Saturday, August 28, 2010

If you were Venus Raj...

Watch this video first:

And now, I will ask you the same question: What is one big mistake that you've made in your life and what did you do to make it right?

Pretty tough right? In fact, I find it really unfair that Miss Philippines was asked that question when all the other top 5 candidates were asked very specific questions on unsupervised internet access, government regulation on what people wear, death penalty and airport scanners. It was no surprise to me that the other 4 were able to provide answers with no sweat. To be honest, I was pretty disappointed and at the same time, I actually laughed when Venus was asked the question and when she gave her answer. I knew that very instant that she will not win the crown.

Looking back, I felt sorry for her that she had to go through that question. On the other hand, I was sincerely impressed that even if the question was so difficult, Venus Raj was able to answer in a very confident manner. Because of that, she won my respect and admiration.

I don't really understand why people keep on making fun of her. Yes, the "major major" thing will not win grammatical awards. But come on people, she placed 4th runner-up and beat the rest of the contestants who didn't make it to the top 5! Let us be happy for her, for the glory she brought to our country, and for the somewhat redemption it carries with it after the bloody hostage crisis that happened the day before the pageant.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Dance classes

I'm not really a fan of going to the gym or sports to keep in shape. Actually, I tried going to the gym like almost 4 years ago so that I would gain weight, but that stint lasted only for a month as I had to go abroad for a business trip. Upon my return, I lost the drive to go back to the gym again. When I was a kid, I loved playing sports like volleyball and badminton, but I stopped when I started college. I had so much priorities then that did not include sports and fitness.

But then I need to exercise to stay healthy. Now that I have vices like smoking and drinking alcohol, I need to do things to offset these bad habits. Working full time as an accountant in the world's biggest consumer goods company and managing my social life, however, gives me no spare time for such. Good thing we have wellness activities in the office that employees take seriously. Recently, the wellness team scheduled hip hop dance classes at prices lower that the usual studio classes. I'm not really a pro dancer, but I love dancing. So here's my shot at exercising. I also tried attending dance classes in Planet Jupiter Studio, where our company dance class teacher does classes regularly.

Office dance classes:

Planet Jupiter dance class:

If you would like to attend dance classes too, you may try Planet Jupiter Studio in Makati where they teach hip-hop, jazz, jazz-funk, among others.

Planet Jupiter Studio
4th Floor Valdecon Bldg.
#20 Jupiter Street
Brgy. Bel-Air
Makati City
Facebook: Studio Planet Jupiter
Twitter: studioPJ

Step Up 3D

My friend and I decided to watch up Step Up 3D yesterday. Ironically, the movie house we went to doesn't show it on 3D, which was fine with us because I'm all after the dancing part. After seeing the movie, I felt relieved that we didn't see in on 3D because it would have been a waste of money. It was just a dance movie after all.

I choose not to discuss the plot, as it is as shallow as it could get. There was nothing new about the story - it was the same old "reach for your dreams" thing which was laid down on a very typical and boring storyline. The character of Luke, as I noticed, was actually a bad influence type as there were scenes where he pressured Moose to skip his classes at NYU, which I don't find cool at all. There were also some racist elements of the film (scenes that seem to ridicule Asians) which are things I highly detest in American films like this.

Anyway, I was really impressed with all the dancing parts. Most of them are hip-hop moves which really hyped up the movie. The "club feel" of the songs used added to the vibrancy of it all. I also liked the jazz dance of Moose and Camille on the street near the ice cream stand. It seemed to be more of a musical theater type for me, which temporarily took the viewers away from the "reality feel" of the movie. I give my two thumbs up to the choreographers and dancers.

On the other hand, I feel sad that I couldn't give praises to the acting, as they were not that good. There were many awkward scenes brought about by the lack of characterization. I have to cite Julien (played by Joe Slaughter) who seemed to be gay by the way Slaughter acted his character - the way he talks and walks, his swagger, among others. There were some touchy scenes which could have seemed more dramatic if acting was good. All these could have given justice to the typical "reach for your dreams" theme of the movie, but they didn't.

There was also a very noticeable flaw during the last part of the film when Natalie decided to join the Pirates' performance on the World Jam Finals. She was wearing like a sports bra and training pants when she came up the stage to do the difficult routine she'd been practicing before she quit the team weeks before the finals. And then all of a sudden, she was wearing a Pirates' costume full of lights and rays onstage, which isn't realistic and believable. Anyway, it's fiction.

I had no high hopes for this film before watching it but I was really entertained by it. After all, it is a movie about dance. I do, however, felt that it gave justice to dance as something people want to do in life. The short film BFAB (Born From A Boombox) made by Luke gave all the reasons why dancing is a passion that moves lives. If you love dancing and music, this is a film worth watching. It'll make you feel good.

My rating: 60%

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Late 20's

Yes - I am now 26, and on my late 20's. Another year older, and I hope another year better as a person. The bar always goes higher and people expect so much. Not that I care about pleasing people, but I do give a crap on being more mature than ever. Growing old means growing up too, and I need to be serious about this.

To make my celebration a blast, I threw a party at my place on the eve of my birthday. I won't talk about the details but one thing's for sure - it was fun! After getting some sleep the morning after, I decided I should spend my birthday alone - to contemplate and to simply spend time with just myself. Me-time!

As I was driving, eating and having coffee, there was only thing in my mind - to focus on my priorities. At the end of the day, I had an agreement with myself - that I should know the things I want, know how to get them, and achieve them - the way I used to.

Looking back when I was still in high school and college, I was a go-getter. When I started working, I kind of loosened up a bit and got pretty laid back. This was maybe because I exerted too much effort on being that kid in school whose grades are rocking and who is visible in almost every school activity there is. Stress brought about by the pressure of graduating with honors, getting awards and passing the board exams consumed me.

