Hachi: A Dog’s Story (2009)

image from www. en.wikipedia.org

Last Saturday, I attended a gathering of parish leaders. Incidentally, it was also the launching of a series of catechism lecturettes for the said group. It was observed that the parishioners are ripe for a series of formation seminars, which will enable parish leaders help in Christ’s mission of evangelization. Hence, the series of formation seminars which will run for seven months!

The group was made to watch “Hachi: A Dog’s Story,” a powerful and moving story about a dog’s loyalty to his master. It is a remake of the 1987 Japanese film, Hachiko Monogatari. I won’t dwell into details so as to encourage readers to watch the film. But the most striking element of the film which really made me want to bawl is the dog’s loyalty to his master after so many years. But I was just too conscious that I would embarrass myself in front of complete strangers so I discreetly wiped my tears. LOL.

Richard Gere stars as Parker Wilson, the professor; Joan Allen as Cate Wilson, the professor’s wife; and many other notable actors and actresses. Hachi, the dog, was played by three different Akitas named Chico, Layla and Forrest. Watching these dogs portray Hachi was just amazing!

This film is a must see. Dog lover or not, it will certainly tug at your heartstrings.

Iron Man 2 (2010)

image from movies.yahoo.com

My mom and I, together with a cousin watched IRON MAN 2. This movie date was in celebration of Mother’s Day. I enjoyed the first IRON MAN immensely in 2008 and I cannot let the opportunity pass with the second film.

As I remember it, the first IRON MAN movie ended with the billionaire Tony Stark (played by Robert Downey, Jr) revealing that he is in fact, IRON MAN. And so, the second film starts with Tony Stark being pressured by the US government, press and the public to divulge the secret technology employed by the armored superhero.  He refuses to do so for fear that information will fall into the wrong hands. To complicate matters, Tony is suffering the deadly side effects of the palladium element which is necessary for him to be the hero-in-suit and while he believes that he is dying, a new and powerful enemy is just around the corner to wreck havoc.

Whenever I watch fantasy and sci-fi movies, I don’t have expectations. I just go to the movie house to get entertained. And IRON MAN 2 gave me just that. I’ve always liked Robert Downey Jr because he is such a good actor. I like the characters he portray and he performs effortlessly. Gwyneth Paltrow is such a stunner. I like the chemistry between her and Downey. On the other hand, I liked Scarlett Johansson’s character with all that kicking ass and martial arts. Such a femme fatale! Oh yeah, Samuel L. Jackson’s presence is also an added attraction and Mikey Rourke’s Ivan Vanko is awesome.

I’m curious as to the plot of the third installment. 🙂

Clash of the Titans (2010)

image from uberduzi.com

Ever since I saw the trailer of the latest “Clash of the Titans” movie, I promised my self that I will certainly watch it. I even asked my friends that our next movie date would be to watch this film. However, due to our hectic schedules, the movie date did not push through. And so I only had the opportunity to watch this on DVD.

The movie is loosely based on the Greek myth of Perseus, a demi-god, sired by  Zeus with Danae (mortal mother). Perseus is caught in the times where humans openly defy and challenge the gods. His adoptive family is one of the many casualties of this war. While in Argos, Perseus witnesses Hades’ ultimatum – sacrifice Andromeda or the Kraken will be released to wreak havoc on humanity. He also discovers that he is Zeus’ offspring and he is being guided and watched over by Io, a woman who does not age as punishment for refusing to be seduced by a god. To avenge his slain family, Perseus joins Argos’ finest soldiers in a quest to eventually stop the Kraken.  In his odyssey, he encounters different creatures and triumphs over them. He eventually saves the day by stopping the Kraken.

The movie is certainly entertaining with all its visual effects. For an adventure and fantasy flick, this is worth the watch. However, I would not say that it is outstanding and brilliant. The saving grace I think of this movie, at least for me, is the presence of great actors like Liam Neeson (Zeus) and Ralph Fiennes (Hades). Sam Worthington (Perseus) has a long way to go but he has potential. I am looking forward to seeing more of him in the future.

