Friday, July 21, 2017

Designated Survivor (ABC)

I never got to see Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan ascend to the Presidency in the movies so I had high expectations that Designated Survivor can scratch that itch. The show’s lead character Tom Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland), Housing and Urban Development Secretary, rose in a similar manner as Jack Ryan – an attack that completely destroys the Capitol Building wiping out the American leadership that was in it.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Finish it - Rose & Grace Bulalo

I looked at it quite sadly like I’ve never looked at a leftover before - a big bowl of bulalo. My eyes were measuring every angle of it for meat. There's no more green leafy vegetables in the soup because that was the first one I ate. Still a healthy or an unhealthy amount of meat is left.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

The Lennon Report

When a loved one dies it’s usually an ordinary day. There’s no sign of it coming and yet it did. You expect the world to end if only because it doesn’t feel right going on without them, yet the world moves on.

The Lennon Report is a movie based on real events of the night John Lennon was shot.  I had a little list of expectations on what it was; topping it was just a plain dramatization of events. Considering he was one of the more popular Beatle I also expected an end of an era feel or maybe an omen to a darker one. After a few minutes into the movie the question of fame came into view.

December 8, 1980 was an ordinary night, Christmas season. ABC producer Alan Weiss (Walter Vincent), was headed home. He had just finished his shift and as far as newsrooms go it was a quiet night. 

The Emergency Department of Roosevelt Hospital was the same. Dr. David Halleran (Evan Jonigkeit) was enjoying an NFL game with a patient while nurses were enjoying crossword puzzles and eating homemade cakes.

And then shots were fired over at Central Park West at the Dakota, a known home of celebrities.

I don’t know how true but I assume for cinematic purposes it seemed the requested ambulance never reached the Dakota because it was attending to an injured Alan Weiss who had a motor bike accident in the park. It was destiny; he ended up in the same hospital as John’s.

It is from the perspective of Alan Weiss that the perspective got skewed towards fame. The trailer already has Alan in a crusading tone that this shooting, a tragedy, was a story that needed to be told. He was a media man through and through.

By modern standards though, Alan was tamer. Modern standards meant that Alan, a paparazzi, or any random patient or staff may have shot and posted any part of the incident and posted it online.

Alan was annoyingly persistent after having pieced together from whispers by the police on site and ultimately the presence of Yoko Ono, trying to contact his station or asking around. This he did even when he was injured, hopping around to get what he needed until hospital staff took him out of the ER.

Even if tamer by modern standards was Alan Weiss in the right? Where is the line? John Lennon was shot; media is aware; public figure; no pictures taken; is the story a fair game as they say? 

There was a scene Alan, struggling to get up, attempting for a mad dash for an already grieving Yoko Ono – John was already pronounced dead – making her way out of the hospital indicated that the line, if it ever mattered at all, would be broken in a flash.

What I didn’t expect watching the Lennon Report is experiencing a sense of loss. I am a fan. There was a time during the 90s when a local TV station, on test broadcast, played only Beatles videos. They had simple songs with a timeless message. And socially they were my bread and butter on any videoke night.

All this issues of fame or the public’s obsession by it heightened my sense of loss which the filmmakers achieved because I was left hanging for any image of John or the man playing as John. I never got that. 

Not a close up when police brought them on their own from the Dakota; no goodbye (kiss the dead kin kind of scene) in the ER with Yoko Ono (Karen Tsen Lee). Only the back of the assassin Mark David Chapman was shown.

No Beatles posters were seen and not even a Beatles or John Lennon song in the soundtracks. In the hours surrounding John Lennon’s death there was an outpouring of grief by the fans in the surrounding area, I didn’t even get to hear them sing but I have seen news clips that they did.

My mind was asking: ok that’s how you feel Mr. Reporter, ER nurse, doctor, but how is John?

If Alan was not enough there is a dispute over who gets the credit operating over John Lennon, which was not overtly presented in the movie. What drives a doctor to do that? They would never have done that to an ordinary person.

Legally speaking is that even possible, doctors sign forms; still there it was, when I google the topic. The icing on the cake would be one of the nurses – end credits have interviews of the real ER staff - said a fan was offered $500 for her bloody pants.

Where is John? Who was John Lennon? Of course I know he died nearly the start of the movie but like in real life, death of a loved one, the deceased just stops. We the living get no video montage, no answers why. As in the movie, those in the ER, Yoko; we find our own answers.

And Imagine.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Never planned to be in Baler, Aurora

The big name
Does having your picture with the name constitute as proof of visit?
Kung walang plano natutuloy, kung di naplaplano natutuloy. Roughly translated it means – if it’s not planned it pushes through, if it is planned it won’t come true.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Spare Parts

Spare Parts is an uplifting movie based on the Wired Magazine article La Vida Robot made in the same mold as the Mighty Ducks. Only here instead of ice hockey it is an underwater remote operated vehicle – robotics – contest sponsored by the Office of Naval Research and NASA.

