Sep 5 2015

Quick Review: American Ultra

Adel Gabot

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2:19PM

Just saw American Ultra this morning, with Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Connie Britton, Topher Grace and Walton Goggins. It’s a reasonably good movie, once you’re willing to check in your smarts at the door and go along for the ride.

It’s about a slacker named Mike (Eisenberg) and his girlfriend Phoebe (Stewart) trying to make their way through life being working grunts, him as a cashier in a grocery and drawing comic books on the side, and her as some office flunkey. Little does he know he was actually a CIA-trained operative-cum-killing machine with his memory wiped and given a new life, just waiting to be activated. Five years pass, and he and his girlfriend manage to get by in between slacking off and smoking pot, and working at their jobs.

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Then someone at the company (Grace) decides he wasn’t worth keeping on as a mole, and sets the machinery going to eliminate him. The former project leader (Britton) gets wind of it and tries to head them off at the pass by going to Mike and reactivating him. When men go to the grocery to kill Mike, he unknowingly goes back to his training and makes quick work of them. Puzzled at his newfound skills, he tries to survive the onslaught of CIA forces thrown at him and his girlfriend, and that’s basically the movie in a nutshell.

You get your fill of slam-bang set pieces where Mike mows down dozens of agents in all sorts of gory ways while he puzzles out his identity, your obligatory doses of behind-the-scenes company infighting and (spoiler!) the revelation that Phoebe was actually Mike’s handler assigned to him who had, in spite of herself, fallen in love with Mike anyway.

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The chemistry between Eisenberg and Stewart are great, and they actually make you care for the characters, despite the plot overload the movie heaps on the audience. Which is what ultimately saves the film from being your run-of-the-mill undercover spy thriller. It was better than Stewart’s chemistry with Robert Pattinson in the Twilight movies, anyway. And it’s always nice to see Walton Goggins giving an over-the-top performance as one of the company grunts sent to take care of the situation (although seeing him in another wacko/villain role is starting to get him typecast as the perennial baddie).

With the movie’s crisp, salty language and violent scenes of mayhem, it’s certainly not for the kiddies, but adults will appreciate the heavy R-rated tone of the film. It’s basically a tongue-in-cheek nod to the Bourne movies and films of that ilk, with some humor thrown in with the blood and guts action scenes. Good for a lazy weekend afternoon, but nothing that sticks to your ribs after the movie’s over.


Sep 4 2015

Free PS4 themes from around the world

Adel Gabot

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5:34AM

I posted something on PhilMUG yesterday on a free PS4 theme I found on the Japanese PSN store (a sexy, static Senran Kagura: Estival Versus theme for the otaku PS4 players out there), and I was inspired to go search for more free themes from the PS stores around the world, namely the Asian, Australian, European and Japanese PSN stores. I had already scoured the North American store and gotten every free theme they had, and I wanted more.

So this morning I dug into the various stores and found several. It was kind of a chore having to log on to each of them (I had already created accounts for them long ago) and search for the free themes, and it was especially difficult on the Japanese store since I don’t read Nippongo, but persistence got me through just fine.

I noticed that the PS4 didn’t recognize some of the themes I already had, and offered me things already in my library, while it registered some of the basic, original themes system-wide and gave me the “Purchased” sign on some of them. Additionally, I found that some of the themes I got only worked if I was using them in the account for the region I got them in, while some of them worked fine whatever account I used.

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I found several of them were film tie-ins and were just there to promote the movies. Most of these movie themes were simple, one-graphic static screens but a few were more elaborate and were dynamic in nature, like the one for Mad Max: Fury Road. But they’re all good, as far as I’m concerned.

Collage 2I’m such a sucker for these things.

 


Sep 2 2015

Hannibal

Adel Gabot

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7:05PM

Last night, I came across a video on YouTube that stitched together three of Hannibal Lecter’s appearances in movies and TV from different eras and styles: Manhunter from Michael Mann, Red Dragon from Brett Ratner and the TV series Hannibal by Brian Fuller. (I can’t find that video now, but trust me, it’s somewhere there.)

