***NOTE: I am back trying to complete my ten posts for November. It’s always funny in a not-so-ha-ha way that everytime I try to do writing challenges, something comes up to distract my mojo. I was doing well posting my first Nano Poblano posts daily. Then personal problems distracted me. I also suddenly have a new client (well, she was a client before) who has been giving me various writing assignments. So yeah, my brain is usually cooked by evening. I just want to binge on Netflix. Well, I do actually binge on it.
Anyway, this is a fine time to re-share a film review I did in the past. I’ve been wanting to for quite some time but I never found the right timing. Maybe this is it. I originally wanted to post for #MondayReviews but, well…
Here it is. I did some editing to make it more readable, though, and updated. By the way, ALL images and video belong to the producers, okay? And, oh, for more reviews, visit the CRITIC’S CORNER, please.
It all began with a chair. No, really, it did, and it’s what the lead said: “It all began with a chair.” Honestly, I felt that the intro was rather weak until I realized why the writer began with that. The chair would somehow set the stage for what was soon to be the center of the story.
I am, admittedly, partial to movies with the word “indie” attached to them. I first heard about the 2007 Fox Searchlight film JUNO through cable-channel surfing. When I heard people gush about the so-called indie film, I said to myself, “Heck, yeah, I gotta see this flick!” Belatedly, after more than two years, I finally chanced upon a copy at a video store and whaddya know? I got me my JUNO.
First, the story.
The movie tells of a girl named Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page), who is equipped with sharp wit and an even sharper mouth. A die-hard rocker kinda girl with a love for slasher movies, she lived by her own rules (practically her own, anyway) sans the usual teen angsts and oh-I-hate-the-world attitude.
Juno is mature for her own age. However, at sixteen, she is still prone to the wayward ways of the juvenile world. She makes the mistake of sleeping with her dorky male bestfriend Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera) one supposedly boring day. “Supposedly”, since she tells quirky cheerleader Leah (Olivia Thirlby), her female bestfriend, that she planned it. But the plan has resulted into something she did not expect. And she pays for it in a span of nine months.
Suddenly, Juno is faced with going through the inevitable phase. And then there’s the adoption to think of. She wants to make sure that her baby’s future adoptive parents (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner) are the perfect ‘desperately seeking spawn’ couple she thinks they are. As one character puts it, “That ain’t no Etch-A-Sketch,” pertaining to Juno’s positive pregnancy test. “This is one doodle that can’t be un-did, Homeskillet.” She needs to make it right for her kid.
Juno worries that her child might grow up in a dysfunctional family such as hers. It is emotional baggage that the seemingly-uncaring Juno has carried around for years and is now being brought to the surface.
Interesting? Well, loads of people can’t be wrong. I know what endeared this movie to critics and public audience alike; it’s what endeared it to me.
Why Love JUNO?
It’s an adorable piece of unconventional, not-too-dramatic, creative storytelling. It tackles a very real issue with a humorous take. It is not to make light of the situation. Rather, it teaches about loving, forgiving and learning to let go.
The film deserves the praises, nominations, and awards it received. First-time screenwriter Diablo Cody spun a very good tale about a girl forced to deal with matters that even some adults fear facing. (Don’t ask why her name is Diablo; it’s an alias and is another story.)
The movie is a coming-of-age comedy except Juno had to mature faster than necessary, and she knew this. As she said in a scene, she was “just out dealing with things waaay beyond my maturity level.” Frankly, she dealt with the situation much more maturely than at least one of the adults.
Kudos to Cody for a wonderful script. She relayed the story in a manner that while she did not promote premarital sex and teenage pregnancy, she emphasized the value of family support during these dark times. She took a stand as well against abortion. Subtle, but a qualified stand.
What made this movie stand out more were the wickedly delicious dialogues mostly delivered by the wickedly brilliant Ellen Page. Language was often young and hip to emphasize the kind of girl Juno was. The adults had their own witty lines and comebacks as well, right at every turn. But it’s a good thing that Ellen played the lead role because she would have stolen the scenes from any other lead anyway. They were all good, but Ellen was just…well, again, wickedly brilliant!
JUNO made an instant Ellen Page fan out of me. [Ed. She’s the main reason I’m watching THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY.] So I researched on her and found her interesting film biography. She has done roles others can only dream of. Ellen tends to play dark roles, but she has said she is open for other kinds of roles (e.g. Kitty Pryde a.k.a. Shadowkat in X-MEN: THE LAST STAND, Ariadne in INCEPTION).
For JUNO, Ellen received nominations and awards. She now carries with her name the “Academy Awards Nominee” tag. She has said that one advantage is she can now choose roles. Maybe it’s a joke, but I don’t think she even had that problem before at all, anyway. Real directors know talent when they see one.
JUNO gets FIVE STARS from me for being unconventional, smart, and even delicious to the eyes (I love the bright colors!!!). And, oh, spankin’ cute soundtrack as well, honest to blog!
Meanwhile, I am now looking for copies of her movies HARD CANDY, MOUTH TO MOUTH, SUPER, THE CURED, THE TRACEY FRAGMENTS, and AN AMERICAN CRIME[Ed. I posted a review of this. Just click]. Maybe I’ll try Netflix.
In December, a new movie version of CATS THE MUSICAL will be shown in theaters worldwide. I am a hugeCATS-lover and let me tell you now: So far, I’m not liking most of the changes they’ve done. But, alright, I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. Who knows? I might like it.
Anyway, below is the semi-review that I did on the original movie years ago. I call it “semi-review” because it’s more of a feature. Well, more of a fan-made writeup. This was posted way back in the old Multiply days. I have decided to share it again (1) since it’s timely, (2) to introduce new viewers to the original musical, and (3) to give them points of comparison once the new movie is released. I did edit things to correct some grammatical errors, shorten the piece a bit, and add some updates.
FAIR WARNING: I am posting a reaction-slash-comparison video on my vlog one of these days. Bear with me. Humor me.
A CATTY EXPERIENCE
Indeed, I could choose from a variety of movies that I have already seen. Instead, I chose to love a film that is, for sure, not on a lot of people’s favorites-list. It’s a story with a simple plot. Cinematography is good, not outstanding. The visual effects are there only because they are necessary. And then, there are glaring editing misses!
So what’s there to love, really?
CATS THE MUSICAL is simply not the kind of film most Filipinos would appreciate. Well, most people in general. But I am a musical-enthusiast, videophile, dance-lover and poetry-maker. That combination explains why I find CATS very entertaining, beautiful, and original. It is poetry in words, music, and motion, all rolled into one cool package. Great score, great singing, great dancing! In the words of T. S. Eliot, it is “ineffable…effable…eff-an-in-EF-fable!”
The History of CATS
In the past, stage musicals like OKLAHOMA and FIDDLER ON THE ROOF were made into successful films. Many were culled from classic literature such as OLIVER!, from Charles Dickens‘ book Oliver Twist. THE WIZARD OF OZ, meanwhile, was based from the 1939 film, which was an adaptation of L. Frank Baum‘s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. As for WEST SIDE STORY, it was inspired by William Shakespeare‘s Romeo and Juliet.
Came the early ’80s and there was the musical genius Baron Andrew Lloyd Webber (ALW). He of the JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR and PHANTOM OF THE OPERA fame had a novel idea: Why not make a musical about cats based on the book his mom used to read to him — T. S. Eliot’sOld Possum’s Book of Practical Cats?
So CATS was conceived and developed. It was made by famous theatrical producer Cameron Mackintosh and ALW’s The Really Useful Theatre Company. CATS was officially ‘born’ in London’s West End, at New London Theatre, on May 11, 1981. Then the show made its Broadway debut on September 7, 1982 at the Winter Garden Theatre.
