Sunday, January 31, 2016

Just Music: Tom's Story Wows in Album Launch

Fist Bump: Santiago, Naval and de Guia, who make up Tom's Story
share a moment before their set. 

The first time we saw Tom's Story perform was back in 2014 (or was it 2015?) they completely blew us away and Paul was an instant fan. I guess, there's something about an instrumental rock band that speaks to Paul, who incidentally used to play the guitar. Think 90's Rock acts like Green Day, Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilot, Bush and even Razorback-you should hear him sing too- before picking up the camera and deciding to stay behind the lens to capture the rock stars and the musicians, he once could have been. 

'It speaks to the musician in you' Paul told me, referring to the music of the 3 piece post-rock, math-rock band on our drive home from their album launch. Honestly, their music didn't sweep me of my feet the first time I saw them perform, it wasn't really love at first sight but more of a gradual admiration. If you think writing songs is hard, try with just instruments. An instrumental piece with no lyrics to 'hide' from is like baring your soul to the audience and listener and without lyrics, it's really just the music speaking to you. It all comes down to what the music makes you feel. I know that it sounds too philosophical and maybe a bit serious and maybe even bordering to meditation and medidation but yes, it is just about the music and whatever it is that Gabba Santiago, Christer de Guiana and Tomas Naval have been doing-it works! People are responding to their songs (with matching quirky dance moves) despite the absence of lyrics and have quickly become one of the most sought after acts in the Metro. 

When the band announced that they would be launching their debut album it was one of the first events that was marked on our 2016 calendars. Apparently it was also what a lot of music lovers did becasue lo and behold- Route 196 was a sauna! I don't remember seeing the bar filled to the brim with people! It was a rubbing-against-elbows, sweat dripping down your neck kind of crowd. As a friend of mine said in a text 'we had to ninja ourselves in'. Paul had to wrestle his way to the front to take photos. 

It was a fun night (despite the heat and the sweat) with performances from Autotelic, Musical O and Tide/Edit.

It always makes me happy to be in a crowd that moves and dances with the music and the thought that it was a big crowd just makes me all the happier. It's a Saturday night and these millennials could be doing anything but they decided to spend it in a hot crowded bar in the middle of Katipunan, to show their love and support for a local band who actually makes music and not just belts out covers or  be another incarnation of a pogi-rock band because hey- those get the girls right? 

Picked up the album (review up on the blog soon) and now we have a piece of Tom's Story with us. We can blast the magic that is their music in the car or at home (neighbors be damned) and have our own quirky dance session, or whatever the music makes us feel like doing. 

Event was made possible by A Spur Of The Moment. 

Click HERE for MORE Photos

Friday, January 29, 2016

Spend Valentines with DEADPOOL

Since it's Valentines Day around the corner I'm going to throw this question out there. 

Do you believe in second chances? 

We've seen it in movies, heard it in songs, know a friend of a friend of your cousin who swears to it. But who would have thought that a superhero movie would also bear witness to it? 

The upcoming Marvel superhero flick 'Deadpool' is nothing short of a second chance. Fans know how the character was 'defiled' in that horrible Wolverine Origins movie and now, audiences can see an origin story worthy of such a unique anti-hero. It's not only the Deadpool movie that's getting a second chance, even Ryan Reynolds who plays 'the Merc with the mouth' is getting not just a second chance but even a thrid chance as well. After his stint as Green Lantern and as the sewn-up Deadpool, Reynolds is given the chance to do the character justice and he's making sure it's done right in the Tim Miller helmed film. 


Reynolds embraced the character’s myriad (and often twisted) facets.  “In the comic book world, Deadpool is a man of our time with the ability to spout just the right thing, in terms of a pop culture reference, at the worst possible moment,” he quips.  “That’s what makes him interesting to me and also makes him sort of limitless.”

                 Reynolds had long championed a film version of the iconic comics character.  His deep involvement in the film’s development continued throughout production, in brainstorming sessions with director Tim Miller and screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (“Zombieland”).

Even Stan Lee loves Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool! Stan Lee of course, has a fun cameo in the film and also serves as an executive producer.  “There’s never been a character like Deadpool, and Ryan Reynolds plays him as though he was born to play the role,” says Lee. “Just like Robert Downey, Jr. was born to be Iron Man, you just can’t picture anybody else besides Ryan as Deadpool.”

