Top 10 Worst Eraserheads Songs

You’re an Eheads fan I suppose. If so, which are your least favorite Eheads songs? Even Pavement bandleader Stephen Malkmus, a huge R.E.M. fan, so huge he wrote a song so explicitly and specifically about them, has his own least favorite song, which he also mentions in the aforementioned song about R.E.M. “Time After Time,” not the one by Cyndi Lauper, which came out in 1983, but “Time After Time” off the LP Reckoning, which came out in 1984.

So, you should, too. I mean, have a least favorite song, or songs by your favorite band. Confused yet? Let’s go back to the ‘Heads. It was said time and time again that they never put out a bad album. But but but, within those albums, they’ve put out, maybe a few, mediocre tracks. But before we go to the list, I’d like to go into some of the songs that were initially considered for the list, but were eventually crossed out. Means, I found reasons not to include them.

Maybe you’ve read or heard about “Styrosnow,” off Fruitcake, as one the band’s worst songs. Well, Jason Caballa may not have liked it, as one of my friends also didn’t, but you know what, within the context of the album, it isn’t really bad. Musically, it’s fine. Ely’s kid sisters on vocals may not be for everyone, but you’ve got to have a bad childhood for you not understand that “Styrosnow” is a kid’s song, and thus, the nursery rhyme melody. It’s a song about Christmas. And Christmas is for kids. So, why hate a song about fake snow. Thematically and musically, it isn’t out of place in the album. So, what gives?

Did someone say “Back2Me”? I mean not the Cueshe song. Well, the first verse is somewhat offputting, but after that, it gets better. Especially after Adoro’s distorted guitar kicks in. How about the throwaway “Bogchi Hukbo” with its obvious piglatin lyrics? The song is obviously a throwaway, a goofy one, a frivolous diversion. But who said all things should be serious? Or should be taken seriously? Maybe those who thought “Spoliarium” was really about Pepsi Paloma. May her soul rest in peace.

You have “heavy” songs like “Milk and Money” and “Andalusian Dog,” then you need to have light and goofy ones like “Bogchi Hukbo” somewhere in between. Still not convinced? Well, maybe you need to get hair stuck in you teeth first, before you’ll get this song. Maybe you need to eat first that which we don’t usually name here (but for the sake of all mankind, I’m still not going to name it here), before you fully appreciate what Ely & Co. were doing in this song. I mean, for chrissakes, how many songs do you find a fucking flutician in it. One in ten, man! One in ten. And this is one of them.

“Monovirus”? Well, sure, it’s not for everyone. But it soumds exactly what it says it is. It sounds what it’s like when you get the monovirus. I dunno if Raymund had Nine Inch Nails in mind, but anyway, who cares. Some people prolly didn’t like it, but again, within the context of the story, the concept of the album, it fits. Therefore, it’s fine. What else? Adoro’s “Lord of the Rhum”? It’s also fine. Has some good and cool guitar parts. Plus, since Adoro couldn’t handle most of the vocals, the girls took over. Wise move.

“Southsuperhighway”? Again, like “Bogchi Hukbo,” it’s obviously a filler, but a fun one at that. You know what filler isn’t fun to listen to? The fillers in Rivermaya’s Atomic Bomb. But this one is so noisy, so nonsense, it actually rules. It rocks. It’s fun. Like blasting your car stereo while driving in the south superhighway at 100kph in the middle of the night. And obviously, I’ve used the word obviously many times in this post.

10. Paru-Parong Ningning
There are parts of this song which, according to Buddy, were decidedly “anything goes,” like they were going for some atonal shit or something. Means Buddy was playing a different key, while Ely and Marcus were also doing different things. It’s kinda interesting but you know what, Eheads songs are infinitely more interesting when they’re less messy, more melodic, less discordant, like “Magasin,” “Kaliwete,” or “Saturn Return.” Well, interesting title. Does it translate to “Butterfly Carnival”? Roughly. Maybe. Lyrics? Well, interesting and suggestive. Wag ka lang magsasawa / Gusto kong mag-asawa / Dahan-dahang ibuka ang iyong mga pakpak / Ilipad mo ako kahit saan mo gusto. The best thing about this though is Marcus Adoro’s surf rock guitar in the chorus, probably inspired by a song Tarantino used in Pulp Fiction. But still, the atonal parts makes this one, one of the rare weak spots in an almost flawless album.

9. Sticker Happy
Not necessarily a bad track. Not a weak track either. But it also doesn’t add much to the band’s first and only fifth album of the same name. In terms of track sequence, “Tapsilogue” would’ve been better off following right after “Para Sa Masa,” which would’ve perfectly cap off the album the same way “Christmas Morning” did in Fruitcake.

8. Out of Sight
The guitar track is kinda Blur-ish, kinda “Coffee & TV”-ish. Prolly the catchiest among those which I consider the weakest songs on Carbon Stereoxide, the other two of which I did not include in this list and therefore not among the worst (but close), are album opener “Ultrasound” (same title already used by Sandwich for one of theirs on 4-Track Mind) and “Paintstripper.” But I picked “Out of Sight,” despite its title reminding me of that Jennifer Lopez’s movie of the same name, for some reasons. One of them is the lyrics: Check your email, go ahead / Check your female, on your bed. Yes, Raimund Marasigan used “female” instead of “woman” or “girl” because it rhymes with “e-mail.” Also, lyrically, the song doesn’t have much to say.

7. Everything They Say
If you still haven’t noticed yet, these are all Raymund Marasigan’s songs. And this is the song where they tried to be like The Chemical Brothers, which is actually cool, if not for the lyrics, which is about Sugaraims’ rants on media people, the gossips, the showbiz side of the music biz. Sure, the Eheads were big. But they were not showbiz personalities, they were not celebrities. And with this song, it’s as if they were celebrities tired of all the showbiz bullshit. Showbiz at the time was probably a lot more toxic than what the band had to deal with. But to be honest and fair, I don’t actually know. Also, most songs in this genre, like those from Prodigy and The Chemical Brothers, make do with minimal lyrics, mostly repeated, and sometimes sampled vocals. Well, Sugaraims need to vent his spleen with this lengthy rant. And in case he gets to read this, please remember that, everything I said here is absolutely correct… correct… correct… corre…

By the way, Rico Blanco’s “Kagat Ng Lamok,” off Rivermaya’s Tuloy Ang Ligaya, is a much better take on the same subject, the showbiz aspect of the local scene. Some of the lyrics may be acerbic, but the music is totally laid back — the kind of contrast between music and lyrics that is sometimes needed for some songs to work.

6. Casa Fantastica
Either they didn’t took it too seriously or they just wanted to try other stuff, like you know, writing lyrics in Spanish and music that sounds somewhat like the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Or both. Because they’re not mutually exclusive. Anyway, a much better song than this, which is also on 1896: Ang Pagsilang is an Ely-Raimund collab with members of Teeth and The Youth. It’s called “Halo-Halong Digmaan.”

