Fifth Pelikcula

It’s our fifth year to attend the Spanish Film Festival organized by Instituto Cervantes at the Greenbelt Cinema 3, and it was fun, as always. I watched the first one with Marvin. He had to travel from Baguio and back for this. Can’t break a tradition, says him [Thanks!]. And then we watched the next one with Jel and Anna, mis amigas whom I always look forward to seeing.

I kinda regret not writing entries for the previous films we saw. I only managed to write about the very first two, “Unforgettable La teta asustada” and  “Disturbing Desierto adento“. I cannot believe I didn’t write something about “Biutiful”, one of the most beautiful films we’ve seen so far at the festival. But then I remember writing about it for my online job and got it published here.

In an attempt to break the regret streak, I will try to write about the films we’ve seen this year.

2 francos, 40 pesetas
It’s a film about the crisis in Spain in the 1970s, when Spaniards were forced to migrate to Switzerland to search for work. Albeit that premise, it tells the somewhat lighter side of the story. It’s about family and friends coming together to Switzerland from Spain to celebrate a baptism.

It’s a funny film that could easily make you laugh without exerting too much effort to appreciate the humor. Each character is amiable in their own way, and they become more lovable when together. My favorite part would have to be when they finally get together for the baptism. The scenes are full of stereotypes represented by each one and they are hilarious. There’s that scene of awkward dancing, the endless bickering of the two grandmothers, the tension created by illicit love affairs. And that drunk priest singing wailing his heart out cracked me up for a while. And, lest I forget, that scene with the black doctor in the earlier part is just painfully funny. Even in Switzerland, there is discrimination for black people.

We also had fun watching Howard Wolowitz (seriously, one character looks so much like him!), and I particularly enjoyed ogling the very attractive Pablo, portrayed by Adrian Exposito. Ah, those eyes of his!

The picturesque Switzerland is also a treat to our eyes. And the variety of accents (there’s German, French, Spanish, if I’m not mistaken), is just like music to the ears, and sometimes, just plain funny. We can now say “milk” the way Germans do. Such a good lesson this film had taught us!

10000 noches en ninguna parte
Have you seen a film that made you scratch your head and go, Huh? It’s that kind of movie. Well, at least for me us (speaking for everyone now). I can confidently say that because the majority of the movie house shared the same look of bewildered amusement (was it, really?!) after the movie. Most of us were standing and ready to leave the cinema even before the lights were turned on.

Okay. I shall come out clean now. When I learned it was R18, I immediately thought it’s one of those “art film bordering porn” kind of movies. For someone who saw “Lust, Caution” (Ang Lee, 2007), that was what I was kind of expecting. Well, I wasn’t THAT disappointed, not really. Sorry to spoil it a little, but the R18 part of it was a mere 1 minute (I think it was less than that, actually) of an orgy of four people in broad daylight.

Now that that is out of the way, I think the reason for the R18 rating is people under 18 would not understand the film. We are over 18 and, guess what, we didn’t get it at all.

We tried to make sense of it to no avail. The line between reality and fiction is very blurry, one could easily get lost just like the protagonist (is he even real?). Perhaps that’s the main objective of the director, Ramon Salazar, to let the viewers feel how it is to get lost and be nowhere. It’s called “10,000 Nights Nowhere” in English, and that would have to be a give-away.

The story goes like this… You know what, never mind. It’s just too complicated. I have seen “Vanilla Sky” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and there is no way I can make a decent summary of those movies. This film easily becomes an addition to that list of mine.

It’s not that it’s bad. Also, I’m not saying I didn’t like it (“Mondo Manila” is one particular movie that is bad and I did not like).  In fact, the cinematography is beautiful. That cemetery scene is unforgettable, and so is the colorful party. The characters played their parts well. I hated the Mom but felt pity towards her, too. The menage a trois are a lovable bunch of perky and stoned hippies. And Andres Getrudix’s portrayal of the main character is effective in making him the center of the story, when in fact he doesn’t seem to be in it. It is a complicated storyline. Forgive me if I’m not really making sense.

Perhaps the film is just too profound and there’s room for improvement in the narrative. But it’s an interesting film, nonetheless. And I’m grateful I got to see it with friends.

Looking forward to next year’s line-up!

Wedding Whatnot

This is actually a post that is more about what not to do during weddings. I’m learning the ropes of event coordination and I have been exposed, sort of, to a number of weddings, so I guess an entry about my observations is due. It’s either I do that or I would continue on whining about them with some of my close friends, and I think I pretty much made the rounds already.

I may strike some ego here because I have no editor to please nor advertisers that I owe flowery words to. So let me warn you that this entry is riddled with somehow blatant observation and apologetically peppered with sarcasm.  Now that that is clear, let me get something straight this early.

Unless it’s yours, a wedding is not AT ALL about you. It’s about LOVE, and, yes, the couple that is getting married and, to some extent (because our society is what it is), their immediate families. If you do not belong to the two categories, stop thinking that it is your event and start being a considerate guest.

