felix felicis

felix felicis: May 2012

Monday, May 28, 2012

The virus called Beethoven (review)

Finally, I’m done with MBC’s 2008 Korean drama, Beethoven Virus. I thought I would be able to marathon it, but due to ~unforeseen circumstances (i.e. katamaran), it took me two months before I finally watched the last episode. Hahahahaha. 

This drama, as mentioned earlier, was released in Korea on 2008. It was topbilled by Kim Myung Min (as music conductor Kang Gun Woo), Lee Ji Ah (as the feisty violinist Du Ru Mi), and the cute Jang Geun Seuk (as trumpeter Kang Gun Woo). The series has eighteen an-hour-and-a-half episodes and the story revolves around the dreams of each character to propel their own musical successes. As a struggling violinist without any luck in staying in a stable orchestra, Ru Mi finds herself becoming a government employee. During her course of work, she suggested that a city orchestra be created so as to make their community as the Classical Music Capital of South Korea. The gullible city mayor, fueled by his political ambition, was enticed by Ru Mi’s idea and had soon allocated public funds for the said project. Ru Mi’s initial luck would soon vanish as the government seed grant was scammed by fraudulent music conductor. Scared by future problems, Ru Mi hires the infamous Kang Gun Woo—dubbed by the classical music world as the “orchestra killer” because of his apparent inclination to perfection. Helping her around and becoming her eventual sidekick is her landlady’s nice nephew, Kang Gun Woo. The upcoming twists and loops of the story and the revealing connections and conflicts between and among the characters provide a colorful palette for the whole plot of the series.

I must say that I’m a bit picky when it comes to classical music listening. For obvious reasons, it takes a certain type of mood before I succumb to its beauty. Char. May appreciation naman, bordering boring lang talaga yung iba. Anyway, I guess the series has helped enhance my appreciation for such music. Every episode provides the viewer a glimpse on the life of classical musicians and the dedication and passion they have for their craft. Of course it has to be said that just like every other craft, practitioners are required discipline, commitment and passion.

The BV series is a bit different from those Korean romantic comedies and dramas we were introduced to. BV tends to be both serious and comedic—the edge it has on other Korean series is that it has a touch of reality. The way they shaped their characters were close to how people would react in real life. Of course others would say that there are other Korean series that have reflected reality, but in my case I guess this is my first. The struggle of the lead characters towards perfection and achieving success are in no way different to how their orchestra- mates deal with their own issues. The “band misfits” have sweated their way towards recognition but to no avail. While it did happen in the end, it wasn’t as sweet as it should be compared to other portrayals in other Cinderella stories. That thirst for success, achievement and some sort of recognition make for the series overall appeal to a wider base of audience, I believe. It has captured the dreamer in me. Charmander. Hahaha. Further, the love triangle arc in the plot is not trying hard to paint a very happy ending for the leads. Of course it ended on a happy note, but not what most viewers would expect it to be (spoiler, haha).

The other plus point of the series is its careful choices on music. Ok so I’m not so good here because as said I’m a new classical music fan. Anyhoo, the best scene I guess was Ahjumma’s cello solo on the third or fourth episode (not so sure with that). She deftly played Astor Piazolla’s Libertango (the who si Astor Piazolla??!). Those rich notes--- waaah, they’re just wonderfully played. And yes, Ahjumma’s swag while playing right in front of her bratty husband—empowered talaga si Mamang! Hahaha. Here's the clip:

The next best performance was the amateur city orchestra’s (i.e. the band with Ru Mi; Gun Woo; Yong Gi, Don’t Tell Papa’s resident trumpeter; Ahjumma the cellist; Yi Deun, high school flutist and Arabuji oboist) rendition of Nella Fantasia. Nella Fantasia was first heard in the 1986 movie The Mission—that scene where the captured priest plays his oboe to appease the tribesmen who plots to kill him and offer him to their gods. Why did I like it? Well, the notes are enticing enough to make you listen on repeat. Plus it puts me to peace. When you close your eyes while listening to it all you see is the beauty of nature. Aaahh. Finally, the third best music scene is on the last episode—that was when Kang Mae conducted the mixed orchestra’s performance of Beethoven’s immortal song Symphony Number 9 or more commonly known as Ode To Joy. It’s just rousing and glorious. Actually, any other competent orchestra performing this would really give me goosies because I’m really fond of this music. So there, that’s why I like it. Hehehe.

