12/08/2014

Fave Movie Quotes: Picnic at Hanging Rock

Our seven year-old monitor finally gave up, and I'm typing this on a darkened half screen. Won't be getting a new monitor until around early next year. So all I can post as of the moment is this tiny but memorable quote from 1975's Picnic at Hanging Rock. Happy holi-f*cking-days!




What we see and what we seem are but a dream... a dream within a dream.
- Miranda



11/12/2014

Subplot: Picnic at Hanging Rock

Nearly forty years since it came out, Peter Weir's Picnic at Hanging Rock is still a visual poetry of an enigmatic kind, as fascinating as the mystic clairvoyant that is Miranda (Anne-Louise Lambert).





Princess Sara Loves Queen Miranda

11/11/2014

An Ambitious Fairy Tale



BLANCANIEVES
Pablo Berger, 2012

Blancanieves is a very Spanish take on Snow White, the classic fairy tale by the Grimm brothers.

After his flamenco singer wife — Carmen de Triana (Inma Cuesta) — dies in childbirth, matador Antonio Villalta (Daniel Giménes Cacho) practically abandons his newborn daughter Carmencita to live with Encarna (Maribel Verdú), an opportunistic nurse.

Carmencita (Sofía Oria) is raised by her compassionate grandmother (Angela Molina). Longing for a mother she never met, Carmencita develops a keen interest in flamenco, her mother's career. Her grandmother dies, so Carmencita is sent to her stepmother's mansion, wherein her father is now a paraplegic prisoner.

11/07/2014

Rebellion Against Routine



THE SEVENTH CONTINENT
Michael Haneke, 1989

Have you ever felt drowned in your routine? So drowned that you want to off yourself like a goldfish jumping out of an aquarium?

The Schobers are a well-off Austrian family who plans to migrate to Australia, the seventh continent. But why the f*ck would they leave behind a good life just to risk it all in a place they've never been to before? Michael Haneke aims to answer that question — and the ones in this essay's first paragraph — in his existential feature film debut, The Seventh Continent.

The Seventh Continent shows the life and routine of a middle-class family. The film is divided into three chapters: 1987, 1988, and 1989.

10/31/2014

Dope Horror Movie Soundtracks




Halloween's here. Time to look stupid for that costume party sh*t, yes? Along with Christmas, Halloween is the time of year when we become extra generous — in terms of creativity and candies. You get busy decorating costumes and the party's set.

While you're at it, why not add a little more touch of terror by playing these film scores from some of the scariest movies of all time?

10/30/2014

A Religious Antireligious Absurdism



WISE BLOOD
John Huston, 1979

"It's wise blood. It ain't everybody has it... see, it's a gift... the gift of the prophets."
- Enoch Emory

"A religious antireligious absurdism." That's quite a lot of adjectives there, but Wise Blood is essentially an absurdist tragicomedy about antitheism, which sprouts from the lead character's childhood guilt.

War veteran Hazel Motes (Brad Dourif) is a twenty-something ambitious idealist. Driven by his own concept of truth, he starts his own church: The Church of Truth Without Christ, "where the blind can't see, the lame don't walk, and the dead stay that way."

10/20/2014

Cinematography: The Virgin Suicides

THE VIRGIN SUICIDES (1999)
Director: Sofia Coppola
Cinematographer: Edward Lachman

One of the things I love about The Virgin Suicides is its cinematography. Mainly employing shades of orange and blue, Edward Lachman (Far from Heaven, Erin Brockovich) achieves a remarkable blend of impossible dreamland and overwhelming dysphoria.

Oranges...



10/15/2014

Ghosts of Yestertears



THE VIRGIN SUICIDES
Sofia Coppola, 1999

You're probably looking at your keyboard to verify if T is beside Y. Yes, it is. And no, it's not a typo. I use yestertears every time I refer to not-so-happy things in the past, yet here they are crawling their way to the present just to haunt you.

