Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the NIght-Time

wow.. a big WOW was the word I exclaimed after reading Mark Haddon's 2003 novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. 

At first, I started reading a pdf of it but I said to myself, this good book must not be read in that way rather in the traditional way. So I bought a paperback copy of it from National Bookstore. And fuck. I just spent my money wisely.

In the tradition of Perks of Being A Wallflower, A Separate Peace, and I don't know but all those books that make you understand the phases of puberty, Haddon created a book that would take it in the perspective of a genius autistic teenager. Reading the novel has touched my heart very much. I laughed most of the parts, and welled with tears in some. This book has made my mind blow! why? Because it gives you alternatives from the truths you've learn. Who is the person that would prove to you that some laws in science and math are wrong? It is only Christopher John Francis Boone. 

The twists in the plot have pinched my heart. At first he was investigating on the death of a neighbor's dog. Then, it turned out that it would lead him to an investigation of his "dead" Mother. The perseverance of his parents to regain his trust was very touching. 

The descriptions of the illness of Christopher did not come from the doctor's or his parents, rather it came from him. For me, it was very powerful, helping you to empathize with the protagonist as he groans and moans and feels either upset or happy. 

I really can't say anything bad from this book. Except from the bombardment of math problems which I do not have care with because I really hate math. Well, though the plot was quite shallow and cliche. For me the book was still superb because of the writer's style and the way the book was written/packaged.

It won the 2003 Whitbread Book of the Year and the 2004 Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book. Its title is a quotation of a remark made by the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes (who he idolizes) in Arthur Conan Doyle's 1892 short story "Silver Blaze". Currently, Steve Kloves is making a film adaptation of the book.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Mary Poppins

I have just finished watching the classic 1964 musical film Mary Poppins and definitely enjoyed the songs especially "chim chimney chim chim cheroo". And I just found out that it was one of the most awarded musicals and even had a sequel in 2004, still starring Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins.

One of the themes that striked me most was the unseen and unfelt love of parents to their children. Why do we need nannies if our parents are always with us, right? Why do we need to have outings with strangers when we have our parents with us? The film has represented this reality quite clearly, especially when Mr. Banks brought his children to his work. The generation gap was seen their, the conflicting interests, and contradicting dreams of parents and their children.

There was one theme also that was not that emphasized. It was about Mrs. Banks' involvement in women empowerment. I see this belittled but however quite materialized in the character of Mary Poppins.Her firmness and maternal care for her wards were seen.

Definitely, it was one of the best musicals I've watched.


Ever since I watched the movie Inkheart, I became obsessed with it and saved all my money just to buy the first two installments of the Cornelia Funke's trilogy. I just finished reading it and re-watched the film. By doing so, I managed to observe numerous differences between the two.
Honestly, I always feel sleepy every time I read the novel. I don't know why but maybe because of the style of writing and the theme of the novel. Inkheart is like a typical classic children book with all the fantasies the writer could imagine included. The fairies, the henchmen, the fireraisers, the magical creatures and the cruel villains. The style of writing is somewhat like in the Narnia chronicles and Lord of the Rings saga, however Funke's was toned down and quite modern already. 

Between the two, I must say that despite the wonderful changes for cinematic purposes, I would prefer the novel. It was more complete, full, the characters' personality were more defined and developed, also it gives you more freedom to visualize or imagine Inkworld and Capricorn's village. In the novel, it was not clear where they are (just possibly somewhere in Europe) but the houses, the villages, the plazas were vividly described. Capricorn's village was like no other with its brick roads and houses, dungeons and stables and the magnanimous church turned castle. On the contrary, the movie clearly puts the story in Italy. Though they captured the places quite enough, there are still differences that I think they should not have done.

First, Capricorn's church was literally a Church. It's just that the cathedral's pews were removed and replaced with tables, and the dais was made with a throne instead of an altar. The movie on the contrary created a palace for him. Though the details and designs was quite similar, the redness of the Church that defines Capricorn was not included. I believe that it was essential because the theme of colors was essential in the book. For example, red signifies Capricorn's anger and cruelty. His "heart that was black as an ink" was shown in his attires and his men's attires. Meggie's white dress in the end of the story signifies her innocence and sacrifice. It also makes a contrast between white and black. light and dark. good and evil. The magnanimity of the Church was definitely disregarded also which I believe signifies his greed and lust for power.

