Total Pageviews

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I Still Know What I Did Last Two Weekends

Two weekends ago, I was at Bob's for a vain photo-op for my new passport. Ages ago, I had my first passport pic taken from the same studio. Don't ask me for a copy of it cause you might mistake me for, hmm, never mind. Anyway, I will be having my third passport soon and what a way to celebrate it by revisiting Bob's. They now charge P600+ for a dozen copies of passport photos (the travel agent will be needing five for the renewal). There's nothing fancy with the whole experience. Nothing has really changed much except for the fact that the process is now digital.

From there, I got a bilao of Pancit ng Taga-Malabon then took a cab to Titus Brandsma Media Center for a simple Christmas gathering and the usual film showing. We were only eight in the room then. I caught "Les Choristes" halfway and finished the next film, a Japanese melodrama entitled "One Litre of Tears". Had some ice cream, pancit and soda. Call it eat-and-run but at 7pm, I was already at GB3 catching "The Golden Compass".

Sunday. A Christmas Party was held inside the boarding house with none other than, my housemates! Seven party people in the cute (read: not so big, not so tiny) living room with lots of food, videoke and kris kringle. I had two bottles of SMB Light and I received a black and sleek Esprit umbrella (ella, ella, ella).

Last weekend, I got up early and took a cab to MV Doulus or more popularly known as "the floating bookshop". It was a sunny Saturday and the heat was unusually energy zapping for mid-December. I alighted at the port area's Gate 1 (just near Manila Hotel) and walked my ass off to the entrance of the ship. At 10am, I was already browsing through the books and ended up buying a diet book (!), a Bible story in manga (aptly called "The Manga Messiah"), a world map, some postcards and a cap. Right at the exit, some books were being given out for free (mostly inspirational). I was informed that this is going to be the last visit of the ship.

I was at World Bazaar at World Trade Center by lunchtime. It was a, err, a bazaar. Very Greenhills but less chaotic. The first thing that I did was get a fix of Korean pancit (sold by three Korean gals in a hypnotic Korean-English accent) and Lipton Green Tea. Stall by stall, I managed to check out the stuff they're selling: from laptray (cushion attached to a tray) to ammunition to ABS-CBN shirts and Lastikman apparel. There's a special section called "Celebrity Village" where local celebs had a chance to rent a space and sell their wares (KC Concepcion, Andrea del Rosario, Juday and a lot more). Don't worry, they're not present on that day. I left the place with only one piece of new shirt.

The rest of the afternoon was spent with getting an Avenue Q shirt at RCBC Plaza (Juday and Ryan Agoncillo just got in, I saw them), fetching my passport pics and a newly acquired John Lennon - Imagine woodmounted poster from Frame Plus (I got the poster from Odyssey) and some quicky shopping at SM Makati. In the evening, I was about to go to Ateneo to catch Glen Mas' "Death of a Memory" but the Christmas traffic hindered me from doing so. I just stayed home and, well, slept.

Nothing much last Sunday. The highlight could be the first Simbang Gabi and a hearty early breakfast with bibingka and puto bumbong. At 11pm, my roommate and I were already cruising along Burgos, looking for a bar that would treat us with a live via satellite Chelsea vs. Arsenal game. Too bad, we didn't catch any. Frustrated, we just went to Top Grill along Jupiter for a couple of beers. Hours later, bad news reached us. Chelsea lost, 1-0. Damn! Oh well, Manuel.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Movie Digest # 032

Glorietta 4, Cinema 3, December 5, 10:00pm

Yes, Ben Affleck can direct. It’s not obvious yet but rest assured that I would be watching his next film as a film director. Pero nakakaduda rin na baka sobrang maganda lang ang material. The same guy who gave us the critically acclaimed “Mystic River” authors the book (and the screenplay?) and I wasn’t disappointed. Gusto ko ‘yung multiple characters, ‘yung halos walang lead. Gusto ko ‘yung mga kamukha nito na tumatalakay sa isang maliit na komunidad na humihinga at nabubuhay nang kolektibo. Most importantly, I like films that are bold enough to post a difficult moral question addressed to the viewers, something that is worth tackling even after the end credits. .

