Secrets and Lies

September 15, 2018 at 11:17 PM | Posted in Film Reviews, Movies | Leave a comment
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Spoiler Warning: This movie review of A Simple Favor contains spoilers. Read at your own risk!

A mommy vlogger with a secret. A femme fatale with a dark past. A has-been novelist without a clue.

These characters meet and collide in the dark comedy film, A Simple Favor.

The movie, which stars Blake Lively as pathological liar Emily and Anna Kendrick as the anxious and supermom Stephanie, tells the story of an unlikely friendship between two young mothers who get tangled in deceit and crime. Both Stephanie and Emily’s sons go to the same school and are actual friends.

Stephanie is a widowed mommy vlogger who meets Emily at her son’s school one day. She is the typical suburban mom who devotes her time to her son. Emily is a successful PR head of a major brand. She has a very strong personality and lives in an extravagant lifestyle. Her husband Sean, played by Henry Golding, used to be a novelist but presently works as a professor at a local college.

What would be a simple favor from Emily turns for the worst as Stephanie later finds out the truth about her friend. Apparently, Emily is not what she seems to be.

While the movie’s plot isn’t exactly fresh (we’ve seen a lot of stories in film and TV about faking people’s death for money), it still keeps you guessing who the real villain is. Who’s fooling who? Is Sean merely a victim of Emily’s twisted games or is he an accessory to a crime?

Blake Lively delivers a powerful performance in the movie as the secretive Emily while Anna Kendrick’s Stephanie is both endearing and naive. Henry Golding as Sean is sympathetic and clueless for the most part with his own shades of gray. It’s a stark contrast to his role in Crazy Rich Asians.

What is notable in A Simple Favor is the soundtrack as it features music almost entirely in French (watch the sample music from the soundtrack above) – completely befitting the film noir atmosphere of the movie. It gives me the feeling that I’m watching a French film myself.

Granted the movie’s dark tones, it still presents itself as a light, enjoyable film with occasional laughs amidst all the intrigue.

Understanding Social Anxiety

August 9, 2018 at 9:35 AM | Posted in Musings, Psychology | Leave a comment
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I came across this recent article about introversion and social anxiety and I was just blown away by how similar my experiences were with the writer.

I have known for a long time that I’m an introvert. I was also extremely shy as a child and kept to myself most of the time. For years, I thought I inherited my extreme shyness from my mother who was also shy and an introvert. I thought that was there to it – until I found out the term “social anxiety disorder” or SAD.

I first encountered the term when a Twitter page of an American indie film followed me on Twitter a few years ago. The film was about a guy with social anxiety disorder. Out of curiosity, I looked up the term “social anxiety disorder” and was shocked to discover that I had almost all the symptoms of the disorder. All this time I thought what I was experiencing was just a result of my extreme shyness. I didn’t know that there was a psychological term for it.

I’ve been known by my friends and family as “the quiet one” and people I’ve met always have this impression of me being suplada or masungit (cold and aloof). I know some people think of me as antisocial because I don’t interact much with coworkers or mingle with other acquaintances. But they don’t know what I’m going through. They don’t know that it stresses me out just to have a small talk with them. It causes me severe anxiety whenever I have to be around people I don’t know very well. I am fearful every time I have to attend conference call meetings with colleagues from different countries. And I hate it when I’m forced to talk or present in front of people.

I am only ever talkative when I’m around with my friends. I only feel comfortable when I’m around them where I can talk about common interests. But knowing I have social anxiety is one thing; letting people know about it is another thing. For one, there is still social stigma in my country about things related to mental health. Second, most people don’t even know what social anxiety is, let alone understand it.  So it is rather difficult to tell people about it without the risk of getting ridiculed.

Current Mood: Being Real

June 29, 2018 at 11:40 PM | Posted in Music, Musings | Leave a comment
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The devil is in the details, so they say. These two songs just speak to me these days. The songs may be old, but I always love listening to them.

I’m Still Here (Jim’s Theme)
(Artist: John Rzeznik)

I am a question to the world,
Not an answer to be heard
Or a moment that’s held in your arms.
And what do you think you’d ever say?
I won’t listen anyway…
You don’t know me,
And I’ll never be what you want me to be.

