My Weekend Pick-Ups

Another weekend, another show-off.  Since my Eid sucked ass, I decided to indulge myself with some purchases (and the idea that I have a limitless credit card access), so I bought some stuff that are bound to elevate my heart from the Eid blues. I wouldn’t lie to you, that actually worked and I feel much better thank you very much. Of course, it really helped that your family didn’t forget about you and the fact they transfer some dough to your bank account as an Eid surprise, or an Eideyah if you prefer. So, here goes:

  • iPod Nano (8GB): Even though my iPod Touch serves me very well in the time of need, I always felt the need for a smaller MP3 player, and I thought the new iPod Nano would fill that void quite perfectly. Initially, I wanted to pick up a funkier color (i.e. orange, yellow, green) but the silver was the one that resonated with my senses strongly; it looked sleek, sexy, and cool. Plus, now that I have Nano, I can finally get the Nano + Nike Sport Kit.
  • Men’s Health Magazine: Now that’s Ramadan is over, I can finally quit slacking off and hit the gym once again. And in order to get motivated, a Men’s Health magazine would do just that, but with Gerard Butler‘s excessive manliness and chiseled body on the cover, it seems I got intimated than motivated.
  • Edge Magazine: Another great issue with great articles. The Heavy Rain article looks promising and appealing, and the special report of “How Nintendo fell out of love with the hardcore gamers” should provide an interesting read.
  • Silent Hill 5: Homecoming: I’ve always been a huge fan of Silent Hill games, and I still am. With the American based ‘s “Double Helix” taken charger of developing the game instead of the original Japanese team, I was tempted, and hopefully the new direction of the game won’t fail my expectations or ruin the series for me. Expect a review anytime soon.
  • Tomb Raider Legends (Used): I missed this game when it released on the PS2 two years ago, and now, I wanted to play it before I move to the much improved Anniversary, and gets my hype up for the new iteration of the series. The game cost me a measly $15. It should be good.
  • Xbox360 Play & Charge: Now, that’s a purchase I won’t regret investing my money in. For the last month, the Xbox360 controller has been draining my supply of batteries, and this device should put an end to that.
  • Post Office (Charles Bukowski): Fellow blogger Purg published an inviting review regarding this novel last summer and I’ve been keening on purchasing one for quite some time now, but I’ve always put if off for unapparent reason. With a new bargain price tag placed on the novel, I couldn’t resist and I had to buy one. I’ll probably read if after I’m done with City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau.

Review: The Duchess

Those who loved or hated the biographical film Marie Antoinette will certainly find a compromising ground in The Duchess. Based on the life of the 18th-century English aristocrat Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire (where many historians parallel her life with Princess Diana of Wales), the film remains an exquisite exhibit of women’s testament and of course, flawless sense of aristocratic fashion. With big stars such as the lovely Kira Knightley and the veteran Ralph Fiennes, the film is destined to draw a respectable group of movie enthusiasts and historians alike, but is the final picture as faultless as the sense of fashion, or intolerable as the cold marriage relationship that was portrayed?

Based on Amanda Foreman’s bestselling biography, The Duchess tracks the life of Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire; she was ravishing, glamorous and adored by an entire country. Determined to be a player in the wider affairs of the world, she proved that she could out-gamble, out-drink and outwit most of the aristocratic men who surrounded her. But even as her power and popularity grew, she was haunted by the fact that the only man in England who didn’t seem to adore her was her very own husband, the Duke, as she couldn’t births a male heir to him. As their relationships grew troubled, a series of resulting controversies and convoluted liaisons would leave all of London talking.

The film definitely gets a high nod for its gorgeous depiction of 18th century England that was glorious with hair feathers and hats, colorful dresses with intricate designs, and tasty wines and addictive gambling. Indeed, the costumes and stage design definitely deserves the Oscar buzz it’s been greeting. Of course, such shallow depiction won’t save the film from harsh critics, and thankfully, the film managed to pull some strings and notable performances that in the end saved it from mediocrity. Kira Knightley’s presentation of 18th century English aristocrat is certainly believable but there are few moments where we couldn’t even generate some sympathy toward her character. Alas, this is not to say that her depiction was off, in fact it was excellent, but perhaps witnessing her next to Ralph Fiennes might be the problem, because he certainly commanded the whole film with a certain, few amount of scenes and sentences; his movements alone can formulates the script with ease. The story, unfortunately, is slightly predictable and uninspired; I’ll be amazed if someone named the film “original” or “extraordinary”. This might have been avoided if the newcomer director Saul Dibb focused on the political life of Georgiana a little more instead of heavily focusing on her love life. We can definitely detect this sentiment when the film comes to its finish and leaving us wanting for more. Thankfully also, the soundtrack was as engaging and moving as the high point of performances administered from the role players, and that alone can be incredibly satisfying.

Incomplete biography and sagging (although mostly great) performances might not make this film a royal treat, but witnessing the chemistry and the engagement between Knightley and Fiennes can alone make up for the price of the admission ticket. The life of The Duchess of Devonshire was modestly brought to life with an excellent showcase of costumes and décor that would certainly please most fashion enthusiasts. Fans of historical drama will cherish this movie, but probably not as long as they hoped for. Regardless, the film is delightful, rich, and thankfully not as preposterous as “The Other Boleyn Girl“, and thank God for that.

