Friday, December 30, 2011

Top 5 Favorite Movies of 2011

There weren’t as many foreign language and independent films I’ve seen this year. The reasons are too many I can assure you, but too mundane to explain because it has always boils down to one thing: my lack of financial resources to fund my movie-watching sprees. Then again, the technological cosmos and its geniuses made it feasible for me to watch films that were released from festivals such as the Festival de Cannes and the TIFF, before they could come out on the Philippine shores – after the Academy awards. There are movies I have yet to see, such as Shame by Steve McQueen and The Artist by Michel Hazanavicius, that were also included in the roster of the 2011 films and are critically acclaimed, but I haven’t been able to do so. They would have been here on this list, but I'm simply unable to watch them. In respect of the movies   I've missed I've decided to narrow down my list to five instead of 10. 

I’ll be looking forward to a more fruitful 2012, now that I have made some contacts with fellow cinephiles through Facebook, which I’m sure would help me develop and redefine my taste in good cinema. More discoveries to come! But for now, to delay you no further here are my top 5 favorite movies of 2011. 

1. Melancholia  (Lars von Trier)
My number one movie for 2011!!! To say 'Melancholia' is a beautiful film is surely an understatement. It is gorgeous and a sight to behold. This personal mythological endeavor from Von Trier, however apocalyptic, dismal and nihilistic, is also quite universal in emotion. Set in in a mood and tone of German Romanticism, Melancholia is Von Trier's empathetic gift to the depressives. 

2. Beginners (Mike Mills)
"Beginners" is Mike Mills's touching semi-autobiographical ouvre told in interconnected flashbacks. Ewan McGregor is Oliver (Mills's surrogate). The movie explores his relationship with his father, played gracefully by Christopher Plummer, a 75 year old museum curator, who, after his wife's death, came out as gay and has decided "to do something about it," and was later diagnosed with stage four cancer. Second, his relationship with Anna (Melanie Laurent), a French actress, whom he met in a costume party, following his father's death. 

If there is one thing true about the films that came out this 2011, just like what Peter Howell of The Star have said, "they didn't necessarily hit you right between the eyes." For me, my experience with 'Beginners' is no different to the time that I've seen 'The Tree of Life', it required me a second viewing to fully take the beauty all-in. 'Beginners' is a film that mixes both comedy and drama, which is something uniquely true about life. It may not be overly complicated, but it has the basic ingredients irresistible for everyone. It is a movie meant for you and me - as "everything is made for love". 

In spite of age -- it did not stop Hal from living his life to the fullest. It did not also hinder him from becoming the person he had always wanted to be. He lived in positivity, delight and color. Oliver did otherwise. In his aim not to become like his parents - he avoided serious relationships and "always have some very good reasons" for remaining single.  

As Karina Longworth perfectly pointed out, "Hal’s late-in-life liberation and Oliver’s late-thirtysomething romantic awakening, the film is haunted by that notion—that it can take an entire lifetime to figure out how to be fully alive." 

I always believe, especially now, that genuine happiness can only come from true honesty. Being true to yourself, knowing what you want and grabbing it tight with both hands, enables you to love others. Just by being honest to himself, Hal, becomes his own person and had forged a much closer relationship with his son.  When Hal was being ascertained that his illness was beyond cure, with a sad eyes and indiscernible look, those were the moments in which I've found myself crying my eyes out because this movie has injected something that it ever able me to be. 

3. The Tree of Life (Terrence Mallick)
This film has its perfections and imperfections. An ambiguous project about the beginning and end of life. Though this film had induced me some moments of sleep, it's sheer and perennial beauty and idea of creation and of life in the universe is irresistible. Probably the most stunning portrait and depiction of heaven I've ever seen on the celluloid. To fully appreciate the moments of grace repeated viewings is highly recommended. 

Honorable Mentions: 

4. Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen)
Midnight in Paris has all the Woody Allen ingredients to it, an interesting plot, a witty screenplay, impressive direction, a brilliant cast, memorable mood music, and last but not the least, an amazing location, which has become a staple of him for the last ten years. His last five films, including this one, are all filmed on location in Europe. A feast and a delight for the eyes, his movies is the Lonely Planet of the celluloid, a travel packet for those unable to travel the world. But unlike his European comedies Scoop and You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, Midnight in Paris is not to be missed and is nothing short of great. 

