Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Government is Taxing Me for Learning Japanese

According to the 1950 Florence Agreement on the Importation of Educational, Scientific and Cultural Materials that the Philippines signed in August 7, 1979, imported educational and cultural books should be exempt from Customs Duties, although a limited amount for the services they (Customs) render could be applied. Of course this is subject to interpretation, and it appears that the Bureau of Customs has its own, to the tune of 2,000 pesos for a set of books worth 5,500.

I was supposed to order a complete set of Minna No Nihongo from the Nihongo Center Foundation in Makati, except they would not let me buy them because I am not enrolled at their institution. I think that is bullshit since they are supposed to be promoting the Japanese language. How are they to do that if they are monopolizing the resources? They are not even the publisher of those books. Moving on, I just decided to purchase online and found another textbook series: Genki.

Monday, December 27, 2010



Stella (Kris Aquino) decides to marry Anton (Diether Ocampo), the love of her life, four years after her first husband's death in a car accident. Much to the delight of her son (Maliksi Morales), the two get married and are soon after haunted by a vengeful ghost, which is later identified as Stella's "Dalaw" by Manang Olga (Gina Parreño), the psychic caregiver of Anton's mother.

Perhaps being surrounded by a competent support cast is what makes Kris Aquino's acting tolerable here. Gina Parreño drops a classic Pinoy movie one-liner in almost every sentence, but her delivery is just the right mix of campy and credible that you get to admire her acting repertoire. She should have won the Supporting Actress Award over Eugene Domingo. The only other nominee was Alessandra de Rossi for the same film. She is brilliant and consistent here but her role here is too short. Ina Feleo also does a good job. Susan Africa as well. Diether Ocampo is okay. Karylle, who appears in medias res, is okay. Even Empress does her best in such a minimal role. The weak link here acting-wise would be the kid, then Kris.

Ang Tanging Ina Mo (Last Na 'To!)


After winning an election to become the country's president in the second installment, Ina Montecillo (Ai Ai de las Alas) is back in the household to take care of her kids for part three, until she discovers that she has a tumor in her brain and would be dying soon. Conflicts mainly revolve around Juan (Marvin Agustin) versus Tri (Carlo Aquino) and Tudis (Nikki Valdez) versus Seven (Shaina Magdayao). In this scenario Heart Evangelista as Por is sorely missed, since her clash with gay brother Pip (Alwyn Uytingco) is actually the most memorable from the first movie. Instead, Xyriel Ann Manabat  joins the cast as one of Ina's grandkids. This kid is really good. In fact she is the only new addition to the cast that actually contributes something to the comedy department. Well, Empoy is here too as Seven's fiancé, but we already know how he is utilized as a comedic character.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

[BATANES] Budget and Itinerary

FRIDAY: December 17, 2010 
Taxi (Pasay - Manila Domestic Terminal) - 72.50
Terminal Fee (Manila Domestic Terminal) - 200.00
Seair (Manila – Basco – Manila) - 6,927.20
  Beef Steak w/Rice & Coke in Can (Batanes Seaside Resort) - 145.00
Batanes Seaside Resort (Double Aircon/3 nights) - 2,400.00
3 pcs Toast and Bacon w/Fit n' Rite (Batanes Seaside Resort) - 135.00
Sinigang and Rice w/Coke (Batanes Seaside Resort) - 110.00

Monday, December 20, 2010

[SABTANG] Batanes Roundup

It was almost 11 AM when we got back to Centro. The tour guide asked me if I wanted to go north to see a popular beach and have a glimpse of Vuhus and Adekey. I concurred. On the road, the tour guide singled out a brown horse eating grass among the goats and claimed it as his. We took a right turn to the beach. The beach is quite popular among tourists because of a big rock forming an arch. The waves are a bit wild but one could not help but marvel on the clarity of the water, which was cold by the way. What I did not like about that beach were the black jelly thingies that stuck to my flip-flops. I never got them off even after some hard brushing when I got back to Manila. Trash bin.

SABTANG] The Humble Town of Chavayan

The road to Chavayan was longer but not at all boring because of the view. Look right and you see an overdose of green care of the mountains and the cliffs. Look left and you see many ripples of white forming on the surface of an ocean so blue. Halfway through the journey, we passed by Sleeping Beauty. Maybe I am just visually impaired but I really cannot make out that image of the mountain. There are many humps that could qualify as Sleeping Beauty’s boobs but I just could not figure out which. I just took a picture and ogled at it for awhile but still, nada.

