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

April 1, 2007

April 2007

Filed under: films,photography,travel — drei @ 1:01 am

Caliraya Lake
Mon, 02 Apr 2007 03:29:00 GMT

frisbee and windsurfing at caliraya lake

frisbee and windsurfing at caliraya lake

I had a quick summer starter with friends Jerry, Abi, Shelwin, and Van, at a surf camp in Caliraya Lake over the weekend.  I was hesitant of joining the gang at first because of many reasons: I failed to pick-up my sleeping bag from Metropole; I just got sick a few days earlier; I have an upcoming Camarines outing for the holy week; etc.  Good thing I still decided to go, and had one of the most exciting and at the same time most relaxing weekends in recent memory.

Most of the time was spent on frisbee, with tips and new techniques from pro-player Jerry, fresh from bagging major awards in the last frisbee tournament in Metro Manila.  Throwing and catching disc could be really addicting, and nothing gave a more outdoor feel than playing in an open field, with kite-surfers and windsurfers in the background.

A small part in the afternoon was spent trying out windsurfing, which was a really difficult activity.  A heavy sail and strong winds would require so much arm power and leg balance, that a few inches worth of water travel would already bring me to loud happy cheering.  With the natural high the wind and the speed were giving, I’m guessing soon, maybe I could pursue this hobby.

Grilling of food was so much easier since helpers and equipment were readily available, and a sari-sari store was nearby in case we’d run out of beer.  Our instant inihaw menu included tilapia, tomatoes, and liempo, which was just perfect for the atmosphere.  And while the metro was suffering the summer heat at night, we were enjoying the cold fresh breeze of the lake, with a bright moon to complement.  By sunrise I forced myself to wake up, hoping to get good pictures, but unfortunately the area was not a good site for both sunrise and sunset.

Only those doing water sports were familiar with the campsite, that’s why the area was never crowded, and meeting everyone in a friendly place with such few people was expected.  The most interesting were Verge, Van’s windsurfing trainer and equipment owner (Van’s windsurfing was the reason why the trip was organized in the first place), and Jay, the kite-surfer who later joined us in frisbee.  Hobbyists in the area were either successful doctors (in their 50’s or 60’s) or businessmen (those who actually own their businesses), which was just a valid observation, since hobbies with real expensive equipment could only be done by filthy rich professionals.  Since I already turned down the UP Intarmed program 9 years ago, that means my only chance of pursuing hobbies like windsurfing would be the latter.  But for now, my new cheap hobby of frisbee is enough.

By Sunday afternoon, Metropole already delivered my sleeping bag, and I was finishing a book, trying to ignore some sunburn pains on my back.

Click here for more pictures.

Caramoan Peninsula, Camarines Sur
Wed, 11 Apr 2007 09:36:00 GMT

boat ride to caramoan, bangkas at caramoan wharf, elevated view of Gota beach facing the Pacific Ocean
waves of Gota beach, Lajos Island, Hunongan Cove
camp out at Gotang malaki, Sabitang Laiya island, boat ride to Tayak Island
rock formations at Tayak Island, the entire Tayak white shores all for ourselves, Matukad Island by sunset
click here for more caramoan pictures

I spent the long weekend in Caramoan, Camarines Sur, a peninsula rich of clear waters, long stretches of white beaches, and lots of great islands which we explored for three days (4th day was spent in Naga, killing time in their spa and coffee shops).  I would love to write about my great vacation and brag about my dark tan (hahaha!), but there are just too many pictures to upload in my flickr account (including pics from my friends’ cameras), and of course relatively a lot of work to catch up with after the long break, not giving me time to write and organize my thoughts about the trip.

Anyhow, check my flickr site for more pictures in bigger sizes, that is, after I get to upload all of them.  Hehe.  Have a good day everyone!!
 

Grindhouse – this year’s Kill Bill and Sin City
Tue, 17 Apr 2007 09:34:00 GMT

For 2007, only two movies entered the Top 250 Movies of All Time in IMDB so far.  First is the visual orgasm that was 300, and next is Grindhouse, the new collaboration of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez.  Their last joint work was the recreation of Frank Miller’s Sin City, where Tarantino directed only a specific sequence, while Rodriguez directed the rest of the film.  This time, the brilliant duo made a two-in-one thriller, which is also a tribute to the B-movie slasher genre, as can be easily seen in the movie posters.  The two movies have fake trailers in between, just to further recreate the feel of two different movies shown in one cinema (which by the way is still the setup of cinemas in my home city, where the second film is called the “double”).

Planet Terror poster and production photo
TV stars on big screen: Federico of Six Feet Under and Sayid of Lost

Death Proof poster and production photo
Kurt Russell as the crazy driver and serial killer

The first feature is Planet Terror by Robert Rodriguez, an action film about zombies breaking loose in a planet similar to earth, whose cast is led by Rose McGowan.  Planet Terror also stars Bruce Willis, and actors from two popular television series, Freddy Rodriguez of Six Feet Under and Naveen Andrews of Lost.  Quentin Tarantino’s share is Death Proof, which stars Kurt Russell as a stuntman who kills young women on the road.  The film also stars Rosario Dawson and Eli Roth, the director of the famous B-movie series Hostel (produced by Tarantino).  Robert Rodriguez is the only film director with two trilogies in his credentials – Desperado and, er, Spy Kids – while Tarantino is famous for noir cult films, such as Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, and the Season 5 finale episode of CSI, where George Eads was burried alive.

With the creative concept of Grindhouse, the plotlines, the promised gore, and of course the directors, I’ll be the first one lining up when this one starts showing in local cinemas.
  

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March 1, 2007

March 2007

Filed under: films,music,personal — drei @ 12:00 am

Remastered Blue album of Joni Mitchell
Tue, 06 Mar 2007 03:42:00 GMT

joni mitchell

Today marks the first day of sale of the remastered version of Joni Mitchell’s 1971 album Blue, hailed as one of the greatest records of all time.  TIME magazine even included it in their list of 100 best albums of all timeJoni is considered to be one of the most influential female singers in the past four decades, and many artists regardless of gender consider Joni a great influence.  The Lilith Fair ladies alone show hints of Joni Mitchell every once in a while – the storytelling poetry of Lisa Loeb, the shaking voice of Jewel, the emotions of my favorite female singer Sarah McLachlan, etc.
 

I first heard of Joni Mitchell in my favorite comedy series FRIENDS, where a remixed version of Big Yellow Taxi was used in the soundtrack.  Then I heard the song sampled in Janet’s Got ‘Til It’s Gone from the really great pop CD Velvet Rope (which I bought on sale), then later revived by The Counting Crows and Vanessa Carlton for a romantic comedy movie.  Then I got a ripped copy of the album Clouds through my friend Skeeter, and then later on got more albums through friend, former officemate, and the new Soluziona basketball star Shelley. (Peace Shelley!)
I am not familiar with all of Mitchell’s works, but these are the three tracks I consider her best:

“A Case of You” from the album Blue (1971)
A Case of You tells a sad story of infatuation, and is one of those really lonely ballads that make you emotional during tipsy moments.  Diana Krall’s version of this song was highly praised by Joni herself.  Other favorites from the album are My Old Man, Carey, and All I Want.  Next to Big Yellow Taxi, I think Carey is the second most notable upbeat Joni Mitchell song.  Joni sings: I could drink a case of you darlin’ and still be on my feet.

