Monday, September 29, 2014

Objectifixation, Eighteen

Events in the Marvel Cinematic Universe are gradually leading up to this.
"I will challenge the humans so I can court Death!"

Mini-celebration of my first year anniversary. :)

Jake the pencil case. Neat. Saw an episode last week, the one where Bubblegum beat up Ricardio.

Wizard magazine's JLA and Avengers specials from the late '90s, back when both titles were really good. Great that they're being translated into the film medium now.

Sugar abuse. I love jellybeans. So unpredictable.

The Mozzie EP. 2008. Three songs shy of a full album. It still sounds good. Watched the band and drank with Pam P. and friends at their shows about six, seven years ago.
Reprint. Death of the Phoenix. Interesting backup story, where Jean meets the manifestation of Death.

"Number One movie! I am elated."
"Enjoy Marvel's reign while you can, Drax. In 2016, there will come a dawn... of Justice!"

X-Women

X-Men, the all-female squad: Rachel Grey, Rogue, Storm, Kitty Pryde, Psylocke, Jubilee.

Michelle Fairley, 50, comes back to life

(Sept. 29, PDI Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

“I’m a working actor—at this point in my life, I’m employed, and to me, that is a success,” said “Resurrection” actor Michelle Fairley during a recent teleconference with Asian writers.

“I’m very fortunate,” added Fairley, 50. “As women get older, they don’t always find work… I don’t take any of this for granted. I work very hard, and I respect the people I work with.”

Perhaps best known as the beleaguered widow and mother Catelyn Stark in the fantasy-drama series “Game of Thrones,” the Northern Irish thespian subsequently appeared in similarly popular shows “Suits” and “24.”

In the second season of “Resurrection,” she plays Margaret Langston, recently revived after being dead for decades.

Excerpts from Fairley’s replies to the Inquirer:

What attracted you to “Resurrection”?
 I would say the complex nature of Margaret Langston, actually. [And the conversations] I had with the writer and the producers, about how they wanted the character to progress. Also, when I was sent the DVDs, watching the production values of the show, the quality of it, and working with the actors here in Atlanta—they’re wonderful.

How do you feel about previously playing powerful women who died violently in “Game of Thrones” and “24,” and now someone who has resurrected, for a change?
(Laughs) Well, actually, it’s a lovely change! Usually, when you get killed, that’s you out of the series. So the lovely flip side to this is that, [Margaret] may have died, but she’s had a chance to come back again. And I absolutely love it… It’s the quality of the writing and the quality of the character that you, as an actor, go for. It doesn’t matter if they live, die, become reincarnated or resurrected again. You [have to] have love and an enjoyment about what you’re given to work with. She’s in a second round here, so it’s fantastic.

How do you feel about being part of mostly American-produced projects?
I feel incredibly privileged to be here working. There are so many actors in the world, why does one person get a job over another person? Nobody knows… I know there are many actors in my position who can do this part. But thankfully, I was the one who got it. And I want to make it work.

Do you have a dream role, and if you do, what is it?
I don’t have a dream role. The dream role, I think, is the one that pushes you… the one that makes you work and think… I don’t want anything to be easy, I want to work hard for what I do, and if that means walking for hours, talking to myself, trying to work my mind into the mind of what this person is doing—I want to know that, I want to get there. I want to understand it. So anything that pushes me, that keeps my interest… and teaches me something, I want to learn as well.

Who influenced you, growing up, and who are the actors you admire now?
Theater was a very big inspiration for me, growing up. That’s where I first had my first experience of going, “Oh my gosh, this is wonderful! What are these people doing?” [And] getting lost in the battlefield of it, in the story of it.
And then of course, as I got older, [there was] cinema as well. I completely loved movies like “Sophie’s Choice” and “Deer Hunter,” and there are so many wonderful old black-and-white movies… of Joan Crawford, Bette Davis. I just loved all of that! Wonderful, proper, old-fashioned storytelling, characters, strong women…
Meryl Streep is still going; if anything, she’s even stronger today than she was in the days of “Sophie’s Choice.” Jennifer Lawrence is incredible. And there are so many… actors, filmmakers, and directors [now] who are amazing.

(“Resurrection” airs Monday night and subsequent Mondays, 10 p.m., on Lifetime.)

Fans witness celeb appearances, learn about Kapuso advocacies in provinces

(Sept. 30, PDI Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

Cagayan de Oro—It rained hard at a recent GMA 7 event here, but fans stayed a couple of hours to see their favorite celebs in person.

At a popular mall’s outdoor venue for the “Bet ng Bayan” provincial showdown, fans holding up umbrellas—and some who weren’t—patiently stood and waited for the stars to appear onstage. They did, after the rain. Their patience had been rewarded.

“We are very grateful to all the fans who stayed to watch our ‘Kapuso Fiesta’ event despite the foul weather,” Oliver Amoroso, AVP and Head of GMA’s Regional TV-Integrated Marketing Division, told the Inquirer later. “Rain or shine, the show had to go on. The stars also gave their all in their performances, to show [thanks to] Kapusong Kagay-anons for their support.”

“Bet ng Bayan” was the culmination of the festivities. In attendance were actors Dingdong Dantes and Alden Richards, and singer Jonalyn Viray.