The sung-through musical proved to be a hit and won many awards and accolades. For quite a time, it was the longest-running musical as it was performed on West End stage for two glorious decades! There were 8,489 shows in 21 years. On Broadway, it ran for 18 years with 7,485 shows.
In 1998, ALW pushed the barriers further by producing the film version of CATS. It was, in fact, the first of its kind, an actual stage performance captured on film. In essence, they picked up where they left off, only with a different medium. Directed for film by David Mallet, the musical was shot in London’s Adelphi Theater by running through the whole production twice and then adding other essential shots. They did it in a span of 18 days. Meanwhile, costumes and make-up were toned down for film.
Original performers like Elaine Paige and Ken Page took on the roles they originated on West End (her) and on Broadway (him). The show also brought in veteran actor Sir John Mills for a special role. ALW then chose actors he thought could best portray the 28 other important characters. The cast were chosen from productions that were then currently showing the musical. Judging from the performances captured by the lenses, it seems that ALW’s team chose wisely and well.
The Story of CATS
The story unfolds as the Jellicle Cats meet at a junkyard for the annual Jellicle Ball. In attendance are the adult cats and the kittens that are on the verge of adulthood, probably attending their first ball.
Led by the protective silver-and-grey tom, Munkustrap (Michael Gruber), they sing, dance, do acrobatics, and bask at the Jellicle moon. That is, while they await the arrival of their leader, Old Deuteronomy (Page). Every year, just before dawn, Deuteronomy makes what is known as the “Jellicle Choice”. He chooses the cat who gets the chance to be reborn, allowed to go up the Heaviside Layer (their kitty heaven), and “come back to a different Jellicle life”. Anyone interested could ask to be given this privilege.
During this time, the audience is given the chance to get accustomed to the characters. Some are easy to remember. That’s due mainly to particular costume designs that stage productions almost always follow . (Thanks, John Napier.)
For those familiar with the show, some characters are instantly recognizable. For instance, Victoria The White Cat (Phyllida Crowley Smith), the tuxedo cat Quaxo (Jacob Brent), the Siamese feline Cassandra (Rebecca Parker), or the twins Coricopat and Tantomile (Tommi Sliiden and Kaye Brown respectively). Some performers first show up as swing or supporting casts, wearing costumes specifically designed not to stand out. They later emerge as important characters. It is hard, though, to miss such a man (or cat) the size of Mister Page.
As the waiting continues, the presence of some adored cats are acknowledged. Jennyanydots The Gumbie Cat (Susie McKenna), with her tiger stripes and leopard spots, is a tabby perceived as lazy by her owners during the day. But she gets busy at night teaching or disciplining mice, roaches and beetles. The supposedly smart Bustopher Jones (James Barron) is a well-respected cat in his “coat of fastidious black” and “white spats”. He is revered when all he actually really does is eat.
The Rum Tum Tugger (John Partridge) also makes sure that his presence is known. He is “vain”, “perverse” and “inconsequent”. And yet, he is the object of almost every she-feline’s affection. The kittens and the sensual Bombalurina (Rosemarie Ford) idolize him like a sexy rockstar. Complete with a lion’s mane, a kiss-me curl, and gyrations, he is the show’s trademark Elvis. The Elvis theme is one that ALW plays with from time to time. Case in point: the Pharaoh in JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT. Together with Munkustrap, Tugger serves as another main storyteller.
Grizabella The Glamour Cat (Paige) – ironically un-glamorized now – then enters the scene. Excited to be back after years of absence, Grizabella is saddened when the others avoid and ostracize her. Needless to say, she is forced to stay away and watch from afar. Meanwhile, the notorious Bonnie-and-Clyde tandem of Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer (Drew Varleyand Jo Gibb respectively) are caught doing their usual naughty antics and misdeed. The comical troublemakers end up staying all throughout the party.
The Jellicle leader soon appears, to the delight of his followers. For further entertainment, the cats do a parody of warring dogs, with the “intervention” of The Rumpus Cat (Frank Thompson). Dancing resumes after. At some point of the elaborate dance number, the mating process happens. It’s a sort of PG-13 moment when the kitten Victoria “becomes” an adult cat. She mates with Plato (Bryn Walters) while the others also do their – uh – thing.
When it is over, Grizabella returns and tries to join the ball once again. She is still regarded as an outcast. Feeling alone, she sings the now-popular song “Memory”, sadly reminiscing her lovely past. She does not know that Deuteronomy is still there and leaves disappointed.
Soon after, the cats return and Deuteronomy tries to explain to them the meaning of real happiness, to no avail. So to get the message across, he conveys it in simpler words through the kitten Jemima (Veerle Casteleyn). She somewhat sings entranced. Jemima’s maturity at her age is evidenced by her understanding of Grizabella. She is always the first to try and touch the outcast only to be pulled away by the older cats.
Gus The Theatre Cat (Sir John Mills), senile as he is, also attends the gathering and talks of the good ol’ days. He makes you shed a tear or two at the end of his song. He leaves behind him a sad atmosphere. which Skimbleshanks The Railway Cat (Geoffrey Garrat) enlivens again through his storytelling and pantomime acts.
Chaos erupts as the criminal Macavity The Mystery Cat a.k.a. The Hidden Paw (also Walters) emerges and catnaps Old Deuteronomy. As they worry about their leader, Macavity returns in a different form. But the sensitive and rather dramatic Demeter (Aeva May) sees through his disguise and exposes him. A fight inevitably happens and sometime later, the Jellicle leader is somehow rescued. With the help of the magical Mr. Mistoffelees (also Brent) and the kittens — the wise and sweet Jemima and the kind, queenly Victoria — Deuteronomy is finally able to make the Jellicle Choice.
Thoughts on CATS
For anyone wanting entertainment-value, CATS will not be a disappointment. But to the uninitiated, the whole story may not be easy to follow. I had to watch it several times myself before I fully understood everything.
It also helped that I had the libretto downloaded from the Internet back then. That made it easier to understand and better appreciate the actors’ various accents. Varley’s and Gibb’s were particularly harder to follow for me, to be honest. Understanding the words made their lively performance more fun to watch.
Most of the characters that were introduced/announced were old. It was natural for Deuteronomy to choose among the elders. They had been there, done that, enjoyed things they would want to relive like Gus, regretted things they would like to change like Grizabella.
Grizabella did not use her youth wisely. Once it was gone, she was left with nothing but her memories. She felt the sting of loneliness, lamenting the meaning of real happiness. The brief but memorable duet of the old and the young in “Memory (Reprise)” emphasized this. One represented hope and innocence; one represented loss and grave regrets. Meanwhile, we saw a stunning performance from both actors. It is arguably one of the best scenes from the film.
Between Griz and Gus, however, the latter gets my vote. Sir John Mills was a very convincing Gus that I actually shed some tears almost every time I watched him. A brief performance worthy of an award!
The stage production itself is to be applauded, in my opinion. Few musicals can do what CATS do. They may have one or two of the elements, but the show offers more.
There’s great poetry (with additional texts from Sir Trevor Nunn), though already antiquated from the start. Understandable. The book the show is based on is old. What’s amazing is they somehow pull it off. If you’re not into poetry, you’ll tend to forget it anyway as you enjoy watching the cats and their various antics. You won’t really notice that it’s poetry.
There’s wonderful music. A lot of times, it is operatic, which, I admit, may not suit some theater-goers. They might find the show boring because of the music. I think most avid supporters of musicals will not mind, though. Many musicals tend to be operatic.
