Raunchy, Raucous, Righteous: A “Riverdale” Review

It took a few days and a number of hours, but I’ve finally collected myself enough to compose this impromptu review of the hot new mystery show with equally hot (and iconic) source material: Riverdale.

Although I did hear of this remake last year, I haven’t gotten a chance to check this show out at all. Can’t say I was too eager to either, especially considering my disdain for try hard reboots of my favorite childhood shows/ books etc.

And yet here I am, six episodes later– desensitized, a bit shocked and intrigued. Let’s get to it, shall we?

Riverdale is, in essence, a dark twist on the iconic comic book heroes of the Archie series. The first season of the show seems to center on the mysterious death of Jason Blossom,  but as the episodes unfold you come to realize that there’s more to this show than its teen drama/ murder mystery tale.

On the Characters

Riverdale features all of the original characters of Archie lore– Archie himself, Betty Cooper, Veronica Lodge, Jughead Jones and everyone in between. However, the show interprets them, and their families, in a very different light.

First of all, let’s start with Archie. A lot of his telling characteristics are still there– fire red hair, letterman jacket with the Riverdale R, penchant for music, his dad, his friendship with Betty… aaand that’s about it. Our favorite ginger exchanges his happy comic home for a one-parent household, a sexual affair with one Geraldine Grundy (yes, you’ve read that right) and issues that are mundane in comparison to the scandalous storylines and problematic parents that seem to populate this ‘once innocent’ small town.

Perhaps this could be explained by Archie having, despite a broken household, the only remotely decent parent in the entire town. For some strange reason the central characters are the offspring of a problematic group of parentals whose personal issues take no time in pouring into the lives of their unfortunate offspring.

Unlike Archie’s almost cartoonish red hair (he reminds me of Ariana Grande circa Victorious), bubbly blonde Betty Cooper is an almost perfect version of her comic self– complete with blonde ponytail, blue eyes and a penchant for pink. Yet in this iteration even she hides secrets far worse than that of her domineering mother (a step up from her comic self, to be honest), and submissive yet scary father. In the comics Betty’s absentee elder sister is the ‘perfect sibling’: a successful broadcaster whose fast-paced New York life is one that Betty aspires to have. In this series, however, she’s become the unlikely black sheep hidden away as Betty is molded to her mother’s specifications, albeit against her will.

Jughead Jones is brought to life by a surprisingly… perfect Cole Sprouse– whose sole nod to the comic book foodie lies in his crown beanie. And frankly, that seems to be where the similarities end– Jones is another unfortunate product of problematic parents and his iconic love for hamburgers barely makes an onscreen appearance.

Veronica Lodge has become my favorite iteration among all the characters, as it seems as though the depth given to her character actually feels… fleshed out. She actually feels more human when she isn’t fighting Betty for Archie’s affections and instead assumes the role of the supportive female friend. Although I sure do wish she gets her own romantic prospects in future seasons (IF this show lasts that long).

However, even realistic Ronnie (a mold probably aided by characters like Blair Waldorf) is not immune to the epidemic of problematic parents: her dad (a prominent parent figure in the comics), is in jail in the Riverdale world, and her mom (Hermione Lodge), has her own set of secrets as well.

The following secondary characters also make an appearance in the show: Principal Weatherbee (dude lost weight!), Ethel Muggs, Moose Mason (he’s apparently gay, not bad! But what about Midge?), Coach and Chuck Clayton (aka apparently a douche now), and the first season’s primary figures of sort: twins Cheryl and Jason Blossom.

I didn’t read much of the prominent Cheryl comics growing up but I am familiar with her character and how she was in the comics– and as for her show self, all I can say is: okaay. She’s mean but nice but broken.. ?? ehhh. At least there’s more to her here than being the notorious third choice for Archie.

One character that doesn’t seem to play a prominent role (even if he is technically a main character), is Reggie Mantle. Sure he’s been incarnated as an Asian-American fellow but why has he been reduced to a somewhat secondary character? Dude had his own comics for a while… why isn’t he more prominent?? Please let him be more than the ‘football dude’ in later seasons!