Jang Geun Seuk <3 <3 <3
Since this series was recommended by a very good friend, I find it best to recommend this too as part of your next Korean series marathon. It may be a bit boring in the middle because sometimes I’m tired with Ru Mi’s weakness, but overall it is good. Kang Mae’s like Snape with less grease on the hair. I actually like the developments they made on his character. Wala talagang redeeming factor at forever may angst and issues on life. Winner. I felt like all his life, he was fed with ampalaya (bittergourd) sa dame ng bitterness niya sa katawan. Hahaha. That’s what made him a very competent villain/ lead for me. Hahaha. Well, Ru Mi’s the weak type, as I have said. I felt that she’s dependent on her fickle feelings and ang clingy niya lang ke Kang Mae. Hahaha. It ruins the girl power attitude, anoba! But anyhoo, I think that’s part of the story’s planned conflicts. Of course, Gun Woo’s eye candy. Hahaha. Viewers can easily relate to his frustrations and hunger for recognition from Kang Mae. Also, his ever smiling face is something girls would swoon over. Hahaha.

Next up on my list is King2Hearts, another recommendation from friends addicted to Korean series and movies. I hope I’ll be able to download it or well, I could choose to watch it online. I just hope I can sneak some viewing time. Hahaha.

Enjoy Beethoven Virus! And well, pasensya sa chakang blog post title. Napaka-uncreative. Lol.

4 out of 5 stars.            

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Spirited Away (Review)

Last Saturday, I woke up late and found out that my parents attended a church activity somewhere in Balara. I was left with my two brothers and a pack of chocolate wafers. While nibbling through the pack of wafers, Tel and I decided to find something worth watching. We thought of watching The Secret World of Arriety but apparently, I forgot to save it on my drive so we ended up with another Japanese animated movie—Spirited Away.

Spirited Away—Studio Ghibli and world-acclaimed writer/director Hayao Miyazaki’s masterpiece—is set in a made up world of spirits and magical creatures. Critics say it’s an Asian version of Lewis Caroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, a wonderful homage to these literary and film classics. I could not agree more.

The movie begins with Chihiro, a 10-year old girl who sulks over the wilted flowers given by her friends as a farewell present. Their family is set to move in to another neighborhood, somewhere in the provinces of Japan. Seeing her sadness over this sudden change, Chihiro’s parents comfort her and tell her that everything would be fine. She’ll make new friends and find a better atmosphere in their new home.

Her gloating was soon changed when her Dad makes a wrong turn and their car ends up face-to-face a bricked edifice with unusual stone formations. Captivated by the eerie feel of the abandoned theme-park, Dad urged them to explore it. Chihiro wouldn’t budge but because she’s scared to be left alone, she clutched her mom’s arms and joined the adventure. A complex turn of events would soon ensue as her parents were enticed by a sumptuous banquet laid out in an empty stall. Chihiro refused to eat so she set off and saw an open bathhouse. When she returned, Chihiro saw that her mom and dad were turned into pigs. As the sun had gone down, the abandoned theme park turns into something Chihiro has never seen before. Masked shadows wandering, talking animals and walking radishes swarm the place. Thankfully, a boy of the same age named Haku explains to her that she’s trapped in a spirit world and that the bathhouse she saw was a recreational place for these wearied spirits.

The helpless Chihiro must now face things before she sees the ire of Yubaba, an evil sorceress who also happens to run the immense spirit bathhouse. She would be allowed in the spirit world as long as she can fulfill the job orders laid upon her by the old crone. Her adventures begin to pile— Yubaba renames her Sen and then she befriends the six-legged boilerman Kamaji and his soot mites. She was also made to scrub a very huge tub, welcome a stink spirit and calm down No Face, a shadow spirit who ate a lot of the bathhouse’s employees. No Face would soon become her trusty companion as she faces the odds head on.