[SABTANG] A Quick Stop at Savidug

The twin towns of Malakdang and Sinakan are the most accessible from Centro where the church, town hall, and the school are located. An arch greets you as you enter the town center. The Tourist Information office is on the left and is within walking distance from the port and from the entrance to Sinakan. The road from Sinakan going south is the one leading to Savidug and Chavayan. The one from Malakdang heading north will lead you to Nakanmuan and Sumnanga, the fishing village where you will be coming from if you intend to visit Vuhus or Adekey. Can you go to Sumnanga from Chavayan? No. The road to Chavayan ends in Chavayan. The only way to reach the other side of the island is to head north.

[SABTANG] Dancing with the Waves

Sabtang is one of Batanes’ main islands. Located southwest of Batan, the island is home to six towns, among which the more popular ones are Chavayan and Savidug in the east. It also serves as the take-off point to get to Vuhus or Adekey, two smaller uninhabited islands to the west that serve as grazing areas for cows and goats. To get to Sabtang you have to take a 50-peso faluwa ride from Ivana’s San Vicente Port. That is around 30-45 minutes spent on a motorized boat dancing on the waves.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

[BATAN] Wafers and Cola at Diura

Passing by some Nipa huts along the beach, I reached the fishing village after two minutes. I was greeted by three carabaos enjoying a mud bath at the shore. I parked the bike in front of the signboard saying Welcome. There were two paths: one that led to the beach; and the other, which I took, was elevated and served as a walkway for people. There was a sign saying tourists should register but the arrow pointed to a Sari-Sari store. So I just bought five pieces of Nissin Wafers and Coke in plastic. I walked my bike to the shore, sat on a rock, and ate my wafers on that beach. I had the impression that I was at Valugan Bay but when I saw pictures after the trip, the shore of Valugan Bay was supposed to be filled with smooth stones, none of which I saw there. Well, whatever. To me it was Valugan Bay whether the pictures agree or not. They are both beaches anyway.

[BATAN] Fishing at the Chanarian

The bike had some sort of speed mechanism and ceased to function after I adjusted it. I had it replaced with a one-speed orange bike with a basket in front. After lunch I took a shower then went on with the long bike trip awaiting me along National Road. It took me around 30 minutes to get to the Chanarian View Deck and another 30 to get to Mahatao. It was not easy and I had to rest a lot along the way. The road just goes up and down but the scenery is postcard perfect.

[BATAN] Provoking a Cow at Naidi Hills

Saturday started as early as 5 AM to make up for lost time. After breakfast I went to town to look for Amboy's bike rental. I was able to get a mountain bike for 200 pesos. I just had to return it and pay before they close at 8 PM. See, this is one thing you just have to admire about the Ivatans. They have faith in each other. At the Batanes Seaside Lodge, for example, there is a TV by the front door. The desk is often unmanned and the door is wide open. There were no security guards by the way. Do that in Manila and you are, like, doing the Akyat Bahay a huge favor. Anyway, I decided to go and see Mt. Iraya up close.

[BATAN] To Strangle a Stewardess

Batanes is the Philippines' last frontier to the north. The province experiences four seasons, albeit no snowfall for winter. Basco serves as the gateway to the province and is located on the island of Batan right in the middle, while largest island Itbayat is the last municipality of the country to the north and is actually closer to Taiwan. Sabtang to the south, on the other hand, is where Chavayan, a UNESCO World Heritage site nominee, is located.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Magsimula Ka (Spotlight Artists Centre)


The musical starts with a mini concert for the finals of a singing competition called Philipop. Isay Alvarez, Jamie Rivera, Rito Asilo, Jenine Desiderio and Bicong del Rosario sing solos for the audience and end the performance with an ensemble piece. Some of them were part of the original cast of Magsimula Ka.

The show tackles the very typical theme of ambition and reaching for your dreams. What makes it different then? The musical is in Filipino, and it is just a breath of fresh air to see something like it. I have seen almost a dozen musicals this year, and none of them were in Tagalog. Here is an original Filipino production, and a very lively one at that. The venue and the language make the event more intimate for the audience. It is also because of this that the entire thing looks like a cross between a musical and a comedy bar performance, which is actually good because the audience was obviously enjoying every moment.