A love letter for the golden years of the Parisian 20s Woody Allen throws us into some philosophical truths about nostalgia, time travel and why some of us view a generation or a decade that once was through rose-tinted glasses, and why some chose to believe that life is better or lived better back then.  

5. Drive (Nicolas Winding-Refn)

Reminiscent of the 80s action drama films Drive is not a feel good movie that you can watch with your children on a movie night, rather, it has an eerie quality that strikes a chord to David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive”, but minus the surrealism. What lingers on however are the acting chops of the cast, Ryan Gosling, in particular. The Driver (Gosling) is the unsung hero of the movie – both deadly behind the wheels and capable of executing violence by the mere use of his hands.

Although it doesn’t have the apocalyptic foreplays of The Tree of Life and Melancholia – Drive’s luscious cinematography – both in daylight and nighttime also has a story that grows in you by repeat and has an array of performances that reinforces its concrete footing. It is the psyche of the inner killer in all of us – that more or less – tells its viewers to be on the lookout for those quiet and suffer-in-silence types as they are the more dangerous one’s, most of all – when their buttons are pushed to the limit.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Top 10 Favorite TV Series

I love watching movies and my TV watching is very selective as I am very particular with the kind of shows I watch on the boob tube. I don't want to fill my head with nonsense, which means trash TV is out of the picture and shows that are creatively/artistically driven and very educational are high on my priorities. Cable TV series from HBO, AMC, CBS, Showtime, ABC, NBC and Fox have changed the paced and face of television. They are very enjoyable, well-made and the closest you can get to watching a full-length film. I will not be including any of my old time favorites from the pre-DVD and social networking years, so do not expect to see Beverly Hills 90210, Melrose Place, Alex Mack, Dawson's Creek, and my fave The West Wing and Sex and the City (although it pains me not to include them here).

Here are my faves in descending order.

15. In Treatment (HBO)
      Developed by Rodrigo Garcia
      Based on the Israeli series BeTipul

14. Grey's Anatomy (ABC)
      Created by Shonda Rhimes

13. Damages (FX / DirecTV)
    Created by Daniel Zelman, Glenn Kessler and Todd A. Kessler

12. Breaking Bad (AMC)
     Created by Vince Gilligan

11. Prison Break (FOX)
    Created by Paul Scheuring

10.Glee (FOX)
      Created by Ryan Murphy

9. Modern Family (ABC)
    Created by Christopher Lloyd and Steven Levitan

8. The Mentalist (CBS)
    Created by Bruno Heller

7. 30 Rock (NBC)
    Created by Tina Fey

6. The Tudors (Showtime)
    Created by Michael Hirst

5. The Killing (AMC)
    Developed by Veena Sud
    Based on the Danish TV series with the same title

4. The Borgias (Showtime)
    Created by Neil Jordan

3. Fringe (FOX)
    Created by J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci

2. Game of Thrones (HBO)
Created by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss.
Based on the novels of George R. R. Martin

1. Mad Men (AMC)
   Created by Matthew Weiner

Lakbayan Series: Cavite to Batangas Pt 1

Travel is one my favorite things to do, though I haven't had the chance to do it more often due to time constraints and lack of budget. When I take photos of my local sojourns (well I've never been out of the country), I named my photo albums as "Lakbayan."

Lakbay, is the Tagalog word for travel, and bayan is the Tagalog word for town, city, motherland or nation. Infused them together and we have Lakbayan. Since I already have my camcorder, I've decided to use it as springboard for my dreams of becoming a videographer and film editor. Since I've just begun with this whole experience, I can assure you that my skills are still developing and not yet to be considered as a professional. But well, at least I've tried. 

Engagement & Wedding

The wedding of my cousin last August 21st was the highlight of my year. Probably because it made me live up to my potential as a person -- capable of handling crucial responsibilities. I was assigned to be her co-wedding coordinator, along with the Special Events by the Planner team. But overall, I was the one in-charged of practically...everything. Except of course with the decisions regarding her choice of photographers, florist and couturier. The scheduling for her engagement pictorial, the seating arrangement and the supplier for her souvenirs and etc were all up to me. Not to brag too much any more, I've did this video collage of her engagement photos that was taken outside the Caleruega retreat house in Nasugbu, Batangas (and some snippets of her wedding).

The gorgeous and effortless photographies were shot by Digital Picman. I said effortless because the photos looks so easy on print, but behind the scenes everything was so gruesome, even the preparations prior to the photo shoot. The weather in Nasugbu that time was totally cold and wet, but we were very thankful that the rain fell after the shoot or else it would be a real disaster for every one.

