Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Movie Review: The Change-Up

There’s this old cliché that goes: “You can never fully understand another person until you walk in his shoes.”

The Change-Up, a new comedy flick movie from Universal Pictures is exactly about that. Here, two best friends -- Mitch (Ryan Raynolds) and Dave (Jason Bateman) -- had exactly opposite lives. Dave, who works in a respectable corporate firm, is a promising career-driven lawyer, and has three wonderful kids and a lovely wife, Jamie (Leslie Mann), is still dissatisfied about how his life turned out. He envies the life of his friend Mitch, who can be best described as having a perverted Peter Pan lifestyle of being irresponsible, single, carefree, and in pursuit of a showbiz career in low-budget porno films. 

Mitch, in the same way, envies the life of his friend Dave who has become successful in almost all aspects of life. Their fates supernaturally switch after they urinate on a fountain of the Greek deity Metis, goddess of wisdom, skills and craft, and simultaneously wished for each other’s life.

This movie is no different than other switch back movies I’ve seen. The stories and plots are almost the same, concluding to the realization of the characters as they learn the value of each other’s lives after filling in each other shoes. However, one of the biggest challenges for movies such as these that have a similar plot is the execution, script, and also the caliber of the talents that a producer puts in. The difference, I guess, with this movie, is the perfect team up between Ryan Reynolds, who is fresh from his blockbuster performance in Green Lantern, and Jason Bateman, also another currently sought-after comedian who’s been bagging one project after another. In fact, I just saw him in Horrible Bosses recently.

Skin exposures are a plus factor to entice fans to watch this film. The character of Sabrina, played by Olivia Wilde, as the composed and sexy hot paralegal of Jason Bateman, will surely attract more male movie viewers. She represents the hidden sexual fantasy of Dave, who was suppressed to keep the good “married guy” image in the office. I first saw Olivia Wilde in the film Cowboys and Aliens as the hot changeling ET and she definitely has the feminine physique to show off.

The comedy part is also distinctive in a “Fear Factor” sort of way. In the early part of the film, there was a scene where Dave, responsible dad as he is, changed the diapers of one their twin babies and a gooey fondue-consistency poop trajectory squirted on Dave’s face and into his mouth. Now that’s one comedy feature that will make everyone spill their guts out laughing and will make one wait for more toilet-humor actions the rest of the film.

Even if this film may not win any awards, it surely will get a lot comedy fans’ approval. The switchback concept is definitely unoriginal, but it was nevertheless made extra hilarious by the talented actors who played the funny characters. There are foul languages used though as well as sexually-explicit scenes so minors have to be guided accordingly. I suggest, however, that you simply leave the kids at home when you go see this movie.

Catch The Change-Up in a theater near you. It is best recommended to be watched with your special someone.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Music Album Review: Johnny Alegre’s Humanfolk

They say that Jazz music originated in the US by African slaves who worked in the fields and rail road constructions many years ago as an expression of their emotions or, should I say, lamentations of their fate and suppressed conditions. Over the years, the so called “mainstream” jazz music has evolved into various “branches” such as soul-jazz, bebop or hard bop, rhythm and blues, and swing. Later on, there came Samba, Bossa Nova and Fusion. Much newer ones emerged in the last two decades which became very popular, and these are Nippon Jazz, New Age and Acid.

As many jazz musicians have grown virtuoso in their musical craft, so did jazz evolved in many eccentric forms, distinctly identified with a particular country of origin. If the Americans have their forms, Brazil has the Bossa Nova, and even Japan has its Nippon jazz, why can’t there be Filipino Jazz?

In the Philippines, as we truly believe is rich in cultural heritage and that Filipinos are noted to be the minstrels of Asia as proven by a long track record of world renowned artists, it is only proper and high-time that another branch of jazz should emerge which is distinctly Filipino.

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to watch the concert of local jazz icon Mr. Boy Katindig who is now making a big buzz among jazz aficionados in the international scene. Among the sessionists who backed him up is the prolific jazz guitar player Mr. Johnny Alegre whom I met earlier before the show. After the concert, Mr. Alegre generously gave me a copy of his Humanfolk Music CD which he wanted to promote. After listening to it for the very first time, I instantly came to a revelation -- THIS IS IT! If there would be a jazz style that can be considered to be distinctly Filipino, this is the one, a Maharlikan Jazz!

