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.
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.
“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.
By the way, I think the writers of Deadpool stole from Pauline Kael that one specific scene in the movie. You know which scene I’m talking about. And speaking of movie scenes, here are some of my favorites from the best movies I’ve seen in 2021.
The context of this story wasn’t really clear to me. Was it a serious relationship? Were they what some people would call “friends with benefits”? I don’t know. Let’s just say that some details cannot be disclosed and some parts of the story had to be kept vague, for the sake of brevity. This story was told to me one time during lunch. This guy at work happened to be in a mood to share some stories while we’re having the usual forgettable meal during break.
He said he met and dated this woman who comes from an affluent family. Let’s just say, she’s “intrepid,” because I already forgot the exact words he said when he described her. She drives a mid-tier SUV. They’d meet up, eat out, go wherever they want. Of course, they’d fuck — at her place, maybe in a motel — he didn’t give all the details. Sometimes, they’d do it in the car.
Well, I have never seen people fucking inside a car — in the movies, yes, but not in real life. But some friends in my previous work did. They saw people doing it in the car. In real life. They’re security guards. At a mall. There’s this one incident where they spotted a car in the parking lot and it was moving in very mysterious ways.
And if you’re thinking it’s illegal to spy on people inside their car, well, maybe not when it’s moving like that. Who knows? There could be a crime happening. So, my friends in the security did what they do best. They investigated on the “suspiciously moving” vehicle. And to their relief, there’s nothing illegal happening there — no crime — just two people banging each other on the car seat.
Now, going back to the story. So, this guy and his friend, they would sometimes do it in her car. She seems to have no qualms about it. He neither. One time it was already late, around the time that they’d usually go home, they decided to just go to the nearest parking area and do it there. After the prerequisite teasing, of course. They’ve done it before. Once, twice, maybe more.
They were in the parking lot in no time. Car parked, lights off, engine running, A/C on, music on. Lips wet, nipples hard, juices flowing, and the hard on was, well, it was on and hard. He was in the passenger seat, pants pulled down to his knees. She was on top, her bra unclasped and shirt pulled up. Her panties and pants made a small pile on top of the cambio.
And if you’re thinking, “Weren’t they afraid that they’ll get caught?” Well, that’s also what I was thinking. People could show up at any time. The roving security guard, people going to the vehicles parked nearby (if, there were vehicles parked nearby), or people in their cars looking for a parking spot. People could also sneak up on them. That’s what my friends — the security guards — did. They were already having a clear view of what’s happening inside that moving vehicle and having an animated back-and-forth on the radio before they decided to go and tell the couple to “go get a room” just when the two were about to peak.
But isn’t that what makes it exciting? The fear of getting caught, the fear of having bright lights flashed on your car and people seeing you butt-naked while you two are busy banging each other? And the thing is, when you don’t wanna get caught, you want to do it faster, quicker, get done with it already. But the fear also makes you uneasy, uncomfortable, makes you constantly check the window if someone’s coming, which makes it harder for you to concentrate, to focus, makes it harder for both of you to come. Paradoxically, the more you want to do it quicker, the longer it takes for you to reach that which you were trying to reach. Or so they say.
But I digress. Let’s go back to the couple in the car.
She was already breathing heavy. He was sweating beneath her. Her one hand was on the headrest, the other on the grab handle. At this point, the thought that someone might see or sneak up was already on the farthest corner on the back their minds. Their minds and loins were already too busy for that.
There’s a barely audible rustling outside. But she’s too focused to notice that. He wanted to tell her, it seems someone’s coming. I’m coming, she said — almost there but not yet. Her moans were getting louder. She moved faster. And faster.
A sudden loud thud stopped them — stopped her from coming — froze their bodies in a semi-erotic pose, but with a shocked, scared, funny look on their faces, instead of the usual facial expression of bliss. It was a taong grasa, knocking on the passenger window, grinning at the shocked couple. They both screamed like a bitch. Dazed and confused, his erection turned flaccid in an instant, the building spasm in her, fizzled out.
“Sabi ko, mag-seatbelt kayo. Kasi malubak!” they did not hear nor understand what he said.
She pulled her shirt down and quickly moved to the driver’s seat. He pulled his pants and adjusted his seat. She picked her pants and panties and threw them at him. She released the hand brake, backed the car and drove away fast. Without pants or panties on.
She felt the cold air between her legs when she stepped on the brakes as they approach an intersection. She was annoyed that the greasy old man interrupted them, just when she was about to come. He was still horrified when he thought of the crazy old man’s face pressed on the window, smiling like a madman who have seen two people fucking for the first time. And they laughed about it as the light turns green and their car went past and disappeared into the dark.
Firewoman. Hungry Young Poets. I wanna be a firewoman. I’ll water down your desire. I’m not really sure I’m right about this one, which is why it’s first on the list. But Barbie Almalbis also wrote “Belinda Bye-bye,” which means, she wasn’t afraid to write about, y’know, “stuff.” And there’s “fire” in the lyrics. I initially included Up Dharma Down’s “We Give in Sometimes” and Sinosikat?’s “Turning My Safety Off” in this list, because there’s also “fire” in the lyrics, but I scrapped them because I was not really sure they’re really about what I initially thought they were about.
Daliri. Kwjan. It’s more in the delivery, the funk, the riffs, and what isn’t said in the lyrics. Also, you can read “Daliri mo’y may labi” as “Labi mo’y may daliri.” O, di ba?
Pateros. Apartel. After Sampaguita’s “Laguna,” Sugarfree’s “Los Baňos,” Cambio’s “DV,” comes this. Unlike those songs, this one’s a funky double entendre. Bagsakan ng itlog. And bagsakan here should be taken in a similar way The Advisors and P.O.T. used yugyugan in “Yugyugan Na.” Not the same bagsakan in that PNE song, or in those college humor memes.
Sisid. Apartel. Sisisirin ko ang pag-ibig mo, ang pag-ibig mo. Again, more suggestive than, um, non-suggestive, just like “Pateros.”
Paano Sasabihin? Sandwich. Mula nang matikman, ‘di na magkukunwari. Magwawala na tila, nakawala sa tali. Mula nang matikman, tumulay sa bahaghari, napapanaginipan matamis mong mga labi.
