Saturday, February 28, 2009

Review: Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2
Released: August 6, 2008 (US), September 24, 2008 (RP)
Rating: ♥♥
[official website] [wiki] [imdb]

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 picks up shortly after the first movie ended. I was a fan of the first movie so in all fairness, I reeeeally wanted to like this movie. It tells the story of Tibby (Amber Tamblyn), Lena (Alexis Bledel), Carmen (America Ferrera) and Bridget (Blake Lively) and the magical pair of pants that happens to fit them all.

The Good
I'll always remember Amber Tamblyn as the spunky and emotionally tortured Joan from Joan of Arcadia. Who could forget Alexis Bledel as Rory Gilmore from the Gilmore Girls? It's funny how a lot of the casting process for the first two films built on the actresses' stereotypes. The audience didn't really have to think hard because of the similarities between Joan & Tibby and Lena & Rory.

The Bad
Call me an unimaginative viewer but because we have all seen Blake Lively in Gossip Girl, I found it hard to separate Bridget from Serena. As an actress, she's not like other people who literally transform onscreen. I could say the same thing for America Ferrera. Because of the success of Ugly Betty, one can guess that it's hard to unlearn a character. Her plucked eyebrows and hyped wardrobe doesn't say Carmen anymore. It screams Betty.

The Ugly
This is one of the worst examples of book-to-movie conversions. They took most of the fourth book and added a few scenes from the second and third book and expected magic. Halfway through the movie, you get the feeling that it's a huge PMS ride and it's not something I would want to see again.

Final Say
I heard that in terms of revenue, this film did better than its predecessor. I just felt a little disappointed that they stretched the story until it broke. If you liked the first movie (or the book), you probably need to see this to know how the story continues. All-in-all, it failed to bring the magic that the first movie had and because of that the movie is entirely forgettable.

Review: Beaches

Released: December 21, 1988 (US)
Rating: ♥♥♥
[official website] [wiki] [imdb]

There are two songs that remind me of my grandmother. The first is the song about the bears from Full House because of her fondness for the show. The second would be Bette Middler's Wind Beneath My Wings. My aunt sang this for my grandmother during her wake and whenever I hear it, I start to miss my grandmother.

Over the years, a lot of my (mostly gay) friends told me that I just had to see this movie. I was trying to avoid it because I didn't want more emotions to be charged into that silly song. Anyway, one day I finally decided to see it and here are my thoughts.

Beaches is the story of an extraordinary friendship between CC Bloom (Bette Middler) and Hillary Whitney (Barbara Hershey). At first glance, they are so different. No one would've expected they would become friends. The former is an extrovert; a singer and performer. The latter is a shy little rich girl. Over the years, they exchanged letters and shared their lives despite the distance. They became best friends until the very end.

Don't get me wrong. I liked the casting in the movie. Despite my grievances, I don't think anybody else could've played these roles. It just seemed to me like the movie was a big excuse to have the Bette Middler show. Yes, she is very talented. In fact, she sang one of my favorite Beatles covers, In My Life. It's just that every ten seconds, you get a reminder of how wonderful her voice is or how fantastic her acting is. Forgive me if sarcasm doesn't translate well online. About 90% of the song is scored with a Middler song. I cringed every time they showed theater-actress-Bette. It seemed so pretentious and tried too hard to be artsy-fartsy.

Barbara Hershey was a very big star from the 60's to the late 80's. I suppose the role called for her to be very watered down. I just felt that at first, she was very boring on screen. I didn't know that that had some relevance. She does seem very interesting and genuine. You can almost feel for her whenever CC becomes a little too much for the less campy viewers. Maybe it's because the first time I saw her, she was so spunky. It also didn't help that she was 40 years old when the film was being made and they tried too hard to make her look young.

Over-all, it's a nice story. It's a beautiful ode to friendship and how it can be found in the strangest places. It's a typical chick-flick from the 80's in a sense that it appeals to the emotion a lot. It's an interesting movie (probably because I didn't expect to cry for my grandmother at the end) and it's a must-watch for fans of the genre.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

300 / wise up

And now, a few words from our sponsors. I’ve had a couple of reviews in my laptop that I couldn’t publish because I wanted my next post to be meaningful. I logged in to Blogger and saw that so far, I’ve written 299 posts. I wanted my 300th to be at least a little substantial and so in the meantime, they’re staying in my hard drive. I’ll probably post them over the weekend. I feel like a proud father. My little baby has grown to 300! Gushing aside, here’s this week’s post.

