Friday, December 28, 2012

Happy Birthday, Mr. Hopkins!

What better way to end 2012 than a birthday celebration with fireworks and loud merrymaking? Born on December 31, 1937, Anthony Hopkins will turn 75 on New Year's Eve. Liver, fava beans and chianti are on the house.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

I'm So Excited (2013)

After almost 20 years, Pedro Almodóvar goes back to his roots. His 19th film, Los amantes pasajeros (2013), is as camp as camp can get. 

The English title of his new movie is I'm So Excited. The trailer features a trio of flight attendants lip-syncing a Pointer Sisters song. 

An Almodóvar film brings about a sense of familiarity. Actors you've previously seen in his early movies somehow resurface in his latest project. For Los amantes pasajeros, there's Cecilia Roth (All About My Mother), Penélope Cruz (Volver) and Antonio Banderas (Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!).

More than Cruz and Banderas, it's the Pointer Sisters synchronized dancing that got me excited.

Los amantes pasajeros premieres in Spain on March 8th.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

LEGO's The Goblin King Battle

This is a far cry from the simple LEGO toys of the '80s. LEGO now has movie tie-ins with Star Wars, Batman, and most recently, The Hobbit. For the latter, it offers several box sets. Priced at almost a hundred dollars, The Goblin King Battle is the most elaborate, and by the looks of it, the most fun to play with. 

The Goblin King Battle is inspired by a sequence in the movie where Bilbo and the dwarves are captured by goblins while passing through the Misty Mountains. There they meet the Goblin King. 

The set includes seven mini figures: the Goblin King, dwarves, Gandalf the Grey, and goblins. The latter look actually cute. That's the thing with LEGO. Even monsters (at their worst) are adorable. Be careful, though. They're all armed to the teeth.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

All I Want for Christmas

Because Stormtroopers will always be cool. Because I'm sick of Hallmark. Because they will never be tacky. Because I love coffee. Because plastic bags are going extinct.

LEGO Stormtrooper Light Key Chain

Weekend DVD

Little White Lies Murray Christmas cards

Vintage Fantasy Twin Pack

Keane Strangeland CD

Penguin coffee mug

Criterion Collection canvas tote bag

Friday, November 30, 2012

Slumber Party (2012)

The year 2010 is notable for a number of reasons. The Manila Police District took the heat for the Rizal Park hostage-taking incident and Venus Raj placed fourth in Miss U. These two events shaped writer/director Emmanuel Dela Cruz's insanely funny movie, Slumber Party. Expect lots of screaming, a tense hostage drama and a glittery DIY beauty pageant.

Set on the eve of the Miss Universe competition, close friends Phi, Elle and Jhana decide to do a "vigil." That "vigil" includes applying a fairly generous amount of makeup, wearing evening gowns, and doing a mock competition called "Kamuning's Next Top Model."

The punchlines are relentless in Slumber Party. Its quick wit, sharp dialogue and rollicking slapstick are endearing. It helps that the film is buoyed by a wonderful ensemble of committed actors. Markki Stroem is perfect as the arrogant clotheshorse Elle, scene-stealer Niño Muhlach makes an engaging, iron-willed Kapitana and funny man Archie Alemania (Jhana) gives a side-splitting performance as the movie's resident free-loader. Long after the end credits roll down, you'll remember his lip-smacking pout and micro mini shorts.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Les Misérables (2012)

As the release date of Tom Hooper's onscreen adaptation of Cameron Mackintosh's mega musical draws near, here are 10 things you need to know before belting along Anne Hathaway's gut-wrenching showstopper, "I Dreamed a Dream."

1. All the songs in the film were sung live during filming. The cast wore earpieces which played live piano accompaniment. Orchestral music was added later during post production.

2. A new song not originally in the musical was added in the movie. Composed by Claude-Michel Schönberg, "Suddenly" tells how Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) took care of Cosette after rescuing her from the Thénardiers.

3. This is director Tom Hooper and Helena Bonham Carter's second film. They first worked together in The King's Speech (2010)

4. Anne Hathaway had her hair cut short for her role as Fantine. The latter originally has blonde locks. In the film adaptation, Hathaway is nowhere near blonde.

5. Samantha Barks plays the love-struck Éponine, the very same role she had in the 25th Anniversary Concert of Les Misérables (2010).

6. This is English stage actor Eddie Redmayne's (Marius Pontmercy) breakthrough movie. Expect his career to skyrocket next year.

7. Colm Wilkinson, who originated the role of Jean Valjean in the West End and Broadway, has a minor role as the Bishop of Digne. Tony-winning actress Frances Ruffelle (the original Éponine in Broadway and West End) will have a cameo as a prostitute.

