I finally saw a movie devoid of clichés, at least from my point of view. It is fresh, quirky and immensely entertaining. The plot, the dialogue and the soundtrack jelled together so well that it is perfect. I do not understand some of the teen speak, but it is hilarious just the same.

Ellen Page played the title role to a tee. She gave an awesome performance, and single-handedly carried the whole film. For those not familiar with her, she played Kitty Pryde in the movie X-Men: The Last Stand. J.K. Simmons and Jennifer Garner provided ample depth to the story by their supporting roles. (Trivia alert: both starred in a Marvel superheroes movie, Spider Man and Elektra respectively).

Ellen’s character Juno is not the smartest people around, but I feel she is real. Because of her innocence (or quirkiness), she usually delivers amusing quips about pregnancy. The movie is littered with memorable quotable quotes, some shameful, some inspiring, but always funny.

I have the fondest respect for the writer Diablo Cody for coming up with a very unconventional film; I cannot wait for next project.

This project grossed over $200 million, even with only a budget of $6.5 million and a month of shooting. This just proves that a smartly written film can compete with multi-million, special effects films in terms of ticket sales. Moviegoers can notice and appreciate a quality indie film.

There are haters out there, but honest to blog, I found this movie so cool. You should like totally check out this movie, like for real for real.

I got the idea to check out this series from one of the blogs I am following. I am also a big fan of Japanese media (films and anime). A few months ago, I was able to see the Japanese drama, 10 Promises to My Dog, and I was quite impressed. It is about time for my next Japanese film.

One Litre of Tears (Ichi Rittoru No Namida) is an eleven-part Jdorama based on the life of a Japanese girl 20 years ago. It chronicles her life struggles in dealing with her incurable disease. I am quite certain though that the writers “sweetened” the story with additional events and characters. I came into that conclusion because some scenes are just too impossible to happen in real life:). Nevertheless, silly scenes aside, this show is of essence.

The series has its share of love story and a little bit of a comedy. Sawajiri Erika who played the lead character, Aya Ikeuchi, made such a noteworthy performance, that you feel her pain. In the same way, the actors who played the parents (Mizuo and Shioka) gave so much credibility that you would think they are the real parents. Later in the series, Aya’s younger sister Ako almost stole the show with her turnaround acting. I liked the character Ako; she is such a cool sister.

As with all telenovelas, there is an ample amount of cheesiness, but all of which I feel are excusable. You can ascribe it to the Japanese culture influence or just plain sappy writing. It is crazy at times, but I guess what is important for the series is to give due honour to the protagonist’s achievements.

A bit of warning though, people would most likely be afflicted with LSS (Last Song Syndrome) after watching this. For more than a week after seeing all episodes, you will still hear the theme song playing in your head. It is not that bad though because it is indeed a catchy tune.

Another thing I noticed with this series is that the characters speak a bit slower than usual. The sentence construction is a bit formal as well, so this is perfect for people learning Nihonggo. You extend your Japanese vocabulary while watching; how easy is that.

What is amazing though is that the director divides each episode in such a way, that you learn something new per episode. Aya’s life story is very humbling. She gave so much even it is difficult. She is a fighter who loves life and celebrates life by giving to others. Her efforts are truly admirable.

This is a poignant tale of a girl with a beautiful heart. This Jdorama is warm, inspiring and very moving. I highly recommend this to everyone. Check out the episodes at http://www.mysoju.com/1-litre-of-tears/.

As suggested by one of the blogs I am following, I decided to rent the DVD Taken starring Liam Neeson. Watching the movie, I was “taken” (pun intended) to the ride of my life. The review chronicles said ride.

The premise of the movie is common enough. Dad is a retired special ops/spy with a “very particular set of skills”, daughter gets kidnapped, dad pursues kidnapper. Sprinkle explosions, gunfights, and hand-to-hand combat here and there and you have the gist. One man against a plethora of thugs. This can even be the plot of a Lito Lapid action movie in the Philippines. However, Taken overtakes (again pun intended) any action movie by over a mile.

I think the film’s secret is the visionary direction of French réalisateur, Pierre Morel. Everything is near perfect: the right amount of explosions, the right amount of car chases, and even the right amount of drama. He delivers the film in such a way that brutal revenge (though wrong) is so satisfying to watch.

The car chases are riveting, the script is smart and not at all insulting, the cinematography is excellent (Paris, need I say more). The action scenes are redolent of a 24 TV episode where you are literally at the edge of your seat. The fighting art primarily used in the movie is Nagasu Do. It is fast, brutal and deadly, and so cool to watch.

The movie also succeeds in capitalising on the emotions of the viewers. Everyone watching will definitely root for the protagonist. The Liam’s character can be brutal at times but the viewers will feel it is necessary. He really will not stop at anything.

Liam is an excellent actor. I believe congratulations are also in order for the réalisateur , the writers and the fight choreographers. I might look for more films that have French directors/writers after this. The film just blows you away.

This is definitely a must watch for everyone.

It has been a while since we tried a new restaurant. This a review I owe to a nice restaurant we accidentally discovered. Generally, it is an awesome experience to eat on a Thai restaurant, but only if you know what to order.

The venue and store decorations are well designed; the decorations are credible and somewhat authentic. The tables are clean and organised though chairs are a bit cramped. They have fancy cutleries, which is an added bonus.

For a group of four, we made three selections: Chicken Volcano, Drunken Noodles (Stir-fried combination, rice noodles with vegetables and chilli, garlic, seasoned with Thai herbs) and Kao Ob Saparot (fried rice, chicken breast, shrimps and cashew nuts). For starters, the Kao Ob Saparot is an excellent mix of everything nice and tasty. The Drunken Noodles is pleasantly spicy and filling. The Chicken Volcano however is the best among the three.

Here are some fun tips when ordering the Chicken Volcano:

1. Refrain from wearing flammable clothing.
2. If you are a pyro-fanatic, be ready with your phone video or camera.
3. Fill your glass with water just in case :)

They roasted the chicken to perfection. The meat was not dry and the chicken skin is very crunchy. For Filipinos reading this article, Chicken Volcano tastes just like Max’s Chicken.

Again, the secret when dining in a Thai restaurant is to know what to order. Do not be afraid to ask questions to the waiter/waitress. Check the menu beforehand and make a selection early based on the ingredients. Also, check out vouchermate for great deals.

This is an interesting restaurant to check out. At least try it and see for yourself.

Thai Orchid Restaurant is located in 21 Riccarton Rd, Christchurch, New Zealand. Call 03 343 0790 for bookings and takeaways.

All photos taken with 55mm focal length, 1/13 second at f/5.6; ISO 400


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