Cordilleras, Chun Li and a Curious Club

31 08 2007

For the second time this semester, we attended an exhibit opening in Vargas Museum of an artist we barely know. The work displayed this time was of an Australian expat’s abstract paintings of the Cordilleras (blue squares represented the Baguio night and green squares stood for the Sagada landscape). We frequent exhibit openings partly for the art, but mostly for the free dinner (and wine!). Shameless professional exhibitionists.

Later in Arni’s car, she made me borrow her brand new PSP and the moment the tip of my fingers came into contact with the controls and the buttons, I knew that there was no turning back. I played Street Fighter, for the sake of old times, and got incredibly addicted. I actually KOed all my opponents (Balrog, Birdie and company [Remember the movie? The one with Kylie Minogue and Van Damme in Thailand. Or was it Mortal Kombat?]) except that freaking Chinese character, Chun Li, annoyingly arrogant with her helicopter legs.

And earlier, Trina began recruiting willing women for her Lonely Hearts’ Helping Hugs Club, an organization she founded with the design of providing hope to the millions of miserable men. The club’s qualified beneficiaries will receive a free girlfriend and all the associated perks of love and relationships. Interesting idea.

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Bitter brandy and the better Bush

23 08 2007

Yesterday was the birthday of Paul G. and Tori A. The old gang was reunited for the former’s birthday and we celebrated in his house by eating cakes and calling old pals and revisiting good (and bad) times of the memorable past. We also Magic Mike-d videoke classics such as Bohemian Rhapsody and Uptown Girls and Quit Playing Games (With My Heart), and consumed grape-based alcohol such as wine and brandy. I was aware that brandy makes my head feel heavy and messes with my digestive processes, but still…

And now, let me introduce you to the only Bush the world needs.

With that voice and those moves, how could you not love her?





Pigs in the City

18 08 2007

Earlier, a truck carrying pigs from Batangas overturned, holding up traffic in South Superhighway for several minutes. A couple of pigs managed to escape to the streets, forcing the driver to chase them around and eventually leash them to a pole. Pigs!

Maybe it’s due to my daily Cinemanila movie routine or to the constantly wet hems of my pants or to my seeing Mari Mar (Pinoy Version!) for the first time, but this week an idea for a new story (the first one in a year!) finally came to me. It’s called ‘Manny’ and will feature non-fictional characters like, well, Manny Pacquiao and Sarah Geronimo, as well as the fictional lives of many men in Manila. It’s probably no good, but what’s the harm in trying? Now, if only I had a first sentence…

The best of Cinemanila 2007:

  • 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days (Romania). A brilliant minimalist anti-communist Cannes Palm d’Or winner about the hells a woman had to go through in helping her friend get an abortion in 80s Romania. 9.5/10

  • Volver (Spain). See it for Penelope Cruz and her, uhm, many gifts and talents. 9.5/10

  • Death Proof (USA). See post below. 9/10

  • The Edge of Heaven (Germany/Turkey). I swear Fatih Akin stole this idea from a 2004 story of mine. I swear! 8.5/10

  • Paris, Je T’Aime (France/Germany). A collective tribute to love and Paris composed of 18 segments filmed by different directors. Watch this only for the last one, Alexander Payne’s condescending, hilarious, touching and sublime segment narrated in Americanized French by a fannypacked tourist/Denver letter carrier who falls in love with the city. Overall rating: 7/10. Payne’s segment: 10/10

Speaking of Alexander Payne, for no reason, I was quite distracted today with the thought of Election, a high-quality satire, set in an Omaha high school, about the dirty politics behind the process. Reese Witherspoon plays Tracy Flick, an ambitious and annoying overachiever who is running for the student body presidency. Matthew Broderick plays a Civics teacher and Tracy-hater, who devices a plan of stopping her success by fielding a popular but slow and dense jock, Paul Metzler (played by Chris Klein), as Tracy’s opponent. Paul’s lesbian sister eventually joins the race. Here are quotes from a hilarious but sincere scene (which shows a summary of their characters) where the three candidates are praying to God on the night before the election:

Tracy Flick: Dear Lord Jesus, I do not often speak with you and ask for things, but now, I really must insist that you help me win the election tomorrow because I deserve it and Paul Metzler doesn’t, as you well know. I realize that it was your divine hand that disqualified Tammy Metzler and now I’m asking that you go that one last mile and make sure to put me in office where I belong so that I may carry out your will on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.

