Sunday, December 29, 2013

Pretty Little Things — La grande belleza (Impression)

Loud, gaudy and wild. In my opinion, Paolo Sorrentino's modern-day love letter to Rome and Fellini's "La Dolce Vita". With Toni Servillo doing a Marcello Mastroianni that would surely make the latter proud. Times have changed, but the ennui, boredom and the silly pandering of the Romans are still the same. This and "The Hunt" are now locked to go head-to-head for the Best Foreign Language Film Category at next year's Academy Awards. Un beau film...I want to watch it again and again.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Initial Opinion on "Blue is the Warmest Colour"

Just finished watching "Blue is the Warmest Colour." What an excellent and titillating film. The story did not disappoint, especially on the second part. Although, in my opinion, it could do without the explicit sex scenes. I'm not really into Yuri's so I didn't dig any of that stuff -- meaning, I haven't felt anything -- it's just a passing train to me. If you think you will cringe on the aforementioned scenes, then, you'll just have to have it fast forwarded on the next one. After all, it is not something that could make or break this film. I hope I could write a more comprehensive review/analysis of this movie one of these days. As long as I won't relent into my same-old procrastinator self.

The pacing on Chapter One is kind of slow, and I think it wasted too much of its time on their sexcapades, instead of their relationship. Chapter Two has more meat and characterization -- that's where it will pull you in emotionally -- and it would make you understand why this film is meant for everyone. But I think the guys will enjoy the explicit scenes because it would totally feed their fantasies.

The camera focused a lot on close-up shots, which I think Kechiche did on purpose (I'll explain further when I write my review, to be posted here on this blog). Overall, the acting delivered by Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos is edgy and flawless -- they totally packed a punch and they would make you feel for their respective characters. They are the number one reason why you should be watching this movie as soon as possible. 

If you love a good love story, about heartbreak and loss, then you shouldn't miss "Blue is the Warmest Colour". But if you are a self-confessed bigot, better stay away. Before I leave this post here's the trailer for the movie. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Trailer: The Grand Budapest Hotel

The movies of Wes Anderson makes me feel like I am transported inside a colorful pop-up children's book. The more he ages his childlike sense of wonder is manifested strongly compared to his earlier stuffs like Battle Rocket and Rushmore. But nothing in his repertoire can surpassed my love for "The Royal Tenenbaums". Still, I'll be looking forward to watching this movie next year. ‪#‎Cinephile‬

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Kiseki (I Wish)

Year: 2011 | Directed by: Hirokazu Koreeda | Roundup Rating: A+

For a few weeks now, I have been struggling to write a film review/analysis for this Hirokazu Koreeda hit film. Not because there's a conflict of emotions, but because as usual I was simply suffering from a simple case of writer's block. I feel like a deer in a headlights while sitting down in front of my laptop, no words flowing, as in zero, nada, nothing. But of course I have to start somewhere in order to get the ball rolling, and the introductory piece on my dried up state of mind is a perfect foot forward to the door. 

Koreeda's most recent film "Like Father, Like Son" is not the topic of my conversation for this entry but his prior work preceding the latter. I have to say, I've become a Koreeda enthusiast this year. There is something arresting about his films, regardless of them being in the dramatic genre  they were never soap operatic, what I mean to say is, never exaggerated or overacting. He just shows us life, pure and simple. 

Kiseki (Miracle in English) or I Wish is about two brothers (played by real life Maeda siblings) living apart in different cities after their parents separation. The eldest, Oosako, lives with their mother in Kagoshima, and the youngest, Ryu, chose to stay with their father in Fukuoka. 

When their parents separated Oosako and his mother moves in at his grandparents home. He complains every day about the ashes coming from the volcano and wonders why their school is erected at the top of the hill. Because he is surrounded by older people, a mother that is constantly concerned with her newfound responsibilities as a single parent, and becoming a middle school student in his next year, Oosako's experience throughout the film could be seen as his own "coming-of-age". His initial intention for making a wish at the two exact passing Shinkansen (bullet train) is for the Sakurajima volcano to errupt just so their family could be reunited like old times in Osaka. His friend reacted that "if that happens then all of us would die". Because he is a kid - driven by what he wants - he doesn't care about that major consequence, to him at that time, what matters most is getting his family back together and nothing else, not even the world. But afterwards, when he spend a day with his brother and friends, Oosako realizes that being alive and having the people you cherish into your life is already a miracle itself. He has grownup in a way, thereby, he waved his wish and accepted what he has at the present. 

Ryu, on the other hand, is a kid and remains as so during the beginning and ending of the movie. He is relaxed and happy-go-lucky compared to his brother; take into consideration that he lives with a father who is more of a friend than a parent. Ryu embodies a child's innocence, his attitude towards life is to enjoy and have fun with his friends. He doesn't take things too seriously, nor fret about a single argument he had with his brother, because to him everything would be okay later since they are a family. 

