Sunday, September 11, 2011

Click Flicks for 2011

... And did not blog about right away. But here they are. Thanks to friends and colleagues who found it fun to watch these movies, and we just loved exchanging views after.

Captain America: The First Avenger 

Image from Yahoo! Movies
The mad dash to Greenbelt 3 to secure our reserved tickets on time was worth it.

It is not a great movie (and I have no basis to compare it with the comics since I'm not a fan of it), but it delivered the expected action and I think Chris Evans' looks perfectly fit the classically handsome American actor who would you like to be a superhero, like Christoper Reeve to Superman.

The movie did not fail to expound on how Captain America was first of an experiment --- both becoming a super soldier and a major propaganda product of his time. From the opening to closing, the images of America and World War II gave the film an authentic '40s feel.

Acting wise, there's nothing much to expect from Evans but Stanley Tucci (Dr. Abraham Erskine) and Hugo Weaving (Johann Schmidt/Red Skull) provided the acting prowess to this Marvel comics' title. Of course, Tommy Lee Jones' gruff Col. Chester Phillips provided the edge and the laughs for this film.

Captain America is molded not only a hero in blue and red suit --- and a shield --- but he is also portrayed to be a source of hope and inspiration. In the tradition of Marvel films, the teaser after the credit was the awaited part, and we're just excited for The Avengers next year, and for that, it is Robert Downey, Jr. that I am relying on for some acting chops on this upcoming flick.

Larry Crowne

Image from
I love Tom Hanks as a great actor of his time and that's the main reason why I watched this romantic comedy starred and directed by him.

A Navy veteran, Larry Crowne had been the model employee of a big-box store, suddenly found his life in a twist when he was downsized from work, citing that he did not finish college. He found his second chance in life by enrolling in a community college, specifically attending a speech class with Julia Roberts (Mercedes Tainot) as his teacher, and yes, they fell in love with each other.

The movie elicited laughs, but overall, it was lazy acting both from Hanks and Roberts. Maybe because it was supposed to be a light, feel good film that did not require acting from these caliber stars? But then, after seeing them in heavy, award-winning dramas (they previously starred in Charlie Wilson's War and are both Academy award winners), you kind of expect them to truly deliver.

For saving grace, English actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Talia is refreshing --- she was such a delight to watch as Larry's classmate who dragged him to scooter rides and constant fashion makeovers. The rest of the cast like Cedric the Entertainer (Larry's neighbor who constantly holds garage sale, Lamar), Taraji P. Henson (B'Ella, Lamar's wife), Wilmer Valderrama (Dell Gordo, Talia's boyfriend) seemed to be a waste as they only have very few moments to shine in the film.

Despite such, the movie really made me feel good about myself, and it is never too late to find your place, your life, your love, and for that, it's A for Hanks for the effort. 

Ang Babae sa Septic Tank
(The Woman in the Septic Tank)

Image from Wikipedia
This is the best Filipino film I've seen in years, a brilliant product of both independent film genre and of mainstream success.

It indeed drawn out the huge mix of emotions --- mainly laughter. And somehow, laughing about the deplorable state of poverty in the Philippines (for which the film's setting was mainly about) was both a source of guilt, and yes, huge, huge laughter that I ended both crying and laughing at the same time (and a colleague of mine was literally sinking in his seat for his uncontrollable laughing).

From geniuses Marlon Rivera and Chris Martinez, the film is about three overly ambitious filmmakers (young actors JM De Guzman as producer BingBong, Kean Cipriano as director Rainer, and Cai Cortez as production assistant Jocelyn). They wanted to make an indie film that would reap success in both local and foreign scene, eventually winning the Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film.

Armed with what they believe is a winning script, a perfect location, and all they lack was the actress to play as Mila, a mother from the slums, who out of desperation to survive, has sold her child to a pedophile --- the tormented heroine in their film, Walang Wala (Nothing --- which translations they made was just ridiculously funny).

