Monday, September 28, 2015


Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015)
Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Cast: Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler, Olivia Cooke

Greg, at a young age, has developed obsession with classic and foreign-language films. He's in senior high school. Earl who Greg introduces as his 'co-worker' is actually a friend since childhood. Rachel is a girl from his class with whom he hasn't talked since kindergarten. She has leukemia, which has just been diagnosed. Greg's mother forces him to hang around with Rachel. And the movie is pretty much about the 'days of doomed friendship' between Greg and Rachel. Occasionally, it's a threesome whenever Earl is around.

Funny and moving - this is how I describe the film. Since it's supposedly told on the point of view of Earl, who's just forced to befriend Rachel because she's dying, there are some emotional emptiness in scenes that supposedly show how they develop friendship. I like to think it is what it is. 

The movie is far from being a tearjerker. But the tears that I tried to hold back in the end were deserved. 

Rating: 4.0/4.0

Date seen: September 27, 2015

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Movie No. 51 (2015): PAY THE GHOST

Pay The Ghost (2015)
Directors: Uli Edel
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Sarah Wayne Callies

Halloween. Mike, a Literature professor, just gets the news of his tenure in the unnamed university in New York. He races back home to share the news to his wife and to celebrate the festivities with his son, Charlie, who's dressed as a pirate. But, in the Halloween carnival Charlie disappears, almost without a trace hadn't he left behind the pirate's hat.

But that hat serves no purpose in the narrative.

I have to congratulate myself for having endured the entire running time of the movie. Pay The Ghost is supposed to be a horror movie. But, I didn't feel the requisite scare common to horror movies. Instead, I felt like seeing a boring episode of a television crime series. In fact, even the worst episodes of Without A Trace or CSI or Law & Order are better than this movie. Everything I saw in the movie I already saw in other movies in the genre. Other B movies of the genre are much better. I guess, the problem of Pay The Ghost is the script. Or, the thesis itself. 

Rating: 1.0/4.0

Date seen: September 27, 2015

Movie No. 50 (2015): HENERAL LUNA

Heneral Luna (2015)
Director: Jerrold Tarog
Cast: John Arcilla, Arron Villaflor, Archie Alemania, Joem Bascon, Epy Quizon, Mon Confiado, Leo Martinez, Noni Buencamino, Mylene Dizon, Paulo Avelino

I'm grateful about the people who are brave and passionate enough to make this movie. In the part of the world where most movie-viewing people are content with seeing only escapist cinema (e.g., slapstick and romance comedies, mistress-themed formula movies), Heneral Luna is a much-welcome outing, a breath of fresh air. The story may not be "fresh" since it's supposedly fleshed out from events that actually happened during the Philippine-American War. Since the documents recording this phase of Philippine history are, in opinion, still unable to complete the jigsaw, and some controversial questions still left unanswered, the movie takes the liberty of artfully creating snippets in the narrative that may provoke audience into suggesting links between events.

The centerpiece of the movie is, of course, General Antonio Luna. While there maybe hints that the movie is almost imposing the idea of nationalism, I don't see it that way. I'm more interested in the Antonio Luna character who is passionate enough to be imposing that to the point of him being repulsive and obnoxious. He's portrayed as a human being, with all his genius, faults and misgivings.

The script, editing, and meticulous direction make the story flow with ease. The cinematography is something to behold. Major performances (including those of the supporting actors who play pertinent personalities in this phase pf history) are competent. And the movie as a whole is genius. In my opinion, this movie will be a much-welcome addition to the short list of real masterpieces of Philippine cinema.

I'm happy that people flocked and endured the long queues at cinema lobbies to see this masterpiece. I'm happy to see satisfied audience who couldn't contain their appreciation of the movie. Some of them even claimed to have seen the movie twice or thrice already. 

Rating: 4.0/4.0

Date seen: September 25, 2015

Friday, September 25, 2015

Movie No. 49 (2015): IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER

In the Name of the Father (1993)
Director: Jim Sheridan
Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Emma Thompson, Pete Postlewaite

Based on a true story, the movie is about the so-called Guildford Four, who were falsely accused or used as scapegoats in the desperate war against the IRAs by the London police force who were pressured to carry out convictions. One of the four is a petty thief, Gerry Conlon. But things get complicated when even his truly innocent father and relatives got implicated in the case.
I saw this film in 1994. I remember I was too much affected by the injustice to the Guildford Four. It's on this second viewing of the film (21 years after) that I truly understand that it's the acting and excellently paced narrative that have made the movie as great as people who love the movie see it. The movie is angry and intense, and the performances inspired. The movie got 7 Academy Award nominations during that year, including Best Picture and Director as well as the performances of Daniel Day-Lewis, Pete Postlewaite, and Emma Thompson.

Rating: 4.0/4.0

Date seen: September 25, 2015

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Pocket Poetry: ECHOES


They don't die easily.

They just fade away in asymptote,
leaving marks on the walls of eternity,
where even oblivion forgets to remember.

The wind will take us to this place,
where echoes of pain and joy transcend
the dreams that outlive the dreamers.



Just to make sure I looked up the meaning of touchy from Merriam-Webster. I was right. It's still the same definition that our high school teacher taught us.

Touchy (adj.): marked by readiness to take offense on slight provocation.

A lot of people that I know (or have interacted with) use the word to describe a person who physically touches others as he is wont to do, like a boy to his girlfriend or a girl to her boyfriend. Think of the hands' busyness during a couple's PDA (public display of affection).

Now, for the main purpose of writing this random thought.

Let me say, Filipinos are so touchy. You may not agree with me. In fact, I worry that some may take this as another provocation. But, let me enumerate some media events that elicited the ire of our touchy compatriots. We hated Claire Danes for airing her observations about filth in the streets and people with no feet that she saw while filming in Manila. Do you remember Teri Hatcher's dialogue in Grey's Anatomy, commenting on some medical schools in the Philippines? How about Lucy Liu's comparing her (burnt) skin color to that of our skin's? And then Manny Pacquiao lost his last two fights to the delight of the Mexicans, but some of us took it personally; some even digitally attacked and bullied Justin Bieber just because he's not a Pacquiao fan.

Pikon, that's what I mean. Some of us just can't handle the truth.