11/30/04

Read or Die, the TV series

Looked through the Read or Die TV series. Not as spectacular, and a few implausibilities (three girls save your life and you feel annoyed they show up at your door?) but interesting enough--turns out from the manga the story is a hell of a lot more complicated, with not one or four but seven paper masters fighting evil here or there. Good fun.

(Have I mentioned that I thought the Read or Die OAV was wonderful, perhaps brilliant, and that I preferred it by a Pacific mile over Pixar's The Incredibles?)

11/28/04

"Oro, Plata, Mata" and "Mga Bilanggong Birhen"

For an additional corrective to Oro, Plata, Mata (Gold, Silver, Death, 1982), check out (Mario) O'Hara's Mga Bilanggong Birhen (The Captured Virgins, 1977). Even if O'Hara walked out before postproduction (mapapansin mo napakagarapal and disjointed ang editing ng film na ito (You'll notice the editing is rough and disjointed)), it still has his beautifully understated visual intelligence. Plus O'Hara gives us many sides not just to the upper-class characters (who (Peque) Gallaga has more empathy for) but the lower-class ones as well (who Gallaga demonizes in Oro, Plata). Gallaga fails to develop his characters in the second act (the provincial house and forest sequences), so we hardly care about them in the third (the raid on the forest house and the assault on the bandits). In Bilanggong Birhen you do come to care for what happens to Armida Siguion Reyna (The unfaithful wife--I do think it's the performance of her career), to Mario Montenegro (The rebel leader), to Alma Moreno (Armida's daughter) and Rez Cortez (Alma's lover).

Bakit Bughaw, Tatlong Taong, and Oro Plata

From Pinoyexchange:

Loonzhaus: I agree.....amidst the kaguluhan of the war, hindi nawawala 'yung feeling of attachment ng manunuod sa characters nila masugi at rosario.....dito nagkulang si Peque Gallaga sa Oro, Plata, Mata.....sa tingin ko kasi, mas naging abala siya sa pag-create ng mga highlight scenes na tunay na pag-uusapan and in the process, nawala ang emotion ng mga characters ng pelikula.....dinala na lang ang manunuod sa visuals na tunay namang napakaganda.....sa Tatlong Taon, while naipadama ni Mario sa atin ang takot sa nangyayaring giyera, hindi siya humulagpos sa karakterisasyon ng mga pangunahing tauhan. Oo nga, now i realized kung paanong 'yung setting ng apartment complex ay naging korteng maglilitis sa "pagmamahalan" ni babette at bobby. Mario was quite vocal sa pagiging "emotional" ni Brocka na sabi mo nga na almost always ay caught up with his characters. Bilib lang talaga siya dito sa tapang as a film maker. Pinupuri din niya sa Bernal dahil pareho daw French ang kanilang influences. Sayang nga lang at 'di binibigyan ng pansin ang kagalingan ng isang Mario O'Hara.

(I agree.....amidst the chaos of war, the viewer never loses the feeling of attachment to Masugi (Christopher de Leon) and Rosario (Nora Aunor)...this is where Peque Gallaga failed in Oro, Plata, Mata (Gold, Silver, Death, 1982)...in my view, he was more concerned with creating highlight scenes worth talking about, and in the porcess, lost the emotion of the characters...he just swept the viewer along with his visuals which are truly beautiful...in Tatlong Taong, while Mario was able to show us the terrors of war, he didn't stint on characterization of the primary players. Oh yes, now I realize how the apartment complex setting (in Bakit Bughaw ang Langit (Why is the Sky Blue? 1981)) resembles a court judging Babette and Bobby's love. Mario was quite vocal at (Lino) Brocka's being "emotional," the way he always seems to be, as you say, caught up with his characters. He really believes in his (Brocka's) courage as a filmmaker, though. He praises Bernal because he (Bernal) is like the French in his influences. Too bad not enough attention has been given to Mario O'Hara's greatness)

11/25/04

Even more "Bakit Bughaw ang Langit?" (Why is the Sky Blue? 1981)

From Pinoyexchange:

That cactus scene felt unforced. It was a symbol, but so quiet and unemphasized di mo mapapansin kung di ka nakatingin (you wouldn't notice it if you weren't looking).

