November 15th, 2016


Book Critique 2016 – 07/03/2016: Winnie-the-Pooh

Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 5 / 5
Recommendation: A perfect book for opening the world of a child to fantasy and fiction.

My littlest nephew, Riaan, was born on July 3rd of this year - the day this post was supposed to be posted. What better way to welcome him to this world than with this beautiful book written by A. A. Milne and published in 1926. I would like him to grow up knowing all about this Hundred Acre Wood and get some real life-lessons from these pages - for there is always a lesson where Pooh and his friends are concerned. I do hope when he grows and reads this post, he would appreciate that I picked this book for him.

I did already post one Winnie-The-Pooh movie for Easter in my reviews this year (Check it here). Yet I still picked the first book for my nephew. Cant stop loving him or this silly bear. :)

This was the first book in the series of stories involving Winnie the Pooh and his friends. They were adapted from a collection of stories Milne had penned and published originally Punch Magazine, St. Nicholas Magazine, Vanity Fair and others before being published as a complete book. That is the reason perhaps the chapters in this book can be read as stand-alone and the plots don’t continue to the next chapter. There is a very interesting introduction in this book - about how Winnie-the-Pooh came about with this name. Definitely not to be missed.

Christopher Robin in the book calls Winnie-the-Pooh as Winnie-ther-Pooh and the author doesn’t give an explanation. I wonder what "ther" meant here in the context. The author has put in little poems here and there in the book that are very cute to hum. One in particular caught my eye and ear - Cottleston Pie. Here are the verses. Aren't they cute.

Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie.
A fly can't bird, but a bird can fly.
Ask me a riddle and I reply:
Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie.

Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie.
A fish can't whistle and neither can I
Ask me a riddle and I reply:
Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie.

Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie.
Why does a chicken, I don't know why.
Ask me a riddle and I reply:
Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie.

The whole writing style is so unique - with chapter titles mentioned as "In Which…." giving the summary of what the reader could see in the chapter. An illustration of The Hundred Acre Woods is seen in the book that spreads across the front hard cover and the first page (although my book has a sticker of Owl pasted across the first page with the name Katharine Truman Smith printed below and a "Er Sibris" under the owl - perhaps the name of the person this book originally had belonged to).

All illustrations in the book were done by Ernest H. Shepard and quite well they depict the story - characters almost come alive.

The format of the first chapter and some of the other chapters is that of a story-teller - written in the story-teller's view point, but here A. A. Milne is telling the story to his son and Edward Bear that his son calls as Winnie - the - Pooh and putting them as the characters in the plot. He also used the Sentence Case for many sentences and made the first letter upper case for many words - keeping it close to how a child would write a script perhaps. Interesting way though.

The book introduces all the characters as Pooh marches down the Hundred Acre Woods - Winnie-the-Pooh to begin with, Piglet (a Pig) (aka Henry Pootel in on chapter. :P), Rabbit, Eeyore (old grey donkey), Owl, Kanga and Baby Roo. Oh what fun it was to get to know them, be part of their adventures and live in Hundred Acres Wood - even if it was just for the time I read this book.

A beautiful book for every kid and every child in you. Teaching some much needed life's lessons about friendship, helping, living in harmony and much more; this book certainly leaves its mark in everyone's heart who reads it.

And now my littlest nephew who arrived into this world with all cheer and pomp.

Spoiler Alerts:
1. There is a sequel to this book titled The House at Pooh Corner and was published in 1928. Hadnt heard about it before so never looked for the book. Another one to add to my collection and posts.
2. Surprisingly enough the bouncy toy-tiger Tigger doesn’t appear in this first book. He is seen in the sequel. All along I assumed he was part of the first book.
3. Two other books as sequels were published to this series post-Milne time - Return to The Hundred Acre Wood written by David Benedictus and published in 2009; The Best Bear in All The World written by Paul Bright, Jeanne Willis, Kate Saunders and Brian Sibley and scheduled to release in October of 2016. Some more additions to my collections and posts, I say.
4. Interesting that Pooh was the name of a swan that A. A. Milne and his son Christopher Robin had named and Winnie was the name of a female Polar Bear in London Zoo that they ahd frequented. Quite a story it is.
5. Interesting language all through the book - Towel-horse (Rabbit used this to describe a rod to hang towels similar to a towel rack), Sustaining Book (perhaps meaning a comforting book), Woozle and Wizzle  (imaginary characters), Heffalump (ficitonal elephant), Expotition (something meaning expedition per the context),

Movie Critique 2016 – 07/04/2016: Top Gun

Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a movie review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars:  5 / 5
Recommendation: Patriotic with romance and comradeship blended in there making it a movie to watch at all times.

