Category: Reviews


Angel/Demon

2009_angels_and_demons_004

The main reason for watching Angels and Demons.  How could Ewan McGregor still look so yummy in a habit?  He looked every bit as yummy when he was playing the part of the angelic camerlengo as he was when his diabolical self was revealed.  I also liked him in the silent face-off scene with the conclave.  

I didn’t read the book, but found the movie quite entertaining, though some parts made me go, “Seriously?!”  All in all, good enough for weekend entertainment; and yes, the story’s a notch better than The Da Vinci Code.

Advertisements

G1

Ah…one of the perks of working for a mobile technology company.  I got to play with the G1 phone, which runs on Google’s Android mobile operating system.  The verdict?  Hmm…not quite the iPhone-killer yet.  In fact, I mostly do not like it.

The Phone

  • The phone itself is thicker and heavier than I expected.
  • The swivel-flip keyboard doesn’t look and feel sturdy enough.  All of us who played with the phone felt paranoid that one-half of it would go flying off if we’re not very, very careful with flipping, hehe.
  • The touch screen is not as sensitive as the one on the iPhone.  There were occasions when I had to slide or tap my fingers several times to get the screen to move.

The Interface

  • The orientation doesn’t turn to landscape when the phone is tilted sideways!  You have to flip out the keyboard even if you’re not actually going to use it.  Huh?!
  • There are no next-page indicators in the Home screen, unlike those discreet little dots at the bottom of the screen in the iPhone.  So, it’s up to the user to discover that there IS a next page.
  • Typing a new URL in the browser’s address bar is a pain!  Step 1: Flip out keyboard.  Step 2:  Press ‘Menu’.  Step 3:  Tap ‘Go to URL’ button on the touch screen  Step 4:  Type URL  Step 5:  Press ‘Enter’.  5 steps!  Why, oh why, can’t we just tap the address bar?
  • There’s no virtual keyboard

However, here are a couple of things I like:

  • Texting is easier with the keyboard.  Hehe, somehow I still can’t get used to iPhone-style texting.
  • Design-wise, I like the UI.

We haven’t downloaded any apps yet, and I haven’t tried all the other functions.  I mostly just explored the interface.  In spite of my gripes above, I think the phone and operating system have great potential and will be better after couple of versions/updates.

The next mobile gadget we’re most likely to get is Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader.  I can’t wait to explore that one!

Bellini’s Marikina

Something’s making me (and my tummy) very happy! 😀 Bellini’s, that authentic Italian restaurant at the Marikina Shoe Expo in Cubao is now actually, truly in Marikina.  And it’s just literally around the corner from our house.  Bellini’s Marikina branch opened just last week.  Finally, a good pasta and pizza restaurant VERY NEAR where I live.

It’s funny how my dad and I got to try it out.  We had already planned to eat there one of these days, but the day – er, the night – came sooner than expected.  We got locked out last Monday when our maid attended the 9pm Simbang Gabi, leaving shortly before we arrived home.  My dad just came back from the 8pm Mass and I just arrived from work.  We both didn’t have our keys with us.  Since I badly needed a bathroom and was very hungry as well, we proceeded to the nearest restaurant, which was Bellini’s.

We ordered Pesto and Penne Arrabiata.  Both were good, but the Pesto was just a tad too salty.  The Marikina branch is managed by the son of the owner.  He is a nice Italian gent, with a very personal approach.  He makes it a point to talk to the diners, help out with unfamiliar menu items, and ask for feedback.  The rest of the staff are also friendly and competent.  The prices of the pasta dishes are in the P220-P350 range, pretty much the average for Italian restos here in Metro Manila.

I can’t wait to try out their pizzas and other dishes next time.  I’m so glad to have quick access to my favorite Margherita pizza. 😀

Bellini’s Marikina is at J.P. Rizal St., near the market, Krung Thai and Johnny’s Fried Chicken.  Telephone number is 646-5412.

Starbucks Molten Chocolate Cake

This is my favorite dessert at the moment.  My officemate – and fellow Heroes addict – Josh recommended it to me.  It is a gooey chocolate confection, but without the excessive sweetness.  The whipped cream on top seems to add to its sinfulness, but it actually perfectly complements the chocolate.  The whipped cream that Starbucks used is not too sweet and heavy.  It almost tastes like fresh milk.  I was so excited to eat the cake that I forgot to take a picture for this blog.

