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Archive for February, 2013

Silver Linings Playbook: Making mental illness adorable

February 28, 2013 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies 13 Comments →

JENNIFER LAWRENCE and BRADLEY COOPER star in SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper star in David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook

There have been many movies about mental illness, and many of them have been Oscar bait, but Silver Linings Playbook starring newly-crowned Best Actress Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper is the first we can recall that makes being crazy appealing. Sure, the crazy people in this movie can be annoying and unpredictable, but mostly they’re cute and funny and you never really get the impression that they could harm themselves or others. Yes, Patrick (Bradley Cooper) almost beats a man to death, but that man deserved to have the crap kicked out of him. And Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) had sex with everyone at her place of work, but she was depressed plus it only makes her hotter.

Silver Linings Playbook romanticizes manic-depression (We prefer this term to the current “bipolar”) and deftly sidesteps its more disturbing aspects. It almost makes you want to be nuts. In this undeniably entertaining romantic comedy, the one thing a crazy man needs to become sane is the love of a strong woman and some choreography. So she manipulates him, so what, it’s for his own good.

Have you ever spoken to an unmedicated manic-depressive? They talk in loops, and the loops lead to more loops, and it’s frustrating to both of you because you can’t seem to escape from the loop. They can’t stop even if they want to; they are not in control. It’s like they’ve got their mind on their mind and they’re talking to you but watching themselves at the same time. And the scary part is not the possibility that they’ll attack you, but the thought that take a synapse here and there and that could be you.

But why go into the fear and loathing stuff when Patrick and Tiffany are so cute! Early on we get a sense of Patrick’s dangerous rage, but before long he is tamed by drugs and Tiffany. You know why we like Jennifer Lawrence so much? Because in an industry full of fakes, she comes across as a level-headed, real person—a girl with a well-developed bullshit detector. Not for one moment do we believe that she’s loony.

Meanwhile Robert De Niro gives the rare post-Heat performance that doesn’t make us want to club him with ancient Betamax copies of Godfather II and Raging Bull.

Crazy person movie: Puzzle of a Downfall Child by Jerry Schatzberg. Reminds us of people we know, except that they don’t look like Faye Dunaway. Watch it for the insanity, or the outfits.

Genius is convulsive

February 27, 2013 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies 1 Comment →

Celso Ad Castillo shot two endings for Tag-Ulan sa Tag-Araw. The other one was happy: After a long chase, Vilma’s father stops the car and tells her to get out. She walks towards Christopher de Leon, and they meet in front of Malate Church and embrace. Castillo couldn’t decide which ending to use, so he asked his staff to round up the cigarette vendors, balut vendors, watch-your-car boys and hawkers on the street outside the studio. Then he made them watch the movie and the two endings.

“Alin ang mas gusto ninyo?” he asked the impromptu focus group? (Which ending do you prefer?)

“Direk, gusto naming yung nagkatuluyan sila sa may simbahan,” they said. (We like the one where they end up together.)

“Use the other ending,” he told his staff. So the movie ended with the never-ending chase.

Read Celso Ad Castillo: Genius is convulsive, our column at InterAksyon.com.

And they get what they came for but no one lives happily ever after.

February 27, 2013 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Television 1 Comment →

We love Jim Henson’s The Storyteller series starring John Hurt as the Storyteller and Brian Henson as the Dog. Our favorite episode: a Russian fairy tale called The Soldier And Death, in which a penniless soldier becomes rich and famous through his wit, courage and decency. Eventually he outwits Death itself, and there are consequences.

Recently we discovered that there was a second season of The Storyteller, starring Michael Gambon and Dog covering the Greek myths. We saw all four episodes the other night. They’re bleaker and more painful than the Western European fairy tales from the first season. The hero may triumph, but no one lives happily ever after. Blasted Greek mythology, so beautiful and sad. Consider this retelling of Orpheus and Eurydice. Robert Stephens’s Hades freezes the blood.

Reading for Turkey

February 26, 2013 By: jessicazafra Category: Places, Traveling 9 Comments →

We’re going to Turkey on Friday. It’s a “famtour” (familiarization tour) for travel agents and media (We’re blogging this) organized by Turkish Airlines (They don’t fly here, we catch a plane in Hong Kong) and a tour operator called Meteor Philippines, covering Istanbul-Kusadasi-Izmir-Pamukkale-Konya-Cappadocia. We expect it will be hectic (8 nights, 6 hotels).

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As always we prepare for a trip by reading books about our destination. We asked Teddyboy for a reading list and he said John Julius Norwich’s Byzantium, some of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and a detective novel set in Istanbul to help us form a mental map of the city (Maybe Jason Goodwin’s detective novels featuring Yashim the eunuch). He was adamant that we read Black Lamb and Grey Falcon by Rebecca West (which is about the Balkans, which were under Turkish rule).

Then we realized we have quite a few Turkey-related books in our library, including Orhan Pamuk novels and Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, and our sister the Louis De Bernieres fan club has Birds Without Wings, which is set during the rise of Ataturk. Now we have to decide what to bring on the trip.

Probably P.G. Wodehouse.

Memories like shrapnel: the Patrick Melrose novels by Edward St. Aubyn

February 26, 2013 By: jessicazafra Category: Books No Comments →

This is the second in a series of reviews by balqis.

koosi st aubyn
Bad News

Patrick Melrose is twenty-two. His father is dead. He flies to New York to collect the ashes. There his life corkscrews into an event horizon of fragmented identities effected by drugs and alcohol.

Here St Aubyn joins Thomas de Quincey, Aldous Huxley, William S. Burroughs, et al, in delineating the heady, disintegrating but exhilarating upshots of drugs in language so lucid one is tempted to try them. I do not mean that literature encourages one to take up vice and drugs—quite the opposite. Why imperil your health when you have these authors using the power of words to give you the experience, however vicariously?

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Comics, half off

February 25, 2013 By: jessicazafra Category: Books No Comments →

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Marvel 1602 by Peter David, Greg Pak et al, Php469.50. Universe X by Krueger, Braithwaite, Reinhold, Ross, Php704.50.

There are two crowded shelves of comic book compilations on sale, 50 percent off at National Bookstore in Power Plant Mall, Rockwell, Makati.