Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A First Time Viewer's Take on Murder on the Orient Express 2017 Film

Just recently, I finished reading Agatha Christie's popular novel, Murder on the Orient Express with super sleuth Hercules Poirot. It was definitely a great read. I would say a page turner, trying to analyze the characters as I read along and thinking to myself, what could the motive be? And more importantly, whodunnit?



And so when I found out it was coming to life in the big screen, I knew I had to watch it. It's not the first time Hollywood adapted the famous crime novel of Agatha Christie. According to my research, it's been adapted into the screen many times. In fact, it's 1974 version was an Oscar winning one. It's my first time to see it on the big screen though and as someone who has just recently read the book, allow me to share my thoughts on the movie.

First of all, it's a star studded cast. There's Johnny Depp, Judy Dench, Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe; Daisy Ridley; Leslie Odom Jr., Josh Grad and Michelle Pfeiffer to name a few. I think having such a star studded cast would be enough to entice a movie goer to see this film even if they were unfamiliar with the story.   



I also give props to the costumes. They're all so elegantly dressed to kill. Vanity Fair even had an interview with the movie's costume designer.

I thought the production set design was amazing. The Orient Express. The scenery complete with the snow. One critic complained that it's C.G.I and therefore lost its realism. But I suppose for the untrained eye like mine, it was beautifully done.   

As for the movie itself, I thought it was okay. I did not regret spending money to see this film in cinemas. But it's not also something that I'd rave about. In fact, when my friend asked how I found the movie, I did say it was okay. He decided not to watch for himself after that. Ha! Ha!

There was a bit of humor and action mixed into mystery in this Murder on the Orient Express film. I appreciated the humor. But not the action. Maybe Kenneth Branagh together with the screenwriter, Michael Green thought it would give the film some excitement. But honestly, I thought it could have done without it. After all, the story itself in the book was not action packed but it was still exciting. It was exciting because it had the crime mystery which I thought was lacking in the film.

I give props to the stellar performances of Pfeiffer who played Mrs. Hubbard and Ridley who played Miss Mary Debenham. I also liked Gad's performance as Hector McQueen, right hand man of Edward Ratchett (the victim played by Johnny Depp) and Tom Bateman who played M. Bouc, big shot at the train company and who happens to also be Hercules Poirot's friend. Some actors like Dench and Dafoe I thought weren't really given much screen time which is a shame because I know they're really good.

As for Kenneth Branagh's take on Hercules Poirot, I didn't think he did the famous Belgian detective justice. Sure I liked that he gave Poirot some personality - fretting about two imperfectly sized boiled eggs and being bothered by an unkempt tie but I didn't appreciate the dramatic flair.

For someone who's read at least two Agatha Christie novels with Hercules Poirot as the protagonist of the story, I thought it just out of character for the detective to be that reactionary. For the most part of the movie, Poirot seems to let his emotions get the best of him which is so not the Poirot I've gotten to know in the books. In the latter, he's someone who's calm, careful and logical. He's also very observant - that was his strength. That was made the Hercules Poirot novels so good to read because at the end of the novel, the big revelation of whodunnit as would be explained by him would leave the reader feeling incredulous.

As for what makes the novel, Murder on the Orient Express, such a good read, is the motive of the characters for the murder all explained in detail. That was missing from the film. The characters' motive for killing wasn't given much depth to it. The clues that were laid out were also not really tackled so much. Everything was just in passing as if the screenwriter and the director was thinking "let's just get it over with". It felt rushed honestly which is a big let down because these are the elements that truly makes the story something so unique and incredible. 

Still I thought the movie's ending was nicely done. It made sure to show the viewers' the agony of Poirot, who seemed to usually see things in black and white, as he realizes he was in a grey area of whether to do the right thing or look the other way around after learning the motive behind the killing. So if I were to rate this movie, I'd say 3 out of 5 stars.



*movie photo from Slashfilm

Monday, November 13, 2017

Recent Read: Colleen Hoover's Confess

Because I became a true blue fan of Colleen Hoover since reading Maybe Someday, I bought another one of her novels, Confess.



Confess is about Auburn Reed, a young woman who has lost everything that's important to her and who's trying to rebuild her shattered life. She walks into a Dallas art studio in search of a job not expecting that she'd find a deep attraction to the enigmatic artist who works there, Owen Gentry. But as she follows her heart, she discovers that he's keeping a big secret from her - one that could destroy everything that she loves most. To save their relationship, all Owen needs to do is confess.

This is my fourth Colleen Hoover novel. While it's certainly not my favorite, it's a little better than Maybe Not. The plot's intriguing and I have to hand it to Colleen for that plot twist that I didn't see coming. But unlike Maybe Someday and Ugly Love, it didn't make me cry. I certainly didn't think it was that heart wrenching. In fact, I agree with one GoodReads review that said she found this book to be underwhelming. 

