Monday, September 24, 2007

On Lists

You will never find yourself short on the best or greatest movies of all time. I mean if you Google it, you'll most likely be bombarded a million websites. I haven't tried it. Edward Copeland's blog published a list based on a survey that he conducted among critics. I haven't read his entire blog but wonder about the absence of English-language movies. This was probably a reaction to American Film Institute's (AFI) 100 Years, 100 Films list. Personally, I have used as a guide the list published by Time Magazine's resident critics list of 100 Greatest Movies of All Time that was published in 2005.

Lists change over time as more movies come out but it's more because movies get a newer perspective as years pass. In AFI's list, for example, I noticed how The Wizard of Oz is now number ten. Newer films have taken its place. Some movies influence other filmmakers more and more and thus gain a higher preference among critics.

But in the end, it's what you really enjoy and what has stayed with you that matters. Rushmore has affected me in many ways. The humurous, heartbreaking and uplifting story about a competitive outsider in a prep school and finding love and its painful truth in a painful way has affected me deeply and personally. "Brilliant" is what I was screaming at the screen as the end credits rolled. With a wry and witty sense of humor, Rushmore is the film for me. If you had just to pick one movie, just one movie as your favorite movie, one that you could watch over and over again, what would it be?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Movie Musicals

For those who once thought that movie musicals were a fad when Chicago was released and won Oscar best picture, then you're wrong. Well, I was. I didn't think the trend would last as even the trademark Disney animated musical revival that began with The Little Mermaid and followed by to-be-loved-by-many-generations Beauty and the Beast, Lion King, Alladin and so on, have ceased. But now, there's at least a movie musical a year. This year 2007, we will have three: Dreamgirls, Hairspray and Sweeney Todd. I think this may be also due too to the desire of today's actors to show, Hey! I can sing too!

With direction by master bizaare visionary Tim Burton, Sweeney Todd is the movie version of the Broadway musical written by Stephen Sondheim. First, Tim is not new to movie musicals. Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride have shown that he likes musicals. Even Beetlejuice had its share with his very funny, dark and ultimately memorable musical numbers to Harry Belafonte classics. Second, with a story about a blood thirsty barber at the turn of the century with songs, this movie is already tailor made to a Tim Burton vision. Adding to the excitement are Johnny Depp (already in countless Tim movies), Helena Bonham Carter (Tim's latest squeeze), and Sacha Baron Coen singing. This is one movie I'm certainly looking forward to.

Despite all the blood and skullduggery, Sweeney Todd has a touching moment with the song Not While I'm Around, a love song we can relate to.

Saturday, September 8, 2007


On Cinemax the other day, I got to watch Chinatown, Roman Polanski's stylish and smart take on film noir. Brilliant is my first reaction. The production values are high style and What I like about this movie are the performances of leads Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway. I think this two have no other better work. And the figures these two cut on their silhoutte are really a tribute to the film noir of past. This time, the genre is in full color but noir nevertheless.

Chinatown was part, I think, of Hollywood's Golden Age of Cinema in the early seventies. What a great time that would have been to see all these would be classics such as The Godfather, Taxi Driver, Midnight Cowboy, etc. They happen to also be hit movies, so movie going baby boomers sure got to have a great time at the box office. We instead have cable TV!

Monday, September 3, 2007


I saw Hairspray on Broadway was excited at the prospect of a movie version. A nothing but fun, showstopping stage musical, Hairspray the movie has now been added to my deserted island DVD list.

Hairspray's big revelation for me is a singing and DANCING James Marsden. I only knew him as the dork from Superman and Cyclops from X-Men. I youtubed him and got shocked the he sang on Ally McBeal. I loved that show and don't recall if I even missed an episode of the first two seasons. I think James came out (and sang!) in the last season. But the added thrill of Hairspray is a dancing James Marsden. He dances so smoothly and sexy that he can give fellow X-Men Hugh Jackman a run for his money. I didn't see Hugh on Broadway but audiences didn't watch anything else but the singing and dancing Aussie as the show, The Boy from OZ, closed when Hugh left. Is there anyone working on a movie musical of X-Men? Can Halle Berry sing?