5. Sa Wakas
Admit it, this is kinda crappily recorded. Don’t know if this was intended as a filler (i.e., to fill the blank space in the cassette tape so you don’t have to fast forward or rewind it too much), but it sounds that way. Like “Cutterpillow,” except with “Cutterpillow” they didn’t bother with other embellishments, just guitar, vocals, harmonica, and a few handclaps. Also, lyrically, with “Cutterpillow,” they were just having fun. In “Sa Wakas,” we have a seemingly vindictive Ely Buendia gloating about him winning against his imagined detractors and enemies. And it seems, he’s doing it unironically. Songs that celebrates success are fine, like Rico Blanco’s “Alab Ng Puso,” but gloating about said success isn’t. Probably one of the most uncool thing ever. Gloating. Unless it’s hip-hop or rap or something else.

4. Playground
Sure, it sounds boldly different from the rest of the album, but isolated, it just sound kinda generic. Like Eheads trying to be Daft Funk or something, and ends up sounding daft. Sorry. It’s not bad but it doesn’t add much to the album either. And even with Squid9’s fillers, within the album, “Playground” sticks out like a sore thumb. A fucking sore thumb.

3. Bato
One of Ely Buendia’s rules in sequencing album tracks, it seems, is to put the weaker songs first or last on each side. He’s not a big fan of frontloading it seems. At least not as much as balance. Anyway, this is one of Adoro’s earliest stab at writing a rock song. It has some riffs, and that’s it. Anyway, he would write much better songs, some ten to fifteen years later. But at this point, those Punk Zappa fillers were the best he’s written yet.

2. Game! Tama Na!
Maybe the perfect example of them going thru the motions. Maybe. With “Peace It Together” at 7:15 and “Pop Machine” at 5:39, this song clocking at 5 minutes is them really pushing it. And with nothing to say other than what they already said with “Peace It Together,” this is easily the longest filler in any Eheads album ever. By the way, Marcus Adoro’s “Southsuperhighway” is also a filler. But it gets by, by virtue of having the higher WTF factor. Also, SSH is the proper way of doing a proper Prodigy/The Chemical Brothers/Atari Teenage Riot number properly, not the way they did “Everything They Say.”

1. Policewoman
I don’t know how many fans knew or heard this. It’s on Bananatype EP. Was written for the movie Run Barbi Run, because they’ve got the hots for the movie’s lead actress, Maricel Laxa, who played the titular character (not Barbi, the policewoman). Well, who haven’t tho? Kahit pa karate master ang tatay nya na si Tony Ferrer, di ba? That if I have a time machine, I’d go back and watch all of her old movies, including that one with Rene Requiestas. Yes, including that one. Anyway, this song, written by the horny lads of the Eraserheads, regardless of whom it was written for, actually, kind of sucks.


P.S. Wala akong nahagilap na hot na lumang photo ni Maricel Laxa sa internet. Pero kay Tony Ferrer meron — kaya ito na lang. Pasensya na.

Songs About Eeveeel

With loving hands
And their arms are stretched so wide they can’t seem to take a breath
Knowing evil will prevail
And a million people seems like a lot
And a million people can’t be wrong…

If you look at the news today, well, some of the “news,” you might be inclined to say that we’ve got to brace ourselves for even darker days ahead. Like shit is going to go sideways in the most colossal way. At the same time, we could hope for the best. One news headline even uses the word “inevitable,” which reminded of that big purple villain from that popular comic book movie. But this isn’t like the movies where the heroes always win. It’s not inevitable I know, but worse things have happened, and it can still get worse if more people will make the wrong choices.

Times are gone
For honest men
Sometimes, far too long for snakes

Once again, I hide behind the songs, the music. Like those lines from “Clint Eastwood,” I see “destruction and demise, corruption in disguise, in this fucking enterprise” and what’s even more despairing is seeing these things get normalized, when every criticism and allegation gets rebuttal from the shills, influencers, propagandists with loads of half-truths, misinformation, misdirections, and whataboutisms. And the sad part is that some people take these counter-arguments as bible truths. That anything mainstream is propaganda.

Burn away the goodness
You and I remain
Did you see the last war
Well, here I am again

Friends, relatives, well-educated colleagues… the number of people I know who fell victim to this is just disheartening. That they ignore the obvious alignment of those people with history of corruption could probably tell how deep they are in the rabbit hole. I tried to engage them — just a few of them. And while I was not able to Trojan-horse their well-guarded beliefs, I am hoping that in time, sexy naked Truth will finally reveal herself to them. (By the way, the story goes that Truth went bathing with Falsehood in a creek, and Falsehood took Truth’s beautiful flowery dress, and Truth, refusing to take another’s clothes, thus went naked.)

There will come a time when everybody
Who is lonely will be free
To sing and dance and love

There will come a time when every evil
That we know will be an evil
That we can rise above

Who cares if you’re so poor you can’t afford
To buy a pair of Mod A Go-Go stretch-elastic pants
There will come a time when you can even
Take your clothes off when you dance.

Oil Price Hike Playlist

The recent series of oil price hike reminded me of Lady Diane’s “Sa-Sa-Saddam,” which came out in the early the ’90s, during the Gulf War. If you’re thinking, is that the song that goes… yes, it is what you think it is. But instead of going with the obvious choices, like “Sa-Sa-Saddam,” or more recent songs like Narda’s “Gasolina” for instance, or that annoying dance hit of the same name…

Wait. *checks video on Youtube* Okay, the song has some Latino vibe to it, and the video has sexy ladies dancing (okay, not as annoying anymore) and while searching about the song, I also found out that “Gasolina” according to some sources, is a slang for sperm. So, the chorus goes like “she wants more gasolina,” or something like that. Okay, yeah. Let me take it back. Daddy Yankee’s “Gasolina” is a great song. But as I’ve said, I’m not going with the obvious, or any fuel-related stuff, for this playlist.

***

“I was a commuter on the 804, worked for a computer on the 19th floor and…” Rupert Holmes, “Terminal,” you know, the song where he meets this woman on a bus, and then he thinks about cheating on his wife with that woman on the bus, and then that woman on the bus turns out to be his wife. Because it turns out, his wife likes Pina Colada, and getting caught in the rain. It’s really a bit confusing, how he never realized that the woman on the bus was actually his wife. She probably wore a mask. A prosthesis. Like the ones they use in those Mission: Impossible movies. Or MAYBE, I mixed up two different songs. I dunno. Let’s start over.

I was a commuter for the longest time. No, not bus no. 804, for there are no such thing in this side of the planet. No looped bus routes, but rather a very disorganized, oftentimes inconvenient, public transport sector primarily driven by private companies. I ride trikes, jeepneys, buses, on the way to work. It’s cheaper, even though in many ways, not that convenient.

Even after I got my driver’s license, like Olivia Rodrigo, who might or might not have had a boob job recently, I’d still to use the public transport. Yes, even after I learned how to drive, I’d still go for the bus, even if it means falling in a long serpentine line, especially during the Holy Week. And yes, some are saying that Olivia Rodrigo prolly had her boobs done. Considering that her physique is closer to that of Taylor Swift than say, Katy Perry, yeah, she probably had her, um, augmented fifth followed by a minor sixth. Music theory references, sorry. Though I can’t really say for sure. I’m not a surgeon. You be the judge.

