Saturday, January 31, 2015

In January

Balboa: Swordsman and Conquistador, by Felix Riensenberg Jr.
The Three Musketeers, ♥ by Alexandre Dumas
A Grief Observed, by C.S.Lewis
The Weight of Glory, by C.S.Lewis
The Children of Hurin, by J.R.R. Tolkien
Ferdinand Magellan: Master Mariner, by Seymour Gates Pond
Eats, Shoots & Leaves, by Lynn Truss

movies & tv:
The Three Musketeers (2011) - This is a new favorite movie of mine. ♥
The Battle of Five Armies ♥ (along with the other two Hobbit movies)
The Count of Monte Cristo (2002) - It's just a great story.
Clash of the Titans - It was fun.
Wrath of the Titans - This one was pretty good, fun.
I Am Four - It was fun watching it with my family; I can't think of much else nice to say.
Taken 3
*The Fellowship of the Ring (extended edition)
The Pirate Fairy - I like the Tinkerbell/Pixie Hollow movies, didn't really expect to, but I do. This one isn't the best, but Tom Hiddleston voices one of the characters, so it's good.
Ratatouille - This one is really pretty good, I enjoyed it a lot.
*North and South
*Wives and Daughters - I love the different characters and how they all interact and everything.
*Cranford - I do like Judi Dench.
Agent Carter (the first, third, and fourth episodes) - It's okay.
Once Upon a Time (finished season four) - I'm looking forward to the next season, I hope it takes place more outside of Storybrooke, like season three in Neverland - that was my favorite.

† Landmark Book
* seen before

I want to read more, as much as possible. So I made an effort to this month, and it was great. I kept a little notebook with me while I read and made notes and précis and took down quotes, and I liked that; it helps me 'get' what I'm reading, and it's nice to be able to read back through my notes. There are so many cool things to read and learn about, and so many books. There're so many half-read and begun-to-be-read books on my bookshelf, books I haven't finished and want to. But I've finally figured out a nice method of plowing through 'em: I choose four books to read at a time: one fiction/story, one scientific/factual/helpful, one philosophy, and one history. So far it works great, and I'm happy about it.

Do you ever suddenly feel an urge to sing, where you've just got to sing? Not necessarily because you're happy, and not necessarily because you're said, but just simply because you've got to sing. Or maybe you're a dancer, and it's that you've just got to dance; or maybe you're a runner and you've just got to run. And the urge isn't so much sad and isn't so much happy as it is simply big, and you've got to let it out somehow, someway, or you'll burst? I get that urge to play my violin. You know how violinists sort of sway and bend to the music as they play? I don't know if that's just a part of the playing, but I rather think it's a dance. When I'm playing and I'm concentrating so hard on the music that I'm not exactly thinking about anything, just hearing the music, then all I want to do is to dance. So I sort of do, my violin and I, and the music. And I love that.

What books and movies did you enjoy especially in January? xx

Friday, January 30, 2015

This Week, Jan. 25

pictures by moi
I loved:
reading Out of the Silent Planet, by C.S. Lewis and the 'dark and stormy night' feeling of the beginning of it
clementines, they're so cute and bright
the pink flowers sitting in my room
Seaweed and The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls, by Longfellow
cadbury milk chocolate
playing/learning Go the Distance from Disney's Hercules on my violin
the Narnia audiobooks, this set, it's the best: read by Kenneth Branagh and Patrick Stewart and other exceedingly talented people

favorite song:
How God Chooses, Jon Conover

favorite quotes:
"We have a language that is full of ambiguities; we have a way of expressing ourselves that is often complex and allusive, poetic and modulated; all our thoughts can be rendered with absolute clarity if we bother to put the right dots and squiggles between the words in the right places. Proper punctuation is both the sign and the cause of clear thinking." 
from the end of Eats, Shoots & Leaves, by Lynn Truss, arguing pro-proper punctuation

"[the sudden lose of confidence] arose when the rationality of the hross (an intelligent alien species) tempted you to think of it as a man. Then it became abominable - a man seven feet high, with a snaky body, covered, face and all, with thick black animal hair, and whiskered like a cat. But starting from the other end you had an animal with everything an animal ought to have - glossy coat, liquid eye, sweet breath and whitest teeth - and added to all these, as though Paradise had never been lost and earliest dreams were true, the charm of speech and reason. Nothing could be more disgusting than the one impression; nothing more delightful than the other. It all depended on the point of view."
from Out of the Silent Planet, by C. S. Lewis 

