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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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

10 Movies that Inspired Stranger Things

In an era where there are hundreds of new shows and movies to stream each month, it’s amazing we’re still talking about Stranger Things three months after it debuted on Netflix. There’s a good chance it may end up the biggest pop culture landmark of 2016. And I couldn’t be happier about that.


Yes, it leans on the past a little too much, but Stranger Things isn’t just a remix of early ‘80s nostalgia. I don’t want to build the show up too much for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, except to say I think you’ll like what you find.

For those who have watched it and can’t wait for the second season, here is a list of movies that most likely inspired the show’s creators, the Duffer Brothers. They’ll help tide you over till next year, and most of them will fit perfectly into your rotation of scary movies. I hope you pick at least one of them to enjoy/laugh at/patiently sit through for your friend or spouse this Halloween season.

**Oh – and some minor spoilers for Stranger Things.** Continue reading

Books Can Take You Places: London

Already this year, we’ve taken a trip to 11 different cities and our journey around the world is far from over!  This month let’s londonexplore all that London, England has to offer.

I had my first visit to London when I was eight-years-old. I remember reading Michael Bond’s A Bear Called Paddington and so wanted to visit Paddington Train Station. Now as I prepare for my umpteenth trip to England, I have just finished reading Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. I so want to visit the London Below. I just need to find the Floating Market.

With over 2,000 years of glorious history under its belt, London’s influence on the English language, world literature and Western culture in general is impossible to overstate. From Chaucer, Shakespeare and Dickens to Lennon, McCartney and Jagger, enough legends have lived and worked here to fill a few dozen double-decker sightseeing buses.


music-note-21 Abbey Road, The Beatles • book Bleak House, Charles Dickens • slate_film-512 Blow Up slate_film-512 A Clockwork Orange book Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, J.K. Rowling • book High Fidelity, Nick Hornby • book The Importance of Being Ernest, Oscar Wilde • music-note-21 The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society, The Kinks • music-note-21 London Calling, The Clash • slate_film-512 Mary Poppins book Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf • slate_film-512 Notting Hill music-note-21 Quadrophenia, The Who • music-note-21 (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, Oasis • book White Teeth, Zadie Smith Continue reading

Books Can Take You Places: Nairobi

Already this year, we’ve taken a trip to 10 different cities and our journey around the world is far from over! Nairobi This month let’s explore all that Nairobi has to offer.

No longer just a hub for safari tourism, Kenya’s capital city boasts a vibrant cultural scene encompassing music, film, art and literature. While many of the best-known books set here were written by Europeans during times of British colonization, Kenya has a long storytelling tradition of its own. Today, important Kenyan authors are increasingly making their voices heard around the globe.


music-note-21 Benga Blast!, Daniel Owino Misiani and Shirati Band • slate_film-512 Born Free book Coming to Birth, Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye • slate_film-512 The Constant Gardener book Dreams From My Father, Barack Obama • music-note-21 En Mana Kuoyo, Ayub Ogada • book The Flame Trees of Thika, Elspeth Huxley • book A Grain of Wheat, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o • music-note-21 Mama Africa, Suzzana Owiyo • slate_film-512 Nairobi Half Life book One Day I Will Write About This Place, Kenneth Binyavanga Wainaina • book Out of Africa, Isak Dinesen • book Unbowed, Wangari Maathai • music-note-21 Unbwogable, Gidi Gidi Maji Maji Continue reading

Hit Pause for VCR Day

National VCR Day is June 7th, so it’s time to pull out your favorite VHS tapes and binge. (What—you don’t have any VHS tapes? Well, I know where you can get some—lots of ‘em—cheap!)

The VHS format, alas, has been pushed aside by DVD, Blu-ray and streaming formats, but we still keep a supply of them at HPB. And we found out that one of our very own, Dallas District Trainer Ben Jousan, is an avid collector. He even appears in the wonderful documentary about VHS, Rewind This!, from 2013. We recently got Ben to do a little show & tell for us, walking through some of his collection’s highlights with the Buy Guy. Check it out. (And you don’t have to rewind!)

I’ve got a pack of microwave popcorn and my clamshell-case copy of Swiss Family Robinson and am ready to celebrate!

Steve is the”Buy Guy” at Half Price Books Corporate.

5 Sci-Fi Films to Show a Little More Love

May 25th, 1977: Star Wars premieres in theaters and takes the world by storm.

