Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday Afternoon, Rain Ain't Falling

Iloilo City is sweaty and dirty today with the Dinagyang Festival. I used to run around those streets as a kid, to relish that freedom from cars afforded us once a year. Back then, the city was still shaping up to be an up-and-comer, there was still an authentic rusticity in the air. Not now, when buildings are sprouting everywhere, glass and steel fast replacing stone and Spanish architecture in every corner. My father complains that what the city lacks is a skyline - he compares it too much to Manila's. But maybe that's just what we need for the time being. Hang on to that old-school feel for a little while longer before this journey of no-return into the realm of full-fledged urbanity. 

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Friday night, I received what is possibly the most exciting piece of theater-related news for me this year. They are finally staging John Logan's "Red" here. Four shows only, starring Bart Guingona (superb in Rep's "Next Fall" a year ago) and Joaquin Valdes - leading man of my first ever Broadway show (in Manila). Valdes, to note, will be playing the role that won Eddie Redmayne (yes, he of recent "Les Miserables" fame) his Tony and Olivier awards.

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I have officially set a personal record: I've seen eight of the nine Oscar nominees for Best Picture - and the SAG Awards haven't even come to pass yet. What's taking so long for the decent screeners of "Amour" and "The Master" to get leaked? The theme for this weekend, it must be said, is boob exposure: Helen Hunt in "The Sessions," Marion Cotillard in "Rust and Bone," Naomi Watts in "The Impossible." I think it's time for me to start studying for Wednesday's Neuro exam.
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Holy shit, Argo just won the PGA!!!

Of things to come. #summer2013

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Requisite "Les Mis" Post

When I last wrote here, 2012 was almost over. Now, it's three weeks into the new year, or nine weeks to the end of second year of med school. Within the first ten minutes of 2013, our neighbor attempted to match nearby pyrotechnic displays by playing the notorious "Gangnam Style" four times in full volume. Meanwhile, my nuclear family celebrated by tending to patients at the hospital, going on night duty at the pharmacy, and sleeping at eleven. I find this sort of domestication an occasional source of pride.

Sometimes, it seems quite hard to believe this most academically challenging stage of med school will soon be finished. We'll be starting neurology tomorrow for three weeks, then a week each of psychiatry, ophthalmology, and ORL, two weeks on orthopedics and rheumatology, and finally, one week of dermatology. At the end of it all, we'll attempt to look back and realize it's an outrageous amount of knowledge to wrap one's head around. Trust me, when a med student has his moments of contemplation, he is not spared that thought. But, we make do with what we're given - and in that sense, we are more than blessed.

Now on to the main agenda. I have to confess - and I know I'll be making this "confession" again when it all ends - this is probably my most favorite Oscars season since I started following the Oscars. The pundits call it a freak year; I call it excitement. Only Daniel Day-Lewis is a lock to win in the major categories (it's basically give him the trophy or sacrifice your organization's credibility). Okay, fine, to some extent, Anne Hathaway is, too. Wait, what, Anne who?

Now on to the main agenda (this is not a typo). Friday night, after almost a year of waiting, we finally saw "Les Miserables." And wow, is this film quite the local phenomenon. Suddenly, the least theatrical people are humming "I Dreamed a Dream" or "On My Own" while having lunch. Thirty minutes before our 6:50PM screening, the ticket counter area was packed with people - and surprise, the screening was almost sold out. But here's the greatest part of the story: The moment the screen turned black at the end, the audience applauded. I've never experienced anything like that before in a normal mall cinema screening.

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1. Tom Hooper really likes his eccentric camera angles. Sometimes, the close-ups can get annoying ("What Have I Done?"). Sometimes, the cinematography is questionable. The long shots, such as those of the bishop's mountainous aerie, are gorgeous. 

2. Favorite sequences: At the End of the Day-Lovely Ladies-I Dreamed a Dream-Fantine's Arrest, Master of the House-Thenardier's Waltz, In My Life-A Heart Full of Love-Attack on Rue Plumet-On My Own.

3. Favorite extras: Plump "At the End of the Day" female worker and Santa in "Master of the House".
4. Russell Crowe has the ominous authority and unbreakable presence required of an actor to play Javert. And then he starts singing.

5. I don't know which is worse: "Stars"/ Javert's entire track as sung by Crowe, or "Bring Him Home." Dear Hugh Jackman, one does not simply belt out "Bring Him Home" - or do you really pray at the top of your voice?

6. The world is unfair. Eddie Redmayne (Marius) and Samantha Barks (Eponine) deserve just as much awards attention as Anne Hathaway (Fantine). Their characters' solos are clearly the three highlights of the film. Eponine has never been this pathetic, and Fantine, stuck in earth-hell.

7. Look everybody, it's Gabriel Goodman! 

8. Ensemble? Oh, you mean the West End.   

9. It's confirmed: I'm heartless. Most others shed some tears at one point or another.

10. "Les Miserables" is far from flawless. But it's way more love than hate, that's for sure.

From College Humor.