Sunday, January 07, 2018

Best and worst of Quebec pop culture that I've seen

My love affair with Quebec cinema continued in 2017

I got copies of more films that were on the list of their best like:

1987 by Ricardo Trogi---Best!

  • Jesus de Montreal (1989) I avoided viewing this initially because it was made a long time ago and I felt I didn't want to see a film with a big message. But I relented and I don't regret it at all. It's about an actor who is asked by the local church to update their passion play and he goes overboard and finds himself persecuted the same way that Jesus was! It may seem dated now, post- Dan Brown and Da Vinci code, but it still is controversial.
  • Mon Oncle Antoine (1971) This one is said to be the most highly-regarded Quebecois film. So much so that their film awards used to be named after the director Claude Jutra. It's said to be a coming-of-age film of a boy who realizes that the adults around him are frail and imperfect. Personally, I didn't really get it. 
  • Decline of the American empire (1986) This one is filled with dialogue. It's about a group of intellectuals discussing history, philosophy, politics and sex. But mostly it reveals that Montreal professor Remy is a sleazeball who has slept with almost every woman he has met.
  • Les Invasions Barbares (The Barbarian Invasions, 2003) What a surprise to learn that I had already seen this on DVD because it won an Oscar for best foreign film. I didn't really like it back then. But A.C. (after Canada,) I watched it with older eyes and appreciated this sequel to "Decline of the american empire" which is still talky but now also has at its heart the story of the rocky relationship between terminally ill Remy and his son, Sebastien. 
  • Les Demons (2015) is another film I didn't quite get about a boy who is scared of imagined demons but there's also a real human monster lurking. The major highlight for me was seeing some familiar faces from Tactik like Pierre-Luc Funk

  • Funky Town (2011) is about the golden age of disco in Montreal. I loved that it was bilingual and again saw familar faces like Patrick Huard, Francois Letourneau, and Paul Doucet in a deliciously campy role.
  • Sarah prefers to run (2013) was a bore. It's about a girl who loves running so much she agrees to a sham marriage to get financial benefits from the city. But things don't turn out well (duh) and they break up and that's more than an hour I'll never get back.
  • Everything is fine (2008) is a difficult film to watch because it's about a group of teenagers who make a pact to commit suicide. One of the friends is left out and is depressed and also tries to kill himself. It reminds me of Les Etres Chers but not as devastating.
  • It's only the end of the world (2016) is Xavier Dolan's latest and most divisive work. I personally prefer films he wrote himself. This felt overacted and stuffy.
  • De pere en flic(2009) is the worst Quebec movie I have ever seen. It's about a father and son, both policemen, who are sent to a kind of therapy camp to fix their relationship. It was not funny at all.
  • 1981 (2009) Now, this is a comedy brimming with affection and nostalgia. Ricardo Trogi's autobiographical movie about his life at 11 years old is heartwarming and cute. I also like that Jean-Carl Boucher of Tactik is the lead actor.
  • 1987 (2014) is the vastly superior  sequel to "1981" This time he's 17, about to graduate from high school and 80's fashion and music is in full display. I loved every minute of it!
  • Votez Bougon (2016) is a political satire about a white trash scoundrel who rides on a populist wave and becomes premier of Quebec. 
  • Gabrielle (2013) is about a girl with "Williams syndrome" which from what i understand is like autism but instead of being withdrawn, she has a very lively personality. The lead actress really had Williams syndrome but held her own in even the dramatic scenes. I was also impressed with her co-star Alexandre Landry who i thought was also mentally-challenged.
  • Louis Cyr (2013) I read about him in one of Michel Rabagliati's comic books. He was the strongest man in the world and made money as a circus performer. He was however, very insecure because he didn't know how to read. This was beautifully shot, like a painting. And while Antoine Bertrand's expressive eyes drew me in, the rest of the film feels like it was trying too hard to win Best Film.
  • Bon Cop, Bad Cop 2 (2017) With the success of the first film, it's a wonder why they took so long to make a sequel. Star/writer Patrick Huard said they wanted to make sure it was a good sequel and I had high hopes but was disappointed. Not enough laughs. Several action sequences didn't feel exciting at all.
  • Les Boys (1997) is about a group of men who bond over ice hockey. This is funny though some of the humor is a bit dated, including what's supposed to be a very tolerant attitude towards a teammate's sexual preference but comes across now as offensive.
  • Montreal La Blanche (2016) is very intriguing to me but unfortunately, i can't find subtitles for it so I don't know what it's about.
  • Good Neighbors (2010) is actually an English-language movie set in Montreal starring Scott Speedman and Jay Baruchel as neighbors in an apartment and there's a serial killer on the loose. I knew who the killer was early on but it gets very twisted at the end
  • Nelly (2016) is about a prostitute who writes about her experiences and becomes a best-selling author. But all these makes her depressed and suicidal. Not for the faint of heart but lead  star Mylene Mackay won Best Actress for this.
  • Nitro Rush (2016) This has to be the most disappointing movie here. though I've never seen the first movie, Nitro, I assumed it would be acceptable as an action movie. Nope. Another action film from director Alain Descrochers which was only exciting in one part but I couldn't enjoy the rest because of the big gaping plot holes.
  • J'en suis (1997) a comedy about a down-on-his-luck architect who pretends he's gay to work as an art dealer. Again, not politically correct, but not a complete waste of time.
  • Corbo (2014) Set in the 1960's, it's about Jean Corbo, a teenager who gets seduced into joining the FLQ, a separatist movement in Quebec. Very timely now that lots of kids are getting radicalized into joining terrorists. Well-made film but it left me cold. 

