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This Blog Is Called Friday

Because who doesn't love it, thank God for it and want it to arrive sooner?


Ruling The Planet (But Only On Occasion)
russell by _midnight sky_
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There are moments in this Earth where it seems that I'm in charge of the planet. Not for important stuff like world peace or clearing traffic, but little things like making celebrities say out loud what I've thought up in my head. Maybe it's a massive coincidence if you like, but there have been the odd occasions where I've gotten the weather to obey me!

This realization fully came to pass after seeing the trailer for a movie called Bright Star over the last four or five months, practically each time I went to see a movie in the cinema. (It's finally running in theaters this week!) It's about the poet John Keats (played by Ben Whishaw), his romantic muse Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish), and their relationship that inspired some of the prettiest verse known to mankind, but doomed by poverty and Keats' consumption. Normally, this sort of movie would be so right up the Details Later alley that it should own real estate, but each time trailer came on (over and over), I always all,"[shrug]… Eh."

I'm sure Ben Whishaw is a great actor, and another in a long line of rising British thespians who are destined to impress us in various classical roles or (of course) as the villain in American big-action movies. (He kinda already did as the murderous lead in Perfume.) But I'm still not over that he got cast as Lord Sebastian Flyte in the 2008 film adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited. Ugh. He simply not pretty enough or charismatic enough to play this rich role of a hilarious, ambisexual, filled-with-Catholic-guilt aristocrat with a stuffed bear named Aloysius who enchants wide-eyed, middle class fellow Oxford freshman Charles Ryder (played by Matthew Goode). The movie's casting director really got it wrong, because the very pretty and rebellious Matthew would've been the perfect Sebastian for the 2000s, and I think Whishaw would've gone to town as the eager-to-be-dazzled Charles.

Here comes the ruling the planet part: It turns out Matthew Goode, in the midst of promoting awards-season contender A Single Man, recently told the The Daily Telegraph the very same thing (with bonus, Sebastian-tastic dissing of Mandy Moore, and his roles in Watchmen and Leap Year):


In Brideshead he played Charles Ryder, who’s rather more bisexual than he likes to admit. Yet this, alas, was another film that made Goode’s heart sink when he watched it. ‘I got f----- over,’ he says disarmingly. ‘By the script and by what happened with everything else, because there was just nowhere for me to go as the character. I don’t think it necessarily helped that Ben [Whishaw, who played Sebastian Flyte] went down the path of making it so…’ Goode breaks off – but when I say ‘Dour?’, he does not demur. ‘Still, you know, it’s a film. It’s fine. I can sleep at night now. But I do think that Julian [Jarrold, the director] should have given Sebastian to me.’


I'm taking this statement as proof of my planet-ruling ways, or that I've had a mind-meld with Matthew Goode. Either way: Win!

It would've been great to see Matthew follow in the footsteps of Anthony Andrews, who played Sebastian Flyte in the landmark 1981 miniseries version. (A young Jeremy Irons played Charles Ryder!) The role made Anthony a star in the 1980s, and Jeremy Irons forever remained an indelible presence in British cinema (with Oscar glory to come eventually).






I remember watching all 12 hours(!) of this miniseries back in the days of videotape rental years, years after it was first broadcast, and myself getting a Ryder-like enchantment of 1920s British glamour, a pre-cursor to all the Anglo-philia that fueled most of the 1980s.  The setting and clothing of Brideshead is the stuff of Ralph Lauren dreams. I'm convinced that Lauren wouldn't have the success he's had without this miniseries. (And talk about star power: this show had both Laurence Olivier [as Sebastian's father] and John Gielgud [as Charles' dad]). The Brideshead theme is staggeringly beautiful and compelling (and instantly makes me feel 13 years old all over again):




Cue: Paula, me (and Sandy and Kara when they were up to it, because we could twist their arms sometimes) filling our summer days watching Sebastian summon Charles from London to the Brideshead estate because Sebastian wrote he was "dying", but alas the cause was only a broken toe. (Charles: "I thought you were dying!" Sebastian: "I thought so too! The pain was excruciating.") Paula and I repeated dialogue like this ("Oh Charles, don't be so Jesuit-tical!") and crack ourselves up each and every time. (I cracked up right now just typing it!) Check out the hilarity for yourself (so worth it!):





It was only when I read the actual novel years later that Brideshead Revisted was a profound story about faith, and devastatingly sad. The recent remake could've brought this story to life for the 21st century, but a dour Sebastian and a too-pretty Charles just weren't going to cut it.

Oh well. At least Brideshead Revisited taught me how to pronounce "Aloysius."

Revitalization
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OK. No more promises that the "next entry is coming soon!"

I want to blog and blab more often, and I do know that I will put more effort into doing so.

The new look and the name change is step in the right direction. The spark came when I found out my haircutter's name is Friday. And I thought: brilliant. Who doesn't love Fridays? Who out there isn't wishing the day came sooner?

I have duly asked permission from my stylist to steal his name, and here it is, now in action.

Let's get things started, shall we?

Do you recognize the voice doing the narration for this Excedrin TV commercial, aired in the US? Have a listen:



Nice, deep and authoritative, ain't it? Yet he doesn't sound like an old fogey…

It's a cool combo that not many can pull off.

So who is it?

This guy:




It's Elton from Clueless!

It's Crazy Billy from Six Feet Under!

It's Jesus!

It's Julius Caesar!



