Sunday, July 27, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Adam and Steve
Directed by Craig Chester; USA - 100 minutes, In English
Combining irreverent humor and heartfelt romance, Adam & Steve co-opts American cinematic 'formulas', namely the romantic comedy and movie musical, and turns them inside out while paying homage to them at the same time. Adam & Steve follows the romantic trajectory of two people struggling to make love work in spite of overwhelming odds. Having met in the 80's after a disastrous one night stand, Adam (Craig Chester) & Steve (Malcolm Gets) don't recognize each other when they meet again fifteen years later. With the help of their best friends, formerly obese stand up comic Rhonda (Parker Posey) and ladies man Michael (Chris Kattan of Saturday Night Live), our protagonists fall in love only to realize, a year into their relationship, that they met before and unwittingly changed the course of each other's lives that fateful night in the 80's.
I saw this at the Cine Adarna of UP Diliman with a friend last Thursday night. I went there to interview her on her upcoming one-woman photo exhibit and also to take note of the schedule of Cinemalaya 2008 at Adarna. I never realized how cavernous the UP Film Center was until that night: an 800-seater, spacious and freezing cold theatre with somewhat bad acoustics but it had nice, clean red-faux leather seats. Anyway, if my eyes were turbines, I would have created enough electricity to power this part of Metro Manila. Adam & Steve is a tribute to all that is formulaic in American films. Just leave your life issues at home, sit back and enjoy it.
Cinemalaya 2008 @ UP Diliman
Baby Angelo, 5PM
Huling Pasada, 7.30PM
My Fake American Accent, 7.30PM
We all accept that movies stretch the truth in the interest of building drama. The following ten flicks, however, treat the truth like it was Silly Putty - pulling and twisting it until it's unrecognizable.
If movies were completely scientifically accurate, they'd probably be as interesting as a Physics 101 lecture. In real life, there are no explosions in space, gas usually doesn't explode from a lit cigarette, and Bruce Willis/Jackie Chan/Will Smith would most likely be in a coma after getting kicked in the head. Some movies, though, put science front and center in the story and more often than not the science proves to be head-slappingly bad. Here are some of the worst offenders.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Best Actress - Mylene Dizon, “100″
Best Actor - Baron Geisler, “Jay”
Best Supporting Actor - Yul Servo, “Brutus”
Best Supporting Actress - Eugene Domingo, “100″
Best Director - Chris Martinez, “100″
Best Film - “Jay”
Audience Choice - “100″ (directed by Chris Martinez)
Best Cinematography (tie) - Jay Abello, “Brutus” and Dan Villegas, “Huling Pasada”
Best Screenplay - Chris Martinez, “100″
Best Editiing - Francis Pasion, “Jay”
Special Jury Prize - “Brutus” (directed by Tara Illenberg)
Best Sound Design - Lito Cruz, “Ranchero”
Best Original Music - Joey Ayala, “Brutus”
Best Production Design - Cristina Honrado, “Baby Angelo”
Best Director - Mark Reyes for “God Only Knows”
Audience Choice - “God Only Knows” (directed by Mark Reyes)
Best Screenplay (Best Short) - “Andong” (directed by Rommel Tolentino)
Special Jury Citation - “Angan Angan (Dreams)” (directed by Sheron Dayoc)
Best Special Jury Citation - “My Pet” (directed by Anna Bigornia)
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Katski Flores' STILL LIFE remains to be my favorite full-length film of Cinemalaya 2007. Watching the trailer still makes me teary eyed, but as JP Canivel once wrote me he thinks I have serious problems with my lacrimal glands.
While killing 2 hours of my time, I found myself in an unbelievably half-empty CCP Shop. What happened? Somebody should stock the gift shop, quick! It's a national embarrassment! If you need someone to search high and low for Philippine souvenirs, you know who to call. *wink, wink* Sigh. I am so shameless. At any rate, got the two volumes of The Essential Brocka released by Unitel. They include the films Insiang, Tatlo Dalawa Isa, Ang Tatay kong Nanay, and Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang. If you buy all four, it will only cost Php 325/DVD. Individually bought, each will cost Php 450. Carrot on a stick, and I willingly bit into the offer. In fact I already saw Ang Tatay kong Nanay this dawn immediately when I got home, and I enjoyed it immensely. The social conditions have not changed at all, have they?
Now, on with the shows.
First things first. I honestly think the shorts look so much better this year. In fact, they seem to be improving in terms of technicals as the festival progresses, which I think is good. The digital age offers so much variety of technology that it would be a sin for a director not to fully tap this exciting medium. The shots are better, there's a delicious patina to every work, and the editing is more inspired. The stories (the heart of the matter), however, remain stuck to what I have dubbed as the 3 Ks of local indie cinema: Kahirapan, Kamunduhan, and Kabaklaan. How truly exciting.
