The Best Pictures of 2011

12/31/2011 at 12:00 PM (Landscapes, National Parks, Photography, Travel) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

The Pinnacles in Cervantes

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

This is an image of the Pinnacles in Cervantes located north of Perth. They are ancient rock formations located in Nambung National Park. You can choose to walk or drive around these limestone spires. We did the walking first and drove on the way out. Don’t miss out on the biodiversity centre – it’s very educational.

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

This picture was taken during an Easter trip to Western Australia. We decided to go see Margaret River and this camel was residing at a cheese factory – no joke! There was an ewe too but she was camera-shy. The place is called Harvey Cheese where we had a delicious cracked black pepper cheddar.

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

To take this picture, I went through a lot of suffering. First of all I woke up at a hostel at 4.45 am in order to make in time for sunrise which according to the meteorology bureau here in Australia was at 6.00 am. This photo is taken from the path up to the summit of Mt William in the Grampians region just as the sun is rising. I guess suffering walking up a dark mountain at 5 am and the low altitude of walking inside a cloud was worth it for a view like this.

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

This is from the National Rhododendron Gardens in Olinda,Victoria. Taken in early spring when the flowers were at their finest and brightest, this free park is a must visit attraction. This path instantly reminded me of Anne of Green Gables for some reason.

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

I generally attend two camps with my photography club, one in autumn and the other during spring. This time as part of spring camp, I went to Lake Fyans to see the sunset. We decided to go off the beaten track and was rewarded with shots like the one above.

Benalla

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

This is a shot I took during my autumn camp as we had a lunch break in the town of Benalla. I thought the rich red autumn foliage and the white crossover bridge made a nice contrast especially with the bright blue skies above.

Lake Catani

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

This is Lake Catani in the autumn. It is located in the alpine region of Victoria and you need to get there by dirt road. The silver trees you can see are remains of brush that was damaged by forest fires. Bush fires are very common in country Victoria and it is hard to stop it in high wind season.

Winery in Bright

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

This is in the region of Bright in Victoria and it’s not too far from the border of Victoria and New South Wales. It was taken in the vineyards of Boynton winery. I was fortunate enough to have the bird with the beautiful plumage in the shot taken during sunset but my 18-55 mm lens was much too basic to encompass more zoom.

Mount Buffalo National Park

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

This was taken at the base of The Horn close to the car park. Glancing through the hut windows reveals a stunning panorama of dipping hills, other mountain peaks and valley that spreads for miles. This taken on a very cold but sunny autumn afternoon that felt like it was winter so I enjoyed the climb up to the summit as it invigorated me.

The Kookaburra at Churangi Cafe

This image was taken at the cafe just across from William Rickett’s Sanctuary (I have images from there too so let me know if you would enjoy a post about that sculpture park). A waitress told me as I enjoyed my latte that this kookaburra was a regular visitor there which is probably why he is on the entrance sign. The surroundings of this cafe were so beautiful that I felt as if I had stepped into Narnia.

Note: All 10 images were taken by a Nikon D40 DSLR with a basic lens. Make sure to enlarge to view.

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Angela’s Ashes (Film)

12/20/2011 at 12:29 AM (Actors, Classics, Drama, Emily Watson, Inspired, Movies, Robert Carlyle) (, , , , , )

Based on Irish expat Frank McCourt‘s Pulitzer Prize winning memoir Angela’s Ashes, this 1999 film adaptation shows us how he grew up in the wretched slums of Limerick during the Depression. It is clear from the start food is as scarce as employment, poverty is rife, disease is a precursor to death and squalor is everywhere. Nevertheless despite all the tragedies that befall this family including their pathetic alcoholic father figure who uses even welfare money for the drink instead of feeding his babies, Frankie seems to find some joy in life and builds his dreams on escaping to America while even managing to love his irresponsible dad. It is the rich variety of characters and experiences he has along the way to achieving this that makes this story so poignant and moving. Frank’s Irish Catholic upbringing is given a lot of focus on the film as well as the rank hypocrisy of the church.

The film is brutal in its depiction of the bleak and sad life that was had to be in Ireland with the drab brown and grey tones pervading it. Nevertheless it is still injected with doses of optimism and humour, sometimes from the most unexpected quarters. Robert Carlyle does a great job as the laconic and irresponsible Malachy while Emily Watson seems to bear the patience of a saint as she portrays the self-sacrificing woman who was Angela, Frank McCourt’s mother and the namesake of the film. The three boys who portrayed Frank were all great actors in their own right so kudos to the casting people.

Despite Angela having a husband who rarely if ever fulfilled his obligations as a father, she is the rock who made Frank determined to achieve his goal and move on from the past. It is clear she was a good-hearted person who coped with immense hardships that were thrown in her way. Ultimately while this is a tragic movie about the pain and suffering one can undergo for the love of one’s children, the ultimate triumph at the end eclipses it all.