That's what happens to the narrator in The Virgin Suicides, Sofia Coppola's stunning feature film debut. The film tackles the dilemma of angst-ridden adolescence, the downsides of being a girl, teenage sexuality, the anguish of yearning, and — of course — the complexity of suicide.

10/10/2014

A Brutally Honest Love Story




AMOUR
Michael Haneke, 2012

In 2012, Austrian auteur Michael Haneke made one of the most emotionally intimate films of the 21st century: Amour. Remember that Adam Sandler song from The Wedding Singer? That somehow describes Amour.

Anne and Georges (Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant) are an octogenarian couple, blissfully married for a long time. Both are retired music teachers. Their forte: the piano. They live by themselves in a Paris apartment. Their only child (Isabelle Huppert) already has a family of her own, and is somewhat emotionally detached from her parents. (She cares more about trivial things like profiting from her parents' house.) One day, the couple suffers a major blow in their relationship when Anne suffers from dementia and then stroke.

10/05/2014

The Dirty Laundries of the Church



THE MAGDALENE SISTERS
Peter Mullan, 2002

If The Magdalene Sisters was shown during the Magdalene laundries' "glory years" — no, wait — I don't think it would even be shown at all. The film is a massive punch in the face of those zealots who fantasize that women who don't abide by their religion's "values" are "fallen women," therefore they need to "repent."

Repent so by doing time at the Magdalene laundries, a purgatory where you have to work for hours without pay. It is also where the Catholic Church's dirty laundries are exposed, to the workers at least: a manipulative and corrupt Mother Superior, a perverse priest, basically the Church in their not-so-human form.

9/26/2014

A Personal Apocalypse Now and Then




BLACK HOLE SUN
Howard Greenhalgh, 1994

I grew up listening to '90s music, mostly pop — basically anything that comes out of an FM radio, which was a refuge for an eight year-old who is tortured by cheesy old songs that are permeating the Sunday airwaves. A shelter from her father's daily dose of Elvis' songs.

Whenever the King would haunt me in a somewhat annoying and redundant manner, I would turn on my cassette player (mostly the Spice Girls and those silly boybands who sound the same). Sometimes I would tune in to MTV and watch a bunch of music videos. (Yes. MTV used to play music videos before they were infested by the "reality show" crap.)

9/22/2014

Is There a Way Into the Mind?




LA JETÉE
Chris Marker, 1962

Miss Sylvia Plath once asked: Is there no way out of the mind?

La jetée asks the opposite: Is there a way into the mind? Can lost memories ever be recovered? Can I find myself back in time by way of the mind?

Set in Paris after the fictional World War III, Marker's post-apocalyptic film is a montage of monochromatic photographs. Its main character is a POW (Davos Hanich) who unwillingly becomes the guinea pig of the "victors."

9/17/2014

Audrey Hepburn Defined

Here's some cute artwork I found online. It depicts the physical traits/trademarks of Miss Audrey Hepburn, one of the women whose classic beauty and humble persona I truly admire.




She held herself very straight, like Audrey Hepburn,
whom all women idolize and men never think about.

- Jeffrey Eugenides, The Virgin Suicides


DISCLAIMER: No copyright infringement intended. I don't own or claim to own any of the photos used.


9/14/2014

Fave Movie Moments: 2046



Just like most of his other films, Wong Kar-wai's 2046 is about lonely people longing for love. Although comprised of an ensemble cast, WKW's 2004 feast of lost love has Chow Mo-wan (Tony Leung Chiu-wai) as its focal point. Yes. The same dude from Days of Being Wild and In the Mood for Love.

2046 is a blatant sequel to In the Mood for Love. It portrays Chow as a jerk who enjoys having casual sex with women, a self-destructive path he chose after losing his one true love: Su Li-zhen (a special participation by Maggie Cheung).

9/10/2014

Fave Movie Moments: Mulholland Dr.



Coffee makes my day. Or night. I guess I can qualify as a coffeeholic, although I only have two or three a day. A charming cappuccino. A f*cking Frappuccino. And an excellent espresso.