The Bottom Line

B-

Death Note: If Only It Happened Like That…

We would have been spared from all the drama. Although, I really love drama, and drama loves me.

Mechanical Spiders Are The Signs Of The Future

It seems that the future is, indeed, now and that the inevitable War of the Machines has come to pass. Sometime in June of this year, sixty foot arachnid appeared on a derelict building near Liverpool’s Lime Street station. The mechanical spider is the work of art collaborative La Machine, who’s previous work includes the Sultan’s Elephant, which captivated London in 2006. The £1.8 million robot was commissioned for the 2008 Capital of Culture celebrations, and is being billed as the highlights of the event.

Expected to “wake up” some day, the eight-legged monstrosity will descend on your House on Thursday night and begin exploring your neighborhood the day after, ending with a “spectacular finish”. I encouraged you to arm yourselves accordingly. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going down into my concrete bunker.

  • Click HERE to check out the Flickr set
  • Click HERE for the BBC News script

Can You Feel The Poke Power?

I’ve been meaning in purchasing a new Nintendo DS Lite for quite some time now, and kinda ditch the old one I have that almost was running out of battery power, but I was waiting for the right “limited edition” bundle to pop up so I can grab one.

Not until today when I was strolling over at Gamestop where my “Poke-Instinct” detected the fearsome power of legendary species of time and space. I swiftly asked the lovely lady behind the counter on what kind of hidden legendary power they have in the storage room. She knew what I meant, because she shared my passion for “Poke-Love”. After a few seconds, she came back with Pokemon DSLite bundle that has both Dialga and Palkia beautifully engraved on the led cover. I resisted but I finally succumbed to this powerful “Poke-Pressure” that weakened my body and soul, and seemed to quickly regain all my powers (and some) when I purchased it. Of course, I had to buy Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen and Final Fantasy IV to properly compliment the impressive power I have in my hands.

And finally, this is where kids we get to recap on the new vocabulary that we learned today:

  • Poke-Power
  • Poke-Instinct
  • Poke-Love
  • Poke-Pressure

The Best 50 Animated Movies Ever

According to Rotten Tomatoes, that is. Not a terrible list, though, if I were making a list on what I thought were the best animated films of all time, I’m not sure I’d put movies like Kung Fu Panda, Corpse Bride, or Antz on it (much as I like them, they’re not really “classics”). But, hey, we’re talking about Rotten Tomatoes here. No “best movies” list they make is perfect.

And also, where the hell is my Grave of Fireflies? That movie almost left me in tears when I saw it long ago, and it still resonates with me to this very day.

*shakes fist*

CHECK OUT THE LIST HERE

Review: Vicky Cristina Barcelona

After the recent slew of almost-disappointing movies from the acclaimed writer/director Woody Allen (i.e. Cassandra’s Dreams, Scoop), I almost lost faith in his films, and started reminiscing the great times I had with his classics such as Hannah And Her Sisters and Everyone Says I Love You. Luckily, however, there was an instant love attraction I had with Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Whether it was the charming cast or the beautifully divine location, the film had me from its first scene, and from there, I was smiling all the way to the end.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona sees two young American women; Vicky and Cristina who come to Barcelona for a summer holiday. Vicky is sensible and engaged to be married; Cristina is emotionally and sexually adventurous. In Barcelona, they’re drawn into a series of unconventional romantic entanglements with Juan Antonio, a charismatic painter, who is still involved with his tempestuous ex-wife Maria Elena. Set against the luscious Mediterranean sensuality of Barcelona, Vicky Cristina Barcelona is Woody Allen’s funny and open-minded celebration of love in all its configurations.

Indeed, probably the movie’s pivotal aspect is that it doesn’t pursue the already worn clichés of the recent romantic comedies; instead, it opens up new possibilities and conflictions that are familiar to us but never got to see them in an intelligent direction. The threesome relationship that develops in the film wasn’t inscribed to make us laugh, but more like to open our hearts, minds, and eyes to the complexity of human relationships. The characters are extremely flushed out and totally likable and believable; looking all macho but speaking mostly in a tender, sincere way to his women, Bardem is a thoroughly convincing and affable ladies’ man, while Johansson and Hall demonstrated their polar-opposite personalities but perfect friendship in a most practical and credible matter. The cinematography although not extraordinary, it provided us the sheer enjoyment in exploring Barcelona’s laundry list of celebrated spots (i.e. Gaudi creations, the Miro Museum, the old amusement park, etc.), all of which shimmer with summer luster and a bustling Spanish soundtrack that oozes sexiness and lustful love. Harsh critic might be turned off by the semi-novella narration that accompanies the movie from start to finish, seeing how interesting it would be to see if the film could play without the commentary altogether, but I found it seemingly necessary yet enjoyable and not disrupting at the same time. The ending however is almost original as it is funny, and the open-ended aspect of it would provide an amusing discussion among your friends.

