Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Baahubali

We are always interested in Indian/Bollywood movies, especially after liking Lagaan so much. However, when we've tried the real thing (as opposed to films like Monsoon Wedding) we've often had a really hard time following them.

So we were interested but wary when we got a recommendation from a computer guy in India that my husband's been working with. He first mentioned Slumdog Millionaire which was interesting because we like it but never really knew how accurately that conveyed a feel for India. Then he recommended Baahubali. Amazingly enough, the Dallas library had copies of parts 1 & 2, making for 5 hours of movie goodness.

You've got to be willing to let the movie wash over you because we're not going to catch the cultural shorthand that Indians would. However, we liked the first so much that we watched part 2 the very next weekend.



BAAHUBALI: THE BEGINNING
(2015)
The young Shivudu is left as a foundling in a small village by his mother. By the time he’s grown up, it has become apparent that he possesses exceptional gifts. He meets the beautiful warrior/princess Avanthika and learns that her queen has been held captive for the last 25 years. Shividu sets off to rescue her, discovering his own origins in the process.
We had absolutely no idea what to expect but was an exciting movie. It had many familiar story elements: the young man seeking his place in the world (and romance), finding a new path (and romance), and learning about his unexpected history (and romance). Along with epic battle scenes. And some singing. (That much of the culture we knew to expect.)

Interestingly, this echoed the main themes of The Last Jedi, which we had seen at the theater that day. Some themes are common to us all, despite the cultural differences.

Note: The CGI in this is painfully obvious. We weren't sure if that was due to the quality of the original or the transfer to DVD. Whatever. Just ignore it and keep watching. It's worth it.



BAAHUBALI 2: THE CONCLUSION
(2017)
It's as if they cut a long movie in half and this is literally the second part. 'Nuff said. If you watched the first, you're good to go on this one. Here was my husband's reaction.
Epic. And he tied all 5 hours together. Myth. Battles. Good. Evil. Singing. Dancing. And war elephants.
I loved this beyond all reason ... it was Shakespearean in the family complications by the end. And it had enough crazy amazing action for anyone who is a fan of superhero movies.

Also, you could tell the budget was bigger. The CGI was much improved.

Worth a Thousand Words: Palau Baro de Quadras

Palau Baro de Quadras, Carlos Lorenzo

Well Said: Good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being

If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Well Said: We may neither change nor desert the Lord because of his wounds

[The Catholic] will understand that all the known or unknown betrayals by the few or many members of the Church, the sordidness of soul, the narrow-mindedness, the cruelty, and all the infidelity that the Church may have had and lived within herself are only the counterpart to the sweat of blood in Gethsemane and of the wounds and blood of the Cross. That is why we must think about the holy being of the God-Man. We may neither change nor desert the Lord because of his wounds.
Cardinal Guiseppe Siri

Worth a Thousand Words: Memory of a wonderful winter day

Remo Savisaar, Memory of a wonderful winter day

Monday, January 15, 2018

Well Said: The Catholic Church and the end of all governments

There is not, and there never was on this earth, a work of human policy so well deserving of examination as the Roman Catholic Church. The history of that Church joins together the two great ages of human civilisation. No other institution is left standing which carries the mind back to the times when the smoke of sacrifice rose from the Pantheon, and when camelopards and tigers bounded in the Flavian amphitheatre. The proudest royal houses are but of yesterday, when compared with the line of the Supreme Pontiffs. ... She saw the commencement of all the governments and of all the ecclesiastical establishments that now exist in the world; and we feel no assurance that she is not destined to see the end of them all. She was great and respected before the Saxon had set foot on Britain, before the Frank had passed the Rhine, when Grecian eloquence still flourished at Antioch, when idols were still worshipped in the temple of Mecca. And she may still exist in undiminished vigour when some traveller from New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul's.
Thomas Babington Macaulay, On Ranke's History of the Popes
You know, I never really thought of it that way before. "A 2,000 year old institution" is a phrase I hear a lot but this brings it sharply into focus. People may call the Church old fashioned but what that means is that she has outlasted all the other fashions and trends of two millennium.

Worth a Thousand Words: La Tour Eiffel

Robert Delaunay, Tour Eiffel, 1926
via Arts Everyday Living

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Weekend Joke: The Professional

I ran this several years ago but it I didn't remember it and loved it ... again! Many thanks to Seth for sending this!
A woman received a call that her daughter was sick. She stopped by the pharmacy to get medication, got back to her car and found that she had locked her keys inside.

