Sunday, May 12, 2013

YOUR BROTHA in TUMBLAH



Hello there!!! I'll be using my tumblr account from this point onwards to blog. Brace yourselves for more posts that concern movies, music, food, fashion and even myself on this new blog. But don't you fret just yet it's one click away anyways. Here's the link: http://christianjoyfreo.tumblr.com/ SEE YOU THERE GUYS!!! *winks*

Saturday, May 11, 2013

I Know What I Did This Summer


            My summer for the past 18 years was perfectly simple. April was a bare month and I had to wait for May because the first two weeks would mean a Bible Boot Camp and the rest of the month meant my vacation in the province. During these years, I barely remember all that happened during my summer vacation except that it was fun.

          This year, however, brought something that wholly changed my perspective on summer and even on myself. I was preoccupied from April to May with spending my summer with my loved ones doing the things I love. Although it was not specifically planned, as soon as my summer vacation began everything just fell into their places.

          My summer kicks off at the middle of April as my mom, my cousins and I head to the Summer Capital of the country, Baguio City! This particular trip was not in anyone’s itinerary until it came into our doorsteps. The agency that my brother works for does a lot of travelling and we were given the opportunity to come along with them. As soon as we got there we went to most, if not all, of the famed sites taking pictures and doing almost everything that comes to your head when you hear Baguio. On our third and last day we stayed in La Trinidad and had a well-spent day picking strawberries and buying goodies for everyone back home.

            This certain trip was a time for firsts for me because I was able to try new things like the Tree Top Adventure and visiting the strawberry farm. Likewise, this was the first time my cousins went to Baguio and it seemed just about time since one of them was a fresh grad and even celebrated her birthday along the way to Baguio. It was pure fun!

            On the contrary, my grandfather Efren Freo, which is fondly called as Lolo Papay, was lying on his deathbed even before we set out for Baguio. By the time we came back from Baguio, he eventually gave out and we found ourselves facing him, not to kiss his hand, but to kiss him goodbye.

            Furthermore, we spent five days for the wake with people screaming and laughing over gambling and alcohol which is a “necessary” Filipino custom. At that time, I just didn’t see where the issue of that custom enters. For me, it was simply a way of coping with the passing away of Lolo Papay not that everyone who visited knew him anyway. It was not fun at all. It was painful. There were moments where we would recollect our memories with Lolo Papay, laugh, stay silent for a while and change the topic. The day of the interment was specifically the most terrible part. It was my first time to see someone being buried and my last to see a grandparent die.

            This particular part of my summer gave an awful impression to me but then I realized one or two things from it. I began to understand how true Filipino family ties are which I only learned on books before. Relatives from around the globe travelled just to mourn and extend their deepest condolences. I also realized, cheesy as it may sound, that people die every day and that they never truly leave us as long as we keep them in our hearts.

            After that, we had to go back to the real world in our real lives however difficult that may seem. I spent two weeks at Sorsogon before going back to Manila and made every productive thing possible. I worked on our business and spent quality time with my cousins going to different places. The last days of my stay there also included a visit from someone really special who came all the way from Manila to Bicol just to see me.

            In a way, I thought that this summer vacation sucked. I thought I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it as much as I did in the previous years and that it was the worst summer I had in my entire life. But going back to what I’ve been through this summer it makes me think that it’s not bad after all and that it could even be one of the best summers I had. It was, in one way or the other, some sort of a grand reunion for everyone. It was a time for fellowship and bonding. On that note I’m sure I’ll remember this summer because this time I KNOW WHAT I DID THIS SUMMER.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Host: Better On The Silver Screen





“This is a strange world…the strangest.”


            What can be stranger than promising that you won’t get crazy over something again yet you find yourself five days later getting cray with the exact thing you promised that you won’t get crazy over? Yes, human beings are extremely bizarre creatures.

