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The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

I always find it hard to tell the difference between magic realism and fantasy. If they're both the same or if one is under the umbrella term or not. Stuff like that. Sometimes, I feel that magic realism is used to classify random weird things happening in literature. Like that time Gabriel Garcia Marquez had to ride a boat inside his home because it started raining inside his home. (But I actually believe that rowing a boat inside a house is plausible. I mean, Marquez was born quite well-off, wasn't he?) Sometimes though, I feel that magic realism is used just so that one would sound lit-smart. And maybe, if I would ask them to define it, they'd go "It's when things that don't normally happen, happen inside this setting wherein people perceive it as normal." And I'd go, "But isn't fantasy like that too? Sometimes people don't question the 'abnormality' of it." And then they'd go, "Blah, blah, blah, yakitiyak." And then they'd look at me with I-can't-believe-you-don't-get-it eyes. And then I'd look at them with I'm-pretending-I'm-not-thinking-that-you're-pathetic eyes.

And then both of us would go home and search magic realism in wikipedia.

Anyhow, I believe that The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle falls under magic realism. Just as long as you didn't grow up watching anime, playing family computer, or watching Takeshi's Castle and other "weird" Japanese game shows. But if you did, you'd probably think this is as normal as pooping.

In all honesty, I was hesitant to do a review on this book because in all honesty, I am the opposite of the compulsive liar---I feel the need to be totally honest and I end up oversharing. I was hesitant to do a review on this book because I know I have to tell you, my imaginary audience, that his writing reminds me of---get ready for this---my writing.

Don't scoff.

No, I'm not saying I'm great and all. Or my short stories (the former ones anyway) are well-written, cohesive, profound, poetic, or whatever. No. That's actually it. My (former) short stories weren't all that. That's the problem. Some of them had illogical images inserted in every scene just so that the story would say that This Is A Metaphor. And some scenes had characters popping out of nowhere, because aside from these sudden characters being a metaphor, the main character needs to vent out, other substories are needed to be told (for more This Is Interesting points), and somewhere along the way, there's that implication of the usual being alone and alienation.

I'm sorry if I'm saying all of this as if these are bad things (maybe they are, maybe not, depends which intellectual you're talking to, haha). I'm just tired of being sad, or other things being sad, that's all. Not that I'm looking for happy-gooey escapism either. It's just that I was disappointed with the main guy being blah-type sad (the kind of sadness that doesn't really scream sadness but you can see that he's awfully sad anyway). I really do believe that Toru Okada, the main guy in this novel, is to blame for his being lonely. And for his disintegrating marriage. And for other "weird" stuff happening to him.

I didn't really dislike him in the beginning though. Just in the last parts of the novel. I thought that the marriage angle was going good until his wife started blaming herself for everything (which she really shouldn't, I'm all for eternal love but her husband was mistaking disinterest with complacency and trust---which by the way, the novel tried to cover up by saying he wanted to have sex with teh wife and teh wife was the one who declined because of *insert obvious spoiler here* but not looking for the missing cat in the first place was a warning sign right there and then). Plus it just got knight-in-shining-armor-y---I'm going to save my wife! And she wants to be saved! Then everything felt like a metaphor. And then the novel's supposed to be important because of the Japanese history it contained. And then I felt guilty for not being interested in the history part, aside from the torture one soldier had to go through. And then I felt more guilty because I was entranced with violence. And then I justified myself by saying that's one of the things the novel wants to showcase anyway---what actual individuals had to go through under such environment.

But amidst all of this, would I read Murakami again (you know, for pleasure and not for parading pretend-coolness)? Um, maybe. I would try to read the one with the lesbians or the one that's supposedly popular with teenagers. Because I like lesbians. And teenagers. Um, not in the creepy way.

Also, reading how sort of a half-fairy tale, and half-knight in shining armor, this novel got, it'd be interesting to know how he handles lesbian and teenage characters in other books.

He handles characters in The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle pretty much okay. Only sometimes I feel as if everyone's talking the same way. Except the teenage character.

And that guy who totally doesn't talk.

But it's interesting enough. Enough that I had to babble in this review because I still can't figure if I like it or not. It's interesting, and has some strong images, but then I wasn't totally giddy to write a review on it.

Best read if there's a storm though. With the no electricity style. I remember being freaked out then. That must be something, I guess.

