Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Seen: Ant Man

     Could it be that the wave of new super heroes come from a pool of underrated actors? Chris Pratt probably spear headed this trend. From the overweight mediocre lawyer bestie of Vince Vaughn in The Delivery Man, he transforms into the charming Star Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy.

     Case in point, Paul Rudd. One of the best chick flicks of all time for the teens in the 90s is Clueless. Paul Rudd plays the adorable, dorky, but very reliable stepbrother (Josh) to Alicia Silverstone's Cher (I don't think I have to go on about what happened next). He mostly starred in comedic roles, and surprisingly is adept at script writing. In "So This is 40", he plays a 40-year old father of 2 who undergoes a midlife crisis. He played the part to a T by sporting a dad-bod. Seeing him in Ant Man made me do a double take. He never looked so good, not even in Clueless.

     Scott Lang, an ex-con gets manipulated into stealing the Ant Man suit from Dr. Hank Pym's vault. He tries it on and takes the suit for a test drive, then gets recruited as the new Ant Man. Dr. Pym's protege who is obsessed with the Pym particle is close to making objects minute. His protege succeeds and makes the Yellow Jacket, which he sells to an agent of Hydra. Evangeline Lilly plays Hope, the daughter of Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) who helps in stopping Hydra's acquisition of the Yellow Jacket. It took me a while to recognize Evangeline Lilly in her black bobbed hairstyle. 

I stole the show
     The man who stole the show is Michael Peña who plays Luis, Scott Lang's fellow ex-con. He narrates the situation with such aplomb that it is fascinating to watch as the characters in his scenario mouth's off his dialogue. It's super fine. As the trade mark of Marvel super hero movies, Stan Lee makes a cameo and of course, look for the trailer which comes at the end of the credits.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Macau: Why I Need to Go Back?

     The post is a month late but it's all because of the tons of picture that I took, and some of which haven't been uploaded yet! It's the annual Dora and Chabelita (my sister and I) adventure and this time, we flew to Macau with our dear parents.

Ruins of St. Paul's
      Nothing screams Macau than the facade of the ruins of St. Paul's. We were lucky enough to catch some sort of Chinese festival (sorry, no idea what it was). But the charm Macau holds is the meshing well of 2 cultures, old world Portuguese and Chinese. Due to a few people who could really speak English when you're not in the Casino, getting around is really a challenge. It's just fascinating that almost every block, you could find a church. The ruins of St. Paul's are currently undergoing restoration. By far, this could be the biggest Catholic church in Macau.


Senado Square

Holy House of Mercy

Catholic Church
     Taking a walk in Senado Square is very picturesque. The mosaic flooring of the square is beautifully preserved as well as the buildings as they are UNESCO heritage sites as well as the temples and Catholic churches. The architecture is splendid, and most shops and restaurants operating in the area are enclosed in colonial buildings. The Holy House of Mercy used to serve as a hospital back in the day.

Courtyard, Governor's House near A-ma Temple
Entrance, A-ma Temple
Offering prayers, A-ma Temple

     At the opposite end of the ruins of St. Paul's is the A-ma Temple which is near the Governor's house. The courtyard is nice and stands in strike contrast to the temple. You can get souvenirs nearby as well as visit the Macau Maritime Museum which is right next to the temple.

Galaxy Hotel
The Venetian
At the Grand Canal
Egg tarts abound
Why it's so easy to get lost...

    Now on to the more modern areas of Macau, which consists mostly of the casinos and hotels that are world class. Galaxy Hotel and Casinos and of course, The Venetian, topped our list. I just had a hard time getting over on how realistic the indoor sky looked. I also had to have some egg tarts at Lord Stow's Cafe in The Venetian.  The major drawback was we often got lost going around since the signs (even road signs) are way too small. Seriously!

