Da Couch Tomato

An attempt at a new layout, with horrible glitches, and very minimal knowledge of HTML.

Sucker Punch Awards

This is another pseudo-review.

All those who didn't like Sucker Punch, please raise your hands. Okay, what were your problems with it? Too much eye candy? You could actually tell that from the poster, so it's your fault you chose to watch this over Justin Bieber's movie. What's that? Too much action? Again, you could've watched Justin Bieber. Come again? You didn't like the story? Let's clarify. Did you not like the story, or did you not get the story? Either way, Justin Bieber.

Anyway, let me just shut myself up and start with the review, where I shall be handing out awards like...

Best Action Sequence
Not pictured: Action.
Also not pictured: Germans.
The German trenches

I love World War II. Although technically, this takes place in a World War I trench, but, whatever, right? And I hate Germans, because of their racist, white supremacy bullcrap. I also hate zombies, because... they're zombies. So this sequence is perfect. It's like a Steampunk version of A Very Long Engagement.


Smile Monster

Fortunately, the younger generation of today know less or nothing about Charlie Chaplin, (and) so I am able to brag to them about their ignorance of a pioneering act of more-ways-than-one. And it is evident when 15 year-old American Idol finalist Thia Megia took a triple strike when,

Firs: When her rendition of "Smile" was negatively assessed;
Second: When she mistook the song as Michael Jackson's original; and
Lastly: When she mistook "Chaplin" as "Chapman".

Upon much contemplation on Thia's subconscious remark on the name, I reckoned how I may have to agree, and will illustrate some proving points as we progress, with your co-indulgent permission. LOL


Sucker Punch

image source: http://roberthood.net/blog/index.php/2010/07/27/sucker-punch-hits-the-blogsphere/

Look, let's just get this out of the way. Not every story within a story within a story movie fares lower than Inception. I love Inception (even got into a fight because of it) but firstly, it wasn't the one who gave birth to the story within a story within a story structure. Secondly, I don't think it should be held as a bar for other movies who would love to that form. That's just so silly I'm not expounding because you should take it for a fact and let me swoon.

Fuck yeah, Sucker Punch! A movie every girl and guy who's not lame enough to enjoy a good ass-kicking would enjoy. Scratch that─have bazillions of orgasms to. This is why I have no fucking idea why the reviews in the interwebs are scoring this low. What? You want boobs rather than cleavage? What? You were actually expecting some sort of Inception-like plot because it's a story within a fucking story? Are you fucking kidding me? Did you even watch the trailer? You're supposed to fucking watch it because it's eye-candy, not because it is, like *start bimbo voice* y'know like *end bimbo voice*, deep. (By the way, yes, after watching Sucker Punch, it makes me say... and think... "fuck" a lot.) That's like asking xXx or The Fast and the Furious to teach you moral lessons or something. Seriously. What kind of a poser are you?

Yes, this is how low scores affect me. Haha. Because it's just so... orgasmic. Yes, this is probably a repeat of other action-driven films you have exposed yourself to, but this does not make it any less worthy of your time. It is so purteeh. The landscape, the goth, the steampunk-ness of it all. It's just breathtaking. It's a video game-anime-fantasy-sci-fi-shit mashed into Watchmen and 300. Close-ups! Steady, (emphasize on) not shaky sweeps of the camera! The action scenes! And of course! I think I just saw Vanessa Hudgens do a River Tam move there. Although I wish her axe was much much bigger.

Whaaat? I'm a little girl. I like to compensate for my lack of penis with giant weapons.

Well no, not really. I think having a dick is kind of a hassle. I can only imagine it swaying here and there... And oh, the trouble you have to go to cover an arousal... Where were we?

Oh. I think this is the point where I should probably be talking about the movie's feminism. Or lack of it.

Now we can go on and on about scantily-clad hot chicks murdering the enemy with such wonderful flair and how it does not construe feminism. But Sucker Punch isn't really a notable forefront for that discussion. Ever since old school Charlie's Angels (or any earlier example that anyone out there can think for me), we have been having that discussion already: it's not really girl power, it's disguised sexism. Exploitation of sexual harassment, too. As for now, I doubt any discussion on popular culture's dealings with these issues will end with this movie. So I think it's actually futile to debate about it. Still, I just need to mention it because well, one, it just hammers girl power too much. And two, even though I believe the movie still adheres to patriarchy (especially since Baby Blond and the gang still need guidance from a fatherly figure, Charlie of Charlie's Angels), I actually felt empowered watching these little girls kick ass. As shallow as it may be, you really have to start off somewhere in feeling good. I felt good. I wanted to kick ass. And looking hot while I do it isn't really something I would frown upon.

For the record however, I find it amazing how Zack Snyder makes the clothes and the women look not at all slutty or sleazy. With this know-how, Tyra Banks should have him on the panel of America's Next Top Model.

Anyway, whatever anyone says about the story, I actually think it's pretty clean and clear cut. You know where to draw the lines among the story within the story within the story, the symbols and metaphors are pretty direct, and every angle is tied up into a pretty little bow.

Again, it's simple. But really, if you just can't get that, go study deep stuff on your desk and suck the fun out of your room without harming anyone else. Amidst the hype it got (because Snyder directed Watchmen and 300... as if those weren't just mindless fun too), I totally believe that Sucker Punch only invited you to enjoy a good popcorn and drink. Nothing more, nothing less.

I've always liked honesty.


You may also want to check out the other Sucker Punch reviews from Sting Lacson and Teluete.