And the 'minor' characters--notice how, when a big confrontation or whatever happens, they all turn out to watch? It's something like 'the court of public opinion' you hear about in TV and newspapers, only here it's the shape and size of the apartment complex's courtyard. It's incredible how precisely and how detailed is (Mario) O'Hara's portrait of the structure of this mini-society--a microcosmos of the larger Philippine society.

And that sense you got of intimacy even in the big scenes--I always have this impresson of O'Hara looking down on his people and story, orchestrating everything, arranging that the narrative runs just right--not too loud, not too quiet. At the same time he's right next to the characters, urging them on, feeling for them, knowing and understanding and loving them. You see this most of all (I think, though it also comes through strong in Bakit Bughaw ang Langit? (Why is the Sky Blue? 1981)) in Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos (Three Years Without God, 1976).

It's like a double-vision , and that I suspect isn't just hard to do it's almost impossible to do. (Lino) Brocka couldn't quite do it--he's almost always caught up in his characters. (Ishmael) Bernal could do it better than Brocka--but not, I think, as well as O'Hara (plus O'Hara's camerawork and editing is much better).

This is why I think O'Hara's our best, bar none.

11/24/04

Bakit Bughaw and Condemned

From Pinoyexchange:

Loonzhaus: That was what exactly Albert Sunga saw in that particular scene -- 'yung tingin daw ni Ate Guy ay may kislap ng pang-unawa at pagmamahal. Du'n nga daw siya nagsimulang mahulog kay Bobby.

At saka talagang ultimong maliliit na characters mula duon sa bading na nag-o-offer ng lollipop hanggang duon sa mga nag-iinuman at nanay na may karinderya, magagaling lahat. May ikinukuwento si Direk Mario na si Bb. Collantes daw na siyang nagsulat ng istorya ay matandang matanda na that time at pinilit lang niya talagang magsulat. Ayaw na nga daw kasi nanginginig na ang isang kamay pero sabi ni Direk sa kanya, hangga't may isang kamay at makinilya, kaya pa niyang gumawa ng isang obra. At ito na nga ang kinalabasan. Tuwang-tuwa daw siya sa character sketches ng pelikula lalo na dun sa character ni Babette na itinulad sa isang cactus na kahit isang patak lang ng tubig ay mabubuhay na at mamumulaklak kahit may katagalan. Parang si Babette, sa isang patak ng pagmamahal from Bobby, biglang namulaklak at nagdesisyong tumayo on her own.....na-inlab yata ako sa movie na ito.....by the way, first time ko lang siyang napanuod.....

(You know, that was exactly what Albert Sugna saw in that particular scene--that look of Guy (Nora Aunor) had a spark of understanding and love. He said that's when he started to fall for Bobby (Dennis Roldan)).

And even the minor characters, from the gay offering a lollipop to the men drinking and the mother at the neighborhood store, they're all great. "Direk" Mario told a story about Ms. Collantes who wrote the story, that she was old at that time and that she forced herself to write. She didn't want to, because one hand was already shaky, but "Direk" told her, as long as she has the other hand and a typewriter, she can do one more work. And this was the result. He was delighted with all the characters in the film, especially Babette, who's likened to a cactus that with just a drop of water will flourish and flower, given time. Babette, with just a drop of love from Bobby, suddenly blooms and decides to stand on her own...I seem to have fallen in love with this picture...by the way, it's my first time to see it... 

