Monday, February 26, 2007

Oscar final thoughts

This is late. I wrote this Sunday evening and left the USB on the way to the office realizing the show was just minutes away. I thought it was a bad omen, having left it. But then, let's see.

Tomorrow’s the big day for the best of 2006 cinema and I have been waiting for this since December. Though a Guardian article critiqued that too much hoopla on trivial matters like who’s going to take home Oscars is an indication of intellectual and critical demise in America, still award shows like this offer an escapist perspective once in a while especially in an America beset by the worries of war. Even for onlookers alike, the show will satisfy thirst for Hollywood fame and glamour in that red carpet.

So what’s it going to be then, eh?

I have been toying with the idea that Little Miss Sunshine would actually take home the bacon. It’s not hard to imagine though and LMS can actually nail it. Statistically, they have the aces – Producers Guild, Writers Guild and the SAGs (best ensemble, in which Crash won last year), a standing ovation at Cannes, and critics are saying everybody loved it. It can’t be dismissed. It’s uplifting, lively and Hollywood never runs out of that dysfunctional-family sort of thing.

But then to actually think of it winning over The Departed would be way too safe. I like LMS but then Departed was, by far, the most entertaining and critically acclaimed kick-ass movie of 2006. It has been hailed as Marty’s comeback to the old genre. Technically, this film just gets everything right – tight editing, fast-paced and intelligent script, and an ensemble cast that sizzles on screen you could actually feel it hissing – Dicaprio, Damon, Nicholson, Baldwin, Sheen, even Vera Farmiga shined albeit her underwritten role, and Wahlberg whose last great performance I think was in Boogie Nights. And Leo would have a bigger chance of toppling Whitaker's reign had it been The Departed he was nominated for.

Some have argued that Departed is bloody and vulgar, not the type the conservative Academy voters would cast their votes on, but hey, really now? Plus the fact that it’s a remake (though writer William Monahan admitted he never watched Infernal Affairs). But then isn’t The Godfather I and II the same path Departed is treading? Of course it’s a lesser film compared to the two but it has to be one of its kind that have come in years. Marty will and should get the directing nod. If not for The Departed, just think of Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, for which he was atrociously robbed. I remember watching Taxi Driver in film appreciation class, and it was one of those movies that got me into thinking about the power of films and cinema.

Of the rest – Babel, Letters from Iwo Jima, The Queen – I think Babel comes close. It certainly is closest to the likes of Crash (its triumph over Brokeback Mountain last year was a glaring manifestation of the Academy’s conservatism) and it has supposedly the message (however muddled it may seem) that the Academy is looking for. It would definitely be an upset but not a surprise.

Mirren and Whitaker are lock-ins. There’s gotta be no pissed-off moment than these two actually losing on the Oscar having won every accolade along the way. I don’t like Eddie Murphy and J.Hud winning the supporting roles though they will be anyway. Murphy is way overhyped – can you think of any other film he starred in that didn’t have him ridiculous, silly or box office-whoring? The most important supporting roles this year were snubbed. Think James MacAvoy in The Last King of Scotland and Michael Sheen in The Queen. They provided the roles that made it possible for their leads to be triumphant. Hell, even Brad Pitt did a better job.

Foreign language film will be a toss-in between Pan’s Labyrinth and The Lives of Others, both heaped critical praise. I love Pan’s and I think it being credit in the other categories (cinematography, art direction and original screenplay), makes it a lead. As for the other categories, I made known earlier my picks after the noms were given out on a previous blog.

Over the years, the Academy as proven to be out of touch (here is another article from the Guardian) so it won’t really be a shocker if it pulls out upsets. So after all the fuss and the glitter dies down the red carpet, let’s not take it seriously.

Here's a scene (I've got an informer in my outfit!) from The Departed.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

sweet escape

You have been a great escape, dear blog. In fact, you're a sweet escape. When I let you know about things, it feels like I enter into a portal in a world of Middle-earth proportions. But I have been thinking a lot lately that it feels like I need to go back to the shitty world I've always known. I have been saturating you with my thoughts on self-important film nobody gives a fuck and I've been shitting a lot of stuff that nobody could care less. I'll go slay some more demons but I will escape soon. I hope sooner.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

life as a shoe

It's funny when people say "Don't worry, I understand." When actually they really don't. How can they? They're not you. They don't go through the same shitty world that you do. It's time to stop telling people to put theirselves in someone else's shoes. How can they? It's either it doesn't fit them or the shoes are too big for them. And even if they try to fit in, they cannot wear your shoe. It's your own shoe. And you'll be wearing the same fuckin' shoe for the rest of your goddamn life.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


