Monday, December 31, 2012


So... it's nearing the end of another year and I'm sentimentally listening to
Drink with Me before I scurry off to enjoy the hours of 2012.
Truthfully, it's been quite an eventful year for the world - there was the
Presidential Election, the London Olympics, the release of The Hobbit (but
seriously, it's been a great year for movies), etc.

Personally, I've had a wonderful year reading and soaking up life. I listened
to wonderful music (especially acoustic folk and classical in these final months).
My LOTR knowledge increased tremendously this year (directly proportional
to my obsession). I got to appreciate maestro McCarthy and my violin playing
improved heaps...

I feel like my summation of the year eventually really boils down to the final
couple months (short-term memory). I made one of the best decisions of my
life and went to the Tibetan Plateau (inspired by LOTR & McCarthy landscapes),
where I saw snow for the first time (I'll be seeing it in January, SO EXCITED),
and other beautiful elements of nature.

I kept rigorous 'track' of 2012 - I made sure I did the right things whenever
possible - and hopefully this will also be the case for 2013. Hopefully by then,
financial and environmental situations will improve.

2012's been quite wonderful, but 2013 - here I come! It shall be even better!

Fate of whole galaxies against their imminent ruin

I finished The Orchard Keeper! I should have posted more quotes, but, um, I lost the sheet of paper that had all the important page numbers on it (which is totally the first time this has happened), so there's only one below. Anyway, this could be good, I don't want to be giving too much away anyway. There isn't much to give away, though. It may even help to know 50% of the plot before delving in (READ THAT BLURB), it will make your understanding miles easier. Plot isn't the big thing in this novel, but language and style is strongly established. Heaps of arcane words, fluid prose stuffed with complex vernacular, italics - McCarthy trademarks!
So, enjoy it for that!
The old man, clutching his cane, holding the dirty little sack between his knees, looked back at the dog still standing there like some atavistic symbol or brute herald of all questions ever pressed upon humanity and beyond understanding, until the dog raised his head to clear the folds above his milky eyes and set out behind them at a staggering trot.

Books, glorious books

With each passing set of 24 hours, 2012 is teetering to a halt, and the doors to 2013
are gradually creaking open. I created a goodreads account this year, and
participated in the 2012 reading challenge - I've read 40 books this year and have
decided to evaluate my favourites, as a commemoration to the power of literature.
So, here are the top 6 new books I've read this year...

1) The Crossing
Hello McCarthy! Truthfully, the entire Border Trilogy was wonderful, but The Crossing was my favourite because it was the longest (haha) and therefore contained the largest number of beautiful and inspirational passages. Click here to read the quotes I loved from it.

2) On the Road
I debated about this one, but it seems unfair to leave out Kerouac's masterpiece when it was the one book that I zipped through almost non-stop and thoroughly enjoyed this year. All the characters are mad, but madly in love with life, and the pulse of this book was so rigorously steady in its own crazy way that I finished it with fond memories. Plus, the movie seems fantastic. Click this to see my review of the book. 

3) Emma
My favourite Austen novel to date! At times, Emma reminded me of myself, and at other times, someone I'd love to sit down and seriously discuss life priorities and estimation issues with. I remember why I read Emma - I was sick of the depressing endings of books I was reading beforehand and made sure that Emma ended WELL, and also frankly missed Austen's eloquent (and romantic) writing style and female-themed novels. Boom, reviews here.

4) To Kill a Mockingbird
I remember reading the first few pages of this book 2 years back and finding it whoppingly difficult, but studied it this year for English class and seriously ended up LOVING it. The tone is so friendly, the parallels drawn genius, and theme deadly serious that this is a book that will impact any human that touches it. Here's my review.

