Monday, July 30, 2012

Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

The final installment of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy gives viewers a rousing story, another scary villain, and a new girl-crush for women everywhere. Anne Hathaway rose above the initial criticisms of her being cast as Catwoman to deliver a sultry, strong, sexy femme who will now likely be the Halloween costume this year. Meowww.

The Dark Knight Rises opens with an introduction to the menacing Bane, whose hidden face parallels Batman--"No one cared about me until I put on the mask," Tom Hardy says in his creepily distorted voice, before getting on with his schedule of death-death-death-tea-death. Back in Gotham, Harvey Dent is gone, the Batman is a fugitive, and Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is still in a deep funk over departed childhood chum Rachel. Then the fetching Catwoman helps herself to some jewelry in his house, and meanwhile Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) inadvertently finds Bane in the city sewers. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is on hand as Officer Blake, a good cop and a believer of the Bat, and Marion Cotillard joins the Inception cast reunion as Miranda Tate, a wealthy philanthropist who funds the fusion reactor being developed by Wayne Industries.

Everything converges to the point where the costume needs to be donned again, but not before Michael Caine pulls his best Alfred performance yet. The relationship between the orphaned Bruce and his devoted butler is one of the emotional anchors in the trilogy, and the final arc sees Alfred passionately expressing his hopes that his charge gets a chance at a normal, happy life, instead of being the darkly brooding symbol of justice who regularly risks his life for an entire city. Will it happen? More importantly, with Bane being faster, stronger, and maybe smarter than Batman, can it happen? Dun-dun-dunnnnn!

The writing leaves room for smiles despite the grimness when Bane's plot unfolds. Hathaway is hilarious in a scene when she pretends to be a hysterical victim, and then instantly returns to her calculating look once the coast is clear. Catwoman's best line is a teasing, "You shouldn't have," when Batman offers her the use of his Bat-motorcycle, or whatever it's called. (Batcycle? Batwheels?) Gordon-Levitt has to hurl himself to the side after asking Batman if he has a bigger explosive.

The ending is plenty satisfying, too. I'll leave it at that, and encourage you to watch it, or to watch it again in case you've already seen it but were covering your eyes when [REDACTED].

We now return to our regularly scheduled blogging.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Movie Review: Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

I urge you to watch Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom. See it on big screen to fully appreciate this endearing tale of a young boy, a young girl, and the people frantically searching for them. The stars are so shiny they almost hurt the eyes: Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Tilda Swinton, and a couple of great cameos. The cinematography is so alive it's almost a character in itself. The soundtrack is sublime. Nature plays a major role, too. This movie makes me happy. Wes Anderson is a genius.

Well, off I go into the wilderness of northern New York for vacation! Be good, everyone!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

When Karma Strikes

This seems to be a banner week for Shameless Employee.

So I was preparing to stealth-poop in the bathroom (I know you do it, tooooo!) and I hear someone walk in a couple of stalls away. I wait with the patience of a ninja for the other person to leave so I can, you know, go.  Instead, she has explosive diarrhea. Great. I think she thought she was alone, judging by the hearty sounds and heavy breathing. She was going.

Being a civilized young lady, my only option was to pretend to not exist during my mystery coworker's time of rectal distress, but there were a couple of times during that two-minute Lower Body Horror Orchestra that I almost stomped out. Instead, I clenched and waited.

Finally, she left, and I hurried about my business. The last thing I needed was to be washing my hands and then have someone come in and associate me with the stench of someone else's impaired malabsorption of nutrients in the small intestine. Fortunately, this time I got lucky and no one saw me slink away.

At my desk, I went to to cheer myself up with angry, snarky feminist writings. What's the first thing I see on their site? An article about pooping at work. I was like, "Really? REALLY?"

I have two interpretations of the Bathroom Event. One, it's earned karma for me always being the first to reach the leftover sandwiches, and shamelessly squirreling away two or three at a time, for Boyfriend and/or for the next day's lunch. Or, this might be karma that goes toward something awesome that is office-related. 

In any case, I leave you with a lesson: make as much noise as possible when in the stall, to forestall (hur hur hur) similar horrors. You're welcome.

*** Update, two days later ***

I was prepping my lunch in the kitchen when three ladies came in bearing pastries, yogurt, bagels (ugh), and other assorted goodies. I immediately took my pick and told my buddies in Accounting about the loot. I believe this now balances out my karma.

