Thursday, December 27, 2007

Glass Mask

13-year-old Maya Kitajima is good for nothing, but can recite the whole dialogues from a 3 ½ hour-movie she has seen only once, including the gestures of the actors and their positions. When long-forgotten actress Chigusa Tsukikage sees her, she knows that she has found a perfect candidate to play the Crimson Goddess in the future. The Crimson Goddess is a legendary stage play and only a perfect actress can play it. The rights belong only to Chigusa Tsukikage, the only one who has played the role until a terrible accident destroyed her face, and she refuses to sell it to anyone, including ambitious Masumi Hayami, the young president of Daito Production Company, and Hajime Onodera, the producer of Ondine Theatre. Meanwhile, Ayumi Himekawa, a genius with perfect acting technique, also wants that role. Later Ayumi and Maya become life-long rivals, but they always admire each other. Both take any role, no matter how small or unimportant it is, because they believe that every role brings them one step closer to become the actress who will able to play the Crimson Goddess.
Mme. Chigusa teaches Maya that on stage she must wear the glass mask of the character she is playing in order to become the character completely and forget about her own. Maya runs away from home because her mother doesn’t allow her to act and she has a hard time dividing her time for school, theatre and half-time job. Her only consolation is that she has a secret fan who sends her purple roses and supports her in many ways. Maya doesn’t know that the Purple Rose is the man she hates the most.

Glass Mask (Garasu No Kamen) manga by Suzue Miuchi was very popular here in mid 90’s, but the final book had never been released here or have I missed it? I don’t think so! It has become a very favourite of mine, along with Candy Candy.

This animation brings a lot of memories. There is a very touching scene when Masumi visits Mme. Chigusa who is ill, bringing white roses and a basket of fruits; and Maya is so angry to see him (because she just heard that Onodera, and presumably Masumi, had sabotaged Tsukikage Theatre Group in a competition, resulting disqualification for them despite Maya’s wonderful efforts to perform it solo since the rest of the cast were late); and Maya snatches the flowers from him and throws them right into his face and throws apples at him. She doesn’t know how much Masumi cares for her.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Robson Green A Trilogy

Ain't Misbehavin' (1997)
Robson & Jerome duo was very popular in the UK in mid 90's, following the success of the Unchained Melody recording, which they sang in Soldier Soldier series. In Ain't Misbehavin', the two actors met again. Set in London around WW2, Jerome Flynn stars as an ex-RAF who becomes a saxophone player, and Robson Green plays a private detective who also works as a bass player. When the lead singer dies in a bombing, they both replace him and has misadventures with local gangsters. This movie is very entertaining, funny at times, with some nice musical numbers. This is my favourite among the three and reminds me of 'The Singing Detective' and wonder how would it be like if Green played the role of Dan Dark.

The Last Musketeer (2000)
Robson Green plays a fencer who gives inspirations to his students. Disappointed because he hasn't been elected into the national team and to get away from a group of gangsters who believe he has taken their money, Steve McTear (Green) finds a shelter in an exclusive school and becomes a fencing coach. I'm not fond of any movie about sports, so I don't really like this one. The tone of this movie is also dark.

Take Me (2001)
I have read many horrible reviews about this one, but this is a part of the trilogy boxset and I wanted to watch The Last Musketeer so much (although I end up with Ain't Misbehavin' as my favourite). Sad to say that after watching this, I am agree to those reviewers, and that Green's other works are better. In my opinion Take Me could be better if they had reduced the running time (293 minutes) because the first part is very slow. The plot is actually not bad, although it's hard for me to believe that in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne there is a neighbourhood where the husbands agree to swap wives in every party they have. It's nice to hear the lovely song 'The Twelfth of Never' by Johnny Mathis; I'm familar with the versions by Donny Osmond and Cliff Richard, but never heard Mathis's before. Jack (Green) suspects his neighbour Doug (Danny Webb) has killed a woman and hidden the body somewhere, but he has no proof; and later in a party Doug tells Jack that he has accidentally killed another. Jack helps him to bury the body in the woods only to find that Doug has set a trap for him. The twists in the end are nice. The food in the picture below also looks delicious...

Saturday, December 22, 2007


I love very much the Columbine - Hummingbird bookmark and it's also not difficult to make and doesn't cost much.

1. The pattern is free at internet.

2. I use left-over materials.

3. On the flipside I put the famous verse from the beginning of Auguries of Innocence by William Blake.

"To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour."

I am not a fan of poetry, but I really like this verse. Lesley Garrett used it in the beginning of O Waly Waly video clip and it was read slowly and I thought it was beautiful. You can download the soundclip here.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Alain Delon Screen Icons

Let's say I'm in a mood to see movies with good-looking actors. There are 5 movies in the Alain Delon Screen Icons boxset.

Plein Soleil (1960) - before Talented Mr Ripley, Patricia Highsmith's novel becomes alive with this movie. Alain Delon plays Tom Ripley, who is sent by Philippe Greenleaf's father to save his son from a decadent life in Rome. Although poor, Tom is inteligent and his talents include forging signatures and immitating voices. Upset because Philippe treats him badly, Tom kills him and steals his money and later moves towards Philippe girlfriend, Marge. The ending is good: Tom happily sits on a chair under the sun while the police are ready to catch him. I myself prefer if he can get away from his crime and live happily ever after with Marge.

L'Eclisse (1962) - This is an art movie by Italian director Michaelangelo Antonioni and too difficult for me. The black and white pictures are wonderful, each frame is beautiful, but often the story goes very slow with no dialogue at all. The heroine is Vittoria (Monica Vitti), who has just suffered the break-up of a relationship. When she meets Piero (Delon), a stockbroker, she learns to fall in love again only to find that their worlds are different. What I like about this movie is how they stage the Italian Stock Exchange and to see what the business is like in the 60's.

Un Flic (1972) - I think what stands out from this one is the bank robbery in the beginning of the movie and the helicopter heist which seem very real and believable. Delon plays a cop (=flic) who has an affair with one of the robbers' girlfriend, played by Catherine Deneuve. There are parts in this movie where I can see how clear and blue Alain Delon's eyes are, so I can say the transfer is excellent, despite the grainy end credits.

Traitement de Choc (1973) - This one is a thriller. Annie Girardo plays Hélène Masson, a rich manager who is having a therapy at the Devilers centre. Delon plays the doctor who can make the old become younger and stonger. Hélène feels something is wrong but none believes him until she finds the doctor's terrible secret: take the essence from his young employees who are all illegal workers.

Flic Story (1975) - based on a true story set after the WW2. Paris cop Roger Borniche (Delon) tries to put dangerous criminal Emile Buisson who has escaped from a mental asylum into jail. During the pursuit, Buisson killed 36 people, including his mates who he thinks have betrayed him. This one is very enjoyable and Delon's Borniche reminds me of Lucky Luke, always has a cigarette in his mouth, lit or not; while Buisson who can kill without thinking is a fan of Edith Piaf's songs.

