Thursday, 31 May 2007

Little Women Sountrack

It finally arrived yesterday: Original Soundtrack of Little Women (1994)! And my oh my... how I love it! I especially love the main theme, of course, with the lovely orchestra. But I also love the Spring/Amy Abroad, Meg's Hair, La Fayette's Welcome (Frank Johnson), Port Royal Gallop (Claudio Grafulla, 1810-1880)... and my favourite: Maria Redowa (Gaetano Donizetti, 1797-1848). The last three tracks are from the 19th century classical scores, by the way, so it added to the beauty.

This post reminds me that I have to add Becoming Jane and Sense & Sensibility OST reviews, all of which I love as well!

Now, where's my Emma and English Country Dance? I hope it arrives before I go to Melbourne next week...

Monday, 28 May 2007

Looking for Your Face

From the beginning of my life
I have been looking for your face
but today I have seen it.

Today I have seen
the charm, the beauty,
the unfathomable grace
of the face
that I was looking for.

Today I have found you
and those that laughed
and scorned me yesterday
are sorry that they were not looking
as I did.

I am bewildered by the magnificence
of your beauty
and wish to see you with a hundred eyes.

My heart has burned with passion
and has searched forever
for this wondrous beauty
that I now behold.

I am ashamed
to call this love human
and afraid of God
to call it divine.

Your fragrant breath
like the morning breeze
has come to the stillness of the garden
You have breathed new life into me
I have become your sunshine
and also your shadow.

My soul is screaming in ecstasy
Every fiber of my being
is in love with you

Your effulgence
has lit a fire in my heart
and you have made radiant
for me
the earth and sky.

My arrow of love
has arrived at the target
I am in the house of mercy
and my heart
is a place of prayer.

Poetry by Jalaluddin Rumi, 13th century

Love's Nationality

Okay, I've just 'met' Rumi on the web, and I was again reminded how great this sage was. This is a poetry from Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi who graced us with his wisdom in the 13th century.

Love's nationality is separate from all other religions
The lover's religion and nationality is the Beloved (God)
The lover's cause is separate from all other causes
Love is the astrolabe of God's mysteries

I have a Sufi painting at home in Bali, by the way. One day, I will post the beautiful painting here. It's one of my precious treasures, and is actually the first painting I've ever bought!

By and by, the year 2007 is the 'International Rumi Year'. Go, Rumi! And this is the text from Wikipedia:

International Rumi Year

Upon a proposal by Culture and Tourism Ministry of Turkey, the year 2007 was declared as the "International Rumi Year" by UNESCO in March 2006. This is intended for the commemoration of Rumi's 800th birthday anniversary and will be celebrated all over the world. On this occasion Iranian musician Shahram Nazeri was awarded Légion d'honneur and Iran's House of Music Award for his renowned works on Rumi masterpieces. 2006 was declared as the "International Mozart Year" by UNESCO.

In honour of Jalal-ud-Din Balkhi-Rumi, one of the great humanists, philosophers and poets who belong to humanity in its entirety, UNESCO issued a UNESCO Medal in his name in association with the 800th anniversary of his birth in 2007 in the hope that this medal will prove an encouragement to those who are engaged in a deep and scholarly dissemination of his ideas and ideals, which in turn would in fact enhance the diffusion of the ideals of UNESCO.

Sunday, 27 May 2007

Girl with a pearl earring

I first saw this famous painting of Jan Vermeer van Delft, ironically enough, as a cover of the novel with the same title. Then, yesterday I was intrigued to learn that the book (a 1999 production - I first thought it was a 19th century production or something) had been made into a movie, again with the same title. Ergo, I rented the DVD to see what it was like.

And I love it. I love the colour, the light... the compositions... everything. Colin Firth was amazing there as Vermeer... (Firth is good in playing cool, seemingly heartless, characters), and Scarlett Johanson who played Griet, the fictional model for Girl with a Pearl Earring. Cillian Murphy, who played as the Scarecrow in Batman Begins was also there, as Griet's boyfriend. Poor boy, he did not know that Griet loved master Vermeer more than him... Or did he?

Pic: Girl with a pearl earring, Jan Vermeer van Delft, circa 1665

Friday, 25 May 2007

Jane Austen was very witty!

She was! I have yet to finish Sense and Sensibility the novel, but I have chuckled, smirked and laughed at how she wrote the scenes. My, oh my… she indeed had a very good sense of humour. Listen to these passages, all taken from SS Penguin Edition:

Mrs. Palmer’s eye was now caught by the drawings which hung round the room. She got up to examine them.