Kiseki may look and sound like a children's film but it's actually and essentially about adults. Only we are seeing it through the eyes and perspective of its children. What they think is their version of the truth, but no less than the truth of things. But more practical and less complicated if you ask me. There were moments in the movie where I kept on saying, "yes that's how it is...that's right." I think when people get older we made simple things difficult to understand, the answer is right there in front of us and yet we keep on skirting the details around. For example, when Ryu showed their father's CD to Oosako and he asked him what Indie means, his older brother said, "it means you have to work hard." What a spot on and simple answer to a question that older people tends to complicate about. (FYI: Indie artists have to work doubly hard to make their music and to have it heard by the world.) I think older people are simply stupid and it's through children we realized the important things that we always forget, that life is short and it is best spent when you are together with the people that you love. 

My favorite idea or part of the film is the sponge cake that the grandfather keeps on making for the opening of the new Kyushu Shinkansen. Oosako finds the flavor faint or mellow but admitted later on that it started to grew on him. He said to his grandfather that he fed Ryu the cake he made and asked him what his brother think about it and he said, "he's still too young." If you put it this way, the analogy on the flavor of the sponge cake is about "adjusting to life." We may not like our situation and may be it won't change the way we wanted it to be but we'll get used to it because that's how we survive. We have to accept and learn to love what we have even though it's not something that we like in order for us to grow as a person. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Race - 2014 Best Foreign Language Film

76 countries made it to the shortlist for next year's OSCAR's Best Foreign Language Film. To read the complete list visit --

My top 10 early prediction or handpicks goes to the following films -- selected solely according to their track record at the moment (film trailer, festival performance, critical reviews and viewers reception). Please take note that these films are ranked in no particular order:

1. Wadjda - Saudi Arabia, Directed by Haifaa al-Mansour | Trailer
2. La grande bellezza - Italy, Directed by Paolo Sorrentino | Trailer
3. The Past - Iran, Directed by Asghar Farhadi | Trailer
4. The Hunt - Denmark, Directed by Thomas Vinterberg | Trailer
5. Transit - Philippines, Directed by Hannah Espia | Trailer
6. The Grandmaster - Hong Kong, Directed by Wong Kar-Wai | Trailer
7. Ilo Ilo - Singapore, Directed by Anthony Chen | Trailer
8. The Missing Picture - Cambodia, Directed by Rithy Panh | Trailer
9. The Rocket - Australia, Directed by Kim Mordaunt | Trailer
10. Metro Manila - United Kingdom, Directed by Sean Ellis | Trailer

So far, most of my handpicks are coming from Asia. Way to go! I am optimistic that the award will go to one of these titles. The only thing wrong in the shortlist is the absence of the obvious strong front runner "Blue is the Warmest Color" from France and Japan's "Like Father, Like Son". Both are winners from the recent Cannes Film Festival, unfortunately mishandled by their countries, jeopardizing their strong chances to take home the golden guy.

For my country's official entry, the force seems strong on Hannah Espia's Cinemalaya winning drama about the flight of Filipino contract workers in Israel and the deportation of their Israeli-born, Hebrew speaking children. Kudos to their excellent cinematography, writing and editing. I think the chances are high for the Philippines to receive their first nomination (or win) at this elusive award giving body. However, I'm not trying to be unpatriotic, but I would like to see Saudi's film entry 'Wadjda' by Haifaa al-Mansour to win at next year's OSCAR race for Best Foreign Language Film.

I'll be keeping up-to-date tabs about the nomination process, the final selection and winner for this particular category. Through the years, this is the only section at the OSCAR's that truly mattered to me.

Sensory Overload: Anime Fall 2013

I know it's cliche but I'll say it once again. So many anime's, so little time. In terms of quantity, this year's last quarter has sure surpassed all the other season for 2013. I have to scrutinized, dropped those anime's that failed to piqued my interest in order to narrow down my list. Without further ado, here is my ranking for the Fall season's new show based solely on first episode. 

1. Kyoukai no Kanata (Kyoto Animation)
Cute characters doing action packed sequences, what's not to like. After my distraught for Free! last season I'm glad KyoAni is back in their form, better and more fun. I love magic!

2. Kyousogiga (Toei Animation)
This is the anime sister of Alice in Wonderland, but crazier and much weirder. Put Kyoto in the picture and we'll have one hell of a festival. 

3. Nagi no Asukara (P.A. Works)
I'll be expecting tons of tears and drama along the way. P.A. Works as usual delivers an animation, character design and visual landscapes that makes them completely a class of their own. 

4. Kakumeiki Valvrave (Sunrise)
This flamboyant show continuous its winning streak after its three month hiatus. Not essentially the most original, regardless, it contains the best one-liners and punchlines ever on TV. Its ability not to take itself seriously, even at times of distress, would give you the kick. Valvrave you are the animal! 

