Monday, July 23, 2012

Film review: The Dark Knight Rises

  • With all that terrific buildup, I was seriously afraid of what Bane might do to Gotham. And when it unraveled, I was like, "Um, okay."
  • Highlight to view: [Spolier] Granted the idea of an atomic bomb is scary, but come on, we've seen that before many, many times. [/Spoiler]
  • I guess it didn't help that a few hours before watching the film, I saw 30 minutes of A Clockwork Orange. Thirty minutes because it was too terrifying and heavy I had to stop the video, switch to cable TV, and find the happiest program I could find that very minute. (I ended up with Kimchi Chronicles.) Also, Heath Ledger as Joker: that was disturbing.
  • Not to take anything away from Tom Hardy's Bane: He did give me the creeps. I feared him up until [Spoiler] he broke Batman's back, [/Spoiler] and then afterward, with the clichés piling on, he began to be a caricature of his own character.
  • Anne Hathaway, I'm a fan. I liked Selina Kyle, at least until [Spoiler] you used your cat ears as goggles. Until then, you seemed like a real person to me. [/Spoiler]
  • I guess I loved the premise of the first two hours of the film (it runs 2 hours, 45 minutes). [Spoiler] I really couldn't get behind the nuclear bomb plot; that was such an easy way out. Come on, Nolan, you wrote Inception. [/Spoiler]
  • Also, I may not be a spinal surgeon, pero naman, lubid?! (Seriously, a rope?) And in five months? (Here's an actual doctor's point of view on that particular storyline in the comics version.)
  • I know these are all fictional but Christopher Nolan has treated the Batman franchise very seriously, hence my arguments. There's a reason why Anne Hathaway doesn't purr in this film.
  • Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, and Joseph Levitt Gordon's characters were nicely written from start to finish.
  • Hans Zimmer, good job. Toward the end, it was only his music that kept me nervously riveted to my seat.

Rating: 8/10

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Film review: Magic Mike

  • Joe Manganiello and Matt Bomer barely had one page of lines in the movie.
  • Then, the MTRCB bastardized the film with several cuts, (Iggy points out that it's the distributors who cut the film so it can make the lower MTRCB viewer rating) which made the movie look cheap—frames would jump forward abruptly, and it made that sound too. If I were Steven Soderbergh and found out about it, I'd raise hell,
  • because the film was beautifully shot, it truly was. I loved how the entire film looked as if it was layered with an Instagram filter.
  • I'm not even talking about the stripper scenes. I enjoyed those, yes (hello?!), but they were more of a comic relief... and too short, anyway. *Harhar*
  • This is the first time I ever fell deeply in love with the cinematography and camera work without it being a 'landscape movie,' e.g., Lord of the Rings.
  • Here's an example of how beautiful the framing was: I still remember that shot wherein Channing Tatum rested his head on the couchshould have been a banal frame but the film made it look important.
  • It also felt like Steven was shooting from the hip and approaching the objects of his desire as close as possible.
  • I like the lead actress: I say, Mandy Moore; Pam says, Sheryl Crow. Her protectiveness over her younger brother gave me the warm fuzzies since I have an Ate, too.
Rating: 9/10


Beyonce's Countdown, Snuggie version



Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Film review: Antique Bakery (The story of a gay guy with the "demonic charm")

The talented patissier Son Woo has a problem: he hasn't lasted a year in any of his previous jobs. His pastries, which are scrumptious and desired by men and women of all ages, are definitely not the issue.
It's this:
Joo Ji Hoon (Princess Hours and The Devil) and Kim Jae Wook (Coffee Prince) star in this delightful comedy
Basically, Son Woo is so gorgeous that both straight and gay guys fall over themselves for him, hence destroying his professional relationships.
Okay, I want that problem, haha.
Antique Bakery is orginally a Japanese manga, and it has been adapted into a TV series, and in 2008, into this Korean movie.
I've always thought that South Korea tended to be mum about homosexuality in a sweep-it-under-the-carpet kind of way, but in this movie, it's a non-issue—as it should be. I'm hoping it's not just an idealized portrayal of homosexuality in Korea, but rather (or at the least), a reflection of the current generation's view on the matter. (Update: And then I read this.)
One may argue that the appeal of this movie for gay guys is that the fantasy of being admired even by a straight guy* is presented as a reality, and therefore, it is ultimately patronizing. However, I would like to think of it as a means to knock down social constructs, particularly one that limits the concept of long-term commitments to heterosexual relationships.
In Antique Bakery, a gay partnership is not ill-fated for reasons such as family, social acceptance, or religion. You can imagine its future. (It's still however, bugged with stereotypes, e.g., Why is it referred to as "demonic charm" and not "angelic"? Why are pastries dismissed as feminine?)
Beyond the movie's gay arc, however is a larger theme about a man coming into terms with a childhood trauma. (Otherwise known as, how to keep the heterosexual viewers interested, lol.) There are also the beautiful pastries, hot Korean boys, and the high production value, though the extremely fast-paced editing and avant-garde approach to some of the sequences left me perplexed.
Overall, it's a delightful comedy that is sure to tickle you pink! I'm glad Pam recommended this to me.
Part 1 here; the rest are available in YouTube:
Rating: 7/10
*But you know, it does happen, lol.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Food review: Sebastian's