Jeremy Sisto has managed to have a tidy career for himself, and he's only 35. No he's not Jake Gyllenhaal or Tobey Maguire or (gasp) Christian Bale. But it's no mean feat that he managed to play both Julius Caesar and Jesus Christ while in his 20s. Those roles require gravitas and demands a lot of any actor, even the most experienced ones. Either he's really, really good at auditioning (no industry exec is saying "Get me, Jeremy Sisto!", at least during that time. Or even now, probably) , or his agent is crazy good.

Jeremy also managed to transition from child actor (Kevin Kline's kid in Grand Canyon) to teen roles (White Squall, Clueless) to adult performer without any real baggage or burden. And: he is also sans burden of Child Actor Body Syndrome (as defined by cynical witch). He's no hobbit at 6'11/2".

Maybe because he never really looked a teen or maybe he possessed that gravitas-ready voice even as a young guy or maybe it was his height. He's come forward in a good way. I'm currently enjoying Jeremy as Lead Detective Cyrus Lupo in Law & Order (as in the original mothership). He joined in the Writer's Strike 18th season of the show, and now at Season 20 of this pillar-of-TV, the show is perhaps at it's most vital and energized and relevant than ever before. (They've pulled out ripped-from-the-headline plots such as the Eliot Spitzer hooker scandal, the David Letterman extortion case, to name a few.) More pleasures for the revitalized franchise-spawning program: Sam Waterston still fiery and tricky to win cases, Linus Roache as the lead prosecutor who plays out conflict most fascinatingly, Alana de la Garza as the secondary prosecutor who gets that mix of hot babe and real-working lawyer just right (she's damned gorgeous, but her performance makes you feel that's beside the point), S. Epatha Markerson as the no-nonsense boss cop and comedian Anthony Anderson as Lupo's partner.

I never used to watch Law & Order: Original Mothership before (no Benjamin Bratt, no Chris Noth could pull me in), but I realize why shows like these work and go on for 20 (!) seasons. Intriguing cases, plus a strong cast who reveal their quirks and beliefs in the small moments of the show. (And there's an occasional cute dog cameo too: Detective Lupo adopted Otto the bulldog from, cha chung! a dog-fighting ring they busted.)

I was more of a SVU watcher, but it's nice to take a rest from Elliott "this time it's personal, and by 'this time' I mean every time!" Stabler and Olivia's "Guilty First!" Benson.  But it's never too late to catch up with the mothership, even 20 years later.


Photo from E! Online/NBC




 


Randoms…
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• Congratulations Roger and Mirka Federer — twin girls! Wow, Mirka is such a trouper to carrying twins in her third trimester and sitting through four hours plus of (nerve-wracking) tennis! I'm sure they'll be a sweet family. The girls are named Charlene Riva and Myla Rose. I wonder where the names come from; Roger said they were fighting over them. Mirka deserves to name them whatever she wants!

• Really, I don't mean to pile on Johnny Depp… I don't! But with "Mr Tom Hanson" starring in a movie by Michael Mann, and then co-starring with Michael Sheen in Alice in Wonderland, what can I do? It's just like I'll have to see the new Twilight movie New Moon because Michael Sheen is in it! I guess you put Michael Sheen in anything (ampalaya, calculus, dentistry)  , and you'll be tempted to think twice about it, haha.


Yup, they're the same guy. He's THAT good.

• Isn't YouTube wonderful? I did this blog entry to the tune of "Hey Deanie" by Shaun Cassidy. I was a Joe Hardy girl way back in the day, but really I had no knowledge about his music career or what he did on The Hardy Boys. I was really a babe and just latched on to him as my first TV crush. "Hey Deanie" is deadly catchy… I'm warning you! Some wonderful person has also uploaded a slew of The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries  on YouTube! Oh, Shaun… you nailed all the snark on the show (I kid you not — the shows had some!), but couldn't do drama to save your life, at least your onscreen acting career! He's a successful showrunner now — American Gothic and Invasion are some of his notable work. But back then, at least the Preppie Of The Apocalypse described your pretty brilliantly! The gold standard of teen idols, Shaun was a slim-hipped fireball of charisma and charm. I'm not the first to point this out, but jeez, he was lovely, like the final product of insidious cloning experiments using genetic material from baby squirrels and woodland elves. Preppie also did a killer recap of the Horatio Hornblower series! (Hmmm… now there's an idea for an entry.)

• I've been meaning to do this Mananawagan for years now. Please help me find my DVD's! Did I lend them to you? And I remain happy to lend them still, but can you at least let me know if they're with you? So, who has the following:

- The Up documentary boxed set (this is the most important one, please!)
- Running On Karma
- Infernal Affairs (all three versions I own of this movie)

Maraming salamat, po!

• There'll be some fresh Details Later upcoming. Really.


Unearthing the 360
roger in vogue by art attack
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Sorry to updating this blog with OLD stuff, but unbelievably, I actually used to blog before my Details Later existence began. I made three stop-the-planet (haha!) entries in the long, distant land of Yahoo 360. Ah, the 360 was the Facebook concept in embroyo, but it never took off. And it will never take off, because they're closing it down this month!

My three bitty blog entries are moving location to Details Later. Have fun enjoying my unintended time capsule of year 2006!


May 6, 2006
So… Blogging. Have you ever heard of it before?

Like, did you know Tom and Katie (oops, sorry Tom. It's "Kate") had a baby? I had NOOOO idea. You'd think that'd be in the news or something. I wonder what Angelina and Brad are up to right now. Those guys get no media coverage whatsover. Those poor celebs.

Many of my dear friends blog plenty and blog well. Definitely fun to read and most of the time I look forward to reading new entries. Wouldn't that be enough fun for the Karen universe already?

Oh grumble.