Among Johnny Alegre’s musical creations, Humanfolk is considered to be his most priceless achievement. Humanfolk is a collection of pieces played by Pinoy musicians who are popularly noted for their indigenous styles using local tribal instruments like the kulintang, bungkaka, agung, gangsa, and tongatong which are rendered mostly in a complex syncopated tempo. As it is, listening to these instruments is very enchanting and inspires a deep sense of cultural roots.

The Humanfolk ensemble is composed of Johnny Alegre, Susie Ibarra, Malek Lopez, Cythia Alexander, Roberto Juan Rodriguez and Abby Clutario. Each of them has unique, divergent musical skills that is purely Pinoy in every level. The CD is a compilation of 11 tracks, including a radio-shortened version of Para sa Tao which is one of my favorites because it is actually a rendition of a simple Filipino nursery alphabet song creatively arranged in an eclectic rhythm, round song-like music.

Another cut which I can’t get enough of listening to is Humanfolk – 1. It is a bouncy, upbeat song with no recognizable words, just relax scatting in a fun jazzy melody, and the sound of the acoustic guitar fits the indigenous instruments perfectly. Other selections are solo percussion playing which is run down of indigenous instruments sounds.

Humanfolk is definitely a reflection of a strong Filipino cultural and musical heritage. I just hope that more local jazz artists would emerge and follow this particular stream that is uniquely Pinoy and may Humanfolk be a catalyst for more musical innovations that will help us regain the culture and the arts that define us. Incorporating a kulintang instrument to a Dizzy Gillespy’s jazz style or an angklung to a laid-back bossa nova melody, for me, can be an entirely new jazz style … a Maharlikan jazz one. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Movie Review: Hanna

Another action thriller movie is about to hit the big screen this October brought to you by Columbia Pictures

Hanna is a film about an innocent looking, charming teenage girl assassin who’s ten times deadlier than Le Femme Nikita.

The movie stars Saoirse Ronan, a not-entirely newcomer in the silver screen industry who is hitting hard punches with her acting talent and action skills at a very young age. She first became popular when she was nominated for an Oscar for her role in the film Atonement in which she co-starred with Kiera Knightly.

In this new movie, Ronan plays a teenage girl, Hanna, who was raised by a rouge CIA agent Erik (Eric Bana) in the sub-zero temperatures of North Finland. Exposed in extreme environment, Hanna was home schooled and trained by her known father Eric all there is to know to be an effective assassin. After a turning point in their lives, the girl who’s an expert in hand-to-hand combat and is fluent in multiple languages decides to seek her target, Marissa, played by Cate Blanchett who a CIA officer with a dark secret.

The film is directed Joe Wright, the same director of the highly acclaimed Atonement, who took the film to different places crossing several countries from Morocco to Germany. This movie is action-packed on all levels and most of the choreography and execution of the fighting scenes were also superb and very realistic. Cate Blanchett also made an outstanding performance as the villain.

Eric Bana, who has first received popularity in the film Hulk, performed his character well in this movie. One distinction of his talent is his European accent, although the hand-to-hand fighting scenes in the subway with five opponents were not as impressive. I found the execution of the choreography was not as fluid. I can’t help comparing it with Matt Damon‘s hand-to-hand fight scenes in Bourne Identity which became my standard on the quality of fighting choreography.

On the other hand, the general story and plot are distinctive compared to other similarly crafted espionage-type of plots. One of the things I like in a movie are the unexpected twists in the story and this film surely has lots of it – the feeling of unpredictability. As to the value that was impressed in the film is the young girl’s redemption to have a normal life.

After watching the movie, I imagined immediately how a sequel will come out if there would be one. For me, the story is so good that a conclusion would be premature. The film has a lot of potential for a good sequel. All in all, I consider this film to be worth watching and that Saoirse Ronan, as young as she is, will probably have more projects in the action movie genre in the future. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Restaurant Review: RED Garlic Bistro Cafe

20 dishes and counting!

To all food lovers out there! There is a brand new food crib cooking along Katipunan Avenue that will surely satisfy any person’s food cravings, may it be pasta, grilled food, or any Asian or western treat.