Friends who might appreciate it: Oscar 2008 expectators.

Power Plant, Cinema 5, December 7, 10:10pm

This should be retitled to “Eastern Surprises” as the film becomes one of my favorite films for 2007. It has some elements of “The Godfather” or even “The Departed” but the delivery is not alienating. It created a world of its own without being a sell-out or too mainstream. It must be the acting ensemble where everybody deserves a nod or two. Viggo’s acting best. Pang-Oscars ang mga ginawa n’ya including the gory hand-to-hand fight inside a bathhouse without wearing anything and a commendable Russian accent. Not to disappoint too are the Hitchcock fans for some frames are very reminiscent of the Master of Suspense’s works. A must-see.

Friends who might appreciate it: those who are in for a ride.

Greenbelt 3, Cinema 1, December 8, 7:00pm

It’s one of those “not-as-good-as-the-book” films. I don’t know what exactly went wrong because the production design is OK, costume/make-up is fine, acting, etc. The film is technically above average as compared to "Narnia". Maybe the problem lies within the storytelling. “The Golden Compass”, instead of revealing truth, maligns and confuses the audience. For instance, it’s very puzzling why Lyra is very much strongwilled to do what she has to do. What is she thinking? What is her drive to overcome the series of unfortunate events that she’s been in? If you haven’t read the book, chances are, you’ll be lost with this compass.

Friends who might appreciate it: those who had read the Dark Materials Book I by Philip Pullman and was eager to watch the film before buying the next two books (“Subtle Knife” and “Amber Spyglass”).

Glorietta 1, Cinema 1, December 9, 1:55pm

If you’re a fan of Batanes (the place) and always keen to book a trip for a summer weekend-away but ended up just planning, this film is perfect for you. The images of the waves crushing through the cliff and down the rocks are mindblowing (no joke!). Another way to experience that is to visit some spots in Australia or Farewell Spit in New Zealand. The sand, the seashore, the sturdy houses built for the typhoons, plus Iza Calzado’s bucolic beauty and some helicopter shots of the blue sea are simply amazing. Never mind that it has a story. Don’t be too intimate with it, with the characters and the plot ‘cause you might end up being disapointed. Or maybe the story is good and can be easily forgiven but some execution of the scenes are too lousy. Or it could be another case of poor editing as some story highlights require further explanation. Why is Sid Lucero always appearing in the sea out of the blue? How come the “Swept Away” plot is too unbelievable? As the song goes, “too many questions but the answers are still few”.

Friends who might appreciate it: backpackers and F4 fans.

SM Mall of Asia, Cinema 1, December 16, 3:15pm

I am not sure if I like this film for I can’t say much about it. If there’s one assurance, it must be the film being a visual feast. I like the cinematography, the costumes, the lavish sets and the “eye” of the whole film. Not to mention the no nonsense presence of Cate Blanchett and Amanda Morton. In spite of all these goodness, the movie fails to make a remarkable kick. Yes it’s good but it lacks emotional participation. I wasn’t moved, I wasn’t uprooted from my seat and I didn’t cry. The film “The Queen” already risked on similar characterization but I can say that I appreciate the efforts more of this film to further womanize as well as humanize Queen Elizabeth, one of the greatest queens of England.
Friends who might appreciate it: those who are dumbstruck when Gwyneth Paltrow for “Shakespeare in Love” won over Cate Blanchett for “Elizabeth”.

Greenbelt 1, Cinema 1, December 17, 8:00pm

Poignant and personal. This docu probes the lives of a group of Filipino transvestites in Tel Aviv, Israel, seen in the eyes of a foreigner. The group is composed of caregivers, parlorista and choreographers by day and drag queens by night. Well, it has the ingredients of being a crowd-pleaser: the drama, the migration blues, discrimination and norms. What's really notable is the honesty and curiosity imbibed by the Israeli filmmaker. One segment showcases the director being transformed into a drag. Also, I don't find the docu too technical or too mechanical similar to what we normally see on local TV. At some point, it has a home-made video feel that works and complements. If you have time, go and catch this one.