From all 5, my favourites are Plein Soleil and Flic Story, although I have to admit that I also like seeing young Alain Delon as a stockbroker running around in the Stock Exchange building in L'Eclisse.

The Voyage Unplanned

The Voyage Unplanned (1974) is my 3rd Frank Yerby book. I chose it because stories about Resistance interest me. The story is set in 1972.

After watching a play in New York, 54 year-old attorney John Farrow meets Byron Graves, an ex S.O.E. whose life he saved in the Vercors salient in the spring of 1944. This event makes Farrow goes to France to search the news of his long lost fiancée, Simone Levy. Before he leaves, a man from the Federal Narcotics Bureau asks him to look for a man called Albrecht Holtz, a drug dealer, and confirm that Holtz is also Heindrich Kroll, an ex S.S. Lieutenant Colonel who has tortured Simone. Farrow refuses because he has promised Simone not to make a revenge. “Don’t kill. There’s no excuse for it – ever-," said Simone.

Farrow is an American, born in France of a French mother and an American father. His father is a member of American diplomatic corps. In WW2 Farrow is a member of the Resistance, 3rd in command of Réseau Merle, Liaison officer from the O.S.S. to Redoute de Vercors. Shaken by the death of his mistress to save his life in 1943, John, or nicknamed Jean le Fou, wishes to die. “Have you ever seen a man get killed in combat who wanted to die? It’s almost impossible. His body’s instincts defeat his will. And being crazy he becomes invincible.” His world revives when he meets Simone, a Jewish officer of Réseau Merle. Soon they are inseparable, until the day Simone is caught by the S.S. officers and tortured for four whole days until John rescues her, only to have her leave him.

Twenty-eight years later, during his search for Simone, John finally learns the truth about the tragedy which made Simone left him, and also finds a new love in Simone’s little sister.

Frank Yerby gave good details about French Resistance and the story is very engaging. It’s also interesting to learn that ex-Nazis were living in perfect tranquility in Spain.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Foyle's War

It's 1940 and England is at war. DCS Christopher Foyle (Michael Kitchen) wants a transfer to the war effort, but denied, and has to confront the crimes, in a society where everybody is taught how to kill. With the help from his driver, Sam (Honeysuckle Weeds) and Sgt Paul Milner (Anthony Howell), who lost a leg in the war; Foyle tries to solve murder cases in Hastings.

I had wanted to saw Foyle's War for a year, when someone from one of the mailing lists I was joining in, recommended it. I wondered what the difference between Foyle's War and Midsomer Murders, except that Foyle's War was set in WW2 and Midsomer Murders in present time, since both series are created by Anthony Horowitz. I have only watched the first season of Foyle's War, and from the 4 episodes, I could guess easily whodunit in 3 episodes. So 'A Lesson in Murder' is my favourite. First began with the death of David Beale in police custody. Beale was a brilliant writer and placed in custody after being refused conscientious objector status, and a judge at the hearing, received threatening notes, but a refugee boy from London who stayed at the judge's house died in his place. Interesting also to see that everyone seems to forget about Sgt Milner's lost leg, except his own wife, who treats him like a cripple.

I also like The White Feather episode because 1) There is Charles Dance in it 2) The heroic story of Dunkirk is included. It moved me when David Lane's father's boat landed with 15 soldiers.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Black Book

I saw Black Book in the list of best spy movies ever, also saw the trailer when I went to the theatre to see The Invasion - it looked great and so I wanted to see it. Last night I did.

Black Book (Zwartboek) is one of the best movies I've ever seen. Set in 1944, about the Resistance in Holland. After her hiding place is bombed, a beautiful Jewish woman, Rachel Steinn tried to leave Holland for Belgium, but she is betrayed and her whole family are murdered in front of her. She later has a new identity, joins the Resistance and falls in love with a high ranking Nazi officer. While trying to free the Nazi prisoners, the Resistance fighters are betrayed and they think Ellis de Vries (Rachel's new identity) is the traitor. With the black book Ellis will prove who the real traitor is.

This movie has a lot of twists and very gripping. The long running time (145') didn't bore me at all. I didn't know any of the actors, but both leads, Carice van Houten and Sebastian Koch, are very good.

A must see!

The Tudors season 1

Another movie about the life of Henry VIII. This series starts with Henry's relationship with Bessy Blount and ends with Cardinal Wolsey's death. Since Queen Katherine cannot give him a male heir, Henry tried to annul his marriage and marry Anne Boleyn. The Pope has given him a dispensation before, so he can marry Katherine of Aragon, who was his older brother's widow. Henry says the fact that he has no living son is a proof that God disapprove of the marriage, because it is written: "Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother's wife" and the punishment is childless. I do not understand why he has to ask the dispensation from the Pope, because I think God disapprove if the brother in question is still living. Arthur is dead. In the Bible, there is a story of Onan, Judah 2nd son, who marries his brother's wife and God kills him because he refuses to give his seed to the widow since the offspring he can't claim as his own (Genesis 38).

I also don't understand why Gabriella Anwar's character is called Margaret instead of Mary. Margaret was the one sent to Scotland and Mary Stuart and Henry Lord Darnley were both her descendants. Mary was sent to France to marry Louis XII (and not to Portugal) and later after the king's death married Charles Brandon. In this movie, Margaret acts more like a common woman than a princess for her face is horribly sad when she is doing her state duty: marry the old king of Portugal.

In this series Anne Boleyn is used by her father & uncle to destroy Wolsey. No sign of her fiance Henry Percy (the relationship had been encouraged by her father). Anne was in love with Percy and furious when Wolsey separated them and she destroyed Wolsey because of this hatred.

Jeremy Northam's Thomas More is different from other actors played the character (Paul Schofield, William Squire). He is more witty and humorous. This is also the first time I saw More burning heretics, makes me wonder why he is called a saint.

The sweating sickness scenes are interesting.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Today I watched Hairspray The Musical - the movie version. It was a fun movie and very entertaining, as what a movie should be. John Travolta was lovely as Edna, although it seemed he was almost in tears most of the time. He is a very handsome man, but in my opinion as a woman he wasn't very pretty. I would like very much to see Michael Ball in the same role on stage.

Nikki Blonsky as Tracy Turnblad, the heroin, is very good. Short and overweight, she might be the last person ever to get into the Corny Collins show; but her superb dancing makes her lovable by many people. Her effort is not without barrier, because the TV station owner, Velma Von Tussle, wants her daughter Amber to be the star of the show and crowned as Miss Hairspray; so she tries anything to get rid of Tracy. Set in the early 60's in Baltimore, there is also racial problems. Most of the songs are very energetic (some remind me of Grease) and I liked the moments when they were sung. Zac Efron as Link Larkin also reminded me of Cliff Richard in the 60's - I think it must be the hair style and the costumes.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Devil's Laughter

Having been so impressed with Frank Yerby's An Odor of Sanctity, I bought another one of his works: The Devil's Laughter (1953), which was set during The French Revolution. Compared with Odor of Sanctity, The Devil's Laughter was a thin book, only some 300-pages, and I hope it had more details about the French Revolution. I found myself, when reading the book, was in blank sometimes because I forgot who the Jacobins, who the Hébertists, who the Girondins, etc.

