The Movie-Book Challenge I: Atonement

In Ian McEwan’s Atonement, the unwavering passion between upper middle class Cecilia Tallis (played by Keira Knightley in the film by Joe Wright) and ‘son of the help’ Robbie Turner (James McAvoy) is tested as the tragedies of the Second World War unfold. But the beginnings of their strange (and slightly bad) romance gains a beginning through the innocent manipulation of Cecilia’s younger sister, Briony (Saoirse Ronan).

Robbie and Cecilia by the fountain.
Joe Wright’s film adaptation of McEwan’s masterpiece is probably the only book-to-screen translation that does the original work justice. Some movie adaptations, such as those of the Harry Potter series, try too hard to fit the entire story, making the time of sitting down to see the movie too long. What results are bored viewers (aka non-book readers) who probably don’t get half the story. Why? Because the movie tries so hard to be close to the book, what communicates better on print comes out unclear on screen. 
Atonement‘s adaptation, on the other hand, is flawless. As I read the book, I was already imagining the Tallis house from the movie as the setting, and James McAvoy’s gorgeous face as Robbie. These images fit just right as I dived into the details. McEwan’s poetic prose was the hand that fit perfectly into Wright’s mind numbing cinematography. The movie’s visuals ended up being my guide to the story, while McEwan’s beautiful prose did the explaining. It was as if McAvoy and Knightley read the book more than once, because every action, every word, every expression, was personified by these two brilliant actors. Ronan did a fantastic job as the annoying, self-centered, and manipulative Briony. The level of annoyance I felt at her equaled her ability as an actress, especially at her young age.
Both the book and the movie can stand by themselves.  You don’t need to read McEwan’s piece to get the “accurate” and “complete” story, but if the beauty of the movie strikes you that much, then reading the book won’t be a redundant act. As a movie, Wright and the rest of the gang utilize the elements of film to tell this heartbreaking tragedy. And as a book, McEwan delves into the confusing flaws of human beings and how it drives all of them mad in their day to day lives. Either way, no medium is short changed.
Of course, there were chapters that weren’t included in the movie. But their omission did not make the movie incomplete either. As I previously mentioned, these chapters–such as the one on Emily Tallis (Cecilia and Briony’s mother) and Jack, their father–would be unnecessary on screen. Wright kept the focus on the three main players: Robbie, Cee, and Briony, the key characters who would dutifully bring the story to life.


After weeks of editing, surprise overtime, proofing, and printer woes–last night, OLIVE magazine officially launched in the Philippines!

RELIEF has become ENTHUSIASM since I’ve worked in publishing. Haha.
The (other) most awesome copy editor I know, posing with the fruit (or duck) of our labor. 
These pictures came from before the launch itself commenced, which had quite a turnout. Making it even more deliciously decadent were the wine selections, sinful cheese bread snacks (as one photographer/writer put it, “It felt like I was doing something wrong every time I bit into it.” I may have added more innuendo in his words, but you get the idea), over-rhummed coke, and…. I can’t recall anymore. After that vodka-with-some-sprite drink, the night became a blur. But a fun, unforgettable, blur nonetheless. Nothing like a happy night spent with some of my favorite girls and guys in the world. Other highlights of the night? Businessman and/or chef eye candy. AND being able to dance TGIF with the boyfriend. 
The craziness that makes each day at the office brighter: Rina, France, and Johna.
Far left: the beautiful artist behind Olive’s layout, Ms. Karla Degrano! Congratulations!
Photos care of my favorite graphic artists, Benjoe Magnaye and Rina Ramos. 
Back to reality tomorrow. Ah life, how your extremes please and torture. 

The Movie-Book Challenge

Being a bookworm, it’s difficult for me to ever appreciate a movie that adapts a book. Or at least, attempts to translate the medium of narrative into the screen. The keyword in the previous sentence is attempt. But we live in an age where the movie gets more exposure than the book, and there are people who will not bother reading a book once they see the film.

