Brooklyn and Theon Greyjoy’s Search for Home

Two nights ago, around 11PM in the night, I finally finished A Clash of Kings and two Fridays ago, the movie Brooklyn just in time for me to root for it during the Oscars. And both were freaking marvelous. So this entry is some sort of review / reflection to the concepts of home found in both media, most of what I’m going to share is probably based on my Modern Asian Lit class and the paper I wrote for said class which was to me the best paper I’ve ever written.

The 1000-paged sequel to the A Game of Thrones is my comeback to reading. I wanted something to help me with my reading drought so I committed to the longest one I have in my bookshelf. This way reading becomes some kind of routine and the writing would be the same unlike when I read different books with different writing styles, tones, and techniques which is confusing and tiring.

It’s an exciting world that George R. R. Martin paints, it’s the entire country of different aspects of it-from gender, social class, and jobs. Successfully, Martin narrates the lives of the very different characters in bright light and development. Though there were times the descriptions were too much, it was part of the experience.

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My favorite characters in both tv and book is Sansa and Catelyn Stark or at least some parts of their personality. Most found Catelyn annoying but when she recalled her experiences as a mother, it breaks my heart. The actress who plays Sansa Stark, Sophie Turner helped me visualized the silent Sansa. I’ve rooted for her in the later seasons. Her adventures, though minimal and less bloody unlike Arya’s, are dangerous enough to have cost her life. Her wits and a lot of luck have helped her along the way. And Sophie Turner’s goddamn gorgeous.

Speaking of Arya, her adventures could stand alone. Sometimes they’re boring especially the later ones but she is important. I feel like she is but at the moment she is not. She feels like a filler. Sometimes I feel like we could remove her from the books and the other characters would stay the same. I even wonder if she has a large role in the main plot but in the last six seasons of TV, she doesn’t. I wish we could get a character’s adventure compiled from book 1 to 5 into one novel, though I know most of it would not make sense, I’d like to have that option.

Okay, now let’s go to Theon Greyjoy. If you didn’t read the books, here’s a little history. He was born in the Iron Islands, taken by the Starks as a ward to keep the Greyjoy rebellion hushed when Theon was ten. Though Theon was raised like a Stark, it’s basically kidnapping, and Theon had no choice but to be a leverage against the Greyjoys. If the Greyjoys do something rebellious, their prince would be killed.

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He grew up in Winterfell then, spending the most important part of your life – puberty – in a land where you’re supposed to call it home. Maester Luwin would educate you the maps and history and teach you how to read. You’d know the godswood, the entire kingdom of your father’s enemy, which to you is your new home with Robb who treats you like a brother. You’d feel at home but it isn’t really yours.

Then, Theon goes home for the first time to the Iron Islands since he was ten and it becomes very difficult. He is no longer the same. He does not wear what Ironborns wear, as his sister laughingly pointed out. He does not recognize its culture of We Do Not Sow, of its preference to durability than beauty. He tries to impress his unfamiliar father and fails. He is both an outcast to where he was born and where he grew up which is terrible and he tries so impeccably to impress both places and fails.

When he comes back to Winterfell to invade it, he is not loved. He is hated. Though he grew up there, those who helped him grew up did not love him. Not because he invaded it. Well, partly. But it is because he is a Greyjoy which required Theon to impress his father by invading Winterfell. And he failed both miserably…

Similar to this is Brooklyn, the Oscar-nominated film directed by John Crowley which tells the story of a young beautiful Irish who moves to Brooklyn played by Saoirse Ronan in search for a better life. She is polite, homesick, ambitious, and hard-working. As was the techonology during the 1950s, there was no Facetime or Snapchat to help you recognize and remember what home looked like. There is no closure once you moved to the city especially into the eccentric and lovely New York City, only sepia pictures and memories.

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One of my favorite parts is the contrast between Eilis (Saoirse Ronan’s character) and another woman who tells her the do’s and don’ts in the ship that they came in. She prepares her for Brooklyn, an unknown territory, which that woman had already frequented, making her up and advising her not to cough ever on the immigration desk. And then, in the last scene, she then becomes that woman as a newbie to Brooklyn asks her about it. It was a full circle, character development and all. And it was very well-written.

