Thursday, July 31, 2008

LOM

Offshore Bank Accounts
LOM is one of the world's most established offshore investment firms that operates in tax-favourable jurisdictions, overseas. Places like Bermuda, Grand Cayman, the Bahamas and London, UK. They employ expert market professionals with knowledge in all asset classes and access to all major markets.

Some benefits of investing with LOM include:
1) Tax efficient offshore investments.
2) Referral network to world's best accounting, tax, legal and estate planning professionals.
3) Private multi-currency trading accounts which provide currency diversification in volatile times.
4) Access to thousands of the world's top investment managers and best offshore funds.
5) Secure online statement access available 24/7.

If you are still hesitant about investing in an offshore bank account, this article provides more information on the process.

Visit their comprehensive website at http://www.lom.com/ for more details.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

July is Cord Blood Awareness Month

July is Cord Blood Awareness Month
For a newly wed who is considering parenthood soon, I am curious about a new medical breakthrough. It deals with the preservation of umbilical cord blood of newly born babies. By preserving a baby's umbilical cord blood, the stem cells can be used to treat over 70 diseases. It can also be used in over 8,000 transplants worldwide.

Cryo-Cell is one of the world's largest and most established family cord blood banks with over 150,000 clients worldwide. But making this important decision to save your baby's cord blood takes a lot of sleepless nights consideration. It is essential to learn about the value of cord blood banking. Cryo-Cell Cord Blood Bank's extensive website carefully explains any doubts you may have about this potential medical miracle.

Click here for valuable information about banking your baby's cord blood. But if you still have any questions, their highly trained nurses are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Monday, July 28, 2008

LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA

LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA
Javier Bardem, Benjamin Bratt, Giovanna Mezzogiorno, Hector Elizondo


"How long would you wait for love?"



This is the movie adaptation of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's intriguingly entitled novel. I've never read the book due to the superfluous wordings of the novel, it would take me forever to finish it.

But now I wish I did.

So I can have comprehensive insights into the 3 main characters whose lives unfold in this movie. The film which ran at more than 2 hours actually had some potential. It could have been one of the most celebrated love stories ever told on the big screen. Yet unfortunately it failed to convey what I assume is clearly evident in the novel - a love so strong it endures several decades.

Instead in the film, Florentino Ariza the guy whose love for Fermina knows no bounds was portrayed as an obsessive (to the point of being creepy) fool. It wasn't romantic at all. Javier Bardem (as Florentino Ariza) no doubt played his character with all the artistic talent he could muster. Yet his portrayal was mostly comical. Other times, he was more like an petulant brat who couldn't get his wish instead of a man deeply in love. I couldn't grasp where this profound love for Fermina stemmed from. It seemed a bit absurd, frankly.

Juvenal Urbino (Benjamin Bratt) on the other hand was my favorite character. His love for Fermina was genuine. He was a well mannered doctor, part of an oligarchy. He was educated, refined and his stature in society was respected. Benjamin Bratt was believable and projected well on screen with his chiseled features. He delivered his dialogue eloquently. Yet they should have focused more on his work as a doctor and his important role in curbing the cholera epidemic during that period.

Giovanna Mezzogiorno as Fermina struck me as being too indifferent and aloof. Her attractive features did nothing to disguise her rather rigid acting. Most of the time she had this her blank gaze. It made me wonder what Florentino saw in her and why his love for her lasted that long. Such a pity, really. The role would have been better suited by someone more mature both in acting skills as well as physical features. The biggest mistake was to have her portray the role as a young teenager when clearly she was already in her 30s. Then you have Florentino's character performed by a younger actor. So there was no chemistry at all.

Having said all that, the cinematography was the saving grace of this movie. Great panoramic shots of lush countryside and the hustle and bustle of city life of a long forgotten era were a visual threat. The wardrobe was appropriately authentic and it depicted the correct period. A time of great turmoil and struggles in that part of the world.

Then there is the argument that perhaps it would have been better if the dialogue was entirely in Spanish. It could have helped a bit. But I guess that isn't the point. The script itself lacked depth! The characters were not well developed. It focused too much on the dilly dalliances of Florentino Ariza. It should have focused more on the background of how the romance developed.

Because no matter what language it was filmed in you cannot really capture the true essence of a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel. If I may say so myself, even though I haven't read a single book by this esteemed author.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

MAMMA MIA!

