What Maisie Knew (2012): From Book to Film

With all due respect to Henry James, I’d rather be watching this contemporary adaptation of his work than slashing through the thickets of his novel. A thicket of a book, the last time I used this description was with Proust. And, if I’m to decipher long and incomprehensible sentences I’d rather be reading Proust than James. Nevertheless, James’s novel is a dense and deep psychological analysis of a dysfunctional marriage and its fallout on the child, a relevant issue today. Nobody wins in cases like that.

When published in 1897, it was probably one of the earliest fictional depictions of divorce and child-custody. Precocious Maisie knows much more than her parents could ever imagine. Like a volleyball, she is being tossed back and forth between her Mama and Papa, whichever side she lands on loses, for they both want their life to be free from child-rearing, free from ties and obligations. The notion of being ‘free’ recurs in the last chapters of the book, a key to how Maisie ends up choosing who to follow — her governess Mrs. Wix, someone who is not obsessed with being ‘free’, but who is committed to Maisie’s welfare.

What Maisie Knew


Again, may I reiterate here as in previous posts about books to movies, the two are totally different art forms. Here, one is a 300 page literary work, internal, dense and deep. The other is a 93-minute production of visual storytelling, enhanced by dialogues and musical score. To achieve this end, screenwriters Nancy Doyne and Carroll Cartwright have to pick and choose the most relevant storyline and characters, and opt out of lengthy, internal exploration of psychological entanglements, something the literary form can describe readily. The screenwriters have done a good job in their choices, keeping the story simple and relevant for viewers a hundred years after the book was published. Despite the subject matter, the movie is enjoyable and highly watchable.

Set in modern day NYC, it smoothly tells a poignant story from the child’s point of view. Six-year-old Maisie (Onata Aprile) is eyewitness and victim of her parents’ constant quarrels and later divorce, a young child caught in the thorns and thistles of adult relationships. It is unfortunate that the most sensitive and observant child is often the most vulnerable. The naturalistic capture by the camera of Maisie’s quiet observations is most heart-wrenching. Maisie learns that the adult world is a busy place, her presence, an inconvenience. Thanks to the screenwriters’ gentler treatment, the movie spares us from some cruel, hateful fights in the book. We see Maisie ultimately get a taste of what it’s like to be cared for and to have some simple, childhood joy. The ending shot is beautiful.

Unlike Maisie in the novel, there is no moral dilemma for her in the movie. No doubt, the moral element is crucial in James’s novel. Divorce and adultery must have poked deep into the heart of James’s readers in his days. But our contemporary society has, alas, evolved into a ‘morally neutral’ state of numb resistance. The screenwriters may well know too that entertainment value comes before the didactic. We see no moral choices here with Maisie in the movie. After all, a young child will readily cling to whoever that loves her in deeds rather than mere words. Kudos to the filmmakers, they know the heart of a child.

Directors Scott McGehee and David Siegel capture the story from Maisie’s viewpoint, natural and realistic, camera lens often at a lower angle. Certain shots are particularly affective, from inside a taxi, the transport of choice in Manhattan, at different times the vehicle that takes away Mama, Papa, and caring Margo. We would see from inside the taxi out to Maisie standing on the roadside, abandoned and distraught.

The wonderful cast is what makes the movie so absorbing, and at times, even heartwarming, despite its subject matter. The then seven year-old Onata Aprile is a natural. Julian Moore’s solid performance as her mother Susanna is convincing. She is a touring rock-and-roll singer who has passed her prime. Jealous and temperamental, Susanna’s love for Maisie is possessive, and often displayed in empty words. British actor Steve Coogan, known to North American viewers by his recent starring role in Philomena, plays the career-minded art dealer father Beale. Like his ex-wife, he is too busy with his own life to care for a child. They both say they love Maisie, showering bursts of affection whenever they see their child.

What saves Maisie is the awkwardly positioned step-parents, her father’s new wife and Maisie’s former babysitter Margo (Joanna Vanderham, the parallel of Ms. Overmore in the book) and her mother’s new love interest, the tall and young bartender Lincoln (Alexander Skarsgård, a Sir Claude parallel). As predicted, they soon are abandoned themselves and the two quickly form a tie that includes Maisie in their life. Diverging from James’s story, the two are genuinely loving and caring, a soothing balm to Maisie and the viewers.

Overall, a fine, contemporary adaptation of the novel. To James purists, a loose reinvention; for viewers seeking meaningful entertainment, this should be on the list of films to watch.

~ ~ ~ Ripples



The Girl In the Cafe (2005): The Hunger for Connection

February is the month that raves about love. It’s also Awards Season, culminating with the Oscars. With all the competing productions on the big screen, are you getting a bit overwhelmed by now? Or maybe a little indigestion even?

Here’s a little gem of a film, like lemon sorbet, simple and fresh, just to clear the palette. It’s only recently that I come across this DVD dated a few years back. O what a find! I took it out from the public library, have watched it three times, and maybe more before I ultimately return it.

Directed by David Yates (State of Play, TV) and written by the screenwriter who has brought us Bridget Jones’s Diary, Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually… Richard Curtis, The Girl in the Cafe is a reason why we should not dismiss TV movies or those that go directly from production to DVD.

The Girl in the Cafe

The story begins with a chance encounter. Lawrence (Bill Nighy, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) is an aging civil servant, a senior-level analyst working for the British Chancellor (Ken Stott). During one coffee break Lawrence, single, well no, married to his job, shares a table with a girl Gina (Kelly Macdonald, Dolly in Anna Karenina) in a crowded cafe. Thus sparks a genuine connection between the two. On a whim, Lawrence asks Gina to accompany him to attend the G8 Summit in Reykjavík, Iceland, the following week.

What’s that? Gina asks. Right, a most incompatible relationship. But just because of that, the drama, and conflict, sparks off. Lawrence’s shy demeanour fits perfectly with Gina’s quiet composure. But for both actors, their restrained and understated performance form the very essence of this charming and thought-provoking film.

Once there in Reykjavík, Gina is appalled by the facts she learns about world poverty from Lawrence, like, one child dying in every three seconds. She takes a very personal stance on the success of the Millenium Development Goals to fight extreme poverty. While heavy police force keeps protesters out of the Conference venue, Gina becomes one small voice that speaks out from inside, genuine and innocent among seasoned politicians, albeit bringing Lawrence unexpected ambivalence. Some may find it uncomfortable to watch this scenario, but I feel it is one that deserves to be played out, and definitely to be heard.

