felix felicis

felix felicis: October 2014

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Reviews for Gone Girl and The Trial

So, two movies in a week. Quite expensive but still something I enjoyed. It was a good distraction from all the other feelz I’m having right now. Anyway, here’s my take on the two new movies that graced Philippine screens recently.

Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/incoming/
Gone Girl (2014)
Directed by: David Fincher
Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry

There’s so much buzz when Flynn’s neo-noir-ish novel was adapted in the big screen. After all, the book enjoyed primetime status in the bestselling charts along with numerous discussions about its open-ended finale. Praise was directed towards the novel’s unexpected twist halfway through the story— a direction I found really interesting. There were down moments after the telltale twist but the author managed to pick up speed and gain the right momentum until the end of the novel. It was a fitting end, I believe.

Ben Affleck is Nick Dunne and Rosamund Pike is Amy Elliot Dunne, a married couple from New York who were laid off as writers when the recent recession hit. Their unemployment and the subsequent illness of Nick’s mother forced the couple to use up their savings and live in the Nick’s Missouri hometown. On the morning of their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick finds out that Amy goes missing. The police, Boney and Gilpin, take over the search after traces of foul play were found in the Dunne residence. As the investigations deepen, Nick and Amy’s relationship and marriage are put under the lens, too. 

While the book version was exciting, this is a rare moment for the movie adaptation to surpass an already interesting book. With Flynn taking the screenwriting task and David Fincher (Se7en, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo Series) on the director’s seat, there’s no wonder the adaptation was well-received. 

Affleck is also at his finest, slack jawed and seemingly insensitive; his cool demeanor a fitting attitude for the role he is playing. The better revelation was Pike— her piercing eyes and breathy speaking voice brought Amy’s character to life. I felt that she was perfectly cast for the role. Neil Patrick Harris as Desi Collings, the sleazy and stalking ex-boyfriend of Amy, and Tyler Perry as Tanner Bolt, charismatic lawyer to “unappreciated” husbands, were also a perfect mix to the already impressive lead characters. 

I also felt that Flynn’s decision to collapse the original timeline of events in the story was a good revision. Also, the ending provided a more conclusive end to the Nick and Amy story. The movie’s unabashed portrayals of sex and violence were effectively integrated into the storyline. The best part was something I cannot talk about lest I spoil your movie experience. One thing’s for sure, it’s gory and violent and it’s nicely done. I was staring at the screen for at least a minute to take it all in.

Anyway, as said the movie was an effective adaptation of the book. Recommended for those looking for something to watch this long weekend.

4 out of 5.

Source: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-R8izR8Prg_4/VC_tMDOwsMI/AAAAAAAAHsU/VHkqLrEiRFI/s1600/thetrialSEPT22-625x410-carousel.jpg

The Trial
Directed by: Chito S. Rono
John Lloyd Cruz, Gretchen Barreto, Richard Gomez, Enrique Gil, Jessy Mendiola

I haven’t seen the trailer before anything else, but I watched the movie blindly bribed with JLC on the credits. The movie was ok, there were impressive moments but there were also disappointing ones. 

Ronald Jimenez (John Lloyd Cruz) is 27 years old but has a brain of a 13 year-old. While his mental retardation affected his learning capacity, this did not prevent him from entering high school. He moonlights as the school gardener right after class, a hobby which he uses to impress his Math tutor, Ma’am Bessy (Jessy Mendiola). Things get complicated when a video of Ronald “raping” his teacher was leaked online. As the events unfold, the audience are led to family homes and courthouses to learn how the allegations were resolved.

What I appreciated about the movie was its inclination towards explaining how “mental retardation" (what is the politically correct term?) happens and how others should do to help these mentally challenged people. Further, with the right cue and direction from the director, the actors effectively portrayed their roles. For one, I did not expect Gretchen Barreto to step up her game; but her grieving matter role was something I felt was good for her. 

What it makes for impressive acting and beautiful cinematography, it lacks on the courtroom scenes. Drama is good but too much crying and one-liner feelz felt too cloying. My friend also thought that not much research was utilised when preparing and shooting the courtroom scenes. The lines, while delivered ok, does not realistically show courtroom drama. It still resembles those we usually see on primetime television dramas. 

There’s something to work on but the future seems less bleak for Philippine cinema. 

3.5 out of 5.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Mixed feelings

There's just so much going on right now, many of which pass me by in a blur. I thought I was cool and okay. It turned out I am not. There's too much to feel and think and sense, all I do is look out and let the internal storm pass me by.

I know I'll be ok. I just need to buy some time and let the tears wash it all aside. Also, at one point I'd have to voice it out. The selfishness of sharing it makes it difficult to articulate. But I think I had to, lest I forget. 

