Kids Next Door

My basic problem with Kids Next Door is that it tries too hard; you're suppose to posit this parallel world where kids are hi-tech heroes, keep in mind its relationship with the real world, so on and so forth...by the time you work out how the humor's supposed to work, well, it's too much work, for the poor qualtiy of humor. Even the credits--writing operative, directing operative--they've thought it over too much. It's like one of those overconceptualized Disney rides (actually, they ALL are).

Spongebob Squarepants, on the other hand, is dementedly brilliant. Hell of a lot more fun than that sodden fish movie, Finding Nemo.


Caesar's Salad

Adapting what Alton Brown claims is the original recipe from Caesar Cardini's Tijuana restaurant:

Took two jumbo eggs, left them out to warm to room temperature. Washed and dried the leaves of two Romaine lettuce hearts that I had stored forever against the day I actually tried to make the salad (I had to throw away a lot of wilted leaves), put them in the fridge to chill. Took a day-old loaf of Italian bread, cut it into cubic inches (more or less), spread them on a pan and stuck them for five minutes in a 350 degree oven to dry out. Using a mortar and pestle I bought at a Mexican grocery store (Wal Mart never heard of such nonsense), I grounded three cloves of garlic, a fourth of a teaspoon of salt, and four tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, and strained it into a 12-inch frying pan at medium heat.

I could only fry half the bread cubes at a time; it was a pain trying to get them to coat evenly. I finally figured out that I'm using way too little oil (hell with the recipe), filled half the mortar full of olive oil, and threw in another three cloves of garlic and a large pinch of salt (hell with teaspoons). I fried the second batch of bread cubes, sprinkled more salt on top, and they were much better--okay, they tasted fantastic. As a last preparatory step, I boiled two cups of water in a small saucepan, gently dropped in the eggs, boiled them for a minute, then dunked them in ice water to stop the cooking.

Got the lettuce leaves out, started tearing them into bite-size pieces. Added three tablespoons of olive oil, tossed to coat, added a pinch of salt and--well, the recipe called for seven grinds of pepper, but I used twice as many as I'm using one of those pathetic little plastic pepper grinders (I miss my Udinese wood grinder). Added two tablespoons of olive oil, tossed again. Recipe called for the juice of a lemon, I made it two; it also called for seven drops of Worcestershire sauce, and I made it seven dashes (ten in succeeding incarnations). Cracked the two eggs, mixed them in, and tossed until creamy. Grated a fourth of a cup (maybe half a cupful) of Parmesan, threw that in. Served the salad in bowls with the garlic croutons sprinkled on top.

Not bad. Making your own garlic croutons makes a difference. First time I tried it I followed the recipe exactly and all I could taste was Parmesan cheese and burnt croutons; now that I've upped the flavors, I could taste tangy dressing made rich by two coddled eggs.

Rosa Cardini, Caesar's daughter,claims that in 1953 the Parisian Society of Epicures called the salad the "greatest recipe to come out of the Americas in the past 50 years." Maybe, maybe not, but it was damned good salad.


Babae sa Breakwater at Cannes' Director's Fortnight

Ever get that feeling in a horse race when the long shot crosses the finish first and you've got the winning ticket?

It's confirmed:


Cahiers du Cinema, April issue

Cahiers du Cinema issued this April an Atlas on World Cinema that has got an article of mine in it, an assessment of the Philippine film industry (and the year's best films) for 2003. No online edition, unfortunately, but I'm sure big-city bookstores and libraries or French institutions like Alliance Francais or the French Embassy would have a copy...

Incidentally, the best picture of that year, "Babae sa Breakwater" (Woman of the Breakwater) has been invited to the Director's Fortnight. First Filipino feature film to make it to Cannes since, I believe, Lino Brocka's "Orapronobis" (Fight for Us, 1989).


Prime Suspect part 2

Saw the latter half of Prime Suspect.

Riveting. Terrific. They know who the real killer is halfway through, and still it's a touch-and-go process. Not to mention there's a whole new twist that makes the prime suspect all the more daunting, and a twist beyond that that stresses Tennison isn't all about revenge, or getting her man no matter what; she does it by the book, she still has faith in the process even if it's frustrating and she sometimes bends the rules a little (between taking an unauthorized trip vs. vigilante action, I guess it's still possible to know where the line is, more or less--what's impressive is that Tennison is able to make that distinction without making too much angsty existential fuss about it). Very impressive bit of TV.


Aminin! (Admit it!)

From jasonperry of pinoyexchange:

"oh yeah death ang dapat dahil sa mga hayop na tulad mo, buhay ka pa sinusunog na ang kaluluwa mo (kung may kaluluwa ka man) sa impiyerno. kakaawa ka...nagpipilit ka pa ring baguhin ang pag-iisip ng mga tao dito kahit alam mong walang naniniwala sa 'yo. ikaw ang pinakamababaw na tao sa thread na 'to at iminin mo nang ikaw ang walang kakayahang umamin ng pagkakamali dahil diyos ang tingin mo sa sarili mo. ako, kaya kong isugal ang buhay ko alang-alang sa karangalan ko bilang tao; ikaw, dahil hayop ka, wala kang kayang ipamukha kundi ang pagka-hayop mo. karma na ang papatay sa 'yo at ipagtutulos kita ng kandila pag nangyari yon. syangapala, magsumbong ka sa moderator sa mga sinabi ko ha; reklamo ka kay avonlea at makisabi na rin sa kanya na nahawa na ata sya sa 'yo dahil puro kabulastugan mo ang pinapanigan nya. wala akong paki kung i-ban nya ko dito dahil nasa tama ako hindi katulad mong wala na ngang hiya eh hindi pa marunong rumespeto ng iba."

