‘Magic Mike’ teaches accounting

A film portraying the life of a male stripper can also teach entrepreneurship and equity. Starring Channing Tatum, “Magic Mike” is about a 30-year-old hunk who ‘works all day and works it all night’ (as the tagline puts it). In the movie, he works as a construction worker during daytime and as a sexy dancer at night just to earn some money to start an Ikea or Cobonpue type of furniture business in Tampa, Florida.

Parts of the story depicts a common experience among budding entrepreneurs who are having a hard time in getting a loan to open up a new business. Too bad, not all entrepreneurs have the body and talent of ‘Magic Magic’ to instantly have a share of equity out of a night club.

At the end of the film, Mike’s protege got in trouble and he had to offer all his hard-earned money to save the teenage chap. Then, the ‘drama’ started.

I’ll give a 5 out of 10 for this movie. I should have waited for the DVD copy to come out. The reasons:

  • Poor editing
  • Not-so-good actors (but definitely good dancers)
  • I guess Matthew McConaughey got out of place. He’s better paired off with girls on romantic comedies than with a bunch of dancing guys
  • The version released in the Philippines was full of “cuts” (or does it have something to do with poor editing, again?)
  • Cody Horn should stop pouting and start acting

On the other hand, this Hollywood film can pass as a chapter of “Accounting for Dummies.”

Moral lesson: good budgeting + entrepreneurial skills + sexy body = MAGIC.

In contrast to the ‘shirtless’ photos of Magic Mike’s cast on theatrical posters (and even on Metro Manila buses), here’s a formal group shot of the stars of this Chippendales-inspired Comedy/Drama film:

Magic Mike cast with clothes on

POST MOVIE MOMENT: I went window-shopping at Team Manila’s Marquee Mall outlet after watching the movie and the piped-in music was playing T-Pain’s “I’m N Luv (Wit A Stripper).” Coincidence.

Time travel and rock-along

I was tapping my feet most of the time while watching the film adaptation of the Tony-nominated musical Rock of Ages. The movie experience was like going back to the year I was born and listening to songs which I (or actually, my dad) grew up with. With a great cast led by Tom Cruise as the legendary rockstar Stacee Jaxx, I am overwhelmed with the production which, I think, didn’t give  much of a theatrical feel compared to other musical-turned-film box office hits.

I just realized we’re like living in the 80’s right now. For me, the top three performances (that are so-2012ish) would be:

1. Hit Me With Your Best Shot – It’s like watching the critics of Lady Gaga clamoring for the cancellation of her show here in Manila.

2. Can’t Fight This Feeling – Bromance at its best! Even better than that of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck

3. Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing – I’m sure the “Gleeks” loved this.

Too bad I missed Manila’s production led by Mig Ayesa.

7 out of 10 stars for this musical that is still timely and addresses the same issues that people faced back in the 80’s. Thanks for unleashing the ‘rock’ in my world of pop.

Snow White: Bella’s alter ego

I wonder why Hollywood is too interested in re-telling the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. This year, two versions came out. One is entitled “Snow White and the Huntsman” which caught my attention because of its attractive trailer that shows how the filmmakers imagined the magic mirror:

The movie, starring Charlize Theron as the evil queen, is an action-packed film that portrays the dark story of the popular fairytale. On the other hand, it reminded me so much of the “Twilight” saga because Kristen Stewart played the lead role. Stewart was unable to sustain her role toward the end of the movie where she was transformed into a warrior wearing an armor. Plus, she was so “Bella-like” in this film because the Huntsman and the Prince were both fighting for her love (am I hearing another “Team Edward vs Team Jacob war?) Chris Hemsworth, who played the role of the ‘huntsman’ still looked like Thor. The movie is generally entertaining but I guess there’s something wrong with the mix of stars. I’ll give a six out of ten for this movie.

Another Snow White version is the movie Mirror, Mirror starring Julia Roberts. I’ll rate this a star higher than the one with Bella’s alter ego.