Kapitan Sino by Bob Ong

image source: http://krislerism.blogspot.com/2009/05/bob-ongs-new-book.html

Kapitan Sino made me remember why I stopped reading Bob Ong even before I hit the age of pretentiousness that I'm supposed to like, err, art... literature.

Sure, I can bear and grit my teeth through his underlying misogyny (with Kapitan Sino's female characters divided into two types, the palengkera bitches and the innocent goody goodies─where the female has to be blind to be good because she doesn't care about looks at all, which kinds of hints Bob Ong as a bitter male pissed off at womenkind─or a group of bitter males because there's this rumor that Bob Ong is not just one author). What I can't stand anymore is his preachy-ness.


I remember reading Ang Paboritong Libro ni Hudas and started wondering if he's just really a stuffy old man ranting to the kids about the good old conservative days. Well, most of the time, he surely sounds like one─the way he talks about the eighties and the nineties, sometimes I wish I can build a time machine to send him back so he wouldn't be grumpy anymore.

Kapitan Sino is set in the late eighties, and is about this young dude who's, duh, a superhero. He has a fat best friend who's funny and his blind almost-girlfriend. And then he saves people. Typical stuff: thievery, buildings on fire, cats stuck on trees. The book even poked fun at these cliché situations, showing how these are really more Western incidents rather than local ones. Heh. Cats getting stuck on trees. Our cats will definitely kick their cats' butts!

Bob Ong can be really funny. There are lines and quips that are so right on timing, they almost shadow his annoying qualities. Almost. The whole book preaches all about defining heroism and attempts to showcase a satirical take on the lower middle class society that the funny aspect can't shadow the sucky aspects. I am not saying that the palengkera and ungrateful bastards and bitches of lower middle class society make up a group of saints. But painting them in that ultra-negative light doesn't showcase the ills of the community; it just further showcases the author as a pompous bourgeois who thinks that the urban poor are hateful, greedy, idiotic munchkins who will basically never change. Bob Ong does not offer anything new or insightful to what I've always been hearing in my bitchy middle class world about the urban poor.

This is, by the way, how local superheroes Zsazsa Zaturnnah and its concept mother Darna differ from other ego-centric and individualistic superheroes. These superheroes actually value the community, even asking help from them when worse comes to worst. My favorite moment in Zsazsa Zaturnnah was when the superhero's love interest Dodong tries to help the superhero but gets thrown into air by the villain. The community, who was watching the fight for entertainment (there were vendors selling food and bottled water, plus tabloids with the headline "Salpakan ng mga Seksi"), screamed "Hinagis si Dodong! Tulungan natin! Saluhin natin si Dodong!" It's interesting how the community is there both for entertainment and to support the good guys.

They failed to catch Dodong, though. They let out another scream of apologies. "Sorry Dodong! Sorry talaga!"

Anyway, I'm talking about other superheroes to point out that discussing heroism, societal ills, and being funny at the same time is possible... WITHOUT the need to be such a self-righteous jerk. (And imagine, Zaturnnah was able to discuss gender too.)

I read Bob Ong because I was trying to bring back my grasp of Filipino. Good thing I read Ang mga Kaibigan ni Mama Susan first because one, I wouldn't have read Ang mga Kaibigan ni Mama Susan (which was good) or any of his other works after Kapitan Sino.

And two, because Kapitan Sino really just deserves to be left a mystery.


And oh, Bob Ong's definition of what a hero is would probably be a forefront of the lame Ako Mismo campaign.


Sucker Punch

There was a ridiculous amount of hype for Sucker Punch. It was inevitable, with such a gorgeous, scantily clad cast, and Zach Snyder at the helm.

Then the bad reviews started rolling in and with 80% of my Blondie costume done, you can't blame a gal for being a little anxious. But you know what? The critics can suck it. I enjoyed Sucker Punch.

Emily Browning's character, Babydoll, is institutionalized by her stepfather and is scheduled for a lobotomy in five days. She retreats into her mind and has these dream-within-a-dream fantasies about finding a way to escape with the help of four other inmates: Rocket (Jenna Malone), Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens) and Amber (Jamie Chung).

Yes, the film’s strongest point is that it’s just so visually stunning (And I’m not just talking about Abbie Cornish. Oh, Abbie. Make an honest woman out of me. ♥), but the core of it had potential. The plot and character development were a little lacking, but I think that was mostly due to the scenes they cut out to get the rating down from an R to a PG-13. I’m hoping they come out with a director’s cut because I’m insanely curious about that scene with Jon Hamm and the Burlesque stage numbers that they edited out.

The soundtrack is absolutely amazing. Emily Browning does a hauntingly beautiful cover of "Sweet Dreams" that you should watch out for, and the songs they used for the fight scenes just made everything so much more bad-ass.

Sucker Punch's biggest fault is that it was over-hyped. Forget the hype. It's a fun movie (up to the second half which I can't explain without spoiling) that's an odd-but-kinda-works combination of girl-power and a fanboy's wet dream.

You may also want to check out the other Sucker Punch reviews from Claire and Sting Lacson.


Music Icons: Nate Dogg

Wearing his bandana "Mang Kepweng" style.

Nate Dogg is regarded as the "Scottie Pippen of Hip-Hop", making him the ultimate team player. He isn't concerned about the limelight. Having collaborated with the likes of Snoop Dogg, Warren G, 2-Pac, Eminem, and Dr. Dre, Nate's deep vocals are more like supporting tools, enhancing a song better than Auto-Tune can ever do. And as we wish Nate Dogg a fond farewell as he joins that great jam session in the sky, here's a last look at the song that introduced me to hip-hop back in the early nineties:

Nate Dogg a.k.a. Nathaniel Dwayne Hale. 19 August 1969 - 15 March 2011. 