5. Non Non Biyori (Silver Link)
I have a certain fascination for rural Japan and what a way to get my own fill by watching these cute country girls living a country life. 

6. Galilei Donna (A-1 Pictures)
The first episode has introduced our main characters, but the main premise is still on the way to be discovered. A-1 is doing a pretty good job this year and I'm certain this one won't be a letdown. 

7. Samurai Flamenco (Manglobe)
Along with all the crazy themes of this season's line up of shows Samurai Flamenco is sure up there to pump up the volume. 

And the other half of this list (from number 8 to 14):

Visit their websites:
Golden Time (J.C. Staff) 
White Album 2 (Satelight)
Yowamushi Pedal (TMS Entertainment)
Gingitsune (Diomedea)
Coppelion (Studio GoHands)
Kill la Kill (Trigger)
Tokyo Ravens (Studio 8-bit)

First Look: Samurai Flamenco

I lost count on how many times I've said to myself that "the hero is crazy". I'm completely unsure if he is just suffering from Chuunibyou or he never got over from that syndrome. The flamboyance of this show does come from his crazy antics. He wears a customized super hero suit and tries to save the world from jaywalkers and juvenile deliquents only to get beaten the living daylights out of him. But don't get me wrong, I do enjoy this show. Anything outrageous I'll take it with open arms. The first episode successfully established the tandem between Masayoshi and Hidenori. Their partnership reminds me a lot of Tiger and Bunny, another superhero show that doesn't lack on wacky. Hidenori is my guy choice, Masayoshi is too over-the-top for me. I think Samurai Flamenco will be capable of supplying unthinkable and enjoyable laugh-out-loud moments and I'll make sure to be right there watching. 

First Look: Non Non Biyori

When it comes to cute anime characters doing cute things I will be forever more their patron saint. I do have exceptions though, no ecchi plots, no fat breasted females, and no panty shots. Those concepts are not in the cards for me plain and simple. My thunderous applause goes out to the show's character designer, Mai Otsuka. 

Renge is such an adorable girl in my opinion. She won me over in a heartbeat after I heard and see her playing the recorder -- sometimes off key and short winded. It may be your typical shoujo slice-of-life anime on the surface, but the scenery and the set-up on rural Japan feeds my curiosity. They live in the country (according to my research the location was inspired by Tsuyama, Okayama), they don't lock their doors, they are cramped up in the same class room because there are only five of them all over the town that are school bound. And if you missed the bus chances are you have to wait for another two hours. What a life! 

P.S. I hope the Onii-chan gets more screen time and lines next time. 

First Look: White Album 2

The spring of their life. 

White Album 2 is based on a visual novel. I knew the story and its probable ending so I can pretty much vouch that there would be plenty of romance and drama in between. But I'm wondering how the story treatment for WA2 would be approach by Satelight given there are two routes from the original source. But I'm keeping my fingers crossed for less tragedy because I tend to take it deep into heart the things I watch despite it being over for a long time. 

And that song...only an insensitive fool would be uncarried by that moment. WA2 for sure would hit home to a lot of audiences, especially the ones who had their first brushed with love and heartbreak from their high school years. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

First Look: Kyousogiga

I expect many great things from Kyousogiga in spite of its not-so-moe animation and my lack of familiarity about it. They did an ONA and anime specials before, which I haven't seen yet. So the source of my knowledge about this series is amateur at best and only through the recap and first episode. And based on what I've seen this anime is going to be like Alice...falling down on a rabbit hole. It's a mishmash of fantastical ideas, filled with craziness and eccentricities, and we've only just begun. Seriously, I don't even have a Goddamn clue what the hell it's about, but I'm more than curious to find things out and be carried away by their bizarre nonsense or what. By its title alone it already live up to its name - Capital Craze. If you do not enjoy unconventional storytelling then this anime is not made for you. But if you like surprises enclosed in a bag of treats better hurry up and start watching this show ASAP. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Me and Abby (alongside Haide, Gena and Pam, yup the original "Untouchables"), we go a long, long way back more than the rest of our BS2 pals. My friendship with her started in the not so memorable Chemistry laboratory of Letran. But one thing is for sure that moment is emblazoned in our minds, just like the time we were caught late in that said class because we saw Stigmata at WalterMart...hahaha. And that's like 14 years ago and counting. Abby, thanks for being my John Lennon to my Ringo Starr -- because we share the same birthdays with these two Beatle members. For being my Marit Larsen to my Marion Raven -- because we're not only friends but also music buddies and we used to be the M2M's of BS2. For being my favorite cinema buster (Exorcist days and Harry Potter?). For always having my back. For listening to my craziness, boring real life stories, unrequited loves, and off-the-chart impossible dreams, Facebook or no Facebook. Thank you for the sleepovers, pig outs, SVH books unreturned courtesy of me, and for being so uber nice to my family. For you, I'd fight catfights, with matching claws and all. I've never known any one as pure and kind-hearted as you. You have inspired me to continuously reach for the stars and to shoot for the moon. We'll forever be young at heart even if we are both wrinkled and gray. Happiest birthday Abs! Wishing you the fulfillment of your dreams and heart's desires. We will always have Letran! Fat or nonfat. In this life we may not share the same parents, but I know you are my soul sister. Love you always! =)