Music Maidens

My best friend Abbie Juano and I had a chance to meet, hang-out and play music together last October. After a year of not seeing each other the day became a real fun fest and we did lot of a catching up. I even cooked her one of my favorite pasta recipe (will post about that culinary entry...soon). We've been out of practice for quite a while so I, per se, was having difficulty singing, but nonetheless, the sessions turn out fantastic and fun. Since I'm still learning and getting used to with my camcorder the quality of the vid is still very amateurish, but I promise to improve in the next days to come (now that I have all the time in the world). Without further ado here are the two video clips from our session.


P.S. do not forget to like us on YouTube. Thanks!


Monday, November 28, 2011

Film Roundup: October to November 2011

I've been away from my blog for some time and haven't had posted any film roundups. Glad to share some of the films that I've viewed from late October to November 2011. There were some surprises and disappointments, but a long the way -- watching movies has always been a joyous ride that I would never get tired of again and again.

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (2011)
Directed by Troy Nixey
Written by Guillermo del Toro and Matthew Robbins
Grade B

What's Your Number? (2011)
Directed by Mark Mylod
Written by Gabrielle Allan and Jennifer Crittenden
Grade C+

Beginners (2010)
Written and Directed by Mike Mills

My remarks:
"Christopher Plummer in a career defining and entertaining performance worthy of acting accolades."

Grade A+

Critics review:
"In its quiet, unostentatious way, it's one of the most sensitive films I've seen about the experience of living through and responding to the profound social changes of the past 60 years." -- Philip French (The Observer)

Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004)
Directed by Beeban Kidron
Written by Andrew Davies, Richard Curtis, Adam Brooks
Based on the novel "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason" by Helen Fielding
Grade C+

Mother of Tears (2007)
Directed by Dario Argento
Written by Jace Anderson, Dario Argento, Walter Fasano, Adam Gierasch, Simona Simonetti
Grade B+

Eat, Pray, Love (2010)
Directed by Ryan Murphy
Written by Ryan Murphy and Jennifer Salt
Based on the memoir "Eat Pray Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert
My remarks:
"A head scratching rendition of a picturesque  and lovely memoir. The film has transformed Gilbert's hellish divorce, rebound relationship and colorful traverse to Italy, Indonesia and India into a cheap romantic comedy travel-porn chick flick. Tsk, tsk tsk."
Grade C+
Critics review:
"It's disappointing if unsurprising to find that this odyssey of female self-determination terminates in the arms of a man." -- David Cox (The Guardian)

Zombieland (2009)
Directed by Ruben Fleischer
Written by Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese

My remarks:
"A game changer! The overused undead creatures in the thriller genre gets a shiny revamp with a twist of flavorful slapstick humor and witty comedic timings by the writing duo Wernick and Reese."
Grade A-

Critics review:
"Zombieland is the culmination of a lovely, bright scarlet burst of zombie movies that have leapt off the screen over the last few years." -- John Patterson (The Guardian)

The Good Night (2007)
Written and Directed by Jake Paltrow
Grade B

Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)
Directed by Mike Newell
Written by Richard Curtis
My remarks:
"A British comedy
Grade A

Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011)
Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
Written by Dan Fogelman
Grade A-

In Time (2011)
Written and Directed by Andrew Niccol

My remarks:
"The movie has an interesting plot, but unlike Niccol's earlier masterpiece 'Gattaca', it relied solely on a no-brainier action stuff and has failed to develop and sustain its fascinating story line."

Grade B-

Critics review:
"Timberlake does a perfectly respectable job as the lead, without ever convincing you that the movie hasn't been a waste of the commodity it foregrounds." -- Anthony Quinn (The Independent

The Fountain (2006)
Directed by Darren Aronofsky
Written by Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel
Grade A-

A Dangerous Method (2011)
Directed by David Cronenberg
Written by Christopher Hampton
Based on "The Talking Cure" by Christopher Hampton

My remarks:
"Acting-wise, kudos must be rewarded to Keira Knightley for her stupendous performance as the curious and bewildered Sabina Spielrein. But overall, even the slapping (between Jung and Spielrein) can not save this film from its eventual boredom."

