Take It Or Leave It

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Better Watch Out
Wave Sessions
CD by:Paulo Santos

I will be good this time. Besides I received 2 personally dedicated copies of "Wave Sessions" and "Playlist" from Paolo himself. One read, "salamat with my name" and "thank you and my name again".

To start it off, I'll have to say - don't take it.

It's a waste of P250, since Paolo's "Close" is the only original track in this CD of compiled sessions from Joe D Mango's 89.1 Wave Sessions. Tracks include: Swept Away (Christopher Cross), Only When You Leave (Spandau Ballet), Comfortable (John Mayer) and some other 80-90s songs transformed into acoustic versions.

The quality of the recording was terrible. The voice of Paolo was horrible and his guitar playing was horrendously raw. Either the sessions were from his early days or Joe D Mango sang most of the songs.

Terrible, don't even touch the CD with Paolo's dyed-yellow locks. Wave goodbye to your P250 if you happen to just paid for it recently.

Sometimes I wonder, whether the "salamat" on my CD was a sarcastic play on what I used to say against Mr. Santos. Well, he doesn't read this blog anyway.



not free anymore
Almost Married
by:Tara FT Sering
Read Interview here:

Almost Married is the sequel to the popular free book entitled "Getting Better", which was included in the October 2002 issue of Cosmopolitan Magazine-Philippines.

Short Review: I loved "Getting Better". But I can't say the same for Almost Married. Why? it was fuck-fest of pages. There was one page-full of 17 cusses. If Tara wanted an Ally-McBeal psychotic character, let me say that 4-letter cusses are not heard from the hit show. (does "shit" count?). There's also Tita Myrna and her Visayan accent. I know Tara has visayan descent, but why make fun of it? It seems regionalistic in the sense that we don't hear of any part of the book that plays around the Ilocano intonation, nor the Kapampangans' spelling of Coffee (c o o - hef- hef- hee- hee). I say, with a price tag of P 150, I'd borrow the book of someone I know. But if you want to know what happens with Karen, then take it in the pain of reading 17 "fuck" words in one page. Fuck.



Waiting for a Sequel
Happy Endings
by:Luis Joaquin M. Katigbak

Happy Endings is a collection of stories about reinvented identities, lost loves, thermo-acoustic engines, and Wednesday afternoons. It takes a look at our world and refracts it through a lens of humor and a wild imagination.

Sample Writing:
From Click Here:

About the Author:
Luis Joaquin M. Katigbak, who holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from the UP, is a free-lance writer, and has won Palanca and Philippine Graphic awards for his fiction.

Short Review: A personal favorite of which i bought half a dozen copies a couple of years ago as a Christmas gift. That explains why the book is now totally sold out. So find it , and take it.



A Lot Better Than Rex
Suddenly Stateside
by: Marivi Soliven-Blanco

Reviews from other sites:
From philbooks.com: Thinking of migrating to America? Wondering what it must be like to live there? Read this hilarious and insightful collection of short essays on Pinoy life in the U.S. of A. Laugh till your sides split. Delight in really good writing. And learn how to: baby sit a pet daga, survive freezing winter, live high on the cheap, battle racists, put down flashers, pass strict driving tests, cope with garish Las Vegas, get a green card, etc. etc."

About the Author:
Marivi Soliven-Blanco, a Carlos Palanca Awardee, writer of children's books, and the most read contributing writer to www.legmanila.com, earned a master's degree in teaching from Simmons College in Boston, U.S.A. She received her bachelor's degree in mass communications magna cum laude from the University of the Philippines. Ms. Blanco is the author of The Unicorn, The Toad and the Princess, Philippine Fright: 13 Scary Stories, Chief Flower Girl, as well as all the books in the Jenny and Jay Pinoy Private Eyes series.

Short Review: This book is not your usual take out on Filipinos leaving in the US. It definitely shows both aspects of what's good and bad about leaving away from your home country. Unlike stand-up comedian Rex Navarette, the author does make fun of the Filipino living in a new country, but in the end, you learn that the manner was at least done with good taste (even if it includes gatecrashing a party of Erap Estrada or a wild swipe on yayas and katulongs)

Hmmm. sige na nga, take it!



Poetry from the City
Stories from the City
by: Isabelita Orlina Reyes

Reviews from other artists:
Of Stories from the City, Gemino Abad, the poet, scholar, and former director of the U.P. Creative Writing Center, has written: "From poem to poem one encounters not language or text but a meaningfulness of living." And poet-critic Neil Garcia says: "Stories from the City is anything but urbane: these are brave and even cutting poems that do not balk at the idea of confronting racism, sexism, classicism, disbelief, loveliness, ennui, death, and all the other verities attending contemporary urban existence. But ultimately, this book celebrates living in the city of our collective childhood-glittering with dream, paved with simple and uncompromising need, bustling with games of precious kinship-the city buried under the jaded wakefulness we shall, after reading this astonishing first collection, barely be able to call life."

About the Author:
Issy Orlina Reyes holds an M.A. in Creative Writing and worked for a time in advertising and as Literary Editor of the Philippines Free Press. At present, she teaches literature and creative writing as part of the U.P.'s prestigious Creative Writing Program.

Short Review: if you are the kind of person who loves what other people wouldnt want to talk about, or the one who'd rather be conventionally unconventional - then this book is for you, take it!



