Friends Are Like B Movies

 

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Finished laundry with a B movie in the background.)

Too Much Hollywood

“Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction…” – Bad Religion

Who can accept that one way or another Hollywood has made an impact in their lives? I for one am raising both hands. Don’t get me wrong, but needless to say I have neither been near Hollywood nor ever have seen in person even one Oscar’s nominee or awardee. I’m not even an actor material (reminds me to check heritage.com). As much as I’d like to, I was never that close.

Just like everyone else I get my daily dose of it out of the boob tube if not from the giant silver screen. And as far as I can recall I’ve been watching a bit of it almost every day even since I was kid. Heck, that may even be the reason I started telling fabricated stories when I was yet in grade school. Just like any kid does. Remarkably better than an embedded chip, Hollywood movies or TV shows really know how to find their place in our mind, stay there for good and eventually affecting our daily lives – whether we like it or not.

Moreover, with the steady influx of technological advancement that is getting affordable or at least accessible to the masses (at a rate that’s quicker than most people can get their salary increases) blurs the line between real and reel life every time. From cable TV, the internet, mobile TV, virtual reality and my favorite high definition audio, one’s senses and imagination get treated better than it was before. Each sensory experience is getting more surreal and usually it feels so satisfying that oftentimes creating a make believe environment just like in the movies is as easy as closing one’s eyes.

Not trying to sound psychotic or one who has taken a good dose of hallucinogens and brandishing the peace sign, I love to entertain myself by superimposing some sort of Hollywood-ish flavor into my reality as often as I please.

Like a couple of weeks ago until today, the weather has been harsh in our part of the globe. Mornings would usually come with bright orange dawn and would continue to become a very sunny, warm and humid noontime. In a matter of minutes though, as if on cue, AND as if a scene coming right out of Tom Cruise’s War of the Worlds, the sky would be overcast and the dreaded lightning flashes streak across the black backdrop. What follows next is a thunder roaring like something out of an Armageddon setting. During these times, I can beat Dash’s speed ten times. Trust me.

To keep reality in check, I always appreciate the presence of shows such as my favorite Mythbusters and when I get the chance or when my remote fingers stray away, I like watching Nat Geo’s What Happens If? and Mad Labs. These are shows which remind me that Hollywood will never be equal to reality (at least for now). It reminds me that cars falling off the cliff won’t normally explode, a piercing bullet in a gas tank doesn’t mean an instant kaboom, sticking a knife on a ship’s sail won’t cushion or slow down your fall and many more fallacies being obviously exposed that every time I get to watch a movie makes me a bad viewer–just waiting for mistakes to happen.

But my love-hate relationship with the weather always fascinates me that I can easily relate either a blue sky day or a cumulus laden heaven from a scene out of the movie world. For example, waking up this afternoon I saw that my wife eagerly waited to show me an animation of the typhoon Fengshen (local name, Frank). Although this typhoon is nowhere near a super storm, the rotating mass at the center which covers a great part of Luzon switched my neurons into role-playing time. I immediately heard a clapper sounding inside my head and saw a camera crane panning from behind me to my left showing just the glowing monitor which became a perfect backlight to emphasize my profile. If I could have lifted the mouse anywhere near my mouth and pretend it’s a transmitter’s mouthpiece, I could have uttered the words, “Andrea Gail…there’s a storm coming your way.”

storm
What the Frank!

As much as I find reality annoying and most of the days it is just tempting to surrender myself to our coach, grab one tube of Pringles, a bottle of ice cold beer complemented by a good DVD movie and an ever sympathetic wife just by my side, having a grasp of the concrete life along with its demanding goals remains a test of our true character. A character that plays its part unconditionally even without the luxury that its reel counterpart enjoys but with the assurance that every well-played part in the real world will have its real rewards and hopefully will have its own happy finale. But then again, I’d appreciate it a lot if our lives can readily have an alternate ending. Ti abi.

Wunderground

Credits: Images from Wunderground.com

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It appears like the cancellation of our Ilocos trip which was supposed to happen next week is a blessing in disguise. From wunderground.com, it shows that typhoon Frank seems to be planning to go along with our road trip. Hahaha. The price we have to pay for celebrating our wedding anniversary every June.

Of Pricey Seafood and Iron Man

The recent gas price hike didn’t keep us inside our house on a weekend. It’s not that we’re rich or never really cared if a liter will cost us around Php 50.00 (>USD 1.00) but it’s just that we craved for Indian food since last week. And Sunday was a much awaited day and when it finally arrived, we were so raring to go. I was looking forward to this day that I had my red collared shirt pressed.

Originally we were headed for Bollywood restaurant in Greenbelt 3 Makati. After attending mass, however, in the Shrine of Jesus church, we decided that maybe the giant Mall of Asia (MOA) would have some Indian food to offer. Less than 10 minutes of driving, most of it spent at the exit and pedestrian crossings, from one parking lot to another we reached the mall.

Like past visits in MOA, I had mixed feelings of excitement and confusion as soon as we stepped inside. This mall is so huge that it has a dizzying effect especially if you don’t exactly have a plan in mind to where you’re headed. Or maybe I’m just not the window shopping expert who relaxes at the sight and thought of the numerous stores ahead.