8. Character actors Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter play the Thénardiers. They previously worked together in Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007).

9. Keep your eyes peeled for cameos by producer Cameron Mackintosh and composer Claude-Michel Schönberg.

10. Don't expect the cast's singing to be as good as the original Broadway and West End recordings. Hugh Jackman is no Colm Wilkinson.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Oz: The Great and Powerful (2013)

After the fluffy Alice in Wonderland (2010), Disney turns its eyes to the The Wizard of Oz. James Franco stars as Oscar Diggs with Rachel Weisz as the Wicked Witch of the East. 

It's going to be one long amusement ride—every bit as fake and CGI-heavy as Alice. Here's hoping Spider-Man director Sam Raimi injects a much needed tonic to Disney's pedestrian. overwrought movie. 

Oz: The Great and Powerful hits theaters March 2013.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Man of Steel (2013)

I grew up playing with Superman toys. Superman had bad taste in clothing then. His skin-tight costume looked like something someone would wear in the gym.

The Zack Snyder film hitting theaters next year features a dapper Man of Steel. The costume has been revamped with wrist guards and embossed lines along the waist.

Purists will be disappointed. Superman's iconic red underpants is nowhere to be seen. In an effort to make Superman look Kryptonian, the producers ditched it. Wearing undies, after all, is something only Earthlings would do.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Teaser Posters for The Wolverine and Stoker

The boundaries of design are converging. Movie posters are looking more and more like book covers and art pieces.  

Wolverine takes its cue from traditional oriental paintings. The Japanese-inspired insignia in the lower left corner is clever and the red/black contrast is perfect.  

Stoker is all whimsy. Fine details abound, enclosing Nicole Kidman and Mia Wasikowska like a black wreath. It's so organic you wouldn't notice the numerous plot clues jammed in the poster: a black coffin, a spade, a grand piano, a spider. a skull, and God knows what else. It doesn't look like a movie poster and that makes it all the more memorable. If Tim Burton and Björk had a love child, this is how it would look like. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Hobbit in Empire

UK-based movie magazine Empire features The Lord of the Rings prequel, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012). Much like a Peter Jackson movie, its December issue is bound to be larger than Middle-earth. The magazine comes in a special 3D "lenticular" cover. When I browsed "lenticular" in an online dictionary, I was referred to "testicular," a linguistic unit elf queen Galadriel, will no doubt, find amusing.

There are five covers to choose from, each featuring a character from the film: Bilbo (Martin Freeman), Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), Gandalf (Ian McKellen), Gollum (Andy Serkis), and Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), an exiled dwarven king. Although elven hearthrob Legolas (Orlando Bloom) appears in the film, he's not good enough for Empire.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will have its world premiere in New Zealand on November 28. No release date has been set for Manila. For the meantime, the magazines will do.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

4 New Films for November

Daniel Craig returns as Bond in Skyfall (2012). He's up against Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), a cyber terrorist out for blood. Sam Mendes (Revolutionary Road) directs what could potentially be the best in the Daniel Craig series of Bond films. 

It's a reunion of sorts for director Joe Wright and his muse Keira Knightley. They're joined by actors Matthew Macfadyen and Jude Law in a period drama adapted from Leo Tolstoy's epic novel. With frequent Wright collaborators Dario Marianelli (music) and Jacqueline Durran (costume) on board, expect Anna Karenina to be lush and pitch perfect.

Rust and Bone received rave reviews when it premiered in Cannes. Based on a series of short stories by Canadian writer Craig Davidson, French director Jacques Audiard plumbs the depths of love, family and depression. Acting dynamo Marion Cotillard stars as a woman who falls in love with an animal trainer (Matthias Schoenaerts). Forget Cotillard. Keep your eyes peeled for the pod of tumbling killer whales.

Andrew Dominik's thriller competed for the Palme d'Or in France. Dominik previously worked with lead star Brad Pitt in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert FordKilling Them Softly is their second collaboration. It's going to be raw and gritty.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Cat for Art's Sake

There's always the nagging issue of morality and aesthetics. Where do you draw the line? 

For some, the outcome is paramount; the process, inconsequential. That's fine, but did anyone ask the cat what it thinks?

The cat's name is Guagua  and it recently celebrated its birthday. In honor of the celebrant, Guagua's owner drew several memorable Japanese animation characters on cardboard and pushed the cat's head through. The one above is inspired by Kiki's Delivery Service.

Although the artwork is superb, Guagua is not entirely happy with the setup. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Mariah vs. Nicki: Round 1

This week's Fierce Award goes to Nicki Minaj: the feisty rapper best known for her wardrobe and barbed, caustic retorts. Recently, her royal rumble with Mariah Carey went viral. Following a heated dispute over a contestant, Minaj was heard saying, “I’m not putting up with her highness over there.” Noted.