      Why I need to go back?
1) Go back when the weather wasn't as hot as it was (in July) so I could walk around at a leisurely (not hurried) pace.
2) Take more pictures of other buildings that I missed while getting lost such as the Ho Tung library.
3) Wasn't able to go to the Grand Prix Museum and Guia Fort and other gardens
4) Wasn't able to see the show at Wynn Hotel
5) Stay at The Venetian
6) Eat Margaret's egg tarts which I heard was even better than Lord Stow's
7) Eat Portuguese delights such as duck rice, african chicken, bacalhau, chorizo (I only got to eat the pork chop bun, huhuhu).

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Seen: Daredevil

     My sister could not shut up about this series, so I simply had to watch this one. The only reference that I could come up with was the previous Daredevil played by Ben Affleck, which during my tweens, I thought it was okay but it received a lot of blah reviews. 

Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson), Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll),
Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox), Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson),
Wilson Fisk (Vincent D'Onofrio)

     The first season has 13 episodes, roughly lasting about an hour each. If I was just in the comfort of my home, on the couch, I would have been able to binge on this one for an entire day. I was skeptic at first since most of the cast is not known to me with the exception of Rosario Dawson and Vincent D'Onofrio. If my memory serves me right, Elden Henson was in "Idle Hands". (After checking it out on Google, indeed he was). I'm not a fan of True Blood so I have no idea who Deborah Ann Woll is (so sue me!). More so with Charlie Cox (name sounds like that of a superhero's).

Hmmm...you look hot and familiar! Like somebody's brother....
     Oh yeah, Charlie Cox...couldn't remember him having played Tristan in Stardust way back in 2007. But he does look like the hot brother of Rob Pattinson, don't you think? Getting over that, he does play Matt Murdock's character well. Straight-laced Catholic lawyer by day, brutal vigilante by night. His other senses that kicked in after losing sight is just awesome. The backstory on his childhood was really good to establish his present day character and then there's his daily struggle in keeping his other identity secret from his friends. 

The bestie

     Elden Henson provides some comic relief but in the episode Nelson vs Murdock, he comes to terms with his discovery that his best friend is actually the "masked man" of hell's kitchen. Initially he gives off the vibe that he's a doormat but he showed some gumption when he met his ex-girlfriend for a deposition as the opposing counsel. He looked so handsome then.

The first client
      She may have started out as a mousy accountant who found some anomalies at her firm then was framed for a murder that she did not commit. Nelson and Murdock came to her rescue as her legal counsel and eventually Karen Page decided to work for them. Her quest for the truth led her to several run-ins with thugs, and the people that she cared about ended up being hurt or dead. She got pushed over the edge and eventually shot Wesley, Wilson Fisk's assistant dead. She tries to keep the team together as Foggy and Matt go through a "rough patch" and at the same time, hiding her crime which puts her at constant vigil from a payback from Fisk.

The racketeer
      Initially elusive as a crime lord, Wilson Fisk steps out into the limelight as a "saviour" of Hell's Kitchen. His back story explains the holding of his character which makes you not hate him so much. Vincent D'Onofrio's portrayal with his somewhat raspy voice is a little ode to Don Corleone in "The Godfather". We see Wilson Fisk's struggle to be the top man of crime as he falls in love with an art gallery curator which his associates think is making him lose sight of the end goal. It's nice to see that in spite of his size, they pretty much kept with the traditional Kingpin that could bust up some nasty moves.

The stitch
     I couldn't find fault with the casting of Rosario Dawson as Claire Temple. Surprisingly, she does't show much skin and there's no juggling of her boobs and what not but she's still sexy as hell being the smart and confident nurse who stitches up the "masked man" from time to time. I have no idea how her relationship with the Daredevil will progress in season 2 (yes, it's already underway so yay!).

     Well what's not to like with this series? The fact that Netflix is not available here in the Philippines. The series itself is really good, and I'm glad that they went with actors who are on the up and up. The storyline is straight to the point, the back stories are not boring and every character really contributes to the multiple facet that the series presents. I cannot wait for season 2. What's really hard for me to grasp is, since they'll be introducing several characters (heroes) so eventually they could become the Defenders, so that leaves how many seasons are there per hero? I do urge the rest of you to binge on.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Movie: John Wick

There was no way that I was passing up this movie. After seeing a slew of Keanu Reeves's movies on HBO, Cinemax and Star Movies a couple of months before the release of this movie, I really, really had to see this. Movie critics pegged it as a good movie. Gun-fu as they called it. Whatever, it's Keanu. That's more than enough reason.

