Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Series Finale Review: A Situation More Nuanced Than the Last Six Words

April 10, 2019 at 12:09 AM | Posted in TV | Leave a comment
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SPOILER ALERT: This review contains spoilers of the series finale of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Read at your own risk!

“This is the song I wrote.”

The last six words uttered by Rebecca Bunch before our TV screens faded to black. That’s how Crazy Ex-Girlfriend ended its fourth and final season.

It’s been one hell of a crazy rollercoaster ride for viewers like me who watched the series through the years. From the moment we saw the show’s main character Rebecca Bunch sang and danced her way to West Covina, California up to the time when she finally found love in an unexpected place, it had been a joy to watch her grow and become a better person. Her journey to personal development had been the best part of the series for me, and the final season delivered that perfectly.

The show’s series finale culminated in Rebecca finally finding love – not in the form of romantic love – but in something else. Throughout the entire series, fans had been rooting for Rebecca to be with either Josh, Greg or Nathaniel. When I started watching the show, I didn’t ship Rebecca with anyone at all. I was more interested in her crazy antics – how she would find ways to manipulate situations to her liking and how she would get out of the mess she created. But when Nathaniel came into the picture in season 2, I started shipping her with him.

But this final season, I came to realize that she didn’t need a romantic partner at all. I was more concerned about her mental well-being. She was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and it’s more important for her to take care of herself first and be better than have a boyfriend. So I was glad that in the finale that she didn’t choose any of the three men. Instead, she found love in songwriting. I wasn’t surprised by this at all.

In the second season, it was revealed that most of the musical numbers in the show were just all in Rebecca’s head. That’s the way she lived and how she arrived at decisions sometimes. She just made up all the songs in her head. So all that hidden talent finally burst out and with Paula’s help, Rebecca was able to take the first step and write the songs that’s been in her head for some time. That’s her ultimate love. I had an inkling about this after I saw the episode where she joined a community theater. I predicted that she would become a songwriter in the end and I was right.

What resonated the most for me from the final episode was the scene where Rebecca was studying to become a songwriter and she said, “When writing songs, it’s important to tell your own story.” I couldn’t agree more. As a frustrated writer, I’m constantly faced with this predicament. I’m a copywriter by profession and I write stories for other people. But I have my own stories to tell and they’re something that need to be written eventually. But I digress…

While the finale was fitting for Rebecca, I couldn’t say the same for the other characters. When it came to time jumps, the show struggled to make the story tight. I had a problem with the show’s first time jump in the previous season mainly because there was not enough build up on the storylines, especially with Valencia’s story. She was straight in earlier seasons and now she’s suddenly gay? How did that happen?! I wished there was a backstory on that.

This season’s time jump saw Darryl and her girlfriend (I don’t remember her name) having a baby. Nathaniel quit his job and went volunteering to a foreign country. Josh had a new girlfriend as well and Valencia and Beth got married. I’m fine with these overall but when it came to Heather and Hector as well as White Josh’s story, it was pretty lame. I would’ve wanted for them to have something more substantial than Heather and Hector getting a new hot tub and White Josh’s house being burned to the ground. And what was that all about George’s ponytail? I don’t get it. For me, that was unnecessary.

Overall, the finale was good as it tied up Rebecca’s story perfectly. The last six words were also fitting as the fade-to-black ending was immediately followed by the concert special where the cast performed select songs from the show. The ending meant that the songs in the concert special were the songs that were in Rebecca’s head. The first song played in the concert special (“West Covina”) was the first one she wrote. So it had that seamless transition.

I only wished the concert special was longer. But oh well, I could just settle with listening to the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend soundtrack…

Soul Taking Flight: My Phantom Experience

March 22, 2019 at 11:14 PM | Posted in Lifestyle, Theater | 4 Comments
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Is it possible to love something you’ve never seen before? In my case, it is. I became a big fan of musical theater after hearing the soundtracks of some of the world’s best classic plays long before I’ve even seen them. Growing up, I never had the chance to watch any of these classic plays because tickets to these shows were expensive and I couldn’t afford it. So I just contented myself in listening to the soundtrack and watching the film adaptations of these plays. But over the years, it has always been my dream to see the plays myself. I’m talking about beloved plays like Cats, Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, and Starlight Express.