My feet are killing me. If my right pinky toe could speak, I bet I would only hear profanities coming from its feeble little mouth. About a couple days ago, I tripped and ripped my work shoes. I’ve had that pair for about six months which is pretty good since I like to walk a lot and my feet are pretty big. I didn’t really think it was a bad thing until I realized that the average lifespan of a pair of shoes should at least be a year. Anyway, my situation has me wearing these Florsheim torture devices. It was a pair my uncle sent me from Jersey and to my horror it’s at least one size too small. So far, it’s been hell disguised as black leather shoes.

I’d get new shoes but here’s the thing: I’m broke. A lot of my friends think that I make a lot of money but lately, I find myself living from paycheck to paycheck. One time, I sat down and tried to make a budget. I set aside some money for my parents, some for “savings” (in quotes for pathetic reasons), some for hanging out with friends and the rest I divided into the total number of days I had to be at work. I probably stuck to the budget for about two days. After that, I gave up all efforts to manage my finances.

I can’t even talk to my friends because I’ve maxed out my phone. They disconnected my service about a week ago. I sent an email asking for my current charges and apparently I even went over my limit. Have I become such a spend-hog?

I know that recently, I’ve been quick to draw my little cash card. Sometimes, the machine won’t even take it because I’ve sorta worn out the magnetic strip. It’s just whenever I think of reducing my expenses, I feel so deprived and I end up buying more things to pacify my feelings. The things that I buy are not even things I can really use in everyday life. Mostly, I just get little snacks here and there. Back at home, I tallied my receipts and I realized than almost half of my paycheck goes to food- pathetic for someone who lives in a home that’s never without it.

It’s just that for the longest time, I never really felt the need to start wising up financially. I always had at least a couple hundred pesos by the time the next paycheck comes in. I guess when you feel secure, you get complacent. I always felt like I would never be totally without. All that changed this week when I had to bring packed lunch to work. I had to avert my eyes whenever the Starbucks siren beckoned me to order a Chai tea latte. They stuck me on the morning shift so I have all this idle time in my hands and I literally have to stop myself from thinking of ways to spend the last of my paycheck. This week, I’m surviving on the amount of money I would typically spend in just one day. I feel like cheap cigarettes in a fancy box. To the outside world, I look like I can afford things but underneath my long sleeved shirts and my undersized shoes, I’m effing broke. Excuse me while I wallow in self-pity.

I heard about this concept called 10-20-70 from this nice little family in church. Basically, you take the first 10% of your paycheck and set it aside for tithe. 20% goes to savings and you have to live on whatever you have left. It’s cute because even their kids do it. I once thought I could do it, too but ever since I started working, I probably tithed about two or three times. For savings, I have zilch. My only major expense is the money I give to my parents and that’s not even a lot considering how much my friends give their folks. I have a friend who gives P8,000 every payday. That’s basically 100 venti Chai tea lattes a month. I couldn’t believe it. How was he able to do it? Where the hell is my money?

I was staring at the walls (because I couldn’t afford to go out. Boo.) when I decided that I would do it. I would start wising up with my finances. How hard could it be? All it takes is a little discipline and I know that if I really set my mind to it, I can do it. I’m good at these things, I said to myself. For starters, I’m going to use my phone sparingly. I need to remind myself that my fingers don’t just dial, they also text. I’m also going to start tithing– not because I have to but because I seriously want to. God’s given me so much and what’s a tenth of all that to show my gratitude? I’m going to start saving because I know that nothing’s permanent. Not even my “permanent” tooth fillings are permanent. I won’t save just to get more things. I’m thinking of opening a bank account once I’ve saved enough. That way I have a strong umbrella when it rains. Right now, my biggest challenge would be living on the remaining 70% but considering that it’s still a lot compared to the amount of money people on the streets live on, it shouldn’t be that hard. All these things are easy. There’s nothing a determined mind and a starving wallet cannot accomplish.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Spontaneous Idealist

I took the iPersonic test which is supposedly a modified version of the Jungian Typology Test and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. I'm not really sure if these two are different but I took the test years ago and back then I was an ESFP (Extrovert, Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving). The test I took today simplified the process and I learned that I am now an ENFP. It's basically the same except now I'm apparently more intuitive that sensing. Anyway, the test gave me about three pages of hoopla and I'm sharing it with you.

The iPersonic test took the 16 possible outcomes of the Myers-Briggs test and made elaborate interpretations. An ENFP is called a Spontaneous Idealist. It sounds like an oxymoron because from what I know, idealists aren't exactly the most spontaneous people but I figured I ought to at least give it a shot. The results were quite amusing.

