“Captain America” : B+

Hubby and self caught first screening of “Captain America” at Redwood City Century 20 on Saturday.  Self’s assessment: this movie is way, waaaay better than it has any right to be.  The actors  are way better than they have any right to be.  Self means:  Tommy Lee Jones (How self loves this actor’s inflections.  His delivery should be enshrined in the Smithsonian Archive of Great Deliveries).

And Stanley Tucci, OMG.  Can anyone hope for a mentor with more kind avuncularity than Stanley Tucci?  “The Lovely Bones” was a horrible mistake.  Please always have Stanley Tucci as the wit and intelligence in any future super-hero movies.

And even Chris Evans turns in a better performance than anyone had a right to expect.  Self loved the CGI of the early scenes, because then you really have to focus on Evans’ face.  It’s sort of a feminine face, self decided.  Perhaps his eyelashes were artificially lengthened?  When he is in “buff” mode, self hardly needed to look at his huge pecs.  All she had to do was look at those beautiful eyes (Ahem!  Self!  Get on with the rest of the movie!)

Oh yes, Hugo Weaving is in this movie, and at least until he reveals his face to be something like Hellboy without a nose, his eyebrows are wickedly entertaining.

Also, the short guy who played Naomi Watts’ only friend in “The Painted Veil,” and who played Truman Capote the same year that Philip Seymour Hoffman played Truman Capote, is in this movie as a sidekick scientist.  Hopefully we will see him in future installments.

Howard Stark (who self kept confusing with Tony Stark of “Ironman”, even though Robert Downey, Jr. and Dominic Cooper are obviously not the same actor) was in this movie.  It takes cinema aficionado clothesonfilm to reveal that Stark was based on eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes.

The girl had big hooters.  Also, her mouth looked excellent in matte red lipstick.  And, now that self has time to ponder, it is clear that the 1940s were a time for all women to sport similarly vermilion lips.  For self still remembers execrable “Pearl Harbor,” where Kate Beckinsale had a very similar look.

Self loved looking at all the nail polish in this movie.  One wizened grandma wearing a housedress and wielding a machine gun has bright, scarlet nail polish, a dead give-away that she is working for our side!

OK, what else?  Oh, there were action scenes, of course.  Self found herself catching twenty winks during.  But never mind.  There was a very amusing assemblage of “types” assembled by Captain America to carry out his top secret mission, and self recognized the baby blues of the guy who was in “Minority Report,” playing Tom Cruise’s ex-best friend.  Here, he wore a bowler hat, even after he was freed from prison.  And he had a ridiculous Otto von Bismarck-type moustache (veeery hairy).

Yes, this action movie does contain one musical number, and it was pure popcorn —  i.e., very enjoyable!

Self was absurdly entertained.  From first to last.

(P.  S.  She still can’t decide whose physique is the more compelling:  Chris Evans’ or Michael Fassbender’s.  Evans has huge pillow-like pecs, but Fassbender has the slimmer waist.)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Prince Albert’s Weeping Bride, Mila Kunis’ $7,000 Facial

Charlene Witstock, now the wife of Prince Albert of Monaco, was stopped at the airport after she bought a one-way ticket to her native South Africa.  With her wedding only a few hours away,  and the pride of all Monaco at stake, her passport was confiscated and she was forced to go through with the wedding.

Self has seen pictures of the weepy bride.  Her heart goes out to her.

Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake were photographed at the premier of their “Friends With Benefits.” OMG, Mila was positively glowing —  due to a $7,000 facial the previous week.

Mila Kunis is young, and beautiful.  She doesn’t need a facial —  she needs to have her brain examined!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

News Flash! A Musical on Cory Aquino!

How long has self been waiting for this to happen?

Ever since self read a line from an American novel that went: “At least, no one expects me to get out of bed and be Cory Aquino today!” she has known that Cory, the Musical, must eventually come to be.

And now it has!

Courtesy of new FB friend Jude Cartalaba, comes this news flash!

A NEW MUSICAL ON CORY AQUINO TOURS NORTHERN PHILIPPINES

To which self can only respond:  FAB!  FAB!  FAB!

The musical is called “Cory ng Edsa” (Nice title!).  It is produced by Philippine Stagers Foundation, in partnership with the Ninoy and Cory Aquino Foundation.  It had its official premiere at the College of Saint Scholastica, Manila, on July 16.

“Cory ng Edsa” is scheduled to be performed in the following Philippine locales:

  • Urdaneta City
  • Olongapo City
  • Dagupan City
  • “the province of Bohol”

(Why no Bacolod?  Self would see it for sure if it was produced there!)

And lest she wear out dear blog readers with her excitable superlatives, she’ll put the link to an article about the current Philippine tour, here.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

“Beginners” : A Somber Ewan McGregor, and Mélanie Laurent

Mélanie Laurent was the French actress whose fiery revenge brought down the house (literally) in Quentin Tarantino’s hugely satisfying re-imagining of World War II, “Inglorious Basterds,” a few years ago (Why does 2009 already seem like a whole other era?).