5) Villette
My favourite Brontë novel, and more proof that Charlotte is the best Brontë (I have to stop saying this). The intricacy of her writing is sublime, and although the book was about a depressed (BUT INDEPENDENCE-STRIVING) woman, I enjoyed it immensely. The plot of the book was ingeniously planned, as well as the character development. The language was just stunning (allow me to reiterate). The book was a present from one of my best friends, and I love her for it (as well as other things)! Review here.

6) The Road
Last but definitely not least, THE ROAD was the book that opened the doors to the McCarthy-craze I've been going through for months now. I wept at the end of The Road (a book that makes you cry is a good book). The language, as I've rambled about enough, was so lovely. McCarthy's fluid style, the pulse of the words, the sound and rhythm of each syllable... Reading this book was hands-down one of the best decisions I made all year. Reviews here.

2012 was a fantastic and rewarding reading book for me. Hopefully 2013 will be even better!!

Les Misérables

I finally decided that spending 2 hours (fruitlessly) working on my CT project is not how I want to be spending the second last day of 2012. I'm about to scurry off to read Great Expectations (which is ingeniously funny), but first... the LES MIS review!

So, on Christmas Day I watched Les Misérables, expecting to turn into a misérable (am I aware that this is the most overused pun regarding this musical? Yes, please forgive...) wreck in the cinema, and in retrospect, I was not actually a puddle of sobs, yet there were several specific scenes that rendered me a human hosepipe. Essentially, this post is going to be a review, but also an allow-me-to-elaborate-on-the-scenes-where-I-wept opportunity.

Firstly, the team (+Colm Wilkinson!!) as assembled for this movie is incredible (go look up the 'Best Ensemble' awards the film has already garnered) Tom Hooper, still fresh from the accolades of The King's Speech, managed to pull this off majestically - and by 'this' I mean directing a movie-musical where the singing is done live. The live singing is - for me - the most appealing factor of the film. It brings the realness of the story to a more intimate and emotional level that mere lip-syncing would have never achieved. Critics everywhere seem to be whining about Hooper's direction (shooting too close to the mouths of the actors), but seriously, leave the man alone, he is a legend.

Back to the cast - the men of this movie were fantastic - especially the revolutionaries. I was super impressed (and enchanted) by Eddie Redmayne, who was such a spot-on Marius, and delivered a heart-wrenching rendition of the already-poignant Empty Chairs and Empty Tables. Vocally, he is still inferior to Michael Ball, but performance-wise, I think Redmayne triumphed (same with Lea Salonga and Samantha Barks and essentially everyone in the movie).

The thing is, the music is already so legendary, no matter how awful any movie rendition is, the power of the music will still be present (the delivery still has to be acceptable to some extent, though).

Having said this, Russel Crowe was not exactly the dream-Javert (although certainly looks it), and his usually outstanding acting was a tad diminished by his singing in the film. Nevertheless, he mastered this one-line delivery - "one more step and you die" - that blew me away totally. His gravelly tones swallowed the moment, and made it whole. Moreover, when Javert pinned his badge on Gavroche (Gavroche was brilliant in all ways) - THAT was when I turned into the human hosepipe. Right before that scene was Enjolras and Grantaire's death, which was shot SO movingly, and after it, Empty Chairs and Empty Tables (that 'sacrifice' bit... cry cry cry) ... so those 20ish minutes of the film were stunning and tear-inducing.

The cinematography was  beautiful, whereas it's the city-view of France at dawn we are treated to at the end, or the kids running after Gavroche (so nostalgic), or the red/white/blue colours of the French flags mounted above the barricades...

Back to the cast: Bellatrix and Borat - I mean, Le Thénardiers were SUCH a breath of fresh air and unbelievably brilliant and humorous. Seyfried was an OK Cosette (to be fair, Cosette isn't that interesting, but it would be nice to see an actress really shape her character). Her best scenes were complimented by the wonderful Marius (although their rushed love-at-first-sight is a tad hard to believe). However, hats off to Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway for doing a marvelous job in this movie. Hathaway's rendition of I Dreamed a Dream is at the moment probably the most-discussed, but I think Valjean deserves ENORMOUS praise... Jackman fought for the role, and he owned it (he works so hard, he really deserves this).

