Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tear-stained and traumatized

Inspired by the true story of a family that survived the 2004 tsunami disaster in Thailand, “The Impossible” almost effortlessly tugs at the heartstrings repeatedly, making it quite impossible not to shed some tears.

Directed by Juan Antonio Bayona and written by his “The Orphanage” collaborator Sergio Sanchez, the film follows a family of tourists, the Bennetts (originally the Belons), separated by the destructive wave and its subsequent flooding.

Shortly before the tsunami hit, the parents (Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor) and their three kids (Tom Holland, Samuel Joslin, Oaklee Pendergast) celebrate their Christmas break at a beachside resort, unaware of the impending danger to them, fellow tourists and natives in the area.

Incredible performances by Watts and newcomer Holland make the rapport between mother and eldest son even more believable; it’s hard not to wince at the severely wounded parent’s harrowing situation, and it’s heartbreaking to see the child gradually losing hope and becoming a helpless witness to his mother’s pain.

Also impressive is McGregor, whose character faces the challenge of looking for a needle in the proverbial haystack. Unstopping and unstoppable, the frazzled father hopes to find his loved ones, sifting through the rubble and casualties while fearing the worst.

The reality-inspired drama’s outstanding performances keep “The Impossible” truly affecting. Much is conveyed by the cast, easily moving as the family experiencing nigh-unbelievable ordeals, battered survivors hoping to surmount those nigh-impossible odds.

Asian InvAsian

HBO's Serangoon Road junket, Singapore and Indonesia. Jan. 22-24, 2013.

Cool fake buildings. Set visit in Batam, Indonesia.

Child actor in a flashback scene. "Have you seen my dad?"

Me, ANC's Ginger Conejero, Serangoon Road actress Joan Chen (Josie from Twin Peaks, baby!), and Philippine Star's Nathalie Tomada in Singapore. Thanks for the pic, Ginger!

View from my 6th floor window. Singapore sunrise.

Singapore harbour.

Hotel gym.

High-cholesterol breakfast of champions.

Part of the hotel room. Joan Rivers' Golden Globes fashion commentaries were so damn funny.

Sweet, sweet dessert.

We stayed there!

Life, Love, Flights and Heights


Jan. 25. Home sweet home. Enjoyed the break tremendously.
Jan. 25. JJ Abrams to direct Episode VII. Hmm. Very interesting.
Jan. 27. Hard work pays off. So does sleeping with the boss, or being related to an influential person, or playing dirty. At least that's what I heard.
Jan. 27. Of course we're self-aggrandizing. In this day and age of info bombardment and copy-paste shilling, you have to stand out. And you have to show why you're just as good as--or even better than--people within and outside your cliques.
Jan. 27. Love is all you need. And self-worth. And self-importance. Okay, they're aspects of love, too.
Jan. 27. Still giddy about Singapore. Will explore next time. Joan Chen (Josie from Twin Peaks!) mentioned that I asked a "very good question" during the group interview (which made me blush, according to my colleague).
Jan. 27. You can be a bundle of insecurities with a fear of failure and still make something of yourself.
Jan. 28. Bawled unabashedly while watching The Impossible. What a film. Reminds me to love and appreciate my dear ones more, and to be brave for them even when I'm scared as hell.

Monday, January 21, 2013


Dick Grayson, New 52 reboot version. Descendant of an Owl, protégé of the Bat.

Love Machinery, Eight

"Stay nuts about History."
Thanks for the jar of Peanut M&Ms, History!

Staring at Book Sale shelves pays off; when I saw the spine of this book, I immediately thought, “You’re MINE.” It’s a 190-page companion (heh) that lists and expounds on the first three seasons’ characters, objects and events.

20 years of Our Time in Eden. Bought the tape in '93; loved every minute of it. Bought the rest of the albums, starting with the re-release of In My Tribe that same year. A few years later, I got the CD as a birthday gift to myself. I still love and listen to the songs today.

Classic X-Factor. Bring back Rusty Collins and Skids Blevins!

Superior Spidey, Storm, Kitty.
"So, ladies, as you can see, I truly am a magnificent specimen. Perhaps you'd prefer my company tonight... ladies, where are you going?! Damn your luck, Parker!"

Cool as Ice

Status updates, compiled.