No, I'm not sure what the Wind-Up Bird stood for. If you do, please leave a comment. (Or I should just probably head to Wikipedia, haha)



Entourage. Season 2, Episode 9: The Boys are Back in Town

Okay, so what happened to Emily? I was kind of rooting for her and E to hit it off. There seems to be a lack of good women in this series. And now I can't decide which is better: Vince Chase as Aquaman, or Vince Chase as Pablo Escobar.

*pic from HBO


(500) Days of Summer

When I first heard of the title, just the title, I thought it would be like another horror flick. You know, like 30 Days of Night.

However, this is not a horror flick. They call it a rom-com. But I don't. To me, it's a beautiful love story. Beautifully written, and beautifully directed.

We can praise this four ways.

First, non-linearity. Hooray for postmodern storytelling. Because love is meant to be told in emotional outbursts, not in some predictable timeline.

Second, great soundtrack. Rarely do I get excited about film soundtracks, and this is one of those times. And they actually used a song by Patrick Swayze. R.I.P. Swayze.

Third, excellent performances. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is actually a great actor, and I've already seen this ever since he played Cobra Commander in G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra. And Zooey Deschanel---I love her. I even wrote a poem for her. Well, it's a rap verse, but who cares.

Fourth, great story. As in it was a really great script. Well, you can always expect great scripts from Fox Searchlight. Plus the fact that this was actually based on real people and inspired by real events makes it even more heart-wrenching. And that clincher at the very end, the very last words of the film---I love it.

Now, if you've been in love, or if you haven't been in love, or if you don't believe in love, this film is for you. That's why this film worked. It caters to everybody, while making them feel that their stance on love is actually the correct one.

*some info from IMDb
pic from scene-stealers.com

(500) Days of Summer. USA. 2009.

Rating: Nine out of ten.
Dance number in the park: One point deduction.
Using a Hall and Oates song in the dance number: Half a point.
Using 2D and not CGI to animate the bird in the dance number: Half a point.
Final rating: Still a nine out of ten.


Glee Season 1, Episode 8 Mash-Up

image from: http://starrystairs.tumblr.com/post/220188396/rachel-hes-made-his-choice-he-doesnt-care

I was waiting for the first season to end before I do a review in a sort of "In Defense of the Glee Hype" tone, or any other hype for that matter (maybe the Twilight movie, High School Musical, or heck, even the emo scene). However, circumstances of friends fawning over Glee and other friends declaring their hate for (or boredom over) it made it seem like the right time to make a bit of a "neutral" assessment of the hype. Still, more however, watching the latest episode was a bit of bad timing for whatever defense I wanted to make. Because from every angle I look at it, this is by far the suckiest I've watched. It especially falls flat on its face after the previous most coherent episode Glee has shown. This episode is very, very, very frustrating. Because just as I thought that it's giving me something giddy---Sue Sylvester dancing, Noah and Rachel actually fulfilling a proper role of a TV couple exuding chemistry and hotness, and coach of the football team being less annoying---it takes it easily away because, that's just it. I don't know why the writers of this episode take it away. They were holding onto something good and then they fumble, dropping the ball, not knowing where to take the good things in life, mainly those I've listed above. This is a very confusing episode. No, not in a sense that it confuses me, more like it confuses itself... Oh, is that why they entitled it "Mash-Up"? Because "Mash-Up" products are supposed to go together. Not like "The Thong Song" or My Fair Lady. But that was the point of the episode. So...maybe they're doing a meta...Bleh. Anyway, good points: One, Kurt's cuteness. My! I could do a thousand icons on just one scene with Kurt in it. His facial expressions can be divided into a hundred icons. Two, Noah's musical number. Yes, yes, you are far more interesting and bad-ass than the wimp of a quarterback. Now to the really, really, and I do mean really, bad point: The ending. It was so brady bunch-y. I know this is supposed to be a good feel yadida show, and I'm all for sunshine and halos and angels, as Rachel would say, but I draw the line on brady bunch-y feel. The only shows who have the right to do that are the eighties shows, Disney series, and of course, The Brady Bunch.


The Beatles: Rock Band

Sum this up in five words:

I. Want. This. For. Christmas.

This game was released as a tool to introduce a new generation to the music of The Beatles, but I think it's safe to assume that the older fans (like me) would enjoy this even more.

A true Beatlemaniac (like me) could actually close his/her eyes when selecting a song, because said Beatlemaniac would actually know all the songs in the playlist.

The Beatles: Rock Band includes the option to perform three-part vocal harmonies, which was not present in previous Rock Band games. This way, you could get to sing "Paperback Writer" the way it's supposed to be sung.