This part of my life is called waiting. Waiting for my rocket to come. What to do with the bloody rocket? I really don’t know. Maybe it’ll just go down like some meteorite and fuckin’ blow me to pieces. Or maybe I can ride with it. Induce myself to sleep in a capsule and hibernate to eight years or something while it catapults me into space. I will wake up in Jupiter or perhaps Saturn if the possibilities of Arthur C. Clarke’s A Space Odyssey would allow.

Whatever. I so want to skip this phase. I want to mess the course of time and fuck the rest.

Monday, February 19, 2007

the last king

I watched The Last King of Scotland last Friday night, a film that I have incessantly looked for during my trips to the pirated DVD havens. One of the screenwriters is Peter Morgan, the one who helmed the screenplay for The Queen. I wondered then whose royalty will he enliven next.

The Last King tells the rise and fall of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin as seen through the eyes of Dr. Nicholas Garrigan, well-acted by James MacAvoy (he's that dwarf in The Chronicles of Narnia). Forest Whitaker who plays Amin -- who comes as no surprise given the accolades he's been receiving throughout the entire awards season -- explodes with murderous rage and a sickening charm and media-savvyness.

(There is one particular scene that will make you cringe, depending on how much violence and gore you can take.)

However, it was MacAvoy's character that shines in this movie. Aside from being the lens through which Amin's leadership is viewed, his character is in every way pivotal throughout the course of the movie. Garrigan's character is also most developed among the cast: he starts of as a testosterone-driven adventurer whose sense of dedication is shaky as he is quite even uncertain of himself and ended as disillusioned victim who has to learn it the hard way. This transformation was made possible as he became appointed as Amin's personal physician and later political advisor. MacAvoy is definitely the biggest miss in the Best Supporting Actor race.

I also saw The Good Shepherd. It's the first directorial job of Robert DeNiro. For all the good intentions and the superb casting, I just thought it was too tedious and overbearing. I can't even make do with all the intricate details and the murmurs. Practically almost all conversations in the film was done through murmuring voice. I think this drives home the point how secretive the CIA really is. I think I need to re-watch it.

photo credit:

Friday, February 16, 2007

now showing

Babel is finally showing here. I don't plan to watch it anymore though. I saw this in pirated DVD last December, thank God. Previous blog on Babel.

The only reason that people will troop to theatres to see this is because of Brad Pitt. It helps that the marketing and promotions of the movie employs the strategy of enlarging Brad Pitt's (nope, not that) photo in the movie poster. Fans would definitely be disappointed when they learn that Brad won't be appearing for more than 30-45 minutes of this 2 and a half film.

Finally saw Pan's Labyrinth (El Labirinto del Fauno). I can remember the times when I went scouring for this film and the vendors couldn't even get the title correct (read: Pao's Lovering to Pang's Nabirin -- aspirin?)

What a real triumph this one is.. This film shows why Mexican filmmaking is the next big thing in Hollywood. It is directed by Guillermo del Toro whose previous film Hellboy bore me to death (weird enough). I refuse to digest the movie as I'm still in awe. Set in Spain during the time of Franco, Pan's is both harrowing and mesmerizing in its ability to explore the human psyche. Truly, as critics say, its 'Alice in the Wonderland for adults'. Check out why its rated 96 percent in Rottentomatoes.

photo credit:

Thursday, February 15, 2007

circus politicos

This could easily be part two of the asshole chronicles -- on a national (grander) scale.

The regular commercial programming nowadays is punctuated by those annoying political campaigns that either portray politicians as would-be clowns and comedians or a potential actor/actress worthy of FAMAS nomination. Either way, they still make you want to puke. In the Philippine setting, it has been normal to see artistas crossing the line (dangerously and for the people, rivetingly) towards politics, but the recent crop of political TV ads tell us it can also be the other way around. You've got to see them to believe.

But of course, Pinoy elections would never be fun without the usual who's who in showbiz scene who is yet to tread on the all-too familiar ground of showbiz-populated politics. This year's most outstanding example probably is Richard Gomez, who in a last-ditch effort to save his ailing career paraded in the Comelec grounds to ceremoniously announce his candidacy for Senate. There's of course Lito Lapid, the proverbial cowboy in the Senate, who courageously challenges everyone in his way for debate as long as it's in his native tongue, Kapampangan. This time he runs opposite Jejomar Binay for mayoralty slate.

