Saturday, May 25, 2013

Film: The Great Gatsby

Having just 'read' The Great Gatsby a couple of hours before the movie (it was an audio book valiantly interpreted by Jake Gyllenhaal), the story's details were still fresh in my otherwise horrible memory when the scenes played out in front of me, this time as interpreted by Baz Luhrmann. (I think that sentence is a Dan Brown in the making.)

The book's plot is a little thin to begin with—it's only about four hours long, and you can more or less, sum it up in one page, with much of the action happening at the end. I'm impressed Luhrmann was able to make a two-hour movie out of it without making it a snoozefest, although the white expat in front of me did sleep pretty much the entire film.

The director was faithful to the plot of the movie, but as to the interpretation, I wasn't sure. The film opened with captivatingly elegant scenes, especially in the introduction of Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan) and Jordan Baker (Elizabeth Debicki), with white flowing curtains fluttering in the air as if the narrator, Nick Carraway, had just arrived in heaven. (I expected much more... heft from Tom Buchanan, played by Joel Edgerton, but there were winning moments, such as in the emotionally charged scene at the garage.)

What I found jarring was when Luhrmann, with his signature Moulin Rouge style, began introducing contemporary pop culture to the material, starting with the soundtrack, then later, with abandoned kitsch. In interviews, the director said this was meant to evoke the excessively lavish lifestyle of the rich and greedy, but--I don't know if it was special effects—they all looked like caricatures than real persons. The mansion's lights were too harsh and fake, and the fountains were ridiculous—Gatsby out-Disneyland Disneyland itself.

There was a time it did work: when Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), like a forlorn schoolboy lover, was about to meet Daisy for the first time. That was kitsch made right.

However, by the end, when all the film could rely on were words that, in the book from which it was based on, conveyed the sighs and yearning of a despondent man—no parties, or fountains, or mansions, and glittering dresses—Luhrmann ended up literally writing the words from the novel onscreen.

The message, it seemed, was that the book is best left as is.

Rating: 6/10

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Coffee Prince

After many, many years, I've finally resumed watching Coffee Prince.

It does not disappoint, lol.

* * * *

It is also with deep sadness that I learned of Masaki Koh's death. If you don't know Masaki, that's probably good news.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Cibo's Patate Pencetta

Patate Pencetta (mozarella, potatoes, slab bacon)

One of Tatin's and my order from Cibo. Two slices and we were done—not because it wasn’t good (it was!) but because it was very filling. She liked the smokey taste, while I raved over how you could practically taste the bacon on the entire dough itself. (Though the potato does seem redundant.)

Also, it’s beautiful, as were the waiters, lol.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The seven-minute workout

NYT: The Scientific Seven-Minute Workout

The first time I saw the chart and the rules—30 seconds for each exercise with a 10-second break in between—I scoffed at it. "How is this even a workout?" Nevertheless, I went ahead and tried it, even telling myself I'd increase the duration to about 45 seconds per exercise.

The first in the series—jumping jack—was fine, but on the second (wall sit), I found myself in agony after the first 10 seconds; 30 seemed like a lifetime. And with little rest in between—not enough for me to catch my breath—I collapsed by the time I got to the 10th exercise, leaving me unable to complete the last two.

I failed.

I'm not exactly a fan of cardio because I'd like to put on more weight, but I've noted that I haven't been unable to progress with my push-ups program ( because the advanced levels are starting to wear me out. After a week of the seven-minute workout (SMW), I've improved my push-up record for three consecutive workout days mainly because I am now able to squeeze in a few more reps:

Note the huge jump in my last three stats—that's when I started doing SMW. Prior to that, although my record was improving, I couldn't get past 100. (What I do is perform my push-up and the SMW program on alternate days.)

And I haven't even been able to complete SMW yet. Even if I'm completely rested, I'm having trouble with the last exercise, the side plank (I collapse within 5 seconds). I also cheat by slowing down on some of the exercises (According to the NYT article, "the intensity [should hover] at about an 8 on a discomfort scale of 1 to 10"), so I find the program very challenging—there's still so much for me to work on.

Try it! Visit Lifehacker for videos showing the proper form for each exercise. And here's a web app that time your entire routine, including the rest intervals—it's like having your own drill sergeant!

Monday, May 06, 2013

Food review: Umami Hambaagu House

This meal is P340. For the price, I don't see myself going out of my way to eat here, but if ever you're in the area, Umami's burgers do make it worth the occasional visit.

You will most likely order the hambaagu set which comes with fries (good), salad (good), edamame (good), and rice (okay). The price would depend on which burger you order: there are those with truffle, foie gras, and mushroom; I chose the Maison du Japon, which comes with melted gruyère cheese and caramelized onions.

My burger was firm and juicy (one other friend—the exception—said hers was dry). It's really what I expected it to taste like—creamy (although the cheese crusted on top), with a tiny zing from the onion—no surprises, although you may ask for Japanese mayonnaise to spice it up a bit.

Surprisingly, for what looked like a tiny serving (to me at least), it was filling. Though I wish they'd serve more of the delicious fries.

Corn soup and Hole in One Burger were not available when we were here. When we asked why, one of the waitresses seemed to have an attitude: "Eh wala po, eh." (Though she belatedly added it was because they ran out of cream.)

She also rather huffily corrected my pronunciation of "maison" (meh-zon) to "mai-son" (short 'a') but I opted to suffer in silence because I felt that 6 units of French does not give me the license to correct her.

The other waitress (now I feel bad for not having remembered their names) was more pleasant—filling our water without prodding and letting us know that we can ask for more servings of the salad. Anyway, if you meet them both, you'd be able to tell who's the sulky one.

Despite being full, the restaurant was so quiet on the Sunday night we were here—it almost felt wrong to laugh among friends.

The menu is beautifully photographed (which makes it challenging to order because you want them all!) and the actual servings give them justice. The styling of the restaurant, which is kawaii, is topnotch.


Umami Hambaagu House

The Grove by Rockwell, C5
Ugong, Pasig
+63 2 695 3643

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