***

“Sometimes what comes up, just won’t go, just won’t go down.” If only Economics wasn’t so boring a subject in high school, this would’ve been much longer. But for the life of me, I don’t have a good grasp of the songs of the laws that govern supply and demand, or stuff like inflation, oil deregulation law, or why my father was so disappointed his SSS monthly pension is so small since the Duterte admin decided to give additional 1000 pesos to the old pensioners and so the next ones got the short shrift of it. I don’t know, man, we got fucked over and over again and people are still so willingly blind. Damn. Fuck. Here’s my Oil Price Hike playlist. Ang mahal mahal na ng gas, grabe. Ang mahal na rin ng mga bilihin.

Also, here’s Daddy Yankee’s “Gasolina” for ya.

Revisiting Cornershop’s “Brimful of Asha” On a… Compact Disc

Something renewed my interest on this indie rock band called Cornershop, who scored a hit with “Brimful of Asha” back in 1997. No, it’s not this new-ish indie rock group from London who call themselves Bombay Bicycle Club, who probably thought adopting a name based on a defunct Indian restaurant would make it sound like they care about “culture.” It was watching Stephen Malkmus on the Slow Century DVD, inserting the chorus of “Brimful of Asha” at the end of “Summer Babe” during one of their last gigs in London in 1999.

Cornershop’s “Brimful of Asha” is an honest and insightful song about cinema, the people working behind the scenes, and the common people who love going to the movies. This song was on one of those compilation albums (don’t remember if it was MTV Fresh or something), this is how we discovered it, one of our friends brought the tape to school. And no, it’s not through the Fatboy Slim remix.

Cornershop, a band we never heard of before, were among familiar names like Oasis, Radiohead, and Meredith Brooks. I thought the song was about a famous Bollywood movie star named Asha Bhosle. I was wrong. And while the song is about Indian cinema, and is sort of a tribute to Asha Bhosle, no, she’s not a movie star, but she sang and recorded songs for many a Bollywood movies. You can read more about it here, if you want. 

I’m not sure if our local radio also played “Brimful of Asha” in the mid to late ’90s (they probably did though not as often as they did the bigger hits of the day) but I’m pretty sure they played Kula Shaker’s “Govinda.” I remember singing this song to myself whenever I’m truly bored (Govinda jaya jaya / Gopala jaya jaya / Radha-ramanahari Govinda jaya jaya). By the way, I did not copy that lyrics from the internet, I typed them from memory. Back then, we didn’t mind, that “Brimful of Asha” is written mostly in English while Kula Shaker, a band consist of four white lads from London, sing their song in classic Indian language. Isn’t it ironic? Don’t you think?

Maybe it’s ironic — in Alanis Morrissette sort of way. Regardless, I’ll take Tjinder Singh & co.’s East-meets-West pop-rock over Kula Shaker’s culture-appropriating psychedelic rock any time of the day.

When I searched for When I Was Born for the 7th Time online (When I Was Born is the album that contains “Brimful of Asha”), I was surprised that the album cover is different from what I remember. It’s different from what I saw on the cassette inserts of that compilation album (still don’t remember if it was MTV Fresh or something else), from which we first heard “Brimful of Asha.” Turns out the one I was looking for was the US version of the album. The cover and packaging of the US version were different from the ones originally released in the UK. The cover art of the UK version is kind of I don’t know, I like the US version better.

Everybody needs a bosom for a pillow. Everybody needs a bosom.

Pavement’s Farewell Horizontal, Harness Your Hopes, and The Age of the Ass

After years of waiting, Terror Twilight: Farewell Horizontal will finally see the light. Of day. If you don’t know what that is, Terror Twilight is Pavement’s fifth and final album, and the only studio album of theirs that has yet to get an expanded or deluxe reissue. Brighten the Corners: Nicene Creedence Ed. came out in 2008; it was the last in the series of reissues that started with Slanted and Enchanted: Luxe & Redux back in 2002.

Fans have been waiting for Matador to put out Terror Twilight: Farewell Horizontal since around 2009-2010, but Matador and members of the band have been silent about it for more than a decade. Farewell Horizontal (which they probably got from the book of the same name) was one of the titles suggested for the album, before they settled with the alliterative Terror Twilight.

Curiously, Matador’s teaser for the upcoming reissue was a track called “Be the Hook,” an unrecognizable early version of a killer song (“The Hook“) that would appear later on Stephen Malkmus’ solo debut. I don’t want to be that guy, but “Be the Hook” is kind of lackluster and, at best, tentative. Well, looking at the track listing of this 4-LP / 2-CD expanded edition, most of the tracks are just alternate and early versions of the same songs that would end up on the album.

“Ground Beefheart” is “Platform Blues,” “Jesus in Harlem” is “Cream of Gold,” and “Billy,” said to be a reference to Malkmus’ dear friend Billy Corgan, later renamed as “Billie.” There are also two early versions of “You Are a Light,” one recorded in Jackpot! and the other in Sonic Youth’s Echo Canyon studio.

Matador releasing a surprising, if uninteresting track as a teaser is somewhat understandable. Aside from “Be the Hook” and one fan-favorite Spiral Stairs track, most of the songs here do not have the Holy Grail-level of say, the Slanted and Enchanted-era John Peel sessions, or the B-sides off Brighten the Corners. Sure, most of them were previously unreleased, previously unheard, but there’s hardly a handful here that the most seasoned Pavement fans did not already “knew.”

How are these songs different from the ones that ended up on Terror Twilight? Probably not much. There’s high probability that some of these songs have different lyrics. I wonder how the early demos and (shelved) recorded versions differ from the final versions, music-wise. Is there a better (or at least interesting) alternate version of “Platform Blues,” or “Cream of Gold,” or “Ann Don’t Cry”? Maybe not. Here’s hoping the demos of “Spit On A Stranger” and “Carrot Rope” are as “complete” as the “Major Leagues” demo.

I’m not really interested in knowing how different the earlier versions of “The Porpoise and the Hand Grenade” or “Rooftop Gambler” were from the ones that ended up on Spit On A Stranger and Major Leagues EP. Apart from the Brighten the Corners-era B-sides and covers (“The Killing Moon,” “The Classical”), the B-sides on both EPs are among the least interesting tracks in the band’s catalog. Well, for research purposes, they’re probably good for a spin or two.

I’m actually more curious about the studio version of “For Sale! The Preston School of Industry.” The song is currently available only on YouTube and low-quality MP3 rips. How will the studio version fare compared to the one they wrote and performed live on TV? By the way, here’s a link to the TV episode in its entirety. Was it not that good that’s why it was abandoned early on? Or did it not sound good together with the other songs? Well, maybe. And if you’d ask me, “Preston School” is hardly among the top-tier songs by Spiral Stairs (“Mussle Rock,” “Kennel District,” “Winner of the”).