That being said, here are some of my unsolicited wedding insights, ladies and gents.

This means “répondez, s’il vous plaît” in French, which means “please reply” in English. If I should go my way, I would replace “RSVP” with a little note that goes: Please confirm your attendance on or before (insert date that is at least two weeks before the wedding). Failure to do so would mean you’re not attending and you are giving us the liberty to assign your reserved seat/s to someone else. Thank you.”

And then I may add a PS that would say: We really mean it. So we would really appreciate your reply. As in.

I don’t know how some people plan their schedules, but not really having the courtesy to even reply with a yes or no to an invitation is just plain rude. The couple is spending their hard-earned life savings on their wedding (mind you, that wedding invite is expensive, too) and they want you to be there to witness it and be a part of this very special event. Please have the decency to let them know if you are going or not. The fact that they are asking for a reply only means that they need your confirmation. It’s not just something that they are doing because everybody seems to be doing it these days. It has a purpose, people!

In case you’re still wondering, it’s basically for the headcount for the reception, so the couple would know how many guests are coming. So that they can also adjust their expenses. Because getting married doesn’t really mean the couple won the lottery and is all-out in spending money. They are working on a budget, too. Unless you know that they are multi-billionaires, of course. But then again, if you are friends with those kind of people, you would really know what RSVP is for and would act accordingly, wouldn’t you?

The +1 Privilege
I say it’s a privilege because it really is a special privilege. With the exception of the relatives and really close family friends, chances are the invitation is only for the person whose name is written in the envelope. Unless your entire family is very close to the bride and groom, then Mr. and Mrs. (insert your name) are the only ones that are officially invited to the wedding. But if the couple are really generous and the invitation says there are 3 or more reserved seats for you, then you can bring the kids, specially if the couple knows you do have kids/s and they welcome little kids to their wedding.

Please don’t ask the couple (specially right at the moment they handed you the invitation) if you can bring someone to the wedding when it’s clearly stated in your invite that they have reserved 1 seat for you. It is RUDE to do that. Not only are you putting them in an awkward position to answer in a shy “no” or forced “yes”, you are also adding actual expense to their budget.

And to tell you the truth, in case you are really oblivious, wedding receptions held in hotels or event venues are not cheap. Unless it is held in a fastfood chain or someplace that is not horrendously expensive, don’t ask if you could bring someone (or some people) if the couple didn’t say so at the onset.

A tip to couples: if you really want to refuse their +1 request, tell them politely that you would look into your guest list to see if there are still free seats and that you will inform them before the wedding if they can accommodate their “guest”.  Then inform them, through your coordinator, that they cannot bring a +1.

To the friend who was refused of the +1 privilege, don’t feel bad. It’s the couple’s special day, not yours. But, if you really, really want to bring your current SO to the wedding, because you thought that it’s a good dating venue and you’re just so cheap the couple hasn’t met him or her yet, well, just don’t. There is a different social event for that. It’s called a get-together.  Invite them to a dinner or coffee and introduce your special someone. I’m sure they will know him or her better in that kind of social setting than during their wedding, when they are so busy enjoying the moment, you know, because IT IS THEIR WEDDING.

And if you couldn’t really, really, really accept the fact that you are going to the wedding alone, despite the fact that the bride or groom was a classmate or an officemate and surely there would be other classmates or officemates invited to the event whom you could mingle with, then don’t go at all. Clearly, you have mental issues are better off not going to an event that is not yours.

The +1 Rules
Yay! Your very generous couple friends gave you a +1 (or +2 or +3) Privilege! It means that they value their relationship with you that much (or they are really thoughtful since you’d be a total stranger on the wedding because the only people you know are just, well, them. True story).

Now that you get to have your own “guest” as a guest, consider giving a gift to the couple even if they really didn’t say gifts are mandatory. It’s a sweet gesture that means you really appreciate them to have invited you and your “guest” to their wedding.

Also, it is only apt that you let the couple know who you are bringing to their wedding, that they have been preparing for all their lives (special stress on that description) because, I couldn’t emphasize more, IT IS THEIR WEDDING. Cut the “it’s a surprise” crap, please.

Now, let me give you some ideas on who you should NOT bring as your wedding date.

The Uninvited – Do you know that someone–a friend, batchmate, classmate, officemate, cousin or whoever–you and the couple (either one) know yet didn’t get an invitation? There’s a reason he or she didn’t get an invite. Take a hint. And please don’t let him or her be your +1. If the couple wants them to go to their wedding day, they would have gotten an invite, too.

The Anti-wedding Person – This is a bit self-explanatory. Just don’t bring someone who is so against weddings. Don’t let photographers capture one poor soul in the photos that the couple paid for to treasure forever. Don’t bring with you the bad vibes.

