Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Joy Luck Club author Amy Tan will sign your books on Saturday, 25 October at 2pm

October 24, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books

amy tan

We had a blast at the Amy Tan Q&A this afternoon at the Philippine Literary Festival at the Raffles Hotel in Ayala Center, Makati. She was funny, self-deprecating, insightful, inspiring, and altogether lovely. We’ll post the recording (or the transcript) as soon as we get our copy.

Tomorrow afternoon at 2pm, the author will have her book-signing at Ballroom 2 on the second floor of the Raffles Hotel. Everyone is welcome. Go.

If you’ve never read Amy Tan, pick up a copy of her first novel, The Joy Luck Club, and her latest, The Valley of Amazement, and have her sign them anyway. After you’ve read them, you’ll want to meet her.

Every movie we see #107: The Judge leaves no tear unjerked

October 23, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies

103. This Is Where I Leave You: Even the casting doesn’t work. If Jane Fonda as the mother cheated on her husband regularly, she still couldn’t produce Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Corey Stoll and Adam Driver. They don’t look like they’re from the same species, much less the same gene pool.

104. A Walk Among The Tombstones: Liam Neeson doesn’t kill everyone, but we enjoyed its gritty grimness. Cousin Matthew from Downton Abbey plays a grieving drug trafficker.

105. The Longest Week: A Spot the Influences quiz. Wes Anderson! Woody Allen! Whit Stillman! Etcetera!

106. Inbetweeners 2: A turd joke too far.


The Judge never met a subplot it didn’t like. Big-city lawyer returns to the small town he grew up in, check. Man with failing marriage reconnects with high school sweetheart, check. Slick defense attorney must defend his father, a stickler for the law, on the charge of murder, check. Successful brother spends time with his less successful brothers, including the sweet mentally-challenged one, check. There’s even a hurricane to mirror the characters’ inner tumult.

All this clutter can’t cover up the fact that the legal drama at the center of The Judge isn’t that compelling. A pity because it’s been a while since we’ve seen Robert Downey, Jr. step out of his Tony Stark persona. Though he doesn’t step that far because his character also had the wild youth and brushes with the law. And when we find out why the father and son don’t get along, we want to yell, “Everyone has father issues, deal with it!”

Director David Dobkin (Wedding Crashers) piles on the sentimental cliches—we heard people sniffling in the audience, though our own eyeballs remained dry and well-exercised from constant rolling. The excellent cast—RDJ, Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga, Billy Bob Thornton, Vince D’Onofrio—deserves a better movie.

Rating: Potentially useful as emotional blackmail to get Downey to do Iron Man 4.

* * * * *

Tearjerker story: Remember the year of the competing asteroid-on-collision-course-with-earth movies? Some comic book geeks we know went to see Deep Impact. During the scene where Tea Leoni and her father Maximilian Schell embrace just before the tidal wave hits them, the comic book geeks were all weeping. When the lights came on, they looked at each other and sobbed, “Pare, ang ganda ng special effects.”

Little Azkals movie showing in cinemas on October 25-26

October 22, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies, Sports besides Tennis

Directed by Baby Ruth Villarama. Opening on 25-26 October, 2014 at selected SM Cinemas.

The Philippine-American War and the cocaine shortage in 1900s New York in The Knick

October 21, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Philippine Reference Alert, Television

Clive Owen in The Knick: Not for the faint-hearted.

We’ve been enjoying Steven Soderbergh’s series The Knick, about the staff of the Knickerbocker Hospital in New York in the 1900s (In case you thought it was about one New York basketball player). Inasmuch as one can enjoy a series that is so brutal. The Knick stars Clive Owen as Dr. John Thackery, a brilliant surgeon who develops many ground-breaking techniques and is tireless in the pursuit of scientific knowledge. He’s also a cokehead, though it must be noted that cocaine was legal at the time and was used for medical procedures (and as an ingredient in Coca-Cola).

Towards the end of the first season, Dr. Thackery has a personal crisis: there’s a cocaine shortage in New York. The US is at war in the Philippines, and its cargo ships are under attack so shipments from China can’t reach America. (Wait, isn’t coca from South America?)

The Knick makes us happy to be living in the 21st century. Early 20th C medicine was positively medieval. How anyone survived the ministrations of doctors is beyond us.

Rating: Brutal, possibly great, enthusiastically recommended.

Warning: Lots of gore. You want fun gore, go watch The Strain. The gore here is grim and unforgiving.


How do the corrupt sleep at night?

October 20, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Crime, Current Events

The British manufacturer of bespoke beds Savoir Beds, has recently come up with a limited edition series of exquisite Royal beds, each of them costing a mind-boggling $175,000
The world’s most expensive bed. “Php7.7M lang??”

Very soundly, secure in the knowledge that they have way more than they need, and that their children never have to work a day in their lives—unless it is to continue the family business.

Or if they can’t sleep, they can console themselves that in their antique sleigh beds with king-size mattresses, 1,200-thread count sheets and pillows stuffed with the feathers of virgin geese, their insomnia is more comfortable than most people’s sleep.

And they can always take sleeping pills. Yes, research suggests that anti-anxiety medications prescribed to help people sleep cause Alzheimer’s disease, but this might even be to their advantage. When they get hauled in front of a Senate panel to explain how they can buy entire towns on their declared incomes, they can reply that they don’t remember.

Perhaps the investigations into corruption are going about it the wrong way. They assume that the corrupt know the difference between right and wrong.

Read our column at

Do you have a question for Amy Tan?

October 20, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books

Photo from

The esteemed author of The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God’s Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, The Bonesetter’s Daughter, Saving Fish from Drowning and The Valley of Amazement will appear at the Philippine Literary Festival on Friday, 24 October, at 130pm. We’re hosting the forum with Amy Tan at the Raffles Hotel.

Do you have a question for Amy Tan? If you don’t mind our asking it for you, post it in Comments.

Whoever posts the question we like the most gets a copy of The Valley of Amazement in paperback.

For more information on the Philippine Literary Festival, visit their website.