Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My Christmas Tree....

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. This season is overwhelming, fills your senses... and makes everything look pretty. Just wanted to show you a few pictures of my Christmas tree... click on the pictures to enlarge them.
To the earth be peace;
good will henceforth from heaven to earth
Begin and never cease....

The soft glow of twinkling lights...

Noel tree ornament...
The Christmas tree...
Here's wishing all of you the joys of this wonderful season... may the peace and love of the divine child fill our hearts and our homes, Blessed Christmas everybody.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Enchanting screen adaptations of a few English classics...

I love the BBC reproductions of classics, they transport you to a completely different era and its hard not to fall for the ruggedly leading men, who are flawed, witty, kind and intense. Here are a few stellar adaptations of some timeless English classics, I know many can't stand these period dramas... but I can never get enough of them. 

Jane Eyre: I can't tell you how much I love this book and the character of Jane Eyre, I loved everything about it... the calm and morally upright Jane, the intriguingly flawed Edward Rochester, the surprise in the attic, the way Jane deals with the surprise and her beahaviour towards the wicked aunt and the heart-searingly beautiful ending. For sometime, I used to go around calling myself Jane Eyre after reading the book... anyway, I loved the movie and the TV mini series that I saw. Anything with a BBC imprint on it is bound to be good, and the 2011 movie version  with Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender was interesting and really good. I liked the miniseries made in 2006 better though, it made an impact on me... Rochester was wonderfully portrayed by Toby Stephens, and you could feel his predicament. Ruth Wilson as Jane was charming and lively, there was a spark in her and that's what Rochester was drawn to. Ah, I could never tire of this classic story... thanks Charlotte Bronte for this wonderfully entertaining book, you must have been an awesome person to hang out with.
Edward Rochester and Jane Eyre
Pride and Prejudice: I can't seem to wipe the smile off my face just thinking about Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy in this TV mini-series (1995). Man, he nailed the role... I was floored by him, I mean the real Mr. Darcy in the book, did not have any effect on me, he did seem full of himself at times. But Colin Firth breathed new life into his character, gosh... all I wanted to be was Elizabeth Bennet as I watched this TV series. She too was superbly cast as Jennifer Ehle, who did complete justice to her captivating role. The problems they faced in those days are so evident in this day and age too... parents still worry about settling their daughters properly, and society is as inquisitive and judgmental as it was in the days of Jane Austen. I wish we had the dances here though, the social gatherings where people wear nice flowing dresses and the men are neatly dressed and the dance is choreographed beautifully like in Taylor Swift's Love Story video. I think I would have been at home in that era... anyway getting back to the series, I loved every moment of it, the beautiful English landscapes, the pretty dresses, the horse drawn carriages, the way Mr. Darcy knows that he is beginning to fall for the intelligently charming and witty Elizabeth, no wonder it's a classic... I have always admired Colin Firth after this movie, and I was especially pleased when he won the Oscar last year. Mr. Darcy is wonderful because of him...
Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet
Emma: Watching the 2009 TV series Emma was real fun... even the book was interesting. Emma is so dense, she thinks she knows everything and she tends to act like a fairy godmother always meddling in people's lives. She does everything with good intentions of course, it's just that she is naive and can't see what's right in front of her. The Alicia Silverstone movie Clueless is based on this book. This is an extremely well made TV series, the actors fit their parts well... I especially liked Jonny Lee Miller as Mr. Knightly, the witty and smart guy who is the only person capable of talking down to Emma. Emma was good enough as Romola Garai, but I wasn't really fond of her character while reading the book... she seemed like one of those relatives who gossip and talk too much. I never really liked Mr. Knightly ending up with her, I always thought he was too good for her... well, it's Jane Austen's story, I can't change the ending.
Emma and Mr. Knightly
Sense and Sensibility: I saw the 1995 version of the movie and it was rather interesting. I liked Kate Winslet as the impulsive sister Marianne, Emma Thompson gives a restrained performance as the eldest and most sensible sister Elinor. That's where the novel gets its name from, from its two leading characters... Elinor is thoughtful and logical representing 'sense' and Marianne is all emotional and easily swayed by her 'sensibilities'. I've never liked Hugh Grant, I don't know why... maybe because he is too pale, but he does his job well. All in all, a good movie... nothing to rave about though. A tamil version of the book was made with Aishwarya Rai, Tabu, Ajith and a few others... 
The Dashwood sisters...
Wuthering Heights: This is the only book, I haven't read in the list mentioned here... I don't like brooding tales of despair and guilt. The 2009 TV series was interesting enough, Tom Hardy (the forger in Inception) gives a convincing performance as Heathcliff. The story is at times eerie, morbid and just plain weird... the sense of despair that seems to envelope it is haunting yet engrossing. Unlike her sister's novel Jane Eyre, Emily Bronte's novel Wuthering Heights was quite controversial in its time, this tale of passion and jealousy might seem the norm these days. But in those days of yore, I can imagine how it must have impacted the genteel sensibilities of the readers. Anyway, its a good enough TV series... I wouldn't say I liked it, it was interesting enough. 
Heathcliff and Cathy Earnshaw

Monday, December 05, 2011

The Ten Commandments of Christmas

Last Sunday in church, leaflets with the following 'Christmas Ten Commandments' were handed out and the parish priest Fr. Joe Andrews discussed them with the congregation.  
  1. You shall not leave 'Christ' out of Christmas, making it 'Xmas'. Christ is the reason for the season.
  2. You shall prepare your soul for Christmas. Spend not so much on gifts that your soul is forgotten (a good confession is a nice way to prepare your hear for Christmas)
  3. You shall not let Santa Claus replace Christ, thus robbing the day of its spiritual reality. (Prepare yourself with prayer and the Word of God.)
  4. You shall not neglect your church. Its services highlight the true meaning of the season. 
  5. You shall not neglect the needy. Share they blessings with the many who will go hungry and cold unless you are generous.
  6. You shall not neglect thy family during this season. You shall not forget the elderly and those who are lonely at Christmas time.
  7. You shall not value gifts received by their cost. Even the least expensive may signify love, and that is more priceless than silver and gold. You shall give yourself with your gift. This will increase its value a hundred fold, and he who receives it shall treasure it forever.
  8. You shall prepare your home with Christmas symbols (the crib, Christmas carols, the Advent wreath, the star, the angels, the Christmas tree, etc.)
  9. You shall be as a little child. Not until you have become in spirit as a little one are you ready to enter into the kingdom of Heaven.
  10. You shall give your heart to Christ. Let Him be at the top of your Christmas list.
This is exactly how Christmas should be, the real meaning of Christmas can be found in traditional carols, where you hear of herald angels proclaiming the good news, the three wise men travelling from afar guided by a star, and the shepherds walking to see the King of Creation who was born in a stable, wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in a manger. I love these soul stirring carols... they resound with peace, joy, hope and triumph. This carol by Scotty McCreery is one such song and he performs it beautifully.