Friday, October 11, 2013

"Hilary and Jackie" and the effect of biographical film by: Uel Ceballos

photo courtesy of Wikipedia
Whenever I’m thinking back of the time I first watched the movie “Hilary and Jackie”, I remember as well the emotional effects that it had on me. Deeply moving, this 1998 British biographical film told the life of two sisters Hilary and Jackie Du Pré as based on Hilary Du Pré’s memoir A Genius in the Family. 

The movie was luxuriously poignant and emotionally disturbing that it even reaped criticisms from Jackie’s colleagues, giving various reactions on how the film over-sensationalized the private life of the once celebrated British cellist.

Hilary and Jackie left its viewers heavy-hearted, the after-effect lingered for some time and the surge of emotional reaction was quite impossible to resist. With the film’s exceptional cinematography, brilliant post-production, excellent actors and well-written screenplay, the director Anand Tucker and screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce had brought us a refined film that gratified not only one's appreciation of the classical music but one's emotional lewd and admiration of the virtuosi as well. 

Hilary and Jackie, growing up together with their mother teaching them music – Hilary on flute and Jackie on cello – gave the film an engrossing start-up while showing the two sisters improved and grown on their talents. Along the headway of the movie, the rivalry’s started to build up, but as they reached their adulthood it was Jackie who pursued international stardom while Hilary settled  peacefully as a married woman and a mother to four children. The conflict eventually showed up when Jackie suffered from emotional breakdown, and her elder sister Hilary helped to ease her nervous crash-down by giving her (Jackie) consents to have an affair with her (Hilary) husband. This is one of the most disturbing parts of the story, with Hilary’s approval on such thing that she was even the one who convinced her own husband to do it for the sake of Jackie’s therapy. The entire story alone is already effortless in gaining controversies, much more if demonstrated into film and shown worldwide thus we couldn’t really blame those who protested against it, particularly Jackie Du Pre’s husband, Daniel Barenboim.

Hilary and Jackie was shown in split points of view, the first half was of Jackie’s and the second half was of Hilary’s.  The treatment used has highlighted both the perspectives of the two sisters – making the viewers sympathized on both the sisters’ emotional struggles. The actresses Rachel Griffith (Hilary) and Emily Watson (Jackie)indeed provided us a knockout acts, making the film a historical hit which earned it awards and criticisms.

As much as I wanted to narrate the entire chronicle, to give the complete account of the sisters’ lives, I do still have the sense of control to not divulge the whole story. I don’t want to deprive you of the same unforgettable feeling I had when I saw the movie in progress, with the twists unfolding and the conflicts arising. 

Thus, I will now leave the rest of the details for you to see, you may want to watch it as soon as now.

For Hilary and Jackie, I will give the movie a rating of 7 shots of espresso.  


UNLEASH THE POWER... A review about the sci-fi film CHRONICLE. By Love Esios

Photo pulled out from Wikipedia
Come to think of this: You're in high school, and life is hard. Other students bully you. You try to fight them but all you can do is to utter the words, "Stop it!". Your family is as broken as a shattered glass and you only have one friend who also happens to be your only close relative. Everything's a mess, and you feel weak inside and out. Then, you bought a video camera and vowed to record everything that's happening in your miserable, boring life. You thought this is going to be fun, until one night you stumbled upon a hole, found something peculiar inside it, then the next thing you know, you are already possessing telekinetic powers that gets stronger every day. Sounds cool right? That's what I also thought while I was watching the movie Chronicle.

A sci-fi flick that would surely take you at the edge of your seat, Chronicle is a story of three high schools students who were just living in tedium until they have discovered a very, very weird thing inside a hole in the forest and their lives were never the same again. I just love how the story progressed, how each scene was defined and developed beautifully, how it made me feel that probably having superpowers isn't a bad idea after all until the film made an unexpected twist and I was trying my best not to scream as I was watching it happen. The idea of presenting the movie as found footage added to the spontaneity and intensity of the story. I also love how the actors portrayed their roles and the kind of emotion they have shown in order to let us remember how we can also be silly, fun and lose control in high school. This movie has the right blend of teen drama, romance, science and action.

So if you are into sci-fi films, you might want to add this to your favorites list. An 8 out 10 espresso shot for this movie!