The hero was Jean Paul Marin, a lawyer and a son of a wealthy merchant in the 18th century, who dreamt about a better France and published revolutionary writings; but when the revolution did happen and France was heading to a worse end, he begans to regret his involvement in it. Jean possessed a terrible laughter which 'was filled with mockery for all things under heaven and earth.' - thus the title: The Devil's Laughter.

Those who are familiar with Yerby's works will know that his works use histories as a background, with violences and love stories. There were 3 women in Marin's life: 1) Lucienne Talbot, whom he was going to marry but left him for a richer man and came back to betray him again; 2) Nicole la Moyte, a beautiful blonde girl who loved him and was loved by him but married someone else when she believed Marin was dead; and 3) Fleurette, a blind flower girl, who under his care finally became a real woman.

While reading this, I suddenly remembered to my La Revolution Française recording (by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil), so I listened to it again. It is one of my favourites and although the genre is rock opera, but in my opinion it has some of the most beautiful songs ever written. I mean the melody. My favourites are: Charles Gauthier and L'horrible assassinat du citoyen Marat par la pérfide Charlotte Corday, but overall I like all the songs. As for the lyrics, well, L'horricle assassinat du citoyen Marat tells about the murder of Marat; and Charles Gautier tells that he is a son of a shopkeeper who goes to Paris as a representative for the Third Estate.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace is the story of William Wilberforce and his campaign in the late of 18th and early 19th century to abolish the slave trade, at least in Great Britain. After hearing stories how bad the Africans had been treated after being taken from their native land, the bad sanitation on ships and the chains, also the fate awaited them in the plantations; Wilberforce decided to bring the horror to public awareness. He was inspired by John Newton, the writer of the famous song, Amazing Grace. Newton, an ex slave trader, at first refused to co-operate, but in the end had his confession written and published.

To abolish slave trade at that time meant the end of the British Empire, at least that was the lords on House of Commons said. Wilberforce finally got his way when the war with France after the revolution was over.

I think the song Amazing Grace is about how great God's love is and that He saves us sinners from hell. Using the title for this movie, apart from the usage of the song, which is sung three times if I'm not mistaken, I wonder what it means. Is Wilberforce some kind of god who has deliberated the Africans from slave trade? In the movie, James Stephen went to West Indies to take notes and more testimonies from first hands, and back in England, he told his friends a story about a woman and her child and how the mother said that someone came across the sea to save them and that his name was King Wilberforce.

Directed by Michael Apted, and starring good actors like Iaon Gruffudd, Albert Finney, Michael Gambon, Benedict Cumberbatch, Romola Garai, Youssou N'Dour, Rufus Sewell, Jeremy Swift, Toby Jones, and Ciaran Hinds; Amazing Grace is a worth film to watch, especially if you like history.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Dragon Family

I remember watching this movie in the 80's and by that time it was the best movie I'd seen in years, although my cousin ruined the ending moment for me, because when the bad guy was in flame, he said that it was only a doll. Last night Celestial channel showed this and it turned out that I had forgotten so many scenes.

The Dragon family (Lung family) was the center of the story. I liked how they used the actors's real names for the characters' names. The father of the Lung family was the big brother of the 4 who had the power in Hong Kong triad and this organization had swore not to sell drugs. Problem came when Father Lung's godson, Alan (Alan Tam), killed one of the 2nd brother's sidekicks for selling drugs. The 2nd brother was furious because he thought the big brother had violated his affair and he wanted the organization to end. The accountant was panic because there was a lack of 5 millions in the balance and he privately asked the big brother for time to settle the matter. Meanwhile, Qiang (another sidekick - I forgot this actor's name, but he was very popular then after playing in Reincarnated series) came from abroad to help the 2nd brother. Together with the accountant, they set up a trap for the big brother. Lung's youngest son, A Yeh (Tan Ceng Yeh), liked to gamble and the accountant proposed to A Yeh that they would forget his debts (for his father refused to pay them) if he could received a drug cargo on his pier. A Yeh agreed but the 2nd brother caught him on the move and wanted a meeting which ended in the big brother's death. Not satisfied, the 2nd brother made a big massacre in the funeral house and killed the 3rd & 4th brothers, but Qiang stabbed him as well - made the 4 brothers were all gone and left Qiang as the leader of the organization. There was a funny line when Qiang's people made a comment that Qiang was more popular than Chou Yuen Fat.

From the Lung family, only A Hua (Liu The Hua) and the mother were alive, plus A Cung (Mo Sau Cung) who was studying in London, and Alan who had run away to Taiwan after killing the 2nd brother's sidekick. A Cung went back to Hong Kong, only to found his life was in great danger and ran to Taiwan to find Alan, and both went back to Hong Kong for revenge, when they accidentally found A Hua, who worked as a pimp (He was selling 2 actresses. One of them was Chang Man Yi, I didn't catch the 2nd's name because in the subtitles it was her Cantonese name). When A Hua brought them to meet the mother, who lived in a boat, it was too late because the boat and the mother were on fire, burned by Qiang's people. The revenge must go on!

Other actors I knew was Miao Ciao Wei, who played A Wei, Lung's eldest son. The actors who played the accountant, the chief police and Uncle Bao were also familiar, but I didn't know their names.

The actions were great, and my favourite was still the same: the scene where A Yeh ran away with the mother on a wheelchair from the funeral house until how A Hua sacrificed his hand to stop the wheelchair before it hit a car. After years, it was still a very entertaining movie, although now I think it seemed that there was no law in Hong Kong. Also found the acting was so-so, except Liu The Hua and the actor who played Qiang and Uncle Bao. Also loved A Yeh's sweater!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Blind Assassin

There are wonderful books written, which I haven't heard about. I look for them by reading reviews, compared one comment from another; but sometimes after I bought the book and read it, it doesn't suit my taste or mood.

Now I'm in the mood to read stories face paced stories. The Blind Assassin isn't one of them. Although it's full of details, which the reason why it won the Booker Prize, but the pace is very slow and there's not much of the plot. Possession, by A.S. Byatt, which also won the Booker Prize, is one of the most wonderful books I've read and I think the ending is perfect. I bought The Blind Assassin because the reviews seems positive and it did won the same prize as Possession. I wondered if this book was another masterpiece I might have missed, but it was not. I'm sorry, Ms Atwood.

I think I was misled by the title as well. The Blind Assassin, I imagined some heavy veiled killer with a sabre, like in Rudy Valentino movies. I wonder why where I got such image.

The Blind Assassin is a story about an old lady who is trying to reach her grand-daughter who has been separated from her by writing some kind of journal for her. There is a 2nd novel in this book as one of the characters is a writer, although the idea for the story came from someone else; and the 2nd novel consists of at least 2 stories told in different versions, set not on Earth.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Anne Of The Thousand Days

Anne of The Thousand Days (1969) told the story of Anne Boleyn (1507-1536). This is another great work from director Charles Jarrott, who also directed Mary, Queen of Scots.