The video clip of Marsden on The View doing a sample of the various dance moves he did on Hairspray has been pulled from youtube for copyright reasons, it says. I was able to catch the video before they pulled it out. He did the twist and another sample before he did that Corny Collins move, a combination of the twist and other dances. Oh my! Barbara Walters was laglag panty! She asked how old he was, hoping for a possibility of them hooking up. James readily said he's 32.

Independent Cinema

Cinemalaya 2007 films in competition will be screened at IndieSine at Robinsons Galleria beginning August 29. Had I known of this screening, I wouldn't have been so harrassed to catch the screenings at Cultural Center during the film festival. I don't live close to the CCP and Galleria is so much more convenient to get to with EDSA, MRT and all. Anyway, the first film screened at IndieSine is Tribu, the grand prize winner of the festival.

It was a good movie whose making is a story in itself. Using real gang members and shot in their real hangouts in Tondo, Tribu excites with a documentary feel and its realistic picture of life for youth gangs. With comedy and tragedy and a little heartwarming-ness, the film sort of gave me a jolt (pun not intended). I didn't know that the Meralco meter reader uses binoculars to read meters installed atop the electrical pole. I always wondered how those pole top meters in squatter communities are read, or even if they ever were. The scene was funny and deviated from main plot.

Interesting too is the final gang confrontation. I found the fight scenes realistic in that they were awkward, not choreographed nor even rehearsed. They were like in panic and desperation mode, like survival at the point of losing. Fear was in their movements and their eyes and voices. The camera seemed to movie in panic as well, like a TV news crew in the middle of it all.

Forgot about the bad and depressing day I had before I watched this movie. I love independent cinema! Can't wait for the next film.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Horror Cinema

Note: I "steal" these photos from the web, mostly by searching Google or Yahoo images.

You can't really choose who your seatmates will be when you watch a movie. I know some people go straight for the front row so that they can simply be away from everyone else watching the movie. Maybe they've had enough bad experiences that they'd just rather sit away than tell off someone to shut up.

A recent encounter in the cinema just has to be shared. The Instituto Cervantes Saturday screenings are held in their auditorium which seats around 100 and where the air conditioning will not do when there are a hundred people seated. I arrived early and chose a seat in the center of the row second from the back. When the movie started, there was this girl behind me who started reading the subtitles to herself. I was thinking that it will eventually pass as she is probably used to reading out aloud newspapers, office memos, etc. But no. She didn't stop and continued to read every subtitle that appeared. And worse, she began to react non-discreetly at what she was watching. The scene is where the female lead hangs her laundry on the balcony clothesline while the male lead observes from the cafe below. After female hangs her skimpy panty, the sequence cuts back and forth between the male lead gazing at the panty and the wet panty hanging on the clothesline. That girl seated behind me reacts, "Ay! Tinititigan niya yung panty! Hihihi!"

How's that for horrific cinema?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Persia Please

If you were to create an animated movie but quite can't match up with the sophistication (and resources) of Pixar and Dreamworks, what do you do? Here's a movie that proves that 2D can still be pleasurable viewing by using ingenious framing, intelligent humor and a political storyline. Persepolis delights with the story of a little girl who grows up in a family Marxist intellectuals in a country where there is a cultural police. Funny and educating, this movie, based on a comic book, is true story of its author as she struggles to find her self amidst political and social chaos plus loving and supportive family that surrounds her.

This movie is well directed and I like the scenes when the women come home and remove their required public dress and lazily throw them on the floor like a big relief. We also get a quick, animated history lesson of Iran and kinda explains why it and the rest of world are the way they are today. Persopolis is not all about the US nor any politics. Its dark and funny and touching. The subtitles may sometimes be difficult to read against the black and white animation.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

2 Days

People who have seen it are saying that it is very Woody Allen. Aside from having a single writer-director-actor in Julie Delpy, other Woody elements include the self-deprecating humor, the neurotic lead, the hand held camera style, and even a psychiatrist! The movie is funny and doesn't pander to the cliché of an American denigrating the French and vice versa. On the contrary, the American Jack (Adam Goldberg) is even anti-American, well, actually, let's just say he's not a Republican.