The dance numbers are totally awesome! I am so impressed by the dancers who train really hard to move like real cats, even think like real cats. They make dancing seem easy when it isn’t. It takes dedication to achieve the craft. CATS’ dance routines also differ in genres (e.g. ballet, lyrical, even acrobatic). That makes the whole show quite interesting. Credit goes to Dame Gillian Lynne. I think productions still follow her choreography up to now. I saw a live performance some years ago and it was like watching the movie.
The set is not breathtakingly impressive compared to other shows’ and yet, very appropriate. Just imagine that you are an actual Jellicle Cat — the set will make sense. The way going to the Heaviside Layer is a bit of a turn-off for me. Other than that, well, I really don’t mind anything else.
I love other musicals as well. What sets CATS apart for me, though, is the fact that it is a complete package. I consider watching the movie as an actual adventure.
Truth be told, it isn’t really the story that has made the most impact on me. I am viewing this from the perspective of a musical-lover, not a film enthusiast. CATS is a stage musical, first and foremost. Despite its flaws, the movie deserves to be praised for the sheer originality alone. That’s what thinking-out-of-the-box is about.
These last few months, I’ve been doing lots of watching, particularly, but not exclusively, on Netflix. Seen just a few flicks, followed/following a few series–old, new, and new-to-me. The thing is, they don’t have a lot of other stuff I want to see, so I actually checked out iFlix last night and saw several of those other stuff. Maybe I’ll keep both accounts, considering that the latter is so much cheaper, actually. I’ll be trying out their month-long free trial.
Anyway, I am sharing my quick reviews again. Read on, friends, but check out the guide below.
Excellent – No doubt that I super love this and would love to continue watching!
Good – Very interesting that I wouldn’t want to miss an episode
Promising – Interesting that it can keep me glued to my seat and ask for more, but there’s still a chance my interest in it may wane
Fair – Entertaining enough to watch to pass the time
Undecided – Not consistently interesting that my feelings for it seesaws from almost-LIKE to meh.
Bad – NOT recommended WHATSOEVER, for valid reasons
IF you have not seen a show mentioned here, feel free to ignore this post if it suits you. Better if you’ll just skip parts instead to avoid the “spoilage”, so to speak…Here goes…
Game of Thrones (GoT)
I finally got to continue with Game of Thrones. So far, I’m done with Season 3. GoT is one big and compelling web of interwoven stories. It is very interesting, if not sometimes gruesome and scandalously unapologetic about the sex, the nudity, and the annoying habit of killing off beloved characters just when the audiences are warming up to them.
Nothing prepared me for the betrayal and murder of Robb Stark! I mean, I knew he would die sometime, but it was all so sudden, quick and a really undeserved and meaningless death of a strong character. I also did not expect Lady Catelyn Stark‘s death–I had thought she’d outlive Robb and, at least, get to see her smaller kids first–so cruel!
Characters I love and would love to see till the end:
Arya Stark- smart, brave and loyal (so far? we’ll see), and she kicks butts…It would be terrible if the character gets killed off.
Tyrion Lannister– I give him the Best Lannister award! His past before the war aside, he’s proven to be intelligent and rather kind-hearted.
DaenerysStormborn– easily almost everyone’s favorite. While the Lannisters, Starks, and Baratheons were battling it out and busy tricking one another, she successful gathered thousands of armies to her side. My fearless forecast is she stays until the end.
I know when sex/nudity is a work of art, and I know when it’s just meant to lure the audience. So save me the for-the-sake-of-art BS. And with the whole Weinstein controversy going on, it’s hard not to be concerned about the actors in such shows, whether they are big stars, bit players or extras.
Finally, the fantasy factor! The dragons are bigger, there were white walker sightings, and Melisandre is one intriguing magical character.
I’m not spared from spoilers even if I try to avoid them, so I do know about Jon Snow and Daenerys being related (don’t know how yet) and I have this to say: When has incest become accepted as cool??? GoT crossed the line. Nevermind if they end up not related after all. The point is, they think they are, yet they do it, anyway. Protagonists need not be saints, but they don’t have to be that morally questionable either.
RATING:GOOD(It would’ve been EXCELLENT, but I can never truly love a show that troubles me a lot. Still, I’m watching it. Hopefully, it doesn’t completely turn me off.)
Once Upon a Time (OUAT)
It’s been a slow progress that I have only finished the first season of Once Upon a Time. I haven’t even started with any episode from season 2 mainly because I’m busy with GoT and another series. Also, I want to watch most of it with the kids during weekends when I’m not busy.
Thankfully, the storylines were building up, keeping me interested, so I expect to be more entertained by the next season, at least. I do wish that Emma Swan did not finally learn the truth. I feel like the show could have delayed the revelation longer, maybe kept it until the first few season 2 episodes, at least. Maybe the producers were not sure whether they should continue it so they made a sort of open-ended ending, but it would still be an ending of sorts.
I am somehow glad that the antagonists aren’t really such bad people. I do want a better background story for Maleficent in the next seasons. Meanwhile, I have a pretty good idea who the Queen of Hearts actually is.
RATING:GOOD (It’s something the kids and I bond over. Now the youngest wants a Pinocchio costume for Reading Week.)
Dexter has ended and, to be honest, it kind of left a hole in my heart. I DIDN’T like the series finale at all! Practically everything was wrong! Practically the whole final season was wrong! As it has ended and I have a lot to say about it, this deserves a whole write-up, so whatever I need to say, I’ll save it.
RATING: Went up to EXCELLENT (I am tempted to change it to GOOD because the ending was AWFUL.)
The last time, I said I was willing to tryiZombie until its third season. That was before I found out it has only two seasons so far. I also said it needed more oomph. Fortunately, the zombie show did step up the game especially in the season finale. I can’t wait till I get to see the next episodes! It’s light, entertaining, I’m not scared to show it to kids (with my supervision, of course). Needless to say, the rating went up as well. No complaints for now. Long live the zombie!
RATING: Brain-licking GOOD (Also another bonding-worthy series to watch with kids–of course, I make sure to spare them from the very few a-bit-too-steamy-for-kids scenes.)
As I have mentioned in my previous post, my enthusiasm for watching YouTube channels has started to wane. So what I’m doing is I just take my time.
I am always into mysteries, so I decided I’d try this series out, after all, it’s about the great fictional detective Sherlock Holmes in the 21st century. It didn’t disappoint, coming on strong in the first seasons, though I have to say it’s getting a bit less interesting as time goes by. I hope it picks up again.
Sherlock is incredibly good at what he does. He has great deductive reasoning skills and a big wealth of information in his head. I like hearing bits of trivia when he talks. It does seem too impossible already at times the way he knows almost everything.
First woman Watson! And it’s Lucy Liu playing Joan Watson at that. I had to choose which to view first between Elementary and the other series, Sherlock–Lucy won my vote for the show, hands down. She’s natural as Watson, there isn’t time to wonder why Watson is Asian and not a man. It is not really relevant, anyway.
First woman Moriarty! That was brilliant as well. I also didn’t realize Moriarty was/is a woman and that she’s both Sherlock’s biggest nemesis and the love of his life. I suspected she was involved somewhat with Moriarty’s group, but not like that.
There doesn’t seem to be a possibility for a Holmes-Watson romantic angle. That’s refreshing. Also understandable as that would be too much veering away from the original fictional characters they’re based on.
It’s good that they tackled the addiction issue, which is a great flaw on Sherlock’s character. However, I’m in season 4 now and it still plays a big part in his storyline. It’s kind of getting old, to be honest. The writers should lay off it for a while. Sherlock using again at last season’s finale was just very disappointing, rather unnecessary and, really, just a betrayal of the audience that have come to accept him.