Second, Elinor's mansion does not only have a library full of rare books. The mansion itself was rather filled with books---the walls, the living rooms, bedrooms, libraries. This hunger of Elinor for learning, knowledge and wisdom, her wide collection of rare, leatherbound, first edition books of the past centuries, were quite toned down in the movie. This does not only fall to Elinor but to all other characters. In the movie, the actors do not seem to be booklovers as that of the novel. They were simply labeled as the "book doctor", "bookworms", "silvertongues". In the novel, it is their life. They would rather die than their books. It is hard to explain but in the novel,everywhere thy go, they manage to bring a book or two and read. They know all the stories and the characters. However, only the Wonderful Wizard Of Oz was the only dominant novel in the film. But actually, also the Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, Lord of the Rings, Arabian Nights and many other novels had their parts in the story. The movie emphasized more on the main plot, disregarding another point of the novel, that it was a novel that gives tribute to other great novels by using characters that symbolize different types of book enthusiasts.

In reading also the book, I admit that the voices of those who portrayed Mortimer Folchart, Elinor Loredan and Meggie ring in my ear. However, I visualize the character (even the whole novel) to be animated. I think their voices truly give justice to the characters, especially Brendan Fraiser's.

The ending of the two were very different. Completely different. And because they made the film's ending "somehow like" the sequel's opening scene, I think Inkheart would be a stand-alone. Guess that's all. You must read the novel so you would know what I'm talking about. :)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Despite its length, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) is a very enjoyable film. Maybe it's because I love watching old-era-themed films. Also, the movie's cinematography and musical scoring make me cry, together with its wonderful plot.

After reading F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1922 short story with the same title, I realized that the two were somehow similar and mostly different. Now, I will not point/enumerate their differences, rather I'll give to you my personal suggestions regarding the changes.

First, the movie was studded with many other characters whose lives were touched by Benjamin. Each has their own backgrounds and their small parts on Benjamin's life. However, the short story revolved around Benjamin's family--from his parents down to his son--making it more personal, and very heartwarming. I think, it would be better if in the film, they introduced also the characters of his family and gave them more part to deepen Benjamin's trials.

The movie also used key events in world history in order to lead the audiences about the time. The scenes showing the world war, the first man on the moon, the Beatles, hurricane Katrina, helped the audiences know what year is it. However in the story, there were none.

Benjamin Button, both the short story and the film touched my heart with their memorable quotes and life-reality plots.

First in the short story, Hildegarde Moncrief (Benjamin's wife) says
"Young boys are so idiotic. They tell me how much champagne they drink at college, and how much money they lose playing cards. Men of your age know how to appreciate women. […] You're just the romantic age […], fifty. Twenty-five is too wordly-wise; thirty is apt to be pale from overwork; forty is the age of long stories that take a whole cigar to tell; sixty is – oh, sixty is too near 70; but fifty is the mellow age. I love fifty. […] I've always said […] that I'd rather marry a man of fifty and be taken care of than many a man of thirty and take care of him. (1.6.15-18)"
 This connotes that she understands the importance of age and their meanings. She also serves as a contrast to Benjamin by being of the same age but different physical features, meeting in the middle (40+). This is the same in the movie for the character of Daisy Fuller. However, they differed on how they loved Benjamin. Hildegarde was like other wives, embarrassed on their husbands, and feeling that they had the biggest mistakes in their lives. While Daisy, since the time they were married, loved Benjamin and became faithful to him no matter what. She understands his case, and very positive that there child would be normal. She even said that when if not, She'll take care of both of them.

In the story, Benjamin's son Roscoe was a very mean character. He dislikes his father and even commanded the latter to call him uncle because he was very ashamed of him. Also, they were together most of their lives. In the movie, Caroline, his daughter, saw him only once in their lives and as strangers. But she however felt longing for him.

Queenie, Benjamin's foster mother, was also a heartbreaking character. She loved Benjamin the way others didn't. Without her, he might not have been alive. Their relationship also was very realistic.

 In the movie, there were many cameo roles, especially those who stayed in the elderly home. I am very fond of the man who was struck by lightning seven times. Because in the end of his sharing, he said that he is very thankful he's still alive.

The themes of life, love, friendship, and overcoming trials are prevalent in the film and the short story, both by plot and by quotes. And so I'll end this blog by giving you memorable quotes from the movie and the short story.

From the Short Story

“Our lives are defined by opportunities, even the ones we miss.”

“You never know what's coming for you.”

“I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.”

From the movie

"For what it's worth: it's never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There's no time limit, start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you're proud of, and if you find that you're not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again."

"You can be as mad as a mad dog at the way things went. You could swear, curse the fates, but when it comes to the end, you have to let go."