Little Women (Repertory Philippines)


Bickering sisters, womanhood, elaborate ball gowns. Not really my cup of tea. At least it is a musical, which makes it more interesting. And even if none of the things mentioned would be of interest to you, there are other subplots within the play that feature universal themes such as Jo’s ambition, for example.

The only vague recollection I have of Little Women is that cartoon series where the woman is named Jo and his husband is named Fritz. They run some sort of orphanage together. If I am not mistaken the title of that series was also Little Women. However, after seeing this play it seems like this is the prequel to that story. No, I have not read the novel yet.

It is a bit boring but maybe this depends on the person watching it. If you love costume dramas tackling the restricted and very traditional role of women in society during the 19th century then you might enjoy this. However, there are some people who just do not get it. I do not get it. Sorry to fans. But I cannot even distinguish such novels from one another. Their structures seem to be almost the same, very much like modern chick lit. Perhaps reading some of them would shed more light and elicit appreciation.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

My Amnesia Girl


No. It is not really a rehash of 50 First Dates, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, or any other amnesia film you could think of. The similarities end with the amnesia issue. There is a big twist at the end which somehow resembles the twist of another Toni Gonzaga movie. Although not exactly the same, they are almost similar in terms of the chain of events leading to the revelation, and the irony of it all.

The thing about watching John Lloyd movies is that no matter who his leading lady is, there will always be that throng of screaming fans making their presence felt on every close-up, and their laughter is quite contagious. It is a communal experience linked by a happy ambience where everyone is just having fun. This is always advantageous for the movie. Sometimes you no longer know if it is the scene or the line that is funny or just the fact that the audience is so much affected.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 1


As a standalone movie, it will seem boring and will not make a lot of sense, at least for those who really have no background about Harry Potter (Do such people exist! Seriously?). However, as part of a whole this movie is probably one of the best among the series. It serves its purpose well as the breather before the climax.

What is admirable about this film is the contrast. There are a lot of scenes that are silent, as if intentionally done to prep the audience for a bigger action-packed scene, of which this movie has only a handful. This mood is maintained all throughout the film’s two-hour run. It is a good decision to split the material into two parts in order to build excitement, be more faithful to the book, and give time for the fans to review the books before everything ends. Seven months for seven books would do, even at a rather slow pace of one book a month before July 2011 comes.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

[MANILA] Rizal and Lapu-Lapu, Spotted!

What followed was a long walk from the Post Office to the vicinity of Rizal Park. Do yourself a favor and take a jeep. In my case, it was the classic case of "Everything seems so near!" phenomenon. You see several landmarks close to one another and then you assume that they are within walking distance. Well, that is true to some extent, but group them together and you'll be surprised how far the landmarks from both ends are from each other!

[MANILA] The Ermita Walkathon

It was raining when I got out of Intramuros and my legs were already telling me to go home and be on bed rest for the next few days. The joys of leg torture! My mind was against the idea. It was only 1 PM and the Planetarium on the other side of the street looked interesting. So I rested under a tree until the heavy rain subsided and then I crossed Padre Burgos Street.

[MANILA] Time Loops and UFO Landing Pads

You should not believe a kalesa driver at Plaza de Roma when he says that the Bahay Tsinoy is so far away that you need to ride his horse-drawn carriage to get there. The road to the left of Manila Cathedral is called Cabildo Street. Walk down that path and you will arrive at Bahay Tsinoy after three street corners in five minutes, under ten minutes if you are not a brisk walker. If you love museums because they are so cool you’re gonna die then make sure you know the opening hours. Most museums in Intramuros are closed on Mondays. The Bahay Tsinoy is only open to the public from 1 PM to 5 PM. It is a museum dedicated to the Filipino – Chinese community and their contributions to the country. The entrance fee is 100 pesos for adults; 60 pesos for students and children. Lying about your age is optional, but you just came from the Manila Cathedral. Later on you will be visiting yet another church. Well, two, in fact. Do you really want to risk going to hell over 40 pesos?

[MANILA] Was That a Ghost, or Your Grandma?

You can now walk out to the veranda and buy a souvenir. I bought the hardbound version of Noli Me Tángere which serves as a replica of the original manuscript. The text is written in cursive and has Rizal’s notes in it. If you can read en español and you love deciphering texts that look like doctors’ prescriptions, or if you just like collecting books, then this one is for you! El Filibusterismo is also available. They are a bit costly at 800 pesos apiece but well worth the price, and the weight. You could opt for a smaller printed version that sells for 300 pesos. If you have tried searching for the original Spanish versions in bookstores in Manila, you would know how close to impossible it is to actually find one.