Truthfully, I wasn't digging Keanu's Snape-like do but then he's been criticized for his hobo look in real life so I'll let this one slide. I was miffed at how brief Bridget Moynahan appears in the film. She's beautiful and they could milk the sob story of how she's dying of cancer for all it's worth. But then I remember that this one's an action flick. So Keanu becomes a widower. His sweet wife leaves him a parting gift, a wee beagle pup named Daisy. They spend a lot of time together bonding in the Charger.

Wee beagle pup Daisy
The both of them meet their nemesis at a gas station. This spoiled brat of a boy was leering at the Charger and wanted it for himself, conversing in Russian, assuming that he wouldn't be understood. John Wick replies in fluent Russian surprising the entourage and calmly said that the Charger isn't for sale.

The not-for-sale Charger
We're led to think that all is well until John Wick wakes up in the middle of the night to odd noises. His house got trashed by the Russian posse he met earlier at the gas station. The spoiled brat really had a hard-on for the Charger and just had to have it. They even beat up poor Daisy and John Wick and left them for dead. John woke up to find a dead Daisy who made it to his side. A pissed off John Wick excavates his stash of weapons and calls people he used to work with to help him look for this SOB.

Yes, the same guy who plays a pathetic fool in Game of Thrones. He needs to die in this movie! Since he's still alive in GoT, poetic justice is imperative here.

A very unassuming hotel it seems but this is the shelter for the sinister. John Wick comes here to look for answers and for vengeance. This hotel has neat rules. No getting back at fellow criminals staying here, etc, etc. If you're expecting Keanu to dole out kicks like in the Matrix, it's basically his guns that does the job.

All is well after all, John Wick gets each and every Russian scumbag and he gets a new bad-ass dog in the end. Revenge really is, best served cold.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Movie: The Equalizer

Okay, I saw this movie way after it's release. I like Denzel Washington, great actor, probably going into the same direction as Liam Neeson, doing action movies at an advancing age (um, sorry but had to point out the obvious). 

We see Mr. Washington's character here as an upstanding citizen, helping the people around him better themselves. He hangs out at this diner, reading books which are, according to him, part of his deceased wife's 100 books to read. In this diner he meets the troubled character of Chloe Moretz.

He later finds out that Chloe Moretz's character is a street walker, under one of the stables run by the Russian mob. Her character's really feisty and she mauls one of her customers, and she ends up at the hospital after her pimp decides to teach her a lesson. Denzel then finds out about this and decides to even out the playing field, so to speak. So he gathers whatever information he could from Chloe's street walker friend and he becomes a man on a mission. He goes to their lair above a Russian restaurant. I initially expected big guns, lots of firepower, and mangled bodies. But he disables and kills all of them in under 3 minutes in smooth moves, utilizing whatever he could get his hands on and make them into lethal weapons. The result was the disruption of the Russian's criminal activities in the area. The big boss naturally wanted a head to be skewered on a spike. So he sends in this guy to do the job.

Marton Czokas, I remember this guy in Ultraviolet. He actually makes a very convincing and sadistic villain. As the movie unfolds, we discover how a guy who works as a supervisor at a place like Ace Hardware or True Value could have McGuyver skills. Denzel's character as it turns out is a special forces agent, trained to kill, and faked his death with the help of high ranking friends in the government, just so he could have a normal life. Since the bad Russian guy seems to be one step behind him, Denzel goes to his close friend to do research on the Russian guy. Said villain also happens to be ex-Russian speciaforces. They go head-to-head in a showdown. Of course Denzel wins and he goes an extra mile to kill the head of the mob in Russia and gives Chloe's character a new lease in life. The final scene shows Denzel answering emails for help. It's a feel good movie, leaving us the thought that there could be someone out there who could help us with the insurmountable.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Movie: Taken 3

Who's your daddy?
Ooh yeah! Certainly waited for this movie. What I've been dying to know is who's the villain this time? Is it still a relative or kinsman of the Albanians? (Seriously, if it is, bitter much.) Who else got pissed off this time?