Friends who might appreciate it: docu fans (in drag?).

Glorietta 4, Cinema 1, December 17, 10:30pm

If you want something clean and wholesome, this film is top of the list. At first, I had no plans to watch this film but when the Golden Globe nominees were announced recently and Amy Adams (the one who played Giselle) got a nod for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy, I hurried to catch this film on its second (or third?) week. Well, one thing's for sure, "Enchanted" is not pretentious. I think its only intention is to come up with a standard Disney film and on that regard, they succeeded. Miss Adams is a great reminder that any role can be taken seriously. She's on the same league with Johnny Depp for "Pirates of the Caribbean" or even our very own Charito Solis for the "OK Ka, Fairy Ko" series.

Friends who might appreciate it: those who happen to know Mc Dreamy.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Paalam, Rene O. Villanueva

Nakakagulat ang isang posting sa isang film Yahoogroup. Pumanaw na ang manunulat na si Rene Villanueva. Heto ang nilalaman:

Our beloved writer friend Rene Villanueva has passed away last dec. 3. You can visit his wake at Sanctuarium in Araneta Corner Quezon Avenue until dec.7. He will be laid on Dec. 8 at UP Diliman (Fairies Garden). His famous works as writer include Batibot, May Isang Sundalo, Asawa, Kaaway sa Sulod, The Bomb, Watawat, "Botong" (Carlos Francisco Life Story), Tiktipaklong, Ibong Adarna and more. please pass. thanks

Doods J.
Cineaste moderator
Kamakailan lamang ay humingi pa ako ng autograph sa kanya. Mukha na s'yang mahina noon pero itinago ito ng polo n'ya na kulay green. Nakita ko s'ya sa isang pagtatanghal ng Virgin Labfest sa CCP kung saan kabilang ang kanyang obra na "Bertdey ni Guido". Tungkol ito sa isang batang kasing-kaarawan ng EDSA People Power. May nalikha akong blog tungkol dito kung hindi ako nagkakamali. Ang hindi ko lang makalimutan ay ang nag-iisang pangungusap na nasambit ko sa kanya: "Sir, I owe you my childhood."

Cinema One Originals 2007

It wasn’t as successful in terms of attendance as this year’s Cinemalaya (or even Cinemanila) but still, Cinema One Originals Film Festival has the balls to challenge the mainstream and to offer the movie buffs an alternative avenue. I hope other media companies like GMA-7 or the Ayala Group could open doors to our thriving film artists (many are still untapped unfortunately).

Last long weekend (November 30 to December 2), I went to Glorietta 4 to catch a film or two a day. Another screening was being mounted at Trinoma also on the same weekend. This year, Ayala Malls sponsored the festival while the very first one was at SM Megamall (no idea about last year’s). A film costs P130 (a bit pricier compared to Cinemalaya’s P100) and there were five “originals” to watch. Just a little background, Cinema One funded each film for a whopping P1M (Cinemalaya offers only half of it).

Below are my two cents (in chronological order that I saw them):

PRINSESA – I was reminded of a film poster for “Palindromes” about an obese girl facing a jungle but I think the two are different. This film by Lawrence Fajardo of “Kultado” fame is about OFWs told in a very subtle and not-the-usual tale of oppression and melodrama. The father who finds a contractual job abroad realizes that his daughter’s obesity is his absence impregnated. Of course, the ending is predictable. What’s not predictable is the nonexistence of a talky script. The first parts (roughly 15 minutes) are executed with less words and just images of a father trying to move on with the help of his sister, his daughter and a granny without even explaining what’s really happening. Oh, the power of images! If only mainstream directors could appreciate this advantage of executing “silent” scenes. Acting-wise, the cast delivers well including Romnick Sarmenta as the father and Hopia (I forgot her last name) as the daughter. Shamaine Centenara and Archie Adamos provide a great support.