Weeping at a film says a lot about one's emotional resilience, but also one's ability to feel, as a human being, and ... this film should make you cry.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A barren spot, bright in the moonwash, mercurial and luminescent as a sea

I dropped The Orchard Keeper for about 3/4 days and picking up where I left off, I feel like I should be re-reading it completely... it took me about 78 pages in to finally grasp the fact that McCarthy's change of perspectives was inclusive of the animal kingdom... which of course complicates matters further... Oh, it's so confusing. The latter McCarthy books are definitely easier to understand. Just found out that the James Tait Black Prize went to Angela Carter instead of McCarthy... argh well.
Anyhow, here are the quotes I collected from my last read -
From a lightwire overhead, dangling head downward and hollowed to the weight of ashened feathers and fluted bones, a small owl hung in an attitude of forlorn exhortation, its wizened talons locked about the single strand of wire. It stared down from dark and empty sockets, penduluming softly in the bitter wind.
'hollowed to the weight,' 'fluted bowns,' 'forlorn exhortation, 'wizened talons' 'penduluming softly' ... only McCarthy, truly.
A warm wind on the mountain and the sky darkening, the clouds looping black underbellies until a huge ulcer folded out of the mass and a crack like the earth’s core rending rattled panes from Winkle Hollow to Bay’s Mountain. And the wind rising and gone colder until the trees bent as if borne forward on some violent acceleration of the earth’s turning and then that too ceased and with a clatter and hiss out of the still air a plague of ice.
This reminds me of the 'narrowing eye' quote from Cities of the Plains. The quote is an acid incision to the heart.
Inside they struck matches and Warn took a candlestub from a crevice and lit it, the calcined rock taking shape, tonsiled roof and flowing concavity, like something gone partly to liquid and frozen back again misshapen and awry, their shadows curling threatfully up the walls among the dried and mounded bat droppings. They studied the inscriptions etched in the soft and curdcolored stone, hearts and names, archaic dates, crudely erotic hieroglyphs--the bulbed phallus and strange centipedal vulva of small boys' imaginations.
Reading McCarthy definitely boosts my vocabulary by 12%.

Anyhow, I'm off to continue pursuing The Orchard Keeper, goodnight, all.


Here comes my annual Christmas post! First and foremost, Merry Christmas to you all. This year, I began my Christmas in one of the most magical ways possible - watching Les Miserables. Christmas means family, and to see the musical of my childhood, with each tune practically carved into the minds of everyone in my family, translated to screen, starring Wolverine and Russel Crowe (haha), was stunning. A love-filled review for it will be coming soon. We don't have a tree this year, (unless you count the fake-plant-placed-there-for-decorative-purposes-draped-with-lights) but my sister and I still made wee attempts to lather dollops of festive cheer around the house... creamy whips of it... there are tiny holly berry ornaments poking out of the dining table lights, snowflake and bauble ornaments hung on window knobs, tinsel twirled across anything that will hold it, and Christmas lights stuck up... Festive lights are imperative during December. Winter is coldness, but Christmas is warmth. In January, I'll be seeing snow again (this time, proper heaps of it, I can't wait), and that shall be my White Christmas. 3 Christmases later, when I'm off at college, Christmas will be entirely different to me. Until then, I'm very content staying at home, reading McCarthy and writing on a lovely Christmas night. Have a convivial Christmas, everyone!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Life of Pi

2012 is nearing an end... so here's to completing my delayed blog post: A review on The Life of Pi.
I had two main reasons to watch this movie -
1) Ang Lee (Taiwanese pride)
2) The trailer had me gobsmacked
- and henceforth read the book as a preemptive move. As I pointed out in a previous post (but to be perfectly honest, I can't recall if I even bothered to post about it), the book wasn't fabulous, although the fluid storytelling technique was commendation-worthy.
The movie, however, was a different story entirely - I viewed it twice, and left both times with one altered impression, and another that remained unchanged on both occasions.
During my first viewing, I found the movie unappealing, but the second time round, I developed a liking for it, as well as a confirmed appreciation of the absolutely stunning effects and detailed cinematography under the baton of maestro ANG LEE!

