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!!!