Along the way, she falls in love to Tony, an Italian plumber who captivates her heart and mine. I’d like to think he is a metaphor for the love that she cultivated in Brooklyn. She loved him and she needed to come back to him. (Sidenote: their love story is gahhhh!!)

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When she comes back to Ireland because of something I won’t spoil, everyone whispers and everyone wants to know what America was about. Similar to Theon Greyjoy, she became a different person when she comes back. An example is the swimming suit, as her friend had noticed. She wore a yellow one-piece which is new and beautiful. She is torn between two worlds and she no longer belongs to one. She knows she is both two and she should go back to Brooklyn and to Tony, the life she slowly built on her own, not one she had been handed to. And it makes total sense.

My take on both of this is to adjust as I’m in a new home myself. Or that we’re going to be in constant search of a home. Or that maybe a person is a home. Or a group of people. Or a state of mind.

People always tell me to never change wherever I go and it’s problematic because the only way we could all survive is to adapt, to stretch ourselves over the land. We’re all going to be in different places in the world, in doing so, we’re going to lose ourselves and question who we are to be. People will question who you were and why you became the ‘idealized’ past version of you.

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But the thing is, we just have to be the best version of ourselves. It’s cliche but it works.Be in complete chaos of yourself. Forget about labels. Irish-American? Iron-born Winterfelli? Be everything all at once. As my friend had once said, why are we so afraid of chaos?

Pictures aren’t mine. Take the credit.

How to Deal with Your Haters

Recently, I’ve realized my pet peeve is ‘cool and famous’ people saying “haters gonna hate” so the following are my angry advices or options on how to deal with haters. The following are options, not a step-by-step procedure, on how to deal with your haters:

  1. You don’t. You let be whoever they are. At one point of your life, you hated something or someone. It means that you know what you like and what you don’t like. And a single person who tells you that they hate you should not outweigh the people around you who say otherwise. “If you are not hated in any way, you are not doing anything important,” says Lady Gaga.
  2. You always have to be the bigger person. I’ve told this to someone one time and she thought I was calling her fat. Being a bigger person means swallowing pride. Do not waste your energy to persons who do not even listen, who do not even desire some kind of change in their perspective.
  3. Fight them to the death. If you think you need to explain something, do. Let them know the context of yourself. Let them know that why you think they should not hate you. Let them realize you are only voicing out your feelings but those feelings have to be in accordance with the mind. We are two things: heart and mind. Be civil when you voice out your feelings. Remember what Hannah Montana said: “Fight fire with fire and all you’re going to get is a bigger fire.” But if you will, attack the argument, not the person.
  4. Be a drama queen. This is usual the path that I take but don’t really recommend. Stalk them on Twitter and Facebook and be mean to them with your friends. Make fun of things that they could change. (WARNING: do not make fun of the things people can’t change (for example, don’t make fun of them of their skin color or their height (instead, aggressively attack on their grammar))) Act like you’re better than him or her or them. In the end though, you’ll have to realize you’re not living a productive life but at least you had fun.
  5. Listen to them. This is the path that I’d like to take in the next few years. Listen, they care enough about something that they had to voice their opinions about it. That they had to fight with you just to get a message across. What if they went with the crowd and agreed to every word you say? These are people who have different takes on things. They will make you think about your life so hard and your moral compass pointing South that you would hate on them too but you have to listen to every word they say. These are people who are not blinded by your presence. These are people who can see through your positive side. (Caution: the word that I used is ‘listen,’ not ‘believe’ or ‘follow’). Note that some are not personal attacks.

 

That’s all I’ve got now. Signing off.

Photo above is from The Diary of a Teenage Girl.

 

A Room of One’s Own

Hi and welcome to my room–where hopes and dreams lived and died and one of my favorite places on Earth. Room is also the new Oscar-nominated movie which I already love without even watching it–it will be the film to destroy me this week.
So a little flashback: I got my room a little before high school, I’m not really sure when but it’s around that time when the transition from being a child to a teen was intense, with a huge cabinet that stores both my clothes and the bedsheets in the house, taking up half of the entire room and a huge bunk bed only for me. I only have this vague memory of me texting in j3j3m0hn on bed with a cellphone that has keypads.

