reviews from home

I went home to Bulacan this weekend with J. It had been incredibly humid this weekend! And the heavy rain at night was insane. I wasn’t able to relax as much as I wanted, but still had fun eating proper home-cooked meals.

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Brought home some sweets (peach and tamarind) and coffee from Vietnam and Thailand.

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Binalay! My favorite dessert from Cagayan Valley.

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A drunk J eating binalay.

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My brothers in Yellow Cab. We had dinner there before heading to our respective rented apartments.

Let me go through some films I’ve seen a while ago (but forgot to review):

I saw Casino Royale and could now understand why fans of the James Bond franchise didn’t like this new version. Bond seemed too bitter here. There is a better balance of grimness and Bond-playfulness in Skyfall. I enjoyed watching Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen), though.

Oz: The Great and Powerful has great effects, but lacks charm. It feels like the producers are holding a checklist and going, “So here’s how we get Elphaba, and here’s how Glinda will meet Oz, and here’s Oz giving gifts – not granting wishes, mind you! – to his friends.” I like origin stories, but this one just drags us from one scene to another. There is a sense of wonder in the beginning, with the huge, tinkling yellowbells and the water fairies, but this amazement soon deflates. James Franco, who is supposed to be wicked but is simply not wicked enough, gets swallowed up by the special effects. Maybe it could have been solved by a different lead? Johnny Depp? Robert Downey Jr?

Anyhoo. Rachel Weisz as the Witch Evanora looks absolutely stunning.

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Star Trek: Into Darkness. Everyone’s having a nerd boner, I know. The opening scene is a winner, with the team struggling to deactivate a raging volcano, and Benedict Cumberbatch looks incredibly bad-ass in his fight scenes. BUT, the conflict gets resolved so abruptly that I literally sit up, surprised. That’s it? It’s still a good watch, but the plot unravels as you look closer post-viewing, and the resolution doesn’t feel as satisfying as I have hoped.

Still, bad-ass Cumberbatch.

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Yes, I mean you, baby.

Also, finished another book! (Apologies to the books I have abandoned.)

The DinnerThe Dinner by Herman Koch

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Two couples are meeting up for dinner in a high-end restaurant. One couple – a famous politician and his wife – is used to a life of wealth. The other (we don’t know much about them at this point) is not.

‘What is it?’ Claire asked.
‘Did you see what it says here?’
My wife looked at me questioningly.
‘It says: “Aperitif of the house, ten euros”.’
‘Oh?’
‘But that’s insane, isn’t it?’ I said. ‘The man said: “We’d like to offer you the aperitif of the house,” right? “The aperitif of the house is pink champagne.” So what are you supposed to think? You think they’re offering you the pink champagne, or am I nuts? If they offer you something, you get it, right? “Can we offer you the this-or-that of the house?” Then it doesn’t cost ten euros, it’s free!’

It is clear, however, from the second couple’s circuitous discussion before entering the restaurant, that this is not just an ordinary dinner. They’re there to discuss something. Something important. Something big. While reading the protagonist’s long, meandering descriptions of the food and the place, I wondered to myself if this novel will just end on a lame reveal.

It doesn’t.

I was attracted to this novel because the entire story is told over the course of a single meal – aperitif, appetizer, main course, dessert, digestif. It was stylistically intriguing, but I didn’t expect to be blown away by how dark it is, by how brilliant Koch was in setting up the big reveal by giving us the details in small morsels, until we choke.

You know how dinners with people you don’t like can be more suspenseful, more nerve-wracking, than any thriller? And we haven’t even started on the secrets.

View all my reviews

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