And what do you think you’d understand?
I’m a boy, no, I’m a man..
You can’t take me and throw me away.
And how can you learn what’s never shown?
Yeah, you stand here on your own.
They don’t know me ’cause I’m not here.

And I want a moment to be real,
Wanna touch things I don’t feel,
Wanna hold on and feel I belong.
And how can the world want me to change?
They’re the ones that stay the same.
They don’t know me,
‘Cause I’m not here.

And you see the things they never see
All you wanted, I could be
Now you know me, and I’m not afraid
And I wanna tell you who I am
Can you help me be a man?
They can’t break me
As long as I know who I am

And I want a moment to be real,
Wanna touch things I don’t feel,
Wanna hold on and feel I belong.
And how can the world want me to change?
They’re the ones that stay the same.
They can’t see me,
But I’m still here.

(Artist: Plumb)

Look at me I’m twenty three
Beautiful, a sight to see

A little dress to draw the press
And I’ll be leaving
All the rest behind

Well, be pleased, girl
If this is what you wanted
The whole world is watching you take the stage
What will you say?

Aren’t I lovely?
And do you want me?
‘Cause I am hungry for something that will make me real
Can you see me?
And do you love me?
‘Cause I am desperately searching for something real

I close my eyes imagine time
Will not forget
My sacrifice

I numb the ache and decorate
My emptiness
Stand naked in the light

Well, be pleased, world
If this is what you wanted
This young girl is everything that you made
What will she say?

Aren’t I lovely?
And do you want me?
‘Cause I am hungry for something that will make me real
Can you see me?
And do you love me?
‘Cause I am desperately searching for something real

The world goes home
The lights go down
My lipstick fades away

Aren’t I lovely?
And do you want me?
‘Cause I am hungry for something that will make me real
Can you see me?
And do you love me?
‘Cause I am desperately searching for something real

Ode to My Friends

May 26, 2018 at 10:12 PM | Posted in Musings | Leave a comment

I’ve never been one to warm up so easily to people, especially to new acquaintances. I don’t even open up to most people despite knowing some of them for years. In fact, I’m known by many to be quite a mystery. That’s why I have deep appreciation for my friends who stuck with me despite my quirks, my mood swings and seeming aloofness.

My lack of verbal communication doesn’t mean that I don’t acknowledge everything that they do for me and with me. I do. I appreciate each and every one of them. For their time. For their utmost patience and understanding. For their care.

I greatly appreciate them for setting aside time from their busy schedule and family life to meet me for dinner or coffee and just hang out. I appreciate them for putting up with me even though I know I’m difficult to be with sometimes. I appreciate them for thinking of me and including me in their plans.

And I know most of them don’t even read my blog because… duh, Facebook is such a distraction. Buy anyway, I just want to say thank you to my friends (you know who you are).

All for Nothing: The X-Files S11x10 “My Struggle IV” Review

March 25, 2018 at 11:22 PM | Posted in TV | 1 Comment
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SPOILER WARNING: This review contains major spoilers of The X-Files season 11. Read at your own risk!


At this point, the “My Struggle” story arc in The X-Files revival is already beyond saving. Series creator Chris Carter has made a major mess out of his own mytharc in seasons 10 and 11. His stubbornness to write this revival mytharc himself has caused the franchise a lot – series low ratings, a mired reputation and a lot of angry X-Philes.

The season 11 finale of The X-Files titled “My Struggle IV” was supposed to wrap up the William storyline and tie the loose ends that the show introduced since “My Struggle I.” But instead, we got a feeble attempt to explain away the story. The episode was so problematic that to say it was a big disappointment would even be an understatement.

Before the finale aired, I already set myself for a major disappointment. That’s why I wasn’t even surprised when I first watched it. But there are several plot points I want to highlight, and what I think made the finale such an epic fail.

  1. The New Syndicate

What was the point of introducing Erica Price and Mr. Y as part of The Syndicate only to kill them off so quickly? These two seemed to be part of the top brass but we hardly knew them. And considering the power they held, you would think they would have a pretty tight security at their Purlieu Services facility. But how come Mulder easily got pass the guards and kill Mr. Y? Was it that easy to defeat the Syndicate now?

