Reader poll winner | Scary movie edition 2018

The votes for the most recent reader poll are in… and the winner is 1958’s Horror of Dracula! Each film made a strong showing in the poll, which pleased me. 🙂

Fall 2018 reader poll results

So I will be watching and analyzing Horror of Dracula this week, and next Wednesday, I will be back with a film analysis post — stay tuned!

Horror of Dracula Official Trailer #1 – Christopher Lee Movie (1958) HD” video uploaded by Movieclips Classic Trailers, Standard YouTube license

Past reader poll winners

In the meantime, if you’d like to peruse previous reader poll winners, check out them out below:

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Reader poll | Choose your next adventure (scary movie edition 2018)

If you’re a regular reader — as always, thank you! — then you know that I highlight scary movies every October. You’ll also know that every few months, I do a reader poll, when I ask readers to vote for the next film for me to analyze. This year, I’m combining both traditions again!

I’ve pulled together the following four scary movies, arranged alphabetically by title, and the poll is at the bottom of this post.


A Haunting at the Hoyt Library (2015)


A Haunting at the Hoyt ” World Wide Premiere! – Trailer #1” video uploaded by Haunted Saginaw, Standard YouTube license

This one’s a bit different from my usual round of choices, as it’s a documentary! Here’s the write-up from Amazon Prime:

For years, the Hoyt Library in Saginaw, Michigan, has made headlines as one of the most haunted locations in the entire Midwest. Finally, a documentary film crew was granted access to investigate the numerous claims of paranormal activity.

I don’t know if there are any *real* librarians featured or interviewed in this documentary, but it would be interesting to learn more about the hauntings at this public library!

I have access to watch a streaming version of this film via Amazon Prime.


Horror of Dracula (1958)


Horror of Dracula Official Trailer #1 – Christopher Lee Movie (1958) HD” video uploaded by Movieclips Classic Trailers, Standard YouTube license

Jonathan Harker (John Van Eyssen) poses as a librarian to catalog Count Dracula’s rare book collection—for an opportunity to kill Dracula (played by Christopher Lee). Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) battles Dracula in the castle’s library. A classic horror movie!

I have a copy of this film in my personal library.


Personals (TV, 1990)


Personals/City Killer promos & USA Network ID, 1989” video uploaded by Chuck D’s All-New Classic TV Clubhouse, Standard YouTube license

In this TV movie, Jennifer O’Neill plays a librarian who finds men through newspaper personal ads and kills them on the first date. A meek librarian by day, a killer by night!

I have a copy of this film in my personal library.


Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)


Movie Trailer – 1983 – Something Wicked This Way Comes” video uploaded by C64b, Standard YouTube license

Mr. Dark (Jonathan Pryce) and his circus come to a small town and begin granting sinister wishes to the townsfolk. A boy (Vidal Peterson) and his father (Jason Robards), the town librarian, figure out what’s going on and challenge Mr. Dark. Based on the novel by Ray Bradbury.

I have a copy of this film in my personal library.


Now is the time to choose your next adventure, scary movie edition! What should I watch next? You decide!

The poll will stay open through this week, and I will reveal the winner on next Wednesday’s post. I will then analyze the winning film in a post the following Wednesday after that.

Browse through all my posts tagged “reader poll” if you’re interested in past reader polls.

Reader poll write-up, spring 2018: Ask the Dust

As per the winning entry in the most recent reader poll, this week I am analyzing the 2006 film Ask the Dust this week. I had never seen the film before.

Ask The Dust – Trailer,” uploaded by YouTube Movies, Standard YouTube License

What’s it all about?

The 2006 film stars Salma Hayek, who plays Mexican immigrant Camilla, and Colin Farrell, who plays Arturo Bandini, the son of two Italian immigrants. Here’s the film description from Amazon Prime:

“Arturo Bandini (Colin Farrell), a young would-be writer who comes to Depression-era Los Angeles to make a name for himself. While there, he meets beautiful barmaid Camilla (Salma Hayek), a Mexican immigrant who hopes for a better life by marrying a wealthy American. Both are trying to escape the stigma of their ethnicity in blue-blood California. The passion that arises between them is palpable.”

Bandini Quartet cover

“John Fante, Ask the dust” by giuliaduepuntozero is licensed under CC BY ND 2.0

The film is based on the book by Italian-American author John Fante and was first published in 1939 — but the book, and its author, fell into obscurity in subsequent decades. However, Robert Towne rediscovered and used the book as inspiration for the Depression-era (and Oscar-winning) dialogue he wrote for the 1974 classic Chinatown, and writer Charles Bukowski helped the book get republished and wrote a foreword for the 1980 reprint edition by Black Sparrow Press. The book is part of the “Bandini Quartet,” four novels about central character Arturo Bandini.

