Sunday, July 27, 2008

Aiza Seguerra in Bangkok

She started in showbusiness when she was only 3 years old. Before she turned 5, she was the most bankable actress in Philippine cinema. She left the spotlight for a while and she returned as a serious musician. She came out before she was 18 and now she is adored by Filipinos in a different craft.

I have some of her albums (one of which was recorded when she was only 9 years old). My classmates used to laugh at me but that time, I really knew she was going to be really big.

After watching The Dark Knight in IMAX, I stumbled upon this poster of Aiza Seguerra. Yes, her album "Open Arms" is available in the most popular mall in Bangkok, Siam Paragon. Apparently, it is released in many South East Asian countries.

It is 600 THB so I have to wait until I get back in Manila to purchase her CD. I am sure it is going to be cheaper there. I am so proud of her.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Exorcist: The Version You've Never Seen (DVD)

It has been decades since the first time I saw this movie and I am really impressed that it still scares me a lot. It is effective because it does not depend on special effects that much. This is a longer version from the cinematic release and I do not know how different they are.

Linda Blair is extremely scary although I am sure she got a lot of help from dubbing, makeup and contact lens. Ellen Burstyn's reactions are just as scary though and she does not need makeup for that.

This is a film that many Filipinos consider a documentary (blame the church) and it is because it really reflects our own beliefs about the devil and how he plays with man. This version may not appeal to people who want action all the time but it still delivers.

The profanity in this movie alone is enough reason not to let any children see it. I have never encountered any movie that is as vulgar as this one.

The extras are not that many. I would like to see a proper docu. The director's commentary track does not present anything new. He is merely narrating what is happening on screen.

I really would like to get the original version of this one because I really think this is still the scariest movie I have ever seen in my life.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Ned Kelly (2003, DVD)

I have the Heath Ledger fever but then I bought this DVD a couple of months ago. It was very inexpensive and at the same time, it is one way for me to understand a part of the Australian identity.

I think it is hard for a movie like this to be appreciated by a non-Aussie. It is similar to the Robin Hood story but it is totally different. The armor scene may appear comical to people who are not familiar with the story but it really did happen and the armor in the movie is actually very similar to the original one.

Heath is of course fantastic in this movie but there are also other notable performances by Joel Edgerton as Aaron Sherritt and Kerry Condon as Kate Kelly. The cinematography takes advantage of Australia's wide landscape. It is breathtaking.

The video quality of this DVD release is actually very good. The night scenes are not that grainy. The audio is OK. It is not a special effects movie or an action movie so there are no booming scenes to be expected.

The special features are very minimal but after Heath's death, I am sure producers will re-release more footage of this great actor.

The Dark Knight (IMAX)

After reading a lot of reviews on its IMAX performance, I had to give it a go. The presentation of Siam Paragon's IMAX is very different from what it was when I watched Superman. It has a laser show and proudly presents the speakers behind the screen. And it is impressive save for the dirt on the lenses of the projector. I wish Siam Paragon could do more in maintaining this wonderful facility.

Many of the outdoor shots (especially the action ones) are presented on IMAX ratio while many of the indoor shots are on the ordinary widescreen. Hence, viewers are able to see more of the sequences. The light intensity and contrast of the colors are much much stronger than that of a regular cinema so the movie is more immersing. The explosions are bigger and the actors' faces are more detailed.

But then the sound gives everyone's eardrums a work out. The sound effects can make anyone cringe or gasp. But then to top it all off, the speakers emit a very low frequency that an ordinary human ear won't detect but it vibrates the seats. You would think that there is an earthquake! It makes the last action sequence a lot more thrilling.

Yes, you have to see The Dark Knight on IMAX because there is really a tremendous difference.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Planet of the Apes (2001, 2-disc DVD)

Sometimes, Hollywood just has a lot of money to waste. Well, this take of Planet of the Apes is not a real waste but then there are some movies that you just should not touch and the 1968 film is one of them.

Let's go to the exceptional aspects of this film. The makeup is very realistic. Many of the characters look real like General Thade and Limbo. But then some of them really struggled in enunciating their words. The music is memorable and it matches the mood of the movie. The choreography of the apes is well-thought of. The extras also moved in a very realistic way.

And then the worst points--Mark Wahlberg: his bubble butt won't save the film. His acting is just horrendous. It is only after watching the extras that I understood the ending. I do not think I am that stupid though because Tim spent several minutes defending it on his commentary track.

Well, the extras in this DVD release are actually amazing. There are tons and tons of outtakes. Many steps of the pre-production and production were revealed. I have a feeling that they were too busy completing this DVD that they were not able to put in the post-production process in the extras. There are multi-camera viewing of some of the outtakes. There are tons of drawings and docus as well.

The audio quality is great and the video is generally OK. Some of the dark scenes are too grainy though. I am sure this would look a lot better on BD.

Anyway, I still like the 1968 version even if I hate what lead actor represented.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Dark Knight (movie)

The pencil trick is still on my mind. I think it is going to haunt me for weeks. The Dark Knight is a horrific ride to a sick mind.