Tim Miller, who makes his feature film directorial debut on Deadpool, notes, “I think Ryan’s personality and DNA are really infused in the character.  It was a close match to begin with, which is why Ryan was so attracted to Deadpool in the first place.”

                “Ryan has a tremendous sense of humor, is very quick, and the character has really seeped into him,” says Reese.  “He became in a way our ‘Deadpool Police.’ Whenever we got off tone or were writing in a way that didn't feel quite right, Ryan would say, ‘I don't think that sounds like Deadpool.’  We knew he was the best arbiter, because Ryan knows and loves the comics and has assimilated Deadpool’s voice and sense of humor.”

“We’re staying as true to the character as possible,” adds Reynolds.  “We really ran with the idea of Deadpool being aware he’s a comic book anti-hero.  It gave us the freedom to tell this story in a totally unorthodox way.  We occupy a space that no other comic book movie has – or can.”

                Deadpool is a unique figure in the Marvel Universe.  Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld created Deadpool as possessing an often non-superheroic attitude.  A sardonic foil to the holier-than-thou heroes and villains that populate  Marvel’s other comics, Deadpool constantly cracks edgy jokes and breaks the fourth wall. 

                Liefeld joins Stan Lee in his admiration of the filmmakers’ work in translating the character to the big screen.  “DEADPOOL explodes with action,” says Liefeld. “Ryan, Tim Miller, Paul and Rhett mined all the good stuff in the comics from about a ten-year period and came up with a movie that sews it all together.  This will be the Deadpool that will become canon moving forward!”

The marketing for Deadpool has been nothing short but genius! Ads have marketed the film as a Romantic Date movie in time for Valentines day (we, all know it's not but will still make a pretty cool Valentines date). The studio has even poked fun at Reynold's Green Lantern days. It's like they've embodied the very character of Deadpool. 

Things also continue to look promising with positive reviews from fans who have seen an early rough cut of the movie. Locally, the film has been given a rating of R-16, which is good news for fans as it keeps true with the nature of the story. 

Can't be happier with second chances! 

A different kind, in fact, not-the-hero-you’re-expecting saves the day when 
“Deadpool” opens February 10 in Philippine cinemas from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros. You can also catch it in IMAX theaters! 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Atom and The White Canary Hit the Big Screen in '400 Days'

If you guys have following Arrow (it's already in it's 4th Season), then you probably already know of 'The Atom' played by the handsome Brandon Routh, he also played Superman in Bryan Singer's 'Superman Returns' and (the original) 'Black Canary' -now- 'White Canary' (Caity Lotz) I actually like her better than Laurel so.... Yehey! 

Well they have already left Team Arrow and are in a new team on their own in 'Legends of Tomorrow' but did you know that they'll be in a movie together? 

The gorgeous duo will be playing hopeful candidates for a private space flight company. Who has it's sights set on deep space travel, the group are sent to live for 400 days in an underground facility to stimulate the experience of an extended space mission, complete with a few 'curveballs' to test their resilience and coping skills. 

'400 Days' is in cinemas on Feb.3 and is distributed by Captive Cinema. 

'The REVENANT' is Captivating and Visceral- You Shouldn't Miss It!

"The Revenant" is one of those movies I would have loved to have discussed in class. Whether it's a Social Studies class discussing ethnic groups or history class looking into unchartered 19th Century American frontier. It could even be a topic in a film class, to discuss the work of such masters of storytelling as Director Alejandro G. Iñarritu or Emmanuel Lubezki's work on the beautiful cinematography in the film. 

The Revenant is a masterpiece worth discussing in class and I always hold movies like these in high regard. I guess the movie has so many merits and layers that I just want to be in a class just talking about it. *Looking for a Revenant Discussion group. Currently suffering from Post-Revenant Syndrome*-it's a thing, I'm making it a thing. 

There has been few films that have been set in this time period, when America was very young, when the Native Americans still roamed the lands and when the pale faced colonizers came to pillage the land of it's resources. This makes the film a unique gem that you simply can't compare with any other period movie. 

