Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Unfortunate Events (#2660)

We were at the tail-end of the first day’s shoot at our client’s steel processing plant. I was tired, and my voice was hoarse…

One of the last few shots to be taken were a row of welders, who had to light up in unison for that kick ass shot with the orchestral welding light effects. Then we started to relay instructions to those wiry Neanderthals with the sparkly power tools. It seemed simple enough: “everyone straighten out the girders before you, put your goddamned welding masks on, and on the count of three, everyone light up like the Fourth of fucking July!”

They couldn’t get the bloody choreography right, and I was beginning to seriously wonder if they understood the simple mix of English and Tagalog that I was screaming at the top of my lungs.

After over four tries, I walked all the way to the end of the row and waved my arms like a windshield wiper to try and get the welder’s attention. Then the welder looked up at me, flipped his mask open, and smilingly opened his mouth in that autistic inquisitory manner, then proceeded to point at his ears, which had… earplugs.

At that point, I was already hoarse, even more tired than when we started, and my shoulders were slouched in defeat. Then someone brought in a whistle. Riiiight…

We eventually got the shot right. Here it is…

Word of advice to people who say no one listens: check for ear plugs.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Shallow Secrets... Movie Review: National Treasure: Book of Secrets

Oookay, like "Sakal, Sakali, Saklolo," I went and saw this movie without having seen the prequel. But it's been reported to be on top of box office lists for the quite some time, and then there's good word of mouth. So I figured, "what the heck..."

The formula is soooo basic: macho hero (Nic Cage with just a wee bit more hair), hot chick (Diane Kruger, who is so on-paper perfectly beautiful that she almost comes across as bland), goof-ball who can do a lot of stuff (Joshua Bartha, who in this case is the resident computer expert at Mr. Cage's disposal. Can't do a team movie without one nowadays...), and then there's the old man for "elderly advice" or additional comic relief (Jon Voight, who is at his best when he plays a bad guy, so this movie ain't it, guys...).
The movie kicks off relatively decently, with the set-up for a "Da Vinci Code meets Indiana Jones meets... uhm... Nic Cage" kind of movie. But with all the too-convenient scenarios and the almost two-dimensional opposing characters, who eventually redeem themselves in typical popcorn fashion, National Treasure: Book of Secrets almost ends up being "The Goonies, 2008."

Ed Harris sets up Mr. Cage with the possibility that Cage's great-grandfather was involved in the assasination of Abe Lincoln, then Mr. Cage sets off on a crazy mission to find evidence to prove it otherwise. Cage's Ben Gates and Diane Kruger's Abigail Chase are estranged when the movie begins, Bartha's Riley Poole is peddling a book about the first movie's adventures, and somewhere along the way, we see Jon Voight wringing his hands over the thought of asking something of his ex-wife, played here by the classy Helen Mirren.

Ed Harris tails Cage's little crew until they cross paths at Mount Rushmore, where they find the literal City of Gold. a few kinks here and there... and they lived happily ever after. Honest.

Oh, and this is the first movie in a long while wherein the U.S. President was portrayed in such an intelligent, and almost positive light... Intelligent , that is, until he lets himself get kidnapped by one guy!! Bwahahahahaha...

Ed Harris' talent was totally wasted here. The guy deserves better material. Uhm, come to think of it, so do Nic Cage, Diane Kruger, Jon Voight, and most especially Miss Helen Mirren. Joshua Bartha, on the other hand, belongs in this pop-corn crap.

But to be fair, the movie was a pleasant way to kill a couple of hours. But it would've made very little difference if we chose to watch "The Chipmunks" instead.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

BEE Lightly Entertained... Movie Review: BEE MOVIE

Let me begin by saying that one of the last people I expect to get environmental advice from is Jerry Seinfeld. But hey, people grow up, right? I’m talking about me, not Jerry, by the way.

As a grand sucker for the eye candy products of CGI animation, and supplemented by the added edge of a stand-up comic at the level of Mr. Seinfeld, “Bee Movie” seemed like a no-brainer for me.

As always, Dreamworks delivers on the visual quality of the thing, and the whole theme park approach complete with the Spanish translated ride instructions didn’t escape me either. The cinematography makes it quite obvious that we’re going to find a 4-D Bee Movie attraction at the Universal Studios park real soon.