Until after debating among indie actress Mercedes Cabral, soap opera staple Cherry Pie Picache, they made a courtesy call and eventually chose thespian and now hugely hit mainstream comedian, Eugene Domingo, who spoofed herself in this film.

The movie-within-a-movie gets reborn in Jocelyn’s imagination several times --- from neo-realist film, to glossy musical, to over-the-top melodrama, to a docu drama using non-actors. Their romanticization of poverty taught these three young film makers a very hard lesson. The same goes for Domingo, who did not want to do the septic tank scene but ended down there (and no, they really did not use a filthy septic tank, as the director explained in his interviews).

The film topped the Cinemalaya independent film competition, bagging major prizes and the acting honor for Domingo, who really was in character as Mila, and gamely spoofed herself --- who started in the industry as a struggling theater actress and someone who has the heart for rising filmmakers, but the truth is she is a box-office star and a diva already --- well, in this film. Domingo, is just brilliant. Period. And she just stated the obvious about TV Patrol and other prime time newscasts these days.

And of course, who would forget the Italian coffee, "expresso"??? And such all makes this movie a brilliant piece, ironies and all it showed.

Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Image from Wikipedia
And I thought the genre of romantic comedy with an ensemble cast remained such --- but this one delivered, so far the best romantic comedy with an ensemble cast.

Steve Carell (Cal Weaver) and Julianne Moore as his wife, Emily, were married for 20 plus years. Their marriage was suddenly on the rocks when Emily cheated on Cal with a coworker, David Lindhagen (Kevin Bacon). Cal moved into his own apartment and began frequenting a bar talking loudly about his divorce, until Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling) took pity on him and taught Cal to how to get over his divorce, pick up the women of his choice, and  even gave him a fashion makeover. But Jacob later found love with Hannah (Emma Stone).

You know that for every genre of a film like this, the characters are connected. But the connection that was revealed here was unexpected. Delightfully unexpected. The neurotic performance of Kate (Marisa Tomei) and the love struck teenager son of Cal and Emily, Robbie (Jonah Bobo) also gave this richly-laden cast of stars a further boost.

The film was funny --- poignantly funny at some points. It was also a tearjerker to some extent, especially the scene when Emily called Cal over some household chore trouble, when Cal was actually there secretly maintaining their backyard. You just feel there that they still love each other, and that made Cal realized he would win Emily back.

Personally, the film left me questioning myself --- that if I jumped out of the car right away (like Cal did after learning of Emily's cheating and wanting a divorce) instead of fighting hard for the love I believe was and still is?

Anyhow, the movie sent the universal message that love is both crazy and stupid, but if you believe in it, you will have the love you deserve. And this film, is now in my list of feel good films to watch over and over. And oh, Josh Groban was not that bad for his very brief exposure in this film.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

It's Been Long Ago ...

Image from

... Since I first felt that warm, fuzzy feeling --- a feeling I got to experience again last night.

Call it kilig (from blushing to the nervous exchange of hi's and hello's to offering your clammy, cold right for a firm handshake to feeling like you are about to faint in excitement) or whatever, right now, I'm basking in the glow. And I like to sustain it for as long as it is possible.

I don't expect this to last --- but this kilig moment is something I need at this point.

It's also nice to see I'm still capable to make somebody smile and laugh for being me, without pretension at that. I'm still lucky I'm able to still find the joy in me, and the capacity to share that joy with others.

It's something to thank for and smile about at this very moment.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

DESCOVRIR'S PICK: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 2

Photo from

So they say the magic ends. But for the legions of fans who read all seven books and watched all eight movies of one of the most well-loved and the most successful media franchise of the century, J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series will always be remembered.

As a disclaimer, this post will not dwell on how the last installment, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 2 movie, is way too different from the seventh book --- like how the previous films departed from the previous books. It is given --- cinematic license will always be there. Let us see the movie as is, just for this instance.

Effects wise, this is the most visually spellbinding among all Harry Potter films --- the flawlessly rendered CGI albino dragon was so real you could almost feel how it struggled upward and flew away from the severely damaged Gringotts bank. The film might get an Oscar nod for best visual effects. And the musical score was so hauntingly palpable. The Gothic feel --- a dominant of black and grey throughout the movie --- also deserves kudos for production design.