I loved the game so much, I wish I didn't have to go home from my friend's house. I wish I didn't have to put down the bass. I wish I could be Paul McCartney forever. Well, not really, as Sir Paul doesn't look too good now, does he?

*some info from Wikipedia
pic from eatsleepgeek.com

The Beatles: Rock Band. 2009.

Rating: Nine and a half out of ten.


Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea

By Mary Quite Contrary
Thu, 15 Jul 2010, 14:24.

... aka Gake no ue no Ponyo - Japan (original title)
... aka Ponyo on The Cliff By The Sea - Australia, International (English title)
... aka Ponyo on The Cliff - International (English title and informal literal title)

Once upon a time, a fish wanted to see the world above the sea. She was still young and had to escape inside a jellyfish when her father wasn’t looking. In the shallow waters, she got trapped inside a jar while managing to escape the junk boat’s net (used to sweep the trash underwater). Fortunately, a little boy found her. He hit the jar with a stone to free the fish. When he cut himself on broken glass, the fish licked his wound and it healed instantly. The little boy then knew, that the fish was special. He placed her inside a bucket and promised to protect her no matter what.

Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, it’s both weird and wonderful that Disney was open to producing another remake of the fairytale with the master of classic Japanese animation. Hayao Miyazaki never ceases to take my breath away. He breathes life into every detail. His works possess a holistic perspective of the world and its inhabitants, be it animal, human or spirit. His stories are told with disarming sincerity.

Ponyo upset the balance of nature the moment she loved this little boy who lived on the cliff by the sea. At first, I thought it was supposed to be a kind of suspension of disbelief that the fish had a human face because when Sosuke showed Ponyo to his mother, she only told him that she’s pretty. But one of the old ladies was shocked to see that it has such a face and said that "Fishes with faces bring tsunamis," and so I realize that the story intended her to be magical. By tasting human blood and eating human food, magical creatures become partly human. One cannot be magic and human at the same time. The old lady was right: the moon pulled tides into roaring mountains; comets are drawn to the Earth. Destruction awaits the universe, which only a boy can undo. Indeed there is a way out, but not without dire consequences. Fujimoto and Gran Mamare (Ponyo’s parents) have to test the boy’s love. If genuine, Ponyo will be human. If not, she will turn into sea foam. Surprisingly, Gran Mamare (who is like the goddess of the sea) didn’t mind if her daughter does become sea foam, where we all originated. She will become one with the sea.

There is a backstory to this film that is left to the viewer’s imagination. The romance between Gran Mamare and Fujimoto, who, stated in the script, was once human. In another story, he might have been a sailor who fell in love with the sea.

Gake no ue no Ponyo is the 3oth film that Studio Ghibli has produced. The power of animation is in the creation of a universe entirely its own. It transforms human values like kindness, courage, trust, love, and elevates it. It is no longer just human, nor does it know physical bounds. Miyazaki weaves an intimate connection using hand-drawn animation and his trademark storytelling about humanity being a cog in the universe. A cog that is capable of destruction and redemption. At the core of his worlds, there exists a magic beyond time, which connects the human cog with everything else in the universe. Miyazaki shows us the way, this time into how a great love can happen even to a five-year-old boy and a fish.

Sources: Disney, IMDb

(Read more on Ponyo after the jump.)


Entourage. Season One

This review will prove that I can like something and give it a low rating at the same time.

And this is also the first full season review, after a set of complete season microreviews. The microreview was innovated by Claire, and made its debut here.

So anyway, I do love the concept of Entourage, and as I already mentioned a couple of times, this is the life I've always dreamed of. Hollywood is my holy grail. But yet the series lacks that certain kick. What I mean when I say "kick" is that it lacks that certain punch that hits the viewers in the head and makes them want more. The show's concept is supposed to be just a day-to-day glimpse of a Hollywood hunk and his entourage, but everyone knows a day-to-day chronicle is boring. This is where this kick or punch should come in to tell a better story. This kick or punch or whatever brutal attack force should be in the series' pilot, and also at the season ender. Sadly, there was no kick or punch or whatever brutal attack force in Entourage's episode bookends. Which is why the series didn't really reel in the viewers who weren't really knowledgeable about Hollywood. Well, tough luck.

The series did however showcase excellent acting, especially from Jeremy Piven, who plays the ruthless agent Ari, and Kevin Dillon, who plays my favorite Entourage character Johnny Drama. Actually, everyone in the series is a great actor, as everything seems to come quite naturally to them. Of course, they're Hollywood actors playing Hollywood actors. How hard can that be for them?