The Lizzie Borden Chronicles
Apparently, this series was based on the TV movie Lizzie Borden Took an Ax, which was based on actual cases of murder supposedly committed by the real Lizzie Andrew Borden. I haven’t seen the movie, but the series took from where the movie left off. Christina Ricci did so well as Lizzie that the network/producers decided to create The Lizzie Borden Chronicles (let’s call this LBC).
I must say that Christina sure showed how much she’s mastered the art of portraying dark and sinister characters (well, she’s had years of practice). She slayed it, pun intended. Character-wise, I never liked Lizzie. She’s evil and the only person she cared about, in a way, was her sister, mainly because she had a need for the sister. I told myself I would just watch the first season because Lizzie was not a main character anyone could root for. Surprisingly, I didn’t have to as the show was only meant to be for one season…Whew!
The actual Lizzie was said to have only killed two. Supposedly, as she was acquitted of the crime. LBC took a lot of liberties with their story and took a lot of the lives (some names were actual people back then) than necessary. Now, while things are often open to artistic interpretation, I believe that making Lizzie seem like some kind of sociopath/psychopath was going overboard. Maybe the real Lizzie was a killer, but it didn’t mean she killed many others. If you ask me, it’s a case of character assassination. If they wanted to drastically change things, they could’ve just created a whole new story that would not have Lizzie in it.
It is not clear if the Lizzie here was a sociopath or psychopath. Yes, there’s a difference, look it up. She’s cold-hearted and calculating, but she didn’t have a psychopath’s M.O. She just killed those who either stood in her way or those she could use to her advantage. Everybody knew she was some kind of bad; she never really pretended to be normal and likable, which is characteristic of a psychopath.
I am not sure whether to love or hate the modern approach the show took in terms of background music. It really seemed out of place. We’re not watching steampunk, after all.
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (a.k.a. CSI: Las Vegas)
I was so glad to have the chance to finish the whole CSI show. It’s one of my fave shows ever. My only problem was Netflix’s offer started with season 13 when I have never seen season 12! So while I expected Dr. Ray Langston leaving (after all, I already knew somebody was going to be the next lead actor), I wanted to experience that “closure”. Plus, I suddenly found some old faces missing and found new faces whose backgrounds I didn’t have an iota of an idea of.
Anyway, I am both sad and happy about the show. I am sad it’s ended, but I’m happy it ended well. After Warrick Brown‘s death in…whatever season that was, no main character died anymore, as far as I know, so yay! They brought the main characters back in the last episodes and gave everyone a happy finale.
I love that they brought Gil Grissom and Catherine Willows back for it, especially for Grissom and Sara Sidle to mend things and sail off to sea together. Nick Stokes finally got the promotion he’d been hankering for. I was confused whether the show was considering a David Hodges-Morgan Brody-Greg Sanders love triangle thing or not, although, in the end, it seemed to be Greg for the win.
No complaints here, except I won’t be able to see the show anymore. However, I am currently trying to see where I might be able to view CSI: Cyber. It’s been canceled, I’ve read, but I’m very much interested to see if I would like it or not.
RATING:EXCELLENT (My interest never wavered!!! I don’t know why I even delayed watching it before.)
Star Trek: Discovery
Yes! About time that I watch me someStar Trek again! It’s very new so I have decided to try and follow on a weekly basis. Certainly, it hasn’t disappointed me yet after four episodes. Great effects! And they definitely upped the ante on the creepy factors (twisted corpses in spaceships, anyone?) Plotlines aren’t bad at all either.
Love that after kicking zombie butts in Walking Dead as Sasha, Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham is now kicking Klingon butts (no offense to Worf as I loved him). She’s brought the tough persona with her, minus the too-much angst, yet still kind of brooding with the tendency to be anti-social. She’s perfect for the role! It’s nice that this show now gives more power to more women (I do want Deanna Troi here somehow, which is probably impossible, given the time setting). Now, for my fearless forecast: Michael will sooner or later replace Capt. GabrielLorca as captain, mark my words.
Why did Michelle Yeoh have to die so soon? She could have given more to the show. And why the H did the show not give Capt. Philippa Georgiou a proper and dignified burial rather than have the Klingons eat her??!!!
The Klingons. Their look. No. I prefer the Worf-look. These Klingons do not look like Klingons. Just sayin’.
Some have taken issue with it, but I don’t mind the Michael name. Women are now named Joey, Jesse, Alex…so what’s wrong with Michael? My only qualm is, really, “Michael Burnham” doesn’t sound anything near special. And one funny thing: “Georgiou Michael”…Coincidence, for sure.
That’s what I can say about it for now. It’s cool that they have After Trek right after every episode. I watch that as well.
I actually watched the first episode of the series version of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. Just one. Suffice it to say, I was not that impressed yet. I’m avoiding it for now, but I promise to go back to it sometime. Also began watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Everyone knows the show and the things that happened, so I will spare you and me by not doing a review of it anymore. My plan is to catch up on shows and/or their episodes that I missed.
The first time I saw its trailer, I decided that I wanted to watch Kita Kita. For one thing, it had been a while since I last watched an actual indie film and I am an indie supporter. I’m not really sure it should be called an independent, though, considering that it’s produced by a mainstream film outfit (that does seem past its heyday) and especially by one owned by a very famous, still very-”now” actor. But okay, they say it was made with a low budget, so why not?
Indie or not, the story had me curious so last Sunday, I brought the free ticket I’ve had for months and had a romantic date with myself. (There are perfectly good reasons why I was alone, but they’re not worth discussing, really.) My curiosity over the chosen stars did add much to that decision.
Alessandra de Rossi (a.k.a. Alex) has never headlined a mainstream movie or a regular TV series. However, when it comes to indies, she’s a legit superstar and has been legit since she was in her early teens. Just count the awards she has gotten over the years. I have seen enough of her movies (even wrote a review for one, and this reminds me to post it soon) to know how good she could be.
She has been one of a few stars I admire when it comes to serious acting that when I hear her being part of this or that, I often try to see her when I can. To see her take the lead in a romantic-comedy film kind of intrigued me.
Meanwhile, leading man Empoy Marquez, who usually goes with no last name, is the bigger surprise. He’s a comedian who has been active on both the small and big screens almost always as a supporting character. He probably has had lead roles before, but in single episodes of comedy or fantasy-comedy shows, nothing memorable.
Until this movie, he was never that comedian to watch out for. So imagine my (and other people’s) surprise to find out that of all the comedians to choose from, Empoy got the part. I wondered how he would pull it off given his brand of comedy. However, I think that was really it that made me think I wanted to see him in this movie.
The best reason that made me want to see Kita Kita was the premise of the love story. What is the premise of the story? Well, to start with, the title is short for “Nakikita kita”, in English, “I See You”. It is both a literal and figurative name to give the movie.
Lea is a Filipina working as a tourist guide in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan. She experiences heartache while there. In a much bitter fate, she suffers a potentially permanent blindness and loses interest in life, living day-to-day like nothing matters anymore.
Then comes Tonyo, another Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW). He begins invading her life by persistently attempting to converse with her daily and bringing her food he’s cooked everyday, even though she snubs him and ignores the food he brings.
They eventually become friends. He asks her to accompany him and be his tourist guide, telling her “I’ll be your eyes.” In the process, he brings back the colors into her life by making her laugh and see the world again through him. Lea starts to go back to being happy and becomes more accepting of her situation without losing hope of ever seeing again, a hope that Tonyo helps bring back. They become so close that it somehow becomes obvious he has feelings for her. On the other hand, she starts “seeing” him in that newer light as well. They become almost-lovers.
Unfortunately, before everything turns out well for them, something happens that neither of them expects.
That’s as far as I will go. I’m not telling anymore and giving the story away.
