Zombie movie on Valentine’s night

Mon and I were both on halfday leave in the office for Valentine’s Day and it was a sudden decision as well. For today, I wanted a Valentine-related outfit, but alas, I can’t bear to wear anything red nor too dressy. The best thing I can put on, then, was this polo shirt with a black heart on the chest. I also wore this pair of YSL sneakers for the first time. =D

Maroon cardigan, gray Play by Comme des Garcons Black Heart polo shirt, blue L.O.G.G. by H&M skinny pants, Yves Saint Laurent multicolor high-top sneakers, vintage Mulberry wexford briefcase messenger bag

From the office, we just walked to Greenbelt 3 because it was very difficult to get a cab. We had no choice because we still have to claim our tickets for the movie and waiting for an elusive cab to come would definitely eat up our precious time. It was a nice night to walk anyway, because it was quite windy.

Arriving in the Greenbelt area, we immediately noticed how crowded the whole place was. It was dofficult to walk from one place to another, and all restaurants were brimming with people eating and queuing for an available table. Yikes. We had to get our movie tickets first and good thing we have already reserved the night before because if we were to get the tickets right there and then, we’d end up sitting separately or not at all.

Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in Greenbelt 3

The rare occasion when he had his picture taken, with his face full on

As mentioned, every restaurant in the area was full, and the only place available where we can eat was in Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in Greenbelt 5. We had no extra time to spare waiting because we had less than 40 minutes before the movie started from the time we got the tickets. We immediately ordered for the most possibly-satisfying food they have on the menu and not all of them were even available. Well, we had little time to eat anyway, even if it was our quickest Valentine’s dinner ever. LOL

The only pasta available that night - Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Greenbelt 3

Blueberry cheesecake - Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Greenbelt 3

The quickest Valentine's dinner we ever had - Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Greenbelt 3

We barely finished our food, when we found ourselves walking back to Greenbelt 3 for our 8:35 PM movie. We chose ‘Warm Bodies‘, as it was what we were supposed to watch instead of ‘Mama‘ last Saturday. I can’t even remember seeing the trailer of the movie before, but all I know was it features Nicholas Hoult (who played Beast in ‘X-Men: First Class‘ and a favorite model of Tom Ford, and even starred in the latter’s first ever film ‘A Single Man‘ — and yeah, he is also Jennifer Lawrence’s boyfriend).

It was tagged as a “paranormal, romantic zombie comedy’, which was a peculiar but very apt description of what we saw on screen. It was told in the point of view of R (Nicholas Hoult), which after a usual hunting spree with a pack of zombies, fell in love with the human Julie (Teresa Palmer), who was also out with a bunch of humans including her boyfriend Perry (Dave Franco) and bestfriend Nora (Analeigh Tipton) to forage for medical supplies. The zombie pack attacked the group and R ended up eating the brains of Perry, which eventually reinforced his attraction towards Julie.

I particularly had a good time hearing the hilarious timing of John Waite’s ‘Missing You‘ played on vinyl, during the key moments of the film, particularly when R first laid his eyes on Julie. I knew the song very well because Tina Turner’s version was once use by my old squad as music in one of the most amazing choreography I have ever seen. Anyway, the movie really had lots of funny moments, particularly when Julie was pretending to be a zombie and was acting a bit too much, perhaps based on a canned knowledge of how zombies move. LOL It was also good to see Analeigh in the movie. She was my favorite contestant in Cycle 11 of ANTM, and I was really heartbroken when she got eliminated. I did not realize how tall she really is, not until this movie, because she looked quite small next to the other contestants and Nigel and Ms. Jay. Analeigh has been doing good in her movie career, and her screen time in this movie was well spent. Excellent comedic timing and she was really hilarious in every scene that she was in. Julie, who I first thought to be a blonde and can-actually-act version of Kristen Stewart, looked very familiar. Searching Google after the movie, I was right in guessing that she was the love interest of the protagonist in ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice‘.

Tickets for the 'Warm Bodies' movie

After the movie, we went to another Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in Greenbelt 3 to have a quick snack and a drink of coffee (Mon opted for a non-caffeine drink). I was surprisingly full from our quick dinner and I even had to push myself to eat this cookie and biscotti. LOL At almost 11:00 PM, the place was still bustling with people but we were lucky to get good seats inside, near the window.

Quick drink and a quick snack - Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Greenbelt 3

Black heart on Valentine's - gray Play by Comme des Garcons Black Heart polo shirt

When we were about to go home, we passed by the row of high-end stores and I was delighted to see Prada’s display window, with Sasha Pivovarova in it. Last October 2012, I expressed my delight to see the new mother doing fashion work again.

