Man Of Mars (August 8, 2003 – December 31, 2007)

September 1, 2005

September 2005

Filed under: films,personal,tennis,theatre,TV — drei @ 12:00 am

Culture Overload
Mon, 05 Sep 2005 10:47:00 GMT

waving williamsfrom Party of Five to Lost
favorite Lost characterRussel Crowe in the ring

Cinderella Man (Ron Howard). Last Friday I got to watch the advance screening of Cinderella Man since my brother’s fraternity sponsored the screening. The film was about the life of boxer Jim Braddock, played by the excellent Russel Crowe, set in New Jersey and New York during the Great Depression. The film is one good tearjerker, and a powerful one at that. The actors, all of which were tried and tested given their credentials, gave great performances. Paul Giamatti was perfect as the manager, Craig Berko was a real jerk as the main character’s toughest challenger, and Renee Zellweger was very convincing as the loving wife and mother.

In contrast to A Beautiful Mind, another bio-film also made by Ron Howard and also starred by Russel Crowe, Cinderella Man is a little inferior, given that it’s not as magical as the former, and that the climax of the new film was spread throughout. Like A Beautiful Mind, the movie is a compelling tale of human spirit, a genre Ron Howard has mastered since Apollo 13. And the love story between Braddock and his wife was crafted very well, that I even wondered if those two actors had already been together in another film before.

If Martin Scorcese used boxing to tell a story of a man’s destruction in Raging Bull, Ron Howard used boxing to show optimism and hope in hollow times. Though both films told real life personal accounts, Cinderella Man was more profound in terms of relating to history and the society.

As I’ve written before, Cinderella Man was not meant for summer release but should have been raced in the last Oscars, if not for Russel Crowe’s injury. Assuming it were able to make it, I still doubt it would knock down the other boxing themed film Million Dollar Baby. Cinderella Man may be powerful and inspiring, but Million Dollar was very piercing, and for the drama audience, I think it matters more. For summer releases though, I’m giving the bronze honor to Cinderella Man, after Batman Begins and Sin City. Which reminds me, the summer season is over in Hollywood but I barely saw great blockbusters this year and instead saw more disappointments. Oh well. Talk about great depression in Hollywood.

* regular showing starts next week in Metro Manila theatres

Lost, Season 1. I finished watching Lost two weeks ago but never had the time to comment about it. I should say I absolutely enjoyed the series – great production, perfect cast, and very engrossing story lines. Lost is about a bunch of aircraft survivors who got stranded in a mysterious island, with dozens of unexplained creatures and hallucinations. One very good thing about the series is the treatment of the characters. The drama is well executed, and many important characters were given heavy background. As a result, a lot of issues were actually tapped in the series, which happens to be an advantage of television series over full length films. Make a movie with independent issues of family, the society, the military, and the supernatural, and you’re accused of overkilling; do it in TV, and millions of viewers will be interested. At least it worked for Lost.

The series also injected a rather diverse mix of music. Shannon sang the French song La Mer to her new lover Sayid, Sawyer was humming a Bob Marley song when four of them left the island using a raft they built, and my personal highlight in the series: Hurley was listening to Damien Rice’s Delicate in his walkman before it ran out of battery. Of course, the series has a really good musical score, the recurring type that works like the scores of James Horner and John Williams.

Story-wise, the interwoven relationships and battles among characters were very captivating, that at times I wanted to cheer in front of the screen, as if rooting for a player in Survivor. On the other hand, the mystery of the entire plot was a little disappointing, especially that they answered only a small portion of the mystery in the season ender. There were actually dozens of mysterious subplots, that I wondered how the writers are gonna pull everything off. Think of a French lady stranded for 16 years ahead of them, a combination of numbers that were connected to the characters, a ladder that leads to the bottom of nowhere, an unknown creature that thrives underground, and other supposedly mysterious occurrences, which were spread all throughout the 26 episodes. At a glance, thinking that all those things happened would seem really stupid, but the way the creators mixed those with the personal stories and action stunts made the show really gripping. I honestly can’t wait for the next season.

* thanks to Shelley and Aldo for the episodes; season 2 will start end of September in America

Footloose, The Musical. Good thing I work in Meralco since productions staged in the Meralco Theatre has one free night for employees of Meralco and its subsidiaries (I have to emphasize ‘subsidiary’ since a lot of people confuse me as a Meralco employee).