Besides, I always forget what to blog about by the time I get to paying attention to my piece of Internet real estate. I put Alexis in charge of what topic to write about. I have duly followed orders, so herewith, kind gentlemen and beautiful ladies, is a little ditty about catering. (Oooh, sexy!)

Mabel, Peejo and I attended a media launch-slash-performance of a rightly beloved OPM star. Make that superduper star. Pretty cool event altogether, but the catering? The catering was… something to blog about.

The event's caterers lauched a lavish spread of graham crackers with jelly and Fita biscuits with cheese spread. I punk you not. Then we come to the main portion of the table, offering three chafing dishes of nachos, ukoy and lumpiang Shanghai. That was the best the table could be.

Moving forward, we had an all-expenses-spared lineup of orange "swits" in a bowl, sampaloc in a bowl, cracker nuts in a bowl… other supermarket selections I don't remember anymore. Finally, to drink we had lovely and oh-so-rare cups of Tang. With lots of chipped ice (which totally upgraded it to say, a refreshing orange drink).

I picked up a plateful of "swits" to share with Mabel and Peejo. I love busfare food! Alas, when Mabes and I bit into our respective "swits," we were disappointingly shaken to discover that the "swits" were so unchewy and would stick to your teeth. So unchewy that Mabel and I unashamedly got them out of our bicuspids in the open public. Went right ahead.

After "eating" and right before we entered the performance venue, Mabel and I won the raffle! I won a no-kidding cute watch. All is forgiven?

Photo attached to this entry has nothing to do with catering, but everything to do with how crazy awesome geniuses Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie are. They're shown in character as Jeeves and Wooster. That show was like the free whiff of ganja that led to the crack cocaine that is their brilliant work, together and separately. Toodle-pip!

Postscript: Wow, there was short, short blog entry before this one, basically announcing I was starting a blog, and fearing that a blog monster was going to be unleashed! Hahaha! And oh my gash, the pathetic catering spread. I can still see it vividly in my head…

June 1, 2006
Hang The DJ?

Last night was the Manual Last Blast of Summer event (I'm sure it wasn't called that, but that was the idea of the party) at Fiama. It was pretty cool going, and I'm sure it got even more rockin' after I left. (Took off early—the chariot was there and would turn into a pumpkin if I left much later. Chariots are important if you live in Paranaque.)

But even before we got to Fiama, Toto Labrador was his usual "sunshine-y" self during dinner. A DJ was going to be there! What "fun" for Toto! The amusement of this truly dawned on me when we did get to hear the musical stylings of the DJ at the venue. Not so much the selections he was playing (there's a rumble later though—keep reading), but there was the gang at a Fiama booth, listening to the music get louder and louder, making it harder and harder to keep the conversation going. I thought to myself: Can someone explain to me the appeal of listening to loud music at a bar? Was it supposed to be sitting back and appreciating the awesome of the music, like at a concert? Was it to make it conducive to chat that. much. closer. to your companion(s) of the night, allowing more intimacy? To get us to dance?

Because really, with the music that loud and the strain of attempting to talk above the din to be heard by your listener (and you being able listen in return) less than a foot away is not much fun. Or is it? Hence, this shout out to the blog universe for some answers.

Plus, the DJ played the usual suspects like "Lovely Day," a song that will not just go away and leave me alone. Why must it stalk me?

"Karen, who sang this song?"
"I don't know. I loathe this song."
"Is it Mike Francis?"
"Then I super loathe this song."

I think I need to learn to drink a LOT more to get this loud music playing for no reason when it's not a dance club or rock concert thing, don't I? I'm convinced I never get wasted enough to appreciate it. Maybe I'll like it more if they don't play freakin' Mike Francis.

(No offense to Mike Francis fans! I'm one to talk—I'm the Lyle Lovett fan, the Billy Joel fan and a defender of boy bands to make a living. Except you, Justin Timberlake. You just haven't earned it yet, baby.)

Today's Photo: So I got my Numb3rs boxed set DVD over the weekend. This show has me all over other hot shows like Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy and Lost. I've pestered most everyone I know on how supercalifyouknowtherest this show is. Especially when the Jeans Of Justice makes it appearance. (Squee!) DVDVerdict has it down why:

"Yes, there's murder. Yes, there's violence and crime, but if that were all there was, Numb3rs wouldn't have made it past this first season. It's really a show about family. About brothers. About how the life we lived as children seems so different when we're adults. What it's really about is humanity, which is ironic since the show appears to be about science and math. It's a great cast. It's clever writing. It's tense, exciting, and often quite touching. Most of all, it's a show you can count on to be good TV from the first episode to the last."

Postscript: I still love Numbers! Thought I know wait for the DVD compilation now, and just watch it one go. I still don't love Amita, shucks. Mike Francis? Nope, hope to never hear from him again. Hopefully, EVER. But I may have tempted the fates by mentioning him now, and will be bound to be stuck in a cab whose driver is a Mike Francis fan.

June 7, 2006
What's a superhero like you doing in a movie like this? Or Ode To Bonnie

With my head swirling with Jeremy Piven goodness (Entourage is out on HBO Asia this July!), I found myself some free time to watch Black Hawk Down, a surprising entry in the Piv's filmography. Goofy, snarky, very urbanite actor in an all-out war picture? That SO follows.

I got started on Black Hawk Down twice before, because the casting in this movie is unequivocably genius. Before I elaborate on that very matter, I need to say that the casting director for this movie was Bonnie Timmerman, a longtime casting idol whose name I'm always happy to see on TV or movie credits. I'd like to think I grow up to be her one day. Look her up at IMDB. Genius. (Second to Bonnie is Mali Finn.)