The video cuts from one to the other to piece together one long scene with Will Graham talking to Lecter about finding the Tooth Fairy (or the Red Dragon as he’s later called). All the scenes basically used author Thomas Harris’s dialogue from Red Dragon the book, so the scene was easily stitched together seamlessly.

William Petersen, Edward Norton and Hugh Dancy as Will Graham all had their turns at the script, as did Brian Cox and Anthony Hopkins as Lecter (or as Manhunter spelled it—wrongly, I might add—Lecktor), and the video was great.

The current Hannibal TV series had just concluded and a video like that was timely, and made me remember the old movies made from the stories. So much so that I went to them, at least the two old movies since I had them in my collection, and rewatched them last night. I didn’t really intend to, but the movies sucked me in, and a result I had a long night of watching two versions of Thomas Harris’s Red Dragon.

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Manhunter (1986) was a real 80s movie, that one. All that moody electronic music and the 0ld 1980s signature shots of Michael Mann. (They shouldn’t have had William Petersen walk around in shorts—he’s hopelessly bow-legged and it showed.) Red Dragon (2002) was more contemporary in style, and showed Brett Ratner’s flair for dramatic long shots and half-assed aping of Jonathan Demme’s camerawork in Silence of The Lambs. But more than their differences, I noticed how damned similar both movies were at heart.

Most of the dialogue was, word for word, the same in both films. Having seen Manhunter first, I could anticipate the words and acting in Red Dragon and I was struck by how faithful the directors were to Harris’s writing. Red Dragon was more elaborate in its portrayal though: it had the sequence where Dolarhyde eats the Red Dragon painting, and does the longer denouement (spoiler!) where Dolarhyde fakes his death and goes after Will and his family at the beach house in the end. Manhunter has the simpler final shootout at Dolarhyde’s house and doesn’t carry the painting eating scene.

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As far as the characters go, I found Manhunter‘s Tom Noonan more scary and more effective as the Tooth Fairy than Red Dragon‘s pretty boy Ralph Fiennes, who stretched the believability factor for a harelipped degenerate serial killer. And Brian Cox was understated as Lector, which was better than the overperforming cliche that was Anthony Hopkins. Conversely though, I preferred Ed Norton as Graham rather than Petersen; Norton showed more range and was a more natural actor than the moody Petersen.

On a curious side note, I was surprised to find Frankie Faison, who played the orderly Barney in Silence of The Lambs and Red Dragon, was also in Manhunter as a Lieutenant in the police—that means he was in all three films. (I don’t know if he was in Hannibal and Hannibal Rising, but I assume he was.)

All in all that was a long night of Hannibal Lecter movies. It knocked me off my sleep cycle for a bit, which is good for me now and then—I think.

EDIT: I found the video! It was on Vimeo, not on YouTube – https://vimeo.com/137513763


Aug 31 2015

Making models at my age

Adel Gabot

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2:08PM

It being a holiday today (National Heroes Day, and Occupy EDSA Weekend for our INC brethren), I looked for something to do. I had just finished another article for one of my magazines over the weekend, and I was ready for some R&R.

I decided I would finally get started on the small-scale model kit my daughter gave me for my birthday some years ago. Andrea remembered I made model kits when I was younger and I guess she figured I’d like another chance to make one, despite my age, and bought me a kit, some model glue and four bottles of model paint.

I put it away, untouched, and through the years it’s been heckling and jeering at me to get started on it, staring at me defiantly from the glass-fronted bookshelf in my room. In truth I didn’t trust myself to do it then, because I was still recovering from my stroke and didn’t think I could do it justice. But this morning I thought I’d finally give it a shot. Why the hell not?