Monday, July 16, 2012

This Time It Wasn't Me

This is a Shameless Employee story.

I was innocently waiting for the elevator doors to open. I get distracted by a cookie and a brownie that's for some meeting, and am drawn irresistibly to their sugary gravitational pull. The doors open behind me and an intern hurriedly steps out, but I only catch a glimpse via peripheral vision because my hand is reaching out and hovering--oh, the agony of indecision!--and I snatch the cookie and stuff it in my mouth in one smooth motion. Then I dart into the elevator, congratulating myself on my clean escape.

But fate has other plans. The intern had farted in the damn elevator, right before her speedy getaway. It's the type of fart that says, "I am a fart. I am nitrogen, and carbon dioxide, and methane, and hydrogen, and I am ruler of this confined space." Dammit. Now the next person who comes in here will think I did it. Having a face stuffed full of cookie does not help my case.

Guess who walks in next. THE OFFICE HOTTIE. The tall handsome drink of young man who always smiles at me when we walk past each other. I rush out and don't look back, weeping inside.

Obviously, I must now pay this forward by farting in the elevator and then stepping out nonchalantly. Or maybe this is karma for that time when I did just that, and a bunch of people from HR came in two seconds later?

Whatever. This time, it wasn't me.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Movie Review: Magic Mike (2012)

I cried giant woman tears of happiness when I watched Magic Mike. Steve Sodebergh of Ocean’s Eleven fame directed this tale of male strippers, friendship, and lives filled with money, sex, drugs, and booze. Channing Tatum’s portrayal of the title character, Mike, holds the movie together. The script is also good, although the story needed tighter pacing. There was a point when I got bored. That is just plain wrong, when muscular hotties dance every ten minutes.

Speaking of dancing, two numbers stand out – the group dance to “It’s Raining Men,” and Magic Mike’s solo. Ho. Ly. Lord. That solo. Tatum slithers and arches across the floor like all my dreams come true, his hard body at once flexible and supple, grinding manfully and gliding deliciously and—excuse me while I take a break from writing to calm down. Deep breaths. Deep breaths. That’s it.

There’s more to Magic Mike than vicariously fulfilling our naughty fantasies, though. The movie is set in Tampa, where Mike does roof tiling and window detailing on the side, to save up enough money to start his own custom furniture business. Matthew McConaughey’s character sees him as the top act of the Xquisite Male Revue, and has promised him a cut of the profits when they move their act to Miami. Mike seems to be set until he helps out Adam (Alex Pettyfer), a 19-year-old living with his sister. This lost soul becomes known as “The Kid” in the revue, and his rising star, not to mention his sister, complicate Mike’s life.

The script gets uneven in the middle of the movie. It starts out light and raunchy, with McConaughey in tight leather pants and a vest, his rippling abs and smiling banter drawing in the audience (swoon). We laugh as Magic Mike shoves the inexperienced Adam out onto the stage, and double over at McConaughey’s ridiculous gym outfit when he teaches The Kid how to strip-dance. We smile as Adam earnestly tells Mike: “We should be best friends.” And then he goes deeper into the stripper lifestyle and bam! instant dark drama, just add drugs! Viewers watch Adam spiral deeper into the pit he never sees, and at that point, everyone on screen becomes annoying and dumb. Fortunately, the smart ending comes in to save the day.

The gals in my group commented that the only sore point in the movie was Cody Horn, who plays Pettyfer’s sister. She does have bone structure that makes her seem to be simultaneously pouting and jutting out her jaw, so I guess that hampered her acting? She seemed okay to me. I really liked her tête-à-tête with Tatum—they had the best funny lines in the script. The best dark lines go to McConaughey and Pettyfer, who are both excellent.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Movie Review: Ted (2012)

I got really offended when I first watched Family Guy, a cartoon by Seth MacFarlane about a dysfunctional family. The show poked fun at the disabled, Jews, women--basically everyone you're not supposed to touch, if you were politically correct or had a shred of politeness and decency. Since I had not yet developed my appreciation for irony and absurdity back then, I was all, "This show is so horrible! The people who watch it are douchebags!" -- or at least I would've said that, had I known the word "douchebag" existed. See how deprived I was?