  1. Mulder Against the Syndicate

Mulder suddenly became a one-man killing machine? I just find it unbelievable that Mulder could easily fought off the guards at Purlieu Services all by himself and got away unscathed, even after killing Mr. Y.

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  1. The Pandemic

Tad O’ Malley, the conspiracy theory nut we first saw in season 10 was back in the finale. Only this time, the pandemic has yet to happen. This is where this plot got confusing. I presumed the scene where Scully warned Tad about the pandemic happened before “My Struggle II” but I could be wrong. But the main question here is what would happen when the Spartan virus strikes in the future?

“My Struggle II” ended with Scully saying that they need William’s DNA to save people from the virus. Through her visions, Scully knew in the season 11 finale that William is still alive after the Cigarette Smoking Man shot him. But how would they find William when Mulder was already dying in that scene and Scully’s supposed to be pregnant with her second miracle baby? This could also mean that CSM survived the multiple gunshots he took from Mulder. If that’s the case, how would they explain CSM’s burnt face? His face was burnt from the missile blast in season 9, and in “My Struggle II,” CSM’s face still showed signs of that burn and he wore a mask to hide it. But in “My Struggle IV,” his face looked completely healed.

If the show gets renewed for season 12 (which I highly doubt), how would they go about that story, especially without Gillian Anderson on board? The season 11 finale left that hanging.

  1. Monica Reyes and Skinner’s Deaths

Monica Reyes might have connived with CSM, but it’s clear from the finale that she was also working against him to help Mulder and Scully. After all the build-up on Monica’s apparent betrayal, we were left with an underwhelming scene of her attempt at redemption. She was fatally shot on the head while in the car with CSM – by Skinner no less. I would have preferred her death to be justified with a grand gesture of redeeming herself, not the way it played out in the finale.

Skinner’s death was also underwhelming. A proper face off with CSM would have been better than him getting run over by a car. Skinner and Monica deserved better than that.

  1. The Elephant in the Room

Chris Carter seemed to have forgotten about the supersoldiers infiltrating the FBI in season 9. The show’s revival series never addressed this important plot. Instead, we had FBI Deputy Director Alvin Kersh back to hating Mulder and Scully after he mellowed down enough in season 9 to help them escape in the season 9 finale. Why the sudden change of heart? And what happened to the supersoldiers?

As a side note, Kersh also wanted to shut down the X-Files division. This was not a shocker since it’s not the first time the basement office had been shut down. But since the X-Files have been digitized by Purlieu Services, who would be handling them now that Erica and Mr. Y are dead?

THE X-FILES: Guest star Miles Robbins in the “My Struggle IV” season finale episode of THE X-FILES airing Wednesday, March 21 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2018 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Shane Harvey/FOX

  1. William

Honestly, I never liked William. He’s a terrible kid. He had two girlfriends and has been living the life of a juvenile delinquent. Just because he has supernatural powers he couldn’t understand it doesn’t mean he has an excuse to behave badly. Why did he have to scare the truck driver when he needed him in the first place to get to Norfolk, Virginia? He should have known better that displaying his powers in public would tip off the Syndicate who was after him.

Also, he kept pushing away Mulder and Scully and insisted they couldn’t help him but he wanted his other girlfriend to run away with him? How could his girlfriend help him at all when she’s not even in that position to protect him from the Syndicate?

  1. Cigarette Smoking Man’s Death

I don’t buy CSM’s death for a second. First of all, Mulder shot him multiple times on the chest. For all we know, CSM might have been wearing a bulletproof vest so shooting him on the chest would be useless. It would have been more effective if Mulder shot him on the head to make sure he’s really killed. Besides, CSM unbelievably survived a missile blast in season 9 so it’s highly plausible that he would survive the gunshot wounds.

To be honest, I would actually prefer CSM to stay dead after season 9 ended. He could have just appeared in seasons 10 and 11 in flashback scenes. I would have liked to see a new set of villains introduced in the show instead of resurrecting old ones.

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  1. Skinner’s Revelation to Scully

Practically everyone was expecting to see Skinner tell Scully about William’s real father. But we were robbed of that. Instead the big reveal happened off camera so we didn’t see how Scully reacted on that. I would have liked to see how Scully would take the news.