With Farewell Horizontal coming out twenty years since Matador started reissuing Pavement’s albums, and more than a decade since the last one (Nicene Creedence Ed.), it isn’t unsurprising that Matador and Pavement wanted to add more hype to the proceedings. Because — again, I don’t want to be that guy — there’s kind of a dearth of unearthed materials here. Thus, the surprise new music video for the band’s most popular song on Spotify, a song that, by the way, isn’t included in the expanded Terror Twilight. Thus, Matador is also reissuing the Spit On a Stranger single, where the song first appeared on officially (it was later included in the Brighten the Corners deluxe reissue, since it was originally recorded during the BTC sessions). Does anyone still remember Secret History, Vol. 1?

I don’t remember exactly when did I first heard “Harness Your Hopes.” It was in the mid-aughts, maybe on a bootleg copy I downloaded somewhere. Maybe it was a bootleg of the BBC Radio One sessions, which also includes a killer cover of Echo & the Bunnymen’s “The Killing Moon.” And the song has been one of my favorite Pavement tracks since then. And not just me, I’m sure other Pavement fans as well. Though the fans aren’t really the reason “Harness Your Hopes” became the band’s most streamed song on Spotify — it’s the platform’s weird algorithm.

Regardless of its recent rise in popularity, the song has long been one of the favorite non-album tracks among fans. One of the reasons is its playful lyrics. Fans and critics have been writing about rhyming Pavement with enslavement (and other words ending with -ment) since the series of reissues came out in the ’00s. It’s a reference to the lyrics “Show me a word that rhymes with Pavement / And I won’t kill your parents and roast them on a spit.” Some fans deduced that killing your parents and roasting them on a spit actually means “depravement,” and that the next line “And don’t you try to etch it or permanently sketch it,” could also be summed up as “engravement.”

More interesting though is one fan’s comment on Facebook asking if Pavement predicted the 2020’s, referring again to lyrics of “Harness Your Hopes.” Pay attention to the highlighted lines (in Bold) in the following couplets:

And don’t you try to etch it or permanently sketch it
Or you’re gonna catch a bad, bad cold
And the freaks have stormed the White House, I moved into a lighthouse
It’s on a scenic quay, it’s, oh, so far away

COVID-19 as the bad, bad cold is somewhat on point and the freaks storming the White House is pretty funny. I might add that the couplets below reminds of me of conservatives with their semi-automatic rifles in those anti-lockdown rallies in 2020.

It’s a semi-automatic, believers are ecstatic
You see the way they cling, the cold metallic sting

And the line about the rations below, kind of reminds me of people panic-buying, and of course, the Toilet Paper Apocalypse. The bit about asses? Well, this is not from 2020’s but I remember it was also brought up a lot around the time of the lockdown: ‘The Age of the Ass’: Baudrillard, Black Leggings, and the More Nude than Nude, which tackles how leggings/yoga pants reveal as much as they conceal that which needs not to be revealed.

And I’m checking out the asses, the assets that attract us
To anything that moves, we’re deep inside the grooves
And it’s time to shake the rations ’cause someone’s gonna cash in
The plot it turns again, the reference starts at ten

By the way, here’s Yellowjacket‘s Sophie Thatcher trying to find a word that rhymes with Pavement in the new “Harness Your Hopes” music video.

Peacemaker, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and Tony Leung’s balls in Lust, Caution

Said goodbye to February without having done what should’ve been done — that which most people tend to do especially during the Love Month. Go on a date, eat out, engage in an unhealthy amount of unprotected or protected sex both — no, I don’t mean any of those. I mean watch movies. Don’t most people watch movies on and around Valentine’s Day? No? Really? You’re weird, kthanxbye.

I have not seen a single movie in February. Tried watching Malignant, Two, Ghost Rider 2 — not able to finish any. I finished one thing though: James Gunn’s Peacemaker on HBO, a spin-off series of last year’s The Suicide Squad. And you know what? Peacemaker blows out of the water all the Disney+ series from last year: WandaVision, Loki, TFATWS, Hawkeye. Heck, it’s even better than The Suicide Squad. Because every episode opens with a silly dance number involving Peacemaker (John Cena), Emilia Harcourt (Jennifer Holland), Vigilante (Freddie Stroma), and the rest of the cast.

There are other reasons too, which I’m too lazy to elaborate on right now. I won’t say the series goes deep or something, but in terms of character arcs and superhero/supervillain storytelling, it does way better than any of the plot-oriented Marvel series on Disney+. By the way, Peacemaker’s dad is played by the guy who played Liquid Metal.

I went to the mall last weekend and I was surprised to see that the cinemas are already open. They’re showing Spider-Man: Now Way Home and Matt Reeves’ The Batman. In case you don’t know, the latter stars Robert Pattinson, formerly teenage girls’ favorite hunk-from-book-to-film-adaptations until the filthy rich BDSM-obsessed guy from 50 Shades of Grey took over. Okay, I’m not sure whether the demographic of 50 Shades consist of college girls, bored female office workers, or maybe older women — there must be some overlap between the two, I guess? Twilight and 50 Shades? No?

Anyway, while thinking whether it’s worth it being trapped inside the cinema for more than two hours (The Batman is reportedly 3 hours long), considering all the risks, the virus, the possible consequences, I was reminded of what people on Twitter were saying about blockbuster cinema last year. That people don’t go to the movie houses anymore. People don’t line up to see the latest blockbusters anymore, even if the movie’s directed by Steven Spielberg, or Ridley Scott, or Guillermo del Toro. People don’t buy tickets anymore — unless — unless it’s Spider-Man: No Way Home.

Because spoiler-not spoiler-alert, Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield are in it. And there’s a scene where they interacted with Ned, Ned’s grandma, and MJ, and Ned’s grandmother speaks in pure Tagalog, because that’s how Marvel loves (to pander to) their Filipino fans. I don’t know but some people made a big deal out of it. Thought it was totally CRINGE. Probably the cringiest movie scene I’ve seen last year. It was generic and stereotypical, like it was taken from some old Filipino movies and spliced into a big budget Hollywood movie.

So, is No Way Home the best comic book movie of 2021? No, that would be The Suicide Squad. It’s a lot more fun than No Way Home, and it’s better than anything MCU, except Eternals — because I have yet to see Eternals, and the first ever sex scene in an MCU movie, for which Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution, was said to be one of the inspirations. It’s a good selling point, I guess, saying your movie’s sex scene was inspired by one of the most sexually explicit erotic thriller/period drama in recent memory. We’re talking about hairs-on-Wei Tang’s armpits-and-Tony Leung’s balls-explicit.

And though it was “theoretically” a blast to see Bully Maguire don the red and blue again (I say “theoretically” because I saw it on a crappy camrip), no, the movie was among the lesser comic book movies of 2021, alongside (though maybe [slightly] better than) Shang Chi and Black Widow. The Disney+ shows were no better; Loki, probably the most interesting. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier‘s probably the worst. Let’s be honest, TFATWS was mostly bad — maybe save for Zemo. Hawkeye? Maybe even worse. It was so boring I couldn’t even bring myself to try sit and finish the series. Hailee Steinfeld is so pretty though. Must be the Filipino blood. (Lols)

By the way, The Suicide Squad isn’t the best supe movie I’ve seen last year. That would be this little-known South Korean movie on Netflix, Psychokinesis (2018). And the best superhero/comic book series I’ve seen last year were Amazon’s Invincible and Season 1 of Netflix’s Daredevil.