What I liked about this movie is the fact that Perseus wanted to do things on his own, on his terms. It’s like encouraging people that one must exhaust all possible avenues before asking for the help of the gods. I don’t think it is arrogance but merely exploring and using the gifts bestowed on humanity.

Thank God for DVDs!

Last Easter Sunday, I got to watch three movies.  Thank goodness for my DVDs.

I realized that I’m such a pathetic moviegoer. It was only last Sunday that I got to watch AVATAR. When I told my office mates about it. They were dumbfounded. Yeah, I’m such a loser. Ha ha. I found the movie very entertaining. I wish that I had seen it in IMAX or even just a plain movie theater. I’m sure I would have enjoyed it more. I won’t write a review of the film because there are lots of it online. The story is quite simple and unoriginal but I liked the lessons that it wished to impart. I absolutely loved the the animation technology it employed. Very colorful, creative. I was like a kid watching the movie because I was gushing and enthusiastic while watching the film.

And then I watched THE BOUNTY HUNTER, starring Gerard Butler and Jennifer Aniston. I watched it without any expectations and I’m glad that I didn’t have any. Because it was certainly unremarkable. It was entertaining enough. I liked Gerard Butler more in The Ugly Truth.

image from wearegeeks.com

The last movie that I watched was 500 DAYS OF SUMMER. Now, this got me interested. It’s not a typical boy meets

image from umauma-y.com

girl and they fall in love story. This time, only the boy falls in love. The plot was so unpredictable and it really bites. I was feeling sorry for the guy and was really getting angry with the girl. But when this scene happened:

Summer: I woke up one morning and I just knew.
Tom: Knew what?
Summer: What I was never sure of with you.

I was like, “Oh. Right. Big Time.”  So very true.  I liked this movie a lot because it took on a different approach on falling in love and on relationships. No sugarcoating.  I was utterly charmed.

Happy Find: Confucius DVD (2010)

image from chinesefilms.cn

Ever since I learned that there is an epic film about the Chinese philosopher, Confucius, I relentlessly researched if the film will be released internationally. Or, I hoped that a DVD with English subtitles will be available soon. Imagine my surprise when I found a copy of the movie…and yes, with English subtitles! I bought the movie along with “From Paris with Love” and “The Hurt Locker.” (Erm, my mom loves action movies so I bought the latter two for her)

P.S. I already watched “From Paris with Love” and found it entertaining. Of course, with John Travolta and Jonathan Rhys Meyer, it was definitely fun. On the other hand, I didn’t like “The Hurt Locker.” Probably because I don’t really like war films with all the gore and blood. However, I feel for those soldiers who had to fulfill their duty in spite of the horrifying things they have seen in Iraq.  As for Confucius, I will watch the film probably this weekend. I hope I will not be disappointed.

A weekend with Jane Austen, Part 3 (Last Part)

Alas! My Jane Austen weekend has come to an end. It was a wonderful way to cap the weekend by watching the movie, Emma (1996); BBC’s Emma (2009) and another movie, Becoming Jane (2007).

Emma 1996 (image from erasofelegance.com)

Emma (1996) stars Gwyneth Paltrow as the young, pretty and rich Emma Woodhouse and Jeremy Northam as the charming, reticent but kind Mr. George Knightley. It was really surprising to see Ms. Paltrow, an American actress, portray an Englishwoman. I found her English accent a bit weird but as the movie progressed, I became quite used to it. Paltrow, an actress blessed with classical features, had so much poise and gracefulness which just made it work. On the other hand, Jeremy Northam was splendid as Mr. Knightley. He is hot!!! I love how his facial expressions conveyed his feelings and how he delivered his lines. I particularly liked when he spars with Emma and when he scolds her. The film was entertaining and funny indeed. My only gripe with film is that events were much too compressed that there’s not much room for character development.