Holocaust Lessons

My heart became so heavy after watching “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas,” yesterday afternoon. This historical-drama film set during the time of the holocaust presents the story of two 8-year-old boys whose forbidden friendship led to a tragic ending at a World War II extermination camp.

Anybody who watches the film would definitely be moved by the actors’ facial expressions, delivery of lines and body movements. Although the storyline itself may utterly be unrealistic, it is can the core of the emotions of any viewer.

It is true that Jews are not being persecuted anymore nor are we in a worldwide war of sorts, but we are battling  out with some forces that threatens our values and social lives.

Before, propaganda. Now, media.
Before, Jewish persecution. Now, inequality (i.e. gender, class, religion, etc.)
Before, dictatorship. Now, massive consumerism dictated by capitalists.

It hasn’t been so different after all. Let us learn from the holocaust lessons.

“The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” is a 2008 film directed by Mark Herman and is based on a book by John Boyne.

Thor’s Day and Two Other Tales

Over dinner, my dad shared his thoughts on Marvel’s Thor after hearing my brother say that he just recently downloaded the said flick. For weeks I have been unable to air my reactions on the latest movies I watched, so here goes a triple take on “Thor”, “The Vanishing on 7th Street”, and “Limitless.”

Nordic lessons
The Norse mythology-inspired ‘Thor,’ which is the film adaption of the Marvel comic book, is probably one of the best movies of the first half of 2011 [expecting the last installment of Harry Potter to surpass this feat].  Australian actor Chris Hemsworth (of the soap opera “Home and Away” which I used to watch way back in college), was impressive in portraying the arrogant “God of Thunder.” Visually, the characters may look a bit different from their comic form. Needless to say, Natalie Portman did well as Thor’s modern-day ‘sexy geek’ love interest. What I liked most about the story is the emphasis on values. Aside from humility, the story portrayed friendship, loyalty, trust and love of family which are all significant in this age when kids need to be reminded of the importance of these traits. I’ll give an 8 ½ out of 10 for this film I regretted not to have watched on 3D.

Lights On
Until now, I still sleep with the lights on. Blame it on the movie The Vanishing on 7th Street starring Hayden Christensen. The horror-thriller film is notable since a few actors (three adults and one kid) were able to pull the whole story off. It’s interesting to know that there is a pinch of mystery in this movie. After returning home, I hurriedly researched about the enigmatic Roanoke Colony and the mysterious appearance of the word “Croatoan.” The ending may have left the viewers hanging, but overall, the movie’s message was clear – to appreciate the people around you while they are still around. This apocalyptic film is short but entertaining. Seven out of ten stars for this movie that surfaced the versatility of one of my favorite actors (from Moulin Rouge), John Leguizamo. All I have to do now is to “stay in the light.”

Pill Power
For almost two weeks last April, I thought I already missed this film my friend James has been blabbering about. Suddenly, while driving along Angeles City, I came across the “Now Showing” board of one mall and caught “Limitless.” This sci-fi action-thriller is about a pill that can make you rich and powerful by allowing your senses to become insanely active and makes you grasp every bit of information quickly. The story’s protagonist, Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) gets hold of the pill named NZT-48, which maximizes brain use. I wonder if we can actually do the same without the pill. The film is filled with action-packed scenes complete with gangster moves and bloody fights. I’ll give a score of 7 ½ out of 10 for this film which didn’t last long in Philippine cinemas.

Alien flick strikes again

While on queue for the movie I Am Number Four, the lady in front of me asked the ticket seller “What’s this movie about?” and the employee in the booth answered, “It’s a sci-fi action film.” The movie started at 2:30pm and lo and behold, all the action and sci-fi scenes started an hour later. More than half of the film turned out to be the love story of John Smith (Alex Pettyfer) and Sarah Hart (Dianna Agron). It should’ve been classified under ‘teenybopper action thriller with alien invasion” movie. On the other hand, the experience of watching this Michael Bay movie was generally entertaining.

