Hugo–A Heartwarming Tribute to the Glorious Past of Cinema

5 03 2012

The film Hugo transported me 15some years back–back in my very first Film Art class in college with heart-jolting snapshots of the Lumiere brothers’ Workers Leaving a Factory and Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat (A Train Arrives in the Station), Edwin Porter’s The Great Train Robbery, D.W. Griffith’s Intolerance,  Douglas Fairbanks’ The Thief of Bagdad, German filmmaker Robert Wiene’s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, and of course, Fairlyland and A Trip to the Moon by French filmmaker and illusionist, George Melies–one of the central characters in the movie–among many others that I cannot name but vaguely recognize.

Melies, one of the trailblazers in movie special effects, was portrayed by Ben Kingsley.  No one could’ve played the role better.  The film unrolls the story of how one boy’s tenacity to fix an automaton, a tangible reminder of his father’s presence, paved the way for the rightful recognition of one forgotten filmmaker’s contributions to the world of entertainment and dreams.

I had no idea what Hugo was all about except that it’s about a boy who lived in the walls of a rail station. An ex-girlfriend reintroduced me to my love of cinema when we’d watch movies online together. One of her annual traditions is to watch Oscar-nominated films. Hugo was this year’s runaway with quite a number of nominations and awards. I skipped it at first because I had the impression that it was just another Polar Express not that it wasn’t a good movie.

Needless to say, I loved it. It swerved me into one of the greatest Martin Scorsese’s films of all time. Not one of his trademark storylines or styles but obviously one created and crafted for the love of cinema.  It slightly resembles Tim Burton’s treatments, one that Johnny Depp must have seen, which is why he co-produced it.  It pays homage to the glorious but humble beginnings of the industry, one that could get buried in oblivion if none is done. There are undertones of a plea to preserve and a warning that all could indeed be lost.  Truly, Scorsese has outdone himself with this.  His passion for moviemaking is not only very clear in Hugo, it laced every frame of the film.

Written by John Logan basing on the book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick,  this poignant yet pragmatic movie is a must-watch for film lovers and passive viewers alike.  It subtly gives everyone a sneak peek of the golden path of cinema and encourages us to be more appreciative of the lunar milestones that the industry has achieved through the years. Hugo could very well go down in history as one of the greatest films ever made.

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Pacman Pounds the Hitman

3 05 2009

The Hitman hit the canvas as Manny Pacquiao showed the world anew who the king of the ring really is. Man! It was one of the best fights I’ve ever seen. Gave new meaning to the phrase sweet and short.

I was a bit worried because I saw Ricky Hatton’s previous fights and let’s face it, Floyd Mayweather Sr.’s taunts can sometimes get under one’s skin. He has never been known for his modesty, sarcoidosis notwithstanding. And Hatton has been one solid bloke with a shining and shimmering boxing record.

But our Manny is no underdog. He has an outstanding record and he has hurt some of the best boxers in the land. When Manny came in wearing a smile, I was somehow appeased. He looked relaxed while Hatton looked so intense, sporting a glare reminiscent of the now familiar Jayke Joson’s look found in almost every Pacman photo op. I wondered if he was being smug about something.

Then it all began. When Hatton fell down after missing a left hook and getting a smashing right from Manny, I was excited but not too confident because it wasn’t the best of punches from the Filipino pride. But when he fell down the second time in the same round, I was a bit relaxed.

The second round came in a blur and what followed was yet another air-punching moment as Manny drove a left hook and Hatton on his butt and on his back eventually. It was awesome! I love the shot. I love the timing. The force was magnificent! But it cut the fight too soon. Darn! I wanted more! But it was great all the same. And I understood what Manny was so smug about. He handled it soooo well.