‘Oh! Dear, how beautiful these are! Well! How delightful! Do but look, mama, how sweet! I declare they are quite charming; I could look at them for ever.’ And then sitting down again, she very soon forgot that there were any such things in the room. (p. 105)

Austen’s satire is very apparent here:

‘Oh! My love,’ cried Mrs. Palmer to her husband, who just then entered the room – ‘You must help me persuade the Miss Dashwoods to go to town this winter.’

Her love made no answer; and after slightly bowing to the ladies, began complaining of the weather. (p. 107)

This one is so funny; I might have to ‘steal’ it in my fictions, for I often depicted a character muttering something incomprehensible.

Poor Edward [Ferrars] muttered something, but what it was, nobody knew, not even himself. (p. 228)

By and by, what about these Charlotte or ‘-t’ characters? Charlotte Lucas was silly, Charlotte Palmer was twice as silly as Mrs. Lucas, and Harriet Smith was exceedingly naïve. Something about ‘-t’ characters that JA did not particularly fond of? :-D

PS: I know admirers of Pride & Prejudice will not consent to my opinion here, but I find that SS is a more amusing book than PP. Perhaps the premise of two rather poor Dashwood sisters (well, three – but Margaret was still a teenage, so she did not count) with near zilch romantic prospect has more appeal to me than the plight of five rather rich Bennet girls. Elizabeth Bennet was an interesting, sensible character though. A mixture of Marianne and Elinor.

Becoming Jane Fansite!

Okay, due to the risk of stuffing too much of Becoming Jane facts and funs here, I've decided to create another blog with the sole reason to immortalise the beauty of the movie (and all facts, fan fictions, etc) related to it. I need a beta-moderator, and I will ask Rachel as soon as she's not busy. I'm pretty excited, and have to remind myself that my primary reason to be here is actually NOT to do anything BJ related... But well... that's what fandom means. The site is still in development, but it has the YouTube and Google News links, so it's pretty cool, dare I say.

So, welcome to Becoming Jane Fansite and roll on, Jane!

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Hilda Boswell - my first love

I have to reprimand myself for writing this while I have to finish my review, but I can't help it. I was somehow reminded again of how beautiful the works of Hilda Boswell were, and I have to say, it was first love for me, at the first sight. I came across Boswell's artworks when I was about... uh, 10, at the most? And I immediately fell in love with the rosy-cheek characters.

Hitherto, Boswell's Treasury of Children's Stories is still my favourite children book - beating up Cinderella and Snow White (well, she did illustrated an edition of Snow White...). Boswell did not write her stories; she picked them from Charles Dickens' David Copperfield, C.J. Lewis' Chronicle of Narnia and Mary de Morgan's 'Through the Fire'. Boswell hoped that the readers would not forget the stories easily, and you know what?

She was right. Treasury of Children's Stories is my utmost beloved children book. Ever. Period.

It is a great dismay that Boswell's books are out of print now (can you imagine such a hideous crime?!), and thus I enlist myself in the fans of Hilda Boswell who begs the re-print of her books. Collins? Oxford? Anyone? Gramedia, even, because my first copy (of which I lost now...) was printed and published by Gramedia Indonesia, in Indonesian language, naturally.

Pic 1: Lucy in Narnia
Pic 2: Cover to 'Treasury of Children's Stories'

Monday, 21 May 2007

Each of us has a private Austen

That was the first line of 'The Jane Austen Book Club' by Karen Joy Fowler that I've just got this afternoon from Ebay (don't you love good second-hand books?). And that prompted me to think of my Jane Austen. What was she for me?

To me, Jane Austen was not only the woman responsible for my JA reading spree these two months. She was the woman who was in love with a man, so in love, that, despite the failure of the romance, picked up her quill and wrote the greatest novels of her time. She was the woman who still preserved her wittiness, even in the eye of Death. And though she might not be as gorgeous in appearance as Anne Hathaway, I do not doubt that she was as witty - perhaps even more - than Anne (no offense to my dear AH). And that she was a strong woman, able to live a spinster life in the age where a married woman is treated more appropriately than unmarried ones - except if the said lady was reasonably wealthy.

Having said that, I just want to close the short note with the fact that I've added three biographical, non-fiction Austenian books in my library (by Le Faye, Halperin and Chapman). I have this other JA Wikipedia project with Rachel, and I have to find certain information that would do the paper good. A pity that Jon Spence's book (revised edition) is not available yet!

Review of the 'JA Book Club' will come as soon as I've finished the book.

