Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Garth Williams Treasury

It's a pity that 'A Garth Williams Treasury of Best-Loved Golden Books' is not easy to find. In 1942, Golden Books started to publish children books at a more affordable price. In this volume, there are 10 collection of Golden Books, illustrated by Garth Williams. I love his drawings since I read Laura Ingalls Wilder books in the early 80's. When I bought Charlotte's Web, I chose the one with his illustrations.

The picture above is from The Three Little Pigs, when the big bad wolf blows the straw house of the first pig.

This book is obviously for young children for the letters and drawings are big. My favourite story is 'The Kitten Who Thought He Was A Mouse". As for the drawings, I like the last story the most: "Mister Dog".

Here Mr. Dog looks sad, but actually he is sleepy because he just woke up. He is making himself a breakfast of milk and bread. See the strawberries in his fridge.

I love how he drew Mr. Dog from behind. This dog is even cuter from behind. The dog hair reminds me of a chapter in Laura Ingalls Wilder book where Pa plays mad dog with Laura and Mary.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Un amour à taire

This movie is beautiful at first, but as the story goes, it gets scarier and scarier.

Set in WW2 in Paris, Jean Lavandier, the first son of a laundry owner, hides his childhood friend, Sarah, a Jewish, in his lover's apartment. Jean's only brother, Jacques has spent a year in jail for trafficking. Jean's parents put their hopes on Jean and one day Jean will inherit the business. Jean's lover, Philippe, made a false ID card for Sarah, changed her name to Yvonne, and Jean makes his father hires her. After Jacques's release from jail, Jacques falls in love with Yvonne, but Yvonne loves only Jean. Meanwhile Jacques sells the addresses of their fled Jewish clients to the police, so the treasure left can be looted.

On Jean's birthday in 1942, four of them (Jean, Jacques, Yvonne, Philippe) celebrate it together and Jacques brings some bottles of champagne. They become drunk. In this occasion, Yvonne turns Jacques down again, so Jacques's jealousy of his brother is getting bigger. Jacques calls his contact at the police and asks him to pick up Jean and put him in jail for one night only, to give him a lesson. Jean is caught, but they won't release him because they finds out he has been seen with a German officer, a traitor. Only the German officer himself can free Jean, but unfortunately he has committed a suicide. Jean is sent to a rehabilitation camp, for in that time homosexuality is against the law. Jacques sells more Jewish people's addresses to save Jean, without any result. Jacques finally marries Yvonne and gives her a big apartment. We can see a contrast: their comfortable life versus Jean's sufferings in the camp.

It was horrible to see what happened to Jean. It was the time when human life was not worth anything.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

I actually wanted to watch Prince Caspian, but when Lastri found out that Indiana Jones was out, she wanted to watch it; so we both ended watching Indiana Jones. I hope Prince Caspian will still be showing next week.

Before watching this, I also wondered if it could beat National Treasure (the first one, the Templar treasure). Set in 1957, Indiana Jones's new enemy is a Russian high ranking officer, Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett) [I understand actors like to do challenging roles, but it's nice if the movie is also enjoyable to watch, like this one.] and they are looking for the legendary city of gold, El Dorado. While in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade we meet his father, in this new movie we meet his son, a young man who combs his hair often, made me wonder if I was watching Indiana Jones or Grease. I don't believe in E.T. and U.F.O., so I don't like the conclusion. I have read a novel called 'The Eye of Ra' by Michael Asher, which also links the pyramids and aliens; so I can understand why the conclusion of this movie is decided so.

Lastri and I agreed that the movie was funny (I myself giggled now and then) and very entertaining. It was also good to see Karen Allen again. Harrison Ford didn't age too much since The Last Crusade, and it was nice to see a glimpse of the Ark of Covenant. I am not familiar with the legend of El Dorado, but the adventure is enjoyable to watch. In my opinion, this movie is better than National Treasure.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Sous le soleil de Satan (1987)

The advertisement said this movie won the Palm D'Or at Cannes Film Festival, so I wondered what this would be like.

This wasn't an easy movie to understand, with dialogues like poetry. Gérard Depardieu plays a village priest called Dossignan who is told to go another village. On his way (for he likes to walk), exhausted, he meets Satan in the form of a farmer (well, sort of) who tells him the shortcut. Satan kisses him and since then he has gifts, like the ability to know other people's problems without being told first and to raise a boy from death. In the latter act, he pays it with his own life.

Another important character is Mouchette, a 16 year old girl who has slept with several men and is pregnant by one of them. She kills the father of her child and committed suicide after meeting Dossignan, who fails to save her. The scene where she washes off the blood from her shoe is somehow beautiful, while the scene where Satan tells the priest to look at him is scary.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Frederick Forsyth's Icon

First published in 1996, the story in this novel is set in 1999, in future Russia. The economy is very bad and the president just died of a heart attack. The election is soon to be held and one strong candidate, Igor Komarov, is surely to be win. He makes one fatal mistake, his plan for the Russia is poured on papers, written in black and white. He gives the plan to his personal secretary who after reading forgets to keep it in the save and an old janitor, not sure what he reads but knows it is not good, steals it and gives it to the British Embassy.