This coming October 2, Chef Vince Rodriguez of Pepper Mills Caterers and partners will be opening the newest restaurant that will serve some of his most talk-of-the town dishes that a lot of well known personalities are raving about. Among his regular and frequent costumers are Kris Aquino, Dr. Vicky Belo, Judy Ann Santos, Dingdong Dantes, Ogie Alcasid and Regine Velasquez, to name a few.

I was very fortunate to be invited by a friend, Ms. Maan Pamaran of Manila Bulletin, to join an intimate taste testing event of some of the dishes of the soon-to-open RED Garlic Restaurant. Ok, let me correct myself. I guess “some” would be an understatement, because what Chef Vince prepared for us was actually 20 plus dishes including the desserts!

I had many invitations to food tasting events in the past and I am used to the average quantity of food that restaurants usually serve and allow us to devour in one sitting. So I always make it a point to prepare all my internal organs, most specially the gastro parts, and plan my pacing, because I know very well this will be a long night of food battle ahead of me.

As the food was being prepared, the waiters served us a drink concoction mix which called Gummy Worms. This cocktail drink is a mixture of a few ounces of whisky, Banana shake, milk and grenadine syrup. This is a light beverage which I really like that it’s enough to set the condition of my stomach of the “great” things to come later. And of course, this drink is served in a cocktail glass with a small gummy worm hanging on the rim. You may eat the worm right away or save it for later, that is entirely up to you.

The first batch was a selection of appetizers. The Santiago Taco Poppers are long, green peppers wrapped and filled with chili con carne served in a jigger with a special sauce. Along with it is a bowl of Potato Wedges dipped in country mayo.

The Alaskan Salmon Roll is like maki with Japanese rice wrapped in sea-weed and fried with rock shrimp. It was served with wasabi and salsa as toppings. The Tornado Roll is made with Indian chicken tikka, sushi roll with sea weed, wasabi and cilantro. After getting just a fraction of these delectable appetizers, my friends and I were wondering what next great dish will be coming out from the kitchen in a little while.

A light salad was the best next thing to break the series of appetizers we just had. The Shrimp Pomelo Salad is entirely unique to me. It features crispy adobo flakes on top of pomelo chunks and fresh lettuce sprinkled with sweet chili sauce. I encourage everyone to try this because the sauce blends with the salad ingredients perfectly.

The next batch of dishes was the pasta and pizza selection. Served in an 8” x 12” plank is a pizza in two flavors. One side is the Philly Cheese Steak and the other half is Basilica Italian Sausage on thin crust rectangular dough. 

Soon after that, we got to taste three varieties of pasta, each of which is equally delicious on its own. The first was Alboro Pasta glazed in Prosciutto ham and bacon in olive oil based.

For the sea food lovers, Santorini Penne is one pasta you should definitely not pass up on. The base is tomato cream sprinkled with crab meat and chunks of shrimps. The serving is plenty plus the penne pasta is also very filling, so it’s best to share.

And the third is the Sardinia Pasta which has Spanish sardines in spaghetti noodles with slices of tomatoes in olive oil. For those who wanted more spiciness, this is the best.

After the parade of great tasting pasta, I’m starting to get my fill even with if I was just getting bite-sizes of each, because I know the best is yet to come.

True enough, the next batch of Chef Vince dishes are the steaks and barbeques. The first one on the list is Grilled Pork Chop with Mango Chipotle Chili and Cranberry on top. But just to make it clear, this is no ordinary pork chop because it is actually a two inch-thick slab of pork-loin. With that size, it is amazing to taste the marinade down to the bone. In between dishes, I made it a point to rinse my mouth with lemon flavored water to get rid of the after taste of each dish.

Right after that heavy intro, another meat was served and this was the Smoked Tequilla Lime Beef Barbeque Ribs which is super tender down to the bones itself.

Then there’s the awesome Tomahawk Steak which is certified authentic US Angus beef rib-eye, rubbed with special spices and marinade.

The last of this batch was finally toned down by a lighter fish meal called the Salmon Duo with basil pistachio and smoked habanero chili cream.

After the short break of livestock meat, it was resumed by Salpicao Medallion which was served on a hot granite (not iron) plate. This beef tenderloin is covered with a special sauce and wrapped in bacon. This particular dish was partnered with Thai-rice which I only took a few spoonfuls of because I wanted to save some space for the dessert, which I thought would come right after, but I was wrong.

We also got to sample the Green Chicken Curry, the last of the main courses, which is also amazingly tasteful. It can be nicely paired with the Thai Bagoong Fried Rice.

