Beowulf: The Future of Animation

After coming back to Honda Cars Alabang like a restless car buff ghost haunting the place until he gets what he wants, I dropped by Ayala Town Center to catch a van going back to Cavite. Curiosity however guided my feet to pass by the cinemas to check out the movies. Three cinemas were showing Beowulf but I remembered someone on multiply.com had a bad review of it so I scrapped the idea of buying the tickets.

With Bread Talk delicacies on hand I proceeded to the van terminal and was looking forward to be at home an hour after lunch and maybe watch PBB or have my regular siesta. Disappointingly, the vans were all empty and the dispatcher mentioned that the first trip will leave by 2 PM which left me no other choice but to go back inside the mall and convince myself to check Beowulf despite the threat of a possibly bad movie. But the expected didn’t come. My siesta clock shut off and there I was in front of the big screen, eyes wide open.

From the very start of the movie until the end I can’t believe everything is 3D animation. I’ve mentioned this before that time will come when we can’t differentiate an animated character to a real one and I think it is now starting to happen. The cast and crew of this movie did a great job. I don’t know the technology behind such realism but whatever it is, it is the start of the future of animation.

Anyone watching this film would notice the resemblance of the animated characters to the real actors behind the face and voice. Just after watching Meet Joe Black, I immediately recognized John Hopkins is Hrothgar. And there’s Unferth whose accent and stare revealed he is John Malkovich. Of course, people who have seen Angelina Jolie would immediately know who those pouty lips belong to even in animation. She plays the seductive Grendel’s mother. I don’t know the rest of the actors behind the other characters but I’m sure the resemblance could be spot on.

I doubt though if Ray Winstone (Beowulf) has all the battle scars on his body. But this is another thing that I find fascinating about this movie. It may have cost a bit more to produce such quality of animation than using prosthetics or make up but the advantage weighs more than the cost. For one, the producers had the pleasure of doing whatever they want for an actor or character to look like. Beowulf could definitely set the trend.

The story may have some flaws but the experience of watching the awesome animation totally compensated for all of it. It was soooo good that I think viewing it on IMAX could be more thrilling and fun. Wait, forget fun, for this is not for the squeamish or weak of heart. And just a word of advice, do not bring and eat pizza or even Bavarian donuts (or any food that drips) if you’re picking this movie. Trust me, you’ll regret it. I just hope I’m not going to have nightmares tonight.

 

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A Lovely Death Story

“How I was born I do not remember, How I will die I do not know” – Russian Proverb

Just last week while channel surfing I passed by HBO and saw Meet Joe Black about to be played. I can’t remember when we watched this in the cinema plus I have forgotten what this movie is all about. That’s typical me. Trying to figure out what I missed, I was glued on our couch again but with my thumb on the remote’s channel button waiting to press it any moment I get a hint of a boring story.

While watching I tried to recall past films about death. My mind replayed horrifying faces of the Scream mask; of a man in black hood with the ever familiar scythe; of heads rotating past 360 degrees; of men and women in death beds; and of bloodied soldiers dying in the battlefield. Those films portrayed death for what it is–morbid and scary. Interestingly, I set aside the remote few minutes after Meet Joe Black started. The scene opened with the character Bill Parrish abruptly waking up and having a confusing conversation with someone he can’t see, not sure if he is only hearing things.

More intriguing things followed and I  would sooner realize that this movie would separate itself from any other films that portray death. Maybe its about casting. Death (known as Joe Black) is played by Brad Pitt, the prospective “victim” Bill Parrish is Anthony Hopkins and his lovely daughter Susie Parrish is Claire Forlaine, whose twitching lips and sharp probing eyes would catch my attention every now and then. Or maybe its the subtlety of the story despite the topic of death that stands out the most.

A mixture of emotions were running in my head as the film progresses. There’s the uncomfortable thought that sooner or later we will all die anyway. Then there is comic relief in the idea of meeting your angel of death and with him trying to calm you down to prevent a heart attack so as not to ruin his vacation here on earth. The writer also made a perfect pun of making Joe Black an IRS agent–there’s nothing more certain in life than death and taxes, remember? And there’s also the idea of getting in love with death. It’s absurd but for the first time Meet Joe Black made me find dying worth the wait.

The last moments in the movie aren’t predictable either. Instead of the boring death bed farewell, there were grand fireworks and partying. There’s Bill anxious yet firm in the midst of anticipation of leaving his family, business and aristocratic lifestyle and subsequently facing the unknown. To cap the story, the last conversation was perfectly chilling. “Should I be afraid?” Bill asked. Then Joe Black answered, “Not a man like you.”

‘Tis The Season To Be Jolly

 

“Don’t be afraid to be weak Don’t be too proud to be strong

Just look into your heart my friend

That will be the return to yourself” – Enigma. Return to Innocence

The ‘ber’ months begin once more and September sets the holiday mood. Different ages react differently to this transition however. For most adult this is the start of expenses pouring in as everything seems to get listed in the needs section of the budget list. The wants list becomes empty for the time being. For most children, however, this is just the season to be jolly. Period.