But now I am in the real world - this is the time when I should be more competitive as ever. This is a dog-eat-dog world, and I can't be left rotting on the sidewalk as people climb up to success, for however it is measured. I will do it, and I am determined. However, I also promised myself that I will still have fun in whatever thing I'll be serious about. Life is too short and nobody gets out of it alive anyway, as they say.

Do I look serious? Haha. I bet you doubt it. But just watch me! ;)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Toy Story 3

When Toy Story 3 premiered in theaters, I totally ignored it and watched Predators instead. Yesterday, I bought a DVD of this movie and I was totally blown away! I seldom see animated films this good and tear-jerking (the other one I could remember was Up).

The story started as Andy (the owner of Woody, Buzz and the other toys) packs up his stuff for college as his mom pressures him to clean up his room. He decides to take Woody with him to college and keep the other toys in the attic. In a playful twist of fate, the toys landed on the garbage bag but managed to escape and hide in a box inside mom's car, which will be donated to a local daycare center, where they all eventually went to. Here, they met other abandoned toys (and villains like Lotso the huggable bear) and their adventures started here.

In the end, it was all about letting go and accepting the fact that kids grow old and will eventually leave their toys. This is where the drama unfolds. I was crying like a child as Andy handed down and individually introduced his toys to this little girl Bonnie, and as he drove away while the toys just watched him leave after he said goodbye to them.

This could have been a perfect movie if the human characters were played by real actors. But I doubt if anyone could deliver the same good acting as these animated characters did. I guess it's better left that way, else it wouldn't have been this good. Toy Story 3 is a very good movie for both children and adults alike. It is indeed worthwhile to watch.

My rating: 95%

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Cats live in Manila

If you’re looking for a musical with a story, then don’t watch Cats (playing at the Cultural Center of the Philippines). The whole musical was simply all about the different kinds of cats shown on a very expensive and breathtaking theatrical set with cool lightings, backdrops and all. If there was even a story in it, it was only about the rebirth of the ex-glamour cat Grizabella (played by Lea Salonga).

I understand that it has been one of the longest running shows in history, but I felt like it cannot be appreciated anymore at this time where a lot of musicals with well-written plots filled with drama, action and comedy exist. I guess my biggest mistake was I did not research about it and read just even its synopsis before watching it. This expectation gap led to my eventual disappointment. Halfway through the show, I still couldn’t grasp the plot until I realized that there was none at all!

The whole cast (except for Salonga) came from Australia and the UK. Thus, their accents were very noticeable as they sang and spoke. I guess they didn’t have the time (nor drive) to practice and execute a neutral accent for the Filipino audience. I should say that their dancing and energy were superb – everything almost seemed to be a talent show to me, rather than a musical. As for their singing ability, I can say it was just so-so except for Lea, whose voice really stood out among the rest (putting bias aside). The power of her singing prowess sent shivers all over me as she started singing.

Lea Salonga, in my opinion, chose the role of Grizabella because it only required singing with less dancing. As we know, Lea is more of a singer (actually one of the best in the world) rather than a dancer. But I was surprised that she only sang thrice (if I’m not mistaken), the last time being just a reprise of her second song “Memory.” She only stayed onstage for only about around 15 minutes in total (out of the 2.5 hours running time of the entire show), making her role only a minor one.

To sum it all up, Cats is one wholesome piece of entertainment that showcases splendid dancing and less of singing (except for Lea, of course). All the parts were meticulously rehearsed and executed, making it seem flawless amidst the lack of story. Do not ask me if I would recommend it to be seen, as I still don’t know what to answer up to now. All I can say it, it was overpriced. Just decide for yourself and be the judge.


My rating: 70%

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Warning: May contain spoilers!

After seeing Salt, it was only then that I started to appreciate its trailer/teaser. I realized that it was not a giveaway at all, unlike most teasers (which tell almost everything and make the movies so predictable). I’m not so sure if it’s just me, but I was surprised after learning the plot of the movie as it developed.

But this doesn’t mean I fell in love with the movie. I merely fell for the fierceness of it – the Angelina Jolie swagger that never fails to make you believe how strong women can be.

Salt tells the story of Evelyn Salt (Jolie), a Russian spy assassin who was raised by a syndicate leader to become totally Americanized, so she can easily assimilate herself with the culture, infiltrate the CIA and execute their long-planned evil goals to make America fall and die painfully. When the time came for her to fulfill her “destiny”, she faced a dilemma between satisfying the ambitions of Orlov (their leader) and doing the right thing.

The morale of the story is generally acceptable, but I do really hate it when Americans create movies that make other countries (like Russia and North Korea) the villains. Instead of becoming a piece of art, the movie seems to become a piece of propaganda; worse, an avenue of hatred and ignorance; worst, a piece of shit. Things like this strengthen my belief that the US is a bully and a rogue nation.

I mean, come on. There are many ways to create profiles of antagonists other than picking a certain race or nationality. Why not create an American villain to make it more realistic?

As for Jolie, she really needs a serious acting upgrading and awakening. Her portrayal of roles has always been the same from Tomb Raider to Mr. and Mrs. Smith and this. Evelyn’s character is full of opportunities to deliver superb acting but Angelina blew them all away. Though to be fair, I should commend her for the brilliant action scenes that she always brings to the table.

Overall, I’d like to say that the movie is likeable and entertaining. I was taken aback when I didn’t see the end coming, which makes it different from the norms. It leaves a question that will make people intrigued and leave them talking about it even after the film.

My rating: 70%
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