Tikman. Eraserheads. ‘Di mapakali, magdamag hinahanap. Nababaliw tuwing naaalala ang init. ‘Di malimutan, kailangang muling makamit ang tamis sa aking mga labi. It’s really about burgers, really. Minute Burger. Have you ever tried their burgers? They’re really small! But they have coleslaw, which is good. And I think they have hot dogs and buns as well. Hot dogs, burgers, buns. That’s what this is really about.
Abot Langit. Maris Racal. Sexy dance moves, suggestive lyrics, I dunno if people still care if today’s young stars still try to maintain immaculately wholesome image the way they used to or not. Well, I don’t really care what people care about anyway. Halika na dito alam ko namimiss mo. At ako’y sabik na rin sa hawak mo… Um, “hawak mo”? Sa music video, pizza delivery man si Rico Blanco. At pagbukas ni Maris ng pinto, andoon s’ya at may hawak na naghahabaan, nagtitigasang… (clears throat) may hawak s’yang box ng pizza. Teka, ulitin natin: Halika na dito alam ko namimiss mo. At ako’y sabik na rin sa hawak mo at halik mo na mismong bubuo ng araw ko. Dahan-dahan… Baby, sana lang wag mong itigil. O kay sarap mong damhin. ‘Wag itigil ang alin?
Wag Na Sana ‘kong Gumising Mag-Isa. Jastafraz’s Chechebureche feat. Uela Basco. Sexy. Sultry. Steamy. Slowly. Gently. Inhale. Exhale. Slowly in. Slowly out. Ganun talaga pag may sipon ka at ‘di ka makahinga at feeling mo may Covid ka. Magbalot ka ng kumot, at langhapin ang steam na nagmumula sa palangganang may pinakulong tubig na may asin at vicks. Lalo na kung pakiramdam mo nag-aalab ang katawan mo, baka lagnat na ‘yan. Mag-suob ka.
Rodeo. Rivermaya. A song about lovers in a long distance relationship who miss each other SO MUCH and a secret love song cherishing the time they spent together. And by “time spent together,” you know what I mean, just read the lyrics: Ro-De-O-uh-oh-oh-oh! Like the buffalos do it by the wishing well ’cause they haven’t got no money for a cheap motel. Ro-De-O-uh-oh-oh-oh! What sweeter thing could happen to a boy an’ a girl? We gotta do it like mechanical rabbits from hell, yeah!
10. Grin Department. Count to ten… Sabi niya, baka mo lang daw pintasan. Pag natikman baka bigla mong ayawan. Kaya naman kanyang iniingatan. Ang sabi ko inyo munang pag-isipan. Sampung beses sampung beses. This song suggests that boy and girl should think and talk about it before doing the deed. Despite having the usual double-entendres (Baka kayo magkasubuan) we have come (no pun intended) to expect from the band, this one I think is pretty insightful, maybe even useful, like you can use it as a supplementary sex ed. material.
Alamona. End of Contracts. Ang tamis ng yung halik at ang alam mo na. Ang magising sa iyong piling na wala ka nang iba. Ang haplos ng iyong kamay at ang alam mo na. Ang tuloy-tuloy mong agos na animo’y lawa na. Obvious naman na tungkol ito sa, alam mo na.
Chatters’ Tale. Orange & Lemons. We went to your bedroom. You took off your clothes, my heart went boom. The passion we shared, was unbelievable. How many times we did, it I can’t recall. Yeah, we wish all chatroom encounters end like this.
Isang Gabi. Orange & Lemons. Sa pag-uwi, ‘di pa rin malimot ang ‘yong mga ngiti. ‘Di na makatulog, parang kaluluwang ‘di matahimik. Naghihintay ng bukas. Dahil sa isang gabing kapiling ka. Ako ngayo’y naiinip sa’ting muling pagkikita. Clem Castro is one horny motherfucker.
Heroine. The Mongols. I promise you my heart. We’ll never be apart. I’m gonna fuck you like there’s no tomorrow.
Karayom. Rivermaya. Natusok ka ng ‘sang karayom na ginagamit mo pangtahi ng butas na palda mo. Talagang ganyan, ‘wag kang matakot, hayaan mo at bukas ay wala na ang kirot. Pikit mo na lang muna ang iyong mga mata. There’s little doubt that Mike Elgar has written the horniest songs on Rivermaya’s catalog. He also wrote “Desperado” (At tuwing kumakain, sana ikaw ang nakahain).
Hand-Painted Sky. Color It Red. When lips touch lips and tongue meets tongue. My roaming hands begin to explore. Ask for more, ask for more. And as the night air cooled, the beads of perspiration from my brow (?). I trembled in expectation of what is to come. Until my skin presses against your skin. And everything begins to peak. Slowly, gently, you thrust me deep.
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 Homework Machine. That’s how vaguely I remember the songs/sounds from Zild’s solo debut, which still has a lot of patutsada/pasaring to that “othered” member of the band — something that seems missing on his second outing.
Huminga is figuratively what it is; a breath of fresh air from cabin fever pareidolia, the patterns outside the window finally in sensation. Disclaimer: Hindi ako ang nagsulat n’yan. Nakita ko lang sa web. Maybe Huminga is a breath of fresh air. Maybe it’s a masterpiece. For sure, some would include it in their 2021 best-of list. My thoughts on the album? Um, di ko pa rin napapakinggan ‘yung buong album, kaya wala akong opinyon ukol dito.
I thought “Kyusi” is fine, “Huminga” better. I didn’t like the line ‘di mo kailangang baguhin ang iyong anyo.’ Because you don’t really say ‘anyo’ when referring to your date’s looks, do you? Tatagalugin ko na lang para hindi tunog conyo. Di mo kailangan baguhin ang porma mo, ang pananamit mo. Pag sinabi kong nagbago ka ng anyo, ibig sabihin nun, ano, parang aswang ka. Galing sa anyong-tao nag anyong-hayop ka, ganern.
Siya nga pala, hindi talaga ito tungkol sa Huminga, o kung bakit magaling na album s’ya. Hindi rin ito tungkol sa “Kyusi” at “Huminga.” Tungkol ito sa mga paborito kong kanta ngayong 2021. At dahil wala akong maisulat para sa intro, ginawa ko na lang ‘bakit hindi kasama ang mga kanta ni Zild sa mga paborito kong kanta’ ang intro. Bakit nga ba hindi? Kasi ‘di ko sila trip, ganun lang ka-simple. At mas trip ko ang mga sumusunod:
I Love You So, The Walters. Only one of them is named Walter and no, they’re not brothers. Misleading band name aside, you should definitely see Luke Olson dance on stage while performing this song, because it’s a diaper-changing experience, like changing life in the middle of the night.