"Benjamin Button: Some people were born to sit by a river. Some get struck by lightning. Some have an ear for music. Some are artists. Some swim. Some know buttons. Some know Shakespeare. Some are mothers. And some people — dance."

"Benjamin, we're meant to lose the people we love. How else would we know how important they are to us?"

"Sometimes we're on a collision course, and we just don't know it. Whether it's by accident or by design, there's not a thing we can do about it."

"It's a funny thing about comin' home. Looks the same, smells the same, feels the same. You'll realize what's changed is you."

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Watching an 80s horror film makes me feel bored, laughing (instead of screaming), and most of the times, dissatisfied with the production. However, watching the Rocky Horror Picture Show, a 1975 film adaptation of the Broadway musical Rocky Horror Show, the experience is different. With the excellently written songs, bizarre characters and simple plot but has a unpredictable twists, the Show truly did not let me down. 

"THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW" is an outrageous assemblage of the most stereotyped science fiction movies, Marvel comics, Frankie Avalon / Annette Funicello outings and rock 'n' roll of every vintage. Running through the story is the sexual confusion of two middle American "Ike Age" kids confronted by the complications of the decadent morality of the 70's, represented in the person of the mad "doctor" Frank N Furter, a transvestite from the planet Transexual in the galaxy of Transylvania.

Created by Richard O'Brien, who wrote the book, music and lyrics and calls it "something any ten-year old could enjoy," this homage to the horror film opened in London at the Royal Court's experimental Theatre Upstairs as a six-week workshop project in June, 1973. The show received such acclaim at this 60-seat theatre that it was quickly moved to larger quarters in a converted cinema in Chelsea. Following the movie theatre's demolition, the show found a permanent home at the 500-seat King's Road Theatre, where it is still playing to packed houses nightly. The play was named "Best Musical of 1973" in the London Evening Standard's annual poll of drama critics. 

In my reading of Perks of Being A Wallflower, and watching of the Rocky Horror Glee Show (a season 2 episode of Glee) and Fame (1980), I knew and became curious of this film. There, they watch this film in community theaters and the audience participate by shouting in a chorus manner their answers to the questions of the characters.

According to an article by  Sal Piro in the official fan site of RHPS, this audience participation started when the film had a regular screening in Waverly Theater every midnight in 1976. They would play the soundtrack of the film before the show begins, making a party atmosphere in the theater. The audiences naturally began to respond, booing the villain and cheering the heroes.

"These pioneers of audience participation from the balcony included two young ladies named Amy and Theresa; Bill O'Brien, the first person to dress as Dr. Frank-N-Furter; Lori Davis, who wrote the Ten Commandments of ROCKY HORROR; and Louis Farese, a kindergarten teacher from Staten Island."

"On Labor Day weekend of 1976, Louis felt compelled to speak to the screen. He is credited as the first person to yell lines at the movie. His earliest lines were: "Buy an umbrella, you cheap bitch!" - to Janet walking in the rain, and "How strange was it?" - to the criminologist's initial speech. (Louis called this "counterpoint dialogue.") Then, in late September, as they sought a preview of Halloween, a few people came dressed as characters from the movie. Later, on Halloween, there was a costume party with many people dressing as the characters."
I haven't watched anything like it. But I think for a group of fans to a particular film, it would be a great and regular experience (you'd be watching the same movie thousands of times just like them, managing to memorize the lines and respond to the characters).

Criticizing the film, well, I find them good. Actually their singing was great. However the acting was quite weird. Also, it is not actually  horrifying film, making it enjoyable. But because of the elements of sex, lust, and homosexuality, the movie I think would only gain audiences that are liberal, homos, in the influence  of drugs, and definitely not young and conservative.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Those fingers in my hair
That sly come-hither stare
That strips my conscience bare
It's witchcraft
I love listening to this song, though it was not used in the Bewitched series, I think of the characters there when listening to this song. It is composed in 1957 by Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh, and originally recorded and popularized by Sinatra. It had numerous versions (that I haven't heard of) over the years making it a standard song.

The song basically means that a man was lovestruck and he points witchcraft as a reason. He believes that he was magicked by his lover (which is a really old idea and at the same time very Weasley-and-Granger-ish).
And I've got no defense for it
The heat is too intense for it
What good would common sense for it do?