Psychokinesis (2018)

Arisaka (2021)

Arisaka is a survival action thriller that has a few prerequisites for it to be worthwhile: You must be able to ignore glaring plot contrivances, the blatant use of incompetent henchmen trope, and the silly part where our heroine (Maja Salvador) finds the remains of a dead WWII Japanese soldier in a cave and proceeds to steal the poor guy’s Arisaka rifle. (Thought it would’ve made more sense if it was the Aetas who gave it to her, but anyway.) Gorgeous cinematography, you say? Sure, but I would definitely dislike it less had the movie not drag and drag for most of its running time. Most of it is just Maja Salvador moaning, grunting, memorizing names for whatever stupid purpose it might serve her, and shambling through the forest just slightly faster than a Romero zombie. How was she able to outrun and escape the rogue cops who were after her? Incompetent henchmen trope, plot armor, lazy writing. The movie also preaches its message about indigenous people so lazily that it makes Lito Lapid’s Hindi Palulupig (1992), with its depiction of Aetas fighting against abusive hacienderos, almost worthy of being included in the National Film Registry — its local counterpart, if there was one. Sure, a lot of effort went into the movie’s look and sound design, and its painstakingly detailed depiction of head shots and exit wounds. And probably a lot less went into writing, plot, and whatever’s that which makes the action beats generate tension and suspense. Arisaka is a formulaic and frustratingly slow B-movie actioner (but will most likely get a pass because it’s) dressed in arthouse/festival circuit clothing.

14 Love Songs

Thought about picking 69 love songs for the Love Month. Then I realized that it was a daunting task, coming up with a list of 69 songs and writing about them. So I settled with 14. Because that’s Benjie Paras’ jersey number, back when he was with the Shell Turbo Chargers. By the way, I got this idea from The Magnetic Fields’ 69 Love Songs, which is exactly what it says it is — a triple LP with 69 love songs on it. Sixty-nine songs is roughly the equivalent of six full length albums. And even Pavement, the last great American band from Sacto, Northern Cal, only produced five studio albums. They’re one LP short. And it took them 10 years to do that whereas The Magnetic Fields did 69 all in just one go (probably the reason Robert Christgau gave it an A+). Anyway, onto the songs…

Minsan Lang Kitang Iibigin, Juris. Way before Unique and Zild, there was Juris. Mononym. Like Drake. Adele. Found this untagged MP3 on my phone. Thought it was Regine Velasquez’s version of the song. Turns out it is not. By the way, this version is better than Regine’s, which is better than Ariel Rivera’s, which was better than… No, Ariel Rivera’s songs are not better than anything. It’s always the covers and later versions of them that makes them good, saves them, like when Kamikazee salvaged ”Sana Kahit Minsan.”

Gaano Ko Ikaw Kamahal, Itchyworms. Don’t you think it’s good that previously unavailable non-album songs like this are now becoming more accessible because you can now stream them on Spotify. Think it’s one of the “goods” of Spotify. Because it consumes less data than streaming the music video on YT which isn’t even HD, I guess? Idk. I’m playing a 320kbps file I saved on my phone.

Once I Loved, Astrud Gilberto. This should’ve been called “The Astrud Gilberto Song,” though “Once I Loved” is also fine. Today I learned, that Astrud Gilberto later hooked up with Stan Getz. Yes, that’s the same Getz, of the famous Getz/Gilberto, the Gilberto being Astrud’s then-husband when they made this album. By the way, this song is my “Starbucks mood” setter. I don’t know, I suppose it’s the same mood as when I go to the beach and drink beer but somehow it gets associated with sitting in a coffeeshop and sipping on a cup of overpriced coffee.

I Won’t Last A Day Without You, The Carpenters. The Judy Ann version would also be fine.

You, The Carpenters. If you’re into collecting records and you’re a Carpenters fan, you might have wondered as well why “You” isn’t always included in their greatest hits compilations. It’s because it was never released as a single, and therefore was not a hit, in the US or elsewhere — except in the Philippines. This song, off the band’s seventh album, is a non-single. But some pinoy radio DJs back then must’ve liked the song so much that they started playing it on their programs and soon other DJs followed suit and eventually made the song a Philippine-only hit, just like Rupert Holmes’ “Terminal” and Stephen Speaks’ “Passenger Seat.”

Escape (The Pina Colada Song), Rupert Holmes. Speaking of Holmes, this became “popular” again recently due to Awesome Mix Vol. 1, Star-Lord’s mom’s gift to Peter Quill a.k.a. Star-Lord, in the movie Guardians of the Galaxy. Anyway, interesting story, which you’d probably miss if you don’t read the lyrics. It’s about a couple who’s bored with each other and their marriage, two individuals, who, in the end, probably deserved each other, deserved to be together.

Everything, Alanis Morissette. I thought this is one of her bestest songs. I mean, honest, confessional, I thought this is very empowering. But I don’t know women, so I don’t know, I might be wrong. I thought this feels like what it feels like when someone really really loves you, when you’re in a happy healthy relationship with someone, and s/he’s really good in bed. Sure, sex doesn’t solve personal, much less world, problems, but good sex, good loud sex, is all you need, sometimes. And feeling loved of course.

Sirang Romantiko, Put3ska. I think it was in one of Diego Castillo’s Foaming In the Mouth podcast where I first heard Sylvia La Torre’s “Alak.” I liked the song. So, I searched for it, found it, and downloaded “Ikaw Kasi,” the album which includes that song. The other day, I found that this album also has a song called “Bahala Na!” I played it and I thought it sounded familiar. It’s the same song found on FrancisM’s Freeman, which I didn’t know back then was a cover. Now, I’m wondering if “Sirang Romantiko” is cover or not, given that “Manila Girl” was earlier recorded by the Urban Bandits. Anyway, it doesn’t matter. Edit: According to Google, this was written by Arnold Morales. So, no, it’s not a cover.

Like Someone In Love, Chet Baker. In my nth attempt to get into jazz, I saved a number of jazz albums on my phone, which I labeled Jazz Starter Pack. Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue (reportedly more accessible than, say, Bitches Brew), Thelonius Monk’s Brilliant Corners, something by Coltrane, and Chet Baker Sings. I liked Chet Baker Sings, the rest I just couldn’t get into.

Hallelujah, John Cale. Leonard Cohen alludes to David playing a harp (maybe) before King Saul in the first verse, and then mixes the story of David and Bathseba with Samson and Delilah on the next. Cohen also made the point that David wanted to be tested, just like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob before him (Your faith was strong but you needed proof / You saw her bathing on the roof / Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you). While the other three passed the test, David failed miserably. Eventually, he sent Uriah Heep to his death, and took Bathseba as his wife. And I learned all this from watching the movie King David on an old VHS tape back in the ’90s. Not even in my teens yet, but for a Biblical movie, this has a fair amount of violence, some sex and nudity.