ANG IBANG MGA PAMILYA (OTHER FAMILIES) by Joel P. Ruiz (Baby Angelo, Mansyon) is about a woman who overcomes the grief of losing her adopted son. Come to think of it, she never really overcame the loss. She was in perpetual grief. Ang Ibang Mga Pamilya had a very promising start. You know it's bound to be special, but it eventually gave way to cliches until it eventually fell apart (talk about unfulfilled promises). The tepid, slow progress of this film makes for a lousy opener and I think the story is nothing special and the narrative is beyond redemption. Great photography and editing though. The film is bathed throughout in a warm, comforting light which gives it the somber mood it's supposed to have. However, quoting A Chorus Line, "And I dug right down to the bottom of my soul / and cried / 'cause I felt... nothing."
DIAMANTE SA LANGIT (DIAMOND IN THE SKY) by Vic Acedillo, Jr. (Screenplay, Batad: Sa Paang Palay) is about two brothers' journey to compete in a kite flying contest. But getting there takes some time. In the end, they face something unexpected and discover something more precious than winning. Like the first short, this work had so much promise in the beginning, but it is rather predictable. You actually already know what's going to happen next. The Director's unique problem was how to attack that predictability and come up with an intelligent or, at the very least, a heartwarming ending. Diamante is another case of the writer-director now knowing when to stop while he's on top of the game. He gave in to a happy ending when he could have stopped shooting when the two boys arrived at the kite festival and realized their plastic-bag kite was no match to the other's. Long shot, fade, music. Hindi naman po ipinagbabawal ang sad endings, di ba? But he didn't because that would be fulfilling audience expectations (because we know that's how it'd turn out at the onset). In the end, it became a meandering video of two boys giving themselves a pat on the back for making it this far. And that last line about their kite being still the best one? We didn't have to hear it, really. We already know.
Nice closing shots of the Pampanga plains though with the unmistakable Mount Arayat in the background. Made me miss my childhood days except that I didn't like flying kites. I threw stones at houses instead (mamuga cung batu kareng bale bale!).
GOD ONLY KNOWS by Mark V. Reyes (Last Full Show; Best Short, 2004 Turin) focuses on the disturbing and gut wrenching tale about the realities of life in the sprawling metropolis of Manila. If this was made by a writer-director who did not grow up here in Manila then I will have to muster up the courage to forgive him (but this is not so, in fact). This film displays complete ignorance of Philippine culture (I wish to discuss a little sociology, but I'm not in the mood to educate. The director happened to be in the room when this was being viewed). Sure, paedophilia is a reality in the Philippines; sure, we have our Payatas dump (and we show it ever so proudly in our films like an old, ragged medal) but surely the writer could care to see beyond all these and find other aspects of the problem to discuss? I can tell he's after the shock value (I felt like laughing), but in this country where we eat scandals and contoversies for breakfast, lunch and heavy helpings of the same at dinner, we do not need to be shocked. We ARE in a state of shock, so much so that we've already almost lost all faculties and facilities for greatness and meaningful action and would rather wait for better times (even the Left says they had to earn a living hence they're not seen on the streets as often as before). Sure, call me manhid, but I believe in the innate goodness of men which is a great alternative to the ineffectiveness of evil forces. It's either we have to believe that we are capable of good, or we have to do actual good to overcome our predicaments, however sad and hopeless. The reason why God Only Knows won't be effective is because it is neither a condemnation nor an indictment of poverty and paedophilia. It doesn't explore the topic and it doesn't offer any alternatives. It just hints at it, and then moves on leaving the audience severly wanting a closure. The story left it all to God which is why only He knows what Director Reyes really had in mind.
ANGAN-ANGAN (DREAMS) by Sheron R. Dayoc (Trails of Water) centers on a mute nine-year-old girl named Satra, whose determination to secure a good education reverberates clearly amid the strictness of her Yakan culture. The Yakan are one of the 13 Moro groups in the Philippines. They mainly reside in Basilan, Mindanao. The technicals went haywire on this one and we saw it twice without an audio. A jury member got incensced and called up someone to fix it. While this was all happening, the Caucasian jury member sitting comfortably on the couch in front of me was already asleep (is this what one calls a "detached" view of things? Only God knows). Anyway, after a few minutes, we finally got to view Angan-Angan with full sound. I imagine Angan-Angan to have been made with funding agencies in mind (or perhaps supported by one) because if I were to see it in that light, I can say that it has achieved its mission. Otherwise, it has zero commercial value given the non-familiarity of the territory and the subject matter to most audiences in Manila. The film also assumes that you are familiar with the Yakans, the current situation in their territories, and about the Bangsamoro Movement so if you've been living under a rock, this film can be be your eyeopener. Or maybe not. As an aside, there's been a recent breakthough in the negotiations in Malaysia.