Manny kicked the Brit’s butt and the butts of all his fans, some of whom were waving the Philippine flag upside down in the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. I am pretty sure they’ve a newfound respect for Manny Pacquaio now. Hatton’s fans still sang Hatton’s anthem even when Referee Joe Cortez proclaimed Floyd Mayweather Jr as the winner in the fight that used to be the only one where the Hitman lost. But when Pacquiao won earlier, they looked dumbfounded. Didn’t expect it, did you? And not that fast, huh?

I was just disgusted with Martin Nievera’s singing of the National Anthem. It was out of tune, out of sync and outta here. The National Historical Institute have yet another sermon to give. They should talk to both Nievera and Ney Dimaculangan (6 Cyclemind vocalist—the band’s the main Tanduay endorser, and Tanduay was the main sponsor of the Donaire fight that’s why). I mean, I don’t like it that our song is so rigid with rules and all that, unlike the freewheeling but more heartfelt Star Spangled Banner but it is our song and there is a specific way of how it should be sung.

I wonder if Ricky Hatton will do another Fatton after this fight.

Manny Pacquiao must be reeling. I know I am. He has once again done the Pinoys all over the world proud. Oh, and I hope the vultures who left Batasan for photo ops with the guy will now get back to work.

Way to go, Pacman! Next stop—Valero or Mayweather Jr.

Filipino, Filipino, Filipino ang lahi ko!





Bon Voyage, Kiko Part Deux

11 03 2009

Earlier today, Francis “Kiko” Magalona’s remains were cremated.  He is getting recognition here and there—now that he’s gone.  Too late, huh?  I’ve always followed the man’s life in awe.  I’ve been reading his blog and I’ve been telling my mom about his brilliantly designed shirts and about how cute his kids are, especially Arkin who has played young Dingdong Dantes in Dyesebel and Ang Babaeng Hinugot sa Aking Tadyang, and how amazing it is that people don’t even know that their first two kids are not biologically his but Pia’s alone because Kiko never treated them differently and how nationalistic and patriotic he has been.   And now, he’s gone.  Now, people are also reading his blog.  People are now wearing his shirt.  People now know that he has eight kids. He is also getting awards for his nationalism and love of country.  Más vale tarde que nunca.

In these cold summer nights, I offer you these three songs:

Three Stars And A Sun
Three stars and a sun, in one sky, so high,
I live and die and die will I for my
Motherland this is the land of my birth,
No purse is worth the price of this earth
Can we rise, can we all, hell no!,
Or should we all just take the fall?
Bless the man if his heart and his land are one
…3 stars & a sun!
3 stars & a sun! I’m ready to defend the 3 stars & a sun!
Omission to a mission, transport for the brain,
Packed w/ stacks of tracks built for a train,
I eat lead, but I never let it be said,
“He said, she said,” it makes me see red
‘Cuz I don’t take bullshit & I’m ‘a pack it and push it,
And hit you w/ the full clip
Switch to mode lock-‘n’-load in the land of Juan
…the 3 stars & a sun!
3 stars & a sun! I’m ready to defend the 3 stars & a sun!
Bahay kubo kahit munti, may pula,
Bughaw, dilaw, atsaka puti
There is a need to sow the seed,
Toil the soil and plod until your hands bleed
‘Cuz this land is sacred,
Many a battle have been fought with hatred
Don’t tell me that you understand,
It’s been 4 hundred years of tears
For the brown man,
Still and all the fight has just begun
…3 stars & a sun!
3 stars & a sun! I’m ready to defend the 3 stars & a sun!








