Are You Team ‘Infinity War’ Or Are You Team ‘Deadpool’?

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Couldn’t we just like them both? Be excited for both? Eggsactly. But where’s the fun in that? Also, these are two very different superhero movies. Two movies that operate on very different levels. So let’s contrast and compare.

One is about a Titan’s intergalactic quest for a set of colorful McGuffins, and the resulting powerful one-against-all scenario that would lead to gigantic fights that’s most probably 80% punching. While the other’s just the first sequel in a franchise (as opposed to the former being the 19th movie in the series) that seemingly care less about anything else outside of its titular hero. And Cable. And X-Force. Who’s the villain? We don’t know. That, we will find out come opening day.

Maybe “the real heroes” aka the screenwriters have a few more tricks up their sleeves and subvert our expectations about the movie’s plot. But I don’t want to expect. That’s the golden rule: Don’t expect. And based on the trailer, it is probably more of a spandex-and-sword action movie, with a lot of talking and talking to the camera, and fewer punching scenes.

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Blade Runner 2049

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Re-watched Blade Runner after seeing the sequel, only to be reminded of my mixed feelings towards it. It’s in the “it’s OK, but I don’t quite like it” category. Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner plays like a noir set in a futuristic wet market. It’s always raining, there are lots of people, hot noodles, and plastics. Where’s the dust? The production design reminds one of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, but with modern Ziggurats and burning flares. Vangelis’ synth soundtrack already sounded dated when I first saw the movie. And so was Rachel’s hair. Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard looked like he’s either pissed, drunk, would rather be somewhere else, or all of the above. That he’s an android-like bounty hunter who’d later develop empathy for andys, I’m not quite really sure.

Blade Runner 2049, I liked better for a few things. There’s an air of mystery to it and we got K (Ryan Gosling), a real android and bounty hunter, instead of Ford’s android-like human, (or isn’t he an android?) who’s tasked to go after his own kind and to solve said mystery. There’s rain, but there’s also dust as it was in the novel. There’s K’s holographic companion Joi (Anna de Armas) who wanted to become real for K. So one time she invited a female andy and we got a threesome between two andys and a hologram.

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Blade Runner inspired the look of Ghost In The Shell, which seems to be the inspiration for 2049 instead of the former. Greenscreen and CGI gives 2049 the advantage of space and scope, whereas Scott had to make do with models and practical effects. Dennis Villeneuve used lots of wide screen shots, lots of empty desserts or crowded but depopulated cities. In Scott’s vision of the future, the streets are always crowded and the takes are mostly medium shots.

Blade Runner 2049 is quite long, but the original actually felt longer. And as someone pointed out, there’s a little more Dick in 2049 than in the original. I also like K’s journey a lot more than Deckard’s. K starts just like Deckard, “retiring” one of his own because it was his job, goes about trying to solve the “miracle”, at one point thought of himself as “special”, and becomes more selfless as the story progresses. And yes, this movie made me feel and care for a flash drive, that’s something.

The plot of 2049 reminds me of another film based on a science fiction novel, Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men, arguably better than both Blade Runner films. Cuaron said that his film was supposed to be the anti-Blade Runner, in that there are no flying cars, no androids, just humans unable to reproduce and the world crumbling under authoritarian rule and chaos. When a miracle happens, a young woman gets pregnant, every side of the political divide wants to get their hands on the mother and her baby. There’s the guy played by Clive Owen who plays the role of K in the film, the tragic hero who ended up bleeding lying and nearly unconscious by the film’s end.

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Haven’t seen these films yet? Sorry, I just kind of spoiled the ending for you.

Obligatory Pavement Post #3: Ironic Love Songs

MI0002184938“Harness, your hopes to just one person, because you know a harness, is only made for one”. Tell me that isn’t about love. Or marriage. Maybe I’m not right. But I’m sure I could not be wrong. Because seldom are there wrong interpretations, when it comes to Stephen Malkmus’ songs. At least that’s what my Literature teacher told me in school. Of course, she was talking about poetry then and not about songs written by some semi-obscure slacker from Stockton, California. That line, by the way, is from “Harness Your Hopes”, b-side to a single off Pavement’s 1997 LP, Brighten the Corners.

