Monday, March 28, 2016


Christ is Risen!
Here is one of my favorite icons, I think I've talked about it before, but a basic rundown is that icons aren't so much a snapshot or a portrait, the way western religious art is. They're more like symbolic depictions of many things at once. Here we have Christ's Resurrection, and he is also pulling Adam and Eve out of graves, or limbo. The doors of hell are broken down and under them is an old man, Death. Reminds me of the hymn we sing at Divine Liturgy during Paschal time.
Christ is risen from the dead,
By death He conquered death,
and to those in the tomb He granted life
I hope you all had a wonderful and joyous Easter! :D
And also enjoy this marvelous piece by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray [1847]

A lot of people dislike this book because pretty much ALL the characters are deeply flawed. I would like to direct these people to the book's subtitle- A Novel Without a Hero.
The story is very meandering and basically follows the lives to two women, Becky Sharp and Amelia Sedley. Becky is clever and pragmatic, almost to the point of deviousness. Born from a poor family, she uses any means to better her situation. She is attractive, but not extremely so, and uses her wits to climb the social ladder. Amelia is on the other end of the spectrum. She is quiet, demure, and pretty much the model of a perfect 1815 wife. She was despised by readers even in her time for being apparently perfect, but when you really take a closer look at her character, she isn't really all that much better then anybody else.

My favorite character is Major William Dobbin, a rather ugly, but (mostly) steadfast and chivalrous man. He unfortunately spends pretty much all his adult life providing for Amelia and her child after she's widowed, but she doesn't seem to be the most attentive person, and doesn't notice the extent of his devotion.

My favorite thing about this book was the narrator. I think that if the narration had been your standard omniscient and anonymous narrator, I might not have loved reading it so much. Because this book was released in monthy serials, the narrator even says what people are saying to him about his story! And a lot of his observations are quite hilarious.

The Verdict: A-
A fun read, but quite a commitment, being over 600 pages long. Some people might find it tedious, I really like it though.

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Good Dinosaur [2015]

Okay. So let me start by saying that this is not a cutsey little fun romp movie. I know that the stylized animation of the dinosaurs makes them look kind of land-before-timey, but this is kind of a mature movie! Not saying that it's not fine for kids, because it's a great family movie, but smaller children might be a little freaked out.
The Good Dinosaur gets a lot of flak, and I think that this is because it was unfortunate enough to come right after a masterpiece like Inside Out. Inside Out was, in my opinion, a better film, but that doesn't mean that The Good Dinosaur isn't still an above-average movie!
First off, the animation is beautiful. Nothing short of amazing. Inside Out looked amazing, but it was mostly set in a metaphysical realm that is pretty alien to us viewers. Here, the setting is much more familiar- nature! It looked really amazing, almost photo-realistic. To offset the photorealism though, the characters are classic Pixar stylized. A lot of people thought that the cartoony characters looked silly in the midst of all the intricately animated backgrounds, but I wouldn't sacrifice the gorgeous backgrounds.
Most computer animated films have 'that one scene' that shows off the movie's aesthetic in a showstopping way. Let it Go from Frozen, I See the Light from Tanged, Wall-E and EVE dancing, etc. Here, there is a gloriously beautiful, but also very, very simple scene of a father and son playing with fireflies.
The characters were nice. The supporting characters were a little one note, but they were likeable one note. And besides, this really is Arlo's story. Arlo is the titular 'Good Dinosaur', and he's about preteen aged, and has some serious problems with fear. The story is all about how he is forced by circumstance not only to grow up, but also to face his fears and break free from anxiety and grief. It was very moving, and it's treatment of sadness and anxiety reminded me of Inside Out.
I love to see a movie that treats these kinds of things thoughtfully and seriously, not just some flaw that gets fixed in the last ten minutes of the movie without any real resolution.
The music gave the film a very Appalachian or Frontier flavor (there are even cow-herding Dinos at some point!), and I really liked it!

The Verdict: A-
Though the parent-dies-tragically-and-child-must-grow-up thing is getting a little old on kids movies, this was still a very moving film. There was a brilliantly bittersweet scene that resolved a storyline without even having any dialogue! True Pixar magic, that.
Content Advisory: Some bloodless violence and intense scenes. Fine for kids who don't freak out easily.