The woman found an old rusty coat hanger left on the ground. She looked at it and said "I don't know how to use this." She bowed her head and asked God to send her HELP.

Within five minutes a beat up old motorcycle pulled up. A bearded man who was wearing an old biker skull rag was the rider. The man got off of his cycle and asked if he could help.

She said: "Yes, my daughter is sick. I've locked my keys in my car. I must get home. Please, can you use this hanger to unlock my car?"

He said "Sure." He walked over to the car, and in less than a minute the car was open. She hugged the man and through tears said "Thank You SO Much! You are a very nice man."

The man replied "Lady, I am NOT a nice man. I just got out of prison yesterday. I was in for car theft."

The woman hugged the man again sobbing, "Oh, thank you God! You even sent me a Professional!"

Friday, January 12, 2018

Worth a Thousand Words: Vanilla Sun

Belinda DelPesco, Vanilla Sun

Well Said: Miss Marple and greed

"The trouble is," said Miss Marple, "that people are greedy. Some people. That's so often, you know, how things start. You don't start with murder, with wanting to do murder or even thinking of it. You just start by being greedy, by wanting more than you're going have." She laid her knitting down on her knee and stared ahead of her into space.
Agatha Christie, The 4:50 from Paddington
That is so often the definition of sin, isn't it? Wanting more than you're going to have. And then trying to get it leads to big, big trouble.

Paddington

In the deep jungles of darkest Peru, British geographer Montgomery Clyde happens upon a previously unknown species of bear. He is about to shoot it to take back a specimen to the United Kingdom when another bear playfully takes his gun away. He learns that this family of bears is intelligent and can learn English, and that they have a deep appetite for marmalade. He names them Lucy and Pastuzo. As he departs, he throws his hat to Pastuzo and tells the bears that they are always welcome should they wish to go to London. (Wikipedia)

Several years later, Lucy and Pastuzo's young nephew sets off to London, but fails to find either the explorer or a home. He is taken in briefly by the Brown family, while unbeknownst to him he is being pursued by a Museum of Natural History scientist with evil designs.
This was completely off my radar since my kids are grown and I never encountered the Paddington books. An upcoming visit with our 5-year-old goddaughter and Paddington 2's stellar reviews brought the original movie to my attention. How lucky for me that it was streaming on Netflix so I could catch up before taking Maggie to the movies next weekend.

What a delight this was. Much like Babe, this didn't talk down to children and still had plenty for adults to enjoy. It was charmingly old fashioned while being set in the modern world, funny without being stupid or crude, and balanced sweetness with playful mischief. There was also a certain amount of mystery and danger that engaged us, despite all expectations.

We were all impressed at the level of care that went into the film, from the shooting and production design, to the completeness of the story. For example, we watched with a daughter who's watched many a movie with a good friend who is a production artist and always pointed out background reinforcement of the story. So we were clued in to the color scheme. Red is adventurous and on Paddington's side. Blue is careful and apprehensive about the world. The way family members' clothing changes depending on their character development and the storyline was delightful.

And the story didn't show us a single marmalade sandwich in the opening act that it didn't use by the end. The use of a running joke as an dramatic plot device at the ends was brilliant. It was a really well constructed script.

Paddington 2 is supposed to be even better, though I'm darned if I know how they'll achieve it. I'm just grateful it brought this movie to our attention.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Worth a Thousand Words: Red Alert

Karin Jurick, Red Alert
I love the way the rascal in the painting is eyeing the girl!

Lagniappe: Egbert and the Civil Service

As from boyhood up [Egbert] had shown no signs of possessing any intelligence whatsoever, he had gravitated naturally to England’s civil service... But though he could drink tea as well as the next man and had a gift for crossword puzzles, he did not really like being in his country’s service, however civil.
P.G. Wodehouse, Another Christmas Carol

2018 Challenge - Books and Movies

I have to admit it — my challenge for last year was mostly a bust. I abandoned it pretty early in the year mostly, I think, because I made the list out of a sense of duty. I'd done all those other yearly challenges, after all. Why stop now?

2017 turned instead into a year of reading and watching whatever I picked up and that morphed, surprisingly, into series. You can see some of that in My Year of "In Order."
  • I read Terry Pratchett's books in order of publication, stopping only short of when his Alzheimer's began manifesting in bad books.

  • We are just two movies shy of watching all the James Bond movies. It's been very interesting.

