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Friday, November 29, 2013

Movie Review: As I Lay Dying

For art film buffs out there, don't forget to catch James Franco in As I Lay Dying in Trinoma and Greenbelt this weekend. It's one of those rare weeks that we have an art film being commercially shown outside of a film festival, so better grab the chance!
I didn't understand anything the dad was saying but otherwise, all the other characters were pretty interesting - especially the young boy! And even if James Franco tried his best to look like a poor peasant from the American south of the 1930s Depression-era - he just couldn't hide how sexy and studly he was, especially in his close ups! How could someone so handsome be so cerebral! The ending though is very funny but a bit disturbing.......

Sunday, November 24, 2013

My New Stash of Books to Read for the Coming Months!

I think I'm on my last book on the last stash of books that I bought last January.  I decided to buy a new stash of books for me to read for the coming months.  Methinks this is going to take me four months or so, let's see.  Anyway, I did finish the last two books in two weeks so good luck to me!  I just hope I discover some new interesting stories here and authors as well!

Reporter's Notebook Episode on Yolanda Aftermath My Favorite Show of the Week

Soon as we got word about the terrible devastation wrecked by Typhoon Yolanda, everyone was glued to local TV trying to get as much information from them as much as possible.  That's the reason why this week, an episode of GMA-7's Reporter's Notebook is my most favorite show of the week.  I was really touched by the vignettes they showed there. It got me to watch my food intake as well.

Anyway, here are my ten favorite TV shows for the week ending November 22, 2013 -

#1 GMA-7 - Reporter's Notebook - hunger

#2 PBO - Sana Dalawa ang Puso Ko - Rustom Padilla, Alice Dixson, Dina Bonnevie

#3 AXN - Amazing Race 23 - bunnies eliminated in Abu Dhabi

#4 Cinema One - Apat Dapat, Dapat Apat - Ruffa Mae, Pokwang, Candy Pangilinan, John Lapuz

#5 beTV - Everybody Loves Raymond - I forgot where I live

#6 beTV - Sex and the City - the baby shower

#7 Diva - Fashion Star - Amber eliminated

#8 PBO - Menor de Edad - Sosy Gang

#9 Cinema One - Hayop Sa Sarap

#10 beTV - Necessary Roughness - Twitter guy

Hot Jason Case of Team Jason and Amy

I won't be surprised if the three teams that would be in the top 3 of the Amazing Race 23 would be Nicole and Travis, Tim and Marie, and Jason and Amy.  These three teams have been consistently hogging the top 3 almost every week.  However, I'm sure Leo and Jamal or Ally and Ashley would love to be there too and I won't be surprised if one of them does enter the top 3, since ANYTHING can happen in the Amazing Race!

Anyhow, my favorite racer this season is Jason Case and the first two pictures up there tell you why!  He's level-headed and competitive and hot as hell!!  They have a good chance of winning the prize but I know it's going to be a tough competition this season as the remaining teams are all killers!

Bye Bye Tim and Danny

I have been wanting to blog about one of my favorite teams for this 23rd edition of the Amazing Race, Tim and Danny.  Too bad they eliminated during the Austria leg when they floundered in the singing of that German song.  Would've been great to see them extend their run if just to see them shirtless!

Miss Universe 2013 My Most Favorite TV Show This Week

Due to the unique confluence of events with Miss Universe 2013 happening and the terrible aftermath of the Yolanda super typhoon, ABS-CBN Channel 2 finally tops my most favorite show of the week and actually gets the top 3 spots, the first time ever a local channel has done it.  I rely more on the news features of ABS-CBN than its rivals GMA7 and TV5.

Here are my ten favorite shows for the week ending November 15, 2013 -

#1 ABS-CBN - Miss Universe - Ariella Arida

#2 ABS-CBN - Rated K - Bagsik ni Yolanda

#3 ABS-CBN - Yolanda news Monday morning

#4 Fox Family Movies - Krippendorf's Tribe

#5 HBO - Clueless

#6 Bio - Ghostly Encounters - cross - children killed

#7 Bio - Ghostly Encounters - ghost shadows - old woman in son's room

#8 AXN - Amazing Race - Vienna (boys eliminated)

#9 AXN - Amazing Race - Abu Dhabi - non-elimination round

#10 HBO - Children of Men

Mehcad Brooks of Necessary Roughness: Uber Uber Hoooottt!

Necessary Roughness is one of my favorite shows on TV right now and I am planning to buy their whole season DVDs soon as I have time to watch it.  I like the idea of the series and I especially like looking at Mehcad Brooks who is just so uber uber hot in it!!

