>> Thursday, August 30, 2012

Life is Beautiful
Rated PG-13 for holocaust-related thematic elements.

"I want to watch this movie," my friend says. "It's called Life is Beautiful."
I nod. Sounds good.
"It's Italian."
I pause and then nod again. As long as it's clean, right?
"And it won some academy awards."
I scowl. Because my opinion of people who judge that award can be pretty low.

But despite all my preconceived notions, it was...well...beautiful.
Life is Beautiful (or La Vida e Bella) is one of those movies that can change your life. It's the story of Guido, a Jewish waiter with a magnificent sense of humor. But when he and his young son are taken to a concentration camp, he tells his son that it's an elaborate game, and manages through his sense of humor to protect his son's innocence, as well as his son's life.

The best way to describe this film would be bittersweet. Once I got used to the fast-paced Italian dialogue it was screamingly funny. But also very unpredictable and very tense. Every time Guido did a new scheme I'd just pray that everything would turn out all right.
I have some trouble with most Holocaust movies. Not that they aren't done well--far from it--but somehow or other, it can be too much to handle emotionally. It really happened, and that knowledge can be difficult to bear. But this movie hit home without being graphic. It didn't show anything, and that made it just as shocking, but also much easier to watch.

Days after I was stilling mulling over it. Could have done what Dora did, in order to be with her family? Could I have smiled in the face of death?

Life is Beautiful is very sweet, sad, and thought-provoking movie. I'd definitely recommend seeing this one (although see it with subtitles. It loses a lot when dubbed in English.)

Favorite Line: "You've really got a crush on me."
Verdict: Rent it as soon as possible.
Grey Travel Rating: 4/5
Plot: 4/5
Characters: 5/5
Acting: 4/5
Objectionable Content: Mentions of "making love". A man mentions  the word "brothel", but nothing more is said. Uses of the Lord's name in vain.


Famous Literary Swords: The Sword of Martin the Warrior

>> Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Sword of Martin the Warrior
The Redwall series by Brian Jacques

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

It was an ordinary enough sword, with a "red pommel stone...set into the top of the hilt. The handle was of black leather and silver to match the belt and scabbard. Below a heavy silver crosspiece was the blade. Made from the finest steel, its double edges tapered to a ruthlessly sharp tip. Down the center of the blade ran a blood channel..." (Redwall, pg. 293, British edition)
It was first wielded by Luke the Warrior, who gave it to his young son Martin before he left to go avenge the death of his wife. But in his absence a tyrant named Badrang took the young Martin and his grandmother as slaves to work on his fortress of Marshank. He even took the sword of Martin's father.
Though his grandmother did not survive, Martin did, and when a mouse named Rose appeared (perhaps I should have mentioned--they're all animals) Martin and others made thier escape and soon battled Marshank to free the rest of the slaves. It was in this final battle that Martin took back his sword and slew Badrang with it.

Years passed and he made his way to Mossflower country, where another tyrant, the wildcat Tsarmina, took him prisoner. She broke his sword in half and hung it about his neck as a badge of shame. When Martin escaped with newfound friens they set out to find the legendary Boar the Fighter to aid them in thier fight for Mossflower's freedom. Boar forged a new blade for the broken from a "fallen star" and the questers returned to free Mossflower.
Once all were free Martin founded Redwall Abbey and hung up his sword, swearing never to fight again.

Generations later when the warlord Cluny the Scourge threatened Redwall's peace, a young mouse named Matthias set out to find Martin's legendary sword and keep Redwall safe.
The sword wielded by many other warriors throughout, and was sometimes stolen (or attempted to be stolen) by ruthless villains who viewed the weapon as "magic." But as Matthias told his son Mattimeo, "...this is only a sword, Mattimeo. It does not make you a warrior merely because you carry it. Weapons may be carried by creatures who are evil, dishonest, violent or lazy. The true warrior is good, gentle and honest. His bravery comes from within himself; he learns to conquer his own fears and misdeeds."

The illustrations of the sword are very usually the same. The best representation is probaly shown in the American cover of Redwall:

The only time it varied slightly was in one of Fangorn's illustrations for The Legend of Luke, with a pommel fashioned completely from a red stone:


Odd and Sweet

>> Monday, August 20, 2012

The Odd Life of Timothy Green
Rated PG for mild thematic elements and brief language.

If you wish to know this film's plot, I'd recommend watching the trailer below. 'Cause I can't describe it well enough. All I can describe are my feelings.
At first, I was a little iffy about the story. There were a thousand and one ways it couldn't work.
But guess what? It worked.

Me and my family laughed and giggled the entire time. It was great to see how Cindy and Jim dealt with this new child whose origin they had to keep a secret. And I loved the scene where they danced. Other emotions were there, as well. The beginning when they first discovered Timothy was extremely tense, and the movie's ending brought tears to all of our eyes. The entire movie was quite unpredictable.

I really enjoyed how Timothy's innocence brought changes, both permanent and temporary, into the lives of the people he met. And Cindy and Jim had childhood demons of their own to conquer, and I enjoyed seeing them break free in a very un-soap-opera-like way.
Another perk of this movie was how accurately it showed those parents who are determined for their children to be the best at everything, to get into the best college, etc. Timothy had a good heart and a positive attitude, and the way that contrasted with those griping parents was wonderful to see. And it was such a good film about the importance of family.

There are some flaws, of course--I'm not much for narration, maybe one or two scenes were awkward, and Joni was only okay--but I can honestly say that I enjoyed it very, very much.