*some info from Wikipedia
pic from Common Red
video from YouTube


UFC 128

Just watched the replay, and I should say the main event was just as impressive as when I watched the PPV for the first time. Anyway, let's go with the other fights first (which I really don't give a fuck about).

Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic VS Brendan "The Hybrid" Schaub
Cro Cop is just a legend waiting to be turned into a trophy by those young up-and-comers. That's why you don't see the fear in Schaub's eyes, the same fear that Cro Cop's opponents had back in Pride half a decade ago.

Believe it or not, Cro Cop was an Alpha Male back in the day.


Zatôichi (The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi)

Regular Japanese cinema is quite refreshing, as the only Japanese movies I am familiar with are Akira Kurosawa's. And also Hayao Miyazaki's. Plus a few more which I don't really recall.

Anway, this film transports us back to feudal Japan, which is not a bad place to live in, actually. I only wish the filmmakers limited the weaponry to just swords. They had to introduce a revolver sometime near the end, which in my opinion was totally unnecessary. But what do I know about Japanese history, right?

Nothing. I know nothing.

Although there seems to be a hint of sexual tension between the blind masseur and the old lady, I'm sorry to say that this film has no sex in it.

"Sorry, not even nudity."

At first, you may think this is the story of the blind masseur slash swordsman (slash, get it?), but I think the story is actually more on the Naruto children.

Not that one.

The Naruto children's sole driving force is to avenge the death of their family. There are a lot of touching scenes involving the two siblings, and just to make sure that the males in the audience don't fantasize about having a threesome with two geishas, it has been clearly established that the other one is a male.

Guess which one.

The film's comic relief works like a charm. I guess it's the Asian in us. We have a similar sense of humor. And also probably because the writer-director (who also happens to star as the blind masseur), Takeshi Kitano, was one of the leading figures in Japanese stand-up comedy. Bravo. But that doesn't quite explain the atrocious ending. I guess it was too Jai Ho for me.

Nothing says "Asian" more than a dance number.

Okay, I'm going to unleash some spoilers here, which in my opinion will not detract from the essence of the film. The masseur slash swordsman is blind, right? But in a totally expected plot twist, it turns out that he is not actually blind. Then in another not-quite-expected plot twist (also known as a "Double Shyamalan"), it turns out that he is actually blind. So, in true Christopher Nolan Inception fashion, it's up to you to decide.

"Even I don't know if I'm blind or not."

*some info from IMDb
pics from Naruto and VLC

Zatôichi. Japan. 2003.

Rating: Seven point eight out of ten.


Afro Samurai

It's not true that everybody in the world wants to be white. There's this saying that Asians want to be Black. But apparently, Blacks also want to be Asians. Yeah, they love Bruce Lee, Voltron, and geishas. And then we get a TV show like this.

1. "Number Two"

"Yeah, I know. My headband is quite long."

Anime. With a black guy. Lots of blood. And gore. And music by The RZA. That's right. The Wu-Tang RZA. Who again displays his love for everything Eastern by doing the music for a cartoon about a black samurai. Obviously a dream come true for him.


Philippines v. Myanmar. 2012 AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers, Group Stage

Due to the media blackout in Myanmar (thanks a lot, Myanmar government!), football fans in the Philippines relied on tweets from people who can't really give a decent play-by-play. We at Da Couch Tomato, however, had Garry Potter, to give us the inside scoop on the match itself.

What's the Deal with Myanmar?
by Garry Potter, Azkals

Oy. I'm Garry Potter. Because of Asian football's lack of any Live Ticker service (you all should learn from us Europeans), and also because of the Myanmar government's dictatorial hold on their media, I'm going to be telling you about yesterday's game.

Just another lazy day in Myanmar.

First of all, Neil Etheridge is back. That in itself is a 'uge reason to celebrate. That would mean no goals conceded for us, and no minutes played for me. I got no problem with that, since it's quite hot here, and I'd rather just sleep.

Now it was so hot in Myanmar that I slept through the entire game. I only woke up three times. First was already in the second 'alf, when the Myanmarese or Myanmari or Myanmarian (or whatever the hell you call them) goalkeeper, Kyaw Zin Htet, got sent off with a red card. That was in the 73rd minute, I think.

"What the... is that a watermark?"

Second time I woke up was three minutes later, when James Younghusband scored a goal from a penalty kick.

"I don't think I can do this without my brother."

The other goalkeeper, Ed Sacapano, woke me up to tell me the good news.

ED: Hey Potter!
ME: (yawns) What?
ED: Wake up! We scored a goal!
ME: Yeah? Who scored?
ED: James.
ME: James? Who's James?
ED: James Younghusband.
ME: I thought he pulled a hamstring?
ED: That was Phil.
ME: Phil... James... Whatever. (goes back to sleep)

And finally, the last time I woke up was when the midfielder from Myanmar, Khin Maung Lwin, scored an equalizer. Three minutes into stoppage time. Can you believe that?

And for my last words, I screamed at Etheridge, that he was a lousy goalkeeper, and that Coach Weiss should've put me in. But I did get to sleep, so I guess that's okay.

Ratin': Withheld (It wouldn't be fair to rate somethin' I slept through now, would it?)