The genius that is Alejandro G. Iñarritu brings you in the movie. Even if it's not a 3D movie, it is shot in such a way that you feel as though you are there yourself. During filming, Iñarritu was adamant that they were not going to use computer graphics to enchance the film and they also only used natural lighting in the film and all of these really transpire through the screen. The film captures nature at it's finest. The unconventional camera angles that were used will have you looking at scenes in a different way. The camera brings you to wide sweeping landscapes, up close a dying man's breath, under the savage power of a grizzly bear, through ice cold waters. It is a movie experience, you shouldn't miss. 

The story in itself is a simple one; it is a story of survival and revenge. We've seen this played out in many other takes, movies and TV shows but what makes 'The Revenant' stand out is it's exquisite and masterful telling, bringing you, the viewer in the scene. 

Let's talk about that R-16 rating, it's there for a reason and I suggest that we follow it. The film captures the brutal violence between the Native Americans and the fur trappers who have come to their land. I was gasping, shouting and covering my eyes. It's really brutal but necessary for the story. This was a time when the laws of the land translated to a riffle on hand or a noose around the neck. 

Aside from the movie's beautiful cinematography and gripping storytelling, the film is as strong as it is (you must have heard of all the awards it has won, including Oscar nominations) because of it's actors commitment to their roles. I knew that Leonardo DiCaprio was amazing in the film but seeing him in this role was a humbling experience. DiCaprio's performance is a force to be reckoned with. 

DiCaprio plays Hugh Glass, a fur-trapper who survives a bear attack only to be betrayed and left for dead by his companions. By sheer, strength of will Glass is able to survive the harsh elements, fueled by the need for revenge. The person he wants to get his hands on? The lying, cheating and evil John Fitzgerald, he's such a good bad guy- you'd hate him! Another strong performance from Tom Hardy! A necessary requirement to stand alongside DiCaprio's Glass. 

9.5 out of 10 (it's a tad bit long at 156 minutes but still necessary) 
Not for the faint of heart, 'The Revenant' is painfully beautiful (in more ways than one) and takes an American frontier legend and turns it into a journey of survival so vividly raw, you will surely see it in your dreams. 

The REVENANT will preview as last full show features on Feb. 2 (hours ahead if it's opening day on Feb. 3) and will also be in IMAX screens) from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros. 

Turn on the SPOTLIGHT

Okay so before I start I have to get this out first, I come from a cradle-to-the-grave Roman Catholic family and I also married into one. I sang in the choir when I was 12 years old and continued on until I got married when I was 25. Speaking of the time that I got married, we actually had 2 Monsignors and 1 Priest preside over our ceremony. And yes, I also graduated from a Catholic school, from Kindergarden until College. So yes, you get the picture of where I'm coming from and you now understand that part of me, that writes 'Roman Catholic' on the empty box in forms we fill out. 

I'm carrying all of this as I go into the critically acclaimed and award winning movie 'Spotlight'.

Spotlight is an American biographical drama which follows The Boston Globe's Spotlight team's investigation into the widespread child sex abuse cases in the Boston area. You might already have an idea where this is headed-yes, the abuse were supposedly done by members of the Catholic Clergy. 

Movies with the 'dirty laundry' of the Catholic Church is nothing new. There's 'The Priest' and of course the Dan Brown movies, while these are all works of fiction, the story behind 'Spotlight' led the original team to win the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. This is no cautionary tale but one based on truth and hard facts.

The year long investigation of the Spotlight team unearths a decades-long cover-up which reaches the highest levels of Boston's religious, government and legal establishments. Spotlight is a tense investigative dramatic-thriller, which uncovers one of the biggest cover-ups in modern times. 

The film stars, cinematic giants, Mark Ruffalo, Micheal Keaton, Rachel !cAdams, Liev Schreiber and Stanley Tucci and is directed by Tom McCarthy. 

Wolves in sheep's clothing is nothing new, they could be priests or corrupt government officials or polygamous pastors, whatever the disguise, there is always that 'shock value' in stories like these, which make for great movies. Being a devout Catholic and a movie geek - I'm both excited and anxious to see this. I guess I'll have to view this film from the perspective of a human being, one in search for the truth and for justice, no matter the robes or disguises. 