I like very much Richard Burton as King Henry VIII. Burton's portrayal showed a king maddened by love and would do anything for it. It reminded me a bit of The King's Whore (1990), which also studied about passion in human life.

King Henry first saw Anne in a dancing party in the palace and wanted her instantly, but Anne didn't want to be his mistress after seeing what he had done to her sister. So Henry tried to annul his marriage to Katherine of Spain and when Rome refused him, he cut off from Rome, made himself the supreme head of the church and got rid of Katherine. Next, he made Anne's daughter, Elizabeth to be his successor with The Act of Succession, followed by several executions for those who refused to sign the Act, including Sir Thomas More. However, Henry wanted a son and when Anne couldn't give it to him, he got rid of her with the help of Cromwell, his chief adviser. In this movie, it was clear that Anne was innocent; she never committed the adultery which was accused to her. Her daughter, Elizabeth, would turn out to be the best queen England ever had.

Those were great moments in this movie: 1) When Anne told Henry, in front of Wolsey, how the cardinal was more powerful and wealthier than the king himself. 2) When Henry realized he was probably bewitched by Anne and that his excommunication from Rome gained him nothing but a useless daughter. 3) When Henry confronted Anne in the prison, how he could save her life if she and Elizabeth agreed to leave England; but Anne taunted him by saying she did commit adultery, and even incest with her brother. 4)The execution scene, when Anne turned her head to see her executioner.

In the end, Anne's sister, Mary's warning turned to be right. Once the king got what he wanted, he would get rid of it soon. Six years Anne resisted, because she was separated from her boyfriend, Percy, by force; but she gave up when Percy married another woman. In the end, she fell in love with Henry, but Henry didn't want her anymore because she couldn't give him the most thing he wanted: a son. In 3 years she was the Queen of England (although the people hated her). That was why this movie is called: Anne of The Thousand Days.

The movie ended perfectly with the moment Henry, who was out hunting, heard the cannon which announced the death of Anne, and then he turned his head to pursue Jane Seymour.

Cast: Richard Burton, Geneviève Bujold

Friday, October 5, 2007

Mary, Queen of Scots

Mary, Queen of Scots (1971) was on my want-list for about a year and I was afraid that I would have to get the VHS, which was rare and quite expensive; but at last it's available on DVD.

The picture transfer is wonderful. This movie begins with Mary Stuart's last days as the Queen Consort of France. After the death of her husband, King François, Mary (1542-1587) returned to Scotland, hoped for a better future. The fortune, however, didn't smile on her. Her brother, James, betrayed her. Her marriage to Henry Lord Darnley, was turned to be a mistake. Darnley was furiously jealous to her secretary, Riccio (these two had an affair), and joined in a conspiracy with the lords to get rid of him; only to realize that they used him in the rebellion against the Queen, so again he changed side. The lords didn't like Darnley so much that they couldn't wait until he died from the pox, and soon after he made a narrow escaped when they blew up his house, they killed him. From Darnley, Mary had a son, James I, who later would reign Scotland and England, because Elizabeth I had no child.
Mary married for the 3rd time to Bothwell, but soon they were separated. Bothwell died in Denmark, and Mary at last beheaded by her cousin's Elizabeth I.

Compare to Mary of Scotland (1936) , I like the 1971 version better. Katherine Hepburn made a very strong queen. Lord Darnley here was evidently gay and I wonder how the marriage could even produce a son. She married him only to secure her throne. There were also silly scenes like when Mary turned down all of her suitors and when Bothwell joked with Mary's ladies-in-waiting. My favourite moment was when the people of Scotland came to give their support to the new queen with a song. The melody was similar to "The Bonnie Banks O' Loch Lomond", but the lyrics were different.

Different from Hepburn, Redgrave made a more human queen. Fresh from France, which was full of singing and dancing, she was more free-spirited than the Scottish lords. She loved all her 3 husbands, although most likely she changed her mind soon after she found out Darnley's real personality on the wedding night. Dalton portrayed very well this drunkard, who was also a coward, double-traitor, pampered boy, who wept when in trouble and did anything to save his own life. I was happy when this pest finally died on screen. Redgrave's humanity also made it convincing when Elizabeth told her how fragile she was, how she had been tricked, and her anger when she tried to hit Elizabeth with her stick. The most breath-taking moment was the execution scene, when Mary removed her cloak to show her red dress.

I think I read somewhere that Mary Stuart and Elizabeth Tudor never met in reality. Perhaps I am wrong. The last 3 movies (2 above + Elizabeth I miniseries with Helen Mirren) I saw about them showed the meeting, though. At least those were secret meetings.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Dunia Fantasi

Last Sunday Lastri and I went to Dunia Fantasi (Dufan). As we had predicted, there were not many people, although it was Sunday, because on fast month most people would prefer to stay at home. It was an extremely hot day and although I had a baseball hat on, after 1h I was so dizzy.

I brought Little Mickey with me. He looked happy.

The last time I went to Dufan was in 1989 and I didn't take any ride because the queues were all very long! We only walked around and ate ice cream. All the food sold here were VERY expensive.

The Bianglala (Ferris Wheel) was the most boring ride. I took a picture of Ancol beach from there.

I think the Bima vs Nembuwarna statue near the Star Wars was wonderful.

And as I said, it wasn't crowded, we managed to go into Istana Boneka (Doll Castle) 3 times. This place was full with traditional costumed dolls from Indonesia and many parts of the world. The music was nice and would change according to the area you were passing through.

Touching Evil (TV)

Cast : (L-R) Shaun Dingwall, Michael Feast, Nicola Walker, Adam Kotz, Robson Green

I like very much Wire in The Blood series and was browsing through Robson Green's other works at internet and saw a review which said Touching Evil was better. About 10 days ago the DVD finally arrived and last night I finished the last episode. There were 8 episodes in all.

Series 1 was particularly good. Green played D.I. Dave Creegan who worked for the OSC (Organised & Serial Crime) . He was just recovered after being shot in the head. His disorder personality helped a lot in tracking serial murderers who were as unstable as he was. What I really liked about series 1, was that the cause of Professor Hinks's death in episode 1, revealed in episode 3, which made a continuity.

Series 2 was also very good. Again, I liked the continuity here, from Emily's death in episode 1, Creegan's guilty feeling, his relationship with D.C. Mark Rivers, Rivers' guilt, until the revenge from Emily's father in the last episode.

In my opinion, the crimes in series 3 were over the top, although they were still enjoyable to watch. Series 3 is very similar to Wire In The Blood. I hoped the last series was also of 3 episodes and not only 2. I began to like the characters and was sorry to see Rivers go (and in that way).

