Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Review: The Countess (2009)

I've loved the story of Elizabeth (Erszebet) Bathory since I was in high school. She's a Hungarian countess who was rumored to have bathed in blood of virgin girls in order to achieve eternal youth and beauty. Second to Vlad the Impaler's story (they said the inspiration for Count Dracula), this is one of the tales that I read the earliest about "real-life vampires"--if by vampire you mean someone who is bloodthirsty.
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I wasn't aware that there's a movie based on that story, and when I stumbled upon a torrent website and saw it (serendipity as always! Yaay!), I immediately downloaded it.

The flick wasn't so magnificent. Of course they would incorporate something "human" so the audience can readily relate to it. What else could it be but love? The story goes like this: Elizabeth fell in love with one Istvan, a very young man, and the latter readily returned the feelings. However, Istvan's father barged into the liaison and sent Istvan to Denmark to marry a young baroness. Elizabeth, thinking that her age has something to do with Istvan's leave, sought for the best cosmetic that would grant her youthful beauty. She discovered virgin girls' blood, and for years she tortured and drained young girls to death, collecting their blood and dabbing it onto her face. She must be going really insane, as she was seeing the improvements of her skin in the mirror while others can't. Istvan went back to her five years after he left and have their old flame rekindled. He still fulfilled his mission there, though: he must see evidences that would support the rumors about Elizabeth being a murderer. Elizabeth was sentenced to life imprisonment, bricked in her room for years before finally killing herself.

That's basically the formula: legend/historical account + love backstory = audience wants. It doesn't work all the time, though. The flick is lacking something from the start and I'm not quite satisfied at the end. Substance, perhaps? I know this could've been a better movie. Perhaps if July Delpy isn't the leading actress and the director and the writer, this must have turned into something bigger and more worth watching.

The gothic story was incorporated fully; the movie was swooningly faithful to its source. I imagined Elizabeth lying on a bathtub of blood though, when I first encountered her history. In the movie the countess treated the blood just as moisturizer, though later it was implied that she did shower with blood, under the cage where girls were impaled with some sort of sharp metal equipment and drained.

There was too-many a change of POV's, poor character development...and man, there was a babel of accents! I know the cast is international, but still.... *cringes* Oh well. I think it's still an "okay" movie. There are redeeming qualities, of course. Acting is not the forte of the picture, but the dialogues are (sometimes) great. XD Costumes are very appropriate and music is epic win!.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Vacay! :)

And the summer officially commences for us! Yes! Today's the first day of vacation for the A306 block, and a week or two from now we'll enroll as fourth year students. It's really kind of funny how I always blurt out how fast everything goes--that's always the case--but...it does surprise me. It feels as if it's only yesterday when I started dreaming of becoming a writer (and yeah, I know I sounded like a cliche, but I think you really won't mind if that's the exact thing you're feeling right now. Take it from me.)

This semester has been eventful. For the Humanities class, our goofy, 22-year-old professor Jet dela Cruz taught us arts the way we weren't taught in high school. We painted, we sculpted, we danced and sang (surprisingly "well", according to him), we met a Chinese national artist through him--and enjoyed all of it. He does pick on me from time to time but it's fun. XD

For Economics we have Professor Nadine Poquiz, who we easily became friends with. She did all sorts of things that qualified her as a member of a teenage barkada: from recommending diet supplements to chitchatting about how my 'crush' is actually a gay and just had a nose lift/repair/whatever...she's all done it. :D We're going to miss her class and the quizzes in group reports that we've answered even before the questions are showed to us.

Sir Guillermo Santos for newspaper management. Nothing so much to say about him--he's still the same ol' guy who's seemingly got tomes of encyclopedia crammed in his head. It's amazing how he remembers all of those information despite his age. Seriously. XD As for newspaper lay-outing, we have Sir Vic Soriano. Strict one. We managed to make our very first newspaper, The Harbinger, in his class.

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Front page of The Harbinger


Sir D (Sir Dindo Danganan) came back as out professor in business and economics writing. Still the same as the last time we were under him. I find him amusing at times, but somehow I felt a little sad for him. I don't know. It's not so nice to live alone. :( Anyway, for PR principles we have Miss Jasmin De Jesus. Learned a lot about public relations even if she's almost always absent every other week (peace out!). And I made my own advocacy campaign (PR plan) .......overnight. Man. :/ At least I did it.