It was a 1:72 scale F-16B Fighting Falcon from a Japanese model company called HobbyBoss, one of those relatively simple kits for modelers aged 14 and up. At 53, I was way overqualified, having made big, intricate kits like the McDonnell-Douglas F-4 or a large Bell AH-1Z Viper in my day, but my stroke took me out of the running and set me back to the starting grid. Start simple first, I said.

I started building it at 9AM, taking my time and being careful to make edges neatly meet and carefully sand away the little plastic nubs left behind when you detach parts from the frames, and be sparing in my use of cement. And above all, let the parts dry before moving on! I remember that was my downfall in the early days when the fever took over and I zipped right along to finish the kit in the quickest time possible. I also used oodles of cement, large dollops that screamed amateur back then.

But no matter how slow and careful I was, I finished it by after lunch. Four frigging hours only. It was really a small, simple kit, with relatively few parts.

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I had decided early on not to paint the kit or apply the decals because they were more trouble then they were worth (but mostly because Ea didn’t give me all the necessary paint I needed, and I was loathe to go look for the missing ones and buy them when I would just use a couple of drops from each bottle for a hobby I wasn’t likely to get into anymore). So things zipped along because of that quick decision.

As I made it, I slipped into the old, mindless routine of cutting the pieces from the frames, filing and sanding the nubs, double-checking the wordless instruction manual (the Japanese had long ago wised up and made their products more universally acceptable by not including the words in the kits and making it simple and understandable) and making sure they fit before using small, thin streaks of glue to make them stick. It was soothing and hypnotic, and before I knew it it was 1PM and I was through.

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I looked at the finished product and thought, not bad, not bad at all. Now I wished I painted it and put the decals on, dammit.

I’d forgotten how satisfying and immensely gratifying it was to create something with your hands. Being a writer and creating a lot of nebulous content with just my words is fine and all, but there’s nothing like making something physical with your own two hands.

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Thanks, Ea.


Aug 28 2015

Ramen! A quick review of Tampopo

Adel Gabot

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10:26AM

I first came across the word Tampopo in the old Virra Mall, before the gentrification of the Greenhills Commercial Center, back in the late 80s.

It was a Japanese ramen shop on the first floor on the side facing UniMart. It’s long since gone, of course, but I would come across the name again some time later in the video store on a corner of the second floor of Virra owned by screenwriter Ricky Lee. I discovered it was the also the title of a 1985 film directed by Juzo Itami—which of course I immediately rented.

Tampopo means “dandelion” in Nipponggo, which was the name of the main character, a widow who operated a small (and unsuccessful) ramen shop in Japan (in Tokyo I think, although it was never really identified in the movie).

Basically, it’s the story of how Tampopo (played by Nobuko Miyamoto, Itami’s wife) tries to make her ramen shop work with the help of two itinerant truck drivers (played by Tsutomo Yamasaki and Ken Watanabe) who, along with several other (minor) characters, guide her to eventual success.

It’s a comedy about food, love, sex, relationships and Japan, and it’s a wonderful, funny, giddy little film. It works with the wild abandon of its crazy ideas and concepts about Japan’s love affair with food and how it’s enjoyed in its many ways, shapes and forms there.

The movie is actually more of a crazy quilt of different stories tied together with Itami’s unique flow and direction. There’s the main running storyline of Tampopo, the two truck drivers and the ramen shop, but the movie’s shot through with many other odd stories and events, like a white-suited gangster and his food/love experiments with his mistress, the crazy old woman who loves squeezing products to ruin at a grocery, the bumbling business intern who’s secretly a fine-dining expert or the gang of homeless beggars who are, amazingly, closet food and wine connoisseurs.