It didn't stop there.When Barbara Walters "aired Carey’s grievances," Minaj Tweeted: “Barbara walters didn’t reach out from our team. I guess we’re too dangerous.” She added, “I don’t call tmz n Barbara Walters cuz I stand on my own two feet. Insecurity is as cruel as the grave.” Double fierce.

"American Idol" started going down hill after Simon left two years ago. Now, interest in the ageing 10-year-old talent show is heating up thanks to the gangsta vibe Minaj is generating. 

A day after the Carey-Minaj verbal joust, Walters said the latter warned Mariah: “I love you, but we might fight again.” 

More than the singing in "American Idol," it's the cat fights I'm most excited about. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Phantom of the Opera: Manila

Someone told me that everyone's a nobody until they've seen Phantom. I've seen it twice, so I guess that makes me one step nearer godhood. If Armageddon comes, I expect a flying saucer to rescue me while Martian Nazis make mincemeat of planet Earth.

Extraterrestrials and screaming people filled my thoughts as we made our way to CCP. The weather was blissfully jolly when we left our house. By the time we got to Manila, it started raining. Not quite Noah's ark level, but enough to slow down traffic to a crawl.

Despite the floods, we arrived early. That gave us time to have dinner, loiter around the lobby and buy a souvenir program and a CD.

We got seats in the parterre section. It's not visible from the orchestra section. I didn't even know it existed. The seats were very comfortable and the leg room was quite spacious. It's secluded and very private. They say this is where Madam usually sat during her heyday. I can see why. I wish they'd lower the ticket price, though. I started seeing double when my credit card bill arrived the following week.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Cine Europa 2012

It was a weekday, so the usual crowd of shrieking youths was nowhere in sight. Most of the people watching were either in between jobs or retired. They were chatty. Not in a noisy kind of chatty, but chatty as in they're open to talking to people they've only met for the first time. A complete stranger glanced at me and smiled. I think he wanted to chat. I smiled back.

Inside the theater, an old guy sat beside me. He was very friendly. He called me "Bhradd." I took it as a compliment since it sounded like "Brad Pitt." He kept on talking. I kept on nodding. I was hoping he wouldn't ask me questions. But he did. He asked me where I work. I can't talk, so I got my cellphone and typed in "Eastwood." He said, "Oh." Then he went on talk mode again. 

The movie showing was In a Better World (Hævnen), a Danish domestic melodrama. Some of the scenes were set in Africa. I think that struck a nerve cause the guy beside me started to do a running commentary. Full volume. People started glaring at me. Wait, why me? My mouth's close. I can't even speak. 

I have a DVD of Senna, so no need to line up for that one. I'll be hustling for Atmen (Breathing), though. More than anything, I'm dreading the weekend crowd. It's going to be a long day.

Friday, September 7, 2012

BreadTalk's Hello Kitty Cake

It's cute, winsome and furball free. It has two flavors: vanilla chiffon with either strawberry or mango filling, and chocolate chiffon filled with chocolate ganache. I got the latter.

It's a very strange cake. If you cross a bread roll with a cake, this is how it would taste like. It has a very unique texture and an "almost there" sweetness. I kept waiting for the sweetness I was expecting to hit me. It wasn't there on the first bite and it wasn't there at the ganache core either. It was actually nowhere in sight. Children (for whom the cake was made) will be disappointed. People averse to sugar will rejoice. Don't be surprised if you find it underwhelming on your first try.

I'm thinking this is how pastry would taste like in Japan: quirky with just a smidgen of sweetness. Book me a ticket, will you?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Essential Posters: 69th Venice Film Festival

La cinquiéme saison is from another planet. If this poster is a person, it would be Björk.

Bella addormentata (above) steers clear of conventions by doing away with people. Viewed from the ground up, we're given a whole new perspective of how beautiful and eerie nature is..

Izmena (above) shows us a woman giving in to lust and adultery. This movie is going to be hot and sinful, and by the looks of it, tragic.  

Sunday, August 26, 2012

6 New Books for September

UK hardcover edition (£18.99) / Published by Hamish Hamilton 
Release date: August 27, 2012

Although Zadie Smith is identified with the kinetic White TeethNW is the novel she's most proud of. Set in the north-west corner of London, her fourth novel tracks the lives of four urban dwellers in their 30s whose predictable domestic bliss is suddenly threatened by the arrival of an unexpected stranger. 