Frankly, I am a bit disappointed with the weak points of the first season, but instead of dismissing this outright, I shall try and watch the second season, and hope the writers improved even just a little bit. But I would still watch the series just for Johnny Drama's performance.

*some info from Wikipedia and HBO
pic from HBO

(Season One). USA. 2004.

Rating: Six out of ten.

You might also want to check out the reviews of Entourage Season 2, Season 3, and Season 4.


Entourage. Season 1, Episode 8: New York

After all the chicks (let's go Vince Chase!), all the auditions (that's my boy Johnny Drama), and all the Hollywood parties I've only dreamed of (thanks to Turtle), finally...Eric becomes Vince's manager. Nice touch with Scarlett Jo.

*some info and pic from HBO


Entourage. Season 1, Episode 7: The Scene

The one compliment that made my day came from my brother. He said if I went on to become a filmmaker, I would've been just like Billy Walsh. Artiste extraordinaire. And eccentric to boot. Just. Like. Me.

*some info and pic from HBO


The Vampire Diaries. Season 1, Episode 6: The Lost Girls

I get giddy with slightly historical backgrounds. We get a first taste of that in this episode. Plus, a Darla of Buffy twist is always win. That's only a spoiler if you know Darla. This episode was pretty much Dracula-like and pretty much about choices. I think it's more romantic when you choose to leave someone (and actually follow through with it) rather than fate trying to tear you apart. In this case, fate's bringing everyone closer and it's kind of killing people. So they're the ones who have to tear each other up but fate won't let them. Or maybe I just overread.


The Vampire Diaries. Season 1, Episode 5: You're Undead to Me

I love the set-ups. Yes, I am loving The Vampire Diaries. It's making vampires actually scary, or at the very least, sexy and edgy again. Aside from the few cheesy moments and lines, this episode is as fast as all the episodes combined. And I know it's hard to believe, but it's a good thing. At the end of the episode, I thought, what? It's finished already? But trying to remember what just happened, I remember a lot of things actually happening. How it managed to be that fast but still able to squeeze all those scenes is beyond me. Update on the characters: Jeremy is finally becoming less annoying, and his girlfriend and fellow stoner Vicky more understandable. The hot witch finally gives in to her witchiness--she's the only slow-paced character in this series. Caroline becomes more than Damon the Evil Vampire's lap dog--her kicking Damon was a bit satisfying. And finally, Elena, though not that extraordinary, is at least not a damsel in distress, acting more smart, normal, and less neurotic than her other two best friends (which is ironic because she's the one who lost her parents and is dating a vampire). I believe that Elena's normality is her character's strength. The way she sought the vampire revelations were most satisfactory. An epiphany, yes, but a good epiphany that was properly set-up, making me smile like a dork at the end of the episode.


Chi Bi (Red Cliff)

I never really liked John Woo as a director. Well I'm sorry, but this film doesn't change my opinion.

Too bad I only got to watch the American version, which was dubbed in English. Although dubbing lets your eyes focus more on the onscreen action, the dubbed voices have no character. Deep inside, you will know that the voice you're hearing doesn't belong to the face you're seeing. So subtitles are better.

John Woo again does his trademark "white dove", which now gets an exaggeratedly long screen time. But the white dove just made me roll my eyes and mutter, "Ugh, John Woo."

This is supposed to be an epic, and it does succeed in giving us that Cecil B. DeMille-epicness. Of course this film had a hundred thousand extras dressed in first century Chinese army uniforms, and another hundred thousand horses, and a vast naval fleet, so if it failed to give you the epic feel, blame John Woo.

The story was okay, since it was adapted from a centuries-old Chinese text, but the editing didn't quite work for me. Frankly, it had too many dissolves, it was distracting. And most of the time, the dissolves weren't even called for. I think John Woo just used the dissolve for lack of a better transition. But I believe the cinematic rule is: When in doubt, cut.

Anyway, this film's saving grace was the male stars. True to the essence of patriarchal ancient China, this film only had two female stars. But it was seeing Takeshi Kaneshiro, Tony Leung, and Chang Chen onscreen at the same time that made me temporarily gay. Talk about man power. But Tony Leung didn't look as alpha male without facial hair.

So, is this film worth watching? Yes. Is it worth watching again? Probably. But I'd most likely go see the Asian version, which I've been told has more story arcs than the American one.