This also goes to show that CSM was really William’s father – not in the biological sense but still a father figure nonetheless. I was expecting this to be a lie. After all, the tagline of “My Struggle III” was “I want to lie.” So who does this pertain to now?

And the fact that CSM injected her with alien DNA without her knowledge in the “En Ami” episode which resulted in her pregnancy still doesn’t sit well with me.

  1. Scully’s Revelation to Mulder

I’ve read theories online prior to the finale that Scully might be pregnant. This stemmed from the last scene in “Nothing Lasts Forever” episode where Scully whispered something to Mulder. In that scene, Scully said that what she whispered was her leap of faith forward and she wanted to do that together with Mulder.

It was also hinted in the “Plus One” episode where Mulder and Scully stayed at St. Rachel’s Motel while they were solving the doppelganger case. For Catholics, St. Rachel is the patron saint of childless wives. She was the sterile wife of Jacob but gave birth to two sons in her late years.

The pregnancy theory was an unpopular opinion but when I thought about it, I really think it’s possible that Scully could get pregnant. And true enough, in the finale, Scully revealed to Mulder that she’s pregnant and he is the father.

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I know some fans find this ridiculous considering that Scully is 54 and barren. But people are looking at this the wrong way. It has never been a normal pregnancy for Scully even when she was pregnant with William. She was previously abducted and experimented on by the Syndicate. Thus, her reproductive system must have been altered to make this second pregnancy possible.

What I don’t like in this scene was the badly written dialogue. Scully seemed to have dismissed William easily after he was shot by CSM and fell into the water. But what I think she meant when she said that William was only a lab experiment and that she was not a mother to him was that she was trying to explain to Mulder what Skinner told her in the car. She was still reeling from the news that Skinner told her and barely had time to process it.

She was trying to explain to Mulder that she was not a mother to William in the truest sense because she gave him up for adoption. She gave birth to him but she wasn’t able to nurture him. The words just came out wrong. Blame it on how Chris Carter wrote this.

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You could see from the expression on Scully’s face in the end that she was still struggling to accept that fact. What Skinner told her was a lot to process. She was also struggling to let go of William as he asked them to. And she knew deep in her heart that William is alive because she saw visions of the scene in the dock before it happened. This was after she’s done talking with Tad about the pandemic. But I would have preferred that she insisted on finding him still even though he doesn’t want them to.

I know the feedback from fans about the season finale is divisive. And I agree with most fans that the finale was a disaster. The mytharc has been ruined forever by the show’s creator. I may be an MSR shipper and while I’m happy that Mulder and Scully will have their own baby and be together, I don’t watch the show solely to ship them. The mytharc stories still matter to me.

When I look back at the early seasons of The X-Files, there have been many great mytharc episodes written by Chris Carter. I first got hooked on the show after watching “Duane Barry” – a mytharc episode written and directed by Carter himself. He also wrote some of my favorite episodes of the show – “The Erlenmeyer Flask,” “Paper Clip” and “Anasazi.” What happened to him now? He has lost his touch on the mytharc.

The mytharc could have been saved if Carter just handed over the reins to the show’s veteran writers like Glen Morgan and James Wong. Both writers have a track record of writing compelling mytharc episodes. And if Frank Spotnitz was available for season 11, I would have liked for him to have written some of the episodes. But Carter is very possessive of his creation and doesn’t seem to want to let the other writers handle the mytharc in the revival.

The X-Files_11x10

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Only time will tell if Fox decides to renew the show for season 12 even without Gillian on board. But if that happens, I won’t be watching it anymore. For me, the show has always been about Mulder and Scully and no one else. It’s a shame that Gillian’s last appearance on the show was tainted with this bad season finale. Season 11 should have ended with a bang and possibly on a positive note.  Now it just left most fans with a bad taste in their mouth.

If The X-Files continues to do season 12, it would further ruin the franchise because we all know Carter would want to write the mytharc episodes himself again. I think if there’s any slight chance to save this revival, it would be for the show to make a third and final movie. But Chris Carter has to step away from it and let the show’s veteran writers write the script.


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