Retro Indie Movie: Eskandalo

I was browsing through my DVD collection over the weekend and I chanced upon this fairly old gay indie movie, Eskandalo, back in the days when gay indie movies still had stories.  It was Eskandalo, the movie where Andrew Schimmer has the indignity of having a small pecker - something which has his customers in stitches whenever they umm well, service him.  

Of course, Andrew was quick to deny that he had a small package in real life.  Well, we'd have to taste him to find out!  Emilio Garcia was the older guy here who Andrew divirginizes but unfortunately for Emilio, his baptism of fire leads to catastrophic consequences!  Yeah, somebody dies again here - like they always do in almost ALL local gay indie movies!  Isn't that a drag?

I must warn you though that there aren't many sex scenes here.  Maybe only one or two so if you're after getting a fix, don't bother watching this, except maybe for watching Andrew take a shower.  He's hot!

Ironclad: 12th Century Blood and Gore

I really love watching movies set during the medieval ages and this one was set in the 13th century during the time of a King John of England.  I'm not very familiar with the history of England around this time but the movie talked about the Magna Carta and the ensuing battle between the king and his barons who rebelled against him using the templar knights - who looked like the Crusaders to me.

Anyway, the movie has some really famous actors in them like Oscar nominee Paul Giamatti and Brian Cox and Derek Jacobi.  However, except for the overacting yet funny portrayal of Paul, the movie is one huge violence porn.  I watched the edited version on HBO and still the blood and gore was really in-your-face!  How much more, the unedited version!  People who are into this sort of video game like movies will surely like the death toll here.  Pretty staggering!

However, I did enjoy the movie since I'm a history buff.  Also, there's so much fighting going on and it's so physical!  Just don't analyze it anymore.  Just lay back, enjoy the movie and not worry about how things turn out because you can always use wikipedia to find out what really happened in 13th century England.

Discovering 'The Matrix'

I normally don't watch action movies and it was worse before, because they were rarely part of my weekly movie fare.  However, over dinner with a group of friends, they were shocked to find out that I've never seen the movie.  They said it was worth the time.  So, my good friend Rica, lends me her estranged husband's The Matrix DVD.  It took me months before I decided to watch it - and that was last night.

And I am so impressed by it!  I don't know I never bothered to watch it considering that it was some sort of cultural watershed when it came out.   Virtually everybody was dressing up like how they do in the movie  - especially during parties - the Matrix look was a hit!

Keanu Reeves looked very cute in here - also the girl too, Carrie Ann Moss.  Because of this movie, the fighting scenes of most Hollywood movies adapted them - they're pretty cool to watch!

Cinemalaya Preview: Mga Mumunting Lihim

Last year, several movies that were screened during the Cinemalaya Festival garnered awards in my Fabelous Movie Awards.  This year, I'm sure a few of the films that are going to be screened there will surely figure prominently once again - especially that I prefer character-driven movies rather than those that have explosion scenes one frame per second!

Ang Mumunting Lihim is one such film which has an interesting premise.  It's also directed by my gym mate Direk Joey Reyes so you are sure that it's bound to be good!

Discovering Rafe Bartholomew

Since I don't watch any basketball at all, I only learned of Rafe Bartholomew only now, after his Nat Geo show Pinoy Hoops was shown a few weeks ago!  Sayang talaga, it would've been great to have met him in person and read his book, which I'm sure is a good read!  I was impressed already with Pinoy Hoops, considering I don't care for basketball, yet I was hooked on it!

Bench dela Torre: New Indie Hunk

Bench dela Torre appears in the indie movie Ang Lihim ng mga Nympha - a sexy indie movie in the mold of the pito-pito movies Seiko Films used to produce a decade ago.  Apparently, Bench had the ladies smolder in his arms - whatever that means!

Suu Kyi sets out on first Europe trip in 24 years

I never thought I'd live to see this day!  Aung San Suu Kyi finally going back to Europe - and telling the world her message - whatever it is - of a life imprisoned by a dictatorial government.

Myanmar is definitely one of the countries that I would love to visit.  Now that they seem to be opening up, I really would love to see it!  Of course, I would love to see Suu Kyi too, in person!  And congratulate her for her bravery and strength in spirit!

Still: Taai Hong (Die a Violent Death): A Middling Thai Horror Film

Well, some Thai horror movies are really scary, some are so-so, this one is kinda in-between. It's actually a collection of four different stories, very much like our local Shake, Rattle and Roll series. They're all unrelated although, as the title suggests, they all die a violent death.