I die a little inside every time I hear someone isn’t willing to read. But one movie which impressed me on its own (letting me judge it on its own, due to no prior knowledge of the book) was Atonement. Unlike other movies that make you too lazy to read the book, the movie captivates with its characters and cinematography, but leaves you thinking what the more elaborate narrative has to offer.

I recently bought my own copy of the book by Ian McEwan. The details certainly reveal more and the vividness of each sentence explains how the movie had amazing cinematography. The challenge? I read to know what happens next. In the book’s case, I already know. It’s also not a happy ending, and much worse than a sad one. If there was a word that was more heartbreaking than sadness, that would be the effect of the movie’s conclusion. A part of me wants to know what only McEwan’s writing can reveal, but the other refuses to relive the more-than-depressing ending.

Next on my movie first then book challenge is the film adapted from Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go. Let’s be honest here. I primarily saw Atonement since it stars James McAvoy. And the British movie of Ishiguro’s work? There’s the adorable Andrew Garfield. And Keira Knightley, again, my eternal girl crush.

Eye candy aside, I’m looking forward to the creepy but tragic plot and how the book will read after seeing the film. This will be my sort of reader experiment. How does a somewhat fanatical read-the-book-before-the-movie reader react to a book after seeing the film it’s based on? Which medium ends up being more appreciated? And are the differences less obvious after seeing the film, then moving on to the book it’s based on?

Is this reverse psychology? Or rather, reverse reader psychology? I’ll get back to McEwan’s novel then report the results of this experiment.

Crossover in Chaos and Disorder

I haven’t been updating my TV blog over at WordPress (hence the lack of a link, haha), but this week, my shows have impressed. Today, I chose to forgo viewing Gossip Girl, and prioritized my real favorite teen guilty pleasure, 90210. This episode’s opening was a stunner, and possessed a wisdom that speaks to all generations:

History is largely told as a chronicle of great people doing great things, but for most of us, life is not made up of big moments, it’s made up of small moments. And with every small choice, with every small decision, we are defining ourselves. Are we proud of ourselves, or are we disappointed by who we’ve become? Life rarely turns out the way that we planned. The unexpected happens, and it surprises us with new and exciting possibilities.

After seeing this mind blowing episode (because teen shows rarely get that good), I decided to watch How I Met Your Mother right after. My choices seemed to follow a theme, as this week’s episode showed how the gang has changed since college. It defined how becoming a grown up is for most people. In Marshall’s case, it was about choosing a stable and secure corporate job to provide enough for his wife and future kid(s) over having meager income as an environmental lawyer who tries to save the world. And although Lily knew this wasn’t the man he fell in love with, she accepted the change. That’s what being committed is all about–accepting each other throughout each transition, holding off expectations but keeping the love as the constant factor.

Cheesiness aside, 90210‘s opener finishes off with this line, somewhat matching HIMYM’s theme:

But sooner or later reality hits you in the face. 

Life will never go as planned. We will do everything in our power to keep things in order, but at some points, surprises and challenges come along to test our resourcefulness and question our present choices. Is this where we really want to be? What can I do to get to a certain point? There are probabilities to conclude from, but there will always be something to offset and cancel everything out. We have to get creative, have some kind of back up plan, start a new, or simply accept the changes that come our way. These ways let us move on, face reality, yet still find some sort of sanity in the sudden disorder.

Sidenote: It also scares me how TV shows sometimes parallel my life, or present a theme significant to its current events. I won’t delve into details, but I dedicate this post to my friend over at Hope this helps keeps life in perspective for you girlie.


In an interview with a team of rising graphic artists-slash-photographers-slash-stylists, they brought up an interesting question. “What does it mean to be made?” (The next few sentences are paraphrased.) “Is it when you have your own studio? Or when you have a house and lot? Or when you’ve made enough money?” For the generation that precedes ours, they tell us it’s mostly about answering the last two questions–being able to live a comfortable and secure life with no worries about the essentials. Obviously I have no problems with that, but can one really say they’re “made” by then? Maybe matters of security are more of being made for them, while for our generation, it’s taken on a less material meaning.