What grabs me right away as the movie begins is the soul stirring song ‘Cold Water’ as the images of Lawrence going by his daily routine all alone. At coffee break, he steps into the crowded cafe, and finds another soul also alone. It’s gratifying and a pleasure to watch them connect and warm up to each other in a most genuine and tender manner.

As the film ends, ‘Cold Water’ reprises, but by now I see the parallel. Not only do Lawrence and Gina reach out for human connectedness and love, the millions of dying children in extreme poverty are also uttering these words of the lyrics:

“Cold water surrounds me now.
And all I’ve got is your hand.
Lord can you hear me now?
Lord can you hear me now?
Lord can you hear me now?
Or am I lost?”

Don’t we all need a helping hand for the different kinds of hunger we experience as human? The song and the music in the film augment its impact in a quiet and haunting way.

Bill Nighy owns the role of Lawrence. His self-deprecating and gentle manner fits in perfectly with Kelly Macdonald’s authentic and genuine Gina. The two have such connectedness in their performance that they earned Golden Globes nomination for Best Actor and Actress the following year.

The DVD came with special features which include director and screenwriter’s commentary. That is definitely a bonus after viewing the film. From there I found out Nighy and Macdonald were in the British TV series State of Play before doing The Girl in the Cafe. So that’s exactly what I did… went to the library to borrow the DVD’s of the TV series, and binged-watched all six episodes, which I highly recommend as well.

~ ~ ~ Ripples


Watch on YouTube Damien Rice’s ‘Cold Water’ with lyrics.


Read my other reviews on films about love:

I’ve Loved You So Long

Away From Her

Never Let Me Go 

A Summer in Genoa (2008) DVD

A film that you have not seen in the theatre in North America. It premiered at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival and disappeared until it emerged on DVD in April, 2012. A Summer in Genoa is a fine film that has slipped through the blockbuster-craving, profit-driven distribution network.

This is from Colin Firth’s pre-Oscar days, a performance that could well be a foreshadow of his Oscar nominated role in A Single Man a year later.

In A Summer in Genoa, Firth plays Joe, an English professor in Chicago who has lost his wife Marianne (Hope Davis) in a car accident. As father to teenager Kelly (Willa Holland) and her younger sister Mary (superbly played by then 10 year-old Perla Haney-Jardine), Joe has to lay aside his grief to continue with his family life in taking care of his daughters.

Five months after the accident, Joe’s old colleague Barbara (Catherine Keener) has lined up a teaching position for him in Genova, Italy. It is summer. The beautiful, historical seaside city will be a totally different scenery from Chicago. Joe thinks that could be a good change for all of them.

How does a family deal with loss? Here we see each person has to face it individually before coming together as a family.

Acclaimed director Michael Winterbottom (A Mighty Heart, 2007) uses a naturalistic style to depict the three of them adjusting to a new situation in their own way. Through a hand-held camera, we are privy to the life of a family like watching a home video. As with any other family, their daily routine is ordinary and mundane. Yet because of their predicament, we care for these characters, especially with young Mary always drifting off on her own. We fear for her safety.

I’ve appreciated Winterbottom’s naturalism throughout the film, not only in the camera work, but with the ‘non-acting’ of the characters (using Bresson’s notion). They come across as real people dealing with daily issues we could relate to. On top of adjusting to a new city and nursing or ignoring a wound that has yet closed, a family still needs to go on living as a family.

We see Joe make breakfast for his girls, go to teach at the university, come home and make dinner. The girls go to their piano lessons, and Kelly takes her younger sister walking in long and narrow alleyways of the old city finding their way. We see Kelly making acquaintances with some young men, and how she riskily push the limits and attempt some youthful explorations. As for the younger Mary, we see her sorely locked in her solitary self of guilt and loss.

The young actor Perla Haney-Jardine’s performance as Mary is particularly poignant. With her father and older sister preoccupied with their own interests, she is left alone to deal with her private pain. She sees her mother appear to her, communicating to her with her presence and words.

The music selection is a major appeal to me. A film that starts off with the beginning theme of Chopin’s Etude no.3 and carries it as a motif throughout is sure to capture my attention. Music is also a legacy from their mother who used to teach piano at the university.

But I’m totally won over as this is read with a voiceover. A final class assignment Joe gives out to his students. He listens to the recording with them, his face lost in thought. It is so thematically perfect. As he ponders, he must have tasted the relevance of its words to his own predicament, raising his two daughters, through life’s ebb and flow. Here in this shot confirms Firth’s talent of ‘non-acting’.

Shakespeare’s Sonnet 2

When forty winters shall besiege thy brow,
And dig deep trenches in thy beauty’s field,
Thy youth’s proud livery so gazed on now,
Will be a tatter’d weed, of small worth held: 
Then being asked, where all thy beauty lies,
Where all the treasure of thy lusty days; 
To say, within thine own deep sunken eyes,
Were an all-eating shame, and thriftless praise.
How much more praise deserved thy beauty’s use,
If thou couldst answer ‘This fair child of mine
Shall sum my count, and make my old excuse,’
Proving his beauty by succession thine!
This were to be new made when thou art old,
And see thy blood warm when thou feel’st it cold.

Special Features include equally naturalistic behind-the-scenes footage and cast interviews.

~ ~ ~ Ripples

Another title for the film is Genova.


The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, I’d like to post my second selection for the Ireland Reading Challenge 2012, and raise a toast to Oscar Wilde for his LOL funny three-act play The Importance of Being Earnest.  

Though written in 1894, Wilde’s work is surprisingly modern. Subtitled “A Trivial Comedy for Serious People”, it is a mashup of mistaken identities, social satire, biting ironies, and one-liners worthy of our late-night talk shows.

You can finish the breezy eighty-some pages in one sitting, but don’t read it in public. You don’t want to be mistaken. To most people, only a lunatic would LOL alone without a bluetooth hanging on his ear.