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Becoming Jane & Infamous

I watched Becoming Jane last night. It was a sweet love story, with beautiful sceneries and costumes. Anne Hathaway who played Jane Austen is very pretty. However, to cast her and Anne Maxwell Martin as sisters is not right, in my opinion, because these two don't look like each other. I thought at first that there would be all elements from her novels, but it wasn't. This movie is more like Pride & Prejudice, with characters remind us of Lizzy Bennett, Jane Bennett, Mr & Mrs Bennett, Mr Darcy/Wickham, Lady Catherine, and Mr Collins. The characters' problem is also similar to the opening sentence of Pride and Prejudice:"It is a truth universally acknowledge, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." only that the hero here wasn't rich and depended on his uncle. Meanwhile, Jane's mother wanted her to marry a rich man and thought her mad when she refused such offer. The love almost won and Jane and her prince planned an elopement, but in the end reason took over and Jane realized that she couldn't be egoist and must think of others. Jane and her sister Cassandra never married, and perhaps she was happy enough, as she wrote in her novel Emma: "A single woman, of good fortune, is always respectable, and may be as sensible and pleasant as any body else."

I also watched Infamous, and I liked this better than Becoming Jane. Doug McGrath (Emma - 1996) wrote & directed the movie. I hadn't known what it was about, only interested in the cast, and I was surprised to know it's about Truman Capote.
However, if 'Capote' was very boring and I only could manage to watch half of 'In Cold Blood', 'Infamous' was worth watching. Douglas McGrath's version of Emma has some changes, but still captures well the book's spirit. The first half of Infamous is like that, when Capote tries to get his way to blend in the little city where the murder has happened, it was light and entertaining, and I found myself giggled at times. The 2nd part is rather dark and the tone slows down. He interviews the killers here, with flashbacks. During the interview Capote developes a unique relationship with Percy Smith. So many big names in the cast, but mostly you will see Toby Jones, Sandra Bullock and Daniel Craig; and all three were great.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sunshine & Die Hard 4.0

This newest Danny Boyle film was not what I had expected and I like better down-to-earth themes like Shallow Grave or Trainspotting. I guess the director wanted to move forward after working on a movie like 28 Days Later.
Sunshine is of futuristic genre, that the sun, the earth's energy source, is dying; so 8 scientists, in a mission called Icarus II, are sent to drop a bomb to reignite the dying part of the sun. Seven years previously, Icarus I was failed.
The special effects and soundtracks are great. The story is very depressing, and throughout the movie as they were approaching the sun, my room was getting hotter and hotter. It's like watching a couple of people trapped in a spaceship, which reminded me at once of Natali Vicenzo's Cube.

Another movie I saw this week-end was Die Hard 4.0 which was great. It was fast paced with lots of car crashes and explotions. This is the first work of Len Wiseman I've ever seen and it's very impressing. I think most of young directors nowadays make their movies fast paced, like in video games.
Die Hard 4.0 is about computer hackers who sabotage the systems in the U.S., anything using computers: transportation, stock market, etc. The brain behind the plan then commanded that all traces must be erased, but John McClane (Bruce Willis) saved one of them, a computer nerd named Mat Farrell (Justin Long); and together they will save the U.S. of A. I didn't see what happened to Trey in the end, I must watch this again.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Odor of Sanctity

I'd never heard of Frank Yerby before and bought the book after reading a list of recommended historical fictions at Amazon.

At a glance, the language seemed difficult and I wondered if the author was not an English native. Later I found that he was an African American from Georgia who left America in 1955 in protest of some racial discrimination. He lived in Spain since until his death in 1991. He did his researches very well.

The Odor of Sanctity, A Novel of Medieval Moorish Spain (1965) is one of the best novels I have ever read. As soon as I could get used to his language, the story became very engaging. I wouldn't mind reading more works from Mr. Yerby.

Set in the 9th century of Spain, in span of about 30 years, the story centers around 'Alaric Teudisson', or 'Aizun ibn al Qutiyya' as the Moors called him, and his journey as the people around him believing he was a saint. Alaric had a beautiful face like an angel, his voice rang like a bell, his body was surrounded by light, and his touch healed the sick and raised the dead; but he himself thought he was an ordinary man because he couldn’t ran away from his carnal sins, he didn't have any faith, and that it was by love that he could ease the sick of the soul, and that the people believed what they wanted to believe.

It was his mother who first discovered that his son had ‘an odor of sanctity’ because he claimed he had had a nightmare when he mother rushed to his room after hearing his cry, and he told her how Santa Fredegunda had visited him, while in fact the odor was the trace of a female slave’s cheap perfume who had fled the room after his refusal.

Alaric’s life was miserable. His only brother died, his mother was murdered, his sister was kidnapped, his wife committed adultery with their slave, and his girlfriend killed herself with their unborn baby. On the peak of his grief, he tried to kill himself but could be saved, and as a result on his chest a cross was branded, the sign which confirmed that he was really a saint, for those who saw it.

The story is fast paced and very rich. What I really like, is how people at that time could live in peace despite the differences of their faiths (Jews, Moslems, Christians), although in the end it was ruined because of some people's arrogances.

Alaric is an ideal character, a wise man who accepts people no matter who they are, no matter what their religion is, and no matter the colour of their skin is. I quote a passage from the book where this fair-haired, blue-eyed man had a discussion with a black-skinned woman, when she asked him if he despised her because of her ugliness, and he answered: “What boots is that ‘tis not the same as the pale fairness of my race, my tribe? ‘Tis beauty, still. Take in your hand a violet, and a rose. The violet’s swart, the rose is fair. Wouldst say then that only roses are pleasing to the sight and toss all violets out to wither on the ground?”

The world will be a better place if we all can live in harmony and accept others as they are. Why should we judge other religions? Hasn't it been written: 'For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever.' (Micah 4:5)

Saturday, September 1, 2007

The Invasion (2007)

I like Jeremy Northam and was so glad that his latest movie, The Invasion, came to Indonesia. As far as I know, this is his 2nd movie since 2001. [The first was Cypher.] I saw the trailer on TV Monday morning and there he was, wearing a suit and said something like, 'When you wake up in the morning, everything will be the same.' Today I went to Mega Mall to watch the movie, prepared for the worst, as I had read some bad reviews. I think this movie has been getting more bad reviews than good ones.

The story is simple. (Warning: SPOILERS!) A spaceship blew up in space and the pieces, which landed on earth, mostly in America, where the movie is set. Those who touch any piece get infected with aliens and later they spread the contamination among themselves by vomiting onto one's face (Yucks!!!). Our heroin, a psychiatrist named Dr. Carol Bennell (Nicole Kidman) is trying to safe her only son, Oliver, when everybody else has been infected, including herself. The alien/virus will take hold as soon as one falls asleep, so she only has to stay awake and never shows any emotion, for emotion and sweat will betray herself, that she is still clean. Is the virus curable? Yes, of course, because this is a movie and the key is Oliver, who happens to be immune.