Photo: Jill

I remember the time Ian brought pints of his homemade ice cream to the Inquirer office. He was just starting his business then, and we raved about how seriously good his inventions were. There was no doubt Sebastian's was going to be a success.

His flavors were original too: I wouldn't forget his Choc Nut ice cream, which mainstream ice cream brands copied as they did his other original concoctions too. Some of the other unforgettable ones were the Mango Sansrival, Butter Pecan, and Dublin Fudge. (Not that the rest were forgettable :-P)

So it has become a tradition that whenever I find myself in Podium, I pass by Sebastian's on the fourth floor just to see how it has grown. And I love it that Ian consistently surprises. He hasn't lost his playfulness and inventiveness especially with Filipino flavors, such as Mangga at Suman, Sapin-Sapin, Champorado, and Palitaw.

Photo: Jill

Unfortunately, I was so full from the Egg and Bacon sandwich at that time, so I didn't think I could handle a rich-looking dessert. (But yey, I have flavors to look forward to!) Instead, I opted for what I felt would be a palate cleanser: the Yakult Ice Cream.

I liked it! For those who wish Yakult would come in larger, non-bitin bottles, then this one's for you.

Mango nude bar, P100 - "It tastes like frozen mango shake!" - Jill
Dark Chocolate Sea Salt, P100 - Tatin, while giggling: "Oh my god, ang sarap!"
Photos: Jill

Cookie dough chilly burger, P130 - "This is soo good," said Pam, who is also reminded of Coney Island's Eskimo roll
Photo: Jill

Sebastian’s Ice Cream

4/L, The Podium Mall
12 ADB Ave, Ortigas Center
Mandaluyong City, Philippines

+63 915 781 0264
Twitter: @ilovesebastians


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

My mother wants people to touch me

My mother forwarded this email about how we should emulate dogs, which basically means cheesy lines about being perpetually happy, experiencing the wind on our face, sniffing each other's privates, being loyal, etc. 

They're essentially pretty good tips until I got to the seventh bullet:

Pretty good advice... when you're a stripper in a gay club.

Also, in the last entry, let's qualify "someone" to be "not some random stranger."

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Rediscovering Ray of Light

I remember Madonna's Ray of Light for not having bought it in CD. CDs then were expensive for a college student like me and I remember buying The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill in CD, and buying Ray of Light in cassette to fit them into my budget. Hence, Miseducation went down in my personal history as my first-ever CD purchase. (Miseducation also ended up winning over Light for Album of the Year at the 1999 Grammy's.)

Last weekend, I decided to revisit Ray of Light and I've been listening to it on loop since then. What a truly beautiful work and collaboration between Madonna and William Orbit. Madonna's lyrics in this album are simple and pure, and it's amazing how Orbit's electronic music doesn't drown them out, but instead, even heightens the emotions surrounding her words. That's not something I can say about most dance albums and singles today. (I mean, I like, "boom-booboom-boom bass" but it's just nowhere near eloquent as Madonna's work in this album.)

She wrote this album after having given birth to Lourdes (hence, Drowned World and Little Star) and right at the peak of her spiritual discovery (Shanti/Ashtangi and Sky Fits Heaven), so there's a lot more calmness, introspection, and positivity in her songs. Even with dark themes, like in Frozen and Mer Girl, Madonna sings them meekly. I like practically all songs but these are the ones I love:

Drowned World / Substitute for Love

This has to be the best example of how the lyrics and electronic music blended beautifully. I love how this started, with what sounded like bombs falling in distant shores, and how they repeat in loop like dementors wailing, and suddenly, you find yourself relating to her sadness—and you've never even been hounded by the paparazzi. (Although at some point, I'm sure we've experienced being "in crowded rooms, feeling so alone.")