This movie is a solid visual phenomena. "The Next Avatar". Well, I can tell you that Life of Pi was way more lovelier than Avatar! Lee filmed it with such intricate delicacy - not a single frame or crop is out of place. Each shot is poised exactly as it is meant to be filmed. We don't see anything unnecessary - everything captured is perfectly in place... I don't know how much further I can stress this.
Watching this in the cinemas, you catch your breath as you see yourself looking at a huge screen that is absolutely dominated in the gold, reflective light of a lonely sea at morning, or a single boat hovering on a dark sea that is dotted with the reflection of a million stars at night, balanced so that the sea and the sky become one, and their separation is invisible... The complementary colours created by the orange boat floating on a blue sea... young Pi, in a blue shirt, entering the chapel via a blue door (the colours match SO WELL), the orangutan floating to the boat on a pile of bananas...The text-magic of the opening sequence...Or the sight of an island swarmed in meerkats, an island that turns a luminescent green at night... a raging sea that sweeps in great armfuls of waves, crashing down with the fury of a thunderstorm...

Lee also did a wonderful job in expressing the Indian culture, via the dancing (the colours were beautiful here too), eating style, mythical story (which is later re-visited by Pi when he peers down into the ocean and sees everything - I can't even begin to express how genius this was). 

However, what is most discussed about this movie is that the CGI was spectacular. One does not watch and instantly recognize the 'green screen.' The tiger's puppy-like eyes, tenderly staring up at Pi... the growl of the tiger when it devours the hyena... Richard Parker is brilliant. He is, in the movie, as much of the star as he was in the book. He was the reason for Pi's survival, after all.
The last scene of the movie is utterly heartbreaking, and the fact that Lee chose to end it that way was.. genius. It is, after all, the one theme of the story - that we never take a chance to properly say goodbye, and that life is an act of letting go... the tiger disappearing into the woods was letting go.
"This is a story to make you believe in God," Pi said. Whether this stands true or not, the movie is breathtaking and beautiful. The cinematography is beyond imagination... this colours and scope of scenes in this film make it an artwork (probably one of the most incredible examples of movie-magic I've ever seen in my life, to think about it). I'm so proud of Ang Lee. This movie will sweep at the Oscars.
On a side note, I'm so thrilled to be watching 3 beautiful movies in a row (This, the Hobbit, and tomorrow - LES MIS).

little tree

by: e.e. cummings (1894-1962)
little tree
little silent Christmas tree
you are so little
you are more like a flower
who found you in the green forest
and were you very sorry to come away?
see i will comfort you
because you smell so sweetly
i will kiss your cool bark
and hug you safe and tight
just as your mother would,
only don't be afraid
look the spangles
that sleep all the year in a dark box
dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,
the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,
put up your little arms
and i'll give them all to you to hold
every finger shall have its ring
and there won't be a single place dark or unhappy
then when you're quite dressed
you'll stand in the window for everyone to see
and how they'll stare!
oh but you'll be very proud
and my little sister and i will take hands
and looking up at our beautiful tree
we'll dance and sing
"Noel Noel"

spangles that sleep, little arms, dressed... Cumming's poem is delicate and representative of the glowing childhood loveliness of Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2012


I'm steering clear from the Doomsday hype - 21/12 means something entirely different to me.
Anyhow, here's a beautifully written passage from The Orchard Keeper
Some time after midnight on the twenty-first of December it began to snow. By morning in the gray spectral light of a brief and obscure winter sun the fields lay deadwhite and touched with a phosphorous glow as if producing illumination of themselves, and the snow was still wisping down thickly, veiling the trees beyond the creek and the mountain itself, falling softly, and softly, faintly sounding in the immense white silence.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


So, I resurrected my mixpod (grooveshark is brilliant, I should have started using it earlier), added 'snow' to my blog, and am currently trying to conjure up some Christmas spirit.