My favorite is the fourth story, which is a combination of horror and comedy, basically, because the lead actress in that segment, is so funny! And she plays a hooker! Sometimes I think the Thai's do it well when they combine comedic elements into their horror - and they don't even try too hard in doing it! I'm sure the audience that night agreed with me as we would laugh at all the right moments. But don't forget though that it's still a horror movie and there are gory scenes even in this segment.

As for the other three, well, the one with the dead girl in the water tank had a very promising premise but wasn't scary enough. The audience actually laughed in the scene where the foolish caretaker of the apartments drank the putrid water! Her performance was just plain deadpan it was funny to watch!

The prisoner segment was fine but I fell asleep because the pacing was too slow. The nightclub story was also ok, not quite scary since it had a love storyline in it. As a whole though, the movie is fine. Some horror elements work, some don't but it can still give you goosebumps here and there.

Fashion Show at the Noel Bazaar at the World Trade Center

Laura is only six years old but she has joined more fashion shows than most girls her age - and we're just very happy that she is enjoying this part of her life as a young girl. Like anyone who is raising a young girl, we all have illusions that they'd be Miss Universe one day - and I sometimes kid Laura that she'd be Miss Universe 2025!

I'm not sure though that that would be the path she would want to take since she's actually very shy and wouldn't want attention to herself unlike the usual celebrity. Young and teenage girls would actually stop her at the mall and ask for her picture! And complement her dress and the way she wears them! We have to egg her on to pose with her new found friends.

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Tom Hardy: The Villain Bane in 'The Dark Knight Rises'

Tom Hardy has been in another Christopher Nolan film, Inception.  Yes, I remember him there! He was some kind of mercenary or something.  What I most remember him though was in the romcom This Means War opposite Reese Witherspoon.  Now that movie was a lot of fun!

Now, Tom stars in a role that will always be compared to that Oscar-winning portrayal of the late Heath Ledger.  Nope, he's not going to play Joker, but another Batman villain Bane, and this time, Tom only has his eyes to use as an acting device since his face will be covered by a mask!

The Dark Knight Rises: The Final Installment

I actually only saw The Dark Knight on HBO but I was hooked on it and was impressed by what Christopher Nolan did to the Batman franchise!  No wonder, even the Oscar voters were raving about it! There was an actual story behind it!  So here comes the final installment to the franchise and this time, Tom Hardy plays Christian Bale's Batman nemesis.  It also looks just as promising!

Butas 2: Another Excuse for Mocha to Strip

It's a pity really that they don't do trashy sex films anymore like they used to - like during the days of Seiko Films and its ilk.  Anyway, here's another movie, Butas 2, which continues from the original Butas, which I saw, haha!  Based on the trailer, it kinda follows the same premise.  Oh well, this is just another excuse to have the guys and the girl, Mocha to strip....
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Book Review: Anita Shreve's Testimony

Anita Shreve's Testimony is one of the more unique books I've read this year because the writer uses a storytelling device where instead of allowing the plot to move forward as each chapter unfolds, Shreve uses the viewpoint of all the characters of the story to tell the story.

The story revolves around a sex scandal that has happened in a private boarding school and how the event sends shock waves to the small town where the school is located.  I feel empathy and sadness for each of the main characters who were complicit in the sex scandal.    

Is it really possible for people who have made wrong decisions early in life to pick up the pieces and move on with their lives?  I guess so.  I also made a bad decision when I was their age, although the gravity was not as big as their mistake, but a mistake nevertheless.  And I bounced back.  When you're that young, you have the luxury of time to make up for the mistake and build your life back.

This book was another fast read for me since I really wanted to know what happened to the main characters.  As long as the characters are interesting, it's not very easy to just drop the book.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Book Review: The Gripping and Tragic Mystic River

Mystic River is probably the best fiction novel I've read this year. I have stopped reading police or crime novels for about two years now because I want to read to relax and not read about people getting butchered or getting into the sick minds of serial killers. My life is already too stressful and worrying about who's going to get killed next in the book I'm reading is not relaxing at all!
However, I made an exception for Mystic River because of its Oscar-winning pedigree. The movie came out a year after the book was released and thankfully, I haven't seen it. Vic saw it on HBO, and he was raving about it!

Now that I've read the book, maybe I can now watch the movie. But I don't know if the movie could ever capture the intensity or the uniqueness of each of the main characters. As I was reading it, I could not put it down! There was this feeling of dread that I knew would happen to some of the characters towards the end of the book.

But the Lehane draws you into their sordid lives and while ex-convicts and sexually abused boys may not be cool protagonists, the writer makes you feel for them and interested in them - finding out how they are coping with what life has thrown at them. As the book progresses, I really got this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that all this is going to end badly, very very badly.