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One notable sequence was all about ramen and the proper way of eating it. Seeing Gun (Watanabe) being schooled in the art of eating noodles by a wise old man was eye-opening and hilarious, and has stayed with me through the years and comes to mind every time I have a bowl of ramen in front of me. I mean, where can you find ramen makers pay so much attention to kneading the noodles and fussing about the lime content, or preparing the broth with such meticulous care and love. The old man even tells Gun to first gently prod the pork slices in the ramen “to show affection.” More scenes show this care: that scene where a hobo cooks a rice omelet for Tampopo’s son by sneaking into a restaurant’s closed kitchen, for instance, speaks of the intense love the Japanese have for cooking.

In fact, the juxtaposition of food, love and sex in Tampopo is wonderfully done, particularly with the gangster and his girlfriend as they pass a raw egg yolk between their mouths, or using live shrimp in a bowl with sake upended on the naked girl’s belly to tickle her mercilessly. You’re simultaneously shocked and enthralled by all the weirdness going on, and somehow that seems quite all right.

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Itami makes the disparate stories blend together somehow and make them all work. You sit watching for an hour and half and you’re not quite sure what you’re really watching, but the film grabs you with its weird, odd moments of pure beauty that your eyes well with tears while simultaneously laughing at the absurdity of some of the scenes. I suppose it’s more fun if you’re actually Japanese, but I think I got most of the in-jokes anyway.

I once owned an original DVD of the film, which has long been lost in the mad scramble of life (like Nicholas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now), but I currently have a wonderful subtitled digital copy of the movie, something that I rewatch and rediscover every few months.

It’s sad to note that Juzo Itami eventually would commit suicide in the late 90s after being accused of adultery, but his amazing work lives on.


Aug 25 2015

Double XP Weekend

Adel Gabot

 

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4:35AM

Evolution Studios and Sony were so happy with Driveclub‘s sales (two million copies sold on the PS4 as of last count), this despite their horribly botched launch and terrible first few months in the market last year, that they instituted a double XP weekend this week to reward loyal players.

Yippee! Taking advantage, I racked up 10 full ranks from Level 35 to Level 45 over the past couple of days. 10 levels! Now, this isn’t really an easy thing to do. I worked my way up to Level 35 over several months of playing until the tedium of it all wore me down and I basically left it alone, just occasionally picking up the controller when boredom struck and I was looking for something to do.

I tried all the play modes when I first got the game, and found racing other people a bit too much. But the Time Trial mode apparently agreed with me, and later when I finally got the hang of skidding and screeching around corners, also liked the Drift mode very much. Last week, they introduced a new mode called Sprint, which I’ve tried and found promising.

But this double XP last weekend was very very nice. I wish I took better advantage of it, but I think I did pretty well considering.

Early on in the weekend, I finally found a car in the Super category that worked well for me, which was a fortuitous discovery. I originally was fixated on using Bentleys for most of my events and hardly used any others, but last Saturday I tried using a BAC Mono car and found its centrally-placed driver’s cockpit, very low profile and minimalist body construction to be extremely stable around corners and very easy to control. Being a car in the Super category, it was also much faster and scored higher in the tracks. I took to it right away, and just in time for the double XP weekend too.

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I gravitated to one of my favorite tracks, the deceptively simple Indian course known as Tamil Nadu No. 2. It’s very short and pretty plain, practically just a big basic circle with a couple of moderate turns, a couple of extreme turns and a couple of good long straights on which to accelerate and earn points. It’s included in the free Driveclub package for PS Plus subscribers so that doesn’t make it very exclusive, and it certainly isn’t as fancy and convoluted as some of the other tracks from Norway, Canada, Chile, Scotland or Japan, but it’s perfect if you just want to score points fast.

(I noticed something nice on these prolonged and extended gaming sessions too. I saw that as I raced, certain small details about the cars changed over time. For example, the “Mono” license plate on the back of my car grew progressively dirtier and dented the longer I raced. Also, I was able to take notice of my surroundings, bored as I was just going around and around: the attention to detail is phenomenal, and you don’t get that faraway scenery only-drawn-you-get-closer—everything is crystal clear and properly rendered from the beginning.)