What I like about this movie is that it didn’t rely too much on pop culture puns to “bee” entertaining. Of course it has its share, with notable vocal “appearances” by Sting (riiiight), and Ray Liotta (this one I honestly didn’t get…). Larry King appears (yet again). Everybody just loves this guy, huh?

Renee Zellweger’s raspy girl next door voice fit her character perfectly, Matthew Broderick’s dorky best friend routine went well, and the sparse appearance of Chris Rock as a mosquito added a few highlights as well. And yes, Sting just totally nailed for me, man. (I’m a fan, dude…) Oddly enough, only after checking the voice cast credits did I find out that they had Oprah, Cathy Bates, and a few other notables on the payroll as well. I mean… uhm… cool… right? Having Oprah around in something like this should be totally cool, right. BUT ONLY IF THEY USED THESE BIG NAME TALENTS A BIT MORE.

The whole ecological balance thing was a nice way to try and add some moral weight to the story. The operative word being “try.” But I guess that’s better than nothing.

Did I waste my time? Nah, I honestly enjoyed it. I wasn’t asking for much more anyways. If I want a nice, deep and memorable movie, I’d grab a copy of Schindler’s List or something.

Here's the "better" of the trailers they did for BEE MOVIE:

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Movie Review: Sakal, Sakali, Saklolo

Movie Review: Sakal, Sakali, Saklolo
(a.k.a. “My share in contributing a meager P260 to the local movie industry”)

It started out as a typical weekend day at the mall. So typically Filipino, in fact. Complete with a Jollibee dinner, window shopping, and the highlight at some point being a drag queen in make-up and a mini-skirt popping out of a cubicle in the men’s room to a wide-eyed bunch of guys, who I assume were mostly straight.

* * * * *

With the remnants of the 2008 Metro Manila Film Festival holding on to what I assume is the last handful of days at the cineplexes, we had before us the annual line up of movies that didn’t represent the best of Philippine cinema, it represented what was LEFT of Philippine cinema.

The curious little boy in me had been trying to make my dominatrix wife agree to seeing Bong Revilla’s “Resiklo”, despite having to try and dodge Dingdong Dantes’ laser vision…

Obviously, I lost.

So we ended up seeing the sequel to last year’s critical hit, “Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo,” whose title was the rather creatively coined “Sakal, Sakali, Saklolo.” And I meekly followed my wife into the movie, whose prequel she supposedly caught on TV…

Given the praises last year’s prequel received, along with a nod from director Mark Meily himself, I actually expected a good movie. So, you think I got it?

No. The good news is that I didn’t get a bad one either.

After several months of intensely hawking Fitrum slimming caps, Judy Ann Santos and writer/director Jose Javier Reyes seem to have agreed that it was tantamount to give Juday as many opportunities as possible to show off her new, improved physique. Okay, not a bad figure at this point, but I could never get past the roundness of her face…

My beef with “slice-of-life” style Pinoy movies has always been the lack of solidly interesting conflict. And “Sakal…” is no exception. I imagine that the prequel ended with the couple happily marrying despite the social differences and all. And a wedding always provides a decent crescendo to a love story, which is where “Sakal…” picks up at the start.

So we get a glimpse of a career-vs.-family scenario for Juday, and a boy growing out of his expensive boyish hobbies for Agoncillo. All that, complete with the respective circles of friends that offer sometimes amusing commentary.

Juday points out to Agoncillo that they have to watch their expenses, then guess what? At the next scene, they're shopping at Santis’ Delicatessen. Real budget-friendly shopping right there… At least we now know where Direk Reyes gets his Hungarian sausages…

The couple tries to re-ignite their marriage by accepting an invitation to visit Dominic Ochoa is Spain, in what is most certainly the most expensive part of the movie. Now I understand that the distance from their son, Rafa was supposed to provide the source of the supposed conflict, what with the in-laws/grandparents suddenly taking turns imposing themselves on the poor child. The trip ends abruptly when they find out Rafa gets sick, and they quickly reschedule an earlier flight back home. Wow, real edge-of-your-seat material right there...NOT.

