Movie Review: The Revenant

Award-winning director Alejandro G. Iñárritu turns his ambitious masterpiece into cinematic gold, offering his latest opus, “The Revenant,” to moviegoers and critics alike, who often describe the film as “visceral.” The 156-minute film’s gut-wrenching scenes are paired with interludes that feature dream sequences and majestic landscape – thanks to cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, whose attempt at a “single-shot approach” with Iñárritu for “Birdman” was proven successful.

The utilization of low-angle shots was tastefully done; however, the camerawork for some scenes were dizzying, as if the production team wasn’t sure as to how these scenes should be edited. The score provides the added weight to the visual aesthetic albeit the film’s minor flaws. As the movie undoubtedly drags with its 2 1/2-hour running time, Ryuichi Sakamoto’s score makes the film’s expansiveness forgivable by subtly orchestrating the audience’s attention back to its emotional core.

Leonardo di Caprio’s performance is, without a doubt, one for the books. I have been a firm believer of his talent since his “Titanic” days, and yes, his Oscar is long overdue. But Tom Hardy deserves as much credit as his costar. Hardy’s John Fitzgerald is someone whose survival instincts compel him to betray his own kind. Hardy plays him with gusto and as much ferociousness as the CGI bear. :p

One thing I admire about Iñárritu is that he doesn’t try to meet anyone’s expectations other than his own – and that takes a lot of guts (see what I did there?).



By Poyan Maniego
Your mere presence

takes away my inhibitions –

returning your gaze

without any reservations.
The gift of pure bliss

led me to love you.

The absence of fear

brought me closer to you.
Every tear I’ve shed

came with a price.

Your timing is perfect –

worth all the sacrifice.
When I’m at my weakest,

you promise me no harm.

For even in darkness

I feel safe in your arms.


by Poyan Maniego


Why must I fear

that which does not exist?

To err, I cannot bear;

perfection must persist.


I refuse to believe

what is, then look away.

Accepting what is not,

I know, is the only way.


With a blunder, I surrender

and fall into the abyss.

Looking back, I wonder,

was there something amiss?


Indeed, I must have missed

those many chances to take.

Fear was an adversary

that left regret in its wake.


By Poyan Maniego

The path is kept hidden

No light illuminates the journey

The voice that beckons

Reveals nothing but uncertainty


The path remains unknown

For she has gone astray

Left to travel on her own

Just to find the right way


Such deafening silence

The path has come and gone

And as she kept moving

Her anxiety kept growing


The path reveals itself

Her intentions become clear

That with every step

The destination draws near


The end of the road

In its close proximity

Remains a mystery

And betrays the journey


There is no turning back

She’s drowned in confusion

What a tragedy it is

To fall prey to expectations


Only Temporary

By Poyan Maniego
Why do we yearn for borrowed time
when it’s only temporary?
Why do we believe in false hope
when it’s only temporary?
We keep taking chances
and tell each other not to worry.
We keep making promises
even though we’re both not ready.


The beginning is its own end,
so why do we keep on going?
But when our eyes met,
it showed me things worth knowing.
Why do we keep our mouths shut,
yet our actions don’t leave us empty?
Why do we embrace this great lie
knowing it’s only temporary?


So goodbye, my love.
Maybe it’s only temporary.
We’ll cling to those memories
that were once our reality.
Walk away now,
so we can find a remedy.
While I sit here and pray,
hoping goodbyes are temporary.


High By the Beach

As a novice traveller, I have yet to plow through my list of places I want to visit. It’s especially difficult when you’re on a tight budget, so I make up for it by taking short vacays, staycations, or road trips every now and then. I particularly enjoy unplanned trips because they create the most unforgettable memories. Trust me; I can pack my stuff in a matter of minutes. I also love it when a trip doesn’t go quite as planned, and yet something more exciting happens. There’s joy in not knowing what to expect when you travel, especially if you’re with friends who are willing to take that risk with you. Gaaaaah, I miss my home. :(

Speaking of travelling, I love, love, love being in the water. The only sport I’m willing to partake in is swimming. There’s something about being in (or on) the water that keeps me at peace. And so before summer ends, I made sure to plan a trip that would get me near the water. Thus, my friend and I spent Labor Day weekend at Lake Tahoe. To summarize our overall experience, WE LOVED IT! We frikkin love Tahoe, y’all! The locals are super nice; we discovered a few good restaurants; and…WATER SPORTS!