With 79 wins and 111 nominations to date, Spotlight will hit cinemas on February 10 and is distributed by Solar Pictures. #SpotlightMovie 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Team Dudong Photoshoot

In our industry, nothing is permanent, change is always a good thing. Some may be good, some, may take some time getting used to, but one of the best changes is always a promotion. 

Which is why, everyone congratulated TL Dudong as he took the next step as the new Compliance Officer. Sadly, this means leaving his team behind. I think it's just very sweet and timely that before he left to attend to his new duties and responsibilities the team was awarded as Best Team for November -what a beautiful going away gift right? 

The guys went a little wacky with their poses. 

These photos will surely be a simple reminder of happy times and a love once shared but will never, ever fade. Once the tarp is up-that's a great reminder too! 

Congratulations Dudong and Team! 

More Photos Up in the Facebook Page! 

'The Martian' on DVD!

A great book and a great movie which I both enjoyed (and loved) in 2015 was 'The Martian' and during my recent trip to the record store I saw that it was already out on DVD! Yeay! 

For only P550.00, the DVD comes with Special Features, including an ad for Under Armour featuring Matt Watney, our favorite lonely astronaut. I actually missed out on the last few minutes of the film, since I was in a hurry to get to work, in fear of being late :p I also knew that Paul was going to love it and my sister-in-law is also a Bio-chemist :) So-more reasons to get the DVD. 

Also, with the film bagging the 'Best Motion Picture (Comedy or Musical)' and 'Best Actor in a Motion Picture (Comedy or Musical) for Matt Damon and being nominated for 7 awards in the upcoming Oscars, it was a no-brainer to add it to the collection. 

There was a little surprise when I opened the DVD, apparently there's a raffle contest for a chance to win a copy of 'The Martian' on paperback. Now, the book has a pretty interesting publishing history, when author Andy Weir couldn't get the support he needed from literary agents, he put the book online in serial format one chapter at a time for free on his website. Fans urged him to make an Amazon Kindle version for c99 (the minimum requirement). The Kindle version went to the top of Amazon's list of best-selling science-fiction titles and sold 35,000 copies in 3 months. This of course caught the attention of Crown Publishing who bought the rights in March 2013. 

A year later, the book debuted on the New York Times Best Seller list. So-owning a physical copy of the book and adding it to the collection would be pretty neat! Hoping to win :) 

The Buzz on "The REVENANT"

There has been a lot of buzz on the upcoming Alejandro G. Iñarritu (Babel, Birdman) helmed historical epic 'The Revenant' which tells the story of Hugh Glass, a fur trapper who sets out in unchartered 19th century American frontier. Where Glass is attacked by a Grizzly Bear and survives, he is then betrayed by his companions and left for dead. Glass pulls himself from an early grave-literally to face unknown perils and unfamiliar cultures on a journey that becomes not just a search for reckoning but for redemption. As Glass moves through the frontier in turmoil, he comes to reject the urge for destruction that once drove him. He has become a 'revenant', -one returned from the dead. 

The film is nominated for 12 awards in the upcoming Academy Awards and has already won Best Picture (Drama), Best Director and Best Actor for Leonardo DiCaprio, who plays Hugh Glass, in the recent Golden Globes. 

Immersing audiences in the unparalleled beauty, mystery and dangers of life in 1823 America, the film explores one man’s transformation in a quest for survival. Part thriller, part wilderness journey, The Revenant explores primal drives not only for life itself but for dignity, justice, faith, family and home. 

Known for such films as 21 Grams, Babel and the Academy Award®-winning Best Picture Birdman, The Revenant is Iñárritu’s first historical epic.  He brings his distinctive mix of visual immediacy and emotional intimacy to a story that transports audiences to a time and place that have rarely been experienced through visceral modern filmmaking. 

The film’s wilderness-based production mirrored the harsh conditions Glass and company actually lived through in the 1800s. Iñárritu and his whole cast and crew were up for all that was thrown at them, welcoming the challenges of shooting in Canada and Argentina, regions known for unpredictable weather and untouched wilds, in order to fully understand the experience of fur trappers in the early 19th century.

