Thursday, October 22, 2009
Friday, August 22, 2008
Monday, August 04, 2008
Eloisa May P. Hernandez
A painter is afflicted with a disease that eventually paralyzes him. He leaves for the bucolic countryside to paint his last painting before he kills himself. A young woman gets pregnant and leaves her child with her doctor. Painter and young woman meet, they strike an unlikely relationship. Both end up in the hospital. Young woman turns out to be the painter’s mother. Young woman saves the painter from suicide. But there’s a twist here, the woman has been dead for years. The story, written by Katski Flores in her directorial debut, is hardly original. Yet Katski Flores’s initial attempt in filmmaking is laudable with a bounty of beautiful imagery, crisp editing, and impressive performances from Ron Capinding as James Masino, Glaiza De Castro as Emma Vaszquez, and John Lloyd Cruz in a brief yet effective role as an actor studying the role of an artist.
The art of painting plays a central and integrative role in Still Life. The title draws a connection between the film and the painting genre of still life. The still life has a long history in art starting from the Dutch stilleven where the term originated around 1650. Still life (plural “still lifes”) refers to painted flowers, fruit, vases, wine, bread, food, and other inanimate objects. Still life is also referred to as nature morte in French, which came into popular use in the 19th century as a variation of the term peinture des choses inanimees (painting of inanimate objects). (Mariam 4) In Italian it is natura morta while in Spanish it is called naturaleza muerta and bodegon.
The lead character, James Masino (Ron Capinding), is a painter and the film dwells on the psyche of an artist, how he thinks about art, his art making process, and the role of art in his life – much like a portrait of a young man as an artist. Landscapes and seascapes also abound in Katski Flores’s film with beautifully shot scenes on location in Guinyangan, Quezon and Jala-Jala, Rizal.
The title of the film, Still Life, operates on several levels in this film. It alludes to the impending immobility (the Dutch term stilleven, according to Mariam, also means “nature in repose or immobile”) of James’s body due to Guillain-Barré syndrome, a debilitating disease that will eventually paralyze his body, spelling the end of his painting career. James dances with death and grapples with suicide, reminiscent of memento mori, reminders of death and mortality, as seen in countless still life paintings. Vanitas, another term associated with still life, which according to Patrick Flores, is used to refer to still life works which contemplate the transience of life through the iconography of hourglasses, extinguished candles, soap bubbles, and skulls. (22) James is in transition, moving places from the city to the island, preparing to take his own life, eventually finding a second life after art. Emma as well, is in a transient state, as we shall discover at the end of the film.
The film is replete with images of still life. James’s paintings are still life, albeit of the unconventional type, not filled with flowers or fruits, but instead of a broken red stiletto, a dinner table with wine and left-over food, an empty swing in motion, a broken eyeglasses, a bench with a floating trench coat – all devoid of life, as Emma noticed. Katski Flores also paints her own still lifes in scenes such as an empty chair, a drift wood, a bowl of flowers in the garden, and bougainvilleas in the patio. She also literally transforms some scenes into paintings as seen from the eyes of James.
Still life can also allude to the life of James as it is put on hold by his disease, the end of life as he knows it. It can also refer to his life on a stand-still – when Emma comes into his life, all the moments that James and Emma spent together all occurred in just a matter of a few earthly hours, while James bleeds from his attempted suicide, the hours are stilled.
Sadly, the film reinforces some conventional and questionable notions about art – an artist as a solitary figure, an artist as a wretched angst-filled soul, an artist space as a room-of-one’s one, and an artist as a middle-class male. The film is also unabashedly conservative with its preachy pro-life diatribes on suicide and abortion. Emma’s role is also conventional as a woman, taking care of the house, preparing the food, doing the laundry, and washing the dishes. Still Life also suffers from excess - the repetitive piano score was haunting at first but eventually becomes unbearable; the dialogue is uneven, sometimes witty but turns cheesy at some point; and the symbolisms were contrived and the twist in the plot was predictable.