Noteworthy are the jokes on American myths of about the French. They don't take showers. They have relatively small penises that explain why they have to be so romantic. They're generally cranky. And so on. Some of it may be true but these are funnily presented in a smart romantic comedy. This movie is not for the queasy with all the sex jokes and some split second male frontal nudity. I was rolling in the aisles!

About Movies

I realized that a blog should be about something, not just about anything. So today, I've made this a movie blog.

With Cinemanila No. 9 on an extended run until August 28, 2007, there is a good start. Plus, a lot of new movies in the regular cinema provide plenty to write about. You don't need to guess but I enjoy great movies like a bookworm enjoys a novel.

The first movie is Paris Je T'aime. The idea was to create a movie to promote Paris as a romantic city. Sort of like a tourist film featuring various places of interest in Paris with an interesting story to follow. A series of short films (around 5 to 7 minutes each) provides the viewer with a taste of Paris. What piques the audience's interest to watch this movie is the assembly of important name directors such as Assayas, Craven, the Coens, and Salles, and familiar film faces like Steve Buscemi, Miranda Richardson, Willem Dafoe, and Juliet Binoche. The movie was a full house in the screening I was in. Enough about what the movie is. You can always Google it.

This is not a great movie or a classic, interesting but not all that fascinating. Episodes are disjointed, unrelated to each other except that they are set in various parts of the city as a sort of showcase. It's not yet clear to me why the episode entitled "Bastille" was about a husband who leaves his mistress for his wife who is dying of cancer, or why the film about a mime was called "Tour Eiffel." I'll probably get it once I visit those places, read up on their history and watch the movie right after. I like that the director's were sort of given the opportunity to "run with it", not to be stuck with the usual movie narrative conventions, almost experimental and art house. Though, not all directors chose to do so.

With a "chopsuey" for a movie, you have to have a favorite. Alexander Payne's "14th arrondissement" was funny and heartbreaking. Also, this is the first film of Catalina Sandino Moreno that I've seen and she is a presence. I like the "vampire" episode because it seems that it was made just for fun. My favorite though is the Christopher Doyle episode about Chinese hair salons. Aside from its comedic treatment, I like the idea that the Chinese are everywhere and just like most Asian communities, can not do without a beauty pageant. We all need a taste of home and Chinese have made a home in Paris with a their festivals and Miss China-France.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

What's the Skinny?

Another blogger posted this video on his site to express his desire to look like these models. Thinspired is what he called it. Read somewhere else that this new trend on the skinny male model will pervade all fashion advertising, including the male underwear. This type of body has appeared occasionally in ads of D&G, Versace, etc. Is the world ready for the anorexic or junkie male look? There's already some backlash with laws in Madrid and other places banning the underweight female models from fashion shows. Why start a new trend for males?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Let's Spam That B*tch

In reaction to the Malu Fernandez' politically incorrectness (page 1) and (page 2), one blogger said, "Let's spam that Malu Fernandez bitch!" That said it all and got me floored. I wrote: "How do you "spam" a "bitch"? Leave the spam in the can for maximum damage. Otherwise, without the can, she may just take it as a compliment and eat it!

True enough, she defended herself and said that we lack common sense for reacting the way we all have. For people like her, growing up rich and spoiled certainly didn't help any in breeding. Hey, Paris and Nicole have spent time in prison.

As a backgrounder, Ms Fernandez has struggled with a weight problem since birth. She has tried everything. Obviously unsuccessful, Malu, single fortysomething, has just resorted to being a bitch to get noticed. Let's not spam her then.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Half Empty, Half Full

I'm sure that most people hate this photo. Many have said so and voted so in the May 2007 elections. But the point I want to raise is that if you are opposition, then things are so bad in the Philippines. If you are administration, then things are doing very well. True. Your political leanings will dictate how you view the situation. For those that don't like Gloria, they say things are so bad. A newspaper columnist wrote: "The economy is doing well but would be so even if Gloria were not president." Is that so? How about if the economy is doing badly? I guess you blame the president. We do not give her credit for good things but blame her for the bad things. I guess that it pains the Gloria haters out there that there may actually be some good happening to our country and she is, at least, partly responsible.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Steak Room

A new, luxury restaurant, Elbert's Steak Room, is located in a "hole in the wall" and out of the way place. It is not in a mall and cannot readily be seen from the street. You can directions from its website, I think.