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I did my racing in 100k-point cycles, meaning in Time Trial I circled around until I accumulated 100k points before going back to the pits and collecting my score, which because of double XP had ballooned to over 200k. Each 100k took me around 30 minutes of racing, and each level I gained needed around three of these cycles. (I had to rest at least every 30 minutes because I tended to grip the controller pretty hard and my hands would stiffen or cramp up of time.) So to gain 10 levels I had to do 30 of these cycles, which amounted to around 15 hours of playing over two days.

My best lap was just a hair over 49 seconds, when previously with a Bentley performance level car it was just over a minute. I tried as hard as I could but I couldn’t do better. I think it has something to do with my driving style—I didn’t really drift around corners, instead preferring quick braking jabs and straightforward normal turns.

Doing all that put me up to Level 45 (level cap is 66 or something like that), and my Driveclub Team to Level 20 (really, my teammates are useless—I’m doing all the work), something that would originally have taken me a couple of months to do.

I got into it so much that I practically left the Call of Duty: Black Ops III beta, which was on the same weekend, pretty much alone. But the Treyarch group extended the COD beta one extra day, so I’m playing it like crazy now, after the Driveclub thing expired last night.

Gosh, the things I do for my video games.

 


Aug 22 2015

Black and white

Adel Gabot

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4:40AM

Among the work I adore in Stephen King’s voluminous output, one that especially stands out is a novella called The Mist. When I came across it when it came out all those years ago, I marveled at the simple story and how it enhanced the horror that was to unfold.

A famous poster artist (modeled after Drew Struzan) lives with his family in an idyllic, remote community, and one night, a massive storm hits the place and wreaks havoc. The next day, they try to piece everything back together, and the artist and his son head out into town to buy supplies from the grocery. Before they leave, the family wonders about a thick fog bank they see slowly moving across the lake towards them.

At the supermarket, which is filled with people doing the same survival thing, the fog bank descends on them, and they find that the mist is filled with horrible creatures and monsters hell bent on killing everyone. Everyone barricades themselves in the grocery wondering what the hell was happening. As the creatures attack, they try to escape into the mist—and that’s basically the story.

King’s marvelous talent for creating notable characters and engineering conflict and strife among them as they try to survive comes out again here. It was later made into a film by Frank Darabont, although the movie featured a disheartening and depressing ending different from the novella’s. Despite that, Darabont has a good reputation for converting King’s books and honoring the intent and remaining reasonably faithful to the work in his films.

The Mist was made pretty well I thought, a colorful interpretation of the King book. Colorful is certainly the operative word—but I always envisioned The Mist to be a black and white movie, in line with the 60s sensibility I always thought the book had, like in The Blob or Tarantula or Them! or The Creature From The Black Lagoon. But in a modern world with rich, kaleidoscopic colors and advanced technology, today’s generations wouldn’t take kindly to an old-fashioned color-drained black and white potboiler. Sad but true.

But I was in luck! It happens that Frank Darabont also thought the film should have been in black and white. While the powers that be in Hollywood didn’t allow him to release it in B&W of course, with the bluray edition Darabont finally got his wish. He was able to include a B&W version in the release, and I finally got a copy.

Watching The Mist in black and white was a totally different experience. It was like watching an entire other movie, an older, much loved one, and it transformed my appreciation for the work. I always thought it should have been done this way, and now it was. Compare the color and B&W versions and see what you think:

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The grossness and horror seems to actually be heightened by converting the movie to B&W, as it leaves the monsters’ colors and all the bright blood and gore largely to your imagination which, as any writer who knows how it all works, is the best way to do it:

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More than anything, converting it to B&W makes The Mist part of the timeless, classic tradition of the old black and white horror movies of yesteryear, whose colorlessness makes it scarier than any full-color movie.

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Of course, you can always just bleed out the color on your media player’s settings and come up with a reasonably colorless version, but it takes professional filmmakers to expertly make it a true black and white epic.