In spite these excesses, Still Life is nominated for cinematography and visual design for its sweeping panorama of nature in its landscapes and seascapes capturing its transitory nature with almost painterly quality, the attention to details in indoor spaces with almost still life property, transforming the frames into hand-painted paintings and the evocative use chiaroscuro – the play of shadows and light - to create mood. Brian Uhing’s paintings and Christina Dy’s sketches are also vital component to the over-all theme of the film. When Mariam wrote, “As a critic and art historian once so aptly remarked, what could be better explain the phrase “devouring with the eyes” than a still life?” she could be referring to Flores’s Still Life as it is literally a feast for the eyes ready to be devoured.
Glaiza De Castro gives an impressive performance as Emma, the young care-free woman. She emanates an inner beauty on screen and is unpretentious in her role. But it is Ron Capinding’s portrayal of James, in his first on screen performance, who stands out in the film as he turns in an understated yet nuanced performance that shifts from haughty to endearing, desperate to hopeful, and from confusion to enlightenment. Capinding’s restraint and roughness as an actor is a contrapunto to the natural joie de vivre and exuberance of De Castro. In the end, the love between James and Emma becomes palpable, yet both De Castro and Capinding effectively evinced love without the romantic entanglements and sensual frills.
Ultimately, as Still Life shows, there is still life for James even after art.
Flores, Patrick. “The Tradition of ‘Still’ Life: Objects, Faces, and Structures as Culture.” Perspectives on the
Mariam, Mariu. Still Life.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Ayan, yan na ang picture of the century (a very young century at that). isama mo na pati na ang lumipas na 20th century at pati na din ang susunod na 22nd century.
In fairness, magkamukha na kami talaga ni Papa Nestor hehehe
baby_chinita, katuwaan lang ha (pero totoo) HAHAHAHA
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
I've been raving about Amici de Don Bosco (now just plain Amici) for years now. But it's in Makati and we usually get lost or have a hard time going there, so i am ecstatic that they are now in T. Morato.
To be exact: below ratsky, what used to be CPK, in front of Uno (another favorite place), Scout Fuentebella. :)
I learned last Saturday that it's open already, so Sunday i trooped to it immediately. The place was small and packed. the tables were arranged badly, sobrang sikip. But the place looked better than the original in don bosco which is actually a glorified college canteen hehehe
the food: the montanara and seafood pasta was slightly off target for us. but the pizza was great! and the chocolate with nuts gelato was superb, i couldn't get enough of it. the mango tango was also great, not so sweet.
I still did not have enough of Amici and Monday lunch I was there again. the seafood pasta in white wine sauce is soo much better than the previous day's pasta. i loved it. the anchovy and garlic taste was a bit overpowering, but that's the way i liked it. the Tutta Carne pizza was also great, better than the italian sausage with olives pizza. and they serve the pizza really fast. we tried the osso buco with risotto, and it was ok (i've had better version in bellini's years ago before they went really bad) and of course, i had the chocolate with nuts gelato again.
still not having my fill of amici, tuesday night pangga and i went there again for dinner. this time we ordered 2 pizzas - napoli and tutta carne. hey, we've been to napoli (or naples, the place in italy, not the bad resto), the birth place of pizza, and we ate at the oldest and best napoli pizza place where the pizza was simply divine - fresh anchovies, fresh tomatoes from pompeii, and fresh mozzarella - THE BEST!. but let me tell you, the napoli pizza in Amici is the best in the philippines. (i've had better quatro formaggi). the tutta carne was still delicious. and of course, you guessed it- i had 2 cups of chocolate with nuts gelato.
hey, i liked their gelato way better than the ones i had in napoli (naples). it's not so sweet and definitely a whole lot cheaper hehehe
so, have we had our fill? are we satisfied already? is the amici obsession over? well, i hope NOT hahaha because i have yet to try the roasted chicken. and i don't mind having the pizza and gelato again hehehe
just a piece of unsolicited advice for those who like avenetto, italliani's, napoli, and the other "italian" restos and think that the pasta in these restos are good - just dump these restos and go to AMICI. you'll get your money's worth, and the food is so many times better. after Amici (and Galileo) you won't go back to these restos who claim they serve italian pasta.
of course, if you have more money and love pasta and great ambiance, Galileo Enoteca is the place to go. :) but for cheap, fun pizza, pasta, gelato place - AMICI!