Collection of the Best Music
Long Ago Tomorrow (2003)
CD by: Siobhan Pettit
Released: November 2003
In Concert: November 15, 2003

With a great voice, this recent Manila visitor from Ireland, took the jazz world by storm by releasing this Burt Bacharach, Hal David and Elvis Costello penned collection of songs. All in one CD, "Long Ago Tomorrow", has 14 of the best songs released in yesteryears and enhanced with the sultry voice of Siobhan. Includes: I'll Never Fall in Love Again, The Look of Love, Walk on By, What the World Needs Now, Close to You and I Say A Little Prayer.

This CD is going to be another great gift to Moms and Dads who crave for 70s music, one that we hear all the lyrics with the humpin-and-thumpin of speakers. Great album with more than 7 songs.

Take it.



Keeping Up with Jones
New York City (2003)
CD by: Norah Jones with the Peter Malick Group
Released: September 2003 as an Import
Re-released : November 2003 locally but as an EP

Whoever bought the P750 imported CD last September must be cursing the local industry distributors through their teeth.

That one was a big mess. Anyone from Ravi Shankar diehards to Norah Jones worshippers from the Third World where oil pump prices are almost the same as that of Europe, should’ve waited another 60 days for something that would cost just P300.

Another 7-song release (see Buble), this one is a better Norah for me. A cross between Macy Gray and a blue-ish Sheryl Crow, Norah’s voice is again tested against a more seasoned back-up in the Peter Malick group. Her piano playing is not the center of this EP but her versatile voice is. Don’t mind the album being classified under P (for Peter Malick), just go to the Highly Recommended, this CD should be on top of the heap.



Bubble burst!
Totally Buble (2003)
CD by: Michael Buble
Released in the Philippines: November 2003

7. Yes that many tracks to this sophomore release capitalizing on the great first album. Based on the soundtrack of “Totally Blonde”, not to be mistaken with the Witherspoon movie. But this “7-track extended play (EP)” should not cost the listener, nor its ardent fans, P 375, even with 3 additional videos in tow. Hold your horses.

The sound is the same multiple-platinum Buble debut album. The same hypnotic and haunting sound you enjoyed and freaked out to. Although there are no covers, it still carries the same jazzy-blues formula, worthy of several spins on your player.

No Sinatra. No Armstrong. But Buble is Buble and he deserves another listen. For P 375 (rather than the usual P 450 for a usual album), it is forgivable. Take it.



QT at his best
Kill Bill (Volume 1) (2003)
Starring: Uma Thurman
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino’s 4th blood fest (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Four Rooms). Black Mamba (Uma Thurman) was a former assassin betrayed by her own boss, Bill (David Carradine). During her own wedding, she survives a bullet in the head and upon coming out of a coma, vowed to do something – to Kill Bill. It’s a movie about revenge.

Kill Bill Volume 1’s music and dance-like movements play vital roles, just like any Tarantino flick. The script is as QT as can be, but less flowery. The characters are well defined and introduced from the point of view of the bride, Thurman.

Uma Thurman is not your garden variety assassin as her fight scenes are almost always from a distant vantage point (vs. Lucy Liu, Darryl Hannah and Viveca Fox). No close-ups. And death to most of her victims were split second fights with no “Crouching Tiger” type of skirmishes. Very un-Tarantino. What is a QT formula here is the volume of blood spent, rather, the volume that was sprayed like your New Year’s “supot” fountain.

Volume 2 is not going to be as anticipated by the reviewer. I’d skip it and move on to the next QT project. What a waste of time.



Under The Tuscan Sun (2003)
Starring: Diane Lane
Directed by: Audrey Wells
Based on the book of Frances Mayes

I've been to Tuscany and this movie made me want to go back and relieve the experience.

Frances Mayes, after a hurting divorce took the gift of friends to visit Tuscany in Italy. That decision led to many discoveries about not just how beautiful the place is, or how friendly strangers can get - but also of one self.

The movie had great scenery, much like what we see in Tuscany books or calendars, moreso it showed Tuscany in 4 seasons. The same way, Frances Mayes transformed from a distraught wife, to a frustrated tourist to a heartbroken lover and to a willing supporter for friends.

A date movie with great witty script. So if you're not easily impressed with great scenery and cinematography, then the book would be a great alternative.



Dont Be Conned
Matchstick Men (2003)
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Sam Rockwell and Alison Lohman
Directed by: Ridley Scott

A movie about deceipt. Great cast. Great retro feel. Great acting. Great direction. But bad movie. Well, maybe - bad theme. Overall, the film had a great premise that crime does not pay, "or sometimes it does", as Roy Waller (Cage in the movie) would say. But it seems while walking from the moviehouse I felt that Cage should've reacted differently. I felt conned myself. You would too if you felt that he didn't deserve what he got in the end. It didn't reveal any redeeming value for the protagonists, maybe not for Cage's character for that matter. But it left us hanging as to what happened with Rockwell, Altman and Lohman in the end.



Most Underrated Music
Waking Hour (2002)
CD by: Vienna Teng
Released in the Philippines: July 2003

Don't waste time trying to understand music from the 60s being remade this century. Here are 13 new songs which could've been remade if they were released in the 60s. Vienna's voice is a class in itself. Just like Sarah McLachlan, she is incomparable both in her songwriting but more so for her soulful rendition.
Don't waste time and get this CD - now.