'cause it's witchcraft, wicked witchcraft

And although I know it's strictly taboo
When you arouse the need in me
My heart says "Yes, indeed" in me
"Proceed with what you're leadin' me to"

A Little Princess

Back when i was a child, I would faithfully watch Princess Sarah cartoons on TV either before or after I go to school. Then, I would also watch Mary and the Secret Garden. But of all three, my real favorite is Cedie ang Munting Prinsipe. Back then, I have no idea that these three animated series I was so fond watching were Frances Hudgson Burnett's three most popular children's novels in the 1900s, the time when Pooh and Oz series popularized also. So when I was in powerbooks in Trinoma, I bought A Little Princess and swore that I will buy the other two (The Secret Garden and Little Lord Fauntleroy).

Reading this book was easy. It's shortness and simplicity of language made it enjoyable and comprehensible to readers, especially those of young age. The characters were also vivid, however, I think watching the series made it easy to visualize their characters. I also loved the way Sara Crewe acted/pretended to the things happening to her because, I feel the same, too. Of course, many of us in our childhood days would say that we are maltreated. Then we would pretend or imagine that we are princes or princesses (Fuck! What did Disney do to us!). And so, I think that Sara and I feel the same way, too, in many different situations.

from the series, Sarah Ang Munting Prinsesa
One thing I liked in the series compared to the book was the cruelness of Lavinia and Ms. Minchin. In the series, they were depicted as very bad people, not only through descriptions but through anecdotes. The way they act, the way they talk, the bad things they've done to Sara and Becky will make you loathe them. However in the book, published originally in 1888 as a serialized novella and was rewritten to a full-length novel in 1905, characters' evilness was toned down. There's not much fights between Lavinia and Sara.

They also differed in the number of characters. If you remember from the series about a boy working in the horses' stables and took care of Sara's horse, well that one doesn't exist in the novel. Members of the kitchen were not described also that much.

“Whatever comes," she said, "cannot alter one thing. If I am a princess in rags and tatters, I can be a princess inside. It would be easy to be a princess if I were dressed in cloth of gold, but it is a great deal more of a triumph to be one all the time when no one knows it.”
“If nature has made you for a giver, your hands are born open, and so is your heart; and though there may be times when your hands are empty, your heart is always full, and you can give things out of that--warm things, kind things, sweet things--help and comfort and laughter--and sometimes gay, kind laughter is the best help of all.”
“When people are insulting you, there is nothing so good for them as not to say a word -- just to look at them and think. When you will not fly into a passion people know you are stronger than they are, because you are strong enough to hold in your rage, and they are not, and they say stupid things they wished they hadn't said afterward. There's nothing so strong as rage, except what makes you hold it in -- that's stronger. It's a good thing not to answer your enemies.”

Sara Crewe helped me understand the importance of forgiveness, the giving of mercy to people who have grudged you or done you things simply bad. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

War of The Worlds

my copy of the book
When I was in elementary, we went to the planetarium in Manila on a field trip. There, I saw a film sitting on a reclined chair about the possible life in Mars. Since then, I remember myself being so curious about the red planet and even asserting the possibility of the theory. 

Some weeks ago, I bought H.G. Well's 1898 scientific romance (later known as science fiction) novel War of the Worlds that is about the experiences of an unnamed scientific journalist, his wife and brother during the invasion of Martian aliens on Earth. I have watched the most recent film adaptation starring Tom Cruise and after reading the novel, I might say that the book was better.

Yes. Though it is a classic, it is way better. First, I think it was more action-packed than the film. There were more killings, explosions, chaos, eating, firing and many others that would make you feel nauseous. And fuck, that was what I was expecting from the film. 

Second, the drama was toned down. It is not about a man struggling to gain his children's love.Rather it is about a man longing for his wife who is safe "in the other side". I find the book very stern and scientific because of the toning down of the drama. And for me, that was better.

This leads me to my third reason... in the book, I understood better than in the film the reason why they invaded, invading, and left.

Despite their advancement, the Martians' technology, they are implied to be ignorant of disease and decomposition. It is theorized that their advanced technology eliminated whatever indigenous diseases were present on Mars thousands of years ago, to the point that they no longer remembered their effects. Ultimately, their lack of knowledge or preparation of any bacteria indigenous to Earth proves to be their downfall 

I would definitely prefer the book than the film. :)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Fame (1980)

I blogged way before about the 2009 film Fame. Now, I'll blog about its original version shown in 1980 starring Irene Cara. Now before I compare the two, I give to you first some details about the movie.

The film is still about students studying in PA or the New York High School of Performing Arts. And it is still split into sections such as auditions, freshman, sophomore, junior and senior years. And did you know that Paul McCartney's Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts was inspired by the school in the movie. Maybe there aren't many schools like that before.