The book is divided in 2 parts. Part 1 is about how the plan, known as 'The Black Manifesto' goes from one hand to another, and the story of Jason Monk, a smart CIA agent, who is destroyed by incompetency in the department. Part 2 is how Jason Monk agrees to help preventing Komarov wins the election.

The story is fast paced, very enjoyable. One of the best books I've read.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Messiah Conspiracy

Written by Raymond Khoury, in the US this book is titled 'The Last Templar". I read the synopsis when it was about to come out and it looked interesting. Cousin Erika had lent me 'Da Vinci Code' and I forwarded the synopsis to her. Later I read reviews about this book and they were not so good, so I didn't buy this. Ten days ago I visited Cousin Tata and she had this book and lent it to me.
It wasn't so bad (perhaps it's because I didn't spend any money on this at all) and quite enjoyable. Four men dressed like the Knight Templar breaks into a museum in New York and one of the items they steal is a machine to break codes. Three of the robbers are later dead. Archeologist Tess Chaykin and FBI agent Sean Reilly work together to solve the puzzle. There are 2 bad guys, one is an ex-archeologist who holds a drudge against the church after his dear wife's death. The other is a ruthless Vatican agent who wants to keep the church's secret safe. Priests in this novel are depicted as false teachers. If you happen to meet a false priest who cannot even hear God's voice that he cannot answer questions from those who need helps, you cannot blame the church and God, right?

La Petite Fadette (2004)

This was on TV last night. A beautiful movie about a farmer's son, Landry, who is engaged to a rich young lady, Madelon. I was late about 20-25 minutes, so I missed the beginning. It appeared that Landry gets a help from a poor girl named Fadette, an orphan who can heal sick people with herbs, so the village people see her as either a witch and a strumpet. Landry promises Fadette something in return and she asks him to grant her 2-3 dances in the upcoming ball. Landry is dancing with Madelon when Fadette comes, but he cannot escape from his promise. Angry, Madelon pretends to be nice to other men. Gradually, Landry begins to realize that Fadette is beautiful and kind, he starts to love her, and they must face obstacles before they can be together.
Other important characters are: 1) Sylvinet, Landry's twin-brother, who is much weaker. In a fight for his love, Landry almost kills Sylvinet, but Fadette saves him with her herbs. 2) Landry's father, who puts his hope so much on his son's future marriage, that he borrows a big sum of money to re-buy his old vineyard. 3) Fadette's grand-mother, who warns her often about her place in society and her disgraced mother. 4) Landry's mother, who raised the twins in such a way that Sylvinet cannot live without Landry.
Among the cast, I only know Annie Girardot (the grand-mother). Never saw Mélanie Bernier (who plays Fadette) before, but she is very pretty.

Monday, May 5, 2008

In The Valley of Elah (2007)

Tommy Lee Jones plays Hank Deerfield, an ex military police, who searches his soldier son who has been back from Iraq and is now going AWOL. He finds his son has died, multilated in a military jurisdiction, but the army seems to stay silent. Later it turns out that his son is murdered outside the area and he gets helps from Detective Sanders (Charlize Theron).

The Valley of Elah is the valley where David kills Goliath. Deerfield tells David, Sander's son, the story about David. "Do you know where your name comes from?" However Deerfield's version is abridged, for when David asks why the king let such a boy went to the war, he couldn't answer. Also when David asks where David got his courage from. If David knows the whole story (his mother doesn't believe it is a true story.), he would know that before going to the war, David had killed a lion and a bear. David was not afraid because he knew God was with him. As for King Saul, why he let such a boy went to war, was because he knew God was with David.

Why this movie is called 'In the Valley of Elah' - I think because Deerfield is David, only one man against the army, to find the truth behind his son's death.

The Golden Compass (2007)

I haven't read the book this movie based on, thought that I would be able to enjoy it more. I did enjoy the movie, although I read reviews which said it was slow and boring. The Golden Compass's central character is a little girl named Lyra Belacqua (played well by Dakota Blue Richards). Their world is a parallel to our world and the people each have a dæmon. Nicole Kidman plays the cunning Mrs Coulter who kidnaps children and cut their dæmons off.

The character I love most in the movie is Iorek Byrnison, the king of polar bear. When Lyra first meets him, he has been thrown away from his kingdom and works for the townspeople for a bucket of whisky. Lyra restores his armour and he makes a promise that he will pay his debt to her.

I heard that Philip Pullman books teach atheism (contrary to CS Lewis books), but in this movie I don't see it. I am a bit disappointed after finding out that the movie maker decided to change the story a bit so that it wouldn't be obvious that it is against Christianity. Looks like I will have to read the books after all.