You can follow Garry Potter on Twitter and also check out his YouTube videos.

*some info from the Asian Football Confederation
shamelessly watermarked pics from Craig Burrows


The Big Bang Theory (Season 3)

Nothing much to report. The show is still on a roll and being funny. This season, Penny and Leonard's relationship gets more developed. But who cares about that? Lead couples always thrive on keeping the couples together then apart, together then apart, together then apart. It's the circle of life until the series-ender, where they'd more likely end up together. Because, people, everything is actually a Disney fairytale.

On another bitter side note, it's getting annoying how they're not being consistent on Raj's love/sexual life. I know any show has its history blunders but I think the writers are particularly being careless with Raj. And in this season, I find Raj to be the funniest. I don't really know why he has to be the token loser-because-I'm-not-getting-any. He's already funny without that label.


Running Scared

What the Universe does to me is that it speaks in mysterious and interesting ways. Do you remember the time when the Facebook (FB) community had a cute campaign against child abuse?? Yes, the one when the least of posters suddenly swarmed out, like the bored and boring adults (and kids alike) that they are, and put out their favorite cartoon-superhero as profile pictures. Bringing the FB world much closer to its queerer Twitter-home sister.
Oooohhh... uughhh.... Those fickly words tickle..
...it would be a shame then, had I not found my own, wihihi.
Timestamped: About a month before birds started falling from the sky


Batman: Under the Red Hood

A new vigilante shows up in Gotham under the guise of the Red Hood─an alter-ego previously used by a number of other thugs but most notably by the Joker. Unlike his predecessors, this Red Hood has started cleaning up Gotham. And unlike Batman, he doesn’t think twice about killing. Batman and Nightwing team up to find out who exactly is under the hood, and to stop him at all cost.

This is a little darker, and a little more violent, than their previous relases, but DC's strength for me really is in their animated features (as opposed to their live-action movies) and Under the Red Hood a pretty solid production .

The action sequences in this are nothing short of awesome. There are rooftop chases, explosions, gratuitous crashing through glass ceilings, and headshots all around.

Voice acting was top-notch and they've got some pretty well-known names in the cast. As someone who compares every other Batman voice actor to the Kevin Conroy, I thoroughly approve of Bruce Greenwood. He manages to stay in the same neighbourhood as Conroy without sounding like a copycat, and makes the role his own. Neil Patrick Harris as Nightwing, Jensen Ackles as Red Hood and Jason Isaacs as Ra’s Al Ghul─all amazing. John DiMaggio as the Joker was a little too Heath Ledger-ish for me, I would have preferred something a little more maniacal, but the script balanced it out well.

My only qualms are one, where’s all the blood? Fantastic, no holds barred fight scenes, but very little gore. Granted, I’ve never seen someone get beaten to death with a crowbar in real life, but I expected a lot more blood and, I dunno, facial swelling.

Two, is it just me or was this a little short? The plot and the characters were well played out; I didn’t find the progression jarring at all. But when the credits rolled, it felt lacking. Maybe an additional fight scene or two would have rounded it out?

All in all, it’s a pretty solid Batman story. It dwells heavily on loss and vengeance and just completely blows you away.



Philippines v. Mongolia. Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup Pre-Qualifying Play-Off, Second Leg

Because this is a review of a football match, I'm going to let a friend of mine guest-blog. He's half-English, therefore knows a bloody lot more about football than I do. And also, he's an Azkal himself, and is the fourth reserve goalkeeper. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Garry Potter, Azkals.

Freezin' Our Balls Off: Post-Game Analysis of the Philippines v. Mongolia Series
by Garry Potter, Azkals

Oy. I'm Garry Potter, and I play goalkeeper for the Azkals. I've been asked to share me thoughts on yesterday's match, so here they are.

The last 24 hours 'as been a sad day for football. We lost the game to Mongolia, and Bayern München got knocked out o' the Champions League playoffs. No more Robben. Bollocks.

Anyway, despite losin' the match, the Philippines still advances to the group stage, based on an aggregate score of 3-2. If you don' understand the concept o' aggregate scores, then tha' means you are poor at math, and you should get a math tutor to explain it to you.

Me overall comment: Crappy football. Need I say more?

A'right, so James Younghusband scored in the fourth minute. And I heard people back in the Philippines were cheering like mad. Oh, if you only knew tha' the Mongolians were just warmin' up, you'd all have shouted at the top o' yer lungs, 'cause that'd be the last chance you'd have of cheering for the Motherland.

The Azkals moving at a leisurely pace after J. Younhusband's goal.

In case you didn't know, we were playin' in -7°C. That's seven degrees below zero. Celsius. None of tha' Fahrenheit bullshit. The only thing keepin' the water in our bodies from freezin' was our body heat.

The ball-freezin' temperature (and when I say "ball", I mean "scrotum") was what allowed the Mongolians to run circles around us and score two goals. Even if the Mongolians managed to tie the aggregate score, we still would've won, on the basis o' the "Away Goal" rule. The "Away Goal" was what won Inter Milan the series against Bayern. If you don' understand the concept of an "Away Goal", then I suggest you go to Google.com an' type in "away goal" in the search bar.

A lot of people are blamin' the goalkeeper, Sacapano. They were callin' 'im "Butterfingers". Partly 'cause he was wearin' yellow.

"M&M Peanut" doesn't sound as good.

Well, the man tried his best. It's just tha' with Etheridge gone, Sacapano had 'uge shoes to fill. Literally. That's 'cause Neil is taller, and thus wears bigger shoes. 