And yes it does. There's so much tragedy in the book, but it doesn't leave you sad or angry. You know these are tough people and they are strong enough to receive punishment for whatever they have done and that whatever choices they have made in their lives, bad as their choices are, that they are always, always looking for that light at the end of the tunnel, telling them that it's all going to be fine after all.

Well, there is no physical river in the book. It's actually set in Boston, in a working class neighborhood which Lehane depicted so well, you could really visualize the place and the people living in it. Mystic River is some sort of coping mechanism that the characters have envisioned so that they can drown all their sorrows and pain into this vortex of a river, and appear normal and happy to people in the outside world. Sometimes, that's what we all aspire for - to just look normal and happy to everyone who knows us - so that they can never see the pain we feel or the different crises we are going through. We all have this vortex of a mystic river where we hide all that pain and sorrow - otherwise it would be hell on earth for most of us.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter: Kooky Historical Fiction

I remember seeing the book version of this movie years ago and was amused about the mashing up of both a revered historical figure and that of the romantic notion of vampires.  However, like most people, I just wait for the movie version to come out since these books are rarely Shakespeare anyway and are just good natured fun.

Well, here are some things I like about the movie -

#1 The lead actor, Benjamin Walker, looks like a younger Liam Neeson and the make-up people certainly did their best to make him achieve that Abe Lincoln resemblance.  He's also a pretty good actor, considering the script he's given.  I can foresee a career for him in character-driven movies.

#2 There's a great horse sequence wherein this vampire runs with the horses while Abe Lincoln is chasing him.  Easily the best action sequence in the movie although it did look a tad bit like a computer game.  Of course, shooting it with real horses might be physically impossible but it was a delight to see the vampire jumping from horse to horse, like he was just skipping on a road!

#3  Mary Elizabeth Winstead!  Gosh she looks so different in this movie!  I last saw her in The Thing where she looked plain and dowdy, but here, she looks regale and fresh and dignified!  Her character, first as Abe Lincoln's love interest and then wife, definitely added another dimension to the movie.

#4 I like the humor!  I guess it had to happen since the writer had to mash historical fact with well, vampire lore!  Imagine the Civil War being fought by vampires or that Abe Lincoln was assassinated by a vampire!  Cool ideas!

#5 Seeing Washington DC when it was still a young city.  We've always pictured the White House as it is now, but since this one is supposed to be set in the 1900s, to see the White House that way was pretty interesting!

Here are some of the things I didn't quite like in the movie-

#1 The vampires, in the end, turned out to be uninteresting people, which is sad, since they should've figured heavily also in the script development.  They were just played out simply as bad guys who were killed in so much numbers, they became just fodder for the kill.

#2 When the vampires showed themselves, the make-up looked computer-generated and so, a bit unreal.  I am no movie special effects guy but sometimes it would look more scary if it was real make up rather than flesh it out like this was another computer game ghouls.

#3 I know there has to be killing scenes in this movie but they seemed interesting at first but towards the end, the sheer number of them being killed and the appearance of the act being too easy for the lead character just lead to boredom instead of me being filled with suspense.

Overall though, the movie was fun to watch if you just suspend your disbelief for a while and not think that this story has any historical significance. 

Machine Gun Preacher: Gerard Butler as God's Warrior on Earth

I am a big fan of Gerard Butler, so any movie he's in, whether it be a comedy or a drama or an action film, I will most likely watch.  And yeah, you do get a lot of him here in this move, Machine Gun Preacher. He's virtually in every frame and his presence is so commanding and his voice, so deliberate, you are caught in the maelstrom created by the sheer force of the character he is playing.

 I suggest you google, 'Sam Childers', because this is basically his story - and Gerard Butler portrays him here really well! The movie is heartwarming and you know that even if the method he uses to combat evil is 'an eye for and eye', I'm sure you'd understand that God too, even in the Bible, uses force to strike down those with evil ways. Have a strong stomach though, when you watch this movie.

The brutality against children is sickening to the core of your gut, and I did cry in some scenes, out of sheer frustration and sadness that some human beings can be very cruel against those who are weaker and smaller than them. Even Sam's personal story is quite intriguing and could actually be a movie all to itself but of course, his achievement is saving all these kids from harm.

As I was leaving the theater, I prayed that God's angels would continue to rescue these poor and helpless children, and that there will be more people like Sam Childers, whose heart is as big as the continent of Africa.

