Monthly Archives: October 2015

Friday Photo 115

Tuesday was a particularly overcast and gloomy day. I took photos of the trees in our front yard and the resulting photos looked ominous. Here’s one of them.

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Recently seen movie: The Last Witch Hunter

Vin Diesel is an extremely magnetic and likable presence in any movie but he has yet to dazzle me with his acting skills. That is fine, as long as keeps making movies where he is some bad-ass with a soft fluffy heart inside that hard shell of a body. Judging from the trailer of ‘The Last Witch Hunter’ alone, I had no other expectations from this action-horror-fantasy mash-up other than to be treated with Mr. Diesel’s adorable gruffness.

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And yes, my expectations were largely met by this movie. It’s got great art direction and visual effects, a pedigreed supporting cast lead by Michael Caine, Elijah Wood, and ‘Game of Thrones’ alumnus Rose Leslie, and enough weirdness and humor to make me suspend my disbelief. It’s very entertaining. The action set pieces were staged awesomely and seemed integrated well into the plot, unlike other genre films wherein the plot is set around the action set pieces. Kudos to the confident direction of Breck Eisner, who also gave us the creepy remake of George Romero’s ‘The Crazies’.

The surprise here is Vin Diesel himself, because he was required to do more than kick other people’s asses in this movie. His character, Kaulder, was given a great backstory: he was cursed with immortality by the witch-queen and because the movie is set in contemporary times, he walks around in a world-weary way while totally pining for his wife and daughter. Vin Diesel got the been-there-done-that bluster. He was quite effective when he was flirting with Rose Leslie. However, he still fell short in moments of drama. But I don’t hold that against Vin Diesel. I’d still give him plus points for trying.

Over-all my only complain about this movie was that the finale felt rushed. I would’ve loved to see more of the with-queen and how they fought. Otherwise, I found this movie surprisingly entertaining; a fresh and original adventure that stands out in the current cinematic environment of rehashed, remade, and rebooted stories.

Friday Photo 114

The first thing that needs replacement in any Apple device is its power cable. I mean, for the premium price of its products, is it too much to ask for a power cable that lasts as long as the device? I sound like I’m complaining, yet I remain loyal to the brand. Anyway, thank God for third-party products that are cheaper than the ‘official’ products and works just as fine. Some even look good, as well!

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Reactivating my Voting Status

Yesterday I finally went and submitted my application to reactivate my voting status. Last June I filled out my application online only to realize that I would still need to appear at the nearest COMELEC (Commission on Elections) office to submit said application and to have my image and finger prints captured. The last time my biometrics was captured was back in 2009, when I was still living in Cambodia. Back then the Philippine embassy was a couple of houses down the street where my flat was located so making the trip required no effort at all.

This time, however, the prospect of going to this government agency’s office in my district wasn’t such an attractive idea. The office, after all, is notorious for being dilapidated, dirty, and crowded. A friend who had completed her registration in this office recounted how dirty, hot, and unruly the proceedings were. There was not enough space to sit down and accomplish the forms, the queue was disorderly, and the staff were harried and rude.

So when I learned that COMELEC was holding voter registration in malls, I decided to just do it there. However, I failed to register when the event was held in SM City San Lazaro. As the deadline (end of October) loomed, I grew resigned to the fact that I will really have to venture to their office if I really wanted to participate in next year’s elections.

Then I was pleasantly surprised that another voter registration event was to be held for my district, this time at Lucky Chinatown Mall. This mall was a bit farther from my home than SM City San Lazaro but it’s a much better option for me than going to the COMELEC office.

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I arrived at the mall at about 11: 15 AM and I was directed to the fourth floor. The event was in an un-used part of the mall, but they dressed it for the registration by installing glass doors at the entrance, carpet over the concrete floor, and air conditioners that kept the room cool in spite of the increasing number of people. There were also adequate number of chairs for people in the queue to sit and tables for those who were filling out forms. Most commendable past of this set-up was the presence of a security person, who was very polite in answering questions, managing the queues inside and out of the room, and maintaining order.

