Monday, December 20, 2004

Movie Review: Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events

I firmly believe I would have enjoyed reading the books a lot more.

I saw the preview for this movie in the theatres, and I thought it looked interesting...but my interest was not peaked then.

It peaked when my friend compared the soundtracks of Lemony to that of the Harry Potter films. The soundtrack of Lemony is said to have captured the essence of the story much better than that of Harry Potter. After seeing the film, I have to say that I agree. The music in Lemony is much more evocative of the setting and it enhances a lot of the emotional scenes.

The story of 3 children being orphaned, and having to fend for their own lives against a greedy "guardian" is a very gripping concept. However, I didn't feel that the sadness, the desperation and the anguish was conveyed to the audience all that well. The injustices in the story didn't make me feel angry like it should have, which is a major miss on the director's part. The humour was very nice: subtle and understated. Some of it was a bit childish, but that's expected of a children's movie.

The characterization has to be a hit because not only did the actors do a superb job, but praise must be given to the author for creating characters who have strong skills. This is what prepares a character to face the challenges they faced and to be able to survive on those skills. Each character can play his/her part and help the team. That is so important in this story, as we see very clearly at the very end, when Violet reads the letter from their dead parents.

The film did have it's brilliant moments, such as the suspense of the train track scene, the leech scene and the wedding scene. If there is one thing that makes this film, it's the buildup to the climax. The letter from the parents at the very end put a very touching moment on the story, even if it didn't happen in the books.

Overall, I think thsi movie would be good for children to see because it is very entertainting. However, I would rather read the books.

I give Lemony 3/5 stars.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

How Anti-Climatic! =(

Tonight, I was planning on going to the City Hall and watch the Calvacade of Lights Christmas Celebration, which includes fireworks and music.

First, Dad and I went to pick up Mum from work. When we got there, she said she was feeling very sick and wanted to stay at home tonight. So we drove her home, and then we went to get dinner, and then we headed downtown.

When we got to City Hall, it was 8:10pm. We walked around, took some pictures of the Christmas lighting display, watched people skate, watched the zamboni clean the ice, and then it was 9:00pm. Now, I don't know why, but I have always been very interested in watching the zamboni clean the ice. Something about how the ice surface is all rough beforehand, and when the zamboni goes through it, it's all shiny and smooth. I love watching that.

Anyway, I finally went and asked one of the people who work there about what time does the fireworks start. Guess what he said?

"8 o'clock"
"So, it's over?"
"Yep, sorry."
"S'okay" (NO IT'S NOT!)

How sad. I was looking forward to this for 3 weeks and I missed it! ARRRGGH!!!

Thank You "Joseph" for his kind gesture

There is still kindness to be found in Torontonians. "Joseph" is one of them.

Today, I went grocery shopping with my dad at No Frills. While in the supermarket, Dad showed me how risky it was to clip my brother's cellphone on his belt. When he sits in the car and his leg is up, the cellphone might get pushed off his belt. That should have convinced him to put it in his coat pocket. As we got in the car to leave, he felt for the cellphone under his coat, and it was still attached to his belt.

After leaving No Frills, we drove to Bridlewood Mall. We parked the car, got out and went into the mall. My dad, wanting to make sure that he still had my brother's cellphone on his belt, felt for it. It wasn't there. He lifted his jacket and cried out, "oh no! Where's the cellphone?" I told him to check all his pockets, and he said the phone was never placed in a pocket, it was hanging from his belt. I scanned the floor of the mall entrance and I didn't see any cellphone.

Dad started to get very worried and I told him to stay calm. We'll retrace the steps and we might be able to find it. So, we backtracked to the parking lot and when the cellphone was still nowhere to be seen, we looked inside the car. We shifted the seats up and down to see if the phone might have fallen into a nook under the chair. Nope, the cellphone wasn't there either.

I told dad, let's go back to No Frills. Maybe he dropped it when we were loading the groceries into the trunk. If someone found it, they'd probably take it into the store and give it to the store clerk. "Of course not," said Dad. "They'll keep it for themselves!" I insisted it's worth a try.

We drove back to No Frills and Dad dropped me off in front of the supermarket, while he went to look in the area where we parked. Inside the store, I asked the cashier where we had lined up earlier if he had seen a cellphone. He said no one had turned anything in. He asked the lady at the next cash checkout if anyone had turned in a cellphone. His colleague said no. She told me to write down my contact info, so I did. Then he suggested that I call the number of the cellphone to see if anyone found it. I did as he suggested and I kept calling the number from my own cellphone for the next hour, until we got home. No one answered the phone. I thought, it's lost for sure.