The song features a sample from "Why I Follow the Tiger," with words by the poet Rod McKuen. Full lyrics below, which I got from his website. Again, it's this rich layer of meaning and interpretations coming from the purest of words (in this case, in a collaboration) that I love about her songs in this album.

You see, it's this way:
I don't chase the tigers. 
I follow them.

Through their forests
Down their beaches
Into their lairs.


Well, why do people look after parades?
And dance in discotheques?

They're all trying to come in from being alone.
They want to be part of the crowd.

Not me exactly.
I just don't want to be alone anymore.
But I don't want to be a part of anybody's crowd.

Tigers, they don't bunch up.
Still, they're not alone.

I sure as hell rather run with tigers
than hide out with the gophers.

Ray of Light

With that guitar intro, you just know this is going to be one good song and an exceptionally brilliant day.

Previously, I just danced to this song but it was only last Sunday when this line hit me:

And I feel 
like I just got home

and the way she screams and wails and celebrates it really does hit it home, all the way to Nirvana.

I think I've just decided on what to write on my epitaph.


The song is good, but it's the video directed by Chris Cunningham that took it even further. (This is also the video responsible for the henna tattoo craze; I also thought this was the period that Madonna last created revolutionary music videos.)

I love the simplicity of the special effects, particularly that series wherein she's manipulating her cape and contorting in such spectacular ways. (I originally tweeted that Oliver Theyskens apparently designed her dress, but I've also been seeing Internet writeups that it's John Paul Gaultier.)

According to Wikipedia, her character for this video is based on the Irish mythological goddess, Morrígan, who is often considered a trinity. As a war goddess, she takes the shape of a crow, as which she "would either inspire fear or courage in the hearts of the warriors."

Ultimately, all of this is really just an impressive way to tell someone, "Manhid* ka."

*Literally translates to "numb"

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Food review: Yaku Japanese Grill

Served with compliments from Yaku: crispy dilis

For this post, I took my friends to task and asked them to review what they ordered. (By the way, I love my friends so much; they've really been supportive in my food blogging, lol. I mean, seriously. These days, whenever we dine out, they are careful not to dig in to their food until I've snapped a photo of it. They even make sure to place the dish in front of me so I can take a proper picture. I'm truly touched.)

Their comments also prove what I've said all along about being a food critic: it is darn hard. I have never published a food review because to me, what else is there really to say? It's either good or bad. So when friends kept saying "masarap!" I'd lightly admonish them and in turn, they'd be more generous in their description :-) They know their food! They even have points of comparison as you'd note in some of the dishes below.

My guest photographers for this post are the awesome Jill and Giff. Let's get started!

California temaki, P89

Pam described it as "perfect" and liked it that it was generous in the crab stick and fish eggs. While Giff found it okay, he noted that Seryna's was much better because it uses crunchier seaweed. Pam agreed but argued that the temaki there is three times the price of Yaku's.

Tatin, upon seeing my notes: "It's spelled S-E-R-Y..."

Tamago sushi, P65.

Lele: "I like eggs, so it's good" before giving it a thumbs-up sign.

Beef gyudon, P199
Photo: Giff

Giff: "Beef is overcooked; it should be easy to tear apart."

Ebi tempura, P249.
Photo: Jill

Pam: "Sarap (yummy); it's served super hot and crunchy."

Kawa, P69.
Photo: Jill

"This is the reason why I returned here," Pam says about the kawa, which is chicken skin yakitori. "The skin is not too fatty and it's thin so it's crisp." I wholeheartedly agree. This was the only dish I got to try and the chicken skin is so perfectly cut and grilled, it actually felt like it just naturally melted in my mouth.

Jill's dish was more elaborate. She ordered the zaru soba (P169), a dish which she learned about from Mich, who is based in Japan, and which she later appreciated. This is a cold soba garnished with nori seaweed. Taking a bite, Jill exclaimed that it was "Oishii ne!" or delicious.

One thing's for sure, the quail egg is so pretty.

You may have soba, which uses buckwheat noodles, as substitute for rice.