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TINIG NG KABATAAN: my advocacy campaign a la Ako ang Simula

And in accomplishing acads-related tasks, I do always procrastinate. I think it's my favorite hobby now...lol, what I do to kill time (even if I haven't got much) is quite stress-relieving. Doodling on the night before a final exam proved that to me. XD

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Bye, third year! Hello, our last year in uni. :D It's still quite a long time, but it's still the last chapter of our lives as students. With this little gap we called the summer vacation (which will not be long, since we're going to have our ojt's), we  will celebrate and at the same time get ourselves ready for more challenges that await us as senior journalists-in-training. :)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Paint your palette blue and grey...♪ ♫

I'm listening to old songs tonight: Bee Gees, The Beatles, The Carpenters, Michael Learns to Rock, Bread, etc. When Don Mclean's Vincent played, Vincent van Gogh's The Starry Night automatically popped into my mind. I suddenly thought about this wonderland of adventurously awesome artists called DeviantArt. :P I figured they'd have their own versions of the painting, so I went down the e-rabbit hole---and didn't get disappointed. :))

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Starry Godzilla by leggedfish.

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Starry Night by beyond-cloudy-skies

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Hogwarts, a dark and starry night  by m4g1c4lm3


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My Starry Starry Night by cliford417

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Starry Night Redux by sagittariusgallery

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Starry Night by yantotzkie

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Starry Romance by step-into-the-sky

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Starry Night over Walmart by Robotlick

As for RL updates....finals week is here! And I'm feeling very sick. >__< I hope I get better in the morning.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Smitten with 'Painting Flowers'

--I indeed am.
Most of the time, catchy songs that I don't even like tend to ring around my skull long and loud enough to make me bang it against the wall. I'm more than glad now that my system got All Time Low's "Painting Flowers" (Alice in Wonderland OST) replaying in my head for perhaps more than half a hundred times today (and counting).

I know it's included in Almost Alice, the flick's official soundtrack, so it will include elements from the movie. But I certainly find All Time Low's incorporation of their own story with some of the most popular scenes from Lewis Carroll's book commendable:

1. Alice painting the white flowers red (I am still painting flowers for you..)
2. The Caucus race where everybody wins (Wonder, why do we race? When everyday we're running in circles)
3. Alice's fall into the rabbit hole (It's such a funny way to fall)
4. Cards as the theme of the whole book; a possible reference to the Queen of Hearts (Throw my cards, give you my heart)
5. The Wonderland and its creatures (Strange maze, what is this place? I hear voices over my shoulders)
6. The story in a nutshell: Alice's dream (When I wake up, the dream isn't done)

I think it's quite poignant (and somehow, I think there's a thickly veiled reference to the pairing HatterxAlice here. Don't ask me why. I just think there is--I mean, I even thought the pairing's in the movie as well.... *shrugs*). And yes, it does suit the movie. "When I wake up, the dream isn't done; I wanna see your face and know I made it home" are the lines in the song I thought best described Tim Burton's re-imagining/sequel to Alice in Wonderland. Wonderland--or Underland this time--isn't a dream, but a real place with real creatures. I don't know whose face Alice wants to see to make sure she's home, but in the movie she really wants to get home. Or to wake up, as she stubbornly tells herself she's just in her dream.

This line: I heard everything you said; I don't wanna lose my head, always makes me think of the scene in the movie where Mad Hatter and Alice talked on the balcony of the White Queen's palace. MH: Dream? Does it mean I'm not real? A: Yeah, I'm afraid so. MH: *sortahurt* Well, it takes someone half-mad as me to make me up... (LOL believe me I'm not going to ship them! I have a lot of OTPs to work on at the moment, I can't add another one!)
Anyway, you can listen to the song below. Just click on the image linkie (redirects to my Tumblr). :)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Lethargic

I'm a professional procrastinator after all.

WIP's that were left hanging on my semi-abandoned account at FFN, unfinished pages of The Harbinger, the article line-up for work where I can't find in any of my USB's after I've reformatted the laptop...well, the list could go on and on, they're all heaped upon each other. I should start doing them now if I don't want to let out strings of rants that only I can hear during the nights before deadlines.