Grade B

Critics review:
"The problem is that little of this chatter is compelling. Though Cronenberg spices things up with scenes of Jung and Sabina at full gallop or involved in spanking sessions, the give-and-take between Jung and his wife and Jung and Freud are dry and dull, less dialogue than lecture - too much like the Christopher Hampton play from which it was adapted." -- Marshall Fine (Huffington Post)

Whip It (2009)
Directed by Drew Barrymore
Written by Shauna Cross
Based on the novel "Derby Girl" by Shauna Cross

My remarks:
"A surprisingly smashing directorial debut by Tinseltown's flower girl. Watch this film and be your own hero. Recommended viewing for all ages."

Grade A

Legion (2009)
Directed by Scott Stewart
Written by Peter Schink and Scott Stewart

My remarks:

"Do not watch this film for your own risk."

Grade C

The Red Shoes (1948)
Written & directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger
Original Fairy Tale by Hans Christian Andersen
Additional dialogue by Keith Winter

My remarks:
"A true cinematic masterpiece by Powell and Pressburger with its overwhelming production, bravura performances and dance sequences. If you love the arts, then do not miss this film"
Grade A+

The Barefoot Contessa (1954)
Written and Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz

My remarks:
"Too sappy and bland, not my cup of tea. Survived only and made promising by the presence and performance of the late-great Humphrey Bogart."
Grade B-

You Again (2010)
Directed by Andy Fickman
Written by Moe Jelline
Grade B

 Double Indemnity (1944)
Directed by Billy Wilder
Written by Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler
Based on "Double Indemnity" by James M. Cain

My remarks:
"A must-see film for film noir beginners and a must-have for all Cinephiles."
Grade A+

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Food, is one of the greatest love of my life. Whether eating it or cooking it, food never gets out of style for me. Also, food has never been a source of my worries as a cause of weight gain and sickness. My travel and photography adventures would never be complete without any gastronomic explorations as well.

Last week, a close friend and I went to SM Mall of Asia. As I wasn't able to catch up on my dessert at Tempura (blog entry on that will be posted soon), I gave in to the temptation of trying a cupcake from 'Frostings'. I have this huge fixation over cupcakes; I think they are pretty to look at and scrumptious to eat. One of my wishes is to have an oven of my own so I could whip up and make my own creations.

Here's a wee bit sample of the cupcake I've had from Frostings. They are definitely delicious, I'll be back there for more!

You can visit Frostings at the following locations:

Market! Market!
2F,Bonifacio Global City,

Taguig City
Landmark Trinoma

Ground Floor, Supermarket
Mindanao Avenue, Quezon City

Trinoma Mall
3rd Floor Edsa cor. North Avenue,
Bagong Pag asa, Quezon City

Shangri-La, Rustans
3rd Floor, Children's Division
Mandaluyong City

Landmark Makati, Ayala Center
Lower G/F Food Center, Market Place
Makati City

Glorietta 4, Ayala Center
3rd Floor, Food Choices
Makati City

Mall of Asia Complex
Ground Floor near Ice Skating rink
Pasay City

Or visit them online at:

Culinary Journal: My Very Own Fried Rice

I've been experimenting on recipes for fried rice every now and then. Last time I checked, I was inspired to create this one based on a cooking show I saw on TV. It's quite simple, easy to prepare and the ingredients are cheap. What I like about fried rice are the endless possibilities with making it. You can mixed and toss veggies, meat and spices and it will turn out fine, but of course if the cooking is done right it would turn out delicious.

I love creating and trying out new recipes for myself but I'm more excited when I have to prepare something for my friends and family. This one, I would give it a go when my best friend visits me one of these days. As I have successfully done this recipe thrice I am now confident to try to cook something more adventurous such as Paella and Gumbo in the near future.

Fried Rice Surprise

- Rice
- Spam Classic (luncheon meat)
- Carrot
- Cucumber
- Canned Tuna (San Marino or Century Tuna)
- Spaghetti Sauce - Italian Style
- Butter
- Aji Ginisa
- Salt (to taste)

1. Sliced your Spam Classic, Carrot and Cucumber into small bits.

2. Fried your carrot using butter. Add luncheon meat, rice, Aji ginisa, cucumber and tuna. Mixed them all together, then add your spaghetti Sauce.
      Note: The original recipe was without cucumber, but I've added it on the ingredient list because I think it would remove the stench of the fish. Instead of tomato sauce I have used the spaghetti sauce for its playful flavor. 