Spontaneous Idealists are creative, lively and open-minded persons. They are humorous and dispose of a contagious zest for life. Their enthusiasm and sparkling energy inspires others and sweeps them along. They enjoy being together with other people and often have an uncanny intuition for their motivations and potential. Spontaneous Idealists are masters of communication and very amusing and gifted entertainers. Fun and variety are guaranteed when they are around. However, they are sometimes somewhat too impulsive in dealing with others and can hurt people without really meaning to do so, due to their direct and sometimes critical nature.

This personality type is a keen and alert observer; they miss nothing which is going on around them. In extreme cases, they tend to be oversensitive and exaggeratedly alert and are inwardly always ready to jump. Life for them is an exciting drama full of emotionality. However, they quickly become bored when things repeat themselves and too much detailed work and care is required. Their creativity, their imaginativeness and their originality become most noticeable when developing new projects and ideas - they then leave the meticulous implementation of the whole to others. On the whole, Spontaneous Idealists attach great value to their inner and outward independence and do not like accepting a subordinate role. They therefore have problems with hierarchies and authorities.

If you have a Spontaneous Idealist as your friend, you will never be bored; with them, you can enjoy life to the full and celebrate the best parties. At the same time, they are warm, sensitive, attentive and always willing to help. If Spontaneous Idealists have just fallen in love, the sky is full of violins and their new partners are showered with attention and affection. This type then bubbles over with charm, tenderness and imagination. But, unfortunately, it soon becomes boring for them once the novelty has worn off. Boring everyday life in a partnership is not for them so that many Spontaneous Idealists slip from one affair into another. However, should the partner manage to keep their curiosity alive and not let routine and familiarity gain the upper hand, Spontaneous Idealists can be inspiring and loving partners.

The Spontaneous Idealist at work
As a Spontaneous Idealist you are one of the extroverted personality types. You enjoy working in a colorfully diverse group of people who interest and inspire you. Working in a “secluded room” is not your thing. Your sense for the motivation of others is almost eerie. You constantly observe that which happens around you and have no problems noticing all sorts of things simultaneously or communicating with several people at the same time.

Your enthusiasm is contagious to others and that is why your colleagues and friends all appreciate you as an important member of your team. Your articulateness and your sensitive ear for nuances in conversations with others obviously play a role. For you, this team-oriented environment is very important because you need to receive positive feedback and recognition like other people need air to breathe. It would be practically impossible for you to contribute everything you need to maintain your high ideals, by yourself.

Variety, challenges and fun are important ingredients of your area of responsibility. You appreciate receiving new stimulation, meeting new people, and continuously collecting unique experiences. However, too much routine, too much detail work and the necessity to stick with one project for a very long time is not your thing. Your strength are creative problem solutions, discovering new ways and opportunities, the conceptualization of new ideas on one hand, but not so much their concrete implementation on the other. Ideally, you have a staff of capable colleagues that takes over your concepts and runs with them.

The Spontaneous Idealist in love
When you are in love, you easily outperform all other personality types in terms of enthusiasm and panache. Then your commitment knows no limits. You go out of your way in your eagerness to express your affection, and in your happiness, you are ready to embrace the entire world. When watching your attempts to flirt, one can’t help but think about a puppy dancing happily around its new playmate. Then for you simply nothing exists but your newfound love. „Hold your horses!“ - “Discretion is the better part of valor!” - “All that glitters is not gold!” - these worldly wisdoms are nothing but a waste of time.

With the entire spontaneity of your personality type, you instinctively immerse yourself in your emotions because you are sure that this time you have found the perfect partner. And you want everything here and now. You can probably go through as many divorces and separations as you want, but you are never going to learn from experience and at the age of 70 - and with shining eyes - you are still ready to walk down the aisle. Your friends may sometimes have a problem watching this, but they can only shake their heads in exasperation, and hope and pray, because in those moments you won’t accept advice from anyone. Then it would be easier to get in the way of a Tsunami.

In a long-term partnership you are a charming, affectionate, and unconventional partner, always good for a surprise, always there if you are needed, always ready for a loving compliment. As generous as you are with your feelings, so do you love to spend money and lavish your partner with gifts - sometimes even causing the very security minded and conservative types in the relationship to get a little weak in the knees. Should they now be happy that you abducted them to a luxury hotel for a romantic weekend, or should they be concerned whether there will be a problem when the next rent payment becomes due? Everyday things only interest you peripherally anyway; sometimes you walk with a downright childish confidence through life believing that the universe, fate or some other supreme powers are going to make sure that at the end everything will work out. So, why worry and save? It is interesting that this sometimes even works!