On The Plot

As mentioned earlier, season one centers on the mysterious death of golden boy/ football captain Jason Blossom– a relatively simple central plot that allows a number of stories to begin unfolding early on. These sub stories include the rivalry between the Coopers and Blossoms, the shady dealings between the Mayor and Riverdale’s local gang the Serpents, and (arguably the most interesting) subplot is the collective past shared by the parents of the main characters. Its as if the show is foreshadowing an exciting flashback episode (or two!) to give the viewers some context behind the past shared by the Riverdale parents.

There is so much more to say about the plot (especially with the rate at which the story unfolds on Riverdale), but I’ll keep it at that– all you need to know is that once you start watching, you might never stop.

Overall….

If you can set aside the very different character interpretations, and enjoy Riverdale mainly for its story, then you will be fine. Plot wise, the show unfolds pretty well, and does a suitable job of keeping viewers engaged enough that they’ll want to keep tuning in.

In case the interpretations freak you out, you may want to read up on later iterations of the Archie cannon– many of which have reworked the squeaky clean lore in order to incorporate darker plot elements that may make stomaching this show feel less “traumatizing”.

Trust me, die hard Archie fans, its not that bad. In fact, it’s rather exciting. Give it a try, and get hooked!

On Why We Probably Don’t Have Legit Food Critics in the Philippines

Disclaimer: This is not a direct response to the points presented in the Esquire article “About the Lack of Legit Food Critics in the Philippines”. Rather, it is a personal opinion on the very question posed by the piece– why are there no legit Filipino food critics? 

I’d actually like to thank the author, Mr. Yulo, for bringing this up. It’s a very interesting issue that merits discussion in the wake of the rising global popularity of Philippine food. 

Before getting into a discussion about why legitimate food critics are nonexistent in the country, we should first take a step back and reflect on how we see food in the Philippine context. What part does food play in our culture? How do we talk about food, and write about food? What are the origins and influences of our food culture?

Thanks to a number of veritable researchers and historians (Doreen Fernandez, Felice Sta. Maria, Ambeth Ocampo, Dr. Fernando Zialcita, Carmen Santiago, etc– the list goes on), we actually have a very data rich chronicle of the origins of our food culture. It is because of  these individuals that we can trace the history behind meals like the noche buena and media noche, and dishes like Pochero, Pancit Malabon, and the like. It is also thanks to the works of these individuals that we gain substantial context into the role of food (and of the meal as a whole) in the past.

But what about now?

Needless to say, a lot has changed about our local food landscape. Globalization has made imported ingredients and produce closer than ever. The rise of digital media has expanded the reach of food advertising to social media sites and YouTube. The local restaurant scene is booming with both local restaurants managed by veterans and up and coming talents and foreign franchises coming to set up camp in the country. A number of our best  chefs are receiving international accolades for their success and their talent. In a nutshell, the Philippines is pretty much on the fast track to becoming a food nation, and it is something to be proud and excited about.

This is what leads us straight to the research gap… where are the studies on contemporary Filipino food culture? We may have a wellspring of information on the origins of our food, but where is the data about how present advancements have changed the way we eat, talk, write and interact with food as a whole? Where is the information on how food advertising affects Pinoy consumer choices, or how the booming restaurant scene has affected the structure of the Pinoy diet? Do Pinoys still eat at the home dining table like they used to?

There are so many unanswered questions, so many paths worth taking in the field of research that is contemporary Filipino food culture. It is about time that someone dives in considering that multiple individuals have already provided us information about our food past.Perhaps it is once we are armed with that information that we can come to understand why legitimate food critics do not exist in the country. Or, why we probably don’t even need them in the first place.

Maybe we already have legitimate food critics in our midst. We have a large number of industry personalities to recruit– there are veteran chefs, up and coming chefs, successful food business owners and the like whose experience and knowledge will suffice in providing educated critique to readers.