When I finally got inside the house, I used the house phone to call. This time, someone picked up, and I could hear his breathing, but he wouldn't say a word. Then he'd hang up.

I kept calling, and I called about 6 more times before the man finally spoke. I told him he has my phone, and that I would like to get it back. In a heavy accent, he told me to come to his apartment to get it. He gave me his address and the instructions for the intercom in the building's lobby. I agreed. I asked him for his name and he said "Joseph." After we hung up, I looked the address and I couldn't find it. I called back and this time, the man's daughter answered. She gave me detailed instructions on how to find her building.

Dad drove us there and when I called the my brother's cellphone again and Joseph's daughter said he's coming down to the lobby. I waited and 5 mins later, an old man appeared exiting from the elevator. He was very thin, had grey hair, and a very friendly smile. I handed him a box of Ferero Roche chocolates and a lucky money pouch. We chatted for a little bit, and he explained he didn't know how to use the cellphone. He didn't feel confident speaking to strangers on a cellphone, but he spoke to me cause I told him I was looking for the phone. After that, we wished each other season greetings, and then we left.

What a nice kind gesture by Joseph. Thanks!

Thursday, December 16, 2004

No Need to Register

Hello Friends,

I've just enabled the "anyone" posting function so that anyone can post comments and replies. You no longer have to register to post a comment.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Latest on Cecilia Zhang's Legacy

I just read a news story about the Cecilia Zhang scholarship fund for music students. amp;cid=1103065819324&call_pageid=968332188492&col =968793972154

"It was a very sad thing that happened to her, but some goodness came from it," said the soft-spoken Anna. "Sometimes I think of Cecilia when I'm playing."

Anna Vertypolokh is the recipient of a $2800 grant. She is a gifted pianist, and she is only 10 years old.

I remember the day I was riding in my dad's car, on the way to school or some place, and we heard on the news that a girl had been abducted from her bedroom overnight. When her parents went to get her in the morning, she was gone. It was so frightening to think that something so frightening can happen to a child. Later, her body was discovered and now, her killer is in jail.

How ironic that today, as Cecilia's trust fund has benefitted another child to help fulfill Anna's dreams, somewhere far away, in another country, a young man was murdered after what appears to be a fake attempt at kidnapping for ransom.

This was a young man who liked to play football. Cecilia was a young girl who liked to play music and who loved animals. How could there be human beings out there, who are so cold-blooded and so beastly that they could take life away from these two innocent people?

My friend said of this young man's family, that the father quit his job and started his own business, bought a new house so that his family can live comfortably. Parents who work so hard to provide for their children, who try their hardest to make life good for their children, how do they go on after this?

Thoughts on The Magician's Nephew

Some of you may already know that I am reading the first book of the Chronicles of Narnia.

I mentioned to ChasezGranger this:
"What an obnoxious whimp Uncle Andrew is. I have to give it to Lewis, who has created a very human villian in Uncle Andrew. Yes, he is a coward, and he keeps mistreating the children, meanwhile he is sucking up to the witch, Queen Jadis. He is, however, not a stupid follower. He does recognize that Jadis is not a person he wants to commit to, but this is for his own personal greedy reasons, not because he sees the evil in the acts she commits."

To which she replied:
"Your description of Uncle Andrew reminds me very much of Peter Pettigrew."

ChasezGranger has spotted a very good parallel between the two characters. For those who don't know, Peter Pettigrew is a character from the Harry Potter books, who betrayed James and Lily to Lord Voldemort, and subsequently their death. Peter decided to help Lord Voldemort because he thought that it would benefit him to do so, and he probably believed that when LV gained dominion over the entire world, Peter himself will be spared death. So far, he has helped LV to be reborn in the flesh, and LV has given him a silver hand in return. We don't know what will happen to Peter Pettigrew as yet, but I'm sure we'll find out soon enough.

JK Rowling has announced that she has started writing book 7, which means that she has finished book 6! Hopefully, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince will be published in the summer of 2005. That would be splendid! =D

Back to The Magician's Nephew, I've noticed a lot of parallels between this story and that of the book of Genesis. In the land of Narnia, Aslan the Lion tells Digory to go to the valley of green fields beyond the falls. There he will find an apple tree and he is to pick an apple from that tree. This is like the pomegranate tree that Eve was faced with. When Digory arrives and plucks an apple from the tree, he encounters the evil witch, Queen Jadis. She tempts him to eat an apple from the tree. She has already eaten one, and Digory can tell that the apple has made her stronger and younger. She tells him, eat an apple so that you can live longer. Take one to your mother so that she will be healed from her illness, and then she won't die. Digory was at first very tempted, until Queen Jadis says, "don't worry, no one shall know about your eating the apple, not if you leave here afterwards and you leave Polly here. No one in your own world would know."