[MANILA] Leave Rizal’s Golden Footsteps Alone!

Salute the flag, climb the steps, and then cross the bridge. Notice how picture perfect the floating water lilies are? It is unknown if hardcore camwhores are permitted to jump in to join those water plants for a nature-inspired photo op. Ask the people running the place first before doing so just to be sure.

[MANILA] The Statue Who Loved to Shower

Technically, the wall does not end because it surrounds the whole area. Okay fine, it does end because the side of the district facing the Pasig River has no wall. What is being said here is that you cannot really stay on the wall and expect to go around the whole district. There are some restricted areas where you have no choice but to go down and hit the streets.

[MANILA] Of Walls and Balls

Intramuros is a must-see if you are longing for a dose of culture and history. This walled city served as the stronghold of the government during the Spanish colonial period. It was not just any other city. It was Manila itself.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Wedding Singer (9 Works Theatrical)


The opening number (It's Your Wedding Day) is full of energy and 80's dance moves, and it is wonderful that way. However, it seems to lack the oomph to get the audience excited for the following scenes. The opening number of the second act is way more enticing, and starts with a picture perfect scene given the appropriate lighting and the crisp corporate look of the ensemble. It is a mental image that just sticks.

TV does not do Gian Magdangal justice. This guy can sing and his voice suits mellow and rock without trying too hard. Iya Villania is no Lea Salonga but she can definitely carry a tune. These two's duets are so pleasing to the ears, the blending is perfect and neither one is out-sung. It is also a good thing that Villania is able to get rid of her Aussie accent here.

Monday, November 8, 2010



Coming on the heels of Despicable Me, this movie comes out just a little too soon. Written by Tina Fey, it is meant to be witty and a lot of the dialogues are actually quotable. This is what this movie has to make up for Despicable Me's secret weapons, namely the fatherhood angle and the cute kids. Adults would probably have a good time watching this movie because of the punchlines. Other than that, it is just another popcorn flick. Has Hollywood gotten tired of its superheroes? Why the sudden influx of romanticized villains? There are a couple of twists halfway through the movie. These really help a lot for the movie to establish its own identity. Otherwise, it would have been just another superhero movie with wicked animation and its fair share of weird characters.

Till My Heartaches End


The non-linear flow of the story has a unique appeal of its own. It is as if everything is just a vague recollection of a love affair gone awry, shared over a cup of coffee on a rainy night. This, however is what also makes the movie boring, similar to the boredom one feels after hearing every little detail of a love story about which you could not care any less.

There is a lot of talk in this movie. Almost half the back-story is made known to the audience through the other characters' conversations (or better term, "gossip"). This is somehow effective, although one could not help but think that it is just done that way because they had no ample time to shoot extra scenes.

Petrang Kabayo


Typical Wenn Derramas movie: exaggeration, slapstick, DJ Durano. The movie is so-so and turns out to be a bore after the transformation scene. However, credit should be given where it is due. This is only the third local movie to pass the 100-million mark this year, that despite the poor material and the fact that this is Vice Ganda's launching movie. Given those factors, what this movie has achieved is already remarkable in itself.

What happens to Vice Ganda after this movie? He seems to lack the versatility of recent comedy breakout stars such as Eugene Domingo. Take for example that one scene where he cries with his father in the hospital. John Arcilla's attack is so subtle yet just right for the scene, while his is already bordering on hysterical. Perhaps he can do drama, but can he do it well enough for the audience to momentarily forget his punchlines and succumb to the sudden change of mood? Could he portray characters other than himself? Unless he could prove that, he might just turn out to be a one-trick pony.

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Little Night Music (Atlantis Theatrical)


The musical begins with a young man pretending to play the cello (You are awesome in everything you do Felix Rivera, but it is obvious that the sound is coming from the orchestra. Is it?) followed by a marvelous combination of voices provided by a quintet. Their shtick quickly becomes repetitive after butting in the scene for the nth time, but come on! With such a smooth blending of voices, could one really complain? This five-man chorus also makes up for the many limitations of the simple set design. If the rest of the cast is the preterit, this group of singers is the imperfect. They provide an aural representation of the visual background that you just do not see. And it is really music to one's ears.