Kaleidoscope World
So many faces, so many races
Different voices, different choices
Some are mad, while others laugh
Some live alone with no better half
Others grieve while others curse
And others mourn behind a big black hearse
Some are pure and some half-bred
Some are sober and some are wasted
Some are rich because of fate and
Some are poor with no food on their plate
Some stand out while others blend
Some are fat and stout while some are thin
Some are friends and some are foes
Some have some while some have most
Every color and every hue
Is represented by me and you
Take a slide in the slope
Take a look in the kaleidoscope
Spinnin’ round, make it twirl
In this kaleidoscope world
Some are great and some are few
Others lie while some tell the truth
Some say poems and some do sing
Others sing through their guitar strings
Some know it all while some act dumb
Let the bassline strum to the bang of the drum
Some can swim while some will sink
And some will find their minds and think
Others walk while others run
You can’t talk peace and have a gun
Some are hurt and start to cry
Don’t ask me how don’t ask me why
Some are friends and some are foes
Some have some while some have most
Every color and every hue
Is represented by me and you
Take a slide in the slope
Take a look in the kaleidoscope
Spinnin’ round, make it twirl
In this kaleidoscope world


Cold Summer Nights
I keep on blaming my self
I should have eaten my pride
how can i convince you
its just a matter of time

many times i’ve hurt you
with my foolish ways oh girl
now i know i have to pay the price

is there a way for u to turn around,
turn around and come back baby
ohh baby cant u see

CHORUS:
its been cold summer nights since we drifted apart
cold summer nights since you walked out that door
cold summer nights here on my own
coz i miss you baby, i need you here

RAP:
cold summer nights girl, i really miss you
you rocked my world
i wanna touch you and kiss you
its my fault
i never called you at home
i’m on the phone, wishing you could call
i’m all alone
is there a way for you to turn around and
come back to me
i hope you understand
that i’m your man and together we can
kiss and make up
‘coz you know i cant stand

Repeat Chorus





Bon Voyage, Kiko

6 03 2009

I am still in a daze.

Francis Magalona is dead.

He succumbed to Acute Myelogenous Leukemia with Mixed Lineage at 12 noon today, as announced by Vic Sotto in Eat Bulaga.  He, together with the other hosts of the show, asked for a moment of silence to pray for the eternal repose of Kiko’s soul.

He had a close call in December when he had septic shock.  The cause of his death is still undisclosed.

Kiko/FrancisM is survived by his wife Pia Arroyo and their children—Unna, Nicolo, Francis Jr., Isabella, Maxene, Elmo, Arkin, and Clara.   I pray for the kids.  I hope Pia will remain strong.

Condolence to the Magalona family.

Bon voyage, Kiko, you will be sorely missed.





To Birit or Not to Birit

3 03 2009

This is long overdue but I never found the inspiration to finish my entry until now. I had been listening to Regine Velasquez’s Low Key album (I love it!) when I remembered about the draft that has been sitting in my blog for months.

I was never a huge Regine fan but I went to one of her concerts in the UP Theater in the late 90s.  It was sponsored by one of the orgs in the university and one of my dormmates who was a member of that org urged me to buy a ticket and watch it with them.  And boy, was I glad I did.  Not only can Regine hit those unbelievably high notes, she can really be very engaging.  She’s funny and she’s warm.  So while I still cringe every time I hear the last line of her I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing version, I still admire her big time.

During those times, Regine had the monopoly of the belting arena, with her vein-bursting songs and by hitting those sky-high notes in the local scene.  Watching her do it live leaves one’s mouth gaping and fly-hungry.  Yes, Dulce was already there.  So were Ivy Violan, Dessa, and all those ‘biriters’.   But Regine was different at that time.  She owned the stage and she carved her own niche in the music industry from that time on.  She was the star.  She was the queen.

Through the years, Regine has somehow matured.  While she still goes for those skyscraping notes, blame it on the arrangers, she has now slowly mastered the more melodic and easier-to-the-ears kind of music.  Her music now is cool and minty.  Low Key, the album, is amazing, for lack of better nomenclature.  Me likey!  On her TV performances, she still taps those high notes with her pipes but it’s not as eardrum shattering as it used to be.

Dulce, on the other hand, seemingly busts her vocal chords but not really.  I mean, way back in the late 80s and all through the early 90s, in singing competitions, almost always, Ako ang Nagwagi is a part of the repertoire. When Dulce sings, everybody listens, mouth agape and all.  I heard her sing a few months ago and boy, she can really SING!  There’s something special with the way she sings.  She definitely has a very wide vocal range because when she goes baritone, she really goes baritone!