The provincial mall tour will continue to reach out to fans, according to Amoroso. “GMA 7 has established itself as the ‘partner of choice’ for major festivals and malls.”

GMA Regional TV (RTV) has nine stations and offices nationwide, and mounts such events, ranging from festival participation to mall shows. “These on-ground activities have gone on for quite some time, but the frequency has been intensified in the last three years due to the clamor of our regional partners and viewers,” Amoroso said.

RTV also supports GMA 7 talents’ various advocacies.

“We started an outreach activity with Dingdong in Iloilo early this year, followed by activities in Baguio, Dagupan, Davao and Bacolod. We want the young ones to understand the value of education.”

(Earlier that rainy day, Dantes handed out bags with school supplies and books to elementary students.)

“[The RTV group] also embarked on a campaign to help the fisherfolk communities affected by Supertyphoon ‘Yolanda,’ in Bantayan Island, Northern Cebu,” Amoroso said. “Through the Kapuso Adopt-a-Bangka Project, and with Marian Rivera as ambassador, we were able to rehabilitate and rebuild boats for 262 families.”

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Shirt Tales, 2014

My thanks to my sisters for the awesome, geekboy shirts. Love 'em.

Game of Thrones flagwaving!

Whovian love, baby.

Hotelepathic Rapport

Late last month, I was sent to Cagayan de Oro to cover the Kapuso Fiesta event. Met and interviewed Alden Richards and Dingdong Dantes (thanks for inviting, GMA 7!). Some things from the trip:

Forgot to take a pic of the Limketkai Luxe Hotel facade. But great room. Familiar but cozy layout.
This is where I ate some snacks.

Like this one. Thanks, Iris!

High cholesterol breakfast. Yummy, if unhealthy.

Nice TV. Austwink Mahone video on Channel V.

And of course, there's the untouched minibar, CdO edition!

Clash of powerful pics

(Sept. 28, PDI Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

“The power of a picture doesn’t always come from the composition—it comes from capturing a moment,” professional photographer Justin Mott tells the Inquirer in an e-mail interview.

Mott, who grew up in Rhode Island in the United States and then relocated to Vietnam, appears in History’s reality series, “Photo Face-Off” (Tuesdays, 10:30 p.m.).

Photographers from the region compete in the show and must pass the screening process where they battle it out with “photography fiend” Mott.
Mott enthuses that the amateur photographers have things in common, despite coming from culturally different countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand.

“They were all passionate about photography,” Mott says. “The winner will be photographing celebrities at a red carpet event in New York City.”

“Photo Face-Off” requires participants to take pictures of unpredictable nonhumans, including bees, chickens and elephants. Mott says that he has experience working with animals in the past, but had to adjust to the demands of the contest.

“For the show, I was under crazy pressure because of the time [constraints],” recounts Mott, who studied photojournalism at San Francisco State University.

The challenges bring Mott and the aspirants across Southeast Asia, where they are tested in other outdoor shoots. Locations include Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay and Indonesia’s Sanur Beach.

The works of Mott, an awarded photographer, have appeared in The New York Times, Forbes and Time. He finds the rare combination of artistry and substance in photographs inspiring.

“[American photojournalist and war photographer] James Nachtwey influenced my style because his images are powerful and artistic at the same time, and I love that.”


He says viewers can get a lot from this kind of competition show in terms of entertainment value. “It’s a David versus Goliath story with a high-energy atmosphere. The show isn’t just for photography enthusiasts; it’s also for people interested in sports, travel and culture!” 

'Gutz' made Annabelle 'famous'

(Sept. 22, PDI Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

The Gutierrez family is elated that the second season of the E! reality program, “It Takes Gutz to be a Gutierrez,” is 10 episodes long. Its initial run of six episodes aired from June to July this year.

At the press con for the new season (premiering Oct. 5, 9 p.m.), the family members announced that the successful series to air across Southeast Asia was being shot and that, in fact, six episodes were finished.
Gutierrez matriarch and “boss” Annabelle Rama claimed that the show made her famous. Many foreigners have begun asking for photos with her, she said.

“First season, bigla akong sumikat, thank you naman,” she said.

Annabelle, who is coproducing this season with son Richard, said that she wasn’t really bossy. “Hindi sinasadya. Talagang ang aming family, parang mga sira-ulo.”

Eldest child Ruffa hinted that she might have a romantic interest in the show. “Whether my mom likes it or not, I’m ready to fall in love—hopefully this year.”

Annabelle responded, “I hope it’s not Yilmaz (Bektas, Ruffa’s former husband). Sino ’yung lalake, Ruffa?”
“You’ll find out,” Ruffa replied.

“She always surprises me,” said Annabelle. “Every time I see her, she has a different boyfriend.”

“[When] somebody gives me chocolates or flowers, it doesn’t mean he’s my boyfriend,” Ruffa retorted. “You call him a suitor; you should be gracious and accept.”

Annabelle was unconvinced. Referring to former suitors, she said, “If I didn’t like a guy, I didn’t entertain him. But if I did like him, I would call him [myself] and have sex with him!”

Gutierrez patriarch Eddie added to the riotous banter: “I met [Annabelle] in Cebu City, where I was doing a show. She invited me right away to a resort!”

