Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for October, 2007

Beetlejuice. Beetlejuice. Beetlejuice.

October 30, 2007 By: jessicazafra Category: The Bizarre 4 Comments →

I just got a text message from film director Elwood Perez, who wishes it known that news of his death have been greatly exaggerated. In a newspaper today, he is referred to as “the late Elwood Perez.” I think the author may have confused him with his close friend and colleague Joey Gosiengfiao, who died last year. Perez and Gosiengfiao are the campmeisters of 1970s Filipino cinema.

What’s interesting is that Elwood has been having visitations from dead people for over a year. In April last year, Zed and I ran into him at the mall, and he told us that various dead persons, including Rolando Tinio and some entertainment reporters, had been appearing in his dreams. And then last Saturday I got this text message from Elwood (the longest SMS I’ve ever received):

“Include this in your prayers: That spirits of the dead stay away from me. If a few nights ago, Joey Gosiengfiao told me in my dreams that he still ought to direct, how can you explain that I woke up this morning realizing that the person who paid me a visit last night was food critic Doreen Fernandez, who knew me but was never close to me. There must have been a connection: Last night I was profuse with praise for the orphaned host—a Perez, but Tito’s first cousin, not mine—for the sumptuous dinner that was served rather late, after a late evening mass for her late father and brother who died years ago before her mother, two sisters and only niece perished in a fire that gutted their house. Needless to say I overstuffed myself with big helpings of roast, stuffed turkey, wild rice risotto, vegan spaghetti, melt-in-your-mouth lengua in cream sauce, praline and chocolate cake and Godiva chocolate cookies and red wine. I went to bed bundat na bundat.”

And now he’s referred to in the papers as “The Late”. Spooky.

My diagnosis: If you’re a filmmaker and you stop making movies, your life turns into a horror movie. Aiiiieeeee.

Cold, Intense

October 29, 2007 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies 8 Comments →

On Saturday we caught a preview of the new Ang Lee film, Lust, Caution.
1. It’s gorgeous to behold. Shanghai in WWII is recreated in fabulous detail, like a killer Vogue spread.
2. The posters state that the previews show the uncut, R-18 version, which suggests that the movie will be cut/censored and the graphic sex scenes deleted, and therefore serious filmgoers/viewers curious about the sex scenes should run to the previews before the censors/distributors seeking a wider audience get their scissors on the integral version. A clever ploy, because there is no other version, no pale truncated R-13 movie; Ang Lee does not allow cuts. Lust, Caution will be shown whole, or it will not be shown at all. [Oops. Just heard that Ang Lee cut a few minutes for the versions to be screened in China and Malaysia.]
3. It’s gorgeous to behold. The cinematography is by Rodrigo Prieto.
4. Lust, Caution, also known as Tony Leung, Leehom Wang.
5. I could not forget Anthony Lane’s review in The New Yorker, where he points out that the grappling begins 95 minutes into the movie. So when the first, brutal sex takes place, we checked our watches. Lane is correct. 95 minutes, then five minutes after that, then ten minutes.
6. Many critics found the movie too slow, but we found the long build-up to be perfectly justified, no, necessary. Juan notes that several American critics, including Roger Ebert, were confused as to which scenes happened in Hong Kong, which scenes in Shanghai. Pay attention, people.
7. It’s gorgeous to behold. The leads look amazing. Tang Wei in her first screen role: a star. Leehom Wang: beautiful. Tony Leung: older, not particularly handsome, not the charmer of the Wong Kar Wai movies, but scorching.
8. Long discussion over whether the sex was simulated or real.
9. The plot reminds me of Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious with Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains. Interesting to compare Hollywood’s take on the female spy and Ang Lee’s, which is based on a story by Eileen Chang, who was married to a Japanese collaborator, and which was inspired by actual events. In Lust, Caution, the spy likes watching Cary Grant movies.
10. I found the movie both cold and intense, a combination only masters can achieve. Ang Lee’s trademark: the passion that kills.

Soft focus

October 28, 2007 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Philippine Reference Alert 8 Comments →

#17 on the New York Times Bestseller List (trade fiction) on September 30: Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos (Plume). “A cafe manager falls for a Cary Grant-like charmer, then learns he has an 11-year-old daughter.” I googled Marisa de los Santos, and I was right: she’s Filipino-American, based in Delaware. I’m guessing this makes her the highest-ranking author of Filipino descent ever on the NYT Bestseller list, though I have to check the stats for Dogeaters, Fixer Chao, Umbrella Country. Reviewers have described Love Walked In as a smart contemporary romance, or at least chick lit of the non-nauseating variety. The film rights have been acquired by Sarah Jessica Parker. I saw the book in hardcover in National Bookstore: there’s a half-Filipino half-Swedish character in it named Teo. One of the blurbs is by David Schickler, author of that lovely book Kissing In Manhattan. Here’s the Bookslut review of Love Walked In.

Monsters and Metaphors

October 26, 2007 By: jessicazafra Category: twisted by jessica zafra 5 Comments →

Tales of Chimay-I, originally uploaded by 160507.

Tales of Chimay-I. A graphic novel. Story by Jessica Zafra and Jay Lozada. Artwork by Steph Palallos. Flying into stores in 2008.

Over the years I’ve heard of all sorts of mythological monsters, and they have certain similarities (gryphons and sphinxes, for instance), but the manananggal appears to be unique to the Philippines. In Borges’ book of imaginary beings, there’s a creature called nasnas that is also divided in half, but vertically, from crown to crotch. It hops around on one leg, whispering nasty things into children’s ears. It is not nearly as scary as the creature who sits on the roof turning babies into balut.

At a film festival I saw a Thai horror movie called Ghost of Valentine. It features a monster called kraseur, basically the head of a woman flying through the air with glowing intestines attached to it. It was supposed to be terrifying, but each time it appeared the audience members burst out laughing.

Monsters and Metaphors in Emotional Weather Report, today in The Star.

A note on the wing design: The manananggal is traditionally portrayed with batwings, but Steph decided to use angel wings instead because angels are scarier and more badass.


October 25, 2007 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events 4 Comments →

Stella said I should not be so quick to flush the Glorietta 2 case down the toilet; there may still be something to the conspiracy/bombing angle. I said, Alright, you’re the journalist, I respect your instincts. I believe in the explosive power of shit, but I’ll consider the possibility of another explanation. As long as you’re not blinded by Fernando/Jaime Augusto’s beauty. Then we laughed hysterically.

The literal hits the fan.

October 24, 2007 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events, The Bizarre 6 Comments →

This is a little late, I wasn’t paying attention. It turns out that the explosion that hit Glorietta 2 mall last Friday may not have been a bomb blast, but a combination of diesel gas fumes and methane from sewage ignited by electrical switches. Read The Washington Post, then Carlos Celdran’s tirade on the shit that urban developers pass off as progress.

Shit literally blew up. It wasn’t terrorists, it was crap. The mall was full of shit. GMA-7’s “Glorietta Ground Zero” was a pile of caca. All those paeans to urban development: they were talking shit.

So shit is a metaphor for shit. Horrendous enough that 11 people are dead and over 100 injured, but the absurdity.

The mall may have committed a suicide bombing.

Ricky, there’s your South Park episode.