Drawing inspiration from Pittacus Lore’s six-book series (yes, this is just the first installment), I Am Number Four is about a 15-year old alien who is “Number Four” among the nine human-like Loriens  hunted down by silly-looking Mogadorians;  and these Voldemort look-alikes chasing our hero can instantaneously be exterminated to dust by staking them the way Buffy The Vampire Slayer does. And so the “alien walks among us” theme is perfectly integrated throughout the movie backed up with cool special effects. Honestly, I got surprised and almost jumped off my seat twice because of some startling scenes and sound effects.

Bottomline: are aliens real? This issue surfaces in countless Hollywood films and TV shows that has entertained us for years.

Whether based on truth or make-believe, sci-fi flicks bring me back to my younger years and rekindles my belief that I have undiscovered super powers. 6 ½ out of 10 stars for this movie I watched last weekend.

In the name of Love… and Other Drugs

Love and Other Drugs reminds me of my childhood days when my mom used to tag me along during her clinic hours while the “powder blue” Pfizer guys and girls would swarm around and present samples to her. I love those cool giveaway pens, of course!

This movie starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway is a good one; it’s more than a typical romantic dramedy about the life of med-reps. It’s about life.

Spin Doctors’ Two Princes song jumpstarts the film featuring Jamie (Gyllenhaal) embodying the traits of a perfect salesman – gets along well with all sorts of clients, sells more, and hooks up with any girl he likes. The tipping point is when Jamie decides to be a medrep for Pfizer. And so the story goes, and he meets Maggie (Hathaway) by accident. And the rest is told in a movie full of good music and a bunch of steamy scenes.

L&OD is brave enough to tackle the daily struggles of a pharmaceutical slave promoting Zoloft and, later on, Viagra. Some of my friends from the same industry (and the same company as well) would disagree on the values and actions portrayed by Jamie and his colleagues. But beyond the posh, adventure-filled and interesting life of a medrep, reality sets in – it’s one hell of a job!

I never wanted to become a medrep, maybe because I am aware of how difficult it is to be one. The movie shows us the patience and hardwork any employee must possess in order to succeed in a very competitive company. Another story revolves around that of a girl with Parkinson’s disease (Hathaway) whose story with the protagonist has proven that love conquers all.

After seeing the movie, my respect for medreps elevated to a higher degree. And for the hopeless romantic in me, here’s a good line from the movie: “Sometimes the things you want the most don’t happen and what you least expect happens. I don’t know – you meet thousands of people and none of them really touch you. And then you meet that one person and your life is changed.”

By the way, I still keep the “Viagra” paper holder which I had since 2004. It’s useful!

Seven out of ten stars for this movie that teaches us to do anything in the name of love… and other drugs.

Will the real Alex Pearce please stand up?

A thriller with a romantic twist – that’s the best description for “The Tourist” starring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie. This 103-minute movie set in Venice is for those who want to try a serious version of Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Aside from Jolie’s attractive aura throughout the movie (not to mention her pouty lips), it is packed with exciting mystery scenes tangled with lines which are perfect for hopeless romantics.

The problem with Academy Award-winning directors such as von Donnersmarck is that they tend to overdo the movie. In this case, I admire the intricate cinematography (specifically when Depp was in dream-like state) and the flawless slow-motion scenes, but I am surprised when the cat-and-mouse chase becomes [a bit] slapstick; with Jolie banging a doughnut-shaped rubber boat on a gangster’s head, and Depp driving a speedboat to purposely hit an antagonist.

The story, on the other hand, is worth telling. It started with a CSI-type of storyline followed by non-stop mind-boggling episodes of “who is it?” and “will they get him?” adventures. As for the love angle, any love story set in Italy is like a scene pulled out of a dream. Although Depp and Jolie may lack the “umpf” as a silver screen couple, their good acting skills and delivery of lines pulled it off.

After doing a bit of research out of curiosity, I discovered that “Alexander Pearce” (Depp’s character) really is a thief of European descent. It also seems that the book “The Berlin Vendetta by Charles Torbett,” being read by Depp’s character, turns out to be a fake one. Google can really be of big help these days.

