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Thursday, December 28, 2017

Seeing How the Other Side of the Fence Lives: Book Review 'Crazy Rich Asians'

While we were all busy opening gifts and feasting on the noche buena last Christmas Eve, I was also busy finishing Kevin Kwan's 'Crazy Rich Asians', in time for its Hollywood incarnation to open in 2018.

It's been ages since an almost Asian cast have peopled a major Hollywood production.

Amy Tan's 'Joy Luck Club' was the last one pa ata - and that movie is a MUST to watch on Mother's Day - and bring LOTS of TISSUE because it's a major tearjerker.

Crazy Rich Asians is more fun and crazy and I hope it will be a visual feast - fashion-wise and production design-wise.

This is also the first time that I care about the casting since I love two of the major characters in the book, Nick Young, who is going to be played by Malaysian actor, Henry Golding, and his cousin, Astrid Leong, to be played by Gemma Chan.

It would also be fun to see how Constance Wu attacks her Rachel Wu role, Nick Young's fiancee.

In terms of looks, their faces were not exactly the ones I was expecting but I just hope they do justice to their roles. I have so much love for these characters it would be sad to see them messed up onscreen.

I now fully understand the pressure actors have when they have to do adaptations from characters in well-loved books - especially when you have read the book first - and the movie just comes years later!

I don't know if they will be 100% faithful to the book (usually they're not), but that's understandable, since in movies, you only have 2 hours maximum to present the whole story.

So I won't be surprised if some of the fun moments and other crazy family members will be edited out.

As for Kris Aquino, I don't know where they will place her here but this type of movie should be right along her alley. I'm just happy they put at least one Filipino in the cast!

I hope they put more as they complete this trilogy!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Saoirse Ronan Shines in Brooklyn: Movie Review

Saoirse Ronan will surely snag that Oscar nomination for Best Actress this January as the buzz for her performance in Lady Bird has reached even the local Twitterdom.

Two years ago, she received similar buzz for the movie Brooklyn, which was well-loved by critics and the Academy picked it as one of the Best Picture nominees and there are ample reasons why they gave it so much love.

The immigrants' tale in America has many predecessors already, even from the Irish point of view but it is the sheer force and gravitas of Saoirse Ronan's performance plus the authentic "Irish-ness" of many of its characters which makes the viewers feel empathy and actually care about what happens to them.

As for me, I couldn't take my eyes off Emory Cohen, the love interest of Saoirse in the movie. It's the best 'boyfriend' performance I've seen from an actor in years - he not only is very disarming, but he plays it with such coyness and sincerity, you end up rooting for him, even if his character is Italian-American.

There are many parallels to the Irish immigration experience to America to the Filipino immigration there, a hundred years later. I just wish our stories are as well-documented in film as the Irish experience has been.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Book Review: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman - The family that keeps me alive are all Dead

It's always a joy to read a Neil Gaiman book! The world he creates for the reader is just exhilarating.

In this book, The Graveyard Book, the world he creates is this graveyard somewhere in Glasgow, Scotland - and the characters you meet are just the ones you'd expect to meet in a cemetery - but in this interesting plot twist - it will take this graveyard to raise a living breathing baby.

Many interesting things happen to the baby as it grows up to be a young man - and that I will leave for you to read - as this is a children's book - and something that you should finish in a day or two.

Every chapter in the book brings you to a different world - as the graveyard is filled with many supernatural beings - from ghosts, to ghouls, to witches - and of course, bad human beings.

There are several quotable quotes in this book - and I admit that some of them even inspired me and gave me zest again in life.

I will try to buy my own copy of the book so I can highlight the words that mean to me the most!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Ingenue Discovery: Anja Taylor-Joy

Anja Taylor-Joy is easily the standout performer in the horror flick, 'The Witch'.  With a pretty face framed in that dowdy colonial outfit, whose colours have been subdued using camera tricks, you'd have an idea early on her relation to the title of the movie.

But with an angelic face like that, you'd shake your head in incredulity.

She is pretty though undeniably, but she has acting chops, which she shows in several key scenes in the movie.

I won't be surprised to see more of her in the future.

Movie Review: Robert Egger's 'The Witch' Is The Real Deal

Friday, December 15, 2017

My Favorite Hunk of the Week: Emory Cohen

I just saw the Oscar-nominated movie, Brooklyn, today and there is a gorgeous hunk in the movie, Emory Cohen, who plays Saorsie Ronan's love interest.  

This guy gave great acting in the movie and the way he played his character can really make anyone swoon just like that!  It's impossible NOT to fall in love with him!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Happy to Meet Again My Poet-Friend Eric Tinsay Valles