In David Lynch's mystifying Mulholland Dr., there's this singularly yucky yet funny scene involving some bad coffee and an irate mobster: the espresso incident.

9/08/2014

Emotion vs. Rationality, then Vice Versa




GARDE À VUE
Claude Miller, 1981

Garde à vue couldn't be any more timely. The film is about a man who allegedly raped and killed two girls.

As I write this, Philippines' leading news programs are reporting about a seven year-old girl whose corpse was found in a public bathroom somewhere in an impoverished Pandacan neighborhood.

Her body was found with a bunch of stab wounds and cigarette burn marks on it, her clothes gone. The poor girl is believed to have been raped and then killed by heartless dickheads whose "manhood" should be castrated by a rusty knife. What they did is totally inhuman; only pure evil could do such cruel thing to a helpless young life.

9/01/2014

Before "Action" and After "Cut!"

Ever wondered how thespians behave between takes? Yeah? Me too. Well, here are some shots of actors and actresses seen behind the scenes. Featuring a gamut of personalities, these photos are just as fascinating as watching a film's apogee. Okay. Maybe that's an overstatement. Anyway, enjoy.

(This is a sequel to my first on-the-set post.)


It's amusing the way some actors show their love...

Tom Cruise and a guy on the set of Top Gun, circa 1985.

...and their friendliness...

L-R: A "friendly" Henry Fonda with Katharine Hepburn and Mark Rydell.
On Golden Pond set, c. 1981.


8/25/2014

Fave Movie Moments: Forrest Gump

First day of school, young Forrest (Michael Conner Humphreys) is already bullied in the schoolbus because of his "otherness." His schoolmates refuse to give him a seat, saying:

"This sayt's tay-ken."

"It's tay-ken."

"You can't sit with us!" (Oops. Wrong film.)

Hoping somebody would be kind enough to offer him a seat, Forrest walks on by. Grumpy young faces here and there. Shaking their head and turning their eyes away from the new kid in school, these brats are determined to bully Forrest.

"You can't sit here!" One of the boys said.

And then a tiny mellifluous voice says to Forrest:

"You can sit here if you woant."





8/22/2014

Fave Movie Moments: Blue is the Warmest Color

While watching Blue is the Warmest Color, I can't help but be enthralled by the beauty of that lady. And I'm not talking about Léa Seydoux. Not even Adèle... Ex... Exer... Exa... Exarch... Exarchopu — wait, I can do this — Exarchopoulos.

I was talking about this lady...


(Image source here.)


Da who? Actress is Alma Jodorowsky, Alejandro's granddaughter. Her character in the film is called Béatrice, the first "blue" lady to bring warmth into Adèle's la vie.

8/15/2014

Actresses Who Committed Suicide

Razors pain you,
Rivers are damp,
Acids stain you,
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren't lawful,
Nooses give,
Gas smells awful.
You might as well live.

- Dorothy Parker, Résumé


By now you've probably heard about Robin Williams' suicide; hanged himself with a belt. The man had a jovial persona, but deep inside he was — based on his demise and past drug/alcohol addiction — troubled. It wasn't he who killed himself, depression did.

When you are depressed: (1) admit it to yourself, (2) do not turn to drugs and/or alcohol as doing so can cloud your judgment, (3) do not even try to hide your depression, and (4) talk to someone — there's always someone out there who's willing to listen without judging.

If you're in the US there's Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). For those in the Philippines, there's NGF: (632) 804-HOPE (4673) and 0917-558-HOPE (4673).

When you are feeling low, please don't hesitate to call those numbers. There's always suicide prevention hotlines in your country. Seek help. Fight depression.

8/13/2014

A Resonant Visual Elegy




HELENA
Marc Webb, 2005

Some nine years ago, there was this music video I found rather weird yet addicting. It shows a dead lady (dancer Tracy Phillips) who wakes up in her casket, dances on a church aisle while people mourn over her death, then she goes back to her casket. There's also a group of emotional dancers stealing the show, turning the lady's funeral into a quasi Pina Bausch spectacle.