In here, in this very room, I locked myself away from the world because I hate it. I frigging hate the entire universe and turned to books. I only hated it because I was too afraid to go out (social anxiety? etc) or my parents were (worrisome? etc.). I was stuck in a place and I had to make the most out of everything in a tiny space so I travelled instead through books. I think books help us travel without moving an inch. I started to read Twilight for a month–finishing one chapter after the next, thinking I was a voracious reader, taking myself to the rainy paradise Bella lived in Forks.

Additionally, this was my father and mother’s room before my aunt’s family moved and became bigger. Consequently, it became the room that housed me as an infant. There was this story in the family where my makeshift crib was a stereo because the bed was too small. Then, we moved to the master bedroom. At that time, it belonged to my mother’s bachelor brother Gerry and had those Basketball player posters posted on the wall which I vandalized generously. My sister and I vandalized a lot of walls when we were young–I think it’s only natural. It also became a toy room when we got older and when Gerry moved. It was filled with toys. I remember this distant childhood friend/ preschool classmate of mine when we were five who ran away from home to visit me in the toy room and his dad panicked the shit out of himself who found his son hours later after my father called him. He’s now broke and weird.

For me, at the time, that was paradise–I was blessed with hand-me-down toys from my cousins and newly-bought and delivered from my grandmother in the U.S. And shit, my sister and I have all the time in the world to spend with them. It was freedom–to have this precious privacy: a room of one’s own. I can do anything with it. As I got older, I appreciated the concept of privacy even more which remains a challenge to me because I want to move away but I also do not want to abandon my family at the same time and make them feel like I don’t want them. I hope I find a compromise someday.

This is a very personal piece for me and I hope you’ll appreciate it–it’s the place where lots of things changed and lots of things were learned. This was written not only for my friends but for me because as I am writing this, my entire family has moved to the U.S. and this room will never be mine and the same again. It will be lost. It will be unfamiliar. All the things that symbolized my being me will be lost. I can’t believe it but I’m writing this realizing what I had lost. These are the parts of the room and my own parts:
  I actually have a lot of books since I am a Lit Major. I’ve hoarded them whenever there is a book sale. In total, I have about 90 unread books all in all. And my Kindle, home of downloaded e-books from the internet, is now deemed irrelevant.

  A bunch of posters: a huge East Coast basketball players poster, a Lady Gaga poster, a remembrance that I took from my Creative Writing workshop in the university, a painting gifted by my friend Ynca who remains to be the best gifter of all time because she knows what I want, at the back of it is a Twilight Breaking Dawn poster

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I liked how she crossed out ‘never change’. She knows that I need to change and change is good if it’s for the better. One thing that made our friendship bloom was our mutual love for Lady Gaga when we were in our first year in college. Ah, memories.

 

My beautiful dirty desk contains a picture of me and my sister, on the wall is my drawing of Lady Gaga in 2012 wearing the outfit she wore in her Judas music video (probably the only decent thing I’ve drawn in my entire life) which is then vandalized by my little cousins (those fuckers!), next is my Gawad Ustetika award, a creative writing award which I’ve won for an essay about singing in the shower and how it became this liberating especially if the shower is filled with childhood memories and coming-of-age stories (and yes, I’m using it as a bookend) [For more of this story, click last year’s entry about it]. Next to it is the books I’ve been reading: The Scorch Trials by James Dashner and The Best American Travel Essays 2005. I haven’t been reading Philippine Literatures but it can’t fit to my brimming bookshelves so I just put it there. Lastly is a book stand, bought my lovely cousin Jill- it’s hella cute and it’s hella efficient when I want to read while eating (because eating alone is boring – I either watch a 20-minute show or read a book with a book stand)