Of course, I have to talk about Heath Ledger's performance which is absolutely very scarey. I have never been this afraid of a character in a movie and he is not even a ghost. He is painful to watch as there is obviously a dark history behind that face which is not explored in the movie. Praise God that Christoper Nolan did not or else it would be unfit to watch.

I am relieved that Katie Holmes is not back in this movie. I do not know if it is because the producers dropped her or she was busy serving as Tom Cruise's baby-maker. Maggie Gyllenhaal is much much more credible, relatable and intelligent-looking. Aaron Eckhart as Two Face is very interesting and more believable than Tommy Lee Jones' version. It is very easy to understand why he has so much bitterness.

Christian Bale as the Dark Knight is different in this movie. He questions himself and his role in Gotham. But then Christian's performance is overshadowed by Heath's.

The gadgets are cool. The vehicles are awesome. The sound effects are booming. The visual effects are flawless. The makeup effects are very subtle. But those are not the selling points of this creation. Christopher Nolan's story is very very current and important. His movie demands us to ask ourselves--are we also capable of doing something so evil?

This is a movie that will be remembered for many years and it blows me away that it is actually from the superhero genre.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Silom Community Clinic

I had my nth STD test last week and I am glad they turned out negative. The test was free, anonymous and I got the result in less than 20 minutes.

The testing center is called Silom Community Clinic and located inside the Bangkok Christian Hospital on Silom Road. The facility is very clean and comfortable. They provide magazines and let their patients watch Thai programs on their widescreen TV.

This is one thing that I will miss about Bangkok when I leave because we do not have such a facility in Manila. Testings can be done anonymously but only sex workers are not charged the fees.

I was also impressed when the health practitioners told me that it is actually subsidized by the government as well as foreign NGOs.

Their number is 026342917.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

World Youth Day 2008

I was very relieved when I read the news article on Sydney Morning Herald about the court dumping of the "annoy" law. Some politicians did not want Sydney residents having their say during the World Youth Day but fortunately, Sydney residents got their freedom of speech back.

If I were there, I would also be one of the people distributing condoms day and night. Those Catholics are so repressed so I am sure they would try out the brothels in Sydney. As a former Catholic, I feel that I need to protect the Sydney commercial sex workers from the diseases of these poor followers.

I would also be sucking each and every Catholic man's dick so that they can learn that their dicks will not fall off if they become homosexuals. I do not have to do anything with the Catholic women because they are regularly raped by their husbands anyway.

And if I were there, I would also be shouting at the Catholic kids. I have to tell them that looks sometimes say everything. If the pope looks like a child molester then he must be one.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Ely Lazaro

This is a picture I took of my Tito (Uncle) Ely last January 1, 2008. And this is the last time I saw him alive as he died from a heart attack last Sunday, July 5, 2008.

My mother was very close to him, her youngest brother. Whenever Tito Ely was sick, my mother would prepare him some food. She had also let my uncle share the same room with me.

Like any sudden death, people are pointing fingers and I think this is only creating more grief for everyone. I hope Tito Ely is at peace even if his loved ones are blaming one another.

I feel horrible whenever a relative passes away while I am overseas. I feel like I have turned my back on them. I feel extremely guilty.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Hellboy II: The Golden Army (movie)

I have yet to see the first Hellboy in full. I cannot find the 2-disc release in the Philippines. I hope to find it next time but then I am not sure when I am going back.

Anyway, I saw this movie in one of the digital theaters of Siam Paragon because I knew it was going to be a visual feast. And it did not fail. The creature designs are new on the silver screen and there were so many things that I saw in Troll Market (reminds me of Knockturn Alley). I can only imagine how many months they have spent creating those monsters. The storyboarding of the final fight scene is also new in Western cinema although it is not that fresh for those people who grew up watching Hongkong-style movies like me.

But then there are a few scenes that do not work like the scene before the giant plant. Prince Nuada could have grabbed Princess Nuala while Red was distracted. And the crowd's reaction to Red's holding of the baby is also not justified.

Oh the sound is awesome! It blew me away. The speakers in Siam Paragon gave the viewers and the seats a work out.

The stunts are well-executed. I am not sure if Luke Goss (as Prince Nuada) did his own stunts but they were amazing. Thank goodness the director did not use many slow motion scenes. The choreography of the creatures are very unique. Each one of them is just memorable. You have to see the tumor!

I suggest that you watch this in a digital cinema. It is worth every penny or satang or centavo or whatever.

Planet of the Apes (1967, DVD)

Even with the dated special effects and acting, this movie is still very striking and unforgettable. The philosophies in the film will forever remain true as men destroy each other and their surroundings.

The cinematography is great but it could have been better if the lens were properly used. Some of the scenes are eschewed. The makeup is crude by today's standards but I am surprised at how much emotion the actors were able to push through the rubber.

I do not like the DVD presentation because there was no restoration applied. The last shot is terribly grainy and the music throughout the movie is muffled.

This is a must for all movie enthusiasts although 20th Century Fox should come out with a BD that will live up to the greatness of this movie. It is just too bad that Charlton Heston is in it. I do not like him personally but he did well in this movie.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Elizabeth (DVD)

Rich, rich, rich, rich.