I could still remember my excitement as a kid when our calendar flips to September. It was as if the calendar would play the song Santa Claus is coming to town on cue. The Santa Claus I would soon discover as ordinary adults who get restless when the ‘ber’ months arrive. Twenty years later, I would become one of them.

It feels like it was only a couple days ago when someone reminded me to start buying gifts to avoid the rush. Just like any broken vinyl record the thought of Christmas shopping skips and repeats. Sadly, the rush doesn’t skip. It just repeats. It intensifies even. The farthest I can remember panicking at this level was since I started having my own pay check–now I wonder if paydays be celebrated or cursed. My wife and I normally kid each other usually around every January to start buying Christmas trees and gifts. But before I know it, the ‘ber’ months are here again.

Now we’re staring at November. The mall sales are getting more frequent. The bonuses are coming in (or shall I say passing through). The yuletide songs are as common as jeepney noise.  The dreaded traffic worsens.  The horrifying thought of the inaanaks knocking at the front door getting realized as December nears. It’s funny but now when someone says “Christmas is just around the corner” this to me is like a windtalker’s code that someone is out to get me.

So have I become the Grinch? During this season most adults are anyhow. Well it must be the cycle of life. Some call it karma. The act gets repeated but the recipients change. If before I was thankfully receiving crisp bills, now I’m…I’m not giving one. Beside, the crisp bills now are of less value. Hehe. Every time I’m in this situation I think of an old Filipino song (by Asin) with the following lyrics:

Itanong mo sa mga bata (Ask the children)

Ano ang kanilang nakikita (What they see)

Sa buhay na hawak nila (In the life they have)

Masdan mo ang mga bata (Observe the children)

Sila ang tunay na pinagpala (They are the lucky ones)

Kaya dapat nating pahalagahan (We should appreciate them)

Dapat din kayang kainggitan? (Shouldn’t we envy them)

Although this is not a Christmas song, this describes how having the innocence matters. It’s about taking the simple meaning of the season for what it is. Children love Christmas for Santa Claus. (If they love it for Christ’s birth, the better of course. But that’s where our adult explanation comes into play and that’s another topic worthy of a long discussion.) So if only us adults could see this significance even just during December, then I think this is only when we could wholeheartedly join the children in saying, “’tis the season to be jolly.”

Hello Wifey, This poem is for you…

Being you…

Enhances my identity

Being caring…

Makes me appreciate your presence more

Being patient…

Teaches me to be one.

Being understanding…

Encourages me to know compassion.

Being funny…

Just tickles my funny bone.

Being strong…

Makes me stay as one.

Being loving…

Makes me love you more.

Being a late greeter…

Gives me the excuse to write this one bad poem. Happy Birthday!

I love you!

***

This is a poem for wifey’s 2007 birthday which I hurriedly composed since I’ve been busy at work packing precious processors instead of packing a birthday gift.

The Chain Game

 

I’ve always talked about the benefits we’ve been getting with the continuous improvement of how we communicate with one another through the Internet and computers. Everything from the basics to the complex things we do years ago has evolved though along with it comes its own pros and cons. The split-second rate of how we get in contact with each other has greatly affected the exchange of information and reactions. To the gullible this is a life changing moment.

Let’s talk  about seemingly innocent emails that ask you to forward it to others. Like an unending terrorist threat, this one affects everyone. No one is free from it. It is how you deal with it that makes the difference. I really don’t why these emails exist. Maybe these were circulated in good faith, to inspire, to motivate or to spread good news. Or could it be plain prank? So have you got one recently? Did you forward or did you delete?

Until now I still get those on my inbox and most of it were neither from susiexxx@horny.com nor from pass2survive@faithinme.net but from my friends. And it always surprises me every time when one who has been sending me pornographic pictures (not that I entertain these types) would later send me an email requesting me to pass on to every contacts I have a slide show with the Immaculate Concepcion’s picture on it just because some celebrity died after ignoring it. Ti abi. I believe in change and conversion, but this does not count.

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One of those that got through my inbox.

The reasons behind such instantaneous forwarding requests–pass this to 5 people in 30 seconds and you’ll see your life change–in my opinion may be the following:

Very shallow faith. Ever wondered if someone from the heavens did actually track if you send the religious email to everyone.

Lack of simple logic. Who in his right mind from Microsoft or Intel will give you $10000 cash or the latest computer just by forwarding an email.

Getting even. “Damn, I got scared with that. Might as well send it to others”.

10 GPBS office internet connection. Kung sabagay, why not. Can relate?

I’m not a quick deleter and I normally read emails especially if it does come from the people I know. I’m not even saying that all chain letters are bad. Most of it actually makes sense. So what I always do is to read the mail and if I think it is good enough, I “share” it to my friends but without the part that I know might get someone anxious or scared thinking that he’s just been asked by someone from the high heavens to pass it to others or get ran over by a truck on his next trip to work; OR that perhaps a CEO from Nokia is shaking his head for a recipient’s stupidity of passing off a good deal by ignoring the request to forward the enticing free N90 email to friends. Well, that’s not me.