 Anyway, here is my very delayed review on Fathers and Sons.

My experience reading it was similar to reading Mildred Pierce (good writing, unsatisfying story). Like how Cain did a swell job expressing Mildred's independence yet devotion to her daughter, Ivan Turgenev fantastically portrayed the implications of a generation gap.
In the old days young people had to study. If they did not want to be thought ignorant they had to work hard whether they liked it or not. But now they need only say, 'Everything in the world is rubbish!' – and the trick's done.
The quote above is a great example of the disparity of logic and thoroughness when it comes to the explanations give by the new generation (when I say ' the new generation,' I am referencing the novel, and don't intend to stereotype modern society...which I understand may come off as a tad hypocritical, especially by what I say next).

It is so easy to say 'I hate this' or 'this is pointless,' and immediately assume, via the shortcut that is denial for the sake of easy denying, a self-righteous perspective. I've witnessed this tactic implemented by egotistical, but overconfident people.
For example, I'm a firm believer that under certain circumstances,

"I hate school, it doesn't matter anyway" translates to "I'm not getting the best grades and can't be bothered to push myself - which I consider as self-degradation - to succeed, so my denial shall serve as my stance (excuse, really)"

The term that jumped out at me when reading this novel (and this is what I mean by my own hypocrisy) was hipster. The term hipster has become so generic, and loosely associated with any sort of activity that presents a different stance (listening to exotic music, wearing colour-clashing clothes), that a 'hipster' denotes someone who defies 'mainstream' activity, and therefore anyone who aspires to 'be a hipster' aims to defy for the sake of defying.


Anyhow, this is a stream of thought I'll drop for the moment...
Below are more lovely quotes from the novel. It wasn't a super-enjoyable read, but there was the occasional beautiful phrase:
Time (as we all know) sometimes flies like a bird and sometimes crawls like a snail; but man is happiest when he does not even notice whether time is passing quickly or slowly.
"While I think; here I lie under a haystack . . . The tiny bit of space I occupy is so minute in comparison with the rest of the universe, where I am not and which is not concerned with me; and the period of time in which it is my lot to live is so infinitesimal compared with the eternity in which I have not been and shall not be... And yet here, in this atom which is myself, in this mathematical point, blood circulates, the brain operates and spires to something too... What a monstrous business! What futility!"
Man is capable of understanding everything – the vibration of ether and what's going on in the sun; but why another person should blow his nose differently from him – that, he's incapable of understanding.
Man is a strange creature. Contemplating from a distance the god-foresaken life our old folk lead here, one thinks: what could be better? You eat and drink, and you know you always do the right thing in the right way. But not a bit of it, you die of boredom. One needs people, even if only to swear at.
If you're interested in reading a novel on Russia during the 1830s, and the nihilist movement that was occurring at the time, Fathers and Sons is a perfect choice.

Or, if you're interested in Russian Literature, and haven't got the time/mental strength to begin Anna Karenina or even set eyes on the immense War and Peace, you'll welcome this novel with open arms.

Monday, December 17, 2012

He was waiting and weathers and seasons were his timepiece now.