*some info from IMDb
pic from filmofilia.com

Chi Bi (Red Cliff). China. 2008.

Rating: Seven out of ten.
Tony Leung without facial hair: Six out of ten.


Entourage. Season 1, Episode 6: Busey and the Beach

Celebrity guest: Gary Busey. Who is now an artist. Whose artworks suck. And we are all introduced to the sad truth that actors who don't make it in Hollywood end up waiting...tables.

*some info and pic from HBO


The Vampire Diaries. Season 1, Episode 4: Family Ties

I thought the entire episode would be deathly boring. The pacing was suddenly crawling. Jeremy, the hot but super annoying brother, was still emo kid to the nth level. I was surprisingly starting to like the good vampire than the bad one. But the ending manages to make me giddy. Bad vampire Damon casting a dark shadow behind poor lovely blond Caroline while sucking the blood out of her--classic. Also, I love conspiracy arcs. So maybe judging it by season, the pacing was not as slow as I thought. I just hope they hurry up the witch angle.


Ghosts of Girlfriends Past

One word: Spoonfeeding.

That's what this film does. It spoonfeeds the viewer with a really simple plot that the writers didn't even try to metaphorize.

Yeah, so it teaches guys how to be players. Big deal. There are other films that have done it better. And to use Charles Dickens' great work as a take-off point? Lame-O. Plus it's disrespect to Dickens.

Matthew McConaughey: Ho-hum. Jennifer Garner: Ho-hum. Breckin Meyer: You shouldn't have taken this role. Michael Douglas: Double ho-hum.

And finally, my disclaimer. I didn't watch this on purpose. My sister downloaded this, and for lack of anything good to watch, I decided to give it a try, despite the friendly warning from The Captain.

*some info from IMDb
pic from celebritywonder.com

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. USA. 2009.

Rating: Five out of ten.


Glee. Season 1, Episode 1: Pilot

Okay, so Glee is not gay. It's a glee club, man. They sing. And really, why did they wait 'til 2009 to come up with a show like this? I mean it's not like it has special effects or anything. If they showed this when I was in high school, I would've probably joined the glee club too.

*pic from thetvlegion.com


Inglourious Basterds

Typical Tarantino. Which means it's good.

And the elements of a Tarantino film are:

1. Blood. Lots and lots of blood.

2. Violence. Lots and lots of violence.

3. Chapters. Yes, dividing the film into chapters may not sit well with some, but this actually makes Tarantino's stories more layered. Contrary to what the title may say, this film is not just about the Basterds. It's a story of Nazi-occupied France, escaping Jews, revenge, inter-racial love, German accents, baseball bats, and Third Reich cinema. You can't get any more layered than that.

4. Hot chicks. Okay, so Diane Kruger is stunning, as always, but it's newcomer Mélanie Laurent who takes my breath away. She has a very beautiful face, meant for the silver screen, no matter what period she was born in. Okay, enough fanboying.

5. Countless cinematic references. Yes, Mr. Tarantino, we know you're a filmmaker. And a film buff. And we know you love inserting your knowledge of film history in your movies. Normally it would've been annoying, as I am a fanboy of film history as well, but for your knowledge of Third Reich cinema, you deserve an award. It's not like full knowledge, but you do know your movies, I'll give you that.

Let's not forget the great performances by the actors. Bradolf Pittler was great, as usual. And Mélanie Laurent was surprisingly good (she is not just a pretty face, people, she can act). But the best performance in the movie was from Christoph Waltz, who played that villainous S.S. officer Hans Landa. He was so good he was despicable. And also, hooray for the cameos of Mike Myers as the British general, and for Samuel L. Jackson, who voiced the narrator.

This is, by the way, an alternate reality. History did not really happen that way. Hitler was not machine-gunned in the face. But that's Tarantino, so you let it pass.

*some info from IMDb
pic from eatsleepgeek.com

Inglourious Basterds. USA and Germany. 2009.

Rating: Eight out of ten.
Scalping scenes: Eight and a half out of ten.
Tarantino's spelling: Two out of ten.