"You are stronger than all of this..."
~ from Chronicle (2012) 


You must have known her from L. Frank Baum’s book, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" and you must have despised her. She’s the green-skinned villainess Wicked Witch of the West, whom the Wizard of Oz wanted dead. Dorothy Gale had killed her unintentionally by splashing water on her, which was the Wicked Witch’s greatest adversary. Water melted her down, killing her with no traces left but her clothes, hat and broom.

We only knew the Wicked Witch as she was described and portrayed by L. Frank Baum, but another imaginative author in the name of Gregory Maguire wrote a parallel novel, serving as prequel to Baum’s book giving it the title Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of The West. Here he gave the Wicked Witch the name Elphaba and made the story revolved around the Oz, on the years way back before Dorothy comes in the picture.

The Wizard of Oz was already there in Gregory’s Wicked, and the story was strongly presented with political struggle about the rebels planning to overthrow the Wizard and bringing back to leadership the Great Ozma whom they believed has the full rights to govern the Oz. Wizard rules and projects indeed benefited the land but no matter what he does he will still remain a stranger from different world who just landed to Oz through an air balloon.

Unlike Baum’s book, Gregory Maguire’s Wicked is not the sort of reading for the children. The book displayed aggressions, immoralities, sexualities and languages not fitting for the youngsters. As The Wizard of Oz awed and entertained us as a child, Wicked will give us lots of realization as we let its story be absorbed through our adult’s senses. The author gave us a complete account of Elpahaba’s life and on how she gained the name Wicked Witch of the West.

Here you will find out that Elphaba like us is also a human who once lived, laughed, cried, loved, and fought. The book gave so much emphasis to political strife, and to the main effect that it always has -- with the civilians and the innocents being the most affected of all. Here you will see the Oz in much different angle and you will meet different characters aside from Glinda, Elpahaba and the Wizard.  The book will help you see on clearer perspective on what does it really means to be wicked, and who are really the real wicked.

Get to know Elpahaba and follow her at Shiz University where she met Glinda, Boqs, and Fiyero – some of the major characters who greatly added colors to Elpahaba’s life journey. Surely you will be fond of the Wicked Witch; or you might get to love her as well as you fully understand what she had gone through.

For this wonderful fantasy novel, I will rate it with 8 cups of latte for all its uniqueness and fabulous plots! Hope you can read this one too; I assure you it will be a worthwhile experience around the Oz!

CIRCUMSTANCE – “Extremely sad and beautiful.” By Lyn Bungar

Photo courtesy of
I am fond of films that dare to illustrate the unknown or unfamiliar situation of one’s society. 

Circumstance, an award-winning film by Maryam Keshavarz, exposes the underground life of the youth in Tehran under a repressive regime. It explores themes such as drugs, sexuality, other activities prohibited and perceived by the government as immoral and how religious authority affects the lives and relationships of those under its governance. It showcases a patriarchal system in which the primary authority is ruled by men. It shows how the system plays a major role in the social, political and religious state of the country.

The story revolves around two teenage girls, Atafe and Shireen. Atafe comes from a wealthy family and hangs out a lot with her poor best friend Shireen.  Atafe gets to enjoy the privileges of being the daughter of her parents. On the other hand, Shireen, under her uncle’s supervision, lives in the shadows of her deceased parents who are implied to have done rebellious activities that led to their death. Atafe and Shireen have a very close relationship and both enjoy private parties away from the eyes of the authority. The movie emphasizes the desire of the young generation for freedom which was given justice by the two characters who behaved recklessly despite the consequences. 

The film dares to condemn the current political situation in Iran through Hossein’s character, an Iranian guy from America whom Atafeh and Shireen met in a party. He asks Atafeh, Shireen and another friend Salaam to help him dub and distribute the movie “Milk” on the streets. The movie stars Sean Penn as Harvey Milk, the first gay person to be elected to public office in California. This is a brave yet predictable act from a guy who lives in America which is a liberal country and acknowledges the rights of the gay community.

Atafe and Shireen’s friendship eventually turns romantic. I witness a relationship that blossoms amidst the danger and pressure of the society’s religious culture. And for the same reason, how this relationship ends through Mehran, Atafe’s brother who just returned home from a drug rehab. He develops, what looks like an obsession with Shireen. His devotion to Muslim morality after he came out from the rehab brought an awkward tension in his family. As the story progresses, Mehran’s dark character unfolds resulting to chaos in his family.

