Skip to main content

2019: The Year of the Reread (And Re-Watch)

2019 was the year of the reread for me. I read some great new releases, but more often than not, I plucked books off my shelves and indulged in my favorites. I also made a point to watch films adapted from books. So with that said, here are my top five book-movie combos from 2019.

1. A Streetcar Named Desire — Tennessee Williams is my favorite writer. His work is lyrical, humorous, and beautifully tragic, and I just can’t think of anyone who has a deeper understanding of humankind. Obviously, Streetcar is a landmark piece, both as a play and a film, but you can’t go wrong with any work by Williams. I also watched/read Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Baby Doll, Night of the Iguana, and The Fugitive Kind. 

2. In a Lonely Place — Here Dorothy Hughes is showing the boys how it’s done by reversing traditional noir roles and creating a “femme fatale” in serial killer Dix Steele. The film strays from the novel’s plot but is a classic staring heavy hitters Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame. 

3. The Picture of Dorian Gray —  People way smarter than me could give you better insights into Oscar Wilde, but I can tell you that I adore his decadence, humor, and sneers at social morality. The film has George Sanders bringing the charismatic Lord Henry to life and should titillate any gothic or horror fans. 

4. The Big Sleep — Here’s one that could quickly evolve into a tribute post. With Philip Marlowe, Raymond Chandler created the quintessential anti-hero with a faulty but intact moral compass. The film stars the indomitable duo of Bogey and Bacall and is a noir classic. 

5. Lolita — light of my life, fire of my loins. Never has a character charmed and repulsed me more than Humbert Humbert. It’s easy to see why Kubrick, an indisputable kingpin of cinema, would choose Nabokov’s audacious and provocative story for a film. If art is supposed to take you to unknown and sometimes uncomfortable places, then it’s a big W for Nabokov and Kubrick. 

So, that’s a fairly good dissection of my literary and cinematic tastes. I’ve never been one for a feel-good story, but I’m interested in the ones that can capture life’s tragedy and laugh at it--a little.


Popular posts from this blog

Forgiveness Doesn't Fix It

In 2020, my major crisis wasn’t the virus, the tornado that damaged my kid’s school, or even the suicide bombing that occurred just a few miles from my house. It was the collapse of my marriage.  Friends have asked me if I thought our relationship would have survived if there wasn’t a pandemic. I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe the rhythm of work, school, and our kid’s extracurricular activities would have swept us along, and we wouldn’t have stared at each other’s faults for days on end. But our marriage began to dismantle years ago. Like many couples, we went through a trying time where our vows were put to the test. But our young kids’ wellbeing outweighed the grievances, so we toughed it out and stayed together.  Still, I was hurt. Really hurt. But I had to figure out how to stay in the relationship without being devoured by anger, which was foreign to me. Throughout my life, I’ve always cut the cord — I never stayed friends with ex-lovers. I’ve walked away from lifelong friendships. I ha


The fight against COVID-19 is not like Vietnam. The fatality comparison is a poignant illustration of the magnitude, but the trauma is not the same. Vietnam was man against man. Governments colliding. National division. And sure, there’s division and bureaucratic mishandling of the pandemic, but ultimately our enemy is biological. It’s doesn’t scheme or behave in human ways. It isn’t trying to profit. It needs us alive so it can multiply. We quarantine and self-protect, but there’s no protective gear for our hearts and minds. The virus has replicated in anxiety and fear. So, we surrender and lay low, waiting for the fallout to settle before we emerge from our shelters, weary and disturbed. But some comforts and new rituals will endure. Family walks and dinners. Backyard campfires. Movies we agree on. Being quick to settle grievances. Reading together under a shade tree. The paradigm has shifted, and there’s no going back. I know it. My kids know it, too. They’ve become

If You Knew What I Lived Through | Gloria Grahame in Human Desire

Glenn Ford and Gloria Grahame first appear in The Big Heat, where Ford plays Bannion, a cop who takes on a powerful crime syndicate. He’s a good guy — infallible moral code, making honorable decisions at every turn. Meanwhile, Grahame is Debby Marsh, Lee Marvin’s moll, unreliable until Marvin’s character, Vince Stone, disfigures her by throwing coffee in her face. Marsh helps Bannion by avenging his wife’s murder and injuring Stone. But sadly, she’s mortally wounded and dies at the end. Ford’s impeccable image from The Big Heat sticks with him in Lang’s version of Human Desire. His character, Jeff Warren, compromises his noble ambitions by falling for a married woman. But the character feels unrealized and falls a little flat. And like The Big Heat, it’s the women that sizzle on the screen, and Grahame’s character, Vicki Buckley, is the one who truly knows the dangers of Human Desire. When we first meet Vicki, she’s in the bedroom, her comely leg stretched in the air, play