The three varieties of desserts Chef Vince made for us really gave me temporary amnesia. The Bread Pudding, which is RED Garlic’s signature dissert will make you forget your name for while. I have not tasted anything like this before.

The second one is Hush Puppies which is a round butter milk Danish pancake coupled with vanilla ice cream.

And the last is Panna Cotta which is served with fresh cube-sliced fresh assorted fruits. All in all, this dinner was literally a short, heavenly experience here on earth.

RED Garlic is located at #218 Katipunan Avenue, Blue Ridge A, Quezon City. Chef Vince will serve his best line of dishes for those who want to a have a unique gastronomical experience. They are open from 7am to 12mn.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Event Coverage: Rediscovering Van Houten Chocolates

Edit - Dec 22: Like and share Cocophilia Philippines' Facebook page and get to win chocolate gift packs!

My earliest recollections of imported chocolates bring me back to the 70’s when my dad, who was serving in the Air Force at that time, used to bring home sack loads of them from PX outlets in the former US base, Clark Field in Pampangga. Bars of Toblerone, Hershey’s, M&Ms, and a lot more are a common sight inside our ref, especially during Christmas time.

Among the pile, the rare find would have to be the Van Houten Chocolates. Not all the time could my siblings and I get to eat it because they’re quite expensive. So, whenever Dad brings home Van Houten chocolates, my mother would ration them into small bricks so everybody could have equal shares. I remember her placing the pieces on the sides of our plates during dinner time. Back then, I told my dad I wish that all chocolates he would bring home would just be Van Houten ones so I could eat more of them.

Last September 13, I was lucky enough to be invited to an afternoon of chocolate appreciation among media friends at the Society Lounge, one of the hippest, posh venues in Makati. To my delight, this special event is actually about rediscovering Van Houten, the chocolates I considered the “gold nuggets” among the other chocolates I grew up to enjoy. 

The day was celebrated with a communal ritual chocolate appreciation that involves all senses from the feel of the packaging, the smell, the sound of the “break” and, of course, the taste that encouraged everyone to have a small piece linger in the upper palette and tongue. It was my first time to experience this kind of session and I savored every minute of it. 

The program was introduced by a short “chocophilia” education and a short history of Van Houten. The venue was filled by people and chocolates. It was like a mini version of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Van Houten Chocolates of different kinds are practically everywhere. For me, it was like the Christmas times of my childhood again. 

Chef Patrice Freuslon, Society Lounge’s Executive Chef, enlightened everybody on how Van Houten can be enjoyed with everyday dishes or on its own. He also provided us with some delectable cocktail treats and fine wine that made for a perfect match while enjoying Van Houten chocolates. 

That day was truly special. Van Houten chocolates everywhere at my disposal! Unfortunately, I knew that fulfilling my childhood chocolate dreams would not be possible. You see, I would have to eat chocolates at the barest minimum because I was just recently diagnosed with diabetes. 

Nonetheless, the event ended in a blissful conclusion because all of us got to bring home samples of Van Houten although my system could only tolerate a small “brick” a day to control my blood sugar level. 

So I’m glad that none of my kids have my illness. I realized that my childhood chocolate dreams were fulfilled in them after all. Indeed, I found joy just seeing my kids eat Van Houten chocolates not in rationed pieces but by bars to their hearts’ content … like those many Christmases ago in the 70’s. 

*Photos borrowed from Jeman of

Monday, September 19, 2011

Kaspersky Anti-Virus And Internet Security 2012 Versions

Owning a 2011 version of any anti-virus installed in the computer somehow guarantees protection from malicious threats but, sad to say, not for a very long time. The cybercrime industry is flourishing and always ready to come up with yet another virus that can be acquired from the web or through any hardware attached to a PC and which will go up against any anti-virus protection.

Kaspersky Lab, the world’s largest, privately-owned, and the leading internet security company is providing comprehensive in-depth computer defense software. It is dual protection that guards the PC from any hardware-acquired threats as well as features another watch-dog security that will scan malicious threats from the web before it even lands on a system.

Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2012 and Kaspersky Internet Security 2012 provide double protection for any PC. At any given time, cybercrimes are being perpetuated by individuals hacking and stealing money from online accounts. In some cases, these threats are in the form of spam which most anti-virus programs oftentimes overlook and end up settled in a legitimate inbox folder.

