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Monthly Archives: January 2013

Movie Review: Pitch Perfect

After being blown away by the dramatic musical, Les Miserables, I was soon entertained by another yet comedic musical titled Pitch Perfect, starring Twilight’s Anna Kendrick (Jessica).

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Though it is somewhat reminiscent of other movies such as Sister Act 2 back in the 90s and Camp Rock, this movie offers a fresh take on the common plot of the aforementioned movies because of the astonishing musical numbers sung in a capella.

A Capella singing groups in a university eagerly set out to win the International Championship of Collegiate A Capella. Following formulaic tropes, there is an unbeatable champion whom a underdog group aims to dethrone. The unbeatable champion is The Trebblemakers, an all-male group, while those who aim to end The Trebblemakers’ winning streak is the all female group, The Bellas. The Bellas are criticized for doing the same, outdated repertoire over and over again. However, uptight group leader Aubrey ignores it and insists on keeping traditional songs alive. Things change when Beca (Kendrick) joins the group and later on manages to urge Aubrey to try something new.

The story is very predictable as it follows the same formula for most plots – the main characters start out with lame performances and in the end, gives a wow performance and takes home the trophy. However, its attempt at comedy is commendable despite a bit of crude humor; and the music is really something to hear.

It is a pleasure to hear voices blending and sound like they are accompanied when they are not. The fact that there is also dancing that does not take away the singers’ breaths is also a treat. I definitely think that all music lovers and perhaps those who aren’t will enjoy this film as much as I did.

Let me a share a video from our fellow choir from Pampanga, the Tarlac State University Chamber choir, singing a chorale version of Justin Bieber’s “Baby.” Enjoy

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Posted by on January 22, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Movie Review: Les Miserables

I was glad that my prior reluctance to watch the film, which was due to having heard that it was over two hours long and a musical set many years back, was not as strong as my curiosity: what is there in this story that has given birth to such wonderful and timeless songs as I Dreamed a Dream and On My Own?

It is a story of redemption and the lengths people will go through for love and duty against the backdrop of the French Revolution.

At the center of the story are two men – Jean and Javert – who have crossed paths on the way to moral discovery. It is definitely the most intriguing concept of the film. The rest seem to be the stuff of what most Filipino movies are made of – love, situations of maltreatment, prostitution, swindlers, and lots of tears and drama.

Jean Valjean suffered a 19 year imprisonment sentence for no less than stealing a loaf of bread to feed his nephew. The unjust gravity of the misery he was put through for such a dismal cause only made him a wretched soul with hatred. But after being shown generosity and compassion by a bishop who gave him shelter once he was freed and from whom he still stole pieces of silver, he vowed to no longer be branded a thief and start over as an honest man. Unlike him, prison guard, Javert (Russell Crowe) does not the past stay in the past, and seeks to lock Jean once more in keeping with his civil duties – still believing that those who had done wrong should not be pardoned. After a few narrow escapes from Javert years later, Jean is finally given the opportunity to kill the man after him, but as he has vowed, he reconsiders killing Javert and lets him go. Jean’s kindness makes Javert unable to decide between his civil and moral duties. He has been pardoned by a man who had more reason not to pardon him. He is thus driven to commit suicide.

I’d have to say this is the first foreign film I have watched with too much drama which I thought only Filipinos could really pull off. It was something new to see for a foreign film. All this time I thought only Filipino actors can cry real tears. But watching Anne Hathaway’s heartbreaking performance of “I Dreamed a Dream,” I ate my words. It is definitely my favorite moment of the film. Moreover, the fact that the lines are sung and the emotions anchored in the melody and lyrics makes the movie a heart-tugging drama.

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

A child, a drunk and a lie

A friend of mine just happened to snap my mind out of its idleness sometime this day when he said – in a conversation within the four corners of our university’s student publication office – there are only 2 honest people in the world: children and those who are drunk.

Without so much as a complicated reason, there seems to be a certain truth to this theory with children. They – being untainted as they are sheltered mostly by parents, as if to preserve the inherent goodness of man – are usually inclined to tell the truth, greatly being won over by a certain Jiminy cricket (the fabled embodiment of one’s conscience).

The drunk, on the other hand, seem to lose their consciousness of their actions by the dazed spell casted upon them after a couple of swigs of sinful liquor. I guess one could not really be held accountable for their actions if they themselves have no idea what they just have done or said. It is as if in a drunken state, one is completely freed of the reigns by logical reasoning which begs another question which underlies the whole point of this essay: How does a child and one whom have grown out of the sheltered phase (ages could vary) perceive a lie?

