Monday, February 20, 2006

reflections after in the cut

i feel i cheated myself by not watching this movie in the theater when i had the chance. by far, this is the sexiest movie i've seen this year. well now that i think about it more, this is probably the first really sexy movie i've seen in a really long time.So many great asses on parade jane campion does an excellent job masking a simple crime mystery into something dark and complex. i loved the idea of franny (meg ryan) jotting down poetry culled from the city, how only she would read into simple words meant for selling things, and transform them into more morbid (or passionate depending on how your moods help you deal with ambiguity) personal descriptions of that seething hunger inside her. she's a literature professor, a very prudent one experiencing an awakening of sorts. i especially loved the camera work, how the soft and sharp focuses play in one frame and the warm colors extracting warmth out of a dark and dreary city like new york.

the day after watching this film, i spent an entire afternoon looking for poetry in the dreary city where i live. the four hours i spent hopping from one mrt station to the next, and from one mall to another helped me rationalize why i find manila so loathesome. it's such an uninspiring city. it's bad enough that the sights that behold me are so drab, its even worse to look for words and find only generic english phrases that echo a capitalist-businesslike sensibility. i envy franny. she's able to hop on the subway and find textured verbal imagery on posters, billboards even t-shirts. i am only able to find impersonalized power-driven statements that blatantly lie to sell a commodity. local tradition is gone and replaced by the smothering generic english of capitalists.

it also doesn't help that i am situated in a supposedly expansive part of the city. i live near the quezon memorial circle, study in the university of the philippines, work in the ateneo. the surroundings of the ateneo is just too artificial, the well-kept grass and highly stylized plant plots are too sterile, too constrictingly antiseptic, too predicatbly boring. there are no surprises in the landscape, just some self-conscious foliage trying its damn best to mimic the ivy leage environs of american schools which could have worked if not for the stupid combination of all of ateneo's structures: the millenium-styled church which really looks pretentious, the cheap school halls from the 60's which failed to capture the style of that era, the unfortunate brick buildings, the disastrous bliss-and-mass-housing-looking complexes, the vast parking spaces, they all clash. there is no coherence, no order. on the opposite end is u.p. which is wild, untamed, forest-like. it's creepy at night, and dingy by day. it's too exotic for its own good considering the vastness and height and depth and scope of the school's magnificent architecture which are all lost because there simply isn't enough money to keep things in order. in between is the qcmc, which is half as horrible as ateneo and half as wasted as u.p. the nice thing about this area is that it is perhaps the metro's real multi-cultural centers since different activities converge here. there are health buffs running amock at almost any time of the day, religious groups, student groups, dance troupes, prostitutes, gay men, restaurants, families, tiangges with the enterprising lot of tinderas and tinderos, political rallies, art activities, horses, roller skates and a whole lot more going in this area. unfortunately, the uncompartmentalized and erratic behavior of people who come and go is a bit too much for the park to handle. a lot of things need to be compartmentalized in this park in order for the spaces to breathe and provide an unconscious structure to the people who stay so that they don't scatter themselves and their garbage too much. then there's the problem of the elliptical road's converging traffic. this area is supposed to be the brightest spot in quezon city, but what i see is a fishbowl to contain the metro's smog and pollution. if i inhabit one of the best parts of the metro, then why am i so dissatisfied?

other movies

i was bored with lost in translation. this racist egotistic movie of ms. copolla doesn't deserve all the attention its getting. despite that, the last two weeks have been very rewarding with the movies thrown my way. 21 grams was great, it told a simple story but used fantastic editing work to change the conventional syntax of what could have been a typical melodrama. naomi watts, sean penn and benicio del torro were really superb and it seems they have out-acted everyone in the supposedly great movies this year including mystic river. i have yet to see in america. romance, a french art film with an american porn star (i forgot his name but i did remember seeing him in a lot of porn movies), has been mind boggling. it was discussed as a feminist movie in class, but i read it more as a coming-of-age lesbian movie. milan was cute, and so was woody allen's anything else.

thank god for vacations. i spent tuesday night and the wee hours of the morning after with film classmates and our teacher talking about a lot of things that i normally can't talk about with other people. it's nice to be part of a bunch where you actually belong and don't feel like the weirdo just because you have ideas that run contrary to the gamut of popular beliefs. somehow the world becomes more bearable with them. i woke up at 4 pm then went out again last night to watch morny's play which was funny because he gets to play a white man. we always tease him negro, but in this play he gets to be the white boy shouting at the nigger. it was so surreal. the night cap was just as fun as we stuffed ourselves full. the play was three hours long, so dinner had to wait until 10 p.m. and now, with a sore back from a 3 hour sleep, droopy eyes and a lot of unfinished crap for work, i can safely say that i'm o.k.