tea, or traditional wassail, chances are you have a favorite festive flick that you watch on a yearly basis. Are you a member of the Griswold family? Or do you like hanging out with Buddy the Elf? Perhaps you’d rather spend time with Ralphie and his Red Ryder BB gun.
Before you start your holiday movie marathon, experience one of your favorite holiday stories in a new way! Pick up one of the books that served as the inspiration behind the movies of the season.
In God We Trust disproves the adage “You can never go back.” Bending the ear of Flick, his childhood-buddy-turned-bartender, Shepherd recalls passionately his genuine Red Ryder BB gun, confesses adolescent failure in the arms of Junie Jo Prewitt, and relives a story of man against fish that not even Hemingway could rival. From pop art to the World’s Fair, Shepherd’s subjects speak with a universal irony and are deeply and unabashedly grounded in American Midwestern life, together rendering a wonderfully nostalgic impression of a more innocent era when life was good, fun was clean, and station wagons roamed the earth.
Unable at first to find a publisher for his evocative tale about a man named George Pratt who ponders suicide until he receives an opportunity to see what the world would be like without him, Stern ultimately published the story in a small pamphlet and sent it out as his 1943 Christmas card. One of those 200 cards found its way into the hands of Frank Capra, who shared it with Jimmy Stewart, and the film that resulted became the holiday tradition we cherish today.
Imagine a year without Christmas. No crowded malls, no corny office parties, no fruitcakes, no unwanted presents. That’s just what Luther and Nora Krank have in mind when they decide that, just this once, they’ll skip the holiday altogether. Theirs will be the only house on Hemlock Street without a rooftop Frosty, they won’t be hosting their annual Christmas Eve bash, they aren’t even going to have a tree. They won’t need one, because come December 25 they’re setting sail on a Caribbean cruise. But as this weary couple is about to discover, skipping Christmas brings enormous consequences–and isn’t half as easy as they’d imagined.
Disillusioned journalist Tom Langdon must get from Washington to Los Angeles in time for Christmas. Forced to travel by train, he begins a journey of rude awakenings, thrilling adventures, and holiday magic. He has no idea that the locomotives pulling him across America will actually take him into the rugged terrain of his own heart, as he rediscovers people’s essential goodness and someone very special he believed he had lost.
When Todd McCray hears that a local animal shelter is seeking temporary homes for its dogs during the days leading to Christmas, he knows exactly what he wants for the holidays. His father objects, but Todd’s persistence quickly wins out. Soon the McCrays are the short-term foster family for a lovable pooch the young man names Christmas.
Okay, maybe we’re in Cleveland. And maybe it’s Thursday. But it is Lorne Michaels’ birthday, the creator of the beloved series Saturday Night Live. Through showrunner changes, controversial sketches, and the COVID-19 pandemic, SNL has remained a mainstay in many households. For some, it’s how they learn about a hot new band; for others, it’s how they learn about the latest political scandal. And while the number of laughs per season may ebb and flow, comedy remains a focal point of the show.
Many adored comedians have done their turn on the SNL stage. Chevy Chase, Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd, Maya Rudolph, John Belushi, Leslie Jones—the list goes on and on. Even though our favorite stars come and go, they’ve kept the content coming.
Whether you’re waxing nostalgic for the old days or just want to revisit some of the funny people you’ve only seen on SNL, here are some materials to check out that will hopefully satisfy your sense of humor.
Tina Fey starred on, wrote for, and hosted SNL for numerous years. After her nine years on SNL, she went on to create hit shows like 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. She’s received Emmy’s, Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild Awards, Writers Guild Awards, and was even nominated for a Grammy and Tony. Her memoir, Bossypants,was a huge hit, staying true to her comedy bona fides.
Credited with saving SNL from cancellation, Eddie Murphy’s genius is practically unmatched. He has had quite the career, from voice acting to singing to stand-up to dramas and back to comedy. He has won numerous awards, including a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor for Dreamgirls, an NAACP Image Award for Trading Places,and People’s Choice Awards for Beverly Hills Cop, Coming to America, and Shrek.
One of the first cast members, Gilda Radner was an accomplished impressionist. After five years on SNL, she left for other pursuits. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and passed away at the age of 42 in 1989 after an extremely tough battle. She wrote a memoir, It’s Always Something, in 1989, a few months before her death, detailing her struggles and successes. Alan Zweibel, a former writer for SNL, wrote a biography for Gilda, sharing stories of their friendship that began on the SNL set and endured until her death.