                Leonardo DiCaprio shares,  “The Revenant is an incredible journey through the harshest elements of an uncharted America.  It’s about the power of a man’s spirit. Hugh Glass’s story is the stuff of campfire legends, but Alejandro uses that folklore to explore what it really means to have all the chips stacked against you, what the human spirit can endure and what happens to you when you do endure.” 

The director emphasizes that DiCaprio faced tests no actor could fully prepare for in his performance.  “Leo was working in the toughest of conditions, under a challenging wardrobe, in extreme make-up, going to the most emotionally uncomfortable and dark places. But no matter what he is going through, something immediate comes to life when Leo is in front of the camera. There’s an incredible power,” Iñárritu observes.  

                The bear attack that threatens to end Glass’s life immediately took DiCaprio into a mano-a-mano struggle with one of nature’s most skilled predators. “The bear attack was incredibly difficult and arduous,” DiCaprio recalls, “but it’s profoundly moving. In the film, Alejandro puts you there almost like a fly buzzing around this attack, so that you feel the breath of Glass and the breath of the bear. What he achieved is beyond anything I’ve seen.  Glass has to find a way to deal with this full-grown animal on top of him.  He’s at the brink of death – and you are fully immersed in this moment with him.” 

                “The Revenant is a story of harsh survival but also one of inspirational hope,” Iñárritu says.  “For me, the important part was to convey this adventure with a sense of wonder and discovery, as an exploration of both nature and human nature.” 

                “The Revenant” opens in cinemas February 3 from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros. It will only be available in IMAX for only 1 week! So make sure you catch it! 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Post One Ok Rock: A Deafening First Date

They have landed. One Ok Rock proudly holding a banner from their Pinoy fans during their live show last night at the Mall of Asia Arena. 

(c) Julen Esteban-Pretel 

You guys probably know how it goes, you like a girl and so you court her, you write her letters, send her flowers, you know the drill. I can't help but think of the passionate fans of Japanese Rock band, One Ok Rock as relentless suitors, doing everything they can, organizing petitions, reaching out to the band's management, concert promoters and producers, anything to get their beloved band to perform in the country. So when, after years of hard work it was finally announced that the band will perform; I can only imagine it was like having that girl you have long courted give that sweet 'yes' you've been waiting for, and well the concert? It was a deafening first date. 

Fans from the provinces (Batangas, Iloilo, Cebu and Davao) flew to Manila to catch their favorite band perform. Some even waited at the airport, just to catch a glimpse of the band when they arrived. 

On the day of the concert, fans camped out, lining up early in the morning for the concert that they've only dreamed about, fought hard for and has now become a reality. 

Hands up. Japanese Band One Ok Rock raise their hands to their Manila fans.

(c) Salvador Aquino 

Needless to say, the fans sang at the top of their lungs (both in English and Japanese) and everyone was having a great time, banging their heads and dancing to the music. It just has to be said that it was dissapointing that despite reminders, there were still some fans who insisted on taking videos of the entire concert, of course photos, selfie sticks, iPads, Go-Pros were up in the air. In case you didn't know, the Japanese actually consider this kind of behavior rude. Have you seen videos of Japanese concerts? You don't see a sea of devices and cameras, trying to catch every second of a concert, you see fans, who sing and interact with the artist. 

You go to a concert to enjoy, have fun, sing, dance and see your favorite band perform-live, right in front of you, you should watch them through your eyes and not behind a screen. All of this is coming from a husband-wife, Photographer/Blogger team. When we were asked to cover AniSong artist LiSA's concert last year at the Samsung Hall, we had 2 DSLRs with us, but we were informed that taking of photos wouldn't be allowed and we obliged. Even if we had 2 DSLRs with us, just within our reach. We respected the management and followed the rules and no, we didn't bring out our mobile phones to take photos either. How hard can that be? 

Banner of Love. Fans sign a banner for the band with the Philippine Flag in the middle. 
(c) Lisa Fang 

You can take one or two photos with your phone. A 5-10 second video and that's it. No need to record the entire concert or go on a shooting spree. It's just plain rude to the artist (who is trying to connect with you and not your damn phone) and to other concert goers. You might say that you paid for your ticket and that you have every damn right to take photos or videos, but so did other people, they paid to watch a live concert and not to watch it from behind your device. 