Timothy Green is not like any other movie I've ever seen. It's somehow ethereal, more like a pleasant daydream than anything else.
And that, I think, is one of the best things about it.

Favorite Line:
Jim: Have a great day.
Cindy: That's too much pressure.
Jim: Have the day that you have.

Verdict: Go see it.
Grey Travel Rating: 4/5
Special Effects: 4/5
Plot: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Acting: 5/5
Objectionable Content: Uses of the Lord's name in vain twice, and one use of the H-word, although lost amid yelling. A tween girl wears an outfit at a swim party that shows her stomach.



>> Saturday, August 18, 2012

If you've been following this blog, you'd know by now that I love The Lord of the Rings. I've read the books three times and watched the films countless times. I own Lord of the Rings Trivia and play it with gusto.
But sometimes, somehow, people seem to lose sight of the books, and the man who started it all as they celebrate the actors' birthdays and watch the latest Peter Jackson vlog.
Myself included.

Sometimes I just want to take a break from the world. Sometimes I just want to curl up with the books and and enjoy them in their purest and simplest form.

And I can't help but wonder, is this just me?


Make Known His Wonderful Works II

>> Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Once more, I do not own, and the copyrights goes to the respective artists.

Who Touched Me by Gary Kapp

This Do in Remembrance of Me by Trent Gudmundsen

The Witness by Cynthia Dell Ellis

Mountain of the Lord by Sandra Rast

Glory to God by Hilary Onyon

Lord of Hosts by Scott Lynn Sumner

The Empty Tomb by Howard Post

They Were All Filled by Walter Rane

Samuel: Hannah's Gift by Dawn Sorokine

While Mary Sleeps--Morning by Lester Lee Yocum

A Step of Faith by Michael Tom Malm


Make Known His Wonderful Works Part 1

>> Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints held an international art contest, and I must say, I had no idea there were so many talented people in the world!
I think anyone could enjoy these beautiful art pieces, no matter what their religion.
Here are just a few.
(I do no own. All copyright goes to the artists.)

From Fear to Faith by Howard Van Lyon

Balm of Gilead by Ann Adele Henrie
New York

Faith, Hope, and Charity by Jonathan Linton

Christ and the Fishermen (Lovest Thou Me More Than These) by J. Kirk Richards

 Conversion by Natalie Christensen

Feed My Sheep by David Andre Koch

As a Tender Plant by Jennifer Yvonne Paget

Draper Temple by Alan Rounds

Eternal Plan by Chalermchai Hanjakkham

First News (of the Resurrection) by Rose Datoc Dall
District of Columbia


Mayhem and Mystery

>> Saturday, August 4, 2012

Not the edition I read, but I suppose
it'll do in a pinch.
The Moonstone
by Wilkie Collins

I think Charles Dickens (yes, that Charles Dickens) described this book best when he said "It is a very curious story, wild yet domestic."

When her uncle, Mr. John Herncastle dies, Rachel Verinder inherits the legendary Moonstone diamond from him, the one he allegedly stole from India. When it is stolen on the morning after her birthday, it seems like an open-and-close case. But nobody is what they seem, and the best and the worst of intentions can be misread.

Simply put, I enjoyed this book. A lot. As in, every morning I'd wake up eager to read more and discover what would happen next. The mystery was baffling, and it seemed the more I learned the less I knew. It also wasn't like any other mystery I've ever read. It wasn't just looking for clues amid innocent and guilty people--these character's emotions and feelings either hindered or helped the hunt for the lost diamond, and in a very realistic way (although once or twice the women were prone to hysterics. But after all, it is a very old book.)

But I think what really made this a classic of literature were the characters. The story was told in separate narratives by different characters, and each of them had such a distinct voice you could swear they were real. I loved old Betteredge, the loyal servant with a love for a certain book, and Franklin Blake, the young man trying to win his cousin Rachel's love, and Sergeant Cuff, the clever detective with a penchant for roses. And let's not forget Ezra Jennings, who's story of redemption is...well...stirring.
Heck, I even liked Gooseberry, and he only showed up for two chapters near the end.
Rachel's other cousin, Miss Clack, was also very real, but also very holier-than-though. I was glad to finish her part of the story, which fortunately wasn't long.

The ending was satisfying, but it could have seemed far-fetched if the author hadn't handled it right. Fortunately, he did, and that made it all the more satisfying.
There was romance, tons of suspense, and even good old-fashioned humor.
I loved The Moonstone, and would definitely have it upon my shelf.

Favorite Line: If you are curious to know what course I took under the circumstances, I beg to inform you that I did what you would probably have done in my place. I modestly  declared myself to be quite unequal to the task imposed upon me--and I privately felt, all the time, that I was quite clever enough to perform it, if I only gave my own abilities a fair chance.

Objectionable Content: Uses of the Lord's name in vain, and uses of the D-word. Brief mention of a love nest (all they mention is "a lady and a villa". It has no bearing on the story.)

Related Reads:
Anything written by Agatha Christie
Sherlock Holmes-Arthur Conan Doyle
The Purloined Letter-Edgar Allan Poe


I Am An Otter

You're an otter, mate! Another good friend of Redwall, you are a natural swimmer and a deadly fighter especially with a long bow or javellin. Camp Willow is your home, just as Redwall is your second home. You have a good heart and a strong sense of loyalty. You absolutely love Shrimp and Hotroot soup, living by the motto "Ain't nothing 'otter for an Otter!".

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