“Both Sides Now” from the album Clouds (1969)
This song was recently in the mainstream music scene because of the film Love Actually.  Who would forget the tearjerker montage of Ms. Emma Thompson when she discovered the infidelity of husband played by the versatile Alan Rickman?  The lyrics of the song take us to a profound perspective on life and love, and carry a very moving melody accompanying the theme.  This may sound morbid, but my good friend Lye actually considers Both Sides Now her funeral song (mine would be Streets of Philadelphia by Bruce Springsteen, hehe).  The song was updated to a more solemn and soulful version in Joni’s 2000 orchestra album.  Chelsea Morning, another track from the album Clouds, is also a favorite.  Joni sings:  It’s life’s illusions that I recall; I really don’t know life at all.

“Cherokee Louise” from the album Night Ride Home (1991)
Cherokee Louise is my ultimate favorite Joni Mitchell song – a relaxing acoustic tune I can always associate with long travels at night, just as the album title says.  (Most of my favorite songs give that same effect; the instant example I can think of is REM’s E-bow the Letter).  The lyrics however tells a sad tale of a character who lives in a tunnel, with lots of hidden meanings in between.  I also personally think that the album Night Ride Home is equally great as the critically applauded Blue.  This 90’s work is one of her later albums infused with jazz and the modern sound, which actually fits more to the taste of the younger generation, which I suppose includes myself.  Other favorites from the album are the tracks Night Ride Home and Passion PlayJoni sings:  Cherokee Louise is hiding in this tunnel in the Broadway bridge.

Joni Mitchell is one unique artist whose talent ranges from painting to songwriting, and whose genre goes from folk to jazz.  I’m planning to buy the remastered Blue album as a Birthday present to myself, along with my “plan” to quit smoking (again).
 
 
War Movies
Fri, 09 Mar 2007 02:43:00 GMT

Recently I was able to watch three war movies on big screen – wars between musical divas, between ancient civilizations, and between desperate women.  All three films are based on previous works.

battle of american idol and destiny's child alumnae

Dreamgirls is a singing drama based on a stage musical, which was very loosely based on the biographical story of the pop group The Supremes.  If you simply love any form of musical, then there’s no reason you wouldn’t appreciate this movie.  The production may not be as grand as Chicago, and the story may not be as magical as Moulin Rouge, but it still was one enjoyable experience.  Jennifer Hudson truly deserves her win in the supporting Oscar award, with her convincing acting and really powerful voice (though I was rooting for personal favorite Cate Blanchett).  I don’t think that Jamie Foxx was forgettable in the film as some critics claim, when in fact I thought he had so much presence in the movie, and the story would not be that compelling without his fine acting.  Eddie Murphy was great as the junkie pop star, and Beyonce had her few moments as well.

Good thing I watched Dreamgirls with fresh-from-MBA Che, since she was a member of the UP Singing Ambassadors during her undergraduate days, and definitely knows how to appreciate good music.  (We used to watch a lot of horror movies and go on impulsive food trips until she got so busy with MBA.  Good thing she’s back!)  I also think my mother would enjoy this movie since she’s a fan of Diana Ross and The Supremes.  All music lovers familiar with the era of The Supremes, Lionel Richie, the Jacksons, and all those old school Motown sound will enjoy this movie.

androgynous Rodrigo Santoro versus Phantom of the Opera's Gerard Butler

300 is a revolutionary action movie based on a graphic novel, which was loosely based on the historical Battle of Thermopylae, the Spartan war against Persian forces.  The movie is so great that it reminded me of so many great moments in recent filmmaking.  I just love everything about 300 – the choreography, the colors, the music, everything.  In the middle of the movie I was already thinking of buying the original DVD when it comes out.

For a moment I was wondering if Hans Zimmer did the musical score of the movie.  Good thing he didn’t, and the filmmakers wouldn’t be accused of doing a Ridley Scott.  In fact, a lot of the scenes reminded me of Scott’s 2000 epic Gladiator, especially the scenes with the yellow fields, with the queen and her son in the foreground.  Incidentally, those specific moments were said to be the only parts of the movie that weren’t taken from Frank Miller’s images.  In addition, 300 took advantage of a March release, to lead the blockbuster season and avoid the summer competition.  Gladiator used that same technique (so did the first Matrix), which I think is reasonable, since franchise sequels usually own the summer playdates, and there “might” be a chance that good films like Gladiator and 300 wouldn’t earn as much.

If Troy showed us three barenaked men in lousy battle scenes, this one gives us a hundredfold more with creatively choreographed and cinematically captured stunts.  Fight scenes were simply massive and breathtaking, the best since The Two Towers.  And only in the first Matrix and 300 was I amazed with the visual techniques of capturing fast action scenes.  The only minor downside for me was the macro shots of the movie, which was difficult to appreciate because of the texture.  Nothing still compares to the work of cinematographer Christopher Doyle in Hero.  But like Hero, almost every scene in 300 is a masterpiece.

My college friends and I were so excited for 300 that we had to watch it during its first day of release.  And what a great moment 300 was for cinema in this generation.  It even entered IMDB’s Top 250 list of best movies of all time during its first week, and got a standing ovation in its world premiere in Berlin.  This is one movie no cinephile should miss.

Australia versus Britian in Notes on a Scandal

Notes on a Scandal is a suspense drama based on a best-selling novel.  The movie lasted only an hour and a half, but seemed so long because of the gripping suspense and really topnotch acting.  British Judi Dench and Australian Cate Blanchett play high school teachers in London who both lead desperate lives full of foul secrets.  The dirty laundry of all women in Desperate Housewives combined is no match to the psychological thrill of this very dark drama.  Tragedy and secrets unfold one after another, and the desperation of the main characters just gets into your face scene after scene.  Notes on a Scandal is simply a fine work of intelligent writing, well developed characters, and superb acting.

I watched Notes on a Scandal alone since I was certain it will only run for a week, and it’s hard to drag people in this relatively unknown movie (especially that it’s only shown in Greenbelt).  I’m really glad I caught the movie on big screen, though I must say it’s not the perfect film to de-stress with after a long day’s work.

Good thing it’s already the weekend.  Happy weekend everyone!
 
  

Audiophile
Thu, 15 Mar 2007 15:59:00 GMT

obsession 
click image for details

American Idol Season 6 had its Diana Ross episode, and sadly I think the current batch is a little weak.  My top bet would be Melinda, though physically she doesn’t have the star appeal.  She has one of the best voice quality and most powerful range, and she is the most humble contestant in the batch.  Next personal bet would be Stephanie, who has this Toni Braxton and Beyonce thing going on.  Among the males, there’s no extraordinary candidate, but my quick favorites would be Chris and Blake.  During this week’s episode, some girl butchered the lyrics of Missing You, which I consider Diana Ross’s best hit.

My current favorite album is Undiscovered by James Morisson, which I recently discovered, thanks to recommendations by Dianne, Eugene, and Ferdz.  The album is a collection of mostly upbeat alternative tracks, and James’s sound reminds me of Gavin Degraw and some Maroon 5, with a jazzy voice quality similar to Jamie Cullum.  The first track alone is not to miss, Under the Influence, with its strong violin melody and happy tune, while the album track Undiscovered uses a vocal choir adding an excellent dramatic feel to the sound and lyrics.  Personal favorites are You Give Me Something, Wonderful World, This Boy, and The Pieces Don’t Fit AnymoreUndiscovered is one must have album.
   
        
My Birthday Week: from A to Ziggy
Wed, 28 Mar 2007 10:39:00 GMT

My birthday week started with a mini picnic with close friends at the UP sunken garden, and ended with a whole day affair with Ziggy Marley.  Unlike last year when there was pressure to celebrate because of the quarter mark, hehe (I had a mini pasta party the weekend before, and climbed Luzon’s highest peak the weekend after), this time I had to slow it down.  Or so I thought.