Tammy Metzler: Dear God, I know I don’t believe in you, but since I’ll be starting catholic school soon, I though I should at least practice. Let’s see. What do I want? I want Lisa to realize what a bitch she is and feel really bad and apologize for how she hurt me and know how much I still love her. In spite of everything, I still want Paul to win the election tomorrow, not that cunt Tracy. Oh, and I also want a really expensive pair of leather pants and someday, I wanna be really good friends with Madonna. Love, Tammy.

Paul Metzler: Dear God, thank you for all your blessings. You’ve given me so many things, like good health, nice parents, a nice truck, and what I’m told is a large penis, and I’m very grateful, but I sure am worried about Tammy. In my heart, I still can’t believe she tore down my posters, but sometimes, she does get so weird and angry. Please help her be a happier person because she’s so smart and sensitive and I love her so much. Also, I’m nervous about the election tomorrow and I guess I want to win and all, but I know that’s totally up to you. You’ll decide who the best person is and I’ll accept it. And forgive me for my sins, whatever they may be. Amen.

More one-liners!

Tammy Metzler: It’s not like I’m a lesbian or anything. I’m attracted to the person. It’s just that all the people I’ve been attracted to happen to be girls.

Paul Metzler: [brainstorming campaign slogans] Paul Power… Paul for President… Paul… Promise… Progress… Peanut…

Tracy Flick: Good morning, Mr. M. Looks like you could use a CUPCAKE!

Tammy Metzler: [narrating] Being suspended is like getting a paid vacation. Why do they think it’s a punishment? It’s like your dog pees on the carpet and you give him a treat. Then you get in trouble for skipping school, it’s sooo stupid! Hendricks told me, “One more time” and I’d be expelled. Sounded good to me.

Paul Metzler: I sure was surprised the day Lisa Flanagan asked me for a ride home and ended up blowing me.

Jim McAllister: Paul, what is your favorite fruit?
Paul Metzler: Pears.
Jim McAllister: Okay, now…
Paul Metzler: No wait! Apples.
Jim McAllister: Great, now say that everyday you had an apple. An apple, an apple and more apples. You probably thought that apples were pretty good, even if you got a rotten one every once in awhile. Then one day there was an orange. Now you can choose, do you want an apple or do you want an orange? That’s democracy.
Paul Metzler: I also like bananas.
Jim McAllister: Exactly!





Talkyntino

12 08 2007

Awesome, awesome night at Gateway Cinema 5.

Reason 1: Quentin Tarantino sat two rows away from me during the Philippine premiere of Death Proof. Oy. And apparently, with a microphone in his hands, he can talk endlessly (about himself specifically). But it’s forgivable since he delivers awesome awesome movies. And he’s quite a fan of Filipino films too, especially our world famous action movies.

Reason 2: Tarantino’s second half of Grindhouse called Death Proof, an ode to car chases and lap dances and stuntmen of 70s exploitation movies, is awesome in typical Tarantino fashion. The often flat and tedious dialogues in Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror, is more than made up for in this film. Fast cars! Butt-kicking femmes! Gory deaths! Evil Kurt Russell! The prettiest trash film ever. Great audience too (although the bunch in my row conversed in English with an American accent, which caused my head to spin but which, thank heavens, was eventually drowned by the pre-screening music of Englebert Humperdinck. Thank you Englebert!)

Reason 3: A familiar face I saw outside the cinema prior to the screening appeared minutes before the movie started, shamelessly distracting me and temporarily disrupting the sense of order of my various organ systems.





Pedro, Mira, Ian and Quentin

10 08 2007

Today at Gateway, I was six meters away from Quentin Tarantino! Quentin Tarantino!! The guy responsible for such wonders as Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs and Kill Bill!!!