Napanuod ko rin ang Condemned at masasabi ko na talagang napaka-credible ng presentation ng pagmamahalan ng magkapatid na Nora at Dan. Hindi ko alam how to say it pero parang si Mario O'Hara, kaya niyang gawing intimate ang eksena kahit "napakalaki nito." Alam mo 'yung eksenang nag-aaway na si Babette at ang nanay niya, malaki siyang eksena in the sense na andaming taong nakapaligid at umaawat sa kanila....pero sa batuhan ng mga salita nu'ng dalawa, it's as if silang dalawa lang ang tao sa screen at naglalabasan lang sila intimately ng mga tunay na saloobin......parang ganun ba......siguro nga kaya magaling si Mario ay dahil pinahahalagahan niya ang character sketches na siya niyang bukambibig sa forum.....at kaya niyang i-detach ang kanyang sarili sa artista para magawa ang tamang timpla ng characterization......

(I also saw Condemned and I can say that the presentation of sibling love between Nora (Aunor) and Dan (Alvaro) is highly credible. I don't know how to say it, but Mario O'Har can make the scene intimate even if it's a "big" one. You know the scene where Babette and her mother are fighting, it's big in the sense that the scene involves a lot of people surrounding them...yet in the exchange of words between the two, it's as if they were the only ones around, and they're expressing themselves intimately and honestly...something like that...maybe why Mario is so great is because he values the character sketches he mentioned in the forum...the same time he's able to detach himself as an artist to create the right mix of characterization...

11/23/04

Still more on Bakit Bughaw ang Langit (Why is the Sky Blue? 1981)

From Pinoyexchange:

Great stuff, Loonz. Plus, O'Hara's visual intelligence is at work there. Far as I can remember, every shot in the film from beginning onwards was a long shot, the camera keepign its distance as if clinically observing the characters...up to a point: when Nora finally softens towards Dennis, stops seeing him as a strange and possibly dangerous creature and starts looking at him as a person, O'Hara suddenly cuts to a closer shot--the first in the film--of Nora looking at Dennis in a new light, with affection, the tentative beginnings of love.

The storytelling here is so perfect, in terms of camerawork, music, acting. Every detail is right.

More, Nora's relationship to Dennis isn't sexual at all, thoough the neighbors and her family try to imply otherwise: actually this is one of the few stories of agape (as opposed to eros) that I know of that isn't just embarrassing, it's good, possibly great. That's incredibly difficult to do, much less do well--you need a delicate touch, a sureness in your handling of details. I suspect Ozu would appreciate this film.

It's just--I don't know, if you're familiar with O'Hara's other films, he knows to what depths of sensual perversion and cruelty the human heart can plunge (after all, he wrote Insiang). Which makes him somehow credible when he tells a story of selfless, unsensual love (he knows one thing very well; he must know something of its opposite). But even if that principle doesn't hold (an extreme suggests its opposite)--look at Nora and Dennis in Bakit Bughaw ang Langit? or Nora and Dan Alvaro in Condemned--even if it isn't true that you need to know one to know the other, he knows; you can see it in his films.

More on Bakit Bughaw ang Langit? (Why is the Sky Blue? 1981)

From Pinoyexchange:

May dalawang eksena akong nagustuhan talaga sa Bakit Bughaw dahil kitang-kita rito ang kakaibang "mata" ni Ate Guy. 'Yung eksenang nagkakagulo sa labas ng apartment nila Bobby, sumilip si Babette sabay tapon ng tingin kay Bobby na kasalukuyang abalang kumakain. Kita sa mata niya 'yung magkahalong tuwa at awa dahil sa kawalang-malay ni Bobby sa mga nangyayari sa paligid niya. Pangalawa ay 'yung last frame ng pelikula na mula sa pagkakaiwan sa kanya ng pamilya niya sa kabilang kalye, biglang pihit si Babette at rehistro sa mata at mukha niya ang tagumpay niya sa sitwasyon. The confidence was really there. Sabi nga ni Direk Mario, kakaiba ang pelikulang ito sa typecasted api-apihan role ni Ate Guy dahil si Babette ay natutong manindigan at magdesisyon para sa sarili niya.... Hay, napakaganda talaga ng pelikulang ito.....

