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.