Monday, October 7, 2013

First Look: Nagi no Asukara

P.A. Works for some time now has been getting famous for their "scenery porn", a term that is being coined by every one about their animation. And this is probably one of the best things I love about this studio. Most of their works such as Hanasaku Iroha and Tari Tari doesn't deliver with the story, but when it comes to their visual landscapes or flairs, my oh my, I can't simply take my eyes off of them. It looks so damn fine and real it makes me want to live in Japan even more. 

Based on the narrative from the first episode, the premise of Nagi no Asukara is about human beings -- as they were divided to live between the sea and land. Their differences in habitat has caused a rift in their relationship, which appears to be one of the major conflicts within the story -- besides the obvious love pentagon shared by our teenage cast. It could be said that it has some semblance with J.C. Staff's "Anu Natsu de Matteru", and although it is too early for me to say, but I am betting on Hikari's fate to resemble that of Kanna from the latter series -- he will not end up with anybody. But that's just a wild guess that comes from the fact that we have five characters in this show, meaning one of them would be left out. I know it sounds irksome, but do not take it so seriously because basically we've got a long way to go; long way, as in two cour. And you can bet your bottom dollar that it would be filled with lots of tears, both on-screen and off-screen, courtesy by us viewers. 

Breathtaking scenes. Check! Cute characters. Sure check! Music-to-love. Check! Potentially dramatic and tear inducing. Double check! I am ready P.A Works, so bring it on.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

First Look: Kyōkai no Kanata

If there is a go-to studio for anything moe then that title should be won hands-down by Kyoto Animation. They have done it time and again and proved it once more with their latest offering "Kyōkai no Kanata". Based on a light novel series by Nagomu Torii, the story is about two high school students, Mirai Kuriyama, a Spirit World Warrior who can wield her blood into a sword, and Akihito Kanbara, an immortal half-human, half-Youmo literature club member. We've seen KyoAni explore this familiar ocean of fantasy and action before from their successful anime Chuunibyou, albeit for a very short period. But I guess due to the urging of their insistent fan based and the warm reception from the said anime they have decided to expand their horizons and dive in to this not-so-new territory. When it comes to anything magical I could be a little biased about it because everything that has to do with that aspect is just my cup of tea, not unless they screw up the story big time. It is tad too early to judge Kyōkai no Kanata, but on the sole merits of its animation it would be too difficult to hate; just looking at the character designs and the special effects is already a visual eye candy that one must experience. The ending song by Stereo Dive Foundation is a love at first hear for me, to the extent of forecasting the song as a top contender for Best ED for my Fall roundup. With regards to the characters, most viewers have chosen Nase Mitsuki as their favorite, but I would stick to Mirai Kuriyama as my best girl for this series. I have a special affinity for socially awkward, clumsy, short-haired girls like her. What surprises me about Mirai is her tenacity and her headstrong personality despite of her sweet facade and poor social skills. Clearly, there is both light and dark in her character and I am curious and excited to see them unravel in the next episodes to come.  

Friday, October 4, 2013

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Anime 2013: Third Quarter Season Roundup

So here we are again. I haven't done much First Look reviews for the Summer as far as I can remember, but I'll try to write some Final Notes for selected anime titles before I get to my First Look for the Fall 2013 Season. It's been a real good journey for the Third Quarter and I sure enjoyed most of the anime's I've seen, to the point of having difficulty parting with them. In an attempt to do a formal farewell I've posted my roundup as fast as I could. This is subjective as it comes, so if you don't agree with me don't butt in and just shut up. 

Best Animation - Summer 2013
(A tie between Monogatari & Hakkenden)

I am fascinated with the visuals created by Shaft studio. There are so many layers at work with their execution; combination of graphic arts, architecture, still life shots, pop art, and their flair for cinematography. The animation for the time travel arc is, in my opinion, one of their superior achievements for the series, all I know is that they needed to be a part of this list. 

From start to finish Hakkenden's character design, landscapes and overall animation is flawless. There's not even a single episode in memory that were drawn poorly. It may not have the best story, but Hakkenden's animation makes it all so worthy to watch. 