Oh, and Phil Younghusband pulled a hamstring. Which means no goals for the time being. And no goals means no dates wit' Angel Locsin. Now I can make me move. I have to announce it on Twitter as well, because tha' seems to be the most effective way of gettin' a date with Angel. But what do I say? Has to be somethin' neutral. It shouldn't appear like I'd want to get in her pants, even if I really do want to get in her pants. I know. How about:

Oy, @143redangel! Fancy a cup o' tea avec moi?

Now let's break that Tweet down, word-for-word.

Oy─I definitely have to begin with "Oy", 'cause it's English, and also Kapampangan, or somethin'.
@143redangel─'Cause it's Twitter.
Fancy─To emphasise that I'm half-English (see, I even spelled it as "emphasise").
cup o' tea─Again, 'cause I'm half-English. "Cup o' coffee" is so American.
avec moi─Gotta throw in a bit o' French in there, just to make it look classy. Wicked!

Now about the game. Well, I got nothin' more to say about the game except "crappy football". Yeah, we conceded two goals, but we shouldn't blame the keeper Sacapano. We should blame the coach, Herr Weiss. As soon as Mongolia scored the first goal, he should've put me in.

Ratin': Crappy a.k.a. 3/10 (for effort)

You can follow Garry Potter on Twitter and also check out his YouTube videos.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is called "shameless plugging".

*some info from the Asian Football Confederation
pics from Mongolian Azkal Ako


Repertory Philippines' The 39 Steps

I was too young to remember Alfred Hitchcock's fame or too girly then to enjoy Monty Python. But I love theater, so I was excited to watch Repertory Philippines' second production for its 74th Season. And I took with me the laugh quota expectations I had when they previewed it late last year.

It was an "unconventional" kind of theater at first, seeing the characters (and not MIB: Men In Black) move their own sets and props. But the way they do it in character kind of adds to the comedy, really, so it wasn't off. The whole play uses a mix of movie and theater direction, as if the audience was served Hitchcock and Monty Python tossed in a salad. The lights (flickering lights to suggest slow-motion action) and sound design (upped echo to suggest a spooky mansion) also contributed largely to how the story reaches out to its audience. Special mention to the use of shadow play for select scenes which gave the re-staging of this classic a pinch of Pinoy creativity.

Did Pinoys invent shadow plays?
Answer in 10 seconds. Timer starts now.

The four actors did a lovely and an obviously veteran (which here does not mean "old" but "experienced") take on their roles. They really looked like they were having fun acting. To switch from one character to another, one accent to the next, one costume change after another and another, I believe only seasoned actors can seamlessly pull off. Rem Zamora, Juliene Mendoza, Liza Infante-Robinson, and Michael Williams (he played one character; he was good, too) all did. Hats off to the "clowns" Rem and Juliene, who played the bulk of the characters I'm at a loss to count.

We are not old—this red phone booth is. And it's Photoshop again, duh.

I know not of the book or movie but I know I laughed out loud a lot. The first half's quick pace wouldn't bore any type of audience. Difficulty deciphering dialogue under thick accents or not being a fan of whodunit plots—you'll still laugh out loud. But when the love angle was heavily played in the second part, I found it dragging the upbeat suspense plot. It's a whodunit thing first and foremost, not a who-ends-up-with-him thing.

Repertory Philippines' The 39 Steps gets a seven-point-eight out of ten, for having great actors but still not being able to sustain my LOLs.

*photos from vintersections.com, courtesy of Repertory Philippines


A Taste for the Tease: Burlesque as Lesbian Cinema

A brilliantly defiant film of recent times is 2010’s Burlesque, a risqué musical drama featuring two divas: Christina Aguilera and Cam Gigandet. Cher also stars as a gay Cher impersonator running a burlesque club called─what else?─“Burlesque”. Seriously, what brilliant way to promote your burlesque club by calling it “Burlesque”. Who would want to go to a “Burlesque” club called “Church of the Holy Family” or “Jollibee”, am I right? Calling your burlesque club “Burlesque” has a quaint sincerity to it, much like a prostitute calling herself a whore; there’s no pretentions, no other promises, but to provide what you came in for.

Burlesque is the story of closet lesbian “Ally” played by Christina Aguilera. Ally came to Los Angeles to become a performer. In search of jobs, she ended up entering the world of “Burlesque”, Cher’s rundown lounge under threat of closure from bankruptcy. With no opening available for Ally─who describes herself as a simple cowgirl from Iowa─she picked up a tray and started working as a waitress.

Feel free to fill in the plot as to how Christina Aguilera vajazzled her way from serving drinks to squirting tennis balls out of her vajayjay on stage.

What is brilliant in this movie is the quiet intensity of how Aguilera portrayed a lesbian character. Everytime a half-naked woman is onstage, Aguilera’s eyes would gloss over with lust. Wide-eyed and in awe, Aguilera watched her co-workers perform burlesque routines one after the other. She would stare and gape at the girls on stage, and even when she was one of them, she would constantly be begging for their acceptance.

“You’re so beautiful,” she confessed to Kristen Bell’s Nicki.

With firm resolve to keep herself in the closet, Aguilera’s Ally turned to Cam Gigandet for sexual satisfaction. Lusting after women at work, and sleeping with a gay man in their downtime, Burlesque is no doubt this generation’s Sex and the City: honest, open, and a social commentary on how single people can be empowered by music and feathered boas.