I hope you all had a wonderful week. xx

Sunday, January 25, 2015

This Week, Jan. 18

I loved:
interview-clips from LOTR extended edition: one, two, three
period dramas, especially North and South
The Children of Hurin, by Tolkien, which I finally finished
at the end of The Fellowship of the Ring movie when Aragorn says "let's hunt some orc" and Gimli and Legolas look at each other and you realize what a great friendship has begun
favorite song:
The Parting GlassThe High Kings

favorite quote:
"Some strange and dreadful thing has chanced that we know not. Let us follow him and aid him if we may: for he is fey and witless." (said by the Elf Mablung) and,
"...and many more were lured by the very rumour of the Dragon, in their hardihood or their folly (knowing little of evil) thinking to see strange and glorious deeds."
from Children of Hurin, by J.R.R.Tolkien

I'm going through a Tolkien phase. It's a good thing. :) 
I hope you all had a great week. xx

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Paddington | Review

(this review is spoiler-free)

Paddington,based on the beloved book of the same name by Michael Bond, tells the story of a young Peruvian bear as he travels to London and there sets out to find a new home and family. But London is not quite what he was expecting, and finding a family and home proves harder than he'd imagined. 

I love the book A Bear Called Paddington and I very much enjoyed seeing the movie Paddington. I loved the bright, vivid colors and the imaginative, whimsical, fairy-tale like effects; and the cast, especially Ben Wishaw who voices Paddington himself - his voice is just right: soft, dignified, and lonely-pathetic - and Sally Hawkins as Mrs. Brown. I loved how Paddington's 'hard stare' was included, his defense/weapon against rude people. The movie doesn't have the same heart as the original story, and its story isn't as good as it could have been, but it's told in an entertaining and colorful way. I don't like jokes that take one out of a story by reference to something outside it (is that what 'campy' means?), not that I don't find them funny, I do, it's just they don't seem to have a place in the storytelling. The character Paddington didn't seem to have any theme music, unless it was the Mexican-sounding music that plays throughout the movie, which I honestly still don't understand the choice of. 

Overall, it's a pretty movie, it's funny - there're a number of laugh-out-loud instances, sweet and dear to a degree (if not to the degree of the books) and a nice hour and a half of entertainment, even if the script's story isn't as good as it could have been. Note: I usually don't mention ratings in my reviews, but I want to learn how. The villain of the story and what she threatens* to do to Paddington could easily be scary for younger kids; pg ratings mean nothing's shown, but it's the idea that creeps. I'm really not sure what my rating for this movie is, how well I liked it: I didn't much like the story, but I very much liked how Paddington was brought to life. 

my rating 3.9/5
favorite line "Beige?" "Yes, it's a calm, neutral color."

MPPA rating: PG (for mild action and rude humor)
Directed by
Written by  &  (screenplay), Michael Bond (original story)
Staring ,
Time 95 min
Release year 2014
Rating: (RT) 98%; (IMDb) 7.6/10

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* (spoilers) she's a taxidermist and attempts to use her skills on Paddington 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Time That Is Given Us

I have two moods which have followed each other for as far back as I can remember that sort of thing. The one is manipulative, mistrustful, clever, vain, fearful, secretive, and good at it. The other is normal. Not that there’s any such thing as normal but just that everyone seems to have some sort of stable region of moodiness and the second is mine. I’ve never been able to decide fully between the two. The first one sounds mean, but I know there’s both good and bad in each of them. The adjectives I used mean more here than they do with their usual definitions, but I don’t know how to describe them now.

There are different types of people and each type has their own way of dealing with things. There’re qualities in the types shared between them, but I think there’s one particular quality that stands out for each way. I’ve never been the sort of person who deals with stuff by going and talking to other people. Of course I do to some extent, but rarely. I just go off and think it out or work it out. And the way I think it out, often enough, is by talking to the characters in my head. This probably sounds odd to some of you, but I think some of you can relate.

