Sunday, November 06, 2011


I listened to Michael Buble's "Christmas" album, which came out very recently. Of course reminding us that the most commercial and superficial season is just creeping around the corner waiting to frighten us. Yes folks, I'm not talking about Halloween. Prepare for the yuletide because you'll be scared to death by how much you are actually going to spend courtesy of relentless marketing and Christmas-whoring, sometimes unconsciously. But I'm not going to talk about Christmas. Not just yet. But I like Christmas songs though. Though they are haphazardly rehashed to death by numerous artists, the glow of Christmas songs bring a cheer to me. The songs are what I really like about Christmas. Of course, the gifts too. But the joy in hearing a familiar tune, I'll Be Home for Christmas, for instance, covered to death by a lot of singers, is genuine. At least for me. I mean, others get irritated hearing Christmas songs because they are reminded of the horrors of the season, as I mentioned. This is beginning to be a Christmas post and I said I'm not going to have an early post about it so what I really wanted to talk about is Michael Buble. Because when I played the album, I remembered this companion we have on one of my work-related trips who commented that she does not really like Michael because he cannot or does not give justice to the songs he covers. I was going to argue with her but I was so looking forward to the prospect of an unforgettable adventure minutes away that I let it pass. What I wanted to tell her though was that when Michael covers the songs he covers, his purpose is not to give justice -- of course you want to do that to Sinatra -- but it's more of like paying tribute. After all, you cannot really give justice to an original. When you sing an original, you do not mean to give it justice by being equal to it. There's no such thing as that. You just have to make the arrangement cool, make it your own and not disparage the original in the process. Of course, it takes one's musical acuity to say that, otherwise we'll be okay-ing to just about every revival. But surely Michael's versions are a cut above the rest. Even if they are not to some, I hold it dearly because I have always this thing, this love affair for the past. Grew up with Abba songs, The Beatles, a handful of not-so-known pop tunes like The Monkee's She's Not There and Lesley Gore's It's my Party, Johnny Mathis, The Platters, and handful of others and although I find Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdink songs irritating especially when sung by drunken masters of the videoke, I still sing along with Kiss or It's Not Unusual (but please no Green Green Grass of Home or That Wonderful Sound). What I'm really saying is that when Michael (I keep on referring to him first-name as if I really know him that well huh) is that link between the past and present. In Woody Allen's recent film Midnight in Paris, there's this supposed syndrome where one constantly fantasizes of living in the past. I have yet to google if it really is something like that syndrome (forgot the term, d'or something) but when I hear Michael singing For Once in My Life or Summer Wind or You Don't Know Me, it's like that moment when the character of Owen Wilson is being fetched by the Parisian carriage to meet, unknowingly, Hemingway, Fitzgerald or Dali in the midnight air of 1930s Paris, amid smokes and intoxicating jazz music, somewhere where time is not hurried but savored, where life undulates in meaningful reveries and longings, ruminations of an unpredictable future.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Top Shelf

I was looking at the top shelf of my books today. The lower three "stories" are filled, though not exactly to the seams yet but filled from edge to edge, and not entirely with fiction and non-fiction I bought over the years. The space is co-occupied by my siblings' accounting books, folders and other stuff with words in it. Considering that I've only had the time to read excessively after college, and yes, considering that I am only financially capable of buying books after college, the amount is considerable enough. And yes, considering there are a handful below the top shelf's rungs that I have yet to lay my eyes on. Recently, I have successfully shied away from booksales because they are so irresistible. And also recently, the unread books in the top shelf have been piling up. I promise to read 4 more from the unread heap before the year ends and it sure is good luck to me. I was looking at the top shelf, the blend of colorful spines, pink from Mitchell's Cloud Atlas, red from Ellis' The Informers, gray from McEwan's Amsterdam, and wonder how lovely it is to spend your time reading away the days, weeks and years of your life. Escaping to the worlds both fantastical and lifelike. But while I find their stories most of the time interesting and worthy than real life, I guess I'm stuck with real life.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Homaygad it's been five months since I last posted a blog entry it sucks to be me right now I wanna die

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Pride chicken, honor student