Jack Worthing is in love with Gwendolen Fairfax of London, cousin of his friend Algernon Moncrieff. But obstacles abound for his courtship. As a country gentleman with many responsibilities, he has to create a wayward younger brother and town-dweller named Earnest as an excuse for him to go out to town for pleasure and to see Gwendolen. While in town, he has taken the name Earnest. Algernon, just the opposite, has to create an invalid Bunbury in the country for him to visit so he can meet and woo Jack’s ward Cecily, while pretending he is Earnest, Jack’s younger brother from London.

Locales may be a hindrance, their major obstacle is Lady Bracknell, Gwendolen’s mother and Algernon’s Aunt, a formidable and feisty gatekeeper of aristocratic matrimony.

With Downton Abbey’s dialogues still ringing in my ears (been re-watching the blu-rays perpetually since its Season 2 Finale on PBS) I can easily imagine the Dowager Countess of Grantham, Violet Crawley, uttering Lady Bracknell’s lines. Screening for Jack’s eligibility as a suitor for her daughter Gwendolen, Lady Bracknell conducts the following interview.

LADY BRACKNELL:  How old are you?

JACK:  Twenty-nine.

LADY BRACKNELL:  A very good age to be married at. I have always been of opinion that a man who desires to get married should know either everything or nothing. Which do you know?

JACK (after some hesitation):  I know nothing, Lady Bracknell.

LADY BRACKNELL:  I am pleased to hear it. I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone. The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever…

LADY BRACKNELL:  Are your parents living?

JACK:  I have lost both my parents.

LADY BRACKNELL:  To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.

JACK:  The fact is, Lady Bracknell … I don’t actually know who I am by birth. I was … well, I was found.


JACK:  The late Mr. Thomas Cardew, an old gentleman of a very charitable and kindly disposition, found me, and gave me the name of Worthing, because he happened to have a first-class ticket for Worthing in his pocket at the time. Worthing is a seaside resort.

LADY BRACKNELL:  Where did the charitable gentleman who had a first-class ticket for this seaside resort find you?

JACK (gravely):  In a hand-bag.

LADY BRACKNELL:  A hand-bag?

JACK (very seriously):  Yes, Lady Brakcnell. I was in a hand-bag—a somewhat large, black leather hand-bag, with handles to it—an ordinary hand-bag in fact.

LADY BRACKNELL:  In what locality did Mr. Thomas Cardew come across this ordinary hand-bag?

JACK:  In the cloak-room at Victoria Station. It was given to him in mistake for his own.

LADY BRACKNELL:  The cloak-room at Victoria Station?

JACK:  Yes. The Brighton line.

LADY BRACKNELL:  The line is immaterial. Mr. Worhting. I confess I feel somewhat bewildered by what you have just told me. To be born in a hand-bag, whether it had handles or not, seems to me to display a contempt for the ordinary decencies of family life…

And many more lines that would show you Wilde could have made one great Oscar host.


The Movie (2002, DVD)

I’ve got the DVD. It never fails to delight no matter how many times I re-watch it. Lady Brecknell is portrayed by Judi Dench, as proficient as any Dench performance, albeit a bit too severe here. But just as well, she’s a monster to Jack Worthing.

Jack is played by the ever talented Colin Firth. Dispelling the Mr. Darcy myth, Firth shows he can be one freewheeling comedic actor. Having seen many of his works, I find that with the right words to say, he can always deliver in style, even if he needs to stammer to get his words out.

Before Mamma Mia! (2008), Colin Firth had sung in a movie strumming a guitar, it is here. With Rupert Everett as the piano playing Algernon, the two come together in a duet to woo their love.

Frances O’Connor, who plays Fanny Price in Mansfield Park (1999), is Gwendolen, animated but much intimidated by her icily fierce mother Lady Brecknell. Reese Witherspoon is Cecily, Jack’s 18 year-old ward. The gals can easily call each other sisters if not for the mistaken identity of their love interest, Earnest. Thinking they are romantic rivals, the ladies are at each other’s throat as much as their genteel upbringing can allow, and  quickly become allies once the misunderstanding clears up.

Both Jack and Algernon are willing to go all out to have their names changed to Earnest via christening by the minister Dr. Chasuble, a role mastered easily by veteran actor Tom Wilkinson. Dr. Chasuble is a silent admirer of Cecily’s governess Miss Prism, played by Anna Massey with much comedic sense and timing.

At the end, Jack finds out his true parentage, realizes that he is more kin than kind to Algernon, and three matrimonies ensue, a happy ending Jane Austen would have approved. The movie adaptation is an enjoyable way to go through the play, not just with sight, sound and cinematic fun, but a delightful all-star cast.

Some tidbits: The film won a Best Costume Design award from Italy, and Reese Witherspoon was a nominee of the Teen Choice Award 2002. Looking at the cast today, we see 3 Oscar winners and 1 Oscar nominee.

As usual, the DVD carries special features like The Making Of and Behind the Scene featurettes, interviews with stars and crew, and audio commentary, always a valuable companion to the main feature.

~ ~ ~ Ripples

The Quiet American by Graham Greene: Book and Movie

This is my first selection for the Graham Greene Challenge hosted by CarrieK at Books And Movies.

I watched the film The Quiet American some years back, but not read the book. And my memory is vague. Only remember Michael Caine and Brendan Fraser, the setting in Vietnam, in the early 50’s, a complex fusion of political thriller, murder mystery, and a love triangle.

But now that I’ve read the book I’m thoroughly intrigued, thanks to this Penguin Classics Graham Greene Centennial Edition (1904 – 2004), with the intro written by American novelist Robert Stone. Stone’s novel Dog Soldiers about the Vietnam war and its effects won the 1975 National Book Award. From his introduction, I’ve come to appreciate how intricate and multi-layered the conflicts are, and, how political the novel stands.

Interesting to learn from Stone about the joke embedded in the title: the only quiet American is a dead American. In the midst of a colonial war between the French and the communists in 1950’s Saigon, American Alden Pyle’s subversive brand of democracy satisfied none other than his own idealism. A Harvard grad, armed with naiveté and book knowledge, a CIA under the guise of the American Economic Attaché, Pyle’s involvement might well represent American meddling in other country’s affairs in the name of spreading democracy.