Friday, 18 May 2007

Shakespeare Retold: Macbeth

Okay, so I dated…ehm…watched James McAvoy again last night in Shakespeare Retold: Macbeth. What a very good movie! I can’t believe that I found it in Stockland (ahem… Macbeth was from Scotland…) in Angus&Robertson (is Angus not a Scottish name?). And just for your info, it’s a 2005 BBC production of the modernized Shakespeare stories (along with 'Much Ado about Nothing' and 'A Midsummer Night’s Dream'). It’s a part of the TV series Shakespeare Retold and hopefully it will be aired in Australia (or has it, unknown to me?).

Anyway, back to the date. Ahem. McAvoy was, as usual, amazing. I mean, anyone who knows Shakespeare and Macbeth would know that Macbeth is such a depressing story, full of people being massacred and stabbed and chopped… (well, Macbeth IS one of the bloodiest of Shakespeare dramas) and SR: Macbeth was also like that. But somehow, McAvoy managed not to disgust me with lots of blood. Yes, there was blood. But what mesmerised me was his acting. It was apparent that he was a product of drama school. His expressions etc conveyed that he understood the character and completely turned into the horrible, stupid Macbeth. Only this time, McAvoy portrayed a scared Macbeth instead of a tyrant one. After all, Joe Macbeth was a head chef who listened too much to his wife’s greed instead of his own heart. Somehow, I think I like this version better than the gruesome real Macbeth of Shakespeare. I also have to add that Keeley Hawes was amazing as Ella Macbeth. Can’t imagine the Shakespeare Lady Macbeth… must be even more horrid than her!

And of course, something that any fans of James McAvoy should not miss: James singing! And oh my… he sang well! He also laughed a bit, only a few scenes, but the laugh reminded me of Tom Lefroy’s laughing. So handsome…

I think James was very good with dramatic and tragic characters. But I also think that his laughter and singing voice are awesome! By and by… I still think that Becoming Jane gives the fans a comprehensive chance to see James at many facets of emotions. I mean, as Thomas Lefroy, James experienced and displayed playfulness, sexiness, wittiness, love, admiration and also angst and despair. It was complete, all in one movie.

Gosh, I want to see BJ again!!!

PS: I have signed the petition of Declaration of Reasonable Doubt About the Identity of William Shakespeare. After reading the articles in Wikipedia, I began to doubt that the gentleman from Stratford was indeed the famous Elizabethan writer. Not that I do not admire Shakespeare; I think his works (whoever he was) were fantastic. Yet, is it not interesting that Mr. Shakespeare of Stratford did not mention his books, writings, or play whatsoever in his will? Plus, no surviving letters of his indicated that he ever was interested in literature, let alone explorations of foreign countries and a wide array of subjects (from astronomy to zoology). Why, Ms. Austen left a huge amount of letters and correspondences for us to learn more of her (including her famous possible romance with Tom Lefroy)... surely a great writer such as Shakespeare would leave some traces of his passions in his letters? Not apparently.

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

‘Gone with the Wind’ vs ‘Little Women’: Brief review against slavery and injustice

I cannot stand myself not to write this in my own blog after viewing Gone with the Wind (1939) two nights ago. I dislike the movie and the novel so much; I could not comprehend how the novel became the best-seller ever. Yes, I’ve read reviews of GWTW, and I still could not get it. Yes, GWTW depicted the polar opposites of human quality: selfishness (through Scarlett O’Hara) and every merits a woman can have (Melanie Wilkes). Margaret Mitchell was also very fair to give Scarlett her own quality of resilience and stubbornness that saved her from starvation and the downfall of Atlanta during the Civil War. Scarlett was finally able to realize her love to Melanie (that she had originally despised the most). Yes, the women of GWTW displayed great virtues during the hard time of war. And yes, the people of Atlanta displayed magnificent togetherness and kindness for each other during the war and stood together to rebuild their city again.

But there are major things that made me winch upon GWTW: slavery and racism issue. I understand where Mitchell, a Southerner, came from, and when the novel was written; 1936 (won Pulitzer in 1937) – where racism against black – or, to be politically correct here, Afro-Americans – was still very much apparent in the United States. BUT. The novel depicted Mitchell’s favour to the romanticised South so much, it made me sick. Of course, it was well written, the characters blended well, blablabla… but it still did not hide the fact of the author’s preference to slavery, that it was ‘not all that bad’. Riiight...said someone who was not born a slave, or never became a member of inferior community.

Monday, 14 May 2007

Saw you not my lady?

Did you not hear My Lady
Go down the garden singing
Blackbird and thrush were silent
To hear the alleys ringing...

Oh saw you not My Lady
Out in the garden there
Shaming the rose and lily
For she is twice as fair.

Though I am nothing to her
Though she must rarely look at me
And though I could never woo her
I love her till I die.

Surely you heard My Lady
Go down the garden singing
Silencing all the songbirds
And setting the alleys ringing...

