Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Highlights

Last night while trying to fall asleep, I went through my blog posts from the year and tried to pull one highlight from every month.  My writing is so erratic, and while this gives you an idea of the things I blog about, I'm hoping that 2013 will bring some more thought provoking writing from the heart - not for anyone else, but for myself.

In 2013, I want to focus on intentionally seeking Christ.  For me, this means being in the Word everyday, focusing on the positive instead of the negative, living with a serving heart, and loving others genuinely.  These aren't easy one-year resolutions, but life changing ones.

I definitely want to work on my writing and journaling skills this coming year.  But of course, there will still be plenty of geekery and randomness to come, too ;)

I had some "fantastical" reflections on heaven
I had a random dream about tricking Jason Segel into becoming my friend
I designed some awesome minimalist Game of Thrones posters
I continued my Sciene Saturday series
I celebrated "Geek Pride Day"
I got back into playing the piano
I reflected on the positive things in life
I launched askLOLA, my etsy shop
I had an obsession with DIY projects
I shared my love for Disney and Star Wars
I (tried) to take a photo every day
I wrote movie reviews

What are your resolutions for the new year?  What are you doing to celebrate?!  I'm off to finish some mad cleaning before my family gets here in a few hours...


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Les Miserables

So maybe this will be a new thing for me, movie reviews.  I've had my Letterboxd account for a while, but never really thought to post my reviews on my blog.  We'll try it out and see.  Besides, I'm not even sure many people read my blog anymore ;)

My review for Les Mis won't be the most popular among some of my friends, but honestly, it was just poor filmmaking.  There were some great emotional moments, but the majority of the film fell short in my opinion.  Read my review below:

Being a huge lover of musical theatre, I had high standards for this film. Being a fan of Hugo's novel, I hoped they would truly capture the tone of the work and not Hollywood-ize it. Tom Hooper's direction did fulfill the latter, but not so much the former. It was gritty, it was desolate, injustice was looming, but grace and mercy prevailing. I loved the musical theatre "nod" by casting Colm Wilkinson as the Bishop who sets Valjean on the right path. Though it was weird to have him sing in the trio at the end instead of Eponine. That is one of the most beautifully sung parts of the narrative, and it was awkward. Part of that had to do with Tom Hooper's direction and cinematography...

What was with the shaky cam close ups and quick cuts?! I felt like I was part of a Google Hangout - whoever is talking/singing, the camera is going to cut to a close up of your face now. The only time it really worked was during "I Dreamed a Dream," "On My Own," and "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables." Hooper never gives us more than 3 seconds of a framed shot before awkwardly cutting to a different shot of a face. Very weird. It was like he was trying TOO hard to be artistic, and the end result was a reckless mishmash of camera angles.
Now, I never thought I'd say this (since she irks me and is a highly overrated actress), but Anne Hathaway completely sold her role as Fantine. Upon hearing her timid "singing" in the trailers, I was extremely skeptical, but her performance was truly the most raw and passionate of all the actors. The remaining strength of the cast came from Aaron Tviet, Eddie Redmayne, and Samantha Barks as Enjolras, Marius, and Eponine, respectively, who all sang like true professionals in their roles. And as usual, I was blown away by the child actors, young Cosette and Gavroche (one of my favorite characters from the musical) were excellent.
"Are you not entertained?!?!" No, Mr. Crowe, I was not. Javert is a calculated military man with a blind adherence to the law which causes him to struggle internally with what justice truly is, and Russell Crowe played him like a lazy puppet. I never once thought he was commanding or in control, it was almost as if fear of singing on screen inhibited his acting abilities. He was definitely the weak link. Hugh Jackman was only so-so, which surprised me, since I know he has the musical theatre chops to pull off the role of Valjean. Again, I think a lot of the faults had to do with the film editing and the sound mix.
I truly commend the filmmakers for choosing to have the cast sing live on film. It adds more emotion to their performances and (if done well) connects to the audience in a real way. However, most of the time, it sounded like the actors were just "speak-singing" a random melody because the orchestra wasn't present. The sound mixing was terrible in this film. It's as if they ran out of time to record the accompaniment and sloppily added it in at the last minute. If you are filming a musical, the music should be a huge focus. Boubil and Schonberg wrote beautiful melodies over an emotional orchestral score. This film did not highlight that at all. I feel like a lot of the faults of the vocals in some parts would have been resolved if the balance with the score was better. "Bring Him Home" sounded too brash instead of tender, because there was little to no accompaniment behind him.
I was asked "would you buy the DVD/BluRay when it comes out?" and the answer is definitely no. There was nothing in this film that made it a great piece of film. The poor cinematography and bad mixing were really huge detractors for me. If I want my Les Mis fix, I'll stick with my copy of the unbeatable 10th Anniversary Concert Cast.