Best Story - Summer 2013

Novels as sources are the best form of screen adaptation in my opinion. Anime interpretation based on manga and light novels are usually dependent on its marketability and sales. If they are ongoing stories most likely they would either or get an anime original ending, which is something I show no favor of. Novels on the other hand, moves freely without such influences and its story has a more finite direction and ending. Uchouten Kazoku, just like the highly acclaimed Shin Sekai Yori, may not have the best animation, but what it lacks in that aspect it gains in its excellent storytelling. Each chapter builds its characters, unveils an answer, leads us to a concrete direction, and solves every conflicts without any stone unturned. If you missed one episode you have to go back to grasp it entirely -- exactly the way that books require to its readerships. Out of all the entertaining anime's for this season Uchouten is ahead of everybody when it comes to its unique story and eccentricity, and that's what makes it terrific. 

Best Opening Song - Summer 2013

Jiyuu no Tsubasa - Linked Horizon

Where the first OP left off the second season picked up. Linked Horizon did a fantastic job with the song, the arrangements and the band, it's a feat unmatched by any of the anime from summer. Using the big guns with orchestra and choir -- on a grander scale this song defines the epic which is Shingeki no Kyojin. 

Best Ending Song - Summer 2013
Hello Especially - Sukima Switch
There are so many contenders for the best ED song, but the one that really stood out for me is Gin no Saji's Hello Especially by Sukima Switch. I love acoustic-guitar driven songs, and the feel of it totally sounded like the series it represents.

Best Original Soundtrack - Summer 2013
Shingeki no Kyojin by Hiroyuki Sawano

Favorite MC - Summer 2013

This Summer season has given me a tough job when it comes to my anime roundup. Believe me I have difficulty selecting (out of the many) favorites for most of the categories, and this one is not excluded from the said confusion. But if I have to give the "Favorite MC" title to one character and one character only then that would be Lance Corporal Levi from Shingeki no Kyojin. This is an obvious hands-down-choice. If you look up on search engines he wins the majority of polls as viewers favorite, surpassing the series lead, Eren Jaeger. And considering that his appearance is very minimal and he has no character development makes this distinction quite outstanding. But in a time where most male characters are just pretty and metro sexual everybody misses having a bad ass and brave face Shounen, and Levi gave everything and more to what we look for in an MC. My heart goes all toki doki for him. 

Best Girl - Summer 2013

This honor is supposed to go once again to Misaka Mikoto of Railgun S, but because of the unexpected arrival of this maladjusted misfit named Tomoko Kuroki there was a change of heart. Well, at least mine. Despite of her crazy antics I can't not help myself but love her to bits. There's a part of her that I see in myself -- that makes me sad and at the same time makes being alone less lonely knowing that there is a character representing the minority of us unfit in this cookie cutter world.

Best Supporting Character - Summer 2013

Armin's character did a lot of growing up during the first season of Shingeki no Kyojin. He is the epitome of character development. Because as the series progresses so does he. He used to be a weakling, but he knows how to capitalize on his best asset -- his brain -- and he uses it well. He is the thinking man's character, and while we are hating Eren for his poor decisions I like Armin more and more for showing us that people do improve over time. 

Best Villain - Summer 2013

The choice for this category goes out to the character that really got on my nerves this summer, and that is no less than Soun Ebisugawa, the patriarch of the Ebisugawa clan. I want to enter the screen and punch him in the face for what he did to the Shimogamos. He is the shit and the most loathsome. If a villain can do that to you then I think he is highly effective in his role, and that's what makes him the best villain in my opinion. 

Favorite Recurring Character - Summer 2013

Touma is actually the lead cast of the main franchise of this series and he is more of a guest starrer in Railgun if you ask me. But this is my blog and I think his role in the Sister's arc for Railgun S makes him a recurring character. He's been popping in this anime from time to time anyway to qualify as one. We all know that Touma is sincerely a nice guy, being nice is second skin to him, especially when it comes with women. But I think it's so damn cute for him to be there for Mikoto when she needed help the most. He kicked the butt of Accelerator, taught Mikoto to rely on her friends, made her blushed and forced the eternal tsundere to baked cookies. Now that's one cool guy. 

Most Underappreciated - Summer 2013

I'm sad that this series received such a lukewarm reception. RandomC did not even blogged this one. Along with the viewers from MyAnimeList we felt that this anime did a great job, but is completely overlooked by many. I haven't read the manga where this anime was based on but I think each episodes of the Second Generation Genshiken is truly enjoyable. Being a self-confessed fujoshi I think it is nice to watch a series that depicts the current standing of otaku's of this age and time. We've been seeing a lot of traps in anime and I like that Genshiken gave us a character that focuses on the mindset of one. Overall, this series is a study on society and it deserves a second look for the uninitiated.