(I especially liked two scenes from Bakit Bughaw because they show us Guy's (Nora Aunor's) unique gaze.

The scene where there's chaos outside Bobby's apartment, and Babette looks in and sees Bobby in side, eating peacefully. You can see from her eyes the mixture of delight and pity because Bobby is so unaware of what goes on around him.

The second is the last frame of the film where her family is across the street, about to leave, and you suddenly see the triumph register in Babette's eyes and face. The confidence was really there. "Direk" Mario said the film is so different from the usual typcasted martyr roles Guy played because Babette learned to fight for and decide for herself.

It's such a lovely film!)

11/21/04

Bakit Bughaw ang Langit? (Why is the Sky Blue? 1981)

From Pinoyexchange:

Detailed account of the screening of Mario O'Hara's Bakit Bughaw ang Langit? (Why is the Sky Blue? 1981) at the NCCA (National Commission on Culture and Art in Intramuros, Manila) last Friday:

LOONZHAUS: Last Friday, I had the privileged of watching the very beautiful movie, Bakit Bughaw ang Langit?, with my fellow ICONians, Nestor, Albert, Glorina, Manny So, Mandy Diaz, Maritess, etc. NCCA's Tanghalang Leandro Locsin was almost half full with several GANAP members, Nora Aunor admirers and young Masscom Students from the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila. Needless to say, I really enjoyed the movie from beginning to end. It is one of the best ensemble acting I have ever seen on screen, no exaggeration. Ate Guy (Nora Aunor) as Babette was simply superb -- as in ang galing galing ng characterization niya (her characterization was great!)! Truly, this is one of her most underrated performances -- sayang talaga (a real pity). After the screening, we waited for the resource speaker that afternoon -- Direk Mario O'Hara himself. Sayang nga lang at medyo natagalan siya ng dating kaya iilan na lang kaming inabutan niya sa preview room pagdating niya (Unfortunately he came late and there were only a few of us left in the preview room when he arrived). Mas masaya sana kung nakita niya kung paanong mag-react ang audience sa bawa't eksena ng kanyang obra (It would've ben better if he saw how the audience reacted to every scene of his work)..

During the introduction, the guy from NCCA said that Direk Mario specifically requested that they include Bakit Bughaw for the In Focus program since this is one of his favorite movies. By the way, the copy used for the screening was courtesy of our very own Albert Sunga. Direk Mario confirmed this to the audience after the microphone was turned over to him for the open forum. The open forum was very lively and Direk Mario gamely answered all our questions except for the one asking him for a brief history of Philippine movies kasi nga sabi niya
(because he said), he is a lover of the art but not necessarily a historian. Though he stressed that the art of moving pictures should have been born out of a specific need by the audience -- lahat naman daw ng art form ay nanggagaling sa need na ito (all art forms come from a need of the audience). Following are the highlightsof the forum:

1. When asked on his favorite actresses, he first mentioned that heand Ate Guy are members of the mutual admiration club (ilang beses na rin kasing nabanggit ni Ate Guy na siya ang paborito nitong direktor
(Guy has said many times that he's her favorite director)) and laughed heartily. He went on telling the group na ang mga paborito niyang actress na naka-trabaho na niya ay sina  (his favorite actress among all those he has worked with are) (in order): NORA AUNOR, Mitch Valdes and Maricel Soriano. Sa mga aktor, wala siyang maisip (among actors, he can't think of any). Si Dennis Roldan sana kaso tumigil nga daw kaagad ito sa pag-aartista -- sayang daw talaga ang talento nu'ng bata (There's Dennis Roldan, but he's stopped acting--the talent of the boy, wasted). ;-)

2. Ang nagustuhan daw niya kay Ate Guy ay ang pagiging open nito bilang aktres
(What he likes about Guy (Nora) is her openness as an actress). Napaka-sensitibo daw nito at tunay na walang makakatalo sa mata na punumpuno ng emosyon (she's so sensitive, and truly unbeatable, the way her eyes fill with emotion).