A special feature of the Kaspersky Internet Security 2012 is that it warns users from links that will lead to malicious sites and spam sites. It has an intelligent update system that downloads new databases in the products’ module when they are required, based on the current user’s activity. It means that any malicious threat can be handled by the security without giving you any interruptions as you go about your daily internet activities such as doing Facebook or watching clips on YouTube.

The 2012 version will provide you with a safe and efficient working environment. It will block any potential harmful threats while you are busy surfing the internet.

Over the years, Kaspersky has fully understood the dangers that lie await any users as the latter expose themselves to threats they might encounter in this fast and demanding world of digital information and connectivity. With that, the Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2012 and the Kaspersky internet Security 2012 were made to become even more user-friendly through its intuitive new interfaces and the inclusion of the cutting-edge cloud-based technologies that makes security and protection doubly powerful.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Restaurant Review: Old Vine Grille

Discover fresh and exciting treats at the Old Vine Grille that range from celebrity salad, great tasting steaks, and more, that are always served fresh and sizzling hot for your dining satisfaction.

Old Vine is just one of the many creations of two of the most prolific food and dinning icons Mr. Larry Cortez and Chef Mauro Arjona Jr. These two are also responsible for putting up Chef’s Quarter where avid frequent costumer Mrs. Imelda Romualdez Marcos herself always pays a visit to.

Old Vine, on the other hand, is another food cradle Larry and Mau have concocted and which is more noted for its food innovations and combinations that would certainly make the whole dining experience a pleasurable one.

I had the opportunity to visit Old Vine’s branch at Eastwood mall last week with my wife and a few friends and had great time sampling some of the best dishes in their menu. For the initial entrée, we were served with an unusual salad with a very familiar name - the Tessie Tomas Salad. Named after actress Ms. Tessie Tomas, a good friend and a frequent client of the grille, this salad is a combination of roasted prawns, marinated salmon and roasted shiitake mushrooms with mesclun salad in creamy balsamic dressing. It is delightfully refreshing and tasty, no wonder it’s what Ms. Tomas wants in a salad.

Another salad that is quite a memorable one for me is the Pan-fried Foie Gras Salad. Foie Gras, which is actually goose liver, is the main treat of this particular dish. As much as this offering will bring you to a gastronomical high, so does its cholesterol content. So make sure to indulge in it in the barest minimum and share an order with friends.

One feature that Old Vine Grille is noted for are the “paired” dishes wherein they have a wide array of steaks combined with another main dish like the Steak Escargot made with a US Angus beef top blade steak seasoned with Cajun spices and topped with escargot bourguignon with au jus potatoes.

On the other hand, the Steak and Shrimp is a blackened US Angus beef top-blade paired with succulent shrimp barbecue.

Another best seller that Old Vine is famous for is the Baby Back Ribs American Favorite Barbecue. Served in a hot plate, this dish is so perfectly combined with deep fried potato wedges and baked beans. It is simply the perfect taste true to the American food tradition.

For those with Filipino palates, try the Steak Tagalog, a local version of the western steaks. It has pan-seared US Angus Beef slices in soy sauce with calamansi/lemon mixed with onion sauce, potatoes and aubergine (more commonly known as eggplant).

Lamb shank Pinot Noir is one of Old Vine’s masterpieces that Larry and Mau are proud to serve. The lamb is first marinated in wine then carefully grilled and braised to perfection to be served with fried potato wedges, roasted shallots and garlic. The result is a tangy spicy taste of lamb meat that is tender down to the bone.

Old Vine Grille also serves pasta which is a perfect balance to the grilled meat dishes. 

The array of desserts which include the Belgian Chocolate Fondue, the Ube Cheesecake Brulee, and the Banana-Langka Crepe Samurai are grand finale pieces that every diner should not miss trying. 

Old Vine Grille has two branches. One is at Eastwood Mall and the other one is at the Venice Piazza, McKinley Hill. If you want to have an authentic taste of great steaks and mouth-watering grilled barbeque dishes, visit Old Vine and amaze yourself with these amazing dishes which are testaments to Larry and Mau’s skills in always coming up with delectable food creations.

For reservations and inquiries check out or call 706.5573 for the Eastwood branch and 836.4966 for the Venice Piazza branch.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...