Two nights were spent on my “new” sport, ultimate Frisbee, thanks to good friend Roselle who gave me a great beginner’s training. The midnight before my birthday was celebrated with former officemates (and now Frisbee buddies hehe) Van and Shelwin, having dinner in our favorite Mr. Kebab, and finishing beer in Quatro.  During the day itself, my best buddies at work Aisen and Oliver invited for lunch at SOMS Noodle House, the affordable Thai kitchen and one of my great food discoveries in 2006, and as a treat Oliver paid for the bill.  Former officemates also invited for dinner, to this place I’ve been advertising to them since last year – SOMS!  Since they were willing to go all the way to Makati from Ortigas during rush hour, I didn’t mind having my 2nd SOMS meal on my birthday.  Shelwin and Abi brought me a new Frisbee disc, and Jimelle paid for the bill.  I was so lucky not having to spend on meals on my birthday!  Late at night, I was meeting the end of the day with Lye and Skeeter, spending a nightcap in Ziggurat, finishing Indian food and watching the rain in front of us.  It felt great starting and ending my day with great friends.

By Friday, I got two surprise cakes from officemates (the latter was not actually a surprise since it’s part of our department’s tradition, but I’m still glad especially that they gave me a new issue of this great photography magazine).  And by Saturday, I spent the entire day with Nana, for the press conference of Ziggy Marley, and for his live performance in the Philippine Plaza.  In between the two events we spent the entire afternoon pigging out and window shopping, and by concert time more friends joined us, euphoric and alive because the son of the reggae legend was actually dancing and singing in front of our eyes.  Skeeter, who used to work for MTV, gave me VIP passes as a birthday gift, and Nana, as Chalk’s associate editor, got me Press passes.  It’s just the perfect time when birthdays and connections do matter.  Hehe!

press conference at mojito bay performance at the philippine plaza poolside
Click here for more pictures

Instead of resting on Sunday, I had to wake up before lunch since I had a Calculus tutorial session in the afternoon.  This part-time job (and quasi-hobby) started in college, and until today I still get occasional invites for lectures and tutorials.  I’m glad I accepted this one, since the parents of my tutee were two of the nicest people I’ve met, and they remind me so much of my mom.  Aside from age, they have the same values and almost the same admirable treatment towards their kids.  In fact after the tutorial session, the three of us were still chatting over her homemade pansit and refrigerator cake, talking about universities, the corporate world, and parenting.  Meeting one such nice and humble couple was one great way to end the week.

By Sunday night, the stress of the entire week has consumed my entire body, and made me really sick.  I took two days off from work; good thing my brother Doms kept bringing me food every time he went home and would even text me if I wanted anything, and my brother Oliver who’s graduating in med school in a few months kept checking on me, and was my acting doctor.  For two days I did nothing but sleep on the couch, eat, listen to Elliot Yamin’s new album (sent by Ferdz as a birthday gift!), and watch tons of episodes of The Simpsons.

I’m honestly glad I got sick since I got to rest for two straight days.  Now it’s back to the real world, and back to work, with one year added to my age.  But then, I don’t think birthdays are all about changing a digit (or digits to some hehe) to one’s age, but it’s the way for the universe to tell us that we have another year to celebrate life.  And I really think it should be celebrated well.  Cliche as this may sound, here’s to more years of fun travels, great photographs, good music, excellent movies, and wonderful friendships!
 

February 1, 2007

February 2007

Filed under: films — drei @ 12:00 am

Pre-summer Movies
Mon, 19 Feb 2007 02:21:00 GMT

The period before the summer season is usually dormant for film releases, when critics take their rest after the politics of the awards season, and viewers wait for the big blow of summer films.  This year’s summer line-up once again boasts of big names and franchises, most of which are third installments: Spiderman 3, Shrek the Third, Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End, Ocean’s Thirteen, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Evan Almighty, Transformers, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, The Simpsons Movie, The Bourne Ultimatum, and Rush Hour 3.  My top picks would be Spiderman, Evan Almighty, Transformers (hoping it will redeem Michael Bay), and of course, Order of the Phoenix, the final appearance of the great Gary Oldman as my favorite Potter character.

Here are three promising films from three great directors, to be released before the summer season in Hollywood starts:

sunshineSunshine, dir. Danny Boyle.  When the trailer of The Two Towers came out in 2002, I was raving inside the cinema because of two things – the sequel of the most powerful adventure saga is finally on its way, and the more important one, the trailer used the musical score of Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream.  Before I saw Donnie Darko, Requiem was my favorite movie of all time.  And until today, I consider it as one of the best musical scores ever made.  So when I saw the trailer of Sunshine during an Apocalypto screening last week, I was ecstatic to know that Danny Boyle was genius enough to use the same haunting musical score.  Boyle is known for using techno music in most of his films (Moby was all over The Beach, and Underworld’s first hit is always associated with Trainspotting), but he probably thought Sunshine needs a different touch.  At least in the trailer.  Sunshine stars Cillian Murphy, in a futuristic film about a team of scientists trying to ignite a dying sun.  Danny Boyle may have a knack for unconventional plotlines like the vampire virus, or a magical beach, or a dying sun, but he never ever goes wrong.

the number 23The Number 23, dir. Joel Schumacher.  The moment Jim Carrey turned down the lead role in Phone Booth, director Joel Schumacher must’ve thought he lost the opportunity to work with a great star, and should work with Jim in another project.  The result: the creepy The Number 23, where a man discovers everything about him is connected to the number 23, known as the number of the devil (2/3 = .666, hehe).  I must admit that during high school, Joel Schumacher was a favorite (Flatliners, Batman Forever).  My taste was so mainstream then, and I had no idea greater films exist outside Hollywood.  And I have always been a big fan of Jim Carrey films; he’s just so versatile that he can be a clown and heavily dramatic at the same time.  The Number 23 is a definite addition to his credentials, and the posters alone show a Jim Carrey we’ve never seen before.

zodiacZodiac, dir. David Fincher.  If you think Tarantino is overrated as the modern day cult director, then David Fincher might be your man.  It’s been years since Fincher made his last movie The Panic Room, and Zodiac was said to have been researched and shot too long due to Fincher’s obsession with the original novels, which was based on real events in San Francisco in the 60’s.  The movie stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, and Robert Downey, Jr, as three characters – a comic book writer, a detective, and a news reporter – obsessed with the same serial killer, Zodiac.  Initial screenings showed mixed reviews, probably because similar plotlines are seen almost every day on television, and somehow it’s hard to par the fanbase of Gil Grissom after six seasons.  But I still plan to watch this, because of Fincher, and because the combination of Gyllenhaal, Ruffalo, and Downey in a serial killer film must be one promising spectacle.