There is also this scene that caught my attention. It is when Atafe’s family and Shireen went to the beach. Atafe’s father acknowledges her and told her that someday they could all go in the water. I am completely unaware that there is actually a place where women are not allowed to swim publicly. I have to check on that though. That scene implies Atafe’s father concern on her daughter’s thoughts but all he can do is wish that in the future women will be able to enjoy the privileges enjoyed by men. Going to the beach and not able to enjoy the water really sucks! Thank goodness to Atafe and Shireen’s rebellious character, they did swim but when no one is around.

Circumstance is truly heart-breaking and worth watching. There are some scenes though that are dragging, and those that I feel like there is no need to be included in the film as it has less to no effect on the story. The actors portrayed their characters really well. There is a lot of emotions going on even without any conversations or dialogue. And the music used to score the film is electrifying! I really appreciate it.

The movie speaks to me in ways that made me very grateful on what I have and where I am today. For that, I generously give 8 espresso shots for this film.


*I did some research on this film and found out that though the story is set in Tehran, the movie was shot in Lebanon. (source: Circumstance Movie Review by Rich Cline,

According to the, the movie is banned in Iran.

A GAME OF THRONES -- ARE YOU IN? by: Uel Ceballos

"When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground." 

If you’re searching for an exciting, action-packed novel with brilliant plot and excellently developed psyche of the characters then Game of Thrones book series is the perfect reading for you. A Game of Thrones is a series of fantasy novels written by George RR Martin. The series is divided in seven books, of which the first five were already released: A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, and A Dance With Dragons.

The story is set in a fictional setting that has a history from long way back. Being a fantasy novel, one would expect the abundance of magic’s presence all throughout the story. Only that beside of being a fantasy novel, the book is also highly political in its genre. The presence of magic is restrained at the start, but it eventually builds up through the progression of the story.

Before you get drawn to its fantasy element, first you will be magnetized to the book’s enthralling features. A Game of Thrones is set in a fictitious location but if you will disregard the unfamiliar sounds of places and terms being used in the book, you will be reminded of the historical periods associated with monarchy, ancient revolution, knighthood, dynasty war, rebellion, feudalism, slavery, and the never ending war for the throne. Without regards to its magical elements, you will almost think that you’re transported right back to that era where the fashion still means doublet, jerkins and gowns in precious silk and velvet -- wherein that idea of time travelling always give a pleasant nostalgia. 

George Martin has unique ways of arranging the flow of sequences, using multiple point of views from different characters (protagonist and antagonist alike) to narrate the events. This kind of treatment encouraged sympathy from the readers,wherein they almost come to the point of confusion on whose characters to favor or to hate, on who’s among them the real protagonist and the antagonist, the real heroes and the true victims. The author has did a great job on establishing the characters that as the readers absorbed much of what had happened on each of them, they are able to see the clearer picture that all of the characters are merely pieces in the big arena; who only got no other choice but to play the game of thrones.

Violence, sex, and ethical dilemma are often flaunted on the story, giving greater emphasizes on human’s innate characteristics. Also, the women empowering elements in the story is undeniably obvious. With the major women characters playing necessary roles, one will surely realize that women must never ever be underestimated. From little Arya to Catelyn, Queen Cersei, Asha, Sansa, Sand Snakes ladies and Daenerys – the book quiet demonstrates the wit, strong will,and excellently hidden power of the women that made them even more dangerous than anyone else in this world. 

More obvious maybe on its political struggle features, but the novel never lacks the romance, humor, drama, and the tragic elements to make the book a successful page-turner! Another remarkable feature on George Martin’s writing is its irregularity and randomness as far as the plot is concerned. The author has broken away to the cliché of novel wherein the major characters or the supposed heroes always remain safe and alive at the end. If you’re already familiar with George Martin’s style, then you should know better than to expect your favorite characters to survive that long up to the end. I have already read the five books and many events already had broken my heart so fiercely. These kinds of Martin’s approach on his writing will bring the books deeper onto your senses; like you were kidnapped from the reality and were transported onto that fiction place, alluring you not to go back any more but just stay and be part of its fantasy world.

Now all the Game of Thrones fans have been waiting so anxiously for the sixth and seventh books to come out after that George RR Martin ended the fifth book, A Dance with Dragons with such cliffhangers! He’s really so good about doing this kind of thing -- leaving his readers in the agony of waiting and anxiety!

So there Game of Thrones followers, let’s drink to it with 10 cups of Latte and wish good health to our dearest George RR Martin so he can finish the books right away!!