But is that even enough? What if these people, despite their food expertise, are unable to articulate their insights in a manner that is understandable to someone outside the food industry? Most of them will probably prefer time in their kitchen to sitting down and eating at other people’s restaurants and then going home to write about these experiences. Majority of them are too busy running their own restaurants/businesses to even have the time to spend on being a ‘critic’.

So if the experienced guys don’t have the time, what now? Who else can we ask/recruit/train to become an actual legitimate food critic?

Perhaps the researchers with an interest in contemporary food will make good critics, or maybe retired chefs/food business owners. Another possible way would be to formulate actual modules on the art of critiquing and writing about food that could come in handy to train future journalists to become future critics. But then, the job of a food critic is not for everyone– the individual must have at least a basic knowledge and genuine interest in learning about food.

Now that we’ve outlined the characteristics of an ideal critic– let the search begin.

It shouldn’t be that hard. After all, as Mr. Yulo says, we are a nation of voracious eaters. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

‘La La Lovely’: A La La Land Review

I don’t even know where to begin.

I’ve been typing in full sentences and pressing backspace more than I’d to… and hopefully, this time, I actually stay with this paragraph– I actually like it. There is just so much to say, so much to process about this film that I can’t seem to really encapsulate the experience of seeing it like I normally do.

A General Thought (Or Two) 

Let me begin with the obvious: the hype is real. Is it well-deserved? Yes. But does the hype tend to get overboard? Frankly, yes.

First of all– musicals aren’t a thing of the past. They’ve been done a zillion times before, to both amazing and devastating results. La La Land is a product of influences and inspiration from multiple iconic sources– Astaire and Rogers films, Gene Kelly, Old Hollywood. If you’re as lola (read: a big fan of vintage things)  as I am than you can spot the Easter eggs a mile away– everything from the title card to the tap dancing sequences to the ethereal waltz are odes to legends who have done them first and have done them.. better.

What sets La La Land apart is what it does to those influences. There’s no copy pasting here, no direct reference.. Chazelle takes these nuggets of inspiration and sprinkles them into a story that is incredibly real. There’s no instant success in his Hollywood– and for most of our favorite stars, that’s how it was. You can feel the disappointment of Emma Stone’s aspiring actress Mia in every montage. You can sense the shear contempt in Gosling’s eyes as he plays a raucous Jingle Bell at his day (or should we say, night) job.

And that is what makes this film so perfect and so real, and in a league of its own. It’s no flamboyant musical– it’s no film whose every notable moment is prefaced by an over the top song– it’s one part realism, one part music and one part sweet love tale, and that is just it. It takes these multiple subplots and seamlessly puts them together in one smooth, lively, seemingly happy Hollywood film.

On Plot 

I won’t say much, but enough perhaps to keep clueless readers up to speed.

Ryan Gosling aka everyone’s bae aka forever Noah from the Notebook plays struggling jazz pianist Sebastian Wilder, who works a drudge-y day job at night to earn enough money to finance his own jazz place where he can keep the classic genre alive. Emma Stone aka precious, talented, comedic girl of the world plays Mia Dolan aka the personification of every aspiring small town girl who jets off to the city of stars to become one herself. In essence, we’re looking at struggling artists (that surprisingly DO NOT starve?).

I’ve already talked about my love for the realism in this movie but on the surface the plot seems rather… narcissistic. A Hollywood film about the struggle of being in Hollywood?! Almost felt like an biopic there. Thank the skies (and the stars) for Damien Chazelle.

On Stars 

La La Land is Ryan Gosling’s McConaughey  moment.

McConaughey Moment: Works relatively long in the business, known for a number of roles– perhaps a memorable one (or two). Makes a good job choice, does well in a well-directed film (Dallas Buyers Club)– enough to garner awards, recognition and critical acclaim. Finally gets recognized.

That’s exactly what is happening to everyone’s universal babe and it’s a welcome moment, just as it was for Mr. McConaughey a few years back. Now I’m unsure which Canadian Ryan is more well-known but it sure should be Mr. Gosling, who has been in a number of pretty good movies since his breakout film opposite Rachel McAdams.

