3 Must See Movies This Black History Month

Anyone who knows me at all understands that I am a movie junkie. So when thinking about Black History Month, I can’t help but think one of the best ways to celebrate is to go down to your local cinema and check out some of the great films that are out about black-American culture and black-American history.

The first movie you should check out is Hidden Figures. This is the true story of mathematicians Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, who were all employed by NASA and were the masterminds of calculating trajectories and orbits to get the first American, astronaut John Glenn, in to space. Katherine Johnson was also given the Presidential Medal of Freedom in November of 2015 by President Barack Obama for her work with the space program.

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And the Oscar goes to…Kevin Bacon!

Hooray for Hollywood! The 89th Academy Awards will be giving out their most coveted statue, the Oscar, in about a month. The best race this year is between Emma Stone and Natalie Portman, but we want to make a case for — you guessed it — Kevin Bacon. Here is a fun graphic taking all the lead actors and actresses and connecting them to Kevin Bacon. Maybe you can do one using all Oscar winners! For instance, Natalie Portman who is nominated for Jackie and won Best Actress for Black Swan was in Closer with Julia Roberts (Best Actress in Erin Brockovich) who was in Flatliners with…Kevin Bacon. Who are you predicting to win? Enjoy the Oscars on Sunday, February 26 at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT on ABC.

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Jim is Art Director at Half Price Books Corporate

Books Read the Movie: Horror Edition

BRTM_Horror.pngHalloween is quickly approaching, and everyone is out looking for a good scare. In celebration of Halloween, here is Books, Read the Movie Horror edition. First off, let me  say Jaws and Silence of the Lambs are two great movies, but I consider them more thrillers rather than  true horror movies. Also, the classic monster movies such as Dracula and Frankenstein are just that, classics and to me don’t fit in with modern horror films. That being said, lets get on with the list.

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National Popcorn Poppin’ Month

PopcornBlog.pngOctober is National Popcorn Poppin’ month and there is no better way to celebrate it than with popcorn and a movie. I have found some really fun popcorn recipes and paired them with appropriate films. Get your popper out and get ready for an evening at home with some great tasting popcorn and a movie.

Chocolate Almond Popcorn
In the mood for something sweet? You might think the perfect movie for chocolate almond popcorn would be Chocolat with Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche.  But let’s go in a different direction and honor the late Gene Wilder by watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Enjoy your chocolate popcorn as Charlie discovers a world of pure imagination. Continue reading

Books: Read the Movie, Fall Guide to Movies Based on Books

brtm_fall2016Fall movies mean Oscar films on the big screens. Get a jump on the awards season by reading the books of some really great movies hitting theaters soon.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Jacob begins to discover different worlds and times and finds Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. The dangers and mysteries grow as Jacob gets to know the residents and learn their special powers. Tim Burton directs, which should be right up his alley with all the quirky characters. Miss Peregrine’s stars Eva Green, Samuel L. Jackson and Judi Dench. Look for this film September 30.

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Words of Wisdom from Fathers in Film

Where would we all be without our Dads? They helped keep us on the right track and guided us through the difficulties in life.  Father’s Day is Sunday June 19, so you better have a great book, fishing lure or even a tie ready for him to say thank you for all he has done. You know he gave you lots of good advice. Being the resident movie buff, Father’s Day makes me think of all of the great advice we got from some of the best movie Dads on the silver screen. Here is some of their most memorable advice.

Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck) in To Kill A Mockingbird

“If you just learn a single trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

Mac MacGuff (J.K. Simmons) in Juno

“Look, in my opinion, the best thing you can do is find a person who loves you for exactly what you are. Good mood, bad mood, ugly, pretty, handsome, what have you, the right person is still going to think the sun shines out your ass. That’s the kind of person that’s worth sticking with.” Continue reading

Books: Read the Movie, Your Summer Guide to Movies Based on Books

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Summer will be here before we know it and that means summer blockbusters coming to the big screens. Maybe you aren’t interested in turtles that know karate or the latest alien invasion, so how about some great summer reading to get the jump on some other movies hitting theaters soon.


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Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Louisa Clark knows a lot of things, but what she doesn’t know is that she is about to meet and fall in love with the most unexpected of men, Will Traynor, a man suffering from a motorcycle accident who falls for Louisa and now has a reason to live. Me Before You stars Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin. Look for Me Before You in theaters June 3.

 

Max-Perkins-Editor-Genius-Scott-BergMax Perkins by A. Scott Berg

The movie will be titled Genius. This is the story of Max Perkins, who was a book editor at Scribner and oversaw the works of Thomas Wolfe, Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. A very promising film staring Nicole Kidman, Guy Pearce, Colin Firth and Jude Law. Look for Genius on June 10.

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And the Oscar goes to, Kevin Bacon!

Hooray for Hollywood! The 88th Academy Awards will be giving out their most coveted statue, the Oscar, in less than two weeks. Of course, many predictors have the Best Actor Oscar going to Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant, but we want to make a case for, you guessed it Kevin Bacon. Here is a fun graphic taking all the lead actors and actresses and connecting them to Kevin Bacon. Maybe you can do one using all Oscar winners! Leonardo DiCaprio was in Catch Me If You Can with Tom Hanks (a two-time Oscar winner), who was in Apollo 13 with… Kevin Bacon. Who are you predicting to win? The safe bet is DiCaprio and Brie Larson in the Lead categories. Enjoy the Oscars on Sunday, February 28 at 7e/4p on ABC.