I have to explain these notebooks and what they are for because for some reason I want to share it with you: the red in the middle has my daily schedule or homework notebook. I take notes on what to do for three days which is rarely ever followed but I like the concept of a schedule even if it’s an illusion for being organized. The eat-sleep-recycle notebook is for writing down the books I have read, complete with dates I’ve started and finished. I’m that O.C. and bored with my life. I’ve been using this notebook for three years I think. And it’s almost completely filled so I use the cattleya notebook above it sometimes for the same purpose. The other Cattleya notebook is for writing down progress on my project. I write down ideas on this character or wonderful plot ideas. These Cattleya notebooks are very new so there’s not much in it. The notebook on the bottom is my journal. I use it to copy down quotes from a book, draw or doodle (it has no lines in it) or write down vaguely what I’ve been up to. It’s very special because it’s given to me by my swimmer-athlete friend gorgeous as fuck Megan. I sometimes put pictures in it or boarding passes from airports. It’s going to be its one year anniversary on March and I have only taken like 15 pages of it. The blue notebook at the top on the other hand is my movie log notebook. I put movies I think I should watch sorted by its director or movie recs. I used to write movie reviews in them but I’m too lazy to write in them now. I just rate the movies I watched and list them. I also write down which movies are coming this week or month in this humble notebook. I left it at home because it’s almost full. I’ll just buy another one here.

My books if unshelved. This is my sister’s room by the way.

The four albums I have: Owl City was a gift from a friend in high school. I was into Owl City when I was in high school. I loved the autotune shit and the simplicity behind it. Speaking of autotune, the Ke$ha album is also a gift from my cousin Ron who took me to a record store five Christmases ago and said “go pick up something” (which was one of the best Christmas gifts ever–to have freedom to pick anything) alongside with Mike Posner whom I loved for a brief amount of time. Mike Posner’s album is all about travelling and partying which is kind of cool now that I’ve realized it. The last one is Lady Gaga’s hit album from four years ago, bought it at the album launch and met professional impersonator Lady Gagita together with my now-lost friend Myrtle. I can’t find the pics but I’ll post them one day from my grave.

I do not buy any more physical album because who in their right minds from a middle-class in a third-world country would when you can download it illegally or get it from Spotify like what a classic milenial would? But now that I’m in the U.S. and later working, I’ll probably have to change.

A first-year-high-school project about your own evolution from baby to barely an adult is nailed to the wall on my bed’s feet.

I’m a natural achiever

  A little explanation: this was at the top of my closet–a project in TLE from high school, unused comforters, a soccer ball pillow which was lost but when found it was hella dirty, a lamp from our high school production of Noli Me Tangere which I never returned and asked to be returned, a bottle of The Bar Vodka (I think) which I stole from my friend’s dorm and lastly a printer’s box containing some of my notebooks/journal in the last seven years.
Caps: a Lady Gaga cap, a found-in-the-closet M cap, and underneathe my Jeje cap from one of my iconic Facebook profile pictures in 2009. Underneath is a poster I got from Art Fair last year.

The chronology is random but I hoped you got a sense of me. We need to move on in the end and this is me moving on… farewell, my lovely room. One day, I’ll tour you guys to my New York apartment or something.

My Year in Movies (Part 2 of 2)

Hi, guys. I’m back! First off, Happy New Year. 2015 was such a great year for me because 1) I got my laptop and so I can watch unlimited amount of movies again 2) lots of great movies were released that year. 3) the universe gave me time to watch them all despite the busy graduating life. (I think no one’s that busy. If it’s a priority, then it is given time)
So let’s look at my top 14 movies that I’ve watched in 2015 (slow drumming sounds please @ my band). This is part 2 of 2, I’ve already posted half of it last year, check it out.

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14. Gone Girl (2015) by David Fincher
First of all, the cinematography’s extremely sharp and beautiful and swift and elegant. David Fincher is definitely the director. The story is also a fun concept: girl disappears, husband gets blamed. Despite Ben Affleck’s penis cameo, Rosamund Pike stole the entire movie. She is bae. She is the cool girl we all want!
The sound score is also very important, making the mystery/action/romance movie more eerie. I think it’s one of the things that contributed to the movie’s eerieness.Love it to the bone, watched it twice.