According to popular media and online social networks, being “made” means having a viral video, being featured in notable magazines, or being able to rub elbows with high society personalities. The first either means you’re clever, witty, funny, or are laugh worthy. The second usually goes to those who do deserve merit, but coming from the industry, it does help if you have the connections. And the last? Well, I’m sure there are those who would feel more made than ever then, but again, coming from the industry, they’re people too–flaws and annoying habits included. Plus rubbing elbows with the big wigs only has its perks if you actually work with them, i.e. those in the media and financial industries. If you’re only after the social climbing aspect, then that’s another matter.

Or has “being made” become something more personal now? The TIME article Grow Up? Not So Fast, defines America’s Twixter generation, a perfect example of what comes before one tries to be made:

full-grown men and women who still live with their parents, who dress and talk and party as they did in their teens, hopping from job to job and date to date, having fun but seemingly going nowhere.

Although the Philippines is not experiencing the same economic difficulty (instead, our own, never ending variation of financial crisis–well, at least the non-trust fund babies), much of the young Filipino adult population copes the same way. A colleague of mine once told me she had already been through around 16 jobs already, at at the age of around 26, mentioning this after discussing the simple reality no job is ever perfect. True enough, there never will be an ideal company, office, or boss. The rising conflict between reality and expectation grows by the mile as young billionaires grace magazine covers and businesses demand we “need” every other new product they release in the market. We never make enough to attain material happiness, losing sight of everything else outside that scope.

Our options to attain such financial “stability”? There are jobs we take for the sake of security, other because of the opportunity (only to find out it’s not all cracked up to be), and those that only last between six to 12 months because of the contract terms. We were taught that if we worked hard enough, we would be promoted and rewarded dutifully. But such isn’t the case anymore with many companies, what with the limitation of resources, the worldwide crisis, and the simple kuripotness of the higher ups. You’d be lucky to get into a multinational, but I’ve also heard people go that the tasks get to repetitive, and isn’t what they envision themselves doing for the rest of their lives. Yet another case of reality vs. expectation. We expect instant or at least eventual rewards, but can’t wait it out because of the instant gratification technology feeds.

These engraved or advertised expectations lead us to jump from job to job, trying to discover what will fit us in the long run, or at least lead us to the “open road.” Quoting some more from the TIME article,

It’s too easy to write them off as overgrown children, he argues. Rather, he suggests, they’re doing important work to get themselves ready for adulthood. “This is the one time of their lives when they’re not responsible for anyone else or to anyone else,” Arnett says. “So they have this wonderful freedom to really focus on their own lives and work on becoming the kind of person they want to be.” In his view, what looks like incessant, hedonistic play is the twixters’ way of trying on jobs and partners and personalities and making sure that when they do settle down, they do it the right way, their way. It’s not that they don’t take adulthood seriously; they take it so seriously, they’re spending years carefully choosing the right path into it.

Read more:,9171,1018089,00.html#ixzz14Z6yWPHc

In my current early 20-something crisis, a friend shared some valuable insight (paraphrased): “We’re expected to get our act together by 21.” Twenty-one. It’s the time we’re fresh out of college, not even sure if the course we chose will really clear the path to success. It’s just the first year of adulthood and we’re not even sure where we should be headed. But despite the expectation of others, we still have all the time in the world. Why jump into something you will regret when you can experience different options and eventually pick the right path?

My mother herself told me she realized teaching was her sure path when she hit 40. Environmental advocate Roz Savage gave up her life as an investment banker and management consultant at the age of 34–a life of stable income and rich material things–to row the Atlantic and explore the world. American fiction writer Ben Fountain had to endure 15 or so years before finalizing his work Brief Encounters with Che Guevara.

Life may be lived for the present, but it doesn’t mean rushing into a future you’re uncertain of. So go on Twixters, sort it all out and soon, we’ll all discover our own definition of being made. Defining ourselves will never be as fast as the best third world DSL connection. Life is a journey, and it’s up to use to discover the right destination.

