Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for the ‘Movies’

The Norte screening at Alabang Town Center today, Sunday, has been cancelled.

July 19, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Announcements, Movies No Comments →

The screening of Norte, Hangganan Ng Kasaysayan scheduled for today, 3pm at Alabang Town Center has been cancelled as electric service has not been restored in that area. (Walang koryente sa ATC.)

The 3pm screening of Norte at Glorietta will go on as scheduled.

The Pinoy-ness of Crime and Punishment

July 17, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Movies No Comments →

We hope you, your animals, and your trees are all right after Typhoon Glenda, which left vast swaths of Metro Manila looking like a botanical apocalypse.

* * * * *
norte 4
Watch Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian: Why Norte, The End of History is the one film you should watch this week.

From reading so many reviews of Norte in the American and British media (Best blurb so far, from Time Out London: “The summer movie equivalent of the World Cup Final”), all of which mention Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, we had to read C&P again.

We have not read Crime and Punishment in a decade, but we remember being struck by the Pinoy-ness of it: the self-pitying and self-dramatizing, the sudden bursts of violence and the random bursts of goodness. Why should we care so much about these drunken, mad, feverishly overthinking, neurotic perhaps schizophrenic, strangely sympathetic characters? Because if we can understand them, maybe we can understand ourselves.

It’s not an easy read. Periodically one feels like throwing this doorstop-sized book at its author and its many characters with names that take days to pronounce. You do not read Dostoevsky to escape from the mayhem of life, but to drown in it.

And from reading Crime and Punishment, we want to watch Norte again.

(Is Norte eligible for the Oscars? It would have to be selected by the Film Academy as the official Philippine entry. To be eligible for consideration, the film needs a commercial theatrical run of at least one week.)

Some years ago Penguin put out great novels with blank covers so you could make your own.

to be continued

The unfinished films of Stanley Kubrick

July 16, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies No Comments →

A.V. Club’s Best Films of 2014 (so far) cites Norte

July 15, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies 1 Comment →


Best no-budget aerial footage: Norte, The End Of History
Norte, The End Of History, Lav Diaz’s four-hour yarn about guilt and transcendence in the modern-day Philippines, is the director’s most accessible work to date. (Accessibility is, of course, relative, especially when it comes to filmmakers best known for making nine-hour-long movies on black-and-white consumer-grade video.) Part of that is owed to the presence of an honest-to-God director of photography, Lauro Rene Manda. Shot in 2.39 widescreen, in color, and marked by long takes and glacial camera movements, Norte is easily the most conventionally handsome thing Diaz has ever put his name on. It comes as something of a shock, then, when the movie abruptly breaks its rigorous style for a dream sequence composed of no-budget aerial shots—seemingly produced by attaching a GoPro to an RC plane—that hearken back to Diaz’s handmade roots and yet look like nothing he (or any other narrative filmmaker) has done before. Camera-carrying, gimbal-mount quadcopter drones have made inroads in TV production in the last couple of years (expect to see them showing up in movies soon), but the effect Diaz achieves is rawer, and more in keeping with the spirit of the scene. It feels like an unmoored consciousness, hurtling over the landscape.

The full list is here.

The A.V. Club review: “Contemporary festival-circuit culture fetishizes long takes, but Diaz actually earns them.” Note: Wakwak is the psycho played by Soliman Cruz. The reviewer means the convict who is periodically released to do assassinations for politicians, the one who says “Ang buhay ay sumpa.”