So I finally got to see the movie in full. I made total use of the fast forward button during the war bits, ceasing only to check out longtime Karen favorites, favorites she adores way, way more than the likes of Johnny Depp and Christian Bale, both of whom annoy me royally. (Yeah, I like to cause trouble!) There's:

Ewan MacGregor
Eric Bana
William Fichtner (single-handedly responsible for my best laugh in a movie for his segment in Go, among other roles)
Ron Eldard (the best eye lashes in the biz)
Ioan Gruffud
Hugh Dancy
Jason Isaacs
Orlando Bloom
Jeremy Piven (We're married. Married in my mind.)

There's a ton more, and I would happily bore you to tears on why each performer is super awesome in various roles. (Think I CAN'T do this? I hear you snickering!) But the strange thing is, there's a pattern to detect amongst some of the actors of this movie—it's practically a conclave of movie superheroes! All in one space of filmic realty!

Ewan—Obi Wan Kenobi
Eric—The Hulk
Ioan Gruffud—Reed Richards Of The Fantastic Four
Orlando Bloom—Legolas
Jason Isaacs—Lucius Malfoy

Ben Foster (Angel, X-Men) was also cast in this movie, but was replaced when he got injured during the military training. I like to imagine who would win a head-to-head battle of these heroes. Will The Force-infused Kenobi win over mighty evil of Lucius? Will Legolas merely standby looking pretty as Reed and Bruce Banner/The Hulk gorgeously discuss scientific experiments gone awry?

Who wins? Why Hollywood agent Ari Gold, of course! He's hungrier, funnier, snarkier, ruthless-er, mightier yet all-the-more-lovable-for-it persona among the bunch. That trumps all specialized powers, I think. Plus, he's an agent. He controls the roles, baby!

Postscript: Wow, this is getting closer to the Details Later style, isn't it? Even the Jeremy Piven (see main avatar) along with the Johnny Depp/Christian Bale references! (Ugh, Michael Mann [see tentpole Manhunter entry!] directing them both in Public Enemies… I love your stuff, Michael, but you guaranteed I will be crawling, not walking much less running to see it.) But I still marvel how awesome the casting of this movie was. I'm sure three years later, there's probably another star who's emerged from this cast.

Au revoir, Yahoo 360. You were a nice little place.

Thanks for checking in, because...
russell by _midnight sky_
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… this blog is alive! Not quite with the sound of an adorable Viennese family escaping the Nazis thanks to their singing abilities, but close enough, I guess.



Let's see, over the weekend, I got a new job, moved to Singapore, set up my own apartment, made a lot of new and wonderful friends, got to know old friends much, much better, and watched a lot of movies.

Wait, I'm sorry.

That happened over the last 10 months. Eeek.

I've now decided to end the galaxy's worst case of procrastination and finally tackled the blog demons to write something new here! I don't know why I make blogging so hard on myself. In my mind, it's some epic task, but really… I should not overthink this and keep it short and simple. That way I can do this more often. And Lord help us all, I will!

So here's a nice pocket-sized entry to get me started…

I loved The Wrestler, and was sorely disappointed Mickey Rourke didn't  win the Oscar for that role. I think it pretty much trumped every performance last year, except perhaps for Robert Downey's Jr's 5.0 degree of difficulty role in Tropic Thunder (an American playing an Australian playing an African-American who speaks Chinese? Yeah, Downey can do it. No sweat.)

But that's apples to Mickey Rourke's oranges. Mickey was so openhearted and laid himself bare as Randy "The Ram" Robinson: sweet, defeated, charming and powerful. It's a performance to get lost in.

A nice side effect, if you will, of Mickey Rourke's career resurrection and having slew of awards (except for that Oscar, dagnabbit) is that when he's trying to pass along his comeback mojo to his The Pope of Greenwich Village co-star Eric Roberts. Check out Mickey's Independent Spirit Awards acceptance speech where he implored all the film hotshots in the room to give Eric another chance just like he got his — before he made any of his actual thank you's! (The rest of the speech is hysterical too. Just check it out na!)

Eric Roberts is Julia Roberts' older brother, and  he was the rising, Jake Gylenhaall/Johnny Depp (eeek, don't like the Johnny, but I'm using the actor who played officer Tom Hanson of 21 Jump Street in terms of automatic, accepted awesomeness. Accepted, except by me of course) actor of his day. Except Eric was prettier and had training with both RADA and the American Academy of Dramatic Art.

I like Julia's acting OK, but Eric was far prettier than his sister Julia ever was, and he could probably portray any role better than Julia ever did (even Eric Brockavich, probably). Eric was nominated for an Oscar in 1986 for Runaway Train. That movie really packed a wallop, and I'm still recovering how sad that movie ended.

Too bad Eric got into major vehicular accident in 1981 that messed up the pretty, and he was never centered emotionally after it. Cue the downward spiral of drugs and bonehead roles. Here's Eric though, in the prime of his beauty:





These caps are from a movie he did in 1981 called Raggedy Man, a sweet romance/small-town mystery starring Sissy Spacek (can you see her in the window above the phone?), Sam Shepherd and Eric Roberts. It's set during World War II in a small Texas town, where Sissy plays a phone operator. Eric is a sailor on his way home for a four-day liberty when he finds out in the scene above that his sweetheart has married someone else. What's a sailor on leave with no place to go to do?

Sissy's character is a single mom of two boys (cute and non-precocious, the elder son played by a pre-ET Henry Thomas) and Eric's character bonds with her fatherless kids, and sweetly romances Sissy. It's a charming and simple movie — and the kind that would never be greenlighted in today's industry. Sayang. The charming and simple part is only 2/3rds of the movie though. The mystery portion happens after the love story.