3. Sa mga direktor naman, karamihan ng influences niya ay foreign directors
(Among directors, his chief influence are foreign directors). Sa local naman, influence niya si Lino Brocka at Ishmael Bernal but not necessarily lahat ay on the positive side (Locally, Lino Brocka and Ishmael Bernal are influences, but not necessarily all positive). Marami silang collaboration works ni Lino before kasama na ang Insiang (They've had many collaboratons, including Insiang). Ang "ayaw" lang niya kay Lino ay ang pagiging overly emotional nito at times (what he "dislikes" about Lino is his being overly emotional at times). Basically daw ay movie fan si Brocka kaya nagkakaroon ng failure kapag pumapasok na ang emotion nito sa pagdidirek (Basically Brocka is a movie fan so his direction starts failing when emotion comes in). Emotional din ang description niya kay Ishmael pero bilib siya sa clarity ng narrative nito (He would also describe Ishmael as emotional, though he believes in the man's clarity of narrative). Controlled na controlled daw nito ang takbo ng istorya niya (He truly controls the flow of the story).

4. When asked kung anu'ng naramdaman niya nang halos walang naipanalong award ang Bakit Bughaw ang Langit except from the Catholic Mass Media Award before, eto ang kasagutan niya: SUMAMA ANG LOOB KO
(When asked what he felt when Bakit Bughaw ang Langit failed to win any award except the Catholic Mass Media Award, he answered: I felt bad). Naniniwala daw kasi siya na napakaganda ng pelikulang ito (He believed the film was truly good). Nakakalungkot nga lang na underrated ang pelikula at totally snubbed sa awards (It's just sad the film was underrated and totally snubbed at the awards). Pero eto ang consolation niya -- ang Bakit Bughaw ay BINABALIKAN at NATATANDAAN bilang isang simple at magandang pelikula (But he has one consolation--that Bakit Bughaw is returned to and remembered as a simple and fine film). Natutuwa nga daw siya nang one time ay nakausap niya ang isang retired critic at sinabi sa kanya na number one sa listahan nito ang Bakit Bughaw bilang isa sa pinakamagandang pelikula ng kasalukuyang henerasyon (He's delighted that at one time he spoke to a retired critic who told him that Bakit Bughaw was number one on his list of the best films of the next generation).

5. Among our young directors, gusto niya si Jeffrey Jeturian at Quirk Henares (Keka)
(He likes Jeffrey Jeturain and Quark Henares (Keka)).

6. Nilinaw din niya ang mga nababalita nuon na hindi para kay Ate Guy ang LA LOBA NEGRA
(He clarified the newas about Guy and La Loba Negra (The Black Wolf)). Nagulat nga siya at nagtanong kung sino ang nagsabi nuon dahil para sa kanya, at pinaninindigan niya ito, WALANG SINUMANANG MAY KARAPATANG GUMANAP SA LA LOBA NEGRA KUNG HINDI SI NORA AUNOR (He was surprised and asked who said this because for him, no one else can play La Loba Negra except Nora Aunor). Para sa kanya, ito ang kanyang DREAM MOVIE (This for him is his dream movie). Hindi totoo na isinulat niya ito para sa isang MESTISANG MAPUTI dahil ang lead character ng La Loba Negra ay isang Mexican Mestiza wife of the Governor General -- and as such, KAYUMANGGI o BROWN ang kulay nito (It's not true that he wrote the part for a fair-skinned woman because the lead character of La Loba Negra is a Mexican Mestiza wife of the Governor General--and as such is brown-skinned). Sinabi rin niya na nagawa na ito ng Ballet Philippines before (This had been done by the Ballet Philippines before). Sa ngayon, from La Loba Negra, naging HOCLOBAN na ang working title nito (The working title from La Loba Negra has become Hocloban). Bale ang Hocloban daw ay siyang nagiging La Loba Negra (It's the Hocloban that becomes La Loba Negra). So, iisa lamang ang dalawang titles na ito (The two titles are the same). May isang producer na raw na nakabili ng story rights nito pero binibili niyang pabalik to ensure na mapapangalagaan ang obrang ito (A producer has the  story rights but he's trying to buy it back to make sure it gets made). Condition din niya na si Nora Aunor lamang ang maaaring gumanap dito (One condition is that only Nora Aunor can play the part).