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13. I Killed My Mother (2009) by Xavier Dolan

It’s Dolan’s debut film and it is one where he stars as the lead. I am basically a Xavier Dolan because I want to be in charge of everything. As his debut film, he gets extremely excited and does all the work (or most of it technically) My goal in life is to write, direct, produce and star in my own TV show, hopefully semi-autobiographical and critically-acclaimed. I just think TV shows breed more loyalty to its audience because of its episodic nature. In 2009, Xavier Dolan did that with a film. I’ve told you: Dolan is the Canadian-French version of me.
Now the movie is personal to Dolan and it also becomes personal to us. More importantly, I love the close-up shots very much and how some scenes are balanced. To be honest, I think this could easily be my own film in terms of technique. In terms of content, a son who has a terrible relationship with his mother, I’m not really for it. If you’re going to watch this, watch his later, more successful movie Mommy afterwards and compare them.
Edit: I do have Mommy issues and I could see how it is such an important movie as a coming-of-age and killing your mother (which sort of means growing up).

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12. The Duchess (2008) by Saul Dibb

I am in love with Keira Knightley, oh my freaking god, you have no idea. In this film, her character is the Duchess who made the mistake of marrying a horrible Duke played by Ralph Fiennes. What I love about this movie is how it is subtly and ultimately a feminist film. I’ve realized a lot of things in the movie. It’s an eye opener. One of them is how silence could be a weapon. Some feminists think that being silent means defeat but it’s not. Timing is everything and one should only stay silent if it is a strategy and it is for the better good in the meantime. It’s the only subtle feminist that seemed to represent the concept well and can be discussed thoroughly in class as a literary theory.
Keira Knightley in period clothes, British accent and all, and the subtle Feminism = A+
11. Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No-Good, Very Bad Day (2014) by Miguel Arteta

It’s not difficult for movies from Walt Disney to make me cry. This is what happened to me at the beginning of the year and at the near end. Even if I try not to get into the entire movie, my eyes would instantly tear up in one immediate scene.
I like movies that are set in a small length of time. It’s realistic and we all catch the action and identify characterization quickly. This movie was set in two days. One where we see Alexander having his usual terrible day before his birthday and another where he wished that for once everyone in his family would have a horrible, terrible, no-good, very bad day so they would realize his pain as middle-school grader.
At the mention of the name Steve Carell, I would probably jump on my bones. He’s such a great actor (recently watched The Big Short which I hated because I didn’t understand a shit) and I love him. I love him in The Office. He played one of the greatest icons in comedy. But what would you do if you knew Jennifer Garner was there too? It’s a powerful, simple film and one that is warm to the heart. I’ll probably use the phrase ‘warm to the heart’ many times in the next 10 like the colors in its costumes and set are warm to the eyes. A perfect Disney film!

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10. Wild (2014) by Jean Marc-Vallee

It’s easily one of my favorite movies of the year and one that is very memorable. Reese Witherspoon was the reason I watched this movie because it was said it was her return to ‘great movies’ or ‘critically-acclaimed performance.’ This journey of Cheryl Strayed, which is based on her memoir, is powerful. I love that we see her journey in the trail and the journeys of her life that got her there. Ultimately, it was a journey to survive her grief. Not only because of the death of her loved ones or her marriage, but also because some part of her died and it needs to be reborn.
For me, going alone on a trail with nothing but your thoughts is torture. I’ve lived a life of distractions–social media, arts and lifestyle networks. It’s the greatest emotional and mental pain of all—realizing everything, having thought about it, and not knowing what to do with them. I’m not sure why this movie is listed at number 10 when it could easily be in my top 3. (i just couldn’t put them all in my top 3) transit9. Transit (2013) by Hannah Espia

Congrats Hannah Espia and writer Giancarlo Abrahan (whom I’ve seen in real life!) You are the only Filipino movie that made my list and you made it to my top ten. The movie is layered with immigrant experiences of one family. It’s an examination of the generational and cultural differences in an immigrant family—all of them struggling with their identity and the consequences of living abroad illegally. This movie is perfect as a postcolonial material for class or peer discussions.
The movie was just brilliantly woven. I love it. I love it. I really like the concept of home and losing and searching for it. It’s a making sense of the self, says my teacher:

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8. The Black Swan (2010) by Darren Aronofsky

I have postponed watching this whenever I catch it on HBO some random time of the year but one night I decided to watch it and daaaaaammmnnn, powerful movie, man. It’s as powerful as Requiem for a Dream. It’s mindfuck. It’s a kind of what-the-fuck-is-happening film. I have no words for this but it’s a movie about madness. Madness, I tell you. Natalie Portman is the queen. The Swan Queen!!!