Hailing from Mindanao myself, I wish to have this work seen more in its home island where poverty and strife continue to divide its peoples. I hope it brings understanding and appreciation of how education can be instrumental in ending the root cause of all clashes in the Promised Land. Director Sheron (who also attended the Ateneo in Zamboanga like I did; think Mayor Climaco assasination) brings to fore the spirit of magis in his work. Kudos to the director for first, choosing a girl as the main subject and second, for ending the film on a positive note. Angan-Angan truly reflects the unique realities of public education in the Philippines where the girls outnumber boys (and they stay far longer in schools, too).
ANDONG by Rommel "Milo" Tolentino is a story about a six-year old boy's obsession, family dynamics, and the real value of a hard-fought twenty pesos. If there's anyone who's really got his ears close to the ground, it's Rommel Tolentino (he even got us fooled with the trailer!). Andong packs a whallop in the heart department, the only film where the audience - already sleepy from the first four offerings - finally came to life and rewarded Andong with a well-deserved round of applause (at this point, the Caucasian juror slowly came to his senses). The quirky and playful editing worked wonders for this film and the low-grade camera feel didn't even get in the way. Why, the story was very simple but the narrative was tight, witty and the children actors were very charming and natural! It was like being there yourself. Truly, a fitting ending during Typhoon Helen's last evening in Manila. Congratulations, Director Milo, for this endearing and memorable work.
Hey man, Thank you for all the kind words on ANDONG, I sincerely appreciate it. Salamat.)
Proof that directors do read reviews, haha!
Monday, July 14, 2008
Special thanks to Ruby, Editor in Chief.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Yes, I'm quoting from the musical Oliver! on this rainiest of days. What started as an innocent rain has turned into a downpour after lunch (Typhoon Helen has arrived), so I went out and took photos of the problem areas of the farm for future reference (yes, it's called "work").
Don't you just love this photo? So enchanting (except for flooding on the Farm's newest road network).
The strong rains and wind has soaked some of the baby cribs which I'd be using for the upcoming wedding congress during the latter part of the month.
Awwww.... Dapat talaga may ganitong shot? Feeling Guernica.
Flooding also on this part of the gazebo. The water goes down to the swamp via the pavilion pathways.
A busted pipe confronted me this morning as I got to work. The water supply has since been restored, thanks to the caretaker, but the repairs left gaping holes in this plot.
Music currently playing: Only Wanna Be With You (Dusty Springfield)
Friday, July 11, 2008
Saw Björk's rendition of Declare Independence on a Later with Jools Holland DVD (courtesy of JC, thank you very much!). I know it doesn't sound like music (or anything close), but I did download it anyway and have listened to it for more than 10X now. I actually like it, hehe! It's the only third time I've seen her perform on video (the 1st was in the film Dancer in the Dark which I saw during an edition of the Cinemanila; the second was during the opening show of the 2004 Olympics in Athens, and lastly in above-mentioned DVD). I admit (rather hesitantly) that I listened to Oceania over and over while I was still in my old office. Crazy, ano?
Anyway, I had my way with the fishmonger last Sunday. I had bangus bellies in mind for lunch and to be honest I haven't the slightest idea how it is done. Anyway, when I finally saw the fish, my Don Bosco drafting skills (or whatever's left of it) came to work and I took over in instructing the guy who will be slicing my fish orders. I was a bit taken aback that he initially wanted to carve out the black fat. I mean, seriously?! Isn't that the end all and be all of bangus belly - meat and fat?! Besides, fish fat is healthy (although I want to believe milkfish is that kind of fish which has the right kind of fish oil).
Took a photo of the final product - Bangus Belly in Tausi Beans Sauce. Sliced evenly, deboned, fried crispy on the outside yet soft and tender in the inside. I lurved it!
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
I don't know though if the same can be said of Jodorowsky's Fando y Lis (re cultivating the mind and spirit). I am all for surrealism and I lean towards the works of Max Ernst, Joan Miro and Salvador Dali, but as the latter once said, "There is only one difference between a madman and me. I am not mad" and Jodorowski is a madman (when Fando y Lis was shown in 1968 in Acapulco, a riot was said to have broken out with the director fleeing the theatre for his dear life). The story follows Fando (Sergio Klainer) and his paraplegic girlfriend Lis (Diana Mariscal). It is a modern fable about two young people searching through a destroyed world for a mythic city called Tar where all their wishes will be fulfilled. Instead, they are corrupted and driven mad. I thank the heavens for giving me the patience of a camel to have seen this film through.
There is something terribly wrong about Wanted. I almost died at the sight of James McAvoy's totally bad acting (especially during the car chase). Please, God. Don't turn him into another Colin Farrell. This man has so much promise in him!