Binibini, Zack Tabudlo. Discovered this song first via some parody on Facebook (“Binubuni”). Then, I searched for it on YouTube and I liked it — played more than any recent Zild, Unique, IVOS, or Oh, Flamingo! Thought the chorus sounds like something else, but couldn’t put a finger on. Sometimes that’s a good thing.
Pelikula, Janine Tenoso. Di ko alam kung saang lupalop o kung paano, kailan, bakit, at wala akong planong alamin pa pero OK itong kantang ‘to ni Janine at Arthur Nery. Magkahawig sila ng mood/feels ng “Binibini.”
Tu, Maye. Alam ko na ang Tu ay You, pero wala akong naintindihan sa kantang ‘to. Pero OK s’ya.
Lagi, Aina Juarez (Skusta Clee cover). Found it used in one video on FB about EMI a.k.a the Zigzag Road in Atimonan, Quezon. Didn’t watch the whole thing but found the song interesting. So I decided that I’ll watch it later but it turns out, tracking your watched history on FB isn’t as easy as I thought. So, I spent maybe around an hour just searching, watching, re-watching anything Zigzag Road on FB until I found it.
Over You, Velvet Underground. Slightly modified version na nasa YouTube, dinagdagan ng keyboards, at mas OK kesa original.
Kinikilig, Hazel Faith. Found this in one of those short videos/memes on FB and I thought more songs should be like this — catchy, dance-y, refreshing bubble gum without trying so much to break-out of the usual pop song mold.
Popcorn, Hot Butter. There are more than a few dance hits of the past that I wanted to revisit from time to time. There’s only one problem: most of them, I don’t know the title. While there are songs like “Macarena”, “Dayang-Dayang”, “Shalala Lala”, there are also songs like “Get Get Down”, “Dragostea Don Tei”, and “Popcorn.” I first heard this song in a Chiquito movie (Prinsipe Abante) I saw on PBO few years ago. And my endless search for it ended this year when I finally found what it’s called. Turns out to be one of the most covered dance hit ever. Hinanap ko muna ‘yung taon na ginawa ang Prinsipe Abante, tapos hinanap ko pabalik ‘yung mga dance hits kada taon.
Butterfly, Kacey Musgraves. Kacey Musgraves performed nude on SNL and the internet was like ‘she was really nude’ like her doing it nude was such a big deal. Or maybe because people online hardly even care nowadays. Well, really nude or not, I like this one song of hers.
1999, Charli XCX. I just wanna go back, back to Natin99 — ito lang ang ’90s reference na di alam ng mga western media. Akalain mo, fan din pala ng Eheads si Charli XCX.
Coles Corner, Richard Hawley. This song makes me feel nostalgic for things I’ve never experienced—either a past imagined or only seen in movies. This one’s from one Richard Hawley, the guitarist (and singer-songwriter) who auditioned for but got rejected by Morrissey.
Dirty Work, Steely Dan. Sounds like 60s/70s song about workers withholding labor and destroying corporations. Like, y’know, Fuck the Man, I’m not gonna do your dirty work for free! Until I read the lyrics. And I was amazed how they sang this song so straight without any hint of irony, given what the song is really about.
Mango Love, Shawn Wasabi. Pinakinggan ko ‘yung ibang songs n’ya sa YouTube (Pinoy pala si Shawn Wasabi), pero ‘yung Mango Love lang ang nagustuhan ko.
Send in the Clowns, Judy Collins. Months ago, I was looking for old songs to cure my insomnia when I discovered this song. It was written by Stephen Sondheim. I’m not really into theatre nor movie adaptations of musicals, the recent Andrew Garfield movie (which is not Spider-Man) and Spielberg’s West Side Story notwithstanding. Nor do I have any plan to get into it. But I remember watching Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd in theatre holding my breath during the scene where Johnny Depp was giving Alan Rickman a shave while both of them were singing.
Black Sheep, Metric (feat. Brie Larson). Did you know? Before Brie Larson became Alt-Right’s most hated actor/character in the MCU, she had singing career and she starred in Spectacular Now, Room, Free Fire and Kong: Skull Island? She was also in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, one of the best comic-book movies ever.
Sol at Luna, Geiko. TT
Friend of Mine, Odette Quesada. I’ve known for so long that this was such a good song, about being ‘friendzoned’ way before it was called that. I didn’t know then that it was Quesada who wrote and sang it. Maybe because the version I knew and heard the most from the radio, wasn’t her version, but by Lea Salonga. And MYMP also did their own version. Did you know that she also wrote “Growing Up” and “Farewell” for the movie Bagets? Disclaimer: I didn’t grow up in the ’80s. I only found out about all this just recently. Did you know that Bodjie Dasig, Quesada’s late husband, wrote “Sana Dalawa Ang Puso Ko” when he couldn’t choose between two car brands? Who would’ve thought there was something “Ballardian” about that song? When we were kids, this song automatically gets an alternate version — naughty kids that we were, we’d sing the chorus differently. Since puso (heart) rhymes with the Bicol word for penis, we’d sing it with slightly different lyrics.
Alcoholiday, Teenage Fanclub. As of this writing, it’s been 344 days without alcohol. And Liver couldn’t wait any longer.
Hakbang, Cheats. Didn’t like the title. I don’t know who started this trend (if it can considered a trend), but using everyday words for song titles e.g. UDD (Sigurado), Ang Bandang Shirley (Iyong, Wala Lang), kind of defeats the purpose of writing a catchy pop song. The song is good. Thought the title could have been catchier, more memorable.
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.
I first saw Cowboy Bebop back when it still airs on GMA-7, on a Thursday night, alongside another anime, Outlaw Star. Speak Like A Child was probably the first episode I saw. This is the episode where Jet and Spike go to a flooded city on Earth looking for a Betamax player. Just to be able to play the tape that someone had secretly sent to Faye. Speak Like A Child being somewhat different from the more action-oriented episodes of Cowboy Bebop and other anime that I knew at the time, is probably one of the reasons that I “bookmarked” the show right then and there. I thought this looks really good. Back then, I most likely thought that compared to other anime, Speak Like A Child is more like an “arty indie film.” (While I do still remember Outlaw Star, I didn’t really bother to seek and see it. And I still haven’t up to now.)