            Rummaging through my bookshelf I finally got hold of what I was looking for. As I flickered the first few pages I was absorbed into reading it and not before long I finally gave in completely consumed by it. It took me one week at the very least to finish reading it. I read it during classes. I read it during breaks. I read it before doing my school works. I read it before going to sleep. That was the effect the book had in me and all I could articulate was, “Damn you Stephenie Meyer! You had me hooked and stoked once more.”

            A quick backdrop of the book won’t hurt. The Host which was written by Stephenie Meyer, famed author of the Twilight saga, deals with a psychological thriller/ love story past vampires and werewolves. Set in the future, earth is not the world we know now as the human race start to become occupied by “souls” who invade our bodies trying to perfect the human race. I found the book blunt with its tedious pace and story buildup. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it considering that it’s way better than Twilight.

            The movie, on the other hand, was way better than Twilight and way better than the book thanks to its director and writer Andrew Niccol. I was really surprised after watching the film with considering that I read it beforehand. The film filled the points and spots where the book did not meet. It was great to the point that you get annoyed knowing that it has no sequel. Anyway, here’s what I liked about the film.

            First, amazing screenplay. The novel uses the first person point-of-view so one can only see up to the point where the eyes of the narrator, Wanderer, reach. The film, however, made the audience see everything. From the happenings in the caves to the struggles encountered by the Seeker the film makes the audience omniscient.

            Second, interesting characters and actors. Wanderer is the invading soul and Melanie Stryder is the host. As Wanderer enters Melanie’s body she becomes conflicted between doing her duty or doing what’s right as Melanie continues to battle inside her. She also becomes entangled to pursue Jamie her younger brother and Jamie, Melanie’s lover but finds herself in a hot seat as the other humans part of the resistance continues to sort her out thinking that Melanie’s truly dead. Other characters like Ian, Jeb and the Seeker makes the complete cast. Saoirse Ronan who plays the lead role of Wanderer/ Melanie Stryder has shown how high she has grown from her previous films with her acting prowess.

            Third, astounding cinematography. The desert, the mountains and everything else falls perfectly into their places. The shots from every scene were incredible and it made the film worth-watching. Although slightly draggy, the film’s setting was impeccable that you would want to watch it over and over and over again.

            Furthermore, I still found something that could’ve made the film better. In the book, Wanderer did not easily get the sympathy from the other human beings. She experienced prejudice and fought her way to win their hearts. I simply wish the film also focused on the other characters not simply to the 4-5 main characters. I wish they could’ve exploited the different characters to build a better plot. Nonetheless, I liked the film.

            Strange as it may seem I was captivated by the film not just because it was a great novel turned into a great film but because it was deeply moving and heartwarming. It talks about a deeper sense that is beyond love. It talks of becoming humane even if humanity seems to be out of sight. It’s one of the few films that has t o be watched to be experienced. Strange? I don’t think so.

How G.I. Joe: Retaliation retaliated itself




            Goodbye Channing and Hello Dwayne Johnson! That is how the new installment of the G.I. Joe series greeted the viewers…little did we know that this greeting hardly makes a good first impression. There are two main reasons why The Rock’s “magic” did not quite work this time: First, because it’s not Channing. Second, because it simply did not.

            But kidding aside, I found the film commonplace and somewhat mediocre especially when compared to its prequel, G.I. Joe: Rise Of The Cobra, since I became a fan of it. One can pinpoint which areas had the movie retaliating itself.

            A good film should found itself in a plot that would basically serve as the backbone of its entirety. The film, unfortunately, did not establish itself in a good one rather in a cliche. It revolves on the G.I. Joe operation being closed given the circumstances and the characters trying to settle loose ends.

            Men love G.I. Joe for its action stunts and the chaos happening in front of them while women love the actors sweating with their bulging muscles. To make the long story short, everyone loves action but where did the film go wrong? It had guns, explosions, and every possible tool but it lacked suspense. The film was not able to heighten the thrill because it wanted to show everything at once leaving the audience wanting more, but not in a good way.