Sasha Pivovarova for Resort 2013 on the display window of Prada Greenbelt 3

I’m not a fan of flowers and Mon was fully aware of that. Instead, he gave me this stuffed heart which I will be bringing to the office with me. Happy Valentine’s Mon and thanks for the sweets as well! =D

Chocolates and a stuffed heart from Mon

Food trip to compensate for the ‘lost’ Baguio trip!

We did NOT push through with our Baguio trip. There I said it. However, as it was not that well-planned, it was no surprise for us that we did not continue with it. I only began searching for guesthouses yesterday but all of the people I asked had no vacant rooms. It then took me a few hours to realize the reason for this — it was Panagbenga Festival season in Baguio City now. How did I miss that crucial part? Maybe because I was under the impression that the festival happens on the summer months (i.e. March to May) but I was honestly not that enthusiastic to visit Baguio when there will surely be a lot of tourists around. We could have gone yesterday but decided to just spend the day together and eat, eat and eat. =D We can always go back to Baguio on the latter months of the year, when Ikle will be back in the country, finishing his graduate thesis.

We first got our tickets for our 7:25 PM movie in the fourth floor. Good thing we reserved our seats the night before on SureSeats because aside from the number of people queuing for tickets, all of the seats for Jackie Chan’s Chinese Zodiac (a.k.a. CZ12) were either reserved or sold already. We then went to Super Bowl of China to have our early dinner. We ordered food enough for the three of us, because we always tend to over-order and end up forcefeeding ourselves just not to waste food and money. We had crispy noodles, lemon chicken, steamed fish and fried rice. It was not our first time to order this set because it was our fail-safe choice of dishes. Ikle mentioned that these dishes were much better than the food he eats in China, imagine the irony of that. He had a kidney problem two months ago because of the extremely greasy and salty Chinese food. If his friends were to come to the Philippines in the future, he asserted that he will definitely bring them to Super Bowl of China.

Pa-sweet lang - Super Bowl of China, Trinoma

Waiting for the food

Super Bowl of China dishes

Forty-five minutes before the screening time, we headed back to the fourth floor to eat dessert: crêpes from Café Breton. Ikle had no more ‘available compartments’ in his stomach but I urged him to eat even the simplest crêpe just for the spirit of eating together. At that point, I felt like the witch forcing Hansel to eat. LOL

Menu of Cafe Breton, Trinoma

Somebody fell under the soporific spell of the flash =D

Ikle and I - Café Breton, Trinoma

They have a pretty lighting here - Café Breton, Trinoma

Eden, La Pinay and Almond and Honey crepes from Café Breton - Trinoma

While waiting for the movie inside the cinema, Mon got an amazing news — his sister has passed the UPCAT and got her chosen course of BS Mathematics in UPLB! She was the same sister whose UPCAT test permit I had personally applied for in June 2012! We were so delighted over the news that we got stinkeyes from people sitting in front of us as we were that noisy — sorry for that. In spite of the big news, our mood was temporarily dampened when Mon mentioned that there might be a problem because their father might not be too happy with the prospect of their daughter studying in UPLB. But we dealt on that over coffee after the movie.

Didn't know what this slice of cake was called - KoCCo, Sky Garden, SM North Edsa

A bunch of cakes from KoCCo, Sky Garden, SM North Edsa

So from Trinoma, we went to the Sky Garden of SM North to have coffee and cake in KoCCo. I forgot what KoCCo stands for but it was our favorite place to hang out, before Ikle went to China in August 2011. We then went on brainstorming on how to best persuade their father to permit her sister to study in Los Baños. She can transfer to Diliman after a year, provided she conditions herself to study VERY hard and not be too comfortable there. We just felt so bad over the idea of her giving up her slot and letting the opportunity to be a UP student pass (yes, opportunity). I was also running searches on my cellphone over reconsideration procedures in UP Manila and Diliman. However, based on what I’ve gathered, Diliman does not allow reconsideration, while UP Manila might reconsider her.

U.P. Diliman: 2.2 – no reconsideration
U.P. Manila: 2.285 – 2.5
U.P. Baguio: 2.659 – 2.574
U.P. Tacloban: 2.7 – 2.7
U.P. Cebu: 2.7 – 2.7
U.P. Iloilo: 2.7 – 2.7
U.P. Mindanao: 2.75 – 2.75
U.P. Los Banos: 2.42 – 2.8

Looking at the widely available list above, she might be reconsidered for UP Manila because she was admitted in UPLB, wherein a UPG 2.42 is needed. If their father’s concern is the proximity question, we were hoping that she can hopefully get in UPM and let’s just see what’ll happen next. But the best solution will be for their father to allow her to study in UPLB, so that they won’t have to go through the tedious reconsideration process, which usually takes until the last week of May/first week of June. Not a lot people have patience for that, and other universities might be already starting their respective classes. I think she’ll have a strong case, considering she is an UPCAT passer, asking for reconsideration, contrary to those who did not pass wishing to do so. But who knows? As always, the pain of waiting is indescribable, but nevertheless, congratulations Lot for passing UPCAT!