Sophomore Jinx?
Heavier Things (2003)
CD by: John Mayer
Released: September 2003

If CD liners are basis for any award, JM would have won on both of his CDs. Here he uses a color wheel to denote tracks, geographically, physically and musicallity. Its geeky use of color coding relevant to the personality JM wants to show - his being so colorful, one song he's blue and sad, next is red and in love. Well aside from the CD cover and liner, there are 10 tracks to listen to.

"Clarity" and "Bigger than My Body" start the CD on the right note. Great singles. The following tracks are a mix of ole JM and some 80s' Howard Jones. (no kidding). But if there's one thing JM should do for his 3rd album. Is to give some of his great lyrics and play back up to new and upcoming vocalists. We're getting tired with his nosey take on every song. Although we're not as happy as the first one, still "Heavier Things" is a great album. More mature lyrics. Heavier definitely.

JM hasn't sold out yet.



Filipino Song Inside!
Elephunk (2003)
CD by: Black Eyed Peas
Released:: July 2003

So "Where is the Love" is the same question to most critics dissin this album. They feel that BEP spread themselves too much in this album, that they lost their soul along the way. But if you just sit down, listen intently to the music, you'd realize that this band is not your usual preachy-soul music. More than that is the pride attached to the CD. A Filipino-lyricized track entitled "The APL Song" is one of the most catchy tracks in this funky collection of 14 tracks. Justin Timberlake guests on "Where is the Love?" and Papa Roach on "Anxiety". You dont have to take it since the 2 tracks are enjoying major airplay lately. But if you like to own a major globally released CD with some Filipino lyrics in it, this is it.



Damon and Affleck Produced
Stolen Summer (2002)
Directed by: Pete Jones
Starring:: Aidan Quinn, Kevin Pollack, Bonnie Hunt, etc.

It's seldom that we stumble on masterpieces like this, moreso that the film is about religion. This VCD, released locally in the Philippines, answers most of the questions that I had with the Catholic (sorry Christian Living teachers) as well as with the Jewish faith. The way it was presented wasn't as preachy nor ramming-down-your-throat manner. Rather it was subtle oftentimes contrived but passable.

The film directed and written by Pete Jones, the winner of the screenwriting contest of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck (called the Project Greenlight) in 2001, was a big eye-opener at the same time, a tear jerker. A film that can touch anyone in different ways. Don't worry about the acting of the 2 kids who co-star in the film, they were rather below the standards of their supporting cast. Collectively, the acting of the rest carried the film, rather than the 2 kids.

Watch it with your kids, or with your parents, and surely after the film you'd be hugging each other. Take it and Love it!



Filipino Cuisine at its best
Address: Greenbelt 2, Ayala Center, Makati City
Date Visited: August 2003

Are you in search for that distinct Filipino taste - without having to go barehands to enjoy it? or you just crave for a different way of cooking your favorites - Crispy Pata, Lechon Kawali or bulalo? Well, don't go any farther than Greenbelt (fronting the original Greenbelt), as Masas Restaurant can fulfill your lust for Filipino delicacies.

Try out their boneless Crispy Pata, which is to die for and their succulent variety of fish and seafoods. The prices are reasonable, probably more than your former Filipino resto you used to visit, but the service and the ambience would probably be worth the extra.



I Told You So
Paolo Santos
CD Title : Play List - CD
Released: August 2003

I told you so. The CD was a lot better than the VCD! 11 Tracks including one cover of Stevie Wonder's "Overjoyed", and 10 Original songs penned by Santos himself. The music recording is crisp, you can crystally hear the guitar licks and the Mayer-DMB-Wonder-ish voice of Paolo. From "Play With Me" to "Close" - the background track of the recent Close Up toothpaste commercial, every song was well-picked for a debut album. This is a steal for P 280, just dont open the liners and you'd see more of Paolo's image, worse, there's a Playboy pose complete with a shirt knotted to show his other guitar - his ribs!
Don't tell me I didn't forewarn you.
Take this!



No Comparisons Please
Nyoy Volante with Mannos
CD Title : Acoustic - CD
Released: August 2003

What's with the word acoustic? See 2 immediate reviews. Its been overused, and abused lately with the releases of Paolo Santos, this one of Nyoy and Jimmy Bondoc's. But if there's one album that can epitomize great acoustic play and recording - this new release should be it.

Nyoy Volante's voice is a lot better than Paolo or even the rest of the acoustic gigs of late. Aside from his strumming, his voice is soothing which makes him stand out among the rest. Other than that, its a toss up.

This album though is exceptional. The recording is crisp and the sound engineering - superb. Perfect for acoustic albums. The album cover needs some art though.

Great tracks in the album include "What Do I Do" and "You're My You", both having to enjoy airwave plays. The most underrated, and for me is the best track is "Because of Your Love", a Christian song that truly characterizes great albums that allow one to take a respite away from the noise of drums and bass. At prices of local CDs (P280) this is a good buy! Take it.



Go For the CD
Paolo Santos
CD Title : Acoustic Night Out - VCD
Released: August 2003

Some guys are better heard than seen. Paolo Santos is one of them. 30 tracks of great rendition of acoustic hits from John Mayer, DMB, Indigo Girls, Journey, Style Council etc. Great mix of songs which are all within the voice quality of Paolo. The quality of the recording though has a lot to improve on. We tend to lose some of the musicality during live recordings like these. This leaves the guitar sound like its coming from a tin can.