MALING AKALA – The plot might be thin but I still appreciate this latest film from the same team that brought us the highly acclaimed “Inang Yaya”. First, the location, a fishing village somewhere in Pampanga, was transformed into a Venetian paradise, complete with the iconic “San Marco” dome and the rigger-less boats that pass to and from the fish ponds. That alone is worth the ticket. As for the cast, I am not sure if Victor Basa can deliver (Jodi Sta. Maria-Lacson is always a safe choice). He reminds me of Ariel Rivera when first made a break in “Nandito Ako” with Aga Muhlach and Lea Salonga, very raw and amateurish. The false assumption in the film allegedly is Victor’s character to be straight. These two folks met in a bus and they acted like a couple with Jodi’s parents as audience. Before the film ends, Jodi’s character caught Victor’s character making love to a fisherman. This is where the film hits a lump in the throat. There’s too much “planting” in it even from the very start and the twist doesn’t come as a surprise. Just the same, the movie boasts of beautiful cinematography and some commendable close-up shots.

TAMBOLISTA – This is my brave bet as the festival’s best picture. It’s very Pinoy, very Brocka but not very artsy. The film tackles a sad and tragic story of a teenager who is saving up money for a drumset. That’s basically the film’s main plot but it is cleverly juxtaposed with other subplots about the main protagonist’s brother with a girlfriend who undergoes an abortion, a friend in search of meaning and a pair of noisy oldies who fight about anything nonsense. The film is done in B&W and color (red) only appears when there’s a bloody scene (complemented by Khavn’s effective musical score of mostly drumbeats). I don’t understand the significance of this over the material but that’s fine. The three lead actors (Jiro Manio, Sid Lucero and Coco Martin) deliver a great and occasionally natural performance. Sid Lucero, who played a disturbed comrade, won the Best Actor award. Jiro Manio might have provided a more heartfelt characterization but Sid has made sure that he is “present” in every scene that he’s in. I can also say that this is Adolf Alix’s best work as a director (though I haven’t seen his “Donsol”).

ALTAR – There’s something unusual about a Rico Maria Ilarde film. I’ve seen his “Sa Ilalim ng Cogon” and both films have a script that makes all the speaking lines very intellectual. This might not work on some characters that do not require eloquence and sensibility but just the same, the script is fun to see coming to life. This suspense film still carries the same scare tactics popularized by blockbuster films like “Feng Shui” or “Sukob” but it has its own unique charm. It must be the urge that is seeded in every moviegoer to look what lies beneath and go beyond the extra mile in uncovering the unknown. The good thing is that it doesn’t have to explain much. It created a world that doesn’t have to be conceivable. The last scene having Zanjoe Marudo crying over his new duty as a “guard” while looking at his loved one (Dimples Romana) through a small attic window is memorable.

CONFESSIONAL – This is the festival’s Best Picture. I prefer not to contest that for the film is very enjoyable and finely crafted. Right after watching this film, I concluded that two new filmmakers are now born and will be joining the roster of our talented young bloods. Technically, I have high praises for the film. It’s fresh and clearly a total experience for film buffs. Watching the film is like listening to a hip band performing live while enjoying a bottle of beer. Never-before seen images, infectious OST, cutthroat editing, what more can a cineaste would ask for? Unfortunately, beyond all these overwhelming goodness, the film didn’t move me.

Trip to Cubao X

I recently found my new place in this world. It’s called Cubao Expo or simply put, Cubao X. As the name suggests, it’s located at the heart of Cubao, just along the bus terminal near Ali Mall and beside Pure Gold (the mall formerly known as COD).

It’s there for more than two years now. It was called Marikina Shoe Expo before (the bold sign can still be seen at the side of the building). The street where it is located is called Romulo Avenue. On top are two giant Cubao Expo signs, enticing you to get in. No entrance fees, no inspections.

The place is like a U-shaped avenida of hip stop-and-shops. There’s a hopia counter, a beer booth and the Italian resto called Bellini’s that is used in the film “One More Chance”. You can also find Heritage antique shop having a window decorated with old Pinoy film stills (I want that!). There are also some stalls called Breathing Space (or is it “room”?), Reading Place, an old school ukay-ukay shop plus other artsy-fartsy space for photography and visual arts. At the curve, there’s Mogwai Bar to enjoy a Saguijo-like atmosphere.