The Number 23 and Dreamgirls open this week in Metro Manila theatres
 

November 1, 2006

November 2006

Filed under: films — drei @ 12:00 am

October Movies
Mon, 06 Nov 2006 07:33:00 GMT

Last month, I was able to watch 2 foreign festival films, 2 local films, 2 Hollywood movies, and 2 black and white classics.  Here are some comments:

goodbye, lenin
Goodbye, Lenin (Germany).
  One of the four films in the recent German Film Festival, the comedy Goodbye, Lenin was one great cinematic masterpiece.  The tale of a son’s intricate attempt to cover the fall of the German Democratic Republic to protect his post-comatose mother was poignantly funny and emotional.  The treatment of the historical backdrop reminded me of Milan Kundera’s literary works, whose love and life stories usually cross with Czech’s breakage from communism and accounts of refugees.  Goodbye, Lenin was able to incorporate the fall of Berlin’s great wall and rise of capitalism, while maintaining a touching and very funny family story.  The great musical score sounded very familiar, which I later found out was done by Yann Tiersen, the same genius who created the music for Amelie.  Goodbye, Lenin is a must see.  5/5

ninette
Ninette (Spain).
The play adaptation about an unusual love affair of two Spanish strangers in Paris started out promising.  For a story that was set both in Spain and France, the film turned disappointing as everything was shot in dull interior perspective, not to mention the old school humor and the dry pacing.  Ninette is one long dragging movie.  2/5

txt
Txt.
  Txt is about the spirit of a dead psychotic who haunts his ex-girlfriend through her mobile phone.  I was very interested in this film because of all the write-ups about the up and coming director.  The direction was indeed commendable – a lot of the style was very new in Philippine cinema, in addition to the modern editing that looks so Hollywood.  But despite the technical achievement, everything else was bad: the supposedly scary make-up, the musical score, the acting, and most of all, the plot and the script.  There may be a few scary moments, but over all it was a terrible film.   2.5/5

kaleldo
Kaleldo.
  I was able to watch the premiere of this movie, thanks to my good friend Ben who designed the production of the film.  Kaleldo is about the lives of three sisters and the defining summers of their lives. This is definitely a better movie than Txt, and it’s a wonder why MTRCB graded Txt with an A, but Kaleldo was only given a B rating.  The cinematography of the film was topnotch.  Every scene was picture perfect, and neatly polished.  The acting was also superb; Cherry Pie should win an award in this movie.  The casting was also perfect, and I think the weakest performance was from Juliana Palermo, but was hardly noticeable since the character she played was also weak.  If there’s one thing missing in the movie, it’s the story which I felt wasn’t really pulled together.  There were too many symbolisms but turned out to be shallow.  Nevertheless, the movie was still worth seeing because of the production and showcase of fine acting.  Both Txt and Kaleldo prove that our country can definitely produce quality films, but as always, we need good material.  3/5

the departed
The Departed.
  An obvious classic, this is my other Martin Scorsese favorite, aside from Goodfellas.  The movie’s complete with great acting from all the actors, Scorsese gore trademark, intelligent suspense, and an unpretentious script.  The Departed is currently the no. 65 best film of all time in IMDB’s Top 250 List, and I’m guessing it will not leave the Top 100 in a dozen years.  Hope Marty gets an Oscar this time!  5/5

the prestige
The Prestige.
  I would have seen the advance screening of this movie since my brother’s fraternity sponsored the premiere, but unfortunately I had to choose the outing of my department at work.  I may be a big movie fan, especially that The Prestige is one of the must see films this year, but a few days worth of advance viewing is nothing compared to a weekend at the beach, complete with 2 days worth of buffet food and relatively fun company.  Hehe.  Anyway, The Prestige is one exceptional noir, especially that it has two great actors playing two brilliant and mad magicians.  Chris Nolan may use a similar mood in all his films, but definitely he doesn’t stick to the same style, making his films unpredictable, and really captivating.  The rivalry story in The Prestige may be inferior compared to that of The Departed in terms of wit and suspense, but it is more engaging and personal.  5/5

strangers on a train
Strangers on a Train (1951).
  It was in the third season of CSI when Grissom mentioned this film as a reference to a crime, and since the day I saw that episode, I never stopped looking for a DVD.  Strangers on a Train is only my third Hitchcock experience (after Vertigo and Psycho), but I can say that if only I was born a generation earlier, I would have been a huge Hitchcock fan.  The movie is about a popular tennis player, Guy Haines, and the madman who offered to murder his wife in exchange for another murder.  The IMDB #85 film of all time is one smart thriller with witty and very interesting characters.  5/5

bicycle thief
Ladri di biciclette (Italy/1948).
  The movie The Bicycle Thief must be one pioneering work considering it was done in 1948.  The heartbreaking drama is about a poor family man and his quest for hope, which was broken into pieces after his lone bicycle was stolen.  A very depressing story that led to desperation, no wonder this film is mentioned in every critic’s list, not to mention landing #138 in the IMDB all time list.  4.5/5

Reference: IMDB Top 250 Films of All Time


I got to watch the Asian premiere of The Science of Sleep last Friday in the Cinemanila opening, and it was one great film!  Gael Garcia gave a very different and funny performance, and since the movie is from the same visionary who gave us Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, we sure have another mind-blowing drama.  The Science of Sleep (La Science des Rêves) is about eccentric and talented Stephane who confuses his dream world from reality.  All cinephiles should watch this brilliant movie.

Click here for Cinemanila schedule.

September 1, 2006

September 2006

Filed under: films,photography,tennis,travel,TV — drei @ 12:00 am

Oh, Sandra Oh
Fri, 08 Sep 2006 15:59:00 GMT

sandra oh

In the world of acting, seldom does it happen when both the character and the actress are deeply admired. And Sandra Oh’s Cristina Yang is just that, and definitely one of the hottest thing on TV today (at least for me, I’m still in the middle of Season 2, postponing the series after being blown away by Gregory House and Prison Break).

Without Yang, Grey’s Anatomy would seem like Melrose Place in scrubs. Don’t get me wrong, I think the show is actually good – multidimensional characters, well made script, and excellent drama. The soliloquies of Meredith Grey may border between cliché and profound, but the writers simply pull it off episode after episode. (Of course, nothing beats the depth of the narration of the alien mini-series Taken)

If there’s one thing I like least about the series, it’s when Dr. Grey’s character turns mushy and squeamish, and reminds me of the feeble Susan Myers of Desperate Housewives. Good thing Cristina Yang is there to save the day, ergo, to save the show.

Her sarcasm brings the series to a totally different dimension. Brutal yet witty remarks, and all out sincere humour. Now I understand why my favorite characters are the sarcastic ones: think of Chandler Bing (FRIENDS), Miranda Hobbes (Sex and the City), Claire Fisher (Six Feet Under), Daria (Daria), Jessica Zafra (real life), and my newly discovered king of sarcasm, Gregory House (House MD). They simply add intellect to the drama or humor, and give the show a great sense of unpredictability. Oh, Sarcasm Oh.

CRISTINA: Oh, it’s like candy, but with blood, which is so much better


Quickies:

  • Kubrador was one powerful film, but more than anything it was a political and social statement. A film full of creative symbolisms, it’s definitely one of Jetturian’s greatest works, along with the infamous Tuhog.
     
  • US Open is now in its semifinals. Agassi ended his historical run with a teary 3rd round exit; Nadal had the biggest upset, just when fans thought the 2006 saga that was the Nadal-Federer rivalry will continue in New York; and the grand slam was a season of strong comebacks – Safin, Serena, Hewitt, and the most anticipated Andy Roddick.
     
  • Tomorrow will be my final exam for my French class. I can’t wait to finish this and move on to the next level. Even if it means adjustment in the budget because of the tuition, this language is simply worth it. J’aime la langue de francois. As they say, c’est la vie!

Happy weekend everyone!
  
  
Last Quarter Movie Preview
Tue, 19 Sep 2006 08:34:00 GMT

I have to say that the recent summer season for movies was disappointing.  I can’t pick a single favorite, compared to last year when we were loaded with lots of great goodies, with Batman Begins and Sin City leading the pack.  Good thing the last quarter of this year promises exciting new films.  Note that every year, almost all of the Oscar hopefuls are released during this period.