3. Add some salt for finishing touches.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Saturday Stuff

Went on hauling at SM Sta Rosa, courtesy of a cousin who went here in the Philippines for a 4 day visit from Guam. With his treat, I've bought myself two new flip flops from Banana Peel and Toeberries, black comfy flats, gel pen, mini-notebook, camera pouch and 2 cute-tees (haven't posted them here, though). What a nice day to buy some things without breaking the budget

Hash Brown

Makati is a gastronomic metropolis. But being on a budget mode nowadays Mickey D's is the best quick fix. Though I no longer eat their beef burgers I'm still super crazy for their fried fries, hot fudge, chicken McNuggets, breakfast meals...and hash brown. After getting my pay last Friday I went to Mickey D's Ayala Avenue and bought myself a hash brown (Php 25). Usually, I like pairing this up with a cup of hot chocolate from 7/11, but since I need to  teach myself the act of frugality...this one will do. Hash brown is perfect dressed up with Heinz ketchup (cos I think it taste weird without one).

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Premium Donut

Recently, Dunkin Donuts Philippines released a high-end line of donuts to their selected stores that could compete to the growing stalls and expanding fan based of Krispy Kreme.

Introducing: Premium Donut!

There are six varieties to choose from, Sansrival, Milky Bliss, Choco Nirvana, Dark Crunch, Chococcino, and Chunky Choconut , which I've picked up last Thursday from a Dunkin Donut branch in Makati. Each donut cost 45 pesos, not bad with its rich and thick filling and all. Mouthwatering and scrumptious I will be looking forward to try all the varieties in the next coming days to follow.

Sophisticated packaging. You get a box of this for a donut. 
My fave so far. I've had two already, for the record.

Film Roundup: September to early October 2011

Truly, I am excited to post this film roundup. Some titles were included on my list of 2011 must see films (that of course is not posted here, if you've chance to wonder where the hell it was). Films such as 'Drive' by Nicolas Winding Refn and Trier's "Melancholia" that in my definite opinion, has grabbed the top slot for this year's best film,while Soderbergh's "Contagion" did not live up exactly to my expectations. With that being said here are my ratings:

United States |2010
DIR David Schwimmer
Rating: A-

United States | 2009
DIR Tom Ford
Rating: A

United States | 2011
DIR Paul Feig
Rating: A

Canada | 2010
DIR Richard J. Lewis
Rating: A-

United Kingdom | 2008
DIR Richard Linklater
Rating: A-

United States | 1973
DIR Sidney Lumet
Rating: B+

United States | 2011
DIR Steven Soderbergh
Rating: B+

France | 1995
DIR Mathieu Kassovitz
Rating: A+

United States | 2011
DIR Nicolas Winding Refn
Rating: A

United States | 2006
DIR Ryan Fleck
Rating: A-

United States | 2010
DIR Shawn Ku
Rating: A-

Denmark | 2011
DIR Lars von Trier
Rating: A+

United States | 1976
DIR Sidney Lumet
Rating: A+
Bon App├ętit
Switzerland, Spain, Germany | 2010
DIR David Pinillos
Rating: B+

Monday, October 10, 2011

Movie Marathon: British Films (1)

(Originally posted on September 21st, 14:48)

For quite some time I have been planning to do a movie marathon that only consists of present day British films. When I say present day that means from year 1990 onwards. With my growing collection of DVD and my special fondness for the English accent - the titles of Brit films in my very own cinema library seems to have increased in number this past year. I have become accustomed - like a family - to British actors, film directors and writers, that in some way, their works have become a constant inspiration in my life through and through.

Last Saturday, being my rest day and all, I've pushed through with my own Brit film fest in our living room and have selected these 6 fine films for the whole date. I have yet to include other titles, but with the luxury of time ain't on my side - I have come to the conclusion that I'll be making 'series 2' next time, as there are so many films to see, but so little time. 

Directed by Nigel Cole
Screenplay by William Ivory
My Rating A-
Directed by Lone Scherfig
Screenplay by Nick Hornby
My Rating A
Directed by Richard Ayoade
Screenplay by Richard Ayoade
My Rating A-
Directed by Sharon Maguire
Screenplay Andrew Davies & Richard Curtis
Based on the novel by Helen Fielding
My Rating A-
Directed by Mike Leigh
Screenplay by Mike Leigh
My Rating A
Directed by Richard Curtis
Written by Richard Curtis
My Rating B+
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