Tag Archives: rachel kovaciny

Were They The Best Years of Our Lives?

I picked up The Best Years of Our Lives off the shelf at the library a dozen or more years ago because I saw it had Myrna Loy in it, and I really like her. I love movies involving WWII, soldiers, and the 1940s, so I figured I’d give it a try.

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Dystopian, But Not Depressing: Fahrenheit 451

I don’t care much for dystopian fiction. The intentional bleakness, the pervasive misery, the general feeling of “mankind screwed everything up and now the world is a sucking, swirling eddy of despair punctuated only by brief flashes of false hope” —none of that appeals to me. And yet, I love Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 dearly. 

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Quiet Gallantry: Gen. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain

I was in my early teens when they released the movie Gettysburg (1993). My family rented it as soon as it hit the local video store. We settled down for a deeply moving, relatively accurate depiction of the battle at Gettysburg that turned the tide of the American Civil War in favor of the Union. Continue reading

Nonsensical Geometry: The Two Love Triangles of Jane Eyre

The central romance in Jane Eyre resolves happily. (Do I need to mark that as a spoiler? Surely not! Surely, if you haven’t read Charlotte Bronte’s triumph of a novel by this time, you’ve at least watched a movie version?) Mr. Rochester and Jane Eyre overcome every obstacle, including those within themselves, to meet as equals at last in the eyes of all, marry, produce offspring, and live happily ever after. Good for them. Continue reading

More Than a Kindred Spirit: Ramona Quimby

I don’t remember the first time I encountered Ramona Quimby. My mom read me one of Beverly Cleary’s books when I was probably five or six—so long ago, Ramona has always been a part of my consciousness. Why? Because, though I didn’t know how to phrase it that way, I knew from the start that Ramona and I were kindred spirits. Continue reading

Not a Fool: The Importance of Portraying Dr. Watson Correctly

All but four of the original sixty Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle (also known as the “canon”) are narrated by Dr. John Watson.

You know what that tells us?  Watson is not merely a sidekick.  He’s not an afterthought.  He’s not just the comic relief.  He’s not a cardboard cut-out for Holmes to bounce ideas off. Continue reading

The Slumming Angel: Raymond Chandler

In his essay “The Simple Art of Murder,” Raymond Chandler explores detective fiction in general, but especially the hard-boiled kind he perfected. It includes my favorite bit of writing advice: “When in doubt, have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand.” By which he meant, if you’re not sure what should happen next, make things worse in the most exciting way you can. Which is exactly how his books and stories work—everything goes from bad to worse to the worst imaginable… and then somehow turns out all right in the end.  Continue reading

The Dangers of Patriotic Zeal: Taras Bulba

The 1962 film Taras Bulba focuses on a revolution you might never have heard of if you’re not from eastern Europe. It tells the story of a 17th-century rebellion of the Zaporozhian Cossacks against their Polish overlords by focusing on a fictional family. It’s based on a book by Ukrainian author Nikolai Gogol, originally released as a short story in 1835. The Tsarist Russian authorities condemned that version as being “too Ukrainian.” Gogol later revised and expanded the story into a novel that pleased those in power. Continue reading

“What a Legend Needs”

Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword does not feature a quest for the Holy Grail. Not once does someone in it sing about how fun it is to be happily-ever-aftering in Camelot. You won’t find a single Roman cavalry officer who wants to retire. It has no young Viking princes seeking a spot at the round table. And Merlin? He gets name-checked a few times, and there’s one shot of him in a flashback, but that’s it. Lancelot and Guinevere don’t even get a mention. Continue reading