“That’s a love song?”, one might ask. It depends. Are you looking for a love song that is NOT a typical love song? By “typical”, I mean something that goes along the lines of Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” or Bon Jovi’s “Always” or Air Supply’s… Wait. Darn it, almost all of their songs fits that category. (Wait, did I just compare Ed Sheeran’s megaplatinum hit to the cheesiest motherf*ckering songs I know? Guess what, I just did.) Going back to my question. If your answer is yes, then yes, it is a love song, or at the very least, it could be. And though the title seems to evoke some kind of Christian inspirational message like Switchfoot’s “Dare You to Move” or “Learning to Breath”, the song is mostly non sectarian. Even though there’s a line that goes “Nun is to church as the parrot is to perch,” it’s quickly followed by “And my heart’s wide open truly” which only shows that “heart” is bigger than both “nun” and “church”. It’s definitely a song about love, isn’t it? Not quite or specifically the romantic type, but it is about love. (more…)

Black Panther (Ryan Coogler, 2018)

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Hail to the king

Wasn’t really planning to watch Black Panther. Afraid that this steady diet of tentpole superhero movies has nothing but replaced my enthusiasm for “something different” with disappointments and lowered expectations. But the hype and raves came overflowing that my Spider-sense started tingling.

Black Panther‘s box office success, just like Wonder Woman‘s last year, within the context of the superhero/comic book blockbusters, is sort of groundbreaking. It’s actually amazing—I won’t deny that. Nor am I going to elaborate on the said achievement here, because with so many rave reviews (initially 100% on RT, then came the few negative reviews, which eventually were met with backlash—it’s the internet, y’know) I’m pretty sure it has already been covered. A lot. So loud were the raves that some black dude has been wondering if majority of white geek dudes are being too lenient in their review for a movie that features an African king from a secret kingdom with advanced technology that’s both organic and alien. As if most reviews zoomed-in on the great things about the movie and zoomed-out when it comes to its flaws. That the critics seemed to have graded Black Panther on a curve—the Marvel grading curve.

In a little over two hours, Black Panther is able to tell a familiar story about family, politics, race, nationhood, and fighting for the oppressed, in a superhero frame that’s all wrapped in vibrant African color. The best thing about it is its narrative: the well fleshed-out characters and clear-cut central conflict. It’s like the first Thor movie actually. Wakanda minus its best-kept secret, is like Asgard. The rivalry between T’Challa and Erik Stevens, like that of Thor and Loki, only twice as compelling. Erik Stevens aka Killmonger also reminds me of Hela’s exiled heir to the throne, only with more humane than pure evil motivations and thus, he’s easily among Marvel’s memorable villains to date. And compared with other superhero/comic book movies that imbued its story with the topical, political and air of relevance—The Dark Knight, The Winter Soldier, X-MenBlack Panther has arguably the most cogent overall narrative. (more…)

Pinoy Blonde (Peque Gallaga, 2005)