MAMMA MIA!
Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgard, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters, Dominic Cooper


"A mother. A daughter. Three possible fathers. Take a trip down the aisle you'll never forget."


Cinema 4, Shang Cineplex




I've always been very particular when it comes to movies based on musicals/plays. There are some I have avoided like the plague such as "Hairspray" and "Showgirls". While others like "The Phantom of the Opera", "Evita" I really loved and can't get enough of them.

The first time I heard about "Mamma Mia", I couldn't imagine a play/musical based entirely on Abba songs. It sounded like a preposterous idea. But I was still curious and was keen to watch it. I had the chance when it (the musical) was staged a few years ago in Singapore but due to budget constraints I wasn't able to experience it. So this weekend while it seems that every single person in Manila was lined up to see the winged crusader battle it out with the Joker, I was at a different cinema! I was soaking in the delightful, infectious songs of the famous 70s Swedish group.

Truth be told, the film is pretty mushy, alright. The cast can barely sing. Yes I'm talking about you, Pierce Brosnan. The plot is reminiscent of a Mexican telenovela.


But oh what the heck.


The Greek setting was absolutely postcard perfect. There was plenty of yummy eye candy in the specimens of Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth. There was perfect comedic timing essayed by the funny 'sidekicks', Julie Walters (Ms Shirley Valentine, herself) and Christine Baranski. Meryl Streep was in her elements, even in hideously gaudy disco outfits and platform shoes. There was the luminous Amanda Seyfried, who was so refreshingly sweet. And naturally there were the songs of ABBA. The songs I grew up listening to while I was only this high. The songs I danced to when I didn't know any better. To this day, my father would tease me and my sister that we absolutely adored "Voulez Vous" and would sing and dance to it to our hearts' content with extreme glee. Gosh how embarrassing!

On the other hand, I was baffled about two points in the movie. Why does Sky (the groom) talk with a very distinct British accent? Won't it be more believable if his nationality was Greek? Then later in the movie Colin Firth's character suddenly ehem changed his genre. Now that's simply incredulous.


But anyways, "Mamma Mia!" is indeed a delightful theatrical experience one must not miss if only to draw in the nostalgic moments of our now very distant childhood. Don't be shy if you are caught singing along to the wonderful songs of ABBA. You won't be the only one!

Friday, July 18, 2008

LA VIE EN ROSE

LA VIE EN ROSE
Marion Cotillard, Gerard Depardieu, Emmanuelle Seigner, Sylvie Testud, Jean Pierre Martins



"The extraordinary life of Edith Piaf"




Extraordinary life indeed. But what is more extraordinary in my opinion is the masterful performance of Marion Cotillard as the diminutive singer. She looked exactly like Edith Piaf! Her mannerisms, her facial expressions, her gait and even her pout. Everything about the singer was perfectly embodied in her acting. No wonder she won the best actress award at the Oscars. She truly deserves it.

The biopic itself had a gloomy, depressive tone since it mostly focused on the very difficult life of Edith Piaf. Her bleak childhood in the slums, her struggles as a young singer, her numerous challenges encountered before hitting it big with her powerful voice - all well detailed in the film. The non linear approach of the director was confusing but nevertheless well executed. Veering sometimes on an overtly dramatic tone, certain scenes were difficult to absorb. Shots of Piaf abusing her body with tons of alcohol and drugs and wasting away her voice and her life were painful to watch. I guess the director wanted to draw in more sympathy for her plight. Her songs would invade your senses and even if you couldn't understand what she was singing about, you could still sense the angst riddled melody prevalent in her songs.

For me the most poignant scenes were the ones where they focused on her love affair with Marcel, the French boxer. The sob story of an ill fated romance. But it brought so much joy in her bleak existence, the singer would positively glow in his presence. It felt good to watch some happy moments amidst all the drinking, the tantrums and the troubles she endured.

It is filmed entirely in French with English subtitles. They didn't provide subtitles for her songs but suffice it to say you could still feel the profound effect of her powerful music. Most of her songs are sung without the proper enunciation of the words but that was distinctly her style. She was a feisty woman of the streets and her songs essayed her melodramatic and dare I say tragic life.

The film runs at 2 hours and 21 minutes. But even at that length I am sure there are several aspects of her life which wasn't tackled in this biopic. But the ones shown in this film are powerful enough to make a vivid impact. It was mostly due to the impressive acting skills of Marion Cotillard. "La Vie en Rose" is a story of a life well lived and which truly deserved to be told. In the immortal words of Edith Piaf, she sang about having no regrets at all. Words which tug at your heartstrings because they definitely depicted her colorful existence.