Eric's typecast as wackos or snivelling villains, but he can easily play affable and tender. I wish he can do a role like that again. Eric's definitely settled, cleaned up his act and reconciled with his superstar sister. (And oh, he's the dad of Emma Roberts too.)

But hey, it turns out though, Eric may have had his "comeback" already, having starred in the second biggest box office movie of all time. Yup, he was in The Dark Knight. Which I haven't seen at all. Was he good in it?

See you soon, friends!

How To Get Renee Zellweger An Oscar*
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That shirt? Is wet

Now, I'm not a fan or a "hatah" of Renee Zellweger. She's OK, but I'm not keeping tabs on her career. If she's in a movie I want to see and she happens to be in it, I don't mind. Which is more than you can say about Claire Danes, or (this one's for you,Terrie!) Edward James Olmos.

Though she was gaining critical traction with Jerry Maguire and Nurse Betty, Renee Zellweger's first major Academy Award nomination for Bridget Jones's Diary (she put on an accent AND she put on weight!) has allowed her to rise above her starlet-ish peers and win an eventual Academy Award, (for Cold Mountain).  She's considered for Oscar bait stuff now.

*And she has Colin Firth's wet shirt to thank for it.

Because Helen Fielding got caught in the Darcy mania that descended upon the UK in 1995 when the BBC aired a new mini-series adaptation of Pride & Prejudice, the British columnist was to inspired to write about her own dreamy Darcy and singletons in search of him in Bridget Jones's Diary.

Cut to: book success, movie adaptation, casting Renee, casting the wet-shirted Darcy of the mini-series Colin Firth for the book's Darcy, movie success, Oscar nomination, etc etc etc…

It's a lovely story, but not as lovely as the classic love story of Lizzie and Mr. Darcy and to a lesser extent, my love for this 1995 adaptation that remains as strong as ever.



I've followed Colin Firth's career forever… well, since I saw him co-star with Rupert Everett in Another Country. (It came out in 1984, yikes.) Colin played Eton student Tommy Judd, a composite character ("like in New York magazine!"—™Nick Smith) of the young bright things of 1930s England who would betray their country to Russia. (This movie is a details_later, tentpole. Abangan ang future blog entry!)

It was the days of Betamax rentals then, and I endured any Colin Firth project that came the way of local shelves. And boy, did I watch some REALLY good stuff, like A Month In The Country, to really corny stuff, like a TV movie adaption of Camille, where Colin played the young aristocrat in love with the consumptive lead character. There's lots more, and I was grateful to watch most of it, good or bad. I didn't live in the UK, and beggars can't be choosers.

Around the late 1980s to 90s, other British actors of his generation came into ascendancy (Ralph Fiennes, Hugh Grant, Rupert Everett, Richard E. Grant), and all the lead roles went to them. It looked like Colin accepted being relegated to supporting and character roles. (See: Circle Of Friends, The English Patient) Plus, there's a steady living—and a modicum of prestige—doing costume dramas for British TV. Colin even "let go" of himself physically. I remember reading various articles how Colin was sort of relieved that he didn't have to keep a leading man-pace anymore, hence his pudgy appearance as the betrayed husband in The English Patient.

Well, it turned out his career was leading somewhere else entirely…



After reading about that same Darcy-mania that captivated Fielding in several magazines, I was determined to score a copy of Pride & Prejudice and see the wet-shirted glory for myself. I traveled to the New York and Connecticut in 1997 (take note: no DVD's yet!) and saw a 6-tape VHS boxed set for sale at (ahem) US$ 79. Yes, that's pricey, but I deliberately set aside a portion of my spending money to buy it.

And so I brought the set home to Manila and ignored it for five or six months.

It was like my Book Debt syndrome: I know it's good, I know I'll love it, I promise to watch it soon!

Then, in one of those afternoons where I was bored and could no longer stick to the excuses to avoid it, I decided to watch Pride & Prejudice, "sige ng nga" enthusiasm and all. I'll just watch one tape, I told myself. It's just one hour, then the next hour maybe tomorrow.

I ended up watching ALL six hours in ONE SITTING.

The adaptation is like crack—you won't stop at one tape, or one chapter (as the DVD case might be). I enjoyed myself so much! The performances are excellent, the love story and the chemistry between Jennifer Ehle (playing Lizzie Bennett) and Colin (Mr. Darcy) is off-the-charts swoony, the plot is rich, hilarious, insightful and remains fresh.

No need to further explain what makes Jane Austen's novel a masterpiece… but the adaptation is just spot-on and feels both true to the story's era AND modern for today's audiences. And Colin/Darcy can stare at Jennifer/Lizzie like a mutha…



Ah, that one last one, Darcy's losing his resolve na. Then there's that dip in the lake, wearing that white shirt that created a phenomenon:



…which leads to that chance encounter of Lizzie and a "less formally dressed" Mr. Darcy. (Raise your hand if you AREN'T swoonishly giggling. You aren't? You will. Soon.)


"Mr. Darcy?"


"Miss Bennett?!"

Then ensues the STARE of all stares, a stare that's a tribute to Colin Firth's acting, the superb story of Jane Austen and the excellent tension and buildup that this mini-series sustains over several hours.



Oh, still here? Thanks!

Parang I just want to keep putting screencaps, and basically let you watch the entire mini-series in this epic blog entry!

Let's just return to the notion that these mini-series was a phenomenon that transformed careers, and makes almost anyone who sees it sit in one place for six hours, needing to see the whole thing 'til the end. (Fact!)





It's the end, at last! A few Saturdays ago, I just wanted to watch the beginning again, but (shock!) I ended up watching the whole thing. Of course. I hope Renee feels the same way.