Glee. Season 1, Episode 7: Throwdown

I am really pissed about the "everyone here is a minority" speech. No, they're not. I know this is supposed to be a show of everyone happy as long as we're in it together blah (evident by the father not beating up his son when his son came out of the closet) but there's a fine line between giving hope and delusion. At last, I thought, this was going to be a episode finally focusing more on, the very least, Mercedes or Tina. But no. Fucking imperialists. Anyway, that rant finished, this is probably the most coherent Glee episode. It also had the funniest opening scenes. I actually thought it'd be my second favorite episode (the most favorite of course, is the "Single Ladies" football number) especially since we get more Sue Sylvester who machine-gunned one politically incorrect statement after another. Her dynamics between Will, and most especially Quinn--awfully wonderful. I think the point where Sylvester talked about Quinn was finally the clincher that this episode is not going to end with a laughing emoticon. And that Sylvester really does care about her students (if they go the other way and let her be cardboard villain would have been really be stupid). I actually believe that the most heart-wrenching scene of the episode was when she curtly replied "Run it." Revenge is her only response to being hurt.

Image source for this review and other upcoming Glee reviews here: http://gleeks.tumblr.com/


The Vampire Diaries. Season 1, Episode 3: Friday Night Bites

Dialogue is sharp and amusing. I always like loner jokes and re-occurring appearance of the animal control unit (which wasn't actually an intentional joke). We get to know more about Mr. Villain. The episode finally explicitly tells what has only been implied before: why he was being such an asshole to his vampire brother. I'm not yet tired of the exchanges between the two brothers. It 's always like "I'm Confronting My Jungian Shadow". And so far, I like how the leading high school lady is turning out to be--basically not an idiot. Her brother is, though. Her stoner brooding brother broods more than the leading vampire, it's so annoying. Too bad, he's hot. I like how the high school life portrayal steers away from the usual scene entertainment has been giving lately--geeks vs. the popular people and all that jazz. In The Vampire Diaries, its about "popular" people trying to be normal but we get to see the other side they live. Only it's not sex like how students in Gossip Girl live, it's vampire sex and murder--the cooler kind.


Surf's Up

Now surprisingly, that was a pretty good film.

Yes I know, I have this tendency to discriminate non-Pixar CG films, but again, this is actually quite good.

Aside from NOT featuring singing and dancing penguins, this film uses the reality TV show-style, complete with interviews and swaying hand-held camera movements. And the rendition of water and waves is just wonderful.

Strangely though, when I stayed to read the end credits to find out who voiced who, since I could only distinguish Shia LaBeouf's voice, and I only found out through IMDb that Zooey Deschanel voiced the female penguin (mmm...Zooey Deschanel), the voice actors weren't listed. I don't know if I just missed it, but I'm sure I didn't, since I still have perfect vision. Anyway, who cares about voice actors? Pixar doesn't.

*some info from IMDb
pic from nusacm.org

Surf's Up. USA. 2007.

Rating: Seven out of ten.


Vanilla Sky

One. Brilliant. Film.

Well, it's Cameron Crowe, so you shouldn't expect anything less.

I haven't seen the original version Abre los ojos, which is a Spanish film (that also starred Penélope Cruz) that this film is based on, but it doesn't really matter, as this film should be judged independently and not as a remake.

Acting was good. Kurt Russell was great, and so was Penélope Cruz, and also Cameron Diaz, who looked extra-slutty. Jason Lee, you rock. Hooray for Tilda Swinton's cameo. And a round of applause for Tom Cruise, who may have just made Vanilla Sky his coming-of-age film.

Congratulations to the make-up team, the make-up was excellent. Well it should be, as they only had to deconstruct Tom Cruise's face and make him look fugly. And succeed they did.

Cinematography: perfect. John Toll, you deserve an award for nailing the vanilla skyscape.

And music: um, it's Cameron Crowe. Yes, the same Cameron Crowe who wrote and directed Almost Famous. Okay, now you get it. I don't even have to explain.

Anyway, funny thing is, with some movies, you can actually date the film. Even without using specific references within the story, you could tell when a film was made just by the look and quality. But Vanilla Sky doesn't have that. It was released in 2001, but it could just as well be coming soon to a theater near you. It has the makings of a classic, and for that, I truly ♥ you, Cameron "No-Relation-to-Russell" Crowe.

*some info from IMDb
pic from sonyinsider.com

Vanilla Sky. USA. 2001.

Rating: Nine out of ten.