Non Je Ne Regrette Rien
Non, Rien De Rien,
Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien
Ni Le Bien Qu`on M'a Fait, Ni Le Mal
Tout Ca M'est Bien Egal
Non, Rien De Rien, Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien
C'est Paye, Balaye, Oublie, Je Me Fous Du Passe


Avec Mes Souvenirs J'ai Allume Le Feu
Mes Shagrins, Mes Plaisirs,
Je N'ai Plus Besoin D'eux
Balaye Les Amours Avec Leurs Tremolos
Balaye Pour Toujours
Je Reparas A Zero


Non, Rien De Rien, Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien
Ni Le Bien Qu'on M'a Fait, Ni Le Mal
Tout Ca M'est Bien Egal
Non, Rien De Rien, Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien
Car Ma Vie, Car Me Joies
Aujourd'hui Ca Commence Avec Toi

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

THE AIR I BREATHE

THE AIR I BREATHE
Brendan Fraser, Kevin Bacon, Forest Whitaker, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Emile Hirsch, Andy Garcia, Julie Delpy


"Sometimes the things we can't change ... end up changing us"





A drama based on an ancient Chinese proverb that breaks life down into four emotional cornerstones: happiness, pleasure, sorrow and love. Therefore you have characters named happiness, pleasure, sorrow and love. Well alright those are not their real names but that is what they are called in the movie. In fact, it is one of those movies where their names doesn't matter much. It is the message that they are trying to convey which pretty much gives the film some gritty and edgy feel to it. I didn't like the part where they portrayed "Happiness" and "Love". It came across as being too existential and unrealistic, respectively. On the other hand, I totally loved the "Pleasure" and "Sorrow" part. I also like how they intertwined with each other flawlessly.

I admit there are several quite violent scenes which can be disturbing but nonetheless it was essential for the overall gloomy effect of the film. It was necessary to establish the background of the characters' troubled existence. A sorrowful totally dejected life which just kept on getting more miserable by the minute. It was interesting how each part and each character managed to blend together like pieces of a puzzle fitting in the right place. It was a well executed and neatly edited plot that makes this film unique and dare I say 'different'.

I like the narration bit. In fact I've always loved films with narration. It adds more structure to a film. The fact that most of the movie is fueled by a narration contributed to its poignant nature. A method so effective I still shudder when I think of the quotes that were narrated.
Happiness: I always wondered, when a butterfly leaves the safety of its cocoon, does it realize how beautiful it has become? Or does it still just see itself as a caterpillar?

The cast all portrayed very mature and convincing roles. Special mention goes to Ms Buffy the Vampire Slayer, herself, Sarah Michelle Gellar. She gave a subtle yet very significant performance. Her role as a down on her luck rising pop star was very well acted. I've never been a fan of "Buffy" but with this film, I take my hats off to her. Brendan Fraser is best known for this goofy guy who goes off on his "Mummy" adventures. Or he would portray really silly roles like "George in the Jungle". But in "The Air I breathe" he is the complete opposite. All beefed up as a serious man of few words enforcer of a gangster. The silent menacing type but with a heart of gold. It was a masterful performance. He held his own ground acting opposite one of the most known method actors in the movie industry - the incomparable Andy Garcia. Garcia naturally projects well on screen and registers powerfully as the gangster, "Fingers". I don't think there is a role that Andy Garcia can't portray except maybe for a musical but who knows he might surprise us, some day.

So give and take a few disjointed side plots and unbelievable scenarios, the film was still effective in making us ponder about life, about love and everything else in between. The good ensemble cast was an added bonus.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Japanese Film Festival “Eiga Sai ‘08”

Japanese Film Festival “Eiga Sai ‘08”



In celebration of Philippines – Japan Friendship Month, the Japan Foundation, Manila, in cooperation with the Embassy of Japan, the Shangri-La Plaza Mall, the Cultural Center of the Philippines, and the UP Film Institute presents a glimpse of the Japanese culture in Eiga Sai ’08.

This year’s offering brings together 5 contemporary, 1 classical and 2 animae/manga films in 35mm format that would surely amuse Japanese film enthusiasts and the general public as well. An invitational screening of We Shall Overcome Someday (Pacchigi) by director Kazuyuki Izutsu will be held on July 8, 2008 (Tuesday) at 7:00p.m. at the Shangri-La Plaza Cinema 3, Edsa, Mandaluyong City.