For some time now the road had been deserted, white and scorching yet, though the sun was already reddening the western sky. He walked along slowly in the dust, stopping from time to time and bobbling on one foot like some squat ungainly bird while he examined the wad of tape coming through his shoe-sole. He turned again. Far down the blazing strip of concrete a small shapeless mass had emerged and was struggling toward him. It loomed steadily, weaving and grotesque like something seen through bad glass, gained briefly the form and solidity of a pickup truck, whipped past and receded into the same liquid shape by which it came.
Only McCarthy could begin a book so spectacularly. Beautiful.
Curled in a low peach limb the old man watched the midmorning sun blinding on the squat metal tank that topped the mountain. He had found some peaches, although the orchard went to ruin twenty years before when the fruit had come so thick and no one to pick it that at night the overborne branches cracking sounded in the valley like distant storms raging. The old man remembered it that way, for he was a lover of storms.
Peach, sun, mountain, storms... nature imagery and its interweaving with fluid, poetic prose, is McCarthy's forte. His writing reminds me of winter, and therefore winter always reminds me of good literature.
He fell asleep to the water and metal sounds of the rain runneling over the tin and sluicing through the gutterpipe, the rapid slash of it in a gust of wind and the fine mist spraying his face through the bellying screen. The oaks stirred restlessly, low admonitions, shhh...
The quote above is so Faulkner-esque (I promise that this will be the last time I draw the familiar, reiterated link between Faulkner and McCarthy), especially reminiscent of the raining scene in As I Lay Dying. I love it when good writers write about the rain. How good is the last sentence in this case? "The oaks stirred restlessly, low admonitions, shhh..."

The Orchard Keeper was a tad difficult to dive into, but now I'm 65 pages in and having a wonderful time.  

Mildred Pierce

I finished reading Mildred Pierce two days ago.
Was the story beautiful? No. Was it perhaps inspirational or enlightening? Not really, either. Truth be told, the story revolves around a mother, who, although is independent and strong-willed, remains pathetically devoted to her fierce daughter. It's not a very heart-warming tale of love and affection, yet the way James M. Cain captures the essence of Mildred's yearning and infatuation in this story, paralleled with the steady and unflinching development of Veda (her daughter), is very well done.

For me, there were really only 2 note-worthy quotes in the novel:
Still with her first half dozen pies to make, she drove home very late, full of a gulpy love for the whole human race.
A home is not a museum. It doesn't have to be furnished with Picasso paintings, or Sheraton suites, or Oriental rugs, or Chinese pottery. But it does have to be furnished with things that mean something to you. If they're just phonies, bought in a hurry to fill up, it'll look like that living room ,over there, or the way this lawn looked when my father got through showing how much money he had.
If you like Mildred Pierce, you'll like it for Cain's style and fluidity of language, but not for the dispiriting tale.

PS - I've embarked upon The Orchard Keeper (McCarthy FTW). It began beautifully. It takes McCarthy the maestro to turn a southern murder story so breathtakingly stunning. This was his debut novel, and what I can say is that his writing has become much more 'understandable' since then...

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The World is AHEAD

I'm fully aware that I've promised to post about different subjects, but the moment that I had been waiting for (forgive the cliché) arrived last Thursday. After a year of hunting down every production video possible, listening to the soundtrack on repeat, and blogging about it, last night I finally sat down before a large screen and watched THE HOBBIT in High Frame Rate.

Let me just say that it was absolutely stunning.

My friends have closed all doors on any further LOTR-related rants that may spew out of my mouth, so  this post is my haven for releasing all my positive Middle-Earth-Energy (MEE). The extensive review below will contain spoilers, so avert your eyes if you haven't watched the movie.

The Hobbit began in the most beautiful way possible - before we even set eyes on Middle Earth My Dear Frodo had already began playing. It was one of the moments where one sets their palm to their chest, shuts their eyes, and breathes deeply. Best yet was seeing Elijah Wood (FRODO) strut into sight. The fact that The Hobbit essentially began exactly the way The Fellowship did, with Frodo running off to find Gandalf, was PERFECT. To be more specific, The Hobbit really began with background info on the Arkenstone (given by Bilbo), which again, is so reminiscent of the Sauron background info given at the beginning of The Fellowship. Gandalf's DMC with Biblo about sparing a life was again so reminiscent of Gandalf telling Frodo about pitying Gollum. The moment when the heavy, gold ring comes crashing down the stone steps amidst the blue (I had nearly forgotten about the ring until then), and when it slips onto Bilbo's hand just like how it did so for Frodo in Bree (KNEW THAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN) are two more links that can be directly drawn between both movies... The Hobbit needed to live up to expectations. It needed to remind the LOTR fanbase that it was still LOTR-esque, but different in its own way. This was a success for Jackson. Now the 2 Hobbit movies to come can embody more of an independent shell, now that An Unexpected Journey has set the stage.