At Yaku, it comes with this cute little quail egg.
It is also served with a dipping sauce, shown here with the yolk from the quail egg. What you do is take some noodles and swirl it here before eating it. 
Zoba photos: Jill

Yaku Japanese Grill

3/F, The Podium Mall
12 ADB Ave, Ortigas Center
Mandaluyong City, Philippines
+63 2 687 5368

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Chelsea Market & Café's truffled egg salad and caviar

This truly is one mind-blowing sandwich:

Truffled egg salad and caviar, P350

It's an indulgent mix of everyday comfort food (eggs and bacon––okay, maybe not everyday) and epicurian fares (truffle oil and caviar) that the idea for this sandwich is in itself already a home run.

The egg salad is topped with crispy bacon, mustard sprouts, and a sprinkle of caviar, and sits on a bed of tomatoes. Together with the toasted rye, you can already imagine how the texture and ingredients set off a fireworks of flavor in your mouth. And I haven't even discussed the drizzle of truffle oil.

The sandwich's holy grail: a sprinkle of caviar

I am personally not a fan of truffle, finding the smell alone overpowering. But for this sandwich, the oil is just enough to bring a whole note of luxurious flavor to the dish; if you haven't tried truffle before, then this would be your perfect introduction.

The aftermath

I only meant to have this sandwich as merienda (afternoon snack) so I definitely got more than I bargained for. Also, you probably wouldn't want to have this during a business meeting or first date as I found it very challenging to eat this hefty sandwich. However, this would be perfect for brunch, or with friends whom, in my case, I was happy to share this meal with.

Chelsea's sandwiches are served with house salad and potato wedges.

• • • •

Others we tried:

On the house: focaccia bread with a bulb of roasted garlic
Molten cheese risotto balls (about P200 - happy hour price); good, but pricey in my opinion
Jill didn't like the mix, finding the alcohol too strong (and she knows her alcohol.) She prefers Bugsy's mojito.

While I paid for my own meal, the restaurant wouldn't accept more than one gift certificate, which had cash value. We thought that was weird.

The interior is sunny and chic.

Chelsea Market & Cafe

The Podium Mall
Ground floor entrance
12 ADB Avenue, Ortigas Center
Mandaluyong City, Philippines

+632 914 0005

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Food review: Crazy Katsu

Today turned out to be one of those rare occasions wherein I left my virtual triangle. That's because for this review, I went all the way to:
In yet another foray into food blogging, I took out my camera to document my experience in Crazy Katsu, a Japanese restaurant off the border of Marikina and Antipolo. According to Pam, part-owner Shinji Tanaka, who is Japanese, used to serve chicken katsudon to bands that would use his recording studio, Sound Creation. They ended up requesting the dish all the time so that inspired him to open his very first restaurant.

First off, I liked what I saw in the menu:

Considering that Crazy Katsu is an authentic Japanese restaurant, I don't think the prices could get any better than this. Also, that photo is the entire menu, the minimalism of which was very refreshing: a) you are not paralyzed by a sheer number of choices; and b) there is no excuse for them not to get all the dishes right.

I originally wanted to order Pork Ginger but I eventually decided to go with what built this restaurant in the first place: the Chicken Katsu (P145):

I found the breading salty for my taste although to the dish's defense, I find myself to be salt-intolerant lately. (Also, no one else in our party shared my opinion.) Later, I realized that the trick was to take a bite of the chicken together with the cabbage shreds to diffuse the saltiness and balance the taste. Despite my initial impression, I still think it's yummy. Pam and Giff choose this over what I ultimately like below:

I'm putting my money on the Pork Ginger (P140), which to me, was more playful and yet subtle in its sweetness and tanginess. This one didn't need to be rescued by the cabbage and the dish tasted like a healthier option than the chicken.

Jill and her mom ordered the Sukiyaki (P190), which I've always personally found to be sweet. I only took a few sips and was quite satisfied with it.

The rest of the group ordered Fish and Vegetable Tempura, with the special request not to include vegetables and just add more fish (P140; staff was nice and accommodating about it), and Tonkatsu (P140):

I didn't get to taste them as I wasn't close with the kids who ordered them, lol.

Overall, we enjoyed a delicious meal, what I'd call comfort Japanese food. I especially like the restaurant's confidence and boldness to keep everything as pared down as possible without sacrificing quality, though I'm sure it would later realize that customers won't be coming back repeatedly for the same entrées. Of course, I could be wrong, and it that respect, it must mean it has the best katsu varieties in the city.

#48 Lilac St. Hacienda Heights, Concepcion Ⅱ, Marikina City
#81 Maginhawa St. UP Teacher’s Village, Diliman, Quezon City

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