The test was a lot of fun and although a lot of it feels like the Barnum effect, I still think it's very interesting. It was quite spot on when it mentioned how I like starting projects but easily get bored. I hate monotony and when I sense a pattern, my first instinct is flight. Anyway, it's something to do when you're bored and maybe (just maybe) it could give you some insight on how other people see you (hello Johari?).

Postscript: I took a longer (and more reliable) typology test which confirmed that yes, I am now an ENFP (Extroverted, iNtuitive, Feeling, Perceiving). Also, I didn't just change from a sensing person to an intuitive person. My percentages have changed, too! As an extrovert, I went from 11% to 67%. As a feel-er, I went from 50% to 75%. As a perceive-r, I went from 56% to 33%. That means I'm more extroverted, I feel more but I don't perceive as much. Boo.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

just like a pill

I wrote this last night with the intention of posting it as soon as I got home. Apparently, my body had a completely different plan. With the fan broken, I don't know how I managed to fall asleep. All I know is, I haven't felt this rested in months.

I’ve got the worst headache ever. Let me try to explain it. Have you ever liked a song so much, you start playing it on loop? You listen to it so much, you sorta break it and all of a sudden it’s not good anymore. You’re about to change the song but then you realize your iPod’s broken. You want to stop listening but you can’t. Imagine the song’s been playing nonstop for over a year. That’s exactly how I feel.

It’s stupid because I know what’s wrong. I always get this way when I don’t get enough sleep. I should learn to get enough sleep but it seems I never learn my lesson. Yesterday, I got home at 6 in the morning. The day before, I got home at 5. I'm not even on the night shift! I’m overworking my body, I know. I just feel like I never see enough of my friends so when I’m not working, I try to squeeze them into my overloaded schedule.

Segue to Monday at the office. In a pathetic effort to stay awake, I had a big tumbler of coffee. When I finished it, I had another (and another). Lack of sleep + too much coffee = major headache.

And in murky caffeine-induced visions, I started seeing ghosts. Three months ago, I saw the exact same one. Let go, it said and I think I have. I’ve given up parts of me to live the life that I have now. I didn’t know why it was still there. Let me go. I can’t leave until you let me go, it said.

I have! I retorted. I don’t think about you anymore. I’ve let go so leave me alone! Why was this ghost bothering me?

My headache’s killing me. I just took a large pill the color of Ariel’s hair. Maybe the ghost will leave me alone once the meds kick in. In my medicated state, an epiphany crept up and demanded attention. I should learn that quick fixes never work. Coffee will wake you up (to the point of palpitation) but it will never match a good eight hours of sleep. Sometimes, we ignore certain issues to the point where you’ve convinced everyone (including yourself) that it’s been resolved but then all it takes is a vulnerable moment to realize it isn’t so.

And so tonight, I’m going to sleep really early. Despite the fact that I want to surf and bloghop, I don’t want tomorrow to be anything like today. I want to sleep. I need to sleep. I want to sleep so much, my eyes will hurt when I wake up. I want to sleep until I can’t even think of sleeping anymore. Yes. I think I’m going to sleep now.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

update: spotted

I got a strange message today.

Guess who got a VD makeover? Self-confessed DIET trainer-slash-diet breaker was spotted at Makati Avenue with something noticeably missing. Is it a sign of more changes to come or just a momentary lapse in judgment? Stay tuned. xoxo gg

Note to self: stop watching bad (but hideously addictive) TV shows. At about 2 in the morning on Valentine's Day, I realized my hair was a little boring. Sometimes you just need a little thing to change everything.

I’ve only been bald three times in my life: (1) when I was born, (2) on the eve of the new millennium and (3) today. I could give a million reasons to justify my lack of follicles. My friend’s going through chemo and I wanted to support her. I bet on the wrong team and I gambled my hair away. Summer’s coming and I despise the heat. Truth is, I was just bored and I felt like I needed a big change to start taking control of my life.

I’ve been epiphanizing to the hilt and I finally feel like I’m getting better on the inside. On the other hand, I’ve been completely ignoring my outward appearance. Like a phantom limb, I sometimes catch myself running my hands through my non-existent hair. I’m not really sure what the hell I did or if I’m going to regret it but so far, it’s been fun. If my scalp could talk, I bet it would thank me. I haven’t been this product-free in years. My friends tell me it looks fine. But then again, they’re not the ones who get shocked when they pass by a reflective surface.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Face of the Future

If you've ever wanted to see yourself in a different light, you have to try this out.