I know I'm going to get hate comments after this but I'm gonna say it anyway, the Pacquiao-Mosley fight is boring and predictable. Even days before, I couldn't bring myself to get excited unlike the previous fights, especially the earlier ones (Passing by Sarangani the other week I saw a Pacquiao-Mosley ad and just looked at it as if it was some blank plywood). Just before the delayed telecast started i dozed off and woke up by a jolt when my younger brother shouted Manny was down. But heck, I mean, c'mon guys, we don't just want Manny to win, we know he's gonna win. He's 32 and Mosley is 39. Mosley whose glory days in boxing are over; he's standing at the twilight of his boxing career, and he's not going to lose anything more if he bow down to this relatively young and persistent fighter who only wants to bring honor and glory to his third-world country whose semblance of unity can only be glimpsed at during his mighty fights; who wants to bring honor and glory like it was some long-forgotten Roman code that will lift his ailing kingdom to its heydays. It's not a question of brining honor, not even a gargantuan task of uniting a long-divided people, but this brazen act of gimmickry (what's up with those yellow gloves? shouldn't they be orange?). That stuff is said and done. It's the big-ticket fights that matter after all. It's entertainment (falling off, really?), it's a money-making machine. You watch Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull and there you have it, boxing summed up in its glory and ugliness. Crowds of people, some strangers huddle in covered courts, restaurants, cinemas, heck everywhere, yet they are united by this invisible thread of pride. Buf after it, what? Manny gets richer, he buys businesses, grows his empire and we go back to our same sorry lives, the ones we have before we sat, stuck and hypnotized in front of that screen watching our hero battle his opponents, fighting his way through, as if he was boxing out our own.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

#499: I Come With The Rain (Tran Anh Hung, 2009)

I think this is a bad film to start off from someone who has yet to see Scent of Green Papaya. I Come With The Rain was partly shot in Diwalwal, Compostela Valley province in Mindanao, Philippines – roughly around 4-5 hours (with the terrain in Diwalwal) from the city where I live. Everyone I know was excited to see this when news exploded that Josh Hartnett was flying here on to Diwalwal - a gold mine area - to shoot. But so far the film has ended in bootleg havens of the city, with the mass of Josh fanatics even unaware of its existence.

It was painful to sit through it. I think it was trying to be too serious with its battered protagonist and this psychological thriller that the entire mood can’t even get close too. Josh Hartnett trots across Asia (also visits Hong Kong) to track down a millionaire’s son only to find he is some sort of “messiah” or something to that extent, while he gets over his personal demons (and such creepy demonic recollections). There are some visual highlights but the pseudo-Christian symbolisms smacks right at you in the face I’m actually considering taking off that pseudo prefix. It does refer to Christian symbolisms clumsily. Hartnett, in exploring this character, reaches for something there, but I think it’s really a mess, that he ends up groping in the dark.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The 500 Film Challenge: Another Year (Mike Leigh, 2010)

I assure you that the film to start off the challenge wasn’t deliberately chosen at all, unintentional really. But to make pure coincidence interesting in this whole challenge, Mike Leigh’s ode to old age and aging, Another Year, is a gunshot that signals another year of film watching. Hope I can make it to another year of… 500 films?!?

On one hand, Another Year is slightly related to his Happy-go-Lucky. I can only speculate the Poppy would grow into Mary. While we peer into the lonely souls that visit and temporarily seek shelter into Tom and Gerri’s (yeah, how comically named right?) companionship – the openly unapologetic Ken and the subtly imposing but kindhearted Mary – we can only sigh in what might have been their revelries of youth. (I think it’s even hinted in the unappreciated, and I should say pretty much of the film is underappreciated, musical score.) Again, Leigh’s acute observation of the nuances of daily lives exudes in the words that come out of somewhat uninteresting, commonplace characters, in quick sharp stabs and quiet mumbles. Much has been said of the terrific Lesley Manville as Mary, holding her own till the end refusing to break down, but literally the closing shot, lingers on her face and we are also weighed down with this inescapable melancholy, whether it be the thought of aging, dying alone or the terrifying thought that we are unloved and uncared for.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

I am ready for my close-up.

And I am ready for this challenge. I am up for it, I think I am. It's possible, but the odds are somewhat insurmountable. But I would like to be unassuming. Dahil malay mo, I might actually clinch this. That would be the greatest. This is what I call the height of cinephilia. Responding to the challenge is not much daunting as it is exciting; not really with the possibility of finishing it, but being in the moment, being in the zone, with a bunch of people who're also up for it. I've been thinking about this idea since probably after graduation when I got the chance to watch as many films as possible due the "advent of technology" coupled with the ever-burgeoning cost of commodities - ano na lang ang luxury, di ba? A former colleague who I have almost the same wavelength with in film, said he's willing to spend 2,000 pesos for ordering the Lou Ye's Summer Palace DVD in Amazon because damn if he doesn't get it. But I don't call it luxury, I call it a staple, just like Filipinos cannot live without rice.

In fact, I'm so gung-ho at that moment when I responded to the challenge, that I asked Ad if I can just put my own introductory photo. If this is going to be the only film challenge I'm ever gonna embark on, Antoine Doinel should be up there staring aimlessly and mercilessly, reminding me every time why I am in this whole ambitiousness in the first place.

So here it is. 500 films. One year. Versus 500 persistent preoccupations. Game on.