Now here are my comments to the film:

First, it was an "almost-fail" blast. The movie was good. But it was not great. Yeah.. Some parts bored me... But some parts wowed me. Especially the last, culminating act. Jeez, Alan Parker (director) didn't even make it emotional. Thanks to the wonderful songs "Out Here On My Own" and "Fame", the movie was passable.

Second, the characters were the same in the remake. However, their personalities and fates were different, only their talents are the same. What I love in the 1980 film is that the characters had more depth and story in their lives. Also, they are more matured and developed. However, back stories were minimal unlike in the remake. Weird because the characters here were fuller and richer than the ones in the remake that were provided with back stories.

Third, the language and the themes of the film are not child-friendly. And that's a plus points for me. You're showing liberal artistic teenagers man! So the acting, the lines, were great for me. Also, the awesome Leroy (Gene Anthony Ray) was exceptional.

Fourth, I expected so much from Irene Cara because not because of her, the songs I've mentioned would not be hits. Hell the movie would be lame without her. But WTF? Naturi Naughton was better.

In conclusion, I loved both films., Both have their pros and cons. How I wish the two would be mixed together. The performances and the cinematography from the remake. And the actors and their characters from the original.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Perks Of Being A Wallflower

 "I am very interested and fascinated by how everyone loves each other, but no one really likes each other."

"We accept the love we think we deserve."

"It's strange because sometimes, I read a book, and I think I am the people in the book.  "
"... And in that moment, I swear we were infinite."
my pdf's cover photo
These were the lines that struck me while reading Stephen Chbosky's "Perks of Being A Wallflower". By the title itself, it's story was about one of Charlie's high school years where he had major transformations and discoveries about himself and about life simply by being a wallflower---a person who mingle with the walls, interacts to no one, accepts mediocrity and exhibits naivety.

This book was referred to me by my classmate and gave to me its pdf. After reading it in two days, I had both good and bad comments to it.
First, Charlie's storytelling to me was unique, conversational, comprehensible, making the book easy-to-read. However, his character was somewhat disturbing to me. I like his character but his mediocrity and weirdness were kind of exaggerated for me. Well, maybe because of his autism but still, i see it as an amplification and not ways to achieve sublimity.

This leads me to my realization in the end of the novel that it is not a good novel that could turn into film (which is currently what they re doing right now). It lacks denouement that's why I did not find it that gripping. I just can't stop reading it because of the mysteries slowly being resolved as the story progresses.Now that one was a good point for me.

However, I admit that I could relate to Charlie--the books he read, the genre of the songs (not the songs exactly), and the things that happened around him (the teacher-student relationship, the vices (not the drugs!), the affairs, the family stories... It is really one of the contemporary novels that teenagers must read. 

One advantage of the movie also was its quotable quotes. As in! I was carried away of his words, of his realizations.

an alternative cover of the book (which is more interesting)
One thing I want to say before I finish this blog is that, not all good books could be turned into a movie. It's very textual, lyric... Though some phantasms I had by reading it make it cinematic, the plot isn't enough. I even felt melancholic in the end because of the parting scenes... And I could say that this might just be a dragging movie.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Snow Falling On Cedars

I just finished reading Snow Falling on Cedars and watching its film adaptation. Well, for me, both had advantages in their different styles of storytelling.

Before I go into details, I would first narrate how I knew this book. Way before, when we still have cable tv, I saw the trailer of this movie on HBO and I said to myself that I'm gonna watch it. But due to "territorial disputes" in our tv, I wasn't able to. So years have passed and just last year, I saw this book in softbound at Booksale. Discovering that it got a price that is too cheap for an award-winning movie tie-in book, I bought it immediately.

But it's just 2 days ago when I finished reading it because of my long list of books to-read. So there, I finished it, and I'm telling you, it's worth the excruciating pain it gave me while reading it.

First, the book was too detailed. Too descriptive. David Guterson did not manage to overlook details about the place, the history of the place, the characters' family histories, the events during the war, and many others. So when I was reading it, It's kind of a long wait before I get to the real happenings. What I like to what he did is that, because of too much vividness and descriptiveness, I was able to understand the community. It's like, being in there already because I already knew half a century's worth of happenings in San Piedro Island.

The gory details of Carl Heine Jr.'s death was perfect. It captured my attention and interest. I also accept what the author did which was to provide the details in the beginning of the novel. So that the rest of it has no elements of such. By that way, I see that it became balanced.