Jan. 15. Zero Dark Thirty. Ang galing ni Jessica Chastain. At andun din sina Gary Hobson, Andy Dwyer, Jack Harkness at Uncle Owen Lars.
Jan. 16. Loving the chilly Manila weather. Must be freezing in Baguio right now.
Jan. 16. Got a package from a PR agency. I didn't notice the correction fluid on my surname until later. The "a" was changed to "u." Thank you. I appreciate that. :)
Jan. 17. Discovered the chin/dip exercise machine. Arms hurt like hell. But I kept coming back for more.
Jan. 20. Christmas-y cool Sunday.
Jan. 20. Strange. Singing Amy Grant songs, circa 1991, in my head.
Jan. 20. Carrie Diaries, episode one. Looks like it's going to be an underdog teen-centric soap (more Gossip Girl, less Skins UK), but it's pretty promising. It's definitely not Sex and the City yet. Love the '80s music. And Freema Agyeman! Oh yeah.


New drawing. Warren Worthington III, back in the early days of X-Factor.

'American Idol' 12 debuts today

(Published Jan. 17, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

Long-Running talent-reality show “American Idol” spices things up by introducing three new judges with “strong personalities” for its 12th season, which premieres globally today.

Executive producer Nigel Lythgoe stated that the “passionate” new additions to the team will be looking for “something else” this year, according to an interview released by Star World.

The show’s new judges—country star Keith Urban, popular hip-hop artist Nicki Minaj and chart-topping R&B diva Mariah Carey—join the only remaining original judge, music producer Randy Jackson.

Lythgoe hinted that season 12 already looks promising for female contenders. “This year, there is more strength in the talent, I think, of the girls,” he said. “That is not to say that one of the boys will not sneak in because there are, I would say just off the top of my head, five or six really good guys, and only five of them are going to make the top 10. At the end of the day, when you’ve got five guys and five girls… it’s anybody’s game at that stage.”

And as previously evidenced by some of the show’s tighter, more divisive competitions, the ultimate showdown for the “Idol” crown can be unpredictable: “It isn’t always about the voice; it is about charisma, personality, attracting an audience. If there was an absolute formula to stick to in order to win ‘Idol,’ we’d have probably found it by now, bottled it and I’m sure one of the production companies would be selling it. But we haven’t! It’s really what grabs you.”

Lythgoe described Urban as “a lovely man.” Nicole Kidman’s country singer husband sometimes “looks like he’s watching a tennis match” when caught between Minaj and Carey’s exchanges.

“But when it’s his turn to speak, he gives his mind and he won’t put up with anybody else knocking him down—he’s had rounds with Mariah, Randy and Nicki,” Lythgoe revealed.

The season’s “strong personalities” will attract renewed interest, according to Fox International Channels Philippines territory director Jude Turcuato.

 “I think it’s very healthy as far as entertainment is concerned,” Turcuato said during a phone interview. “As a viewer, I’d be excited to see if there really is a tiff between Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey. Nobody knows whether it’s fabricated or not, but I think it’s real, and it makes for good TV.”

Turcuato added that the dueling divas, who collaborated on a song in 2010, inevitably created buzz for the show, replacing the harmonious—and some fans say, predictable—dynamic of the last panel.

“There wasn’t much conflict with Steven Tyler, J. Lo (Jennifer Lopez) and Randy last season, so expect that to change with the new panel of judges,” he said. “It’ll bring back the tension between them, like in the early seasons with Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul.”

As for the “next” Jessica Sanchez, there’s a possibility that the new season might have a few similar surprises: “I was told that there are Fil-Ams this season. It’s a tight community, and those who join and make it to the finals are really supported by their fellows abroad and all over the world. That was made evident by Jessica’s success in the previous season.”

(The 12th season of “American Idol” premieres today, 6 p.m. on Star World.)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Playing gay just fine with Fil-canadian actress

(Published Jan. 16, PDI-Entertainment)
Text and photo by Oliver M. Pulumbarit

A few days before Christmas, Filipino-Canadian Shay Mitchell visited the country for the first time to promote the third season of ETC’s suspense-drama series, “Pretty Little Liars.”