No surprise though is Manny Pacquiao. The rumor started around the time when he registered residency in Manila. After speculations of him running for mayor in his hometown GenSan, it was announced on the news that he'd be on the congressional slate. It shouldn't be incumbent SoCot congresswoman, Darlene Antonino-Custodio biting her nails but the people of the province who will most likely lose given the wrong choice. Guys, this is not a boxing match, please. In this situation, redemption does not come in beating the hell out of your opponent.

But then, it wouldn't be called Philippine politics and there would be no such thing as tradpols if it weren't for entertainment like these. God help us.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

assholes everywhere

We had the MCTAG Forum 2 last Friday with Mareng Winnie Monsod as the keynote speaker. MCTAG, btw, stands for Mindanao Coalition for Transparent Accountable Governance -- a project that has been running for almost 12 months and is just waiting for the terminal report for it to officially close (though there is a separate six-month extension for communications planning). I was again the TAG team's favorite documentor and listening to Mareng Winnie was a blast. I haven't seen anybody pull out a stunt out of presenting figures and statistics, and if it weren't for her, I probably dozed off. The side comments crisps, straight out of the pan, piercing, yet brimming with truthfulness and reality.

She spoke about the theme of the forum Retrospects and Prospects: The 2007 elections and beyond -- a very predictable topic given the timeliness of the political atmosphere. Of course she talked about the economy, the recent state of the polity, governance, and how we ought not to defuse our 'fire in the belly'.

She gave her admiration to the project's efforts in the coming together of the three sectors (business, LGU, civil society) in a collaborative fashion as this enhances decision making and influencing local governments' policy directions (I say local because national is way way more difficult in dealing with). This tripartism also raises to consciousness the fact the corrupt assholes don't just dwell in the government, although they're likely to grow roots there, but in every sector of society. Indeed, there are assholes everywhere, and as she correctly pointed out, even in the midst of us.

Speaking of assholes -- though I won't dare to elaborate -- what timely event that was for me to realize the asshole-ness surrounding me. Indeed, life makes fun out of the coincidences we encounter. But what a spectacle of asshole-ness. What temerity! I can only shake my head in utter disbelief.

music's greatest night

You can't just tell them to shut up and sing, especially if they've got themselves five Grammys. The girls from Dixie Chicks bagged the major awars -- Record of the Year, Album of the Year and Song of the Year. The sweep was a sweet redemption for the Chicks who experienced a backlash even from their country music roots fueling from Anti-Bush statements. Personally, I don't think singers should be punished for making political statements. After all, they're artists and music is their expression. (See related article.) Now I've got to go find a copy of that docu.

Click here for the main story.

And Al Gore! Al Gore gives the Best Rock Album to Red Hot Chili Peppers for Stadium Arcadium.

Christina Aguilera again shows why Britney is nothing but pfft. Although there was something wrong with the pitch at one point, the fact that everybody stood after she finished belting out was proof she nailed it.

Three of my fave artists got together in one perf -- John Legend, John Mayer and Corrine Bailey Rae.

Carrie Underwood looks startlingly like Reese Witherspoon. I can't believe that bombshell was the one who sang Jesus, Take The Wheel.

This year's theme was obviously cross-generational with performances predominantly a collaboration of both old and new. It's such a sore to watch though the show was made a promotional stunt by those whose movies are coming soon. It ruins the 'sanctity' of what's suppose to be purely a celebration of music's greatest night.

Click here for the full list of winners.

photo courtesy of

Monday, February 12, 2007

a trip to Comval

If I were to borrow Ma'am Inday's affirmation -- even if it's bordering on cliche -- everyday you'll learn something new. Perhaps not new as in new new but something that will prove useful somewhere along the road called life. And of course, without stretching it, you only get to experience this with people way beyond your years.

I went to Compostela Valley, particularly in Monkayo, for a prep meeting with the IP datus last Tuesday. We had the actual meeting in Davao here today with Dr. Walter Brown of Philex Inc. which turned out to be the president of the shoe company W. Brown. I learned this also while on the way to ComVal. I have heard Dr. Brown's name ever since I got here, but even if the obviousness was screaming at me in the face I didn't know until then.