There are many more fun adventures packed in this hour-and-a-half long film. In the many challenges and adventures faced by the young Chihiro, the viewers would see how she gradually transformed into a brave and intelligent girl. As a whole, the movie doesn’t only highlight the importance of friendship; it also talks about courage and maturity in times of adversity. For one, it is hard for a young girl to be left alone and see right before your eyes that your parents were changed into pigs. There’s also this big responsibility to save them and get out of the make-believe world. Chihiro learned all of that in Yubaba and Haku’s spirit world. She made friends and saved important people in her life. Most of all, amidst all those, she never forgot who she was. She cried but she never wallowed on that sadness. She stood tall and made it through. This coming-of-age film is definitely one of the best, I must say.

Chihiro with No Face.
Aside from the beautiful storyline, the movie’s main attraction is its vivid animation. Unlike other animated films nowadays, Spirited Away was done traditionally, manually drawn and then digitalized. One would really see the hardwork, Ghibli and Miyazaki’s team made. Further, the musical score enhances the enchanted feel of the movie. My favorite part was when Chihiro rode the train with No Face, the miniature crow and the small rhino (which is really Yubaba’s baby). The silence of the spirits and Chihiro’s contemplation over everything that happened while the train ran across the sea-soaked railroad—one could not just help but feel for the young girl. Haaaay.

In the end, everything was again in place. The spirit world was gone. Haku tells us not to look back and move forward. Then, we’re onto the real world again. Spirited Away is escapism at best— the fantasies of that magical world remain. We only need to get lost again and explore these new wonders.

5 out of 5 stars.

Watch the trailer

What others say about Spirited Away?

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Post- Avengers chararat

This is just soooooo nice. Wala lang. Enjoy. Hahahahaha. Will try to write a movie review for Marvel's The Avengers. :) 

Labels: ,

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Dear Ma

Hello! Hahaha!

We’ve always shared a bipolar relationship. Alamoyan. Hahaha. We fight and argue and then we patch things up like nothing ever happened. I think it’s just the same with other mother-daughter relationships. But believe me when I say that I cherish all those moments—both good and not so good—because it proves testament to our growing love for each other. Naks. You know I won’t be able to tell these things to you straight so I’m using the advent of technology to express myself.

You never ran out of words of wisdom—most of the time coupled with sarcasm. I guess I got that from you. Hahaha. Sayo nanggaling yung mga salitang “been there, done that, tigilan mo na yan.” You would also be the first person to scold me whenever I go late on my appointments—you say it is bad because it’s a sign of being uncommitted to the agreements you had with the person you’re meeting with. And then there comes your contradictions. One day you’ll encourage me to eat a lot because I’m getting skinny and then the next day you’ll tell me to stop shoving food down my tummy because my belly’s full of fat. When I stay quiet because we got into a fight, you’ll ask me what’s wrong. And when I tell you what’s wrong, you’ll say “Aba, sumasagot ka na ngayon?!” Whut. Oh but then those lucid intervals are what spices up our love-hate relationship. Hahahaha.

The best things I learned from you are those usual things mothers tell their children. Save your baon because you’ll never know when you’ll need that emergency money. Eat your vegetables. Eat your lunch even if the ginisang ampalaya tastes like whatever, it would still be good for you. Other kids starve so don’t waste your food. Don’t go to sleep angry, it’ll give you nightmares. Say po and opo and always pay your respects to your elders—they’re your extended parents. Listen when others are speaking. Speak only when asked. Talk politely. Don’t talk when adults are talking. Don’t talk to strangers. Pray before you eat. Pray before you go to sleep. Pray when you have problems bothering you. Pray when you receive blessings and say thank you. Pray when you’ve got no one to talk to. The One above never ceases to listen. Always pray.