In some ways, you’d think, nah, it’s been done before: blind person meets the love of her life who turns out to be not what she expected. Or maybe she sees again, then in a twisted turn of fate, she dies from something else anyway…
Well, hold your horses. Something bad does happen (conflict is necessary for stories), and maybe a theory in your head does turn out to be correct (mine was), but it’s what you’ll get to find out next that’s going to make a lot more difference in how you see the story.
I love the story. It’s so simple that it’s so beautiful. It’s really got the magic of Filipino indies sans the poverty, sex and even violence common in a lot of them, sometimes exploited in a lot of them, too. It’s an indie that’s a sight for sore eyes–it’s actually aesthetically pleasing to the eyes. None of those slum shots that’s the staple of many Pinoy independent flicks. Not all realities need to be about those because that’s not the only reality we live in. I do feel like the setting could have been here, no need to go anywhere out of the country.
Anyway, another plus is the viewer gets to concentrate on them since save from a few bit players, Alex and Empoy are the only real cast of the film.
I admit, the first few minutes of the movie kind of bored me, but I knew they were necessary. It’s an SOP now in the screenwriting world, at least in the indie films, that I learned before. They had to show shots of how the protagonist functioned in her everyday life, her routines, what she did, etc. It established the scenario, the changes that were about to happen, the disruption in her life. Why only show Lea and not Tonyo was because Tonyo would appear later, just like how new people appear in our lives, no warning.
A good script from Sigrid Bernardo, funny ad-libs (usually care of Empoy, you can just tell), a nice twist that you don’t completely see coming, and a great way to emphasize that love can both be blind and enlightening at the same time.
Despite Tonyo being stalker-ish and you getting the feeling he knew her long before he approached her, you’d actually root for the guy to get his girl and not feel scared for her. He saw her at her lowest and brought her back. Somehow, she saw him at his lowest, too, and brought him back without knowing it. They saw the real them. Did I just give you a riddle? You’ll find out once you see it.
The acting was so natural and that’s what made viewers love the two actors. It’s underacting, so to speak. It seemed like there was 20% acting and 80% just being Alex and Empoy. So, no disrespect to directors Sigfrid Bernardo and Bb. Joyce Bernal, but I feel the most credit for the acting should go to the film’s stars.
Well, in a way, Alex was acting because she was much tamer here than in real life where she is funnier and rowdier, you’d wonder why drama is her forte. She is no stranger to comedy, but drama brings out the best actress in her. Empoy, on the other hand, was just being Empoy and it worked for him. He’s like the normal guys in our lives who could be funny, caring and lovable regardless of looks and background. His character might not have worked if they had chosen a more handsome (less realistic) and/or non-comedic (awkward) actor. Empoy is definitely the better option.
Alex gives a lot of credit to Empoy. She says her character could have been played by anyone and it would still be the same, unlike Empoy’s. I disagree. Yes, it could have been acted out by anyone well enough, but the chemistry between Lea and Tonyo would probably not have been the same. I’m saying that the Alex-Empoy tandem (now tagged as AlEmpoy, though I’d rather “ship” them as EmLex) fortunately had that obviously perfect on-screen chemistry that made the story work.
I am not entirely sure if it’s suitable to call this love story a romantic comedy. What confuses me more is how Empoy actually succeeded in making women feel those kilig moments. Everyone’s surprised! Now single girls and gays want their Banana, too, ha! #HowtoBeEmpoy . (As for the banana reference, find out for yourself.)
If you haven’t seen Kita Kita yet, catch it now before they stop showing it. I did not waste much time because of that as I did not assume that many would actually go and see it. If you’re living abroad, they will bring this to you (in the US, that I’m sure, at least), so watch out. Don’t speak Filipino? No sweat. They have subtitles. You won’t be disappointed, definitely.
However you will see the ending, I guarantee that you will not leave feeling like you’ve just wasted time and money. In fact, you just might want to see it again. I know I do.
(fr. left) Director Bb. Joyce Bernal, Writer-Director Sigfrid Bernardo, Producer Piolo Pascual (Spring Films), Alessandra de Rossi and Empoy
Walking Dead‘s dead. Well, at least, it’s a zombie for now, until the next season. My family had good bonding moments over blood, guts, and gore for several months, and we’re now sad, taking a forced WD hiatus. I was personally in withdrawal…Was.
Well, this was meant to be a #TVTuesday post, but as you can see, Life intervened again (she’s so good at it, don’t you think?). I thought, why not for #WhatsupWednesday then? But again, you know. So I’ve decided, what the heck? Just write the darn thing when Life allows it! So here it is.
I am sharing with you what have been keeping me up almost every night, with quick reviews on the side. Anyway, for your perusal…
Excellent – No doubt that I super love this and would love to continue watching!
Good – Very interesting that I wouldn’t want to miss an episode
Promising – Interesting that it can keep me glued to my seat and ask for more, but there’s still a chance my interest in it may wane
Fair – Entertaining enough to watch to pass the time
Undecided – Not consistently interesting that my feelings for it seesaws from almost-LIKE to meh.
Bad – NOT recommended WHATSOEVER, for valid reasons
Game of Thrones (GoT)
I started with Game of Thrones after what seemed like forever. Many seasons after it started, I have decided to push through with viewing it, even if I heard there would be lots of sex and nudity in it.
Fans and bashers had been talking about it that I did not want to be left out anymore. Therefore, I got my copy of season 1. Oh yeah, people were right about the sex and nudity, most of which, unnecessary. I had to make sure I watched it super-late at night when the kids were already asleep.
I’m supposed to be watching season 2 now, but I encountered a technical problem. Meanwhile, my new Netflix subscription is not offering GoT, at least, not currently. How annoying! I will wait till I can see it again (which is soon enough as I know, as of this writing, that it’s true).
GoT’s got my attention even though it sometimes disgusts me with certain storylines. And I hate that like in WD, they suddenly kill off characters that have already grown on you. GRR Martin, I hate you. You could have let Boromir–I mean–Ned Stark live longer. #SaveSeanBeanForOnce.
A few more bad comments:
GoT could be a great story that can be viewed with kids, but the for-adults-only scenes already make it a bad idea.
I am especially watching it for the “fantasy”, but we do not really get to see the “fantasy” side of the story in season 1 except when (a) Jon Snow first fights a White Walker (alright, which show really used the term “walker” for zombies first?!!), (b) when Daenerys does not get her hand burned by the heat as she tests the giant eggs, and (c) at the very end of the season finale when the baby dragons appear for maybe a little under/over a minute.
RATING:PROMISING (Only because I haven’t seen season 2, so don’t you GoT-freaks diss and grill on me. The rating could change to a Good or an Excellent rating yet, with reservations due to the recurring “fleshy” scenes)
Once Upon a Time (OUAT)
Fantasy? Checked. Twists? Checked. Mysteries? Checked…Once Upon a Time has it all.
The good thing is, we get to watch it as a family. I do make sure I explain certain faerie tales so they can understand the episodes better, especially if the plots heavily depend on character background. Sadly, we’ve not finished OUAT’s season 1 due to the technical problem I mentioned. Netflix is currently no-help as far as this show is concerned. I am really rather disappointed because I am very much raring to meet other faerie tale characters.
It’s not a new idea anymore that movies and TV twist faerie tales, so this show lacks originality in that aspect. However, it doesn’t mean it’s all-boring and unoriginal. It is still rather interesting how they change and connect things. And I love that both the Evil Stepmother/Queen/Witch and Rumpelstiltskin have their own sad stories to tell that make them more human, so to speak. In fact, it makes me wish for them not to have sad endings when the series finally ends, or when their characters get written off, if ever.