May 25th, 1979: Alien premieres in theaters and terrifies audiences senseless.

This makes May 25th just about the coolest day of the year in my book. I thought about writing something about both films for this Memorial Day weekend. But you know what? They get enough love.

Don’t get me wrong. Star Wars and Alien are great – they’re classics for a reason. But they both have their own celebration days now, for goodness’ sake. They’re good. So let’s instead talk about a few sci-fi films that could use a little love. These movies are all from the 70s and 80s. Keep in mind, these films are all products of their time. Some moments may not have aged gracefully – and I don’t just mean their special effects. Still, they’re a fun time capsule of who we were and what we thought the future might look like.

If you’re looking for something new or different to watch this Memorial Day weekend, give one of these movies a chance.

Silent Running (1972)

In the future, all plant life on Earth is dead. A few vestiges of vegetation still exist far away from Earth, in biodomes being hauled through our solar system by commercial freighters. When the powers that be decide that keeping these biodomes is an unprofitable frivolity, the freighters are recalled back into commercial service. A crewmember on one of these ships, played by Bruce Dern, fakes the destruction of his ship and sets off into deep space alone, with only the companionship of three robots, hoping to preserve the last forests known to mankind. Continue reading

The Best of Film Legend Katharine Hepburn

Katharine Hepburn was a movie star unlike any other, starring in 50 films across seven decades, earning herself 12 Oscar nominations and four wins. You can tell by her portrayal of characters on screen that she herself had a sort of fierceness about her – an undeniable spirit, spunk and wit, an eccentric charm and an air of defiance. She was talented and edgy, playing a range of genres from screwball comedies like Bringing Up Baby (1938) to powerful dramas like Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967). Katharine starred opposite some of the great leading men of the Hollywood’s Golden Age (1930s to 1960s), like Spencer Tracy, Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart and Jimmy Stewart. She pioneered a path of independence and opportunity for women in Hollywood. In 1991, she released her successful autobiography, simply entitled Me. When she died in 2003 at the age of 96, Katharine left some very large shoes to fill. Katharine remains a hallmark of classic Hollywood cinema.

In celebration of her film legacy (and just in time for the anniversary of her birth on May 12th), here is a must-watch list of Katharine’s finest appearances on the silver screen.

  1. Desk Set (1957)

Desk Set Continue reading

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


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.

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

This is an exciting time to talk about books being made into movies! It is the fall season, which also means…Oscar season. Every book mentioned here has a chance to bring home some gold next February and change the Oscar race in some way. Here we go.

TheMartianBookThe Martian by Andy Weir
Ridley Scott, who brought you the sci-fi blockbusters Alien and Blade Runner, directs what is sure to be another classic in The Martian. Matt Damon stars as astronaut Mark Watney, who is presumed dead and left behind, stranded on Mars. Watney ingeniously finds a way to survive on the hostile planet. The Martian hits the big screen on October 2. The Martian is also our HPB Book Club selection this month! Join the discussion here! 

DanishGirlBookThe Danish Girl by David Ebershoff
Based on the remarkable love story of artists Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener, including their marriage and groundbreaking journey as Elbe becomes one of the first-known recipients of transgender surgery. Eddie Redmayne portrays Lili Elbe in what will surely be an Oscar-nominated role and a chance for back-to-back Best Actor Oscars. The Danish Girl is directed by Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) and starts November 27.

HeartofSeaBookIn The Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick
Ron Howard (Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind) always seems to be a player during Oscar season, and we expect nothing less from him this year, as he tells the tale about the Essex, which was sunk by a whale in 1820, leaving all aboard stranded at sea for more than 90 days. Starring Chris Hemsworth, Charlotte Riley and Ben Whishaw (Skyfall) as Herman Melville. Opens December 11.

TheRevanantBookThe Revenant by Michael Punke
Frontier trapper Hugh Glass is mauled by a grizzly bear and then left for dead by thieves. He then embarks on a path of revenge. Glass is played by Leonardo DiCaprio, and early buzz has him in the already-crowded Best Actor category for an Oscar. Look for this film to be a player for more awards as well, being directed by last years winner for Birdman, Alejandro González Iñárritu. The Revenant has a release date of Christmas Day.

It is going to be a very exciting Oscar movie season. Go ahead and get the jump on things by reading some of the great movies hitting theaters this fall!

Jim is Art Director at Half Price Books Corporate.