Norte, Hangganan Ng Kasaysayan is showing on Saturday, July 19, 630 pm at Greenbelt 3 and Trinoma and on Sunday, July 20, 3pm at Alabang Town Center and Glorietta. Tickets at

Every movie we see #69: In Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, apes are the badass new hippies

July 15, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies No Comments →


When last we saw Caesar the noble ape, he was in the redwood forest, freaking out his adoptive father James Franco by revealing that he could talk. You’ve always suspected that James Franco would cause the end of the world, and in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, he has (sort of). A deadly virus has escaped from the lab where scientists were testing drugs to cure Alzheimer’s disease, and at the end of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, it had begun to spread.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes picks up the story ten years later, with the human population dramatically reduced by the simian virus, and the ape population led by Caesar (and his lieutenants who escaped from the lab with him) leading a utopian, earth-friendly, organic-artisanal existence in the forest. They hunt other animals, but kill just enough for their needs, they teach their young to live in harmony, and their carbon footprint is zero—apes are the new hippies, only less annoying. Caesar is married with children. His right-hand ape is called Koba, and you know what happens when anyone is named after Josef Stalin.

Everything is fine until the humans arrive. They’re from the small colony of human survivors in San Francisco and they’re trying to restart the hydroelectric dam because they’re about to run out of power.

Trouble erupts, despite the best intentions of human and ape. Everyone thinks he’s doing the right thing, but fear and suspicion clouds judgement. The humans are represented by Jason Clarke (from Zero Dark 30, which is officially our favorite hunk lab because it had Jason, Edgar Ramirez, Chris Pratt, Joel Edgerton, even that banlag guy from SHIELD in Captain America: The Winter Soldier), Keri Russell and Gary Oldman, but we’re not looking at them. We’re looking at the CGI apes, who are amazing, led by Andy Serkis the emperor of motion capture, who gets first billing at last.

Caesar learns that there’s little that separates apes from man, except maybe a serious waxing. We miss the quieter moments of inter-species interaction—Caesar with his adoptive human father and grandfather John Lithgow—but the filmmakers have set out to make an action movie and they’ve done it. There’s a great bit where Koba makes monkeys out of a couple of humans by playing to their prejudices; the scene in which Clarke’s teenage son befriends an ape by reading to him from The Black Hole by Charles Burns (a graphic novel about a disease that disfigures teens, turning them into social outcasts) does not work as well.

You can read Dawn of the Planet of the Apes as a parable on racism or as an unofficial spinoff from the opening episode of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Or you can watch it as a Man Vs Ape smackdown. Even if the title is a spoiler, we’re still looking forward to the third movie and wondering if Dr. Zaius will turn up in the third movie and how the apes will get to New York to upend the Statue of Liberty.

Rating: Highly Recommended.

Weekend screenings of Norte at Ayala Cinemas

July 14, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies 1 Comment →


“Its very existence is an exhilarating triumph over complacency… there is an almost inexhaustible humanism at the heart of this remarkable film.” —A.O. Scott, The New York Times

“The lights came up, I stood with tears in my eyes, and clapped as loudly as I ever have for any movie in my life.” —Wesley Morris, Grantland

“A mesmerising experience that grows deeper and broader the longer it goes on.” —Kieran Corless, Sight and Sound

“The only working filmmaker to explore such fundamental categories of the human condition as Truth, Kindness, Morality, Sin, Justice, Nation, History, and God.” —Boris Nelepo, Cinema Scope

Saturday, July 19, 630pm at Greenbelt 3 and Trinoma
Sunday, July 20, 3pm at Glorietta 4 and Alabang Town Center

Norte is in Tagalog with English subtitles.

Tickets are available at Get your tickets early, they go quickly.

To our readers in London: Norte is showing from July 18 to 27 at the Institute of Contemporary Arts.

* * * * *
How to Watch Norte

Does it have to be 4 hours, 10 minutes long? Yes. In fact, having seen it thrice, we think it should be 6 hours long. It’s Slow Cinema. The running time is essential.

If you have a short attention span and are worried that you can’t get through the screening, here are some tips you may find useful.

1. The first hour sets the pace. If you can get through the first hour, you will hardly feel the next three.

2. We recommend going out for a quick coffee every 90 minutes.

3. Bring a friend because you will need someone to discuss the movie with.

4. After seeing Norte, look up the films of Andrei Tarkovsky, Robert Bresson, Yasujiro Ozu, Bela Tarr. You are now a cinephile.