One of the original cast members, Chevy Chase was also the first cast member to be banned from SNL (though he has appeared in sketches since, so perhaps the ban is not so strict). His comedic chops have been proven time and time again, from the classic National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation to the more recent television show Community.
Kenan Thompson started on SNL in 2003 and has become the longest-tenured cast member in the show’s history. Other than SNL, he is probably most known for his time on the Nickelodeon show Kenan and Kel. The pair also starred in the delightful movie Good Burger together in 1997. While not for all senses of humor, it certainly appeals to anyone craving some ridiculous 90s comedy.
The storylines of this season’s blockbusters may seem vaguely familiar. Hollywood is drawing inspiration from the book world once again with a slew of streaming shows and movies based on books. From war epics to vampires, fall into the plot of a great book before you see it on the big screen. Here are a few highlights from this season’s upcoming releases.
The legend of Marilyn Monroe–aka Norma Jeane Baker–comes provocatively alive in this powerful tale of Hollywood myth and heartbreaking reality. Marilyn Monroe lives–reborn to tell her untold history; her story of a star created to shine brightest in the Hollywood firmament before her fall to earth. Blonde is a dazzling fictional portrait of the intricate inner life of the idolized and desired movie star as only the inimitable Joyce Carol Oates could paint it.
Abby and Gretchen have been BFFs since fifth grade, when they bonded over a shared love of E.T., roller-skating parties, and scratch-and-sniff stickers. But when they arrive at high school, things change. Gretchen begins to act…different.
And as the strange coincidences and bizarre occurrences begin to pile up, Abby realizes there is only one possible explanation- Her best friend Gretchen, her favorite person in the world, has a demon living inside her. And Abby is not going to let anyone or anything come between her and her best friend.
It is autumn 1981 when inconceivable horror comes to Blackeberg, a suburb in Sweden. The body of a teenager is found, emptied of blood, the murder rumored to be part of a ritual killing. Twelve-year-old Oskar is personally hoping that revenge has come at long last–revenge for the bullying he endures at school, day after day.
But the murder is not the most important thing on his mind. A new girl has moved in next door–a girl who has never seen a Rubik’s Cube before, but who can solve it at once. There is something wrong with her, though, something odd. And she only comes out at night.
I am young, I am twenty years old; yet I know nothing of life but despair, death, fear, and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow. . . . This is the testament of Paul Bäumer, who enlists with his classmates in the German army during World War I.
Through years of vivid horror, Paul holds fast to a single vow: to fight against the principle of hate that meaninglessly pits young men of the same generation but different uniforms against one another . . . if only he can come out of the war alive.
It is in 1950’s Brighton that Marion first catches sight of Tom. He teaches her to swim, gently guiding her through the water in the shadow of the city’s famous pier and Marion is smitten–determined her love alone will be enough for them both.
A few years later near the Brighton Museum, Patrick meets Tom. Patrick is besotted, and opens Tom’s eyes to a glamorous, sophisticated new world of art, travel, and beauty. Tom is their policeman, and in this age it is safer for him to marry Marion and meet Patrick in secret. The two lovers must share him, until one of them breaks and three lives are destroyed. Coming to Amazon Prime Video on November 4.
For many years, reporters had tried to get to the truth about Harvey Weinstein’s treatment of women. Rumors of wrongdoing had long circulated. But in 2017, when Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey began their investigation into the prominent Hollywood producer for the New York Times, his name was still synonymous with power.
During months of confidential interviews with top actresses, former Weinstein employees, and other sources, many disturbing and long-buried allegations were unearthed, and a web of onerous secret payouts and nondisclosure agreements was revealed.
Today marks eight years since the passing of Robin Williams. An actor, comedian, legend, hero to many, we’ve all experienced Robin Williams in some way through his work. He was first introduced to me as Genie from Aladdin (1992), though I picture him as the English professor from Dead Poet’s Society (1989) more often now. Whether you laughed along to Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) or enjoyed a more dramatic performance in Good Will Hunting (1997), he certainly has left his mark in Hollywood.