Rough translation:

Oh yeah, it should be death for animals like you, still alive and already you're damning your soul (if you have one) to hell. Poor you...you try and force people to change their thinking even when nobody believes you. You're the lowest person on this thread, admit that you can't admit to wrongdoing because you think you're God. Me, I can gamble my life according to my rights as a person; you, because you're an animal, you don't have any face to show except your animality. Karma will kill you and I'll light a candle when that happens.

Oh, go ahead and report this post to the moderator, okay; go complain to avonlea and say she's probably been infected by you because she keeps siding with your shit. I don't care if she bans me from this place because I'm in the right, unlike you, who have no shame and incidentally don't know how to respect others.

I should note that I probably made him sound more intelligent than he really was.

My reply:

What can I say?

I'd like to thank my agent, my casting couch, my mama, my papa, my grandmama, my grandpapa, Limahong (who is an ancestor according to grandmama), and lahat na nakakalimutan ko (everyone I forgot), sorry na lang, I'm so happiness. Tenk yew!



Passion gag

Friday, April 16, 2004 (SF Gate)


How To Gag On 'The Passion'/Nine fun-filled ways Mel Gibson's brutal snuff film makes a mockery of true belief.


By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist


    Perhaps you, like so many across the planet, are more than a bit baffled by the runaway success of "The Passion of the Christ."


   Perhaps you, furthermore, are more than slightly disturbed that millions have flocked to this bizarre ultraviolent blood-drenched revisionist flick and that so many actually believe its story to be absolutely true, and that it just surpassed "The Return of the King" in total box office and is the No. 8 most successful film of all time and it was No. 1 again across BushCo's flyover states during Easter weekend and has sold 650,000 books and 125,000 creepy pewter nail necklaces and you find it all just incredibly warped and disheartening and what the hell is the world coming to.


   You are not alone.


   I have seen the movie. I have endured the spectacle so you don't have to. Here, then, are some counterthoughts. Nine random points of spiritual contention and pointy perspective check, a small pile of juicy karmic stones to toss at the next utterly depressing screening of 'The Passion' and perhaps at Mel Gibson's very sad and deeply tormented ego.


   Why? Because he deserves it. Why? Because this is not a movie. It is a sad phenomenon. It is a gross spiritual emetic. It is, clearly, a cry for help.


   1) It lasted more than a full half hour, the central beating scene, wherein a squad of monosyllabic demon Romans chain Jesus to a stone and feverishly flay him to oozing pulp on one side, then casually flip him over like a veal cutlet and thrash the other side until he is nothing but a puddle of dripping stage blood and flappy flesh and cavernous moans.


   You catch glimpses of this revolting cartoonishness through barely parted fingers and you think, goddammit, there goes half an hour of my vital life force that I will require much sex and vodka and Buddhism to recover. And you realize, with a sort of perfect and holy divine clarity, that Mel Gibson is utterly, thoroughly insane.


   2) You are not stupid. You have read The Da Vinci Code. You know damn well that the truth about Mary Magdalene -- along with all juicy goodness of the divine feminine in general -- has been beaten out of Christianity like joy is beaten out of American teenagers.


   And you know that if Mary Magdalene looked the slightest bit like Monica Bellucci, who plays her in this film, well, Jesus would've been preaching a lot more of the gospel of oh my freaking God look at those lips. Instead, Mel focuses on nothing but endless pained female expressions and Satan as a sallow woman with wicked cheekbones. Touching.


   3) You wail, you scream, you nearly call an ambulance when you burn your finger on the stove while making popcorn. You know for a fact that no human body, no matter how divinely inspired, could ever withstand so much gleeful ultraviolent comical blood-drenched flesh rending as poor ol' Jesus does in the Jerusalem Chainsaw Massacre and not instantly pass out and/or immediately demand three quadruple Martinis and a fistful of holy Vicodin. I mean, please.


   4) There were children. Small children, most of them under 10, in the theater where I endured this spiritual mess, their grim parents apparently believing Mel's R-rated bloodbath would offer up some sort of constructive lesson, something deep and divine and unforgettable.


   And then the whips rended and the blood gushed and the sadomasochism amplified to a fever pitch and the families all sat there, stone faced and lost, apparently convincing themselves they were seeing something glorious and profound, as the hapless kids stared down a future full of bloody Jesus nightmares and psychotherapy until many years and many prescription meds later when they finally realize, damn but that movie messed me up.


   Remember "Jaws"? Remember how that flick traumatized the entire Boomer generation back in '75? Same thing. "Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the church ... WHIPWHIPTHRASHARRRGGGH."


   5) Oh right. The nails-through-the-hands thing. Like that's important to fetishize so explicitly, Mel. You sure you couldn't get the camera a little closer? Maybe more blood splattered directly on the camera lens as the mallet slammed down? Maybe you could've jammed one of those tiny medical cameras inside the bloody hole itself and really hit your point home, so to speak? Mel, I'd like to introduce you to my close personal friend, perspective. Here, have a pamphlet.


   One tiny anthropological point: You cannot drive a nail through the human hand and hang a body from it and not have it tear away like some sort of disgusting hamburger. Did you think of that, Mel? I bet you did. I bet you wished with all your might you could've filmed Jesus' body being torn from the nails and falling to the ground in gruesome slo-mo. Man, how much more fake blood and pig guts you could've poured over poor James Caviezel! Whee! Two words, Mel: Zoloft. Now.