While most of the films were hit or miss, I thoroughly enjoyed these 2 Quebec made Tv series:


  • Serie Noire- this is about two tv writers who hate their show and decide to plunge into the crime world to make their writing more real. Of course, they will live to regret it as they get involved in the gay mafia and entangled with a crazy guy named Marc Arcand, who is hilariously unhinged. There's a second season but I can't find subtitles for it.
  • Les Beaux Malaises is a tv series starring martin Matte, a stand up comic who talks about a variety of issues he seems to encounter in real life. Particularly funny is his sex-crazed mommy. Highly recommended and good news: it's on Netflix!
  • Tactik is my current obsession. It's about a group of teens who became friends because of football bu the show is now focused on their lives. It's shown every weekend on TV5 Asie with French subtitles. It's like TGIS and Dawson's Creek and I've grown so attached to the characters I actually felt sad when I found out the series had ended way back in 2013!


Comic books


I read a lot of comic books this year, I even ordered all of Michel Rabagliatis' books onlie to complete the "Paul" series. Too bad I learned that he's now divorced and will not continue the series. My aunt even sent me one in the original French!
But the best one I read(even though it's not quebecois) has to be "Beautiful Darkness" by Fabian Vehlmann and the art duo Kerascoet. At first it looks like a fairy tale but then it turns real dark and scary. An unforgettable , seductive journey in to the darkness that lives in the hearts of men .

Other great books I read were Beauty by Hubert and Kerascoet, Hostage by Guy Delisle, and My favorite thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris

The most disappointing would be Miss Touch me not by hubert and Kerascoet because the first book was so raunchy good that the second book was such a let down with that terrible, awful, WTF ending! My advice, buy just the first book! And revel in the intricately drawn images of 1930s Paris!
























Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Best and worst of 2016

Hi all,
I've neglected blogging and it seems blogging is on the decline worldwide, which is a shame since some of the best tips I've read have come from blogs....
I had a really wonderful experience last year. I went abroad for the first time in my life. And it was amazing. I had never even considered flying to another country because there were still so many places in the Philippines I hadn't explored. But when the opportunity presented itself, how could I say no?


the problem is, I think I'm in love with Canada now, so my best and worst list is heavily biased in favor of Canadian stuff.