Then came Lani Misalucha, Bituin Escalante, Sheryn Regis, etc.  These days, we have Charice Pempengco, Sarah Geronimo, Kyla, Rachel Ann Go, and all those singers who make a living by testing the malleability and the elasticity of their jugular veins.  Even young kids who try out for those songfests stretch those vocal chords to their limits.  People think that a good singer is measured by the pitch of his/her voice.  Singers who don’t do a Jennifer Hudson do not get that much applause these days.  Which is sad because they too sing really well.

Come to think of it, this is the same for music industries all across the globe.

I mean, I am in awe of those who can really belt out a difficult song and all but I respect those who can hit all those notes well, low as they may be, as well.  Perhaps, it’s best if we can appreciate all genres and kinds of music.  I mean, I have an eclectic taste.  I like the soothing variety, as well as the upbeat ones, even those that are headbang inducing and those that seem to signal the awakening of the dead.  It’s a pity that aspiring singers these days gear towards a single direction.  And it’s not exactly voice box-friendly.  It ain’t called belting for nothing, after all.





Books, Conspiracy Theories and Cynics

19 06 2008

I always encourage my nephews and nieces and any kid that I get to talk to to read. I am pretty sure it’s the only sure route to a million and one destination. I have always been a voracious reader. There’s something about a book that makes me really happy. I’m talking about the good old book that feels really good to the hands. While I read electronic versions of Harry Potter and controversial pieces, there’s something really romantic about the hardcover books, or even the paperbacks. So where am I leading? Conspiracy theories that’s what. Reading far too many of them has somehow made me really cynical about life. Well, in some respects, I think it has also awakened the realist in me but let’s go back to conspiracy theories, assassinations, doubles, espionage, charades, staged events and whatchamacallits.

Still vague, huh?

Well, I’ve been following the Ces Drilon and company drama ever since it was just whispered in some small circles here and there. And with the media coverage that it’s been getting (hello! That’s Ces Drilon!), I couldn’t help but watch the events unfold. I must admit, I never really doubted its authenticity when it first rolled but I got really turned off by the unabashed politicking that squeezed the life out of the story. I was breathless when Angelo Valderama, the assistant camera guy, was released although I thought it was weird that they had to make people believe that it was him who was huddled in that car with the lady vice governor when it wasn’t him. The swagger of the two Isnajis was a major flipper. Their involvement, notwithstanding the fact that their proximity made it their game, really got me thinking about a lot of things. And then when Ces and Jimmy Encarnacion, her cameraman, were released with Jimmy wearing a Love ko Si Mayor pink shirt, I got all the more cut. Of all the shirts that he could have been made to borrow!

And now the rumor mills are at it again. People say it was a farce. That it was staged! Are we that low now?

And is Loren Legarda that big a negotiator for her to add the Drilon and Company kidnapping incident to her list of feats? Not to mention she did this last in the comforts of her office in Luzon? Well, she did have a few people down south to do the legwork for her. But still!

Look, I’m not pointing fingers at anybody. I’m sure you couldn’t fake grief. I feel for their families. Going through something like that is never a breeze. One thing’s for sure. Drilon said so herself. There’s something about the place where they were held captive that drives people to do what they do. The government really has to do something about it. On top of graft and corruption, rice crisis, inflation, gas madness and whatever the hell else.

Let this be a reminder to everyone of us.  Nothing is worth risking our lives for.  Nothing.  And definitely nothing is worth risking other people’s lives for.





Not A Political Statement

22 03 2008

“Love is a human experience, not a political statement.”

Wow!  In this day and age, such profound words from an amazing and gorgeous young lady are a breath of fresh air.  There’s hope for this planet after all! 

Anne Hathaway IS something else.  She’s the recipient of this year’s HRC Ally for Equality Hero award.