January 29, 2004

Out of Time

F*%# it! I don't have time to be depressed! Or can be, I don't have time for myself, and I'm still depressed. Work is sucking the life out of me. Shootings, pre-production work, auditions, argh! Ass directing job sucks! I want this to be done already. Not that I'm sure what my next job will be. I'll probably be a penniless bum again. But I'm so freakin' tired. To be young and tired, that is the problem. I'm confused. Can I say that I'm now doubting if this (movie prod work) is what I really want? I don't know. Maybe I'm just lazy. Or jaded. I'm thinking that maybe having the passion for cinema doesn't mean that I also have to work for the movies. Maybe it's just an interest, not something I should make a career of. Aaaaah! I only have a brief time to blog. I still have to submit some reaction paper for my film class. Maybe my EP is right when she told me I want to pursue a lot of things, yet I don't really know what I want. I'm lost...

January 18, 2004

Ups and Downs

UP - I learned to say "no." Remember the text message I got from Direk during the New Year? I thought I would just be doing some minor script revisions. Well I found out when I got back here that they're asking me to do some major rewrite of the material, specifically the 3rd act. I did the same for "Till There Was You" but for this new movie, it's a totally different case. First, I'm now the main AD and it's very difficult to juggle both script writing and ass directing. It's either or. Second, after reading the script, I realized that the story's setting and characters are not just "me". Not my sensibility. I really need to focus and sit down on the material for me to be able to come up with at least, a credible revision and the 3 days they gave me would not suffice. I'm the type who has difficulty in saying "no." I've been raised with the belief of grabbing every opportunity (sometimes mixed with the term "blessing") that comes my way so my saying "no" was definitely an achievement.

DOWN - Yesterday's shoot was a major downer. We were not able to close one day effect sequence in an expensive location and I had so many "palpaks" during the evening shoot. It was consolation enough that Direk's a kind person but I definitely tested his patience yesterday. There were minor hitches in the day shoot like one of our actors' coming late, crowd control problems (we shot in Manila Zoo on a Saturday), and technical problems (camera and stuff) but I felt that the major hitch was my lack of anticipation on how Direk would treat the sequence. Reading the script, I thought it would just be one simple scene (just an exchange between two characters) but I was mistaken obviously. Direk had two camera set-ups and had many shots ("kinarir!" is the shoot lingo for this). Had I anticipated well, I would have requested an earlier call time. And since I got a reprimand from our producer for the non-closed sequence, my downhearted mood carried on to the evening shoot in that I committed many common sense mistakes (e.g. not checking in advance if the elevator location is actually working, etc.) I'm so depressed. I think Direk got so disappointed.

DOWN - The year's just starting and I already have so many debts. Argh! The film company I'm working for has a 3-day shoot= 1 weekly talent fee policy and since we got paid in advance before the holidays (and they paid me the wrong rate), we still have to shoot 3 more days for us to get paid. Life's really unfair in the movie biz but I guess, I'm a sadomasochist. (Am I using the right term?)

UP - I finally have my passport. It sucks because it bears my original name (the one I abhor) but for the purpose of the shoot, I can't ask for more. I'm looking forward to my first travel outside the country. Now if only the shoots will be smoother... Haay....

DOWN - My father is still sick would you believe? He's still down with flu. And so do my mother and my cousin who's living with them. Man, I hope they're going to be fine sooner.

DOWN – I already have 1 absence in my Film 100 class (which actually equals to 2 absences since it’s a once a week class). I was so stupid, I totally forgot that I’m taking up classes after I came back here. I’m not kidding. I just got too engrossed with work, I guess. The reason why I’m sulking is because I know I’m going to be absent once again when we’re going to shoot outside the country. And as much as I don’t want to admit it, I do want to get a grade of 1.25 or better in that class. :)

UP/DOWN - I can't decide if it's up or down that my father is going to run for city councilor in the next elections. It's so surreal.:) He just retired so I guess he wants a new pace in life. Well, I guess I have no choice but to support him. I better prepare a song I can sing during the campaign period. Haha. :)

UP/DOWN - Another soap writing offer turned down. As I wrote, I can't do screenplay writing and ass directing at the same time. I'm not a multi-task person. But I need the money! And money is in the soap operas. Huhuhuhu. :)

January 12, 2004

Survivor All-Stars

Oh my gosh! They're finally here! I'm so excited! :-)


Having read the spoilers, I'm also sad that some of my favorites didn't quite make it (they're too much of a threat having been previous winners and/or edited as great schemers during their respective seasons) and pissed off that previous UTR (under the radar = bleh) players did very well. Argh!