The Out-of-Place Date – Your date, your responsibility. It’s your duty to brief the +1 on what to wear, who’s who and how to behave, specially if he or she is a stranger to the couple or to everyone, for that matter. It’s also a good idea not to bring someone who couldn’t hold down alcohol that well. I haven’t experienced a ruined wedding because of a drunkard, but just to be safe, don’t bring a potential threat to the affair.

Kid/s – A wedding is considered a formal event, an affair for the grown-ups. Unless it is clearly stated (or hinted) by the couple that kids are welcome, consider that they are not. Simply because kids, however cute they are, can be obstructions to the event, specially if they are aplenty (read, more than five). Sure it’s great that the photographer caught a cute moment of them during the ceremony (kids are cute, I have no objection to that). But these same kids will get in the way of the official photographers when unsupervised, which usually happens specially if you’re part of the entourage.

In case you really don’t have any idea, most of the couples pay thousands of money for their wedding to be covered by professional photographers just because their wedding is one of the most special moments of their life together. They want it to be as perfect as possible. Let them have that.  The photographers (and all the suppliers, actually) are working their ass off to make the wedding run as smoothly as possible. Don’t let them be bothered by kids, please.

And don’t get me started with the incessant crying of babies during the ceremony. The horror!

So, unless they are part of the entourage, consider not bringing kids to the wedding specially if it’s a super formal one. Besides, kids would be bored with wedding ceremonies and receptions are mostly not kid-friendly. You would know, you’ve been a kid once.

A wedding is not just one of the most important events in a couple’s life. It’s also a celebration of relationships, both with the couple’s family and with their friends. If you have been chosen to be part of the entourage, that means the couple considers you as someone very important to them. So it is only appropriate to return the favor by playing your part. And play it well, please. Don’t be just there for the photo ops.

If the bride is shouldering your gown, be there for the fitting. If she’s the kind that is too shy to ask for favors, go ahead and volunteer. It could be to accompany her to scout for suppliers or just to go in for a massage or a mani/pedi. A phone call or a text message to say hi and ask her about the wedding would mean the world to her. Or you can volunteer to drive for the groom in one of his wedding errands. If you know you can help out, go ahead and help.

Organizing a wedding is huge and can be very stressful. Don’t add to the bride and groom’s stress by letting them feel you’re not into their wedding 100 percent. If you think you cannot play the part really well, beg off and state your reason. If you are really in good terms with the couple, they would surely understand. It would be better to be considerate than letting them down.

A tip to the couple: consider family members and friends that you can count on to be part of your entourage (and guest list, too). Even if you could hire the best and most expensive wedding coordinators and suppliers, there is no better support than the one that is from the people who truly loves you.

After all, a wedding is all about LOVE, and you, the bride and groom, of course.


See You at the Movies, Roger!

Roger Ebert passed away at the age of 70 on Thursday. I learned about it this Friday morning. My day that started bad (due to a gastric tummy episode with a bit of dizziness) just turned sad. Roger Ebert is dead.

I was on the verge of tears reading Fox News article on his death. And CNN’s obit is just as sad. I didn’t know his cancer was back and he was taking A Leave of Presence according to the article he wrote two days before his death.

I first encountered the great Roger Ebert during my rather short, but very lucrative and enjoyable, stint as a blog writer for the film section of the Austin Post. I learned that he was a respected critic in the film industry and he was the one who popularized the thumbs-up/thumbs-down rating. That wasn’t really why I was amazed with this man. I learned that he adopted a digital voice system because he lost his voice to thyroid cancer. He practically spoke with the aid of a computer since then.

Wow. Here was a man who lost the ability to speak and yet he managed to overcome great obstacles, and continued to do what he do best–that is to write about films. Here’s a man I’d surely love to bump into at the SXSW someday, I thought. I would also probably get a signature from him and a photo.

I later became a fan and devoured reviews on his blog for Chicago-Sun Times. The man was an excellent writer. He didn’t write to impress anyone with big words and unnecessary details. His reviews wouldn’t tell you to watch or not to watch a movie. They simply tell you basically how you are gonna spend the 2 hours or so of your life inside the movie house. Or if you read them after watching a film, they point our surprising details or perspective that you might have missed.

Reading a review by Roger Ebert is like talking to a good friend about a movie. It never looks down on you nor it never tries to sway your own opinions. It just offers its own perspective, being so witty (and sometimes funny) at the same time. Of course, like a good friend, there are times you won’t totally agree with each other but at some point, you’d find a common point and that makes it a lot better.

During my very own Oscars 2013 Challenge, I developed this habit of reading his reviews on the film while or after watching them. I’m surely gonna miss doing that.

Roger Ebert

I’ve never been so sad over a death of a person I really don’t know, but perhaps I look up to the man so much, it hurts a little bit more than what is due. He was not just an excellent film critique and a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. He was a brave fighter above all else. His love for life and his passion for doing what he loved would remain a huge inspiration.

A thousand thumbs-up for you, Roger!