Highlights of the VCD are Paolo's duet with Barbie Almalbis of Barbie's Cradle on "Don't Know Why" (Norah Jones), his own tracks like "Play With Me" and "Coffee Cup" as well as his take on John Mayer. If we talk about the voice and the guitar strumming, Paolo is passable. Other than that, lets not even go there.

You can pass up on this one. Go for his newly released studio CD instead.



Kinda Acoustic?
CD Title : Almostkindaacoustic
Released: Warner Philippines, July 2003

18 tracks. 18 solid tracks. If one two of these 18 will prove to be a dud for you, I'll stop this site. I'll place my integrity at stake for this CD, which I should've reviewed a long time ago, after purchasing straight from the delivery box. Enuff said? Here are the 18 title tracks:
1. Edwin McCain - I'll Be
2. Matchbox 20 - Unwell (Live, Acoustic, great version)
3. Duncan Sheik - Barely Breathing
4. Jason Mraz - Sleep All Day
5. Rhett Miller - Come Around
6. Nickel Creek - This Side
7. Indigo Girls - Power of Two
8. The Verve Pipe - The Freshmen
9. Alana Davis - 32 Flavors
10. Shawn Mullins - Lullaby
11. Oasis - Wonderwall
12. David Gray - Babylon
13. Jeff Buckley - Last Goodbye
14. Binocular - Deep
15. Sarah McLachlan- Adia
16. Toad the Wet Sprocket- Walk on the Ocean
17. Barenaked Ladies - Call and Answer
18. Rockwell Ryan - I Don't Wanna Sing.

Except for the bonus track from Stephen Speaks member, the rest are chart toppers. In fact, this CD was the only one able to dislodge F4's grandstanding ways during July. Take it.


Philippine Visitors, et al.

Look At Me, Im Beautiful
CD Title : Beautiful Lumps of Coal
Released: in the Philippines, August 2003

Gone solo, Tiffany Arbuckle Lee, lost some of the ole Plumb's 80s sound but compensated this with some depth in lyrics and diversity in her sound. Surely proves Plumb's voice's versatility.

Listen to her in the much played "Real", but feel her in "Sink and Swim" and "Boys Don't Cry". "Free", "Nice, Naive and Beautiful" and "Without You" are personal favorites. This is another crossover artist, from Christian to Pop/Rock but that genre has given us the best bands the past years (see Jars of Clay and Sixpence None the Richer, as well as Stephen Speaks). No wonder, Barbie's Cradle opens her Philippine one-night only concert.

Catch her at the Rockwell Tent on Saturday, August 30. Tickets at P 600 and P900 available at O Powerplant. Autograph signing at O Powerplant on the same afternoon. Special guests, Barbie's Cradle.



Eva Cassidy Reincarnate
Jodie Brooke Wilson
CD Title :: Halfway to Paradise
Released:: in the Philippines, July 2003

"Temporary Madness" would surely be the most played track in the album, but its not the best in the album. Jodie Brooke Wilson will surely make you remember the late Eva Cassidy with her heavenly voice. Take this to one of your long road trips to the south, play it at mid-volume, allow the air to waft inside the car as you open your windows, surely you're on your way - halfway to paradise.

Catch her at the Podium, Ortigas Centre on Friday, August 29. By special invite only.



Brazilian's Best Bet
Ive Mendes
CD by:: Ive Mendes
Released:: 2002; in the Philippines, May 2003

Ten songs. Seductive guitar strings. Husky Mendes voice. Not your usual Brazilian samba. Nor Astrud Gilberto bossanova. It is Ive Mendes, sultry, sensual, spiritual - just like any Brazilian should be.

Catch her at the Shangrila on Friday, August 29 with special guest, Pops Fernandez.



Kekaibang Kuwento
Directed by: Quark Henares
Starring: Katya Santos, Wendell Ramos, and a host of dead people in the movie

If there's one Filipino movie in the last 6 months that one can rave about, its got to be a one-word, one-named filmtitle. No, its not Magnifico anymore but this movie - fondly entitled "Keka". Francesca Jose or Keka, a call center "operator" lost a boyfriend to a senseless killing by 5 members of a rival fraternity. School and work didn't drown the memories of his beau's death and Keka vowed to take action, even after years have passed. One by one, all 5 members met their match - all dying (mysteriously) via Keka's wrath.

The film was quirky (no pun intended) in a funny way but I was glad that the producers went through and got it out. One, the uniqueness of the theme, how it was approached would've made a producer quiver and ask whether it has commercial value. This film didnt. I saw it twice and there were more cockroaches under my chair than people. Two, the cast was a great mix of has beens from the late 80s to 90s. Except for Tuesday Vargas, who was the sole revelation, the rest were ho-hums on paper but acting wise? super underrated.

Katya Santos (who was supposed to be Jolina Magdangal in this film), was a great replacement. It became an added attraction for maniacs to think whether she would go bold and see her size 37 jugs in this film. But then again, the script was made for Jolina, remember? A size 31, i may say.

Wendell Ramos, the spurned lover-mediocre policeman, was his usual self. A potential Boyet de leon sans the acting. All good looks.

The director, Quark Henares, well, you got to hand it to the guy. He was able to get mom, Dra. Vicky Belo, line up in National Bookstore in "Gamitan" and uncle take the urinator cameo in this one. Great guy. But really, his films are not for everyone. Tsk tsk tsk.

Sad to say, even if it was shown in Cinemanila and in the commercial theatres, you won't be able to see it. It only had a one week run. Sayang talaga....astig yung pelikula. Keka-iba!