US hardcover edition ($27.99) / Published by Harper 
Release date: September 11, 2012

Michael Chabon's Telegraph Avenue is about two friends whose modest second-hand vinyl shop is threatened when a former NFL quarterback decides to build a mega store close by.

Director Cameron Crowe expressed an interest in adapting Chabon's seventh book for HBO. That fast? And the book hasn't been released yet.

US hardcover edition ($26.95) / Published by Riverhead 
Release date: September 11, 2012

Dominican-American Junot Diaz dissects love and all its complications in This Is How You Lose Her, his second collection of short stories following Drown. He said that “It took forever to get the fucking stories I needed to do this project." No sweat considering it took 11 years for his Pulitzer-winning novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, to get published.

US hardcover edition ($27.95) / Published by Viking
Release date: September 18, 2012

It only took him one year to write a 384-page book. Prolific author T.C. Boyle follows up When the Killing's Done (2011) with San Miguel, a sprawling domestic drama about two families living on a wind-swept island off the coast of California. There's a twist. One family lived in the island in the 1880s while the other in the 1930s. How Boyle ties up the two is anyone's guess. One thing's for certain: San Miguel is going to be epic. Time to turn on the melodrama meter.

US hardcover edition ($27.95) / Published by Viking    
Release date: September 27, 2012

All his life, Harold lived in the shadow of his successful brother. A singular act of violence changes everything, forcing him to look after his brother's children and their ageing parents.  

A.M. Homes is known for her dark, humorous domestic fiction and May We Be Forgiven is no different. In her seventh novel, she explores sibling rivalry and tests the very limits of familial ties, love and forgiveness. It's a moody, edgy ride, but one, no doubt, worth taking. 

US hardcover edition ($30) / Published by Random House 
Release date: September 18, 2012

Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against Salman Rushdie on February 1989, a year after The Satanic Verses was published. It was a harrowing time for Rushdie and his family, marked by a nagging fear and a life of hiding. In Joseph Anton, the prize-winning author talks about the grueling time he spent living with tight security. Freedom is none too sweet when it's taken and finally, after nine long years, given back.  

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Death by Book Binging

It was the day after the great flood. I was on my way home when the strap of my new bag broke off. That usually happens. I buy too many books that my bag just gives up and dies. 

National Book Store had their Cut Price sale recently and it was a very trying time for me. I tried to be rational and thought of the piles of unread books in my room. It didn't work. I tried to think of my unpaid credit card bill. It didn't work. Nothing seemed to work so I just went on buying. 

National Book Store SM Fairview
When I saw Rushdie, Roth and Dostoyevsky in the 50% off section, I felt my pupils dilate. I reminded myself that National Book Store is not BOOKSALE. Even though they were on sale, most of their books were still quite pricey. I whittled the 10 books I liked to eight. My best buy for the day was a Vintage Lust set (The Rachel Papers by Martin Amis + The History of Tom Jones by Henry Fielding) which I got for only P202.50 (originally priced at P405). Mission accomplished; now I can die happy.

National Book Store Robinsons Movieworld Novaliches
Although their store is quite small compared to other branches, the titles they had on sale were right up my alley. I was able to buy Nick Hornby's High Fidelity for P75. I like H.G. Wells so I grabbed The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds collection (P59.50). My best buy was Jessica Zafra's Twisted Travels. It was originally priced at P250; got it for P25.  

All in all, I spent 3k worth of books. Now I'm dreading the mailman's arrival. My credit card bill might give me a heart attack.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

LEGO's Catwoman Catcycle City Chase

Diamonds are a a cat's best friend. In LEGO's Catwoman Catcycle City Chase, Selina speeds away on her micro scooter after stealing a fist-sized diamond. Hot on her heels is a grim, jetpack-wearing Batman.

The toy box set contains a street corner, brown boxes, a newspaper stand and two mini figures: Batman and Catwoman. They're actually cute, most especially Batman with his trusty jetpack. Catwoman's Catcycle takes the cake, though. It looks like a beefed up, steroid-injected Vespa scooter. To stress that women mean business, an unforgiving whip is lodged at the motorcycle's rear end. Take that, Batman!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Michael Fassbender + Charlize Theron in W

If there's one thing Michael Fassbender and Charlize Theron have in common, it's onscreen nudity. Lots of them. 

"I don’t have issues being naked," Theron muses. 

"In my movies, I’m often naked or dying," Fassbender counters.

Blame it on their good looks. In W's August issue, photographer Mario Sorrenti heats up his lens for a post-apocalyptic fashion editorial. S&M is back. Dust off your handcuffs and get that whip crackin'.  

Stylist Edward Enninful sets the mood with a Yves Saint Laurent metal chain dress, DSquared2 lambskin vest and Viktor & Rolf leather pants..