You guys prove the spoilers wrong, darn it! :)

10 Music Videos of 2003

Finally, the 10 essential music videos of 2003 (to my standards, at least)! :-) I decided to yank out my list of 10 for television since I realized it would just be a list of the TV shows I watch. Besides, my fave TV shows don’t change that much every year. Anyways, music video is a short film genre I so adore. Back in college, watching music videos was an early morning habit for me. It just felt therapeutic. Just like all the others I guess, I wanted my daily dose of MTV. (Can’t do the same now since I usually wake up late for work already.)

I especially love music videos that present new and innovative concepts. I also look at their editing and cinematography, if they support the song’s feel, lyrics and tune. For me, a good music video should be a video that makes the viewers appreciate the song better, or even elevate it to higher standards. If watching it confuses the viewer as to whether s/he likes the song or the video, then the video succeeds in this purpose.

Only music videos played in regular rotation on MTV and Myx last year are eligible for my list. I only have 13 “MTV’s” as favorites so I guess I should mention the 3 which didn’t quite make it. The first one was Dido’s “White Flag”. I like the concept of two superstars longing for each other but couldn’t just connect. However, the video has noticeable flaws in its technical aspects. I also like how the video of Sean Paul’s “Get Busy” complement the song’s jiggy beat. It’s just that I have seen too many dance videos showing the same visuals already. Then there’s Robbie William’s “Something Wonderful” which I consider funny but very Robbie in his narcissistic best.

10. GOSSIP FOLKS by Missy Elliot
Missy Elliot should be commended for the technological innovation in her videos, like in this one. Its cinematography is experimental but successful in execution. The visual editing also fits with the song’s scratchy beat. Moreso, the dance choreography is splendid.

9. THE SCIENTIST by Coldplay
Winner of Best Direction award from last year’s MTV Video Music Awards, the backward-motion video also brings back Coldplay’s main asset – Chris Martin’s magnetic video performance (also maximized in the band’s breakthrough video “Yellow.”)

8. WHERE’S THE LOVE? by Black Eyed Peas
The digital video-like cinematography gives urgency to the song’s message. The “Benetton” casting of the bit players is perfect and the question mark symbolism is well played up. The rappers all give convincing performances.

7. HEY YA by Outkast
The concept of having Andre acting all the band member roles is good enough. What’s even better is that this retro video reminiscent of the Beatles’ first U.S. performance in the Ed Sullivan Show perfectly captures the song’s feel and catchy tune.

6. BIGGER THAN MY BODY by John Mayer
Mayer is clear with his message. Despite his overnight success, he would like us to believe that he remains grounded and he knows the fans are there for the songs and not for the songwriter.

5. TROUBLE by Pink
Superb direction and “technicals” in here. The western movie theme is well complemented with the cinematography and production design. I’m more in awe with its editing, though. It jives very well with the music’s beat. Watch closer.

Superb acting performance from the actress who plays Freddy Rodriguez’ wife in Six Feet Under… A very affecting storyline… Excellent use of “puzzle pieces” symbolism... Girl power, indeed!

3. CAN’T STOP by Red Hot Chili Peppers
Another excellent video concept from the Peppers. Brilliant art direction and stirring performances from the band members, as usual! This time, they bring to life the visuals of an avant-garde artist whose name escapes me at the moment. (Can somebody tell me?) Whatever, I definitely can’t stop addicted to this video. :-)

2. ROCK YOUR BODY by Justin Timberlake
Wonderful in its rawness and simplicity. The point of the video is direct. We are selling Justin Timberlake’s appearance and dancing skills. Point well taken.