Make sure to eat it at the coffeeshop or within 5 to 10 minutes of purchase.  The cake is warmed, and then the whipped cream is added on top, so…you get the picture.

Read the book out of curiosity, watched the movie out of curiosity.  Well, we all know what happened to the curious cat.  Thankfully, cats have nine lives. 😀  If it wasn’t obvious from the post title, I’m referring to Twilight, the book and the movie.

The dreamy, forever-a-teenager part of me liked Edward (I’m a sucker for vampires…uh, no pun intended).  The love story was ok.  It’s like Sweet Dreams with a twist, which that part of me could again relate to.  But that was it.  The vampire bits were ok also, but nothing unusual.

The one thing I wanted to see in the movie was the way they would render Edward in the sunlight.  The author wrote it to be spectacular, so I was expecting nothing less in the movie.  I was sorely disappointed.  Even fake diamonds glisten better!

Twilight simply broke my streak of good books and movies since summer.  Well, what else should I have expected?  I’m no longer a teenager. 😀  I should probably restrain some of my curiosity next time.

iCreate Philippines

Maiden issue cover (courtesy of www.digitalphotographer.com.ph)

Maiden issue cover (courtesy of http://www.digitalphotographer.com.ph)

At long last, a Mac magazine in the Philippines that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg – because this is a Philippine edition, the first-ever for a Mac magazine.  The international editions of other Mac magazines are all priced in the P500 and up range, but iCreate Philippines costs only P295/issue or P1,500 for a 1-year (6 issues) subscription.  That’s a very good price for a very informative magazine.  iCreate Philippines comes from the same group that publishes Digital Photographer Philippines.

I found this issue very useful.  I discovered some more new things, especially on OS X and iLife.  It’s really more like a reference magazine that is best placed beside your Mac – something that you can immediately reach out for when the need arises.  The tutorials are very simple and practical.  I’m even more excited about the next issue which is all about Mac and photography.

iCreate is available in the higher-end bookstores (read: Fully Booked and Powerbooks, and some National Bookstore branches) and Authorized Apple Re-sellers (Power Mac Center, Digital Walker, iStudio).  For subscriptions, email subscriptions@icreate.com.ph.

Wall-E

I fell asleep in the middle of it – but the movie not to be blamed entirely.  It was just the combination of a terrible headache, drowsiness, really comfortable seats inside a chilly theater (Promenade in Greenhills), and some not-so-compelling bits of the movie.

What I liked is the environmental message.  A lot of animated movies deal with relationships among people and more common themes such as achieving dreams, bravery, triumph over adversity, etc.  Wall-E takes place 700 years into the future, wherein humans seemed to have irreparably trashed the planet and now live in spaceships.  The only one left on Earth is Wall-E, a machine tasked to clean up all the junk.  All he has for company is a cockroach.  One day, a spacecraft lands and he meets Eve, another robot.  This was where Pixar did great.  They were able to make the interactions between Wall-E and Eve interesting and funny even without dialogue – just “robotic” sound effects.

The story is centered on the search for a sign of sustainable life on Earth so all the humans could go back.  This is symbolized by the tiny plant found by Wall-E.  Ok, I should stop narrating the story now since I missed parts of it, leaving a lot to misinterpretation.  However, what I did get to watch struck a chord in me.  This is an animated film and while at first thought, the story may be an exaggerated interpretation of environmental destruction, it may actually happen!  If not exactly as what was shown in the movie, then something very close to it at least.  It’s good that this theme was dealt with in a film primarily for children.  It’s never too early to educate them about taking care of our planet.