I’m danged glad I finally got the B&W version.


Aug 20 2015

Lotsa dead time: A couple more quick reviews

Adel Gabot

8:10PM

This nice part about being a freelancer is the surfeit of free time you have now and again. Oh, there are days when you can’t even begin to figure out where to get started with your tons of work, but there are also days when you largely have nothing much to do. It is during these days when you can catch up with your reading, or maybe see all the movies you’ve been missing.

Over the past few days I’ve had some time to catch up on some new movies. I already wrote a short review of The Fantastic Four. I further had a chance to see a couple more, and I’d like to also give short reviews of them here.

First off, the new Attack on Titan movie. It’s still to open in the States, and is still a purely Asian release at this point.

It’s a completely Japanese production, which is only appropriate since it’s based on manga and anime made in Japan. The copy I got is in its native Nippongo and is subtitled in English, which admittedly is an irritating distraction from the action. It’s a big-budget spectacle, and is a big deal for its many fans around the world. If you’re not one of them, the movie will be a bit confusing, but let’s see if I can summarize the plot for you:

Attack on Titan‘s a post-apocalyptic scenario where the world is threatened by so-called Titans, which are humongous humanoid creatures which feast on people. They are monstrous, naked savages who tower fifty feet or more above normal humans, and don’t have reproductive organs but somehow manage to propagate. The remaining people have constructed three humongous concentric walls around their community to protect themselves from the Titans. They have lived this way for over a hundred years, and have set up a vigilant volunteer force to watch over the walls.

Over time no attacks have occurred, which has lulled the folk into complacency, even leading some to question the actual existence of the Titans and the foolishness of protecting themselves against a non-existing menace. Then one day a big (even for them) Titan attacks and busts a big hole in the first fence, and a swarm of lesser, but still massive, Titans enter and wreak havoc. They make a right fine mess of the community and eat most of them up, while the surviving humans retreat to the confines of the second wall. Later, a ragtag force ventures out to close the gap in the first wall and eliminate the Titans still inside.

And the story goes on from there.

The movie is pretty graphic in its depiction of the violence, and I’m hard pressed to think of another movie that’s any worse. In fact, I think the producers have made it a point to make a big deal of the carnage, and leave the film to coast on it at that. There’s hardly any character development, and moreover the film takes liberties with the manga and the anime more than is warranted, I think. If you’re watching without any previous experience with the series, I think you might find it a bit confusing at first, but enjoy the movie a bit more, not like all these kotaku screaming bloody hell at all the movie’s meddling.

While the movie undoubtedly had a huge budget, I still have an issue with slightly hokey effect of the big Titans attacking and tearing the people apart. It just doesn’t seem… real. We have progressed far with our cinematic effects, but it seems the latest improvements hadn’t gotten around to Attack on Titan‘s production people yet. The Titans seemed tacked on and not made an integral part of the scene. But then again, maybe it’s just me.

Anyway, the storyline is far from ended, and a sequel or two is in order. I’ll think I’ll reserve judgment until they’re all in.

I also saw Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation, the fifth in the series of films based on the old TV show.

This one is a fun romp. And Tom Cruise is again doing his harebrained stunts, although the massive and thrilling hanging-off-an-airplane-door trick that was part of the big attention-grabber of the trailer was just a throwaway moment at the beginning of the movie. But the film is chock-full of moments like that: crazy car chases, an underwater scene at a power plant, a marvelous assassination subplot at the opera, a great motorcycle chase—Tom Cruise has never been so busy attempting his manic stunts.

The movie is about an anti-IMF group named the Syndicate and its efforts to eliminate Ethan Hunt’s organization. Add to that subplots featuring Alec Baldwin as the CIA chief looking to get the IMF shut down too, Rebecca Ferguson as a British agent (and Hunt’s equal) working for… well you never really know who she’s working for—which is part of the mystery of her character, Jeremy Renner trying to hold the IMF together one last time for one last mission, and you get a hell of an action-packed two hours. The film is also focused on the bromance between Cruise and Simon Pegg, and their many comedic moments leaven the movie with a lighter vein.

