Fave Movie Moments: V for Vendetta

"It seems strange that my life should end in such a terrible place, but for three years I had roses and apologized to no one."

My most fave part in V for Vendetta is the Valerie moment. The film deals with struggle for freedom in a totalitarian system, a government that objects "the different and the subversive."

Imprisoned, Evey (Natalie Portman) finds refuge in a series of letters "given" to her by "next-cell neighbor" Valerie (Natasha Wightman), an actress who was incarcerated for being homosexual.


Fave Movie Posters: The Silence of the Lambs

One of the iconic and most creative movie posters of all time, The Silence of the Lambs' poster is a portrait of Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster), whose mouth is concealed by a moth. A significant element in both the novel and the film, the moth is a Death's-head Hawkmoth — the kind that is known for the skull-like image on its thorax.


Fave Movie Moments: A Patch of Blue

Blinded by her abusive mom (Shelley Winters) at the age of five, Selina D'Arcey (Elizabeth Hartman in her film debut) is off to meet her only friend, Gordon Ralfe (Sidney Poitier). She traverses the streets full of darkness and strangers, a fragile lady thrown into the world of blind noise and danger.


Moving Movie Monologues

Ah. Monologues. Most actors probably crave them monologues. It's that one significant moment that can make or break an actor's performance. A good monologue is either wonderfully written or beautifully acted. Perhaps both.

There is an overwhelming profusion of soliloquy ever since cinema bid adieu to the silent era — but only few captivated yours truly. Here are some of them. (In chronological order.)

Charles Chaplin as A Jewish Barber
The Great Dictator, 1940

We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.

After being mistaken for Adenoid Hynkel aka the great dictator, A Jewish Barber was compelled to give a speech in front of "his people." (Here's the speech's transcript.)

In this touching speech, the silent film icon laid bare both the good and bad side of humanity. A universal statement of the human existence, this monologue has the power to edify one's mind and soul.

(The speech's "Inception remix" is just... wow!)

Natalie Wood as Maria
West Side Story, 1961

All of you! You all killed him. And my brother. And Riff. Not with bullets and guns. With hate! Well, l can kill too, because now l have hate!

After her lover dies because of the street war between the Jets and the Sharks, Maria berates all those involved in the senseless fight. Maria's monologue defines the very idea of war: hate.

What would happen if the world is consumed with hate? World war!


Game of Thrones and Religion

Patrice Chéreau, 1994

"France is torn apart by the Wars of Religion. Catholics and Protestants have been fighting for years... To quench the hatred, Catherine sets up an alliance for peace: she marries her daughter Margot to Henri of Navarre, her Protestant cousin... Margot's wedding, a symbol of peace and reconciliation, will be used to set off the greatest massacre in the history of France."

Those are excerpts from La Reine Margot's prologue. The Catherine they're talking about is not Catherine Zeta-Jones. Not Catherine Deneuve. Not even Catherine the Great. It's Catherine de' Medici, the Adolf Hitler of 16th century. (Catherine was to Protestants as Hitler was to Jews.) Since the king in throne was reportedly a Mama's boy, Valois matriarch Catherine was practically the king and queen of France for quite a long time.

Millennials probably know Catherine from Reign, a CW series about Mary's life. The romanticized show portrays Catherine as a domineering yet sympathetic mommy with quite a good sense of humor — a glaring contradiction to the Catherine portrayed in La Reine Margot, which was marketed as Queen Margot in English-speaking countries.


Fave Movie Posters: Heneral Luna

One of the most hyped movies in the history of Philippine cinema, indie film Heneral Luna tells the story of General Antonio Luna, aka Juan Luna's younger brother, aka the man who led the Philippine Revolution Army during the Philippine-American War.

Despite the film's popularity, I've yet to see the film. (I know, right?) Will definitely do so.

Without further blah blah blah, the other thing that piqued my interest for Heneral Luna, aside from the positive reviews, is this poster:


Fave Movie Moments: The Godfather: Part II

The Godfather: Part II has many memorable scenes in it. Among those is young Vito Corleone's first day in New York's Ellis Island. The boy barely said a word because he had a traumatic experience back home (Corleone, Sicily) and because he can't speak English yet.