We see all these through the eyes of the narrator, the British reporter Thomas Fowler. Much older, more experienced, and having been posted in Vietnam for some years, Fowler has grown to love the humanity therein, but is plagued by bitter cynicism. He doesn’t take sides, he just writes his story as an observer, smokes his opium pipe prepared by his young mistress Phuong, and lies in bed with her. But Fowler’s noncommittal stance comes to a breaking point at the end:

… one has to take sides. If one is to remain human.

The Quiet American is noted for its divergent from Greene’s ‘Catholic’ novels. But the existential issues are very much in the forefront. Fowler is a man of conscience, albeit aloof in his outward stance. The climax comes as he resolves a moral dilemma. Guilt is his nemesis, regarding his wife in England, regarding Phuong, and much more acutely at the end of the novel, regarding Pyle. The book ends with this line:

I wished there existed someone to whom I could say that I was sorry.

And then there’s Phuong, manipulated by her older sister, weaves herself between the two foreigners whom she sees as her ticket out of the country and into a dream future. I find her reaction to Pyle’s death most disturbing.

In a short 180 pages, Greene has brilliantly depicted the political complexities of the conflicts at the time, and addressed the internal war waged within a man’s conscience, ironically, a man whose outward creed is noninvolvement. I’m thoroughly intrigued by the story that is told with depth, eloquence and skill by a master storyteller.

~ ~ ~ 1/2 Ripples


The Movie: DVD

I watch the film again after finishing the book. It has altered some characters, and taken a more sympathetic view of Phuong. But the overall story and perspective remain intact. Upon this second time viewing, I find several interesting facts that I wasn’t aware of before.

Michael Caine was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar and Golden Globe in 2003 for his role as British reporter Thomas Fowler. He has portrayed the character convincingly. Brendan Fraser as the young American I feel is a miscast. If they’re making the film today, James Franco would be my choice for Alden Pyle.

Director is the award-winning Australian Phillip Noyce. (Rabbit-Proof Fence, 2002). One of the two screenwriters is Christopher Hampton who got an Oscar nom for his adapted screenplay Atonement from Ian McEwan’s novel. He is also the screenwriter for the current film A Dangerous Method. Executive producers were two personalities whom I highly respect, Anthony Minghella of The English Patient fame plus some more, and Sydney Pollack whose credits are too numerous to mention. It was a great loss that they both passed away within two months in 2008.

The DVD comes with a resource of special features. Other than all the interviews and making-of, there is a useful “Vietnam Timeline”, outlining the history of Vietnam from 1940 to 1980. Further, I appreciate the inclusion of original book reviews. One line particularly stands out. From the 1956 review of the book by John Lehman of The New Republic: 

The Quiet American is one of the most icily anti-American books I’ve ever read.

Oh…  the wealth of information one can gather from watching these special features.

~ ~ ~ Ripples


All The Year’s Best

All the year’s best are coming out now: Best books, best movies, best… whatever. And I admit, I’m one who’s always on the look-out for such lists. Hundreds of books and movies in a year reduced to a list of 10, definitely makes one convenient Christmas shopping list.

Here are some of the best book lists:

Publishers Weekly Top 10 Books of 2011

NPR 10 Best Novels of 2011

New York Times 10 Best Books of 2011

Best Fiction 2011 from “The World’s Toughest Book Critics”

The Globe 100 Best Books of 2011 shopping list

Books of the Year 2011 The Telegraph

A list of indispensable books from Harvard Gazette, not your usual best-sellers

And here’s a one-stop shopping lists for The Top 10 Everything of 2011 from TIME Magazine.


Movies? Year’s best lists are everywhere. Of course, all lead to the ultimate finale of the Award Season: The Oscars. But for Christmas shopping suggestions, here are several lists, albeit some of the current releases may not have come out in DVD or Blu-ray yet:

American Film Institute’s Best Films 2011

Critics Awards for 2011 Best Films

Roger Ebert’s Best Films of 2011

NYT Stephen Holden Best Films 2011

NYT A. O. Scott’s & Manohla Dargis’s lists

Metacritic’s Best Films 2011

Toronto Film Critics’ Picks

Time-Out London

And more lists are coming out even as I type.

But of course, the most important to readers/movie viewers is whether they agree or not, whether what the critics say happen to be their own favorites. If not, there’s really not much relevance to all these lists, is there? No? I’d like to hear from you… Do you read movie reviews first before heading out to the theatre? Do you depend more on film critics or ‘user-reviewers’? Herein lies another subtle (or not so subtle) battle between the critics vs. the reader/movie watcher, and… alright, the blogger.

So, from one POV, here’s Arti’s year-end tally. Yes, I happen to have written down, if I remembered to do so, all the movie titles I’ve watched this year. There are about 90 that I’ve got down, not including those I previewed for a film festival.

If I’m to choose the best film of this year from all that I’ve watched, I’ll have to say The Tree Of Life by Terrence Malick. It’s a film by far the most unique, cinematically gratifying, cerebral, transcendent, and a showcase of excellent talents. I hope the young actor Hunter McCracken can get some recognition for his sensitive and intelligent performance.

Other titles I should mention for my list of best 2011 films include The Artist, Midnight In Paris, Drive, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, My Week With Marilyn, and The Descendants. I’m still waiting for the screening in our city of some titles which I highly anticipate, including A Dangerous Method, Carnage, Take Shelter, Tomboy, and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, and We Need to Talk About Kevin.

And for older films I’ve seen this year, some I rewatched, others are my catch-up on acclaimed titles I’ve missed in the past. I’ve a few favorites (in no particular order):

Animal Kingdom, My Life As A Dog, Truly, Madly, Deeply, Autumn Sonata, Play It Again Sam, Interiors, Marvin’s Room, Shine, Badlands, Days of Heaven, Fargo, The Makioka Sisters, Radio Days, Anne Hall, Manhattan, Match Point, Pickpocket, Howards End, The Third Man.

As a slow reader, much slower than my movie-watching speed, the ratio of film to book for me this year is about 2:1. My picks for my favorite reads this year (not all published in 2011), and in no particular order:

Then Again by Diane Keaton, The Sense of An Ending by Julian Barnes, Blue Nights by Joan Didion, Let The Great World Spin by Colum McCann, The Paris Wife by Paula McLain, A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway, The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh, True Grit by Charles Portis, Howards End by E. M. Forster, The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje, Diary of a Country Priest by Georges Bernanos.


