Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Every movie we see: In The Gunman, Sean Penn demonstrates the art of ham

March 24, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies

Bad enough that Sean Penn looks leathery, but apparently he’s been slathered with brown shoe polish.

When I was a kid, my parents took me to see a legal drama called And Justice for All. Its high point, which was also its low, was defense attorney Al Pacino yelling and foaming at the mouth at the judge: “You’re outta order! You’re outta order!” He was led out of the courtroom, but not before every Pinoy mume-Method actor had resolved to recreate that scene in his own movies (and harvested awards for it). Al has defined screen pyroclastics in films like Scarface and Carlito’s Way. When he cuts loose, you want to open an umbrella to protect yourself from getting drenched in flying spittle. (Apparently you’re supposed to do this at his theatre performances.) And yet I maintain that his deranged intensity was essential to those movies: you cannot be an understated cokehead megalomaniac. The derangement was the character. In Sean Penn’s case he will scream, contort his face, display his neck veins and threaten to go full Scanners for no other reason than to show that he is a Great Actor. In some movies, it works. In other movies, it begs to be tasered.

Read our column at

Game of Thrones TV series will spoil the books

March 23, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Television

We will know how A Song of Fire and Ice ends before the books are published, though the details may differ. Benioff, Weiss, Harington and Bradley admit it to the Oxford Union (at 34:30).

Neal Stephenson’s comic book Cimarronin is set in 17th century Manila

March 23, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, History

Cimarronin: A Samurai in New Spain

A disgraced outcast samurai living in early seventeenth-century Manila, Kitazume is contemplating ritual suicide when a divine force (of a sort) intervenes: Luis, a rogue Jesuit priest and Kitazume’s longtime friend. At Luis’s insistence, the samurai agrees to help smuggle a Manchu princess to Mexico. But little does he know that he’s really been dragged into an epic struggle for power.

Several forces have their malicious sights set on the New World’s rich silver mines: an insurgent Spanish duke, Chinese political interests, and the escaped African slaves known as the cimarrónes. And working in secret among them is a mysterious, long-lost order that has its own plans for the precious metal.

As politics and greed collide, Kitazume must call upon his deadly skills once more. But he’s not just fighting to save his friends–he’s fighting for the redemption he so desperately craves.

Neal Stephenson’s brilliant novel Cryptonomicon is set partly in the Philippines.

Thanks to Budjette for the alert.

Cryptic book spine verse

March 23, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Books


By Grand Central Station I sat down and wept under three flags.
All that is love among the chickens.
While the women are sleeping, dancing lessons for the advanced in age.
When will there be good news?

Have a love-hate relationship with Girls

March 20, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Television

Mamet, Kirke, Dunham and Williams of Girls. More grist for hate-watchers: They are all children of famous people.

I was so repelled by the characters that I had to watch the next episode in the hope that they had fallen onto some train tracks. And the next one, and the one after that. By the fourth episode, I got it. The terrible decisions Hannah and her friends made, their cringe-making delusions and defenses: they were the point of Girls. Yes, it’s about four young women making their way in the world—note SATC reference in the pilot—but with their flaws intact and on aggressive display. They’re imperfect and they offer no apologies.

Read our TV column The Binge in BusinessWorld.

Should we watch the new Cinderella?

March 19, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies


So far we’ve heard only two types of comments:

“Robb Stark’s pants!!!”

“Cate Blanchett’s clothes!!!”

And nothing about the movie itself. Do you recommend it? How is the niece from Downton Abbey, is she sufferable? Do the stepsisters…alter…their shoe sizes?

We do owe Kenneth Branagh, who’s brought us Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston, and now Richard Madden (on Game of Thrones he was muddy).