Cinematography: Mad Max: Fury Road

Director: George Miller
Cinematographer: John Seale

Honestly speaking, I never expected Mad Max: Fury Road (aka MMFR) to be that good. I was expecting an "average Hollywood movie." You know, the kind that heavily relies on its stars' bankability, disregarding the quality of its plot and cinematography. (MMFR is a Hollywood-Australian production.)


She May Be the Fate I Can't Escape

L-R: Jennifer Tilly in Bound, Nicole Kidman in To Die For, and Faye Dunaway in Chinatown.

"Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned," as the saying goes. In short, never mess with a woman — especially a femme fatale — unless you want some serious trouble.

According to Wikipedia, "a femme fatale (/ˌfæm fəˈtɑːl/ or /ˌfɛm fəˈtɑːl/; French: [fam fatal]) is a stock character of a mysterious and seductive woman whose charms ensnare her lovers, often leading them into compromising, dangerous, and deadly situations. She is an archetype of literature and art."

Just like Delilah, Catherine Tramell, and Mrs. Robinson, these enigmatic ladies cast their wicked spell on men (and, for some on the list, women), making them as vulnerable as a newborn baby.

Seductive. Mysterious. Dangerous. Behold some of my fave femme fatales.

(In chronological order.)

Phyllis Dietrichson, Double Indemnity
Played by Barbara Stanwyck

To score some huge money, insurance salesman Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) conspires with Phyllis Dietrichson. Having a bad wig day, Phyllis gives Walter an indecent proposal, so indecent it involves Phyllis' husband being dead. (Oh, and about that wig. I thought I was watching George Washington in drag.)

Evelyn Mulwray, Chinatown
Played by Faye Dunaway

She's very reminiscent of those femme fatales in film noir. A tragic character, Evelyn Mulwray is seemingly stoic until her disturbing secret is finally revealed during the iconic "sister daughter scene." Evelyn's vulnerability is what makes her a femme fatale. Evelyn's defenses down, suave P.I. Jake Gittes (Jack Nicholson) does every deadly thing just to save her. Miss Dunaway's performance is one of the film's remarkable moments.


Hollywood's Gift of Remakes

Fueled by repetitive remakes, Hollywood now gives us The Gift. No, it's not that movie wherein Katie Holmes bares it all. This one is a blatant remake of Caché, Michael Haneke's 2005 film about a man's vengeful past.

Made ten years after Haneke's film, The Gift borrows quite a lot of plot elements from Caché: the videotapes are now a series of gifts, the Paris neighborhood turns into a Los Angeles suburb, Daniel Auteuil is now Jason Bateman (they kinda look alike though), Maurice Bénichou is now Joel Edgerton, and Juliette Binoche is now Rebecca Hall.


Haneke Ranked

At its best, film should be like a ski jump. It should give the viewer the option of taking flight, while the act of jumping is left up to him.

– Michael Haneke

Along with Schubert, Romy Schneider, Helmut Berger, Christoph Waltz, and vienna sausage — I refuse to include The Terminator — Michael Haneke is one of Austria's national treasures.

(Just some trivia: Haneke is somewhat related to Waltz.)

I often recognize a Michael Haneke movie every time I see one. Abrupt transitions. Random shots of mundane things. Static shots. Isabelle Huppert. Susanne Lothar. Juliette Binoche. The names "Anne" and "George" and their variation. Long shots. And no music, because according to him: "usually music is used to hide a film's problems."


Fave Movie Posters: Le cercle rouge

"Fave Movie Posters" is a new portion on this humble a-blog of mine. It features some of my fave movie posters, either theatrical ones or those intended as DVD or Blu-ray disc covers.

I'd be honest here, most of the posters I might feature are those by The Criterion Collection, because I find their posters very innovative while still being loyal to the film's thematics.