"I Was Dreaming When I Wrote This…"
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Taking a trip: Flying back home to Manila, from Hong Kong, through the window. No-flash experiment.


Hurrah for random links! The assorted links at the bottom of the IMDb homepage a few weeks ago led me to spinner.com's "25 Best Opening Lyrics."

Whether you write for fun in a personal blog, or have to produce copy that the declares this whitening cream to be the known savior of the skincare world (every month!), or perhaps best of all, writing the world's next best piece of fiction, all of that boils down to…

…the beginning. The very first words have to get laid down and squared away, so the following 7000 words can follow, and deliver whatever you're trying to say. Part of the thrill of shopping for those "book-debt" books is checking out the very first lines of the books that catch my eye, or books I've been seeking to get. Now that the work is done and printed and up for sale, you just know that the writer at the very start of it all struggled to put down the very first words you read to set everything in motion.

I'm sure songwriting is not quite the same—it's probably a more fluid writing process—but the starting words of songs are required to be the right ones. The greatest songs we've come to love won't be the greatest songs we love without them.

Reading the list was awesome fun, guaranteed to get you singing and following it up with the next part of the lyric. There were a few songs I didn't know, but most of them tickle the musical memories…

Lyric No. 25: "You were working as a waitress in a cocktail bar"
Human League! Doesn't that line seem so… film noir? The opening words set that particular stage very well. The rest of the song talks all about urgent emotions, movie sets and declarations of "Don't… don't you want me?"

Lyric No. 23: "You never close your eyes anymore when I kiss your lips…"
Baaaaaay-beh!

Lyric No. 21:  "Hello, Darkness, my old friend"

Just genius, no? I immediately love the imagery of it.

Lyric No. 19:  "Well, I guess it would be nice if I could touch your body"
How fun and sexy and a wee bit vulgar—all from the get go!

Lyric No. 17:  "I was dreaming when I wrote this"
Forgive me if I go astraaaay… Prince, Justin Timberfake owes you his career. Shut up, Justin. You do.

Lyric No. 15:  "She was more like a beauty queen from a movie scene
Dun, dun. Duuuun, dun. The kid is not my son!

Lyric No. 14:  "There must be some kind of way out of here, said the joker to the thief"
"All Along the Watchtower." Jimi Hendrix, by way of Bob Dylan. Right away, a particular era is nutshell-ed in a sentence.

Lyric No. 13:  "What's with these homies dissin' my girl?"

Weezer's "Buddy Holly" starts right off with these words, no musical intro. Right now, I am declaring this the best ever opening line of a song in the past 20 years. Because it is.

Lyric No. 11: "Oh, I just don't know where to begin"

Something about Elvis Costello's "Accidents Will Happen" sets off my joy buttons. Apart from the wink-wink cleverness of the opening words, right down to the melodic hooks, the bouncy rhythms, the sensational rest of the song… as perfect a pop song in the way pop songs need to be.

Lyric No. 10:  "Tommy used to work on the docks"
A storytelling song to rival "Don't You Want Me." Bon Jovi should write a follow up song to the fate of Tommy and Gina.

Lyric No. 08:  "Well, it's one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, now go, cat, go!"
You can never go wrong with countdown beginnings. I will buy a Venti-size beverage to whoever can name the song AND who actually released a recording of it first. (That's a hint.)

Lyric No. 06:  "Why do birds suddenly appear every time you are near?"
Awww, isn't that just great? Every Great Opening Lyrics list should include this song. This ditty was also the lullaby of choice to put me to sleep as a kid. Heh.

Lyric No. 04  "Well, she was just seventeen—you know what I mean"

Wow, ngayon lang ang Beatles! I'm certain though, you can make a GOL (see above) list just with Beatles songs.

Lyric No. 03:  "Hey, ho, let's go!"
"Blitzkrieg Bop" by The Ramones. Does anything else need to be said?

Lyric No. 02: "I was born in a cross-fire hurricane"

Right away, I can see it: it's the middle of the night, raining buckets, howling winds and a remote cottage in the Southern landscape… Jumpin' Jack Flash was trouble right from the beginning.

And the Best Opening Lyric: "She's a very kinky girl…"
"…the kind you don't take home to mooooohttther!" I love this came as No. 1! It's good enough to start a pretty juicy novel! Rick James may have ended up with a messed-up life (and death), but this simple lyrical phrase is so right.

The others list include Beck, Patti Smith, LL Cool J (heh?!?!?) and Pavement. Shrug. I don't know them too well. The only one I wish the list included is "Mama… just killed a maaaaaan…"  Pretty iconic for it to be left out.

Any other opening lyrics you know and love and want to serve to guests? Any of the above got you singing out the succeeding lines out loud?



These Kenneth Branagh portraits don't really relate to the Opening Lyrics idea, but I wrote the entry above while listening to his director's commentary for Love's Labour's Lost. The day before I enjoyed his commentary for the DVD release (at last!) of his adaptation of Hamlet. The Kenster is still my dream interview, but I kind of don't want for the dream to come true. Because I would die if it ever came to happen. He's too witty, lovable, amazing. And just so I'm displaying my Exile-From-Cool-Island bona fides: Kenneth Branagh > Johnny Depp. Like, times a googleplex. Pic on the left from 1983 (!), pic in the middle from the 2000s, pic in the right, also from the 2000s. (I think.)



"The frailty of everything revealed at last"
jesse spencer 33
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I finished two books within three weeks of each other this month (or rather, last July). This was an awesome surprise to me. I've been lamenting for a couple of years now about my MTV-fied attention span. I used to love reading books regularly, I'd say. Why can't I do it anymore? What happened to my culture steel-trap mind?