Plenty of biographies have been written about Robin Williams. Here are few books with different perspectives:
I’m singin’ in the rain, just singin’ in the rain What a glorious feeling I’m happy again I’m laughing at clouds so dark up above The sun’s in my heart and I’m ready for love
This year marks the 70th anniversary of Singin’ in the Rain starring Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, and Donald O’Connor. Only 18 and having no dance experience, Reynolds sought the help of Fred Astaire in order to impress taskmaster and perfectionist Kelly for her role in the musical; Reynolds’ feet bleed after shooting the film’s “Good Morning” routine over the course of 15 hours, and Kelly endured 3 days of filming the “Singin’ in the Rain” number while having a high fever. Other films are also celebrating big milestones this year. Woman of the Year, Casablanca, and The Man Who Came to Dinner are all turning 80. Judy Garland would have turned 100 this summer, and the TCM Classic Film Festival is back in person this spring to celebrate dozens of movies,The Wizard of Oz included, that have made us laugh and cry. Find your comfiest sweats, pop some popcorn, and host your own classic movie fest with some of my favorite films below.
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946): Three World War II veterans, two of them traumatized or disabled, return home to the American Midwest to discover that they and their families have been irreparably changed. Directed by William Wyler, the film stars Myrna Loy, Fredric March, Dana Andrews, Teresa Wright, Virginia Mayo, and Harold Russell. It is the winner of 7 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. You can even watch the film on Kanopy here.
Rebecca (1940): A self-conscious woman juggles adjusting to her new role as an aristocrat’s wife and avoiding being intimidated by his first wife’s spectral presence. Based off of the novel by Daphne Du Maurier and directed by the legendary Alfred Hitchcock, Rebecca stars Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine. Judith Anderson’s portrayal as Mrs. Danvers will give you chills. It won Best Picture and Best Cinematography at the 13th Academy Awards.
How Green Was My Valley (1941): At the turn of the century in a Welsh mining village, the Morgans raise coal-mining sons and hope their youngest will find a better life. How Green Was My Valley stars Walter Pidgeon, Maureen O’Hara, Anna Lee, Donald Crisp, and Roddy McDowall, and it was based off the best-selling novel by Richard Llewellyn. The film famously beatCitizen Kane for Best Picture.
Sunset Boulevard (1950):A screenwriter develops a dangerous relationship with a faded film star determined to make a triumphant return. Directed by Billy Wilder, the film stars William Holden and Gloria Swanson. It was among the first group of films selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962):An aging former child star torments her paraplegic sister in their decaying Hollywood mansion. The intensely bitter rivalry between the film’s stars, Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, is legendary, but it made the film a success and even revitalized their careers.
The Thin Man (1934):Starring William Powell as former detective Nick Charles and Myrna Loy as wealthy heiress Nora, The Thin Man follows the flirty and charismatic couple as they investigate a murder for fun. The chemistry between Powell and Loy was so palpable and the film was so entertaining that five sequels were created between 1936 and 1947.
The Nun’s Story (1959):After leaving a prominent and wealthy Belgian family to become a nun, Sister Luke struggles with her devotion to her vows during crisis, disappointment, and World War II. The film is based off of the novel of the same name by Kathryn Hulme about Belgian nun Marie Louise Habets. Habets and the film’s star Audrey Hepburn became incredibly close during production, both having Belgian roots and having lost family members during World War II.
It Happened One Night (1934): I would be remiss if I didn’t include a Clark Gable film. A runaway heiress, Ellie Andrews, tries to get out from under her father’s thumb and falls in love with a renegade reporter, Peter Warne. Several actresses turned down the role of Ellie before Claudette Colbert reluctantly accepted – with the condition that the film be completed in just four weeks. Clark Gable was lent to Columbia Pictures for the film from MGM. Both actors were so dissatisfied with the script that director Frank Capra had it rewritten during production; the final film bears little resemblance to the original script.
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962): Atticus Finch, a widowed lawyer in Depression-era Alabama, defends a black man against an undeserved rape charge, and his children against prejudice. Jimmy Stewart and Rock Hudson were considered for the role of Atticus before it went to Gregory Peck.
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947): In 1900, a young widow finds her seaside cottage is haunted and forms a unique relationship with the ghost. The film stars Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison, and inspired a variety of adaptations, including a 1960s TV series and 2005 musical.
For Me and My Gal (1942): Two vaudeville performers fall in love, but find their relationship tested by the arrival of World War I. Having only performed on Broadway, For Me and My Gal was the first film role for Gene Kelly and it marked the first “adult” role for Judy Garland, who up until the movie had played juvenile parts and was typically paired with Mickey Rooney. Garland pushed for Kelly to get the part and the pair got along so well that they starred in two other films together, The Pirate and Summer Stock.