Wait. I just got an email from Paris Hilton. Hey, that’s indecent proposal but it just needs me to forward to 3 friends in 10 seconds.

“Dear Mo, Mojo and Andi, please forward this to picture and you’ll get the time of your life…..”

 

Jim’s Country

The internet always fascinates me. Gone are the days when one has to travel far, endure a long queue and rub sweaty faces and armpits just to get near a celebrity to brush elbows with them or, if one gets lucky enough, exchange ideas with them. If that happens, usually it won’t even last for several awkward minutes. Nowadays, to get close to the famous would need only a couple of type away.

I got Jim’s site from my wife’s links. She’s a fan of the singer. From then on I return every now and then to read his posts and I discover more about him than reading from the Song Hits magazines or any other newspapers. His site showcases his talents, ideas, spirituality, fantasies and even his temperament, that is if you can read between the lines. Sometimes though it is just too obvious.

Last night right there was anger in his post. Something that I’ve been also frustrated at for several days already. As I browse through it I find that his frustrations (and evil wishes) are just like any other Filipinos. And the thing about it is that he could care less, let the issue die a natural death and enjoy his comfy Australian residence. But nationalism probably does go beyond borders.

Jim is one of those who actively participated in the EDSA 1 revolution. He also composed Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo as the theme for the post-EDSA 1 Filipino. It would be safe to say he is an idealist. So I do understand where he is coming from. The succession of events that have been going on lately appears like the Filipinos have forgotten again. I don’t know if it’s just me, but the current situation would escalate once again to make the people call for reforms, for a President to step down, for a snap election to happen. Again.  Maybe sooner we would be calling the gods to cast fire unto the Philippines. If we don’t get our acts together, we’ll get it sooner than soon.

It’s interesting that even a man like Jim, who may have stuffed his walk-in closet with awards and accomplishments (or even cash) still gives a damn about what is happening to his country, our country. I wish that someone from the millions of Filipinos would step up as a leader of great integrity and courage to face and eradicate the TRAPOs that seems to multiply in numbers every election.

Tomorrow is barangay election day. Let’s see what happens next.

 

Masskara: Interesting New Things (Part 2 of 2)

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“So many beers, So little time.” – Me

Kari sa Bacolod, dala maskara.” — Masskara Festival

I never thought that coming back to Bacolod during the Masskara festival would bring such a new experience even for me. Regardless of our 3-day stay, the vacation was not only fun but educational as well. Sounds like something from Knowledge TV? Well, sort of. This trip made me learn new things.

A local song for the street dance? I don’t know if it’s just plain LSS or if it was forced deeper in my ear canals by the giant speakers located all over the Bacolod City plaza. But this year’s music I realized is Ilonggo but in modern version. It was all foreign festive or pop songs in past. I don’t know the origin of this local song but I know that we used to sing it way back in my elementary days: ”may ga-labaylabay na aso, utot ni Celso (A smoke passed by, it was Celso’s gas).” Don’t worry, that’s our wrecked lyrics. The original one is decent. Celso was a  classmate.

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Masskara is pronounced as MASSkara rather than massKARA. I must have been too focused in getting drunk when I was in college that I failed to learn about this simple fact. I even never knew that it was only 28 years ago when the first Masskara festival was celebrated which dawned on me that I may have indeed attended the 1st street parade. I still recall which street I was watching it and what mask my parents bought for me. I was a smiling devil then. Ti abi, a Christian in a devil’s mask.

The Club category street parade had several participants with its members on scooters. Gone are the days when BMX and mountain bikes can be seen parading and performing–or did we miss it? I like what it used to be as the sight of motorized vehicles dominating the parade is not only noisy but polluting as well.

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Bacolod now has its own SM mall. At last. Just barely a year old and built in the reclamation area, it is now home not only to mall goers but of course a job source for almost 6,000 Bacolod employees. This is only one of several new companies (another famous one is Teletech, a BPO company) that have started doing business there. Hopefully other manufacturing corporations get enticed as well. I might consider working there when that happens.

Lastly, and the most significant I’d say, I can now enjoy a shower at home without having to fetch water. For so many years the shower head in our bathroom serves as a mere decoration. We take a bath using kabo. Since we transferred sometime in 1980, on good days I’ll be pumping water from our well, on bad days I would have to fetch a couple of blocks from home. And the water fetching happens daily. No ifs or buts. This routine went on even until my last year at home before I worked in Manila. So before we left home for our trip back to Cavite, I enjoyed my shower just like those in soap commercials. Sorry Greenpeace, I cherished the moment.

So now, although I’m back working, back to reality, I’m now looking forward to being in Bacolod again for the Christmas season. I’m just hoping that next time my online reservations will be better, weather will be great, more polite taxi drivers, fewer litterbugs and that Cebu Pacific’s baggage receiving area will at least have a conveyor belt–automated or not. Ti abi.

***