Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Cannes wrap-up

The other day, the 60th Cannes Film Festival wrapped up with the low-budget Romanian film by Christian Mungiu 4 luni, 3 saptamini si 2 zile (4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days) winning the critics' favorite for the Palme D'Or. The story is about a college student who underwent 'back-alley' abortion and consequences she and her friend have to face after. Diane Kruger hosted the 40-minute awards ceremonies.

The honorary award recipient is Jane Fonda who said that "Cannes is the heart of world cinema." True enough. I last remembered her eating Jennifer Lopez alive in Monster-in-Law. Best Director went to Julian Schnabel for Le Scaphandre et le papillon (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly), who directed Before Night Falls. Last year Alejandro Gonzales bagged the prize for Babel. No Hollywood produced and released film ever came close to winning any of the awards except for the recent offering of the Coens' brothers No Country for Old Men. The Coens won 3 Palme d'Or trophies already.
The jury was also made up of interesting members most notable are actresses Toni Collette and Maggie Cheung, actress-director Maria de Medeiros (Pulp Fiction) and recently turned director Sarah Polley. The jury is chaired by Stephen Frears, who directed the award-winning The Queen last year.

Alternative Film Guide gives a rundown of the winners and the festival.

Monday, May 28, 2007

A series of unfortunate events.

There is really a dire need to bathe this friggin' office with holy water. Exorcise its demons whatever. For this month alone, two of my colleagues have already been hospitalized. Last Saturday was the burial of another colleague's father, who also spent an excruciating week in the hospital. Later that afternoon, we got a text from the sister of another colleague who was currently in the emergency room for what possibly might be meningitis or encephalitis. I'm getting a little worried. Help me pray.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Mrs. Jones, the infidel biatch.

The last time I heard someone say, "you infidel bitch!" or read about it was in a Harold Robbins novel which has the word 'pirates' in it or something. That was way back when pubescent curiosity had the better of me. I'll spare you of the x-rated details though, and just say that it is something really unpleasant. But anyone who has read a Robbin's novel should know. Anyway, I ain't telling you any Robbins novel. Instead, lemme tell you about Mrs. Jones. Mrs. Jones is an infidel bitch with the daintiness of a 40s or 50s star, that an illicit affair with her appeals so much to a crooner as Michael Buble. So this is currently my stuck in the head song. The kind that, unconsciously, you find yourself humming to before you even take note of it.

The track is included in his latest album, Call Me Irresponsible, which I find more diverse than the second one. There's a duet with Boyz II Men which resembles like that of a 50s or 60s blues song (Comin' Home Baby), think Steppin' to the Bad Side kind of groove, and a choral ensemble in a couple of songs. There's also the pop-catchy Everything, and Home-like ballad Lost, plus takes on Tony Bennet (The Best is yet to Come) and Henry Mancini (It Had Better be Tonight) classics.

So let me go back to Mrs. Jones, where he sings: Me and Mrs. Jones, we got a thing going on. We both know that it's wrong, but it's much too strong to let it go now... We meet ev'ry day at the same cafe. Six-thirty I know she'll be there. Holding hands, making all kinds of plans, while the jukebox plays our favorite song... We gotta be extra careful, that we don't build our hopes too high. 'Cause she's got her own obligations and so do I... I haven't heard the versions from Hall and Oates, The Dramatics and Billy Paul. But Buble's version makes cheating fun and run of the mill.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Substitute Boyfriend

Last Friday, my colleague wanted her hair dyed. Since her boyfriend was in Manila, she BEGGED me to come along with her with a coffee in exchange for my precious companionship. While waiting for a ride to the salon, I was singing Greenday's Basket Case. Because it seemed forever to wait for the ride, and because it proved to be fun as well, we did different versions of Basket Case -- from operatic to heavy metal. It didn't stop there; and the taxi driver turned up the volume of his stereo.

Seemed like I wasn't done with the waiting. If it weren't for a book and some magazines, the smell of hair products could have suffocated me to death. I grabbed this recent UNO magazine which featured Anne Curtis on the cover. As you can see, I'm a big Anne fan. I confess that I went to this mall tour of hers to get a picture of her and all, but just when I was on the verge of rubbing shoulders with her, the bodyguard of sorts carefully pulled her away from the screaming crowd. I could have forgive her saying, "the people here in Davao are really warming!", but that was just a sorry day for me.