March has been okay so far. School's eaten my time as always--well, that's the main reason why I procrastinate things that aren't school-related. XD The band Paramore held a concert here and I freakin' didn't come. On the eighteenth, Neil Gaiman would be here for some sort of book signing event and I wouldn't freakin' come. All right, what kind of fan is that?

Anyway, Paramore's concert became the way for most people to acknowledge the awesomeness of their third album, Brand New Eyes. The ballad "The Only Exception" was especially liked by many.

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Photos above are screenshots from the official music video of The Only Exception, where Hayley Williams is lying on hundreds of love letters. It turned out that the love letters were real letters-----from fans. :)

In other news, I'm listening to Alice in Wonderland's official soundtrack the whole day. My personal favorites are "Painting Flowers" (you can hear it here at my Tumblr), "Alice", and "Poison". As what my friend put it, it's all very 'twisted'! Awesome bands, to boot!

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As for Uni RL, school sched's been hectic because of the practices for our Humanities presentation. I hope everything goes alright! Photojournalism sophomores were planning to go to Isla Verde this coming weekend. I hope I can go with them, but there's still something wrong with my camera and the finals week is approaching. Lots of work needs to be done!

As for home RL, my father bought a new laptop, hurrah! No more computer times war! *confetti*  My little sister used the new laptop tonight. By the looks of it, it seems like she wouldn't want to use this old laptop again.

*yawns*

Sleep time!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Review: The Lovely Bones (2009)

PhotobucketWhen I first read The Lovely Bones (in pdf format, which totally ess-you-see-kay-ess), it kind of reminds me of the World War II animated film The Grave of the Fireflies, wherein the main character introduced himself by stating the exact date he died. That's one of the two similarities I can find between them. The other one is that both made me want to grab a roll of Kleenex.

The Lovely Bones is the story of Susie Salmon who is murdered (and raped---in the book), then watches over her relatives from a place that isn't heaven or earth.

I think the movie's good! I liked the book more, though. That's almost always the case with me, I'm a book-turned-Hollywoodized-films cynic. There are only a few flicks that are able I became satisfied with.

Differences: there's no such place as "in between" in the book. Lots of characters that played important roles in the book were just given cameo roles in the movie; while it didn't affect the plotline that much, it would've been better if they became more faithful to the source text. That's in terms of the characters. I have to admit that there are some parts of the book that I could describe as "dry", and one of the things I liked about the movie is that it's able to avoid picking scenes from those parts.

Performance of the cast okayed, particularly that of Jack Salmon (Mark Wahlberg) and George Harvey (Stanley Tucci). I have this soft spot for poignant father-daughter moments, so in the scene where Jack is destroying his collection of self-made ships in bottles--while Susie watches how the giant versions of those ship-bottles break against the rocky shores in limbo or 'in-between'--I felt as if my heart shrank. The same with the moments where he became obsessed with his daughter's murder. As for Mr. Harvey..well, he does give me the creeps with his stare and chuckle. That's the way it should be, so thumbs up! The limbo scene where Susie finds out there are other girls who suffered the same fate as hers is a little spine-chilling and at the same time beautiful. Really, I'm torn between being sucked into that world completely and observing the beauty of the cinematography. Giving this 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Review: Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Plunging into the rabbit hole has never been this awesome before.

Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland takes off thirteen years after Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Nineteen-year-old Alice (Mia Wasikowska) returns to Wonderland after running away from her engagement party. She reunites with her old friends—including Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, the White Rabbit, the Dormouse, the March Hare, the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), the caterpillar (Alan Rickman), and the Cheshire Cat. This time, the Wonderland isn’t in a very nice state: the Red Queen has taken over the place as its tyrannical leader. Now, with the help of all her friends, including the White Queen (Anne Hathaway), Alice must fulfill her role as indicated in “the oraculum”. She must return a stolen legendary sword to the White Queen, then she must don the complete armor and slay the Jabberwock(y) in order to set the place back in its original state.

Tim Burton’s take on the tale gives us a fresh perspective of the classical setting of the famous bedtime story. He made Wonderland his own, in a sense that it was done in digital fashion reminiscent of the Corpse Bride, though it was blatanltly more of an eye candy. The characters wore the Burton trademark as well: the ghostly pale make-up, Victorian era wardrobe, and digitally “distorted” characters. It must have been really enjoyable watching this movie in 3D.