Seriously, people should learn to live outside of their devices. Live. Enjoy the now. Trust me, it's not the end of the world if you don't catch it and post it on social media. There are professional photographers and videographers for that. 

Sorry, I didn't  mean to rant and I actually stared at this piece for a few minutes becasue I didn't like the direction of where it was going but I wanted to get it out there and going through Social Media, I know that other fans feel the same too. 

Make Some Noise. Taka, Toru, Ryota and Tomoya conquer the stage. 
(c) Julen Esteban-Pretel 

Another hot topic on Social Media post concert? Was the fact that when Taka was motioning for the crowd for a Wall of Death moment but if they weren't too busy with their phones and cameras, then maybe they would have gotten it. 

Despite the above hiccups it was a successful concert, considering it almost didn't happen. With dedicated fans only counting on prayers to make the concert a reality. I just read that some of the admins of the local One Ok Rock group had to face ridicule from naysayers, putting them down and saying that they were 'ambitious' to wish for the concert to happen. Ha! Who's laughing now right?!

The band seemed pleased with the eager fans who sang to their songs (despite the taking of photos and videos) -promised to come back. No need for petitions and surveys anymore :) 

The band's management Amuse Asia has posted on how they were impressed with the Manila crowd, and posted that they were the loudest most energetic crowd. :) 

Sea of lights. Taka addresses a crowd, enveloped in a Sea of Lights. 
(c) Julen Esteban-Pretel 

About 20 years ago, I was that weird kid who loved anime and listened to Japanese Music and now, to see a Japanese Rock band play in one of the biggest and premiere concert venues in the country is a dream in itself. As I stood there in a crazed crowd of passionate fans, amidst deafening screams, I knew that I was witnessing history as it transpired. The band is the first mainstream Japanese Rock band to have a major concert in the Philippines. It might take some time for the next show but I know it will be an even bigger and better second date. 

*Photos in the post are properties of their owners* 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip: Movie Review

Me: When I have a son, I want to name him Theodore. 
Mom: Theodore? From Alvin and the Chipmunks? 
Me: No Mom. Theodore Lawrence, from Louissa May Alcott's 'Little Women'. 

The above anecdote is actually a true story and while I might not have known it then bit would actually serve as an introduction to a movie review, I was going to write. 

My mom, associating the name 'Theodore' with the tiny singing trio, just goes to show that even adults have some love for the mischievous musical chipmunks. 

Okay. Let's get this out there, it's the fourth Chipmunks movie already, one too many-perhaps. One thing is for sure though, 'The Road Chip' is not only a movie for the kids but it's something that even parents and adults accompanying them will enjoy too. 

Alvin and the gang have reason to believe that Dave is going to propose to his new girlfriend Samantha which could leave the clueless chipmunks defenseless in the cruel woods to defend for themselves. They from an unlikely alliance with Samantha's teenage son Miles (Josh Green) as they all agree that they don't want to be related to each other, in any way. 

Thus begins a musical road trip where the human-and-three-chipmunk team face the wrath of an obsessive Air Marshall (trying to channel some bad ass Liam Neeson). 

There's a lot of slapstick comedy, some spot-on-humor and a bit of cliche scenes with cringe worthy acting and an unnecessary conflict of 'The Chippetes' being more popular than Alvin and his brothers. The kids will love it but the adults won't hate it. There's a beautiful lesson about love and family in the end, which makes the movie a good-enough family film to see during the weekend. 

4/10 ⭐️s,  “Alvin and the Chipmunks 4: The Road Chip” opens January 20 in cinemas from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Nothing 'Short' About This Movie: 'The Big Short' Movie Review

If you know me, you'd probably be aware of the lack of affinity and/or love that I have with numbers. Which is why I was a bit overwhelmed about the premise of 'The Big Short' which tackles the pre-collapse of the housing market in 2008. 

Finance, Banking, Mortgages, these things aren't really my cup of tea but as I was watching the movie, I didn't get lost with the terminologies and concepts presented in the film. 

You have to hand it to the producers and director Adam McKay who presented complicated concepts in such a fun and refreshing way. Even getting help from some of this generations most sought after stars. (Margot Robbie, in a bathtub seems to be an effective teaching tool) After the movie, I actually left with a little more knowledge in financing. (Something, that even my Math teachers couldn't accomplish). 

