31 07 2008

The irony of films about dying is that they turn into films about life and living. 100, the warmest, funniest and best acted entry in this year’s Cinemalaya, joins the ranks of festival classics like Sarong Banggi, Endo, Donsol, Tribu and Maximo Oliveros as excellent examples of how much you can do with so little. 100 presents a familiar story about the last minute wishes of a dying woman but it tells it with believable acting (by Mylene Dizon, Tessie Tomas and Eugene Domingo), effortless humor, well-lit scenes, good sound recording, energetic camera movements, and a feeling of distinct Filipino-ness. In my theater row, I noticed at least three people cry before the credits rolled.

Equally well-made but much more pessimistic is Best Picture winner Jay, a film about simulating reality in front of a TV camera. A rare, good and polished Pinoy black comedy, it successfully taps the potentially deep talent pool of Baron Geisler.

Brutus tackles issues about the Mangyans, NPA, military and commercial logging in the mountains of Mindoro. It fails, however, in its mediocre screenplay, which features superfluous dialogues that spoonfeeds the audience and mistrusts its intelligence. Apart from its topic and setting, the film could easily have been another mainstream feature.

Finally, My Fake American Accent, which is about life in call centers, officially becomes the second worst Cinemalaya entry I’ve seen in the last four years (the worst will always be the self-indulgent crap called Lasponggols, which will forever stimulate hatred in my heart). Apart from the interesting title, there was nothing at all inspired in this film. The actors were wooden; the direction was sloppy; the script was riddled with half-baked ideas, poorly-written dialogues and unconvincing character development; the lines were barely audible; and most of the scenes were artlessly composed. I wasn’t expecting depth (and it turned out to be incredibly shallow) but at least I was hoping for entertainment. Except for a scene that involved an erection, there was nothing remotely engaging in its entire run.



26 07 2008

Oy. Today, I think I found my T.

Read somewhere that the hormone serotonin is responsible for obsession, so hello sappilicious serotonin overdose.

Tomorrow, we go camping in the beach. Crossing fingers that the monsoon would cooperate. Due to UP’s new, crazy schedule, Sunday is our new Saturday.

Fourth ep teaser below. Rated R13 for gore and some sexuality:


When I tasted blood as we kissed that Monday afternoon, I thought it was because I accidentally bit her lip. With clumsy braces ready to take the blame, I severed physical contact and was about to apologize when I noticed a thin trickle of clotting blood issuing from her left nose and dribbling down to her upper lip. She wiped it off with her knuckle dismissively; I quietly expressed alarm, thinking, at the back of my mind, that my braces were still somehow responsible. She expressed an assurance that this was not uncommon to her, especially during instances of extreme emotional tension. I gently brushed the light red smear of residual blood off her nose-lip cleft (an indentation I learned was called philtrum upon later googling) and knew that her nosebleed simultaneously confirmed our hunches and shook off our hesitations. After a few moments of silent calculation, our lips met again and explored the familiar anatomy that we both missed after four months of separation, until some racket from a band of communists outside the car interrupted us.

We’re Howling Forever, Ooh, Ooh

21 07 2008

“My heart’s aflame. My heart is strained. But God I like it.” – Wolf Like Me by TV On The Radio

Tsai’s Taiwanese films plus teenage hormones plus Thai addiction plus Tunisia dreaming plus plenty of free time total to the state that I am in.

And, the third eppy:


When the talent agent told me I had good, strong jaws as he handed his name card, I wrinkled my eyebrows in momentary disbelief before remembering that Sheena used to make the exact same remark during our long staring sessions. She would say they reminded her of Emile Hirsch and I would protest (after finally finding out what he looked like) and dismiss her comparisons and she would assure me by saying that prominent jaws make good models and I would rub my jaws and resign by curtly mentioning that yes, if that happens, then hurray, an easy way to enter showbizness. After the agent and his friend finally left me in peace after I relented to promise to contact them soon, I drove Sheena off my mind when I realized I was thinking of her again, and so I stood, left the café table and proceeded to the restroom to wash my face. It came as a surprise to me that somebody would notice my apparent anatomical assets amid the mass of Saturday mallers, feeling that, as I stared into the mirror to further fuel the burning flames of vanity and pride, I looked like a complete mess with an uncombed, rain-drenched hair all over the place and dirt stains in the plain white shirt I knew I shouldn’t have worn that day.

In the Mood for Love

18 07 2008

“I’m a high school lover. And you’re my favorite flavor.” – Playground Love by Air

Four great, original Asian romances that rely on mood rather than plot:

Chungking Express (Wong, 1994)

Fast, frenetic, meandering, repetitive, plotless, romantic. Hong Kong, expired canned pineapples, toy planes, stalking, ‘California Dreaming’, a semi-psychotic Faye Wong. Trailer!

What Time Is It There? (Tsai, 2001)

Quiet, long shots where little happens interspersed with deep melancholy and absurdist humor. Redefines our romantic expectations and moves us with its beautiful final scene. Clip!

3-Iron (Kim, 2004)

A modern-day love story doing away with dialogues. Trailer!