I was quite impressed with the amount of little things Jackson managed to include, especially the dwarves' singing (That's What Bibo Baggins Hates). The dwarves are hard to dislike. Memorizing their names is still going to be an issue, but they are all visually different and noticeably so, which is great (Check out this genius piece of work, and the punny introduction: Kili, mischievous and attractive, is definitely my favorite thus far, which is very depressing as Kili, Fili and Thorin perish in the Battle of the Five Armies. Kili and Fili are so helplessly likable in the film (they bring back a Merry and Pippin feel), knowing what's to come is demotivating ...

Having Sir Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, and Christopher Lee back was brilliant.  I don't think I've ever been so happy to see Saruman/Count Dooku under any circumstance. CHRISTOPHER LEE is literally 90 years old and looks exactly as he did years ago in TFOTR (The Fellowship of the Ring). It's remarkable. We can tell Cate Blanchett has aged - though radiating nonetheless (literally every scene she is in glows, and her gown weaves around her perfectly) - and McKellen, definitely, but their portrayals are not any less effective or well-done (especially McKellen). Gandalf is still Gandalf, and it was fabulous to welcome him back as a younger Mithrandir.

Taking the subject of this review back to the soundtrack, during the scene above (Gandalf and Galadriel's DMC), THE BREAKING OF THE FELLOWSHIP LITERALLY STARTED PLAYING - my heart nearly stopped, I was so sure I'd weep - that piece stands alone in LOTR soundtrack history as my absolute favorite, favorite, favorite... the hours I spent playing it on the piano... I was taken aback. Shore's reusing of it took me completely by surprise. It was effective, reminiscent, and undoubtedly beautiful.

I must once again reiterate that the movie could not have been epic without the amazing score. The company running in the mountains, the dwarves charging to Bilbo's rescue from the trolls... the Misty Mountains theme roared during all EPIC parts of the movie, vibrating with heroism, courage, and determination... I loved it. I think I've ranted about the score enough, but HOWARD SHORE needs an Oscar for this movie. He deserves it.

The entrance into Rivendell was spectacular. So beautiful... the soundtrack rose to the elvish, almost extraterrestrial high note, and once more we are back in the majesty of Elrond's home. When Gandalf calls him my friend, 'mellon' is distinct. Perfect moments like this are everywhere in this movie. The arrival of the eagles, via messenger butterflies (SO LOTR-esque), the battle of the storm-giants, Bilbo's grand leap over Gollum...

Speaking of Gollum, how perfectly scary was he portrayed in The Hobbit? You don't leave the LOTR-scene without getting a fair share of Sméagol-ness. Gollum was younger, twice as creepy, and the Riddles in the Dark scene was fabulously horrifying! Hats off to Andy Serkis. As usual, his dual personality disorder was portrayed brilliantly. This is a movie you must watch, my precioussss.