Casting all protective spells, particularly Professor McGonagall's (Dame Maggie Smith) fearless yet delightful commanding of the heavily armed, clay soldiers to come to life ( to paraphrase, "I've been wanting to use that spell my entire life") and the Hogwarts faculty and ally enchanting the school from He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named's army was another visual, chaotic delight. Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis) surely delivered especially in time of need.

Some say Harry Potter lacks the character as a man, that he is only able to do things because of the people guarding him. It could be well said also to Daniel Radcliffe --- who until to the last film that made him one of the richest stars in the world --- was still lacking the depth as an actor. He could have done better if he showed more maturity to his attack to the role --- an adolescent who had to grow up fast as a man, who had been through a lot, particularly fighting the most villainous of them all. Afterall, Radcliffe will always be remembered as the Boy Who Lived.

Alan Rickman as Severus Snape (Photo from
The most heart-wrenching (and consumed a lot of tissue papers due to a mass production of stifled to loud cries and a chorus of sniffs) and the golden moment of the movie (and faithfully the same as the book) was of Severus Snape, brilliantly portrayed by Alan Rickman. The scene when Nagini was attacking him and Harry, Hermione (Emma Watson), and Ron (Rupert Grint) were just helplessly watching the horrible scene from the outside, indeed sent chills. It also sent shivers when the camera got a shot of Snape who shaped like a coffin, an omen of his death. The tears I shed when Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) died in the fifth book and film was nothing compared with the tears I shed when Rickman was dying as Snape.

A look at how Snape protecting Harry all along induced more tears from the audience. The scene when Snape came to the Potters' rescue only to find out that his beloved, Lily Potter, was already dead, and he could only hug her and wailed for her death, was the brightest of Rickman's portrayal as Snape. It showed, not only the other side of Snape, but the other side of Rickman as an actor not only great as a villain, but an actor of substance.

Yours Severus Snape was of undying devotion and eternal love, you will never be forgotten. And to you Alan Rickman, may the acting honors you deserve be bestowed upon you for your faithful portrayal of Snape.

Indeed, the Harry Potter films made success out of Radcliffe, Watson, and Grint, but their lack in acting depth was complemented by the cast of the finest English actors ever assembled for a mega film franchise. Of course, Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort was still terrifying that I heard a kid or two from the audience cried once when he came out in a wand duel with Harry. Julie Walters as Molly Weasley had her moment when she said to Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter) "Not my daughter, you bitch" and killed the witch at that. Though I am wishing Carter had been given more exposure in this last part of the film franchise --- she is just seductively terrifying. David Thewlis as Remus Lupin still did not disappoint but he had to die too soon. The return of Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore was also anticipated in the film, though he indeed lacks the charm of the late Richard Harris as Dumbledore. Them and among the other English actors who graced the Harry Potter film series, they made the story of Harry Potter real for us all.

And rather than casting real "adult" actors as the adult and parents Harry, Hermione, and Ron, the young actors were also made the grown up versions of their characters and that did not disappoint, especially Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright) who gave a peek of an elegant, grown-up version of her, which is not too far behind.

Overall, David Yates did not disappoint and end the final Harry Potter film with a magical bang. This is my next favorite film after  Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (directed by Alfonso Cuaron). They are the best for me because among the books and the films, these have been the most real, most dark of them all --- magic aside, it exposed the trio of protagonists to the reality that there is evil out there and they --- we --- all have to grow up in character and depth to conquer such evil, including our own.

As for the cinema experience, I had to content myself watching it in 3D. I have been wanting to see it in IMAX for a seemingly borderless, visual experience. I might see again the film, this time in IMAX, to make sure the film is wide and would entice me all over again, this time, from all angles.