When we grew up, those reminders have been etched on our hearts and minds. Then, during meal times, she would add more to our buckets of wisdom. Smile, it wouldn’t hurt to do so. Treasure those people you meet and keep them as friends. Make more friends. Keep a tightly knit group of people whom you’ll cherish for a lifetime. You can get angry at those people who step on you and your dignity, and then forgive them, just because it’s the right thing to do. Plus it shows how mature you are because you do not stoop down their levels. Have fun. Enjoy eating. Exchange funny stories and jokes. Savor little stuff like eating meals with the family or with friends. Laugh. Take several things lightly. Then be serious on adult stuffs. Always be on time even if others will be late. Never fail to listen to both sides. Think before you talk. Think then think again. Don’t be childish but keep that childlike wonder. Every day, she’ll have more. Sometimes she’ll be on repeat but then again she’ll tell us it’s good to repeat things—it makes you remember.

That car accident changed our whole life as a family. We became closer but then again, that’s when questions started propping up. Why did that happen to us, to you? Why when the whole family chose to dedicate our lives to fulfilling God’s ministry? I’ve always been puzzled. And then you tell me, it’s something we have to be thankful for. Despite the amputation and the trauma, we still thank God because your lives were spared. You were given another chance to live and see us where we are right now. You said it served as a test on our faith—it strengthened the foundations instead of crumbling them to pieces.

I know mej late na to for Mother’s Day, but I still deem it necessary to express my appreciation through this letter. Alam ko nagtatampo ka kase madalas ako wala sa bahay, dumadrama ka pa na nakakalimutan ka na namin. Hindi kaya. It’s part of growing up lang siguro. Hahaha. I’ve always been thankful to the One Above for having a mother like you—strong-willed and caring. Thank you for cooking the best lunches and dinners—sa masarap na kaldereta at malinamnam na banana cupcakes. Salamat sa paglalaba at pagpaplantsa. Salamat sa pangungulit pag matagal kame sa kubeta. Salamat sa pagtuturo ng abakada at one-two-three. Salamat kase di ka nagsawang basahan kame ng Bible stories tuwing gabi pati sa walang patid mong pag-akay samin sa simbahan at sa Sunday School. Salamat kasi tinuruan mo kaming mag-commute pauwi mula school—salamat kase at least di kame naliligaw ng bongga sa Maynila. Salamat sa mga ngiti at tawa kahit pagod ka na. Salamat for being simply there when we need someone to talk to, to hug and to just stare at. Hahaha. Joke lang yung stare at.

Salamat sa mga palo at mejo masasakit na salita. Natuto kaming matakot at magkaroon ng respeto sa nakatatanda. Salamat sa pagsasabi na hindi ka “jumejebs ng pera.” Natuto kaming magtipid at makuntento sa kung anong ibigay samin. Salamat sa mga jokes mong madalas korni. Natuto kaming tumawa kahit sa maliliit na bagay. Salamat sa pagsama samin sa ukayan, Divi at palengke. Na-appreciate naming kahit “poorita tayo, may taste naman tayo (Ong and Perreras, 2012).” Salamat sa pagdadala samin sa malls at sa mga mejo pricey restos. Hindi kami masyadong ignot sa pangmayamang bagay at natuto kaming makibagay ng natural. Char. Hahaha. Salamat kasi sa lahat ng yan, na-appreciate at naipamuhay namin yung mga katagang “enough is enough” at “there is a time and season for everything.” Salamat sa pagiging cool na nanay. We “could not ask for more (McCain, 2000).”

I’m looking forward sa mas madami pa nating kwentuhan at asaran sa harap ng hapagkainan. Dun sa mga baking sessions natin nila Papa. Pati na sa series marathons natin. Marami man tayong di magawa kase nalilimitahan ka ng iyong mga paa, di naman naikahon yung mga pangarap natin para sa nalalapit na hinaharap. Marami pa tayong gustong ma-achib kaya hold on tight, Ma… malapit na. Hehehehe. Labya! Hahahaha.

PS: Wag kang mag-alala. Pagtanda niyo ni Papa, sine at food trip ang gagawin nyo. Di namin hahayaang mapunta kayo sa mga geriatric centers. Mahirap na, baka mas madali kayong makalimot. Mabuti ng tumanda kayong makulit at pa-cute kesa mabilis mag-ulyanin at emo. Hehehe.

Labels: , , , ,