Annabelle was quick to say that the new season is technically improved, and that there was “no pressure at all” to top the first season’s content. But the new director, Karen Wiggins, said there was “absolutely” pressure on her to make the show even more watchable.

The Australian director said Annabelle made it easy for her. “She’s a reality producer’s dream—[she creates] drama, she is funny, and she talks about sex a lot! We are concentrating on story this season… we try to understand our characters in the most well-rounded way possible.”

One of the Gutierrez kids, Raymond, said that they were all used to criticism by now. “We’re kind of over people judging us. It’s so last year!”

This time, he added, it’s his turn to reveal a big secret: “Kung last season si Chard ang may pasabog, this season ako naman.” He was referring to his twin brother Richard and girlfriend Sarah Lahbati’s revelation that they had become parents to a baby boy, Zion.

“It’s been a great adventure so far, being a dad to Zion,” Richard said. “It has changed my life in a very positive way. You’ll see that this season.”

New series regulars are another Gutierrez son, former child star Elvis, and his longtime girlfriend Alexa Uichico, who is currently pregnant.

“Elvis and I have been together for nine years,” said Alexa. “Everybody can relate to our relationship because we’re a normal couple doing normal things.”

Raymond quipped, “I don’t know how they lasted nine years—I can’t last with anyone for a weekend!”

When asked by a member of the press if she and Eddie still had intimate relations despite the busy schedule, Annabelle said, “Of course! How can we not?”

Eddie retorted, jokingly: “I no longer collect a paycheck; I must have a sex life!”

As for Elvis’ inclusion, Annabelle told the Inquirer that he was easy to convince: “He had one scene in the first season and he liked it. He’s not one to share his secrets but I said he’ll get used to it.”

Annabelle revealed that her seldom-seen tender side is felt by her grandchildren, as she helps out with them whenever she can: “I have to spend time with all my grandchildren. Sometimes, I cook for Zion, or bring him to the doctor for check-ups. I like doing all that.”

Alpha Flight

Alpha Flight, circa 1985: Box, Puck, Snowbird, Northstar, Shaman, Aurora, Talisman, Hetaher Hudson. Love this lineup. John Byrne killed it with this team. Felt sad when he left the title but I did get an issue of Hulk, where he moved.

Alden's skin 'darkened' for Jose Rizal role

(Sept. 19, PDI Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

Cagayan de Oro—Alden Richards talked about portraying Jose Rizal in GMA 7’s coming series “Ilustrado” at a press conference here for the network’s “Kapuso Fiesta” event.

It was difficult to imagine the mestizo actor in the role because of his fair skin, but he whipped out his phone and showed the Inquirer an unreleased photo of himself in full “darkening” makeup and costume.

“Ilustrado,” he said, is the network’s first bayaniserye and will air nightly in October. “It’s also a movieserye. We use film equipment and shoot in HD. ‘Ilustrado’ is about Rizal’s love for his mom, Teodora Alonso (Eula Valdez), for Leonor Rivera (Kylie Padilla) and for the country.”

Alden, 22, is here for the “Bet ng Bayan” provincial showdown. The talent tilt will be on TV, a show he will cohost with singer Regine Velasquez.

“It’s a nationwide reality talent search… different from other talent shows because we bring the venue to those who cannot go to Manila to audition,” he said.

The actor admitted that he took the cohosting gig because he does not have a regular show at the moment: “I asked GMA for this. I told them, while I’m able, please keep me working.”

Alden, whose real name is Richard Faulkerson, feels “blessed” that the network trusted him with these big projects. “It started with ‘Carmela,’ with Marian (Rivera),” he recounted. “And I enjoy hosting segments in (the variety show) ‘Sunday All Stars.’ Before I became an actor, I hosted a school pageant. So maybe [the execs] said, why not give him a project that involves hosting. I also enjoy the perks; I’m going white-water rafting later. I just deliver lines [in different places] but it’s so rewarding.” But, made to choose between hosting and acting, Alden added, “I’d still choose acting.”

Three years and eight months into the business, Alden said, he still pinches himself sometimes, incredulous about the quick ascent of his career.

 “It’s gone really fast, thanks to GMA and my supporters,” he said, gushing. “I’ve learned to stay humble and true to myself. That’s how people started liking me, and it keeps me grounded.”

He is aware that it’s a mindset not shared by some new actors. “I won’t name names, but there are newbies who let a little taste of success go to their heads.”

As for why he’s currently single, Alden explained, “I’m not looking for love right now. I have other priorities. It’s very cliché, but that’s the truth.” 

Delicious duels in 'Donut Showdown'

(Sept. 18, PDI Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

Plucky pastry chefs clash in the weekly half-hour program “Donut Showdown,” a reality tilt where the creativity in conjuring up visually appealing and delectable desserts is highlighted.

Three chefs, who may also be business owners from North America, are pitted against each other for a $10,000 cash prize per episode. The contestants put their diverse cooking influences to the test, and must come up with a uniquely flavored batch of donuts from provided “mystery ingredients” after 45 minutes.

One contestant whose donut creation doesn’t impress the trio of dessert expert judges gets the boot, leaving the two remaining donut-makers to come up with three new creations—based on a given theme—for the last tough round.