pbRemember Pinoy Blonde? That plot-less Tarantino send up that doesn’t seem like it? Not sure if this was obvious enough, but I’d assume most didn’t realize that Peque Gallaga & Lore Reyes weren’t really channeling Quentin Tarantino, unless they’ve read Peque Gallaga’s Playboy interview, in which he also expressed his dislike for Lav Diaz’s films, prior or after watching the film. (By the way that issue has a stunning cinema-themed cover and a popcorn-covered girl on its centerfold.) Some people thought it was cool. Some people said the filmmakers thought they were cool. Some said Pinoy Blonde was to Pulp Fiction as Tataynic (a Dolphy movie) was to Titanic. That we don’t have the so-called “originality”. That we ripped off Hollywood. Again. What does “originality” really mean, anyway? Um, okay, let’s not get into that. Those who liked the film probably said that those who didn’t, just didn’t get it. But the question is, did they? Did they know it was supposed to satirize Quentin Tarantino movies? Sure, it was trippy. With the movie’s point—that Tarantino, in making his movies, just masturbates to his favorite films and that Gallaga, in this movie, is showing him how it (masturbation) is properly done, or, how not to do it—is lost in the movie’s non-sense and pop culture rabbit hole. I don’t know. If I recall correctly, there’s a scene where Ricky Davao’s character suggests that the finest Filipino filmmaker is neither Lino Brocka nor Ishmael Bernal—as the film’s two main characters endlessly argue about—but Joey Gosiengfiao, the guy behind the camp classic Temptation Island. There’s also a short animation a la Kill Bill. But that’s it, it was a forgettable movie with a few memorable scenes. Cool soundtrack tho’.

Shuffle

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I listen to music on my way to work. Like breakfast, it’s one of those morning things I couldn’t skip. I used to listen to full albums, but one time, I got tired of picking which album to listen to, got tired of the choices (Local H’s Nirvana-esque post grunge, Imago’s last album with Aia de Leon, Modest Mouse, Kate Torralba, The Flaming Lips, etc., or Pavement).

Then, I had this bright idea—I would use this one amazing feature in Android phones. It’s called the “shuffle”. And it’s so amazing it allows you to turn your phone into an FM radio station minus those annoying “hirit” lines from those dumb-ass DJ’s from Love Radio.

So I picked Kate Torralba’s “Pictures” as the first song—a terrific pop song. Then, I pressed shuffle. And this is what my awesome Samsung Galaxy Y cooked up for me.

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All I Can Do – Club8
Twee with a touch of bossa, or maybe bossa with a touch of twee. Either way it’s perfect for just sitting around. Maybe not so perfect to listen to while walking—an old Japanese lady on her bike nearly hit me when she passed by me.

Four Sticks – Led Zeppelin
Some cocky el gradioso numero to shake up the usual 90’s staples.

wateryFrontwards (live) – Pavement
A great live version of one of the unsung classics from Watery, Domestic.

Pikit Bukas – Pupil
About pork barrel and is actually an alternate version of Gusto Ko Ng Baboy. (This doesn’t make sense to me now. I can’t remember what I was thinking or why I wrote this.)

Kentucky Cocktail – Pavement
2nd of the four Pavement tracks in this list. I paid attention to Gary Young’s drumming.

Get It Over – Eggboy
One of those rare happy tune sad bastard lyrics combination that actually sounds so effortlessly perfect. (That said, I didn’t really read or tried to understand its lyrics.)

In The Mouth A Desert – Pavement
While studying Gary Young’s use of hi-hats, I was wondering what chords Malkmus was playing in this song. (Answer: C, G, and A but not in standard tuning).

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Sa Ngalan Mo – Imago
I will miss Aia’s Imago songs. The new vocalist is hot tho.

Embassy Row – Pavement
This is Malkmus singing about politics. The first statement is false.

eggstoneHomerun – Sandwich
One of those Sandwich songs that features that Diego-Raims-Marc triple-hit guitar combo. (I totally have no idea now what this song sounds like.)

Bukas – Teeth
Tomorrow, not today.

Brass – Eggstone
A great non-album track from this Swedish trio. Which is to say, when it comes to twee-pop, Eggstone should be your go-to band.

Tomorrow Not Today – Shiela and The Insects
A dark (sounding) song to end the playlist. I was not in the office yet, so I pushed the “Repeat All” button. Then…

 

Feelings (feat. Paul Buchanan) – Up Dharma Down
… I was surprised when I heard a guy moaning softly before another song properly starts. It’s a bonus track, from UDD’s third. It’s like one of those songs on the radio on a lazy Sunday afternoon when you want to sleep but you can’t, because…

Mababa Ang Buwan – Fando & Lis
More heartaches. I need to sleep. Why won’t you, why won’t you let me.

 

Sleep.