Disappointment - Summer 2013

It can be wrong to have high expectations on one thing because in the process you'll be disappointed when it didn't live up exactly to your imagination. Given that this is made by KyoAni I have reservations of including it as a disappointment. However, the last two episodes sealed its fate for me. I've always like the works of Mamoru Miyano, but his role as Rin Matsuoka is just spiteful in my opinion -- he is so damn capricious and spoiled. While Haru's melancholia for Rin is so over the top. I don't mind the slight BL foreshadowing, heck I'm a fujoshi. But I want my guys to be guys, not a bunch of whining girlies. The only male swimmer that played appropriately here is Seijuurou. Gou on the other hand made watching this series worthwhile because of her fun and bubbly personality. There will be a second season next year, hopefully the story will be better and we can get some sense from each characters. 

Failure - Summer 2013
Honestly, the Dachshund is so adorable I want to hug him, while the female lead and the rest of the characters are so annoying. It gets worst each episodes right unto the finale. And I don't even need to explain much why this series suck. All I want to do is to say screw it, it totally reeks! Your time is better spent on other things. 

Exceeded Expectations - Summer 2013

Compared to Free! I didn't expect much from Blood Lad and I wasn't even too eager to watch it because of the fat breasted female lead. But when you throw in Ohsaka Ryota and the other talented seiyuu's in the mix, with a well constructed script that did what it could with its limited screening, and high production quality then you'll get this insanely fantastic anime adaptation from Brain's Base. It's so fun to watch you'll be engrossed from start to finish, even with just one sitting. 

Best Anime - Summer 2013
A tie between:

This is the most complicated, hard-to-do, category for my roundup and what made it more complex is the fact that I've decided to choose not one, but two titles for a change for my best anime.

Uchouten Kazoku is a riveting anime that may seem to appear fantastical on the outside, but carries a deeper message within its story about family and friendship, albeit their many eccentricities. Everyone can pretty much relate to the plight of the main characters, their ways in recuperating from the loss of an important loved on, and how they (the offsprings) view the pressure of living up to the image and likeness of their parents. 

Then there is Shingeki no Kyojin. Although it is not unique with its story and it doesn't have the best animation, but when it comes to adventure and all the works it has all the power to pull every viewers interest. I enjoyed the second cour of this series more than the first one. The female titan arc is so addictive, it's like watching a Hollywood movie or Game of Thrones. Major cliffhanger at the last episode is downright unforgivable, but it doesn't take away any points and would most likely be a curiosity factor for viewers to take a gander on the franchise. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Scenes From A Marriage

Year: 1973 | Directed by: Ingmar Bergman | Roundup Rating: A+

Ingmar Bergman is one of my all-time favorite filmmakers (he ranked number three on my 2013 auteur list) and from his ouvre Cries & Whispers was my personal favorite. But that was before I've seen this one ― because everything changed from thereon. Originally a five part TV miniseries, I only managed to watch the theatrical version of Scenes from a Marriage, starring Bergman's longtime and favorite actor Erland Josephson (who can boast the most number of collaboration with the Swedish auteur) and Norwegian actress Liv Ullman

Richard Linklater and Ethan Hawke used this movie as a yardstick in making Before Midnight. There are so many marriage films out there, I can even name a few of them, but this Bergman masterpiece probably started it all and raised the bar higher for everyone attempting to create a movie about couples struggling in their relationship. 

Bergman's films have always been a careful meditation into the psyche of it's filmmaker's past. I've been thinking the length of autobiographical influenced to this movie, especially in the aspect of marriage. Bergman himself was never good in his own marital commitments, he was divorced four times out of his five marriages. He even admitted in an interview that he left his ex-wife while she was suffering from an illness. If there is one out of the many things I could take from this movie then that would be the fact that there are no marriages secure enough to last for a lifetime and that people are naturally complex beings. 

Johan (Josephson) and Marianne (Ullman) are considered by their friends as an ideal couple. In the opening scene they were being profiled and interviewed by a journalist due to their successful marriage. They were both divorcee, but successful in their own careers  as a doctor and a lawyer. They were friends first, got married for companionship and their love for each other grow from there. Having the perfect balance between their work and family, two children, a lovely house without any financial problems, they seem to have everything figured out. Smooth sailing it was, until Johan fell in love with a 23 year old woman named Paula (not seen in the movie). He confessed this to Marianne a day before he would leave for Paris with his young mistress. Everything was portrayed realistically. As their marriage disintegrates Johan appears to be cold and callous and lacking of any empathy for his wife, a complete definition of an arse hole. Marianne, on the other hand, restrains herself from any lamentation, while the audiences tears apart on her behalf. 

It would take years before they finally put an ink to their divorce. Marianne struggles to move on while Johan enjoys the duality of his life  living with a mistress and having a sexual affair with her soon to be ex-wife. (Which is every foolish man's dreams). His idea of being a man is letting a woman down, wanting them to be at his beck and call, and using them for his sole benefit until they have no identity of their own. 