Friday, February 22, 2008
Winner: Foster Child
Winner: Foster Child
Best Achievement in Cinematography and Visual Design
Winner: Death in the Land of Encantos
Best Achievement in Film Editing
Best Achievement in Sound and Aural Orchestration
Best Performance by Male or Female, Adult or Child, Individual or Ensemble in Leading or Supporting Role
Winner: Jason Abalos in Endo
Cherry Pie Picache in Foster Child
Eugene Domingo in Foster Child
Ron Capinding in Still Life
*more details about the winners and nominees will be released soon
(The awarding ceremonies will be in late April or early May 2008)
Friday, February 08, 2008
After our flight from Madrid at 6am that arrived in Amsterdam around 10, we slept the whole day in Lenin's house (our gay pinoy host) to prepare ourselves for a wild night in Amsterdam's famous red light district. So, around 9pm, off we go unto our hedonistic ways.
We got of at Waterlooplein station and just walked. First stop, the lesbian bar (didn't get the name). medyo scary kasi uber laki nung mga macho tibams na kasama ang kanilang mga partners. we did not even go inside and just peered through the windows.
next stop, bar where guys get picked up by guys. in other words, pimping station for gays. there is nothing for us there hahaha.
next stop, Lellebel, the only bar in Amsterdam for drag queens, trans, and cross-dressers located at Utrechtsestraat. We immediately loved this small bar with flashy and entertaining drag queens, they were very friendly. One customer, a young trans, who sat beside me even engaged me in a conversation. Some of the trans were very attractive. Lumabas na naman nga ang aking attraction sa mga trans e, pero sympre good girl ako kasi kasama ko si pangga. The music was great and we felt safe in the place. After a drink, we headed off to the red light district.
Yes, women were displayed in windows, in their undies and bras, casually standing or sitting, some were trying to seduce passers-by.It was actually quite sad and scary since we went to the red light district around 12 midnight and most of the people there were drunk men and very few tourists like us. Prostitution is legal in Amsterdam though it is largely concentrated around the Oude Kerk (Old Church). Yes, the oldest church in Amsterdam located in Oudezijds Voorburgwal at Oudekerksplein is surrounded by prostitutes displayed on windows, sex shops, and peep shows. Safe to say that I did not take part in this exercise and limited myself to observer status (sympre kasama ko si Pangga e). Pero ironic talaga kasi nga old church surrounded by prostitutes. tapos kapag nakasara ang window curtain ibig sabihin may client.
After that we went to a pretentious gay bar, no comments here, i did not like the place. But 2 guys tried to pick me up, tapped me on the shoulder and made some attempts. but no, pangga protected ako e hahaha.
So, off we went to the liveliest, noisiest, most popular karaoke bar in Amsterdam - Casablanca. My gash it was so jampacked we literally had to fight to get to the coat check (50 cents) and toilet (1 euro). it was so smoke-filled sakit sa mata. the dutch are bad singers and are quite rude when drunk, they just bang and bump and crash into people just to pass. so, i couldn't take the place and had to go out. then a huge macho tibam tried to engage me in a conversation, small time pa-cute. pero sympre naman ako smile lang. sa isip ko, "huwag po lola, butch din po ako" hahaha.
so, after so many bars, we ended up at Lellebel again where we stayed til around 3am. met some more gay pinoys, Lenin's friends. enjoyed conversation with more trans. saw Sugi, the star of the night. an indonesian dressed up so flamboyant it would give priscilla queen of the desert a run for her money. her hair was so huge she had to squat a little to get into the toilet (free toilet here).
on the taxi home, the driver was a gringo honasan look-a-like. type siya ni lenin, so when we went down from the taxi, lenin signalled for us to go ahead so he could make a move on the driver. after a few minutes, lenin arrived and said that the taxi driver actually wanted to have sex with pangga, and not with lenin. the driver also said that he would only have sex with lenin if it's a three-way with pangga. HELL NO! is he crazy? Pangga is mine, all mine lang. oh well, ganun lang ang sex sa amsterdam, casual casual lang.
so, next time na ang kuwento about the museums and canals of amsterdam hahaha...