Ballet, Hansel and Gretel

I met with Raisa and Claude in Gateway Mall because we were to review and discuss topics for their upcoming examinations. Raisa also gave Mon and I two tickets for the collaboration performance between Ballet Manila and South Korea’s Yewon Dance Company because she won’t be able to watch it. It was slated at 5PM and I had adequate time to catch up with these girls and even if we should be reviewing, I had a great time laughing with our crazy stories. I also met up with a seller of secondhand college entrance exam booklets from Sulit.com.ph, and I bought the lot of five books for Php 600. I had no idea how much they cost brand new in National Bookstore, but as they were as good as brand new and already with plastic cover, I think the price was justified.

Ballet and movie tickets

At around 3:30 PM, I had to leave and take the train until MRT Taft because Mon’s Korean class usually ends at around 3PM. I expectedly arrived past 4PM and we still had to eat some snack. It was also not easy hailing a cab and we were still waiting for one even if it was already 5PM. The show has already started. We did not know how the seating arrangement was, but when I mentioned “Korean Embassy” to the marshal, we were led to this row:

The seats in this row were not all occupied

Ballet Manila and Yewon Dance Company

Ballet Manila was already performing “The Prince of the Birds” and we were catching our breath from running. It took me a few minutes to take everything and realized how amazing Ballet Manila was. The last time I’ve been inside Aliw Theater was when Kim Chiu was crowned the Big Winner in the first ever PBB Teen Edition. LOL We were sneaked in by a teammate because he was part of the production team. We just finished watching another ballet performance of dancers from France (it was organized by the French Embassy and my visiting professor that time gave me some tickets, maybe because I gave him one before for our annual dance concert). So, more than half a decade after, I found myself sitting in Aliw Theater for free again.

Low quality picture of us during the intermission


Pas de quatre of Yewon Dance Company

After a 10-minute intermission, the Yewon Dance Company began performing and it was really nice to see the audience being appreciative of our foreign guests’ performance. It was a series, mixing both classical ballet and Korean traditional dance. I especially adored their wonderful tutus. =D Too bad that I did not have my camera with me because I left it in the office! Luckily, an officemate was working on a Saturday and I asked her to keep my camera until Monday. How on Earth did I manage to forget it? Anyway, even if I had my camera with me, it was actually forbidden to take pictures/videos of the performers and there were a lot of marshals with their flashlights, reprimanding people for not complying with the house rules. It was really distracting.

The show ended before 7PM and we headed straight back to the MRT because we had a 9PM movie to catch in Gateway Mall — Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. I love how poker-faced Gemma Arterton was, but I clearly had enough of Jeremy Renner. It was unexpectedly funny and gory and I no longer cared if it was extremely panned by critics in Rotten Tomatoes. Imagine, naming the troll Edward. LOL The movie was clearly not taking itself seriously and I loved it for that!

Just for Les Misérables

While most of the world have already seen Les Misérables in the silver screen, it was just the first day for us here in the Philippines to have the chance of finally watching it. I’ve been anticipating the movie since last year and when I saw that the schedule was already up in the Sureseats website, I immediately reserved two seats by the aisle — almost all of the seats were gone.

I had to travel all the way from Marikina to Makati, with a pair of boots that blistered my feet badly (I forgot the rubber insole I usually use to protect my heels) and was running after the time before our reservation expires. Mon got there on time (12:45PM) and our seats has been already technically cancelled, but he eventually charmed his way onto the cashier’s heart and we got our seats all right. =D I, on the other hand, arrived five minutes before the movie started. I just had enough time to attach several plasters on my heels, adjust my socks and shoelaces, and get the most-needed toilet break to empty the reservoir, as we would be sitting on a two-hour and a half movie. The last time I woke up early for a first-day screening was for ‘Black Swan’.