For now, the darkness of the room is a welcome respite. 

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Tropang Quiapo

A good friend was smoking his third stick for the night when he asked if I’d like to help him bring to life his new initiative on peace and community-building. I was only slightly interested given my already hectic schedule but I said yes anyway. Three months after, we are already gearing for our third Saturday session at the Muslim Community in Quiapo, Manila.

When asked how they understand peace, most of the kids drew their homes and favorite things.
Our first session was quite chaotic—the kids were excited and restless and it was our first time. Naturally, our excitements were soon dissolved by our fear of not being able to engage the kids and end up short on our goal. We began with one of kids leading the Muslim prayer and then we started with our first activity, singing! Then, our ice breaker activity, which could have allowed the kids to know the names of their classmates ended up in a funny brawl. Hahaha! We proceeded to dividing them in groups and asked them to share with us how they understand the concept of peace through drawing. After half an hour, the kids submitted drawings of their houses and their neighborhood. Some of them drew their favorite food and toys. A bit off the mark but still within what we can work on. Snack time was quite disastrous. One of our volunteers was accidentally tramped by the kids asking for drinks. Over all, we were quite successful, with a lot of things to tweak and lessons learned.

Our Pay It Forward Wall
Our second session last Saturday was relatively more manageable. We started with the Muslim prayer and then introduced the kids to the Christian prayer. In doing so, we made them learn that other forms of faith exist and in part, taught them to respect the religious practices of others. We then went on with the usual energetic singing sessions. I thought they’ll tire out but no they didn’t. As soon as we sat down, the kids engaged in banter and a few fistfights. I took out the huge storybook I made and told them the story of the Good Samaritan. Miraculously, they were quiet the whole time I was telling the story and were even paying close attention. It was a happy feeling especially when I asked them the main lesson learned. Helping other people. :) Yay! Successful. We began our next activity by using hand cut-outs to share how they will help other people this week. The result was just so nice and inspiring.

We grouped them into three and tested their creativity again by asking them to create their slogans about helping others. Here’s what they wrote:

Helping Others Slogan
Snack time was relatively better than last time because they lined up and waited for their turn. Several kids were still unruly but with a few more weeks, I believe they’ll learn how to wait for their turns.

We’re resting this Saturday and will be preparing for the next module. I’m already looking forward to it. :) A lot of our friends already expressed interest to join us. We hope more people will volunteer and help us in this initiative. For more details and photos of our activities, visit our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/cmsnetworkph.

Sharing with you this week’s Peace of Advice from CMSNet:

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On coughs and dealing with life's disappointments

Source: http://www.bsale.com.au/images/alg_taxi_meter(1).jpg

I’m having a fairly nice and interesting collection of stories from cab drivers. While going home the other night, I was having a coughing fit and a runny nose. The cab driver asked if I was ok and I said yes. He then went on telling me that the inclement weather was causing a lot of people to be sick. He told me he was also having a hard time with his cough, hence the grunge in his voice. He could have called in sick and then rested the whole day, but because he needed to get his boundary, he cannot. Usual case of people trying to make ends meet, I told myself.

He was quiet for some time until he told me he would have gone to work anyway because his wife is away from home. Maybe she’s in their province, I thought. He then went on telling me his wife had to work as a seamstress in a local factory in Bahrain to help in the family finances. They could have been enjoying the life of a couple but their only daughter got pregnant after graduation. They took her in and her newborn baby, and was even supporting their daughter’s married life financially. He said he did not want to but they could not bear to see their only child facing the challenges alone. He said he was glad when his daughter managed to finish college even when she was failing every subject and lying to her parents during her last years. Of course, the dream of seeing their child get a job, enjoy her life and succeed, had been sidelined when she bore a child. Usual case of parents still accepting their erring children, I said again to myself.

There’s nothing wrong of course. It is natural for parents to feel that way for their children especially when they are the only child. I just felt sad for the father who’s working hard to bring food to their table and milk for the baby; especially disappointed when I learned that the daughter was blaming her baby for not being able to enjoy the single life she could have. I felt slightly mad because she chose to engage herself with a man who cannot even provide for their baby or because she failed to get protection that night, she and her boyfriend did the act. Why the baby? Why do you even bother your parents? There may have been other things of course, but really, it’s just twisted and unbearable for parents to experience those things.

He said he wanted to finish his college degree in Mathematics. It doesn’t matter if he’d pass the licensure exams for teachers or even teach in a high school, what matters is the diploma. Something he can proudly hang on their family home, he said. I told him it’s not yet too late. People are never too old to get an education.

I paid my fare and bid him thanks. I hope the silent prayer I had for him and his family that night will be enough to comfort the storms in his life.