It was already lunch time so we immediately checked the stores locator. Bingo! We spotted an obvious Bollywood alternative. The name itself shouts I’m an Indian food restaurant: Prince of Jaipur. I likewise noted Fish & Co.‘s location. I got hungrier with anticipation.

Disappointingly, the Indian restaurant is deserted. It was as if a police caution tape has been placed around it while its surrounding restaurants had flocks of patrons, some are even eating al fresco. For whatever reasons, none were inside Jaipur’s. An empty Indian restaurant during lunch time is just not a good sign so we ditched the idea of eating there. Maybe our second choice would be good.

fishnco
Image grabbed from website.

Fish & Co. was enticing. Once we got inside the restaurant, the smell of the place tells me this one is a hit. The place is almost packed and everyone seems to be enjoying their meal. Happy customers mean good food, right? As we got seated the menu was promptly provided. The price list got my attention though. But since my mind was conditioned to have anything Indian, the Seafood curry on the menu convinced me to give it a chance. My wife picked the Prawn Fettuccini.

Our orders were served in no time. The presentation was just like in the menu book. So far my two senses agree that I got the right stuff. But just as my olfactory and vision are feasting on what’s on the table, my taste buds tell me that I’ve been robbed yet I continued eating. I even tried if my wife got better pasta than she ever had. Unfortunately, the umhs and the ahhs never came. Both orders didn’t deserve a round of applause. And by the way, the clam chowder is a shame compared to Don Henrico’s. ‘Curry $14, Pasta $10, having Sunday lunch at Fish & Co. priceless’ is just commercial tagline that won’t fit. The food is overpriced, period.

Next time, we’re eyeing MOA’s Sakae Sushi. Does buffet ring a bell?

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ironman

Good thing we got our ticket for the 1:20 PM showing of the Iron Man at Centerstage—one reason to scram out of Fish & Co.

As I’m never an avid reader of marvel comics, I’m just going to give my pros and cons of this movie just the way I saw it.

Pros:

  • I dozed off at the first part of the Errr, this must be in Cons.
  • Setting aside Mythbusters, I find the effects such as the transformation and Iron Man’s flight great (I’m a sucker for anything that flies—except flies). We never know if such technology would someday come to reality but to quote ‘it’s all funded by the military’ should give us a hint.
  • The sound effects are overwhelming. Hearing the Jericho blast out of the missile pod makes me smile and that sonic boom Iron Man creates is pure pleasure.
  • Gadgets and cars galore!
  • The humor lines and puns are perfect.

Cons:

  • Story drags at first part plus the fact that someone invented something sophisticated inside a cave raises eyebrows.
  • Surgery and implants inside a crude environment? I wonder if anyone would survive for I could be wrong though, I’m no medical expert.
  • Let stupid villains be a thing of the past please. And because this movie continues to stereotype people, somewhere in the Middle East is likely an anti-Iron Man sentiment brewing.
  • Gwyneth Paltrow’s character is pathetic. Must be the talent fee that convinced her to still do it.

Overall, this movie is great if watched with a couple of friends over a bottle of beer just to kill time. And remember, always shutdown thoughts of the Mythbusters prior to watching the movie.

The Yoyo and One Vantage Point

Every now and then, I would always remember one of the emails I received regarding man having just two choices the moment he wakes up and starts his day. So as this week seems to be a week of confusion, fun, adventure, fun—or in short, just confusion, I had to deal with these two choices: is it going to be a good or a bad day? So on April fool’s day, despite already having a hint of the things that may happen within the week, my wife and I refused to let it go down on us. We chose to be happy.

At lunch time we decided to eat at Brazilian Bbq restaurant in ATC which is fairly new in the area. The place is just at the back of the former Saisaki restaurant and its small space gives a homey feel to it. I think it can only accommodate approximately 50 customers at a time—less elbows to rub, less buffet rivals, more chance to pick and savor the food. Don’t be deceived by its size though as this restaurant packs a variety of good food, mostly grilled. I don’t know who conceptualized it, but this place gives yoyo diet a new definition.

Other than the plates, spoons and forks, and condiments, the waiter also places a yoyo on the table. To a newcomer, this may come as surprise as to what its purpose may be. The yoyo is colored green on one side and red on the other. Laying the toy with green on top means a waiter will come to your table with random grilled food still at its rotisserie stake although you may ask whatever food you preferred. They’ll be coming right back until you’ve turned the yoyo over with its red side on top. It just occurred to me that this is a good way to keep the customers from saying “stop” while their mouth is “stuffed”. Wise idea.

As we normally do, we checked out the movies after the hearty meal. And as much as I’m longing to watch an animated film, Horton. I quickly erased the thought of it as the grilled meat made me look for something adrenalin-packed. So we transferred to the nearby Festival Mall and without any doubt I saw what I’m looking for—Vantage Point.

