Archive for January, 2010
J. D. Salinger, who was thought at one time to be the most important American writer to emerge since World War II but who then turned his back on success and adulation, becoming the Garbo of letters, famous for not wanting to be famous, died on Wednesday at his home in Cornish, N.H., where he had lived in seclusion for more than 50 years. He was 91.
In my limited understanding it takes lifetimes to work off one’s karma. Movies, however, only run for two hours so filmmakers have to take liberties. In Danny Zialcita’s 1981 film Karma the protagonists have the added advantage of knowing exactly who they were in their past lives, thanks to a psychiatrist (Vic Silayan) who practices regression hypnosis.
Photo: The librarian must’ve been so flustered she forgot to point out the No Smoking sign.
Eric (Ronaldo Valdez, who is smoking, and not just in the library where he researches his former incarnation) and Sarah (Vilma Santos) have already met under awful circumstances, but it turns out they’ve known each other much longer than that. In the past they were Enrico and Guada, illicit lovers murdered by Guada’s husband, Limbo. Limbo vows to follow them to the next life, but which form does he take?
Is he now Enrico’s mentally unbalanced, pathologically jealous wife Cristy (Chanda Romero), or Sarah’s cruel, sadistic husband Alfredo (Tommy Abuel). It’s not a whodunnit, it’s a who-will-do-it?
Photo: This is what Tommy Abuel’s character wore around the house. Crazy.
Vilma Santos turns in another fine portrayal of emotional turmoil. Nora Aunor had the advantage of expressing volumes with her eyes; Vilma expresses with her face, hands, and entire body. Nora was inward, Vilma outward. Ronaldo Valdez gives an understated performance, coolly delivering lines like, “In love there’s no measure of time”. Tommy Abuel overacts ridiculously, even for a guy so suspicious that he has his wife examined by a gynecologist to see if she’s had sex.
Chanda Romero is fabulous. Her Cristy is a psychotic who never raises her voice; you can tell she has tranquilizers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The first time Cristy and Sarah meet is at the antique store Sarah manages at the old Virra Mall. Cristy breezes in, picks out a bunch of stuff, and announces that she doesn’t carry cash or credit cards, just send the bill to her husband. She points to another piece she buys, and Sarah says, helpfully, “That’s P9,500.” “Ok lang,” Cristy says, “Nagtanong ba ako? (Did I ask?)”
One thing about Danny Zialcita movies: his rich people looked and sounded like rich people. He made movies for sophisticated grown-ups.
If they don’t make movies like Zialcita’s anymore, it’s because people are no longer that articulate. Nobody casually tosses off bon mots anymore, everything has to be overstated for the dim. So we Zialcita fans are reduced to reciting favorite lines from his movies: “Puede bang makausap ang asawa ko na asawa mo na asawa ng buong bayan?” (May I speak to my husband who’s your husband who’s everybody’s husband?)
The Karma dvd is available at video shops and some bookstores.
Apart from the head chef, lots of Pinoys. If you’re new to our World Domination Theory, read this.
From the White House website: Nilda Asterita takes a picture of First Lady Michelle Obama at the Joint Armed Forces Officers’ Wives’ Luncheon at Bolling AFB Jan. 26, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)
Thanks to TheBone for the alert.
This is all Vivien’s fault. Let’s watch the Kim Chiu-Gerald Anderson movie, he says. Candy-colored poster with eye candy. Fine, we go to Glorietta for the 5.50 pm screening and it’s Full. All seats taken, people sitting on the aisles, I haven’t seen people sitting on the aisles at a movie screening since Titanic.
So Kim and Gerald play best friends since high school, Kim is a complete doormat for love, and Gerald has a few scenes in which he ruminates on life while standing in the shower. Yes, because the shower is the perfect place to ponder the big questions of life, particularly if you have those abs. Like the typical Star Cinema product no one has any real problems; what they really need is to have a strong cup of coffee and get over themselves. There are the stock characters: the friends offering analysis and advice on the relationship (except for Jon Avila who plays a flower vase), the overbearing parent, the ex. People keep saying, “This must be my karma for leaving you” or whatever, and Vivien and I had to say, “If our karma is to watch this movie, what exactly have we done?”
But when the movie ended there was applause anyway, because all the audience really wants is to see Kim being pretty and Gerald being handsome. Nothing they don’t already see on TV. For free. I expect it will be a huge hit.
The problem, I think, is that many studio-based writers have not seen enough of life first-hand; their experience is limited to “Does he love me?” and “My dad is always on my case”. Everything they know is of human behavior, they get from watching telenovelas. Telenovelas are not life, any more than television is cinema. For instance, a young woman who catches her boyfriend grappling with his ex is not going to make a long, tearful speech about how stupid she is; she will be too consumed by rage to say much more than !@#$%. You can’t write people unless you know people.
Noel insisted that I watch Tag-Ulan Sa Tag-Araw, a Vilma Santos-Christopher de Leon movie from the 70s. Hadn’t realized it was written and directed by Celso Ad. Castillo, the demented genius of Philippine cinema. I used to see the movie on TV ages ago, and I’ve never forgotten the final scene in which Vilma’s parents are taking her away, Christopher is chasing the car on foot, and at every stoplight he hurls himself at the car, smashing the windows and bouncing off the hood. It was intense and oddly, not laughable.
Nenet (Santos) and Rod (De Leon) are cousins who fall in love at first sight before they learn that they are first cousins. Rod has come to Manila to attend university; he lives in the house of Nenet’s parents. The parents are played by Eddie Garcia and Lorli Villanueva, and their hamminess fits the movie perfectly. They’re not the villains: there is no villain, the culprit is passion.
Rod does the decent thing: he avoids Nenet and tries to move out of the house. But this is first love of the hysterical kind, the passion that drives the young insane, and the actors are so committed to their roles that you believe every cheesy line they utter. Their love overrides all rational thought. In one scene Nenet confronts Rod on the bus—she always calls him “Kuya Rod”, reminding everyone of the incest—and in front of all the passengers, declares that she doesn’t care if they’re cousins, she loves him. Instead of eliciting giggles, the scene is genuinely disturbing. These young lovers are beyond silliness: they are in a delirium.
Celso Ad. Castillo is a master at creating and drawing out emotional tension—as Noel pointed out, it’s almost like watching a horror movie. The lovers can’t abide parental counsel; what they need is an exorcist because they are possessed. There’s even a balcony scene, a demented reference to Romeo and Juliet.
The copy is gray and brown with age, unrestored, lacks opening and closing credits, and don’t even mention subtitles or special features. We’re just glad it still exists. Tag-Ulan Sa Tag-Araw is available at video stores; Raymond found his copy on sale for 100 pesos.