“As Laura sets the plates and forks on the table – as they ring softly on the starched white cloth – it seems she has succeeded suddenly, at the last minute, the way a painter might brush a final line of color onto a painting and save it from incoherence; the way a writer might set down the line that brings to light the submerged patterns and symmetry in the drama. It has to do, somehow, with setting plates and forks on a white cloth. It is as unmistakable as it is unexpected.” (p 207)

My Top 10

  1. The Hours
  2. Adaptation
  3. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
  4. Minority Report
  5. The Pianist
  6. The Quiet American
  7. About a Boy
  8. Road to Perdition
  9. Solaris
  10. About Schmidt

note:  A fantastic Top 5 and Top 10 as should be expected from one of the best years in film history.  There is also a very long list after that.  My #11 (Catch Me if You Can), #12 (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind) and #15 (Chicago) are reviewed because of award considerations.  But my full list was 30 films long and the other 17 are listed down at the bottom.
note:  Until libraries fully reopen in San Diego, this is the list Adapted Screenplay post I can do.

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“There was a hush, and all turned their eyes on Frodo. He was shaken by a sudden shame and fear; and he felt a great reluctance to reveal the Ring, and a loathing of its touch. He wished he was far away. The Ring gleamed and flickered as he held it up before them in his trembling hand.” (p 240-241)

My Top 10

  1. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
  2. In the Bedroom
  3. Ghost World
  4. Vanilla Sky
  5. Last Orders
  6. Shrek
  7. Ocean’s Eleven
  8. A.I.
  9. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
  10. The Pledge

note:  Not a great Top 5 or Top 10.  It’s another of those years which is balanced by a fantastic group of original scripts (Amelie, Memento, Gosford Park, Monster’s Ball, Amores Perros, Royal Tenenbaums, Others, Man Who Wasn’t There).  My #11 (Black Hawk Down), 13 (Iris) and 14 (Bridget Jones) are reviewed down below because of nominations while the rest of my list (which reached 19) is down at the bottom. (more…)

The illustrated version of The Hobbit that I have been reading to Thomas.

The illustrated version of The Hobbit that I have been reading to Thomas.

I’m trying to work on a few different posts at the same time.  One is a For Love of Film, one is the next batch of Oscar-nominated directors.  Another is a look at Adapted Screenplays from 1912-1926.  And there are a couple of For Love of Books posts that I’m trying to work on.

Three great characters.  And one not so great.

Three great characters. And one not so great.

That, and I have been reading to Thomas from The Hobbit every night.  We just finished last night, after having started back in December.  Now we’re moving on to The Wind in the Willows.

Oh, and Veronica and I have been watching our way through “Doctor Who”.  After finishing all of the current run (Eccleston, Tenant, Smith), we also went back and started at the beginning.  The very beginning: “An Unearthly Child”, which aired originally on 23 November 1963.  Well, after watching a bunch of Hartnell (most of which were “meh” but definitely get “The Chase”) and every available serial with Troughton (who was awesome), we have been watching our way through the 3rd Doctor – Jon Pertwee, with some mixed results (Veronica really doesn’t like a particular companion who happens to not be Liz or Sarah Jane).  We’ve been trying to finish before the second half of Series 7 begins on 30 March.  We won’t quite make it, but it will be close.

All of this means the next post might be ready for tomorrow or it might not.  But there will be some coming soon.  And after finishing three different series which ran for over three years each (Year in Film ran from 30 Oct 2009 to 3 March 2013, The History of the Academy Awards: Best Picture ran from 9 March 2010 to 17 March 2013 and The Top 100 Novels ran from 10 January 2010 to 24 February 2013) I am a bit exhausted.  So more soon.  But now I’m off to watch more Pertwee (only six more serials until Sarah Jane!).

And we’ll let you all know how Thomas’ science fair project goes.  We’re investigating if crushing Mentos before you put them in Diet Coke effects how much they explode.  Let the messiness begin!

That great shot where we first see Lincoln's face.

That great shot where we first see Lincoln’s face.

My Top 20:

  1. Lincoln
  2. Argo
  3. Les Misérables
  4. Zero Dark Thirty
  5. Anna Karenina
  6. Moonrise Kingdom
  7. Django Unchained
  8. Amour
  9. The Dark Knight Rises
  10. Skyfall
  11. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  12. Brave
  13. Silver Linings Playbook
  14. Prometheus
  15. Life of Pi
  16. The Avengers
  17. Frankenweenie
  18. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
  19. The Master
  20. The Secret World of Arietty

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IMG_1483“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”

Reading J.R.R. Tolkien didn’t teach me a love of reading.  Even at the age of 5, I already had that.  But, in the summer of 1980, after I had made it through the Chronicles of Narnia, my brothers decided to hand me The Hobbit and then The Lord of the Rings and see what would happen.  What happened, of course, is 33 consecutive years of reading both (sometimes more than once a year).

For a long time, this was a love that I had, but it wasn’t necessarily an overwhelming passion.  I had The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, The Silmarillion and a few reference books (The Complete Guide to Middle-earth and The Atlas of Middle-earth).  And I knew a lot about Middle-earth.  But it could all easily fit in a shelf.  Now it can’t even fit in a single bookcase.

“This tale grew in the telling . . .”

What happened?  Well, a passion for collecting that began to focus happened.  And the films happened, at a time when I was working at the world’s largest bookstore.  There was suddenly a lot of Tolkien books (and Tolkien related books) around and suddenly I had more money than I had before for this kind of collecting.  So, this took off, slower than Faulkner, but at a good pace.

And what has happened in the years since I left Powell’s?  It has only continued to grow.  In fact, I now own more copies of Lord of the Rings than I own of The Sound and the Fury.  And it continues to grow because they continue to release new editions of the books and I just can’t resist. (more…)

The wonderful Annotated editions of The Wizard of Oz and Classic Fairy Tales from W.W. Norton

Back in 2000, Norton, that wonderful publisher that has ruled the roost of critical editions for great works of literature for decades, released The Annotated Alice.  It was a large hardcover book, almost the size of a coffee-table book.  It had wonderful annotations throughout the text as well as wonderful illustrations throughout the entire text of both Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.  It was not a brand new book, however.  It was a reprint of a book originally printed by Crown Publishers in 1960 (it has been printed both by Bramhall House and by Clarkson N. Potter – both of them were imprints of Crown, but I can’t tell what was published by which and when).  It was apparently the brainchild of Clarkson N. Potter, a publisher with some great ideas.  After Alice, he spent the next two decades culling some of the great works of literature and having them all printed in these large hardcover formats with illustrations and annotations throughout. (more…)