I’ve been watching movies almost every day since the year began. The first one was on January 1st, Gregg Araki’s Ka-Boom. Not bad but I like his irony-free and downright shocking “Mysterious Skin” more. I thought the juxtaposition of UFO encounters and encounters with sexual predators was simply brilliant. Equally shocking but relatively quieter was LeeChan-Dong’s Poetry, about an old South Korean lady who struggles to write poetry while trying to elude the harsh realities of her life.
Love, love, love Liza!
Then there were the musicales ---Bob Fosses’ All That Jazz, which I thought was self-indulgent and which pales in comparison with his earlier work, Cabaret. Liza was simply brilliant in Cabaret. Almost tittering in most parts but mesmerizing in all of her production numbers. I also saw a bit of Funny Girl and The Way We Were and I realized that the visuals of Sex and the City were practically culled from the classic romantic movie. And that Lola Barang practically made a career out of playing struggling talented girls who are also insecure about having a big nose.
Amphetamine is bad... baaad... baaaaad!
There were terrible movies of course. Amphetamine easily comes to mind. The movie tries to be intelligent but fails miserably. Like the lead, Amphetamine eventually got drowned in heavy melodrama. You Should Meet My Son had a promising premise --- about a mother trying to find her gay son a proper boyfriend, but the direction and the script were clearly amateurish. No Other Woman had the makings of a great campy movie but I found it confusing. The writers and the actress Carmi Martin are in on the joke but the director and the rest of the cast play it as if it’s a straight drama.
Kirsten Dunst as Marie Antoinette
Marie Antoinette was not exactly bad but Sofia Coppola failed to find the poignancy in the French queen’s life. It could have been just as good as Milos Forman’s Amadeus but sadly Coppola’s party girl version of Marie Antoinette had no real soul. Ang ganda pa naman ni Kirsten Dunst. An even more vacuous movie was 50/50, about a young man struggling with cancer. I have a suspicion that all the good lines were just adlibbed by Seth Rogen. I thought the movie had a by the numbers feel to it.
And then there were the movies that blew me away. Wim Wender’s documentary on Pina Bausche’s works gives viewers an idea of just how powerful dance can be. The dance sequences and the dance itself were simply breathtaking. Mike Mill’s languid and melancholic movie, Beginners, perfectly illustrated a man’s struggle to find love and happiness amid death and depression. Tom Tykwer’s Three was smart and witty. It’s as energetic and passionate as its three intertwined characters.
Tom Cullen and Chris New in the movie, Weekend
But so far, I think my favourite is Andrew Haigh’s Weekend, about a shy bearded man who meets an outgoing and ambitious gay artist in a gay bar. The movie follows the two as their one-night stand spills over to the weekend. Nothing much happens --- they go the apartment, smoke weed, drink beer, argue about gay marriage and about what it means to be gay in the 21st century. The movie is mostly a character study of two vastly different men but by the end I for one thought they were so bagay.
I must confess though, part of my affection for the movie stems from the fact that I thought Andrew Haigh was documenting my life! Shy, insecure gay man. Check! Shy, insecure gay man who hardly says a word to anybody. Check na check. Shy, insecure gay man who walks around as if he is in a field of mine bombs. Holy shet, ako na yan! Sabi nga ng character na si Russell:
“I saw you... in the club. And I thought you were out of my league whatever... I just thought we were having a really nice time. And it was lovely. And it was more than enough for me. So... sorry again if I don’t make the grade.
Damn it! I so wish I was the one who made this movie!