This morning, the guy who took the picture for my new header left a comment on my blog. He thanked me for using his picture and left a link to his own blog. In one of his older posts, he talked about this really nifty website.

I was so amazed at Face of the Future and the technology they used. Just upload your picture, set it up and voila! Transformation! With a few clicks, you can change your age, gender, race and more.

[click here if you can't see the pictures]

Let me just say, it was such a blast to see me as an Indian man. The site's a little slow but it's bearable. Oh, and you need Java to start morphing. Here's a tip: choose a picture with no background. Based on the demos, I think a black background would be better. If you find yourself with a lot of time to kill, try it out for yourself. Don't forget to share the pictures when you're done!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

beauty in ugly

I got into a little argument with a friend of mine from work. He’s been like a brother to me ever since we started working together and it’s funny how one little thing ticked me off to the point where I stopped talking to him. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m usually a sport when it comes to my nose but for some strange reason, that day was just not my day. He made a little drawing of me with an exaggeratedly big nose and an even exaggeratedly bigger pimple and then suddenly all the months of brotherhood seemed irrelevant. In all my immaturity, I forgot that this person was and is a good friend to me and I shouldn’t have been so quick to write him off.

I don’t know what it is about my nose. Most days, I’m completely fine with it but there are just days like yesterday when it becomes my trigger. It’s the key to the vault that houses my insecurity. Suddenly, I feel so ugly and I just want to hide in a little corner. My senses heightened, I get a little paranoid and I start to think that maybe everyone’s talking about my nose. Why wouldn’t they? It sits there on my face just begging for attention. HEY THERE EVERYBODY! THIS IS CB AND I’M HIS NOSE!

I remember a few weeks back, some friends of mine were talking about rhinoplasty. A friend admitted to getting some work done and I asked him if he thought I should get some work done. He said if I thought it would make me feel better, why not? All of a sudden, a million questions started swimming in my head. Why the hell not? What was stopping me? Should I get a nose job? I’d have to move to Switzerland or somewhere really far and start over if I don’t want anybody to notice it but in the end, would it be worth it? Would I finally have that inner peace I feel was robbed from me when I inherited my mother’s nose?

My mother is not ugly. Far from it, I think she’s one of the most beautiful women ever. In old sepia pictures of her, I could see she was a knock-out. Talent scouts and boys with flowers and equally flowery words surrounded her and with bated breath, watched her with admiring eyes. Why was I so bothered by my nose when my mom went through life just fine with hers? I suddenly felt guilty. I felt like I was betraying my mother for wanting to erase a part of me that was distinctly hers.

So while I do feel a little insecure about how I look, I know that I wouldn’t really do anything drastic (borderline self-mutilating) about it. It’s who I am. It shows where I come from and if only for that reason, I don’t want to change anything. Just like when a really good friend made a comment about how “Filipino” I sound, instead of feeling bad I actually saw it as a compliment. While it may seem bad (especially coming from a communications trainer), I think it’s good that I’m grounded and that I know where I come from. Don’t get me wrong. I take my job seriously but just like what I said when I first got into this industry, I’m not about to say innernet or nuculer just to sound like an American. I’m not in the business of Americanizing Filipinos and I think a little heritage would do us all some good.

Monday, February 9, 2009

out with the old...

... and in with the new.

I said goodbye to my old template today. It's not really old, considering most of my templates stay on for years at a time. I've had this one for four months. It wasn't the only thing I changed.

A friend of mine asked me why my online name is pugnosedfreakazoid (or PNF) and why my blog is called pugnosedbabblefest. The story dates back to 2003 when I started getting hooked on the interweb. I was a teenager and self-deprecation was one of my many arsenals. I realize now that (1) I am no longer a teenager, (2) you can't change your Multiply user ID. You either stick with it or delete your account, and (3) when you change your Blogger address, there's no easy way to redirect your readers. Major boo. And so with the concept of a permanent change of online address out of the way, I focused on taking steps to make my blog less self-deprecating (at least at the onset).

I was writing an introduction for my new blog when I realized how much of a city boy I was. I haven't been to the beach in about five years and it seems my whole life has revolved around one city. With a little bit of wordplay, I came up with citybuoy (or how I managed to stay afloat). My weekly posts have started to become sort of like a coping mechanism with the many things I want to change in my life. These little epiphanies have, in one way or another, helped me stay on top of all the chaos that is almost synonymous with the big city.

If you're reading this and I'm somehow linked to your page, don't forget to update your links! If you have a non-Multiply blog and you want to link up, just let me know.