First day showing of Les Misérables in Greenbelt 3

I assume that most people who were in the cinema with me had at least some knowledge of what the movie was about, given that it was adapted from a chef d’oeuvre of Victor Hugo, turned into a musical several times and even a movie starring Liam Neeson, Uma Thurman and Claire Danes. My inauguration with Les Misérables was with that movie and I remember watching with a bunch of high school classmates because we were to submit a review of the movie to our English class. The most interesting scene I recall from that movie was Fantine (Uma Thurman) being humiliated in the streets when she turned to prostitution, with snow (or was it a handful of francs?) shoved into her mouth. It was heart-wrenching. I have also seen some of the musical productions and clips online (thank you YouTube), which made anticipation for the movie more overwhelming.

Anyway, the point of comparison that has been exhaustedly discussed by critics and theater geeks alike (and no, I’m not one, not even the slightest) was the voice quality of the cast and the decision to record the voices live, contrary to a lip-synched playback. I personally liked the rawness of the emotion it brought to the film but given that the cast as whole were not at the same level of vocal prowess, some has suffered in the process. Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean was amazing. He literally carried the whole film and met my expectation with the knowledge that he has musical theater background. However, I felt that his “Bring Him Home” performance was already stretching his abilities because his voice seemed strained (and it was beyond cool to cast the extremely talented Colm Wilkinson as the Bishop because he was the best Jean Valjean ever!). As for Anne Hathaway, whose little screen time as Fantine was very well spent, her close-up and long, continuous shot “I Dreamed a Dream” performance conveyed every emotion of despair. Although reading things online, a lot of comparison and argument has been made over what should be the real emotion in this song. On one camp, some argued that it must be of a rollercoaster ride of emotion, with hints of hopefulness and optimism (see Lea Salonga on the 25th Anniversary show). While on the other, the gut-wrenching rendition of Anne with utmost despondency in every note was preferred. I’ve got no problem with it and it was the first instance I almost cried. But I was able to stop myself. =P Rusell Crowe was, well, let me put it this way — he was singing like one of those guys who can really carry a tune in a videoke. The acting was on point but the singing part was really underwhelming. Too bad.

Isabelle Allen as the young Cosette in Les Misérables

(Photo from hollywood.com)

Samantha Barks as Eponine was one of the highly sought after roles, especially with the song ‘On my Own’ being covered and re-recorded over and over again. I personally did not like her rendition of the song but her dying theme “A Little Fall of Rain” almost made me cry (second instance, but it still did not). Amanda Seyfried, playing the older Cosette, was okay in the sense that I came in not expecting much from her but she actually delivered. I also don’t understand the Cosette hate because I loved her! Although admittedly, her voice sounded a bit like that old Snow White film singing “Someday my prince will come” with the birds and butterflies in the forest — it was unusually shrill and high. And the kids, Daniel Huttlestone as Gavroche and Isabelle Allen as the young Cosette, made me smile the most. The stubbornness and independence of Gavroche, as well as the innocence and delicateness of Cosette were perfectly captured by the two actors. I especially loved that part when Cosette was humming the haunting “Castle on a Cloud” in the woods and immediately ran when Jean Valjean arrived. She was like a small kitten disrupted from playing in her own little world and ran for cover. I wanted to hug her and say everything will be all right.

Les Misérables weaves the political and religious, which of course isn’t that different from present-day societies in varying degrees of complexity (I need not go that far: see our situation here in the Philippines). But what is evident here is Victor Hugo’s optimism in ending social injustice, which can be at times excessive, but his unwavering faith in humanity clearly manifested with the reformation of Jean Valjean eventually taking over the custody of Cosette after Fantine’s death. But what made him do so? Perhaps it was a chance for him to exhibit being a reformed man, or even seeing his dead sister and her kids in Fantine and Cosette, who he wasn’t able to save before getting imprisoned. Victor Hugo with this optimism can be considered a liberal, believing in the inviolability of human life and a staunch critic of death penalty (see ‘In Defense of His Son’). A similar theme was exhibited in Les Misérables when Jean Valjean under the pretense of executing Javert let the latter go and gave him his freedom, which of course shook Javert’s sensibilities and precarious moral/civil balance, which eventually led to his suicide.  I’m admittedly not the most religious person but I still find the line “to love another person is to see the face of God” to be the most compelling. It was at this point in the movie were I began to cry, seeing Cosette finally breaking down at the knees of her dead foster father, while the ghost of the now-at-peace Fantine leading Valjean’s soul on.

Overall, I think it was a very good film in itself. The length might be a bit too much for some and kids and it even did it for some adults who fell asleep. But what I love most was how it reintroduces the story to a new generation of potential lovers of Les Misérables, which can get their interest to other works by Victor Hugo or other great authors (or even the whole romantic movement as well, or even instigate other to learn French and read the novel in its native language!). It also serves as a form of rekindling to those who are already familiar with the story but would like to be reintroduced to the whole world of Les Misérables anew.