Paving the way for this new portion is the Criterion poster for Le cercle rouge, Jean-Pierre Melville's 1970 heist movie. This stylish Frenchie starred Alain Delon, Gian Maria Volonté, and Yves Montand as thieves who conspire a huge heist.

(A remake starring Orlando Bloom was said to be on the way. Apparently it's still on the way, or maybe it's already off the way.)


Cinematography: Suspiria

Director: Dario Argento
Cinematographer: Luciano Tovoli

Lately I've been an avid viewer of Pretty Little Liars. The show got me hooked since I watched its fifth season. What attracted me to the show is its giallo effect. Pretty Little Liars ("PLL" to its fans) is very reminiscent of those giallo movies, also known as Italian horror movies that incorporate "psychological themes of madness, alienation, sexuality and paranoia." Giallo movies — especially those directed by Dario Argento (aka Asia's dad) — also employ "candy-colored" cinematography, eerie music, and exaggerated performances. In short, campy.

Without further PLL-ing, and since I've mentioned Argento, here are some of the best frames from Suspiria — Argento's well-known film, and probably the most popular of all the giallo movies. (The word "suspiria" is Latin for "sighs.")

Suspiria is a 1977 gialli about Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper), a ballerina who goes to a ballet school in Italy. After experiencing macabre occurrences in the school, Suzy finds out that the campus is actually a coven of witches. Therefore, Suzy has to do everything she can to get out of there; otherwise she'll be kaput.


Trapped Cinema

"As long as we know we're trapped, we still have a chance to escape."
– Sara Grant, Neva

What do you do when you are trapped inside an enclosed space? Cry? Cry some more? Cry for help? Cry until your eyes are dry? Stare into nothingness? Call mom? Perhaps you'll just laugh it all off.

Paranoia can really set in during immurement. Cinema has been able to show us the brutality of being trapped — letting us experience claustrophobia, making us question our own freedom.

Without further blah blah blah, I listed down some of my fave films that trap us inside their trapped plot.


Fave Movie Moments: Garde à vue

Romy Schneider was approaching her final years as an actress and a human being when she filmed 1981's Garde à vue. A year later, the Austrian-born actress died of cardiac arrest.

Romy is Chantal Martinaud. Appearing 52 minutes into the film, Romy was barely in the movie yet her lingering presence is probably the film's biggest draw.


Fave LGB-Themed Movies

And the song goes: "Measure your life in love." In celebration of SCOTUS' historic decision on same-sex marriage, I compiled my ten favorite LGB-themed movies.

(In no particular order.)

Fried Green Tomatoes
Jon Avnet, 1991

An all-time fave movie of mine, Fried Green Tomatoes is a delicious film about the struggles and triumphs of women. To appeal to a wider range of audience, the film discusses lesbian love in a very discreet manner, presenting Ruth and Idgie (Mary-Louise Parker and Mary Stuart Masterson) as BFFs more than lovers. (I suggest checking out the novel to get a clearer picture of Ruth and Idgie’s love story.)


An Epic ROFL-Fest

Leigh Whannell, 2015

"Hahahahaha!" is what resonated inside the movie theater as our fellow moviegoers watch Insidious: Chapter 3. The profusion of laughter is courtesy of the audience, not the supernatural villain in the film.

"You smell funky. And I think I'm gonna need some neck brace."
- Quinn

Insidious: Chapter 3 is a prequel to the first two movies. It follows the story of a teenager named Quinn Brenner (Stefanie Scott), an aspiring theater actress dealing with the death of her mother, whom she wishes to talk to via psychic Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye). The rest of the film deals with Quinn's possession after her what-the-f*ck-inducing accident.


The Dilemma That is Philippine Cinema

Gone are the days when Brocka et al. reigned Philippine cinema. It would probably take another master filmmaker for our nation's cinema to recover and be given the kind of international recognition it once had.

Himala (Miracle).
That's probably what our cinema needs. A miracle.

(Image courtesy of Wikipedia.)

Although we often have entries to international film fests like the recently-concluded Cannes Film Festival, Philippine cinema still has a long way to go in terms of identity and originality.