That snapped Digory back to his senses because the thought of abandoning his best friend, Polly, was so terrible to him. In the end, he took an apple back to Aslan and all was well.

There are also thematic similarities between the story of Narnia and that of Genesis. Aslan describes how Queen Jadis may live a very long time, but because of her eating of the apple from the tree, she has forfeited any chance of redemption and she will never see true love again. That is worse than dying. From now on, if she ever smells the scent of the apple, it will smell rank to her and she will never see the beauty of Narnia ever again.

Besides the similarities to the book of Genesis, I also noticed a lot of similarities between this story and Harry Potter. In this section of the story, Digory and Polly ride on Fledge, a horse that has been transformed into a pegasus by Aslan. This reminds me of Harry and Hermione riding Buckbeak the hippogriff. There is a passage where it describes the landscape of Narnia, when Digory and Polly were resting after a day of journeying in the sky. It was night time, and when they rested, they heard the sound of the river, and they saw the beauty of the night sky. This is so strongly reminiscent of Harry and Hermione's adventure in the Forbidden Forest, during the Time Turner sequence in the novel, The Prizoner of Azkaban. There, JK Rowling describes the moonlight and the rustling of the leaves in the trees overhead. The imagery of the nature surrounding both these pairs are so lovely.

That's all I have to write on Narnia. I hope to get The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe soon. Then I can read about the next stage of adventures.

Volunteering Today

Today, I was volunteering at the __ JHS .

Nothing much happened today. All I did was shelve some books and did some other menial admin tasks for the teacher librarian.

I asked Mrs. F. about the ESL program at the school, and what I learned was that it's almost non-existent. As the English teacher, she has to take care of all the ESL students in her class. This makes it virtually impossible for the lower level ESL students to learn any English in class becuase Mrs. F. simply does not have enough time. I asked her if she would be okay with me giving lessons to the ESL students, and she said she's perfectly fine with it. I'm really looking forward to this.

For "Sue," I hope to give her more practice at speaking English. She is very shy by nature, and with English being a foreign language to her at this point, she really needs to be held by the hand every step of the way - initially. I want her to feel comfortable with hearing herself speak English, so that she can recognize her own sounds.

There are other students, but they seem to be at a higher level, so I'll have to see what I can do with them.

I went to visit the Book Fair again today and I bought a book called The Stable Where Jesus Was Born. It is written by Rhonda Gowler Greene, and the illustrations are by Susan Gaber. I saw it on Monday, but I was not sure if I wanted to buy it. Today, I saw it again, and the pictures look so beautiful, I just had to get it. I also got another heart-shaped ladybug notepad. It's really cute! I also got 3 more pencils with a velvet covering and 1 bookmark.

I am proud to let Greicy know that I did not buy up the entire book fair, and yes, I did leave the kids with a lot of stuff to buy. =P

Tuesday, December 14, 2004


I got the whole set of all 3 extended version DVDs today. The extended version in ROTK was very well done. It explained a lot of things that left me a bit puzzled after seeing it in the theatres.

I wonder about the story of Eowyn and Faromir. When my friend "Ecthelion" told me about their love story, I thought it was a very nice idea. In the film, it looks like Faromir took one look at her and fell in love with her. Soon, she did the same for him. That's all nice and fine, but I hope that the book gave a more elaborate set up for the love story to blossom. How could she go from having a crush on Aragorn to falling deeply in love with Faromir?

In the documentaries, Wood's imitation of Nick Nolte was quite amusing. I liked the 2nd ending a fact, I didn't see it as the 2nd ending, but just the ending. The scene where Aragorn is reunited with Arwen was not the ending at all. I was wondering what would happen to Frodo afterwards, if he would die from the wound in his heart. I'm glad that Jackson&Co. decided to show us the whole ending.

That's it for now.



I am PheonixSong.

In this blog, you will find critiques that I write about the books I read, the movies I see, the songs I listen to, and any other thoughts that come to my mind at any moment, thoughts that I cannot get rid of until I've written them down.

I hope readers will get something out of them.