Acting-wise the cast is brilliant. The director could not have found a better ensemble of such talented actors. The weakest link would have to be the kid who portrays the role of Desiree's daughter. It is just that her accent is inconsistent in some scenes, but with that blunder aside she really is not that weak a link.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Who Broke My Thermos in 1992?

BAS – GS Department
Date: 10-15-92

Dear Parents,

Please be informed that your child DAN ALFRED DE JESUS in levels 3-4 was sent to the office for having a fight with his classmate. It started with him not giving a space for the girl at the table. His folder was written by a crayon by his classmate and he wrote back in the folder of the girl. During recess time the girl got a chance to fight back and threw Dan’s thermos on the floor and the plastic cover broke. The attention of the girl was called and I wrote to the parents of the girl.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sinapak Ako ng Isang Kamag-Aral

Sinugod naman siya ng nanay ko. Ngayon magkaibigan kami sa Facebook, at malamang ay hindi na rin niya naaalala ang pangyayaring ito halos dalawampung taon na ang nakararaan. Hindi ko alam ang dahilan kung bakit niya ako sinapak at wala na ring saysay na alamin kung bakit bigla na lang nananapak ang isang batang wala pang kamuwang-muwang sa mundo. Marahil ay bahagi lamang iyon ng pagiging bata.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

El secreto de sus ojos


A newly retired legal counselor decides to write a novel based on a rape-murder case closed two decades ago in which he participated, bringing back all the haunting memories and the impact its effects have had not only on his life, but on the lives of all those involved as well.

El secreto de sus ojos (The Secret in their Eyes) is very appropriate as a title, and the many references to it as the film unfolds makes one marvel on its subtlety. The way the plot is arranged leaves a lot of room for mystery and suspense and the audacity of the dialogue is of great help in keeping the tone of the film light when needed be. Although there are plenty of scenes referring to the romance between the two leads, this does not affect the flow of the main story in a detrimental way, but rather stays on the sidelines developing at its own pace and reaching its own climax as the film ends.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Despicable Me


This movie is just full of cuteness, from the adorable toddler Agnes (It's so FLUFFEEE!!!) to Dru's cousins who are reminiscent of those little green aliens from Toy Story. They even have their own language! All this makes up for the main story's lack of depth, which is easily forgiven in films made with kids as the target market. While lacking in terms of story and predictable when it comes to the plot, the movie's theme is very clear: Fatherhood. This makes it more appealing as a family movie since not only the kids but also the new dads, or any dad who has to deal with toddlers, could easily relate to it.

With regards to the jokes, they are 50-50 for the adults. Sometimes Gru just disappears and in his place you see Steve Carell as if you are watching an episode of The Office. His brand of comedy is easily distinguishable as his, no matter what role he plays. This sometimes becomes a disadvantage because all of them tend to point back to that one role of his that is easily recognizable, again, his character in The Office.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Xanadu (Atlantis Theatrical)


Xanadu gives you a nostalgia for the roller disco days you never had. Too bad it only runs for under two hours, although that is already sufficient for one to enjoy the show. The souvenir program is a little bit pricier than usual, but you get a CD along with the book. The sad thing is that it does not contain the whole soundtrack, only about five songs by Rachel Alejandro.

The story follows the simple immortal-falls-in-love-with-mortal formula, and to where the plot is headed is obvious from the beginning. What makes the show interesting is that it gives you the illusion that you are back in the eighties, making you feel as if you have once lived it too even if in reality you were still in diapers watching Voltes Five on IBC-13 back then. Okay, technically you did but were too young to actually identify with such a bygone era.

Sunday, August 8, 2010



No complaints regarding the costume. Whoever is in charge of that aspect has obviously done some serious research and it is nice to see that they have stayed loyal to the characters' looks in the video game. The costumes worn by Nina and Christie are tweaked a little to show more skin but that does not destroy the motif of the original on which it is based. They just become Nina Cleavage Williams and Christie Butt Crack Monteiro, respectively. Understandable. No A-List actors here, need to show more skin. Oops, too late, already went straight to DVD in the US. Fail.