Time skip here. Marianne wants to fast track their divorce, she looks forward to a possibility of remarrying, of happiness. Johan, on the contrary, is exhausted with his relationship with Paula and has realized that he wants her back. However, she needs him no more, at least not as a husband to come home to night after night. They were divorced afterwards, they married other people, remain friends, but in-between they continuously have sexual liaison's together behind their partners backs. Marriage and relationships are a confusing puzzle, because after all the years of their stupidity it is obvious that these two still love each other and can't let go of what they have. 

I was re-watching PT Anderson's film Magnolia two days ago and the character Earl Partridge comes to mind as I try to piece together Johan and the rest of the male populations reason for cheating on their wives. Earl Partridge and Johan did what they did out of their selfish "machismo" reasons. They crave for extra-marital sex because they think it would make them more of a man.  It's an old and phased out state of mind, but men are men, and they are ruled by their balls not by their brains. However, in my opinion, Johan's action is more on, "hurting someone before they can hurt you," kind of thing. Men are simply obtuse creatures who tends to hate what is blasé, repetitive and old. Different sexual positions were invented because of their fondness for things that are exciting and new. And clearly, mistresses are good at that. But let's face it, when they get tired of eating out they would always come back home. Unfortunately, not all women turns a blind-eye on cheating or wait around for a man to come back to them, especially if they've been had or abused physically or verbally so many times. 

Going back to Scenes from a Marriage, I think it is rare to see a movie that focuses on the couple alone, and does not involved a huge cast or a storyline that widens the gap of the story. After all, marriage is about the two people in it and not everyone else. A lot of underacting by the actors, which is a good thing, because real people do not exaggerate their emotions. The images, courtesy of the great Sven Nykvist, is a feast in the eye and a classic, it doesn't need those 3D effects to look real because it does have a life of its own. 

What more can I say about Ingmar Bergman? He's superb as always, especially with the way he fleshes out his characters, may it be in the screenplay or through the performances of his actors. He writes what he knows best, mostly it's about his search for God, but this time around it has to do with his own demons, relationship wise. Although the story moves slowly he doesn't dawdle or beat around the bush. He takes his time to really develop the characters, until the audiences have a sense of understanding and affinity with them. There's a lot of close-up shots in his films, especially with this one, but I think it's his way of emphasizing their internal attitudes instead of his or her surroundings. By observation in the eye movement and the gestures there's meaning behind them and Bergman used those close-up angles for us to interpret a character beyond the realm of their dialogues and interaction with others. Out of all the films by Bergman this is "the-one" that really broke my heart. I cried everytime Liv Ullman was playing nice, passive and accepting of his husband's decision. You want to console her after she found out that her friends knew of his husband's cheating a long time ago. 

I couldn't help myself from saying this, but I think this movie is the prelude to Nancy Meyer's It's Complicated, before they were divorced and started to have an affair. So basically, although I am not entirely sure, Bergman really influenced a lot of marriage films we have today, which is a good thing as long as they can keep it up or make good of it. 


Heaps of sparkling good luck for you on your special day. My firm believer and number one fan and band-aid. Always going for the miles to see me after my dreams. Thank you for the heart-to-heart conversations and hangout sessions. College days were a blast and I seriously wouldn't pass Algebra without you. Hahaha. You are one of my favorite persons in this whole galaxy. Our pact as "The Untouchables" will be intact forever more. No matter what happens we'll always have each other's backs despite of time, distance and change. Have the happiest birthday mi amiga, also known as Shinjee, Helga, Hyde's, Haide...Miss you lots. xoxo :-;

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Must-See Pinoy Films For 2013

Two Filipino language films that everyone must see this year -- fresh from their wins at the recently concluded Cinemalaya are Sana Dati by Jerrold Tarog and Transit by Hannah Espia, with the latter receiving a prestigious honor as the country's entry for Foreign Language film at next year's Academy Awards. Sana Dati is currently having a national screening, and I'm crossing my fingers that I could catch it at the cinema's one of these days. 

Bicycle Thieves - Clip

I've seen this film last year and I could feel a sense of pity for this man after he lost his bike -- a must-have item for his job. In a moment of desperation he decided to stole somebody else's bicycle only to be caught red-handed by the unforgiving mobbed of Romans. What a cruel twist of fate indeed. His son, who idolizes him, cried and pleaded to the policeman and the owner to cut his father loose. One of the most ironic films I've seen in my lifetime. Imagine, after running on foot to chase the thief all over the city, hungry, and jobless, he was shamed instantly for doing the same deed, while his thief is out there rejoicing. De Sica sure knows how to stab you upfront with the bitterness of reality.