So I was leafing through the pages of the magazine, or rather I was repeatedly leafing through her poses and wiping my drool over the glossy pages, when I came across this article on how too much polishing your pole can cause hormonal imbalance (jeezers. Talk about growing breasts soon) and long-term psychological effects of memory loss and constant 'pagkatulala'. So that's why I kept misplacing things lately or that I caught myself staring aimlessly at the monitor. Nah, but that couldn't be. I haven't even held a boobie, much less suffer the chronic effects of pole-polishing.

One attendant incessantly offered me an iced tea and tuna sandwich, which turned out to be free, which explained the exorbitant salon fee. Wait, is it just me or the tuna sandwich smelled fishy. Hehehe. My finger stinks.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

All the King's Men

I dunno if it was prophetic or what, to have finished Robert Penn Warren's All The King's Men days before the May 14 polls. Coincidence or not, it is good to be reminded about how politics work, and how it will forever remain as it is.

The Pulitzer-prize winning novel is an intimate look at politics because it does not necessarily expound on the immediate political sphere of the main character but is keen on examining the interplay of interpersonal relationships -- family, friendships, love -- and how these are transformed in within the sphere of politics. The novel has that grandeur in its ability to explore these emotions and Warren concocts his sentences as if he was enunciating a poem or explaining a novel in a literary group discussion.

The story is viewed through Jack Burden's lenses, and it is hypnotic at times because it seems as though he dissipates in the scene like smoke and arrive like a breeze. He narrates like as if he was a vase on the far side of the room. This is specially eminent when the novel tries to establish Willie Stark, the so-called king who believes that he is nowhere bound but the seat of the Governor. All the other characters revolve around his web and getting out of it is difficult and dangerous.

On the edition of the book that I read, Warren wrote a foreword explaining the book's semi-autobiographical flavor. The book is loosely based on Huey Long, the infamous Louisiana dictator back in the 50s. It was also believed that Warren was the novel's Jack Burden. The final chapter is an all-too familiar territory but yet Warren captures it with much honesty and gritty realism. One that reminds me that power is too tempting to resist but then we can still tread a life uncontrolled by it if we choose to. Here's an excerpt:

This is not remarkable, for as we know, reality is not a function of the event as event, which is not real in itself, but of the relationship of that event to past, and future, events. We seem here to have a paradox: that the reality of an event, which is not real in itself, arises from other events which, likewise, in themselves are not real. But this only affirms what we must affirm: that direction is all. And only as we realize this we do live, for our own identity is dependent upon this principle.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Red Carpet 2.0

I am starting a new blog, like as if there's no other thing left to do in this world. Like as if it's a necessity, an unfounded thirst that I suddenly find the need to quench. As if I'm not fucking pressurized by the rigors of work. Dammit. I'm making this feel like a guilty pleasure. It's the C in the OC burning like a 7-year itch.

So this is a film blog, or rather I should be calling it a blog about my movie experiences. I might sound like Ebert, A.O. Scott, or David Denby so I'm not gonna sound like any of those highly-revered critics. I'm just gonna write about films I saw that's it. Oh now I know, this is like fixation back in college because I wrote stupid film analyses about mediocre films in a mediocre film class.

This is a red carpet entry so it should be without-further-ado shit. Besides, my neurons are firing like baby rockets I feel my head is going to explode. But before I head to my limo, I'm gonna pose for the press first.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Violence vs. Hospitality

The photo in PDI last Saturday shows aggrieved Bicolanos lighting candles for their favorite volunteer Julia Campbell, who was slain in Batad, Benguet while she treaded the muddy tracks of Banawe Rice Terraces during the Holy week..

It was also during the Holy week that our German volunteer in the office working under the DED program, Sarah went to climb Mt. Apo. By the time the news on Campbell’s death erupted in the local news, Sarah was perhaps on her way to the peak. I remember how excited she was saying there’s not really much to climb in Germany since mountains there are usually covered by snow. She did climb the Apo, a feat that even some of us who’ve been here in Mindanao since birth, haven’t been able to do so.