What about you? What are your year’s best in books and movies?

True Grit: A Cool Summer Read and Movie

14 year-old Mattie Ross has just got herself a place on my short list of favorite fictional heroines, alongside Elizabeth Bennet. Come to think of it, if Jane Austen were to write a Western novel, I’m sure she’d have created a character like Mattie Ross, determined, principled, curious, fearlessly independent, her heart sincere and her morals strong.


Kudos must go to author Charles Portis, who has described with succinct and flowing prose the captivating adventure of Mattie Ross. It’s a hero’s journey, but Mattie is no reluctant heroine. No more than a child, she hires the meanest of them all, Marshal Rooster Cogburn in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and goes with him, against his strong objection, to hunt down Tom Chaney, the killer of her father.

Portis’s storytelling is alluring and comedic, capturing my attention from the opening lines. The vision of 14 year-old Mattie is clear and crisp. Reminiscing as an adult now, her voice is vivid and affective. I’m won over soon by her articulate dealing in the adult world, protecting her own interest and yet still pouring out the heart of a child. Portis’s description is lucid, at times eloquent, and at times, deadpan humorous. His characters come alive with their vernacular dialogues of the American South after the Civil War. Many of the pages are script-ready for their cinematic effects.

I admit this is my first Western novel if my memory serves me correctly. My other one in the Western genre is Elmore Leonard’s short story “3:10 to Yuma” which I read after watching the movie. Here the reason is similar. I waited in a long line of holds from the public library for this book because of the fine movie adaptation I’d seen. The Coen brothers’ soulful rendition of True Grit (2010) got me curious… I just wonder how much of the movie is their creation, and how much is the author’s own.

I’m totally surprised to learn from reading the novel that the remake of “True Grit” is mostly a faithful adaptation of Portis’s novel. Not that I’m concerned it needs be accurately transposed, for I don’t expect movies to go the fidelity route anymore. But that’s exactly my surprise, that the Coen brothers have stayed with the plot and character development, and derived their scene sequences almost to the dot, unlike the 1969 John Wayne flick, which has changed the ending totally.

Not only that, under Joel and Ethan Coen’s direction, the movie is imbued with soul and heart. The Biblical quotes and allusions in Portis’s novel are eloquently woven into the narration and music of the film, something that’s missing in the 1969 version. The leitmotif of “Leaning On the Everlasting Arm” is deadpan ironic in the ending, albeit instilling meaning throughout. Without their leaning on each other they would not have overpowered Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin) and the bandits with whom he takes cover, and definitely would not have survived at the end.

In True Grit, characters make the movie. The film is spot-on in depicting the dynamics of the man-hunt trio, Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld), Federal Marshal Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges), and Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (Matt Damon). Hailee Steinfeld is a natural, and owns the role of tough and precocious Mattie, deservedly receiving a Best Actress Oscar nom at this year’s Academy Awards. At 13, Steinfeld beat out 15,000 other girls in the audition to get the role.  Just one year later, she has landed at the Oscars.

Portis’s intricate portrayal of the threesome in the novel is sensitively transposed visually on screen. The common goal in capturing a killer supersedes any rivalry between the two men in front of a 14 year-old girl, who has got both of them “pretty well figured”. One day when he has a sober minute to look back to his drunken, drifting life, Rooster would likely credit this episode of his journey with Mattie to capture the coward Tom Chaney as the most rewarding. The girl has gotten and drawn out the best of him.

First published in 1968, the book has since become a modern American classic. Some have compared it with Huckleberry Finn. But it has been neglected in subsequent years until the 2010 Coen brothers’ adaptation came out. It has garnered 10 Oscar noms earlier this year, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. Now we see the fresh reprints by The Overlook Press, New York. Thanks to the movie, the once overlooked book is back in print and on the new and popular shelves in bookstores, even now months after the Oscars.

Ah yes… books and movies, still the best summer treats.

True Grit by Charles Portis, published by The Overlook Press, NY. 2010, with Afterword by Donna Tartt, 235 pages.

Book and Movie:

~ ~ ~ 1/2 Ripples

Days of Heaven (1978) by Terrence Malick

It all began when I watched the “The Tree of Life” trailer in the theatre. I was mesmerized. A few seconds into the trailer I decided it would be a must-see for me. Then later it won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival on May 22. I’m now catching up on Terrence Malick’s previous works before “The Tree of Life” screens here in our city in a few weeks time.

The reclusive auteur Terrence Malick has only made five feature films in his directing career which spans four decades: Badlands (1973), Days of Heaven (1978, Won Oscar for Best Cinematography), The Thin Red Line (1998, seven Oscar noms), The New World (2005), and The Tree of Life (2011, Won Palme d’Or at Cannes, so far). His academic background in philosophy at Harvard and later as a Rhode Scholar at Oxford has found its expressions in his cinematic creation.

“Days of Heaven” in the Criterion Collection is a fantastic restoration and transfer. I watched it on the DVD. I suppose the Blu-ray would be even more spectacular. Some call “Days of Heaven” one of the most beautiful films ever made. Well, I haven’t seen all movies ever made to say that, nevertheless, of all that I have seen, such a statement is certainly not an exaggeration. Using mostly natural light, every shot is cinematic poetry. Enthralling scene sequences joined together to produce a piece of artwork that speaks the quiet, and sometimes silent, language of visual eloquence.

Written and directed by Malick, the film is nostalgically set in the 1910’s. The story is about Bill (Richard Gere), a hot-tempered steel mill worker in Chicago, who has to flee after an altercation leaving a man dead. He and his lover Abby (Brook Adams), and his younger sister Linda (Linda Manz) run away together and end up working in the harvest on a Texas farm. Pretending to be Bill’s sister, Abby is soon courted by the farmer (Sam Shepard). Overhearing that the farmer has only a year to live due to an illness, Bill persuaded Abby to marry the farmer so they can inherit his properties after his death. Every choice has its consequence. The plot unfolds in intriguing ways. Biblical parallels are deftly embedded in the scenes, Abraham and Sarah, the plague of locusts, Linda’s voice over allusion to the apocalypse… not just offering stunning images but thought-provoking as well.

