Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for February, 2008

What’s he looking at?

February 23, 2008 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events, Movies 3 Comments →

Cats, originally uploaded by 160507.

What is this expression on Mat’s face? Has he seen something Eevil? Has someone threatened to out him? (But he was neutered years ago.)

No, Mat is doing his impression of Casey Affleck in The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford. True, his eyes are yellow not blue, but he does get the scared/demented look of the Ford character. Besides the crazy blue eyes director Andrew Dominik has found a brilliant use for the Afflecks’ genetic rictus. So Casey is the actor in that family, while Ben (Gone Baby Gone) is the director. Good movie, beautifully shot, well-acted, and the sound editing is such that you can hear someone swallowing in the middle of a conversation. 2007 was the year of the American Frontier movie—Blood, No Country, Yuma, this, Into The Wild, parts of I’m Not There. I suspect Americans miss America and what it stands for. They yearn for the big, open spaces and the freedom and possibility they represent. They’re still there, just wake up.

By the way, there’s an interesting article in the New York Times about how Matthew Santos, the presidential candidate played by Jimmy Smits in The West Wing some years ago, was based on a certain congressman named Barack Obama. The current American presidential race has many stunning parallels with the election on that TV show. Didn’t watch it, but I read that Santos won.

I also saw Jumper. Teleportation as a metaphor for Attention Deficit Disorder.

The Drama of Stupidity

February 22, 2008 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events, Movies 1 Comment →

“The Coens may be the first major filmmakers since Preston Sturges to exploit the dramatic possibilities of stupidity. In Sturges’s movies, however, you don’t feel that the rubes and yokels are being put down. Sturges was an affectionate satirist of gabby democratic vitality, but the Coens can be sardonic, even misanthropic. In their world, stupidity leads to well-deserved disaster.” David Denby in The New Yorker.

In Preston Sturges’s Sullivan’s Travels, the successful director of comedies wants to be taken seriously as an artist. He intends to make a grindingly earnest social realist film called O Brother, Where Art Thou? After a series of catastrophes, Sullivan realizes that making people laugh is more useful than lecturing them about their lot. Decades later the Coens made a movie called O Brother, Where Art Thou? which they claimed was based on The Odyssey. Then they said they hadn’t read The Odyssey.

Message in traffic

February 21, 2008 By: jessicazafra Category: In Traffic 11 Comments →

Spotted on the side of a van:

Calming the whole nation!
Strictly massage only!
God can see you!”

Predict the future. . .

February 20, 2008 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events 17 Comments →

using pronouns for easier substitution and recycling. Or Remember the future, since everything that happens has already happened.

What happens next?
A. They will resign or be ousted, after which all corruption will be eradicated, justice will be served, the economy will prosper, and we will all live in peace and harmony.
B. They will resign or be ousted, and this time we really make sure we don’t get screwed again.
C. They will resign or be ousted, and be replaced by something even worse than you imagined.
D. They outmaneuver everyone once again because of the numbers, because of a technicality, or because everyone is too busy getting into position for the next election.
E. Nothing, but we will have been royally entertained. These dramas are not the means to an end; they are the end. (This is why local movie production is in the doldrums—movies cannot compete with reality.)
F. Nothing, but we will have been royally entertained, and hours later we’ll forget anything ever happened.
G. I have no idea what you’re talking about.
H. Someone else will take the rap.
I. Someone else will take the rap, then decide to take everyone down with him. (Since everyone is quoting Star Wars, “There is another.” Or was that “Another, there is?”)
J. None of the above. What will happen is. . .

School ties

February 19, 2008 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies 5 Comments →

Pisay (Philippine Science) the movie directed by Auraeus Solito, written by Henry Grajeda, and co-produced by PSHS Batch 86, won the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the Vesoul Festival of Asian Cinema in France last week. Pisay is opening soon in Metro Manila theatres. Alright, the movie had me at the establishing shot—That’s my old school!—and secured my affections shortly afterwards—That’s my Physics teacher! I need a drink—but you don’t have to be from Pisay to enjoy the movie. Think Regal movie of the 1980s, but with a high IQ. Not only will you be extremely entertained, but you’ll actually feel smarter afterwards.

This weekend Noel and I were talking about one Pisay ritual featured in the movie: the posting of the class rankings (from number 1 to 240 in freshman year) outside the Director’s Office. I think of it as Drabacs’ List. These typewritten pages tersely summed up your academic performance: if your name was in the last pages, your chance of survival was tenuous. After the first year I just stopped looking. I spent the second half of high school hiding in the office of the school paper. I was editor-in-chief of The Science Scholar for two years, basically because no one else wanted the position. My term was undistinguished, we may have been the most apolitical staff in the paper’s history, but it had more Scott Fitzgerald/J.D. Salinger references  in those two years than all the other years combined.

When I get around to writing a Pisay novel, it will start like this: The first thing I learned at my high school was to run indoors at the slightest hint of rain. In the 70s, four students had been caught in the rain on the football field and struck dead by lightning. The school’s head of security drummed this into our heads: Rain deadly. Flee! The second thing I learned was that if I stood inside a bus wearing my school uniform, people would hand me their change and wait for their tickets.

Waterboarding circa 1900

February 19, 2008 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events 1 Comment →

Paul Kramer examines the debate on counterinsurgency and torture—a century ago, when America was ‘liberating’ the Philippines from Spain. File under “Parallels, Current Issues”.

“Soldiers, in their letters home, wrote about extreme violence against Filipinos, alongside complaints about the weather, the food, and their officers; and some of these letters were published in home-town newspapers. A letter by A. F. Miller, of the 32nd Volunteer Infantry Regiment, published in the Omaha World-Herald in May, 1900, told of how Miller’s unit uncovered hidden weapons by subjecting a prisoner to what he and others called the “water cure.” “Now, this is the way we give them the water cure,” he explained. “Lay them on their backs, a man standing on each hand and each foot, then put a round stick in the mouth and pour a pail of water in the mouth and nose, and if they don’t give up pour in another pail. They swell up like toads. I’ll tell you it is a terrible torture.”