1. GIRLS AND BOYS by Good Charlotte
FUN is manifested all over the video. The concept of having old people go back to being, yep, boys and girls is simply fantastic and wacky at the same time. The video also succeeds in its 80’s feel, which just complements the tune (specifically the clapping part). It’s without doubt the hippest, happiest and my most favorite video of the year. :-)

January 11, 2004

10 Songs of 2003

I really had a hard time limiting my favorites to ten. Not just because I love many songs from last year but also because there was really no stand-out song for me. Unlike, say, in 2001 when U2's "Walk On" was my personal anthem, this year I consider my top 5 songs of equal bearing. I had to resort to their "singability" factor to rank them as such. This means that if I can sing the song beautifully on "videoke" (ahem!), then it's ranked higher than the others. Hehe.:)

For a song to qualify on my list, it has to be released as a track or single in mainstream radio (with emphasis on the word mainstream). Album cuts that weren't released on radio are excluded. That's why even if I love Coldplay's "Warning Sign", it's not part of the list simply because it wasn't given radio airplay.

Other than that, the criteria's still subjective. I lean more towards anything pop (whether it be pop-rock, pop-pop, pop-alternative, pop-anything actually.) I'm sorry but I'm not that fond of love songs, rhythm and blues, mellow music, eurodance, rap and hip hop (although there are 3 hip hop songs in my list, which, I guess, basically reaffirms hip-hop's place in music culture last year.) What more, I am not a lyrics person. I believe both lyrics and melody should complement one another because if you only like a song because of its lyrics, you might as well write poetry. Last year, I'm mostly depressed, so songs about this state are easily favorites. I guess I'm telling you these so that, more or less, you'll understand why these songs are tops for me. I mean, I don't like it myself when my favorites are not in other people's favorites. :)

I listed 27 tunes as favorites last year and these are the cream of the crop...

10. CLOSE by Paolo Santos
Forget the overplayed TV commercial. Forget that it's a theme song of some teenybopper movie. And admit that it's a well-composed, well-sang piece that's gotta be the breakthrough song of this once indie artist now dominating (and really dominating) the airwaves and paving the way for all these acoustic hoopla.

9. CRAZY IN LOVE by Beyonce and Jay-Z
It's all about the trumpets, baby. It's all about the trumpets.

8. HEY YA by Outkast
"Trip", "Hip", "Hop", and "Funk" all combined in their real sense.

7. BIGGER THAN MY BODY by John Mayer
This catchy first single from his latest album just proves how talented this Mayer geek is. It also proves that you don't have to rest on your laurels by playing it safe and playing the same kind of tunes like most singers. You can constantly experiment and explore new musical possibilities in every song you offer.

6. WHERE IS THE LOVE? by Black Eyed Peas and Justin Timberlake
Critics may not be that supportive of Black Eyed Peas going "pop" in their new album but you can't deny that last year's anti-war theme was also a fresh listen compared to the generic hip-hop tunes proliferating these days discussing nothing but sex and violence. It helps that I can rap this well, too. :)

5. BEAUTIFUL by Christina Aguilera
Never mind Aguilera's schzophrenic image. Focus instead on this well-composed piece of pop by Linda Perry and the "Beatlesque" piano accompaniment playing in the background. Okay, Aguilera's voice was also good.

4. I'M WITH YOU by Avril Lavigne
Never mind Lavigne's contrived angst. Focus instead on this well-composed piece of pop by The Matrix and the early 90's melancholic feel accompanying the singing. Okay, Lavigne's "yeah, yeah...yeah, yeah...yeah, yeah...yeaaahhhh" was also good.

3. LIKE A STONE by Audioslave
The ex-Rage Against the Machine members didn't go wrong when they hired ex-Soundgarden lead Chris Cornell to front their new band. Cornell's nasal growl (if there's such a term) perfectly complement the melodious instruments in this powerful tune about pain and longing. Like a Stone simply rocks! (No pun intended). :)

2. UNWELL by Matchbox20
It's very eerie how the song's lyrics aptly describe how I felt during my depression moments last year. This is a very very sad song and I looove it!

1. MARIPOSA by Sugar Free
Yep, last year's anthem for the lonely is also my number 1 pick. It's been sometime since a Pinoy alt band came up with a song this good. The idea of giving a somewhat happy tune to very sad lyrics was also refreshing. I'm definitely looking forward to singing this song on videoke. Screaming "Ayoko nang mag-isa!!!" will be pure catharsis. :)

Special mention to Parokya ni Edgar for giving us the funniest song of the year. No, not the overplayed "Mr. Suave" but the hip-hop parody "The Yes Yes Show", which also pokes fun at other Pinoy bands' over-inflated egos. Definitely, a laugh trip and some genius' writing! :D