You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me, The Miracles. Four Brothers, a movie about, well, four brothers, two of them black and the other two white, starring Mark Walhberg, one-half of Outkast, and two other guys, is a good movie. The song isn’t really featured in the movie. But some blogger from years ago, thought it would be nice to share a Motown classic after talking about the movie. Because the movie is set in Detroit. And it features some Motown classic. I downloaded the MP3 and it got me hooked on it from the moment the piano intro started.

Your Ex-Lover Is Dead, Stars. Captured a taxi despite all the rain / We drove in silence across Pont Champlain / And all of the time you thought I was sad / I was trying to remember your name. He forgot her name? How could he forget her name? Her ex must have been a dick. I mean, I (kind of) met someone before and I never forgot about her. And I didn’t even know her name. But I never forgot. Going back to the song, it’s good that they ended up alone, not together in the end. Because her ex’s a dick.

I Don’t Wanna Wait, Paula Cole. I only knew and heard about Dawson’s Creek based on what my friends said or did not say about the show back when it was one of the things they used to talk about. They said ABS-CBN’s Tabing-Ilog was a rip-off of it. Also, up to this point, I don’t know which came first: the Barbie’s Cradle song or the show? The song most probably. Anyway, for the longest time, I thought it’s “I don’t wanna wait for our lies to be over” instead of “our lives to be over.”

Darating, Teeth. There’s a bit of “minsan lang kitang iibigin” in this final track on Teeth’s final studio album I Was A Teenage Tree. Only it’s way less schmaltzy, less heart on one’s sleeve than the 1993 hit written by Aaron Paul del Rosario, which was originally based on a poem called “I Will Love Thee But Once” — the final line of the poem “But once will be forever” seamlessly translated into the song’s “dahil ang minsan ay magpakailanman.” What did I say about songs that promise forever? Teeth has a better alternative: “Parang ayaw na kitang mawala. Minsan lang darating — mawawala pa ba ang minsan?”

5 Cool/Great Album Covers (and 5 Which Are Not)

There are album covers that add something — tone, hue, context — to the listening experience. There are album covers that are just great to look at. There are great albums with ‘meh’ album covers. The opposite is mostly likely also true. Anyway, below are album artworks which I think are cool or great, and album covers which are not. Continue reading “5 Cool/Great Album Covers (and 5 Which Are Not)”

Brighten the Corners

Pavement’s Autumnal Fourth Record Turns 25

It was around the time after Matador released the superlative re-issue of Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, when I rediscovered Pavement, through the internet, on one Radiohead fansite, on music review sites and online magazines. People were just sharing stuff, and before long, I have Pavement’s first, second, and fourth Continue reading “Brighten the Corners”

Bummed Playlist

This could’ve been a Friday Slide playlist, trademark Jam 88.3, I’m making this bummed out playlist instead. A missed opportunity at work due to some late capitalism assessment tool. Then, I have drive to work for at least two weeks (my carpool friend got himself “sanctioned”). Not that I don’t like driving. Continue reading “Bummed Playlist”

Reviews: Kitchie Nadal, Juana, Session Road

Juana – Misbehavior (2005)
I would’ve seen them live one time they opened for Rivermaya — had I come early. But I was late, always late to the party. Late to seek this underappreciated mid-aughts little gem. Late to catch this “Reyna Ng Quezon City” back when she was still queen. By the time I got into them, the band wasn’t Juana anymore — the singer left, their name changed, etc. By the time I looked for their CD, I had to do search & rescue in the remaining record stalls in the malls, meet scalpers, join online second-hand CD groups. What did I miss to have on CD? Turns out, plenty. The minor hits “Ikaw Pa Rin,” “Goodbye,” “Pansinin Mo,” and more. “Connected” is your lost ’90s teenage anthem (I am a lost cause I am a zero / Always the victim and never the hero). “Jealous,” another upbeat number, about a bitchy coworker. In “This Year,” Shirley de Guzman does better than Chantal Kreviazuk, whose earlier version of the song appeared on the Serendipity OST. Whether it’s anticipation, yearning or maybe even desperation — mas ramdam mo ‘yung kanta sa version ng Juana. Mas may gigil din ‘yung tugtugan nila. ‘Yung kay Chantal parang medyo tinatamad pa s’ya eh. A-

Kitchie Nadal – Kitchie Nadal (2004)
See how a single song, a Koreanovela, massive airplay, and poster girl for-cover art helped this turn “megaplatinum” — though probably not in a Nina Live! sort of way. Or see how its success made the label execs/artist management finally realize how to market female rockers: relaunch their careers as solo acts, double-bill ex-Band X and ex-Band Y in concert, and expect windfall from the huge amount of goodwill. Because everybody loves female rockers/singers/songwriters/bandleaders — except when you’re jealous, or just a hater. We’re not even talking about the product endorsements and TV ads that followed. But but but the rest of this album rarely inspire nor evoke the same energy as the famous Koreanovela/radio hit — yes, the one with Onemig Bondoc cameo in the MV. “Run” and “Same Ground” do suffice respectively, as the forgotten first single and obligatory but solid follow-up, but the rest don’t quite stir up as much. Don’t like it when she gets preachy (“Bulong”) but I do like that she strains her cords in the final track, “Fire” — something this album could definitely use a little more of. B

Session Road – Suntok Sa Buwan (2004)
Competent bar band with a few songs to show for (“Suntok Sa Buwan,” “Cool Off”) and at least a couple of cuts, betraying their influences. Regretfully theirs or not, “Leaving You” borrows not only its I-ii-iii-IV from “Garmonbozia” (the song, not the creamed corn from Twin Peaks), but also its hook. Sure, it is its own thing, as with the rest. But the whole LP also kind of drags, esp. after blasting your speakers with Superdrag. B-

Bamboo Dogs (2018)

Bamboo Dogs is set in the ’90s, said to be based on actual events. Four criminals were arrested and brought to the precinct due to miscommunication between different police departments. They are police “assets” as said repeatedly by one of the cops. And so they had to be brought to the camp and to be released later, as ordered by a certain “chief.” The road trip begins: four guys and four cops inside an old L300. Might probably be best not to know which actual events this was based on — to keep one guessing, or keep one from having expectations. Not that we can’t expect Khavn to do something “twisted,” or make his own version of the “official” report that we got from the news. It does have the elements to be expected in a road movie — a Khavn road movie that is: a freak parade, song numbers, a cat caught and obliterated in the van’s wheel, jokes about sex, women, and jokes about the youngest gang member — because he’s 14 and still a virgin, still uncircumcised — “supot” just like Sylvester Stallone in one of those “bold” movies. Interactions both rowdy and earnest help flesh out these characters. They’re most probably “assets,” but some of them have families too waiting for them at home, just like the two officers tasked to transfer them to the HQ, Esquivel (Dido dela Paz) and Corazon (Sue Prado), who just happened to be the ones “assigned” to do “the task.” Curiously, the two other cops sitting in front of the van were kept in the shade for most of the movie. Their stories, the playful back-and-forth make obvious the link between the two groups — the cops and the crooks — something those who were behind the actual events wanted to bury, liquidate. At 80 minutes, Bamboo Dogs is relatively easier to sit thru than Balangiga. It’s dark, twisted, pointedly critical, and oftentimes funny — with a surreal ‘life flashing before your eyes’ moment near the end, and a Rez Cortez dance number in the credits.