THIS JUST IN!!! I didn't want my Multiply page to feel left out so I modded this nice little theme I found. I've never really done that before and so the only thing I changed is the main image. The design is very similar to my current layout. I just re-saturated and arranged a few things. Over-all, I really like the whole day and night feel to my two blogs.

Photo Credit: MCXL Photography
True Type Fonts: [bulldozer] [rabiohead]

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Review: Revolutionary Road

Revolutionary Road
Released: December 26, 2008 (US), January 23, 2009 (Wide)
Rating: ♥♥♥♥
[official website] [wiki] [imdb]

Everyone talks about how wonderful love is and how you have to go after your dreams. No one ever talks about what happens when love is no longer wonderful or if your dreams just don’t work out. In Revolutionary Road, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet (their first pair-up since Titanic, also with Kathy Bates) explore the many complications of love and what happens when things just don’t work out.

Frank and April Wheeler seem to have it all. They’re attractive, young and in love. You could even say they’re living the American Dream. However, much like their home on the Revolutionary Road, they may seem perfect on the outside but all it takes is a little prying to see what’s really inside. They kinda remind me of this drawing I made when I was a kid of a traditional American family. They all had blonde hair, blue eyes and a big white house on a hill.

I wasn’t expecting much from this movie. Generally, the people who have seen it gave mixed reviews. In the end though, I was completely surprised. I didn’t expect I would be as affected as I was.

With Revolutionary Road, the hearts of dreamers all go out to Kate Winslet. Slowly, you see her dying and you start to reason with her. Paris had become so close to her. It wasn’t her way out, she said. It was her way in. In to a life away from monotony and play dates and the millions of mundane things she has to sit through. In Paris, they weren’t just going to be alive. They were going to live. It’s rare for an actress to pull off something that heavy and with this movie, Kate once again proves her worth. Aside from bagging a Golden Globe for her role in this film, she's also generating a lot of buzz for her performance in The Reader. Being one of today’s most underrated actresses, I’m glad she’s finally getting the recognition she deserves.

Leonardo DiCaprio was a bit over the top. His gesticulations bothered me and it took away from the other elements of the scene. In some of the more emotionally loaded scenes, he’s got this permanent grimace on and it felt slightly uncomfortable. There is no doubt that he and Kate have this strange chemistry. I just wish he toned it down a little so that the audience would appreciate it, too.

Kathy Bates also gave a unique performance in this film. She’s usually the uptight mother or the washed up comic but in Revolutionary Road, she has a strange brain-washed kind of calm. I didn’t even recognize her at first. She seems like she's a voluntary Stepford wife and I didn't know she had that in her. She’s a great actress and it’s such a shame Hollywood doesn’t have many options for actresses over 50.

Writing wise, I was really amazed. The story came from a book but since I haven’t read it, I’m not exactly sure how much of it was put into the screen. At any rate, the ironies and metaphors were so beautiful, I could cry. Paris as a dream, babies as a reality, houses as people and the fact that the realtor's insane son was the only sane voice in the whole movie.

From the first five minutes, the movie grabs you and it takes you for a ride in a powerful emotional roller coaster. It’s a sad, precautionary tale of how love could go wrong. It paints a picture of married life that we don’t really see too much of. In the end, does love give way to compromise? I’m left with a lot of questions and once I feel a little less affected, I’ll probably see this movie again just so I can answer them. I haven’t seen anything as thought provoking in ages and I can only hope to see more movies of this caliber in the near future.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Review: Cadillac Records

Cadillac Records
Released: December 5, 2008 (US)
Rating: ♥♥
[official website] [wiki] [imdb]

Cadillac Records explores the music industry in the early 40's to the late 60's and the lives of the people who ruled the charts. In the movie, Leonard Chess (played by Adrien Brody) is the ringleader of a group of talented artists such as Willie Dixon (Cedric the Entertainer), Chuck Berry (Mos Def), Little Walter (Columbus Short), Muddy Waters (Jeffrey Wright), and Etta James (Beyoncé Knowles). The film chronicles the rise and fall of Chess Records, the Cadillac as a status symbol, and the lives of a talented group of music pioneers.

The Good
Beyoncé Knowles cannot act. This movie just cleared up any ambiguity left from Dreamgirls. However, her music is a whole ‘nother story. Beyoncé does a wonderful rendition of At Last, Etta James’ most famous song. At the end of the movie, I had to rewind to that part just to see (and hear) her sing it once again. When she sang All I Could Do Was Cry, her voice conveyed such emotion that I just couldn’t sit still in my chair. What she lacks in acting, she more than makes up for by singing and I suppose with a few more acting classes, she could potentially be a great actress.