7. DREAM ROLE naman niya for Nora Aunor ang lead character sa SAKAY TAYO SA BUWAN
(His dream role for Nora Aunor is the lead character in Sakay Tayo sa Buwan (Let's Ride to the Moon)). Hindi pa niya tapos ang script para dito mula sa panulat ni Lualhati Bautista (the script by Lualhati Bautista isn't finished yet). Pero sinisigurado niyang gagawin niya ang lahat to ensure na magawa ang pelikulang ito NEXT YEAR (But he will do all he can to ensure that the film will be made next year).

8. Payag din siyang gawin ang stage version ng Bakit Bughaw ang Langit
(He's willing to do a stage version of Bakit Bughaw ang Langit).

The forum ended after more than an hour. The group gave Direk Mario a much-deserved standing ovation. Tuwang-tuwa siya
(he was delighted) while mingling with the group after the forum. Habang naglalakad ang grupo namin palabas ng Intramuros, nagulat kami nang makita namin si Direk na humahabol sa amin (When our group was walking our way out of INtramuros, we were startled to see "Direk" running after us). Papunta raw siya ng Malate area to meet a friend (He was heading for Malate to meet a friend). Totoo po ang tsismis -- mahilig nga siyang maglakad para makakuha ng story ideas, character sketches, at kung anu-ano pa (The gossip is true--he's fond of walking to get story ideas, character sketches, and whatever else).

11/20/04

Filipinos in The Incredibles

From pinoyexchange:

greatbop: so you're saying americans should be proud dahil brad bird's an american?

Americans are proud of their Americans. What's wrong with Filipinos feeling the same way?

i rally hate that trait ng filipinos-.

"Let's celebrate dahil a filipino has done some work on it!"

So what are you saying? That we should be ASHAMED that a Filipino's worked on something?

No. I'm saying we should only be be pround of people that deserve to receive it.. Manny Pacquiao is an example, Efren Reyes is one. they are true gems within their colleagues. Not some "generic animator". You gets my point?

Frankly you don't seem to have a point. We should be proud of Paquiao, of Efren Reyes, of every Filipino who does good work, in the Philippines or out of it. Why reserve admiration for the well known--the people who need it the least?

You seem to assume that only people known for their work, who win awards, are the only ones that deserve recognition. In my ten years writing on films, what I've discovered is that that is almost never true. In fact people of real talent usually go unrecognized, because they're too busy, too obsessed with their work to look for said recognition, or they're too insistent on not compromising their quality to make the right friends to give them said recognition. Instead of being awarded, they're called 'iconoclasts,' or 'troublemakers.'

People who are known, who are recognized, are good at marketing themselves. This has little to do with people who are good at what they do--people who should be recognized, over these self-promoters.

And it's not just the artist/auteur filmmaker. The little people, the craftsmen in the background who do good work--why don't they deserve recognition? Because their credit is so small? Because the vision isn't theirs--they only collaborated on it (in film, the most collaborative of all artforms?)? So this 'generic animator' worked day and night, meeting the deadline, pouring his heart out to try do quality work--he doesn't deserve recognition? What's your criteria? How can you say who or who does not deserve recognition?

What right do you have to say this?