The scene opens much like in the first movie. Bryan Mills is looking for a birthday present for his daughter. He ends up buying a stuffed panda, goes to his daughter's apartment where his gift wasn't well received. His daughter appears frazzled after discovering that she's pregnant right before her father arrives. Yeah, Kim the lovely daughter, has brought trouble upon herself. First was lying about attending a concert, then too much Facetime at the pool in Turkey while her dad was trying to contact her, and now getting knocked up. I would call it justice if she was the one who got harmed in the movie but nay, to my dismay.

Don't worry, Daddy's gonna fix this...
Bryan Mills got framed for the murder of his wife after he went out for a bagel run. He goes off to seek the killers and in his way stands the bagel badger.

 I better get some cream cheese to go with the bagel
I have no doubts with this guy's acting chops. Forest Whitaker could easily play the role of a good cop. Sadly, all he did in this movie was just figuring out Bryan Mill's next move. As a good cop, I would have loved to see him thwart Bryan Mill's moves and bring him in for custody, make us want to hate him for doing so. But in this movie, we despise him for touching the bagels.

Soon enough we discover that the killers were the Russian mob (collectively speaking) but the brains behind it is Kim' s stepfather. He owes the Russian money and decided to cash in on his wife's insurance policy. Since the first movie, Liam Neeson' s got all the moves of a bad-ass daddy. All the bad guys were accounted for and put out of their misery. I wished he went bad-assed dad on Kim' s boyfriend.

Taken 3 may not be at par with the first two movies. The first part totally awed us since nobody expected Liam Neeson to do chase scenes on foot, kicks, punches and stuff. The second movie shows us serious tracking skills that I was stupefied. All I could say is that this mellowed down to a fitting end. On a lighter note, kudos to the Russian boss who did his action scenes in his tighty whiteys. That was something.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Experience: Yoga At Studio 108

I heard the criticisms about my weight from my lovely parents one time too many already. I'm definitely not a size 4, I know that I haven't done my part in devoting to a healthy me post-residency training, but WTF? I'm definitely not blind or oblivious to my "larger-than-life" debacle. I have developed some loathing for the gym. I hate squeezing myself in an already jam packed Zumba class, waiting for my turn at the treadmill and other machines. One night while having Saturday supper at Paseo Arcenas, I came across Studio 108.

I went home that night with a plan. Two days later, I purchased 15 sessions at Php 2,400 that was valid for 60 days. If I could stick to this then there's still hope for me. 

It's not my 1st time to do yoga. I dabbled at it while I was attending med school and eventually shied away from the mat when my schedule perpetrated the demise of any form of exercise. During the 2nd year of my residency training, a few yoga studios were established aside from Ananda Marga. I got to attend a studio near IT Park and ran into a few classmates from med school, co-residents from another department and a male consultant with his wife. The affair was short-lived in that studio. I managed to attend 3 classes under this teacher who wasn't fat-friendly. His crime was sloth to the 1st degree, failure to modify the asanas to my obvious handicap. Anyway, by the time I was resolved to give it a second chance, the studio closed.

I was really praying that I wouldn't get turned off with this studio but if I did, I'd just suck it up. The place easily had a homey feel and the receptionist as well as the owner are friendly and approachable. They offer different classes, healthy food and drinks, making it easy to choose and live a healthy lifestyle. By now I have already attended 15 classes and then some. I couldn't reach my toes when I started and my heels are way off the ground during downward dog and my shoulder sockets are screaming for mercy. Now I can proudly do both. I now long for the day when I can do the crow pose, mermaid pose, binds, full lotus pose, and the headstand. I never came from a class feeling dejected. Sweating like a pig is empowering in this case. I am so grateful for all my teachers who have made me do things that I never thought I'd be able to do and for inspiring me to practice, be patient, and trust my body that I'll be able to do the asanas in my own time. Namaste!