Sunday, December 24, 2006
Coldest Blood Runs Through His Veins

Nowadays, the best way to revive an established, well-loved character is to go back to his roots and trace the origins of his past. It worked for Batman Begins, and it works for Casino Royale. I love character-driven stories, and in this latest installment (which is actually a prequel of sorts) we get a peek into the events and experiences of Bond's earlier days just when he was promoted to 007 status. What he goes through in this movie molds him into the Bond that we know.

To be honest, I'm not much of a Bond fan really. I mean, I've seen all of the Pierce Brosnan movies because I could, and not because I had to watch them. To be fair, they were well-made and stylishly produced like any good 007 flick should be, but too much of a good thing can still get old and bland after a while. This is the first Bond I've had some emotional attachment to mainly because of the range of feelings Daniel Craig was able to provide for the character. He's ruthlessly efficient when slugging it out with the bad guys, yet has a touch of dry British humor in certain scenes - for instance, it was funny when he was visibly annoyed after Versper picked out a dinner jacket for him. And a touch of drama too: he actually confesses his love (and says the "L" word!) for the leading lady in this one, as opposed to his cool and calculated seduction of the many women he has yet to meet in future trysts.

Casino Royale was well-done because it was bold enough to forego the usual wisecracking Bond persona and instead present a rookie 007 who's just about to learn just how vicious his line of work really is. This a great interpretation of the famous MI6 agent who hasn't learned all the tricks in the book just yet, and is still a bit rough around the edges. He still gets the job done, but not without making some mistakes along the way that will cost him dearly.There was one shot I liked in particular which was a close up of Bond's freshly scarred face (right after thwarting a terrorist plot to blow up an airliner).

This Bond has a brutality to him, which is established in the pre-credits bathroom scene where he beats an enemy's face to a bloody pulp. It's pretty obvious to anyone who has seen the movie, but it's still noteworthy to mention there are no gadgets used in this one (unless you count the skin-embedded tracking device/health monitor and defibrilator). That leaves Bond only with his wits, ammuntion and raw strength to contend with his foes in this adventure. This was bound to upset a few people I suppose. For instance, there was some moron whining on YouTube that didn't really get why they chose to discard the gizmos. On another note, I'm glad the villain (Le Chiffre) wasn't the cliche megalomaniacal mastermind planning world domination - he's just in it for the money.

As refreshing as it is however, there are still some key elements that were wisely kept intact so as not to alienate the fans and retain a sense of familiarity. It wouldn't be a Bond film without the exotic locations, the cars, and of course the women, so I was thankful they kept those items in their checklist.

This is getting too long so I'll cap this off with a round up of the other things I liked about the movie. First off, there's a cool twist on the traditional gunbarrel sequence by building it in to the opening credits that follow right after. This time we actually see who the ill-fated gunman is. As for the actual opening sequence itself, the stylized animation showing Bond in action departs from the usual scantily clad (or naked) women accompanying the opening credits. It's a great way of showing what ol' James is best at, and Chris Cornell's "You Know My Name" complements the whole sequence (and the film's overall theme in general). It blows my mind that this is the same guy that sang "Black Hole Sun" and "Rusty Cage". Cornell's voice was the last one I expected to hear in a Bond theme but his vocal range fit the song suprisingly well. Who would have known? There were a copule more scenes I liked, namely the verbal sparring between James and Vesper upon their first meeting, and the Parkour-inspired foot chase scene with the bombmaker.

Oh, and my favorite line:

Bartender: "Would you like your Martini shaken or stirred?"

Bond: "Does it look like I give a damn?"
Monday, December 18, 2006
I want to try something new today. Instead of losing it when things don't go my way, I could actually try and take things in stride like a sensible adult. It is the new year after all and I've just added another year to my age so I could at least give it a shot.