If the sight of snowflakes last weekend had you reaching for a mug of hot chocolate, a cozy blanket, and your favorite Christmas pajamas, this list is for you. Charming titles from Debbie Macomber, Susan Mallery, Jenny Hale, and more have inspired Hallmark Christmas movies for years. Whether you subscribe to the belief that the book is always better than the movie or you’re just looking for festive reads to celebrate the season, here are ten Hallmark reads to enjoy.
Let It Snow by Nancy Thayer: New movie alert! Let It Snow was published last year, and Hallmark’s movie version Nantucket Noel is premiering this month. Catch it on the Hallmark Channel on November 19, 20, and 24. Christina Antonioni is preparing for the holidays at her Nantucket toy shop, decorating and unpacking last-minute holiday shipments, when her landlord suddenly raises her rent. At first, Christina doubts whether she can continue business on the wharf, but after becoming close to her landlord’s granddaughter and son, she starts to believe it may be the best Christmas season yet.
The Christmas Contest by Scarlet Wilson: New movie alert! Published earlier this year, The Christmas Contest will make its movie debut on the Hallmark Channel on November 28. Ben Winters and Lara Cottridge are obsessed with Christmas. When the strangers hear that a Vermont radio station is hosting a Christmas contest with a $10,000 prize for the winner’s charity of choice, they quickly enter the competition and become finalists. Will battling it out in the stiff competition ruin the spirit of Christmas? Or will Ben and Lara realize they have more in common aside from a love of Christmas?
Mrs. Miracle Christmas by Debbie Macomber: New movie alert! Mrs. Miracle Christmas, published in 2019, is the fourth book in Debbie Macomber’s Mrs. Miracle series. Catch the 2021 movie on the Hallmark Channel on November 20. Laurel McCullough could use some good news. She and her husband, Zach, have given up on having a baby after too many heart-wrenching experiences. Laurel’s grandmother, Helen, can no longer take care of herself and Laurel and Zach decide to move in to help her when plans for home healthcare fall through. Just as they’re about to lose faith, Mrs. Miracle arrives at their door and gives them the best Christmas gift.
Sleigh Bell Sweethearts by Teri Wilson: Zoey Hathaway’s biggest dream is to become a pilot. When she inherits a struggling reindeer farm, complete with three dozen unruly reindeer and one dangerously attractive ranch hand named Alec, her carefully crafted plans seem to fly out the window. If Zoey wants to succeed, she’ll have to put her trust in Alec and accept his help, but it’s not just her farm that’s at stake; so is her heart. Sleigh Bell Sweethearts was published in 2013 and the Hallmark movie entitled Northern Lights of Christmas was released in 2018. You can catch the movie on the Hallmark Channel on November 24.
Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses by Jenny Hale: Single mother Abbey Fuller put her dreams of being an interior designer on hold to raise her son. When her son starts to get a little older, Abbey jumps at the chance to take a small job decorating Nick Sinclair’s mansion for Christmas. Nick has plenty of money for the project, but absolutely no holiday spirit. Can Abbey make her dream of being an interior designer come true? Can she help Nick finally enjoy some Christmas magic? Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses was published in 2018 and premiered as a Hallmark Christmas movie in 2019.
The Jingle Bell Bride by Scarlet Wilson: New York wedding planner Jessica Christie becomes stranded in a remote Alaskan town when she goes on a quest to find the rare Jingle Bell Flower for a celebrity bride. Jessica is desperate to return home in time for the wedding, but will her Christmas wish change after meeting local botanist Matt Holden? Jingle Bell Bride was published in 2017 and premiered as a Hallmark movie last year. The movie will air again this year on the Hallmark Channel on Friday, November 26.
The Mistletoe Inn by Richard Paul Evans: Kimberly Rossi’s life is a bit of a mess. Two failed engagements, a divorce, and numerous other heartbreaks have left her alone and with no prospects. Despite her many romantic hiccups, Kimberly dreams of becoming a published romance author and signs up for a romance writing workshop shortly before Christmas. Once at the retreat, Kimberly meets fellow writer Zeke who helps her step out of her comfort zone, both in her life and in her writing. This 2015 novel is the inspiration behind Hallmark’s 2017 movie.
Marry Me at Christmas by Susan Mallery: Bridal boutique owner Maddie Krug is excited to plan a Christmas wedding until she realizes that she’ll be working closely with the gorgeous brother of the bride, action movie star Johnny Blake. How can small-town girl Maddie keep from falling for him when wedding planning involves candlelit dinners, snowy strolls, and mistletoe around every corner? Marry Me at Christmas was published in 2016 and the Hallmark movie premiered the following year.
