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!

The Hobbit 2: Smaug is a Dragon

Nominations: Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing

Being the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit dumb that I am, I didn’t know that Smaug is a dragon. I thought it was a place. Shame on me.

Well, forgive me. I am still intimidated by Mr. Tolkien until now. I haven’t mustered the courage to read any book of his. I don’t think I’ll ever get to that point, either.

Anyway, I enjoyed the first installment of this trilogy more than this second part. This is quite dark for a non-fan like me.

I am not also that confident about it bagging any award. Sorry, Peter Jackson.

Leo and Scorsese’s Wall Street

Nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay

Prelude: Just like last year, I’ve take on this challenge to watch as many movies as I can from the list of nominees on the upcoming 86th Academy Awards.

And so the Oscars Challenge 2014 has commenced. I’ve started, of course, with the Leo-Scorsese film. I am a fan of Leonardo di Caprio way back when almost every girl in our high school was going gaga over him in Titanic. And then, Scorsese is Scorsese. I just love how this man, who bagged (finally!) an Oscar with his The Departed (2006, also with Leo), tell stories.


Scorsese’s films are known for their violence and excessive use of profanity. In The Wolf of Wall Street, the word “fuck” was heard more than 500 times (as I’ve read by someone who took the time to count them, I’m guessing). I also saw a great deal of nudity. We’re even treated to a scene with Leo’s butt complete with a lit candle, why not?

After watching the film, I’ve posted this on my Facebook status: Watch The Wolf of Wall Street for the actors. Don’t look for an impeccable context. Focus on their acting.

A friend left a comment saying the experience of watching it is fun, but the ending sucked.

I have to agree with him. It was entertaining. I had fun seeing how the Scorsese tell the story with his camera. And I really had fun watching Leo. I really, really, really hope he finally gets his Oscar this year. Jonah Hill, who agreed to be paid a minimum salary for this film, did an amazing job, as well. And, albeit brief, Matthew McConaughey’s performance is commendable as well. I had to consult Google to check if it was really him I was seeing.

Again, do not look for a context in this movie. Take it as it is–just a movie–and have fun. A great number of scenes would shock some, but at least you wouldn’t wonder how some things really go about in one way or another.  You might as well take it as a learning experience.

It is based on a true story after all. And if you want a really deep context, read up on the story of Jordan Belfort and how he became rich just by lying to a whole lot of people and apparently, by sniffing cocaine and doing drugs and living a lavish lifestyle in the process.

It is not the best Scorsese film and would not really be one of my favorites (Shutter Island  and Hugo are). But the actors and, of course, the director, really impressed me with this film.

I am rooting for Leo to win an Oscar, against all odds. Utang na loob, give the man an Academy Award already.