Elbert's Steak Room is keeping up with a trend recently covered by Newsweek as Stealth Wealth. The rich and very rich today seek discreetness. They are all for spending on luxury but do not want to blurt it out to the world. I call this the anti-LV. The Louis Vuitton Murakami bag is, for me, the icon of gaudy nouveau riche. It's an ugly bag with a tacky design that doesn't really add style or elegance to anyone's look or wardrobe. It was not meant to be subdued at all. It was meant to scream, "Hey look! I'm rich! I could afford this bag." To me, I ask, "Galing kaya Greenhills ang bag ng matronang ito?"

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Rogue Less Traveled

My sister handed me a copy of a new magazine. My reaction was, "Oh no! Not another one."

Magazines do come and go and I'm not quite sure about this one getting far. There are dozens of titles in the magazine stand, very much like those you see in movies scenes on the sidewalks of Manhattan with a newstand in the backgroiund. The difference is that in Manila, you can always go for the back issues section where you can get magazines at 3 for P100, or even less. It's a fire sale and seemingly desperate attempt to recover whatever they can for the printing costs.

Anyway, back to Rogue. I googled it and found that it was a men's magazine in the US back in the 60's as a sort of alternative to Playboy. Like Playboy with class, if you can imagine it. (Google it and read more). This Rogue version in the Philippines is indeed going for the alternative. I just browsed through it. Nice printing and heavy paper are all I can say for now.

Most magazines when they are launched in Manila always carry the line, "We're better than..." When Maxim was launched, they said that they're better than FHM, the leading men's magazine. Rogue Philippines says men's lifestyle on the edge. My response is, "Good Luck!" It's not easy fighting for magazine stand space and for the tight advertiser budget. I hope this Rogue does have legs. My sister is a contributor.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007


You kinda wonder about the consecutive recent deaths of great film directors. Why did they come in batches? These three directors are classic, especially Bergman and Antonioni. My favorite is Edward Yang's YiYi (A One and A Two). Nevermind the awards but I saw Yiyi in the cinema. An emotional and visual treat is all I can say. Movies are meant to be seen in the cinema. Sorry but DVD, no matter how sophisticated your screen, sound system and viewing room are, just doesn't cut it out for me. But with DVD, at least, we will have film classics forever. The local film festivals should show films from these directors so that we get to experience their films as they were meant to be.

Monday, July 16, 2007


A discussion started on what is a good hotel in Boracay. Or rather what constitutes a good hotel for Boracay. Many lament the times when all that was available in Borarcay were huts, palengke food and no airconditioning. Well, what the heck. Times have changed. If you want all that rustic-ness, then don't go to Boracay. My sister shared with me that there is this book about luxury travel around the world. It's for those who are tired of the backpack, tents and the bunk hostel dormitories. So, goodbye Lonely Planet! Hello to Discovery Shores Boracay and Boracay Regency.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Underwater Hockey!

The year's first session of Introduction to Underwater Hockey is on April 21, Saturday, from 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at La Salle Greenhills. This is meant for the never tried and the curious to "get their feet wet" so to speak. Some have tried and got hooked while others felt nevermind. After the intro sessions, the Underwater Hockey School follows. You can find out more about Philippine Underwater Hockey.

Underwater hockey has been featured on US TV too.

Monday, March 19, 2007


This is the first entry in my blog. Everyone is blogging, so I might as well not feel left out. I titled my blog underwater being because silent waters run deep. Haha. Cautious about using cliches except when being sarcastic, I like being underwater. I play underwater hockey (yes, folks, there's such a sport) and I love scuba diving. I also have a lot on my mind which I want to put on paper (soft copy, that is) and keep this is as a sort of public journal with musings about society and its goings on. Observations lang po. Or two cents worth as what most yahoo group posters would say when they have to say something about something.

I am also trying out how to blog. Late in the game, I will trial and error as I go along.