Sarah came to the Philippines a year ago for a 2-3 months internship with the office (though I can hardly understand why she should be working here of all organizations. I reckon later it was because of Peter – our German colleague who went back to Germany early this year – whom she met while working in Indonesia.) She helped during the BIMP-EAGA Business Council turnover last March 2006, which was one hell of an event when everything goes haywire at the last minute. Which was I wondered why she would still choose to work here.

When Sarah started asking about places she could go to – and I’m not talking about malls and parks here – that’s when I ascertained that an adventurous spirit resides in every foreigner’s heart and a pulsating fondness for the Filipino culture that you just can’t seem to contain. While some of us laid-back commoners shy away at the mere thought of shedding a sweat, they don’t usually give chickenshit about it. Last year, me and some of my friends brought Sarah to a pristine beach in Samal Island. She was also introduced to kinilaw, which she absolutely loved. She looked for it during her first day in the office (this year), and she sure got a serving from our suking karinderya.

Okay, going back to Campbell. Her death brings to the fore the issue of lawlessness and violence which this government has taken with so much impunity. It’s not just a matter of foreigners being killed, which I think is very unsettling given the bazillions of aid we have siphoned from the donor community and the spirit of volunteerism that we have grown accustomed to as a friggin’ third world country. But more so with our own people getting killed extra-judicially, our journalists as targets of hapless killing sprees, and the recent election-related violence, that just about complete the plethora of miseries of Juan de la Cruz.

So where did the big chunk of government fund for national defense go? Oh, I had my math wrong, the fund is meant to counter terrorism pala. So that even when fighter planes start bombing us like Hiroshima and Al-Qaeda start plotting a Malacanang attack, we would all still feel safe and sound. With a country relying on tourism to increase its investment potential, the old-fashioned Filipino hospitality just won’t suffice.

Thursday, May 03, 2007


I finally reckon the events of yesterday's post-labor day angst as moot. Plotting a coup isn't gonna work out anyway.

To break the monotony of last Tuesday, I decided to go shortly to this long-standing booksale in Victoria to see if they have new arrivals or books which I may have passed by previously. Luckily, there was another new bunch of 35-peso books -- a welcome development from the last weeks' one section. I was beaming with excitement when I grabbed Vineland by Thomas Pynchon, Crash - J.G. Ballard's cult classic, and Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, the original German version of which was written by Patrick Susskind. David Cronenberg had a film adaptation of Crash which starred James Spader, while the film version of Perfume was released last year with Dustin Hoffman.

Because I am running low on budget these days, I hid the Willa Cather, the Margaret Atwood and Muriel Spark. Which means I cannot shell out anything for any pirated DVD as well. I saw the sophomore feature of Steven Shainberg - Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus - which stars Nicole Kidman as the famous photographer Diane Arbus who fell in love with her man-ape neighbor played by Robert Downey Jr.

I decided to give pirated DVDs a rest because Limewire and YouTube has been overwhelmingly generous. I now have 5 of Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick films and a slew of other classics like Casablanca, Annie Hall, Apocalypse Now, and Blade Runner. Plus rare ones from Wong Kar-wai, Nicolas Roeg, Jean Luc Godard, and Akira Kurosawa. Plus classic silent films like Battleship Potemkin (Sergei Eisenstein), Le Passion d' Jeanne D'Arc (Carl Th. Dreyer), and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Robert Wiener). To think, I only read about them in the library. No such luck though with Altman and Polanski.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Spidey and the morons.

The most ridiculous thing to happen today, May 1, Labor Day, aside from the low wages and the burgeoning labor conditions (quite a parody that we still consider this day to be something more than a friggin' holiday), is the fact the almost all cinemas in the metro have been invaded by Peter Parker and his minions, or rather profiteers backlashed the inevitable losers, which when placed side by side with Mr. Spidey, would be lucky enough to draw a single soul. Ok, I get it that people are itching for the third Spidey installment for ages, and that you don't actually need a survey to measure the excitement because you can feel it pulsate as the showing date nears, but whatever happened to choice? Other than Spider-man 3, the only thing showing in Davao theaters is that lousy pito-pito movie of Renee Summer called Paraiso.

Don't get me wrong though. I want to watch Spiderman but not with the entire Davao population trooping to every theater possible. I hate the idea of watching a movie with the theater full of fuckin' noisy people. Besides, I haven't gone to a single theater for what seemed like ages and practically coz I don't have anything to shell out for Spidey's web-slinging shenanigans.

So, see you later superhero.

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