Donut Showdown’s contestants usually are an eclectic group of personalities; each contestant is helped by a coworker/assistant during the preparation/baking process. Sometimes,

contestants get to trash-talk during the “interview” bits interspersed with the contest proper—it doesn’t really affect their ultimate standing, but they do make them somewhat interesting, even entertaining subjects.

One episode tested two competitors, who must make pastries with the theme “Bollywood” in mind. A young chef, who previously lived in India, created colorful, flavorful, vegan-friendly delights inspired by his familiarity with the culture, and his time in the country. His older competitor, the smug but focused type, created donuts inspired by his perception of Bollywood, hence the caramel popcorn toppings, and similarly playful designs. He wanted them to be “sexy, like a character in a Bollywood film.”

It was a tight competition, but the older, more experienced guy won, after a lively deliberation—some judges liked one’s presentation over the other’s, and so on. The winner was lauded for his imagination, which enabled him to whip up more mouthwatering confections.

Other episodes are just as consistently playful, steadily focusing on the awe-inspiring talents of cooking geniuses and their near-countless takes on the tasty treat.

(Back-to-back episodes of “Donut Showdown” air Sundays, 9 p.m. on 2nd Avenue.)

Color It Red, 25 years later

(Sept. 15, PDI Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

“We were free of someone else producing us based on how he believed our songs should sound,” Color It Red (CIR) vocalist Cooky Chua said in a recent e-mail interview about creating new music.

The local pop-rock band has been around since 1989. With the help of service-funding platform Artiste Connect and fans who extended financial support, CIR was able to record its fifth studio album “Silver,” commemorating its 25th anniversary.

The band released the debut album “Hand-Painted Sky” in 1994, well-received for its eclectic-sounding ditties, including the moving ballad “Paglisan.” This was followed by the more experimental “Fool’s Circle” (1997). A tighter sound and more personal songs characterized “Pop Fiction” (2000), while “Color it Red” (2006) was mostly a departure from established material, musically and lyrically.

CIR—composed of Chua, Barbi Cristi-Paraguya (rhythm guitar), Bopip Paraguya (bass), Ariel Policarpio (lead guitar), Kwachi Vergara (lead guitar) and Jayvee Torres (drums)—
continues to evolve in “Silver.” Funding by backers reached P264,000, allowing the band to record 10 new original songs. The album was launched in May.

Chua is hands-on with marketing, packing each ordered CD for delivery. (Visit facebook.com/cookychua for details.)

Excerpts from the interview with the singer and Bobip Paraguya:

How did you secure fan support/pledges?
 
CC: Mark Laccay, the pioneer of crowdfunding here in the Philippines, asked if we wanted to do another album in a nontraditional way. He told us the story of Kickstarter (a funding platform for creative projects) and his new company inspired by that. We grabbed the opportunity. The [game plan] was to directly involve, and interact with, our market. We were very happy when pledges started coming in.
BP: It was overwhelming to see that people believed in an album that we had yet to record.

How would you describe your mindset while creating this new set of songs?
BP: CIR already had a process as far back as the third album—we either work on an already complete song or we collaborate on riffs and lyrics, throw ideas around, and then we build on that, jamming until it feels right. Going indie now, we were totally in control of the songs.

What made Gloc-9 ideal for that rap part in “Move On”?
BP: It’s one of the most personal songs I have ever written. We picked Gloc because I believed he would get the message and add flavor to the song.

What inspired the Manila Sound-ish “Disk-O,” and how did you feel about that type of music, growing up?
CC: I really like the disco era—Bee Gees, Donna Summer… it was my secret dream to be a disco queen though I couldn’t dance!
BP: “Disk-O” came about during practice or songwriting/drinking jams… This is just us paying homage to that era since we all got to experience the age of vinyl, 8-track, etc.

Cooky, how do you divide time between CIR and Tres Marias?
CC: I’m very lucky to be ingroups with members who are great, musically, and who are good people—no jealousy or any type of insecurity in their bones. They allow me to grow. First come, first served… most of the time, it’s [back-to-back bookings].

How would you describe the current music scene, compared to when you started?
CC: We used to have to put aside a part of our school allowance just so we could rehearse in a studio and record a demo. Now we can download very good programs for free.

What are your fondest memories of the 1990s band scene and what did you learn from it?
CC: In the ’90s, the alternative scene became mainstream. We were lucky; everything fell into place. Radio, TV, print media—they all cooperated to create a bigger following for bands. We even found our way to noontime shows. Our best takeaways from that period are the friendships that have endured, until now.
BP: I have a lot of stories that are not fit for printing. One thing I learned, though, is that you should never believe your own hype. Don’t let fame go to your head and always stick to the essentials, like friends and your family.

'Friends' sometimes sexy, quite predictable

(Sept. 8, PDI Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

The American sitcom “Friends With Better Lives” has familiar, even typical comedy trappings, in that Caucasian buddies hang out a lot and yak about their relationships, sex lives, and their elusive search for happiness/perfection/the one.

The 30-something spouses Bobby and Andi (Kevin Connolly and Majandra Delfino) seek to rekindle the sexual spark in their years-long relationship.