July fourth marks the U.S. Independence Day. On this day normally we get to see the 1996 hit movie Independence Day on repeat mode on at least four channels. Yeah well, I tend to watch it at least once every year which was my first choice to post for this day. However, after much thought I picked up another favorite of mine, although I have watched it much less times than the original choice. So, here's my take on the second choice I picked.

Top Gun is a 1986 hit American romantic military film starring Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis, Van Kilmer and Anthony Edwards in the lead roles. It was based on an article titled Top Guns published in the magazine California three year earlier to the release of this movie.

United States Naval Aviator LT Pete "Maverick" Mitchell (portrayed by Tom Cruise) and his Radar Intercept Officer  LTJG Nick "Goose" Bradshaw (portrayed by Anthony Edwards) are selected to attend the Top Gun school at NAS Miramar, despite the wild reputation of Maverick and Goose. There he meets Charlotte "Charlie" Blackwood (portrayed by Kelly McGillis), an astrophysicist and civilian Top Gun instructor and also his rival LT Tom "Iceman" Kazanski (portrayed by Van Kilmer) - who was the top in the class until Maverick arrived. As his training continues, his reckless flying increases, gets him to defeat his LCDR Rick "Jester" Heatherly and inadvertently becomes a rival to Iceman. He also pursues Charlie - much against the rules. During one such training where Maverick and Iceman are chasing Jester, Maverick's aircraft catches fire on both of its engines. In the process of ejecting, Goose hits his head onto the roof of the jet and dies. The rest of the movie follows Maverick in how he copes the loss of Goose despite being cleared of the incident, how he regains his power back in air and how he gets Charlie back.

I fell in love with Tom Cruise in this movie, more in the song that made this movie famous - Take My Breath Away by Berlin. I even remember having a poster of Top Gun on my bedroom wall when this song became a hit back home. Even now I like Tom Cruise albeit only as an actor.

A very patriotic movie in every sense even though not a single war is waged or nor a soldier is shown in enemy lines except towards the end of the movie. Gives one a very deep insight into how the aviators are made. The beginning of the movie was filled with a lot of technology terms that flew above my head the first time I watched the movie. Had to watch it a second time just those scenes to catch on to what was happening. The movie captures the under dogs coming out on top, proving that there is never a "I" when it comes to team work.

Perfect movie to watch at all times and no matter what brings your spirits up.

Spoiler Alerts:

1) Clarence Gilyard, Jr. portrays the role of LTJG Marcus "Sundown" Williams. He is famous for his role as Conrad McMasters - a right hand man to Ben Matlock (portrayed by Andy Griffin) - in the TV series Matlock and as James "Jimmy" Trivette in the TV series Walker, Texas Ranger. Here he is behind Tom Cruise in this scene.

2) Tim Robbins has a minor role as LTJG Sam "Merlin" Wells in his movie - perhaps one of his earlier roles before he became famous. In the second pic he is behind Tom Cruise.

3) Meg Ryan plays the role of LTJG Nick "Goose" Bradshaw's wife - Carole Bradshaw - in the movie. Again one of her earlier roles before she became famous.

4) The 1991 movie Hot Shots! Is a spoof of this movie. Another one to add to my blog.
5) The 2013 animated film Planes pays a homage to this movie. This is another movie in my upcoming list to post.
6) The end credits have the lead actors shown as their roles in the movie - giving it a nice touch. Although the clip below gives away the ending too. :P

7) The famous walk scene that is shown over and over again in the song Take My Breath Away.

8) And finally the song that made the movie much more famous. Sung by the band Berlin, written by Giorgio Moroder and Tom Whitlock for this film, the song not only won the Golden Globe for Best Original Song, it went on to win the Oscar in the same category that year.