Gabrielle Union is a star, a far cry from the woman best known as “the other girl from Bring It On.” She had a very small role in this movie but in my personal opinion, she stole the scene every single time. She plays Geneva Wade, Muddy Waters’ semi-wife and Little Walter’s semi-mother. In one scene, Walter tries to seduce her as he talks about Muddy’s many women. In another scene, she is forced to take care of a baby Muddy fathered with another woman. She is all at once angry, sad, merciful and loving and it’ll break your little heart just to see her go through what she’s going through. If her next projects could only be as emotionally stimulating, I cannot wait to see her next move.

The Bad
I’m not sure if it was just me but it seems like everybody in the movie was aging except for Adrien Brody. I think he is one of today’s greatest actors. I loved him in The Pianist and I sat through the painful Hollywoodland but I doubt if he’s going to gain any recognition for Cadillac Records. The story and the character itself is so flawed, no actor could’ve ever pulled it off.

Despite the fact that the characters in the movie go through a lot of things, I found it hard to sympathize with them. It’s not that the actors weren’t great. I just found the writing so blah and a tad pretentious that I couldn’t really focus on the story at hand. They tried to put in too many things: racism, paternity issues, infidelity, rock and roll, and even police brutality. The Dreamgirls parallelism isn't hard to draw. In some scenes, I felt like I was lost in the storm of three different movies.

The Ugly
It didn’t really help that the story was mostly narrated by Cedric the Entertainer and a really thick Southern accent. It was so thick, I had to stop and think if it was even Southern. It wasn’t just him though. I found myself blanking out in scenes with heavy dialogue because I couldn’t really process all the thick accents. It seemed a little forced and so for the simple fact that they wanted to be accurate to the race and diction of that time, I missed out on some potentially important details of the story.

Eight words: Adrien Brody and Beyoncé on crack making out. Harsh mental image, right? By the end of the scene, I wanted to literally gouge my eyes out. The story was so poorly set-up, I didn’t even realize they were supposed to be in love. In that scene, Beyoncé as Etta James was high as a kite, straddling the line between angry and horny. It wasn’t a pretty sight. I realized that although Beyoncé is undoubtedly a sexy woman, a lot of it has to do with her packaging. Stick her in a bad role and an equally bad wig and all her mojo goes down the drain.

Final Say
I suppose there are people who would enjoy Cadillac Records. I just don’t think I’m one of them. I think the movie dealt with too many real people with equally real fanbases that the writers were afraid to take any liberties. Personally, I thought it tried too hard to show a simple story of rising and falling, of fame and the many things that come along with the package. You walk away from the movie with nothing to show for yourself but the tears that come from yawning and a massive case of LSS ( at laaaaasstttt ). I think if they cut out about thirty minutes of unnecessary footage, condense the characters and place the spotlight on just one Chess Records star, this movie could’ve been saved from your local record bar’s bargain pile.

Friday, February 6, 2009

update: apples

Sometimes the things we take for granted are good for us.

People warn you all the time to watch what comes out of your mouth. A less common warning: watch what you put in. After an unusually meh dinner of spicy fish fillet, I got really sick. I started puking and puking and puking (and puking) and it wouldn't stop. A few hours later, I was at the emergency room with an IV up my arm trying to hydrate me. I gotta watch what I eat.

I'm not a fan of apples. Mangoes are fine. Grapes and watermelons are all fair game but there's something about apples that fails to thrill me. I was ignoring the apples that the hospital gave me when the nice lady who served me food practically refused to leave until I ate the damn thing. I was munching on this huge Fuji apple when I realized it wasn't that bad. It was actually pretty good.

Boo to anything oily or spicy or even flavorful, said the doctor (although I could've paraphrased a little). Maybe I should eat only apples till I feel better.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

falling in love

Isn’t it strange how no one can escape Valentine’s Day? I figured I had at least a week before I would start feeling like a loser but I suppose the whole world’s got another thing going, specifically the people in my office. Typical Monday, I got to work disheveled and in need of coffee. At the lobby, a fuzzy bear in a basket with three pink heart-shaped balloons greeted me. It was for some recruitment gimmick but all it felt like was time was ticking and yet another holiday designed to make the rest of us feel like total losers has arrived.