  • Star Trek still has about a season and half to go before we can move on to The Next Generation. (Yes, this "in order" may take the rest of my natural life, but what a way to go!)

  • We began watching The Avengers. They have proven to be just as whimsical and clever as I recalled. We're halfway through the second season and then will sample some Wild, Wild West to see if it is as spy-fy-ish / steampunk as I recall.

  • I finished reading the Bible in chronological order. That began in 2016 but became a treasured habit. So much so, in fact, that I promptly began all over again. I'm using a different translation — Knox edition — as well as my study Bible which has become the place where I put all my notes from commentaries and studies. 
The result is that I've got a different approach this year which is much looser.



Once we finish James Bond, we're going to begin watching Billy Wilder's movies in order. We will also sprinkle in a little Akiro Kurosawa (in order, natch) through the year as we go.




I have a couple of series I'd like to reread:
  • Slough House (begins with Slow Horses)
  • Night Watch (which I've reviewed quite a few of, if you check the Book Reviews page, beginning with Night Watch)
Mostly, I have a big list of books that I began but never finished. Some are really long and I just dip into them occasionally. This is especially the case with Paul Johnson, Louis L'Amour, and Sense of Wonder.  Others, though, were put down when the next shiny new book came along. They're too good to abandon but I need to stop adding new books and finish them.
  • A History of the American People by Paul Johnson
  • Lone Star: A History Of Texas And The Texans by T.R. Fehrenbach
  • Heroes & Heretics of the Reformation by Phillip Campbell
  • Heroism and Genius: How Catholic Priests Helped Build — and Can Help Rebuild — Western Civilization Hardcover by William J. Slattery
  • The Big Book of Adventure Stories edited by Otto Penzler (rereading)
  • Plain Tales from the Hills by Rudyard Kipling
  • Sense of Wonder: A Century of Science Fiction by Leigh Ronald Grossman
  • Acts of the Apostles (Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture) by William S. Kurz SJ
  • Hebrews (Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture) by Mary Healy
  • The Gospel of John (Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture) by Francis Martin and William M. IV Wright
  • God or Nothing by Cardinal Sarah
  • Meditations Before Mass by Romano Guardini
  • Theology and Sanity by Francis Sheed
  • The Everlasting Man by G.K. Chesterton (rereading)
  • Louis L'Amour's complete short stories
  • Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts: Twelve Journeys into the Medieval World by Christopher de Hamel
You've got to admit, that's a pretty big stack of great books — tragically unfinished. It could take a year. Especially since I've got some other "assigned" reading as I go for various podcasts and my book club. For example, Kristin Lavransdatter (1,100 pages) is taking up most of my reading time now. But we shall see how it goes for whittling this list down!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Worth a Thousand Words: Arrival of Heralds to the Kremlin

Apollinary Vasnetsov (1856–1933), Arrival of Heralds to the Kremlin

Lagniappe: Bertie's Christmas Eve

"Come, Teddie, it's time you were in your little bed, you know," said Luke Steffink to his thirteen-year-old son.

"That's where we all ought to be," said Mrs. Steffink.

"There wouldn't be room," said Bertie.

The remark was considered to border on the scandalous; everybody ate raisins and almonds with the nervous industry of sheep feeding during threatening weather.
Saki, Bertie's Christmas Eve

A Treasury of Hours: Selections from Illuminated Prayer Books by Fanny Fay-Sallois


Before the invention of the printing press, wealthy men and women of Europe commissioned hand-lettered and hand-illustrated volumes from some of the finest artists of the time. Among the most precious were books of hours, which contained psalms and readings arranged for specific times of day. Many of these books contained ravishing illustrations—called "illuminations"—picturing such biblical scenes as the Nativity, the Mount of Olives, the Dance of Salome, and the Pentecost. The margins of these pages were often embellished with enchanting decorative motifs of flowers, foliage, birds, and animals.
I've long been fascinated by the idea of using a Book of Hours for devotion. This lovely book from The J. Paul Getty Museum delivers the closest experience I'm likely ever to have.

Selections from a variety of illuminated prayer books take the reader through a good representation of what patrons would have found in the books they commissioned for their own daily prayer. They include variety of different books of hours and topics ranging from calendar pages, gospel passages, hours of the Passion, hours of the Virgin, and the saints. Each spread has a prayer and annotation so you can get more out of the illustration and prayer.

This is a book I will visit again and again. Not only is the artwork delightful but the artists' interpretations gave me new food for thought and reflection. Just as a Book of Hours is supposed to do!