Fun Snacks
Jack n Jill Fun Snacks
Flavors: Berry Knots, Sea Crunch Prawn Salt and Vinegar and Spicy variants

Years ago, Jack N Jill had Prawn Curls, Barbecue Curls and Munchees as part of their fun snack arsenal. Only Chippy and Chiz Curls were left from our childhood snack attack days. Last summer, Jack N Jill released 3 fun snacks that have now been a staple for catatonic days in front of the TV or moments when one needs to put something in their mouth.

Sea Crunch, which comes in Salt and Vinegar as well as Spicy Prawn, are perfect for those "inumans" when you can't afford their pricy counterparts. SC Salt and Vinegar has that tangy taste of prawn and just enough dash of "suka" and just like SC Spicy Prawn - really comes close to the real thing. Someone even quipped that both would even pass for a great lunch - "kanin na lang ang kulang".

Berry Knots (a play with Knotts Berry Farm in the US) is your usual pretzel, this time dipped in strawberry filling. Perfect for sweet tooth-people or those who are after Baguio's famed berries' taste. Your berry cravings can be fulfilled for sure.

Fun snacks have never been this funnier before. So with all three, a cup of rice and glass of water, one can have an appetizer, ulam and dessert.



Disturbingly Great
Stupid White Men And Other Excuses for the State of the Nation
Author: Michael Moore

American democracy at work. If it were in China, this book wouldnt even hit the stands at all. This book is so disturbing that every time Mr. Moore takes on the president of the USA, the manner he was elected, his policies, his cabinet, and even recycling trash - I cringe in the thought that he is exposing something that is true!

What really makes the book a good read? It is factual, it is incisive, it is thorough and does not offer to the reader that you take up your streamers and start rallying in front of the White House.

Take it. But I doubt if you're up for it.



Frida (DVD)
Starring: Selma Hayek
Directed by: Julie Taymor

You'd be proud being a woman after seeing this film.

Frida Kahlo, artist, wife, political activist - woman. She was everything in this 122 minute grandscale cinematic film that won critical acclaim for its musical scoring and for Selma, herself.

Colorful Mexican art. Political history. Headstrong women. All these - in Frida. Dont miss the DVD to be released August 19, 2003.



Kick Some Grass?
Shaolin Soccer (Siu lam juk kau)
Starring: Stephen Chow, Vicki Zhao, Man Tat Ng
Directed by: Stephen Chow

Are you ready for some CUT?

Miramax' 80-minute version vs. the original 102-minute flick proves to be the greatest debate (or non-debate) these days. Which one right now is the better version? In this case, the reductions were for the good of the movie - less vomit, less blood, and yes less dancing.

The film was a cinderella take on a star soccer player, Golden Leg, who lost everything including his leg from one fateful soccer game decades earlier. Having lost his bright soccer future and finally knowing the truth that his doom was set up by his own boss, Hung, he decided to form his own soccer team.

Made up of Shaolin Kung Fu experts but Soccer-rag tags, this team included one treasured player, Sing (Stephen Chow). With Sing, the come-uppance against the evil soccer manager, Hung, was done via their patented Shaolin Soccer.

If you're ready for some Chinese slapstick, and silly rendition of American dance and music, interspersed with genius cinematic effects, then this film is for you. Whether you get the tamed Miramax release (which is more likely), or the original one, youd enjoy Shaolin Soccer. Besides the 22 minute cut will be 22 more minutes of reviewing the film. Take it!



Overly Sentimental?
Tears of the Sun
Starring: Monica Bellucci, Bruce Willis
Directed by: Antoine Fuqua (Training Day)

The movie had good great intentions of depicting the Americans as somewhat able to "feel" for the world and its plight.

It failed though as it tried to be too sappy and sentimental that you feel numb and detached to the pillaging of the village, the rape scenes, the deaths of native tribesmen, and when you get to the ending, your tear ducts have left you, wanting for it to be useful. But really, there wasnt really a scene to shed some tears, sonnamagun!

And really, we've seen this before. Its a take on Black Hawk Down (with a mission to undertake), or maybe a theft of some scenes from the play, Miss Saigon, (where refugees are carried by helicopter, but in the end were left).

If as audience we believe that American soldiers can be this real (or cinematic), then there's hope for the world. But really "are we there yet?"



This time a Canadian
"Michael Buble"
CD :: Michael Buble
Released : May 2003

Another one of those outstanding new talents just coming out of their diapers (see Lerche, Groban, Mayer, and Norah). But this one gets in faster than the rest. First, he gets both David Foster and Paul Anka to produce his no original-all cover self-titled album. Then he gets 3 tracks from the same album to be part of the "Down With Love" soundtrack. And he gets another album to be released in a week's time entitled "Totally Buble". That makes it 2.5 albums in less than half a year. Wow.

The versatility of his voice is apparent in this release as he covers tracks of great balladeers from the 50s (Anka, Darin and Sinatra), 70s (Van Morrison - not a balladeer for sure) to the 80s (Bee Gees, or were they 70s too?). And he makes all 13 covers in great fashion - the Buble (pronounced as Bub-layh) way!

If you got Rod Stewart's The Great American Songbook just before this CD (which apparently I did), you'd end up playing Rod at home and Buble in the car. The latter is great for those traffic-laden Manila highways. Take it. I said Take It.