And until the credits rolled and the screen went black, I did not left the cinema, among a number of moviegoers, making sure the film really ended. But the magic that is Harry Potter will forever remain.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Descovrir's 50 Must Do's for 2011

Pardon the shadow and my scrawling, but this is how I started my "visions," drafting them starting New Year's Eve 2010 using this Time Check Life Planner (designed by TV host and motivational speaker, Anthony Pangilinan)
Another New Year - another set of wishes and resolutions - and it would take us 365 days to make or break them.

Rather than call wishes (wants and desires) or resolutions (a course of action determined or decided on) as such, I call them my must do's - my "visions" for the new year, specifically for my career, emotional and mental state, family, finance, health, "me," and relationship, and what I "must do" to realize my visions.


1. Write more! I will get in touch with my former bosses/interviewees/PR contacts to inform them I will be active writing again as a contributor for select publications (as my diversion/sideline). I will do such because I sorely miss journalistic writing - but I am grateful that I am enjoying this opportunity to apply my experience to writing and editing for corporate needs. Also, I am thankful for my senior associate (back in a PR company) for considering me to join her in a writing opportunity, which is still continuing until now, and my boss from a 12-hour time zone difference has been very patient with me and I am learning a lot from him (although I have not seen him or spoke to him yet, only by email correspondence – the wonders of technology, eh?)

2. Blog more! I joined opportunities to monetize my blogs, Descovrir and Rediscover. However, I was not able to fully maximize that so I will do so this year by blogging once or twice a week (for increased visibility).

3. Snoop within. This is my little brother’s advise to me – to watch for permanent, regular job opportunities within my company. After all, this is not just a company – this is “the” company in my record of companies’ I joined since 2002. I will also look for overseas opportunities this company offers, preferably in Singapore or Australia.

4. Be a columnist? I am considering offering myself as a columnist for the two publications I have been writing for as contributor for four years now. My topic – personal finance. I say, I am knowledgeable about the topic since I served as a managing editor for the first personal finance magazine in the Philippines. And I was with them for two years and 11 months. I want to develop further my personal finance know-how by regularly writing about it, with the purpose of helping women to be more money-savvy.

5. Teach. Our company conducts training every often and I like to teach Effective Business Writing (and I believe this is a required training for new hires). I have been invited to teach News Writing, Features Writing, Investigative Reporting, Interviewing Skills, Copyreading and Headline Writing (both English and Filipino) in various schools, colleges, and universities in the Luzon region. I have also been invited as a judge in campus journalism contests in both elementary and high school in the city/division and National Capital Region levels. Citing such stints – combined with my professional, journalistic experience and what I learned from my masters’ classes, I think am equipped to pull off the 2-day training our company is providing. I already told my bosses about it and I really hope they would consider. I like to start with this by first quarter of this year.

6. Write a book? Or compile my “best” Descovrir entries into a book – just thinking ….

7. Write a novella? Just a thought ....

Emotional, mental, and well-being:

1. Be inspired – ALWAYS.

2. Be more caring to my family.

3. Be more forgiving.

4. Be more patient.

5. Be more respectful.

6. Be more thankful.

7. Be stronger.

8. Pray hardest and …

9. … Work smartest.

10. Take a much deserved break.


1. For Mommy - be in the best of health. I also like to:
a) enroll Mommy in a computer tutorial class or buy her a book on computer use and practice at home;
b) enroll Mommy in SSS [in our company HMO renewal, I already enrolled her in Philhealth]);
c) open a bank account for her as our gift on her 60th birthday next month
d) take her to an out-of-town trip for her birthday or
e) give her a "me" day - where she can go to the salon or spa or shop and dine in a very nice restaurant

2. For my Brothers - the best of health as well. I also do hope they reconcile their differences already, and I will:
a) inquire on their behalf for the placement test offered by the Commission on Higher Education (they had to work and stopped studying when our father died almost five years ago - they are doing well on their jobs now that passing the placement test would help them advance to take their masters - if they would consider it)

1. Save not lower than PHP1,000 from my monthly salary. Higher amount to save is better, of course.

2. Buy a variable term, life insurance by end-April 2011.

3. Save PHP5,000 monthly from my sideline/s starting May 2011.

4. Enroll in my company's stock purchase program for the offering by June 2011.

5. Complete payment of my old debt to my brother by April 2011 (I acquired this debt when we moved in to our current house - and I really had no money then ....)