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Thumbs up for Johnny Depp for another exceptional performance as the Mad Hatter—he really has this charming knack for portraying eccentric characters! I had my fingers crossed that he’d sing at least a line in the movie, but he didn’t (it’s not supposed to be a musical anyway). Here he’s adorably insane. With a mess of orange hair and expressively large green eyes, Depp played this character in way I didn’t imagine it being played before. I don’t know if it’s just me, but Depp managed to make me feel for his portrayal of the Mad Hatter than the original one. Maybe it’s because the latter is just…well, plain mad? Depp’s Mad Hatter is more emotional—after all, he’s more involved with Alice this time, a true friend. There are several moments that proved this. One is when he looked broken when Alice said she still believes she's just in a dream (“Does it mean I’m not real? Well, it takes someone half-mad as me to make me up…”). Another is the farewell part, the one where he worried that Alice would forget him. Most of the time, he’s as funny as the rest of the cast. Ooh, and that dance move at the end would have given Michael Jackson a run for his money!

Moving on...bringing back the tandem I loved from Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Helena Bonham Carter is present in the movie as well, this time playing the Red Queen/Queen of Hearts (they got both of the characters meshed up in one again! Though this time I think Burton’s just following the stereotype adaptation of the characters in pop culture). Her head is humorously magnified thrice on screen—which I think fits the personality of her character. With arrogance and an amusing sense of elegance, Carter is able to play her role with justice. And this has to be said: I love her shrill cry of—“OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!!”

And of course, who would not notice the overly graceful and beautiful White Queen? Anne Hathaway had nailed the character to hilarious perfection. Her fingers elegantly restless and flicking all the time (you know the one, you see that mannerism in almost all Disney princesses), one would thought at first that she’s a very neat, well-mannered Queen—until you meet her in the kitchen. She’d practically turned into some sort of witch there while she prepared the draught for Alice to shrink to her original size. Buttered fingers (literally severed, buttered human fingers) and her own spit are just two of the main ingredients. Yes, imagine a very elegant Queen suddenly spitting nonchalantly onto a cup where one is supposed to drink from. That, and the scene where she almost threw up while collecting the Jabberwock’s blood in a vial had me cracking up.

I have nothing much to say about Mia Wosikowska's performance. Sometimes she's wooden, sometime's she's so the Alice in the books, methinks. There's something lacking in her acting. My favorite 3D character would be the Cheshire Cat. Why, he's so adorable and fluffy! He looks like a furry balloon when he floats and goes invisble. :)

I hate to be predictable, but I liked this movie. Burton’s strength is obviously his visuals and his good teamwork with Johnny Depp that has been established through the years (think of Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice, Sweeney Todd, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). However, the story, while highly original, didn't quite strike a chord in me--like, it didn't hit the bull's eye. I still enjoyed it though! Would give this 4 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Neil Gaiman on Writing

Things to remember when writing, according to the rock star of the literary world, Neil Gaiman:


1 Write.

2 Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.

3 Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.

4 Put it aside. Read it pretending you’ve never read it before. Show it to friends whose opinion you respect and who like the kind of thing that this is.

5 Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.

6 Fix it. Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.

7 Laugh at your own jokes.

8 The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.


Briefly but clearly said! It's pretty much the same as my writing routine--tips four to six are what exactly I'm doing when I'm writing articles and fanfictions. :) Tip number 8 is made of win--the rule of all writing rules, I might say. I'm glad I found this list. There's nothing more inspiring than the words of the genius himself! Needless to say, I'm starting to write FF's again. :)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

'Cause Gaiman is THE Man

These almost made me *glomphugsquish* the laptop when I saw them:

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Man, this, I can afford! LOL. But it's still not the same...if I'll go to the sci-fi graphics and story awards, I'll be able to meet him personally AND he can even sign a book for me. *sobs*


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Not much of a pick-me-up if I think about the book-signing, but this means I can buy three Gaiman books at once---that is, if I have a my regular book budget of 700php whenever the bibliophilian mood strikes. And it has to strike before March 18. XD


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A Chinese version of Gaiman's The Graveyard Book. Awesome art. Makes me admire Gaiman more...especially if I think about his library full of his books translated into different languages from all corners of the globe. :) You rock on, pal!