Ang Babaeng Walang Pakiramdam (2021)

Not really into movie love teams. But if this real-life couple, this Kim-Jerald tandem (not that Kim-Gerald, this Kim-Jerald) is considered such, then I am somewhat into this particular pair. There are bits that are laugh out loud funny (you probably saw already in the trailers e.g., Pinoy Henyo, pork & beans, the lugaw/goto scene), and there are annoying unfunny parts. Candy Pangilinan as the tsimosa/kapitbahay kills it as usual, even if she’s playing a type. But that bit about parents not wanting to see their child get bullied/get hurt/feel pain and child wishing to spare the parents from experiencing and sharing the same, is played so straightforward, so “undramatic,” thus making it a genuine MMK moment. It’s dramatic, minus all the drama, if that makes sense. Makes you wonder how a movie so un-PC and “insensitive” could also say something about trauma, bullying, suicide that actually rings true. That despite all the ngongo jokes and gags about Tasha’s inability to feel pain, it also managed to be (somewhat) sincere? And best of all, this movie has a WTF ending — probably my favorite WTF ending of the year.

Best Movies I’ve Seen in 2021

“Movies are our cheap and easy expression, the sullen art of displaced persons. Because we feel low we sink in the boredom, relax in the irresponsibility, and maybe grin for a minute when the gunman lines up three men and kills them with a single bullet, which is no more “real” to us than the nursery-school story of the brave little tailor.” Pauline Kael. Trash, Art, and the Movies. It’s a nice read. Even though I don’t know all the movies she mentioned in it. Continue reading “Best Movies I’ve Seen in 2021”

Mga Paborito Kong Kanta sa Taong 2021

A few months ago, I was listening to some of Zild Benitez’s songs on YouTube. On the second or third song, I wondered, these songs don’t sound the same as I remember. Only then did I realize that I was actually listening to a different set of songs, from a different album, Zild’s second album. I thought they were from Continue reading “Mga Paborito Kong Kanta sa Taong 2021”

Alcoholiday: Drinking Songs

Bakit Ba? Siakol. Nagaaliw sa usok at beer lang ang kasama. You can forgive the song’s overt sentimentality. Obviously, the guy’s already drunk even before the first line. And you know some guys are like that when they’re brokenhearted. And drunk.

Syota ng Bayan. Grin Department. Probably the most un-PC in the list. And it isn’t totally about drinking either. But you know me, I’ll include a song even for the slightest hint of alcohol in the lyrics. Even if it’s denatured or rubbing alcohol we’re talking about. This is what lack of alcohol does to a MF.

Di Ko Alam. Grin Department. Why this song? Because it’s hard to drink with the girl when you’re in the friendzone.

Salamat. The Dawn. Corporate rock at its finest but corporate rock nonetheless. I don’t really like The Dawn or this song, even though it automatically makes me think of ice-cold San Miguel Beer. But if you’re a fan, you can argue that even Fernando Amorsolo worked for La Tondena before (back when it was Ayala Distillery).

Sige. 6cyclemind. The thing with 6cyclemind is that, no matter how you dislike them, most of their songs (the better ones) are videoke staples. Also, because Eraserheads’ songs are usually harder to sing (Spoliarium, El Bimbo, Magasin).

Sabado Nights. Rizal Underground. The band sampled a riff from Juan Dela Cruz’ “Mamasyal sa Pilipinas.” And you may forget about this JDC tidbit but maybe not the lady in black T-shirt in that Sabado Nights TV commercial.

Spoliarium. Eraserheads. It’s not about something so sinister as some people think/used to think. By the way, “Wasak Waltz” is medyo cringe (Sorry, so conyo). Medyo pilit s’ya. At saka cliche na ‘yung ‘wasak’ nung ni-release ‘tong kantang ‘to. If I remember correctly, Ely once said that some of his songs (post-Eraserheads) were intially written for beer commercials. Maybe “Wasak Waltz” was one of those.

Bananatype. Eraserheads. Hey! What’s your name? Hindi mo ba alam na akoy lasing? This is Ely at his wackiest, and maybe Eheads at their bluesiest. Watch out for references to Tekken’s Jun Kazama (aahh, ‘yun pala ‘yun) and Mario O’Hara.

Giyang. Razorback. Conyo rock not at its finest but conyo rock nonetheless. Ugh.

Baso. Maude. The rare 2010’s song in the list. And… that’s all.

Hudas. Bamboo. ‘Pag sila’y nagtatawanang malakas, tinatawanan lang tayo. O ‘di kaya isang tropa lang sila, ang demonyo, si San Pedro at ang Diyos. ‘Nuff said.

Straight No Chaser. Rivermaya. Nathan Azarcon, patron saint of the broken, wrote “She’s So Uncool,” “Homecoming,” and this. While it is really about drinking it straight — no chaser — like that Siakol song above, this is also about a girl.

Gin Pomelo. Radioactive Sago Project. How the f*ck did I forget about this one the first time?

Inuman Na. Parokya Ni Edgar. This song could go on and on for as long as everyone knows the chorus (nevermind the verse) and until the guitarist couldn’t play the right chords anymore. Because he’s drunk already. We’re drunk already. And neighbors were already angry.

Pare Ko. Eraserheads. The post-basted group therapy song. You can be Siakol and drink alone with your misery or you can drink with friends which is probably a lot more fun.

Masaya. Bamboo. Ako’y malungkot na naman. Amoy chico na ako, ilang tagay na hindi pa rin tulog. What I wrote about “Straight No Chaser,” I should have written for this. This song hits really hard. Ang pag-ibig, ganyan talaga. Sa una lang masaya.

Alkohol. Eraserheads. This one’s from Raymund Marasigan. He wrote a Larry Alcala Slice of Life, where people are drunk, drinking, and all the things described in the song.

Laklak. Teeth. Someone needs to write a song about different type and brands of beer (or whiskey or whatever your weapon of choice is) the way The End wrote and sang about cars in “Drive My BM” just for the sake of it. Just for fun. You know, a song where there’s a line that mentions Heineken, San Miguel, Tiger, Sapporo… and rhymes Carlsberg with Spielberg. Why not a song about the perils of alcoholism? Well, because Teeth already did that.

Beer. Itchyworms. If including a song that has little to do with drinking (see above: Syota ng Bayan) is what lack of alcohol does to a MF, this song is what lack of pussy [and plenty of alcohol] does to a MF. Is he in denial phase? Or he got drunk so hard that he reached the tipping point of letting go. Either way, this song asks the ultimate fucking question. Ano ba talagang mas gusto ko: ang beer na ‘to o ang pag-ibig mo?

Photo from Reddit.