It's been months I hadn't gone to cinema and when I saw The Invasion, I thought the picture transfer was great. Kidman's & Craig's eyes were very blue. This was the first time I saw Daniel Craig on big screen and I understood then why my friend was so crazy about his blue eyes. Too bad there was no close-ups on Northam (I know his eyes are brown, still close-ups would be nice).

The Invasion was not so bad. It was worth the money ticket. Not the best movie I've seen this year, but I've seen worse. I don't like the first scene, though, which shows Carol looking for drugs, and why this must be showed first.

I wonder: if at first the alien can get into a human if one touches the spaceship's wreck (how could they infect the spaceship anyway?), why among humans, with vomit? And why Carol shot everyone in the heart - why not on the leg? Did Tucker die? I also don't believe that if we are all turned into aliens, there will be no war anymore. Tucker and Ben seemed not to tell the truth when they persuaded Carol to join. I have seen many Northam movies so I can tell if he plays a baddie. I also wonder how old is Oliver and why his dear mom gives him drugs when he has a nightmare, and if this is common in America even though the mom is a psychiatrist.

I haven't seen the original Invasion of The Body Snatchers movie.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Henry VIII

Finally I finished page 932th from 'the Autobiography of Henry VIII with Notes by His Fool, Will Somers' book by Margaret George. It was a fun read.

King Henry VIII (1491-1547) was infamous because he married 6 times, despite the fact that he was a Catholic.

FIRST WIVE: Katherine of Aragon
Katherine was a devout Catholic from Spain, originally brought into England to marry Henry's older brother, Arthur, who shortly after marriage died of consumption. Later she married Henry who became the King. After a series of male heir deaths, Henry believed that their marriage was cursed. Only a daughter, Mary, survived. Katherine died in 1536, probably poisoned by the 2nd wife.

SECOND WIFE: Anne Boleyn
Anne was the one caused most tumults. Since The Pope refused to annul Henry's marriage with Katherine of Aragon, Henry cut off from Rome and make himself 'Supreme Head of the Church' with the Act of Supremacy. Before that he had the 'Act of Succession' to make Anne's daughter, Elizabeth, his rightful heir. During this time Sir Thomas More was beheaded. (Now I know why that movie is called A Man For All Seasons. Sir Thomas was jailed in the tower for one year and one day.) Anne herself was executed in 1536 for adultery, incest and treason.

THIRD WIFE: Jane Seymour
Jane was the one he loved most (at least according to the novel). She died in childbirth (1537), leaving him a male heir, Edward.

FOURTH WIFE: Anne of Cleves
Henry agreed to marry Anne because the painting of her made by Hans Holbein showed her as a very beautiful woman, which was not the case. Later she gave consent to the marriage's annulment and stayed in England as the king's sister. Died in 1557, outlived Henry by 10 years.

FIFTH WIVE: Catherine Howard
Also known as 'the rose without a thorn'. Beheaded in 1542 because of adultery.

SIXTH WIVE: Katherine Parr
She married twice before and was a widow when Henry took her as a wife. This queen knew a lot about Scriptures and showed interest to the New Faith (=Protestant). Died in 1548, a few days after giving birth to a child from her 4th husband.

In those years, 'Katherine' and 'Thomas' must be favourite names.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Notre Dame de Paris

Notre Dame de Paris is another masterpiece by Victor Hugo. I cannot decide which is more tragic: Les Misérables or Notre Dame de Paris. In Les Misérables, Jean Valjean tried to leave his past and becomes a good man, but the inspector wouldn't let him be. In Notre Dame de Paris we have 5 main characters:
1. Pierre Gringoire, the failed play writer whom Esmeralda married to save him from death.
2. Claude Frollo, the priest who fell desperately in love with Esmeralda and blamed her for this.
3. La Esmeralda, the beautiful gypsy dancer.
4. Quasimodo, the hunchbacked bell ringer of Notre Dame.
5. Captain Phoebus, the gallant soldier whom Esmeralda loved.

When I was younger I saw the book (already translated in bahasa Indonesia) in a book store, but as a student I didn't have enough money to buy all series so I only got Pride and Prejudice and A short stories collection by Anton Chekov. How I hoped I had the money, because several years later a friend gave me the Notre Dame de Paris book as a birthday gift, but the English translation was difficult to read (unlike my Les Miz book). I think I finally read the Indonesian translation because one of my cousins happened to have it.

I watched the 1956 movie version with Anthony Quinn and Gina Lollobrigida last night. It was a very good adaptation and I liked how the actors played Frollo, Esmeralda, and Quasimodo. My favourite scene was perhaps (because there were so many beautiful scenes) when Quasimodo was giving Esmeralda flowers when she was in sanctuary. He saw a beautiful red flower and happily troubled himself to get it - they were on the top of Notre Dame - but when he gave it to Esmeralda, she was looking at Phoebus and the next moment asked the hunchback to bring the captain to her.

In the movie Esmeralda met her end with an arrow. I haven't read the book for so long, but I think she met her death by hanging. Also I didn't see Frollo smile in the movie when Quasimodo pushed him from the roof.

Quasimodo might have the ugliest face in Paris, but he and Esmeralda possessed the purest hearts. In the movie Frollo only said he took care of Quasimodo as a charity. The book explained that Frollo had a little brother whom he put out to a nurse. When he saw baby Quasimodo, he remembered his little brother and what should happen to him if he were to die, so he felt pity to orphaned Quasimodo and take him home. (Frollo deserved a credit here. In the Disney version, he almost threw baby Quasimodo into a well.)
I remember my favourite part in the book now: The story about Esmeralda's mother. After Esmeralda had been born, there were gypsies arrived in town and her mother brought her to them so they could read her future. They were delighted to see her for she was such a very beautiful baby. The next day when her mother was out, they stole little Esmeralda and put the baby Quasimodo at her place. Her mother was very shocked to find her beautiful baby turned into a monster and since then she became a gyspy hater, even cursed Esmeralda everytime she went by, for she didn't know Esmeralda was her long lost child. And at last when mother and daughter finally met (like Cinderella, for each had one of the baby shoes), they had to be separated in an instant, for Esmeralda must be hanged, having been accused as a sorcerer, for a murder she never had done.

The trial scene in the movie was like a comedy. The proofs were stupid, but this was Paris in 1482. They didn't examined further the fact that there was another man in the murder scene. I laughed when they examined the dead leaf seriously and then concluded that Esmeralda was a sorcerer and the goat Djali was a devil incarnation. However it wasn't funny for Esmeralda for later she was tortured and perhaps she would never be able to dance again as they tried to break her lovely leg.

It was also heart-breaking to see people of Paris chose Quasimodo as the King of The Fools and the next day he was flogged and none would give him water when he asked except Esmeralda.

If only Phoebus had Quasimodo's heart, said Esmeralda. But he didn't, so the story must end tragically.

The title itself can be of 2 meaning. Notre Dame de Paris either can be the great church or La Esmeralda (Notre Dame = Our Lady).