My process was a bit shorter because I had accomplished the forms online. The election officer only later asked me to fill out a page (out of 3) because the paper they used was much thicker than the paper I used to print the form at home and therefore would last longer in their non-digital files. By 12:30 PM my image and prints were already being captured and I was done.

Whoever thought of holding voter registration at the malls should be commended because it is certainly convenient for us. I suppose it is convenient for COMELEC also because aside from the normal stresses of organizing events outside the office, working in a comfortable environment (like a mall) is less stressful than working in a cramped, humid office.

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Recently seen movie: Crimson Peak

“Crimson Peak” is one of my highly anticipated movies for this year so I caught it on the first day of showing. I went with high expectations because the director is Guillermo Del Toro, he who gave us “Blade 2”, “Pan’s Labyrinth”, the two “Hellboy” movies and most recently, “Pacific Rim”. Trailers of this film successfully stimulated my interest. I happen to admire GDT’s visual aesthetics, which is indelibly stamped in all his movies.

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In this regard, Crimson Peak did not fail me. I almost had sensory overload just looking at every visual treat and listening to the musical score that evoked both wonder and fear. Allerdale Hall, the imposing and dilapidated mansion in this movie made Hill House in “The Haunting” (1999) look like a cottage. One can, in fact say, that this haunted house on steroids is this movie’s main star.

This movie has buckets of atmosphere; its sense of foreboding permeates every nook and cranny of the sceneries, which range from New York of the late 19th Century to rural England. And believe me, there are thousands of nooks and crannies in this movie. Along with torrents of blood. Each visual cue, whether emanating from the surroundings or seen on the faces of the actors, is an appeal for me to be frightened.

Unfortunately, for a Gothic horror movie, Crimson Peak isn’t really frightening for me.

Blame my long standing love for the horror genre. I’ve been reading horror books and watching horror TV shows and movies for years that I no longer scare easily now. Not really. At my age, I am still able to enjoy–and appreciate–a good scare.

Watching Crimson Peak felt like watching one of those Hammer films of the 60s and those Italian horror movies from the 70s. The plot was, sorry to say, predictable. I mean, the classic tropes of haunted houses, restless spirits, and murderous husbands are practically begging to be deconstructed/ revised/ updated for the current times and I expected Crimson Peak to turn these old horror tropes on their coiffed heads but GDT just gave them an imposing new (haunted) home. Based on the trailers, I imagined that this movie was a retelling of Bluebeard’s tale; that Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) was an immortal who sustained his long life through his brides, or something like it. Instead I got incestuous siblings who murdered socially awkward women and ran off with their monies.

I must really be desensitized to horror because incest is no longer shocking to me.

The cast turned in effective performances in spite of the somewhat thin material. Mia Wasikowska is perfectly waif-ish for her role while Jessica Chastain appeared to have the best time with her role. She is both ravishing and menacing as Lucille. Tom Hiddleston could have narrated the whole movie and I wouldn’t have minded. His voice is simply divine. Charlie Hunnam acted like he was still in “Nicholas Nickleby” (2002). I only knew Jim Beaver from the TV series “Supernatural” so his presence in this movie was a welcome surprise. His grisly demise iss one of the highlights of the movie.

If the main star of this movie is Allerdale Hall, the main protagonist is probably the set design. As a character, the intricately decorated surroundings drives the viewer to great imaginings and anticipation of horrific things to come, before unexpectedly showing us, in the end, that there isn’t much horror to be had. This is the plot twist that’s enough to kill all plot twists.

Nevertheless, I will watch this movie again, just to be lost in the curlicues of Allerdale Hall’s wooden confines, or in the puffed sleeves of Edith Cushing’s (Mia Wasikowska) night gown, which seemed to grow larger and more diaphanous as the movie plodded along its snowy and bloody track.