I can’t wait to continue this for our well-needed family bonding at home!
RATING:PROMISING (I already know I like it, but I need to know if the next seasons will keep me interested)
Dexter has combined two things that interest me in a crime show–serial killers and forensics. So big plus for them.
The major thing that makes this show different from any other show is the main protagonist is actually the killer on the loose, hiding in plain sight. Not just a troubled person or a person with a troubled past, but a serial killer, I cannot emphasize that enough.
I had always been curious about the show ever since I learned of it. It is only now, through Netflix, that I got to watch its first three seasons.
I like that Dexter, the character, is a good person battling a much-different inner demon than most crime show heroes who deal with their own inner conflicts. It’s also interesting that somehow, for a serial killer, he shows empathy, sense of morality and feelings akin to love.
I feel that though backed up with research (pop knowledge on the subject), the show does explore various things and lets Dexter get out of the box and be less stereotypical. That’s what I love about it. Meanwhile, looks-wise, great choice for an actor to play the lead. Michael C. Hall has this face that can also really look mean, making him an effective no-mercy killer.
That said, I have a few negatives.
Personally, it takes time for their characters to grow on me. Dexter’s okay, but all the others? Loud-mouthed tough female roles, I’ve loved in the past, but Dexter’s sister Deb is just usually annoying and with quite a questionable half-blind taste for men. The only Asian guy, though stereotypically brainy, is creepy-horny-pervy, he’s hard to like. In real life, I don’t like people like that, so why should I excuse this one? Meanwhile, some characters, I am beginning to warm up to, but will see.
As I love forensics, it disappoints me that they have such a shortage of it in this show while there’s an abundance of steamy scenes. Just saying. Blood spatter is interesting, of course, especially when Dexter tries to explain it to colleagues when he knows very well what went on. But I need more forensics! (I’m seeing a few blood spatter documentaries on YouTube, so you know what other things I’ll be watching)
The only reason I stopped at season 3 was I didn’t want to saturate my interest in it and for me to discover other shows I would like. Will get back to this when I’m ready.
So the zombies have not only invaded the movie screens but TV screens as well. Count the shows. In this one, though, there are no hordes (yet) and the zombies can still function enough in the world of the living. Also, this particular zombie in the story helps to solve crimes–who would’ve thought? Well, okay, the show’s producers and execs did. Good for them!
The lead character in iZombie named Liv Moore (how…appropriate) eats brains and temporarily inherits the memories of the dead she takes them from. If you’ve seen the Romeo-and-Juliet zombie tale Warm Bodies, the idea’s not that original then.
To be fair, the show is actually based on the comic book Vertigo where the zombie also experiences the same. BUT, the main difference between the movie and iZombie/Vertigo is the protagonist also inherits the personality of the brain source. This is where the crime-fighting comes in, when she helps solve the mysteries through the memories and acquired abilities. Oh, and there are the many ways to cook a brain. They could certainly come up with a recipes-for-brains book.
I like this, yes. Still, I can’t help but feel like I still need more, too, some kind of…oomph. Oftentimes, the mystery doesn’t stay long when Liv’s “visions” practically reveal what happened. Quite a spoiler for anyone who loves a good mystery like me. Once in a while, there are surprises, but I need them to up the ante, you know? I don’t know. Something is definitely missing from season 1 and the few episodes I have so far viewed from season 2.
RATING:PROMISING (It really needs to step up the game!)
It’s no secret I have become quite addicted to watching YouTube channels. I usually watch reaction videos, vloggers, mukbangs (food reviews) sometimes, comedy sketches/parodies and socially relevant presentations. There’s another time to talk about these.
Now you know what keep me awake so far. I am currently on iZombie-mode and will temporarily stop after season 2 or 3 to make way for other shows. So far, below are what’s on my watchlist. Several zombie shows there, I swear zombies have replaced vampires as the monsters of choice. I was also looking for Fear the Walking Dead, no luck.
These are what I have so far, based on what Netflix suggested to me. But I am adding stuff to the list, which should basically tell you I am into detective, forensics, and supernatural shows.
My current Netflix list…Don’t know why Dexter was not listed when I took screenshots, but anyway, I re-added it already
How about you? What are your present guilty viewing pleasures? Comment below and let’s compare notes!
My friends, it’s almost August. Go Fund This Couple!!! They still need half of the expected amount so they can thoroughly enjoy their Philippine stay. Please feel free to check out theirGoFundMe page! Even a dollar can help…Thanks 🙂
Tobe posts this totally magazine-worthy articles that may cater to certain people’s interest and, sometimes, repel others, depending on where in the artistic appreciation spectrum you are. Do check him out, know more about Tobe Damit.
Jack Neo‘s I Not Stupid is a film which digs into Singapore’s flawed educational system and how it affects society
More than a month ago, my eyes got all puffy again and I blamed Jack Neo for it. If a law was ever passed against making women cry using movies, he would be in death row by now.
Of course, as you can gather from my reaction, I am actually starting to love Neo (just don’t remind me about his Liang Po Po slapstick). After watching Homerun, here was another Neo flick that had my tears streaming down my face uncontrollably – I Not Stupid (I.N.S.) or Xiǎohái Bù Bèn. Clever devil. Even his title screams with comic irony.
Compared to the first film aforementioned, I.N.S. is another Singaporean political and, more specifically, social satire. The treatment, however, is more direct though not literal. Without ever having to guess, one would not need to read any background on Singapore to realize that the film is satirical.
The whole movie is full of similes and metaphors – mostly directly injected in dialogue – that pertain to the country’s government and its people. For around two hours, we are given a peek, a good peek, at one of Asia’s well-known nations. At the same time, neighboring countries may recognize a thing or two about Singapore that resemble(s) a thing or two about themselves.
Strictly speaking, the story is about and narrated by Terry (Huang Po-Ju), a little rich boy who could be so obedient to an annoying fault. Actually, the story revolves not only around Terry, but also around poor toughie Boon Hock (Joshua Ang) and misunderstood artist Kok Pin (Shawn Lee). Well, around them and their parents, to be more exact.
The adults have their own sub-plots that cannot be simply ignored. Each of the boys belongs to section EM3 where all the kids perceived as lazy, troublesome and dumb always end up and are considered hopeless future adults. The parents, on the other hand, basically play the part of society and government. Special focus is on Singaporean education, both in school and in society.
As a satire, I found I.N.S. simple, direct, and effective in communicating the message. As a non-Singaporean, I cannot, in all honesty agree with all of Neo’s opinions. I cannot, simply because I have never met a Singaporean in the flesh, been to Singapore, personally talked to anyone who has, or discussed the country with online buddies. But as far as freedom of speech is concerned, through the use of a powerful medium, I say, yes, Neo conveyed his message very well. In fact, right at the start, he made it clear through the narration.
However, it wasn’t the “underlying” content that got to me. It was Kok Pin and his mother that made me cry. I was doing fine until Kok Pin got up the building and…I should have known it would be about family again or I would have bought some tissue! As for funny moments, even if it was supposed to be comedy, there wasn’t a lot to laugh at, literally or not. At least I didn’t find much of the story funny. Sorry.
The kids who aren’t really stupid
I.N.S. is a brave, intelligent film done in-your-face. It was created not to confuse but rather inform the audience and perhaps, serve as a wake-up call. It is not a stab (in fact, there is an “appreciative” comment near the end regarding “mothers”) but rather, just a prick to remind the government to do what is proper and right when it comes to educating its people. No need to beat around the bush. After all, we not stupid.
Therefore, I highly recommend this movie. Not as powerful as I found Homerun, but still a very commendable piece. I can’t wait to see another one of Jack’s Neo-isms. This guy is not to be missed. After all, he most definitely not stupid!