And I must mention, I have a connection to the movie. It was shot right here in southern Alberta, and some scenes right here in Calgary, in Heritage Park to be exact. No, I wasn’t an extra. But proud that this regarded by some as one of the most beautiful films was shot entirely on location here in this province. It is the magnificent expanse of Alberta’s wheat fields and not those in Texas that we see in the film. The reason: from the DVD commentary I learn that the wheats were four feet tall in Alberta while those in Texas were only two feet.






CLICK HERE to read my review of The Tree of Life (2011) by Terrence Malick.

CLICK HERE to my post “A Sequel to Days of Heaven, Mr. Malick?”

Photo Source: Screenmusings.org. Use as per outlined in Fair Use, for review and educational purposes only.

Movies to Watch with Mom

Best time to enjoy some mother-child bonding is to watch a movie together and afterwards, talk about it. The following are Arti’s recommendations for Mother’s Day gifts, DVD’s or Blu-ray’s. Click on the links to read my review for more details.

The King’s Speech (2010) – New release on DVD and Blu-ray, just in time for Mother’s Day. You want to keep this Oscar Best Picture not just for the excellent performance by Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, and Helena Bonham Carter, but all the special features that come with: Director Tom Hooper’s commentary, Q & A with principal cast, behind-the-scenes featurette “An Inspirational Story of An Unlikely Friendship”, historical speeches of the real KGVI (and see how good Colin Firth is), and interview with Lionel Logue’s grandson.

True Grit (2010) – Mom might remember the 1969 John Wayne and Glen Campbell version. But tell her this is way better. The Coen brothers have breathed soul into this remake adaptation of Charles Portis’ Western novel. Time well spent if only just to watch the then 13 year-old Hailee Steinfeld’s performance, handling and being handled by Jeff Bridges. 10 big Oscar noms.

Made In Dagenham (2010) – Based on the true story of the 1968 strike at the Ford Dagenham car plant in England, where female workers went on strike to protest sexual discrimination. Sally Hawkins leads a historical, landmark victory for women workers to achieve equal pay. What efforts, torments, and costs to the individuals and their family just to claim something that’s so basic and reasonable.  Remember Sally Field in “Norma Rae” (yes, that’s 1979). This is the modern, British version.

Beauty In Their Eyes (2009) – Won Oscar Best Foreign Language Film. From Argentina, the film offers a gratifying experience, a layered, affective, and captivating combination of crime, suspense, and human sentiments. A retired legal counselor writes a novel based on an unresolved case he handled. While doing that, the flood gate of memories and unrequited love bursts open but in a moving and restrained manner. I was touched by the superb performance, the thematic element, and the heart-stirring music.

And if you’ve missed these ones, now is the time to catch up with Mom together on the comfy couch:

Nowhere Boy (2009) – Biopic of  a teenaged John Lennon (Aaron Johnson). I wrote these words in my review: “I’ve particularly enjoyed the mother-son relationship depicted so poignantly in the movie, and the tug of war between the one who has given birth to and the one who has raised the child.” Kristin Scott Thomas as Aunt Mimi and Anne Marie Duff as Lennon’s birth mother Julia give life to this delightful rendition.

An Education (2009) –  Superb performance by Carey Mulligan who deservedly received an Oscar nom for Best Actress. A coming-of-age story of 16-year-old Jenny when a suave and seemingly classy man twice her age befriends her and captures not only her heart but the trust of her parents. Adapted from Lynn Barber’s memoir. Links to Granta’s interview and excerpt from Barber’s memoir in my review.

Easy Virtue (2008) – Based on Noel Coward’s play, this one is a frothy, light-hearted take on a family feud. If you’ve enjoyed Colin Firth and Kristin Scott Thomas together (a rarity after The English Patient), then this is a must-see. Jessica Biel and Ben Barnes co-star. You’ll see some unlikely feats, like the Firth and Biel tango. But, what are comedies for, if not to highlight the improbable?

Broken Flowers (2005) – I missed this one when it first came out, not a big commotion. Glad to have caught it on DVD. With Bill Murray, you know what to expect, deadpan but also deeper than it looks. An interesting and original story.

Howards End (1992) – I’m a fan of Merchant Ivory productions. So for Mother’s Day, I say, get any of their film adaptations of literary classics, anyone will do: A Room With A View (1985), The Remains of the Day (1993), The Golden Bowl (2000). But “Howards End”, adaptation of E. M. Forster’s novel probably is the best for Mother’s Day viewing, with wonderful performance by Emma Thompson, Helena Bonham Carter, Anthony Hopkins, Vanessa Redgrave… Give Mom the Criterion Collection where you’ll find lots of special features. Click here to my post “The Merchant Ivory Dialogues”.

Thelma and Louise (1991) – This year is the 20th anniversary of this ‘classic’ film. Female friendship strengthened on a road trip with no road blocks. I rewatched it recently and find it still relevant. Best Oscar original screenplay. Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon are heading to Toronto in June for a charity appearance to celebrate the anniversary. If Mom’s a fan, send her a ticket to the event. Not possible? The 20th Anniversary Blu-ray might do.

Girl WIth A Pearl Earring (2003) – Both book and film are fine. Delightful gifts for Mother’s Day. Colin Firth as painter Vermeer and Scarlett Johansson as Griet the servant girl. Subtle yet dynamic, cinematography to match Vermeer’s works.


And to all who play a mothering role:

Happy Mother’s Day !!

More Gifts … Books and Movies

Continue from last post… succumbing to the Boxing Day craze.

Other than the art calendars, I found these bargains, books that kick off my 2011 reading plan and some DVD’s at very collectible prices:

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana De Rosnay

Already made into a movie (Elle s’appelait Sarah by French director Gilles Paquet-Brenner) premiered at Cannes and TIFF last year.  A journalist discovering a holocaust story about a ten year-old Jewish girl who tried to save her younger brother from the police by locking him in a cupboard.  The key will play a major part in a moral dilemma.  This much I know and it’s already captivating, especially with Kristin Scott Thomas playing the role as the journalist in the film.