Sondre Lerche
"Faces Down"
CD :: Sondra Lerche
Released : March 2003

Finally distributed locally. This Norwegian genius has been hanging out for years just to have that big break. His style with a cross between Aztec Camera and an acoustic Style Council speaks well of her '80s euro-pop foundations. Of course, growing up with the music inspiration of personal idols and Norway's best exports - A-ha.

He played in this year's SXSW in Austin Texas and wowed the crowd who typically liked music as raw as possible. A cross between Belle and Sebastian with some mix of Gilberto-ish bossa nova hip, that's Lerche for me.

Just as the US discovered John Mayer, and Canada discovered Michael Buble, Europe has this 20-year old, Sondra Lerche as their bet for youth greatness.



Pro or Anti Catholic?
El Crimen del Padre Amaro (The Crime of Padre Amaro)
Starring: Gael Garcia Bernal, Ana Claudia Talancon
Directed by: Carlos Carrera

This movie is so thought-provoking that it had limited theatre engagements in predominantly Catholic-countries, which included the Philippines. Very relevant with today's headlines screaming of offenses by Catholic priests or lay ministers linked to the Catholic religion, this VCD/DVD release might be gone from the stands before we know it.

Although the movie tried to create a balance, showing the pros and cons of Catholicsm, it failed, as the offenses that were shown were more visual. It depicted Catholicism as opening up to its Liberation Theology (Padre Natalio helping the mountainfolk to defend themselves and to have decent work more than just reading to them the scripture) or helping put up a major hospital from donations (regardless of its source) for the sake of the majority.

The crime of Padre Amaro was that he pushed his limits and wasn't able to control his human desires. Temptation for him was avoidable (but with the beautiful Tarancon, maybe not) but he never really put up a fight. The film was in Mexican/Spanish and it was like watching your telenovelas once again with a different type of love, outlawed and more than that - despicable to many's eyes.



Not Cameron Anymore?
Terminator 3 : Rise of the Machines
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenneger, Kristanna Loken, Nick Stahl (In the Bedroom)
Directed by: Jonathan Mostow (Director, Spy Game, U-571)

Was it 12 years ago when Arnold uttered those lines "Hasta La Vista, baby"? But here we are again with another Terminator more than a decade after. But this time, we get some links from the past, like the attire of Arnold - it wasnt made for him - he stole it from a macho dancer with a village people eyeglasses in tow.

Just like the previous 2 James Cameron films, Mostow was loyal to the action per minute sci-fi that became a precedent for those loud blaring-jump-from-your-seat thrillers. This one is no different. With a female, doubly stronger Terminator (Terminatrix, Loken), Arnold faces the tough role of protecting the one and only link to stop the rule of machines in the future.

It is less 2-hours of non-stop action, a big break from your summer flick-full of comic-book heroes and a trio of flying angels. If not for the FHM-Stuff-Maxim bodied Loken, this film would have its dull moments, especially watching the now slow-moving Arnie S. now pushing 50s and still can't utter a clear and audible English sentence.

Arnold is so 70s. Action and Storytelling is so 80s. Effects are 90s. But the theme of weapons of mass destruction is so Bush 2003.



Full Choker
Charlie's Angel : Full Throttle (2003)
Starring: Drew, Cameron, Lucy and Demi Moore
Directed by: McG

Ok tell me class, why did we ever see the film?:

1. Why was Bruce Willis cast for a mere 2 minutes with one inaudible line ?
2. What was the plot of the film? Who were they looking for in the first place?
3. What were the rings all about? Was there supposed to be a hobbit to guard the rings?
4. Why was Jaclyn Smith still good looking after 30 years? A result of CGI maybe?
5. Why was Drew fat-assed in some scenes, and then Karen Carpenter-sexy in some and then back to Lewinsky-sized in the next scenes? or was that Monica Lewinsky after all?
6. Tell me the meaning of the "The Coal Bowl" and the scene's relevance to the movie?
7. Why was the Griffith Observatory used after all, they could have used another tall building.
8. Why didnt Demi Moore kill all 3 when she wanted to be the best Angel after all?
9. What happened to Bill Murray?
10. Why was Pink in the movie?
The answer to why I wanted to see the film? Demi Moore. That's all. Case dismissed.



Utterly Crappy
Bruce Almighty (2003)
Starring: Jim Carrey, Morgan Freeman and Jennifer Aniston
Directed by: Tom Shadyac

Oh oh, that pair again, Shadyac + Carrey = fun but crappy films (e.g. Ace Ventura : Pet Detective and Liar Liar). Why is Jim being typecast into "transformer" films? I meant, he always becomes normal-to abnormal- to freaky and then back to abnormal (never to normal) in almost all of his movies, except for...except for....

We all loved "The Truman Show" and "The Majestic", and of course "Man on the Moon" (or maybe some of you did) but this preachy-film was too much, close to being blasphemous in some scenes. Freeman as God was not quite close to Oh God Books 1 to 3, you might even exclaim, "Oh my Gawwwwwwd", just like Aniston does in Friends. I would have missed it if not for the B-E-A utiful reviews others made. I enjoyed the post-it scene though. That's all.



French Version of College Life
L Auberge Espagnole (2003)
Starring: Romain Duris, Audrey Tatou, Judith Godreche
Directed by: Cedric Klapische

Refreshing take on college life, as compared to American sorority-fraternity-football team-cheerleader full depiction of getting a college diploma. With L'Auberge one remembers the feeling of packing your bag and leaving the comforts of Mom's cooking vis-a-vis, not eating nor taking a bath at all. Its dormitory, bed spacing, relationships, leaving in a different country with different types of people experience. Some things we all wish we did when we were young, but couldn't. See the film, and relish what you missed.