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7. Boogie Nights (1997) by Paul Thomas Anderson

I’ve always thought that Mark Wahlberg was a loser. An old hag that Hollywood and young people today has forgotten or dismissed only because I haven’t seen him in a good role. Then I realize some actors just really need good writing material, a great director and an opportunity to showcase it to become really great actors. It’s a hard collaborative art—movies. And this is perhaps one of the movies that portray the effects of fame. And you know I love matters about fame and also sex—the movie’s about a guy in the porn industry. It’s a classic and I definitely do not need to hard sell it. If you haven’t seen a Paul Thomas Anderson, this should be your first. Then my recently watched Magnolia which is a little Pulp Fictiony but set in a short period of time.

6. The Imitation Game (2015) by Morten Tyldum

Benedict Cumberbatch’s jump from TV (Sherlock, duh, guys) to movies (the incoming Doctor Strange, ahhh!) or even to theater (Hamlet, what the fuck talented, right?) is sweet transition. He had made great decisions and chosen the greatest roles ever. In this film, Cumberbatch plays Alan Turing who has a secret that will hinder his freedom and has an ability to change the world. Spoiler alert: he’s gay and he basically invented computers and he saved a lot of people during the war and hate forced him to be a creep but he still did win a lot of hearts.
Of course, let us not forget the charming Keira Knightley! She is enough to make you want to download the film as soon as possible! Do it!
Also, the screenwriter’s Oscar win for Best Adapted Screenplay’s speech moved me.

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5. Spy (2015) by Paul Feig

Melissa McCarthy is a recent discovery. Maybe because she just rose to fame in Bridesmaids. She’s the diva of comedy and could easily be the funniest woman of the decade so far. This movie was the only comedy movie this year that made my tummy hurt from laughing and made me tear up. It’s hilarious and it’s ridiculous. Everyone should check this out, it’s standing so near to the 4th place which is a masterpiece and groundbreaking cultural phenomenon.
Also, Jason Statham in a comedy? Weird but it’s hella funny.
4. Birdman (2015) by Alejandro González Iñárritu
–Won Best Picture amongst other things
–Seems shot in one take
–Meanings and debates regarding what the fuck is this movie and who Bird Man is among my friends are hot
–Michael Keeton, Emma Stone, Edward Norton, Amy Ryan
–It’s so meta

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3. The Matrix (1999) by The Wachowskis
I’m just going to leave you hanging. And not say anything about it. Because the two words: The Matrix is enough.

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2. Before Trilogy (1995, 2004, 2013) by Richard Linklater

Stranded in a friend’s dorm because of flooding and because we were seven in a tiny room with only two beds (a bunk bed) I’ve decided not to sleep and watch the first two films in the trilogy, just in time for sunrise and for the flood to drain. This happened on mid-December on the last week of exams.
It’s unfair that I compressed all three movies as a single entry, I know, so I just boosted it to number two since they are that good. They are all of my friends’ highly recommended films.

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The first film is how they met, the second is how they are reunited and the third is how much they grew up apart. That is my spoiler-less description of every movie. Every movie has its own charm in it and a special place for it. The last movie has to be the heaviest of them all, now that they’ve gotten really old, issues and conflicts abound. But what it taught me is that to never be afraid of conflicts. People fight because they have strong feelings regarding something and that they are different and they choose to try to fight for their own feelings.

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I’m rooting for a fourth one in 2022. They’re probably what in their 50’s? This is a signature of Richard Linklater, long-term projects with the same actors which breeds loyalty for fans and the actors.