Mitchell, 25, was “very excited” during the press con at the Makati Shangri-La. The daughter of a Filipina and an Irish-Scot, Mitchell appeared on the long-running series “DeGrassi” and the fantasy show “Aaron Stone” prior to landing the role of Emily Fields, one of the main characters in “Liars.”

Proud of her brown skin, Mitchell revealed during the event that she didn’t care for whitening creams or using umbrellas during hot days. She talked about loving turon (“I can eat 10!”) and halo-halo.

What was it like playing a gay girl?
   On my first meeting with [producer] Marlene King, she was like, “You know your character is beginning to deal with being bisexual, maybe be a lesbian—are you okay with that?” I’m like, “Yeah!” It never mattered to me. Love is love; that’s what I believe. A lot of fans’ reactions have been, “Thank you so much for playing this character and standing up for something!”

Please share some eating and fitness habits.
   Everything in moderation. I don’t diet that much. It’s important to enjoy life. If you put a Filipino dessert in front of me, I’m going to try it! I work out a lot but I also love eating.
What is the role teaching you?
   When the character wasn’t allowed to tell anybody that she was gay or that she even had these thoughts, it was extremely hard for me. I could imagine all the girls and guys who are afraid to come out. That’s terrible. That’s one of the things that I really felt while playing the character.

How is your bond with the other girls?
   It’s absolutely amazing. We’re all like sisters; that’s how it really is. Ashley (Benson) and Lucy (Hale) are my little sisters, they’re little pranksters, and Troian (Bellisario) is the one I ask for advice. It’s really fun; I feel lucky to work with such a great cast.

How do you unwind?
   Stay in bed, literally! I’ll watch a movie or Skype with friends… I’m quite a homebody. I don’t go out that much. I feel like I got partying out of my system when I was a lot younger. Now I move like a grandma: “Ooh, it’s 10 o’clock; let’s go!”

Have you read the books (“Pretty Little Liars” series) and how different is the TV version?
   I read those right away with the other girls… eventually we had to stop because I think it got a little confusing… It was interesting because the character in the book had red hair, fair skin and freckles— not really what I look like! They were casting for that “girl next door.” I’m really proud of being given that chance. “Girl next door” isn’t just blond hair, blue eyes anymore.
   (“Pretty Little Liars” started Season 3 on Jan. 12 at 8 p.m. on ETC.) 

Sunday, January 13, 2013


 Remy LeBeau, prince of thieves. Coolest X-Man, back in the day. 

Uncommon majesty

Its glorious, glistening visuals captivating through most of its two-hour running time, “Life of Pi” is Ang Lee’s latest sojourn into the soul, profoundly telling a survivor’s tale of turmoil and triumph.
Suraj Sharma memorably portrays Pi Patel, a young Indian shipwrecked with a zoo animal owned by his family, the oddly named tiger Richard Parker, which found itself sharing the same lifeboat during a thunderstorm.

“Life of Pi,” based on the bestseller of the same title, is tremendously illustrative, a somewhat bizarre twist on Mowgli’s adventure and feral pet movies, pitting the harried protagonist against an uncontrollable force, but eventually centering on the forming bond between both the isolated man and beast.

Pi’s unique story is marked by existential musings, from his inquisitive religion-hopping during his childhood, to his desolate days at sea. Does the tale make one believe in God, as his older, narrating self (Irrfan Khan) suggests?

Not necessarily. It’s the part of the film that’s quite hazy. Pi’s incredibly Job-like travails has its “miracles,” sure, but the character’s comprehension of the tragedies he experienced doesn’t paint a good picture of a benevolent or overseeing deity, whichever he may be alluding to. If anything, it comes off as survivor’s guilt, coupled with misdirected gratitude.

But as for the truth-versus-perception theme that manifests much later, interesting points are raised. “Life of Pi” may not inspire soul-searching for those who don’t buy into the faith aspect, but it will make them appreciate the film’s mostly lush storytelling and its ponderous emphasis on versions of reality, aside from Pi’s majestically realized ordeal. 

League of Atlantis

The league that killed the Justice League! Also known as the League of Ancients, the team utterly defeated the “big guns” lineup of the JLA in Joe Kelly’s Obsidian Age storyline. Members: Rama Khan, Anointed One, Tezumak, Sela, Whaler, Manitou Raven and Gamemnae.