When I went there last Saturday (alone!), there’s an event for lomo lovers. There was a series of bands performing as if sky’s the limit. Night market stalls for Christmas shopping were also put up until midnight. I bought a pin with a Philippine flag on it, accentuated by the words “Multiply Pilipinas”. That’s for P40. I had a bottle of SMB Light (for 35 bucks) and roamed and observed the people. For a long time now, I felt at home and surprisingly at peace.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Things 007: Father Bob Conaghy's Lifelines

After the mass ended yesterday at Greenbelt (I was already out of the chapel and very much eager to visit Music One), a familiar voice was broadcasted. It came from a priest who I admire a lot when he was still a resident presider at the chapel. His name is Father Bob Conaghy or simply Father Bob. He was promoting a CD called "Lifelines: Thoughts to hang on to at the end of the rope". It was a project conceptualized with Richard Merk and it basically has some talks from Father Bob discussing miracles, love, death, humility and Jesus (with original music from Tito Fuentes). It's effective and very calming to hear especially if you're toxic and tired. The proceeds will go to some medicine for our brethren in Eastern Samar. In case you're eyeing that Kris Aquino-narrated CD, think again and try this album from Father Bob as you're helping both your self and your Bicolano kababayans. A copy costs P300.

Things 006: Bench All-Around Warmer

It's very rare that I buy stuff impulsively (except for rare films on video). Last long weekend, I visited a familiar and an old favorite shop called Bench. I was just browsing and checking if there are some good Christmas gift items there. I ended up buying a scarf-like thing that you can use for 101 purposes. The material is similar to a winter scarf but it was made to look like a girl's tube tops. You can wear it around your neck or you can pull it a little more to cover your mouth just like a mask or a bonnet. I can also bring it to the cinemas and use it in my arms (this blogger has no warm hand to hold on tight during cold season). It's very handy, trendy and cheaply priced at P199.75.

And the NU Goes to....

Thursday wasn't really that good. I was freaking out at the reception area of NU 107, talking to a lady boss over my mobile. That was lunch time and I had only an hour to claim the tickets that Gian, an officemate, had won after an online voting. It was also raining and the cab that brought me to Ortigas was caught violating a No U-Turn sign at The Fort. I was hungry and mad. Eventually, I got the tickets, said sorry and thanked the people from NU. There was a misunderstanding but that was easily forgotten and I was happy that I will be rocking the World Trade Center for the 20th NU Rock Awards on the next day.

There's nothing fancy about attending THE event. There was a queue and the security inspection was thorough. By the way, the night before, DILG declared a midnight-to-5am curfew all over the metro and the nearby provinces. Thanks to our dear Senator Trillanes. I saw a bin at the entrance containing cigarettes and lighters. Minutes later, I got in and it was cozy at first. I went directly to the "mosh pit" and tried my luck to reach the frontline.

Well, I didn't know that awards night like that also has some front acts. Marcus Highway and Gayuma performed one song each. A beer drinking contest killed roughly 10 more minutes then a big lull came. There was only Sir Francis of The Dawn Indian sitting in the middle of the stage (was he hugging his guitar the entire time?), no whatsoever. That lasted for a about half an hour. But there was no boring moment as events like that are normally filled with wisecracks.

I didn't notice when the event really began but the alleged opening number was the national anthem on guitar solo played by Sir Francis. I am not sure if that was politically correct. I was informed before that our Lupang Hinirang should always have the original areglo. Dad even joked me one time that Fred Panopio was arrested after singing his famous "Yudolehehoo!" at the end of the national anthem.