As a requirement to the challenge I'm posting the rules below (copied from The 500 Film Challenge): (Heads up as well the one who first dared, Princess.)

1 | Accept the dare by making a comment on this post or you can email me: Anyone with a blog is eligible.

2 | Make an introductory post using the beautiful Anna Karina picture above explaining the project. Link all the participants of the project in the post as shown below (scroll down).

3 | Start watching 500 films and write about each one of them. Short films, feature films and extra-long films are accepted. Miniseries are allowed i.e. Carlos (2010), The Decalogue (1988) but major series are not. As long as you watched them after you accepted the dare its okay. So you cannot include films you watched before you have officially accepted the dare.

4 | You cannot repeat a film. Of course, duh!

5 | The first one to finish the project will have a special prize (to be announced before the year ends).


1.) Princess Kinoc (
2.) Jay-R Trinidad (
3.) Adrian Mendizabal (
4.) Epoy Deyto (
5.) Dodo Dayao (
6.) Clem Malubay (
7.) Carl Joseph Papa (
8.) Nilhenwen (
9.) Etchie Pingol (
10.) Sani Ajero (
11.) Paolo Barazon (
12.) NiƱa Domingo (
13.) Jay Rosas (
14.) Minamic (
15.) Katie Yockey (
16.) Vince Dawes (
17.) Whammy Alcazaren (

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

2009 IN FILM

Because I've delayed this list for the longest time and because it's virtually impossible to stuff all the remaining films to see in one day. Anyway, this list might change as I painstakingly go through the unwatched heap. (At na-inspire akong mag-layout dahil madali lang pa lang pagandahin ng konti using a photo application.)


Monday, January 31, 2011

The remains of the birthday.

"What can we ever gain in forever looking back and blaming ourselves if our lives have not turned out quite as we might have wished? The hard reality is, surely, that for the likes of you and I, there is little choice other than to leave our fate, ultimately, in the hands of those great gentlemen at the hub of this world who employ our services. What is the point in worrying oneself too much about what one could or could not have done to control the course one’s life took? Surely it is enough that the likes of you and I at least try to make our small contribution count for something true and worthy. And if some of us are prepared to sacrifice much in life in order to pursue such aspirations, surely that is in itself, whatever the outcome, cause for pride and contentment." ~ Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

And the pages turn and turn

Netherland by Joseph O'Neill. Blogged about it here. Bought it as a birthday gift to myself.

Short Cuts by Raymond Carver. These stories have been adapted into film by Robert Altman, who even wrote the foreword for the collection. I haven't seen it yet but judging from the stories it's the type Altman would really make good at. The stories are marked with simplicity and a keen observation of human behavior and emotion. Putting these stories together, one told in a poem, you create a milieu of suburban America, or perhaps any society for that matter, that is both restless and life-like.

Atomised by Michel Houllebecq. A story about twins who lived entirely different lives. Not Mara Clara, no. One is a brilliant scientist, the other a hedonist. Houllebecq might be referring to himself and his id, but clearly, the title also refers to how societies have become so divisive, thus its peoples.

Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik. When I go to Paris, and that will be someday, I will bring along Gopnik's incisive essays from his stint as Paris correspondent of The New Yorker. It brings light to every aspect of Parisian life but also sheds light to how he loves and loathes his homeland.

A Special Providence by Richard Yates. I loved Revolutionary Road and A Good School. A story about a single mother and his son who has been to war. Yates is probably one of the most acute chroniclers of the American 50s-60s era. He captures achingly the times that it resonates with contemporary fervor.

Dispatches from the Edge by Anderson Cooper. The guy is of royal descent - the Vanderbilts, but his accounts of his beginnings would tell you no trace of a lavish lifestyle, instead a painful memory from childhood which he carries and constantly looks back to, as we get acquainted with his insights from his known reportage and coverage of major disasters and war from the all over the world.

A Sport and a Pastime by James Salter. Last Night, which I copied and pasted from The New Yorker website so I can bring it and read it at home, remains to be one of my favorite short stories (not that I really read and remember tons of it) and one of my wait-what-the-fuck moments ever. The mood in A Sport and a Pastime is different, though Salter's staccato sentences makes wonders. Another of those American in Paris novels. It's erotic and features sex at least every other page. Or a couple pages.

Bob Dylan: The Essential Interviews edited by Jonathan Cott. Finally, I finished the voluminous compilation of interviews of the most enigmatic musical artist of all time. Reading this omnibus feels like a worthy companion to Todd Haynes' I'm Not There, five ruminations on Dylan, as portrayed by 5 actors including Gere, Bale, Ben Wishaw, the young Marcus Carl Franklin, and the staggeringly amazing, Cate Blanchett, only that you have 33 interviews to gaze or peer at. Which only leaves you still in awe and enigma.

Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith. An amazing thriller from a long-hackneyed subject matter. Smith crafts this chilling tale of a fallen Russian spy who investigates a series of gruesome child murders in entertaining fashion that it works like a film. Is any in the works?

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. At times humorous, this classic tells the story of Billy Pilgrim, a captured American soldier who experiences hallucinatory bouts in a Dresden slaughterhouse, the book's version of prison. A must-read of post-WWII novels which explores the horrors of war and the evils spawned by it.

Less than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis. Another cult classic I read only after years of looking for a booksale copy. Finally, a copy is available at NBS which was also discounted, in tandem with the release of Ellis' Imperial Bedrooms. Such bleak, bleak novel but with unnerving tenacity and seriousness. Haven't seen the adaptation, which stars a young Robert Downey, Jr., but it's scary at best and deliciously written.

On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan. "This is how the entire course of life can be changed – by doing nothing." Or, "All she had needed was the certainty of his love, and his reassurance that there was no hurry when a lifetime lay ahead of them. Love and patience- if only he had had them both at once- would surely have seen them both through." As usual, McEwan never fails to grip me and tear me apart and then lifts me up on such rapturous literary hallelujahs. The words work simply and beautifully. On Chesil Beach tells a very basic story of reluctance but oh how it resonates with such universal clarity on our failures and limitations. I hope Sam Mendes will get back on the saddle with to finally helm the adaptation rumored to reunite Garfield and Mulligan.

Ilustrado by Miguel Syjuco. I have to read back to that particular chapter ending just to make sure because at the end of it I didn't know what hit me. A novel shouldn't be castigated for being ambitious, especially if it achieves and hits a lot of points. In Ilustrado, we see the Pinoy not only in its different time periods, but at his worst and best. Hopefully, the best churns into something good.

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. It also took me a long time to finally pick this up from the unread heap, but glad that I did. When I finished it, I said, why the fuck would they sell a gem like this for 10 pesos even if it was in booksale? When I was reading it, Pynchon always come to mind. Franzen's incisive prose cuts sharp into the core of American-ness. By dissecting a dysfunctional family, Franzen creates a monumental landscape of our time - where, why and how we live in the contemporary troubling times. Read this towards Christmas. The family in Franzen's story is expecting their "last" Christmas. How's that for bleak and misery. My 2010 book.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Caroll. Last month, I vowed to read a classic each month and that I have to finish 3 for December. This was fast and convenient and accessible and I ended up only reading this. As usual, the usual.

The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich. Oh no, this is the facebook book made into the now ginormous facebook movie. Contrary to what many think, the film, while borrowed heavily on the narrative, differs greatly in perspective. Saverin may still be the moral core of both sources but the film offers much more realized and entertaining characters. Of course there is Sorkin's explosive screenplay.

Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem. I like to hate it for selfish reasons but the magic, though not readily palpable, is there. The ambition and rare talent with those words are so difficult to top that it feels like Lethem invented them to work specifically for this novel. Maybe if I lived or living in Manhattan I would've related to it more? Perhaps in a setting like Manhattan, fictionalized at that, the hazy truth is hard to find. Maybe that vast distance between Chase and Janice, stuck in space tells us something about it. But it's fun to read. Marlon Brando, Criterion, just about the most quirky pop culture references, and weird names like Perkus Tooth and Strabo Blandiana. And malevolent migratory birds and an escaped tiger out in the city and an amputated dog in a hotel/apartment for dogs.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011


That is, as they say, the croak of an American frog, whereas the Pinoy frog would say Kokak. Jeez, what a corny way to start the obligatory new year post. Napaka-echoserang palaka naman eh year of the rabbit nga. Which means, people will copulate more this year? A ballooning population from an already ballooning and burgeoning one? The RH pundits better get their acts together because the moral pundits would unleash their hidden powers and strengths and illogical and impractical wisdom. I should put quotation on wisdom. Bigla kong nasingit ang RH tuloy, and the way that this sentence is going you might say it's a cheapskate segue, because I'm going to say that the bottom half of the year has got me working with something related to RH. But no, that was just coincidental, or no, consequential? Or rather spontaneous. There I go again with spontaneity. It reminded me again of Jack Kerouac and his concept of spontaneous prose, which is like blogging actually. Mas enjoy kung bigla na lang dadaloy ang mga salita galing sa iyong brain transferred my neurons to your kinetic fingers and you find yourself typing more rigorously and faster than you can think of the next sentence. Perhaps what I'm really saying is that I should record my thoughts more. That's what you get from receiving tons of notebooks and planners and organizers. Which is not to say it's a bad thing. The notebooks are swell. There's this one notebuk cum planner which has the word PARIS Depuis 1968 in it and has this really cool stamp logo and really vintage look with a miniaturized Eiffel in one of the pages. The pages tell me to write. And maybe write more.

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