But before that, I attended the first Philippine screening of Pedro Almodovar’s latest, Volver. Penelope Cruz, last seen in an Almodovar film as a nun impregnated by a transsexual who had AIDS, plays a mother who discovers the ghost of her mother and rediscovers the ghost of her past. As with most great Almodovar films, it is hilarious, ludicrous, melodramatic, convoluted, charming, sensitive and gynocentric. No living director can combine all these elements in one film and still make sense. Film Rating: 9.5/10 (his best since 2002’s Talk to Her)

After dinner, I saw The Namesake, Mira Nair’s adaptation of Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel about the Indian immigration experience. The stories feel familiar yet refreshing. Mira Nair (Salaam Bombay and Monsoon Wedding) has an incredible talent for filming both Indian street life and Hindu weddings. Film Rating: 8/10

Yesterday, I commenced my 2007 Cinemanila experience with Ian Curtis’ biopic, Control, based on his wife’s book about the troubled life of the genius behind the great but short-lived 70s post-punk band Joy Division. The sepia and black-and-white photography, along with the music, were effective in setting up the dark tone of the film. The characters, however, were thinly-sketched stereotypes we have seen in many films before. Film Rating: 7.5/10

Tomorrow, fingers crossed, I will see Quentin Tarantino again!





Altmanesque

9 08 2007

In 1992’s The Player, there is a scene in a police station where Whoopi Goldberg’s detective character began playing with her assistant’s box of tampons in the middle of interrogating a murder suspect. This is the point when I realized why this film was billed a comedy. It was Robert Altman’s idea of an elaborate anti-Hollywood joke, a satire on the smugness and shallowness of Hollywood, a film that deliberately follows the structures and formulas of Hollywood films. The film also boasts of a constellation of celebrity cameos which includes Julia Roberts and Bruce Willis (in a hilarious movie within a movie called Habeas Corpus), Malcolm McDowell and Andie MacDowell, John Cusack and Anjelica Huston, Cher, Jeff Goldblum, Burt Reynolds, Susan Sarandon, Jack Lemmon, Mimi Rogers, Elliot Gould and all the other stars you could think of.

In Short Cuts, Altman’s follow-up 3-hour film the following year, the stories of 22 LA characters intersect over a few days, leading to a fateful climactic earthquake which shakes and changes (or doesn’t) their lives. Stand out scenes include Julianne Moore’s naked-below-the-waist matter-of-fact marital confrontation with Matthew Modine, and Jennifer Jason Leigh’s phone sex moaning while changing her baby’s diapers. Once again, a feast of fantastic acting feats.

In 1975, Altman crafted Nashville, his masterpiece, a dizzying blend of country music, political satire and at least two dozen characters. Dialogues overlap, storylines intertwine, incredibly funny one-liners are delivered nonchalantly and one after another. This year, the film finally made its much-delayed first appearance at AFI’s list of 100 American movies, ranking a lowly 59th.

Robert Altman passed away last year at age 81, leaving a body of work that has influenced a new generation of filmmakers, great (Paul Thomas Anderson of Magnolia and Boogie Nights, for example) and mediocre (Paul Haggis of Crash) alike. Altman’s other great films that redefined their respective genres include M*A*S*H (for the war genre), McCabe and Mrs Miller (for the western), and Gosford Park (for the detective genre).





Powter, Potter and a Pun-tastic Poet

4 08 2007

I was having a more or less good day when that sinister Daniel Powter song started playing as I, carrying my dinner, waited for seats to empty at Burger King. Then an imp of a kid jumped from a railing beside me, taking down with him the contents of my Whopper tray (all but the sundae). And as I stared in silent shock at my spilled meal on the floor, that insufferable Daniel Powter song approached its climax; the catchy chorus merrily mocking me for my misfortune over and over again. On the plus side, I got a replacement meal and, more importantly, a seat near someone who was in red (and whom I saw for the second time in as many days, hmm).

Although I’ve always been a reluctant Harry Potter reader, I have immensely enjoyed each of its installments and will probably treasure the first time (back in 2001, stumbled upon Sorcerer’s Stone during an afternoon of blackout) and the last time (today, reading the last page for the last time) I held a hardcover volume of the series in my hands.

I used to steer clear from Shakespeare’s works because I imagined them to be gloomy, ancient and impenetrable. Now, halfway through Hamlet, I am convinced this tragedy is highly entertaining, surprisingly current and quite pun-ny. Earlier today, I bought two of his other famous plays, Macbeth and The Tempest. Oy oy oy, oyo boy.