As is with the hockey movie, the lead characters are students seemingly lost in life; they come together for a common goal, and ironically mentored by a man with issues. It is through this journey that they all go through they are able to build a better version of themselves.
Fred Cameron is a composite of Fred Lajvardi
and Allan Cameron who advised the team
Fredi Cameron (George Lopez), an engineer jumping from job to job ends up on the outskirts, in Carl Hayden Community High School, which is 92 percent Hispanic, half of whom says Principal Karen Lowry (Jamie Lee Curtis), are undocumented. Although Karen has her doubts why an engineer would be hopping jobs she accepts Fredi’s application for substitute teacher.

Karen assigned Fredi to the unpopular robotics club virtually assuring him that no one would sign up. Fredi couldn’t be happier to be just coasting his 4 month tenure as substitute teacher, until Oscar Vasquez (Carlos PenaVega) came in and asked to me mentored in joining a robotics contest. Oscar told the very skeptical Fredi that the contest was a means to an end especially for undocumented immigrants like him.  

With Fredi convinced of helping, Oscar went on with recruitment and got who would be the team brains, Cristian Arcega (David Del Rio). Fredi himself added a scrappy young mechanic Lorenzo Santillan (Jose Julian).

They now had a one-two punch, Cristian the designer is helped making his ideas real by Lorenzo who is very good with his hands. 

What makes Lorenzo so great is his ability to cannibalizing the spare parts out of anything just to make the ROV cheap. Luis Aranda (Oscar Javier Gutierrez II), they chose him for the size. The tether man who’s main job is to carry ROV and assist with adding or subtracting the slack of the tether.

From the Washington Post

Carl Hayden Community High School entered the contest against colleges instead of high school. They thought it would be a positive spin they will say to the world and themselves; losing was already an expectation, losing against college level at least mitigates that fact. Needless to say nothing went as expected.

I like the casting Spare Parts though George Lopez confuses me sometimes. Not that he’s bad actually he’s great for the role that called for occasional funny moments but not all out comedy. It’s just that when I hear his voice I keep thinking about the Rock hosting a game show.

Oscar Vasquez feels underdeveloped.  During the course of the story I keep wondering why he chose robotics as a fallback because the project was a Lorenzo-Cristian show. Luis was the muscle that much is obvious. 

From the Wired article Oscar was the leader. Maybe they blended too well cause Oscar never stood out as leader, he did what he was good at which oddly did not involve much tinkering at least compared to Lorenzo or Cristian. Only when the movie epilogue mentioned that Oscar Vasquez ends up having a degree as a Mechanical Engineer did I ever think he was into engineering.

It is in the building of a robot, the engineering, is what I like most about the movie. Spare Parts showed how scrappy the Carl Hayden Community High School robotics team was which, if you think about it, have engineering and a life lesson angle to it.

The life lesson is that you take what life gives you; if it’s not the right fit adapt it for your own purposes. Principal Lowry describes that during the course of the school year students disappear from the roll because of deportation. 

The team, all undocumented immigrants, could just lay down and wait for it to happen; Lorenzo’s dad fears it and so does Oscar’s mother. But like an engineering problem the team works to find a way out of their predicament.
The engineering angle; let’s just say I find Tony Stark designing his suit as showing how cool engineering can be in a sci-fi way, Spare Parts actually brings you to hardware stores and whatever surplus or junk shops the team were digging into. 

Parts, working parts meant for something else; they re-purposed it for their ROV. It’s not often fun to see people breaking things apart in order to build something. Women’s tampons were the highlight of this point.

I also liked how teachers here upbeat from Fredi Cameron to Gwen Kolinsky (Marisa Tomei), who’s put in there as a potential love interest, to Principal Lowry. The character of Fredi had a brokenness about him which needed a Gwen to straighten things out; from there Fredi can then straighten the kids out.

Usually in these types of films where there is an underfunded school, the principal is either the villain or at least they are the realist. They sit idly by and watch the teacher do all the work. Here Lowry is all support. She’s much more a bundle of joy than Fredi or Gwen ever was.  

Lastly and I do mean last. I think it’s a mark of a great script that Spare Parts besides being a great story but also having the best last lines in recent memory. 

The absolute last line is the beautiful ribbon to everything, neatly tied into a bow. As is with the gift you are aware of the box as you are aware of the story, it’s flow, shape, and narrative. Tie it with a bow and you get to see the whole box again see how it fits. Same with that last line. It all fits and then you’ll smile for more reasons than that line.

In Real Life:

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Dencio's - Drinking Spot Overlooking QC

Imagine the 3rd level of a building that rests on top of a hill and surrounded by a golf course and high end exclusive villages. The view afforded to you by Dencio’s Capitol Greenstreet is simply unmatched in the entire Quezon City.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Fate of the Furious (Fast and Furious 8)

It seems I’ll be with the few thinking that the latest of the Fast and the Furious franchise has run out of steam and should call it a day. People are still buying it in droves. Furious 9 is now guaranteed and a Furious 10 will supposedly be the last of it all.

Spoiler warning.