   6) Many argue that, despite the truckloads of blood and unchecked violence, Gibson's heart was surely in the right place and his objective was pure. But let's just say it right here and now: bull. You could feel Mel's fetish for torture veritably oozing off the screen like visual razor blades. There was no loving intent in this film. There is no tender message. There is no deep desire to move and inspire and uplift.


   There was only, I believe, copious gobs of curiously sad intent to decimate any notions of gentle divine intimate open-hearted mystical love and forgiveness you may have once believed Jesus was all about, and replace them with one very disturbed and sadomasochistic B-grade actor's very disturbed and sadomasochistic vision of old-school Catholic brutality and anti-Semitism and blood-soaked guilt. In a nutshell.


   7) The answer is, if I recall, about eight. The question is: How many times can you watch Mel's whipped, blended, frapped, pureed Jesus, his body rife with so many oozing crimson gouges it looks like some decimated animal you ran over with your car, twice, with snow tires -- how many times can you watch Jesus fall to the hard gravel ground with a long, low moan in terrible blood-drenched slow motion without, finally, stifling a laugh?


   8) This is not Christianity. This is not a message anyone needs. This is the exact opposite of spiritual progress or insight or gentle divine heat and if Jesus came back right this minute and was made to sit through this film, he would sigh gently, shake his short, shaggy hair (long hair was forbidden by Jewish law -- wrong again, Mel), and, you know, hold a nice seminar or something.


   You think this is how I want to be remembered? This is what he'd say, calmly and lovingly and more than a little sad. You really think this was my message? You believe this is what I want the world to focus on, two hours of deranged apocryphal torture and close-up butchering? Is really where humanity is still stuck, in bloodlust and shallow emotional manipulation and cheesy movie tie-ins and $17 popcorn? And then Jesus' gaze, it would slowly drift away as radiant images of Monica Bellucci floated before his sparkling eyes.


   9) And, finally, Jesus, he would absolutely agree with the following: If you must see this movie just to see what the fuss is all about, do what I did: Sneak into it after seeing some other, wildly superior film -- like, say, "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" -- so as not to contribute one dime to the Mel Gibson Fund for the Spiritually Hysterical.


   Rest assured, Jesus would've wanted it that way.




Prime Suspect, starring Helen Mirren (Part 2 to air on PBS, 9 pm, April 25, Sunday)

It's very good. Mirren's Jane Tennison, now a Detective Superintendent at the London Metropolitan Police, has to appease her superiors, handle her subordinates, say something to the press, establish rapport with witnesses, think the investigation (the tortured body of a Bosnian Muslim immigrant has been found, presumably killed by a Serbian immigrant) through, and somehow have a private life of her own along the way. I don't see that level of realism in cop shows nowadays, not even the better regarded ones.

Maybe one of the most disturbing moments was an autopsy report, where the coroner casually reports deep tissue damage under the murder victim's flesh, where she had been burnt by cigarettes; she had been burnt years before. This is the one detail that throws Mirren's otherwise hardened Tennison: the old and new burn patterns match, burn for burn, implying that she had been killed by the same man who had tortured her when she was ten.

Not the kind of detail Gibson's capable of putting onscreen, is it?


My Architect

One of the best films of 2003.

I'd love to do an article, but I've got other fish to fry. I'll prolly wait for the DVD, take a look at it again, hopefully do a more in-depth thing.

Found this detail--the Salk Institute, he found that scientists when working hardly had time for anything else like lunch or distractions. So he ringed the labs around that gorgeous concrete courtyard you see, with the huge stone benches and the narrow trench full of water running its length, and put the studiolike offices on the outside, all with a view of the gardens and the Pacific Ocean. Offices for outside concerns and contemplation, labs for concentration on physical work. Brilliant.


The secret of Miyazaki's flying sequences

From pinoydvd

El Zar link

Speaking of animated features, I just saw Kiki's Delivery Service. Miyazaki will make you believe a witch on a broom can fly. Really fly.

I felt it was more magical than the overhyped Harry Potter.

Oh yeah, oh sure.

Miyazaki's magic, I think, and I've been thinking about this is that he gives us visual clues not as to the lightness of the flying object (girl, plane, giant tree goblin), but as to its massiveness. They hesitate before turning, they tilt or sway in the wind, all indications that, yes, that huge weight is there, and yes, it's several feet off the ground. When close to the ground, you see a sort of "hover" effect, dust blowing away in all directions from the point directly underneath the object--usually where its shadow lies.

It's the realism of the flying sequences, and not the mere fact that they fly, that sells them to us, that makes them so convincing, so real, and pardoxically, so magical.

Ignorance is bliss

From pinoyexchange:

Originally posted by xiao_g

"but if you're talking about the philippine society"

Philippine society too. Actually there ARE Jews in the Philippines, they don't advertise themselves. But even if they don't have an obvious presence, must we patronize a movie that raises an old and false charge against them?

The Catholic church considers Jews our brothers; without them, there would never be Christianity. Should we be insensitive to their fears, their history? Much of it is our history too, even the anti-Semitism--in most cases it's the Christians who inflicted the worse violence on Jews.

"i've never heard of the issue anti-semitism until this movie came out. and i attribute my awareness to the fact that i'm in the US, a culturally diverse society, and where racism is not totally eradicated"

ESPECIALLY in the US is anti-Semitism an issue. Check out the New York Times, the New Republic, the New Yorker for articles on anti-Semitism.