The Nine Lives of Christmas by Sheila Roberts: Ambrose, a pesky orange cat, is in danger of losing his ninth and final life. He tells the universe he’ll do anything, absolutely anything, to survive and have a quiet, comfortable final life. True to his word, Ambrose plays matchmaker for the man who rescued him and a woman at the local animal shelter. The Nine Lives of Christmas was released as a book and Hallmark movie in 2014. You can catch the movie this month on the Hallmark Channel on November 25.
Christmas Joy by Nancy Naigle: Market researcher Joy Holbrook is all work and no play when she gets an urgent call to return home to help her recovering aunt. Joy agrees to take a leave of absence from work and temporarily run her family’s farm, but she didn’t know she’d need to work with Ben Andrews, her former crush, in order to decorate for the annual Christmas Home Tour competition. Will the town’s festivities open Joy’s heart to love, home, and family? Christmas Joy was published in 2016, and the Hallmark movie was released in 2018.
This year I had the opportunity to watch four films through the Cleveland International Film Festival. Though the event couldn’t be held in downtown Cleveland, as is tradition, the streaming option was a welcome alternative during the pandemic.
Spaceboy is about Jim, a gifted young boy who moves to a new town with his astrophysicist father, Graham. Jim gets paired up in his new class with a girl named Emma for a science fair. He uses it as an opportunity to put his plans of recreating Kittinger’s ‘Excelsior’ project into action. Jim’s determination is soon fueled by a personal drive to prove to his father that anything is possible. This was such a moving story. I can’t wait for this one to come out in the US.
A group of longtime friends meet at one of their parents’ vacation homes on a remote island in Finland to celebrate one of their birthdays.
This was a complex story about relationships. The party seemed to last forever as they disconnected from the world and put their phones down. They played baseball, cooked and ate, and drank a lot. There was singing and dancing, and a lot of intimacy.
It was beautiful and funny story of the intricacies of friendship and self-identity.
Emma this she has a perfectly normal family until one day her father, Thomas reveals that he is transgender. As Thomas transforms into Agnete, both Emma and Agnete struggle to accept how their relationship will evolve. The movie does a really good job of shifting the viewers perspective to that of a timid child, naïve to the world, and very uncertain with her own identity.
Is the coming of age story of Johannes, a courageous young boy living on the cusp of western culture during the collapse of the soviet union. His mother leaves the Estonian Soviet Republic to work in Finland, leaving Johannes in the care of his grandparents. It has romance, comedy, and history in it. I really enjoyed this movie and can’t wait for it to get distribution in the US.
I hadn’t read any Black Panther comics or books and had the same amount of background knowledge of his place in the Marvel Universe as I did about Thor (ie – so very, very little) before seeing the movie based on the character. Oh. My. Gosh. The 2018 film staring Chadwick Boseman was 134 minutes of greatness!! The history and lore of Wakanda, the special effects, the serious moments mixed with humorous moments, all the surprise twists, and getting to watch Chadwick Boseman create an unforgettable, strong, vulnerable hero as King T’Challa. Mr. Boseman passed away on August 29th but his kindness, his vision of what the movie industry could be, and his long list of films, speak to the legacy of this legend, taken too soon. Thank you for all the gifts you gave to us Mr. Chadwick Boseman!
How often have you had the discussion about which was better -the book or the movie? All the time, right? And how often do you pick the movie over the book? Not as often as you pick the book, right? Well, I’ve got a win/win for you this week! You can read the book *and* watch the movie, in any order, and walk away thinking, “that was great!” Are you curious yet?
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson blends his personal experiences and life journey with his drive to create social justice and encourage us all to get involved. I read this book when it first came out, and have enjoyed it as an audio book as well, and I think part of what makes Mr. Stevenson’s book so special is how a reader can emotionally connect to experiences, feeling his pain and his joy, while breaking down those systemic issues surrounding the inequality of our justice system. Founder of the Equal Justice Initiative leading force in the creation of the Legacy Museum as well as the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, Mr. Stevenson is changing our World for the better!
“But what about Just Mercy as a movie?” you ask. This movie focused in on how Mr. Stevenson became Mr. Walter McMillian’s lawyer over other experiences in the book. Sometimes it’s that trimming that can leave a reader feeling like something was missing, but I would be surprised to hear that after you watch this film. Instead, I’d guess you might also think of this as an additional chapter to the book?
I hope you read *and* watch Just Mercy, and then -please, let me know what you think!