Here’s a list of 20 upcoming films to be released commercially in the last quarter of 2006:

the departed
The Departed (director Martin Scorsese, Leonardo de Caprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson).  It’s good to know that the Metro Manila screening for The Departed opens simultaneously with North America.  I’m excited to see this film primarily because of three reasons.  One, Jack Nicholson is being handled by Scorsese for the first time.  Two, this is the first Scorsese film adapted from an Asian film (Infernal Affairs).  And three, Scorsese hasn’t got any Oscar despite dozens of really great films (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The Aviator, and my fave Scorsese film Goodfellas), and I’m hoping this one could be it (though critics are saying the chances are really slim).

the queen
The Queen (director Stephen Frears, Helen Mirren).  After the best actress win in the Venice Film Festival, critics are saying that Ms. Mirren is very eligible for the Academy Best Actress this year for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II.  It’s also fascinating to know that early this year, the same actress portrayed Queen Elizabeth I in a television mini-series.  And since Stephen Frears made one of my all time favorite films (High Fidelity), this one should be a spectacle.

sunshine
Sunshine (director Danny Boyle, Cillian Murphy, Chris Evans).  Cillian Murphy stars in a futuristic tale about astronauts sent to space to re-ignite a dying sun.  Sunshine is the new sci-fi movie from suspense filmmaker Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, The Beach).

flags of our fathers
Flags of our Fathers (director Clint Eastwood, Ryan Phillippe).  From outer space (Space Cowboys) to the boxing ring (Million Dollar Baby), the drama films of Clint Eastwood practically take place anywhere.  This time, it’s the World War II.  Let’s see how versatile this director can be, and if he can bring the Western style in the front line.

the prestige
The Prestige (director Christopher Nolan, Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johansson, David Bowie, Michael Cane).  I’d have to say Chris Nolan is the most promising among this generation’s rising directors.  Memento is one of my all time favorites, and last year’s Batman Begins was undoubtedly the most celebrated film of the franchise.  Bale and Jackman star as magicians whose rivalry turned into serious murders.  Nolan must’ve enjoyed working with Caine and Bale since they were casted in The Prestige and the upcoming Batman sequel.  As imdb wrote for The Prestige, “it feels kind of like Wolverine dropped in to visit Batman.”

marie antoinette
Marie Antoinette (director Sofia Copola, Kirsten Dunst).  An acquaintance once told me that every time Sofia Copola makes a film, the film becomes her.  It’s as if the film is celebrated solely because it’s from Sofia.  I haven’t seen The Virgin Suicides (though I bought the book), but I truly enjoyed Lost In Translation.  I just loved the portrayal of midlife crisis in the film, and the main characters’ dead air was just utterly convincing.  And now, with a figure such as Marie Antionette, I don’t think this film could be any Sofia at all.  Kirsten Dunst plays the famous queen of France.

babel
Babel (director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Gael Garcia Bernal).  I’m guessing Babel is no different from Inarritu’s previous works, 21 Grams and Amorres Perros, where three different stories are connected by a single accident.  I love the tragedy, the drama, and the raw treatment in both films, and I’m expecting a lot from Babel, especially that Cate Blanchett is in it.

volver
Volver (director Pedro Almodovar, Penelope Cruz).  Already shown in the Cannes Film Festival, this is Almodovar’s follow up to his engaging and pulled-off yet narcissistic Bad Education.  After seeing his great works All About My Mother and Talk To Her, expect another quasi-political feministic movie.

a good year
A Good Year (director Ridley Scott, Russel Crowe).  Ridley Scott may be popular because of his huge films (Blade Runner, Kingdom of Heaven, Black Hawk Down), but he’s also an effective storyteller of human drama (Matchstick Men, Hannibal).  After the award winning Gladiator, Ridley Scott joins forces once again with the talented Russell Crowe.  Crowe stars as an Englishman who inherits a vineyard from his uncle, only to realize that the daughter of his uncle returned from nowhere.

casino royale
Casino Royale (director Martin Campbell, Daniel Craig, Judie Dench).  I can’t wait to watch this film after the controversial casting of Daniel Craig as the new 007 agent, and especially after the worst James Bond film ever, Die Another Day.  I have always been a fan of James Bond, but Die Another Die just destroyed the franchise.

the fountain
The Fountain (director Darren Aronofsky, Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz).  A time traveling movie about a brave man’s quest for saving the woman he loves, The Fountain is Aronofsky’s film after the really captivating Requiem for a Dream.  Expect another poignant drama, and like Requiem, hopefully this one also gets a really powerful musical score.

deja vu
Déjà Vu (director Tony Scott, Denzel Washington, Jim Caviezel).  Brothers Ridley and Tony each have a film this season.  Between the brothers, Ridley may be the more profound filmmaker, but definitely Tony is the cooler one.  After the successful Man on Fire, Denzel Washington and Tony Scott team up once again in a time bending thriller.

bug
Bug (director William Friedkin, Ashley Judd, Harry Connick Jr.).  William Friedkin has always been famous for films that involve mind games (The Exorcist, Rules of Engagement, The Hunted).  Bug is a psychological movie about a war veteran and a lady in hiding, set inside an isolated motel room.

the nativity story
The Nativity Story (Keisha Castle Hughes).  If Passion of the Christ is to Lent, then The Nativity Story is to Advent.  Featuring the youngest Oscar Best Actress nominee Keisha Castle Hughes (Whale Rider), this movie should be timely for the season.  Hopefully it will deliver.

apocalypto
Apocalypto (director Mel Gibson).  Speaking of Passion of the Christ, Apocalypto is Mel Gibson’s follow up to the best selling independent film.  It’s a historical epic about the Maya kingdom, in which the film was also done in the Maya language.

the good german
The Good German (director Steven Soderbergh, George Clooney, Cate Blanchett).  Good thing Soderbergh had enough fun after Ocean’s 11 and Ocean’s 12, and is now back to serious business.  George Clooney plays an American journalist looking for his mistress, played by my favorite actress Cate Blanchett.  The movie is set in Berlin after the world war.  (It’s just confusing that another film is aptly titled The Good Shepherd, making us think of German Shepherd.)

the holiday
The Holiday (director Nancy Myers, Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jack Black, Jude Law).  After Something’s Gotta Give, expect another feel good movie from Nancy Myers.  The Holiday is about two women from different sides of the world who happen to have the same man problems.

breaking and entering
Breaking and Entering (director Anthony Minghella, Jude Law).  Breaking and Entering is a coming of age film about a young architect played by Jude Law.  Minghella was the one who introduced Jude Law to the spotlight in The Talented Mr. Ripley, another all time favorite.

the good shepherd
The Good Shepherd (director Robert de Niro, Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie, Joe Pesci).  The movie is about the evolution of the CIA, told by a founding officer played by Damon.  This will be Joe Pesci’s first film appearance after Lethal Weapon 4 in 1998.

children of men
Children of Men (director Alfonso Cuaron, Julianne Moore, Clive Owen).  Along with Babel, this is my most anticipated movie this season.  Children of Men was already screened in the recent Venice Film Festival, and has received good reviews.  First reason I wanna watch this film is Alfonso Cuaron.  Next is Julianne Moore.  And third is the make-or-break futuristic plot: the humans can no longer procreate, until a woman suddenly becomes pregnant, which may or may not give scientists the explanation to the biological mystery.

Reference: my all time favorite films as of August 2005


Many movies in the list might be shown in the Philippines in 2007, since some of them will only be in limited release in North America this year.  I just hope I get to see them before the awards season, and hopefully with minimal disappointment.  So, which ones do you plan to watch?
       