That’s the film in a nutshell, and it’s best if you don’t really let your intellect interfere. In fact, Rogue Nation is a wonderful thriller if you leave your brain at the door and just let the movie carry you along. It doesn’t have the gravitas of the first movie, the seriousness of the second, the intricacy of the third or the crazy hijinks of the fourth (well, maybe it does at that), but it’s a good film nonetheless.

More new movies to see this long weekend: sci-fi thriller Air, the Pixar-animated Inside Out, Cameron Crowe’s confused (allegedly) Aloha and zombie horror flick Extinction.

Be back with quick reviews of these films as I see them.

 

 

 

 

 


Aug 18 2015

Quick review: The Fantastic Four (2015)

Adel Gabot

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11:32AM

I finally got a chance to see The Fantastic Four.

It wasn’t great. In fact, I think it comprises just the introductory part of a longer, better movie. As it is, it’s the origin story, with a lukewarm conflict tacked on at the end to make it seem like a complete, organic film with a quick slam-bang ending. It had clunky dialogue, a less-than-epic scope, and some of the story elements were downright ridiculous. I expected more from the stellar cast. But them’s the breaks, I guess. They can’t all be Captain America: The Winter Soldier or Iron Man 3.

The film starts with Reed Richards and Ben Grimm in fifth grade, and a largish chunk of the movie follows them through high school. Then all of a sudden Reed gets a scholarship to a fancy lab-cum-school for gifted scientists where he quickly meets the rest of the cast, builds his inter-dimensional teleportation machine, goes to another planet, gets their powers and then battles with Victor Von Doom for the fate of the Earth. All in an hour and a half.

I can sort of understand the massive negative backlash towards the film, which wasn’t helped by the hand-washing of director Josh Trank on social media. But it wasn’t a horrible movie. Just mediocre.

Some points:

  • I think all the main characters are too young for their roles.
  • Sue Storm is adopted?
  • I think the film spent too much time on the backstory. We were more than halfway through and nothing of import had happened yet. I thought, damn this movie’s slow.
  • Character development is virtually nonexistent. Most of the people were just cardboard cutouts, they were that two-dimensional.
  • The denouement that featured the Fantastic Four fighting Doom on the planet in the other dimension just felt added on just for the heck of it.
  • When they finally get their powers two-thirds of the way through the movie, it’s not that played up on at all. It’s just there. Then the movie fast-forwards a year, and they were old hats at using them already.
  • I couldn’t get over the fact that Reed Richards abandons the team at the beginning when things were still a mess, and the rest of them have to mount a worldwide search for him. That’s just not Reed, I’m sorry.
  • They had to have that awkward and stilted conversation at the end where they come up with a name for their team. Man.
  • I really think they should have left the pants on with Ben Grimm’s Thing. Really.

Compared to Marvel’s other superhero films, The Fantastic Four is meh. Better luck next time around. Maybe the inevitable sequel?

 


Aug 16 2015

Reminiscing on my old life

Adel Gabot

5:02AM

We were on the way home from the wake and cremation services for my beloved cousin Jim Macalalad yesterday. Jim passed away last Monday, God rest his soul—and nope, I won’t blog about it; had a bad experience with his mother when I wrote about a hospital visit before, so no thanks.

My brother Burt and I were talking about that blog entry (search for it if you like—it was a late April post), and my brother said he was unaware that I had a “new” blog. I joked that Jim’s mother was more aware of my blog than my own brother was. He countered that he had been reading my old one, but wasn’t aware of the new blog (this one).

Cripes, this blog’s been up for going on six years now!

Anyway, all that talk about the old blog made me go to it last night and this morning, and idly read through it again.