Cher’s portrayal as a gay Cher impersonator is spotless. Using her immense acting skills, Cher’s facial expressions were rigidly held under control as what can only be cinema’s most brilliant display of understated emotions. Bravo, Cher!

It is with a heavy heart that I read the tweets about Black Swan winning more Oscars than Burlesque. Black Swan is an obvious rip-off of Burlesque, especially when you count all the goose feathers involved in both productions. Burlesque is this generation’s All About Eve, a story playing with the dynamics of females working under a stressful environment, and how it creates a situation for their homosexual tendencies to surface. This deeply disturbing narrative of a woman’s obsession to overcome her rival by “becoming” her rival herself is a study on female-to-female attraction and its potent sexual tension. This should have won the Oscar for Best Score, and by Score, I mean Cam Gigandet sleeping with a lesbian for guilt sex.

Rating: 4/10


Brokebear Mountain: A Review of the Film Yogi Bear

People who grew up in the 90’s are no doubt familiar with Hanna Barbera’s Yogi Bear. Hailed as “smarter than the average bear”, Jellystone Park’s resident picnic basket connoisseur is easily one of the most recognizable icons of the past decade. Together with his side-kick Boo Boo, Yogi delighted audiences with his daring exploits as the park’s phantom basketnapper.

It is with shock then that I saw the 2010 version starring the voices of Dan Akroyd, and Justin Timberlake. In the Nolan tradition of putting a darker spin to a beloved classic, the 2010 re-imagining of Yogi Bear portrayed the lovable character as a disturbing study of addiction in a downward spiral narrative reminiscent of Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream.

What was a delightful animated favourite was turned into a vividly frightening live-action thriller that pitted real actors with an actual bear. All for the sake of entertainment. Perhaps drawing influence from exploitation movies like Cannibal Holocaust, the director risked harm to his actors by exposing them to the threat of a wild animal for prolonged periods of time.

The film’s only redeeming character is the politician who wanted to shut down Jellystone Park. Certainly, in this day and age when politicians would compromise their views for just about anything (or a chance to be Pacquiao’s BFF), a politician with the political willpower to place his foot firmly on the ground and shut down Jellystone Park is a refreshing character to watch. Attn: Hollywood, we need more positive role models like this one.

In this chilling re-imagining, Yogi Bear is portrayed as a grizzly who is too smart for his own good. Rather than become a simple-minded bear who forages for food in the wild, Yogi plots and schemes to steal picnic baskets from parkgoers. He is aided by Boo-Boo, who is implied as a minor, and perhaps, Yogi’s lover as well. Perhaps the director is playing on the gay subculture term “bear” which means a chunky, mature male with significant amount of body hair and is prone to prey on younger males.

At the heart of the narrative is a disturbing tale of addiction. As the plot progresses, we see just how obsessed Yogi is about stealing. The viewers soon realize that stealing is not just Yogi’s means to survive, it has become his lifestyle. Even when circumstances no longer force him to commit his felonious acts, Yogi is bound by compulsion to keep stealing. In a heartbreaking scene, we see Yogi struggling to fight his demons, forced even to handcuff himself to a tree. And we see his demons triumph over his good sense when he can no longer stop himself from his obsession.

What a travesty that the bear is named “Yogi”, for yogis are revered men in India. A name that holds so much power is ironically turned synonymous to that of uncontrollable addiction and the helplessness to defeat one’s wayward ego.

What is even more shocking is the film’s total lack of remorse from the enablers around Yogi. True, they do not approve of his criminal behaviour, but neither do they do anything about it, save for occasionally yelling out his name. But doing that only satisfies the bear’s ego, for one corollary of the bear’s addiction is his need for attention. He steals as a compulsion, and his reward is the attention.

Yogi Bear is not your average Saturday morning cartoon re-imagined. It is a deconstruction of a family favourite into a study of the animal in every one of us. We are Yogi Bear, and look at what we have become.

Rating: 4/10



This movie should teach everyone a valuable lesson, and it is this:

Just because it's Johnny Depp doesn't mean you have to watch it.

This, by the way, is a Nickelodeon and Industrial Light and Magic production, and marks ILM's first venture into CG-animation. And I'm so sorry to say that it actually failed in the character designs. First off, the title character himself:

The Hawaiian shirt isn't helping.


The Big Bang Theory (Season 2)

I still fail to see what makes this show too popular, but I am beginning to get the hang of it.

Season 2 is way better than the first, mainly because the group chemistry is much more evident. Wait, no, the group chemistry is now existent. Every character is given more spotlight now (and by every character, I mean Howard and Raj too, not just one dimensional-portrayals of Sheldon, Leonard, and Penny). Plus, their interaction is now more silly than wordy.

Though Sheldon is still spouting his usual educational monologues, it is well balanced by everyone's antics. At one point, the writers even make fun of Sheldon's occasionally boring yet always lengthy monologue by having the gang interrupt resulting in Sheldon's uncontrollable facial tic.

But what I really like best about the group chemistry is each episode opener is reserved to show what these scientists do in their spare time. As opposed to Season 1 where the laugh track tells me to laugh at the gang because they went to a cosplay convention (Why would I laugh? That is so common already.), Season 2 actually shows funny, and more importantly, interesting invented spare time activities like Secret Agent Laser Obstacle Chess (thank you, Google—I just typed in "Big Bang Theory" and "chess" to find out the name). The Big Bang Theory fools me into thinking I could actually do something about my boring life!