I’m not good at talking about my feelings and thoughts. For two reasons: One mood tells me to not say anything, to keep it to myself; and the other tells me to speak up. I think it’s good - part of being human - to talk about thoughts and feelings with other people, but there are some things that are private, personal. And perhaps that number of ‘private’ things is greater for some types of people and lesser for others. But the first reason that I’m not good at talking about my thoughts and feelings is that I’m not used to it, and I’ve little or no sense of proportion. Which things are ‘right and good’ to share and which things do I want to keep private? I have a sort of fear of people using the things I tell them about myself against me, which quickly leads into that first mood and causes me to think I should keep the whole thing quiet and secretive. But fear is a bad help in thinking. The other reason is that I’m not used to it, and there was a long time - the remnants of which still hang around my speech - when, not sure whether or not to say what I thought or felt, I’d say it in such a complected and indiscernible manner that it could be taken either way and no one would ever be able to find the meaning of it. So it’s a struggle to speak honestly now, even though I want to. I really want to. Enough to try hard. I love honesty, I’ve realized that lately, it’s so simple and clear - the same sort of beauty math has.

There’s good and bad in both moods and I want to find the good and apply that.

Does anyone else’s brain ever feel like a speedway where the cars are all going too fast and there’re too many of them and it's so very hard to slow any of them down or stop them? I think there’s a time for everyone when the questions come. One suddenly becomes aware of all the things they’d been assuming, wonders at the surety they had not so long ago. There’s the whole set of feels: the longing, the wanderlust, the discontent, the excitement, the fear, the sudden wonder of it all. And there’re the questions. What’s the point of anything? How do I know? What do I believe, and why? And then, What the heck am I here for? 
As I said, I’m not one to talk about feelings a lot. And I’ve gotten so good at hiding them that half the time no one notices. And it’s not their fault, in a rather ironic way I’m rather proud of my acting abilities. But sometimes when I want to talk but don’t know how my mom notices. She asks me what’s wrong, I say “nothing.” Typical me, folks. But sometimes I don’t. A few nights ago I replied nothing, but then decided I wanted to talk. But I didn’t know quite how, so I wrote it all down and made a list. The surprising thing though - I’d made numerous lists previously, but never had the guts - is that I showed it to my mom. And that was hard. But, God bless the mothers, she talked it through with me. She didn’t have the answers to most of the things but I think everyone’s got to find those out for themselves. But the wonderful thing is when she said everyone goes through this phase of questions, and then described it in a way that proved she knows exactly what it feels like.

Being a teenager is not the easiest or most fun thing under the sun. It’s a pain. But a good pain, or at least, it’s there for a good cause. And it’s worth it.

Sometimes I wish I had more time. I wish that a lot, actually. There are so many things I want to learn, so many things I want to do. And it all goes so fast. We don’t get a whole lot of time, but I guess the point is that we get enough. That makes me think of Gandalf. Do you remember that scene in The Fellowship of the Ring (movie) when Frodo is standing on the shores of Nen Hithoel facing the choice he knows he must make: to go into Mordor alone to destroy the ring, the heaviest burden in Middle Earth? And you hear the voice-over of Gandalf, saying, "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us." And you see it in Frodo's eyes that he’s decided; and he jumps into the Elvin boat and sets out.

I worry too much. I over-think. But neither is necessary. I wonder overmuch 'if it’s worth it,' 'what if it fails,' 'what’s the point'; but none of those worries help, the point is to decide what to do with the time that’s been given me.

That first mood puts me somewhere dark, that second is too neutral. Neither is the spirit I want to live with. There’s another mood - though really, perhaps ‘mood’ was never the right word - that flashes by now and then: the clever, joyful one, that has more to it than meets the eye, because it’s not my mood, it’s just my spilling-over of something much greater. It’s in those little flashes that I begin to “misunderstand less,” as Lewis said. xx

image credits: via, via via 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Jan. Week 3

I love:
reading C.S.Lewis
Eats, Shoots & Leaves, by Lynne Truss - here's to Grammar with pandas and pistols
rainy days
cheering "all for one and one for all" with sibs with sparkling cider in wine glasses (because wine glasses are posh)

favorite quote:
The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while conditions are still unfavorable. Favorable conditions never come.
Learning in War-Time, essay by C.S.Lewis

How was your week? xx

Saturday, January 17, 2015

TAK3N | Review

(this review is spoiler-free)

Bryan Mills is a highly trained ex-government operative. When he is falsely accused of murdering his ex-wife he sets out to find the true killer and keep his daughter safe, all whilst being hunted down by cops and enemies.