And the movie of the year goes to…

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  1. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) by George Miller

Holy shit, this film, I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. And on the night I watched the two Before films, we watched Mad Max: Fury Road twice consecutively or at least I did—the others fell asleep upon realizing there is no way in hell we were going to wade in that flood.
The movie is action-packed, the moments when you can pee is limited and are always when a character laments on something which is as important as the action scenes. It’s beautiful CGI. I tried taking a peak of the older version of the film to which this was remade from where Mel Gibson starred and guys it looked pretty different but it was probably a gem during that time even when weirdly it’s the same director. Anyway, I can’t really judge. I think it’s the reinterpretation of the world of the old movie that made it more beautiful plus the recent developments in special effects sprinkled with feminist and philosophical themes. It should be on everyone’s top movie of the year.
And that’s it you guys. We finished my favorite films that I watched in 2015 list. Movies are a huge part of pop culture and culture in general. It’s a wonderful escape from our own miserable lives. Join me later this year! Good night.

 

The Patrick Awards!

I’m a huge arts and culture junkie, meaning I consume lots of media: books, tv, films, and music. And I’m here to discuss which made my year extremely better.

MUSIC

BEST NEW ALBUM

  • Honeymoon by Lana Del Rey
  • Empire Vol. 1 by Various Artists
  • 10,000 Forms of Fear by Sia
  • Emotions by Carly Rae Jepsen
  • Beauty Behind the Madness by The Weeknd

Nope, 25 by Adele did not made the list because it was a horrible one. There are a few tracks that stood out but I’d prefer 21 and 19 over 25 any other day.

SONG OF THE YEAR:

  • Bitch Better Have My Money by Rihanna
  • Take Me to Church by Hozier
  • Electric Love  by BØRNS
  • High by the Beach by Lana Del Rey
  • Somebody by Natalie La Rose ft. Jeremih

Played Somebody for more than 100 times in one day. It was an addicting song and still is.

TV

BEST NEW SHOW

  • Mr. Robot
  • Transparent
  • Master of None
  • Empire
  • Sense8

The sci-fi show is about 8 individuals around the world who share some kind of skills and can communicate with each other.

BEST OLD SHOW

  • Saturday Night Live
  • Orange is the New Black
  • The Amazing Race
  • American Horror Story: Hotel
  • Breaking Bad
  • The Mindy Project

Despite critics, the show’s third season was the show’s best. The first two episodes of the fourth one are really good as well. The sad winter finale was also a very great one. With 13 episodes left, I hope the show could gather more fans that it could. It is so underrated.

MOVIE

BEST PICTURE

  • Before (trilogy) by Richard Linklater
  • Spy
  • Birdman by Alejandro Inarriut
  • The Matrix by The Wachowskis
  • The Imitation Game
  • Mad Max: Fury Road by George Miller

Damn, watched this twice consecutively and another a week later. Too cool, man. One for the books.

BOOKS

  • Looking For Alaska by John Green
  • Howl & Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg
  • Edad Medya: Mga Tula sa Katanghaliang Gulang by Jose F. Lacaba
  • The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler
  • Histories by Charlie Samuya Veric
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  • Leche by R. Zamora Linmark
  • The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • In Praise of the Stepmother by Mario Vargas Llosa
  • Why Not Me? By Mindy Kaling

Girl stepped it up and made it as warm and funny as her first book. Bitch deserved more.

 

Beauty and the Bestie (2014) by Wenn Deramas

Metro Manila Film Fest was created to support Filipinos’ love for film. Sure, it has become a venue for movie producers and major network television show producers to take money out of middle-class and lower-class’ salary for the day. Sure, there are extremely terrible movie released this year that could affect pop culture or in general culture. But these bad films that we watch will also help us in distinguishing it with the good ones. They teach us some kind of truth especially if they resonate with our kababayans.

Beauty and the Bestie is your typical Wenn Deramas and Vice Ganda collaboration: over-the-top and unbelievable plots, unjustified plot (Valerie Concepcion’s character running away from her children) repetitive punchlines (‘ay, ganyan siya oh’ which is funny BTW), references in real life (Nadine Lustre’s character referencing her scandalous fight with James Reid during the premiere – not that cool), and some sort of self-awareness that I kind of like (scenes like ‘dapat maganda tayo sa last scene’ [non-verbatim]). I don’t know why but the formulaic comedies that embed family and action scenes remind me of old classic comedies like FPJ’s or Dolphy’s.