Among the classics, Phantom of the Opera is my favorite in terms of story and music. Having read the book from which the play was based on, I was really curious on how the story would translate to the stage.

When there was a world tour of Phantom of the Opera in 2012 and the production came in Manila, I wasn’t able to go and see it. Since then, I’ve regretted not going especially after hearing how spectacular it was. I never thought a world tour of the play would happen again but when I found out last year that there would be an Asian tour and Manila was part of it, I was ecstatic. I said to myself that I would not miss watching it this time. So I bought a ticket very early on last year, picking a seat near the stage for an intimate experience.

And it was all worth it! I watched the play last week and it was fantastic indeed! The costumes were lavish and spectacular, the set design was impressive and the performance was splendid. I was particularly taken by the Phantom’s performance, who was played by Jonathan Roxmouth. He’s every bit the Phantom I loved from the book – manipulative, menacing, maniacal, and arrogant but also had that soft side in him that no one ever saw except Christine. Speaking of Christine Daaé, the character was brought to life by Meghan Picerno, who was equally impressive in her performance as the young and naïve opera singer. I’m particularly impressed by Meghan and Jonathan’s vocal range and the depth they gave in each musical number.

The viscount Raoul was played by Matt Leisy, whose performance was a little dry in the third act. But then again, I’ve always found Raoul’s character to be dry even in the book. He’s just the type who’s too perfect. And I’m usually drawn to flawed characters like Erik the Phantom. Also notable was Beverly Chiat’s performance as Carlotta, the prima donna opera singer. She’s a delight to watch.

Stage view from my seat

In terms of venue, the Theater at Solaire is the host of the Manila leg of the play’s Asian tour this year. It’s my first time to be at the Theater at Solaire and I must say the place is a bit small and cramped. There’s not enough leg room in between seats and the stage is not that big. So it wasn’t able to do proper justice to the chandelier scene in the first act. One of my favorite scenes in the play was the masquerade ball and the entire musical number did not disappoint. But it could have been better if the stage was bigger.

All in all, it was still a memorable experience for me. To be able to see up close and enjoy the live performance including the live orchestra was an experience of a lifetime.

Leaving Facebook

January 12, 2019 at 4:14 PM | Posted in Musings, Technology | Leave a comment
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So I’ve finally deleted my personal Facebook account. I deleted it before 2018 ended. That’s always been my plan since early last year. I’ve never been an active user of Facebook. I was only forced to open an account on Facebook in 2011 because it was part of my job as a digital marketer. But over the years, I never liked the Facebook community. Somehow I found it to be a toxic community, with people always wanting to get their 15 minutes of fame with their posts, videos or photos. Everyone seemed to want their posts to become viral. People there were either always exchanging barbs against each other and picking fights with anyone or they constantly brag about how “perfect” their life is. There’s just so much fakery on Facebook that it got so tiring eventually.

Then there was the time when I was bullied on Facebook by my former coworkers. It happened to me twice and during times when I didn’t even have an account yet. A misunderstanding or minor argument with a coworker got posted on Facebook and before I knew it, people were joining in the conversation and wanting to have their say to the matter as well even if it didn’t involve them. There was too much gossiping and slandering that it became ugly. Many of those people I knew treated the platform as their designated war zone where they can harass or bully other people. I was so disgusted by it that I never accepted their friend requests nor have I added them to my friends list when I signed up on the platform.

Then of course the Cambridge Analytica scandal happened and several breaches on the platform followed. After that, I never trusted Facebook again with my private information. So when I bought a new laptop last December, I downloaded all my data and deleted my account on Facebook. I only informed a few friends about my account deletion. They know I can be reached by other means when they want to keep in touch.

It’s so easy for me to give up Facebook unlike most people who couldn’t let go of it. I’m not that addicted to the platform anyway. I prefer Twitter actually because people there are more real than on Facebook. Only a few people know about my Twitter account and I like to keep it that way.

Aquaman Review: Worth Diving into this Underwater Adventure

December 23, 2018 at 6:32 PM | Posted in Film Reviews, Movies | Leave a comment
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SPOILER WARNING: This movie review contains spoilers of the Aquaman live action film adaptation. Read at your own risk!