8/11/2014

Village of the Damned




THE WHITE RIBBON
Michael Haneke, 2009

Children scare me sometimes, especially über precocious ones. Scheming and seething adults in the form of cute and supposedly innocent children. You know, those kids who look at you as if they can read your very thoughts while mentally indicting you for having those thoughts — whatever they may be. The alien kids in Village of the Damned, the children of the corn, and the young ones in The White Ribbon. Yeah. You better not mess with them.

8/05/2014

Cinematography: The White Ribbon

THE WHITE RIBBON (2009)
Director: Michael Haneke
Cinematographer: Christian Berger

Aside from its meticulously woven story and its meditative rural setting, the other thing that is worth checking out in The White Ribbon is its Bergmanesque cinematography.

Christian Berger is said to have drawn inspiration from the works of Sven Nykvist, Ingmar Bergman's cinematographer.




"CABBAGE DAY!"
(If you like crappy American movies, you'll get that joke.)

7/28/2014

Fave Movie Moments: The Virgin Suicides

Sofia Coppola's feature film debut is a spellbinding adaptation of Jeffrey Eugenides' most famous novel, The Virgin Suicides. Set during the '70s, The Virgin Suicides is about the life and death of the Lisbon sisters, the overprotected daughters of a devout Catholic couple in a middle-class Michigan suburb.




"Cecilia was the first to go," says the narrator as we stare at Cecilia's serene face, her daydreaming blue eyes staring at a place way beyond other people's reach.

7/14/2014

Gay Icon: Romy Schneider




Romy Schneider is a cinematic icon. Wait. Who? Rob Schneider? Romy. Schneider, Romy Schneider. She was an Austrian-born actress who held German and French citizenship. (Yes, I read Wikipedia. Just like all of you out there.)

6/30/2014

When Women Flirt with Women

So, you're a gay woman. You love women. You enjoy munching cupcakes. And rainbow is your favorite color. Oh yes. You love anything lesbian. However, you dread the obligatory viewing of the laborious The L Word and its evil offspring The Real L Word.

As a gay woman, you like flirting — just like any other human being, gay or straight. The L Word had a lot of flirting moments in it. But since the mere thought of the show's title bores you, why not check out these films?

In celebration of the LGBT Pride Month, allow me to present to you my five fave lesbian flirting moments in film.


BOUND



Sexy neo-noir thriller about two women who conspire to steal the mafia's money, while falling in love with each other in the process.

6/26/2014

Sex and Lucia... and the Island




SEX AND LUCIA
Julio Medem, 2001

"This really isn't an island. It's a giant lid. A floating piece of earth. Like a raft."
- Carlos

For someone who used to sneak at night to shoot films using his father's Super 8 camera, Sex and Lucia is an ambitious work. It is probably the pinnacle of Julio Medem's filmmaking career.

From the guy who turned down the opportunity to direct The Mask of Zorro comes Sex and Lucia, an emotionally intriguing — if not discombobulating — film. Medem uses nonlinear narrative to give an air of suspense and mystery to the characters. The film proves that you don't need to start from the start to effectively tell a story. "Because in the end, there's a hole to escape through. Back to the middle."

6/22/2014

Who I Think Sent/Made the Videotapes in "Caché"

Although I've said before that Caché's main plot is NOT about who the perpetrator/s of the videotapes is/are, I still like to give my two cents on who might be responsible for the tapes.

(WARNING: Possible spoilers ahead.)

I think these people are the...

(Seriously, you shouldn't read ahead if you still haven't seen the film.)

...these people are the ones that could be responsible for...

(You're still reading. Watch the film first.)