“Beginners” is the first self has seen of Laurent since the Tarantino movie.  She is even more beautiful now than she was back then, but alas,  seems to be marching to a completely different tune from Ewan McGregor.  That is, she seems completely lost in her own private spaces.  She is adorable, but her entire character seems to be a projection of attitudes.  Good Lord, it’s exhausting keeping up with this woman’s entrancing little games, her fits, her swings of mood from playfulness to sadness.  Suppose this is what it means to be French?  Here’s what the smitten pair might be saying to each other if there were a “10 years from now” installment (Spare us!):

Melanie:   But I must go!

Ewan:  Where?

Melanie:  Anywhere!  Only to be free!  Because I am completely driven by my moods!  And living in the same house for 10 years is driving me crazy!

Ewan:  Oh, how adorable.  My little kitten, I adore you.

(Big smooch)

McGregor is very stoop-shouldered, in this movie.  His head seems rather large for the rest of him.

There is a lot of soliloquy, a lot of detachment, a lot of old photographs, a lot of bittersweet reminiscences.

The Jack Russell terrier is very smart.

That cute Yugoslavian actor, Goran Visnjic, who self adored in “The Deep,” with Tilda Swinton, has very oily-looking hair, in this movie.

Christopher Plummer, as McGregor’s gay dad, and the actress who plays Plummer’s passionate, frustrated wife (Self needs to look up her name, pronto!), are spectacular.  Self felt the sadness of their characters —  perpetually stuck, but dignified.  All their unrequited longing gets dumped on poor Ewan McGregor, who then develops some very serious relationship issues.

But, fortunately, Mélanie Laurent with her big, goo-goo eyes and her studiedly nonchalant laugh is there to save the day!

Self must say, of Mélanie:  She looks ravishing in red.  Also, when she is not having to look at McGregor, and has to project some interiority, she is very beautiful.

Son arrives tomorrow.  Self was in a mad frenzy of cleaning house, today.  That was why she saw fit to reward herself with a movie.  Unfortunately, about an hour in, self’s eyelids kept drooping.

But it was a good thing she went and saw “Beginners” today.  A member of the staff at the Aquarius announced that it would be replaced tomorrow, by “Tabloid.”  Oh, self has been wanting to see that!  She hopes it is trashy, like Joan Rivers’ mouth.  By the way, self just finished watching “A Piece of Work” (current Netflix rental) and it was spectacular.  Joan Rivers in all her potent bitchiness and vulgarity is more of a real, solid woman than Mélanie Laurent in “Beginners.”

In addition, today self added two more books to her reading list:  one by Dutch writer Harry Mulisch, The Assault, and our old friend Dostoyevsky’s masterful Crime and Punishment (which self first read over three decades ago).

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Movie Stars Were Here! Condé Nast Traveler, March 2011

There they were, those jet-setting movie stars, ordering Manhattans in some bar in Tribeca, or sipping tequilas in the French Quarter.   Herewith, the definitive last word on your favorite movie star’s whereabouts, lifted from the March 2011 issue of Condé Nast Traveler (Self still in catch-up mode, clearly):

  • Cape Town:    Ryan Reynolds and Denzel Washington filming “Safe House”(Incidentally, someone who looks like Ryan Reynolds can never —  self repeats, never —  be credible playing a spy, dear blog readers.  Unless he scruffs up his face.  Makes it not so clean-cut and boyish-looking.  Adopts a limp.  Applies fake warts to the sides of his nose.  And so on)
  • India:   Suraj Sharma filming “Life of Pi” (directed by Ang Lee)
  • New Orleans:   Kate Beckinsale and Mark Wahlberg, filming “Contraband”
  • London:   Keanu Reeves filming “47 Ronin”
  • New York City:   Robert de Niro and Jake Gyllenhaal filming “New Year’s Eve”
  • New Zealand:   Cate Blanchett filming “The Hobbit, Part 1″ (directed by Peter Jackson)
  • Stockholm:   Daniel Craig filming “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” (directed by David Fincher)

The places self has never been to, and that she so longs to visit someday, are Cape Town, India, New Zealand, and Stockholm.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

NEW Voice: Donna Miscolta

Self read with Donna Miscolta in Seattle, a few years ago.  She remembers listening to Donna and thinking, Now that’s a really good writer!

Recently, self saw Donna’s name on the shortlist for a prestigious short story collection prize —  might have been AWP?

So self is very, very proud to announce the publication of Donna Miscolta’s first novel:

Donna Miscolta

And her book!

When the De La Cruz Family Danced is available now from Powell’s, Indiebound, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Question for Drew, Who Is at VCCA For Two Weeks

Are there still three chestnut horses in the field between the barn and the main house?