The Vampire Diaries. Season 1, Episode 2: The Night of the Comet

A great advice for this series is to stop trying to be like Twilight. I don't think being eye candy is this show's strength. You, with the almost thick spiky hair, stop trying to be Edward Cullen. You look weird enough looking like Angel and Xander. You, Mr. Villain who I sometimes think I'm getting attracted to, but stop myself when I'm almost there, you're still wearing too much make-up. And your hair, god! I'm all for the messy do but yours is like icky greasy. Hey leading lady, someone better fix your eyeshadow. You look like you're half-winking and it just got stuck there. And Ms. Shallow-Half-Bitch-But-Still-Friend-of-Leading-Lady, I really don't have anything to say about your make-up. And I like how your character is being fleshed out through little dialogue. But you still do look like Hayden something-something of Heroes. Which just goes to show how hard The Vampire Diaries try to catch the popular audience. Which it really shouldn't because The Vampire Diaries makes up a proper series on its own. Sure, it's not really anything new, (what else can you bleed from vampire mythology aside from making them sparkle?) but at least, it's proper. The suspense, the plot, the pacing, the scary-shock factor. I feel like I'm thirteen all over again and drooling over scary movies. What's great about this episode is that equal attention is being given to each character. And I'm really excited and hoping they would expound the witch angle in latter episodes. And I'm pretty sure someone's going to make someone a vampire (or he did already?) which is always lovely. Cliffhangers rock.


The Vampire Diaries. Season 1, Episode 1: Pilot

Nowadays, watching vampire shows for me is like trying to find a replacement partner after being dumped by the best lover I ever had. Buffy really ruined other vampire shows for me. I keep spotting Buffy references even though Buffy just copied it too from age old mythologies. The ring that protects the vampires from the sun? That's from Buffy. The leading man/vampire that looks like the love child of Angel and Xander? Definitely Buffy. But The Vampire Diaries is pretty much tight. Cliché tight yes, but tight none the least. It brings back the nineties ambiance of supernatural suspense, so more points for nostalgia. Besides, I caught the Stars song being played in one scene so that made me smile throughout the whole episode. However, the villain vampire wears too much blush-on. You're hot and I support gender fluidity but that is still too much make-up, Mr. Villain Vampire (who ironically is the one criticizing the style of the grunge era).



I agreed to watch this flick because one, it's sci-fi; two, I'm not paying for my ticket; three, haven't heard of a bad review on in it... or what would be more accurate is I haven't heard anything on it.

The movie was about humanity using robots/surrogates to live their lives for them. Crime rate turns to zero and everybody's happy. Or are they? Dun dun dun dun...

Well, no. They're not. That's basically what's the movie's saying. This is fake happy. So a movement sprouts up against this new world era of surrogates, a murder happens at the side, and wouldn't you know it? They were actually connected. Who'd have thought?

Aside from a few typical ending twists here and some hair on Bruce Willis-surrogate's head, the movie did a sucky job on preaching about machine dependency. Surrogates' premise isn't far from the future, I know, but the way they presented it was pretty much black and white for me. The surrogates were hot robots versus the humans controlling them who were haggardly ugly, therefore, ugliness is more real. The only person who looks hot as an actual human was Bruce Willis. Actually, he looks a whole lot better without the hair. Oh, you older man bad boy types.

Preaching about doomsday has been told far more prettier in The Matrix. Or even Wall-E. These flicks did pretty good preaching because I could actually believe that type of future could happen. I know that comparing Surrogates to Wall-E is a whole different game. Wall-E is an animated family/romance while Surrogates is... boring.



Becoming Jane

If you think James McAvoy is cute, or if you like reading Jane Austen's novels, or if society and your family have ever gotten in the way of your personal affairs, you just might be able to sit through the movie Becoming Jane.

The movie is based on the book Becoming Jane Austen by Jon Spence and details canon writer Jane Austen's youth and her childhood sweetheart Thomas Langlois Lefroy who later became Lord Chief Justice of Ireland.

The washed out cinematography doesn't help to spark interest either. Don't believe the bright colored poster. Anne Hathaway was criticized for the fakeness of her British accent and I can actually hear why.

In terms of historical accuracy, it's not a biopic about Jane Austen. The film does succeed in making you wish it were. Jane Austen playing baseball and eloping with a bad boy puts the ladies in The Jane Austen Book Club movie to shame.

This gets a 4/10.


Kimmy Dora: Kambal sa Kieme

Eugene Domingo as Kimmy and Dora Go Dong Hae is funny and witty as ever.

Although, there is something to be said about how the film passes off as
absurd while still keeping up a believable simulation of reality.

The exaggerated characters are based on how real people and real Filipinos behave. I saw this movie with my family and we were joking about how some of them, us, acted like some people in the movie sometimes.