MUBI: My Top 10 Auteurs

Just updated my list of favorite auteurs. Here is my top 10 for this year; the below 20 are not ranked in order though. For the first time in years it consisted of different nationalities: Alfred Hitchcock (British), Wong Kar-wai (Taiwanese), Woody Allen/PT Anderson/Billy Wilder (American), Michael Haneke (Austrian), Kieslowkski (Polish), Jean-Luc Godard (Swiss-French), Hayao Miyazaki (Japanese). For a change there are two Asians who made it on my top 10 bracket (Kurosawa, one step closer and you'll be here soon!). It seems my taste, as I am growing older, leans to somber stories and film making, more conversational and substantial in their context, compared to ten years or five years ago. 

To view the complete list please visit

Movie Quote: The Hours

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Little Helpers: Posca-Camposano Nuptials @ 08.03.2013

The Cake Rack Bakeshop (formerly Sugar Rush by Anne)
Since the first day I step foot into your office for inquiries you made this little event planner very much welcome and at ease. The whole experience of choosing the number of layers and design for a wedding cake was stressful indeed but you made it easy for the couple's to choose from the entire gamut. The finished product really live up to everyone's expectations. Thanks for designing a cake that match up to the Breakfast at Tiffany's wedding theme -- it look so sophisticated and the taste is just delicious.

Entourage Flowers, Wedding Assistance and Hosting by ThinkWarren

Thank you Bea for putting together the entourage flowers per our instruction that truly complimented the Posca-Camposano wedding theme. Everyone is just raving about their bouquet, especially my sister, and it is still sitting on her vase until now. My mother couldn't even complain. I would also like to send my gratitude to the entire team of ThinkWarren for assisting us, and in particular, me, before-during-and-after the event. For taking my nagging phone calls, listening to my instructions and for following them spot-on. Thank you Sir Warren for hosting the reception beautifully and for making it really fun for everyone to participate at the program. I wish you and your company all the success in the future. 

Ceremony and Reception Music by Infinite Soul Acoustic

If there is one thing that I am grateful for for the internet then that would be my luck in finding this band through YouTube. There are so many wedding band's out there but they couldn't cater to my ideas and needs. Most of them are expensive and difficult to reach. I drop by a message to Infinite Soul Acoustic's Facebook account for inquiries and got a response right away from Ms. Monica Gil. You can schedule a meet-up with them and they would gladly fit you right in at your most convenient time and place. They do accept special song requests, but make sure to consider the date of your event. They played every song that we put up in our playlist and their performance is nothing short of fantastic. They sound great at YT but they are even better live. If you are considering them for your event, my advise for you is to BOOK THEM right up! You won't regret you choice. Lastly, I'll have to send my thanks to the band, especially to Ms. Monica, for accepting some of our late song requests, for answering my text messages, for being so punctual and professional, and for making my sister and brother in-law's wedding truly memorable. You truly live up to your word. 

Event Styling and Catering by K by Cunanan

For my sister's wedding I want our caterer to be the best. And that best in my opinion is no less than K by Cunanan. We chose the cheapest package and yet we still get all the satisfaction guaranteed treatment from them, from the food that is oh so yummy and the design that made the venue look like a whimsical Tiffany's. Our EA Ms. Monique Pascual took our pegs and made the Tiffany Blue scheme and our Audrey Hepburn dream come to life. Our family's money was very well spent. The reception, with those centerpieces were both simple and idyllic, and the food was to die for - it stuffed our guests's famished stomach and made them very satisfied and full. The couple were on cloud nine and totally happy with their service. 

Hair and Make-up by Touch of Arlan

Thank you very much Arlan and his team for making the bride and everyone else look incredibly pretty for this very special occasion. I gave him sample pegs for our hairstyle -- my sister did an Audrey Hepburn number and mine was Carey Mulligan's Bob hairdo, and they executed them effortlessly. They even made my mother and aunt look very hip, sleek, chic and younger than their age...haha! Extra thanks for all the doses of laughter they kicked in during the process. They truly made our day a happy one. If you need any hair and makeup services for your event then, I highly recommend them to you guys. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Nick Drake - Day is Done

"When the part is through / Seems so very sad for you / Didn’t do the things you meant to do / Now there’s no time to start anew /Now the part is through”

Every song by Nick Drake makes me teary eyed and introspective. This one always hits me on the gut level, especially when I’m listening to it during the gloomy and windy weather. 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Fall Anime Preview 2013

Time flies by so fast, and now I'm here posting the last anime preview for 2013. Yes, believe it or not, it is now Fall in Anime-landia. Just a few episodes from the Summer season and our new line-up would finally kick start. I'm still having some separation issues from some of the shows that I've been truly enjoying last quarter. But well, every thing has its end and every ending has a new beginning, at least for our favorite studios. Here are some of the titles I'll be keeping my eyes on for the Fall. Crossing my fingers that they'll be worth my time, especially for my year-end roundup. 

P.S. I forgot to include the new Gundam franchise on this list.

Watch the trailers here:

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