Monday, April 21, 2014

The Extended Summer, Week 1 (Holy Week)

These days, I've been sleeping a lot. Way to start the epic extended summer vacation. Also, where are all these mosquitoes coming from?!

Church Visits: 10

Holy Week is a huge thing in the family, and not because it means getting the trusty passports out (because that would just be so not Catholic). We take our Visita Iglesia seriously; Iloilo province, after all, has some of the country's finest selection of churches. And to the three psalmists of this year's Santa Maria Parish Easter Vigil, you were disasters. What a shame.

 In the town of Janiuay, Iloilo, ruins of the old church and the staircase leading to the new structure beside it.

Books Started: 1
  • On the Road (by Jack Kerouac)
Two weeks ago, watched "Kill Your Darlings" - a severely underrated movie directed by John Krokidas and featuring an atrociously underrated performance by rising star (and new favorite actor) Dane DeHaan - which reignited pretentious quasi-obsession over The Beats, hence, this choice for a first non-academic book since David Mitchell's "number9dream" back in October, I think. Said "obsession" started with the puzzling movie "Howl," starring pre-Instagram-ranting, Ben Brantley-hating James Franco as Allen Ginsberg; in "Darlings," Ginsberg is played by Daniel Radcliffe (good) and the controversial Lucien Carr is played by DeHaan (exceptional).

But the book, which just had a movie adaptation (two years ago, was it?) starring actress with palsied face, more famous as girl who played Bella Swan, is beginning to feel like a chore. The protagonist, Sal, keeps going places yet doesn't seem to know where he really wants to get to - a tiring charade, really, almost like he's goading the reader to scream what the author could barely mumble, which is, "Settle down!" 

Aerial view: The CCP area, Harrison Plaza, the green of Manila Zoo, Quirino Avenue, Malate. Taken during my flight home last Tuesday.  

Films Watched: 9
  • Blue Is the Warmest Colour (France, dir. Abdellatif Kechiche)
  • Gravity (dir. Alfonso Cuaron) - second viewing 
  • Enough Said (dir. Nicole Holofcener) - second viewing
  • In the House (France, dir. Francois Ozon)
  • Ilo Ilo (Singapore, dir. Anthony Chen)
Tempted to call this a miracle, if only because the simplicity of the filmmaking conjures a whole universe of unspoken emotions.  
  • Metro Manila (UK, dir. Sean Ellis)
To borrow from "August: Osage County," what a load of horseshit! Clearly, Ellis has a very poor understanding of the Philippines and its people. He's obviously intoxicated by the land - witness no less than eight frames of the famed Rice Terraces during the opening sequence - that the finished product reeks of a foreigner's clumsy, barely studied take on this country. Plus, sloppy dialogue! And tons of continuity issues (one moment, they're in Balintawak; the next, they're in Recto)! The saving grace of this disgusting poverty porn is John Arcilla; Ana Abad Santos and Mailes Kanapi are great too (Kanapi's the best character in Lav Diaz's "Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan").
  • Neighboring Sounds (Brazil, dir. Kleber Mendonca Filho)
Loved this film, its slow unfurling perfectly capturing the way we spend much of our time observing others. Nothing much happens here - the highlight has to be Maeve Jinkings' bored housewife making a vibrator out of the washing machine - but then, so is the case with real life.
  • Rio 2 (dir. Carlos Saldanha)
This was fun - totally bought the auditions shtick, overdrawn as it is (but who can possibly refuse a baby capybara belting out "Memory"?). However, lacks the novelty and huzzah! factor of its predecessor, which is to say, "Shrek 2" remains the only animated feature to have bettered its original. 
  • Two Lives (Germany, dir. Georg Maas)
You gotta love how the Germans make their movies: As with last year's "Barbara," so much subtlety, without ever letting the suspense dip.  

Watermelon shack along the national highway, Oton, Iloilo.

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