Oh, the film is in French, but there are English subtitles too. And Audrey Tatou is still cute in this film, but not as in Amelie. But you're not watching it because of Tatou, right?



I'll Never Use a Phonebooth Again
Phone Booth (2003)
Starring: Colin Farrell, Forest Whitaker and Kiefer Sutherland
Directed by: Joel Schumacher

Thanks to the cellular phone, but after watching this edge-of-your-seat thriller film, I will never, ever, use a phone booth again. Only Superman will survive this one scene masterpiece.

From a dapper Farrell to a piss-wet-sweaty-bloody Colin, you will understand how man reacts if placed in a situation as to whether to tell the truth or to tell a half-truth. The film over exagerrates in showing it, but its cinema, right??? If films are done this great, Hollywood producers will be laughing to the bank. $ 46 million for a one-phone booth scene, wow! Don't call my bluff, watch it. RRRRrrrrrring.



Aniston At Her Best
The Good Girl (2002)
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jennifer Aniston, John C. Reilly
Directed by: Miguel Arteta

If you feel depressed at any point of the film, then the objective has been met. All the characters have their own set of problems. Reilly smokes pot to forget about it. Gyllenhaal uses his pencil to punch a hole right through his palm, and Aniston - merely acts well, and we all forget that wacky side of hers from "Friends".

Up to what lengths will you go just to experience happiness? Watch the film to know.



Another Gyllenhaal?
Moonlight Mile (2002)
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman and Susan Sarandon
Directed by: Brad Silberling

Close to being an autobiography for director Brad Silberling, who lost his fiance to a rabid stalker fan. Nonetheless, Silberling continues to say that he was able to inject a lot of emotions different from what he felt close to a decade ago. Still, doing it and seeing it as a film would have created some trauma in Silberling who had to wait for 5 years before deciding to make it into a film.

The timing was right as this new kid on the block, Jake Gyllenhaal, the brother of the Secretary, Maggie Gyllenhaal, was tailor fit for the job, and yes, maybe Hoffman and Sarandon were both busy 5 years ago to accept this kind of roles. Just the same, the storyline of being taken in as an own fiance-son after losing your own daughter was unique. The emotions wer heart thugging and this you have to tip you hat to Silberling who endured everything just to have this autobiography for us to see. (yes, its not an autobiography, i know.)



Sexually Harrassing
Secretary (2002)
Starring: Maggie Gyllenhaal, James Spader
Directed by: Steven Shainberg

If you are a sucker for finding love in the most obscure places, then this flick is for you. The Secretary tackles a different way of affection notable for people who admire power and those who love using it. Maggie and her transformation from a geeky secretary to a seductive temptress was seamless. She was perfect for the part. Spader was merely re-enacting his part from "Sex, Lies and Videotape" - his usual Best Actor performance.

I may consider this as soft porn with a lot of skewing towards S&M, frontal nudity and the like, but since they were so much a part of the film, the movie was able to draw the moviegoer's attention to being sexually aroused to a level of understanding that love can be found best when both parties partake in its sweetness and in its pain. Ill slap your behind if you miss out on this rare flick. Its just 104 minutes of your time.



Old Jack
About Schmidt (2002)
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Hope Davis, Dermot Mulroney and Kathy Bates
Directed by: Alex Payne

If only for Kathy Bates' drop jaw steaming topless scene, this film is already a winner.

Warren Schmidt lost a loving wife, retired from a job, was about to bring a daughter to the altar and wanted to rediscover himself along the way. The crossroads were enough to break any ordinary man, Schmidt only had a stiff neck and back. He was able to go over the hump - and that's all about Schmidt.

Acting from Jack was usual - utterly the best. But the storyline was usual. The direction was not much needed with Nicholson around. The movie was ok and the ending was moving. 2 hours may be too long for you to wait for the ending. You can miss it if you want to.



Epic At Its Best
Gangs of New York (2002)
Starring: Leonardo di Carpio, Cameron Diaz and Daniel Day Lewis
Directed by: Martin Scorsese

If you saw Daniel Day Lewis in "The Last of the Mohicans" you will not be surprised with his acting in Gangs of New York. You'd be more surprised it was Lewis after all, with his make up and antics. Nonetheless, without Daniel, the movie will not be the same.

Scorsese again made a masterpiece with this re-visit to old New York with its gangsters and notoriety. Caprio is his usual cross-eyebrow and spouting self. The film is long enough (2 hours 47 minutes) so I'll make this short. Watch it. But break the film into two to appreciate.



May Trick You
Matrix Reloaded (2003)
Starring: Keannu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne and Carrie Ann Moss
Directed by: Andy and Larry Wachowski

The original Matrix was a tough act to follow. It was billed to be the sci-fi film that changed the terrain of sci-fi movies. With that opening statement, you'd surely feel I'm giving Reloaded a cop out.

Yes, Reloaded didnt come at par with Matrix 1, BUT, in fact over exceeded my expectations. It was almost in the same plane with its own action sequences, mostly improving the fight scenes of Matrix 1. But to compare it with its brother is unfair. You can compare it to Star Wars and how some scenes were kind of ripped off from the Phantom Menace.