I eventually managed to level up after many episodes of The Colbert Report and The Daily Show, and grew to appreciate the humor in MacFarlane's outrageous creation.

What I'm trying to say is, Ted is basically live-action Family Guy, with the added bonus of Mark Wahlberg at his sweetheart best, and Mila Kunis in fine form. The deranged mind that brought us America's cringe-worthy post-Simpsons family came up with this little gem of a story: a friendless little boy wishes for his teddy bear to come to life and be his friend forever. Poof! Live teddy bear, just add water! But, Ted grows up, and in the process becomes that scourge of mothers everywhere: a man-child. He spends his days smoking weed and picking up girls. His best bud (Wahlberg) gets to be a man-child right alongside him, except with an awesome girlfriend (Kunis) who says it's the bear or her! So Ted must live his own life, and Wahlberg's character must learn and grow and face the world as a true man! Naturally, it's a rocky road, and it involves tears and recriminations and earnestness and fistfights and cheese and poop, I'm not even kidding.

Also, there is a creepy man played by Giovanni Ribisi. He is amazing.

Ted showed me just how absurd popular culture is. There are numerous cracks at nineties songs, eighties TV programs, and current heartthrobs. I want this movie to come out on DVD so I can watch it again and again. In other news: Seth MacFarlane should do another movie. Since Ted already made about $120 million in its second week of release (cost to make film: $50 million), I'm pretty sure he'll get another shot. Hurray! Or, as Ted would say, "F*CK YEAH!"

Monday, July 9, 2012

Movie Review: The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

This latest look at Marvel's wisecracking, web slinging, photo snapping science geek has been deemed unnecessary by some. I disagree. Spidey's story brims with potential, and another interpretation is welcome. I point you to 2009's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which was remade in 2011. Both versions were enjoyable. To me, Spider-man is the same.

The Amazing Spider-Man benefits from an updated story and strong performances by its leads. Andrew Garfield and his huge grin work well as teenage Peter Parker (in real life, he's 28). Emma Stone plays Gwen Stacey, his equally brainy love interest. Martin Sheen is great as Uncle Ben, the reason for Spider-man's heroism. Sally Field mostly mopes around as Aunt May, but she shows spark when required. Rhys Ifans is sympathetic despite needing more screen time, and Denis Leary is hilarious as Gwen Stacey's police captain dad.

This time around, the story centers on the mystery of Peter's parents, who leave him in the care of his aunt and uncle when he's young. One day, Peter finds his dad's old briefcase and notes (dun dun dunnnn!). He also finds a photo of his dad with some dude, who happens to work at the nearby giant research corporation, where Peter's love interest happens to intern. Plot advancement ensues, involving genes and regeneration and a Serum of Doom, whose warning label goes like this:
Use of this product may turn you into a giant muscular lizard. Please see your closest SWAT team if you experience heightened aggression, voices in your head, difficulty using the bathroom, and a tail that lasts for more than four hours.
The drawbacks of this movie include the predictable music and the glaringly inserted just-for-3D scenes. Geez. I saw it normal mode. It was perfectly fine. If you're going to see this movie, save your money and watch it in digital. Or you could save yourself a trip and wait for it on cable. Your life will remain unchanged. I realize that's not the most glowing recommendation given how I started this post, but this one is really up to you. If your geek/boredom levels are high, watch it. Otherwise, since we were on the topic of, er, enhancements, you can read about the caterpillar fungus that's apparently China's latest aphrodisiac.

Happy Monday!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Does This Country Make Me Look Fat?

"There are a lot of fat people here," I whispered to Boyfriend as we walked out of the Gillette Stadium after a soccer game last week. "This is America," he replied. 

In the following days, tourists swarmed Boston for the 4th of July celebrations, and I saw parents who looked like they'd eaten their children, and children who looked like they ate their parents. One guy's shirt buttons in the gut area had fled from sheer terror. It was madness!

Know what else is crazy? Here are the Center for Disease Control (CDC) statistics from 2008:

Now, because I live in Boston, whose population typically looks like this--

--I'm used to seeing people whose body types range from skinny to svelte to fill-me-with-raging-jealousy. According to research done by the Pew-Pew-Pew Center for Fragrant Elephants, trust-fund hipsters and students have between them an average body mass index of 18, yuppies generally land around the 21-22 mark, and retirees are notorious for being obnoxiously fit due to playing tennis and/or jet-setting around the world during the miserable winter months.