Once our cinema has established a particular trademark, Filipino films will finally be put back on the map of international cinema — alongside cinematic benchmarks like the German cinema, Italian cinema, Japanese cinema, and French cinema.

Cinema should not be a piggy bank

We don't make movies to make money, we make money to make more movies.
- Walt Disney


"What the F*ck," Said the Audience

Jan Švankmajer, 1988

Using stop-motion animation, Švankmajer creates a surrealistic version of the already strange tale of Alice, the dreamy girl who dreams her way to Wonderland.

Through a drawer a.k.a. the rabbit hole, Alice (Kristýna Kohoutová) follows a stuffed White Rabbit, leading her to Wonderland. I'm sure you already know the rest of the story.

Dubbed in English, this Czech weirdfest might seem tedious to some audiences. For some unfathomable reason, Švankmajer likes to show close-ups of the narrator's lips while uttering the perpetual: "...said Alice" "...said the White Rabbit" "...said the Caterpillar" "...said the March Hare" "...said the [insert character's name here]." This sh*t goes on throughout the film. This particular technique makes the film ridiculously monotonous, to the point of droning.


Fave Movie Quotes: Serial Mom

Chip: Mom, are you a serial killer?
Beverly: The only "serial" I know anything about is Rice Krispies.

DISCLAIMER: No copyright infringement intended. I don't own or claim to own any of the photos used.


Ballet as a Bloodsport

Darren Aronofsky, 2010

Got a secret
Can you keep it?
Swear this one you'll save
Better lock it in your pocket
Taking this one to the grave
If I show you then I know you won't tell what I said
'Cause two can keep a secret if one of them is dead

- The Pierces, Secret

How far are you willing to go for the sake of absolute perfection? For Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman), as far as it takes.

In Black Swan, ambitious ballerina Nina Sayers is tapped to star in the new production of Swan Lake, which is being helmed by the company's flirty director, Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel). As the production approaches its first show, Nina finds her life resembling that of the two main characters in Swan Lake: the Swan Queen and her wicked twin, the Black Swan.


Dismantling the Stereotype

Guy Franklin, 2010

And in celebration of Women's Month, here's my take on Kimbra's feminist song, Settle Down. Kimbra, in my opinion, is kinda like the sober and sane version of Lady Gaga. Born in New Zealand, this underrated singer is mainly popular in Australia, focusing more on her music as an art, not as a means of worldwide fame.

I happened upon one of her songs, Settle Down, when its video was used as a promo for a music festival here in the Philippines, in which Kimbra is the main performer.

Settle Down has a sardonic undertone in it, implicitly saying that not all women want to get married, at the same time dismantling the stereotypical notion of "a lady housewife."


Hollywood: Going Forward AND Backward

I've never really looked up to Hollywood as the benchmark of masterful filmmaking. Capitalist filmmaking, yes. Filmmaking as an art? Not exactly. Most Hollywood filmmakers look at cinema as a piggy bank, not as an art medium.

On the same note, I never really took the Oscars® seriously, it's mostly just a popularity contest. Oscar® — the tiny, golden, (and probably) naked guy — mostly favors the popular and the money maker, not the artistic. Just think: Hitchcock never won an Oscar.

White Oscar

With (alleged) propaganda film American Sniper getting lots of publicity and attention, it wouldn't be a surprise if the film wins the major awards at this year's Oscars.


Gone Girl Finds Herself

Forsaken by that Lady fair
She glides unheeding through them all
Covering her brow to hide the tear
That still, though checked, trembles to fall

She hurries through the outer Hall
And up the stairs through galleries dim
That murmur to the breezes' call
The night-wind's lonely vesper hymn.

- Emily Brontë

Peter Weir, 1975

Forming a sense of attachment is often easier than the mere thought of detachment. Change is the only thing that is permanent in this world. That's a fact that we know. So why do we still cling to things of temporary existence? Simply because we want what we can't have.

In Peter Weir's Picnic at Hanging Rock, a group of schoolgirls and their teacher disappear during a Valentine's Day picnic at Hanging Rock. Those left behind are shaken to their Victorian core.

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