6/19/2014

A Hidden Place Called "Guilt"




CACHÉ
Michael Haneke, 2005

My films are intended as polemical statements against the American "barrel down" cinema and its dis-empowerment of the spectator. They are an appeal for a cinema of insistent questions instead of false (because too quick) answers, for clarifying distance in place of violating closeness, for provocation and dialogue instead of consumption and consensus.
- Michael Haneke

The other night I was contemplating on what film I should rewatch: The Exorcist or Caché. Le exorcist ou Caché. The overrated one or the underseen one. I wasn't really in the mood for something Hollywood, so I decided to ditch The Exorcist for Caché.

6/12/2014

What It Feels Like for a Woman




MAJORITÉ OPPRIMÉE
Eléonore Pourriat, 2010

Majorité opprimée shows a day in the life of Pierre (played by Pierre Bénézit, a young Gérard Depardieu look-alike). Pierre is a househusband in a seemingly parallel universe. He tends to his and his wife's son; Pierre basically does what every woman "should" do. Later in the film, he is verbally and physically assaulted by women.

6/09/2014

Aguirre, the Art of Immersion




AGUIRRE, THE WRATH OF GOD
Werner Herzog, 1972

16th Century, South America — Don Lope de Aguirre (a sedate Klaus Kinski) leads a bunch of Spanish conquerors and Indian slaves in search of the (urban) legendary El Dorado, the city of gold. Although only second-in-command, Aguirre practically controls the people and the journey.

6/06/2014

Cinematography: The Fall

THE FALL (2006)
Director: Tarsem
Cinematographer: Colin Watkinson

"Tarsem's The Fall is a mad folly, an extravagant visual orgy, a free-fall from reality into uncharted realms."
- Roger Ebert

No words, just pure awe.


Probably my most fave shot.

6/02/2014

My 20 Fave Moments in "Benji the Hunted"

(WARNING: Possible spoilers ahead.)

1. The title sequence, which is accompanied by Guy Hovis' heartfelt Too Many Yesterdays.




2. Benji waking up the morning after getting ashore./Benji yawning.
3. Benji trying to save the doomed cougar.
4. The stalkerish-up-on-a-tree shot of Benji walking after witnessing the death of the cougar.

5/30/2014

Unsung Heroism




BENJI THE HUNTED
Joe Camp, 1987

By now you've probably seen the story of Tara, the (heroic) tabby who saved her "kid brother" from their vicious neighbor dog. But what if the kid was a stranger to the tabby? Would Tara still be willing to protect a stranger from someone/something life-threatening?

What about you? Are you willing to compromise your existence just so you could save a bunch of strangers? Yes? Good for you and those strangers. What about this: are you willing to compromise your existence just so you could save a bunch of strangers, but — here's the catch — you won't get credit for doing so? Yes? Weh... 'di nga? Really? Are you sure? Hmm...

5/23/2014

When Humanity Breeds Hate




WHITE DOG
Samuel Fuller, 1982

"That's the danger in picking up a stranger," an injured Molly says. Molly (Lynne Moody) is a friend of Julie Sawyer (Kristy McNichol). Julie is a struggling Hollywood actress who nurses an injured German Shepherd back to health and eventually adopts it, only to realize that it is a "white dog" (literally and mentally).

The dog is trained to rabidly attack Black people. Being a dog lover that she is, Julie doesn't want the dog killed, despite the advice of her screenwriter boyfriend (Jameson Parker). Instead she goes to Mr. Carruthers (Burl Ives), a successful animal trainer who then refers her to Keys (a nice entrance by Paul Winfield), an African-American trainer who is determined to "un-teach" the brainwashed dog.

5/15/2014

My 20 Fave Moments in "Tess"

(WARNING: Possible spoilers ahead.)

1. The sunrise at Stonehenge.
2. Tess and Angel (Nastassja Kinski and Peter Firth) arriving at the Stonehenge/Tess saying, "There are no stars tonight."
3. Tess' reaction after Alec (Leigh Lawson) refers to Angel as her "mule of a husband."
4. Tess' reunion with Marian (Carolyn Pickles).