The plot to impersonate a beauty pageant representative of a terrorist-driven country to protect the secret that the real beauty pageant representative who is also the daughter of that said terrorist-driven country has been kidnapped by a third party no one really cares about is well, a huge stretch. But just like in any Vice Ganda movies, we have to do a lot of suspension of disbelief in order to really enjoy the movie.

What I like about the film is that it knows it’s all about hitting the jackpot money. It knows that it is not the film that will change the world. It knows that people will see it for the entertainment value, not really for anything more. And there’s nothing really wrong with that. I mean, what are gore films for anyway? But what we have to be keen about is that people should know that. The problem today is that people take what is given to them just because it came from somewhere they know nothing about (the difficult and rude world of showbiz, ehem, Cathy Garcia Molina) and feel powerless to. We should always be vigilant.

One of the things that have bothered me is the sexual undertones. I have no problems with it really but for a family movie, the sexual tension between Vice Ganda and the naïve character of Coco Martin is kind of strong with Vice Ganda and her two other friends portraying the stereotypical man-hungry gay best friends.

Their performances are good to be honest only because roles were readily written for them and the characters are close to the roles they tend to always portray and there’s not much leeway for an actor to navigate a role in this fast-paced movie. But I want to see Vice Ganda audition for a difficult role one day, one that isn’t written for her. Vice Ganda and also other veteran MMFF actors/actresses keep on recycling their roles—which is terrible because it means there is no progress in their creative pursuits, damaging the opportunity to be diverse and creative. They remain stagnant, unexcited by progress.

The thing that Vice Ganda’s roles or her real-life comedic persona have been damaging is the image of the bakla as the typical manyak, trying to take advantage of any moment just to get physical with Coco Martin, and even if you consider that she’s only in love with him—in the context of Vice Ganda and ‘250 isang kiss,’ it’s a monstrous act for the gay community (which means the entire LGBT). Add her two gay best friends with one who is like Vice Ganda’s character a manyak (that last scene near the end ‘uubusin kita!’ and aggressively goes for the neck) and the other the subject of jokes that refer to being ugly. They are really funny but they also got me worried that people will accept this as representative of the gay community which is not. Though you can argue that this is what lower middle-class gay community may look like in one particular angle, but these kind of tropes, these kind of monstrous acts that affect the gay community have been going on for years. Where are the successful, accepted and beautiful baklas whose physical appearance or gender is not the subject of jokes? The Philippines, sure, may not be ready for these kinds of things but we, those who are reading this and those who aren’t homophobic, should not create worse environments that stereotypes the gay community into ugly monsters and say something even in a single status, a tweet or a blog entry.

On the other hand, there seemed to work with every Vice Ganda character (and this probably the only compliment I will give to the film which I really do not want to massacre any further because the elitists disguised as ‘critics’ are doing their jobs well anyway. I would only like to offer a perspective). Especially in this one: the gay character as mother-nurturer. Kidding aside, Vice Ganda’s character has been called ‘nae-nae’ by her nephews, because she became a mother figure who worries about her nephews’ well-being immensely. The term nae-nae is a smart play on ‘nanay’ and homage to the famous dance move which is very important to pop culture which is equal to a #winner. What I like about this film is the transgender visibility. Vice Ganda’s insistence that she is a woman and should be referred to as ‘ate’ is a wonderful step to trans visibility. If people reading this are still confused, Vice Ganda is female because that’s what she identifies with so do not call her him. The country is still far from transgender acceptance but let’s hope this is a baby step towards that.

The last good thing that came out of this film is that I got my entire family to go out to the movies. And this is pretty rare because my mother only likes to go to Filipino movies (she only understands Indian-accent English, she revealed only last week) and the other half of this extended family would rather spend money on rice and electricity and pirated DVDs than an entire day’s salary for two hours. Also, my 81 year old grandmother (who lives in a distant island of god knows where/I’m not telling you) enters a cinema for the first time! It’s kind of cool.

Comment below if you want to converse. It’s easy and I’m harmless.