I also like its way of storytelling. Everything that happened in the book was within the three-day trial of Kabuo Miyamoto. And flashbacks were given by witnesses and other main characters in the middle of their testimonies. However, the flashbacks give you a thematic arrangement of events, not a chronological one. Thus, it gives you a freedom to think critically, arrange the sequence of events, analyze each others sentiments.

Now let us talk about the movie. For me, it was a great adaptation actually.

Many omissions were done to simplify the complex, too detailed plot. What's surprising too me was the change of position of Ishmael and Hatsue love story in the sequence of events. I think they did it to emphasize Ishmael's initial refusal in helping Kabuo win the case against him. But in the book, it was not like that. Yes, he initially had second thoughts but way after the love story.

What's good also in the movie was the merging of storylines. The love story of Ishmael and Hatsue was not written in one chapter only and was not narrated in a linear way. The same goes to other storylines. I loved the bringing in to screen of the misty fog of September 15 and the freight that struck Carl jr. The production in there was good. However, the depiction of the snowstorm was bad. I didn't feel it like in the book. 

The movie however was faithful in the book, so it's still okay. The cinematography was great, including the production of a post-war community.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

In The Wee Small Hours of the Morning

 It's one of my Sinatra favorites (even though I love almost all his songs).  

In The Wee Small Hours of the Morning talks about a man professing his obsession about a woman. It's so romantic for me to hear someone saying that he misses a woman in the brief moments of the dawn--implying that he miss this woman greatly.

Sinatra's deep voice also gives the melodious, soft and dreamy song. It adds element of loneliness and sincerity in the song. The musical accompaniment was also perfect--making the song an excellent choice whenever you want to relax for a while after a stressful day.

The short, simple and repeating lyrics was good for me, because back then it's how songs were written. I love hearing the line:
You lie awake and think about the girl
And never ever think of counting sheep

because I kind of relate to it, and I know many of you do too. :)

This song, which title was also that of its album, was popularized in 1955, by Sinatra himself. The lyrics were written by Bob Hilliard and the music was arranged by David Mann. Since then, the song was covered by many artists, like Barbra Streisand and John Mayer.

However, even though John Mayer nicely did it, I think he kind of made the song too sleepy and made the key go higher a bit, sorry but I just don't like it. Who's good in there with him was Chris Botti and his magical trumpet.

What I am really disturbed yet sort of happy was hearing Barbra's rendition of the song, based on the version of Julie London, that she did for the movie Sleepless in Seattle (yey!). The lyrics were added with a one paragraph stanza in the beginning. It feels like it was off because the tune was really out of the song's keys (I think?) that's why I don't like it. Too bad, the lyrics was great and Barbra's voice was mystifyingly beautiful, too.

Well, no one beats Frankie :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Fame (2009)

Fame 2009
If you're looking for a musical that is about dreams, school and talents, that is not that cheesy like Glee and Highschool Musical, here's Fame that will surely touch your hearts.

When  was in second year in college, I heard about the screening of Fame here in the Philippines but haven't got the chance to watch it. So just recently this year, when my thesis mates and I were having overnight cramming in Antipolo, I was able to watch a copy of Fame in my friend's computer.

Honestly, I was so amazed in the performances, especially the flash mob in the canteen. I was also teary-eyed with the characters' storylines. The movie was filled with characters who have conflicts in themselves, with others, and with the harsh realities of showbusiness. Personally, watching the film made me think back the times when I was performing in Mediartrix and in our church. Nowadays, I'm teaching theater at our church and truly rusting in my acting skills already. I miss the days when I was dreaming about myself having a career in theater. I even applied for a Theater Arts course in UP but unfortunately, didn't pass. My family also opposed my choice back then, which is pursuing such course. It's not that I feel regretful now. It's just that I miss it. I miss performing.

The movie also gave me insights how to teach acting properly. Also what other acting games could I give.
(actually, I'm very familiar with the game they played there).

However, the film was a type of film that you should watch by yourself, or else, you will focus on the short and few production numbers. The plot was good but should be taken in complete attention and with high enthusiasm or else, you would just be bored. Also, all characters have this kind of twists in their storylines by the end of the film that I think was supposedly to be the climax. However, I think that's not enough. It didn't reach a certain level that would take your breath away. It's really kind of boring on those parts.