The Incredibles

The Incredibles

11/15/04

Motorcycle Diaries

Just saw The Motorcycle Diaries. It's moving enough and entertaining enough, and skilfully made (by Walter Salles of Midnight and Central Station fame), and Gael Bernal has charisma enough to consign Billy Crudup, Johnny Depp and Ethan Hawke (but not Robert Downey, Jr.) combined to the shadowy corner of a room, forever.

But why do I get the feeling the movie is something of a whitewash? The only serious flaw we see in the character is that he's too honest; the only hanky panky visible is a little harmless flirting, some groping in a car with his true love (okay, there's that dance, but he looks very, very sorry afterwards).  I thought Bernal was a more real youth in Y Tu Mama Tambien (the more emotionally complex film, overall), while this movie comes off as a recruiting picture for the Communist Party--and to tell the truth I've seen better recruiting pictures for the Communist Party (Battleship Potemkin, I Am Cuba and Lino Brocka/Pete Lacaba's Orapronobis, anyone?).

11/13/04

Cartoon Network

from Peoplesforum:

Saw the pilot for that Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends or whatever the hell it's supposed to be called. Bigger budget than your usual Dexter's Lab (it's from the same gang) but not much more inventive. I'd have invented a cooler apocalyptic whateverthatwas that ends the movie.

jenniferb: we watched that.  twice.  the animation reminded me of Samurai Jack.  the second time I was kinda listening but not watching, and the dialogue was pretty annoying.

"Annoying" is a mild way of putting it. This group of guys ran out of ideas years ago. Perfect match with George Lucas in the running-on-empty department, I think (they still work for Tartakovsky, don't they?).

Orcaman: I'm afraid you may be right, Noel. Powerpuff Girls may be Craig MacCracken's One Big Idea.

I actually prefer Cow and Chicken to Powerpuff or Dexter's Lab. The latter two had maybe one or two entertaining episodes (the, oh, Beatles episode in PPG, the first episode of Dexter's). Cow and Chicken (which have more people in common with Billy and Mandy than with Tartakovsky and company) actually had some sense of genuine dementia. Plus a show where they fling around a lot of severed pork butts (C & C) can't be all bad.

11/12/04

More Chimes

I first saw Chimes of Midnight on a pirated video. Awful sound, lots of snow, and the vertical wasn't too steady, and despite all that, I realized it was a great film. Kept missing it in New York, but when I go back to Detroit it turns out they're showing it there for two nights. I attended both nights. I felt I had to, that it was a once-in-a-lifetime chance.

It was a tremendous experience. In an interview of Keith Baxter (he plays Prince Hal) he tells us Welles needed to shoot an extra scene, of Falstaff and friends running through the snow (they just heard Hal was crowned king). It was spring, and there was no snow around, so Welles laid some white bedsheets on the grass and they just started shooting.

On the big screen, if you look carefully, you can actually see the folds of the bedsheets as they lay on the ground.

11/11/04

Animatrix and that whole 'Matrix' thing

I thought Animatrix was a mixed bag, my favorite being that bit where the kids were playing in that 'haunted house'--I liked that even better than I liked the two sequels (not that I liked the original Matrix all that much). Still, the most I'd prolly do is rent the Animatrix, maybe even just borrow it if it isn't too much trouble...

edit: it's on Cartoon Network, for free.

11/10/04

Orson Welles' "Chimes of Midnight"

From pinoydvd:

Quoted from Noel Vera: Welles' Chimes of Midnight is perhaps the greatest film I've ever seen.

rse: After reading your reply, I looked at Ebay and found a Spanish-produced DVD version of Chimes at Midnight and immediately bought it. I just saw it and I agree, it's a great film!  The ending is poignant and moving, the action scenes masterly done.   There's not much plot and the narrative seems fragmented (I'm not much of a Shakespeare's buff), but I guess this film is not about plot, it's more like an experience.  Pure film -- and I agree it's one of the greatest films I've ever seen.