I'm not very familiar with Liam Neeson; when I went to see Taken 3 all I'd seen him in before was Non-Stop, which I didn't like but enjoyed seeing with my family, and Clash of the Titans, where he appears only a little. (edit: And Star Wars. ♥) I liked him very much in Tak3n. This may sound odd but besides all the reasons to like a great actor I like him because he smiles. I was rather surprised by it, because of the jokes on pinterest about him being someone you don't want to mess with and this being an action/spy movie. But he smiles, and it takes over his face, and it's such a sweet smile.

see? | via
What I liked: The relationships between characters: Mills and his friends, Mills and his daughter. They're likable characters. And I loved the sweet uncle relationship Mills's friends have with his daughter. The details, like how each character has their own "thing." For example, the head policeman - who I liked very much as well - always carries a knight chess piece with him. One of the last action sequences, involving an airplane being chased. How the opening credits were shown was cool. I remember thinking the music fit well.

Didn't like: There was a lot of shaky-cam used, it doesn't usually bother me but it just seemed like too much. The bad-guy is disgusting. But I'm not exactly complaining about this, evil is perverse.

I doubt I would have ever seen this movie had my brother not wanted to so much. I liked it for Liam Neeson, for the various character relationships and for the characters. There wasn't a lot else that drew me in. It's a fun action movie but not much else.

my rating: 3/5
favorite line: Don't be so pessimistic! (Mills, in response to a cop telling him he'll regret what he's doing.)

rating: PG-13 (
intense sequences of violence and action, and for brief strong language)
Directed by
Written by , ,
Staring , ,  
Time 109 min
Release year 2015
Rating: (RT) 10%; (IMDb) 6.5/10

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Its Beauty Beckons


See the Road flows past your doorstep
Calling for your feet to stray
Like a deep and rolling river
It will sweep them far away.

Just beyond the far horizon
Lies a waiting world unknown
Like the dawn its beauty beckons
With a wonder all its own.

{from The Road Goes On, adaption of a song by J. R. R. Tolkien}

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Jan. week 2

by moi
I've been thinking of writing a post at the end of each week, I'd like to post more frequently and it helps to have a sort of format I can write with, which this would be. So here's a try-out, I'll probably add more things as we go along. :)

things I love:
reading and that feeling when you find a wonderful new book
The Three Musketeers, 2011 movie adaption
learning Spring from The Four Seasons on my violin
gingerbread houses homemade by the bro. ♥
The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

favorite quote:
And all shall be well and / All manner of things shall be well
from Little Gidding,The Four Quartets, by T. S. Eliot

|The original idea for this post came from Amy's lovely blog.|
What were some of your favorites from this past week?  xx

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

One Last Time Q&A

beautiful books, by moi
S.F., Leslie, & Myrtle (from 3FS) tagged me the "One Last Time Q&A" quiz. Thank you all so much, I loved doing this one.

1. You Must be tagged to take the Q&A quiz
2. You must tag (notify) at least three other bloggers (or whatever they are on) for this Q&A
3. You must answer the following questions to the best of your ability
4. You must have seen The Battle of the Five Armies to be tagged/take the quiz

Answers following questions three and four contain spoilers if you have not seen The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies, or have not read the book The Hobbit, by Tolkien. (Go, read the book.)

 1. Tell your story of how you came to see the movie(s) or got into Tolkien in the first place.
When I was about five my whole family listened to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings on adudiobook, narrated by Rob Ingles. I'm adding his name because I couldn't love his reading of Tolkien's books more. (Here's a sample from youtube. And just because it's awesome, here's Song of the Lonely Mountain as sung by Rob Inglis to Tolkien's original tune.) I've listened to both books over and over, and I love them. I read The Hobbit for myself, but I've never read The Lord of the Rings straight through, though I have read sections. I started reading the Silmarillion, Children of Hurin, and Book of Lost Tales, but haven't gotten at all far in any of them except Children of Hurin. Tolkien's awesome but he's not the easiest to read. I'd like to work on reading them this year.
When I was seven-or-eight-ish my family watched The Lord of the Rings (extended edition - it's better by far than the theatrical version) together. And I loved it, too.