 

Okay, full disclosure: I used to read DC and Marvel comics as a child but I don’t exactly recall if I ever read any Aquaman comics. My exposure to Aquaman was a few glimpses of its cartoon version on TV, nothing more. So I went into the cinema this weekend to watch its live action adaptation as a movie goer more than a comics reader. Thus, I really didn’t know how much of the film’s story borrowed from the original material.

The movie Aquaman was first and foremost a visually stunning spectacle. Its underwater scenes alone made up for the fact that the movie was silly and corny at times in terms of plot and dialogue. The movie tells the story of Aquaman’s origins – how he was born from a human father and a mother who happened to be Atlanna, the queen of an underwater world called Atlantis.

Arthur Curry, as what Aquaman was called by humans, was just trying to mind his own business – helping people in trouble – when he got caught in an emerging war between Atlanteans and surface dwellers, i.e. humans. His Atlantean half-brother Orm wanted to declare war against humans for causing so much pollution in the ocean and militarizing the ocean. But in order to do so, Orm must convince at least four of the seven kingdoms under the sea to side with him and gather forces against the humans.

Mera, an Atlantean princess who first appeared in Justice League, prodded a reluctant Arthur to reclaim his birthright as the king of the seven seas. It’s worth noting the callback to Justice League in one of the scenes in the movie. This could only mean that the events that took place in Justice League happened before Arthur officially became Aquaman.

The movie’s plot was rather cliché – a typical trope I’ve seen in other movies and TV shows where a hero’s quest takes him to other parts of the world in search of clues. But like I’ve said, I don’t know how much of its plot was taken directly from the comics. Another problem I had with the movie was the dialogue. There was too much exposition in them that it sounded like the writers cramped every detail of the backstory they could in the dialogue.

Although I liked Arthur’s humor in Justice League, in Aquaman, most of the humor between Arthur and Mera fell flat. The two didn’t even have chemistry to make the romantic side of the story convincing. The sub-plot about Black Manta was unnecessary and looked more as a distraction from the main plot, which was the Atlantean war. Black Manta’s story was better off in a separate movie than this one.

While Jason Momoa’s performance as Aquaman was remarkable, Amber Heard as Mera was lacking in depth. And while I enjoyed the first half of the movie, the second half was much better. In the second half, we saw Arthur successfully take the much sought-after trident and finally became Aquaman. Aquaman’s costume in the movie looked way better than the original campy one from the comics. The sea creatures also got a modern upgrade. No longer we saw Aquaman riding on a pink seahorse. Instead, the sea creatures – from seahorses to sharks, turtles and giant crabs – were fierce and formidable.

Overall, the movie was enjoyable and still worth watching. I could only hope that the sequel (should there be one) would be better than this first installment.

 

Thought Bubbles

  • What exactly does Arthur do for a living when he’s on land and living among humans?
  • How did Orm know about Vulko’s “betrayal”? How long did he know that Vulko trained Arthur as a young boy?
  • Considering the Atlantis scenes in Justice League, did Orm and Vulko know about the mother box as well? Why were they not involved in the fight against Steppenwolf?
  • Given that there was melting lava in one of the underwater scenes in the movie, shouldn’t the water be hot and boiling then? How come Arthur and Mera didn’t seem to feel any heat from it?

Just Passing By

November 16, 2018 at 9:47 PM | Posted in Musings | Leave a comment

Some people come and go in your life. Whether they are your classmate, a work colleague or a fellow member of your organization. Some can become your friends while others can become your enemies. But there are those who come into your life merely as a life lesson and just a part of an experience. While you might have considered them initially as a friend, eventually they will leave you and move on with their life. They will not stick with you for a long time. They are just passing by.

On the other hand, I’m also the type who would cut off people from my life if I’m betrayed. Through the years, I have known many people who I used to consider as friends. But time passed by and friendships were tested. I eventually learned who can be trusted and who would betray that trust. I also learned who among them were just fair-weather friends. I already got burned by friends who only took advantage of what I could give them.

But there are also those people who I have outgrown (or have outgrown me). Others just faded away due to distance and lack of communication. I find the latter to be ridiculous because in this modern day of social media and advanced technology, anyone can be reached through various means – whether through a phone call, text message, email, Twitter DM, Facebook message, Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, etc. Unfortunately, some people just couldn’t be bothered to reach out and keep in touch.

Anyway, these people who have faded are now just part of my experience – a mere life lesson that tells me they are not meant to stay.

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