Friday, March 30

Mad Love

Making headlines right now is the news about a man named Yang Quinji, who recently committed suicide in order to persuade Hong Kong star Andy Lau to spend quality time with his daughter, Yang Lijuan. Prior to this final gesture of fatherly love, the man also sold their family's house as well as ONE OF HIS KIDNEYS to support his daughter's new lifestyle as a fan and follower of the HK superstar.
Though his daughter was able to actually meet Lau, the man was unsatisfied with the shortness of the encounter, and afterwards jumped off a bridge to his death after leaving a long letter asking for Lau to meet with his daughter again.

On one hand, I have to say that the old man's fanatical devotion to his daughter's happiness is utterly incredible and supremely touching. On the other hand, this is perhaps one of the stupidest things I've ever heard. Like, is that the worth of your father's frickin' life? A frickin' MEETING?

I hope the daughter's happy.

Moving on.

Thursday, March 29

Guilty Pleasure

The latest from Adam Warren.

I'm a longtime fan of writer/artist Adam Warren, and so when I heard that he's coming out with a new original trade paperback graphic novel, I was pretty intrigued. Instead of another chapter of his more established Dirty Pair series, this latest opus is a totally new creation- Empowered.

Labelled as a 'sexy superhero comedy', Empowered is all about the trials and travails of a beautiful but seemingly perennially-on-the-losing-end C-list superheroine named, well, Empowered (or Emp for short). She's got the unlucky combination of having low self-esteem and a rather scandalously skin-tight supersuit which leaves NOTHING to the imagination. And while her suit does give her quite a few super powers like limited invulnerability and the ability 'to zap things', it more often than not malfunctions, leaving poor Emp in sticky and often embarrassing situations. Oh, and the suit also has a tendency to get ripped and torn off, leaving the girl all nubile, helpless and exposed. Ooh.

Thankfully, Emp has a few true friends to look out for her- Thugboy is her new boyfriend who ironically started off as one of her enemies 'on the job'. Then there's Ninjette, a hard-drinking videogame-addicted kunoichi. Ironically, Emp's friends are usually 'villains' (or at least, former minions), while the ones who cause her the most distress are usually the members of Emp's own superhero team, the Superhomeys (particularly her spellcasting 'comrade', Sista Spooky).

Instead of one big story, Empowered is apparently divided into a large number of smaller vignettes, anecdotes and tales, almost like strip cartoons. The art, while still at Warren's ridiculous level of detail, is scanned from Warren's original pencils so has a kind of sketchy look that still looks incredible and expressive thanks to the detail and texture of the lines. The sheer volume of pages- about 248 or so- promises a lot of fun reading.
Along with Warren's trademark art is his sharp dialogue and writing, which is brimming with satire, offbeat ideas and innuendo. Needless to say, with some raunchy situations and almost-nudity all about, this isn't a kiddie book by any measure.

There's a ninja girl in the comic? Well, I'm sold.

This apparently got released recently under Dark Horse, so hopefully it'll be available soon. I'll be sure to pick this one up when it arrives at Comic Quest or wherever and whenever I find it. Expect a review or something once I get my grubby paws on this one.

Wednesday, March 28

High Stakes Gamble

Daniel Craig steps into 007's well-worn shoes.

I finally got to watch Casino Royale a couple of nights ago at home, on luscious widescreen. I've had harsh words before for this new Bond, but I also mentioned that I would keep my mind open on this latest 007. So, did the studio's gamble pay off in spades, or did we get a Joker?

Set as a sort of 'restart' of the James Bond saga (instead of following the established mythos of the previous films), Casino Royale sees a brash James Bond (Daniel Craig) in action, just recently promoted to the elite Double-O status of 007. This Bond is a stone-faced, ice-cold killer, relentless and physical... in fact, he spends a great deal of the film just running. At least as much time running as he does driving. The start of the film sees a quite remarkable bit of parkour (the amazing 'free-running' sport where athletes do incredible leaps, shimmies and steps to get over ANY obstacle in their way) displayed by one of 007's targets. The long chase is thrilling and cool, though for the most part Casino Royale is more of a quiet Bond film, the majority of the 'action' taking place in a, well, Casino. Hence the title.

The first part of the film basically establishes the new Bond- a newly anointed killer in the service of MI-6. This early he's already gotten the attention of M (Dame Judie Dench, reprising her role from the later films), and not always in a good way. Bond is not above hacking into his own boss' security access to get the info he needs. However, he's a relentless son of a gun, as unyielding as a bloodhound when he's onto his prey. Eventually, he's formally assigned to take on Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), a self-styled 'banker' to the world's terrorists. But this isn't a simple assassination... Bond has to engage the scarred Le Chiffre in a high-stakes game of poker, staking millions of the crown's money to clean out the house and force Le Chiffre to turn state witness against his terrorist clientele. Joining Bond on the mission is the ravishing Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), a smart and sassy Treasury Agent who just may be the one woman to melt the ice-cold OO7's heart.