  
Five Islands, One Weekend

Wed, 27 Sep 2006 01:20:00 GMT

5 islands, one weekend

Five Islands, One Weekend.  Last week I took two days off from work to spend a long weekend in Visayas.  The trip started ala Amazing Race, since we only had 20 minutes for the Dumaguete ferry trip from the airport arrival in Tagbilaran.  Checking in our bags was not an option, so I had to stealthily wrap my cologne and fix my bag pre-xray to make sure the system saw it in top view (and the bottle wouldn’t look like a bottle).  The 4-day island hopping was perfect, which included five Visayas islands: Bohol, Negros (Dumaguete), south of Cebu, Sumilon Island, and Siquijor.  It was a weekend of connecting trips, clear waters, excellent food, and of course great company.

infinity pool and great island food

lake in an island

Sumilon Island.  The visit to the Bluewater Island Resort was very worth it; the sea trip alone was memorable since we had the resort ferry all for ourselves.  The high class resort is the island itself, which is developed by a Japanese realty company.  The infinity jacuzzi is now my favorite jacuzzi moment, overtaking the one in Linden Suites overlooking Ortigas.  The island boasts of food by a world renowned chef, shifting white sand, woods great for trekking, a mangrove lake for kayaking, an infinity pool, and clear blue waters.

mystic siquijor

infinity pool and the san isidro labrador church

Siquijor Island.  Thanks to Jesselle for the free accommodation in Princess Bulakna, a promising resort which formally opens next year.  The resort has modern artsy cottages, a three-level infinity pool (which was 3-week old when we got there), and a very rich landscape.  We might return next year when the resort opens its diving site, and hopefully when all the construction and landscaping are complete.  The mystical island is famous for caves, witchcraft, and historical churches, and reminds me of Camiguin because of its size, accessibility, and unspoiled nature.  Siquijor is definitely a must visit place!

more pictures in my flickr account.
  

August 1, 2006

August 2006

Filed under: events,films,music,personal,tennis — drei @ 12:00 am

The Dark Knight
Thu, 03 Aug 2006 05:14:00 GMT

With the tentative title The Dark Knight, pre-production for the sixth Hollywood Batman film has started.  Heath Ledger accepted the role of the Joker, and talks are going around that Philip Seymour Hoffman is being offered the coat of Penguin.  If ever that piece of news is true, I hope Oscar best actor Hoffman accepts the role; definitely he can par Danny DeVito’s performance as the disturbed sewer genius in Batman Returns.  If ever he does accept, it can be the start of his stereotype as an effective villain (after Mission Impossible 3), and Batman will be faced with two acclaimed actors from last year’s famous gay films (Hoffman for Capote, Ledger for Brokeback Mountain).  But for now, consider this Hoffman news as plain scuttlebutt (which we all hope to be true).  As for Heath Ledger, I’m just crossing my fingers he’ll give justice to Batman’s most popular nemesis.  Batman fans including myself were surprised with the decision, and a lot would actually prefer Paul Bettany, Adrien Brody, Jude Law, or Hugo Weaving to play Joker.  I personally think Heath Ledger is too serious an actor to be joking around with white powder all over his face.  We’ll see.

 Heath Ledger as the new Joker   Jack Nicholson as Joker in 1989
The last laugh: will Heath Ledger do a better Joker than Jack Nicholson?

 Philip Seymour Hoffman was rumored to be offered the Penguin role   Danny DeVito as Penguin in 1992
Pray that Philip Seymour Hoffman accepts the Penguin role.

I just feel bad for Tim Burton, since the villains he used in his Batman films are recycled, and could probably erase his legacy in the Batman franchise.  I still love Tim Burton’s style, and I think Chris Nolan’s noir touch is just incomparable to Burton’s gothic treatment.  Each is simply a master in his own field.

But then, summer 2008 is still eons away.  For now, I’m hoping to catch the comedy musical The Producers in Glorietta this weekend.  Or give in to the invitation to watch Sukob again.  Hahahaha!

Good day everyone!
 

Up Dharma Down at Magnet Cafe
Fri, 11 Aug 2006 06:16:00 GMT


Up Dharma Down at mag:net cafe in Katipunan

For the past week their album was the only music I listen to at work (okay, sometimes I squeeze in Ne-Yo’s Sexy Love in my playlist).  The music of Up Dharma Down has such a unique jazzy and alternative sound, which is unusual in the OPM arena.  Their songs may be of pain and sadness, but the theme of their songs add emotions to the music.  After an accidental glimpse in one of their mall tours and their gig in mag:net cafe last August 8, I’m hoping to catch them again in the MTV Pilipinas Awards.  Their opening act in mag:net cafe was Paramita, a really cool trio with bitter yet edgy music.

Happy weekend everyone!

A Silent German Film with Radioactive Sago
Thu, 17 Aug 2006 02:51:00 GMT

pioneering expressionist film   radioactive sago project
Caligari and Radioactive Sago Project: a marriage made in creepy heaven

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari/1920).  Prior to the films sponsored by the Geothe-Institut, my only exposure to silent films was the Charlie Chaplin movies my parents used to watch during the Betamax days.  And I should say the opening movie of the 3rd German Silent Film Festival was my first ever encounter to a live band performing the musical score of a silent film.  And what a great cinematic experience it truly was!  (not to mention that I was star struck seeing the great Jessica Zafra inside the cinema!)

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari follows the story of murders in a village that may or may not be related to a mad scientist’s passion to somnambulism.  The slow percussions and jazzy sound of Radioactive Sago Project were perfect for the film; the tempo and mood complemented the theme and storytelling.  I very much agree to what Bert Sulat Jr wrote, that “The combination of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Radioactive Sago Project is a marriage made in creepy heaven.”  And a very well attended wedding at that!

Now I can’t wait to get a copy of Nosferatu, hailed as one of the best expressionist films alongside Caligari.  And of course, I can’t wait to watch the rest of the silent films, especially that Cynthia Alexander will be performing in one of the films.  I’m just glad I live in Metro Manila – a haven for affordable and accessible culture.

(Digression: last Monday, I got to watch the MTV Pilipinas Video Music Awards in VIP seats.  Great to see INXS and Mig Ayesa up close.  The performances of Urbandub and Up Dharma Down really rocked the PAGCOR Theatre.  And Dicta License’s tribute medley to Francis M was the night’s highlight, which was later joined by Francis himself, the year’s lifetime awardee.  Thanks to Skeeter for the tickets!  Again, talk about accessible culture in the metropolis.)

The German Silent Film Festival runs in Greenbelt every Tuesday.


Last Grand Slam of Andre Agassi
Tue, 29 Aug 2006 05:56:00 GMT

 serving agassi

The first round of the final grand slam of the greatest player in the history of tennis was mind-blowing.  During the second set I feared that Andre Agassi would leave the US Open so soon because of the tight score.  Even though I was only tracking the real-time scores online (at work, hehe), I still felt the intensity and pressure of the game.  Romanian Andrei Pavel won the first set with a 6/7 score, and Agassi had a hard time winning the 2nd set, finishing after 66 minutes.  I actually thought it would be a breeze for my man since our namesake is also more than 30 years old, whose career high was only at the 2002 French Open when he reached the quarterfinals.  It seems like the other Andrei was also prepared, since Agassi’s win in the 3rd set was no ease either, with only six minutes short of the 2nd set, and having an identical score to the previous set, 7/6.  Good thing Agassi got the fourth set after only 31 minutes, and is now assured of at least two games in his farewell grand slam in New York.
 
Sadly however, Andre is unseeded after frustrating performances in the pre-open tourneys, so definitely he’ll be facing strong opponents in early matches.  On the second round he’ll be matched with the young Baghdatis (who almost toppled Federer early this year in Sydney), and as early as 4th round he might be facing America’s comeback player Andy Roddick (fresh from a new tourney win and a new coach).  It’s actually a tough season to be Andre’s last, and his exit might not be as fairy-tale as Pete’s final show.  But then, Agassi’s credentials are already beyond fairy-tale standards, and any form of exit is definitely a happy ending.


