Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for December, 2017

ProBernal AntiBio is the best Filipino film book of the year, maybe of all time

December 12, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Movies No Comments →

I got my copy from Butch Perez at lunchtime, opened to page 1, and did not stop reading until I finished the whole book. So no work was done today, and it was a day very well spent.

Intelligent, wicked, sometimes vicious (Bernal did not spare anyone, especially himself), this anti-biography is presented as a wide-ranging conversation between filmmaker Ishmael Bernal and his closest friend, the scholar and screenwriter Jorge Arago. Mercifully many of Bernal’s targets are long-dead, because he murders them.

Arago started the project in the 1990s by asking Bernal to keep a journal. After Arago died several years ago, their friend Angela Stuart-Santiago took on the project, and the result is awesome.

Think of it as Truffaut/Hitchcock, except that Truffaut/Hitchcock doesn’t make food shoot out of your nose. And a bit of the Warhol diaries. I had to stop reading several times to recover my breath. (And I have a tiny cameo in the book! Proof that I read every word.)

Read Bernal’s summation of the Philippine film industry and ask yourself if things have changed.

The book comes in an elegant square format which allows colleagues and interlocutors to comment on the conversation. Pro-Bernal Anti-Bio isn’t in stores yet, but you can order copies (PHP900 each) by emailing

Savage justice: Colm Toibin dares retell the Oresteia of Aeschylus

December 08, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Books No Comments →

Speaking of epic, I endured my long flight home by watching movies. The plane was so full, my coach section so crammed, that I could not write in my notebook or read a book without jamming my elbow up someone’s nostril. (Also Etihad no longer gives out toiletries and only allows one piece of checked baggage, even if it is below the weight limit.) I survived by watching the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy by Peter Jackson. I slept through most of the movies, but woke up to hear Theoden say this.

A message from J.R.R. Tolkien.

The long stairway to the nearest cat (can make the wretched sigh)

December 05, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Cats, Places, Traveling 2 Comments →

According to my friend Rebecca, there is a large colony of cats living on the hillside around Sacre Coeur, and she sees some of them on the street every morning when the neighborhood cat lady feeds them. I didn’t see any of the hill cats. Whenever I missed my feline overlords at home, I had to climb the long stairway to the cafe with the resident cat extortionist, Me.

The blasted stairs even have their own song, written by Jean Renoir for the film French Cancan.

I bribed Me by ordering fish for lunch.

Andre Kertesz photographed the stairs of Montmartre many times. This picture is from his 1945 book, Day of Paris.

This is that same spot today.

Daisy Bar is now No Problemo, the nearest refuge for Calvados and charcuterie on a rainy night.

On Thursday night as we trudged back to the apartment, it began to snow.