Bobby’s pal Will (James Van Der Beek) is recovering from his divorce from his high school sweetheart, while Will’s female wingman/frenemy Kate (Zoe Lister-Jones) is a successful single woman who secretly longs to get hitched.

Their ex-model friend Jules (Brooklyn Decker) has a new boyfriend, Lowell (Rick Donald), an Aussie hippie who’s so in love with her that he proposes to her just weeks after their romance started.

The half-hour series is created by Dana Klein, former supervising producer of “Kath and Kim” and “Friends,” which explains the ensemble comedy’s wacky, relationship-centric dynamics.

The interesting cast members—Delfino from “Roswell,” Connolly from “Entourage,” Van Der Beek from “Dawson’s Creek,” etc.—form an appealing, attractive group, mostly tried and tested for this type of semi-chaotic endeavor.
 
The humor, however, is predictable. “Friends” practically opened the floodgates for this type of comedy and excelled, although it got pretty repetitive throughout its decade-long run. “How I Met Your Mother” similarly used the rom-com/dating formula and milked it thoroughly (and ended rather polarizingly). There are bits of both in “Friends With Better Lives,” but there are also touches reminiscent of “Sex and the City” and—though it doesn’t get as weirdly lewd—“Two and a Half Men.”

It establishes its more risqué “branding” early on with scenes like Jules eating a bacon cheeseburger sensuously after tiring of her beau’s vegetarian dishes, and Will attempting in vain to escape from bed after being kinkily tied with Christmas lights by a partner. The sequences aren’t laugh-out-loud funny, but they’re strategically placed, and elicit their share of snickers. Episodes don’t get a lot of ’em, but they do have some moments.

A standout character is the  initially snooty and seemingly unlikable Kate. But her high-and-mighty demeanor is made distinct by Lister-Jones, who consistently provides meaningful vulnerability and sensitivity during otherwise unmemorable scenarios.

(“Friends With Better Lives” airs Wednesdays, 7 p.m. on ETC.; and Mondays, 8 p.m. on Star World.) 

Announcing engagement ‘liberating’ for Dingdong

(Sept. 7, PDI Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

Cagayan de Oro—“It was very liberating because it was something that I really wanted to share with the public,” said actor Dingdong Dantes of his televised second engagement to girlfriend Marian Rivera four weeks ago.

“We’ve nurtured our relationship for more than five years,” the actor said at the press con for GMA 7’s “Kagay-an Festival 2014” recently. The couple will tie the knot on Dec. 30.

Dantes kept mum about the wedding sponsors but volunteered, “On Sept. 7 (today), Marian and I will have an initial meeting with them. We will issue a video release.”

Photo by Oliver Pulumbarit
The actor’s visit to this province involved donating books and school supplies to an elementary school. “It’s our fourth stop since we started early this year,” Dantes said. “We aim to identify key areas—where school bags are needed most. We are also giving away  comic books and [materials like] pencils, etc. It varies because we have different donors at every stop. But it’s all to inspire better education.”

Dantes, currently commissioner-at-large for the National Youth Commission, graced a Comelec registration event at a nearby mall. He shrugged at speculations that the activities are part of preparations for a political career.

“I’ve just always done what I think is right,” he quipped. “That’s what’s important.”

Was that a yes then?

He told the Inquirer: “Right now, if you ask me, I don’t have an answer because I’m occupied with so many things—projects with GMA 7, duties at the National Youth Comission. These require my [undivided] attention. It would be unfair to [think of other major things] now.”

Dantes, 34, said he is able to juggle show biz and outreach duties because he has “good managers.” He elaborated, “You have to [farm out  duties] to people you trust. Schedule-wise, there’s time management; I make sure I never leave anything half-baked.”  

At this point in his show biz career, Dantes wishes to accomplish more things with his home network and people who continue to guide him. “I entered the business in my formative years, more than 15 years ago. They are still there for me. I owe them so much,” he said.

His relationship with the network is at that stage, he said, where it’s giving him new opportunities. “We’re coproducing our Metro Manila Film Festival entry, ‘Kubot,’ sequel to ‘Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles.’  I’m always looking forward to new engagements.”

As for reprising his “Tiktik” monster-slayer character Makoy, Dantes revealed that shooting has become more challenging: “No more green screens; it’s even more high-tech now with animation over the footage.”

Regulators

I was a teenage Jim Lee clone, part ten: The Regulators, circa 1991. I drew a comic book that starred classmates. I was heavily influenced by Jim and Whilce (I enjoyed the latter's X-Factor stint that year). I did two "issues" of this, the pages placed in two separate clearbooks. I threw pages away, eventually, because they made me cringe.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Dimpley

With Alden Richards last Thursday at Limketkai Luxe Hotel in Cagayan de Oro. I've seen him before, about three years ago, during the screening of the first Teen Wolf episode in Makati, and more recently, at the gym. Nice kid. Humble, too. Hope he stays that way.

Innocence Lost, Badass Kids

Carl the sheriff.

Arya the orphan.

Charlie the wallflower. 