This is a very unusual Bond film- it has some intense action, but for the most part is leisurely-paced. The villain and plot aren't world-beating, but it's fitting for a first-romp for the new 007, and I didn't find myself bored at any point in the film. Daniel Craig acquits himself very well as 007- as I have always said, he looks more like a villain than a Bond, but I accepted him in the role midway into the movie. He's intense and has perhaps the steeliest eyes of any Bond, and he looks quite imposing. Easily, I like him better than Timothy Dalton, who perhaps shares the same 'grumpy' Bond flavor, at first glance. In the end, I look forward to seeing him again in action.
As for the rest, what can be said? M is M, Judi Dench is as motherly and bossy as always; Eva Green is hypnotically beautiful and quite a character (though her final resolution seems a bit abrupt), while Le Chiffre is menacing for the time that he is onscreen.

There are quite a few standout qualities to this latest Bond- utterly beautiful settings (this is certainly one of the more glamorously-shot Bond films) in almost every frame, pretty intense and well-done action sequences, and a surprisingly effective new Bond. An intriguing new take on the classic spy/action title, and that's all a Bond fan can ask for right now- well, aside from having SPECTER back. But I'll take it and I'll like it. Heh.

Tuesday, March 27

Bon Voyage

Today was the day that my sister and her family flew off to find their new life and future abroad in Canada. A few years ago, I thought we'd have the good fortune of growing up near each other, with their house being built right next to the main family's house on the same lot. But thanks to the uneasy economic and political climate of the country, they eventually decided that, for the sake of their children, they needed to leave the Motherland.
Months passed before their papers were finally ready and we counted the days to their departure. As I posted earlier, last weekend was the last time we'd actually see them in person. Last night, the kids called their grandparents and had a short chat. My Dad and Mom were of course giving them advice as grandparents would- To be good in school, to never forget to speak Filipino, to always remember that their Lolo and Lola love them.

We're not a particularly sweet family- we just don't express it that much in words or even actions- but inside, our bond as a family has never been lacking. This was the last trial. My brother and his daughters left last year, and this year it's my sister's turn. Now it's just me and my parents left in the nest.

I'll miss the Saturdays when Lea and the kids come over, to just hang around. I'll miss the kids, incredibly enough- the two energetic boys, David and Michael, and my sister's princess Catherine, who will surely bloom into a heartbreaker soon. I never really had time to do anything more than set up the PS2 or show them new anime every so often. Still, it was fun while it lasted.

The next time I see them, probably it will be us visiting them in Canada, hopefully in the near future. I hope the kids won't be too old when I do, and I hope they still remember their weird uncle who loves videogames and anime.

Wherever you and your family goes, Lea, take care and I hope you find the success and good fortune you deserve. I'll see you again someday. God bless.

Sunday, March 25

Working Weekend

This weekend was a blur of work as shooting went ahead for a new TV commercial. Our new spot required that we shoot in a mall, so we were only able to do so after mall hours... thus Friday found us setting up and rolling into the morning hours of the weekend. Only a few hours break found me having to get ready for the second day of the shoot, late Saturday into the wee hours of Sunday morning.

It was unfortunate though, that this weekend was also the last time we'd be seeing my sister Lea and her family in the near future. They're all migrating to Canada within the week, so that is a big downer. Having the pamangkins around the house on weekends was something everyone looked forward to, even though the kids would usually spend the hours playing PS2 or watching TV. On the good side, I was able to spend lunch with them and, when the service came to whisk me away to the shoot, I was able to give my sis, her hubbie and their kids a quick but heartfelt goodbye.

I would have liked to stay longer, but work called. Perhaps I should have stayed, in hindsight. I should have stayed and spent the last few hours with them, perhaps ate dinner with them and said farewell together with my parents. But what's done is done.

I can only console myself with the thought that e-mail and webcams can at least keep us communicating, but it won't be the same without them here.

But it's all for the best, of course. That's what counts.

Moving on.
Avatar News

Still no word on exactly when the third season of Avatar: The Last Airbender will begin, though a recent interview with the Avatar creators on revealed that Book of Fire is pretty much mapped out to the season's climactic finale, where Aang engages his fated nemesis Fire Lord Ozai in an exciting, fan-pleasing final confrontation. Judging from how Avatar has so far excelled in awesome fight and battle sequences, I just can't wait.

Local Nickelodeon has fortunately begun airing Second Season episodes of Avatar, so hopefully this is another sign that the next leg in the Avatar saga is coming very soon.