This movie is just rich and I am not only talking about the colorful costumes, the imaginative cinematography, the big sets, the numerous wigs and the beautiful make up designs. But I am also talking about the writing, the performances and the directing skills of Shekhar Kapur.

The words are not only strong but they are also measured. The speeches are well-crafted and the conversations playful. The scenes can be very brutal sometimes and very subtle sometimes. Nothing is accidental.

The most difficult task about writing for characters that people are familiar with is making them three-dimensional. Michael Hirst made every character multi-layered with their own little agenda that won't reveal themselves until the end. It helped a lot in making the actors very memorable except for Joseph Fiennes. His acting is not horrible but he tends to get overshadowed by Cate Blanchett in every scene. Again, I want to mention that all of the actors are excellent (except for Fiennes) but I have to give special mention to Fanny Ardant who played the seductive and vicious Mary of Guise.

What frustrates me is that this DVD does not have enough docus. I really would like to see pre-prod and post-prod videos. Some of the scenes suffer from too much grain--it was really distracting. I guess I have to put this on my list of future BD purchases.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Top 10 US Soldiers' Pastimes

Compiled by Dexter Mejia (

10. Put up a MySpace profile so they can collect names of people they will fuck upon returning to the US.

9. Sell guns and ammos to the enemies.

8. Get drunk on camp and pick fights with comrades.

7. Shoot comrades they had a fight with and report them as "killed in action".

6. Douse prisoners with buckets of water while they hang almost upside down and tell everyone that it is not a torture.

5. Get dogs to bite naked prisoners and tell everyone that their supervisor ordered them to do it.

4. Rape exotic women and get stationed to another base where there are more exotic women. Woohoo!

3. Treat local animals like shooting target practices.

2. Treat local kids like shooting target practices and tell local authorities that the kids looked like local animals.

1. Smile everytime an American (especially a presidential candidate) says they are modern heroes.

The Sixth Sense (Special Edition DVD)

I have seen this movie many times so the focus of my attention is on the acting.

Of course Haley Joel Osment is still superb as the troubled Cole. His acting is very honest and very affecting. Toni Collette's scene inside the car is very very emotional and tense. I have to say though that her scene with the doctor shows her real thick Aussie accent. Donnie Wahlberg is very scarey as the suicidal ex-patient. It takes guts to take that role.

Bruce Willis should remain an action star.

Many ghost movie fans would say that this is the only good M Night Shyamalan movie and I have to agree. This is the only movie that his technique of foreshadowing and unexpected twists has worked. The theme was relatively fresh that time.

Sound effects really worked to the movie's advantage. I jumped less though because I know now where and when the ghosts will appear.

The DVD is loaded with interviews and docus. Some of which are boring stuff. The most fun I had watching this movie is the first time. It tends to get boring after that.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2-disc DVD)

Let me make this clear: I am not a Harry Potter fan. It is just part of pop culture so I do not want to be left behind.

Daniel Radcliffe aka Harry Potter is growing up to become a handsome young man. That is the only good thing I can say about him. He is still a flat actor. When one student dies, he looks like he just lost his dog which is not even his favorite. What can teach this person to cry convincingly? A circumcision without anesthesia perhaps?

The rest of the child stars are not that different. They are all casted because they look like the characters in the book and not because they can act. The adult actors are superb though especially Miranda Richardson. She has very few scenes in the movie and yet I cannot help but focus on her. I also love Shirley Henderson as Moaning Myrtle because she is just so funny and spooky at the same time.

The quality of the video is OK. It is not really that fantastic and maybe because the producers have their eye on high-definition discs. The quality of the audio is overwhelmingly loud. It is hard to know if it is detailed but it is certainly very loud.

The extras are actually very interesting to watch. It is disappointing to learn that Rupert (or Ron) has quit school. It is a shame that he has all the resources to have a good education and yet he is wasting it. Oh wait this is a DVD review. Anyway, the film is two and a half hours long and I am glad they took away many of the scenes. The dance looks enchanting though. I wish they had put it back.

There is no chance that Harry Potter will appear nude in succeeding movies. Too bad that is the only thing that can distract me from his awful acting.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Manny Pacquiao vs. David Diaz

I am not a violent person but I am still a male Filipino. I love watching boxing especially if it is one of our own fighting for a huge title. Go Pacquiao!

I was able to download his match here. Please right click and choose "save as" to download it yourself.

The venue was full of Filipinos and you would think that the match was held in the Philippines. Everyone was shouting Manny's name but prized fighters should not be bothered by that.

Even on the first round, it is obvious that Manny has the belt around his waist already. After that round, Diaz's face was covered in blood. After a few more rounds, his shorts were covered in blood. I was actually impressed that he lasted until the 9th round.

And then blag! Diaz's face landed on the floor.

The interviews were very interesting though. Like a traditional Filipino, Pacquiao credited God for his win. Diaz said, "He ain't gonna hit that hard and then I was on the floor. What the fuck!"