And in France and Europe, cases are on the rise. Check out google.

do you really think that they're aware of this issue before going into the movie theaters?

They should be.

"ignorance is bliss"...

Try "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing" and "never underestimate the power of human stupidity."

Plenty more quotes, but really, the preponderance of sentiment is in favor of trying to know more and being less ignorant. Ignorance is the basis of racism.

i really can't see in which part you would think "teka lang, jews ang may kasalanan kung bakit namatay si Jesus!" (again, if you go into the movie theater unaware of the issue).

What I'm saying is that the movie tells too little of the story, that we don't know WHY the Jews want Jesus dead, we don't know if Jesus himself help provoke them (he did), and worse of all, that the movie, above and beyond the gospels read separately, exonerate Pilate and lay the blame on the Jews, particularly Caiaphas.

More clearly laid out in my article:



(From pinoyexchange)

Originally posted by roastertruck

"So again, what sort of perversion was done in the film that could actually change the message?"

Answered this upthread--emphasis on Jewish guilt and exoneration of Pilate beyond what's in the Bible, as outlined in my article and links:


Gibson's message is distorted--it says not so much WE are all responsible as Caiaphas and the Jews are the MOST responsible. Or most evil of the lot.

Telling the entire story, the way Pasolini's Gospel According to Matthew does, with as little addition or change as possible, is the best way to go. The message that we are all responsible shines there the clearest.

"It's not just the position of the crucifiction that gives a sole attribute to the pain. If William Dafoe, in his movie had more lashes with more brutal instruments, was crucified with bigger or rustier nails, had a more distorted face, lost more blood, had taken more insults prior to being crucified, then ok...his movie must be more painful to watch. If the pain in that movie does it for you then congratulations."

Pain in Last Temptation was carefully calibrated. A brutal beating, a scourging that was NOT a walk in the park (not by a long shot).

But after it all, he was clearly fit to carry a heavy crossbeam (not an entire crucifix) some miles to Golgotha.

Dafoe's suffering was PERSUASIVE and medically realistic. That sold me on the scene. And as I said, the pain Christ must have experience in the position Dafoe assumed must have been far worse than anything Cavaziel's Christ suffered, even his fantasy scourging. It's a really painful position, being twisted like that--and to do it with your wrists and the base of your heels nailed--!
"People who believe that the Jews are to be blamed for Jesus' death must still be struggling to understand the message of the film."

Unfortunately it is these people who are most likely to resort to violence, or at least anti-Semitic acts.  They're out there, all right.

"Maybe you should ask God to be more politically correct for the sake of those who don't get it and miss the most important message of all time"

I shouldn't have to; as pointed out in my article, the church has explicit guidelines on how to present a Passion dramatization. Gibson should at least have skimmed through the pages. He would have gotten better ideas from these pages than from Emmerich/Brentano.


Library of Nonexistent Books


They even have Pierre Menard's Don Quixote. And all the fake references cited by Kinbote in Pale Fire.


Showed Sherlock Jr. to some kids and they just loved it. Used to be a fan of Chaplin--loved Gold Rush, and City Lights, but only the early parts of Modern Times (the latter half wasn't as funny, they thought). 

Then I started them on Keaton, and they promptly forgot all about Chaplin. The General, first, which I thought would be a tough act to follow, but The Navigator they found even funnier. 

Our Hospitality was a bit dull till the final stunt (funny, I loved it when I first saw it), but Sherlock Jr. topped everything. Kids who have seen the Lord of the Rings movies and could hardly sit thru Attack of the Clones, enthralled at the sight of Keaton walking into a movie screen, or diving through a man's midriff.

In terms of Keaton's works, I suppose it's hard to choose a favorite, but off the top of my head and please no one hold me to this, I'd say The General was his most perfectly structured and beautifully shot work (the shot of him chopping wood while the entire Civil War passed by behind isn't just irreducibly funny, it's a lyrical piece of cinema; Lean must have tried to emulate the shot of the train on the collapsing bridge for Bridge on the River Kwai--not very well, in my opinion), The Navigator perhaps his funniest, and Sherlock Jr. his best filmmaking--and some of the greatest filmmaking I've ever seen.


Whole roasted sheep

Wife told me once of eating sheep in Saudi Arabia.

It was roasted and served, head, hooves, and all, crouched on a huge basin. The carcass was stuffed with all kinds of spices, including cardamom, cumin, caraway, cloves, coriander, paprika, turmeric, black pepper, and chilis. The skin was crisp, the meat finger-picking soft and finger-licking juicy.

The sheep lay on a bed of rice mixed with whole olives, cardamom, saffron, turmeric; ringing the basin were roasted onions, tomatoes, eggplants, zucchini. There were lemon wedges that you picked up and sucked, to take away the gamy flavor.

Afterwards was a sweet baklava-like desert, phyllo pastry layered with honey and chopped pistachio, and a pot of mint tea. Tony Bourdain again devoted an episode to this dish in his show "A Cook's Tour"--copycat.



Christ's suffering

Incidentally, this puzzling need to have Christ suffer more than anyone on earth...where in Catholic dogma is that called for? He suffered terribly, died, was resurrected and redeemed the world; I think that's enough, and it's all the church calls for.

If anything, human suffering has increased, in amount, variety and sophistication, since Jesus' time. Medical science has given us better understanding of the human anatomy, the points of pain and how the body can withstand pain--the better to make the suffering last longer.