The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson

The winner of the 2010 Man Booker Prize.  Here’s the description from the Man Booker’s official site: “a scorching story of friendship and loss, exclusion and belonging, and of the wisdom and humanity of maturity. Funny, furious, unflinching, this extraordinary novel shows one of our finest writers at his brilliant best.”  I’ve enjoyed reading some of the past winners and look forward to this one.



Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

I got this over the holidays and have already finished reading it.  I have mixed feelings about it. The 9/11 story from the POV of a 9 year-old boy is poignant, and the way JSF presents and illustrates (the visuals) it is a new reading experience for me.  A movie is in the works with Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock co-starring.  Mmm…



Music of Chance by Paul Auster

I have quickly devoured this one over the holidays together with the turkey.  The reason I was looking for this book is because of the movie.  I first saw the film adaptation a few years back and it stirred in me an unsettling resonance beyond words.  It’s a modern day Sisyphus story pitting man against chance, absurdity, and himself.  You must read it and then see the film, which unfortunately, is so overlooked that you’ll have a hard time finding it. But it deserves high acclaim, especially the performance by James Spader.  The film is also one of the best ‘Book Into Movie” adaptations I’ve seen.



In Search of Lost Time (Vol. 1) Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust

Translated by Moncrieff and Kilmartin.  I know many of you have read Proust and some may be Proust scholars, let me know what you think.  As for me, its attraction is simple.  How can you resist a beautiful Modern Library Classic edition with such an appealing cover?  It’s comforting just to see and touch it.  I’ve downloaded an e version into my Stanza app some time ago, but could never get into it by reading it on my iPhone.



The Early Work Of Philip K. Dick, (Vol. 1): The Variable Man And Other Stories

The main reason I got this, yes, it’s also a bargain at $5, hardcover… but the main reason is it contains a story I was looking for: ‘The Adjustment Team’, which is an upcoming movie (with Matt Damon and Emily Blunt).  I’m not a Sci-fi fan, but did enjoy some of Dick’s works adapted into films, like Minority Report (2002).  Others including Blade Runner (1982) and Total Recall (1990) are all ‘classics’ now in the Sci-fi film genre.




And some very collectible DVD’s:

When Harry Met Sally

I finished Nora Ephron’s I Remember Nothing and Other Reflections not too long ago.  It’s a revealing and amusing memoir.  That’s what prompted me to grab this DVD when I browsed the 50% off table at Chapters (Canada’s equivalent of Barnes & Nobles), about $5.  When Harry Met Sally (1989) is Ephron’s breakout screenplay in the romantic comedy genre.  After that is history… Sleepless In Seattle (1993), You’ve Got Mail (1998), and most recently, Julie and Julia (2009).  But do you know she also wrote the screenplay for Silkwood?

Children of a Lesser God

This is probably one of the most forgotten films that deserves more mention.  There is inherent difficulty in the execution of a film where one of the two major characters is a deaf-mute.  But the relationship and the communication conflicts between Marlee Matlin as a student in a deaf school and William Hurt as a speech teacher just show how realistic these obstacles are.  Marlee Matlin won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1987 for her role, not bad for a debut. Her affective performance was made even more poignant due to her real life impediment.  It has been decades now since I first saw it in the theatre. I was delighted to be able to find a copy to keep, $4.

Scorsese: The Martin Scorsese Film Collection

A classy box set of four films:

  • Raging Bull — Special 2 Discs Edition, lots of special features. Classic Scorsese that gave Robert De Niro the Oscar, plus seven noms for the film.
  • The Last Waltz — Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Neil Diamond, Emmylou Harris… this is rock history in film.
  • New York, New York — Liza Minnelli and Robert De Niro, a spectacle.
  • Boxcar Bertha — Barbara Hershey and David Carradine… historical too.

And the best is the price: I paid $10.



Now let me shift gear to the 68th Golden Globes this Sunday, January 16…

The Hedgehog: Movie Review (Le Hérisson, 2009, DVD)

To read my book review of The Elegance of the Hedgehog, CLICK HERE.

I’m sure it must be a major challenge to turn Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog into a movie.  I admire director/screenwriter Mona Achache’s courage.  She has taken up a tall order to make her full feature directorial debut.  How do you deal with all the ubiquitous internal dialogues, philosophical ruminations, literary allusions, and turn the story that takes place inside a Paris apartment into a full length film, holding viewers’ attention for 100 minutes?  Overall, Achache has done well on a formidable task… including building the set, the whole luxury apartment façade from scratch, from the workable old-style elevator to the cast iron gate in the front entrance.

But, maybe that’s the easy part.



In the film, we look at things from 11 years-old Paloma’s point of view, for she is constantly video-taping the people and the happenings both in her own suite and those in her apartment building.  She intends to produce some sort of a visual philosophical treatise, her legacy, as she plans to take her own life on her 12th birthday.  This is a clever alteration, shooting video instead of writing a journal, for the visual effects.   We see a very intelligent girl (Garance le Guillermic), having concluded that life is utterly absurd, decides not to spend her life in a fishbowl as everyone else. With her artistic talents, Paloma has used her drawings as a kind of personal record-keeping; from her point of view, some delightful animations are added to enhance the appeal of the film. Paloma is an interesting and amiable character that ironically brightens up the film with some humorous deadpan takes.

The movie is an abridged and simplified version of the book, that is expected.  But while it has some stylish manoeuvring in presenting the story, I’m disappointed that the crux of the premise has not been focused upon. My major concern then, must turn to the other character.  The main speaker of the book is Madame Michel, Renée, the 54 year-old autodidact, the concierge of the luxury apartment.  Yes, we see her outward appearance following exactly what the book has described:

I am a widow, I am short, ugly, and plump… I live alone with my cat, a big, lazy tom… neither he nor I make any effort to take part in the social doings of our respective species.  Because I am rarely friendly–though always polite–I am not liked, but am tolerated nonetheless…

Well, maybe not the ‘ugly’ part.  But yes, we see the Hedgehog alright, but what about its elegance?

Josiane Balasko has put on a meticulous performance as Madame Michel, a bit too much even, for her grumpy persona has hidden all humor the character could have diffused, as the book has rendered.  But other than the faithful characterization on the surface, it is more important that the inner world, the clandestine and ignored persona of Renée be depicted.  What makes the book so appealing is Renée’s inner quest, not only for intellectual ideals (yes we see her reading and her secret library in the film), but her appreciation of art as a form of transcendence, her search for beauty in the mundane, her ability to seize the moment of permanence in the temporal, as Barbery has written: “pure beauty at the heart of ephemeral passion”.  It is such wisdom that Paloma finally realizes, and which changes her mind about suicide.  This crucial theme is not shown in the movie, and I count that as a major deficit, despite the conscientious effort in following the outward details of the book.