            Even if the movie did not pass my expectations in many levels, I would still recommend others to watch it if they’re into another action-packed film.

            Although Channing Tatum’s appearance is short-lived other actors made up for his absence. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was subtle and made a good lead for the film. But the most-anticipated part was Bruce Willis’.

            As I stated earlier, the film focused in giving a greater cinematic film with all the effects used although not as startling. The motion picture unquestionably put effort in the visuals which created few breathtaking scenes.

            In a nutshell, the film was not THAT bad but it wasn’t impressive enough either. It gives you that feeling that something is missing or lacking and you want to watch it again just to make sure you feel right. Anyway, you could check it out yourself in cinemas and tell me what you think. J

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Warm Bodies: A Witty Zombie-Human Love Affair


           
          
             Have you ever heard of the phrase, “There’s life after death.”? Apparently it’s true or that’s how the film Warm Bodies put it. Everyone’s past the vampire-human-werewolf love affair because that’s so mainstream. As we’re nearing the apocalyptic era, the spotlight’s on zombies now. Thus, it’s the perfect time for a new take on the whole zombie thing.
            
            Others would still say that the zombie theme has been used and every possible twists has been done over and over and over again. But fear not for the death of the zombie genre because Jonathan Levine (The Wackness, 50/50) prepared a romance-comedy film based on the debut novel of Isaac Marion.
            
            Some say it’s another Twilight film. Some say it’s Twilight done better. Although they have a different set of characters they basically have the same star-crossed lovers, Rome and Juliet feel. As to the film being better than Twilight I would say it is. But setting the comparisons aside here’s what I have to say about the film.


            
              Well-plotted is the very term I would use to describe the film. I like how it did not focus much on how R, the main character, became a zombie and how the world reached its destruction. It rather focused on the development of the love story between the zombie and human and tried its best to make it believable. It’s a bit cheesy as well since a zombie who was looking for brains found the heart of a girl and made his dead heart beat once more. Unlike other zombie films, Warm Bodies present zombies still having a part of their humanity inside them and that it only waits to be triggered. That is the essence of the film- the dead can be brought to life through affection and yes, love. It may sound cliché but the story makes you want to sit in front of the big screen and see how the story would end. Another big factor that made the film stick to one’s brain is its sense of humor. All the punch lines are executed perfectly and even the simple acts of the characters (like the groaning/murmuring of conversing zombies) will crack you up. Plus the narration of R, in his perspective, is definitely humorous as well.
            
           The film, although comprising of only a few characters, was made big by the actors. Nicholas Hoult (X Men: First Class) is laudable for his portrayal of the zombie R. The funny thing is that he only has few lines (because he doesn’t talk that much) but I found his acting superb. It’s as if he really is a zombie who’s got more brains than the usual zombie. He may still be that hunchbacked scuffling groaning zombie but he’s the zombie who, at back of his head, knows that there’s something more beyond their abode in the airport. Teresa Palmer as Julie, on the other hand, somehow balances the affair. She may seem to be the typical damsel in distress but the she proves to be more than that. She played her role well but cannot be equated to Hoult’s. The subcharacters include Rob Corddry who plays another zombie character named M who had most of the comic lines in the film. Analeigh Tipton as Nora, the best friend of Julie, also stars in the film. And of course John Malkovich as the overbearing father of Julie and the leader of the survivors who would put a bullet straight to the head of any zombie that would come his way. The Bonies also appear in the picture. These are the zombies in the final stage of “zombification” who would haunt both living and the dead.
           
             Adding to the beauty of the film is its cinematography. The transition of the scenes is reflected in the film through its color palette that gives emphasis to the dull and dead scenes while the sceneries vibrantly contrast them. As the movie develops and R begins to be “undead”, the atmosphere of the film also brightens. The songs used are also well-chosen. R has this amazing collection of hit soundtracks ranging from Guns N’ Roses to Feist to The National which are fitting for every scene. The graphics used for the Bonies remind me of I Am Legend but less terrifying and startling with wee bit of gore.
            