Emma 2009 (image from © BBC 2009)

In the recent BBC production of Emma (2009), I was really happy to find a familiar face. Jonny Lee Miller, who earlier portrayed Edmund Bertram in the 1999 version of Mansfield Park, is back as the quick-witted and charming George Knightley. I adored him in Mansfield Park even though his character there took a long time to realize his feelings for the heroine. But I believe that he was a great choice as Mr. Knightley because he absolutely nailed it. He was exceptional with his scenes with Emma, particularly when he is arguing with her, scolding her, goading her, or when they are just having a good time. Such a consummate actor! On the other hand, it is my first time to see Romola Garai but I liked her as Emma Woodhouse. Her Emma is youthful, clever and witty. Garai and Miller are great together. I loved how their argument scenes (there were several) were really played out, with both sides arguing their cases well. Another delightful surprise was the presence of Michael Gambon as Mr. Woodhouse. I was taken aback and I had to take a second look when he first appeared because I could only think of one thing: That’s Dumbledore!! He was such a dear old man, Mr. Woodhouse er, Mr. Gambon.

The advantage of a mini-series is that events are not rushed and forced unlike in the movies. Furthermore, there is much room for character development and event build-up. I liked how Mr. Knightley’s realization of his true feelings for Emma was depicted. It’s not rushed and forced. I think, this is the best adaptation of Emma I have seen.

Becoming Jane (image from http://www.tribute.ca)

Becoming Jane (2007) explores the untold story of Jane Austen, one of the greatest writers in English Literature. Jane is being pressured by the family to marry. But being a woman far ahead of her time, she refuses unless it is for love. She meets Tom Lefroy, a lawyer who is dependent on his uncle and his fortune. They both started on the wrong footing but eventually fell in love. However, the couple is faced by numerous obstacles – family, friends and fortune. Anne Hathaway, an American actress, plays the feisty, opinionated Jane. Anne was alright but I think a better actress might have been able to portray Ms. Austen. On the other hand, James McAvoy portrays Tom Lefroy who breathed life into his character brilliantly, so much so, that I wanted to love and hate him at the same time. The film left me with a bittersweet feeling, no matter how I am used to see such kind of endings.

The film gives an inside look of what might have been the secret life of Ms. Austen. I have read that Ms. Austen never married and I surmised that for a writer who created wonderful stories with happy endings – heroines marrying the men they love, she must have had loved deeply. That in her short life, she must have had, as poets and writers gush about, “that one great love.”

The movie addict in me

I love watching movies. This goes to show that I’m really an “audio-visual” person. 😉

In the previous weeks, I have been re-watching movies and a bit of series online. It has been one coping strategy for me.

To add to the list:

image from ireel.com

Little Women (1994).  Based on Louisa May Alcott’s book with the same title, this movie was really entertaining. I loved the book when I read it in high school and I liked the movie as well. It has a star-studded cast, with Susan Sarandon as Mrs. March, Winona Ryder as Jo March, Trini Alvardo as Meg March, Claire Danes as Beth March and Kirstin Dunst as the younger Amy March. The actors who showed their acting prowess were Christian Bale as Laurie and Gabriel Byrne as Prof. Friedrich Bhaer. The book chronicles the lives of the women of the March family – their struggles, affairs of the heart, sorrows and triumphs. I particularly liked the stories of Meg and Jo. The film for all its outstanding qualities has its limitations too. I felt that it was too short to be able to include all of their life stories. However, I was happy that it focused on Jo’s blossoming love affair with Mr. Bhaer.  Many viewers were put off with Ms. Ryder and Mr. Byrne’s partnership but I was too happy to see Mr. Byrne as the warm and kind Mr. Bhaer. I just love him!