So, if you are expecting a boring and mundane lecture then boy are you in for a pleasant surprise! 

'The Big Short' does not only rely on it's refreshing (and sometimes hilarious) approach to explain the financial concepts to which the story revolves in but it is the powerful and moving, albeit awkward (because that's who the characters are) performance which drives the film, hitting that nail in a hard and precise stroke. 

Oscar winning actor Christian Bale truly deserves the nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Dr. Micheal Burry, the eccentric yet brilliant one-eyed doctor-turned-money manager. The movie opens with this awkward, socially challenged mathematician who wears shirt and shorts (sometimes, weeks in the same outfit) and chooses to go barefoot at work. He clutches a pair of drumsticks and goes on with probably the most uncomfortable job interview with an applicant. Dr. Micheal Burry loves listening to speed metal and his office blasts with metal music, much to the inconvenience of his partners. For a drum sequence, Christian Bale learned how to play the drums in two weeks and did the scene, despite a knee injury. 

You might think of Steve Carrel as just another comedian but the Oscar nominated actor gives an amazing performance as the rage-filled (let's say, he has some anger management issues) hedge-fund manager Mark Baum. Haunted by the suicide of his brother, Carrel's Mark Baum serves as the moral compass of the story. Ironically Mark is fighting a system he works in, he knows that it's a dirty industry and by 'shorting' the housing market it's a big 'Up Yours!' to the big banks but being right also means a lot of human collateral, people will loose their homes and jobs. Mark is conflicted becasue making a lot of money also means 'screwing over the middle class' and for Mark, that's a tough pill to swallow. Steve Carrel is amazing in his Oscar nominated role. 

Oscar-nominated actor, Ryan Gosling is smooth and slick Deutsche Bank deal maker Jared Vennet. His role is a stark contrast to his awkward and socially awkward colleagues (Mark Baum and Micheal Burry). Vennet is a smooth talking Wall Street insider, who also pulls double duty as the movie's narrator, at times, even addressing the audience, complete with staring into the directly into the camera. Something, which I really enjoyed. 

Aside from the amazing performances and enlightening financial crash course, 'The Big Short' packs a lot of visual drama, through their use of different 'bokeh' shots which had my jaw drop at some scenes. They also have a very interesting choice in songs for the film, my brain doing a complete 'Hey, wait a minute' when I heard the Japanse version of 'Ikaw Parin' by Ted Ito. 

9.5/10 ⭐️s (just because it was a bit too long at 2 hours and 10 minutes). 

The Big Short is the financial drama-comedy your Math/Accounting teacher wished they showed you and/or discussed in class. You don't need a degree to enjoy this one. It is built on strong performances and a 'push-the-envelope' spunk which other movies, wish they had! 

Opening across the Philippines on Jan. 20, 2016, “The Big Short” is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The 5th Wave Book Review

The first time I encountered "The 5th Wave" was through the movie's trailer and my first thought was 'Chloe Grace Moretz versus an Alien invasion?!' You could say that my interest was ticketed, it is Chloe Grace Moretz! After a little research, I found out that the movie is based on a Young Adult novel by Rick Yancey. 

I got a copy of the book and started reading. I've read a lot of Young Adult books, but not one with aliens. I'm actually not a big fan of aliens. Paul knows how much I hate it, when the TV is on 'Ancient Aliens' (Paul insists on the show, even as background noise). I really didn't know what to expect when I started reading, but I really loved the tone of the book. 

I liked the spunky lead character, Cassie. I love reading her thoughts and I like how she tells the story. She's not your typical damsel-in-distress. Cassie is your tough-Alien-apocalyptic chic. I love how she was surviving alone, inside her tent, living on cans of sardines and going to a nearby store to stock on water, every few days. I love that as she is fighting to survive, she is also fighting for her humanity. 

Then, things start getting weird. The reader is introduced to to different characters with weird enough story arcs, but the one that I can't seem to wrap my head around SPOILER ALERT is what the 5th Wave actually is; the creation of child soldiers (like 5 years old kids) by the enemy to kill what is left of the human race. 