Five-Star Rating: 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Great Joy

I hope you all experience the GREAT JOY of His Truth this Christmas!

(Image via ESA/Hubble, text added by me)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Movie Review: The Hobbit

I had been bugging Matt about going to see The Hobbit midnight premiere all week long, and he kept telling me he'd rather wait until next week and see a matinee (especially since he worked closing shifts almost every night).  But around 9:30pm on Thursday, I got a text from him saying "do you want to see the hobbit with my coworker?"  To which I replied, "YES."  We ended up seeing the 3D Standard version, since there are no theaters with the new 48fps/high frame rate technology nor are there any IMAX theaters nearby.  I had read some negative reviews about the HFR anyway, so it didn't really matter.  Despite sitting behind some "brahs" that reeked of alcohol, we put on our 3D glasses and were quickly immersed into the world of Middle Earth.  I wrote up a review on letterboxd (which is an AWESOME site for any cinephile), which I've copied below.  It's spoiler free, but if you are a person that doesn't like to read reviews before seeing a film, just come back and read it when you do! I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

image source
text added by me
I was so excited about this film. Peter Jackson brought Middle Earth to life in the LOTR trilogy, and I couldn't wait to continue discovering more about that world in The Hobbit.
I wasn't necessarily disappointed in this first installment, but I wasn't blown away either. Most of my gripes come from the fact that I still firmly believe it should not be a trilogy. The pacing is quite off, there are numerous scenes in the first half of the movie that could have been cut. From a storytelling standpoint, there wasn't a concrete exposition, climax, and resolution. Some are arguing that "well it's because it's only the first movie. You can't analyze it until you've seen all three." And that's EXACTLY why it shouldn't be three movies. A successful trilogy lays out the grand epic tale across three movies, but should also treat each film as a viewable stand alone. While I know the tone of this adventure tale is different than LOTR, I think some of the slapstick comedy could have been avoided. Humor does not need to be gimmicky. This also made the shift in scenes from lighthearted adventure tale to serious historical context quite abrupt. There just wasn't a good flow to the film.
I was once again completely captivated by Howard Shore's score. The dwarf theme (same melody as the Misty Mountains song) was epically gorgeous. Gotta love low brass. Also, one thing Peter Jackson always gets right is his ability to make breathtaking sweeping cinematographic shots. The film finally picked up about halfway through, and the real takeaway for me was the Riddles in the Dark scene. Martin Freeman is a perfect Bilbo, and his interaction with the always-emotionally-spot-on performance by Andy Serkis as Gollum made that 15 or so minutes of the movie stand out as exceptional.
Five-Star Rating: 1/2

Thursday, December 13, 2012


Well. It's been a while since I've posted anything here. I've been quite busy, and I can't believe December is almost halfway over.  My graduate school applications were due on December 1st, so I was a big stressface the whole month of November, trying to get all the pieces of my applications completed and submitted.  We got our little Charlie Brown Christmas tree set up and random decorations strewn about the apartment.  I still have to make a Christmas/winter wreath for our front door - the fall one is still up. Whoops!

My birthday was on Tuesday, and since Matt was working his late night shift at Apple, I spent the evening crocheting and watched The Wiz for the first time.  So bad.  Yet so good :-P  I designed a special Christmas themed coffee cozy for my Etsy shop, and decided that a portion of the profits from those will go to charity.  Head over to askLOLA and buy a couple - they will make great stocking stuffers!! (shameless plug over).

I also participated in the 2012 Scarfament Swap hosted by Danielle at Take Heart.  Basically, you get paired with a fellow blogger, and send each other a scarf and an ornament Get it? Scarf + Ornament = Scarfament?! So fun!  I was paired with Jackie at Empty Nest, Full Life.  We exchanged some lovely emails regarding our style and likes, and got to work on putting together our packages for each other.

For her, I was inspired by this DIY post - so I hand painted a scarf with one of her favorite bible verses,  Luke 12:7.
Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?
Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.
Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Fear not; you are worth more than many sparrows. (Luke 12:6-7)

I also crocheted little "sparrows" for her ornaments (I'm bummed I forgot to take a picture).

She sent me a gorgeous gray/silver pashmina scarf which will be perfect to wear with my "academic" outfits when I start teaching next semester.  And for my ornament, she sent a beautiful glass cross.  Since our tree is small and Charlie Brown-ish as stated above, the cross won't fit, but we are going to hang it from our window so that the sunlight can shine through the glass/crystal. Thank you so much, Jackie!

Time to work on Christmas gift wrapping...we're doing this but using sheet music :)  How has your December been so far?!