The Jews in Dachau, Buchenwald, Auschwitz suffered MORE than Jesus. There's no shame in admitting that. They were tortured with fear, humiliation, starvation, disease, not for a day and a half, but years. Experimental surgery was performed on them, often without anesthesia. When it was decided to kill them, they were marched off to the shower rooms in the thousands. Not just full-grown men, but women and children.

Some of these shower rooms still stand. If you look closely, there are long furrows in the ceiling walls, made by fingernails. Can you imagine the suffering of people who were in so much pain they managed to dig furrows in concrete?

And afterwards--no third-day resurrection , no ascent to godhood. Their skin was used as lamps, their hair as cloth, their fat boiled to make soap.


Reader reply to Passion article

> On the subject on The Passion Of Christ, all these
> talk about it
> being anti-semitic and not being accurate enough...I
> think those who
> are saying these just TOTALLY missed the point of
> the film. It's like
> seeing a few black little dots on a corner of a huge
> whiteboard.

Why, any great evil will look good if you stand back far enough. Hitler, Mao, Stalin, basically their message and intent was the upliftment of their respective peoples. When you look at the general outline of their rhetoric, it's all noble sentiments and beautiful ideas. It's in the details...the little black dots you spoke so disparagingly of...that their true nature is revealed.

> Anyone can quote the Bible for their own agenda.

Just as Gibson through Emmerich/Brentano has just done.

> One can
> lift a line from
> the Bible to support any of their sick ideas, be it
> homosexuality,
> male chauvinism, exhibitionism

Or anti-Jewish bias

> but
> if you read where
> the line is taken from, it's taken outta context 99%
> most of the
> time.

Just as Gibson's movie takes much of the gospels out of context, again thanks to Emmerich/Brentano.

>So to say that the New Testament is
> anti-semitic is totally
> ridiculous.

Is the Catholic church itself wrong? According to their teachings, please note passages my article and the articles I linked to, the church admits there is anti-Jewish bias in the New Testament, that it has its own historical context, and that the New Testament has been used historically to fuel anti-Semitism. Care must be taken, or guidelines the church itself has set must be followed (again, cited in the articles), that this anti-Jewish bias be not emphasized.

Of course, Gibson does recognize recent church teachings, particularly the Nostra Aetate. Which all faithful Catholics should keep in mind.

> Contrary to some beliefs, Christ was not murdered.
> Not by the Jews or
> the Romans. He laid down his life willingly. Go read
> the Bible for
> yourself.

I've read it; the queston is, how closely has Gibson read it? His movie is more faithful to Emmerich/Brentano than to the various Gospels he has so blithely patched together to create a distorted picture.

>Scholars' commentaries are useful, but
> they are afterall
> interpretations or view points, not the real thing.

They are based on long research of source materials including the bible, historical documents AND official church documents, and they are an important complement to any interpretation of the bible. Again, I have a quote in my article from official church teachings exhorting knowledge of scholarly writings.

In effect; pick-and-choose theology, which Gibson seems to practice, is, like "a little knowledge," a dangerous thing. The church in general and the Jesuits in particular demand that we use our heads as well as our hearts. It doesn't suffice that something is just moving (tho I certainly found nothing in the picture moving); it must be rational and consistent with history as well.

> It's only there
> to aid you to understand a bit more about the
> Scriptures, that's all.

It's crucial in differentiating from orthodox Catholic teaching and heresy.

> How can one judge the movie on its accuracy? Were
> you there at the
> time of crucifixion? Did you travel back in time to
> find out the
> actual facts? None of us did. Most of them are just
> based on history
> records and books, which again can be inaccurate.

But are better guesses than the questionable writings of a 19th century nun and the German Romantic poet who "compiled" (composed) her writings.

> So all these just seems to take people's focus away
> on the real aim
> of the film - which is God's love for us. That Jesus
> died for ALL our
> sins - past, present & future. I think it's silly to
> be nitpicking at
> a film so beautiful (in fact, the best Jesus film
> done so far)

Have you seen Pasolini's The Gospel According to Matthew? Simple, beautiful, and TOTALLY FAITHFUL to the Gospel of Mark...which is more than I can say for Gibson's religious turd.

As for the message of the movie--read abover regarding noble messages and the context in which they are presented. That's why I titled my second article "The perversion of Christ"--because Gibsons' movie perverts the message of Christ.

> missing out on the fact that Jesus loves all of us.

Do we see that in the movie? He suffers and dies, but you need to know the rest of the story (which the movie does not provide) to know that he did it out of love. For all you know, he was just some hapless Jew pulled offfrom the streets.

> It's not just the
> Jews who crucified Him. It's ALL our sins that put
> Him on the cross.

Except Pilate? Gibson's movie (thanks to Emmerich and Brentano) practically gives him a pass--even more than the acutal Gospels do.
> But then like what someone (was it Frank Zappa?)
> once said, there's
> only two kinda folks, those who get it & those who
> don't.

So please...try and get it, will ya?


A Little Princess

Finally caught up with Alfonso Cuaron's "A Little Princess," and I can't believe this movie sank into obscurity without much of a splash. More than Agnieszka Holland's The Secret Garden, this has the lushness of period detail and colored photography to create a world stylized enough to bring Burnett's Victorian children's novel to life.