Fame 1980
Additionally, I found out that the movie was a remake of a film in 1980 with the same title that eventually turned to a series. I found out that it had so many differences, making the 2009 film loosely based from the original. The 1980 film (though I haven't watched it) was a kind of querulous movie that complements the events of that time. Now, they made the 2009 film very child-friendly and really HSM-like. One thing that I liked in the movie compared to High School Musical is that the songs weren't the lines of the actors and just mere performances. It made the movie real. Also, the movie's ending was a blast with the tear-jerker production number. And they said that it was better than the original.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Separate Peace

"What I mean is, I love winter, and when you really love something, then it loves you back, in whatever way it has to love."

"Sarcasm... the protest of those who are weak."

"Everything has to evolve or else it perishes." 

My copy of the book
when you feel like reading a novel that has sense to it, a considered modern classic, and one that will take you on the edge of your seat, it's A Separate Peace by John Knowles.
I enjoyed this book very much despite the characters' shallow problems and frustrations. I enjoyed it because of Gene and Finny's untarnished friendship and respect to each other. I also liked the creation of Leper's character because it spoke for in behalf of the young teenage boys who joined the war. I enjoyed Finny's imagination and his extraordinary talent in inventing new games and impossible reasons to everything.

My favorite part in the novel was the part where Gene instead of heading to Devon, he made his way to Finny's mansion. That part where the two spoke to each other after the tree accident made me both feel "kilig" and sad. Kilig because the book looks like a gay-oriented novel, seriously. At first I thought they were going to fall in love to each other. Also because of what they said to each other, the assurance of one that he does not feel bad or mad to the other makes me feel uber kiligness. However, I feel sad, too because Gene feels so guilty of what had happened and I don't know how but reading Knowles' words make you feel what the characters are feeling. The novel was too compelling, vivid, and emotional for me.

the copy that Nat'l Bookstore has
I bought this book in booksale after reading Perks of Being A Wallflower, where it was mentioned there. It's funny because I have so many books in my hand already and then, I saw it--under the shelves, at the back of other paperbacks. Actually, for so many years I've been staring the re-printed version of this in National Bookstore. But it's so expensive there, But I really want to buy it even though I only know that it's author has won a Pulitzer Prize and just died in 2003 and that  it's about a lonesome feeling feeling boy studying in a war-spared dormitory school during WWII.Looking at the cover, It makes me already feel sad, but then, it just ends there. 

AND finally, finding a booksale very cheap copy of the book (when it was first released in the 1960s) made me to buy it without second thought.

Wonder Boys

For my first book/movie review, I give you, the 1995 novel, Wonder Boys, written by Michael Chabon.

the mo

vie poster that is also the my book's cover

So I was able to read this book back in grade 6? 1st yr? sometime like that... when I was starting to appreciate reading books. I saw this in my sister's dusty bookshelf and found it ULTIMATELY off for me because of its complexity, vocabulary, collegiate grammar,and theme. I found it difficult to comprehend. Then... when I entered my Second year in high school I think, I read it all over again (together with some other books I read before yet I didn't understood that much. There, finally... I liked it.

You see. It was so long ago. That only the striking parts did remain in my mind. The flying off of 2611 pages of manuscript, the death of a dog by a gun, the jacket of marilyn monroe, the dungeon-like bedroom of James Leer, the greenhouse.... those remained in my memory for quite some time until I managed to finally watch the film just last month. (thanks to the pirates) And I'm telling you, I THINK it was a close adaptation.
Simply because they retained the parts that I remember do I claim that the movie starring Michael Douglas was really excellent in adapting the wonderfully plotted novel. BUT of course. I think that's inaccurate also because of the fact that I don't remember that much already.

Now let's criticize the film. First, I am so proud with the actors. Katie Holmes, Michael Douglas, Robert Downey, Jr., Frances McDommand were excellent. And of course.... the one who really in my opinion did the greatest job in the film was Toby Maguire. Seriously. Not because of his looks, but because of his stoned childish weird dark comic portrayal of James Leer. 

Next is the production. For me, the movie was able to capture the simplicity of the settings in the novel juxtaposed to the incredible happenings round it. Pittsburgh, the location of the story in the novel, was also the location of the film. By saying "production" I include the chancellor's house, the auditorium and Professor Tripp's apartment were truly captivated.
To conclude, I really do enjoyed the film. as well as my reading of the novel. Hope you read it or watch it sometime :)

Friday, September 9, 2011


Aids. Homosexuality. Friendship. Life. LOVE.