               In totality, I’d say that the film is a simple one but it pulled off what it wanted to present. They did not go overboard with the plot and the effects, just enough to make one believe of the possibility that the dead can be brought to life with the power of love and a little bit of funny.

               Now say hi to R... Just R... :)




Friday, January 18, 2013

Les Misérables: A Dream That Will Never Die



         
         I was thinking on how to start this film review but it seems that finding the right words is too hard and it’s most probably because of two things. First, words aren’t enough to describe it since almost everything in Les Mis is sung and second, I’m still at AWE with it that I’m careful on what to put in this post.
            
            Les Misérables is that film that you would like to see not merely for leisure’s sake but for something much deeper than that. It is that film where you would thank the author, Victor Hugo, for such a magnificent story. It’s that film that you could consider worthy of your penny. And it is definitely that film where you could sing, cry, and laugh all at the same time.
           
            Ever since I watched the 1998 version during my high school days the film never got out of my head. You may consider that an exaggeration but that’s how it is. That is why when I first heard that it will be revived with the direction of Tom Hooper, I was, by all odds, excited. What’s more exciting is that it’s adapted from the musical play so expect the characters to sing from finish to end. It’s not even to be compared to the first version since that was based from the novel.

What’s more exciting is that it’s adapted from the musical play so expect the characters to sing from finish to end.

            
           Now, to really begin with the review. Who doesn’t know the story of Jean Valjean and his road to redemption? The film, as stated earlier, is based from Victor Hugo’s masterpiece. It is a story that shows the life during the French Revolution. The film, on the other hand, perfectly captured that era from the costumes to cinematography and everything in between. Every single scene was shot just right, not overdid but also not mediocre. The overall filming was spectacular where you can feel that you were part of that era. The set is reminiscent and not an eyesore. Each costume and makeup brings out the character very well.
            
        Who would forget songs such as “I Dreamed A Dream” or “On My Own”? Well, not me! When I was younger I would sing these songs for days. While I was watching this film, I relived my childhood. Anyway, the thing about the film is that you could basically sing to every song or when you’re in the cinemas perhaps sing it in your head. Every song literally and figuratively tells a story.

Who would forget songs such as “I Dreamed A Dream” or “On My Own”?
          
           Of course, some revisions have been made from the 1998 version which came dramatic. Although that’s not something terrible, another thing I liked about this new version is that it has a comic relief (just like the play). The characters are utterly MISERABLE but because of the funniness of some scenes you would not help but laugh.



         
           Lastly, the actors are WELL-PICKED. I could’ve not chosen another set of actors to play the characters. Hugh Jackman playing Jean Valjean could make him bag the Oscar award for Best Actor. No offense meant, but I think he even made it past Liam Neeson. Anne Hathaway as Fantine was remarkable. Those famous lines from I Dreamed A Dream being sung by her makes the song and everything a lot more emotional. Russell Crowe, who played Javert, was quite promising and his voice was an eargasm. I was looking out for his scenes. J Amanda Seyfried as Cosette is another must-watch. Know for her great singing prowess from Mama Mia she steps up in this film. Helena Bonham Carter is no doubt is in her element as Madame Thenardier. Sacha Baron Cohen (who is popularly known as Borat) was also fun to watch as Thenardier. Eddie Redmayne, who played Marius also stood up to the expectations of the crowd. But the greatest surprise was Samantha Bark who played Eponine as well in the play. She is someone to watch out for (I cried when she sang On My Own). The child actor, Isabelle Allen, who played young Cosette was also remarkable! Plus, the priest who helped Jean Valjean in the beginning was actually the one who played Jean Valjean in The Dream Cast in Concert a.k.a Les Misérables in Concert. Anyway, every single actor played their roles well. Their singing abilities is something that shouldn’t be questioned.
            