January 07, 2004

10 Movies of 2003

There is no objectivity in this list. The films' aesthetics and quality have nothing to do with this list. These movies are my top 10 simply because I immensely enjoyed watching them and I see myself buying their video versions. Some crap movie's high ranking will definitely be a surprise but I stand by it coz I was entertained by it. Period. It's safe to assume then that the list tells so much about my personality. As the saying goes, tell me what your favorite movies are and I'll tell you who you are. (Okay, I made that up.) :)

But for a semblance of objectivity, the films qualified for the list are only those that were shown theatrically in the Philippines last year. Or at least, those I have seen in theaters last year. Let me also tell you that even if I'm a film buff, my movie log states that I only watched 56 films last year (not that much) and for trivia's sake, I placed 23 as favorites. :) The first movie I saw in 2003 was the overhyped Mano Po and the last and only MMFF movie I saw (so far) was Bridal Shower (a disappointment but well, entertaining.)

And oh, the movies I worked for, the fairy tales Till There Was You and My First Romance were exempted. Not that they would place in the Top 10 anyway. :)

10. CATCH ME IF YOU CAN. Director: Steven Spielberg
Spielberg's first commercial movie after Lost World: Jurassic Park 2, the film attests that Steven is indeed one of the superb visual directors around. The movie is very entertaining and succeeds in bringing back Leonardo DiCaprio's charisma which seems to have waned after that big-movie-you-know-what. Favorite scene: The one wherein DiCaprio's character looked through the window and saw her half-sister for the first time, mere minutes before the police tracked him down.

9. PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE. Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Paul Thomas Anderson is another visual director whose movies manifest nuances through music, situations and cinematography rather than dialogue; Punch-Drunk Love being one of them. The film also brings out fine performances by the always reliable Emily Watson and comedian Adam Sandler. This is definitely a far better version than its commercial counterpart Anger Management (which also stars Sandler.)

8. THE HOURS. Director: Stephen Daldry
Too much of girl power maybe but one can't deny the sublime and beautiful poetry the film shows. The ensemble gives emotionally-charged performances, my favorite being Julianne Moore as the 1950's repressed housewife. The themes discussed in the film are all relevant and affecting.

7. THE MAGDALENE SISTERS. Director: Peter Mullan
Biased, yes, but very powerful and true. The film bravely exposes what we already have known about the negative aspects of religion. Geraldine McEwan acts beaufiully as the villaneous Mother Superior.

6. BABAE SA BREAKWATER. Director: Mario O' Hara
Last year's best Filipino picture, enough said.

5. UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN. Director: Audrey Wells
Blithe and very entertaining. Diane Lane succeeds in telling us that Unfaithful was not a fluke. This is the perfect movie for the hopeless romantics out there.

4. JACKASS: THE MOVIE. Director: Jeff Tremaine
Heck, the title's a misnomer. It's not a movie but a series of inane pranks and gross stunts. But why was I laughing out loud and thorougly entertained while watching it?! Does it mean I'm a jackass myself?! :)

3. 28 DAYS LATER. Director: Danny Boyle
This is probably my favorite zombie movie of all time. The film's premise is so haunting and eerily familiar, you will forgive the explicit human being as zombies symbolism. The first five (I didn't time it) minutes of the flick, the one after the prologue, is a definite classic. Cillian Murphy is the next IT British import.

2. CITY OF GOD. Directors: Katie Lund and Fernando Meirelles
The best docu-drama ever. The film's so complex, so rich, and so reality-based you'll end up thinking that those rapper-poseurs with their contrived anger and insipid clans are a bunch of wimps compared to the characters of the City of God. It's one of the most powerful movies I saw in terms of exposing the social ills of poverty and everything on it.

1. SWIMMING POOL. Director: Francois Ozon

I love you Spike Jonze but Swimming Pool is the best meta-movie last year (better than your Adaptation)! This pseudo suspense thriller is well directed, well-acted, well everything, it's gotta be a classic. The ending is like it or hate it but it actually doesn't matter for by then, you know you are served with a very fine and original material. For succeeding in mixing the terms "entertaining" and "art", Swimming Pool is tops for me. :)

January 02, 2004

Starting Over

What a cliche! New Year. Starting over. Heh. :)