Social (Network) Change

You haven’t seen the facebook movie? THE facebook movie? The one everyone’s been updating about on Facebook? Then I suggest you get your ass to a cinema (or to a torrent site). It’s probably more worth your time than Eat Pray Love or Life As We Know It.

The Social Network has everything every other movie of the year has missed out on. While other films are so focused on making the ‘next-hottest’ 3D movie, marketing the latest ‘IT’ stars, or repeating yawn-worthy rom-com formulas, this one ignored the plea of ticket sales and went right down to a website that has defined our generation: It’s the website we automatically load along with our e-mails and sneak peeks (or more) of during work. No special 3D effects needed–just something everyone can identify with.

The movie begins with young billionaire Mark Zuckerberg on an awkward date with his ex-girlfriend, Ericka Albright. Although the journalist in me thought ‘how much of this is fictionalized and sensationalized, and which parts are truth?’, the conversation going on between them can very well happen in real life. All hype has told us Zuckerberg is an asshole, but at this scene, he just came off as socially awkward–a human being with flaws and emotions, just like the rest of us. It’s the best introduction an influential person can get on screen.

After a sudden break up, Zuckerberg storms to his room to blog about their end. Sound familiar? Haven’t we all turned to our online outlets to release steam that would otherwise be disrespectful in face-to-face public? He also blogs this in 2003, when still had that light blue design. Bloggers of today will smile in nostalgia. Ahhh, LJ days (cringes in embarrassment and smiles). 

The rest of the movie unfolds to introduce how everyone’s online addiction came about. Although I wouldn’t call it incredibly gripping, to the point of exaggerated words, it is striking. The movie executes like a captivating story told by a good friend; a story you’ve been itching to hear for quite some time.You don’t want to leave the room, you have to know what goes on next. But what draws you isn’t over dramatics or sudden surprises–it’s the fact everything identifies so well with what we are experiencing as people. Billions aside, Zuckerberg and Saverin had a friendship we all value or would regret losing. And because we all have that kind of friendship, the viewers are torn, and cannot really take a side. When do we really take sides when it comes to people in real life? As sensationalized/fictionalized the movie may have been, the characters’ flaws, advantages, and experiences were presented equally and leave you wondering who really was the winner in the end, settlements and billions of dollars aside. There’s also, of course, the technological advances facebook has brought to our online social life: knowing a person’s relationship status at a click of the button, exclusivity among your circle, and being able to ignore a friend request.  

Stellar performances from all sides of the cast carry the slightly dramatic storyline through. I’m looking forward to seeing more of Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield (eye candy aside for the latter, haha). Justin Timberlake also got it down pat with his depiction of Napster’s Sean Parker. If an actor manages to annoy the hell out of you through a screen, then their potential will go far. And although he looks nothing like the real Sean Parker, one can honestly say Timberlake has all media forms covered.

Whatever side, feeling, or awe you are left with after seeing this movie, one’s thing for sure: you’ll log into facebook and update your status about it. And that my friends, is why you should see this movie. How much influence does Zuckerberg and the rest of the founders have over you? And what did they do to get you there?


According to Wikipedia,

Three-peat is a portmanteau of the words three and repeat, which has been trademarked for commercial use by retired basketball coach Pat Riley in commercial uses

 They say that love is a game, but I believe the journey to love is only when games are played. Once you are done with all the hits and misses, you start playing as a team in the game of life and create your own victories.

Three years ago, on October 27, he asked me to be his girlfriend during The LaSallian’s then Silver Quill event. 
The ‘traditional’ couple shot we have three years running now, taken at this year’s Quill event. Our first Silver Quill ‘couple’ shot is on my side table. I had longer hair then, was still wearing black, and he wasn’t wearing the blazer.
A modest but meaningful lunch at Persian Grill to celebrate our three-peat, last October 27, 2010.
Happy anniversary my dear! I can’t wait to celebrate more. 
Now, go eat brie or feta cheese.