Yesterday was a good day. We watched Dan perform at his school musical and it was a well-made production. They danced to "Be Our Guest" from Disney's "Beauty and the Beast". He played Chip, the talking teacup complete with costume and all. Hopefully it'll be possible to upload it to YouTube when we get the video of the event. Aftwerwards, we had dinner at Max's over at Eastwood. His ninang gave him an early birthday cash gift, so we dropped by the toy store and got Roley from "Bob the Builder". We also went on the merry-go-round twice. Children have such simple joys. The look in his eyes while we went round and round was priceless.

It was very moving to see Dan unabashedly do his rehearsed number with so much honesty and joy. It wasn't too long ago when he could barely crawl, let alone talk. He's come such a long way. And now this - it really dampens the eyes. How do I describe the feeling? Ah, my heart's going to burst.

The next time I find myself in the middle of a really bad day, I'll look back and tell myself that as bad as it can get, it can get as good as it was yesterday .
Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Another Year in This Mortal Coil, etc.

I suppose I should be writing something meaningful since I turned twenty-seven yesterday but I'm seriously drawing a blank and I'm typing this faster than my brain can keep up and will probably regret hitting "submit". But anyway, it was boring mostly because I was sick (and still am today) and had to work. The only redeeming aspect of it was that I got a couple new shirts and had some pizza at Insight. It's no fun coughing up hard, sticky, green phlegm on the day you're supposed to celebrate your birth though.

Not too long ago, Fr. Ben told me to take care of my gut before I hit thirty. Thirty? It seems so far away but it's actually closer than I'd like to think. It was only a shade a of decade ago when I dreaded reaching the big two-oh. And now this? How positively surreal - and terrifying.
What am I supposed to have accomplished by then? What would I have to show for come my high school reunion (not that I'd go, but still)? At least I'm not a bum, right? RIGHT? I'm sure the assholes I went to school with are miserable and destitute. Yeah, that's it. Given that I don't check my Friendster any time soon, I can keep telling myself that.

I remember reading a Garfield strip long ago. It was the morning of his birthday and he got out of bed contemplating that he's a year older while looking at his eyebags in the mirror. If he only knew he should be so lucky to be only worrying about that stuff. But "oh well" right? Life goes on.

But why go on with this downward spiral? There are plenty of things I have to be thankful for. I have almost given up on all that is spiritual but after some thought, there are plenty of times when my life could have gone to ruin but hasn't. There has to be some divine entity making sure that I don't screw up too badly I suppose. I should be celebrating another year I've been given as an opportunity to be a better person. Another year I've spent with family and friends who care about me. Another year to make a diamond out of myself through the pressure that's fallen upon my existence as the proverbial coal.

On another note, the guy that invented blogging must have been a fan of Doogie Howser. He must have thought, "man, everyone should be able to write down their oh-so-profound epiphanies at the end of the day for everyone to see".

Friday, December 01, 2006
Yawn, Pass the Ketchup...

You can churn out all the information you want, but you can't stop man's need to self-destruct. People know smoking is bad, but they still do it. Don't ask me why we're built like that but that's just the way it is. All the anti-fastfood media in the world won't stop McDonald's, Jollibee, Wendy's, White Castle, In N' Out, et al from getting rich. You can't stop the huge conglomerates from turning a profit. Sure, some people will swear off meat after watching stuff like this, but ultimately it's just a drop in the ocean. If films like these do make a huge impact then more power to them, but I'm not counting on it.

Just look at Wowowee. After all those dead people, you'd think basic human decency would prevent that douche from quitting. But no, the show must go on. ABS-CBN's got too much to lose if they cancel that abomination of a show. I wonder if the families of the victims can stomach watching Willie dance and make a dick of himself on TV, acting like nothing happened. I can't wait to see how they're going to celebrate the show's anniversary next year. If I had the technology and know-how, I'd make a video tribute by featuring footage of the stampede with the show's theme song playing in the background and upload it on YouTube.

...And Look Who Got His Voice Back

After Vol. 3, I thought Corey's voice would be shot for good. Guess not :)