Let's discuss the movie's loyalty to LOTR and the book. First, there were a couple obvious changes - the introduction of Radagast and a slight change on how Gandalf saves the day in the trolls scene (which was hilarious, by any case). Perhaps some people may have preferred the provoked argument method by which Gandalf lured the trolls into dawn, but I myself was satisfied with the 'MAY DAWN TAKE YOU' then epic blinding light and crack of stone (so reminiscent of when he comes to save the day with the men of Rohan in 2 Towers). Then, there was the expansion of the storm-giants scene, the insertion of the White Council scene (which was VERY welcome, thank you Peter Jackson), and as most people are discussing, the inclusion of RADAGAST THE BROWN. As I've already discussed in my previous post, I had absolutely no problem with Radagast, and was actually mega-looking forward to seeing him. Literally all his entrance scenes, with his rabbits, were undeniably epic. He was also the one who went to fetch proof of the Necromancer's existence (AKA Sauron AKA Benedict Cumberbatch). Plus, his nursing of the hedgehog was very, very cute. So, I really haven't got issues with Radagast, although I'm aware many did (one critic scathingly wrote that he 'descended into Jar Jar Binks territory').

Stepping aside from Radagast, let's talk about Richard Armitage. I think he fit into Thorin brilliantly. He's got the look, definitely, and seems to be the 'new Aragorn' of the series, a prince trying to reclaim his throne... That ending scene where he hugs Bilbo... tears...

So, to make this an unbiased review, it seems time for me to elaborate more on what I didn't fancy so much about this movie. The High Frame Rate got to me. Everything seemed so defined and life-like that I feel as if the movie almost lost the picturesque effect of good cinematography. I had to switch my 3D glasses several times to make sure I was seeing the right things. Most reviews you read will have something to say about the HFR. While it worked quite well during action scenes, it was not so appealing at other times.

Moreover, the movie was very, very long... don't get me wrong, I had a swell time in the cinema, but it almost seems like Jackson it attempting to continue the 'long-LOTR-movies' trend, which he should consider rethinking.

Nevertheless, was this movie beautiful and brilliant? The scenery was breathtaking, the acting was well done (proud of Martin Freeman, really), the technology enhanced the battle scenes, the soundtrack left me spellbound, and the MEE was undeniable.

Masterpiece? Oh yes, I've no doubt about that.

(You'll get the reference if you've read or at least seen the blurbs of any LOTR book).

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Recovery Writing

Something new I'll start posting. Recovery Writing - flash prose, McCarthy-styled musings, whatever you want to call it.

The sharp teeth of the winter chill bites on each broken branch, gnaws on each retiring leaf, sinks into the lapsing of each tired tide. Behind the beautiful and monstrous mountain, majestic behind the flurried film of snow, is a red valley. Unlike the wilting green of the grass plains. Unlike the yellow flesh of a baked potato. Red like anger, romance and rust. Red in winter. Defined against the white – grey – silver – sky that smells like cold and smells like the concept of buried pine trees. Is the world compressed? Or wider – like each swifter stride? The lashing of the wind is a welcome whip after an unsatisfying day.

Saturday, December 1, 2012


Be on the lookout for...
1) A review of Father and Sons
2) A review of The Book of Other people
3) A review of Life of Pi
4) Updated playlist
5) A review of Mildred Pierce (reading now)

Hello, December!

It is officially the first day of my favourite month of the year. I feel like each time winter twinkles back into my life, it brings out the best in me. I feel sharper, like the crisp weather, cleaner, like the air, more concise, filtered, and sanitized... I think more, the plucking of a guitar means more, and each clean breath is a delight... it feels like the McCarthy-reading, sweater-layering, and satisfying pressing-on-the-cool-violin-strings season I wish I had all year round. Comfort does wonders to the head and heart. I face an event-packed week, but I am at ease. Winter... each bare branch, the tinge of a chill, the thought of snow in another country... winter feels like literature, like delicate music, like a steady pulse. Winter is hours spent burrowing inside blankets with a book, a sweat-free walk in the hills, and a time to nail Jack Johnson, Marling and Mitchell songs on the guitar. Winter is for letting my hair down and feeling it grow. Winter - the word itself is poetry - how pleasant is the short 'i' and the turning of tone 't' brings after 'n'... winter is hands stuck in pockets, feet tucked in boots, and warming up next to the heater. Winter is keeping warm. Winter is lovely, and it is here!