I still get giddy at the sight of a bookstore. Almost any bookstore. Like many of my friends in the D&M Gang (that's "Dinner & Movie." Hey gang, I gave us a name!), we suffer from "book debt"—titles you've purchased with that awful promise to yourself that "you'll read it later."

Try years of that and it becomes a semi-dirty secret! I know this book is good, you tell yourself. I was so excited to actually spot it and purchase the thing. But here you are, with a pile of several books unread, or worse, you gave up on. Not because it was bad, but because you succumbed to the distractions that came your way. Reading takes reading, of course.

But then, sometimes, the magic returns. The book clicks into gear, YOU click into gear, then you've finished the whole thing in a flash it seems. (This must be what's happening with the Harry Potter-ese. Of which I'm not a part of. I gave up on the first book—oh, the dirty shame!)

Years ago, I bought Cormac McCarthy's All The Pretty Horses because I loved the book cover. Little did I know that McCarthy has been acclaimed a master of modern fiction! The blurb promised an interesting story of young men traveling to Mexico but ending up in horrible trouble, but I gave up on the book. McCarthy's storytelling was great but the prose was too dense, and I struggled to read it. Add another one to Book Debt Pile.

His 2006 book, The Road  was named by Entertainment Weekly as the #1 book of 2006. After a few months, it won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Intriguing as dystopian stories might be (a staple of genre fiction), I was really sold more on the relationship of a father and his young son—"each the other's world entire"—surviving in a post-apocalyptic society.

The father and son's tender love for each other sustains and keeps them moving forward on that fabled road. But their unbearable surroundings has no hope of getting better, and the desperation gets uglier each single day. (Or what you can tell as a "day"—the world is a perpetual gray.) What should a father teach his son about right and wrong? Is there a line between helping your fellow human and doing what you can to keep yourself alive? Who would the boy end up with if he (the dad) doesn't make it? Would it be better for the father to spare him from unceasing brutality and end it all?

This time, McCarthy's language was vivid and direct, yet deeply resonant as ever. I was savoring the story in high gear, and by the end of it, I never bawled so much over a book in my life. The book's power is mighty. If I pick it up, I will be plunged directly into this nameless father and son's universe again, hoping for them that they make it through another night, dry and warm. Goodness will find the boy. It always has. It will again.

Buoyed by my McCarthy accomplishment, I decided to revisit the books I gave up on. Memoirs Of A Geisha was purchased in 2003, and came highly recommended by both friends and strong reviews. I read the first 100 or so pages in a flash, but then my reading wheels fell of for some reason. When the movie version came out, I refused to see it (among other reasons) because I didn't want to spoil the ending.



True enough, I also breezed through the rest of the novel. The world of the geisha is undoubtedly exotic and mysterious, and Memoirs opened it up in glorious detail. Almost every character in the book was vigorously drawn, and the story suspenseful.

Then the last 25 pages happened.

The fairy-tale ending of the lead character, the geisha Sayuri, negated the lyrical elegance of the book. It felt… middle brow? Was the book meant to be a mere fairy tale? She didn't earn her ending! The fate of other characters in the story lent even more thud to the thud-dish ending. (What about Nobu?!?)

And let's not talk about the movie. AT ALL.

I thought these adventures in reading would be a good entry (at last!) for the details_later blog. A nice break from movies and pirates and singing contests on TV. As I prepared what to say and figure out the pictures, it dawned on me that I HAVE been reading (and finishing!) a nice amount of books in the last year, from the end of 2005 to mid-2007. This is such good news.



I loved this book. Talk about flash—I read Craig Ferguson's Between The Bridge And The River in one day. That day happened to be Milenyo typhoon day, so that might have helped Ferguson's cause. It's a multi-plot story of best friends from Scotland scattered between France and the US, two Jewish brothers fathered by Sinatra and Lawford (you can choose to believe that), lessons from Carl Jung and Socrates and the bizarre adventures in between. It's hard to summarize, but it is hysterically funny and and incredibly sweet. Craig Ferguson has a day job as the host of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and was the British boss of Drew Carey in The Drew Carey Show. And then he wrote this brilliant book. I declare him the second coming of Stephen Fry.



Keith Olbermann is another guy in the details_later pantheon of idols. This guy's intelligence is sick. Enter his name on YouTube and listen in on one of his "Special Comments" for his program Countdown With Keith Olbermann. The Worst Person In The World…And 202 Strong Contenders is a book spin-off of a section in his show, where he names, indeed, the Worst Person for the week. Normally, it's Bill O'Reilly. And even if he is former ESPN sportscaster, Keith is a formidable political analyst. (Ano?!) Dick Cheney probably has Keith on some sort of list. Yes, that kind of list.



The Iraq invasion is going to define our times. What a mess, but you don't need me to tell you that. The GINORMOUS CONTRIVANCE that was laid out to justify the invasion is definitely more horrifying than the post-apocalyptic world of The Road. Frank Rich, the former theater critic of The New York Times and now an Times Op/Ed columnist, lays down the appropriate drama and all the verified details of indeed, The Greatest Story Ever Sold.



Erik Larson's The Devil In The White City is contagious. I lent it to two people, and the two people bought their own copies of it afterwards. (A keeper!) The making of the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago and detecting the trail the world's first known serial killer (yup, the one in this story probably inspired Jack The Ripper!) is improbably addicting and fun to read. On occasion, reading the minutiae of architectural plans and construction problems of the Fair is even more suspenseful than the parallel serial killer story.  Daniel Burnham (he of  the Manila city planning and the Baguio park) and Dr. HH Holmes (who might have murdered over 200 people!) are fascinating men come to spellbinding life. And the little things you take for granted today? A/C current, the Ferris Wheel, refrigeration, even theme parks—all take their origins here. Amazing.