On a lighter note, the Mac addict in me thoroughly enjoyed the Mac/Apple references in Wall-E.  First off, there’s Wall-E’s start-up sound, which is also the start-up chime of the Mac.  That chime elicits warm, fuzzy feelings in every Mac geek, hehe.  Then there’s Wall-E’s iPod.  And the clincher – Eve’s design.  Jonathan Ive, Apple’s Senior Vice President for Industrial Design, is partly responsible for it.  He was loaned to Pixar for a day to help design Eve.  I think Eve looks like a robot counterpart of the eMac.  Well, all these Mac references, including Ive’s participation, come as no surprise.  Steve Jobs is Disney’s biggest shareholder after all, so a lot of Disney/Pixar movies have Apple/Mac references.  Remember the white car with a certain, ahem, logo in Cars? Hehe.

Becky’s Kitchen

We had a meeting at DLSU the other day, and I insisted that we drop by Becky’s Kitchen before going back to the office.  I didn’t want to let the opportunity go by since the area is very much out of my usual way.  Becky’s can be found at Vito Cruz corner Bautista St. in Singalong, Manila.  It’s in an old all-white Spanish-style house, with an appropriately-styled signage.  In fact, the signage is quite easy to miss, and it doesn’t look like a bakeshop at all from the outside.  Just look for the big white house instead – THAT one you won’t miss.

Becky’s has arguably one of the best Food for the Gods in town.  Aside from that, my other favorites include Cherry Walnut Brownie, Walnut Fudge Brownie (ok, the entire brownie line!), Prune Walnut Cake, and Potato Almond Cake.  I know the last two sound kinda odd, but the taste is anything but!

Becky’s has another branch in Valle Verde I, and the pastries are also sold at the Legazpi Village Sunday Market in Makati.  Phone numbers for the Manila branch are 525-1648 and 523-4245. 

The Dark Knight

This completed one of my best movie days ever.  After the very light hearted Mamma Mia! – and some shopping and eating – we ended the evening with The Batman and The Joker.  We hardly noticed how long this movie was, and there were times when we would really be leaning forward from our seats.  The Dark Knight is gripping.

Batman is one of my favorite superheroes because of the fact that he does not have supernatural powers, so it follows that I loved this movie because it showed a very human Batman.  He was portrayed as more of a human hero than a superhero.

And as much as Mamma Mia belongs to Meryll Streep, this is The Joker’s – and Heath Ledger’s – movie.  Again quoting Anna, “This has the best interpretation of The Joker’s character.”  It veers away from a cartoonish Joker and shows a true menace – a terrorist in modern world terms.

Before watching this movie, I thought that they could be over-hyping and over-praising Heath Ledger.  But his performance really deserves all the kudos.  He is a very tough act to follow for the next actor who will portray The Joker.  Heath Ledger just owned the character, right down to the littlest nuances and mannerisms.  And the way he blended the funny and the terrifying was just masterful.

I’m glad that the Batman movie franchise is back on the right path after the disaster of the Joel Schumacher editions.

Mamma Mia!

Oh, my!  I loved this movie!  This was the first half of our mini-movie marathon at Trinoma yesterday.  As Anna said, “It’s the best cheesy movie.”  Haha!  Meryll Streep was simply fabulous.  Now that she’s done it, I couldn’t imagine any other actress for the movie role.  The rest of the cast weren’t bad either.  They had no inhibitions, which is necessary for them to pull off a musical such as this.  My other favorite part aside from Meryll Streep?  Colin Firth!  Not just because he’s my crush, but for his trademark deadpan comedy and how he performed the twist in his role.  It just came out so funny!  All I could think of the whole time was “OMG, my crush!  What the…!”  Definitely a departure from his stereotypical “stuffy Englishguy” roles.  Now I think I have to watch the Pride and Prejudice mini-series again to get that hip-swivelling Colin image out of my head.

Mamma Mia was one of the rare movies that made me laugh, cry, sing (in my head) and dance (tapping my feet to the music).  I really had to restrain myself from singing out loud and getting up to dance – a VERY BAD idea given my non-talents in the area.  But I’m guessing I’m not alone in this.  According to Anna, the sweethearts seated beside her were also singing softly, even doing the duets as well.

I think this was also the first time that I’ve heard a film audience display their “kilig” loudly.  All kinds of kilig sounds were really heard throughout the theater.  This happened when Pierce Brosnan proposed.  Aww…..

But really, this movie belongs to Meryll Streep.  There’s something wrong if she doesn’t get at least an Oscar nomination for this one.