Thursday, August 2, 2007

One of my fave parts from Les Misérables


Marius knew that he had a father, but that was all he knew. His mother died in 1815, when he was 5. No one had told him more. However, the whisperings and muttered asides in the society his grandfather frequented had made an impression on the child's mind and he had come by degrees to think of his father with a sense of shame and with no desire to know him. He was
persuaded that his father had no affection for him: why else should he have abandoned him to take care of others? Feeling himself unloved, he gave no affection in return; to him it was as simple as that. Thus he grew up.
In 1827, when he reached the age of 17, he came home one evening to find his grandfather awaiting with a letter in his hand.
"You are to go to Vernon tomorrow to see your father. It seems that he's ill. He wants to see you."
Marius might, in fact, have left that evening and been with his father next morning. But neither his grandfather nor he thought to inquire. He reached Vernon at dusk next evening. Arrived at the house, he rang the bell and a woman opened the door.
"Is this where Monsieur Pontmercy lives? I'm his son. He's expecting me."
"Not any longer," said the woman.
There were 3 men in the house. The first 2 were the doctor and a priest; the 3rd, in his nightshirt, lying on the floor, was his father. He had been attacked by brain-fever 3 days before and that evening had risen from his bed, crying in delirium, "My son is late. I must go to meet him." He had collapsed in the ante-chamber and there had died. His eye was sightless and
a tear on his pallid cheek had not yet dried: it was the measure of his son's delay.
Marius stood looking down at the man whom he was seeing for the first and last time. The grief he felt was no greater than the grief he would have felt in the presence of any dead man. Was it his fault that he had not loved his father?
Directly the funeral was over, he returned to Paris and resumed his studies, giving no more thought to his father than if he had never lived. He wore a black band on his hat, and that was all.
Clung to the religious habits of his childhood, he went regularly to hear Mass at Saint Sulpice, in the little lady chapel where he had always sat with his aunt; but one day in a fit of absentmindedness he seated himself unthinkingly behind a pillar on a chair bearing the name of the churchwarden. The service had scarcely begun when an old man approached to
him and said, "That is my place."
Marius hastily moved and the old man took his seat. At the end of the service he again approached him. "You must forgive me for having disturbed you and for now taking up a minute of your time. You must have thought me uncivil. I should like to explain why I have a particular fondness of that place. It was from there that for some years, at interval of 2 or 3 months,
I watched an unhappy father who had no other opportunity of observing his son because he was debarred by a family compact from doing so. He came at the time where he knew the boy would be taken to the Mass. He loved him deeply as I could not help seeing. There was a father-in-law and a wealthy aunt who threatened to disinherit the boy if he had any contact with his
parent. The father sacrificed himself for the sake of his son's future happiness. It was all to do with politics. Of course people must have political opinions, but there are some who go too far. It is not a sufficient reason for separating a father from his child. He died not long ago. He lived at Vernon. I forget his name--- Pontmarie or Montpercy or something of the kind."
"The name is Pontmercy," said Marius who had turned pale. "He was my father."
The churchwarden stared at him and exclaimed, "So you're the child! Well, of course, you would be grown up by now. My dear lad, you had a father who greatly loved you."

(Victor Hugo)

Les Misérables

Just watched the 1958 movie version of Les Misérables, which I enjoyed very much. I had not touched the novel for 10 years, so I was glad to see this version faithful to the novel. I had forgotten many things from it and I hope I shall have time to re-read it. Les Misérables is one of my favourite books. I bought it in October 1994 and needed a month to finish it. That time I already had had the recording of the musical (complete/international recording version) and since then I added to my collection 4 more versions, plus the promo video Stage by Stage and the 10th anniversary concert movie.

I only think that the actor who played Enjolras was physically miscast, because in the book Enjolras is depicted as 'angelically good-looking', so I always think he is more handsome than Marius. The actor, Serge Reggiani, played him very well, though.

I remember went to the cinema to watch the version with Liam Neeson. I liked the beginning of the movie, Liam Neeson had melancholic eyes, exactly what I had imagined for Jean Valjean. But later I was disappointed. I understood that in adaptation of a book to a movie, certain changes usually made and many characters had to be cut off; but why changed the characters too much?

Les Misérables is the story of an ex-convict, Jean Valjean, who had been sent to 19 years hard labour for stealing a loaf of bread (actually he was charged for housebreaking and robbery, initially 5 years, but as he 3 times attempted to escape the years were added) and after he was set free with a yellow ticket of leave, meant he had to report himself every time he entered a town. In the town of Digne, no one would receive him, although he was so exhausted and hungry, until he met The Bishop of Digne. Valjean repaid his kindness by stealing his silver. Two gendarmes caught him, but the bishop said the silver had been given to Valjean, and he even added two candlesticks and said , "Do not forget that you have promised me to use the money to make yourself an honest man." and "You no longer belong to what is evil but to what is good. I have bought your soul and I give it to God." Since then, Jean Valjean really did nothing but good. He became the major of Montreil-sur-mer and made it prosperous. He saved Fantine from jail. He saved Fantine's daughter, Cosette, from the Thénardiers. He spared Javert's life. He saved Marius's life.

In the 1998 version, Javert committed suicide in front of Jean Valjean and the latter did nothing at all. I don't think it was something Valjean would do. What happened next was worse, as Valjean went home with a big grin on his face. He was happy he didn't do anything to prevent a death? That was not Valjean. The 2nd thing I was disappointed with was: the character of Marius Pontmercy. Marius is a shy student who is very poor and believes girls laughing at his shabby clothes. However in the movie version, Hans Matheson, gave Cosette his naughty smile when he first saw her; he was a lady-killer, not the dreamy Marius who buried his nose in the books.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Historical fiction

Lately I like very much reading historical fiction books. I can learn some parts of history and still can enjoy my reading. During my schooldays, I learnt a lot about Indonesian history and only a flash of the world's story; so it's nice to be able to know what happened in the other parts of the world long time ago.

Now I'm reading The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George, recommended by a friend. I must say that the book is very interesting and I plan to read another Ms George's book titled Mary Queen of Scots and The Isles. When I first received the book, I was glad to find that on the first 2 pages, a family tree of Henry VIII was included. The family tree helps a lot because there are too many characters in the book. Earlier this month, I watched A Man For All Seasons movie, a story about Sir Thomas More who lost his head because he refused to sign the Act of Succession which enabled King Henry VIII as the supreme head of the Church of England. (I hope to be able to see The Tudors series soon!)

Before the Henry VIII book, I read Zoia's Gold by Philip Sington. Zoia was closed to Tsar Nicolas but had to leave Russia after the revolution. She got help from a Swedish diplomat who later married her and hoped she could make her life meaningful. Zoia's Gold reminded me alot to Possession by A.S. Byatt. If in Possession two scholars in modern time try to dig out the life of two Victorian poets, in Zoia's Gold an art dealer does it for the auction's catalogue. The book was actually not bad and I liked the language. Unfortunately, I read this book after Shaman.