Director Achache, who has also written the screenplay, chooses to replace these gratifying thoughts with the cliché statement of  “It’s what you’re doing the moment you die that’s important.”  Well, ok… maybe she’d like to write a book with that premise, but I’m afraid it might not be the essence of the source material here.

Yes, we still have the new tenant Kakuro Ozu (Togo Igawa), who has wisely looked past the ordinary façade of a socially lower-ranked concierge, and chooses to embark on a romantic journey with his new-found friend.  And yes, we have the chance to see his newly renovated Japanese suite, even his Mozart-playing toilet, as well as an excerpt from the Japanese director Ozu‘s The Munekata Sisters. Achache has followed the particulars faithfully. I wish she had had explored the essence, transporting her viewers from the mundane to a transcendent plane, albeit just momentarily.

I must add though, the music has come through most effectively.  Thanks to Gabriel Yared, whatever that is missing has been displayed musically by the meditative tunes and the longing voice of the cello.  The Oscar winning composer has created such memorable scores for The English Patient (1996), which won him an Oscar, and nominations for Cold Mountain (2003), and The Talented Mr. Rippley (1999).  Here in The Hedgehog, his musical rendering is beauty itself.

The DVD is in French with English subtitles.  Special features include the making of and deleted scenes. Unfortunately, they are all in French with no subtitles.  While watching the luxury apartment building being set up from scratch is interesting,  without subtitles, the comments from the director and actors in the making of featurette cannot be appreciated as they should be.

~ ~ 1/2 Ripples

The Namesake (2006, DVD): Movie Review

This is a sequel to my last post, Book Review of The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri.  These back-to-back write-ups form my second instalment for the Read the Book, See the Movie Challenge over at Ready When You Are, CB.

“If it weren’t for photography, I wouldn’t be a filmmaker.  Every film I make is fuelled by photographs…. Photographs have always helped me crystallize the visual style of the film I’m about to make.”

—Mira Nair

And photography has brought to life the poignant novel The Namesake.

This is a perfect match.  The Namesake film adaptation is privileged to be crafted in the hands of the accomplished director Mira Nair, and its screenplay written by the multi-talented Sooni Taraporevala.  Both born in India the same year, grew up and educated there, later both had attended Harvard.  After earning her Masters at NYU majoring in Film Theory and Criticism, Taraporevala moved back to India and pursued a successful career in photography and other artistic endeavours. Mira Nair went on to become an acclaimed filmmaker and professor of Film at Columbia University.  Nair and Taraporevala collaborated on several films that have garnered international nominations and awards, including Cannes, Venice, BAFTA, and the Oscars.

The pair could have been characters taken right out of Jhumpa Lahiri’s stories.  They must have known from personal experience the realities of Lahiri’s stories, the feelings of being transplanted, the quest for identity.  As a result, they have effectively brought into visualization the internal worlds of Ashoke, Ashima, Gogol and Moushumi.  It is interesting to hear Nair describe herself as “a person who lives in many worlds”.  Every immigrant is at least a bicultural being.  Our postmodern world has only made it more and more viable to navigate across boundaries and sustain multiple identities.  The Indian meaning of the name Ashima could well have spoken to such a modern day phenomenon: without borders.

From this perspective, Nair is the best person then to take what could have been just another “ethnic movie” to a universal plane.  She has created a colorful rendition of a human story for us to enjoy.  You don’t have to be Bengali to appreciate the Ganguli saga.  Elements such as love, marriage, parent-child relation, expectations, self-fulfilment and its obstacles, the search for one’s place in the family and the world, these are all situations we can relate to.   It’s just now the issues have been explored from a different frame, offering us an alternative perspective.

I have appreciated the quiet development of love between Ashoke and Ashima despite their arranged marriage.  Their intimate husband and wife relationship is sensitively played by Irrfan Khan (Slumdog Millionaire, 2008) and the model and award-winning actress Tabu, an excellent choice in casting.  I particularly admire Tabu’s gentle and elegant poise.  It’s interesting to see how the two exchange deep sentiments by wordless, nuanced expressions and body language.

The treatment of the story in the hands of a visual artist understandably would be quite different from its original literary form.  Instead of the sombre tone, Nair has given the story a lively adornment, sustained by animated characters.  Nair’s Gogol is a more outgoing young man than that from the book, and I’m fine with that.  Kudos to Kal Penn’s portrayal of  Gogol/Nick Ganguli, an interesting performance fusing youthful energy and wistfulness at the same time.

Yes, that’s Kal Penn of the stoner movies Harold and Kumar fame (2004, 2008, and coming 2011) A much more serious role here in The Namesake.  A lively Gogol is only natural and fun to watch, for he is an American born young man who just wants to belong.  So we see him being impatient with his father’s restrained and non-communicable composure, we see him playing air guitar to loud music in his room, we see tender moments when he teases his younger sister Sonia, or the natural comedic look on his face, culture shocked during his family trip back to Calcutta, and we see his romance with Maxine (Jacinda Barrett, New York, I Love You, 2009), the American girl who is so oblivious to the cultural baggage he is carrying.

But Kal Penn has earned his role.  He wrote to Nair earnestly seeking for the part, telling her that The Namesake is his favorite book and often times, he would use the pseudonym Gogol Ganguli to check in hotels.  Some method acting, who’d have known he’s in character all along.

The bonus with watching a DVD is of course the special features.  The Namesake is a keeper if you’re into the creative process of filmmaking.  My favorite featurette is The Anatomy of The Namesake: A Class at Columbia University’s Graduate Film School in which Nair and other crew members engage in conversation with film students about the making of the movie.  Other wonderful featurettes include Photography as Inspiration, and Fox Movie Channel interview In Character with Kal Penn.

Overall, a faithful adaptation of Lahiri’s book, offering an entertaining, visually inspiring rendition of a story deserving to be seen.

~ ~ ~ Ripples