They should have used the yellow/red version of Jin's pants (the one with the flame design on it) instead of the blue one. That is easily identified as his signature look and it matches the red gauntlets. Kudos to Jon Foo's hairstylist, though his hair is not as gravity defying as those of Jin in the video game, it is enough to be quickly identified as his. Kudos to Jon Foo too for trying to imitate every grunt and noise Jin makes in the video game. At least, he tries. Fight scenes are not that bad either thanks to his Wushu background. It would have been better though if only they had incorporated Jun's and Kazuya's moves in the video game to Jin's choreographed fight scenes here.

Monday, August 2, 2010



Cold War, cold war. The Cold War never ends! Not as awesome as Wanted. Less CGI, more stunts. It is impressive that way. No curving of bullets, just jumping from one moving truck to another. Jumping off a helicopter. Jumping off an elevator. Angelina Jolie disguised as a man resembling Hilary Swank's Brandon Teena character in Boys Don't Cry. Ah, yes! Angelina Jolie. This movie works because of her. Her reputation as a kick-ass chick is enough to get this movie going. She looks a bit older but she does it anyway. No other actress could have pulled it off better. Maybe Jennifer Garner, but her box office draw is not that strong.

Not boring. There are chase scenes left and right. There is enough mystery in the plot to keep you hooked on guessing as to what the real deal is. Short flashbacks are shown once in a while to give you clues. Salt does not reveal her motives but gives you little clues regarding her actions if you are observant enough.

Monday, July 26, 2010



Cuatro for the effort. There is a scene after the credits which serves as some sort of epilogue for the last episode, and sets the scene for the first episode. If you come in late you could start the movie with any episode since the fifth one actually serves as a prologue to the first, although the stories are not that directly related.

BRASO is relatively short, obviously just a filler. It manages to establish a creepy atmosphere thanks to the morgue setting, but this is quickly lost a few minutes into the episode. There really is nothing scary about a poorly animated face/crotch-grabbing zombie arm terrorizing teenagers while Hawak Kamay is playing in the background. And you do not play with dead bodies, that is just plain wrong.

Sunday, July 25, 2010



This is just the right kind of mindfvck good enough to redeem a Saturday night after seeing a disappointing comedy. The special effects are superb and you do not have to leave your brain at the door! The mind enjoys as much as the eyes do. It is a complete package! More movies like this please!

The thing is, you have to think to enjoy this movie. There are special effects, yes, but halfway through it you would probably just walk out frustrated if your eyes do all the work. It would just seem like a series of disjointed action scenes that do not make any sense. On the contrary, you cannot just ruminate and spoil the fun. The director just would not let you. Christopher Nolan is both graphic and profound when it comes to film making, makes me want to see Memento. Jessica Zafra has a point, it seems like he swallowed a Philosophy textbook and turned it into a unique cinematic experience.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Hating Kapatid


Is this a movie or a string of product placements put together onscreen for easy profit? Product placements are okay as long as done with subtlety. You would not cover the brand of your Belo facial cleanser tube in real life with tissue, would you? But does the camera really need to zoom in on the brand name as if it had its own billing? Showing it being used by the characters without calling too much attention to it would suffice. Same thing with the Cebuana Lhuillier promo ad, and Sarah really had to mention the name. It is funny at first, but to be bombarded with it all throughout the movie? Come on.

Saving grace: Vice Ganda, the confrontation scene, and Luis Manzano. No doubt that the set of actors involved could all act, but the story and characterization are just lacking. These consequently drag their performance down. Materials like this are better off as sitcoms where there would be more avenue for character and plot development in the long run. That way the dull moments would be understandable and the characters' antics would not seem annoyingly redundant.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Equus (Repertory Philippines)


Seventeen year old boy blinds six horses, sings commercial jingles, and shrieks in a high pitched voice. Equus is not a glitzy song and dance production on stage. In fact it is a play with a lot of talk, mostly very long monologues from the psychiatrist, combined with spontaneous chatter from a deranged teenager. This, along with a glimpse on the darker side of the human psyche, makes this play as gripping and disturbing as it is.

The nudity involved does not come as a surprise, and is not at all staged in an indecent manner. It must be pretty hard for the stage actors involved to strip down onstage as part of a live performance. For that, kudos to Marco Mañalac and Pheona Baranda for mustering the courage to do such a stunt. The professionalism displayed very much deserved the applause.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Toy Story 3


The movie starts and ends on a happy note, although that part near the ending is just depressing. One usually relates his childhood to the toys he used to play and the cartoons he used to watch. And now a decade after, the sequel that ends the trilogy finally arrives, the storyline of which clearly suggests moving on, or better yet: growing up.