I know I am late. I will reserve the explanation once the challenge is done through the insights. The short of it is I don’t feel well, my laptop is slow, it’s super-hot here, and it’s currently Holy Week.
I do hope you liked my post. I thought I’d share this review I wrote years ago. Once in a while, I do reviews, so if you’re interested in reading more, they’re at my CRITIC’S CORNER.
It’s near the end of January and Chinese New Year’s really near. Thought it’s time to post my 2016 review that I had been intending to do.
However, I did not want to do it the traditional way. And because it’s Wednesday, I thought why not an interview? Not just an interview, but an imagined one with myself. Not just an imagined one, mind you! I asked a few peeps last night (your Wednesday morning, I suppose) to ask me any questions regarding my 2016. Some of them actually gave it much thought. A few silly questions here and there, but we all need silly from time to time.
So, here it…
(Not My) Interview with Myself
Was 2016 good for you?
Yes and no. It’s funny that most of the world unofficially officially declared 2016 as a bad year, The Worst Year, even The Worst Year Ever in History (well, maybe modern history). I understand. 2016 was mean to me and my family and the world in general.
I am rather amazed, though, that I’m not hating on 2016 all that much, regardless of the fact that the negatives certainly outweighed the positives. Must be because I mindfully kept trying to be positive. No more letting depression in my life especially now that I have people counting on me. Maybe that should be my annual goal.
Who were your inspirations in 2016?
MY FAMILY. Family is never cliche, and I know a lot of people would give the same answer because that is the truth. Difficulties and issues aside, family is most precious to me. My husband, our kids, my sister…
Were your finances okay/great?
On the contrary, my dear Watson. Sadly.
What improvements did you do to yourself?
Work-wise, I added a few online-related skills, thanks to our company. On a more personal note,…
I read a little more.
I blogged more and wrote a little more, though most writing I did was for work. You can check out my monthly recaps, just search for #MonthlyRecap.
I opened up more by sharing more personal stuff. Hey, I even made public my Blogspot, although that’s not really making me famous either, LOL!.
My bad temper lessened. Change was not easily noticed, but I promise you, it’s there. You can’t really rush these things.
Tell us anything totally new/surprising that you did last year.
Became a contributor to My Trending Stories. I’m supposed to say “regular contributor” but I’ve stopped. Just trying to put my mojo back on.
Raised my voice at half of a fourth-grade class and told them to keep their act together…in front of their mothers! I’m not ashamed. I needed what needed to be done and, by George, it got done! One day, I’ll tell you this little story.
Did you learn something new about yourself? What?
Change is always constant, but I’m probably basically same old-same old. I did learn something quite trivial. I have a terrible sense of direction. That’s not really what I learned as I’ve known that for years. I did learn I’m not just one of a few, rather, there are many of us.
The struggle is real! We become lost to the point of looking stupid. What bothers me, though, is finding out it may not have been always like that, but the brain could have suffered some kind of damage (big or small) that was enough for it to not function the way it’s supposed to. I told you, I can really relate with the woman on that BuzzFeed video.
Best advice you received last year?
“Be patient with the kids.” I have to admit, I still need to keep heeding that advice.
Who would you like to thank (basing on 2016)?
I always thanked people. I really appreciated those who helped me in some way, be it in material ways or just through giving me moral and spiritual support. There were some who gave help without batting an eyelash and demanding for more explanations. There were even those with whom I just happened to tell my problems and they surprised me by volunteering to help. And some, they weren’t able to help in the material sense, but they lent their ears to listen and offered great advice and prayers.
They’re very good people, in my book. They did not willfully ignore me or give me the runaround or criticize me even (a few did, so thankfully, I now know how they are).
What was the biggest fear that held you back in 2016?
Fear to offend certain people so they would not get mad at me and we could keep that little amount of peace among us. In my efforts to avoid conflict, I let them force certain “rules” on me that they actually violated themselves from time to time — how selfish was that? I only did that to keep the peace even though it seemed I was becoming a pushover.
Nevertheless, as I expected based on past history, I may not move an inch from a corner and they would still find something to complain about and try to enforce more rules on me. Worse, they included others in the issue that they put those others’ health, well-being and own relationships at risk. I would not stand for that. So I let them know that I could be civil to them but would not be a pushover.
Of course, I know they are mad right now. Honestly, it’s them creating their own ghosts and problems. I’m just trying to deal with them as civilly and peacefully as I can.
What was the biggest challenge you overcame last year?
Losing my second baby. I really wouldn’t call it “overcoming”. It was something that happened and did not leave me any choice. I still think about her almost everyday. I don’t even care that I’ve got a big tummy now because it reminds me of her. I’m not even sure I’m willing to overcome this. The real challenge is to not be sad looking at babies.
How many Koreanovelas (Korean dramas/TV shows) did you watch?
I’m not exactly a fan of Koreanovelas in general, but I do watch from time to time. Last year, I watched two with my closest roommate (I live in a boarding house on weekdays as I go to work). Watched Healer and Oh, My Ghost. I’m currently kind of following The Queen of the Office (a.k.a. Goddess of the Workplace), Korea’s version of an original Japanese show.
Most embarrassing moment in 2016?
I was thinking about getting ignored, criticized and the runarounds, but no, those were humbling experiences. I can’t think of any answer at the moment, truthfully.
What new life lessons did you learn from 2016?
I tried to rack my brains out, but to be honest, I don’t think I learned anything new and substantial. If anything, the year only emphasized to me what I already knew, be they good or bad. Okay, maybe because of this, I did learn something: to never be complacent about things. 2016 was my eager reminder.
Don’t be sensitive–deal with it gracefully.
Always say thank you to kind people and be sincere about it.
Say sorry and be sincere as well.
Keep calm, but don’t be a pushover.
Recognize the wolves in sheep’s clothing and never forget they are around.
There will always be people who will put you down either face-to-face and mostly behind your back, so don’t mind them much. It’s their time they’re wasting.
What makes you thankful for 2016?
Just the fact that we are still alive and kicking.
***NOTE:Sorry, this is late guys. Anyway, it is something I wrote a few years back. And since it’s November, I felt this would be appropriate because it’s a “horror” story. It’s probably scarier than RINGU, now that I think about it. DO NOT watch the vid until you’ve read what I’ve got to say. Then you can decide if you’d like to watch it…This post is supposedly a review, but it could very well be a feature.
I must have an invisible genie somewhere because just a few days after wishing for it–lo and behold–I found the movie An American Crime! And now, I am obsessing myself with it. Well, actually, with the story behind it. I am slightly a closet-psychologist wannabe, so for this movie, my curious button was definitely on.
The movie centers on two people–on sixteener Sylvia Marie Likens (Ellen Page) and on mother-of-six Gertrude Baniszewski a..k.a. Mrs. Wright (Catherine Keener). The year is 1965.
Sylvia is a pretty and likable girl whose parents, Betty and Lester (Romy Rosemont and Nick Searcy), operate a concession stand that travels with carnivals, therefore, they have moved not less than 14 times. That October, she and younger sister Jenny Fay (Hayley McFarland) are to be left behind again so they could go to school and have more time to have friends. Meanwhile, Gertrude is a woman who has had a hard life. Thrice married, twice divorced, once lived in with a boyfriend more or less 10 years her junior. All the men have been abusive and deadbeat dads, leaving the responsibility of raising all six children, including an infant, to Gertrude alone. Her first daughter Paula (Ari Graynor), 17, does try to help with meager earnings. They live in a squalid home with hardly any food on the table. To top it all, Gertrude has an ailment that is not often attended to properly with much-needed medicine.