I probably saw a couple of episodes after but I don’t remember watching the show regularly then. It wasn’t until Cowboy Bebop re-appeared on the TV network’s programming as part of the weekend morning cartoons that I was able to really get into the series. At this point, I was already occupied with work. But with work comes internet access too, which means I could easily search and read stuff about Cowboy Bebop and other things that interest me. At the time, I worked mostly on night shift. So, when I get back from work in the morning, I made it a point to catch and watch each episode just before I go to sleep. It was in one of these mornings when I first saw what I consider one of the best Bebop episodes, Waltz for Venus.
IMDB Synopsis: After collecting a bounty, Spike gains a fan in Roco Bonnaro. Roco, a small-time gang member, stole a rare and valuable plant from his own gang. Spike finds it’s more valuable than he is, but Roco has a different plan for the plant.
If Ganymede Elegy is set in Ganymede, Waltz for Venus is set in, um, Venus. And while the former plays as an elegy to Jet’s past, Waltz for Venus does not feature Strauss’ famous “The Blue Danube,” nor is there a scene where Spike dances with Faye, though it probably would have been cool if they included a scene like that. This episode is centered around Roco Bonnaro, a small-time gang member and a loving brother to his blind sister Stella. Roco plays the side-kick, fan, friend, but also as a bounty head to Spike — the last one drawing a conflict between the two. Having a prize on his head means he’s fair game to bounty hunters. But Spike finding about and meeting his sister Stella, changes that. Roco after they became friends, entrusted the valuable plant to Spike, only to learn later that he’s a bounty hunter, which means he can’t be trusted. Still, Roco chooses to save Spike from the gangsters when the two got cornered. Again, I like this sort of internal and external conflict that drives the story forward and gives it dramatic heft.
And there’s something about having a light comedic moment just before the heaviest scene punches you in the gut. Earlier, Roco is so persistent in requesting Spike to teach him ‘the moves,’ this after he witnessed Spike and Faye foil a hijacking in the plane on the way to Venus. Then, later in the middle of a gunfight, Roco is finally able to use what Spike taught him earlier, using a fluid motion and knocking down one of the goons, only for him to get shot in the back right after. Waltz for Venus ends with Stella in a hospital about to undergo surgery for her eyes. Spike visits her and she excitedly tells him she wants Roco to be the first person she sees after the surgery. Until Spike’s steely silence gives away what happened. When Stella asks what his brother was really like, Spike replies, “You know better than anyone, without looking. He was a terrific guy. Exactly the person you thought he was.”
They say taking naps helps you get better sleep at night. So lately, that’s what I usually do after lunch. Power nap. While listening to songs on YouTube. But then there are things that are better than taking power naps. One of them is re-watching episodes of Cowboy Bebop. Because they’re gold. And they’re only 24-minute long, on average. The other day, I watched Ganymede Elegy. Episode 10 — or, Session 10, as the show calls them. IMDB synopsis goes, “Jet confronts his past on Ganymede where a woman he loved, Alisa, had left him without saying goodbye. Spike learns of a new bounty that has a connection to Alisa.”
So, the Bebop crew lands on Jupiter’s largest moon and not much really happens. And I mean that in the most positive way — see, a crowded plot isn’t always a good thing. Spike and Faye deliver the bounty head named Baker Panchorero and get their fistful of woolongs, while Jet visits a bar called “La Fin,” which is owned by his ex-girlfriend Alisa. Then, Faye strips to her super-conservative two-piece and lie in the sun all day. Warning: massive spoilers ahead!
Yes, that’s what Faye does for the rest of the episode — get a tan. And note she’s already tanned by the end of the show (with obviously hidden tan lines of course), which signifies “the passing of time” — a subtext in this episode. Edward on the other hand, goes fishing, and catches a fish that actually looks like a Pokemon. It’s probably a Pokemon. I dunno, I didn’t watch that show. Also, this in Ganymede. So, 99% it’s a Pokemon.
Fun trivia: The signage on police headquarters in Ganymede reads “THERIOT POLICE.”
So Jet goes back to Alisa maybe hoping to rekindle the fire. Given how he spaced out when they were about to enter the gateway, reminiscing how she left her without saying goodbye, without proper breakup, just the word “Farewell” written on a piece of paper. And with Jet taking out a broken pocket watch probably means that time has stopped for Jet after she left. Or maybe he’s thinking along the lines, “I’m timeless like a broken watch, I make money like Fred Astaire.” Although Paul Banks hasn’t written that song yet at this specific time and space.
One thing about the series being more episodic rather than serialized is that, each episode could stand on their own. You can go without watching the other episodes and still appreciate the story and the storytelling. While most of the stories are deeply rooted in genre conventions, the show always put a fresh spin on them that they don’t come about as cheap copy of something. They are derivative for sure — as almost all things are — but they don’t look or feel that way. And “derivative” here should be read not in the negative sense of the word.
I love how the chase scene — due to the music — stops being about the ‘action’ but about the emotional state of Jet and Alisa, the conflict, both internal and external. With Jet aggressively pursuing Alisa and her boyfriend Rhint (who has a bounty on him) on a speedboat, and Alisa, in a surprising turn, firing a gun at Jet, her ex. (This is surprising because the story is told mainly from Jet’s point of view.)
Did the hero (Jet) get the girl in the end? No, even though Rhint (the new BF) ended up with the police. Did he learn something new or change by the end of the story? Well, yes. He finally learned why Alisa left him (i.e. it was him, not her). He also threw the pocket watch to the sea just before the end credits roll. I think that means he’ll finally try to move on.
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 that that somebody is an aswang. Well, where I grew up, people old and young alike, still believe in things like this. It was only years later when I learned that it was more of an ‘in-laws not getting along’ kind of thing. And you know what, that’s actually a terrible thing to do, telling kids rumors like that. I haven’t seen this movie again since then. I might give it some time next Halloween. Or maybe not. I was thinking of putting a photo of the Grady twins on this post, but somehow, I couldn’t.