Once you get past the cruel and gruesome training the child soldier goes through things get pretty interesting. Not sure though if a SPOILER ALERT Romeo-and-Juliet / Alien-Human story is going to work but that seems to be among the sub-plots in the novel. Thankfully it's not where the whole story evolves around in. 

It's funny because you want to condone the cheesy romance between the strapping handsome stranger and the beautiful lead character but you can't stop yourself from reading it. 

Once you get around the romance (that you secretly don't want to read) and the child soldiers, it's pretty exciting stuff. 

Opening across the Philippines on Jan. 20, 2016, “The 5th Wave” is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Chloe Grace Moretz is 'bad ass' Cassie in Alien Dystopian "The 5th Wave"

You can say that deep down I'm a bit of a "Clo-Bro", you know fans of the lovely and talented Chloe Grace Moretz ( Yes, us 'Clo-Bros' could be girls too!) so I was naturally thrilled when I found out that Ms. Moretz would be playing the lead in the next YA Post-Apocalyptic Dystopian.

In Rick Yancey's 'The 5th Wave', the Earth has been stricken by a series of 'waves' which has left the earth and it's population wiped out-well, mostly.

Strong-willed survivor Cassie Sullivan, who is played by Moretz in the movie adaptation has a promise to keep and with a worn-out teddy bear and her trusty M16 by her side, Cassie will do whatever she can to keep that promise. 

Cassie Sullivan is a great heroine – but she’d never describe herself that way. She’d say she’s just a girl who has lost her brother, and will do whatever it takes to get back to him,” says Chloë Grace Moretz, who takes on the lead role of Cassie in Columbia Pictures’ adaptation of Rick Yancey’s bestselling novel “The 5th Wave,” the first book in his planned trilogy.

In the film, four waves of increasingly deadly attacks have left most of Earth decimated. Against a backdrop of fear and distrust, Cassie is on the run, desperately trying to save her younger brother. As she prepares for the inevitable and lethal 5th wave, Cassie teams up with a young man who may become her final hope – if she can only trust him.

For the filmmakers, Moretz combined the right combination of talents and traits: she is a seasoned performer (especially needed if the character would be appearing in multiple films), but, like her character, is herself just coming of age. The result was a perfect fit of actress and character – and a match that only became more deeply ingrained for the filmmakers as filming proceeded.

As an artist and writer I do believe in serendipity,” comments Yancey. “I have the writer’s tendency to become overly emotionally involved with my characters. So it was very important to me when I heard that they will be making a film that they got the right actors, and everyone’s going to agree that they got the right actors. I can’t imagine anyone else but Chloë now in the role. From the very first scenes that were shot I knew that we had found our Cassie.”

Chloë became pretty much synonymous with the character because she inhabits Cassie so well,” adds director J Blakeson. “Playing somebody who’s normal in extraordinary circumstances, rather than somebody extraordinary in normal circumstances, gave Chloë the ability to plug into stuff from her own life, and you can really see that coming through in her performance. That allows the viewer to really go there with her and makes it easier to accept the big leaps of the story. Watching your own world slowly evolve into an Orwellian world is more terrifying than if we were just dropped there in the first place.”

We were very lucky to get Chloë because she’s so proficient at everything,” Blakeson continues. “She’s fantastic at emotional scenes, family scenes, fun scenes, but she’s really good at the tougher action sequences – she’s wildly experienced for somebody so young.”

In fact, despite her age, Moretz has done so many action films that she has a very good sense of the sequences she can handle herself. “I've done action since I was 11 years old,” says Moretz. “Action is my second hand… it’s super fun and easy for me. It's fun when it's the real thing. The car fight ended up being my favorite sequence to shoot. It was really awesome and it's exciting to see fighting done in close quarters.”

The most important thing in Cassie’s life is her brother, Sam – and she’ll do anything to protect him. “Cassie and Sam are the yin and yang of this story – they’re both going through the same issues, in different locations and under different circumstances, that come up over and over again in the movie,” says Blakeson. “By the time they get back together, they’ve both been through a similar experience and are very different people from when they started.”

I've been reading the book, I'm almost done and will be out with a book review soon! Hoping to finish the book before the movie comes out next week! 

Opening across the Philippines on Jan. 20, 2016, “The 5th Wave” is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.