           The only thing that I hate about the film is that it was too short. L I secretly hoped that they could prolong the events so I could enjoy their voices. But to sum it all, I don’t have anything to complain about the film.
         
         The story has become part of my life a long time ago and I’m sure this film would too. You’d get three things from the film: an education, a song and a tale. You will be thought of the French lives during those days. You will carry the songs forever. And you will tell the eternal tale of Jean Valjean who sought for redemption.
        
           Now if you’re planning to watch in theaters, make sure you bring your shades with you…so nobody would notice how much the film made you such a crybaby and how it struck you deeply in the heart. 


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Friday, January 11, 2013

Life Of Pi: One Great Life Story



"Doubt is useful, it keeps faith a living thing."

            
            If you are seeking God and you feel like He’s out of reach, maybe you’re looking at the wrong places and maybe you have to watch Life of Pi.
           
            What happens when an award-winning novel is brought to the big screen by an award-winning director? The answer- Life of Pi. No wonder it got 11 nominations in the Oscars.The film is adapted from the Booker Prize-winning novel of Yann Martel that carries the same title and is directed by no less than the great Ang Lee himself.
            
            Ang Lee, who has directed films from Sense and Sensibility to Brokeback Mountain, has proven that a novel that seems unfilmable can be filmable. The movie is visually stunning with all the graphics and CGI. Cinematography wise I’ll give it a perfect 10. The story can be considered inspirational and the heartfelt performance of Suraj Sharma stirs a whole lot of different emotions.
            
           Let me give you a short peek of what the film is about. A young Canadian writer goes to an Indian émigré in search of a good story that would make him believe that there’s a God. And so the story kicks off and Pi shares his adventure to the young writer.
            
            As a kid, Pi had an urge to find God. So in his younger years he was a Hindu, Christian and a Muslim. His father, who believes in reason or science, encourages him to let go of religion and basically everything he believes in but he still believed anyway. He believed that there is a God maybe in the form of Vishnu or Christ or Allah.
         
        In his teenage years, he and his family had to sell their zoo animals and migrate to Canada. Once aboard the Japanese ship, Pi knew that he had to let go of everything that he had in India including the girl he liked. Along the way they experienced a thunderstorm and needless to say experienced a shipwreck. All but Pi, Richard Parker (the tiger), an Orangutan, a Zebra and a Hyena was buried into the deep. The story revolves on these characters and their struggle to survive until only Pi and Richard Parker was left and the story goes deeper. Lost at sea, Pi finds ways on how he can manage to live without getting eaten by the ravenous tiger and if he can tame it at all.
            
           The young Pi did a wonderful job of his own. How hard is it to act as if there’s really a tiger in front of you? Real hard I’d say but Saruj Sharma pulled it off. Another thing I like about the film is that my eyes never get tired. With all the colors and visual effects, the film really works wonders in 3D. While the setting is at the middle of nowhere in the ocean, you would get to feed your eyes with an amazing set of creatures that they encountered all throughout the film. The film is also wonderfully scored and as I said earlier the cinematography is beyond astounding.
            
          Now to the what-I-don’t-like part. The story was poorly paced and I felt it dragged me throughout the film trying to get to the climax. I can’t help but be reminded of Tom Hanks in Castaway and Robin Crusoe since they somehow had the same experience.  The film has that tendency to put aside its real purpose and that is to show God. You’ll realize it for a minute and forget it the next. The film also goes from awe-something to nothing like for instance they would just be flooded by another storm again and something like that.
            
              In the end, I find Life of Pi most interesting not only for its wondrous spectacle but also for its life story that holds true for everyone. It shows how God proves himself and can change someone even at the most unexpected times. The story defies reality but is definitely something to embrace and it is up to us if we believe or not Pi’s story and his encounter in search of God.



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