6 out of 10 for the first movie I saw this year. Try it.

Seven Dragon Balls

dragonball-evolution-02I can’t help but laugh when my friend sings ‘Cha-la head cha-la’ – the lines from the theme song of Dragon Ball. The animated Japanese series “Dragon Ball” was one of my favourites when I was a kid. After so many years, 20th Century Fox finally got the rights to produce a live movie out of the interesting and action-packed story of Goku.

I laughed when Piccolo showed up during the first part of the film. Flashbacks came and I kept on smiling while reminiscing my childhood days throughout the movie’s duration. The actors, led by Justin Chatwin (Goku), fit their roles.  It is Yun-Fat Chow (Master Roshi) who is able to successfully support his fellow characters in the acting side (since some of them act like amateurs).

Good thing the special effects were great to cover up the not-so-good storyline. The plot generally follows that of Dragon Ball’s animated version but the twists and love angle aren’t presented that well. Movie-goers aged below 15 would love this movie. Adults may find the story shallow. Well, I think the movie is really for the kids and if I were one, I would’ve enjoyed the whole one hour or so.
Number Seven
What’s with the number seven? And I consider seven as my lucky number. There are seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, seven Deadly Sins, and other ‘seven’ stuff. Since I was born on the 7th day of December, the number is close to my heart. My student number in college had 7 on it. I requested that the last number of my car plate should have the number 7. I came in at 7th place to qualify for a national competition in high school. My email address ends in seven. Here’s some interesting info about the number 7: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/7_(number).

Why am I saying these things about the number seven? Because there are SEVEN DRAGON BALLS.

‘Slumdog’ praises and Oscar acclaims

slumdog5Now I know why AMPAS awarded 8 Oscars to Danny Boyle’s ‘Slumdog Millionaire.’ The sensational story behind the success of this movie already reverberated in households all over the world for quite some time even before the Academy Awards.

From Dumas to Christopher de Leon
The show “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” played the pivotal role throughout the movie. Whenever I hear the show’s theme, I instantaneously remember Christopher de Leon in the defunct local version of the game show. Jamal Malik (Dev Patel) was great in delivering few but meaningful lines. I never thought that the beginning of the film would be very much related to the ending. Who would have imagined that ‘Aramis’ (from The Three Musketeers) would be worth 20 million rupees?

A good brain exercise
Slumdog millionaire is a very intelligent film. Several stories are perfectly stitched together resulting to a masterpiece that encompasses love, art, humanity, society and reality. I’m not talking about the questions asked by Anil Kapoor (game show host) which were not really difficult. The story will keep your mind very stimulated.

What love really means
Latika (Frieda Pinto) made me realize what love is about – its value and meaning. The movie may have portrayed an “ideal” romance with a happy ending but the instance is far from impossible. The unique love story intertwined with money and sex produced emotional scenes which affected me a lot. Now I have my own meaning for the word ‘love.’ The movie concretized my belief in destiny.

Very revealing
I was disturbed by some scenes especially that of the “Bombay” era of India’s present financial capital. Astonishing scenes portrayed how difficult it is to live in this Indian city. The movie revealed astonishing lifestyle practices, chaotic city life and unbelievable sights that will let one appreciate his/her comfortable life.

Perfect mix
Slumdog Millionaire’s music was generally exotic. The Indian touches complemented every scene in the move. I found the ending (the Bollywood dance) very entertaining especially because this kind of production number is always included in Indian movies. It completed the award-winning spectacle. Viewers will appreciate how much effort was allotted to cinematography as well. Every scene was carefully thought of and interpreted in a very artistic way (Salam’s “bathtub of money” and “climax flashbacks” are some of the scenes I will never forget).


hughRevamped Oscars
I love the new way the Academy Awards was presented. Hugh Jackman did a very good job hosting (and singing, too!). I bet ‘copycat’ award-giving bodies would imitate the new way on how awards are presented. People from Hollywood never run out of creativity.