All posts by Alyssia

About Alyssia

Alyssia is an Information Assistant at the Vaughan Public Libraries. Nothing makes her happier than a great book and a great cup of coffee. She loves fiction in all formats - books, movies, television, you name it - and is always on the lookout for awesome new music.

Fall TV: Return to Westeros, Middle Earth, and More

Fall television season is upon us, and fantasy fans are eating well. I have a real penchant for fantasy movies and television shows based on books that I haven’t read, and there is plenty of new content to keep us entertained as the nights start to get darker. Below are some adaptations I’m particularly excited about; let us know your own picks in the comments! 

House of the Dragon

How are we feeling, everyone? Are we ready to revisit the world of Westeros? Have we put our hurt sufficiently behind us? We all remember the catastrophe that was season 8. I don’t want to talk about it. Suffice to say, when Game of Thrones ended in 2019, I declared that I would never lay eyes on another A Song of Ice and Fireadjacent property again. Fool me once, right? Cut to three years later, which in pandemic years feels more like eight, and I find myself cautiously optimistic about this new prequel series. The groundwork has already been laid; we already know the houses and the lore of Westeros. We all have our fave houses (Tyrell forever!). But where Game of Thrones spanned several houses and the entire continent of Westeros (and a bit of Essos), House of the Dragon, based on the novel Fire and Blood, reins in the scope to focus mainly on the platinum-haired, dragon-wielding Targaryen family.  

Where the original series covered conflicts and power grabs from house to house, House of the Dragon deals with the inter-family civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons (not to be confused with A Dance with Dragons, the fifth book in the Song of Ice and Fire series…), which is essentially a war of succession (funnily, apparently the showrunners looked to Succession for inspiration). So get ready for more inappropriate family relationships (the Targaryens are famously incestuous, much like the real-life Ptolemy and Habsburg dynasties) and confusing names like Rhaenyra, Rhaenys, Aemond, Daemon, and multiple other combinations of a and e (as someone who still can’t spell Daenerys without the help of Google, this will surely be fun for me). I just watched Wigs Versailles, a show about King Louis XIV’s court at the titular palace, full of melodrama, political machinations, assassinations and the like (and also beautiful, gorgeous hair). So I, for one, am primed and ready for more of that…plus dragons.  

House of the Dragon airs on Crave (HBO), Sunday nights at 9:00 pm. Get caught up on the original series here.

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What Went Wrong with Netflix’s Persuasion?

What was it that Shakespeare said? “My kingdom for a decent adaptation of Persuasion?” Some versions have gotten close, but we’ve yet to land on a definitive take (unlike, say, Pride and Prejudice, which is done, now please leave it alone forever). The latest brave soul to take a crack at Jane Austen’s final novel is Netflix, who takes misinterpretation of the source material to soaring new heights in an adaptation that is not only just plain bad, but bafflingly off-base. And it seems that many of us have taken that personally. By now, plenty of hilariously dramatic thinkpieces have been written on the ways in which this version fails. But all the hubbub got me thinking: there have been plenty of terrible movie adaptations of beloved books before. Why is this one so offensive? 

First and most obviously, it takes Austen’s most mature, melancholic, pensive work about lost love and regret and tries to jam it into the shape of a romantic comedy. Then there’s the questionable dialogue, which switches wildly between the 19th and 21st centuries without any rhyme or reason (there’s a scene where protagonist Anne Elliot’s sister asks her how she would dance to Beethoven. Anne: “Alone in my room, with a bottle of red.” Where is the Beethoven playing from, in this scenario? Her Spotify account?), and also has the subtlety of a sledgehammer (I particularly enjoyed the scene where the mustache-twirling villain Mr. Elliot fully lays out his dastardly plans to sabotage Anne’s father’s relationship in the style of a Bond villain—and Anne has no problem going shopping with him later). The romantic lead Captain Wentworth—who carries himself with a dignified, wounded pride in the novel—has the air of a boxer who has taken one too many hits, always seeming a bit dazed; I have a hard time believing this version of him could craft the iconic “I am half-agony, half-hope” letter.  

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Summertime, and the Watching’s Easy

Summer may have just started, but is anyone else’s brain already in vacation mode? Are we all ready to be sitting on patios in the sunshine, sipping margaritas? If you need a little inspiration, or if you’re unable to head out into the sunshine just yet, now is a good time to dip your toes into summertime vibes with some hot weather movies. Below, I’ve pulled a list together of some of my all-time films for the summer season that you can find in the VPL catalogue (sorry, no Palm Springs or Fire Island just yet). But this list is by no means exhaustive (keeping it to five was a struggle, as you’ll see), so feel free to share your own favourites in the comments! 

Before Sunrise (1995) 

Really, any movie in Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy would be a good choice (take your pick of locale: Vienna, Paris, or Greece), but since Before Sunrise is the first in the series, it’s best to start there. The 1995 film takes place on a single summer day. Jesse (American) and Celine (French) are on separate paths, but those paths cross for a moment on a train. Deciding to make the best of fate, they disembark and spend the rest of the day (and night) wandering the streets of Vienna, deep in conversation. That’s literally the whole plot, so your enjoyment of this kind of movie hinges on how much you love listening to people talk. The acting is so naturalistic that it’s easy to mistake Ethan Hawke’s and Julie Delpy’s performances as improvisations. The Before trilogy holds a special place in cinema history for its sequel rollouts: Before Sunset catches up with Jesse and Celine nine years later, this time in Paris. It’s a treat to see how they’ve matured, and we’re gifted another glimpse into their lives with Before Midnight, which takes place another nine years later, this time in Greece. But Before Sunrise holds a special charm owing to Jesse and Celine’s youth, with all their naïve philosophizing, and the will-they-or-won’t-they pull between them. These are two actors who play beautifully off each other, Delpy with a keenly European romanticism (and prettily messy French girl hair) and Hawke with the depth to match it (he has recently come out with what is, in my opinion, the correct take on the “are superhero movies art” debate—something very in line with Jesse!).  

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