Guess what happened after that…? After a few kinks here and there, they all lived happily ever after. Honest.

I was mildly entertained, but while some situations were nice and realistically done, I was left wondering about what the movie stood for. It was almost academic for me to assume that the previous movie’s premise revolved around the social differences of the protagonists, which probably gave Direk Reyes a field day writing the first one, with a lot of stuff left over.

But here, Reyes just lets his characters go through the motions from one expected scenario to the next. I felt the movie was sprinkled with a lot of potential subplots that weren’t maximized, such as the placement of Hans Montenegro as Juday’s flirty co-worker, who is also a potential foil to Ryan Agoncillo’s rich kid husband. Agoncillo’s luggage getting lost… Agoncillo’s wallet getting stolen… Little details that could’ve been more useful. Oh, and they also wasted Freddie Webb’s time by handing him a character that had almost as much depth as a paper doll.

The chemistry between on and off-screen couple Judy Ann Santos and Ryan Agoncillo is unmistakable, but the truly bright spots are obviously the veteran actors in Gloria Romero, Ariel Ureta and Gina Pareño. They are just plain brilliant given their rather limited material, with Pareño’s over-the-top-ness reminding me of my own mother-in-law (without the redeeming factors.)

From what I gather from this episode, the first movie must’ve been good. My wife thinks so. Ergo, I think they should’ve left it as it was. But this movie supposedly made money, too. So I guess I smell another sequel? Oh well, I’m getting “Resiklo” on DVD.

Catch a movie review of “Resiklo” by Maverick Advertising’s former copywriter, Michelle Dompor.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Props for Richard Page of Mr. Mister

Don't ask, because I honestly don't have an explanation.
But if you ever have one of those days when you have a song that you played to death on a car tape deck until the sound was practically muffled from wear suddenly stream into your head... and you get that tilt-the-head-in-an-autistic-manner-then-smiling like-an-idiot moment... then you must know how I feel...

The melodic culprit happens to be a song called "The Best Thing" by Richard Page from his solo album "Shelter Me" that came out last 1996. Damn good album that sank without a fucking trace...

Richard who? Richard Page is/was best known as the lead singer and bass player of 80's fixture band Mr. Mister. Also known by music afficionados as the guy who was offered to replace Bobby Kimball when Bobby left Toto, and as the guy who again got offered the chance to replace Peter Cetera when Mr. Cetera woke up and decided that Jimmy Pankow, Lamm and the other guys were dead weight to him. (For the record, I don't think so. I think Chicago is a great band... Still is, even post-Cetera...)

Anyways, like the geek that I am, I did what geeks do when something invades their heads... I google it. So I google Richard Page...

I find a site offering songs at $0.20 each. I end up signing off (electronically anyway) the minimum credit purchase of $15 out of my credit card to download the goddamn song. Only to find myself having difficulty downloading. But I successfully got to play the whole song in streaming audio... Wrote them for customer support, got the song, and posted it in youtube. Here it is:

And for those who actually know the above track and find it anemic (which it somehow is, but I personally find it a catchy kind of anemic), I'm posting below a link to a live performance by Richard Page and his band, Mr. Mister.
It'll give you a good idea why this guy was invited to practically lead two of the biggest bands of the past century.

Enjoy the links and don't ignore those streaming-in-your-head moments. Somehow, the song and the memories it brought back, even if only in streaming audio, were worth all the trouble...

Thursday, January 03, 2008

the gathering...

Sooo... it's officially 2008.

Maverick has regrouped after what seems to have a rather tumultous year since 2007 was the time we lost practically the last vestiges of Maverick Version 2.0.

Did we feel bad? Sad? Deserted? Rejected?

No. Yes. No. No.

At some point, we had to find that point wherein we were reminded that through all the laughter, the fun, and the... uh... fun. Maverick was and still is a business. A viable one at that.

But Maverick Version 3.0 was a dismal failure. We are now developing Version 2.5.

With the fresh blood we've gathered and possibly an old one coming in, Version 2.5 just might work...

I am still deciding whether or not to get my fat ass off leaning on the huge wall provided by my family.

I most likely will. Now it's time to build my own fucking wall. Brick by fucking brick.