I look like a Malaysian F1 driver, haha!
Thu, 31 Aug 2006 02:54:00 GMT


 

July 1, 2006

July 2006

Filed under: events,films,tennis — drei @ 12:00 am

Superman Returns
Sun, 02 Jul 2006 11:05:00 GMT

Superman Returns (2006, Bryan Singer). Nostalgia was the overpowering emotion after watching the fifth Superman film. I may not remember the full details of the first four Superman movies, but I remembered watching all of them as a kid, and enjoying them immensely. Later after reading articles and reviews only did I realize that the latter sequels sucked, but in my early years I absolutely had no idea about movie plots and story lines. All I cared about then were the existence of Lex Luthor, the villains moving between glasses, the flying electricity guy, and that Superman beat the hell out of them. As unintentional efforts of preparing myself to the overdue sequel, I recently caught a few Season 5 episodes of Smallville (which helped me remind of the green kryptonite), and watched an episode of the tagalized version of Lois and Clark last weekend (which is nowhere close to the English version because of the distasteful translation). Access to these just shows that Superman is truly one of the biggest franchise in pop culture history, and one of the most celebrated comic character.

Superman Returns

Some notes on the film:

  • If not for Smallville, Superman Returns wouldn’t have been as effective in giving a nostalgic impression, so I guess credit could be given to the Tom Welling series. And let’s face it, the series made us ask during those years if Superman is indeed coming back to the widescreen. And this year, Bryan Singer gives us the answer.
  • I’m just very glad the Superman project years ago supposedly directed by Tim Burton (gothic Superman?!?) and starred by Nicolas Cage (bald Clark?!?) never pushed through. That same team could do an updated Planet of the Apes though, and maybe a primate Cage can redeem the disastrous remake made up of terrible looking fake masks and obviously artificial studio sets.
  • Like all Singer films, the actors were very well chosen in the movie. Brandon Routh was perfect as Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman. I can’t very much remember the transition of the character in the early films, but now I realized that when Superman wears his cape, he doesn’t only transform to the Man of Steel, but also becomes a man of few words. Superman’s silence did not however stopped Routh in showing his acting skills, not to mention that his portrayal of Clark is funny and adorable. Christopher Reeve would have been proud watching his successor fly.
  • Bryan Singer is now known as the director who did miracles to Kevin Spacey. Spacey was fantastic and unforgettable in The Usual Suspects, and now he’s commendable as the wig-dependent nemesis of Superman.
  • Parker Posey, the bimbo version of Hillary Swank, was perfect as the bimbo ally of Lex. I first saw this funny actress in Scream 3 and instantly enjoyed her portrayal as a bimbo actress. She was also a bimbo wife in Laws of Attraction, and a bimbo bitch in Josie and the Pussycats. She should soon team up with Paris Hilton, who really seemed natural in playing a sexy bimbo in House of Wax. Hehe!
  • James Marsden, who I once thought would play a good Superman (along with Eric Bana), starred as Lois Lane’s husband. It’s really a good thing he got to appear in another superhero movie after his negligible presence in the last X-Men.
  • Kate Bosworth’s portrayal of Lois Lane however was a bit off. She looked young for the character, and she’s not as assertive as I expected. (or maybe Teri Hatcher’s transition from Lois Lane to the desperate housewife has some influence on my expectations)
  • The effects of the film were superb. The opening sequence alone was sensational, with scenes of planets and asteroids in galaxies from a speeding perspective. The digital effects of the film were extremely neat, from the bullet nearing Superman’s eye to the catastrophic tremors in the metropolis.
  • The action sequences were a little simplistic, and at some point non-climactic. It’s understandable since Bryan Singer is not known for clever suspense. When he made the first X-Men, I was anticipating a grand action sequence when Rogue was using Magneto’s power to activate the mutant-transforming machine affecting a big chunk of New York, but didn’t happen. In Superman Returns, I was anticipating the destruction sequence of North America in real world proportions, but sadly all I got was Luthor’s preview of the miniature trains and landscape.
  • Story-wise, I honestly felt a lot of details were missed. Not much explanation was given to Lane’s Pulitzer winning article, or to the realization of Superman in his missing years. This is disappointing since I consider Bryan Singer more of a storyteller than an action film director. The over all theme of the story is not exactly that different from the plot we are all familiar of, that of Lex’s evil schemes and his never ending plot to kill Superman, and that of Lois and Superman’s love affair. There wasn’t even much dilemma in the protagonist’s decision to return as Superman. (I’d have to say the hero’s dilemma in Spiderman 2 had a better treatment, though less complicated) The only added story line, was the minor twist on Lois Lane’s son. Despite the un-extraordinary feel of the plot, the script and acting were well done and consistent.
  • The love angle between Lois and Superman was very reminiscent to the first Superman movie. Lane’s marriage added spice to the subject, and the film’s execution proves more that Superman is not just responsible to one of the greatest superhero stories but also to one of the most memorable love stories in comic history.
  • One of my favorite scenes was Superman’s defeat in the hands of Lex Luthor. Luthor’s allies beating Superman, and Lex striking him with a sharp Kryptonite was just pure classic, and Posey’s tears in that scene were downright sincere. One scene I never expected to see in any Superman movie, was Superman rushed in a hospital emergency room. It seemed funny, but then it also gave Superman a bit of human touch.

Now that the long wait for Superman is over, I can’t give the best praises to Superman Returns, though I wasn’t displeased. Superman Returns was able to deliver, and the nostalgic feel was enough for me to enjoy the movie. I honestly would rather that they made a more interesting story of Superman’s comeback.

(And as for Bryan Singer, I wish he didn’t pass the directorial seat in X-Men3. X3 had the perfect story, but lacked the touch of a real visionary director.)

——————

Thanks to Lye for the free tickets to the special screening by Smart Infinity.
 

Wimbledon, Hugh Jackman, and Lian Ramos
Tue, 11 Jul 2006 05:55:00 GMT
 

Amelie Mauresmo  Roger Federer

Wimbledon 2006.  The grand slam of all grand slams may have had predictable outcomes (Roger in the finals, Top 4 Women’s seeds in the semis), but tennis fans still chose to celebrate with Roger over Italy’s triumph in the World Cup.  (Zidane’s head-butting stunt was unforgivable yet totally cool hehe)

As always, I was rooting for Federer and Agassi in the Men’s singles.  I was silently raving for my man Andre, but because of his draw (only seeded #25), he had to meet World number 2 Rafa in an early round, causing his premature exit in the grass court.  He truly deserved more than a standing ovation after his last match in the history of Wimbledon.  I honestly can’t wait for the Flushing Meadows, Andre’s last open before retirement.

For Women’s I wanted Venus to defend her title, and was also cheering for Kim Clisters.  The upset of Venus ended the string of Wimbledon victory for the Williams sisters (either one of them always reaches the finals, until this year).  During the finals I was rooting for Amelie all the way, not wanting Justin to get near the trophy because of the stomach-aching operandi she pulled off in the Australian Open early this year.  (My housemate told me she pulled off the same act years ago with Serena).  It’s a great thing that this time, Amelie gets a deserving (and not a half-baked) grand slam.
 

as Tom Verde in Aronofsky's The Fountain as magician Rupert Angier in Chris Nolan's The Prestige as an aristocrat in Woody Allen's Scoop

Hugh Jackman in 2006.  After three X-Men films, 2006 is definitely a great year for Hugh Jackman, with three great films to be released by three very great directors:  Darren Aronofsky, Christopher Nolan, and Woody Allen.