Pet Sematary. Few years later, one of my cousins rented this, either on Betamax or VHS. This one got me really scared as a kid. Well, I was always scared of ghosts when I was a kid. The scene where the undead kid slices his mom’s heel with a kitchen knife, that scene made me grit my teeth.
Videodrome. Fast forward to the time of internet and DVDs, I stumbled upon this movie one time I went to Makati Cinema Square. Thought the DVD cover looks rad, and the title I probably read about somewhere before. I’ve been to Makati Cinema Square a few times. But the last time I was there, there was a raid. A fucking raid — operatives wearing Kevlar, carrying M-16 rifles, going around the mall like they’re after the world’s most wanted criminals. So I went looking for the nearest exit with this really scary thought going through my head the whole time. What if an operative calls me and asks me to open my backpack? Inside my backpack is this Videodrome DVD. What am I gonna do? Throw away the bag and run?
Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil. One of the better horror comedies out there, alongside the Evil Dead movies, Slither, Shaun of the Dead. Maybe I saw this one on cable, or maybe from one of those cheap DVD collection of horror movies. No scary experience about this one, just watching movies at home for fun.
Re-Animator. I just bought this DVD from one of my favorite stores and I decided to watch it right away after I got home. Not only that, I watched it with the whole family. And it was the most weird and uncomfortable movie experience ever. The movie, which is about a med student who discovered a formula that could bring the dead back to life, has a fair amount of sex and nudity in it. There’s this scene where her boyfriend starts kissing Barbara Crampton’s character in the school hallway and she goes, “No, no, no,” and then cuts to a scene of her in bed screaming “YES! YES! YES!” with her boyfriend on top of her. You could probably imagine the funny look on my face while watching this particular scene. And this is just about ten minutes into the movie. And that’s not even the most embarrassing and horrifying part yet. If you’ve seen the movie, you know the scene I’m talking about. It was referenced in American Beauty.
The Gift. Going back a few years before DVDs were the fad, I saw this one in theater. Not sure if it was before or after the first Spider-Man movie. This movie’s cast includes Cate Blanchett, Greg Kinnear, Katie Holmes, a very intense Keanu Reeves, and even more intense Giovanni Ribisi. Unlike Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead movies (which I still haven’t seen at the time), The Gift is more of a supernatural horror mystery. And for what it is, it’s fairly good, I guess, though I haven’t seen it in a long time. Maybe I need to re-watch it. Because, if I remember correctly, this has one of the most frightening nude scenes in all horror movies. It probably scarred me for life — didn’t know boobs could be so scary.
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.
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. Maybe. All I remember is, I was lying in my bed, and the ghost, she was floating above me. And she’s trying to reach me with her gross gross hand (think something like Mrs. Ganush’s in Drag Me to Hell) and I was trying to push her away. I don’t remember how I/we get to that point so don’t ask. And true to every scary dream, I froze. I froze like, I dunno, maybe like Leo Di Caprio in the movie Titanic. Except Rose wasn’t there. Except I was never able to make a sketch of her ‘wearing only this.’
Like in almost all of my other bad dreams, I managed to wake up just before the part where I die, or the part where… whatever that ghost wanted to do to me. But I was still scared after I woke up. So I thought better not to look at any corner of my room. Might see something. So, I tried to go back to sleep. And then, the scary dream continued. In Part 2, there was a manananggal outside our house. And for some reason, she was able to open one of the windows. But this manananggal, even though we were afraid of her, she’s actually fair-looking — no fangs, no goth eyeliners — she doesn’t look frightening at all.
Her hair wasn’t messed up. And she looked pretty normal — except her body was cut in half, she has wings, and she’s flying just outside the window. She’s wearing a light colored blouse. And for some reason, all the buttons were undone and one could see her cleavage (Maybe this was my brain course-correcting for the really scary first part). She also looked tired and sad, as if she was asking for sympathy. Like she was saying that she’s been starving for days and she’s begging us to give her that baby sleeping soundly in the crib. Except there was no baby, and there was no crib. So it was up to us if someone among us would like to volunteer. Me, I was very sure that I didn’t want let go of any part of my body at that point. Even if it’s for a fair-looking, maybe starving, half-naked, not-really-scary manananggal.
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?
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 in Anna than in Atomic Blonde. If you’re an action movie fans, or just a fan of this kind of movies, this is my ranking of the movies and recommendation, best to worst.
First is Anna, because Cillian Murphy is in it, and Sasha Luss pulls off her action scenes better than Mary Elisabeth Winstead and Karen Gillan. Minus points for her character saying this line about her being comparable to a Matryoshka doll; plus for having a climax where she goes to meet her KGB and CIA boyfriends and kissed them both one after the other instead of having shots fired. This is the best among the four, regardless of whether you think Luc Besson is guilty of all those sexual allegations or not.
Second would be Kate. Because Winstead gave strong vibes of Sigourney Weaver in it, though she didn’t look as tough. Kate is like a 1.5 hour long Japanese ad for Boom Boom Lemon. Keyword, “Japanese ad.” And Japanese ads are batshit crazy. Yes, the plot is simplistic and the character relationships contrived, but a Japanese girl taking a selfie inside a cab with her new-found friend who’s clearly tired and dying? Definitely a must-watch (for action movie fans). Also, you should definitely see Winstead kick some ass.
Third would be Atomic Blonde, if only for that final fight. Last would be Gunpowder Milkshake, because, I dunno, it tried to do a lot of cool things, like borrowing from John Wick and Baby Driver, only it failed in doing those cool things. There’s probably a clip of it on YouTube, the 3-on-1 fight inside a dental clinic, because that’s the best part of the movie.
There are a lot of good things in Army of the Dead even thought it doesn’t all come together nor ends with a bang: kung fu zombie, the king and queen of the damned, a zombie tiger, a military solution to a medical, er, I mean, zombie issue? Good stuff. There’s also this scene where a guy crawls out of Las Vegas after it was nuked and “Zombie” plays in the background. Yes, Zack Snyder juxtaposes the song’s anti-war message with nukes and zombie apocalypse. Nice! There’s a lot of good things in it that, maybe, should get more attention from movie fans, rather than whatever is in that other, four-hour long, Snyder movie.
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.