Other noteworthy points this season are the sweet development of the Penny-Sheldon interaction and (of course) Summer Glau guest stars (eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.... eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!). Summer didn't do much. In fact, even her facial expressions didn't do anything at all. I guess she's just used to roles that don't require too much facial expressions. But who cares? It's Summer!

The Big Bang Theory exploits its target audience. As Sheldon would probably say: Well played, writers. Well played.


Baby James is the New Keempee

To understand that statement, you must first understand the context.

Mostly everyone knows Keempee de Leon, son of the Comedy Triumvir Joey de Leon. He was a matinee idol in the nineties, and his claim to fame lies in spawning a hairstyle that became a household name that ruled the last decade of the last century.

Wait, you can't really see the hairstyle from that angle. I'll give you a better picture.

There, that's better. That hairstyle, ladies and gentlemen, is probably responsible for more than half of the pregnancies in the nineties. Finally, Filipino males have found the perfect cut for our straight, dark Malay hair.

The guy with the hottest hairstyle will go home with both chicks.

In the nineties, you could go to any beauty salon in the Philippines, just tell them you want a "Keempee", and the hairdressers would take it from there.

And now, two decades later, a new little guy is spawning a cultural hairstyle revolution. That little guy's name is...

Baby James
Baby James Yap is the son of First Lady Kris Aquino and basketball star James Yap. His hairstyle looks like this:

Because he is Kris's son, you know those are real Wayfarers.

Baby James' hairstyle looks like a cross between a mohawk and an army cut. And we kid you not when we say you could go to any beauty salon in the Philippines, just tell them you want a "Baby James", and the hairdressers would take it from there.

There definitely has to be a Guinness World Record category for "youngest person to influence a national hairstyle fad".

*pics from Photobucket, Pinoy Exchange, Photobucket, Jobert Macadengdeng, and Barrio Siete.


R.I.P.* The Wedding Singer

*Review In Pictures

Although this movie didn't make it on my List, I am just reminded why I liked it in the first place...

Audio: Pass the Dutchie 'pon the lef-hand side ♫
Video: Hell limo!


Shogun (1980)

Shogun's one of my favourite books, and I always felt like I was missing out whenever friends (well, not really "friends"─mostly my high school Art and English teachers plus my dad) talk about the mini-series.

Set in feudal Japan, Shogun centres around John Blackthorne, a shipwrecked British pilot, as he learns the intricacies of 17th century Japan culture, politics, religion and language.

Blackthorne gains the confidence of Toranaga, a feudal lord vying to be the next Shogun, and is the first foreigner ever to be made a Samurai.

What was so great about it is, they intentionally didn't subtitle the Japanese dialogue adding to the tension and conflict and really putting you in Blackthorne's shoes.

I was pleasantly surprised by Father Alvito, who I imagined in the book to be an old, balding man but turned out to be a really hot, slightly sinister-looking piece of man-meat.

Mmm-mmm. ♥

Hot priests aside, if you're a fan of the book, or like Samurai and historical dramas, you should definitely check it out.

Rating: 8/10


The Big Bang Theory (Season 1)

This is one of those sitcoms I'm not quite sure on how it became so popular. Maybe because of the genius-wannabes audience it managed to attract? Or maybe we're really all just geeks hoping to have adorable darlings of ourselves (only actually smarter) on the tube? Whatever the case, it worked. The sitcom is as normal as any pre-Arrested Development sitcom, but somehow, other people are actually thinking it's special.

Season 1 introduces us to a fairly simple plot. Geeks plus bimbo next door. As the show goes on, the characters get a bit rounded... but not really. The writers are confused themselves as to what pop-culture and academic references real scientists would actually know and refer to. Sometimes it's believable what the geek characters do and don't know. I don't know, maybe it's just me, but I kind of have a hard time believing someone as smart as Sheldon would even waste time watching the pseudo-science in any Dr. Who shows and the like. And as for the luminous fish that he supposedly invented, I thought the real world did that already. Unless I misunderstood the documentary I watched in my Marine Science class.

So really, each character is still a caricature. As far as I know, smarty pants in the real world won't even bother with bimbos. Smarty pants in the real world are, like Sheldon, all pompous and lacking social skills, but unlike the rest of The Big Bang Theory gang, they could actually get bimbos if they wanted to.

Anyway, to break it down:

Penny - I guess if I'm a guy, I'd find her hot? As a girl I'm not swooning for her right now. She's just meh.

Leonard - I have a thing for guys with weird hand gestures and mannerisms. And usually I'm not into the central good guy who takes the obnoxious character (Sheldon) out of trouble, but with this one, I'm going to make an exception.

Howard - So basically, everybody's in love with Sheldon right? Because he's so smart and pompous yadidada. But Howard is actually my favorite character. Usually, I'm not into the token pervert misogynistic mama's boy, but I find Howard's witty surprising interjections more fun than the others. Because when others quip, I feel it planned and coming. With Howard, it's like he's not missing a beat, but you don't expect him to fill in the beat either.

Rajesh - Is hot. Basically that's it. He can't talk to hot women unless drunk or on drugs. And sometimes he's silly funny. Which again, I find way better than the over thought "intelligent" quips from Sheldon and even Leonard.

Sheldon - Ah, Sheldon. Sheldon, Sheldon, Sheldon. The Jack of Will and Grace. The Barney of How I Met Your Mother. I guess the Joey of Friends? Anyway, whatever. Sheldon. I'm usually into the star character of each sitcom. I'm usually all for social skills-lacking characters like Anya of Buffy, who tells you the truth in a manner so innocent and rude, it's funny. So I don't know why Sheldon is just not doing it for me. Sometimes, he does, I guess. But overall, I just see him as the obnoxious person that he actually is. Maybe as I already mentioned, he's just so overwritten. The writers are shoving it down our throats that he's so smart so he has the license to be a bastard. Just like Gregory House! That makes him sexy too, for a lot of women who want bitchy, emotionally uncaring men, I guess.