The timing could not be more impeccable given that the audience who were kids when the first and second movies came out are already adults by now. So no one would really blame you if you come close to shedding a tear by the end of the movie. For us who were kids back in 1995, Toy Story is already a part of our childhood and although that childhood could no longer return, Toy Story 3 tells us that the memories will always be there and that they would stay forever.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Knight and Day


The story is... Alright, who am I kidding, there is no story. Whoever produced this movie probably just woke up one day and said, Hey, wouldn't it be nice if Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz made a reunion movie where they get to shoot people, get dragged and drugged across Europe, and eventually end up in South America? And then for some reason, both actors decided to agree. Despite the weak story, it would be unjust to say that the movie is not fun. IT IS FUN and funny. The action scenes are good and the locations, better. But what makes it a hilarious visual feast is the whole surreal feel of the movie. The scenes come across as if they are normal everyday occurrences not even worth a shrug. The characters are fun to watch because they always seem to be on a high, regardless if they are drugged or not, with the exception of course of one who is obviously a special child.

Legally Blonde (Atlantis Theatrical)


Even though the musical numbers are very lively, there seems to be something wrong. Overall, the musical is not that enjoyable. Maybe a louder than usual orchestra and too much pink do not always go together. Or perhaps it just depends where you are seated. But there were some technical problems with the audio, specifically with some of the actors' lapels. There are also instances where the orchestra drowns the dialogues.

The set is creatively done. Almost all that can be seen onstage are shaped like books, which reinforces the law school atmosphere. The moving sets are also shaped as such, the pages of which can be opened to reveal a new backdrop for another scene.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

I'll Be There


As a Father's Day presentation this movie could get a passing score for its timeliness. As a Star Cinema movie, yehey for taking a break from the romantic comedy genre. As a KC Concepcion movie it is again over-hyped for all the wrong reasons. When a movie full of hype fails to deliver, it gets panned, and/or it flops. There is no confirmation yet if this film is flopping, but based on different reviews it is already getting panned, and in my opinion, not without reason.

It seems like an innate father-daughter trait. Newsflash, you are in a movie! Why do you have to deliver your lines as if you were doing a TV commercial? Bits of overacting here and there from KC, which weirdly complements bits of underacting here and there from Daddy. Gabby Concepcion's acting is stuck in the 80's, very much like how Sheryl Cruz's acting is stuck in the 90's. She is not in this movie though. Apologies, I digress. Just looking for obvious comparisons. Her name was somehow the first to come to mind.

Letters to Juliet


The story is predictable but saved by decent acting from the cast. The two male leads are able to transform their characters' obnoxiousness into something amusing. Amanda Seyfried is okay given that there is nothing much for her to do here. Typical romantic comedy. Vanessa Redgrave is cool. Or maybe there is really just something compelling about a love story involving old people. Although their love story shares some similarities to that presented in Garcia-Marquez's Love in the Time of Cholera, it is still engrossing and could possibly be a good standalone story.

Varona is splendid. That sense of tranquility present in small medieval towns is effectively captured through camera and is very much evident all throughout the film. It makes you want to go there and experience it yourself. A lot of oohs and ahhs audible in the cinema every time a picturesque landscape of Varona is used as a transition from one scene to another. This is perhaps the biggest bonus in this movie. It makes you want to go to Italy, such a marvelous place. Postcard perfect!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Shrek Forever After


Good score for the visual experience, an area in which this franchise never disappoints, specially now for the first time in 3D. The problem is with the story itself. Like those sequels of popular Disney cartoons such as Aladdin and The Lion King, this particular Shrek installment's story also seems to be just good enough for a straight to DVD movie. They were already running out of stories to tell in the third one and was just saved by their funny parodies of classic Disney characters. In this one, they had to make an alternate storyline just to accommodate Rumpelstiltskin. Boring.

It does not help either that this one is not as funny and enjoyable as the previous three. Rumpelstiltskin is not funny at all. His jokes are corny and he is plain annoying. It is a good thing that at least Donkey and Puss still get their fair share of funny lines despite the relatively less exposure that they have. Even Pinocchio and the gang have suddenly become dull.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Here Comes the Bride


Angelica Panganiban outgays John Lapus and outshines Eugene Domingo for a couple of reasons, but primarily because she got the good roles. People were giggling all the time as she acted like a demure schoolgirl at the beginning of the movie, perhaps people have already identified strongly to the "babaeng-bakla" persona she has been flaunting lately. As a gay beautician trapped in a woman's body, she is sort of OA but saved by the notion that if it ever happened in real life, Lapus would be more or less acting the same way.