What is it about the fourteenth of February that makes single people feel like total losers? Being a creature of habit, I thought about past Valentine’s Days. For some strange reason, I’ve written some of my best stories around that time. Two years ago, I joined this group called pedxing and for our February meeting (Lipad, Puso, Lipad), I wrote a story called Don’t Wear Those Shoes Out When It’s Raining. I was reading it this morning when I saw how different my concept of love has become.

Don’t Wear Those Shoes Out When It’s Raining [2.25.07]

Today, I looked at my shoe and I realized the sole was broken. I’ve been ignoring it these past few days but deep inside I knew something was wrong. It’s not how my foot should feel. I wasn’t meant to touch the ground with my sock. I traced the hole with my finger, checking the damage, recreating the scene with images in my mind when the rubber finally gave in to the floor. Maybe there is a heaven where shoes go to rest. Sadly though, this pair isn’t going anywhere but the shoe repair store.

Three weeks ago, I knew exactly how it felt. “If we were really meant to be together then I’m sure nothing will change in a couple of years” he wrote on a Post-it stuck on my door. When I went in, all of his things were gone- the records, the books, everything that vaguely resembled him. But I can’t say I didn’t see it coming. Deep down I knew it was bound to happen. I’m not exactly that naïve to ignore the signals he sent out when we were still together.

Who was it that once said that everyone has a wound to mend or a void to fill? As time went by, I’ve seen all the faces of love- some remotely forgettable, others harshly unforgivable. And these faces blur in front of me like a speeding train. I felt my feeble hands holding on to each one and wondering if this was the one who could heal that innate wound.

With Coltrane in the background, I started wondering what it was that that Post-it meant. I can imagine that he somehow believed in a force that exists in the world which binds two people together in the end, no matter what. And when the cosmos finally arranges for the two to meet, birds will sing, sonnets will be sung, and the clouds, well, they do whatever it is clouds do when it’s a wonderful day. And maybe, just maybe, a Band-aid begins to close the wound in their proverbial hearts.

But after spending time and effort to see the faces of love, I could feel my wound only growing deeper, wider and with each tear, I felt more and more of my flesh being exposed. This brought about a confusion of sorts for if finding the one could fill that void, how come it only grows deeper and darker with each person I let in?

As I walk up to the busy shop with my broken shoe, I see that many people have broken shoes and broken hearts- each one of us trying desperately to fill that void, to patch up that wound, haplessly like a chicken attempting flight. How easy it would be to just turn my back on everything! To leave the image of the speeding train behind and with any luck reclaim the peace that I felt was stolen from me.

I watch as the craftsman gently takes the old sole from my shoe. It’s time to let the past go.

I see him selecting which sole will fit perfectly. Maybe I should be more careful who I let into my life.

As he puts the shoe and the new sole together, a bead of sweat drops to the floor. When the right one comes, I’ll work hard to keep him there.

He wipes the debris off the side of the shoe and after careful inspection declares his job is done. When I’m whole again, my heart can fly.

He wraps the shoe in a plastic bag and after setting my account, hands them to me. With a smile, he said “It’s a good thing it isn’t raining. You wouldn’t want to be stuck with a broken sole and a wet foot.”

I smiled back and said “If only you knew.” If only he knew.

Lisa Loeb defines falling in love as “the time between meeting and finally leaving” and as a child, I didn’t think her definition fit the images of love I saw on TV. When I wrote this story, I thought of love as something that passed me by. All around me, everyone was hooking up and in fevered moments of self-pity, I felt like I was the last single person in the world. I used to always say that it didn’t bother me but in the quiet of my room, I knew that I wanted to be in love just as much as the next person.

Two years later, I feel like I know a little more about the topic. There have been a couple of hits and misses but over-all I think my concept of love has evolved into a more mature level of understanding. I no longer define love as two people coming together. Sometimes, it can be four. Right now, I see it in some people who have become my closest friends. I have a lot of people I can open up to but not in the level of comfort that I feel with them. We talk about the silliest things and we know each other’s deepest darkest secrets. I’ve shown them my demons (and they’ve shown me theirs) and yet they’re still there. Over coffee, we have found a love that’s so unique I didn’t think I’d experience it. At a time when it seems like the whole world has turned their back on single people, they are the safety net that I rest my head on.

“When the right one comes, I’ll work hard to keep him there.” There have been times when we don’t always see eye to eye but the things that should keep us apart are what bring us together. I know I don’t have to work too hard to keep them there but it doesn’t hurt to let them know how much I appreciate their company. So this Valentine’s, instead of feeling like a total singleton, I’m sending out three valentines to my dear, dear friends. In any other world, we’d probably hate each other and that’s why I’m glad we belong to this one.