I had admittedly never heard of the book or the author before, but by all accounts, it’s an underrated gem of a novel — and both its style and subject matter have been extremely influential in the last few decades. For that reason alone, I’m glad I watched this film!

On paper, the film has a lot going for it:  it’s based on a groundbreaking novel; stars two talented and award-winning actors; was written and directed by Robert Towne (the same one who rediscovered Fante’s work in the 1970s!); and was produced by Tom Cruise.

The final result, however, is frustratingly disappointing, all the more so considering the talent involved. Hayek and Farrell display very little chemistry onscreen — or rather, Hayek has sexual chemistry for days (and is the bright spot in this film), but Farrell cannot seem to, uh, rise to the occasion. Farrell has a natural Irish brogue, and acting with an American accent seems to have dampened his naturally charismatic personality. (Yes, an Irishman is playing an Italian-American immigrant.) There is also waaaaaaaay too much voice-over narration, an expository trick that falls as flat as Farrell’s American accent.

Reel librarian fake-out

Within the first few seconds of the title cards, Eileen Atkins’s name came on screen against a backdrop of an open book, a fountain pen, and glasses on a chain. I immediately perked up at these often librarian-adjacent props and thought, “Oh! Perhaps Eileen Atkins is also playing a librarian!”

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from library scene in 'Ask the Dust' (2006)

Credit card for Eileen Atkins in ‘Ask the Dust’ (2006)

Alas, no. Fake-out! The first few minutes of the film reveal that Eileen Atkins plays Arturo’s no-nonsense landlady, not a librarian. She does wear glasses on a chain, but the open book in the credits turns out to be the guest registration book.

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from library scene in 'Ask the Dust' (2006)

Eileen Atkins as the landlady, not the librarian

The real reel librarian

Nine minutes into the scene, Arturo recalls a memory from when he lived in Colorado. (I didn’t get at first that this was a flashback scene, but then I recalled the librarian role was listed in the credits as “Denver librarian.”) He is in a public library, and he sets down a book on the front counter to check it out.

The librarian at the counter, played by Natasha Staples, is young, blonde, and attractive. She is also fashionably dressed in modern, stylish clothes (for the 1930s time period), and it’s obvious that she has made a considerable effort with her makeup and curled hairdo. She and her red lipstick definitely stand out amidst all the hazy earth tones of the rest of the library setting.

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from library scene in 'Ask the Dust' (2006)

Public library scene and background

Here’s how their “meet cute” moment plays out, as Arturo sets down the book on the counter:

LibrarianYou have nice hands.

ArturoI do?

LibrarianVery.

There is definite flirty eye contact happening between the two.

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from library scene in 'Ask the Dust' (2006)

Arturo and the librarian “meet cute”

Then the librarian looks down as she stamps his card, her eyes registering his name. She looks up at Arturo.

LibrarianBandini? You’re Italian. 

Her face subtly hardens, and her voice flattens out.

LibrarianThat’ll be two cents every day it’s overdue.

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from library scene in 'Ask the Dust' (2006)

Reel librarian discrimination and dismissal

This is the librarian’s last line, and it is a clear dismissal. Arturo’s face falls as he realizes that the librarian is no longer interested in him, due to his name and Italian roots.

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from library scene in 'Ask the Dust' (2006)

Meet disappointment

This library scene lasts only 30 seconds and includes the bare minimum of sets and props, including stacks of books and a stamper.

The reel librarian’s role

What is the reel librarian’s role in this short scene? Although the reel librarian is onscreen for only a few seconds, she stands out enough to merit a Class III category, in which librarian(s) plays a secondary role, ranging from a supporting character to a minor character with perhaps only a few lines in one memorable or significant scene.

Primarily, this reel librarian serves as an Information Provider character type. In addition to helping set the library scene, her role reflects the discrimination toward Italian immigrants at that time. This scene provides necessary backstory for Arturo’s personal frustration and experiences suffering unfair treatment and discriminatory behavior due to his name, ethnicity, and background. The plot is then set for Arturo to meet Camilla, a Mexican immigrant who has also suffered discrimination to her name, ethnicity, and background.

It’s also interesting to note that this reel librarian partially fulfills the Naughty Librarian character type. It’s clear that she’s willing to be naughty… if the man has the right name, of course.