After "that" number, the awarding went on. The event followed a pattern. First, two or three celebs or band members or models introduced a band that was about to perform. Then another set will announce the winner of a certain rock award category. So it's intro-performance-award then intro-performance-award. The first award was the Drummer of the Year award (was it?) which went to the drummers of Rivermaya and Bamboo. It's nice to see that these two drummers who came from two splitting bands (now it's three with Rico Blanco as solo artist) were now making beso and all smiles. Too bad that "idol ng bayan" Joel Salvador of Chicosci didn't make it. Damn! I even recorded that segment on video. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

I can't remember the sequence of the performances now but I can say that the highlights include Raimund Marasigan of Sandwich doing the "dive" with aplomb, Miggy of Chicosci being hairpulled just like a Nazareno, Marc Abaya borrowing a Philippine flag parading and waving as if reminding us of what could have happened at the Manila Pen, Bamboo having a jam of a lifetime with Buklod singing the most fitting song for the night ("Tatsulok"), Kat of Sinosikat? after receiving the Vocalist of the Year trophy commented with "I didn't expect this" while the crowd agreed "Kami rin" and of course the ever snob and now pretty boy looking Ely Buendia doing a number as if "wala lang" as usual.

If my memory serves it right, here are the rest of the winners: Song of the Year went to Typecast's "Will You Ever Learn", Album and Album Packaging of the Year for Orange and Lemons' last project "Moonlane Gardens", Guitarist and Live Act were awarded to Bamboo, Hilera also got an award as well as Reklamo (the last two bands are eyed as the next big thing for 2008).

And that was my very first NU Rock Awards. I hope to see Gian soon to thank him personally for the experience. I also have to confess that I sold the other ticket to an scalper for a hundred bucks.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Movie Digest # 031

Glorietta 4, Cinema 4, November 28, 8:15pm

Mira Nair is back with this straight from a book adaptation of Jhumpa Lahiri's "The Namesake". It's a simple story actually about migration blues and selling out our soul for a piece of acceptance. A lot of Pinoys could pretty much relate to this tale of family, identity and growing up. I can say that the film is well made but it doesn't have enough punch to make it to the Oscars (if that was the intention of the filmmaker). The acting is fine especially the one delivered by the actor who played the father. It's also a feel-good film.

Friends who might appreciate it: those who wish to see Taj Mahal (in real or in reel).

Glorietta 4, Cinema 3, November 28, 10:30pm

Now this is an action film! It's technically well made, action scenes are well choreographed, sound is superb, observer shots are well handed and the editing is very edgy. I think this is the first film that gave me an idea on what Saudi Arabia would look like. But the film is beyond that. It doesn't try much to be political like Syriana but it's not as action packed as a Bruce Willis film either. It's got the right mix, I would say. The real-time storytelling is effective as it recounts a weeklong events for four Americans who did an investigation of a massacre in Riyadh. The middle part could be a bore as it becomes a talky version of CSI. Just wait for the denouement as the film explodes like a Super Lolo. The last few scenes are a reminder to the viewers that war never ends for we are driven to "kill them all".

Friends who might appreciate it: my friends from the Middle East.

Knock on Wood

It was weird. It was my first brush with premonition. At my age, that only proves that I don't have really a third eye or something.

One Tuesday afternoon, Teds approached me at my table and handed me something from HSBC. It was an envelope that is supposed to look like a black wallet. Its content doesn't have to do with the gothic packaging for it was only an invite-a-friend kind of promo. Teds then joked with "Condolence ha!" to my surprise. I quipped with something like "Uy, hindi OK 'yan ha" then instinctively, I knocked on the wooden table three times trying to dispell the curse.

Last Thursday, I got a text message from mom informing me that there was a vehicular accident in Brgy. Mal-ay (that's outside the town proper and along the national highway in Lopez, Quezon). Mom frequents the place to visit our mini kubo there from time to time (that's how she's very much updated with the news in the area). Also in the same SMS that my mom shared that the motorcycle (motorbike) is registered under the name of my highschool friend Joseph. He's one of my closest friends way back then. The rider didn't make it. His skull was crushed that deemed his body unidentified for hours (the accident took place at past midnight).

I started calling and texting my highschool friends. Minutes later, I was informed that it wasn't Joseph who passed away but his younger brother. The motorbike was "borrowed" without my friend's permission.

Then it dawned on me. Teds, a colleague, who carried the "premonition" is very much identified a motorbike. He goes to the office through that two-wheeled vehicle complete with a black helmet and a leather jacket. Is it just me, who is now considering the power of knocking on wood, or premonition really exists? Well, the truth is out there (the "X Files" theme song must be playing by now).
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...