Three Times (Hou, 2005)

A trilogy of love stories set in Taiwan at different periods (1966, 1911, 2005). Love is a product of time. Trailer!

Khop Khun

17 07 2008

“Our aspirations are wrapped up in books. Our inclinations are hidden in looks.” Wrapped Up In Books by Belle and Sebastian

It is classic moments such as this that make hours spent watching Pinoy TV sometimes a little worthwhile.

And Mm is love. Thank goodness for the wonders of youtube.

Finally, taking advantage of a momentum, the first paragraph of a second episode. May post the rest after some good editing.


‘Pussissy’ first made its appearance in our collective vocabularies when I coined it on a weekender in Nasugbu last summer during Mario’s extended flirtation with hesitation before jumping from a high rock outcrop into the sea. Even though he landed flat on his ass in that dive, listened to bossa in his car and kept a pet Siamese in his condo, we decided not to stress and labor the point because he usually was our designated driver, venue host, master chef, taker of orders, and math adviser all in one so we avoided upsetting him as much as we can (although he rarely ever was anyway). But on that Thursday evening, it was Mario’s turn to use the term when he, after seeing the bottle of blue alcohol Vince was holding for us to examine, exclaimed “But that’s a drink for the pussissies!” Chuckles were exchanged and looks were made but we left it at that since Vince brought all the goodies and we were afraid of upsetting him too. The blue pussissy drink turned out to be a soft combo of cognac and vodka, which when mixed with Sprite proved to be quite charming.

There Will Be Plot

14 07 2008

Watching a string of romantic films have made me soft and sappy lately so I decided to toughen things up and keep appearances by watching the bleak, depressing and darkly comedic 2005 Romanian film The Death of Mr. Lazarescu. Set primarily in nighttime Bucharest, it follows the dying hours of a man who is passed on from one hospital to another, a journey of almost Ulysses proportions. For a film about the literal and figurative death of an old man, it is surprisingly full of life, capturing brief snapshots of people around Mr. Lazarescu and slices of their lives as they happen.

On the plus side, romance has spurred me to continue an unfinished work I temporarily abandoned last year. I rewrote the first episode and reconceptualized the whole section as romance with equal doses of pretentiousness and silliness. The first paragraph (which needs reworking) roughly reads:


I was quietly attempting to lick off, with the tip of my tongue, bits of chocolate sprinkles that got stuck between my dental braces and upper set of front teeth, when I noticed her emerge from the restroom. My tongue froze guiltily before slowly retreating to its resting position as she took her seat opposite me on the table and resumed reading a page of the café copy of ‘1000 Movies You Must See Before You Die’ which she had earlier bookmarked with a receipt. With furrowed eyebrows, she shifted her gaze to me and inquired whether I have seen Satantango, a film whose title she found interestingly bizarre. I said “No, not yet,” and pushed the plate of partially bitten donut away (the culprit for the sudden surge of self-consciousness in my dental regions and a mistake of order that I promised never to repeat), and fought a strong urge to wipe my teeth with my tongue again. I have never encountered the film title before so I asked her the director, and, in the process of mouthing the words, unwittingly exposed a handful of embarrassing candy-colored sprinkles that were stubbornly lodged in my braces. I noticed her steal a glance at my teeth while I spoke before shifting her eyes back to the book, smiling faintly then announcing “It’s by Bela Tarr, an interestingly bizarre name too. Fourhundredfiftyminutes long, wow, I should definitely watch this before I die!” she quietly exclaimed, and I suddenly felt her knee press against mine. Uncertain whether it was intentional or accidental on her part, my knee froze and did its best to preserve contact with her for the longest possible time despite protests from my shin and calf muscles, which were already beginning to cramp from the prolonged deliberate paralysis. I gazed at her as she continued to read with her partly open lips.


9 07 2008

“Your skin is something that  I stir into my tea.” – Clam, Crab, Cockle and Cowrie by Joanna Newsom

Exactly a decade ago, I fell in love with a cutesy Thai romance which starred the really young Tata Young (one of those unfortunate names, along with the likes of Baby, Girlie, and Boy, that would perhaps prove problematic once you have grandchildren or become just old). This year, a different cutesy Thai romance, a different set of circumstances, a similar feeling. Oy.

Several days ago, I was minding my business in a bank when a woman I didn’t recognize initiated a small talk with me. I pretended that I knew her but she called my bluff. Turns out she was a dormmate back in ’99 from the 3rd floor where I probably made the acquaintance of a handful of people. Now, she is married to another dormmate and has two sons. I feel old.

Most of my first-year students this semester were born in 1991. Before the quake, the eruption, the 1st Gulf War. Before That’s Entertainment‘s annual giant Christmas tree lighting in Araneta, Eye to Eye and Lovingly Yours, Helen. Before Dear Diary, Tamis ng Unang Halik, and Shake, Rattle and Roll 1, 2 and 3. Before Super Inday and the Golden Bibe, Petrang Kabayo at ang Pilyang Kuting, and SuperMouse and the Robo-Rats (a film whose tagline was ‘It’s a very mice picture’). They missed some good times.