Indie Movie: Hardinero

It's been a while since a local gay indie movie has come out.  The long wait is over as Hardinero (Gardener) is coming out these next few weeks.  The new lead looks very promising and cute too!  My friend Jonas Gruet is here again - lucky devil!  Anyway, I'll tell you what I think about the movie soon as it gets its theatrical release in Robinson's Galleria where I usually watch indie movies.
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Anonymous: Just Concentrate on the 'Fashion Show'

I admit I got kinda lost watching the movie.  There are just too many schemings happening onscreen in which I don't quite comprehend the motivations driving the characters to them.  I'm sure this movie has caused an uproar among those who love Shakespeare but, like most literature, this is just fiction, another point of view, albeit, a very expensive one.  So if you watch this, try a detached manner so you won't freak out at all the falsities it is implying. I guess, even the actors, like Vanessa Redgrave and Rhys Ifans are just here for the fun of it - the what-if factor of it.

As for me, I just LOVE the costumes!  They're just delectable to watch!  This is actually the frontrunner right now for my annual Fabelous Movie Awards for 2012.  However, it's only April, so there's a lot of other movies coming.

21 Jump Street: Movie Comedy No Resemblance to Original TV Series

Actually, it's fine that the movie version of 21 Jump Street has no resemblance whatsoever to the iconic TV series that launched the career of the then unknown actor, Johnny Depp.  Putting a comedy spin into the mix and enlisting Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum as the two detectives reenergizes the franchise for today's young generation.  I really enjoyed watching the movie - although the plot is simple and not complicated.  This is targeted to the young male audience anyway, and it doesn't have to be Goodfellas.  However, like any action movie, it does have many chase scenes and bad guys doing bad things and the victims here are high school students.  I strongly suggest that you watch this movie especially after you had a not-so-good day in the office.  Both guys are hilarious here and it's light fare that you will certainly enjoy.

The Impressive Hunger Games

It's a pity that I did not immediately catch on to the book The Hunger Games.  I should really follow the New York Times bestsellers list so that I would know what the rest of the world is reading.  Anyhow, now that I've seen the movie, I now see clearly why the book would've been more interesting because the time constraints of a film cannot do enough justice to the interesting characters I have gotten to know in the movie!  There's a lot of them, from Katniss to Rue, from Peeta to Gale - it's a treasure trove of interesting young people and their oppressive adult leaders.

Well, I loved the movie!  Jennifer Lawrence is just perfect for the role!  It's a good thing she got this role because she's actually an Oscar-nominated thespian and having a big franchise like this should help her career more! I secretly love Elizabeth Banks' work here!  Her fashion sense here, though weird, is certainly unique.  The cast is impressive, from seeing Wes Bentley to Stanley Tucci to the cool Lenny Kravitz and Woody Harrelson, plus the cute Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth - it was a cast I really loved!  And those are the famous ones I know - there's a host of pretty young things that I have to get to know as well, including the girl playing Rue and those two vicious players from the other sectors.  Although the premise of the movie is disturbing, the director, Gary Ross, toned it down without messing up the story too much.  I think he did a great job at it!

I had to check myself while watching this movie because I was so gigil na gigil in some scenes when the weaker players were slaughtered, I wanted revenge against them.  I admit I too fell sway into the bloodbath mentality similar to what we've seen during fights of the Roman gladiators.  I realized I too was cheering - which makes me no different from the oppressive leaders in the movie!  Que horror!
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The Poignant Adam and Asperger's Syndrome

I was channel surfing yesterday and I chanced upon this wonderful movie entitled 'Adam' which is about an adult guy who has Asperger's Syndrome, who, eventually finds the girl he loves.  I like the story very much because both Hugh Dancy and Rose Byrne play their roles really well!  Veteran actors Peter Gallagher and Amy Irving lend wonderful support and an interesting subplot.  I don't want to give too much away since I'd really love if you just go out and watch this movie, any way you can - legally - of course!  It's quite good!

80s Classic: An Officer and A Gentleman

This is one of my favorite scenes from this 80s classic An Officer and A Gentleman. It's not a gay movie, so you'd have to watch it and find out why Richard Gere is so distraught here.  You won't regret my recommendation!
The chemistry between Richard Gere and Debra Winger was just incredible!  I guess this was one main reason why this movie worked!

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Blonde Bombshell: Norma Jean and Marilyn

I was channel surfing the other day after the Wimbledon matches on TV and I chanced upon this beautiful HBO movie Norma Jean and Marilyn starring Mira Sorvino and Ashley Judd.  Mira does a fantastic job as Marilyn Monroe!  

I love Mira Sorvino and it's a pity she has disappeared a bit from the limelight nowadays but when this movie was made, she was in peak form, acting-wise, eventually winning an Oscar.  Ashley Judd shines as well in the movie, playing some kind of 'conscience' of Marilyn.

It is quite an interesting movie which would go well with A Week With Marilyn, although the latter is more comedy and light while this HBO movie is grittier and more no holds barred!
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