Cuaron uses CGI effects to portray Sara's stories about Rama's quest to rescue Sita from the monstrous Ravana, but the effects have the look of storybook illustrations; they have a magic I wouldn't have believed possible in CGI--even Ravana, that multi-headed dragon, has a spiky, angular charm. And the script cleverly mixes modern egalitarianism with Burnett's Victorian sensibilities--Becky becomes an adopted sister instead of a hired maid, the term "Princess" is meant to apply to all girls, and Sara's character is retinkered to be a quieter, more gracious personality. Even better is the use of World War 1 as a device to separate Sara from her father, and how this is cleverly linked to her stories--Rama's quest for Sita (both Rama and Sara's father are played by the same actor) becomes a trek through the Allied trenches, while Ravana's arrows emit poisonously yellow mustard gas...

Cuaron builds one breathlessly gorgeous visual sequence after another, from the first night Sara learns the news of her father's death, thru the trip to the marketplace where she's given money to buy a cinammon roll, to the final sequence of escape and resolution. If he can do this with Burnett's novel, I can imagine what the third Harry Potter movie might look and feel like.


Hitchcock's implausibilities

From pinoydvd:   "There's a very interesting article that's critical of Hitchcock: it shows that almost all of the endings or motives in his movies are hackneyed or contrived. I think it was featured in Salon."

I've heard that charge before. To which I usually reply that 1) Hitchcock has a surface plausibility (a textural and visual seductiveness) that usually takes care of questions while you're viewing the film; 2) that Hitchcock himself never put much store in motives or plots--the key ingredient that motivates most Hitchcock movies is called "the McGuffin"--implying that it's just a gimmick, whether uranium, top secret files, or whatever, and that it's usually interchangeable, a mere excuse to move the plot; 3) You usually go to a Hitchcock film for the emotional and psychological complexity, mainly of Hitchcock's own obsessions, not for plausibility.

But as usual, Hitchock himself has the best replies to such criticism.

1) When someone points out a plot loophole, he usually calls it "The Refrigerator Question." Meaning you go home after having a good time, you get ready for bed, you go to the kitchen to open the fridge for a late-night snack, then you pause and say: "Wait a minute..."

2) When Ingrid Bergman once argued with him on a specific point, Hitchock told her: "Ingrid--it's only a movie..."



It's pretty good. Guillermo del Toro's take on Hellboy is as much del Toro as it is Mignola, I think--dank sewers, amber lighting, a kind of exalted lucidity in the action/fight sequences. He's easily a better action filmmaker than Robert Rodriguez--Del Toro gets the same kind of clarity in his combat footage that John Woo gets, without aping Woo the way Rodriguez does.

According to an interview, del Toro added the character of the rookie FBI agent, the love triangle, the paternal relationship between HB and his discoverer, and the spiky relations between HB and the FBI director. In other words, almost everything that gives the movie emotional heft (I'm sure the comic book has it too, but then it has as many pages as it needs to develop that heft, while the movie only has 132 minutes). The tone, though, the basic concept and the basic look I assume is Mignola's. And I assume Ron Perlman's wonderfully droll performance takes its cue from Mignola's eponymous character.

Easily the best comic movie I've seen since Burton's Batman flicks.

Review of The Passion by Fr. Richard Leonard, SJ



Mario O'Hara's "Demons" cited

Mind you, this was 2002, but it's nice to see some people liked the film:


Cinema Highlights 2002


by John Gianvito


Films viewed (in no hierarchy):

Deux (Werner Schroeter, France, 2002)

Profit and Nothing But! (Raoul Peck, France, 2001)

One Fine Spring Day (Jin-Ho Hur, Hong Kong/South Korea, 2001)

Sauvage Innocence (Philippe Garrel, France, 2001)

Alambrista! (Robert M. Young, US, Revised Director's Cut, 1978-2002)

From The Other Side (Chantal Akerman, France, 2002)

An Injury to One (Travis Wilkerson, US, 2002)

Demons (Mario O'Hara, Philippines, 2000)

The Road (Darejan Omirbaev, Kazakhstan, 2001)

H-Story (Suwa Nobuhiro, Japan/France, 2001)

The Navigators (Ken Loach, UK, 2001)

Solitude (Robin Schlaht, Canada, 2001)

Otello (Carmelo Bene, Italy, 2002)


John Gianvito wrote, directed and produced The Mad Songs of Fernanda Hussein (2001).



("Bulong ng Balakyot/Pangarap ng Puso" is "Demons," incidentally)



by Olaf Möller


Top Ten 2002:

Ali (Michael Mann, 2001)

Araburu Tamashii Tachi (Miike Takashi, 2001)

Bulong Ng Balukyot / Pangarap Ng Puso (Mario O'Hara, 2000)

Hundstage (Ulrich Seidl, 2001)

Isshukan - Aiyoku Nikki (Kobayashi Masahiro)

Lavoura Arcaica (Luiz Fernando Carvalho, 2001)

The Mad Songs Of Fernanda Hussein (John Gianvito, 2001)

Renmin Gongche (Fruit Chan Kuo, 2002)

Sagkoshi (Bahram Beyzai, 2001)

Shin Jingi No Hakaba (Miike Takashi, 2002)


Olaf Möller is a writer, translator and curator based in Cologne.  

Branagh vs. Olivier

from The Atlantic Online:

I thought his (Branagh's) Henry V better than Olivier's

Well, I did mention that Branagh had the advantage of being able to use the more ambivalent portions of Henry V while Olivier stuck to the patriotism. Also, Branagh is less obviously a hero than Olivier, and he knows this, and he uses this to his advantage; when he does something noble or kingly, it comes off as a real surprise.