Film
Best: Paul a Quebec.
Adapted from a Bande  dessinée (comic book) by Michel Rabagliati, it tells the story of Roland, a patriarch dying of cancer and how the family deals with it.(As seen through the eyes of son-in-law Paul)
It's very Pinoy in the sense that it's very sentimental. My cousin gave me the book as a gift and by the end I was in tears. When I saw the movie, I was already tearing up by the first act.
They added lots of other details to make Paul more rounded, and they took out a lot of details from the book but I still loved it.
Honorable mentions:

  •  C.R.A.Z.Y. -Another moving film about a special boy and his struggle to be accepted by his father. 
  • J'ai tue ma mere -My first movie from Xavier Dolan. Searing with emotions that seem too real for comfort. this is my favorite dolan. All the rest seem too stylized.
  • Les Etres Chers- About a man burdened with inexplicable depression, this movie really bummed me out. I had to eat some chocolate right after.
  • Incendies-Another movie that will either make you suicidal or make you feel better about your life, knowing that some people's lives are truly f***ed up


Worst: Le trois p'tits cochons 1 and 2.
Juvenile films about cheating men. Imagine American Pie for the middle-aged. But the first was successful so they made another one.

Dishonorable mentions: Gods of Egypt, Dirty Grandpa (coincidentally, they were showing on my plane ride)

Bonus: Short reviews of other quebec films I saw:

  • Felix et Meira-about an agnostic and a Hasidic Jewish woman who fall in love. There's a beautiful scene near the end but the rest is just meh.
  • Ville-Marie-it's intersecting lives because of an accident like the movie "Crash" but it felt hollow
  • La Passion d'Augustine: a beautifully-made movie with even more beautiful music. But I guess the ending of non-Hollywood movies are more subdued for me
  • Polytechnique: Denis Villenueve loves to disturb viewers. This one about the mass killing of female university students is even more terrifying than Incendies because it's based on a true story
  • Tu dors Nicole: A lovely film with light touches of comedy about a girl who has to accept the realities of adulthood
  • Tom at the farm: A very Hitchcock-like suspense movie about the dysfunctional relationship of a gay man and his dead lover's brother
  • Cafe de Flore: Hypnotic movie set in two different times about two loves which seem like they have no connection to each other, until the end, when it takes a supernatural turn.
  • Les amours imaginaires: Very stylish and entertaining movie about a gay man and his female best friend who are in love with the same guy. nice to look at but just popcorn fare.
  • Bon Cop, Bad Cop: A hilarious buddy cop movie about stereotypical Canadians from the English and French sides of the country.
  • Starbuck: Touching movie which was a little too saccharine sweet for me. 
  • Monsieur Lazhar: Another subtle movie about students and their teacher dealing with death and loss
  • Laurence anyways: A more substantive movie from Dolan about the love between a woman and a transvestite man. It has its moments of brilliance especially that meet-cute at the end,  but it really was too long.
  • Mommy is at the hairdresser's : I was expecting a comedy but instead got a very dramatic movie about a brother and sister who deal with their parents' separation
  • Les demons: It's really about a boy who starts to realize that the world is not perfect. then the director puts in a second story about a very disturbing teenager
  • Guibord s'en va-t-en guerre: A political comedy about a small-town representative and his intern from Haiti. Reminds me a bit of "Mr Smith goes to Washington"
  • Mommy: It's like Xavier dolan's follow-up to his first film, but now he casts a more sympathetic look at the mom of a troublesome teen. The square screen felt gimmicky, though
  • French immersion: Loved the premise of Anglophones who go to a village in Quebec to learn French. the actual work is a little corny and predictable



TV
Best: Game of thrones
It started slow and kinda boring but as it careened to the finale, it was must-see TV once again. You should have seen my face when I found out  on the day of the finale that my aunt in Montreal did not have HBO. Luckily, wifi is blazing fast there and some good soul streamed the episode right away!
Honorable mention:  Fresh off the boat is still great.