Well, the holidays are almost over. I will be going back to Manila soon. Back to the real world. Or at least, my version of the real world. I am in the provincial capital right now. (The net cafes here are slightly better - slow, but better.) My Nanay, sistah and I are supposed to buy tickets for fastcraft to another island (where my Sis is studying and where I'm going to take my plane that will fly me back to Manila) but the ticketing office is closed. They said it's a holiday. Holiday whatever, but don't they realize that students from Mindanao are going back to their Visayas' universities soon? Gad! I could just fly straight from our airport here you know. It's just that financial reasons tell me that I should save money and fly a Cebu Pacific or Air Philippines rather than a PAL. Pity me! Ah! The harsh realities are indeed back. :)

The past week has been a topsy-turvy one. The get-together with my elementary classmates was a blast. Compared to last year's relatively well-planned reunion, only a few came this year. But that didn't prevent us from eating, drinking and merrymaking. Man, I'm not an alcoholic but I think I drank more than my share that day. We had fun reminiscing all those embarrasing childhood incidents while drinking booze and puffing Marlboro sticks (which later became Winston when we couldn't afford to buy a Marlboro any longer). It's so unhealthy I know but it just happens once a year so it's okay, I guess. We started at 11 in the morning and ended around midnight. (Last year, we ended at 5 in the morning, tho we started late). We didn't swim.

December 29 was my Tatay's birthday. The office he's working for gave him a party since he's going to retire this month. I don't know. He must have been touched that much or depressed or mixed because he came home sick. Up to now, he still has fever. If you're in you're 20's and you have fever, you may not mind it that much, but's he's already in his 60's, so I guess I should be more concerned. I am concerned. I hope he gets well soon. (I think he's getting better.) The retirement thingy also got me into thinking that it means I'm going to do good already with my job and everything. I've been a slacker (an employed slacker, mind you) since graduation because I know my parents are still working and there are only 2 of us, siblings. That lame excuse has to be erased NOW. 2004 is going to be tough.

Then yesterday, while texting my friends happy new year, I got horrified with direk's reply. (This is my exag state). He said that the movie script has been turned over to us. I am in panic mode. Is this "Till There Was You" deja vu? I hope not. While I'm proud of the additional script writing I did for that movie, it was hell writing it. Working as assistant director (trainee then) and writing at the same time was just traumatic. I'd arrive on the set and Direk Joyce would tell me, "Ted ang pangit ng script mo, revise mo!" and I'd do the revision on the spot while the others were waiting for me to finish. Ugh! :) I perfectly understand the situation though since a film should always be the filmmaker's vision. Besides, didn't I explain enough here how mainstream writing works and that quality is subjective? Shit! What will I do? Actually, I can't do anything since I need the money. :)

I'm supposed to write my New Year's resolutions next (my first time to do such) but I was taken aback by Carla_Fan's philosophical comments (read previous entry's comments) about New Year. I think she's right. I agree with her. Nevertheless... :)

In random order...

1. SAVE MONEY. Remember that, freak? Your Tatay's retiring! Your sister's in sophomore college! And you're still not saving money! Save money this year. Stop buying on impulse. Choose wisely the movies to watch. Eat cheap but nutritious food. Stop the chocolate craving.

2. JOG REGULARLY. You can't afford to go to the gym. You're tummy's big. You don't even eat vegetables. Your best option is to frequent those jogs in UP. You live in UP, you can easily do this! And stop making excuses about not having comfy jog outfit or shoes anymore. If you do resolution #1, you can easily buy comfy ones in a month or so.

3. STOP SMOKING. I know you only smoke when you're depressed or stressed but quit the habit! Even if it looks cool! You're not in your teens anymore. Your friends will still be your friends even if you don't smoke.

4. DON'T DRINK ALCOHOL. Same as #3, your friends will still be your friends even if you don't drink. Gad, you're nearing mid-20's already! And I've got one word for you, freak! CANCER.

5. READ MORE. I know TV's taking up your precious free time but why not, instead of watching those cheezy and manipulative Star in a Million or StarStruck, read a good book instead? You did fine this year, having read five and immediately naming them your favorites in your Friendster profile since they're the only books you've read anyway, but I know you can do better this year!

6. STOP THAT INSECURITY CRAP! I know this is the hardest one for you but not all people are beautiful! Not all of us are geniuses! There will always be the mediocre, untalented, and ugly ones like you. Accept that pathetic fact.

I promise to give my favorites ten's next time. :)