6. Start paying for my laptop by May 2011 and finish by October 2011.

7. Plan my purchases - no splurging; become less generous (often is bad though and is open to abuse); less feel good buying; less comfort food tripping.

8. Limit my "happy spending" to twice a month, within PHP2,000 to PHP4,000.

9. Get a credit card for travel purposes (i.e. ticket purchases, overseas expenses) - I really have to think long and hard about this one as I am not a fan of credit cards....

10. Avail of a multipurpose loan from Pag-Ibig by first quarter of 2011? To use for my upcoming trip - just a thought ....

Health and diet:

1. Look (more) after myself regarding my colloidal, non-toxic goiter (opt for surgery?) and irregular period due to adenomyosis.

2. See a dentist and have major dental work done.

3. Exercise:
a) Exercise daily using the figure twister and arms and tummy trimmers
b) Execise daily (when I am not having my period) using Ab Rocket
c) Brisk walk/jog once or twice a week

4. Eat in moderation (heavy brekkie; set lunch; light dinner; one morning snack; one afternoon snack; evening snack, optional, but not recommended)

5. Have gourmet coffee once a week or when only meeting my friends (especially when I have not seen them for the longest time and we would bond over coffee and long talks).

6. Lessen my sweet craving (resort to yoghurt when craving or have a coffee with non-fat cream minus sugar).


1. Travel locally twice to thrice this year - Tagaytay for sure. Bohol? Cebu? Davao?

2. Travel overseas once or twice this year - Australia for sure. Singapore?

3. Travel solo and go on a retreat on my 31st birthday.


1. Continue to be a faithful and an understanding fiancee.

2. Manage my expectations about my fiance and toward this relationship.


1. Formally withdraw from my master's program (I am discouraged to continue because when I last asked for an extension, the department chairperson seemed to not like me to go on with my studies).

2. Enroll instead in open university? Just a thought for now ....

3. Give back - more - to the community and to those who are really in need.

4. Read more often - read more of the classics, inspirationals, and literary journalism. Immerse also myself in world affairs by frequently reading international news magazine.

Such are my must do's for 2011. Some are doable and can be accomplished this year; others I can start this year and on. Others are reinforced "do's" since I have been doing them already.

And much as I like to stick to my vision, I am sure to experience some stumbling blocks and such should be considered as I face them. Forecasting is also a must.

The important thing is, I have these visions to guide my 2011 to a better, if not, the best year.

What are your must do's for 2011?

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Adios, 2010, Hola, 2011

Image from

The year 2010 filled me with trials and triumphs, of joys and tears, of successes and failures.

I succumbed to the trials, to the tears, and to the failures - almost. But being surrounded with family, old and new friends, and God's never-ceasing guidance, I chose to be stronger and sturdier - after all, the visions I had for the relationship aspect of my life had "only" been my worst for 2010.

I have been blessed with a newfound career in the corporate setting (and before the year ended, I have been renewed for another year for the same project I am hired for). Coming from an unexpected source, I got a sideline that pays me well. I still got to write for two of the country's longest-running health and parenting magazines.

I also took time to have my health checked and I am following the experts' advise. What I found out are not exactly good, but I am not terminally ill either. I just have to really take good care of myself.

To compensate for my flagging self-esteem, I discovered the inner vain in me and started to buy and wear dresses and skirts. I have been complimented for such and my fashion purchases for 2010 totally revamped my closet that have seen from the thinnest to the medium-sized me now.

And before the year ended, I won my battle - my relationship have been mended. I do not know what 2011 holds for us, but I will remain faithful, resilient, and understanding to set this relationship to newer heights.

I am thankful that 2010 made me tougher. There are rough roads ahead, but with the blessings I am given and for the blessings I am able to share, there is no rough road for me and I will only aim for and bag triumphs, successes, and joys.

Good bye, 2010, and thank you.

What is in store for us this 2011?