We were also supposed to go to Diwalwal, the conflict-torn mining community, which up to now, hasn't found its peace. But there was an enormous storm brewing so it was postponed. The IP community there unfortunately are at a losing end. Though there are initial undertakings there geared towards community development. One datu confessed that despite decades of toiling, they haven't got a single gram of gold ore which is in the very heart of their ancestral domains. Sadly, they have become beneficiaries for a long time when in fact, they should be partners. They too, should be emancipated from such mentality in order to for them to move forward.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

riot with balls

I was watching the local news’ reportage on events around the globe. The news about the soccer riot in Italy caught my eye. It seems like Italy may have seen the best of the game. Italy, of course, the 2006 FIFA World Cup champs, has recently been caught in a soccer scandal months before. Now, they may have seen the best of it, as a riot ensued between a game of two Italian teams causing the death of a police officer. A soccer official threatened to cancel games for quite a time.

See story here.

I continued to read Sophie’s Choice while my two young half-brothers were watching Atlantika, a local fantaserye (as what it’s called). Since we’re living in one cramped room, I often glance at the TV to see what’s happening. From what it’s called, you can easily guess it is largely a Filipino version of Atlantis: The Lost City.

Piranos (Paolo Contis) is beating the hell out of Aquano (Dingdong Dantes), but a fit of conscience occurred to him and offers Aquano a fair chance at their battle (believe me, it’s not like any battle you’ve seen). He lets Dingdong choose between his love Amaya (Iza Calzado) and her mom. On the other side of Atlantika, Katrina Halili and Jean Garcia were wailing because they have been captured by the Centurions and were awaiting their doom. (Don’t you wonder why damsels keep on wailing “bitiwan n’yo ako!” in unbelievable octaves when the fact remains that the abductors aren’t close to letting them go, and never in a thousand years?) The badass of a ruler, Barracud (Ariel Rivera) and his aliporeses are entering the portal to the new Atlantika signaling the old one’s destruction. It seems like everyone is set for cinematic grandeur only that it isn’t close to even the smell of it.

CR's balls

This is why Christiano Ronaldo is soooooo good. He knows how to play with his balls. (I can see what's on your mind now... hahaha.) Though its more poles than goals, those feet are some kinda action. (It isn't obvious that the one who made this vid is obsessed with his moves huh.) Because he's such a fuckin' braggart, the Gillette Best Young Player went to Lukas Podolski. But whatever, he's still good with the balls. Hehe.

Monday, February 05, 2007


I am starting to believe that birthdays in the Philippines tend to be longer than anywhere else. It means that there's a pre- and post-birthday celebration or what-have-yous. As for mine, though the agenda wasn't really my birthday, there was always a feast up to Saturday, which ended, by the way, in the Lobby Lounge of Marco Polo. I'm beginning to live up to the year of the Pig, really.


Over the week I've watched good indies, which I think were great misses in this year's Oscar race: Paradise Now, a foreign film from Palestine which is a closer examination on the minds of suicide bombers (though this has been nommed last year); Sherrybaby (if it weren't for a strong Best Actress race, I'm quite sure Maggie Gylenhaal would be in it); Factotum (a great perf from Matt Dillon -- again too much of a race in the Best Actor category); and Fateless -- an adaptation of a Nobel Prize winning book about a Hungarian boy's harrowing journey during and after the Nazi occupation in Hungary.

I watched Fateless last night and wondered how this could have been snubbed in the Foreign Language category. The cinematography is breathtaking. The direction of Lajos Koltai is seamless. Though it may be compared to the likes of Schindler's List or The Pianist, what is brilliant about it is that it never over-reaches on the horrors of the war, though there are occasional bouts of violence -- the one experienced by Jews in concentration camps. The last lines (told in voice over) were very moving -- it's an affirmation of hope and acceptance of the past that encapsulates the experience during the Holocaust. Btw, I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw Daniel Craig in the latter part of the film. Yes, James Bond does a cameo here. photo courtesy of

Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family, Choose a f—king big television. Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players, and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol and dental insurance. Choose fixed-interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose a three piece suit on hire purchased in a range of f—king fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the f—k you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing f—king junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, f—ked-up brats you have spawned to replace yourself. Choose a future. Choose life . . . But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life. I chose somethin’ else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got heroin?

Renton, Trainspotting