2. Who are your three favorite characters in The Hobbit Trilogy?
Bilbo, Gandalf & Bard.

via, via & via

3. Did you cry in The Battle of the Five Armies, and if so, which scene(s) and what type (sniffling, sobbing, choke-crying)? 
Teary-sniffling, yes: The scene with Bard and Bain up in the watch tower, when Bard said, look at me, son (I can't remember the exact quote - anyone?). When Thranduil accuses Bilbo of rescuing the dwarves from his dungeons and Bard looks at Bilbo and smiles in a sort of wonder and surprise; I don't know why that made me teary-eyed, probably because of how Gandalf is always saying that hobbits have more in them than meets the eye. When Fili dies, and when Thorin makes his peace with Bilbo and dies. And after the great battle when Gandalf and Bilbo sit together on the broken steps. When Thranduil tells Legolass how his mother died. And then how beautiful the scenery is as Bilbo and Gandalf make their way back to the Shire, in such contrast to the scenes before and to the battle.

Isn't this awesome? via
4. Were the deaths compelling to you, and if so, whose?
Yes: Thorin and Fili's were. And - something I hadn't been expecting - Smaug's was too. He's so big and powerful and angry, and then, one arrow. Kili's, sadly, wasn't as much.

5. Overall, were you satisfied with the movie itself?
Overall, yes.

6. Describe the movie in one word.


(If anyone else would like to do this just say so in a comment and I'll add you here.)

Friday, January 02, 2015

Into the Woods | Review


(this review is spoiler-free)

I didn't realize when hearing of Into the Woods for the first time that it's a film adaption of a popular award-winning Broadway musical. 
As I understand from reading up about the original musical by Sondheim, several things have been changed from it in the film: some of the plot has been rewritten, several songs cut and new ones put in their places, overall editing it for a PG rating. Even so there are times when it slips on the boarderline of being disturbing (the wolf) and though none of the gruesome violence is shown it's hinted at clearly and there is still suggestive material.

The film tells the tales of Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Jack and the Beanstalk, and though these stories have no traditional connection they are drawn together by the new story of a baker and his wife (Corden and Blunt) who wish for a child. Every character has a wish, and each is drawn by it into the woods. When the baker and his wife are told that they are unable to have children because of a curse and that it can be revoked by collecting certain items to be found in the woods, they go to the woods immediately. And there, in the woods, the characters meet and their stories intertwine.

I loved the costumes and the lush colors, and the different characters and the casting. All the cast have great voices. Meryl Streep, who was perfect as the witch, especially sounded great singing her songs. I really liked James Corden as the baker and Emily Blunt as his wife. Depp has a surprisingly short amount of screen time, but it was still fun to see him. There are some really funny scenes where the whole theater was laughing. I liked the voice-over narrative and the songs, some of which are hilarious (Agony) and some thought provoking, and the haunting music. I liked the cinematography and the camera movement flowed nicely. But I didn't like the jokes directed to the audience that pull me, at least, out of the story, and I thought the screen went a little too dark at times. All the fairy tales stick to their originals, I liked that, but the lessons the characters learn don't mean what they do in the original stories. I think the different tales could have been pulled together better to make a tighter story. The last third of the movie felt weaker than the first two. 

About two thirds through the movie every wish is come true according to the fairy tales, but the film doesn't end there. It's then that the consequences come and each character has to live with their wish. So there are what could be called two endings, the main question of the first being will the characters get their wishes, live happily ever after? and that of the second being will the characters survive, how will they live happily ever after? 

After being in the woods none of the characters are the same. There's adventure there for all of them, and it gives each an experience which displays their character at all extremes, and in the end they leave having learned something they never knew before, carrying some knowledge or wisdom they didn't carry before. The woods are like a story which one learns from and changes from, but which one must leave in the end. My favorite song is Finale/Children Will Listen (part 1), listening to it gives me chills. 

Guide them along the way,
Children will glisten.
Children will look to you
For which way to turn,
To learn what to be.
Careful before you say,
"Listen to me."
Children will listen.
Careful the tale you tell.
That is the spell.
Children will listen.

I'm beginning to love film adaptions of musicals. Overall, Into the Woods is a good show, but not much more than that were it not for some of the songs' lyrics. Meryl Streep's performance (e.g. Stay With Me) was the best part of it, for me. Have you seen Into the Woods - the movie or musicalDo you want to? If you've written a review please leave a link, I'd love to read it.

my rating 3.7/5
favorite line Careful the tales you tell, children will listen.

MPPA rating: PG (for thematic elements, fantasy action and peril, and some suggestive material)
Directed by
Written by  (screenplay),  (musical)
Staring  , 
Time 124 min
Sountrack by Stephen Sondheim
Release year 2014
Rating: (RT) 71%; (IMDb) 7.4/10

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