Circe by Madeline Miller (♦♦♦♦)

Granddaughter of Oceanus, daughter of Titan Helios and sea nymph Perseid, Circe was different from the start. While her siblings discovered their unique gifts very early on and gained their independence—either by claiming their inheritance, like Perses and Aëstes, or by marriage to a wealthy demigod, like Pasiphäe—, Circe remained among her family in the halls of the gods. Her love for young fisherman Glaucus changed everything. Circe used a potion to transform Glaucus into a worthy suitor. Glaucus, seeing his station changed, fell in love with one Circe’s cousins, a sea nymph named Scylla. Out of jealousy, Circe put a potion on Scylla’s bath and, unintendedly, transformed her into a monster. Circe’s confession forced Helios to go to see Zeus, for witchcraft is something that gods fear can tip the balance of power. Zeus declared an eternal banishment for Circe from the halls of the gods to the island of Aiaia.

Exile was not easy but, as Circe learned, it had its advantages; being away f…

Hitchcock (♦♦♦♦)

Movie director Alfred Hitchcock was in serious need of a creative challenge after making his movie North by Northwest. The reading of an obscure book titled Psycho-- based on a man with cross-dressing tendencies and serious mommy issues who kills his own mother-- triggers his creative genius…Only the movie studio executives aren’t so keen to the project. Hitchcock comes up with the idea of financing his own movie by mortgaging his house.

Upon wrapping the film and in the cutting process, it is the ideas of his wife Alma y his cutting assistant who incorporate jarring music to the infamous shower scene in which the leading lady gets stabbed to death, that make one of the most memorable scenes in the history of cinema being the success it became.

 Brilliantly acted by Anthony Hopkins in the role of Alfred Hitchcock and Helen Mirren as Alma Hitchcock, Hitchcock the movie is darkly funny, absorbing and a very intimate portrayal about the creative process involved in making movie history. Leave it to these two Oscar winners to engage the audience by matching talents and wits in this rather peculiar production.

It is easier to empathize with Alma’s character than it’s with Hitch, after all, Alma is the quintessential wife of a genius who despite taking part in the creative process, rather actively I should add, doesn’t share his time in the spotlight as she should being his equal. Helen Mirren is ideal in this role and so is Hopkins, quite unrecognizable as aging, overweight, demanding Hitchcock.

Also co-star Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh, the most recent of Hitchcock’s fantasy, Jessica Biel as Vera Miles, an actress who changed fame for motherhood and incurred in Hitchcock’s rage because of it, Toni Collette as Peggy, Hitchcock’s secretary, Danny Huston as Hitchcock’s romantic rival, and Jim D’Arcy as Anthony Perkins in a role full of raw vulnerability and darkness.

Aside from the outstanding performances of its cast, the screenplay and the make-up are note worthy.

It is quite a pity that there were so many movies much worthy of awards this past year, because Hitchcock is a very fine film that deserves recognition.