Worst: Enkantadia remake
Not  only were the new leads (except for Glaiza) bland, the story got really dumb. How many times does a queen or a princess have to be killed in her own palace before someone fires the guards?

Song:
Hands down, it has to be "Apres on va ou?" form Paul a Quebec.
you could tell the song was really made for the movie and not just something they thought would go nicely with it.

Milo "Energy Gap" I hate James Reid's voice. The guy refuses to take voice lessons because he said it made him sound like his voice teacher, and he wanted to stay as he is. Wow.

Book:
I love Paul a Quebec so much because it has opened my eyes to how comic writing doesn't always have to be about superheroes or jokes. It can be a poignant way to tell your story.
BUT... Best book goes to 12:01 by Russell Molina and Kajo Baldisimo for coming out with a very relevant book about Martial Law and the repressive regime this current government is trying to santitize.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Blue Coral Laiya review and tips!

I loved the massage I got from the waterfalls.

I remember Blue Coral in Batangas because when our family reunion plans in 2006 were ruined by typhoon Milenyo, we looked for a resort nearer to Lucena. We eventually settled for La Luz, but we saw so many signs for Blue Coral while looking for La Luz, my tita joked that we should just stay at Blue Coral!

We hadn't gone to a beach since Siquijor in 2013 so we looked for a relatively nearby beach resort that was affordable without giving up some creature comforts like aircon and TV.

Caylabne in cavite was out because I heard it had deteriorated and the beach wasn't nice.

La Luz was also out because my family needed a TV and I wanted a resort with a pool in case the sea had jellyfish.

I would've loved to stay at Virgin Beach where the movie "Here comes the bride" was shot but it was too expensive.
Blue coral reception area

So I was left with Blue Coral though I was apprehensive because I read some bad reviews on TripAdvisor. They said the rooms were old and the food was bad.  I also didn't like this racket that you had to avail of their buffet for 3 meals. I just told my family to expect the worst.
The beach area

But surprise, surprise, Blue Coral turned out to be quite satisfying! The staff was friendly, the food was mostly great, and the rooms showed signs of age but were quite acceptable.

They had a kiddie pool, infinity pool and a pool with a man-made waterfalls.  The beach was clean and so was the sea. My only complaints would be that the swimming area of the beach was limited because of the aqua sports, and the sand wasn't fine. It was like grains of tiny rocks.

A waiting area. I liked how there's also a rest room on this floor in case your room's en suite toilet is occupied.

Old Samsung thin tv, not flat screen

2 double beds.  No phone, though

Huge shower area  bathroom, toilet with bidet.

Cute balcony


View from our 2nd floor deluxe room
I loved that a deluxe room could fit 6 people (2 double beds plus 2 mattresses) and that there was a hot and cold water dispenser on the first floor. 

Tip: While bringing food was not allowed, they didn't really check so you could sneak in some snacks if you didn't feel like taking a ride to go to the eateries outside.
Toiletries were included but you might want to bring your own. We also brought snacks.
Tip: They offer a discount if you book on a weekday.  The deluxe room was P5,500 but on weekdays it's P4,640. They also give senior citizen discounts and half-off discounts for kids  (4-10 yrs old) for the buffet.
Dining area breakfast scene

I wish they could improve their reservation process, though. Their online booking doesn't work. One has to call their office  a number  (Manila 559 9747 or 559 9754 or 567 4376 or try cellphone 0917 6769146) to make inquiries and it's always busy. You have to pay 50% of the total bill via bank deposit to their BPI or BDO account to confirm your reservation.