But... maybe that's just me being all post-February bitter (apparently, it lasts that long) or maybe I can make you believe I have a point. But regardless of the characters, you really have to admit that with Season 1, The Big Bang Theory looks to be just another ordinary sitcom. Maybe it is too smart for me. I like my sitcoms smart-silly, like the Complete Savages or That 70's Show. It's fun to watch. With The Big Bang Theory, it's not that it's not fun. It's just that, with most episodes, I don't need to watch it to get the jokes. Good god, they sure do talk and talk and talk. They might as well have written it for the radio. At the latter episodes, I was actually just getting it over with, so I grabbed my PSP, played Peggle, and just listened.

Still, I have three more seasons copied on my notebook. Maybe I'll change my mind. Who knows?


Pinoy Icons: Paquito Diaz

We say goodbye to one of the most memorable bad guys of Philippine Cinema. With a career spanning 5 decades and 204 films, Mr. Paquito Diaz inspired so much fear on the silver screen that it even spilled over in real life.

Along with bearded Bombays (Indians) on their motorcycles, Paquito Diaz was often used by mothers to scare their children into taking afternoon naps. Well, for all I know, Paquito Diaz could have been a nice guy in real life, with his badassery being just an act that earned him his bread and butter. But his son Joko Diaz also turned out as an on- and off-screen bad boy, so following the "like father, like son" formula, a nice guy Paquito Diaz could very well be just pure fiction.

So here he is, one last time, back in the days when the mere sight of his awesome mustache sent shivers down everybody's spines.

In a survey conducted during Martial Law, it was discovered that
people were more afraid of this moustache than of getting tortured by the military.

Francisco a.k.a. Paquito Bustillos Diaz. 28 May 1937 - 3 March 2011.

*some info from Wikipedia
pic from PiNaysaAmerika


R.I.P. 2001: A Space Odyssey

I was, or am right, (that) to remain in a constant state of gayness actually does contribute to the creative flare. Bongga! And so I did my Top 100+ List of (Feature-Length) Films and spoiler Reviews-In-Pictures (acronym: RIP) shall be its babies. Why? Because we are in a coalescing, exponential stream of devolution, and freewill is not an option. I even have this pilot article title in rhyme! Cheers!

One of the most memorable images in filmic history is this juxtaposition of bone and spaceship. What they represent I know not...


Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

*This is a review of the Extended Version, or Special Edition, or Director's Cut, or whatever they call this.

Nobody thought that J.R.R. Tolkien's beloved classic could ever make it to the big screen. That is, until Peter Jackson came along.

Saving a hell of a lot of money on post-production while at the same time preserving realism, Jackson employed old-school photography techniques, such as forced perspective. This also makes you appreciate Peter Jackson's intense pre-production work and storyboarding.


Senior Year

The characters are cute and relatable and the story relies on unique dialogue more than it does on flash and formula. This is a live-action Filipino Indie film. Go figure.

I love Bunda, the big tough girl that even the boys were scared of. The last scene that pertains to her is vague, however.

There's also the heartbreaking story of nerdy Henry and made-over Sophia, whom he's tutoring.

Teachers Che Ramos, LJ Moreno and Ramon Bautista were awesome. I wish there was more of Ramon Bautista's comedy in the movie, though.

It has most of the details of the current Philippine highschool setting down. The movie touched on sexual orientation, love, religion, backstabbing, bullying, smoking, intramurals, and "being the change you want to see."

However, it only slightly touched on the topic of alcohol, which I think makes the movie inaccurate. It also made no mention of sex or drugs─the latter, in my experience, was rare in highschool anyway. Most highschools here don't allow weird haircuts and colored nails. Most highschools here also don't screen Padre Amaro or talk about the Nazi occupation in detail.

The script, by writer/director Jerrold Tarog falls short when the Social Studies teacher discusses the question of whether or not Filipinos are individualistic and then ends with "It's a case-to-case basis."

Anyway, 6.5 for a movie on the Filipino highschool experience is still good. Go watch it and laugh at the fact that you're now probably removed from that.

Also, compare this with the British series Skins and the American Glee.


Gotham City Sirens #20 - Hell Hath No Fury Part One

I don't know what Ivy and Catwoman are doing on the cover, but they weren't in this issue at all. Stunning cover art by Guillem March as usual though.

So issue #19 ends with Harley finally snapping and deciding to go after the Joker for everything she's had to put up with during the course of their relationship.

The thing about Harley Quinn is, it's so easy to just picture her as the token fun-loving, ditzy blonde of the group. What we tend to forget is that before she fell in love with the Joker and went loony, she was Arkham Asylum psychologist, Dr. Harleen Quinzel.

The Harley Quinn in this issue is cunning, strategic, a tad bit cruel and written with a depth that I've never read or watched before. Here, we see Harley as a psychiatrist and how she uses that to her tactical advantage.

Now, I can't count the number of times I've gotten frustrated and sworn off Gotham City Sirens only to pick up the next issue when it comes out, but #20 makes me glad I haven't completely given up on it.

Here's hoping the rest of this story arc doesn't disappoint.


Premium Blogspot Templates
Copyright © 2012 Da Couch Tomato