Plot-wise, it's perfectly believable and funny for a person to get hit by a moving cart and stay standing while the cart falls to pieces and the cart passengers also remain unscathed.

It's also funny and well set-up that a twin and heiress would be tortured by being slapped with rubber slippers.

We could even forgive and like the cheesy song number in the end.

We can, however, stop suspending disbelief when a real looking bullet stops mid-air and acts confused at which twin to shoot. (Why shoot anyway when you don't even know which twin to arrest?) Or when a real-looking dog acts cartoony like those bobbing head toys. (Or is that just me being peeved about the use of CGI in some Philippine movies?)

Also, why did Johnson (Ding Dong Dantes) really talk Dora, the simpleton twin, who is also the object of his affection, into pretending that she was the dominatrix twin Kimmy and lie to their dad about Kimmy's true state? Unresolved but, o well, not actually important.

Rating: 8/10

(Movie poster from the KimmyDora website.)


Glee. Season 1, Episode 6: Vitamin D

I know I have a thing for bitchy characters but I didn't expect to grow fond of Terri, the wife villain. I don't know, maybe she reminds me so much of Buffy's Cordelia, the annoying bitch that I feel has the right to be sympathized with too. I mean, Will IS Terri's husband and Will should just try to fix his marriage without dragging more trouble in... But before I, of all people, start giving relationship advice (and oh hell no, not on two-timing people, I'm utterly surrounded), let me just point out that Kurt, I love you. That facial expression in your mash-up number was made of yummy win. I know you're gay and all, but please. Marry me. We'll just be lesbians! Lesbians are still called gays in your society, right? I wouldn't rob you of your identity, you'd still be gay.


Glee. Season 1, Episode 2: Showmance

Meh. Nothing much. We find out that Finn's a jerk. That the cheer dancers don't change clothes. And I started to like Emma more than when I first found her in the little I've watched of the series' pilot. It is so meh that the only thing I remember is Will's conversation with Sue Sylvester. (Sue : Iron tablets? Keeps your strength up while menstruating. Will: I don't menstruate. Sue: Yeah? Neither do I.) I think at this point, I knew I was going to talk about her in my reviews a whole lot.


Glee. Season 1, Episode 3: Acafellas

Aside from my little qualms on this episode (regarding the not-so brilliant handling of the coming-out-of-the-closet stint), Episode 3 should pretty much be the role model of what Glee should be. It finally nails what its trailers promised to deliver. A witty, caricature-y funny show and I believe it owes it to not just the musical numbers, but Sue Sylvester. She, my imaginary audience, is one of the foundations of this show. Without her, it'll keep on just trying to be witty instead of actually being witty. She calls out the cliche-ness of everyone and it's really funny (sometimes not haha) that she swerves a bit from the stereotype. Sure, she's like a butch epitome of Stephen Colbert. But if they really wanted her to be a stereotype coach of the cheer team, she would have been like Michelle Pfeiffer in Hairspray. And I'm really glad she's not. Every line that comes out of her mouth is a punch line that makes me want to do that emoticon of actually rolling on the floor to laugh. And oh, this episode offers Josh fucking Groban, people. And that's cursing for emphasis (the all caps emphasis is reserved for Kristin Chenoweth's guest appearance, of course).


Glee. Season 1, Episode 4: Preggers

This is the episode that made me take back all the disappointment rant I threw on the first episode. Two things: Football plus "All the Single Ladies" dance number. I mean, really, the last brilliant idea thought of before this episode is a talking, walking yellow sponge in the sea cartoon.


Coming Soon: Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony

For the fans of the Grand Theft Auto franchise. Like me.

This is actually the second of the GTA4 expansion packs, the first being Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned. But I like this title better.

Now what are the chances of someone giving me an Xbox 360 console for Christmas?

*some info from Wikipedia
video from G4TV at YouTube


Glee. Season 1, Episode 5: The Rhodes Not Taken


However, it was a bit weird watching her sing with mini-Idina Menzel look-a-like. I kept waiting for them to break out to the "Defying Gravity" song.

This episode is preachy, consistent with the (only) other episode that I've watched. Everyone's breaking into epiphanies and everyone, of course, is compelled to be chatty with said epiphanies.

I was like, "I get the Rhode pun already. Just keep singing dammit!"

And "Oh god, Kristin is looking effing cute in a pink cowgirl costume."

Also, there's like, not one, not two, but three! Three Pushing Daisies references, enough to make me girlishly giggle. Wait, is there a boyish giggle?


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