It has been mentioned before somewhere that this material would fare well as a theater piece. This is probably true given that this movie is an ensemble piece. The enjoyment derived from watching it greatly depends on the creativity of the actors in playing their roles and the rapport created among them. The plot is rather predictable. The bloopers at the end of the movie and the Photoshop-aided brief explanation of the connection among the five of them (after the end credits) sort of make up for the lack of a big plot twist.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Working Girls


Plot is all over the place. Too many characters, which: a) prohibits cohesion in the storyline; and b) leaves most subplots undeveloped and not engaging enough for you to care. The attempt for cohesion in One Night Only (another multi-character Jose Javier Reyes flick) is better. Movie is saved by a handful of characters with colorful personalities, albeit a bit over the top (e.g. Eugene Domingo and Cristine Reyes).

Eugene Domingo steals the show from all of the girls, which is ironic because she is totally detached from their storyline. She has her own interesting subplot all to herself, which could have been expounded in lieu of the other less interesting characters' and added more entertainment value to the movie as a whole. What is notable is that while she does steal the limelight from the girls, she does not manage to upstage Ricky Davao. This results in enjoyable scenes of them together. Less shouting from her and it could have been better.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Babe, I Love You


I love Anne Curtis. In fact I could write a 500-page reaction paper on why I love Anne Curtis, how she effortlessly manages to still exude some class regardless of whatever pokpokish outfit she is asked to wear, and how her acting and Tagalog skills have improved through the years. But Anne Curtis is Anne Curtis. She is not the movie. And the movie is... bland. And the story, very common. Candid poster, albeit irrelevant.

Sam Milby is back to playing himself again. If his objective is to get richer and more popular then go ahead, but if honing his craft is on the priority list then he should demand for more challenging roles, like drama, or what he did in And I Love You So.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Avenue Q (Atlantis Theatrical)


Bad Idea Bears! Just could not get enough of the thought of a cute Care Bear ripoff advising someone to hang himself, and then releasing a sigh of disappointment when not obliged. It is so deranged that is hilarious. And of course, Trekkie the Monster! Let us all get rich and invest in porn! HAHAHAHA!

It gets a little bit confusing at first. This is not your typical puppet show where only the upper half of them are exposed. Here, the puppeteers are also visible onstage. The good thing about it is that they are also in character; there is some fusion going on between puppet and puppeteer. As for the dual roles the transition from one character to another is smoothly done, so it is easy to distinguish one from the other.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Alice in Wonderland


Story-wise, the book does not make a lot of sense. What makes the book stand out is the very clever wordplay, some of which are also used in the movie. But you cannot make a movie from play of words alone, so how can it be made interesting? Do it in 3D. Drown the moviegoer with CGI. It actually works. This movie is one hell of a visual feast, better seen in 3D or you miss out on half the fun. The Wonderland in the movie gives justice and perhaps, even outdoes the Wonderland in the book. Sorry, biased judgment from a member of a very techie generation.

One does not need to read the book prior to watching the movie but it would not hurt to do so. The book is really very short anyway. They veer away from the original but not that much. The main story arc stays the same with a few subplots tweaked, probably an attempt on coherence. No need for it though, its being surreal should suffice. To quote Alice, It is a all a dream, after all. The weirder, the better.

Up in the Air


This is a movie about firing people. It deals with a sensitive and very real event given a comic twist, which in turn makes it tolerable to watch. In real life, this is no laughing matter but the film is effectively used as a medium to demonstrate this reality of life without being too brutal. In effect, it gives some sort of hopeful perspective, looking on to the positive aspect of getting sacked.

The first scenes are strategically placed to set the mood for the audience to relate well to Clooney's character. The film starts with aerial views of different land patches, clouds, bodies of water, etc, as seen from the window of a plane. After all the opening credits have rolled, a runway is shown with a plane landing, which is a very good transition from introduction to the story itself, which starts with a quick overview of Clooney's job. All throughout the film, the setting is introduced via aerial views of the cities and their names in large font.

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