Actually if you know the story, it has too much plot. It's a compression of Henry IV Parts 1 & 2, Henry V, and The Merry Wives of Windsor, with bits from Holinshed's history. The amazing thing, and I know this because I've seen the annotated screenplay which shows which line comes from which play, is that Welles picked and chose from over sixteen hours of Shakespeare to form his script, and he jumps and joins and skips lines of dialogue confidently and authoritatively to create a seemingly seamless whole.

Unfortunately, the sound is terrible, so it's perfectly possible that a lot of the story is lost in garble.

But the Battle of Shrewsbury--it's awesome, isn't it? I think every battle sequence since, from Apocalypse Now to Braveheart (which tried to copy it) to Lord of the Rings (which also shows influence, particularly that struggle with Orcs that ends Fellowship) pales in comparison.

11/9/04

Peter Lorre in "Mad Love" and "M"

Mad Love is wonderful, Peter Lorre spectacular; the Citizen Kane influences were fun to try and spot (Lorre's bug-eyed doctor being the elderly Kane, the shadows; the cockatoo).

TCM was kind enough to run M again some hours afterwards, and I thought I'd just glance at it, but I couldn't help getting hooked; Lorre's performance here hasn't diminished with years or repeated viewing--if anything I'm more in awe of what he accomplished with his few minutes of screent time.

11/7/04

More Day of the Dead

Showed Day to some people today. Holds up pretty well, tho they thought the monologue at the trailer was too long (thought that part was a lovely bit of writing myself, '16-mile-long tombstone' and all). When all hell breaks loose, however, all hell breaks loose; the gore reminds me that Day is still unrated while the Dawn remake (the commercial screening, anyway) is a mere "R"--that Romero forsook at least half his original budget to be able to bring in an unrated version.

Was looking at the bonus features, and can't help thinking after Savini's comments that his approach to makeup--the use of misdirection, and of on-camera effects--isn't too far from what old-fashioned stage magicians do, that (I haven't fully worked this out yet) there's something simple and appealing to their approach that CGI doesn't even bother to try and do. Maybe it's the old-fashioned way the artist collaborates with the audience in creating an illusion, where in CGI the computer geeks present it baldly, wholesale, as a 100-percent realistic image, without recognizing the fact that there's an asymptotic curve when it comes to perfect realism, and that no amount of programming or computing power is going to touch that perfection.

In effect (pun intended), god bless Savini and his kind in this age of computerized crap.

11/6/04

Keaton's The General

From People's Forum Atlantic Refugees Folder:

Buddomonn: Keaton's The General is a visual treat

One of the greatest shots in that film is of Keaton chopping wood on his train (for fuel), while the entire battle front unravels behind him. He looks up, sensing something, looks behind him, sees nothing the matter (the front has long sinced passed), shrugs, goes back to chopping wood, unaware that he's now travelling in enemy territory. Beautiful image, and irreducibly funny.

11/5/04

11/4/04

11/2/04

Day of the Dead

Saw Day of the Dead again, and it's great, great, great. Dawn is of course the critics' favorite, for its comic book flavor, relative lightheartedness, and commentary on consumerism; when they went to see Day, they were expecting more of the same.

But Romero had moved beyond the satire of Dawn; he was making metaphysical and philosophical statements on the human condition, rendered in extremis. Soldiers vs. scientists, men vs. women (or woman), pacifists vs. idealists, all cooped up in a hellhole of a pressure-cooker, temperature set to 'apocalyptic.' Unpleasant characters and nasty, tense dialogue? It's the end of the world; things are falling apart. They're not going to sit down and drink tea, they're going to fight each other tooth and nail for whatever little is left worth having.

This is black comedy on the order of Dr. Strangelove. More, it's influenced a number of films, from 28 Days Later (the macho military mindset) to Shaun of the Dead (zombies being educated--hilarious film, perhaps the best of recent zombie flicks). The Dawn remake tries to one-up Day, by showing us that island paradises aren't safe either, but Day's metaphor is just too powerful. In my book, top of the heap of undead movies.