Reloaded has its better points. It has a sex scene (although not what you'd expect for a PG13 movie). It has Monica Bellucci (Malena) and that kiss, yes the kiss. It has Keannu showing off new and better hero tricks (aka Superman and sometimes the Road Runner). It has a million and one agents coming out of nowhere and the disappearing twins too. And what kind of action film will it be if there were no chase scenes more so Freeway 101 car collision action! And o yes, the people from Samsung was able to provide a nifty phone for the sci-fi heros (and they don't throw these gadgets in the trash bins unlike Matrix1), and slip in probably some corporate honchos as part of the cast - like the key maker. If action is what you want - you will get it from Reloaded. See it. We only pay P 120 ($2.40), while Americans shell out $12-15 for it. Do your math. This film's script has a lot of that too.



United Untied!
X Men 2: United (2003)
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Patrick Stewart
Directed by: Bryan Singer (Usual Suspects)

This film lost its wit along the way. The script was full of cliches. The dialogue was almost like straight from a grade school kid's essays. BUT you dont get into a superhero flick for the script, do you?

The action was crisp. The pace was a lot better. There were no preambles to be done. No explanations to be made. Not much voice over to explain who is who and why is why. The characters have been well introduced from Xmen thus allowing more time for action, scene after scene. And yes, the heroes and the villains are divided by a fine line. That leaves anyone who think this is a bad sequel as the unfortunate bad guy and villain rolled into one. Be one of us - see the film.


A Marriage Gone Bad
Just Married (2003)
Starring: Ashton Kutcher (Dude Where's My Car) and Brittany Murphy (8 Mile)
Directed by: Shawn Levy (Big Fat Liar)

Is there really a movie classification called Slapstick Romance? Well if there is, then this movie perfectly fits the bill.

Can be aptly titled National Lampoon Gets Married, this movie proves quite a few things. You can show Venice as a not-so-attractive place (compared to its usual image for romance) what with its dark alleys and old hotels with walls crashing down. And that driving through the French Alps can be very very dangerous. It was a romantic comedy of conquering family issues regarding non-approval of the person we chose to marry and proving to them that you can have love over all the problems in the world. (Did I really see those rather serious theme in the movie? - well, you've got to catch it before you get hitched, yourself.)



One Sister, After Another
About Adam (2001)
Starring: Kate Hudson (Almost Famous, How To Lose a Guy) and Stuart Townsend (Queen of the Damned)
Directed by: Gerard Stembridge (directorial debut)

This video is scary. Picture your sister's fiance trying to seduce you. And you're a guy. ugh. The storyline is so sexy that you can't help but be drawn to the central character of the film - Adam - played by Stuart Townsend. It starts with Lucy (Kate Hudson), a waitress in a Dublin cafe with a great voice (see Kate here, see Kate sing, see Kate sing three times!), and Adam falling for each other. Lucy feels that Adam is God-sent, and moreover it is cemented by the fact that the family loves him so much. Literally, love him. From Lucy's mom (Rosaleen Linehan), to her two sisters ( Frances O Connor and Charlotte Bradley), worse, even brother, David (Alan Maher) falls into the trap.

Catch the film and its non-linear presentation with details left out to provide 4-different vantage points - Lucy's, the sisters, the brother, and that of Adam. There's something about About Adam that you have to find out. See it.



Remember, Bend and not Break
Bend It Like Beckham
Starring: Parminder Nagra, Keira Knightley, Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Directed by: Gurinder Chadha

Of course, not everyone knows David Beckham. He is not actually in the center of the film at all. But since this is set in England, it adds to the local flavor despite the almost all-Bollywood cinematic atmosphere. Beckham, happens to be the popular England striker-husband of a Spice Girl- inspiration of the protagonist, Jess Bahmra (Parminder Nagra). Just like any traditional Indian family, parents (Anupam Kher and Shaheen Khan) have plans made for the family. This does not include for Jess to befriend Jules (Keira Knightley), a teammate of English descent, who might lead her to lose her traditional Indian ways (that women should be in the house, cooking, and doing domestic chores) nor to fall in love with their football coach, Joe (Jonathan Rhys Meyers). They expect Jess to follow in the footsteps of her sister, Pinky (Archie Panjabi), who is to marry in a traditional Indian wedding. The conflict lies in that Jess has to decide whether to live life on her terms or act in accordance with her parents' wishes. In usual in the nick of time terms, the ending will justifiably say (although sometimes it'd impossible) that daughters can have their way - more often than not against the parents will. The title should've been "Bend Indian traditions, like Beckham". Shallow, coming of age movie. Its not a football movie. Its not a love story. Its a feel good movie but watch it for Indian culture and nothing more.



Overpowering Yet Melodramatic
Talk To Her
Starring: Javier Camara, Dario Grandinetti, Leonor Waitling
Directed by: Pedro Almodovar

One of the best foreign language films in 2002, this 114-minute masterpiece is a venture into various scenarios with communication as the centerpiece, among others. What will a nurse do to a love-from-afar who’s left to a comatose state? What will a partner do to a female matador accidentally gored by the bull and is left lying in the hospital? To both, the answer is to talk to her.

In some scenes, you’d see the genius of Almodovar in using symbolisms to allow the viewer to have his interpretation and then revealing the answer several scenes after. Maybe even not revealing it all. Did Benigno do it? Was Marco a lover or a friend to him? Questions you’d only understand if you watch this compelling film. See it.