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 while the DJ was still talking about the attacks. My friend couldn’t believe it, and asked if it wasn’t just some elaborate prank or a movie plot. It was morning then. In the US, it was the evening after the attacks.
I don’t remember much of what transpired after but I’m sure I bought a newspaper later that day. Because that’s what I usually do at the time. Read newspaper, mainly to get the latest on upcoming movies — Hollywood, art house, or otherwise. I seldom read the news though, or the editorials. Internet? Well, internet back then was really slow. And costs money. A single broadsheet would probably give you more reading material than the 30 minutes spent in the internet shop while waiting for the webpage to load. Newspaper was also cheaper. Sure, I probably read less than 50% of what’s in it, but at least I can re-read the articles and reuse them papers for other purpose. And the minutes you lost in the internet shop, you wouldn’t be able to get back.
Of course, there are stuff like, y’know, this tech savvy guy showing you naked photos of Alicia Silverstone. And there were also chat rooms, which some of my friends were so into at the time, asking for ASL, reacting to every reply like their balls were being tickled. Honestly, I don’t really know what sort of things they’d usually talk about. Do they meet up or eyeball? Does it usually end in casual sex like in that Orange & Lemons song? I don’t know. And I also don’t know why Alicia Silverstone was so popular back then. Like seeing a naked picture of her was the equivalent of seeing the Holy Grail. I’ve never seen Clueless (though I probably should) or any of her movies actually. And those photos are fake, by the way. Those were somebody else’s boobs and vagina. And you can tell it easily by the difference in the skin tone. Like it was some kind of Frankenstein monster, assembled in the computer. By the way, that’s like two movies in one, Frankenhooker meets Weird Science. I haven’t seen both, so, I might be wrong.
Few years later, I met the same friend in an internet cafe. Can’t remember what but maybe I went to the shop to create my first Yahoo email, as per the suggestion of another friend. I also don’t remember what for. Then, this friend (whom I met in the shop), he was raving about Green Day’s then-new album. He said it was different from the old Green Day. American Idiot. I don’t know if he sang and air guitar the first line to me (Don’t wanna be an American Idiot), but as far as I remember, he said it was really good. Well, he wasn’t wrong. I liked that album. And “Wake Me Up When September Ends” is really great. Its anti-war music video, probably one of my all-time favorites.
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.
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 was just kind of there, easily resolved in the end and barely mattered to the bigger story.
Same goes for Sam’s family’s financial trouble, symbolized by an old family boat, which eventually got fixed thru the help of other people — not in the name of solidarity, not because they’re grateful Sam helped save the world from Thanos, but because Sam’s folks were such a really nice couple and these people haven’t forgotten their kindness. Um, okay… That also makes sense but, anyway.
Daniel Bruhl’s Zemo turns out to be the most watchable character in the series, upstaging both Sam and Bucky in their scenes together. Wyatt Russell’s John Walker, the most interesting. TFATWS has some interesting stories to tell, valid points to say (i.e., Falcon’s speech tells more truth than any of the previous Captain America movies). But the show punches way above its weight, bites more than it can chew, tells multiple narrative threads more than the show could fully develop, much less tell and resolve in compelling and entertaining manner. The show clearly wants to do a lot of things, just like the last Captain America movie.
In the end, we learn a few things about Sam, about Bucky, but not much. We probably learned more about Zemo. There’s a pervading drabness to it all. The buddy comedy isn’t really funny, there’s barely any character drama, and the action, just standard MCU fare–mediocre. We’re supposed to expect more from a 6-hour mini-series/movie. Multitasking is OK, if you want to tackle multiple characters/issues on surface level. As the famous saying goes, “Why fuck up a single thing when you can fuck up several things together?”
I’ve had two cups of coffee already. And I’m still not awake. Working from Sundays through Saturdays is such a soul-sucking whatever, as you probably already knew.
I’m still not awake. Where did I get that from? Had to Google it and found a song from some Rory Gallagher. Never heard of him; not the song I was looking for. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t from John Lennon’s “I’m Only Sleeping,” but had to Google it anyway just to be sure. And I ended up singing the chorus in my head. Please, don’t spoil my day, I’m miles away… Wonderful song to listen to in bed. But I’m not in bed. I’m sitting in front of my workstation and I’m supposed to be working.
Then it came to me. That line is from Ciudad’s “Friday Noon.” Now it’s a true blue Friday noon and I’m still not awake. Perfectly encapsulates. How I’m feeling right now. But today isn’t Friday. Nor is this song really about work. Nor does it say something about how work has become under late capitalism.
No, I don’t think the guy who also wrote “Due Dates” would have any thing insightful to say about work. Them with their posh condos with all the things privilege can afford, I don’t think so. So let’s not get into that. The song encapsulates the feeling, that’s all.
Don’t know what I’m saying here. I better go back to work. Cigarette break’s over. Let me mine some more Helium.
James Gunn’s return to the big screen marks the long awaited return of your favorite anti-heroes, A-holes, criminals. The Guardians of the Ga… Oh, wait, it’s from the other universe. They’re called Suicide Squad. No, THE Suicide Squad. And it’s the best comic-book/superhero movie (if you ask me) since Deadpool 2. Assembled from a group of dangerous supervillains, the US government sent The Suicide Squad to Corto Maltese, an island-country in South America, where the new government (“virulently anti-American”) is “suspected” to be in possession of alien technology equivalent to “weapons of mass destruction.” The movie’s full of zip from the get-go. From one character drowning, to one getting shot like Boltie (Super), to the squad unknowingly killing those who were part of the resistance—what fun would this be if there isn’t a series of fuck-ups, right? This has perhaps the best in-movie appearance of Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn. And John Cena was somehow able to inject some Chris Hemsworth-like ‘complexity’ into his butt-end-of-the-joke version of Captain America. The extended and massive third act may be lacking a little more tension, but it didn’t run out of energy. While it is another one of those final battles with massive destruction and collateral damages, props to Gunn for making it one bizarre colorful mix of blood and viscera. Only Gunn would’ve come up with this brightly colored Lovecraftian kaiju, this side of Godzilla. Bloodsport’s and Ratcatcher II’s father-daughter pairing doesn’t quite reach GotG-levels, but I really like how the movie is about “American supersoldiers in foreign soil,” in a very un-MCU kind of way. The movie addresses the issue in ways the MCU just won’t.