It seems that a child tells the truth because he has been taught that to lie is not a good thing. But an adult or grown up person has learned that there is a good and logical lie.  I guess this is where the concept of white lie stems. Sometimes it can be helped that we are given a reason to alter the truth, if not completely deviate from it. But it is a lie nonetheless. Given this, should it just be that the question asked is when is a lie good than is it bad?

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

On Rh Bill: Have you made up your mind?

I was browsing the net, typing in whatever word I could think of and an article titled “Why Ateneo theology prof quit over Rh Bill” caught my attention. (Did the title give you an itch of curiosity?)

I read the article because its message struck me as absurd yet understandable. Given that people associated with the church – the leaders, that is – have expressed opposition for the Rh Bill all the way, it is no wonder why a professor who in a way exercises the preaching duties of a priest in a classroom also has mutual feelings about the bill.

The article stated that a  number of Ateneans were in support of the bill. The professor was quoted in the article as he explains:

“Because of these realities, I believe that my service to the Church and my service to ADMU no longer coincide, and I believe that I can no longer share the path that ADMU has taken. Therefore I hereby resign both my teaching position and my tenure at ADMU Theology.”

Makes sense doesn’t it?

This article is a manifestation of how those who are adamant in their negative opinion of the bill and are against its passage, really have their judgments founded on the religious context.

The Rh Bill has been the subject of many debates now, but I have never expressed my opinion of it. I am in no position to be in support of or opposed to the passage of the bill simply because I have no inkling of the entirety of its terms. I, however, support the idea of it being “pro poor.” It has been a common argument that the passage of the bill would somehow be an antidote to the prevailing problem of poverty due to many family members whom the head of the family can barely support and sustain financially. I agree.

My mother argues that those in the church who are bound by vows of chastity have no idea how bad the situation is. Given man’s animal nature, how can “uncontrollable” urges be stopped?

However, being pro life is another matter. Now I end this post with a question to which I haven’t yet an answer: While debates are going on, some people are already making use of these contraceptive methods. What difference would the passage of the bill make?

 
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Posted by on January 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Movie review: The Lost Valentine

I’m not only a sucker for books but also for movies, so much so that I would like to write my own screen play someday.

A lot of what I’ve read has been made into television or movie adaptations. Or at times, I’d find out that a movie I’ve watched was originally written not for the big screen but for those who simply want to curl up in a good book.

Once such movie I’ve watched recently is entitled “The Lost Valentine.” This was originally a novel of the same name.

The movie was one of many movies with heart-tugging storylines especially broadcast for the holidays – however, it may be out of season this Christmas as the title suggests. But, nonetheless, it is a movie I’d watch over and over had I a copy of a home dvd.

A widowed old woman (Caroline) of about 80 loses her Naval aviator Lieutenant husband during World War II and every Valentine’s Day, she waits in the same train station for her husband’s return. It would be sixty years later and it is clear, except to the ever hopeful wife, that her husband is unlikely to return.

Seemingly a human version of the story of a Japanese dog (Hachiko) that waits at a train station for its owner for many years even after the owner’s death, Caroline’s story has been deemed a potential story to be featured in TV show and as reporter Susan does her job of putting Caroline’s love story on the record, she finds herself falling for Lucas, Caroline’s grandson.

What pleases me about this story is that, though seemingly clichéd, it portrays the kind of love one would certainly want to have with someone – a love that is not shaken by any impediment, be it time or absence. In the story, a newly married couple (Caroline and her husband Neil) is broken apart by war while bearing a promise of eternal love. Caroline never remarries, keeping her promise.

Definitely, a heartbreaking moment in the film is when at the first part, Caroline rushes after the moving train –the battlefield its destination – just to prolong the moment of seeing her husband as he looks out the window of the boxcar and she continues to look on as the train moves far away from view, her face stricken with tears for the uncertainty of his return.

I’m sure there are a lot of real life widows like Caroline who have lost their spouse in the war  and have not a grave to lay flowers on.

But thanks to Susan’s detective work, Caroline is able to say “my husband is coming home today” as a coffin, holding her husband’s remains that was recovered in the Philippines, is brought over – covered by the American flag.

The movie, along with Betty White’s superb portrayal of Caroline, gives it a spot in my list of favourite holiday movies. It’s one of those stories which you’d wish were based from true events and not simply fiction.

 

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2013 in Uncategorized