Just like Ugly Love, the characters in this story seemed to be more mature than their age but that's because of the circumstances that happened in their lives. But in all honesty, I didn't feel the connection of Owen and Auburn so much. Also I didn't like the heroine so much. I thought she's kind of weak and helpless.




I think the best thing I liked about this book though are the confessions that people share with Owen anonymously which he uses as inspirations for his art works.

"I'm scared I'll never stop comparing my life without him to how my life was when I was with him"

"I went to China for two weeks without telling anyone. When I returned, no one noticed I'd been gone"

"When I'm with you, I think of all the great things I could be if I were without you."
   

Hurts just reading them right? Feels so real... But then again, the dedication in one of the front pages of the book says this:

"The confessions you read within this novel are true confessions submitted anonymously by readers. This book is dedicated to all of you who found the courage to share them."  





How to describe Confess? I think this GoodReads review said it best "This book is most certainly a romance, but it's also so much more. It's a story of survival, courage, unexpected chances, fate, sacrifice, confessions, lies, love, and healing." 


In my own GoodReads review, I rated this 4 out of 5 stars. It's still worth the read.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Trip Down Pop Culture Memory Lane at History Con 2017

I find history to be a very fascinating subject so a couple of months ago, I went to History Con 2017 at World Trade Center, Pasay. There were so much to see!


By the entrance, the ones you'll see first are cars. A lot of vintage cars. 




Recognize this car? This is KIIT, an advanced artificially intelligent, self-aware and nearly indestructible car used by Michael Knight, a high tech, modern crime fighter from the 1980s popular TV show, Knight Rider. It starred David Hasselhoff pre-Baywatch days.


The VW Camper Van, a rolling symbol of for independence and freedom 
Inside the camper van
1928 Ford Phaeton
66 AC Cobra 302 Black


F3 Lola Race Car, the first high-tech race car designed and built by Mygale 


There were also these vintage Coca-cola bottles. Through the years, this popular soda has released various bottle shapes and designs.




Before the advent of push button and cordless phones, this was the phone. I actually remember using this kind of phone up until I was in College. No, I'm not that old! But we had a phone like this. 


A film camera. Before camera phones, mirror less cams and digital cams, people had to buy a roll of film to put in their cameras in order to take photos. I had a lot of film strips from College since my classmates and I enjoyed taking photos (I guess that's what happens when you're in an all girls school). Plus we had a photography class in College and we used film cameras.

Vintage bikes

Also found there one of my favorite cartoons when I was still a kid - Voltes V which is incidentally celebrating 40 years this 2017. I remember the famous phrase "Let's volt in!" and this robot will be formed.


Also spotted Hello Kitty dolls at History Con. Sanrio and friends were all the craze back when in the 90s. Gift Gate, which has closed down the last of its store earlier this year, sold these products. Frankly, while I thought Hello Kitty was a cute cartoon character, I was never really fond of them.


And before I discovered a love for Wendys, Casper and Richie Rich comics and graduated to Archie Comics, I read a lot of Funny Komiks. It was pretty cool to see them again at History Con.



Old boom boxes at History Con - it was what John Cusack's character in Say Anything movie was holding.



Mighty Kid shoes also a brand that became popular back in the late 80s to the early 90s.




And Jollibee toy collection! My Dad used to buy me these when I was a kid. In fact, I remember that I had these toys. I wonder if it's still in our bodega or if my mom had given it away.


And check those old Sunsilk shampoo bottles out. I guess back in the day, long, shiny and straight hair wasn't the definition of beautiful hair.


And back then, notebooks with celebrities on the cover were cool. Never did get on that trend. I liked cartoon characters more. 


An old pay phone. In order for it to work, you had to insert coins in it. Are these things still existing or has the advent of mobile phones made this thing extinct? 



An old cassette tape by Manilyn Reynes. I used to sing her songs a lot mainly Sayang na Sayang  and Kapag Tumibok Ang Puso. Kids of today don't know how a cassette tape works. But I remember that if I wanted to repeat a certain song, I'd have to press rewind and that takes a bit of time. Sometimes, I even use a pencil or a pen and I stick it in the hole at the center to rewind it manually if the cassette's strips' fell out. These days, we've got Spotify and all we have to do to repeat a song or skip to the next is click on the title. Instant! 



The old TV. We had one of these at home when I was growing up. Remote controls were not invented yet so in order to switch channels, you'd have to stand up from your seat and turn the knob.


The hoverboard made famous by Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future 2. Can't believe this thing was actually marketed! 




And before cassette tapes, there were vinyl records on a gramophone. Yes, we had these at home too! What can I say? The house I live in belongs to my grandmother. 



And here's a photo of the material girl herself, a young Madonna. I'm such a fan of this controversial pop icon. Love her songs! Like a Virgin, Material Girl, Holiday, Papa Don't Preach... 