Mind games with trippy 'Lucy'

(Aug. 15, PDI Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

In Luc Besson’s briskly-paced sci-fi-action flick “Lucy,” the carefree titular girl played by Scarlett Johansson gets access to her brain’s hidden capabilities. She uses her newly acquired mind powers in ways that are fantastic and, at times, unnerving.

“Lucy” is penned and directed by Besson, who applies his frenetic, stylish action sensibilities to the enterprise.

The movie emits danger from the get-go. A few minutes into it, party girl Lucy, studying in Taiwan, is forced to deliver a mysterious package to a hotel. She is quickly dragged by burly henchmen and meets a Taiwanese mob lord, Mr. Jang (Choi Min-sik), who makes no secret of his ruthlessness.

In another part of the world, Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman) is conducting a lecture on brain capacity and the nature of animals. He theorizes that humans can do staggering things if they use more than the fraction of brain power normally utilized.

Lucy’s astonishing experience illustrates that, as her body absorbs the new drug she is forced to carry as a mule. Pissed but focused, she is raring for payback, among other new concerns!

While the 2011 Bradley Cooper starrer “Limitless” explored brain functions imaginatively, “Lucy” goes in a different, but similarly creative, direction.

It goes on globetrotting and time-hopping jaunts, managing to smoothly meld sci-fi conceits with insane action sequences.

It’s ambitious, and realizes its goals seamlessly, compared to a few other Besson films.

Johansson’s transformation from clueless, frantic girl to stoic, dark avenger (no pun intended) is impressive. Expectedly, Freeman provides the perfunctory voice of knowledge—
and learning—but adds little else; he’s mostly a background character that doesn’t matter.

Visually, “Lucy” is rather playful and gets image-trippy from time to time, as the filmmaker is wont to do. From flashes of abstract CGI to very specific sped-up sequences with adventurous camera angles—Besson likes visual emphasis and ditches subtlety once again.

But while it’s nearly “The Messenger”-ish in terms of flashy, funky ideas, there are still “Leon”-like touches that make the life-and-death situations more urgent.

And speaking of open minds, “Lucy” spends its time wisely pondering “unponderables”—its existential, self-aware ruminations could have gotten pretentious and contrived à la Darren Aronofsky’s “The Fountain,” but the film still minds its limitations and pulls off its more cerebral ideas with firm execution. 

Objectifixation, Seventeen

"Cyclops, it's time for a truce! Guardians of the Galaxy opens today. I'm assembling the Avengers!"
"For once, Cap, I agree! To me, my X-Men!"

That time when John Byrne suckered his readers into believing that the dead hero Guardian had resurrected. I believed it!

"Revenge!"
Enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy so much that I bought this Drax action figure shortly after watching. First Marvel Legends figure in years.

Wanted to own the original. Fantastic album. To my sister, thanks for getting it!

Woo-who. Cute. And compatible with Lego. Thanks, Sis.

GOTG cap! Cool freebie.

Ninja Spawn and Angela.
"So, Angela, how is the Marvel Universe treating you?"
"Like She-Ra!"

Rust Cohle

Rust. “The light’s winning.”

Brainy and his Hi-Tech Gallery

Brainiac 5 gets blackmailed by teammates Gear and Chuck Taine. Glad this issue depicted Brainy as "normal," in that he has regular teen impulses/proclivities. (Also, "In-" refers to Invisible Kid, methinks.)

That's a hi-tech spank-bank. It does inspire a couple of questions. Did he create an app that could "undress" subjects? Or give them approximate naked holograms? How common was the format in the 31st century? Could they be stolen footage? Did Brainy have tech that spied on his crushes? Hmm. 

When mom takes a break, chaos ensues

(Aug. 29, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

When three Asian mothers leave their families to go on a luxury getaway, chaos ensues.

The Lifetime reality program “Mom’s Time Out” treats a few chosen mothers from the Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia to a vacation. They leave their household responsibilities to their husbands.

Filipino spouses Kenneth and Emerald Bailey thought it was the perfect opportunity for their family to change certain things for five days. Kenneth, a call center employee, sought to bond with their 2-year-old daughter Briah while full-time housewife Emerald went on a four-day getaway with other mommies in Vietnam.
“It was my idea to join the show,” Emerald told the Inquirer via a conference call. “When it was offered to us, I [thought] it was the perfect time for Kenneth and Briah to bond.”

Kenneth added, “It also seemed a good opportunity for Emerald to take a little break and have a good time, since being a housewife is a really hard job.”

The Baileys revealed that they had to prepare and improve a few things for the five-episode series.
“When the show was about to start, my mindset was to try and be positive at all times because I wasn’t sure what would happen in those five days,” Kenneth said.

Emerald had a manicure and pedicure. “I prepared myself to be not too emotional over the fact that I’d be away from home. I failed; there was this day during the trip when I saw a video of Briah. I cried.”

Kenneth said it was tough getting followed by cameras at first, but that he got to adjust eventually. “In the following days, I [felt] like an actor. [Because of] the cameras, people started looking. It was fun.”
The frazzled husband had to adjust his sleeping schedule for the show as well. Some of the most challenging, drama-fraught scenarios that Kenneth and his daughter figured in included a dental appointment and a picnic.

The Baileys’ TV experience came with timely and relevant lessons, according to the couple. Emerald noted, “This experience [reminded] us that parenting is really hard. Sometimes you don’t know if you’re doing the right thing.”