Half Price Books 2016 Oscar Nod Kevin Bacon Connection

Jim is Art Director at Half Price Books Corporate.

Seeing Music and Hearing Pictures: Walt Disney’s Fantasia Celebrates Its 75th Anniversary

It all began in 1937, at a chance meeting between Walt Disney and Leopold Stokowski while having dinner. Mr. Disney was already planning a short film to be called The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. The short was going to combine animation with a live orchestra. Stokowski quickly agreed to conduct the orchestra, and three years later, with hundreds of artists at the helm, Walt Disney Pictures released what is now one of the best animated films of all time, Fantasia.

Leopold Stokowski was a huge part of the collaboration with Disney and offered many ideas that made the film what it is, including the title, Fantasia. The title was suggested because it is a musical term for a composition with its roots in the art of improvisation. Stokowski also had the idea of recording all the music in the film  stereo-phonically, which would become a cinematic first. While recording, they also separated out the soloists and mixed them back in later. This idea lead to Fanta Sound, which is the first incarnate of surround sound. Unfortunately, most cinemas could not reproduce Fanta Sound, and theaters that were able to show the film in Fanta Sound had to be equipped with 30 to 80 speakers behind the screen, around the perimeter and on the ceiling of the theatre. Fanta Sound did not last, but the very groundbreaking idea lead the cinema experience to where it is today.

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Music was just one part of Fantasia. Fantasia needed visuals, and Walt Disney gave his animators complete freedom, something unheard of at Disney Studios. Les Clark worked on the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies and was in charge of the Dew Drop Fairies, for which he had the idea of having them hover like hummingbirds. Disney was so pleased with the results that Clark was given the task of animating Tinkerbell in the opening of the Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color in the 1950s.

The Rite of Spring was another example of groundbreaking animation. Josh Miller, the supervising animator for special effects, was tasked with developing the lava in the volcano scenes. Miller mixed oatmeal, mud and coffee in a large bucket. He then placed air hoses in the bucket and photographed the bubbling with a high speed camera. Each photograph was processed into a film cell and and dyed with red and yellow backgrounds, thus producing the lava effect.

Of course, the most memorable of the Fantasia sequences is The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Walt Disney originally considered Dopey from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, for the piece, but he instead opted for Mickey Mouse, who he wanted to get back in the public eye after losing popularity to Donald Duck. Around the studio, the Sorcerer was given the name Yen Sid, which is Disney spelled backwards. The animators even saw the Sorcerer as Mr. Disney, giving him Disney’s nose and cocked eyebrow at the end of the scene, something Walt was known to do when he was displeased. There was also a concern that Mickey Mouse chopping up the broomstick was too violent. Animators helped save Mickey Mouse’s character by reanimating that scene where Mickey chops the broomsticks indirectly, with the scene done in shadows.

What started off as a box office bomb is now heralded as one of the greatest animated films of all time. Even Steven Spielberg has proclaimed it as his favorite animated feature. See the music, hear the pictures, immerse yourself and re-watch Fantasia today.

Bond, James Bond: Top 5 Villians in Bond Films

OK, Lord of the Rings and Star Wars fans, move over and make way for the longest running film franchise there is…James Bond! The new Bond movie, SPECTRE, comes out this Friday, November 6, and is the 23rd official James Bond movie. As many Bond fans already know, SPECTRE is the organization of criminals in the first several bond movies, which just begs the question: Who are the best Bond villains ever? Here are my top 5.

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Le Chiffre
OK, some of you might disagree with me on this one. But, I have to give a nod to the new Bond films, and Le Chiffre played by Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen, is a perfect foe for Bond in Casino Royale. Le Chiffre and Bond throw down at a marathon poker game reminiscent of the climactic gambling scenes in the Ian Flemming novels.

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Jaws
Probably the most memorable Bond villain of all time is from The Spy Who Loved Me. Richard Kiel’s Jaws was bigger than life and almost a comic book villain, with his huge stature and steel teeth. I would have ranked him higher, but he just had to come back and make a lackluster appearance in Moonraker and have a very contrived romance.

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Francisco Scaramanga
Who can forget The Man with the Golden Gun, Scaramanga, charmingly played by Christopher Lee. Lee was considered by his step-cousin, none other than Ian Fleming himself, to play Dr. No in the first Bond film, but Joseph Wiseman had already been cast. Lee made a great foe with his makeshift Golden Gun and classic pistol duel at the end of the film.

Gert Frobe plays Auric Goldfinger in

Auric Goldfinger
“No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die.” When you speak the most memorable line of any Bond villain, you have to make the list. Goldfinger was played by German actor Gert Fröbe, who ironically did not speak a word of english and had to be dubbed in after filming. Still, Fröbe gives a wonderful performance, and with a henchman like Oddjob, how can you not be one of Bond’s baddest villains?

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Ernst Stavro Blofeld
No matter how popular and iconic any Bond villain is, none can compare to the notorious leader of SPECTRE, Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Played by many actors in different films, the most notable performances are given by Telly Savalas in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Donald Pleasance in You Only Live Twice. Remembered for his iconic white cat, Blofeld will always be Bond’s ultimate villain.

Who are your favorite Bond villains? Enjoy SPECTRE this weekend.

Jim is Art Director at Half Price Books Corporate.