During the tourist rampage, I was so mesmerized by the all the rolls of visceral and subcutaneous fat on display that I forgot to be smug about being thin (by comparison). Then two days ago, I went on the weighing scale and felt my world collapse into a bleak, howling wilderness of misery. I had gained weight after two months of sitting on my bum playing Xenoblade! NOOOOOO!!!  

Naturally, I consoled myself by going to two barbecues and despondently eating my feelings, which took on the form of pork chops, bratwursts, cheddar hot dogs, couscous salad, chips, carrot sticks, and hummus. To wash it all down, I chugged beers, sangria, and champagne.

Then I resolved to become a better person: sleek and lean, with a side order of sexy. But how?

My previous go-to tactic of running like I'm chasing a shirtless Luke Evans carrying an avocado shake was obviously insufficient. I took to the internet and found this JCD Fitness post that had reasonable, easy-to-digest tips on how to build lean muscle. See, muscle burns more calories, even when at rest. Cardio activities only burn fat. So I have to build! Here's the plan: hit the gym every weekday and work out the target areas. Since my torso currently looks like a water balloon, that gets 3x/week attention. My Amazonian arms will be targeted twice a week, and I'll switch that up with my thunder thighs. Boyfriend and I will do laps in the community pee-spot pool on Saturdays, and rest on Sundays.

Of course, we'll also eat right: good protein, lots of fruits and veggies, and healthy fat.

It will take years of discipline and grueling work, but one day you will see me on the street and say to yourself, "That girl has a fantastic physique, I simply must be her friend, she is obviously a charming and elegant human being."

This I swear, by the Power of Grayskull!

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

4th of July Pre-Fireworks Photos

Happy Navy Week! This 4th of July celebration is extra-special because it's also the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, when the Brits fought with the French (as usual), and in the process, pissed off Americans by blockading trade routes, forcing American sailors into their Royal Navy, and supporting Native American campaigns against the, let's face it, non-Native Americans.

Boston's harbors now proudly host the many Tall Ships of the world, such as the one below:

We went on board the Dewaruci from Indonesia. That ship is pimped out with some serious woodwork, as seen in the nameplate on the auxiliary helm:

So pretty! It made me nostalgic for the bench we had on our balcony back in Manila, which had intricate carvings in the bottom storage compartment. Cats liked to sleep in there.

Back to ships -- we've also got some actual Navy warships and a Canadian destroyer (it might be a cruiser) out there. Needless to say, there are also plenty of navy men and women roaming the streets of Boston right now. Sweeeeet.

Today, fighter jets swooped low over the Zakim Bridge in a loud display of military might. In the picture below, you can juuuuust make them out right above the southern tower on the bridge:

I think we're going to a barbecue later, as mandated in the Constitution. Just kidding. Hey, did you know that the "Star-Spangled Banner" only became the US national anthem in 1916? World War I: bringing you passports, national anthems, and the death of millions!

Also, did you know that the Philippines celebrated July 4, until President Diosdado Macapagal changed the Philippine Independence Day to June 12, back in 1964? He asked President Kennedy first if it was okay, of course. Kidding again. He actually requested that he and the first lady postpone their visit to the US because peeps were all, "Girlfriend, we are totes a free nation, why we gotta do everything the US does?" Read all about it here, and marvel at the accuracy of my historical narrative.

In conclusion: Happy 4th of July!!!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Movie Review: Men in Black 3 (2012)

The first Men in Black remains the best of the trilogy, but the third one is pretty entertaining. I mean, if you ignore the hilariously lazy writing. Time travel as a plot device leads to all sorts of head-scratching moments, and this one takes the cake, and possibly also the brownie. Not to spoil anything (which of course means I'm going to spoil something), but when Will Smith travels back in time about a few minutes, how come there aren't two of him? Huh? Huh? I mean, there were two of the bad guy -- present and future! And why did K disappear from the time-space continuum before Boring the Animal traveled back, but not before Will Smith traveled back? And why...ohgod, now I'm even more confused.

The movie mostly coasts on the charisma of Will Smith, a standout performance by Josh Brolin, and Emma Thompson's scene-stealing. If you're looking for light summer entertainment, this movie will do the job. And honey, that's all we ask.

Movie Review: Hereditary (2018)