Kenneth added, “There’s no perfect parent, either. You just have to do your best from day to day, give your all to your child, and make sure you address their needs.”

Just as important, Emerald said, is to have “me” time once in a while: “It will not make you less of a good mother if you enjoy some time alone… It’s important to sometimes be away from mom duties, which can be very draining at times.”

(“Mom’s Time Out” airs Friday, 7 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Lifetime.) 

Teaching Moments

Smiled when I found my old losing entry in Filbar's 1985 art contest "DC Super 3." I was 12, in Grade 6. I remember writing down the original characters' bios from the afternoon till near closing time, at Unimart's food court. I think I felt embarrassed, mostly because I kept my family waiting while I wrote Marvel Universe-type histories on the back of the board.

Anyway, I saw other entries by older artists and pros at the party venue (was it a function hall in Fort Santiago?), and knew that I had no chance of winning. It felt terrible, losing. But in hindsight, it was an early reality check, a reminder to be better, and to learn from disappointment.

I joined and lost a contest again, the next year. It was Comic Quest's fan art contest. But even then, I knew that there were more deserving artists. I didn't mind losing; heck, I was just happy to have joined. (I drew the X-Men in black and white.) I think I had more luck with inter-school contests, where I was pitted against people my age. So yeah, you win some, lose some.

Through it all, my love for comics--the medium, the art form, the stories and characters--kept growing. It continues to provide me an escape now, as a reader, and as a creator (I'm working on my own comics again, after work). So it was cool, seeing something from so long ago, from a time when I was sort of being prepped for life's more serious disappointments. My, how I've grown.

Ultron and Brainiac

Brainiac, co-ruler of three earths during the Crisis. Ultron, destroyer of the country Slorenia.
Together.

‘Flowers in the Attic’: Sordid secrets, twisted terrors

(Aug. 15, PDI Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

Sordid secrets fester behind the charm of a model American family in the disturbing Lifetime TV movie, “Flowers in the Attic,” a grim family drama/crime story based on the 1979 book by VC Andrews.

First adapted into a movie in 1987, “Flowers in the Attic” is remade into a sleek, aptly perplexing and exploratory TV special that tackles psychological terrors, taboo territory, and muddled family dynamics.

Set in the 1950s, the tale initially presents a picture-perfect family, Norman Rockwell-esque in their shared joys and dreams.

But after the untimely death of Chris Sr. (Chad Willett), loving husband and father of four, the seemingly clueless wife Corrinne (Heather Graham) drops a bomb on her teen children Chris and Cathy (Mason Dye and Kiernan Shipka)—she is actually estranged from extremely wealthy parents, whom they must now live with.

Corrine, the teens and young twins Carrie and Cory (Ava Telek and Maxwell Kovach) leave Pennsylvania and trek to an old mansion in Virginia, where they are met by Corrine’s smug mother Olivia (Ellen Burstyn).
The children’s presence is kept a secret from Corrine’s father, and they are strictly instructed by Olivia to stay in a room that connects to the attic. The youngsters later find out that their mother had been in a scandalous relationship, which caused the estrangement.

Their forced confinement turns to days, then weeks, while they keep getting excuses and fanatical religious judgments over wrongdoings they haven’t committed.

“Flowers in the Attic,” thanks to its alluring imagery and cleanly retro trappings, disarms by presenting a seemingly safe, comfortable time and place— which belie some sick, twisted secrets. They all bob to the surface, slowly but surely.

Burstyn is deliciously wicked as the grandmother from hell, tormenting her spawn and grandkids with unusual fervor. She spews religious condemnation one moment, and warns of the dangers of male sexuality the next; she’s a bogeyman that, ironically, inhabits the brightly lit, poshly decorated parts of the house.

The twisted nature of her daughter Corrine is given spunk and flavor by Graham, who, in this more mature role, shows some range and credible dichotomy. Those big, expressive eyes are put to good use here, cold windows to a broken soul sometimes, and just insane and glaring on other occasions.

The teen grandchildren are pivotal parts that are given justice by Dye and Shipka, who imbue the confused prisoners with odd chemistry and disconcerting energy. The two promising actors have the longest screen time, and their performances, partly, make the film gradually compelling despite its oft-challenging pace.

(“Flowers in the Attic” premiered recently on Lifetime. Repeats will air tonight, 11 p.m.; tomorrow, Aug. 16, 10 p.m. and Aug. 21, 11 p.m.) 

Teenage Flirtbag

1991, I think. CAFA. In one of the rooms facing the Conservatory of Music building. (Those violin-playing students were awesome.) My then-classmate Third took this pic. 

My concerns back then were pretty normal. I wanted to fit in. I wanted to be liked. I wanted to be successful. Wait, come to think of it, I still feel like this sometimes. Except there have been major changes, like I'm more secure with who I am and what I can do.

I used to miss my hair, which I styled like this and a few other ways. But it had a good run. I mourned it, and made peace with the loss a long time ago.

US biker girl feels at home in Malaysia and Brunei

(Aug. 18, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

“I feel like my eyes have been opened to another world,” said American biker and photographer Jaime Dempsey via a teleconference. She explores Brunei and Malaysia (using a different motorcycle for each country) for the History docu series, “Ride N’ Seek: Borneo.”