I have been very lucky and honored to have met some real geniuses among my contemporaries - people who have far more intellectual superiority than I have - and yet are also very humble and unassuming.
I am quite humbled that some of them are my friends here in Facebook and that they read what I write and react to it sometimes - because there are many things I could not see or comprehend that they could articulate with startling clarity.
Naturally, most of them are engineers since that was what I took in college, but as I grew older, I've met some who are from the fields of medicine, law and this guy, whom I've always respected very much - who chose to invest his talent in poetry.
Like many UP freshmen, I got lost in the maze and the academic rigors of that school. UP, especially Diliman, is not for the weak-hearted, certainly not for the academically feeble.
Nurturing and caring for their students is NOT in the vocabulary of my teachers then - and I hope until now. The academically challenged will just naturally drown while the rest like me, crawl very very slowly until we f****ing graduate.
So with that backdrop, Eric was one of the people who helped me survive the school. We were both avid Top 40 music followers and I guess that was the glue that made us become friends.
He has an impeccable academic background and certainly set the bar for me as to how smart Ateneans really are.
He loved literature then and with his life work now - I could see that he has really chosen poetry as his work.
He is also a teacher like me but he teaches in a more prestigious school - you cannot get more prestigious than the revered NUS High School of Mathematics and Science.
I guess like many smart Filipinos who knew that the Philippines just could not accommodate their talent (my peers in electrical engineering, molecular biology and biotechnology, genetics, physics) they have had to live expatriate lives because the country has nothing to offer them talent-wise - so the First World countries have become the beneficiaries of their talent.
He is now an active member of Singapore's literature community and he has two poetry books which have been published by Ethos, one of the bitchier publishers here in Singapore - as my sister said, they will not publish you - if you aren't any good!
I am writing this for my friends and parent-friends here who think that making a living as a person of words - a writer, a poet - is not feasible.
Yes, it is feasible. It may not make you a millionaire, but at least, it will make you do what you're supposed to do in this world.
At least Singapore allows talent like Eric's to prosper and has given him the opportunity to truly practice his art.

My Favorite Hunk of the Week: Leo Consul

I was watching Kim Chiu's new video 'Okay Na Ako' and her partner in the video is this goodlooking hunk, whose name I discover later on is Leo Consul - a Filipino based in Indonesia.

He's quite cute and he has a great body!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

RIP Azzedine Alaia - You Will Be Missed

One of the fashion world's greats and true masters, Azzedine Alaia passed away today, which is sad, because the way fashion is evolving today, it doesn't allow visionary and creative people like him to get a headstart.

As fashion becomes more disposable and with many pseudo-celebrities becoming the muses of the industry, future fashion visionaries and mavericks should just find a way to transplant themselves outside the industry and work at their pace - and not be consumed by the stressful calendar today's fashion world demands.

It's too bad he didn't design for men - it would've been great to buy one or two pieces from his ready-to-wear collection. His work is so classic and well-tailored, I think you could wear it for decades and not look out of style!

Azzedine was truly loved by his peers and clients. The fashion world is normally very bitchy and very catty but if you read his tributes from industry capitalists, to his designer peers and models and his clients, you can see the love shine through.

That's pretty rare to find among celebrity designers.

RIP Azzedine Alaia.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Enjoying Joyriding around Singapore's MRT LRT System

I haven't really taken to Singapore's MRT and LRT system as I have that of HK, BKK or KL maybe because our trips here are pretty short so we'd just take the taxi (or use Grab) - since the island is pretty small anyways.
However, since my cards weren't working, I had no choice but to take the MRT to the venue of Belinda Carlisle's concert and voila - I found out that it's much much cheaper (of course!) to take the MRT and it's not difficult to get around.
It would take twice the time but at around 1/4th the price. Plus, you can see street fashion - and there were a lot of young people dressed up these days!

To Actually Make A Living As A Poet

I met two gentlemen from Myanmar during this trip, one was a draft artist for an architectural firm, the other one was the poet, Han Lynn.
I didn't even know before that there were poets from Myanmar (Burma if you still didn't know), but to actually meet one was in itself a good point of conversation.
I did not ask about the Rohingyas though lest I be given a lecture on Burmese history but I did ask about Aung Sang Suu Kyi.
Han actually works as a translator of international poetry and his English is pretty good.
He autographed his poetry book and he wrote in Burmese, and it was very cute. He's currently based now in South Africa where he is a poet-in-residence in one of the universities there.
To actually make your living as a poet.
Tell that to your Mama!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

My Reading Choices for this Long Weekend - Who Do You Pick?

The Ultra-Modern and Swanky Terminal 4 of Changi Airport

While our leaders and the opposition are busy throwing brickbats at each other, Singapore has quietly built a swanky and ultra-modern airport terminal - Terminal 4, which has taken international traveling to newer heights.
I have read about the press releases on this new terminal before I left and I feel lucky to have seen it while it's still spanking brand new.
So how different is it?

Well, for starters, I did not encounter an immigration officer.
Since I entered Singapore in this terminal, they already took my biometrics, so when I left, I just had to give that information, plus my passport and boarding pass, and voila, no more long queues!
Second, there is this plethora of chairs, each one with their own phone charger and USB port!
I remember how pathetic the situation was in NAIA, when groups of passengers have to squeeze themselves into these tiny charging kiosks, just to put juice on their phones.
And the poor souls either have to stand, sit on the floor, and keep a watchful eye lest they lose their phones!
You can also take a shuteye if you want since I found some really comfy chairs which can accommodate my size and heft!
I normally cannot lie down on airport chairs since they're pretty uncomfortable and cold, but the ones in this terminal can easily put me to sleep, if I just have an extra shawl or blanket to cover myself.
Finally, I was most impressed by how the airport architects and interior designers merged high art with day-to-day airport functionality.
All those interesting art installations and especially the amazing Peranakan architecture inspired video wall certainly brings bring beautiful art right down to the traveling masses.