Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the NIght-Time

wow.. a big WOW was the word I exclaimed after reading Mark Haddon's 2003 novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. 

At first, I started reading a pdf of it but I said to myself, this good book must not be read in that way rather in the traditional way. So I bought a paperback copy of it from National Bookstore. And fuck. I just spent my money wisely.

In the tradition of Perks of Being A Wallflower, A Separate Peace, and I don't know but all those books that make you understand the phases of puberty, Haddon created a book that would take it in the perspective of a genius autistic teenager. Reading the novel has touched my heart very much. I laughed most of the parts, and welled with tears in some. This book has made my mind blow! why? Because it gives you alternatives from the truths you've learn. Who is the person that would prove to you that some laws in science and math are wrong? It is only Christopher John Francis Boone. 

The twists in the plot have pinched my heart. At first he was investigating on the death of a neighbor's dog. Then, it turned out that it would lead him to an investigation of his "dead" Mother. The perseverance of his parents to regain his trust was very touching. 

The descriptions of the illness of Christopher did not come from the doctor's or his parents, rather it came from him. For me, it was very powerful, helping you to empathize with the protagonist as he groans and moans and feels either upset or happy. 

I really can't say anything bad from this book. Except from the bombardment of math problems which I do not have care with because I really hate math. Well, though the plot was quite shallow and cliche. For me the book was still superb because of the writer's style and the way the book was written/packaged.

It won the 2003 Whitbread Book of the Year and the 2004 Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book. Its title is a quotation of a remark made by the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes (who he idolizes) in Arthur Conan Doyle's 1892 short story "Silver Blaze". Currently, Steve Kloves is making a film adaptation of the book.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Mary Poppins

I have just finished watching the classic 1964 musical film Mary Poppins and definitely enjoyed the songs especially "chim chimney chim chim cheroo". And I just found out that it was one of the most awarded musicals and even had a sequel in 2004, still starring Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins.

One of the themes that striked me most was the unseen and unfelt love of parents to their children. Why do we need nannies if our parents are always with us, right? Why do we need to have outings with strangers when we have our parents with us? The film has represented this reality quite clearly, especially when Mr. Banks brought his children to his work. The generation gap was seen their, the conflicting interests, and contradicting dreams of parents and their children.

There was one theme also that was not that emphasized. It was about Mrs. Banks' involvement in women empowerment. I see this belittled but however quite materialized in the character of Mary Poppins.Her firmness and maternal care for her wards were seen.

Definitely, it was one of the best musicals I've watched.


Ever since I watched the movie Inkheart, I became obsessed with it and saved all my money just to buy the first two installments of the Cornelia Funke's trilogy. I just finished reading it and re-watched the film. By doing so, I managed to observe numerous differences between the two.
Honestly, I always feel sleepy every time I read the novel. I don't know why but maybe because of the style of writing and the theme of the novel. Inkheart is like a typical classic children book with all the fantasies the writer could imagine included. The fairies, the henchmen, the fireraisers, the magical creatures and the cruel villains. The style of writing is somewhat like in the Narnia chronicles and Lord of the Rings saga, however Funke's was toned down and quite modern already. 

Between the two, I must say that despite the wonderful changes for cinematic purposes, I would prefer the novel. It was more complete, full, the characters' personality were more defined and developed, also it gives you more freedom to visualize or imagine Inkworld and Capricorn's village. In the novel, it was not clear where they are (just possibly somewhere in Europe) but the houses, the villages, the plazas were vividly described. Capricorn's village was like no other with its brick roads and houses, dungeons and stables and the magnanimous church turned castle. On the contrary, the movie clearly puts the story in Italy. Though they captured the places quite enough, there are still differences that I think they should not have done.

First, Capricorn's church was literally a Church. It's just that the cathedral's pews were removed and replaced with tables, and the dais was made with a throne instead of an altar. The movie on the contrary created a palace for him. Though the details and designs was quite similar, the redness of the Church that defines Capricorn was not included. I believe that it was essential because the theme of colors was essential in the book. For example, red signifies Capricorn's anger and cruelty. His "heart that was black as an ink" was shown in his attires and his men's attires. Meggie's white dress in the end of the story signifies her innocence and sacrifice. It also makes a contrast between white and black. light and dark. good and evil. The magnanimity of the Church was definitely disregarded also which I believe signifies his greed and lust for power.