But surely you see My Lady
Out in the garden there
Rivaling the glittering sunshine
With a glory of golden hair

Song: 'Silent Worship', Emma (1996). 'Silent Worship' is an adaptation by Arthur Somervell on an aria from Händel opera 'Tolomeo'. Emma finally became one of my favourite movies after three times viewing! Blame the lack of English subtitle (I am, after all, not a native speaker). Yet, it is such a witty movie that I desire to read the novel now!

Pics: Eliza de Feullide (Lucy Cohu)
and Emma Woodhouse (Gwyneth Paltrow)

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Deh vieni, non tardar

Deh vieni, non tardar, o gioja bella
Vieni ove amore per goder t'appella
Finche non splende in ciel notturna face
Finche l'aria e ancor bruna,
E il
mondo tace

(Oh, come, don't be late, my beautiful joy
Come where love calls you to enjoyment
Until night's torches no longer shine in the sky
As long as the air is still dark
And the world quiet)

Qui mormora il ruscel, qui scherza l'aura
Che col dolce susurro il cor ristaura
Qui ridono i fioretti e l'erba e fresca
Ai piaceri d'amor qui tutto adesca
Vieni, ben mio, tra queste piante ascose

Vieni, vieni!
Ti vo' la fronte incoronar di rose

(Here the river murmurs and the light plays
That restores the heart with sweet ripples
Here, little flowers laugh and the grass is fresh
Here, everything entices one to love's pleasures
Come, my dear, among these hidden plants

Come, come!
I want to crown you with roses)

Aria: 'Deh vieni, non tardar!' by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Text provided by Lorenzo da Ponte, translated by Naomi Gurt Lind
Scene: Becoming Jane, last scene, twenty years later

Monday, 7 May 2007

Religion of kindness

I found this very beautiful picture from the Dalai Lama Australia Tour 2007 - it's for free, thus I can post it here. I found it very useful for my inner peace and strengthening my will to do and finish my research (concerning that I still have sub-zero funding now...). Just as well, for I've registered myself for the White Tara Empowerment class in Geelong this June. It's $25, and by the Gods... it worths every cent!

BUT. I failed to get the free ticket for Geelong speech! Whhhaaaahhh!!! My fault, I forgot to obtain it last April - actually, I looked in the wrong page, that was why... That leaves me with the Melbourne non-ticketed speech on June 9, and I have to wake up early to get the best seat! No problem at all!

Your Holiness... I'm coming to you!

Sunday, 6 May 2007

Dance of the Heart

If anyone ask me what movie with the best dance scenes I've seen so far was, I will definitely answer that with Becoming Jane. I found that the dances in this movie very moving... and soulful, especially the second dance when Tom Lefroy suddenly swung in front of Jane Austen and took her hand. The switching moment was beautifully choreographed, and Tom truly took Jane by surprise (well, he took me by surprise as well!). Jane's sparkling eyes and sudden blossoming of her heart were too difficult to describe, even though I tried to encapsulate them in my latest chapters of 'Becoming Jane: the Vignettes' (updated!). And, as I said many times, the chemistry between Anne Hathaway and James McAvoy was so thick, you could eat it with a spoon (like an ice cream smoothie or something...).

Another dance that has captured me was the part where Jo March and Theodore 'Laurie' Lawrence danced animatedly behind the curtain in Little Women. It wasn't a romantic dance - dare I say that there were never romantic scenes between them per se, unlike Tom and Jane. BUT. But it still counted as a lovely dance for me, especially with the very charming friendship between the two teenagers. The best friendship in period drama, I should say.

Too bad though, that Marianne and Col. Brandon did not dance together in Sense and Sensibility (1995). I like Lizzy and Darcy's dance in Pride and Prejudice (1995, 2005), but they were pretty much awkward to each other (Pride, everyone?), so it didn't really got into me. The banters were cool, though. Very Austenian funny, actually.

Hey... the pictures above seem to show that the curious Jo and Laurie took a sneak peek over Tom and Jane dancing. Come to think of that... perhaps a Jo/Laurie and Tom/Jane cross-over fanfic would be in order...

I should also say that Little Women reminded me of my fandom towards Winona Ryder (despite her dark past) and Christian 'Bruce Wayne' Bale. I am looking forward for a producer and a director creative enough to pair Christian Bale and James McAvoy in the same movie. I will definitely strive to watch the premiere! I don't mind Hathaway and Ryder as well in that movie... (and don't switch the pairing! Let it be Ryder-Bale and Hathaway-McAvoy still.)

Pic 1: Jane & Tom (Becoming Jane, 2007)
Pic 2: Jo & Laurie (Little Women, 1994)
Pic 3: Marianne & Brandon (Sense & Sensibility, 1995)