The story of Footloose is about a new guy from Chicago who convinced a conservative town in doing away with dogmatic and rather unnecessary straight-laced rules. The musical used dancing as the primary analogy in the story, and gave a good 80’s feeling, with songs like Holding On To A Hero, Almost Paradise, Let’s Hear It For The Boys, and of course the title track Footloose. The show I got to watch didn’t feature the so-called RnB prince in the country, Jay-R, but instead his understudy did the dancing and singing. And I should say the actor who played the part was good, and I’m guessing he may be better than Jay-R. Iya, though looked great and perfect for the role, and has a good singing voice, was terrible. She is a baaad actress and one very lousy dancer. Local productions should avoid picking famous people and do real auditions for lead roles. And please, not another MYX VJ since all their current VJs really suck. First was Karel in Beauty and the Beast, and now Iya in Footloose. Don’t tell me Heart will do a Mary Poppins soon; she would perfectly fit as the irritating umbrella.

On a positive note, Agot Isidro was surprising, since I never thought her voice can be powerful. Her original songs on radio were rather undemanding, but in Footloose, she was able to present a classical voice and fine acting. Audie Gemora was of course great, who was a highlight since the conflict of the story involved his character to a huge extent.

Aside from the lead actress, another disappointment was the dancing, since I didn’t get a Kevin Bacon feel, and somehow I think they needed a little refinement. But then the night I watched was not part of their regular run and was more of a final rehearsal, so the polishing of steps and production may have been absent that night.

* show runs on all weekends of September in Meralco Theatre

Sky High. Given that the other choices were two slapstick comedies, my friend Cel and I decided to watch Sky High. I had fun watching the movie, and the film felt like a teeny bopper version of The Incredibles. The movie is about a high school for superheroes, and the identity crisis of the son of the most popular superhero couple. The movie has all the formula for a typical teeny bopper, but that didn’t stop me from being amused. Of course it wasn’t as funny as The Incredibles or Mean Girls, but it was a good choice for a relaxing family movie.

Lynda Carter also starred in the movie, and at one point her character joked about being Wonder Woman, which I though was really hilarious. If you’re looking for a not so usual high school flick, this movie is recommended.

2005 US Open. The last grand slam of the year started last week, and the first round alone showed surprising upsets. For one, defending champion Svetlana Kuznetsova lost in the first round. But the more surprising one was Andy Roddick’s exit after the first round, with an exciting score of 6/7 6/7 6/7. It was good though for my still favorite Andre Agassi since he’s the remaining American bet in the Men’s division. Agassi was fantastic, and made more than 10 aces in the first round alone. Promising Rafael Nadal lost in the third round, which was not really surprising for this 19-year old, who really is a master in the clay but still has unpredictable performance in the hard court.

Aside from the international favorites Roger and Maria, I’m also rooting this year for Venus Williams. Her comeback in the recent Wimbledon was really cool, and winning a second grand slam this year would be great. Just this morning she beat her sister in the fourth round, and for sure she’ll be meeting Maria in the semis.

* current games are already approaching the quarterfinals


  

It’s Monday once again. But I’m missing Monday blues at work today since I’m visiting the dentist to consult a weeklong disturbing toothache, and I need to catch some sleep due to minor hangovers from Shelley’s pre-wedding party Saturday night, and beer session with orgmates Novs, Edward, and Nikos Sunday night.

Shelley is getting married this Friday, and incidentally I was asked to be a reader in the ceremony. The last occasion I remember reading in front of the church was during the baccalaureate mass in high school. No big deal though. Congratulations Miss Yosi Girl!

Nikos just recently became a licensed engineer, while Novs is taking her engineering boards this month, and Edward next month. Yep, engineers in different fields. Last night they were actually studying in Seabest Katipunan when I came to drop by, but we ended up finishing bottles of Red Horse. I hope I wasn’t such a bad influence last night especially that two of them are taking their boards and one is taking graduate studies. Hehe.

Right now, three film festivals are ongoing: the Eiga Sai in Shangrila Plaza featuring classic horror films and free admission, the Cinemanga in Megamall featuring three anime films, and the advance screenings for Cinemanila in Greenbelt One. The actual run of this year’s Cinemanila will still be in October.

Red Eye opens this week. When I saw the teaser I thought it was probably the best teaser I’ve seen in Hollywood, but when I saw the complete trailer, my expectations somehow died down. I still wanna watch this movie because I want Wes Craven to redeem the mediocre Cursed, a supposedly good movie whose style got stuck in the 90’s.

Have a good week everyone!

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