Somehow, the Likens girls cross paths with the Baniszewkis. Mrs. Wright then meets Mr. Likens one day and offers to take in and care of the girls for a fee amounting to 20-dollars a week to be sent to her. A deal is made and the relieved father promptly encourages Mrs. Wright to discipline his daughters as she sees fit. “Discipline” them is exactly what Gertrude does, and so on October 26, 1965, Sylvia is found dead by the police in the house at 3850 East New York Street. She is covered with bruises and burns, mutilated and beaten to a pulp.
That is the synopsis. Now, I’m pretty sure it’s under the drama category, but any sane person who has seen this will agree when I say it could very well blend in with the ghost and slasher flicks under the horror category, too. There’s no one coming back from the dead nor is there lots of gore, so why horror? Because the thought that this could happen to a loved one, to your kids, all that Sylvia went through, should already be terrifying.
But what makes it doubly horrifying is IT’S A D*MN TRUE STORY. It is based on actual testimonies during the trial of the Baniszewski v. The State of Indiana case. The name “Gertrude Baniszewksi” is said to be right up there on the notoriety level of serial killers Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer.
The case of Sylvia that was soon to be dubbed The Indiana Torture Slaying became a sensational story that shocked people everywhere. How could this woman torture the young girl? And how could a sickly woman like her ever be physically able to do it? Well, the answer is both simple yet very disturbing–she had the complete cooperation and assistance of her children and other neighborhood kids!
Everyone was out to “punish” poor Sylvia for sins mostly made-up and imagined by Gertrude and her children. Jenny was spared perhaps because she was younger and less outspoken, aside from her having a disability. Not to mention, Paula was keen on taking revenge on Sylvia for ratting out her “condition”. Everyday, kids would visit the Baniszewskis’ house just to make fun of Sylvia and beat her up in every way possible.
She was their entertainment. They ridiculed her, tied her up, punched her, kicked her, scorched her with cigarettes and matches, threw hot water on her, and hosed her down. One of her most painful ordeal was when Gertrude branded her with words etched on her stomach saying, “I’M A PROSTITUTE AND PROUD OF IT!” as a form of getting even for her kids. Another boy would be tasked to finish it. Prior to that, there was an incident with a bottle which I find hard to mention…Oh, all the wonderful things those perverted souls could think off!
And those were the only ones shown onscreen. In reality, Sylvia suffered so much more in the hands of her tormentors. Gertrude repeatedly kicked her on the crotch and made her striptease in front of everyone. The kids practiced judo moves on her, flinging her on walls and everywhere else. Investigations would show that Sylvia also suffered assaults that were sexual in manner although there was no actual rape involved.
By now, questions are probably going through your minds, the hows and the whys, the same questions I found myself asking. Why didn’t the Likens girls tell anyone? Why didn’t any adult try to help? And why, oh, why did the neighborhood kids do such terrible acts? To get your answers, I suggest a research. That’s what I did and now, at least some aspects of the true story have become clearer.
The movie is literally a torture to watch but I dare say it is relevant. It reminds us to think twice or a hundred times about our responsibilities as adults. Could we really trust anyone with our kids? Howmuch should we give our trust? I am already worried about my own kid…and I don’t even have one yet! [Ed. Again, to remind you, this was written years ago.]
Mostly, I can’t get over the fact that neighborhood kids joined in the ‘fun’. It was bullying taken to horrible extremes. Gertrude’s kids, I can still understand. Twisted parents can bring up twisted kids. They were probably their mother’s victims as well until Sylvia, the scapegoat, came along. But for the other kids to keep coming back to inflict torture? Sick is what that is. My brain cannot fathom the depth of this mystery. I’ve heard about serial killers in groups. Could it be they were going down that road? How much of it is proof of the great evil hidden inside of us and that we are very capable of?
I can’t say much about the writing of the story except there were a lot more in the true story that were left untold. The writer did take some liberties near the end that left me a bit baffled for a while. Casting-wise, they should have made Paula look heavier to emphasize her insecurity with Sylvia (she is said to be actually heavyset with a sort of mean streak). But aside from those, I have no real complaints.
Ellen, as always, did her part well, except the script required her to do a lot of lying down and screaming. It’s not one of best performances, methinks, not because she couldn’t act, but because the script did not ask much from her, really. Catherine was great and convincing in her role in the sense that you see her own vulnerability and you question if you should really hate Gertrude. Personally, though I believe that convicting her was just, I felt sorry for her. I think she was seriously ill in the head. But she was sober at times as well and did not stop herself or the kids from torturing poor Sylvia. That still made her accountable.
So while watching this disturbing film would be hard to bear, I still recommend it, if only to make us open our eyes more. If you want to be all happy without a care in the world, go rent a dumb movie. Pretend that all is well in the world and be blessedly ignorant. Meanwhile, I will be on the lookout for a copy so I can share it to more people. Sometimes, we need to have our world shaken up to see the whole picture.
Creator, executive producer, writer, director, star. But cancer survivor? Certainly not something Fran Drescher would have wanted on her resumé! Yet in year 2000, while the whole world celebrated surviving the millennium bug, she of TV’s The Nanny fame was in a battle no one would’ve predicted for fit, healthy, lively “Miss Fine.”
In reality, things were far from fine. Her almost twenty-year marriage abruptly ended; her beloved dog Chester would soon be put to sleep; worst of all, she finally confirmed what she had somehow suspected all along. After years and years of consulting doctors who mostly told her she was probably just going through the perimenopausal stage—ouch, her ego!—Doctor #9 told her otherwise. That “otherwise” was uterine cancer, stage 1.
So after her first bestseller Enter Whining, Fran was back writing about her life, love, libido, and cancer that really didn’t need to be in her life, but there it was anyway. Why Cancer Schmancer? Writes Fran: “All I’ve got to say is to he** with cancer! This book’s about schmancer! Laughing at the crazy things life offers when it’s biting you in the a**.”
The book basically revolves around Fran’s two-year, 11-doctor journey as she tries to get second, third, fourth and so on medical opinions regarding her health. She knows something is wrong—the staining between periods and cramping after intercourse would have been tell-tale signs of uterine cancer, but she didn’t fall in the risk groups category—yet always, she gets misdiagnosed until Doctor #8 refers her to #9. Meanwhile, her ordeal is changing her into someone she hardly recognizes. Fran eventually recovers with the support of her family, friends, and two different loves.
Written in a candid manner, Fran talks about her cancer with a mix of reflection and humor. There are anecdotes worth retelling to make one smile and even laugh. However, Fran gives more than a dose of humor. She shares the pains and the sorrows as well including a particularly short but sad story so tragic, it spirals to the end of her marriage with Peter Jacobson, her best friend, childhood sweetheart and Nanny co-producer. After the harrowing experience, they will never be the same again, Fran realizes, as they feed off each other’s neediness and fears that are close to paranoia. She just has to get out of the marriage, for both their sake.
As personal and entertaining as it seems, this book is not for the uptight. Language may sometimes be a little too much for some (the first quote is a preview of that) while certain subjects like sex, which is essential to the author, is taboo. But hey, that’s Fran! Take them all away and it wouldn’t be her. One can only appreciate her honesty.
Fran with members of the Cancer Schmancer Movement
The book, primarily written to make women more aware of their health and the importance of early diagnosis especially of gynecologic cancers, is now on the bestseller list. In fact, it created enough impact that on June 21, 2007, Fran celebrated her seventh year of being cancer-free and topped it off with the launch of the Cancer Schmancer Movement, an active policy-changing movement serving the same goal.
Time to sound off the alarm! As Fran says, “Once you wake up and smell the coffee, it’s hard to go back to sleep.”