All films will be shown with English subtitles. Screening venues are at the Shangri-La Plaza Cinema 3 (July 8 to 13, 26 & 27), CCP Dream Theater (August 7 to 10), and UP Film Institute (August 11 to 14 & 16). ADMISSION IS FREE. For detailed screening schedules and inquiries, please check the Japan Foundation, Manila website: www.jfmo.org.ph or call the JFM telephone numbers 811-6155 to 58.


Eiga Sai Screening Schedule
Eiga Sai Film Synopsis

Monday, July 7, 2008

BuyCostumes

Costumes
Growing up in various countries, I've never had the chance to experience Halloween. But I do know that it is a joyous event particularly for kids to dress up in costumes. The current favorite costumes are comic book characters. It is the poor parents though who have a difficult time scouring the different shops for the right costumes.

At BuyCostumes.com, you can find a wide range of Halloween costumes for infants, kids, adults and even your pets at very competitive prices. They also sell parties supplies as well as accessories to enhance your costumes such as wigs, masks and hats to name a few. But you don't have to limit yourself to dressing up merely for Halloween. They have various costumes for every occasion like themed birthday parties to Mardi Gras celebrations. Their shop is open all year round for all your costumes needs.

They offer same day shipping on their Halloween costumes and party items. Their comprehensive website makes online shopping for costumes very convenient. If you have any inquiries their friendly customer service staff are on hand to attend to your costumes concerns.

Next time you are in a party mood, drop by BuyCostumes.com to pick a suitable costume to groove the night away.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

AH! SI J'ETAIS RICHE

AH! SI J'ETAIS RICHE


Jean Pierre Darroussin, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Richard Berry


13th French Film Festival
Cinema 1, Shang Cineplex



You know how you always dream of hitting the jackpot at the lottery? Well this film explores what happens when a guy on the brink of divorce suddenly wins the top lottery prize!

This French comedy actually had all the key ingredients to make it potentially a hit. But somehow in my opinion, it fell flat. There were a lot of side plots which deviated from the main essence of the film which basically is the fact that even if you had all the money in the world it is pretty much useless if you didn't have someone meaningful in your life to enjoy it with.

Instead the film focused too much on the premise of how the main character had to go to lengths to hide his winnings so that his wife won't be entitled to it once the divorce was finalized. So for most part of the movie, it shows scenes of him going on shopping sprees, eating in a fancy restaurant then going to work and lying to his co-workers about his new suit. It should have delved deeper into the psyche of a man who suddenly finds himself with more money than he can handle. But I guess the direction of this film was more comedy than some angst filled drama.

But overall the acting of the ensemble cast was believable. The plot despite its flaws was convincing enough to keep you tuned. The fact that the main characters were salesmen of beauty products and did the rounds of the beauty parlors to peddle their wares in itself is a hilarious situation. It is entirely in French with English subtitles. Just be sure to read fast because it is mostly a dialogue driven film.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Drug Rehab

Drug Rehab
Drug addiction or any type of addiction for that matter is a serious condition. It deserves the best possible type of treatment. One such facility is the Cliffside Malibu. A residential drug rehab, alcohol rehab center and extended care facility for adults suffering from alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders, depression and other disorders.

Their drug rehab program uses several philosophies which cater to individual treatment plans as well as improve individual outcomes.
Their drug treatment philosophy incorporates a wide variety of clinical components that create highly effective addiction treatment programs. They include detox, individual therapy, group therapy, depression treatment and alternative medicine.

At Cliffside Malibu, they offer two comprehensive alcohol and drug rehab programs - primary drug rehab and extended care. Each new client participates in a medical and mental health screening by their staff physician, a clinical therapist and a psychiatrist. These screenings are very helpful. Their therapists design a unique drug rehabilitation plan which reflects the needs of the patient during this evaluation process.

An effective drug treatment plan specifically identifies the specific challenges which should be addressed during your stay at Cliffside Malibu. It also provides a tool for measuring progress which ensures that each client is well pampered.

Cliffside Malibu drug rehab is located away from the noise and other distractions which may impede your Drug Rehabilitation. It occupies almost two acres. Its center features complete privacy, beautiful architecture and decoration and modern amenities such as plasma TVs and wireless Internet access - making it the perfect setting for the treatment of your ailments.
 

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