First is the romantic comedy Scoop by Woody Allen (Manhattan), which Hugh co-stars with the sexiest girl in this year’s FHM Top 100, Scarlett Johansson.  The film’s about a student trying to expose a magician, but ends up falling for the subject of her scoop.  Next is The Fountain by Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream), where Hugh stars with Rachel Weisz, in a time-travelling action epic about a brave man’s fight for the woman he loves.  Last is The Prestige by noir master Christopher Nolan (Memento, Batman Begins), a novel adaptation where Hugh and Christian Bale portray magicians whose rivalry has turned into murders.

If time-traveling is considered magic, then I guess magic would be the common theme of all three Jackman projects.  Aside from these three promising movies, Jackman also has a few voice appearances this year.  Along with Al Pacino, Dustin Huffman, and Liam Neeson, Mr. Hugh Jackman is now officially included in my all-time favorite actors.
 

Lian Ramos

Miss Universe 2006.  View Lian’s video interview here.  I believe the pageant will be televised live on the morning of July 24, but unfortunately I might miss the viewing party in Lian’s place because of a scheduled training.  As they say, career first before friends.  Hehe!

Good luck Lian!
 

Cinemalaya 2006
Fri, 14 Jul 2006 07:26:00 GMT

Cinemalaya 2006 officially starts next week with the screening of Jeturian’s award winning Kubrador.  I personally think Jeturian (Pila Balde, Tuhog) is one of the very few creative and bright directors in the country, and Kubrador just recently got the FIPRESCI prize in the Moscow International Film Festival.

I’m hoping to catch these shorts next week in Cinemalaya: Puwang by Anna Isabelle Matutina and Labada by Raz dela Torre.
 

Puwang         Labada

Congratulations and good luck to Shine and Raz!

And good luck most especially to Tanghalang Pilipino’s Skyzx (wohoo!!) for playing the lead in Labada.

Synopsis and festival schedule are available here.
 

February 1, 2006

February 2006

Filed under: films,music,personal — drei @ 12:00 am

Best Albums of 2005
Wed, 01 Feb 2006 10:08:00 GMT

Here are four of the greatest albums I’ve heard in 2005.
I know this post is rather late, but better late than never!
  


Coldplay


Jack Johnson


Renee Olstead


Damien Rice


My current favorites are So Sick by Ne-yo, Ugly by Sugababes, and Be Without You by Mary J. Blige.  Yep, I’m back to enjoying RnB these days!  I know it’s ephemeral and I seldom buy albums in this genre, but these tracks just keep me up and awake at work.

I might also visit Xaymaca this Monday for the Bob Marley Night.  I simply miss live reggae!  (which reminds me, the UP Fair will be on in a few weeks, yebah!)

Enjoy listening people!
 


2005 Movies
Sat, 04 Feb 2006 09:48:00 GMT

Here are my favorite films for 2005:

10.  La Visa Loca
9.  Tim Burton’s The Corpse Bride
8.  Kung Fu Hustle (Hong Kong)
7.  Cinderella Man
6.  Bad Education (Spain)
5.  Sin City
4.  The Constant Gardener
3.  The Spanish Apartment (France)
2.  Crash
1.  Batman Begins

Obviously, Batman Begins was the most celebrated movie in this blog last year.  I might have written about it a few hundred times.  There are still dozens of 2005 movies that I still have to watch, so consider this list of mine partial.  I watched Walk The Line last night and it was good; I want sweet Reese Witherspoon to win the AcademyBig Time was very good, I enjoyed it even more than Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros and Pepot Artista, both winners for best director and best picture in last year’s Cinemalaya, beating Big Time.  But Big Time won the best screenplay, and it should since it’s one witty and funny film.  Heck, it’s even so much better than Pinoy Blonde!  I also recently got to watch Jennifer Aniston’s last two films (Derailed and Rumor Has It…), which were okay, but she’s far from pulling off a post-breakup success the way Nicole Kidman did.  And Cheaper By The Dozen 2 was fun fun fun!  I watched it with my siblings and cousins last week, an ideal movie for a family treat.

The Oscar season is in the air, and for sure more 2005 movies deserve to be in my list.  First stop, I’m watching the advance screening of Munich this Monday.  I can’t wait to watch another non-mainstream Spielberg movie.

Happy weekend everyone!  🙂
 

Munich, another Spielberg masterpiece
Thu, 09 Feb 2006 01:28:00 GMT
 

Kassovitz and BanaMunich (2005/Steven Spielberg).  If Crash presented a tale of hatred begetting hatred, Munich delivers a far more gruesome portrayal of the subject. A film with a sensitive and relevant topic only Spielberg can deliver, the Oscar nominated suspense is probably his boldest work to date. The story follows the aftermath of the massacre of Israeli athletes in the 1972 Munich Olympics, where Israelian Avner, played by Hulk’s Eric Bana, led a team of assassins in retaliation of the attacks. Their commander was played effectively by the intense Geofrrey Rush, while future Bond Daniel Craig, Amelie’s Matthieu Kassovitz, German actor Hanns Zischler, and Ciarán Hinds (Sum Of All Fears) played the hired assassins to complete the powerful supporting cast.

An unbiased account loosely based on a novel, the philosophy of the dogmatic, the profound, the straight-laced, and probably that of Spielberg, speak loudly through many characters of the film. We hear the Arab assassin’s concept of home, the tale of Avner’s mother on having a place on earth, the final conversation on peace and breaking bread among Jews, and more, each of which manifesting truths in a world where violence dictates politics, and politics dictates survival.

The movie demonstrates terrorism in the perspective of the terrorists, and the movie had a very talented actor to exemplify that – the eyes of Eric Bana. Man, those can really describe a soul that’s struggling between righteousness and brutality, between security and paranoia.

I was personally surprised that the movie is only rated R-13, given the straightforward gore of the sequences.

One of the many notable highlights was the parallelism between the scenes where Bana’s character was looking for bombs that didn’t even exist, and another, his colleague dismantling bombs they were supposed to use for their mission.

The last sequence of the movie, probably considered the climax to many, simultaneously showing a flashback of the murder of the athletes and the main character giving his wife another form of climax, was disturbing enough to acknowledge Bana’s great acting and the real world effects of the unceasing battle between nations and religion, affecting the terrorists themselves, the innocent, and everything in between.

As always, Spielberg successfully uses drama in a manner that doesn’t cross the borderline of being a drag and too emotional. From the first frame to the last, the movie is rich with vintage cinematography and editing; a friend even compared some scenes to the style of Hitchcock. Munich is one enthralling masterpiece, and definitely an instant classic.


I really wouldn’t mind Munich winning over Crash in the Academy, although I haven’t seen Brokeback Mountain yet. (My bestfriend said she watched Brokeback twice though and claims she loves Ang Lee so much for that movie.) But then again, Munich is a winning experience itself, and I don’t think it requires a trophy to prove that. Shakespeare In Love won best picture over Saving Private Ryan, remember?
 

Lian Ramos: the next Miss Universe
Thu, 16 Feb 2006 06:17:00 GMT

Watch out for Ms. Lia Andrea Ramos this March 4, 2006 in the Binibining Pilipinas pageant. Lian is one of the smartest and most cultured people that I’ve met. And to top it off, she’s a political science graduate in UP and works for an international organization that does funding for charity – just perfect for the Miss Universe crown!

Little side story: Last Valentine’s, while on a singles night out with other friends, the singer in the jazz bar thought that Lian and I were a couple. And I thought I’d never pass as a boyfriend to a beauty queen; my level has just been upgraded! Haha!
 

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