Movies, DVDs, and other horror stories

The Shining. Me and my cousins watched this together with other kids in a ‘piso-piso Betamax movie house,’ which is not really a movie house by the way, but an actual house. We watched this movie in somebody’s living room. You know what’s just as scary as the movie itself? My cousin whispering to my ear Continue reading “Movies, DVDs, and other horror stories”

Breeder’s Digest

If you haven’t read or seen anything (trailers, reviews, clips) related to On the Job: The Missing 8, maybe the better, for maximum impact. Because that’s what I did. Of course, I knew that John Arcilla won an award, and I saw somewhere a meme-able Agot Isidro with the bangs. What I didn’t know was that Dennis Trillo is also in the movie, sporting a mullet and a broken nose — because mullet is action movie thugs signature haircut and having a broken nose is the surest way you can make Trillo convincing as a convicted criminal — something director Erik Matti probably learned in the first movie after they cast Gerald Anderson to play an inmate/hitman. Watched it as six-part mini-series on HBO and found that they split and re-edited On the Job (2013), the first movie, for the first two episodes. Episodes 3 to 6 is basically the second movie, The Missing 8 (2021), which was screened this year in the 78th Venice International Film Festival. It’s almost 4 hours long — maybe too long to watch in one sitting and probably works best as a mini-series. And if you’ve seen On the Job before, you can skip the first two episodes. If you haven’t, then this is the best chance to see it. And before I reveal more information about the series (since I’m recommending to go in blind), let me say that it’s one of the best movies/series I’ve seen this year. It’s despairing as it is entertaining. By the way, here’s pogi-rock classic for ya.

Breeder’s Digest

I had a really scary dream the other night. Can’t remember the earlier part of it but I remember the best parts. And guess what, it’s a two-part dream. In Part 1, I was visited by a ghost in my bed. I don’t really remember what she looked like and I don’t really want to remember. Maybe she’s a white lady. Continue reading “Breeder’s Digest”

Violator (2014)

Five men find themselves stranded inside a police station during a typhoon. And with them is a prisoner who may o may not be the devil. Violator seems to be about ‘beliefs’, preconceived notions, about life, death, religion, among other things. About how one’s belief is confronted — usually by horrifying experience (e.g., a dead student with pig’s head in a classroom, witnessing a cop casually murder a captured drug pusher), or how others confront their beliefs by doing horrifying things (e.g., committing suicide, shooting at the statues of the Sto. Niňo). Not a big fan of the “flashing light” effects. Find it more annoying than scary/disorienting/whatever it was intended for. But of the last three esoteric/mind fuck/horror movies I’ve seen, this one I liked the most. Violator (2014), In the Earth (2021), Midnight in the Perfect World (2021) (set in a future where smartphones don’t have LED flashlights?) — in that order, if I have to rank them. In the Earth has the most fully realized psychedelic nightmare, the annoying strobe lights notwithstanding. But Violator has the better story — stories — about ghosts, demonic possessions, religious cults, the inner workings of the police organization. The movie doesn’t seem to have a plot, at least not until the second half, when the puzzle pieces start falling into place. Even then, the pacing doesn’t necessarily pick up. There’s a sense of constant dread, that something isn’t right, but it never quite builds up. The devil may not be in the details, but the devil is the movie’s most interesting creation. And leaves you a hanging question: If you believe in the devil, does it mean you also believe in God?

Breeder’s Digest

Contrary to that Ben Folds Five song (which none of you probably knows), nobody wants to be Kate. No, not in this movie. Nobody would want to be in her position. Female assassin and young girl pairing works better here than in Gunpowder Milkshake, the same way the multiple double crosses works better Continue reading “Breeder’s Digest”

King of Comedy (1999)

There’s a stitched together quality to Stephen Chow’s and Lee Lik-chi’s King of Comedy as Sin-Tau (Chow) goes through boom and bust cycles (more like bust, bust, boom, bust… really) trying to land an acting job while frequenting a movie set where a production crew is shooting an action film starring Hong Kong superstar Cucko (Karen Mok). That said, King of Comedy is also terribly funny, full of hilarious stuff. The scene where Sin-Tau finally gets to audition for the male lead opposite Cucko, is hands down one of the funniest gag ever. The third act, which seems to come out of nowhere, where Chow goes undercover posing as a lunchbox delivery man to infiltrate a triad, is both tense and swift. Tense like Leonardo di Caprio in Martin Scorsese’s The Departed (which, by the way, is a remake of Hong Kong triad movie Infernal Affairs) and swift like Tony Leung in a movie by John Woo, whose over-the-top gunfights, this movie spoofed in one of its movie set sequence where Sin-Tau plays a background character — church shootouts, Mexican stand-offs, doves, heroine with arms outstretched firing two handguns, you name it. Some say this might be Stephen Chow’s most heartfelt film. Probably the most grounded too—no high flying soccer players, no mermaids, no kung fu masters. Just Chow playing a bit player trying to make it big in the movies, and Cecilia Cheung playing hooker with a heart of gold and transcending hooker with a heart of gold types. If you like Chow’s other movies like God of Cookery and Kung Fu Hustle, you’d like this one for sure.

Breeder’s Digest

I remember waiting inside a bus listening to the news. The DJ was talking about the attacks. Twin towers. World Trade Center. I probably never heard of them until that specific time. At the time, we had no TV at home (we had one but it was broken). Few minutes later, a friend boarded the same bus Continue reading “Breeder’s Digest”

Monrak Transistor (2001)

Monrak Transistor (Transistor Love Story) reminds me of the stories we used to get from TV soaps. The setting, the characters, and mainly, for the amount of “bad luck” that befell the characters. But was it really bad luck? Wasn’t it just the choices they made? Maybe both. Pan gets drafted into the army and has to leave Sadaw, his wife, pregnant with their first child. Sadaw is left with a transistor radio, Pan’s gift to her on their wedding day. Pan writes to her every day and sings “Mai Leum” (“Never Forget”) for her, amidst a military training montage. Until one day he stops. Because he doesn’t know how to tell her that he went AWOL, and joined a pop music group in the city. If only his love for her was bigger than his dream to become a singing star. From there, the movie seamlessly transitions from bucolic rom-com, to a musical melodrama, an action movie, and tragic crime thriller. Like in that Belle & Sebastian song, Pan thought “there was love in everything and everyone.” Unlike the story in the song though, Pan didn’t succeed — not with a winning smile, not with his naivety. After years of mopping floors and toiling in prison, finally, it brings him back to where it started. Back to Sadaw. Except they aren’t the same persons anymore, not the same enamored couple we meet earlier in the movie. When they see each other again near the end, you can’t help but feel the weight of the years they spent apart, the hardships that they went through. It’s a wonderfully bittersweet ending. And like the boy in that Belle & Sebastian song — not trying to make excuses here — oh boy, do I always cry at endings.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (2021)

This is multitasking at its best. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier tackles racism, US war vets treatment, refugees, extremism, the next black Captain America, The Blip, among other things. Too bad Bucky got the short shrift of it, despite his name in the show’s title. His quest for internal peace and atonement Continue reading “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (2021)”