Twists Aplenty

Status updates, yo.
Jan. 9. Ang tagal ng bagong Community! Grr!  
Jan. 9. I love The Middle's Sue Heck. So relentless.
Jan. 9. Pahinga muna, Taylor Swift.
Jan. 9. Must arrange stacks of recent and ancient comic books. Been years since the collection had a semblance of order.
Jan. 10. Napapadalas ang bili ko ng TPBs sa Book Sale. Ang mura eh. kaya parang na-shock ako nung tumingin ako ng compilations sa ibang bookstore, saksakan ng mahal.
Jan. 10. Dunno if it's been done before in the comics or elsewhere, but it would be a really interesting twist if the Doctor regenerated into a female form. The stories they could tell with that!
Jan. 11. Tired, and I didn't even work out. I need a vacation. Wanna be tired after carpe diem-ing, for a change.
Jan. 12. Giddy. Taking a break. Yesterday was like ice cream, soft pillows, perfect soundtracks, marshmallows, all the holidays rolled into one. I need more days like it.

Pahinga Muna

It’s been reported that Taylor Swift broke up with the boy band member, and that she subsequently went to the studio to record, which is presumably related to the abruptly canceled relationship.

As a Taylor Swift fan, I'm a little concerned... the songs are great, no question about that, but I feel that she's going through pain needlessly with these back-to-back breakups. Relationships are her muse (or drug?) and she makes really good songs about them. But maybe she should slow down a little, enjoy her freedom, maybe write a non-relationsip song or two. She's done it before, those self-esteem, friendship, family-centered songs, and maybe she should try drawing inspiration from those aspects of her life more, at least for now.
A friend said she should learn to be more vicarious and imaginative, to create art without having to go through the experience, and I agree totally. She needs to relax, channel her energy into other ventures, and enjoy her life more. She really needs to pause and savor that special place she’s in right now. 

Monday, January 07, 2013

The Almightys

Former supreme and near-omnipotent beings of the Marvel Universe: Thanos, Adam Warlock, Nebula, Beyonder, Molecule Man, and Roma. 

Kevin Jonas, happily ‘Married’

(Published Jan. 4, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

Pop musician and actor Kevin Jonas is the latest celebrity to open his door to reality-show cameras, revealing his domestic life with wife Danielle for the E! program “Married to Jonas.”

“An opportunity presented itself … we did the pilot and it felt fun,” Jonas recently revealed to Asian periodicals during a phone interview. While the idea of sharing part of his home life with his wife was initially daunting, they ultimately felt that it was a worthwhile venture.

“It’s a decision we made together,” he said. “We ended up being happy. We learned a lot about each other. We thought we knew everything already.”

Jonas, 25, added that honesty is important in making “Married to Jonas” work. The eldest sibling of the pop trio Jonas Brothers, Kevin married Danielle Deleasa, a former hairdresser, in 2009.

Unlike other celebrity couples who previously starred in similar programs (Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson’s “Newlyweds,” and Britney Spears and Kevin Federline’s “Chaotic”), the Jonases’ relationship survived after making their reality show.

Jonas stressed that their longer, three-year marriage was crucial to the equation: “It did not work out so well for them as couples. Luckily, we had a couple of years of marriage under our belts. It’s a huge win for us. We knew what was going on and it worked out for the better.”

After finishing the first season, the Jonases became more communicative. “Things we thought we could just brush under the table in the past, we really have to talk about them now—you learn to communicate more on a sensitive level,” he said.

Taping episodes took about four months overall, but the process was quite different from previous projects involving the camera, according to Jonas. “Doing a show like this is very unique; you have to be prepared, honest, and vulnerable … what I learned was to try to relax and see what happens (next),” he said.

Currently recording an album with his brothers, he expressed optimism for other endeavors that he wishes to accomplish for himself. “I’ve got different things I’m working on,” he said. “Really, [I wish] to grow, to have fun, to live a fulfilled life and see the world… and make the most of these amazing opportunities that I’ve been given!”
“Married to Jonas” airs Sundays, 10 p.m. on E! Philippines.

