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.