The first activity we did – which isn’t really a water sport – is parasailing. I must admit I didn’t really enjoy the experience because I’m scared of heights! The harness was a bit uncomfortable, and the height (350 ft. above the lake) was unsettling (for me, anyway)! But I still wanted to do it to hopefully overcome my fear of heights. Well, at least I know my friend was enjoying it. Lulz.

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Tip: This was at Ski Run Boat Company. To get away with cheaper parking fee(s), take advantage of the valet parking service as long as you spend some time inside Riva Grill. We love their cocktail drinks! I recommend the Bombasilberry and Lickme Lemon Drop.

We also did zip lining, which required us to take the Gondola up the mountain. Again, I know I’m supposed to be enjoying this but I can’t! I was terrified! Just to give you some perspective…

Surprisingly, though, I enjoyed zip lining very much.

Tip: This was at Heavenly Mountain Resort. There are two options for zip lining: Blue Streak Zip Line (3,300 ft. long/ 50 miles per hour) and Hot Shot Zip Line (1,000 ft. long/ 40 miles per hour). Tickets to the Blue Streak are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Ticket booths open at 9 a.m., but people usually start lining up as early as 8 a.m. By the time we got there at 9:15-ish, the lines were already long. Tickets to Blue Streak were already sold out at around 9:45-ish, so we had to settle for the shorter zip line.

Lastly, we did my favorite water sport – jet skiing! I just love the adrenaline rush whenever I drive a jet ski.

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In other words, I go into beast mode when I drive this thang!

Overall, I had sooooooo much fun…all thanks to this gal!

Tanya and I before the shenanigans
Tanya and I before the shenanigans


Back to Blah

Hey, waddayaknow? It’s September 1st already – a date that signals a new beginning for a lot of people. The first day of a new month that alludes to the “-ber” months usually gets people excited for the holidays this early on – geez! But why am I talking about this particular day of the year as if it’s worth a 500-word blog entry? It’s to have a misleading intro to an otherwise nonsensical blog post.

Really. This blog entry, aptly titled “Back to Blah,” is my re-emergence to the blogosphere. The last time I blogged was eons ago. And, as I have done so in the past, I deleted my previous posts because of how terrible the writing was. Color me overcritical but I cringe every time I reread my posts. It’s a tough habit to break, and believe me, I’m working on it.

So, if you happen to come across this blog randomly, I am a wannabe struggling writer as you might have guessed. When I was first asked the perennial childhood question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I knew immediately how to answer. I’ve always wanted to become a writer, and I aspired to be one of those writers whose works will leave you mind-fucked in a good way.

It’s a work in progress. Right now, I’m working as a part-time editor/writer for a small, local newspaper in the San Francisco Bay Area. Upon reassessing myself, I’ve come to realize that in the past year and three months, I have gone through different phases of being a writer:

  1. The testing-the-waters writer

When I first started writing for the above mentioned newspaper, I wrote my assigned mini-articles the way I was used to – firm, factual, monotonous. This particular newspaper is different in a sense that the writing is more creative than “news-y.” So I had to deviate from my usual writing style and adapt to the tone of our newspaper. It was a struggle at first, but I soon realized that I am simply learning a different way of doing things – and that writers don’t have to be inclined to just one style.

  1. The eager-to-prove-myself writer

Months later, I figured I should try easing my way in and start incorporating my writing style into my articles. By this time, my writing has evolved from my boring, ol’ style to a more personal, heartfelt tone. But that doesn’t mean I know any better; I still have a lot to learn, y’all! The key is to ASK for feedback, consider your editor’s sage advice, and take whatever pointers make sense so you can establish a style that works for you. Remember though that you’re not just writing for yourself; you also have to consider your readers. (#notetoself).

  1. The lazy-dazy editor

I must say that I have improved my craft since I started. I’m still not the writer that I want to be (more on that later), but as Hemingway (name drop much?) allegedly said, “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” Now THAT’S what I wanna tell my 11-year-old self. Anyhoo, as months flew by, I became too complacent. I noticed I became self-assured with my editing that I failed to recognize the mistakes I was making. What once was an eager writer became a stagnant editor who stopped trying and learning and improving because she got lazy. Nothing challenged me anymore because I stopped (or maybe avoided) looking for tasks that would shake me to the core. So now I am getting back on track!

But fear not, aspiring writers. It’s not all that bad. If you’re not too sure as to what you want to pursue, just keep trying different things until you find your niche. I wish there was a Tinder app for choosing a career! I kid, I kid! Seriously, though, somebody should get started on that.

I’m hoping to put this writing thing to good use someday so that my future sagging self will have my 26-year-old self to thank.


by Poyan Maniego


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