While this is a good movie, it is possibly because it stays true to the heart of the book most of the time. If you want to watch it but haven’t read the book yet, I suggest trying it out first. Angela’s Ashes may be an uplifting story in its final message but it is not a happy one. After seeing this, you might want to think twice about complaining about your lot in life and eat humble pie instead!

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What Alice Forgot

12/13/2011 at 12:16 PM (Books, Nostalgia) (, , , , , , )

When Alice wakes up, her first concern is about her the first baby she is to have with her husband Nick. The problem is that baby was born in 1998, Nick is in the middle of a divorce hearing with her and she has had two other children. As Alice starts to recall the events that led to her collapse and eventual memory lapse, she realises that the person she has become isn’t someone she likes very much and starts to sets things right again.

What Alice Forgot is light reading material – it’s the kind of book with which you would read a couple of chapters before leaving the rest for another day. This chick lit offering by Liane Moriarty deals with a 40-year-old protagonist called Alice Love who collapses at the gym one day and forgets the past 10 years of life. This would have been fine if it wasn’t for the fact a lot has happened to Alice in the past 10 years. The amount of drama in her life in that span of time could have made a full season of a television sitcom.

What Alice Forgot

Source: lianemoriarty.com.au

The narrative is provided to us readers via two perspectives – one by the Alice who is trying to fit bits and pieces together after her memory loss and rest in journal entries by her sister, Elizabeth, who has enough troubles of her own. So we enter the lives of these two women who are struggling to keep their lives in order while learning some life lessons along the way. As Alice starts to recall the past, she can’t help but wonder if she should have started mending bridges when she recalls the drifting apart had been her own doing. This is one of those tales that ponders the What If question in an interesting way even if predictable.

While the prose is easy to read, the clever tactic of revealing tidbits of flashbacks without giving much away helps in making it to the end. Unfortunately while the journey to the destination was nice, reaching it was a disappointment as it was rather abrupt.

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Jude the Obscure (Film)

12/07/2011 at 12:10 PM (Actors, Books, Christopher Eccleston, Classics, Drama, Historical, Kate Winslet, Movies, Religion, Romance) (, , , , , , , )

Jude is a poignant film directed by Michael Winterbottom based on the controversial novel Jude the Obscure penned by Thomas Hardy (by now you followers might have noticed I’m a big fan) starring Christopher Eccleston as Jude and Kate Winslet as his cousin (gross but legal) and love interest, Sue Brideshead.

Jude Fawley is a working class man who dreams of pursuing a university education after a heart-to-heart with a free spirited teacher but his social class and his poverty prevents him from realising his ambition. Before he attends university, he hastily marries Arabella which quickly leads into an unhappy marriage as the wedded couple realise they don’t have matching temperaments. When his wife suddenly leaves him, Jude decides to chase after his rainbow.

He becomes bitter after his university applications are rejected because of his lower class status. This is when he meets his cousin Sue, a lively and intelligent young woman who takes delight in defying convention. Jude falls for her but not before making the mistake of introducing his old teacher Mr. Phillotson to Sue; she makes the mistake of accepting his former teacher’s proposal after Jude confesses he’s married despite having no romantic chemistry with her intended husband. This eventually leads to another failed marriage.

Finally giving into her romantic urges, Jude and Sue begin to live together as they travel from place to place when he finds any work as a stonemason. In the midst of their travels, they suddenly hear from Arabella who reveals Jude has a son called Juey who seems to be a very despondent sort of child. Juey comes to stay with Jude and Sue who try and entertain him. Meanwhile Sue gives birth to two children of her own. Things come to a head when the couple is denied lodging again after Sue insists on saying she’s unmarried. She explains to Juey that they have to move because there are too many of them. This turns out to have been a fatal error on her part though Juey’s tragic reaction to her reasoning is way too dramatic – perhaps he had depression.

After this incident, Sue and Jude become severely depressed and start drifting apart. Meanwhile Sue who had turned her back on God turns her interest back into religion assuming what happened was a punishment from above. She decides to return to Phillotson because it is they who have the true marriage in divine eyes. One year later, she meets Jude as they mourn the circumstances of the past and he tries to win her back. We realise although Sue now lives with her legal husband, her true feelings have always been reserved for Jude.

The novel this film is based on was so controversial that writer Thomas Hardy stopped writing books after its publication and turned to poetry instead. Perhaps his wife may have been an influence – she thought the  tension between Sue and Jude parallelled her own relationship with Hardy. Luckily, the film version of Jude was made when it was not as bad to defy convention for love.

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