That said, there are two things I prefer in Olivier's: the battle sequence is superbly done in the sense of clarity and structure and editing, from the opening charge by the French and the answering hail of arrows by the English (historically the French were beaten because they depended on mounted armor, which the English archers punctured with their longbows), all the way down to the one-on-one duel in the end (exciting bit of dueling, what). Branagh's is a pale if fair imitation of Welles' Battle of Shrewsbury sequence in Chimes of Midnight.

Second is his camera style with regards to the soliloquies. The tendency is to home in just when the speaker is building up to a rhetorical frenzy, and the effect is to push the camera up when you want it to back off (in the climax of the St. Crispin speech Branagh resorts to a medium shot, which does nothing either way). Olivier ends his soliloquies witht the camera rising away from the ground and the speaker, giving you a kind of lift and giving the speaker the kind of room he needs to shout to the rafters, so to speak.


Cardinal Kasper on Passion of the Christ

News - April 2004News in Christian-Jewish Relations: April 2004


Cardinal Kasper comments on The Passion of the Christ


In an interview given to Aviad Kleinberg described in an April 6, 2004 article in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, offered some remarks on the Mel Gibson film, The Passion of the Christ. Other than the pope, Cardinal Kasper is Catholic Church's official voice on matters pertaining to Catholic-Jewish relations, and so his observations about the movie are of particular interest.  


Although reluctant to enter the controversy around the film, the Cardinal, when pressed by Kleinberg, made some specific observations about the film, which he had seen. "This is not a Catholic Church film," as Kleinberg paraphrases Kasper's remarks. TheCardinal "was shocked by the [film's] cruelty and violence," and while he does not think that the film is anti-Semitic, Kasper feels "it could stir anti-Semitism."  


This is similar to a conclusion of an American team of Catholic and Jewish scholars who had evaluated the movie's shooting script a year ago at the request of Dr. Eugene Fisher of the U.S. Bishops' Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.  


During his interview with Kleinberg, Cardinal Kasper reiterated that "the Church has repeatedly expressed its reservations about every form of anti-Semitism," including through a recently published joint statement by German bishops and German Jewish leaders.  When asked about the recent increase in anti-Semitic acts, Kasper expressed his great distress. "The Church is opposed to any form of racism, and the attacks on Jews and Judaism are worse than simple racism - they are equivalent to an attack on the Church itself, as Judaism is the mother of Christianity," narrates Kleinberg. "Kasper recall[ed] the Pope's visit to the synagogue in Rome in 1986, when John Paul II declared that 'the Jewish religion is not external to us, but in a certain sense it is part of our religion. With Judaism we have a relationship that we have with no other religion. You are beloved brothers; it can even be said that you are our elder brothers.'"  


There is an urgent need for education in the Catholic Church's new perspectives on Jews and Judaism, said the Cardinal. "The Church is trying to spread the new views."   


Belief that Jews were Responsible for Christ's Death Increases

Prevalent Among Young People, Minorities and 'Passion of Christ' Viewers


Passion a hit among Arabs

Gibson's 'The Passion' a Hit Among Arabs




Associated Press Writer


April 4 2004, 11:35 PM CDT


CAIRO, Egypt -- Hanan Nsour, a veiled, 21-year-old Muslim in Jordan, came out of "The Passion of the Christ" in tears and pronounced her verdict: Mel Gibson's crucifixion epic "unmasked the Jews' lies and I hope that everybody, everywhere, turns against the Jews."


The Quran, though, says Jesus's crucifixion never happened.


Such are the contradictions that are welling up as the Arab world deals with "The Passion," even as the film draws large audiences in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and other Arab countries that have approved it for screening.


In the Arab world, openly voiced anti-Semitism -- and by extension the warm reception for "The Passion" -- is bound up in the Arab conflict with Israel. Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, after watching the film at his compound in the West Bank, was quoted by an aide as likening Jesus' suffering to the Palestinians'.


When the 1998 animated movie "Prince of Egypt" reached Cairo, censors banned it. One reason given: Islam reveres Moses as a prophet, and many Muslims recoil at seeing their prophets portrayed as flesh-and-blood characters.


Jesus is also a prophet to the Muslims, yet "The Passion" was OK'd by Egypt's censors with no changes. They have not explained why "The Passion" was allowed.


Governments and Islamic clerics are also sending mixed signals.


Kuwait bans any movies depicting any of the prophets recognized by Islam, but one of its top Shiite clerics, Ayatollah Mohammed Baqer al-Mehri, has urged an exception for "The Passion" because it "reveals crimes committed by Jews against Christ." The government has not yet made a decision on his call.


The dean of Kuwait University's Islamic Law College, Mohammed al-Tabtabai, has ordered Muslims to shun "The Passion" on the grounds that Jesus is a prophet.


In Jordan, a leader of the hard-line Islamic Action Front says Muslims should read the Quran or pray instead of watching movies, but he doesn't mind "The Passion" being screened in his country.


"The Jews are the most upset with the movie because it reveals their crimes against the prophets, the reformers and whoever contradicts their opinions," Hamza Mansoor said.