Second, Elinor's mansion does not only have a library full of rare books. The mansion itself was rather filled with books---the walls, the living rooms, bedrooms, libraries. This hunger of Elinor for learning, knowledge and wisdom, her wide collection of rare, leatherbound, first edition books of the past centuries, were quite toned down in the movie. This does not only fall to Elinor but to all other characters. In the movie, the actors do not seem to be booklovers as that of the novel. They were simply labeled as the "book doctor", "bookworms", "silvertongues". In the novel, it is their life. They would rather die than their books. It is hard to explain but in the novel,everywhere thy go, they manage to bring a book or two and read. They know all the stories and the characters. However, only the Wonderful Wizard Of Oz was the only dominant novel in the film. But actually, also the Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, Lord of the Rings, Arabian Nights and many other novels had their parts in the story. The movie emphasized more on the main plot, disregarding another point of the novel, that it was a novel that gives tribute to other great novels by using characters that symbolize different types of book enthusiasts.

In reading also the book, I admit that the voices of those who portrayed Mortimer Folchart, Elinor Loredan and Meggie ring in my ear. However, I visualize the character (even the whole novel) to be animated. I think their voices truly give justice to the characters, especially Brendan Fraiser's.

The ending of the two were very different. Completely different. And because they made the film's ending "somehow like" the sequel's opening scene, I think Inkheart would be a stand-alone. Guess that's all. You must read the novel so you would know what I'm talking about. :)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Despite its length, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) is a very enjoyable film. Maybe it's because I love watching old-era-themed films. Also, the movie's cinematography and musical scoring make me cry, together with its wonderful plot.

After reading F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1922 short story with the same title, I realized that the two were somehow similar and mostly different. Now, I will not point/enumerate their differences, rather I'll give to you my personal suggestions regarding the changes.

First, the movie was studded with many other characters whose lives were touched by Benjamin. Each has their own backgrounds and their small parts on Benjamin's life. However, the short story revolved around Benjamin's family--from his parents down to his son--making it more personal, and very heartwarming. I think, it would be better if in the film, they introduced also the characters of his family and gave them more part to deepen Benjamin's trials.

The movie also used key events in world history in order to lead the audiences about the time. The scenes showing the world war, the first man on the moon, the Beatles, hurricane Katrina, helped the audiences know what year is it. However in the story, there were none.

Benjamin Button, both the short story and the film touched my heart with their memorable quotes and life-reality plots.

First in the short story, Hildegarde Moncrief (Benjamin's wife) says
"Young boys are so idiotic. They tell me how much champagne they drink at college, and how much money they lose playing cards. Men of your age know how to appreciate women. […] You're just the romantic age […], fifty. Twenty-five is too wordly-wise; thirty is apt to be pale from overwork; forty is the age of long stories that take a whole cigar to tell; sixty is – oh, sixty is too near 70; but fifty is the mellow age. I love fifty. […] I've always said […] that I'd rather marry a man of fifty and be taken care of than many a man of thirty and take care of him. (1.6.15-18)"
 This connotes that she understands the importance of age and their meanings. She also serves as a contrast to Benjamin by being of the same age but different physical features, meeting in the middle (40+). This is the same in the movie for the character of Daisy Fuller. However, they differed on how they loved Benjamin. Hildegarde was like other wives, embarrassed on their husbands, and feeling that they had the biggest mistakes in their lives. While Daisy, since the time they were married, loved Benjamin and became faithful to him no matter what. She understands his case, and very positive that there child would be normal. She even said that when if not, She'll take care of both of them.

In the story, Benjamin's son Roscoe was a very mean character. He dislikes his father and even commanded the latter to call him uncle because he was very ashamed of him. Also, they were together most of their lives. In the movie, Caroline, his daughter, saw him only once in their lives and as strangers. But she however felt longing for him.

Queenie, Benjamin's foster mother, was also a heartbreaking character. She loved Benjamin the way others didn't. Without her, he might not have been alive. Their relationship also was very realistic.

 In the movie, there were many cameo roles, especially those who stayed in the elderly home. I am very fond of the man who was struck by lightning seven times. Because in the end of his sharing, he said that he is very thankful he's still alive.

The themes of life, love, friendship, and overcoming trials are prevalent in the film and the short story, both by plot and by quotes. And so I'll end this blog by giving you memorable quotes from the movie and the short story.

From the Short Story

“Our lives are defined by opportunities, even the ones we miss.”

“You never know what's coming for you.”

“I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.”

From the movie

"For what it's worth: it's never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There's no time limit, start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you're proud of, and if you find that you're not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again."

"You can be as mad as a mad dog at the way things went. You could swear, curse the fates, but when it comes to the end, you have to let go."

"Benjamin Button: Some people were born to sit by a river. Some get struck by lightning. Some have an ear for music. Some are artists. Some swim. Some know buttons. Some know Shakespeare. Some are mothers. And some people — dance."

"Benjamin, we're meant to lose the people we love. How else would we know how important they are to us?"

"Sometimes we're on a collision course, and we just don't know it. Whether it's by accident or by design, there's not a thing we can do about it."

"It's a funny thing about comin' home. Looks the same, smells the same, feels the same. You'll realize what's changed is you."