4/30/2014

Nastassja Kinski: Unforgettable (Forgotten) Actress

Nastassja. What a sexy and musical name. Kinski. Who could forget such a name? If you're a cinephile comme moi, that name is familiar. The name, Nastassja Kinski, is so unique to forget. Conversely, "Nastassja Kinski" is quite difficult to remember to pronounce, mainly because it's not an ordinary name. (I pronounce it as "nas-ta-sha.") Actually, it is pronounced as "nas-TAS-ya."

So, what comes to your mind whenever you hear the name, Nastassja Kinski? This?

4/25/2014

Tess: A Picture of Lost Innocence and the Longing for It

There's a scene from Roman Polanski's Tess, a scene that would later be remade in subsequent screen adaptations of Thomas Hardy's novel; it is the one wherein Tess (Nastassja Kinski) is looking back as she walks away from the d'Urbervilles mansion.


Nastassja Kinski in the 1979's Tess


4/21/2014

Polanski at His Most Romantic




TESS
Roman Polanski, 1979

Old is the tale of two well-off guys who fall for a destitute girl. So what makes Roman Polanski's Tess any different from the rest? Aside from the fact that it is Polanski's only romantic film (so far), the novel — Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d’Urbervilles — on which the film is based on is one of the first to tell the tale of two well-off guys who fall for a destitute girl. (I think it would be more appropriate to say: the tale of a destitute girl who is pursued by two well-off guys.)

4/03/2014

The Beauty of a One-Way Mirror




EXOTICA
Atom Egoyan, 1994

I've always been a fan of surrealism — may it be paintings, poems, or films. There's just this enormous fascination with what's lurking in the great beyond. Predictability just doesn't sit well with me, just as tracing or merely copying a picture doesn't appeal to me as a drawing or a painting. Predictability is emptiness. Chaos is substance. You know what Banksy said, "Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable."

Well, Atom Egoyan's Exotica sure disturbed me just as much as it comforted me. This somewhat Buñuelesque film is mostly set in the fictional Exotica, a Toronto strip club where various lives converge to make up a discombobulating tale of love, loss, and heartbreak.

3/31/2014

My All-Time Favorite Female Performances

When I was younger, one of my wildest dreams is to become an actress. That's right. And that dream wouldn't be if there weren't no inspiration. Most of the performances that inspired me are by women; I think it's because I can connect more with women than with men. So here they are, the female performances that made me want to be on screen, inhabiting a character and reciting my lines.


Isabelle Huppert, LA PIANISTE



3/30/2014

Quentin Tarantino: A Feminist?


L-R: Pam Grier as Jackie Brown. Uma Thurman in Kill Bill.


What comes to your mind whenever you hear the name "Quentin Tarantino?" Tongue-in-cheek violence? Badass men? A shot from a car's trunk? Or maybe John Travolta's revitalized acting career?

Sam Peckinpah: A Latent Misogynist?

Around '60-'70s, second-wave feminism was at its pinnacle. Forthright feminists like Gloria Steinem, Angela Davis, and Susan Sontag would become the voices of the silenced gender. 'Twas also a time when Marlena Shaw recorded Woman of the Ghetto. It was clearly a time when women just won't put up with men's bullsh*t anymore. (No, sir. They'll make you eat yo sh*t.)

It was also around that time when acclaimed filmmaker Sam Peckinpah would make three of his well-known films: The Wild Bunch, Straw Dogs, and The Getaway. Like Sergio Leone, Peckinpah was/is a hero to the testosterone audience, with men being the lead characters in most of his films.

In 1969, he made The Wild Bunch, which is a tribute to the then-fading Western genre. It starred William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, et al. as a group of aging cowboys/outlaws on to their one last hit — this would later become allegorical since The Wild Bunch is one of the last cowboy films who hit it big at the box office (along with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid). During the film's sanguinary finale, there's a scene that seemed somewhat women-unfriendly: Pike Bishop (Holden) shoots back at a woman who shot him. He shouts, "Bitch!" as he fires a bullet at the woman. (Prior to this scene, Borgnine's character used a woman as his "shield" — she is eventually sprayed.)


Borgnine in The Wild Bunch


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