Tip: If you can't get through, try this email of the employee I talked to, hope karen ramos at  hopekaren.bluecoral@gmail.com 

Buffet line at the dining area


Our breakfast: sardines, scrambled eggs, spicy sausage, beef tapa, hash browns, and watermelon for dessert. Coffee, tea, and juice also included

Lunch was shrimps, spaghetti and giant meatballs, korean beef ribs, chop suey chicken, and ramen soup. Dessert looked like leche flan but was just some dry cake.


After leaving Blue Coral, don't forget to eat at Cafeño, in San Juan. The place is so interesting with old sewing machines as table accents and the food is good and affordable, too.
Endorsed by Drew Arellano? That's good enough for my sister!

Halo-halo for sharing

Sewing machine as center pieces!

Under the table, moving machine parts!

Laiya 2016 from albert on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Best and Worst of 2015

Film

Best: 

Heneral Luna-for making people interested in our history. There have even been debates on this movie as well as about our heroes. Imagine that. To think, it was written off as a flop when it first screed. But thanks to word-of-mouth and a strong clamor from internet fans, it went on to become one of the biggest films of the year!
 Honorable mentions: Mad Max:Fury Road, Honor Thy Father, Inside Out (sob! hindi naman pambata 'to, e!)

Worst: 

My Bebe Love-What a waste of the AlDub love team. Instead of focusing on the true reason audiences came to watch this movie, the story revolved around Vic Sotto and Ai Ai del as Alas. I f only the writers had made it novel and witty. But no, the plot was so thin, it flew out the window.
Also awful: My fb friend nominated the Maria Ozawa-Cesar Montano movie "Nilalang" and "Fifty shades of Grey"was just trash that wanted to be art.

TV

Best: 

Fresh off the boat- It's about an Asian-American family set in the 1990's. It's even funnier when
I imagine them to be like my tita Chuchie's family growing up in America. Everyone in the cast is funny but Constance Wu as the tiger mom steals the show.
Sorry I don't watch a lot of dramas save for Game of Thrones, so my honorable mentions only include Galavant, (reminds me of Mel Brooks' Robin Hood: Men in tights) Last man on earth, and Inside Amy Schumer. I was also mesmerized by Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell but the ending was meh

Worst:

Half Worlds--HBO Asia wanted to produce original content about Asian horror and went to Indonesia. The result is a stylish series with great visuals and animation but zero appeal. The story is so boring, illogical and frustrating. The lead actors are dull. They should have made Trese instead.
Also awful: Marimar (Megan Young cannot act. Plus they changed so much of the story, it's unrecognizable...they even made her real name "Bela" ! Hello, read the title of the show!)

Book

Best:

 The Dwellers by Eliza Victoria--hypnotic and gripping, even the backstory had me wishing for more! The premise is really magical: 2 cousins have the power to live in other people's bodies. They escape from their hacienda to take over the life of two brothers when they find a dead body in the basement.
Notable: Manix Abrera's Hubkong Sandatahan ng kahaggardan. It's about life in the news media but I can't believe how even non-meida people can relate to it. I simply ascribe it to Manix magic!

Worst:

Well, not exactly the worst, but a real disappointment was "Janus Silang at ang Tiyanak ng Tabon-comic book"
I was so looking forward to reading this because I missed the text version. It was probably so good they released it as a comic book, too. But I found the story too contrived. There was just one twist too many and too many unresolved plot lines. I also found the artwork kinda awkward, especially when it came to proportions of the anatomy of the humans.

Song

Disclaimer: I didn't listen to a lot of new songs this year as I just kept playing the songs on my ipod.
So while everyone was raving about Justin Bieber's "Sorry" or Adele's "Hello", my favorite song has to be "Ellie Goulding's "Love me like you do" It's probably the best thing to come out of that movie "50 shades of grey"

Worst:

Wiki me by Julian Trono. This song had me cursing at my tv screen when I heard and read the lyrics. I mean, it doesn't help that the singer is nasal and annoying, but who wrote that damn song?!