image from moviegoods.com

French Kiss (1995). This movie is one of my all-time favorites. I have seen this film many times but I just can’t get enough of it. Maybe because Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline are both my favorites. I admit that I’m biased when it comes to this film. Regardless of the plot, I fell in love with it just knowing that Ms. Ryan and Mr. Kline are in it. Ryan’s acting, most especially in comedy, is so funny and refreshing. Kline is one superb actor. I discovered him in Dave and I was smitten ever since. He is so talented and funny. I just love an actor who can really make me laugh without even trying. I adore the chemistry between Meg and Kevin. I can’t help but laugh out loud when they throw barbs at each other. They are so natural together. I felt that they were not even acting. This is one movie that I’d often watch whenever I feel blue. I miss watching Meg and Kevin. Their projects now are few and far between.

image from imknight.net

The Lake House (2006). This film is remake of a Korean film entitled “Il Mare.”i have watched the Korean version and loved Jeon Ji Hyun and Lee Jung Jae (what a hunk!).  When I first learned that Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves were the main actors in the US version, I was ecstatic because I like Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves a lot. I had a rewatch a week after Valentine’s Day, if I remember it correctly. Another feel good movie.

image from ware.vn

The Accidental Husband (2008). I came upon this movie…accidentally when I was looking for something to watch during a stressful time. It made me laugh. Uma Thurman was absolutely gorgeous as the love doctor while Colin Firth was really funny in his stress-eating Englishman character. It was my first time to see Jeffrey Dean Morgan (I think I have seen him before but he did not leave an impression) and I found him charming. The plot was too impossible to happen but I found it funny and refreshing. I particularly liked the ending. I just hope that Colin Firth will be be given a role which would not relegate him to second best. I miss seeing him in the title role.  Next time, perhaps?

So here are the movies which made me smile and fall in love. It’s been good. Really good. 😀

Delicious way of coping with stress

I’m actually under tremendous stress lately. However, I’ve rediscovered a way of coping with it. My previous entries were about movies and series, right? I’ve made it a point to watch movies or series during the weekend to relieve me of the various strains of my job. In the past, I used to watch Korean series and movies. My current tastes focus on English/British period movies and dramas. And I’ve found several worth watching, as I wrote in my previous entries. The heroes and heroines have swept me off my feet! The truth is, the presence of smokin’ hot heroes reduces me into a lovesick girl. 🙂 Hmm, which I think is much better than being harassed and negative, don’t you think? 😉

A weekend with Jane Austen, Part 2

And the movie marathon continues…

This time, I had pleasure watching two adaptations of Jane Austen’s novels, namely, Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park.

I found the 2007 version of Northanger Abbey really entertaining because of its two leads. Catherine Morland portrayed by Felicity Jones and Henry Tilney portrayed by JJ Feild. Catherine is a young woman of 18 who is fond of reading gothic novels which influence her  vivid and overactive imagination. Ms. Jones was delightful and youthful in her performance as the heroine. Henry is the younger son who is charming, friendly and handsome. JJ Feild was perfect to a “T” with his Henry. The pair had chemistry right from the start and I found myself smiling and grinning whenever they were together. The ending was cute too!

image from jimandellen.org

Mansfield Park (1999), on the other hand, is loosely-based on Austen’s novel with the same title. The film starred Frances O’ Connor as Fanny Price and Jonny Lee Miller as Edmund Bertram. Frances was convincing as Fanny, most especially, during heartfelt moments with Edmund. Jonny’s performance was also touching. He was such a sweet and caring man but was “blind” for quite a time. The plot of the story tugged at my heart because Fanny loved Edmund since she was a child but Edmund has set his sight on someone else. Ouch! Both parties encounter have their own struggles.  The ending was also a satisfying one.

image from erasofelegance.com

I believe there is going to be a part 3 for I still have to watch Emma and Becoming Jane. But so far, I’ve enjoyed meeting and admiring her heroines. But what I love about the adaptations so far, are the presence of heroes who made me swoon and fall in love. They are all smokin’ hot. 😉 *whew*