Sources used

Ask the Dust. Dir. Robert Towne. Perf. Colin Farrell, Salma Hayek, Donald Sutherland, Idina Menzel, Eileen Atkins. Paramount, 2006.

Ask The Dust – Trailer,” uploaded by YouTube Movies, Standard YouTube License.

Woodard, Rob. “How Ask the Dust nearly missed greatness.The Guardian, 14 Jan. 2009.

Past reader poll winners

Interested in past reader poll analyses? Check out them out below:

Reader poll winner, spring 2018

The votes for the most recent reader poll are in… and the surprise winner is Ask the Dust! The 2006 film starring Salma Hayek and Colin Farrell had a come-from-behind victory today, during the last day that the poll was open, and the other two films, Autumn in New York and A Bird of the Air were tied only yesterday. Very dramatic finish!

Screenshot of reader poll spring 2018

Ask the Dust? Ask me next week!

So I will be watching and analyzing Ask the Dust this week via our Amazon Prime subscription, and next week I will be back with a film analysis post — stay tuned!

Ask The Dust – Trailer,” uploaded by YouTube Movies, Standard YouTube License

Past reader poll winners

In the meantime, if you’d like to peruse previous reader poll winners, check out them out below:

Reader poll, spring 2018: Choose your next reel librarian (romantic) adventure

I have opened up a reader poll at least twice a year since Spring 2014, when I ask readers to vote for the next film for me to analyze. You can see past reader polls here.

I usually pull together five film titles, but this time, I am only doing three titles, all available streaming from Amazon Prime. (Can you tell I am making the most of our membership?! This post is not sponsored, I promise. 😉 ) And all three titles are romances.

Therefore, now is the time to choose your next reel librarian romantic adventure! The reader poll will stay open through next Tuesday, May 15th, by 10 p.m. PST.


Ask the Dust (2006)


Ask The Dust – Trailer,” uploaded by YouTube Movies, Standard YouTube License

Starring:

Colin Farrell, Salma Hayek, Donald Sutherland

Film description on Amazon Prime:

“Arturo Bandini (Colin Farrell), a young would-be writer who comes to Depression-era Los Angeles to make a name for himself. While there, he meets beautiful barmaid Camilla (Salma Hayek), a Mexican immigrant who hopes for a better life by marrying a wealthy American. Both are trying to escape the stigma of their ethnicity in blue-blood California. The passion that arises between them is palpable.”

Where a librarian fits in:

I have never seen this film, but the credits list the role of a “Denver librarian” played by Natasha Staples. I have to assume it is a minor role in this historical romance. But Colin Farrell is playing a writer, so perhaps there’s a research angle involved in helping him write a book?


Autumn in New York (2000)


Autumn In New York Trailer.mov,” uploaded by SarahG, Standard YouTube License

Starring:

Richard Gere, Winona Ryder

Film description on Amazon Prime:

“Autumn in New York follows the sexual exploits of Will Keane (Richard Gere) – New York restaurateur, infamous verging-on-50 playboy, master of the no-commitment seduction – until he runs into an unexpected dead end when he meets Charlotte Fielding (Winona Ryder). Charlotte is half Will’s age and twice his match, a 21 year-old free spirit yearning to get out and taste the excitement of adult life.”

Where a librarian fits in:

I saw this film years ago, but I honestly don’t remember much of it except that it was very dramatic and an over-the-top, tearjerker romantic. I do remember a librarian who works at a museum, and Delores Mitchell is listed in the credits as playing the role of “Librarian.” I also have in my film notes that Lisa Tyler (played by Vera Farmiga) is a researcher.


A Bird of the Air (2011)


A Bird of the Air – Movie Trailer (2011) HD,” uploaded by Movieclips Trailers, Standard YouTube License

Starring:

Rachel Nichols, Jackson Hurst, Linda Emond

Film description on Amazon Prime:

“Rachel Nichols and Jackson Hurst star in an adaptation of the romantic novel The Loop. When a talking bird bursts into his Lyman’s life, Fiona helps unravel the past and opens up his heart.”

Where a librarian fits in:

The main character Fiona is a librarian! The film’s plot summary in IMDb.com states “A sassy parrot and a free-spirited librarian upend the well-ordered life of a solitary man.” There is another librarian character listed in the credits, with Carrie Fleming playing a “Reference Librarian.” This sounds like a quirky romance with a starring role for a reel librarian.


Again, the reader poll will stay open through next Tuesday, May 15th, by 10 p.m. PST. Thanks in advance for helping choose which film I should analyze next!

I’ll be back next week on Wednesday, May 16th, with the winning film. And then I will publish my analysis post the following week, on May 23rd.