More Hollywood than Gospel

Samoa censors ask clergy to rate The Passion of Christ

APIA -- The Samoan Censors Board said Tuesday it called in the island nation's leading clergy to help rate Mel Gibson's popular film The Passion of the Christ before it is released in cinemas. After it was viewed by the religious leaders, it was given given a PG13 rating, meaning children under 13 may watch the film but accompanied by their parents. Censors Board chairman Masinalupe Soa Tusipa said there were no concerns about the appropriateness of Christians viewing the movie. "That is exactly why we asked heads of churches for their help, so that the department can receive ideas of what to do," he said. The church leaders -- including the chairman of the National Council of Churches, Oka Fauolo, council secretary Fepai Kolia and Archbishop Alapati Mataeliga -- gave the opinion that viewers would come to appreciate the intense suffering Jesus Christ endured, Masinalupe said. However, Oka told the Samoa Observer there was not need for "such a gruesome film" and only 30% of the work followed gospel narrative while 70% was Hollywood fiction. -- AFP

The French ARE more civilized

French Catholic bishops blast Gibson's The Passion

PARIS -- French Roman Catholic bishops have officially denounced Mel Gibson's controversial film The Passion of The Christ, which opened in France on Wednesday, as potentially anti-Semitic and a distortion of Christian teaching.

In an unusual statement on a commercial film, the bishops' conference said the traditionalist Catholic Gibson had made a film that might not be anti-Semitic but "could be used to support anti-Semitic opinions."

"In this film, the face of Christ shows through less than the obsessions of our times -- the dread of evil, fascination with violence and the search for the guilty," the information committee of the bishops' conference declared.

The reaction in France to the graphic film about the last 12 hours of Jesus Christ's life has been hostile, with both secular film critics and Church leaders denouncing the extreme violence of the scourging and crucifixion scenes.

A Paris court on Monday rejected a bid from three Jewish brothers to have the film banned on the grounds that it could incite more anti-Semitic violence in a country struggling to contain a rise in attacks on Jews over the past three years.

Several leading Jewish personalities in the United States have denounced the film as anti-Semitic, but the attempt to ban it in France appeared to be the only legal assault against it.

"(The film's) violence, which overwhelms the spectator, ends up blotting out the meaning of the Passion and the essence of Christ's person and message -- love carried to its perfection by the voluntary giving of one's self," said the bishops.

Noting the film opening in 500 cinemas around France was banned for children under 12, it added: "Isn't it paradoxical that a film about Jesus cannot be shown to children?"

Leading French Catholics, including Paris Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, have expressed their personal dislike of the film but the bishops' criticism was the first official statement from the Church hierarchy.

Paris newspapers devoted up to three pages of mostly hostile reviews to mark the film's premiere in France.

The only daily praising it was the conservative Le Figaro, which called the film "a great work... for the depth of its thinking and the beauty of its internal structure." -- Reuters



French Bishops on Passion 2


In particular, the decision to isolate the Passion from the message of Christ results in not portraying the controversies between Jesus and the Pharisees, the scribes and the Chief Priests: the film presents them at the time of Christ's arrest and trial in a demented rage. Thus, regardless of whether the film is or is not intentionally antisemitic, it can serve to foster antisemitism.

As the film crudely recalls the atrocious effects of torture and death on the cross, it does so with a shocking indulgence in scenes of violence. This violence, which overwhelms the viewer, results in eclipsing the meaning of the Passion and more importantly, the essence of the person and the message of Christ: love carried to perfection in the gift of his willing self-sacrifice.

This extreme violence justifies that the film be forbidden for anyone under 12 years of age. Is it not paradoxical that a film about Jesus cannot be shown to children?

Standing Committee for Information and Communication:

Mgr Jean-Michel di Falco, President of COPIC

Mgr Georges Pontier, Vice-President of the French Conference of Bishops

Mgr Thierry Brac de la Perrière

Mgr Jean-Charles Descubes

French Bishops on Passion

From the Bishop's Conference of France


[translation courtesy of Audrey Doetzel. NDS]

Mel Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ arrives in France on Wednesday, March 31. Even before its arrival the film has provoked polemic and contrasting reactions.

The sincerity of the director is not in doubt, and the film will attract men and women who are perhaps seeking to know Jesus. However, in this film the face of Christ is less apparent than our contemporary obsessions: preoccupation with evil, fascination with violence, pursuit of the guilty.

The director, heavily influenced by a particular cinematographic culture, has chosen to visually portray the last hours of the life of Christ, with a declared intent to recreate history.

These choices are not without consequence:

The choice to take the Passion out of the context of the life and teaching of Christ, on the one hand, and of the Resurrection accounts on the other, reduces the message of the Gospels in a problematic way. The few flashbacks are too allusive to take into account the complex motivations which gradually led the crowds to follow Jesus, and the controversy regarding his person, his intentions, his mystery.




Interesting article on The Passion of the Christ


Idiot sounds out on The Passion of the Christ

  From pinoyexchange, originally posted by pollywog

"About pre-drilled cross. I had the impression na recycled yung cross ni Jesus. Sa dinami-daming pinapako sa cross that time, alangan namang laging bago yung gagamitin? Remember, hindi kasama sa plano na pati si Jesus e kasamang ipapako together with Dimas and Hestas. Di ba nga ayaw ni Pilate na i-crucify sya? Parang biglaan lang yung pagkasali ke Jesus. That's why may butas na yung cross at maluwag na (kaya kinailangan pang itupi yung nails)."

Translated: "About the pre-drilled cross. I had the impression that Jesus' cross was recycled. With so many crosses at the time, why should they always use new ones? Remember, Jesus wasn't intended to be crucified along with Dimas and Hestas. Wasn't Pilate hesitant to crucify him? Crucifying Jesus was a spur of the moment thing. That's why the holes on the cross were so wide, and why they had to bend the nails on the other side."

Afraid I make him sound smarter than he really is. My reply:

This definitely wasn't mentioned in any historical or archeological article on crucifixion I know. Recycling in the time of Jesus? Hanep!