I liked very much The Physician by Noah Gordon, so I bought Shaman, the sequel. The story was about Rob J Cole, who had lost his hearing because of an illness, but determined to be a doctor. The story set in America around the civil war years. It was very rich and so after this, Zoia's Gold seemed quite slow.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Here Comes The Flock

From Monday to Thursday after work at 6:00 pm I'm ready in front of the television, tuned to Disney channel, to watch Shaun The Sheep. In fact, I now only watch TV for the news and Shaun The Sheep... while waiting for Wire in The Blood 5 to be aired on Hallmark.

Shaun The Sheep is a proof that to make a good distraction, dialogues are not important. The dialogues are even less than in Mr. Bean series. The sheep only say 'Baa... baa...', while the dog and farmer grunt. Although this is good because children who don't speak English can also enjoy Shaun The Sheep, it doesn't mean that children don't need movies with dialogues. My 2 year old niece learnt so many vocabs from Dora The Explorer. I remember when her mother showed her a pair of socks and asked where they came from, my niece said, "From you, Mommy." "And what do you say?" Most children would only say, "Thank you.", but she said: "Thank you, Mommy, for giving me a pair of socks." However if she watched Dora in a language she didn't understand, she would surely walk out the room.

Since characters in Shaun The Sheep don't speak human language, I only know their names from the official website. Among all the sheep, only 3 have names: Shaun, Shirley the fat, and little Timmy. The dog is called Bitzer. Every episode only runs for about 6 minutes and on Disney every day 3 episodes are shown in 30 minutes, including commercials.

The characters' shape somehow seem simple, but when I tried to make a sheep with cotton and jumping clay, the result was horrible. However I won't give up. What else can I do when the doll is only available in the UK?

Sometimes absent-mindedly I hum the theme song:

He’s Shaun the sheep
He’s Shaun the sheep

He even mucks about with those who cannot bleat

Keep it in mind he’s one of a kind


Life’s a treat with Shaun the Sheep

He’s Shaun the sheep

He’s Shaun the sheep

He doesn’t miss a trick or ever lose a beat

Perhaps one day you’ll find a way

To come and meet with Shaun the sheep

Oh, come and bleat with Shaun the Sheep

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Here Comes The Fuzz

The movie still hasn’t come to Jakarta, but last night I watched the dvd and wow, I loved the movie!!! Never I saw such an original movie since Trainspotting. I had seen the trailer and read lots of reviews about it (and avoided the plot when mentioned), and never thought I could still get surprises. It was full of ideas and unexpected twists.

People compared Hot Fuzz to Shaun of The Dead; some said Shaun of The Dead was better, some said Hot Fuzz was better, and some said we couldn’t compare the 2 because they belonged to different genres; and here I have my say that I like Hot Fuzz better. However I found this to be fair as the next work should be better than the previous. Or maybe I didn’t like the ending in Shaun of The Dead because the conclusion was so simple: the army.

Hot Fuzz is the story about supercop Nicholas Angel who was too good he made everybody looked bad so they shipped him from London to a peaceful country village Sandford. The peace however was not what it seemed.

After 30 minutes I thought I was watching Midsomer Murders and in 1h15m I think the culprit was discovers and yet they could still manage to go on about 40 minutes more. Amazing. The movie was fast paced and I needed to watch it again (and again).

The extras on dvd were generously given. I liked best how special effects were used. Another wonderful surprise was the 4 commentary tracks; and one of them with Timothy Dalton who played the supermarket manager named Simon Skinner. If I am not mistaken it was the first time Dalton provided commentary to any dvd. He must love this project very much.

The Point Break scene should have been a heart-melting one, but they made it into a parody and I found myself laughing aloud.

This movie was full of old actors (and they were still wonderful!!!) as well as young ones; and it was nice to see them all. Violences were done over-the-top so I didn’t find them horrifying. The scariest part was when the hooded man appeared. I and my sister are always afraid to see hooded creature because we cannot see the face so we imagine the most scariest thing under: is it a man? handsome or whose face was ruined? a woman? a devil?

Very well done, Edgar Wright & Simon Pegg & the whole Hot Fuzz team!!!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Trollope Collection

What I knew about Anthony Trollope 2 weeks ago was that his several works listed on last pages of Wordsworth Classics novels. The Warden was an interesting title, but I already decided that language used by many male authors from 19th century was more difficult to read than the females. So I thought to buy the movie version first.

Anthony Trollope Collection is of 3 movies: The Way We Live Now, He Knew He Was Right, and The Barchester Chronicles.

The Way We Live Now was wonderful. It had lots of webs and interesting characters. The story centered around a newbie in London, Augustus Melmotte (played excellently by David Suchet), who seemed to be a millionaire. He built a company and a young engineer came to him with a proposal to build a new railway in Mexico. Melmotte agreed to finance the railway, but he was not as he seemed to be. There was also a complicated love story among Paul Montague (the young engineer), Hetta Carbury, her cousin Roger, and the mysterious Mrs Hurtle from America. Melmotte’s French wife gave a nice touch of humour with her gestures (she clearly didn't belong to the London's high society) and I liked Matthew Macfadyen here (than in Spooks, Pride & Prejudice, and Perfect Strangers); he did a good job bringing Sir felix to life. In all, the whole cast was perfect. I also liked the soundtrack.

He Knew He Was Right was also very good. It was about a husband who believed his wife was having an affair with her god-father, and by doing so, he destroyed his own family and happiness. Sometimes misunderstandings can be funny; I found myself giggled while the characters on screen were depressed. The story in this movie is still up-to-date so I’m not surprised if a modern version will soon be made. I liked very much Bill Nighy’s interpretation of Colonel Osborne, who made many life miserables but he himself seemed didn’t know about it.

The 3rd movie was The Barchester Chronicles, based on ‘The Warden’ and ‘Barchester Towers’. After The Way We Live Now and He Knew He Was Right, this was rather slow and dull, perhaps because it was made long ago in 1982. However I feel I should not complain because this had more running time and therefore should be more faithful to the books it was based. The story was about church people who ran the cathedral in Barchester, started with Rev. Septimus Harding who was publicly accused in a main newspaper, that he was not suitable as the warden. The accusation was soon redrawn (for it didn’t have a solid base) but it was too late. Featuring Alan Rickman as Rev. Obadiah Slope, who played the irritating character very well. His last goodbye to the bishop and his wife was unforgettable; he wished they 'would live forever' but his tone undoubtedly meant 'live forever in hell'. I like the part where Mr Harding went to London and left a message for Sir Abraham Haphazard; the clerk was hilarious. It was nice to see Susan Hampshire as Signora Madeline Neroni. [I almost forgot that she was also in Wonderful Life with Cliff Richard.] One of her dresses was very beautiful with bunch of colourful flowers on the chest part. I only don’t understand why suddenly Eleanor Bold could fall in love with Rev Arabin, or perhaps I was playing with jumping clay when I watched episode 3 – 5 so couldn’t give my full attention. It was interesting to see the tumult of a cathedral, and until now I still think that it's better to attend a service and then go home soon than to involve in such things.