When I saw Rent's trailer included in my vcd of Memoirs of A Geisha, I felt anxious to buy a vcd of it. Obviously, I haven't watched the original Broadway show but watching the original Broadway actors in the film gave me somehow a Broadway feeling (whatever that is :))

The movie was good for me because of the transition of scenes. I found out that the sequence of the scenes and the number of songs were edited, but for me, Christopher Colombus did a great job. The songs were great. (thanks to Jonathan Larson who writes music better than Andrew Lloyd Webber). The production also of slums in New York was cool also for me and really convincing. The community was really captured both by the actors and the sets. It was really an awesome movie and I can't speak any negative comments to it.

The original Broadway musical was finished in 1993 by Jonathan Larson, including the music and the lyrics, but was produced all over the world since 1996, because of delays after Larson died. The movie was written by Stephen Chbosky (who wrote Perks of Being A Wallflower). And both was a modernization of the Giacomo Puccini's opera, La Boheme (too bad I failed to watch Teatro Tomasino's production of it).

What's good and unique in this musical is that the songs are rock. Not the Singin' in the Rain dancing but ROCK, man! So when I was watching it, I was really hooked up. It's good to watch it, no doubt, and defintely, a play that has sense in it.

Why? because of the inclusion of themes of poverty, drugs, prostitution and homosexuality. This musical took the courage in tackling such taboo subjects (okay, I'm writing in the Filipino conservative perspective) and was excellent in conveying messages of acceptance, friendship, fidelity, and love.

Learnin' the Blues

When you at home alone
The blues will taunt you constantly, yessuh
Ba dit dit deet
And when you're out in a crowd
The Blues will haunt your memories
Bah da doh doh zet

 These lines from the song "Learnin' the Blues" (Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong version) made me realize what the blue songs really mean after so many years of letting me believe that I know what blues songs are.

This song was written by Dolores Vicki Silvers in 1955. A demo of the song was recorded by some Valino man and was passed to Frank Sinatra for him to record. Then in 1957, Ella and Louis (that is for me, the greatest duet ever) made their rendition of the song.

From the original, it surely is different. Because there are two singers, the lyrics were edited for each, to match with their genders. And a technique was used (for the singer having no part at the moment not to be bored maybe), and that is the Bah da doh doh zet/ Ba dit dit deet parts.

What is beautiful in this rendition is that its a duet. A not your ordinary duet. Because here, they communicate. They actually has that magical connection. It sounds like they're just to folks chatting in a bar, speaking for themselves but not actually declaring that it's them they're talking about.

The nights when you don't sleep
The whole night you're cryin'
But you can't forget him
Soon you even stop tryin'

Man, it's the beginnin'
Just one of those cluessssss
You've had your first lesson, Whoa, yes
In learnin' the Blues

They really tweaked the original, even though the lyrics are just the same. The fast beat of Sinatra was for me really off. But Ella and Louis' wonderful saxophone music background really makes the song a blue song.

Maybe someday, I'll be reviewing other awesome duets of the two... so thanks for reading! and please,,,  THE GOOD MUSIC IS IN THE EARLY 20TH CENTURY :)

Thursday, September 8, 2011


so loooooong personal blogs!

Yes, as you can see, I've renovated my blogspot because I want it to have a theme from now on. And of course, I don't want anymore to talk about my personal life here. If ever I want to rant on someone or something, I would might as well rant it on Twitter or Facebook. Hehe. So. Welcome to the new inFOCUS.

Here, you will see my reviews about the books I've read, how and where I bought them (or downloaded them.. shhh!), and how I felt when I was reading them. You see, this isn't a review column actually, rather a collection of personal entries about my books. :) Oh, and I will show you also the bookstores I've been to.

Next is the part where you could read my reviews on movies. MUSICAL (high-pitched) movies I'm soooo in love with. If ever I could have the chance to watch live Musical plays, I would definitely put it also here.

Speaking of movies,  I will include movie tie-in books... those awesome books turned to lousy movies (Ok fine, just kidding). I'll give you comparisons, deleted/revised scenes parts (whatever!) and of course, review. And speaking of musicals, I will also devote here a part where I would review my favorite (and not-so-favorite) standard songs.

*in case you do not know standard songs, they are the jazz/ballad/big band songs that stood the tests of time after gaining popularity in the 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s, and were covered by so many song artists and remains a favorite until today.*

So there you go. Brace yourselves (AND GOD! GIVE ME PATIENCE AND PERSEVERANCE AND DILIGENCE TO DO THIS IN SPITE OF ALL MY SCHOOL AND CHURCH WORKS) as I bring you to my book shelves, playlist, and dvd/vcd collections... :)