"We go all night or we can go to dinner
We go to movie or we can be a singer"

Di ba? T@#$%*!!! Nakakabobo!!!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Goodbye Intercon


Last Tuesday everyone was surprised at the amount of rain that fell over Metro Manila. Suddenly, we couldn't get out of the city. The flood reached our office's sidewalk. Any jeep that passed by was full or refusing to take any passengers. I waited for an hour before finally catching a jeep up to Buendia.


 While walking to Edsa, I noticed the beautiful Xmas lights along Ayala Avenue that were set up to look like Pinoy churches.
 I alos took photos of Rustans' window display.

 It's just too bad that this year's display wasn't as good as last year's. While last year also featured ludicrous images of Western Xmas like snowmen and fireplaces, at least they weren't so commercial.

 This year's display is just a lot of mannequins in winter fashion. There's even  one of a trendy couple in heavy coats waiting for a train. Ha-ha! They'd never make it out alive in a real PNR train!

LAst time the streets were flooded and traffic stood still, I took a ride to Glorietta where I was able to catch a bus home.
Unfortunately, i wasn't so lucky this time. It was still raining hard and a huge crowd was gathered at Edsa/Ayala , desperate for a ride home.

 After an hour or so of waiting, I gave up. My umbrella was dripping, my pants were wet, my bag was getting heavier as the papers inside were getting soaked. I went to an atm and withdrew some cash and headed for the Intercon, Manila.

 I know that there were probably cheaper hotels around, but I was tired and wet and hungry and I told myself, I've worked hard and saved all year. I mean, I never take a taxi. I ride the jeep and non-airconditioned buses. Hell, I even took the PNR train! I've been generous to my family and friends, why can't I treat myself for once? 
 So I walked into the hotel while my pants and sandals squished on their floors and got a deluxe room. 

 After 46 years, the Intercon is closing down on Dec. 31 and if you're lucky, you can book a room at the discounted price of P4600+ for a deluxe room with buffet breakfast in a 5-star hotel!
The room was big, even for two people. My only regret is that I wasn't able to invite anyone over. The bed was so large and comfortable. I slept like a baby. The pillows felt like soft, light clay because they felt like they followed the contours of my head.
 I was sooo happy that a I had a bathtub! I immediately had a warm bath to soak my aching body!
 i loved the amenities in the room like a flashlight that immediatle turned on, the thick bathrobe that I wore to sleep, the posh toiletries, and the flat iron and hair dryer which I used to dry my stuff.

 Too bad I forgot to take home the free coffee and tea #SulitFamily
 I had a big tv with Skycable, but it wasn't in HD.
 Some of the wooden furniture showed signs of age but the room still looked elegant


 I loved this magnifying mirror for checking out your teeth or for fixing your makeup
 I did remember to take home the toiletries which included a sewing kit. It would have been perfect if they added a small deodorant and dental floss.




 Classy artwork on my walls
 I wanted to stay in bed forever but I had to wake up at 9:30 because the buffet breakfast was only served till 10:30am.

 I wasn't really impressed by the buffet. The congee and the meatballs were bland. It was actually kind of similar to the spread at Taal Vista.
Also, when I was seated by a wait staff, she asked me if i wanted coffee, she seemed to have forgotten all about me. I waited and waited, but she naver came back. So I just stood up and proceeded to the buffet. It was only when I went back to my table that a different waiter that asked and actually brought me coffee.
A manager also had to alert the cook manning the omelette station that I was in line for an omelette because he was chatting with a co-worker. I didn't really get upset. In fact I was worried for them since they would be out of a job next year.

 But I did like the artworks of the Jeepney Cafe.


 Too bad I didn't have swim shorts or a gym outfit as I would've made use of the pool and the mini-Gold's Gym! #SulitFamily
 My room had a grand view of  rainy Glorietta

A booklet featuring the final Holiday offers of the Intercon.

While it was unplanned and pricey, I enjoyed my stay at the Intercon. I'm glad I finally experienced staying with them before they closed. It's my surprise Christmas gift to myself!

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