There’s no deny that Vicky Cristina Barcelona is beautiful film; the actors are attractive, the city is magnificent and the love scenes don’t get all sweaty. It certainly provides the perfect conclusion for the summer. It’s sincere, delicately funny, but a little staid, just what would you expect from a Woody Allen movie

The Bottom Line

B+

Achievement Unlocked: Buy More Xbox360 Games

So, it’s been like more than 3 weeks since I got me an Xbox360 and so far I’ve been playing it like a madman. Almost, every free time I have after finishing school and doing homework, I find myself turning on the system and just playing like no tomorrow.

I’ve already seen BioShock to completion; with an impressive amount of achievements unlocked I may add. I passed the 80hours mark with Tales of Vesperia and reached the third and final part of the game but there are lots of side-questing to do and to complete. Blue Dragon is on a short halt for now, which is fine since I didn’t even get passed the first boss.

Not until the other day when I visited an independent videogame store near to where I live and witnessed the amount of games that were being sold in bargains! So, the geeky gamer I am, I went there earlier today, along with bunch of awful games I bought by mistake and trade them for (hopefully) good ones. I did have to pay the price difference at the end but it was like $90 (approx: 25KD). Seriously, take a look at what I got. With that price, I think I had a fantastic deal and saved a lotta money.

Those games should keep me in a pretty good shape (gaming-wise) for the next couple of months but I know I’ll be buying more games even if I had some that I couldn’t finish. The October/November/December period (i.e. the 4th Quarter) is seeing a massive amount of games released, so things are going to be pretty wild. Man, if only there’s a room or a chamber where time stands still so I can just play more and more without wasting precious time. Oh well, gotta go and play me some Eternal Sonata and get lost in its bursting colors and bustling soundtrack.

P.S. No need to worry about school. I usually finish all my work on campus before I return back to my apartment, and that’s probably due to the fact that my apartment has plenty of distractions that would avert my eyes from doing school work.

Are You Registered To Vote?

While walking around campus this week…

Person A: Are you registered to vote?

Me: No, but I wish I could. I’m not a citizen.

************

Person B: Hey, you look all liberally and open-minded? Are you voting for Obama?

Me: Oh, I would love to, but I’m not a citizen. Boohoo

************

Person C: Hey, you look like a McCain-Palin guy! Are you voting for them?

Me: Oh God no! I’m not interested in voting for a dinosaur and its drag queen.

Person C:

Me: Ahhh, I mean I’m not a citizen. I cannot vote.

Person C: Then, here’s a deal. I’ll let you marry my sister, you get the green card, and in return, you vote for McCain.

Me: …you are kidding! Please, tell me you are kidding.

Person C: Hahahaha, yeah I am.

Me: Phew! You just startled me there.

Person C: No seriously, would you like to do that?

*Runs*

Review: The Diving Bell And The Butterfly

There are numerous movies and films that speak the truth about the man’s testament and ever lasting courageousness, yet few can truly resonate those complex emotions with the viewers and deliver them perfectly. The Diving Bell And The Butterfly belongs to this mighty minority. This film illustrated the final years of a paralyzed Magazine editor so beautifully, that elegantly morphed the film from what would be considered a nightmare to an everlasting painting brushed by a gifted artist.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is the remarkable true story of Jean-Dominique Bauby, a successful and charismatic editor-in-chief of French Elle, who believes he is living his life to its absolute fullest when a sudden stroke leaves him in a life-altered state. While the physical challenges of Bauby’s fate leave him with little hope for the future, he begins to discover how his life’s passions, his rich memories and his newfound imagination can help him achieve a life without boundaries.

First off, I feel it is very important to commemorate Mathieu Amalric’s extraordinary talent in creating a character that was so convoluted, so engaging, and so mesmerizing without moving a muscle. He commanded the screen so perfectly with his excellent captured narration of his thoughts and the events that happens around his character. He easily translated the pain of the Locked-In Syndrome without ever grossing us. He truly demonstrated his merits in capturing the spirits of Jean-Dominique Bauby and honoring his struggle. Next comes the outstanding direction and cinematography. Despite the fact that the first-person perspective isn’t new, it is still very hard to do well without turning it into a melodramatic gimmick. At precisely the right moment the film’s perspective changes, and the film adheres more closely to the demands of traditional biography. One by one, screenwriter Ronald Harwood introduces friends and family from Bauby’s life, never in ways you can predict, never in scenes that rest on cliches. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen such a fluid blend of flashbacks and dream sequences all merged with scores of marvelous original piano themes. The vision that the direction Julian Schnabel saw with this in unbelievable; from the first artistic shot to the tearful ending scene, his imaginatively-made motion capture is viscerally emotional and sensational, and that’s what movies should be all about.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly proves that our capacity for joy, and our ability to process it through whatever senses are available to us, are more durable than we think. While being Simultaneously uplifting and melancholy suffused, the film invites us to witness the marvelous that is the human spirit and to listen to our inner senses as Bauby noted in his autobiography: “My hearing does not improve, yet I hear them better and better. I must have butterfly hearing.” Outstanding!

The Bottom Line

A+