Now… to finish East Of Eden by John Steinbeck. Been stuck on page 288 since I started in (gulp) April 2004. 313 pages to go…

PS. Why is Oprah stealing my thunder? Soon after I decided on reading The Road, she made it a selection of her Oprah Book Club. She even nabbed an interview with Cormac McCarthy to boot! The man's given one interview in 20 years. East Of Eden is an Oprah selection too. Hrumph.

Tent Pole #1: Manhunter
roger in vogue by art attack
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There's a line in your movie-going life that separates a "before" and "after."

Before
was when movies were that special treat of mom and dad taking you to the movie house as a special outing, followed by merienda, or a trip to the toy shop.

After is when it dawns on you that a movie goes beyond entertaining you—that it's something you feel connected to in a creative sense. That you will probably be a MOVIE FAN.

Well, no shock—this is a phenomenon that happened to me. Sometimes you get lucky, and there will be that a movie (or movies) that will draw that line.

I've been trying to recall what chronological age I was when that happened—the earliest experience that made me see the movies differently. Was it Ordinary People? (Could be. Merits further thinking, which, I'm sure you know I'm doing!) Chariots Of Fire? Amadeus?

Who knows, really. (Yeah, yeah. I'll think about it. Some more.) So I decided to make the first long-promised "tent pole" discussion on Manhunter, directed by Michael Mann, released in 1986. It stars CSI's William Petersen. (That's his hot self up there in the first photo, 20 years ago and pretty hot!) It's not the first on the tent pole list, but I do know this movie is definitely part of it.



Manhunter is the first movie to feature Hannibal Lecter, adapted from the book Red Dragon by Thomas Harris. How it ended up with a generic-o, exploitative title like Manhunter is the usual, Hollywood cautionary tale. "Red Dragon" sounds martial arts-y, doesn't it? It's striking, because despite the gruesomeness of a serial killer murdering whole families and the use of nasty Dr. Lecter as a forensic Virgil, Manhunter is super far from exploitative. (No ick-ish brain sautéeing, no faces removed from live heads… you don't even see how the murders happened.)

Michael Mann was in his full Miami Vice bloom, so there are bound-to-amuse 80s flourishes in the flick, but Mann's flair for composition and camera movement is undeniably great in any era. Love that flare effect in the pic above, and the pic below is gorgeous and evocative.



William Petersen is FBI Agent Will Graham, who's captured a few serial killers in his day, INCLUDING one Dr. Hannibal Lecter. His "immersive" detective techniques brings him to the edge of his sanity and apprehending Lecter in particular landed him in dire psychological straits. (Do you want to be in Lecter's brain?) As Manhunter begins, Will has quit the FBI and raising a family in Florida. But capturing the "Tooth Fairy," a family-murdering serial killer requires an agent of Will's skills. Will's compelled back into the game, mentally fragile as he is. So the chase begins, and director Mann and actor Petersen unveil the investigation with flair, dread (for both the danges posed by the Tooth Fairy and for the sanity of Will) and exhilarating intelligence. These agents are wicked smart, and seeing that displayed is way more fun than cutesy pirates fighting menacing squids, or whatever it is they do on those Pirates movies.




The portrayal of evil in the likes of Lecter and the Tooth Fairy also takes a novel approach. They never signal "bad guy over here!" machinations. Mann is able to make you certain these antagonists are horrid and trusts the viewers to come to that conclusion. (And I was glad to see this method revisited in the recent Zodiac.) Brian Cox plays Lecter and his three scenes, simply written, impart such deep evil. No ooga booga Claaarriiicceee hamming it up. Lecter doesn't even get a frightening lair. He's kept in an all-white glass cell, no frills and clinical. (This being Michael Mann and all, he set the Lecter prison in the actual Atlanta Museum of Modern Art, designed by architect Richard Meier.)






Something about Manhunter made me want to watch it over and over (it is pretty entertaining), and each viewing got me thinking, speculating, wondering how Michael Mann made such an awesome suspense/action movie with hardly any gore or stunt-filled action sequences. What I've called a show-not-tell directing style.

When a movie can give you this much, even though Mann & co was probably just aiming to make a nice piece of entertainment, it's a pretty neat magic trick, no?

Also, you'll never listen to Iron Butterfly's "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" the same way again. You'll always see this movie in your head.


An Amuse-Bouche: I Want To Watch This Na!
jesse by 40licks22
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"Do you believe in magic? Do you think small can be beautiful? Are you looking for a little film you can make your own, an enchanting, unpretentious blend of music and romance you can watch forever?"


You can't buy reviews like this. This is how Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times describes a movie called Once. After all the bluster of the Spidey's and Pirates and ogres, was there really any movie to look forward this (American) box office summer? One that wasn't a sequel, maybe? (OK—maybe Bourne Ultimatum.)

But a little film I could love forever could end my movie-watching dilemma. I'm ready to be inspired! Once is set in Dublin, where Street Musician boy and Czech emigré girl, meet, bond over music, perhaps find love. "The formula is simple: two people, a few instruments, 88 minutes and not a single false note," the New York Times tells me.

And hey Street Musician boy is played by Glen Hansard, who I still remember from The Commitments. You're still cute, Outspan Foster!

Here's the trailer. More music, pics and info at here.




Coming soon (for reals): Why this boy is the Idol winner Simon is drooling to have in the American version of the show. (And no, not in a Ryan Seacrest way. Please.)

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