Leslie's Bookcase

celebrating and recommending unforgettable books

Category: Film & TV (page 1 of 2)

“This is Us” & “Poem Counterpoem”

In the super popular, critically acclaimed, and award-winning NBC series “This is Us” Randall aka “Number 3” of the triplets is named after a poet.

We learned this namesake in Season 1, Episode 3: “Kyle” when we see William give Rebecca a copy of Poem Counterpoem by Dudley Randall. William says that Kyle/Randall’s birth mother read this poetry to him while in the womb. Rebecca then takes William’s suggestion to “give him his own name” and changes Number 3’s name from Kyle to Randall. “Maybe you’ll see fit to give it to him someday,” William says, and in fact later we see this book on Randall’s shelf.

I don’t watch a lot of TV because I am usually reading, so a show has to REALLY be worth my time. Obviously this show is. In fact, “This is Us” may be my favorite show ever…

And when I see a “literary cameo” in a show, I like to dig a little deeper to pay tribute to it – both the cameo and the show – and learn more myself.

So I decided to investigate Dudley Randall, Poem Counterpoem, and the lines of his poetry quoted in Episode 7 “Best Washing Machine in the World” when Beth (Randall’s wife) and William (Randall’s birth father) gaze up at the stars after eating pot brownies (did I mention I love this show??).


What I found out about this “literary cameo” surprised me!

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Celebrating “The Glass Castle” before the movie

Let’s celebrate the The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls as the movie is released.

For me, never before has a memoir read so much like fiction and never before have I both loved and hated the same “character” so much.

If you haven’t read this book yet (of course many of you have as it was on the bestsellers list for a few years) I highly recommend doing so either before or instead of the movie.

Even if you have already read the book I hope you will enjoy reminiscing a bit with me.

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New TV show about a young Shakespeare – Will

I was “accidentally” eavesdropping on a conversation the other day – it looked like a first date and I just couldn’t help myself because I was well within earshot! Well thank goodness because that’s how I heard of this new show on TNT, Will, about a young Shakespeare.

The girl said she and her roommates or friends were getting together to watch it later that evening (this was Monday – it airs on Monday nights on TNT and is also “On Demand” if you have Comcast.)

Oh how I remember those fun days when I would watch my shows with friends! But now I prefer everyone to be in bed before I even start my show, so I can enjoy the TV to myself in the dark – ha!!

But I am soooo thankful to this girl for turning me on to this show which I checked out last night.

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The Light Between Oceans – book & movie

I recently plowed through The Light Between Oceans, enjoying the suspense of how the situation could possibly play out:

In the aftermath of WWI, a veteran takes a post as a lighthouse keeper at Janus Rock, which is hours by boat off of the coast of Australia. He and his new wife are the only people on the island, and they try to start a family. After multiple miscarriages and stillbirths, they are heartbroken. But then… a boat containing a dead man and a healthy baby drifts to their shore!

This book was a quick and entertaining read that required me to consider the morality and implications of these people’s choices. The ending was so emotional for me that it left me dehydrated the next day after staying up way past my bedtime to finish it in peace!  I know this is not a new release (2012), but if you have not read this yet, I do recommend it! It left me desperate to discuss the situation with someone; it would be a great choice for a book club.

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A Man Called Ove warmed my heart

I read once that (paraphrase here from my memory)  it is impossible to hate someone if you know his or her story.

At first, I didn’t really like Ove, a grumpy and routine-based elderly man featured in A Man Called Ove: A Novel though I did find him an amusing character. Here’s a sampling of Ove:

“Ove is the sort of man who checks the status of all things by giving them a good kick.”


“Ove doubts whether someone who can’t park a car properly should even be allowed to vote.”

Likewise, I knew Ove would not be a fan of me, exampled by this:

“How can anyone be incapable of reversing with a trailer? he asks himself. How? How difficult is it to establish the basics of right and left and then do the opposite? How do these people make their way through life at all?”

However, as Ove’s “story” was revealed to me, I started liking him. And I felt that his character would eventually become tolerant of me as well…though I am 99% sure I’ll never learn to back-up a trailer, also a disappointment to my husband!

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A guide to the Oscar-nominated “Best Pictures”

I concentrate on finding the best books, so I let “the Academy” sort through the year’s best movies for me. Then I go into a frenzy trying to see as many as possible before the awards show.

This year – for the first time – I saw ALL of the Best Picture nominees BEFORE the Academy Awards. My movie quest was super fun and kept me returning to theaters many times during the past few weeks and more recently to the local Redboxes. I finished my ninth movie yesterday, just in time.

As it turned out – thanks Academy – I enjoyed most all of these movies. Below are my brief reflections and recommendations with no spoilers…I want you all to enjoy these movies as much as I did! At the end, I’ll give my votes to win the major awards.

Disclaimer: I am not a movie critic or a movie expert; I am just a normal person who saw all nine of these movies, and these are just my opinions!

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Moonglow, Moonlight, and the phases of the moon

Last week I finished the book “Moonglow” and saw the movie “Moonlight.”

My double moon experience was a coincidence, but it left me contemplating these vastly different life stories with references to the same moon.

Moonglow: A Novel

Moonglow was on my Fall-Winter reading list and it has since been named as a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Awards. It is based on the death-bed confessions of the author’s grandpa, including many stories he heard for the first time in the last week or so of his grandfather’s life.

The title here references the grandfather’s passion for space travel. I will never look at the official photo of the Challenger space crew the same due to one of the stories told in this book! Also, the first time he saw his wife was by “moonglow.”

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When literature and TV collide

Literary cameos in HBO’s “The Night Of”

“Survival in here is all about your alliances….Those husky dogs knew that.” – Freddy from HBO’s popular new series  “The Night Of” in reference to Jack London’s Call of the Wild

I get really excited when I see references to literature (or intertextuality) usefully inserted into an already great story line – it makes me pause, rewind, quote, and blog. So here goes:

If you are not watching HBO’s new drama “The Night Of” I STRONGLY recommend it  (no serious spoilers here). 

I want to reflect on a scene from episode 4 that offers some fascinating literary cameos when Naz, a soft-spoken university student who is in prison awaiting a trial for murder, meets with Freddy, a smooth, smart, and powerful longtime inmate who is essentially running the prison.

First, Freddie “educates” Naz on the “two most popular books in the prison library.”

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Three updates upon my return to the madding crowd

Upon my return to the madding crowd, I have three updates:

1) First, some sad news: I have to say RIP to my beautiful old book, the old-smelling copy of Far from the Madding Crowd (Penguin Classics) previously read by Gene Kaufman with a textbook control card. I’m keeping the card for a bookmark, and I’m keeping the cover too, but unfortunately, the rest of the old book needs to go into the recycling bin because it is literally falling apart.

Rest assured this old book got one last good read:

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The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Because my blog typically focuses on literature, this post would ideally be about a book. Unfortunately, my intended book remains marked at page 98. I haven’t picked it up in days, and I might not.

I expected to read “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and then blog about how the fabulous movie of the same name is actually based on an even more fabulous book. What a typical blog that might have been.

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