Self took this picture at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA), when she was there August 2007

Oh, the bucolic VCCA fields! Even the fire hydrant looks so -- post-modern!

Drew sent self a music file:  himself playing the piano and singing, our opera, Scene 1.  Self’s hair absolutely stood on end!

She called Drew and said, “I didn’t know you could sing!”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Cinemalaya 2011, UP Film Center, July 26 – 29, Aug. 2 -5

Cinemalaya, a Filipino Film Festival, begins today at the University of the Philippines’ Film Center (Info courtesy of Dino Manrique of Filipinowriter.com)

* This just in:  “Ang Babae sa Septic Tank” screens in Philippine Theaters nationwide, starting Aug. 3.

Tickets are 80 pesos (approx. $1.90)

Here’s a schedule of screenings (and pleeeaaase pardon self’s awful translations of the Tagalog titles!):

July 26

  • “Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa” (Dance of Two Left Feet), 5 pm
  • “Babae sa Septic Tank” (Woman in a Septic Tank), 8 pm

July 27

  • “Amok” (Crazy.  Not your normal, run-of-the-mill crazy.  Self means:  Raging Bull crazy!), 5 pm
  • “Bahay Bata” (House of Children), 8 pm

July 28

  • “Cuchera” (Coach Driver ???  Calesa driver ???  The Filipinized spelling is kutsera), 5 pm
  • “I-Libings” (At this point, self should probably abandon any attempts at translation, but a “libing” is a burial), 8 pm

July 29

  • “Niño” (This is a proper name, dear blog readers.  Thankfully, no translation required), 5 pm
  • “Ligo na U, Lapit na Me” (You Take a Bath, Me Come Closer —  how pathetic is self’s Tagalog?  This is an adaptation of a bestselling novel by Eros S. Atalia.  Self is very admiring of this writer’s first name!), 8 pm

August 2

  • “Teoriya” (Theory), 5 pm
  • “Bisperas” (Vespers?  In the movie, supposedly refers to Christmas Eve?), 8 pm

August 3

  • “Isda” (Fish), 5 pm
  • “Busong” (Pregnant), 8 pm

August 4

  • Shorts A, 5 pm
  • “Patikul” (??), 8 pm

August 5

  • Shorts B, 5 pm
  • New Breed Best Picture (“Ang Babae sa Septic Tank”), 7 pm
  • Directors Showcase Best Picture (“Bisperas”), 9 pm

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The Best Review Self Has Read (So Far) Abt Molly Peacock’s THE PAPER GARDEN

The Paper Garden: Mrs. Delany (Begins Her Life’s Work) at 72, by Molly Peacock, was reviewed in The Economist of 11 June 2011:

Mary Delany  —  aristocrat, gardener, prodigious letter-writer, woman of fashion and friend to George Frederic Handel, Jonathan Swift and King George III, died childless more than 220 years ago.  Yet she left a multitude of vivid, vital offspring:  985 botanically accurate and startlingly beautiful portraits of flowers in bloom, collectively known as the “Flora Delanica.”

Delany started this project as a widow in her eighth decade.  Despite grief, ageing hands and eventually failing eyesight, she invented a new method for creating her flower “mosaicks” :  collaging layers of cut, painted paper onto a dense black background, matching her materials to the papery fineness of a flower’s petal.  In Molly Peacock’s illustrated biography, the results leap out of the darkness of the past, pulsating with life.

Ms. Peacock is a noted American poet, and it shows in her approach:  she repeatedly uses the mosaicks as a simile for the rich and varied life of her subject, which she describes as “so shapely that it feels like a complete work of art, cut and pasted.”  Certainly parts of the narrative read like an 18th century novel:  at 17, Delany was married by her wicked uncle to a 60-year-old drunken squire, who tore her away from her family to live in a rotting Cornish castle.  After he died Read the rest of this entry »

Favorite People, Smart Car

Self is in love with Stella and Tina’s bright red Smart car!

Capable of reaching freeway speeds of 100 mph!

Is it not so adorable, dear blog readers?

This little thing ferried Stella and Tina all the way to San Carlos yesterday, where self met with them for coffee and pastries at the Zest Bakery on Arroyo Street.

Self must admit, there was something wee bit different about the appearance of her two friends, and finally, after two hours or so, she learned why:  they have each lost something like 20 lbs.!!!

Mama mia!  How did that happen?

They explained that it had something to do with sticking only to gluten-free food, and becoming vegan.

No, it wasn’t as easy as that.  To find out more, here’s a link that Stella sent.  (Self wishes Tina and Stella would sit down and write a book!  It should be called:  “The No-Exercise Way to Lose 20 lbs. in One Month”!  Self thinks such a book would be an instant best-seller!  Stella and Tina, e-books awaits!)

Anyhoo, Happy Monday to One and All!

Stay tuned.

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