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Saturday, October 11, 2014

Push pa more

While everyone’s enjoying their sembreaks, we’re still toiling over midterm requirements. This week, I’m so grateful that one major task was successfully accomplished. The first session I designed was greeted with appreciation from both my colleagues and of course, my principals. Quite a feat and of course, God’s hand was working all through out the event. Two more major items on my workload list and I’ll be good. 

In terms of school stuff, I was able to catch my ten big requirements and cut it off to half. Yay! The deadlines are still there but I think it can be more manageable this time. I just hope there’s enough time really to do all of these.

One of the lost opportunities I had early this month was the chance to present my research paper at an international conference. I had to trade it off so I can focus on accomplishing the requirements of the session I designed. The acceptance I got from the organising institution was enough fuel to push me to greater heights of academic writing. Nuxx. More opportunities to come at the right time. :D

Updating a few entries in this page and in my photo blogs. Up next, I’ll be reviewing two of Haruki Murakami’s more recent works, and also feature our current initiatives at the Muslim Community in Quiapo, Manila. Stay tuned.


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Seoul-ful September Part 2

Because I promised more photos. Here they go! Visit my photoblog (jug and Flickr) for more of these:

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Monday, October 6, 2014

No Green Day, I was awake the whole time.

Remember Green Day’s catchy, melancholic song? Yep, Wake Me Up When September Ends. It was musically and literally ok until people in the web started using it like crazy every time the busier month of September comes. Just stop, really. Anyway, the post’s not written to rant about the catchphrase. I just used it to describe how, on the contrary, I haven’t got enough sleep the whole time September was wheeling.

I guess I began getting used to roller coaster months. One will after you juggle work, graduate school, extra curricular activities and social life. Or maybe I’m just a loser trying to justify things with the seemingly busy schedule I have. Well, maybe. But not really. I mean, I find joy in my twisted timetable and semi-tortorous activities. Not that I involve myself in fatal stuff. It’s just that I push my body too much. 

And yes, I’m rambling phrases in the middle of the night. Again.

Anyway, I’m happy to note that even with my killer deadlines for grad school stuff, the mounting pressure brought by my Umbridge-like bosses, and the equally demanding work load, I get to enjoy and relax at least for a few hours. Yesterday, I was talking to friend about how badly I want to finish my two-page things-to-do and just speed up towards the more calming days of December. And that no matter how much I try finishing tasks within the supposed deadlines, I end up producing half-baked outputs, which of course makes me feel worse and frustrated. 

Being the guru of self-help, she told me about the Art of Not Trying— of letting things go with their natural course, of exerting just the right amount of effort, and allowing myself room to breathe. Well, it hit me. I’ve been pressuring myself to accomplish more tasks than I can possibly handle; all in the name of hitting the targets I wrote when I planned for the “initiation phase.” Basically, stretching ourselves too thinly saps our energy and very well affects our productivity. We try to meet every deadline with that veiled hope that we impress our superiors of our youthful strength and intellectual vigor and in the process, prove the naysayers wrong. The flip side happens; which is equal parts sad, frustrating and sometimes enraging. 

Conversations like those allowed me to think and look back. I remembered saying the same thing to another friend who’s agitated to prove himself better. We really go through that phase, eh. Anyway, accomplishing tasks without too much pressure for this extended weekend. Out of those ten school stuff to finish, I was able to cross out four. Intending to cross out at least three more this week. There are additional extra curricular matters to attend to, and I was also able to cross them out of my list one by one. Two more remains and there’s enough time to finish those. Focusing on school on the next few hours to lessen the pile. Hehehe.

Lauryn Hill’s Miseducation album is on repeat until I get to finish one more task. I happened to stumble upon this beautifully-written article defending Hill’s musical decisions. As a fan of different musical artists, I generally agree with the writer’s idea that true and honest artists make art for themselves and not really for their audience. It’s not selfish. Art is an expression of ones’ self, and whether you like it or not, would not really matter as long as the artist gets to articulate what has long been wracking their brains at that moment. 

The same logic is applicable to the stuff we bury ourselves upon. Whether its work or school or whatever, if it’s important to us then it has to be considered art. It has to be honest and true. We may listen to critics but whatever they say should not cloud the decisions we may have to make. And no matter how many deadlines pressure us, the quality of our outputs should not suffer.

So yep, balancing the art of not trying and the art of expressing. It’s challenging but I’d like to think I successfully did those before. The shackles of laziness and procrastination should not deter me from overcoming these freaking deadlines.

Speaking of deadlines, I’m ending this post to return to the paper topics I’m googling. Thanking God right now for Muslims and their strategically placed holidays— there is enough time! 

Happy Eidl Adha!

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