So that's my visit at History Con 2017. It was a real trip down memory lane. A wonderful trip at that. 

Sunday, September 24, 2017

#MakeYourOwnLuck with Olay

Do you believe in making your own luck? That in order to climb up the ladder of success and reach your dreams, you have to do a lot of hard work and have perseverance too? I do. I'm a firm believer that if you want something, you have to make it happen. You don't wait for things to fall into your lap.

Just like in skin care. If you want flawless, youthful skin you don't just wish for it. You have to work for it. You've probably read it all before - eat your Omega 3's; don't forget to wear sunscreen; exercise regularly and of course, have a good skin care routine - if you want to achieve beautiful skin.

Did you guys know that only 10% of women actually carry the genetic code that's gives that naturally beautiful skin that maintains its youthful look even as they age? That's right. Those women are the lucky few.

But you know, thanks to science, those of us who weren't born with the beauty gene, can now make our own luck! We too can now be one of those women who have flawless, youthful skin. Recently, Olay, the beauty skin care brand known for giving women timeless beautiful skin announced their new and improved formulation for Olay White Radiance, Olay Total Effects and Olay Regenerist that's backed up by thorough research and analysis from Olay's Multi-decade and Ethnicity Study (MDE Study) together with Harvard Medical School's Dr. Alexa Kimball.




The new Olay White Radiance Light Perfecting Essence with Pearl-Optics Complex enhances the skin’s dewy radiant aura. It does so by improving brightness, skin tone, and hydration, visibly reducing the appearance of dark spots over time. With this new formulation, you can look glowing and fresh, and feel confident even with minimal to no makeup.


The Olay Total Effects Day Moisturizer SPF 15 sets the bar higher in fighting the 7 signs of aging by further enhancing the skin’s natural self-renewal process. The Olay Total Effects series was the first mass skin care product to introduce the powerful anti-aging ingredient Niacinamide, but with Olay’s quest for improvement, the formula was boosted. The new Olay Total Effects now has VitaNiacin Complex II with Vitamins C, E, B3 and B5, along with having 50% more Vitamin E that serves as an anti-oxidant capable of defending the skin from free radicals known to cause skin-aging.

With the addition of Carob seed extract, the new Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream helps accelerate the recovery of aging skin, thanks to the added Glyco-Repair. This component activates the “ageless gene” pattern for that youthful-looking skin with reduced lines and wrinkles, and improved texture and elasticity. While also containing hyaluronic acid that aids in drawing moisture to keep your skin supple, the new Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream steps up its game as a new force in firmness. The re-engineered formula is designed to better plump skin resulting to reduced fine lines and wrinkles starting from day 1.

And speaking of making your own luck, Olay also introduced three women who have stood out and took to heart what it means to #MakeYourOwnLuck.

1) Singer and actress, Janella Salvador who admits that starting her career early proves to be a daunting and demanding task but she powers through with hard work and is now one of the fastest rising stars of her generation. And to help her overcome the stresses of a busy lifestyle, Janella trusts Olay White Radiance as her best bet for her skin.

2) Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach is proof that people can live out their dreams if they put their heart into it. With her parents’ separation, Pia has already gone through many hardships at an early age, but her drive and determination proved to be fruitful, as she has reached her goal when she was crowned Miss Universe 2015. At some point, her own family was worried about the obstacles she had to go through due to the many failures involved, but she fought on despite the difficulty. She explains, “Confidence makes me feel beautiful. I don’t think a specific color or number of circumstances define your luck. What ever makes you feel the most confident will bring you all the luck.” With Olay Total Effects, Pia believes that she gets to win over each day with confidence.

3) Charo Santos-Concio - This woman is someone to look up to! Actress, host, producer, manager and now 1st female president of the Lopez Group of Companies' media conglomerate. She channels all her energy in personal growth, and she never lets her age stop her. “You can’t be defined by the world,” she quips, because age isn’t a factor in doing what you love to do. She claims, “No matter how scared I may be, if the situation calls for me to stand up for something, then I will.” Her timelessness transcends her work, and is also reflective of her ageless beauty thanks to her efforts to work towards what’s best for her – a true mark of a woman who believes in making your own luck. And as for her skin care, Charo is a fan of Olay Regenerist.


Olay brand ambassadors Pia Wurtzbach and Charo Santos-Concio 

I'm also an Olay Regenerist user myself. It's been my trusted skin care companion for years now! Flawless, youthful skin, you say? Achieved!   






Well don't just take my word for it. Experience for yourself how it is to #MakeYourOwnLuck. Discover the secret to younger-looking skin with the newly reformulated Olay White Radiance Light Perfecting Essence, Olay Total Effects Day Moisturizer SPF 15, and Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream available at Php1,299 SRP, Php799 SRP, and Php1,899 SRP respectively. 

While now available in Lazada and all major department stores, you can also learn more about the new line by following Olay Philippines in Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.