I’m a bit taken aback by the younger me that wrote it. It’s like a different person entirely. He had an ease with the language, an easy facility, style and verve, and he apparently led an interesting, colorful life. But that’s the old Adel.

I, on the other hand, have a simple one now, and I’m still struggling with the mind-numbing effects of the stroke I had five years ago, the one that changed my life drastically.

I found an old entry on my old blog that made me smile and chuckle at the memories it evoked of my previous life, and thought I’d repost it here, just for the hell of it.

And I think, as I read through the blog, of reposting old, notable (to me, anyway) entries from it every now and then, and save you, casual reader, from going there yourself and having to pour through that junk.

So here’s the first repost from The Electric Journal of Adel Gabot:

 

“March 1st, 2008

Close encounters with the rich and famous

Been an atrociously crummy couple of weeks after my birthday, and I’ve been feeling pretty down.
To cheer myself up and conjure up a bit of fleeting esteem-by-association, I tried to remember brief and strange encounters with famous people I’ve had over the course of my life, while staring at the ceiling at 4 in the morning.You might notice I’m not explaining who’s who. If you don’t recognize some names (like, do you know who Ben Burtt is? Shame on you!), google them; I’m not elaborating. Some of these were so brief I sometimes wonder if they really happened; I think they did – I’m not yet that far gone. And yes, I admit it. I’m mababaw and kilig with these things. So sue me.
I’ve had more, but only these come to mind now. Over the course of the next few months, I’ll expound in more detail on some of the following incidents in the occasional post, and the others I can eventually remember. (A lot of them was when I was an FM radio DJ; I don’t go around harrassing celebs visiting the country. They come visit me.)
If there are any you’d like me to make kuwento first, just holler; otherwise I’ll just pick at random.

– trying hard to explain the tragi-comedy that is Philippine politics to a curious Neil Gaiman.
– Andrea Corr putting her arm around my waist and me putting mine around her shoulders.
– David Pack explaining to me why he’s got diarrhea (he had some ‘bag-ong’ for lunch).
– Noel Pointer destroying a chair in my booth during a radio interview by sitting on it.
– asking Lea Salonga who this newbie Christina Aguilera was co-opting her Mulan song.
– saving Earth, Wind & Fire’s ass by explaining onstage to 20,000 angry people why their concert was starting 2 hours late – and getting hell for it.
– telling Shaquille O’Neal to duck his head coming through my office door.
– shooting the breeze over the phone with Tina Arena long-distance for almost an hour.
– Jewel being exceedingly rude to me in a Taipei hotel room.
– Sir Ben Kingsley brushing off my attempt to get an autograph by saying he had to pee.
– getting Ben Burtt’s autograph.
– chatting with Patrick Stewart for ten minutes in a mall corridor in Hong Kong.
– asking Mark McGrath if the breakfast buffet was good at our Kuala Lumpur hotel.
– running into Quentin Tarantino on the escalator in Gateway in Cubao.
– asking Sir Richard Attenborough a stupid question at a press conference.
– pissing off Gloria Estefan with a rude question at a press conference.
– when forced to make small talk with Brooke Shields, asking how she found the weather.
– asking Lisa Loeb what she looked like without the glasses – and Lisa obliging by taking them off.
– seeing Stephen Bishop do something unspeakable in a soda glass in Megamall.
– Corinne Drewery holding my arm during their entire interview at my radio show.
– asking Basia how the hell one pronounces her surname.
– telling Peter O’Toole we don’t normally roll up the sleeves of a barong tagalog.
– having half a beer with Oliver Platt in a bar in Malate.
– asking Bobby Brown to have his muscle please leave the booth during our interview.
– almost choking on Russell Hitchcock’s BO and trying not to show it.
– almost choking on Beck’s BO and trying not to show it.
– shaking David Coulthard’s hand.
– Angela Chow co-hosting an entire episode of my radio program.”