Jack City launch

Solar Entertainment recently launched Jack City, a more drama-oriented spinoff to the successful, seven-year-old cable channel Jack TV. Both Jack channels will be sharing some ongoing shows, like the hit action series “Arrow,” starring Stephen Amell.
Launched in Taguig City December 2012, Jack City replaced Solar’s short-lived Chase channel, according to Jack TV’s marketing manager Lindsay Nicole Ngo. She said: “It was a management decision to expand the Jack brand because of its popularity. Jack City, which is on free TV, will be a general entertainment channel that’s more focused on drama—crime drama, procedural drama, action-drama.”

Its new shows include: “Elementary” (Mondays, 9 p.m.), starring Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu, and “Vegas” (Thursdays, 9 p.m.), starring Michael Chiklis, Dennis Quaid, and Carrie-Ann Moss.

Jack City marketing manager Mark Andrew Suntay added that the expansion aims to appeal to a larger audience base: “Solar Entertainment comes up with channels that cater to very specific target markets. Jack City has the fun of Jack TV, but with more intelligent dramas. We’re looking now at the go-getter market, critical thinkers with discriminating tastes when it comes to their shows.” 

Deviating, Delineating

Status updates, yep.
Jan. 3. Chuck Dixon is writing Archie. Intrigued.
Jan. 3. Neck feeling better. I think I yanked a nerve when I was walking at home yesterday, and not while working out, ironically. A sign of old age, a friend said. Yargh.
Jan. 3. Finally got a copy of Runaways: Dead End Kids, compiling Joss Whedon's short run. Nice reading that story again. Wish he stayed longer; over a dozen characters were introduced in that arc.
Jan. 7. I just realized, I've been blogging for eight years. I started about three years into my newspaper work, when I was confident enough to write and share my own content.
Jan. 8. Matt Dallas (a.k.a. Kyle XY, and You in Katy Perry's "Thinking of You" video) is out and engaged. Aww.

Dressed to thrill—and judge

(Published Jan. 2, PDI-Entertainemnt)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

Australian pop singer-actress Holly Valance recognizes the unpredictability of her related careers, but she didn’t see herself becoming a judge on the fashion-reality contest “Ultimate Shopper.”

“I’m used to playing the role of someone else and I get to hide behind that character,” Valance, 29, said during a recent phone interview. “I was a little bit nervous because this is just me being me, which I’m not used to. But I ended up having lots of fun, which was a great surprise. I really enjoyed trying to help these people with their fashion sense …  so it was a good fit!”

Based in Britain and Los Angeles, Valance previously appeared on American shows “Prison Break,” “Moonlight” and “CSI.” The celebrity judge enthused that “Ultimate Shopper” is a seven-episode show that was taped in London in a span of a few weeks.
She sometimes found it difficult to judge the contestants’ fashion choices, and often clashed on-cam with fellow judges, photographer Paul Hartnett and fashionista Brix Smith-Start.

“We argue … but we’re quite happy to argue amongst each other,” she said. “We know that that’s the point of fashion— it’s all subjective. It was difficult giving judgment, but if we can give it to [the competitors] in a semi-kind way, they might learn a thing or two and look better for it.”

Describing herself as a bit of a tomboy when she was much younger, Valance admitted that she’s very comfortable in jeans and boots, but wants to dress up and feel “girly” on occasion. She doesn’t consider herself a fashion expert, but is thankful for her evolving sense of style and taste.

“I didn’t realize I was so interested in it until I did this show, and then I realized I knew a lot more than I even thought I did about many brands and styles,” she expounded. “I would say I’m quite eclectic and very mood-driven.”

She counts Kim Kardashian, Victoria Beckham and Jessica Alba among her favorite style icons. “I think Kim is just beautiful and immaculately dressed at all times; Victoria is completely committed to her image; Jessica looks fantastic and effortlessly cool all the time,” she gushed.

Currently taking a break from her singing career, she revealed that she’s planning to write songs for other artists next year. In the meantime, she’s hoping for a second season of “Ultimate Shopper.”

She exclaimed: “I’d love to do more because I had a great time on this project and I surprised myself!”

“Ultimate Shopper” airs Tuesdays, 10 p.m. on TLC.

‘Dog Whisperer’
The new season of “Dog Whisperer,” hosted by celebrated animal trainer Cesar Millan, was launched during NatGeo’s “Doggy Day Camp” event at Bonifacio High Street Amphitheater in November. The show airs Wednesdays, 10 p.m. on National Geographic Channel.