In the program’s first season, Dempsey visited West Malaysia. This return to Asia, she said, was an enriching trip, culturally and intellectually.

“Last season was my first time riding in another country,” Dempsey said. “I was in awe of everything so it was kind of hard to soak in, to learn the language and customs—it was just so overwhelming. This season felt like a homecoming.”

Traveling on a bike, she recounted, was more challenging this time around: “When I got into Sabah, I drove through a lot of gravel and dirt roads, something I hadn’t experienced before. I was very proud of myself!”

Prior to doing the six-episode “Ride N’ Seek,” Dempsey had certain presumptions. She was pleasantly surprised by the things she had in common with the people she encountered. “I knew it was going to be difficult, physically. Riding in warm weather—and with a crew— you can’t just take off,” she said. “I had to be patient. The most important thing I learned was not to be intimidated. It was touching to realize that [many] people are not going to judge you by the way you look.”

She elaborated, “Sometimes I got a little self-conscious. I stood out—I have a lot of tattoos and I wasn’t sure how I was being regarded. But I ended up meeting a lot of really friendly people.”

The Los Angeles-based biker, who also designs swimwear for a living, recounted how she learned to make a sweet bread snack from locals, among other things. “I visited this shop where they taught me. Apparently the bun was given by Chinese generals as a staple food for their soldiers. There’s a hole in the middle of the bun; the soldiers would tie them together with strings and wear them around their necks. It was really interesting to learn about food with a history.”

Dempsey got to visit Snake Island in Malaysia, where she saw deadly species up close. She visited a bee farm and an orangutan sanctuary, and went to Mabul Island, also in Malaysia, to learn spear-fishing. In one episode, she learned to make  keris, a bladed weapon.

She noted, “There were moments when I was genuinely scared of what I was about to do—and the production company did a great job in capturing that. The viewers will feel that fear and anticipation, and hopefully enjoy experiencing them with me!”

(“Ride N’ Seek: Borneo” debuts tonight at 9 on History.) 

Where no comic book movie has gone before

(Aug 3, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

Grand but grounded, “Guardians of the Galaxy” boldly goes where no comic-book movie has gone before.
Since Marvel Studios promised a shared cinematic universe with 2008’s “Iron Man,” fans eagerly awaited connecting films “Captain America” and “Thor,” whose titular heroes’ adventures culminated in the formation of a superhero team in 2012’s “The Avengers.”

The box-office success has allowed opportunities for expansion and experimentation. On TV, there’s the action series “Agents of SHIELD”; back on the big screen, there’s the wild “Guardians,” about a bunch of space scoundrels who hesitantly change into saviors.

Director and coscreenwriter James Gunn (“Scooby Doo 2,” “Super”) reimagines the team into thugs and lowlifes who initially loathe each other: Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), an Earthling abducted by a UFO when he was a boy; Gamora (Zoe Saldana), a deadly huntress; Drax (Dave Bautista), a vengeful strongman; Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), a smart raccoon, and Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), a plant creature.

Being heroes is the last thing on their minds, but the reluctant allies grudgingly work together and organically become a functioning fighting unit out to save the galaxy—mainly because, as Star-Lord points out, they’re some of “the idiots who live in it!”

The Han Solo-esque character fits Pratt like a glove; the actor’s comedic edge is put to great use. He’s über-buff again à la his “Zero Dark Thirty” character, ditching his plump “Parks and Recreation” physique for now. Dashing and ideally flawed, the Walkman-carrying crook Peter Quill/Star-Lord manages to radiate with both roguish charm and everyman fallibility.

But his computer-generated cohorts steal the show sometimes. Rocket and Groot figure in some funny scrapes, unexpectedly warm and human as live-action characters.

Drax, meanwhile, is surprisingly eloquent, and Gamora has compassion, despite being trained in several galactic martial arts by killers.

Their main antagonists are the madman Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) and the cyborg Nebula (Karen Gillan). Both actors portray the formidable foes with panache and grit. The latter has less screen time and development, though, but hopefully that will be rectified in future stories. There is already a sequel being planned and Gunn is slated to return as director.

“Guardians” also connects nicely to the bigger picture. Characters last seen in the end-credit extras of “Avengers” and the “Thor” sequel get more screen time here, cementing a more immense mythology with all the cosmic details that it finally explains. And it has been reported that the team will connect with the premier Marvel team in the third “Avengers” movie, many years from now, so things will definitely get bigger.

For now, its retro-mix tape music, quirky humor, dazzling imagery and witty repartee combine into a fun, fearless movie. Space is just the latest frontier for Marvel, and we can’t wait to see what’s next. There’s a surprising—if polarizing—scene after the end credits that matches the strangeness of the film perfectly. 

ARCHON, 1995

This was originally done on two double page spreads. Combined, they measure 44" X 17".

The team and Alamat comic book were created by Russell Tomas and the rest of their group Virtual Media. Russell's a good friend; we worked with him on a project at his place in the mid-'90s. The characters were inspired by DC's LEGION space cops.

This was included in an exhibit at Glorietta, circa 1995.