The first 30 minutes of the movie will make one think of seeing a crappy film. The scenes keep on coming back at 11:59:59 AM. Back and forth, back and forth. It drags. Sooner though, the plot continues to become clearer and interesting and that is when the movie reveals what 8 strangers, 8 stories, 1 vantage point mean. The car chase scenes are almost at par with that of Ronin. Other that the obvious Hollywood flaws like the almost preserved clean state of some of the characters amidst the bomb blast and car crashes this movie has a cast who renders convincingly great acting. Two thumbs up.

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The Rock Star in Me

“…Well we all just wanna be big rockstars And live in hilltop houses driving fifteen cars…” – Nickelback, Rockstar

“…Under the big top world We all need the clowns To make us smile…” – Journey, Faithfully

Other than being Pilots, some boys for sure dreamed of being Rock Stars. It has something to do with being free, being able to get that high. I know most teenagers would discover it in no time if you know what I mean.

Of course, most kids have also heard of fairy tales, whether they admit it or not. These fairy tales they would sooner or later discover as what enlightened adults call fiction. In short, it is not true. Does not and will not happen. For some, however, fiction could become reality. They would become Rock Stars.

For Arnel Pineda, this is exactly the case. He is the Filipino equivalent of the character Chris Cole (Mark Wahlberg) in the movie Rock Star. If you check the film bit by bit, the resemblance of his and Arnel’s story is almost the same:

  • Chris Cole was discovered by Steel Dragon’s guitarist thru a tape recorded performance of his cover band, Blood Arnel Pineda was discovered by Journey’s Neal Schon thru a YouTube.com video of his band Zoo while performing the song Faithfully.
  • Chris Cole was contacted by a band member and dismissed the first phone call as a  hoax and Arnel Pineda reacted just the same.
  • Both characters eventually became lead vocalist of the band they just used to idolize and copy after being invited (and flown in) for an audition and passed.

Watching Arnel’s cover of Faithfully that was shot in Hard Rock Café and uploaded on YouTube sends goosebumps as I’d always remember the scene from Rock Star when Chris Cole did his cover of Stand Up. Both stories are must-know of any Rock Star wannabee.

So tomorrow if anyone by chance sees a bald driver doing air guitars and some passionate head bangs while stuck in traffic, most likely that would be me.

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.

 

Wanted: Evil Employees

Out of boredom last week I convinced myself, though  carless, to try watching a movie alone as I haven’t done this for a long while. After a hearty lunch of Wendy’s Bacon Cheeseburger, which I noticed by the way that its bacons are getting shorter and shorter every time I buy one, I picked Resident Evil Apocalypse out of the other three movies in SM Dasma’s homey cinema to spend my day off.

In the movie, Alice is portrayed as just among several “Alices” bioengineered by the infamous Umbrella Corp whose employees are now living several hundred feet under a vast deserted dried land. On the surface are hundreds of undead aimlessly walking and waiting for any human they can bite and infect.

After appreciating the fact that the movie started with Alice (Milla Jovovich) laying butt-naked and wet in the shower, I sooner got bored with it. I always knew that I start to hate a movie when I catch myself in deep thought while watching it. Some people would consider it a good sign but not me. I watched The Bourne Ultimatum last time and I was just plainly immersed in it despite the Hollywood boo-boos, it entertained me nevertheless.

I drifted away from this Resident Evil movie when something about its hi-tech underground headquarters caught my attention. In there are blinking red, green and white consoles, most likely computers that would humble even today’s Quad Cores, and a totally clean meeting rooms and lab. So what’s wrong with it then? Let me tell you.

Did anyone ever wonder where the technicians, janitors, laundry personnel and chefs are in that setting? Do bad guys in that corporation still need these employees to keep their covert operations running on a day to day basis? And do these bad guys require evil-minded employees as well?

Just imagine finding these classified ads:

“Umbrella Corporation wants you:

Engineers. Qualification: Must possess a degree in BS Computer Engineering or equivalent. Experience with an evil empire preferred.

 Chefs. Qualification: Must have cooked for Bin Laden. He/she should expect finding mutant mice running around the kitchen (if the evil lab technicians had a snafu).

Janitors. Qualification: Had experienced cleaning lots of blood. May perform some jobs with morgue personnel. And other than general trash, he may have to deal with disposing dead bodies. May be assigned to dispose non-performing Alices (I’d like this job).

Laundry Personnel. Qualification: Experienced washing blood-stained tuxedos. Must be able to press it properly in preparation for a spic-and- span evil officer’s meeting.

Barbers. Qualification: Must have good control of scissors and blades. Possible promotion to hit squad personnel if cutting is found precise.”

I’m also wondering if Payroll and HR is appropriate. Hmm, an aggrieved evil employee? Not applicable I guess.

So there goes, whatever empire or corporation we are all in, it still needs the blue-collar employees. Every one is still essential to an organization–from the managers to the grass root level. These suave, clean-shaved evil guys who attend meetings in suit and tie won’t even exist without the low-level employees.

After all there’s a bright side to this disappointing movie. Now I’m inspired. It now appears that there are still lots of jobs around. Only if I can find that newspaper with Umbrella Corporation’s classified ads. Probably an evil newspaper boy is out with it.