New York City is seedy, hot, fast, smelly, sexy and steamy. I did not fall in love with it but I did have some good memories there. Again, how I wish Pangga was there with me. I'm sure I could have enjoyed New York more if she was with me.
Here are ten things you can do in New York, forget the Statue of Liberty and all those touristic stuff, you can look at their pictures in postcards and photobooks. Here is the action:
10. Go to Circuit City, Target, and BJ's and shop til you drop.
9. Get lost in the subway. I actually felt like a beaver in New York, spending a lot of time underground and just surfacing for air.
8. When you surface from the subway, look at all the buildings that you've seen in movies and commercials, except of course The World Trade Center.
7.Walk around 5th Avenue, Avenue of the Americas, Lexington Avenue. Just walk around and feel very New Yorker. Eat hotdog in the middle of the street, everybody does.
6. Go to Greenwich Village and feel the bohemian spirit, even if it is full of expensive shops.
5. Go to Christopher Street, home of the famous Stonewall Inn, the site of the Stonewall Riot in 1969 that is instrumental to the LGBT Rights movement and is commemorated with the yearly Pride marches all over the world. Walk around this historic street, a mecca for gays and lesbians. And don't forget to visit the sex shops and buy pasalubong for your partner/s.
4. Stand in Times Square and feel that you are in the middle of everything. I was actually wondering aimlessly, looking for the International Center for Photography, when I realized that I was in the middle of Times Square.
3. Get a lapdance in Splash Bar New York (SBNY for short), the hippest, most popular gay bar in New York. The lapdance was a lot of fun, he was so cute and smelled so good, irresistable yummy yummy yummy boy!
2. Go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum, International Center for Photography, and Guggenheim Museum. I saw my most favorite painting, Salvador Dali's The Persistence of Memory. For an art history professor, this is big deal. Imagine, everything I studied before, art works i saw in books and slides, I was in front of them. I was in their presence. And they were in my presence. Wow, that was great.
1. Watch the New York Yankees at the Yankee Stadium. Feel the love for Jeter and the disappointment for A-Rod. (i have to edit this because A-rod is having a phenomenal season). Cheer for every play, go nuts over Bernie Williams" homeruns and Derek Jeter's hits. Thanks, Vergel, for the unforgettable night of Yankees fun. This is the best experience ever.
I just love Bangkok, it's my favorite place in Southeast Asia. It's noisy, polluted, filthy, crowded, flooded - yet, it is full of life, exciting, sexy, and spicy (in all aspects).
Here are some things you can do in Bangkok when are alone (like I was):
1. eat all the tomyum, curry, thai sweets you can find in the karinderyas. if you can't take the spice, say "no prik" (means no spice)
2. drink chilled buko from the carts, believe me, the best bj :)
3. go to patpong (the red light district) and roam the streets and look around (i can look but can't touch). if you are brave, go inside one of the bars and watch the famous pingpong pussy show
4. go to pratunam, buy all the cheap stuff and eat tomyum in one of the side streets
5. go to chatuchak for the weekend where half of bangkok is, buy the cheapest stuff and eat sesame fried chicken at din pao (stall 4 -1 )
6. visit the malls (paragon, isetann, zen, emporium), there are unbelievable sale in the middle part of the malls. i got 3 original lacoste shirts and a couple of socks for a bargain (40% off)
7. NEVER ride the tuktuk (they will rip you off)
8. learn how to count in thai and ask "how much?" (taw raey, or something like that)
9. do at least one touristic tour, like go to the Grand Palace (no shorts or short skirts there)
10. buy "I Love the King" shirt and feel the love
11. talk to locals (good luck, their English is still bad) and share notes on how bad their PM Thaksin is (have to edit this again, thaksin has been forced out of power via a coup)and compare him to how bad GMA is
12. get stuck in the famous Bangkok traffic, have a chat with your taxi driver, and say "thank God, traffic is not this bad in Manila)
13. go to Watson's or Tesco and buy Colgate Herbal and Lux Shower Creme Lavender
14. eat Rotiboy, the best coffee bun in the whole wide world. Kopi Roti is a cheap copycat.