Took a full day off today. Still nursing a mild headache, probably from getting slightly more sleep than the usual, and took paracetamol for wrist joint pain that awoke me last night. It’s probably gout (Shit! We’re getting old). And it’s probably due to eating too much meat because we don’t have much Continue reading “Daredevil Season 1, The Suicide Squad, and The Falcon And The Winter Soldier (is one long boring title)”
Shall I give a rundown of the last movies I’ve seen? Sure, why not? Well, tracking the movies I’ve watched is easier now since I started logging them on Letterboxd. And I’m also slowly transferring some of my movie ‘reviews’ in this blog to Letterboxd for whatever it’s worth. One thing I don’t like Continue reading “Breeder’s Digest”
Black Widow is pretty much like the majority of MCU movies: fairly entertaining, CGI-bloated, middling action scenes, doesn’t pack much emotions, and somewhat forgettable especially for those who aren’t really too invested in its characters. Florence Pugh is great. Scarlett Johansson, well, she seems Continue reading “Black Widow (2021)”
Last movies I’ve watched and liked? Ang Babaeng Walang Pakiramdam (2020), and it seems to be getting “review-bombed” on Letterboxd. But it’s a fairly good movie, especially the acting — props to both Kim Molina and Gerald Napoles. Daryll Yap’s movies seems to get a lot of hate/dislike online Continue reading “Breeder’s Digest”
Alam mo ‘yung pumupungay ‘yung mata mo kahit ‘di ka naman naka-chongki. ‘Yung napapa-headbang ka kahit wala namang tugtog. Hindi yata ‘spacing out’ o ‘zoning out’ ang eksaktong katumbas nito, pero sa amin ang tawag dito ay nagtutukake. Nagtukake ako kanina. Habang nasa harap Continue reading “Breeder’s Digest”
Was finally able to see this. What took me so long? Well, one, there’s the generally mixed to negative reviews. And two, life gets in the way. Work, too. Well, I don’t really care about Rotten Tomatoes. So, it’s really just the last two. And probably the endless and countless streams of choices we have Continue reading “Terminator Genisys (2015)”
In the middle of a Category 5 hurricane, in their old house by the lake, Haley and her father find themselves trapped in the flooded crawl space. And they must fight for their lives against some hungry predators. The tension never lets up in Alexandre Aja’s claustrophobic horror movie. The suspense slowly builds up as the floodwater rises from the crawl space to the attic. The alligator attacks are scary, fucking scary. The building tension and the many close calls will make you hold on to your seat. And there’s one ingenious sequence where an alligator ends up being trapped in bathroom. It helps that Haley (Kaya Scodelario) is a swimmer, and her relationship with her estranged father (Barry Pepper) is hinged on this. He was her coach when she was young, and used to encourage her with this ‘apex predator’ shit, which gets a life-affirming callback, when Kaya declares “Apex predator all day, baby!” later in the final third. I’ll give this a five out of five awesome alligator clips.
Piranha 3D (2010)
When underwater earthquake is caused by a beer bottle being dropped in a lake, thousands of flesh-eating piranhas are unleashed into the water not so far from a town during spring break. Horny spring breakers, pornstars and pornographers, and fucktards who won’t make like a tree when told to stay out of the water—they’re the piranhas’ victims. Promiscuity is the cardinal sin and death-by-piranhas is the punishment. The town’s sheriff (Elisabeth Shue) and her deputies try to get everyone to safety (the operative word being “try”). While her eldest, together with his two young siblings, are trapped in a boat somewhere in the lake. Yes, like Spielberg’s War of the Worlds, this is about a family trying to survive, wading through piranhas, bloodied water, and dead bodies. And there’s probably more blood spilled here than in Saving Private Ryan‘s Omaha Beach D-Day sequence. Not to be mistaken with its reportedly awful sequel Piranha 3DD (2012), this loose remake of the Joe Dante original just have the right amount of boobs, blood, and fun. And it’s not to be missed if you’re fan of gore-filled horror comedies.
Ignatius or Ig (Daniel Radcliffe, still looking like that boy wizard only with facial hair) one day discovers horns sprouting out of his temple. Horns that give him some paranormal abilities i.e., he can force people to reveal their deepest desires and darkest secrets. Special powers which should come handy in solving movie’s central mystery: the death of his ex-girlfriend Merrin (Juno Temple), for which he is the primary suspect. She was murdered the same night that she dumped him. “Are you horny?” Merrin asks Ig at one point. This movie works best when it’s darkly funny, when Ig’s horns makes people horny, do crazy stuff, or brutally honest (his father tells Ig he’s worthless). One time he goes to the doctor to get his horns amputated, he wakes up to the moans of the nurse and the surgeon banging each other on a swivel chair. But this movie’s mainly a whodunit, with psychological, supernatural, and religious elements in the mix. With a bit of Nicholas Sparks-y romance too. It doesn’t quite work as a whole, occasionally funny but tonally inconsistent. Watch this only if you’re curious how horny Hairy Potter is (or how hairy Horny Peter is) in this movie.
Erik Matti’s second film is about a group of kidnappers, in hiding and waiting for the ransom money. Tagalized Tarantino this quite isn’t, more like Peque Gallaga meets John Woo’s heroic bloodshed, with reams of dialogues from formulaic 90’s pinoy action movies finally put to good use. It’s a variation on the heist-gone-wrong type with a cast that doesn’t need to be color-coded to be memorable. Hot-headed and mutinous Roger (Raymond Bagatsing) is a hoot, especially around the usually reserved Gene (Albert Matinez), who’s seemingly torn between his criminal wrongdoings and the promise of escape to a normal life. A sense of normalcy, is what he gets it seems, every time he goes to Dolor (Sunshine Cruz) to do the “dirty work” — um, y’know, fixing pipe leaks, changing the fridge bulb, cleaning the aquarium. This may not be on par with Matti’s later works (On the Job, Honor Thy Father) but it’s occasionally funny. The look on their faces when they find two dead bodies in the trunk — priceless. For an action movie, this has, well, sex and violence. And there’s one scene clearly inspired by Polanski’s Lunes de fiel. This has the looks of a decent noir-ish thriller i.e., one can almost smell the dark dingy corners of the group’s hideout. And one thing you can count on in most of Matti’s movies, is that the sets are mostly detailed, look real, feel real — even if the plot/story sometimes doesn’t.
Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles (2012)
Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles is a horror story within another. It’s ‘meet the parents’ horror comedy within the bigger aswang story. Good-for-nothing boyfriend/husband and domineering matriarch, tropes maybe older than John en Marsha, are both served and subverted. And this has aswang lore that’s probably never used before in other aswang movies (i.e., an aswang turned himself into a pig and sold to the unsuspecting family). Jokes about giant wooden fork and spoon and Lipps candies are references definitely older than internet jokes about computer mouse and hard-boiled eggs. This is both fun and clumsy in the same way Gwapings: The First Adventure was. The use of pesticide sprayer and Boy Bawang blowgun is quite a hoot but the mostly CGI buntot-pagi disappoints. The movie’s shot entirely in chroma key and it looks okay considering they didn’t have Hollywood budget. Though I wish Erik Matti stuck with actors/make-up/practical effects, instead of purely CGI monsters, the same way Richard Somes did with the similarly-themed Lihim Ng San Joaquin.
Dos Ekis (2001)
Benito (Mark Anthony Fernandez) is a hardware store worker who frequents a nightclub just to see Charisse (Rica Peralejo), one of the club’s buxom dancers. An altercation between Charisse and her pimp Bunny (a pre-Heneral Luna John Arcilla) turns into a riot when Benito gets involved, and the two ends up running away with the club’s money. If the first movie has somewhat memorable characters, Dos Ekis is saddled with seemingly bored passive characters, and imposing but ultimately disposable villains. Instead of the amusing back-and-forths in the first, this has villains making lengthy monologues (John Arcilla’s pimp and Godfather figure played by Celso Ad. Castillo). But again, the set design is something to look at. Bunny’s nightclub is all lights, smoke, and mirrors. And Benito’s bedspace is located behind the silverscreen in an old theater — he can watch movies for free but the images are reversed. This doesn’t offer much in terms of story or characters. But there’s a steamy dance number in a makeshift shower that recalls both Ekis and Burlesk Queen. And there’s an extended sex on a couch while in the background, Ang Utol Kong Hoodlum II plays on the movie screen.
You’ve probably read the news by now. The latest Eraserheads cheese to reach your feeds. That “Minsan” wasn’t really abut ‘them’. That ‘them’ were never really ‘friends’. And people are losing their minds, on Facebook and Twitter. Never had the time nor the interest to read most of the reactions Continue reading “Minsan sa may Kalayaan”
The Night Comes For Us (2018)
Underneath all the carnage, this is actually about something. It’s about Ito (Joe Taslim) trying to save himself — by saving the little girl Reina (Asha Kenyeri Bermudez). It’s about two friends who dreamt of “making it big” by joining the Triad — big brother Ito warning the younger Arian (Iko Uwais) not to make same mistakes he did. “Don’t join the Triad. Been there and it wasn’t all that great. There are chicks, booze, and stuff all around but ain’t got time for that, because all we do is traffic drugs and kill [mostly] innocent people.” Okay, he didn’t really say that. It seems that way anyway. Ito probably couldn’t even enjoy a good lay anymore, or have a guilt-free sleep at night. See, it’s not easy being one of the bad guys, with all this “guilt and conscience” stuff eating you inside. So when Ito saw a glimpse of redemption in Reina, he took a 180 degrees turn (also, literally) — killed his men, took the girl, went into hiding. And what follows is a zombie apocalypse — minus the zombies — a series of action setpieces, meticulously crafted as they are horrifyingly graphic, with all sorts of bad people trying to get their hands on Reina, Ito, and his friends. Most of the fights are pretty bonkers, with blood and violence, dialed to eleven. The two-against-one brawl between Julie, Alma and Elena is definitely one for the books. And for the movie’s final fight, well, I’d probably never look at a box cutter the same way ever again.
Honor Thy Father (2015)
Kaye and Edgar get caught in financial ruin after being involved in an investment scam. The promise of get-rich-quick suddenly becomes a living nightmare, when Kaye’s father turns up dead, the money, all gone. And their friends, co-parishioners at the Church of Yeshua, quickly turns on them, demanding their money back. But they are just small fry compared to some influential people, demanding a much bigger sum from the couple, in exchange for their daughter’s safety, and eventually, their lives. As a devoted member of the church, Kaye pleads for help. “Yeshua will provide,” said the Bishop. But he can’t help them, the money isn’t his, it’s the church’s. This leaves Edgar with only few options. Even so, he still sees to it that he goes with the lesser evil, until he’s cornered with no other option but the worst. Honor Thy Father is not something good to watch when you’re worrying about something or after stressful day at work. The movie makes little difference between scam investments and toxic religious groups. It gets a little too real sometimes, too close to home (i.e., financial troubles, sans the death threats of course). It is that good. An assuredly paced thriller that’s able to sustain its edge-of-your-seat atmosphere for long. A bleak crime drama with a little bit of The Bank Job, minus Princess Margaret’s naked pictures in a vault. It’s thrilling and despairing at the same time. And that ending, man, that ending. Really powerful stuff.
The Yellow Sea (2010)
Taxi driver Gu-nam is in serious debt. And he’s yet to hear from his wife, who left months ago to work in South Korea. Worse, he’s having nightmares of her being with another man. When local gangster Myun Jung-hak offers him a job to be able to settle his debt, he takes his chances. The job, go to South Korea and carry out a hit; his target, a professor named Kim Seung-hyun, later revealed to be gangster. When the hit doesn’t go as planned (turns out there’s more than one party who wanted Kim dead) Gu-nam finds himself running away from the cops, the gangsters, and eventually, from Myun, who travels to Korea to tie up the loose ends. Triple-crossed by Myun, and with no chance to return to Yanji, Gu-nam makes it his goal to find out who actually hired him (Myun was a middleman). The Yellow Sea works best when it’s a tight crime thriller, particularly in the first and second act. When it switches to gangster mode, it gets a little overbearing, especially when they bring out their axes/knives for the nth time. Whether or not it’s saying ‘this is how gun control looks like,’ this movie features, almost exclusively, knives, and the stabbiest of fights. Beneath the nihilistic bloodshed, it doesn’t seem to say much. And if there’s anything Gu-nam learns in the end, it’s probably that some men will go at great lengths, when they learn they’re being cheated on by their wives.