15. and the best, watch out for the baby elephant that walks around in the streets of Bangkok, buy 20 baht of sugar cane, feed the elephant, you can pet him/her, take video or photos with the elephant. he/she is so damn cute, you'd want to take him/her home (if your luggage permits). DUMBO comes alive. and the baby elephant has the best soulful eyes i've seen in animals. the best experience.
GGOOOOOOOOOOOO and Enjoy!!!!
Palawan still has its charm. the first time i went there was in 1996 and i fell in love immediately. i've been going back regularly since. In fact, i'm buying some land to build my small retirement house there. Pangga and I decided that we will retire in Palawan.
things to do:
1. stay at casa linda. very cheap. 750 per night for 2 pax. matthew mendoza (former movie actor) might even pick you up at the airport. his family owns the place. he gets cuter everytime.
2. eat at kalui's, the best resto in puerto. go for the lobster, crabs, seafood sisig (the best). enjoy the ambiance. it is the place to be.
3. go to honda bay. feed and swim with the fishes in snake island. visit a coral reef nearby. skip to starfish island for, what else, but starfish. walk the sunbar. we saw nemo (the clown fish) and patrick (the starfish) don't forget your snorkel, sunblock, and godiva safe sea lotion.
4. eat at vietville. the best beef stew noodles in the philippines (and very cheap). the fresh lumpia is also great. look for thelma, very good service.
5. go on a day trip to the underground river. the land travel is very bumpy but the boatride from sabang to the underground river has wonderful views of mountains. the lagoon outside is spectacular. you must insist on riding with mang jun as the boatman, he is simply the best boatman/comic there is. warning: do not swim in sabang beach. i was attacked by sand fleas there years ago. warning again: be careful of the monitor lizard roaming freely. shopping tip: there is a small store there where an old manang sells handmade celphone holders and bags out of native (i dont know the material). she sells it dirt cheap so don't make tawad. it's also good to help the local economy especially those who make the products themselves.
6.go to kamarikutan kape at galeri for the best palawan chicken and tuyo (yup, they go together). stay awhile. savor the art and the surrounding. have a chat with the nanay ng bayan, "nanay dayang." and you must meet palawan's version of darna, dinggot. and the very handsome young man and tennis champion named anito. these three are my family in puerto. they make sure i am safe and well-fed in puerto. i love these three happy people.
7. go to market mall for the cheapest pearls. stall 70-71 (or 71-72) look for ilonggas dindin and maricel. converse in Ilonggo, "Tagpila ini?" (*how much?)
8. if you have time, visit san vicente. geann (the mayor's wife) of caparii resort is the most gracious host. you'll have the beach all to yourself.
9. stop at roxas in the corner vietnamese carinderia for the "dreaded shrimp." yes, you read right- "dreaded." i got so scared of it, i ordered and ate it all because it might eat me.
10. eat at avegon for the best bulalo your body is allowed eat. don't worry, there are 2 mercury drugstores nearby.
11. before leaving puerto, don't forget to buy cheap crabs and lobsters at the market to take home. try lamayo, it's very good. they'll pack it so you can bring it on the plane.
12. and the best way to enjoy palawan is to go with your partner, you can hold hands while walking into the sunset. This is my second trip with Pangga and she had a great time snorkeling with the fishes. I enjoyed the trip immensely because of i was with her.