In La La Land, he ditches the raw sex appeal and smirk for a display of incredible raw talent and an inherent charm that makes him seem so endearing. It’s also nice to see that his breakdown acting (read: acting mad acting) has gone through significant improvement.

It will be interesting to see whether Gosling’s endearing performance will be enough to jet him past his drama counterpart in the  Golden Globes (Casey Affleck, who took home the award for best actor in a drama film) to Oscar gold.

And then, there’s Emma Stone.

Again, I don’t know where to begin. I’ve seen her in everything from Easy A  to Spiderman to Birdman but I don’t think I’ve ever been this enamored with her work. On paper her role seems easy– an actor playing an actor being a struggling actor. As a once struggling actress, she’s probably had a wellspring of experience to draw from right?

But, yet again, it’s what you do with what you have that really matters in this film– and Emma does that incredibly. The realism is not just a concept here but a manifested theme used to make the characters connect with the audience, and to make the audience connect with the characters. Emma here is not just a person on the screen conveying the story but  a vessel of the story’s intended emotion that just jolts you so much that you leave the theatre feeling more moved than ever before.

That is how good she was. I’m rooting for no one else come Oscar night– this girl better take home that gold!

On Music 

From traditional flamboyance to feel-good to amazing jazz, the soundtrack of this film is as smooth as its seamless plot. I’m a big fan of how it didn’t go the Broadway route by sprinkling a full blown song for each notable moment, and chose specific sequences to inject loud, lively scores that are just a joy to listen to (perfect for getting that spring in your step every Monday morning).

I won’t lie, the signature song “City of Stars” will seem like an initial snoozefest but when enjoyed post-film, it takes on a  haunting character that everyone will come to appreciate. Real-life piano man John Legend brings in a bucketful of soul with his turn on “Start a Fire”. Looking to pierce a hole in your heart and bawl for all your unfulfilled dreams? listen to Emma Stone’s tour de force track “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” and cry, cry cry.

In Totality…

A work sprinkled with odes, yet all its own.

Performances of incredible caliber, songs of diverse emotion– classic movie escapism at its finest, and, hopefully, the film that does usher in the revival of the Hollywood musical. These are trying times, my friends… and there’s nothing better than a dance in the sky and a tap tap twosome on the street to make everything fly slowly away… even just for a moment (or two).

In short: definitely worth watching.

 

 

So…. Suicide Squad: A Review

Okay.

My mental post processing took shorter than expected and so I’m finally coherent enough to write out my thoughts on one of the year’s most anticipated films: Suicide Squad.

[ SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT WARNING ]

Sound 

Before seeing the film I didn’t indulge in listening to the singles from the movie, and found myself pleasantly surprised upon watching. Ayer does a great job of fusing some unlikely artists into a very in sync playlist. Queen, Kanye, Eminem and the Bee Gees  come together to bring some of the movie’s more enjoyable moments to life– scenes that range from Deadshot slaying at target practice to the Suicide Squad coming to life through their costume change montage.

My big issue with the music though is how off the timing is– that awesome Deadshot scene makes kickass use of Kanye’s “Black Skinhead” but the abrupt cut of the song just seems so… awkward. I was also pretty bummed about how “Bohemian Rhapsody” made its way into the movie as it was used quite nicely in one of the movie’s overhyped trailers.

Favorite Songs from the Film:

“Bohemian Rhapsody”- a Freddie high note and forever rock classic

“Without Me”- a naughty, playful diss track that just brings fun, fun, fun

“Black Skinhead”- a song I’ve been obsessed with since I heard it in a Guinness commercial in one of my advertising classes

Story

… or lack thereof. I have to admit I came into the theatre expecting the worst after bad reviews of this movie became a news item in itself. And I have to say that for this particular aspect, the critics were right.

Whoever thought that having witch-possessed Cara Delevigne going mad in a city would make for the perfect opening salvo to the Suicide Squad series? WHO??? Also, did anyone notice the shear lack in a sense of urgency that these characters have? Or the lack of a proper, exciting buildup to a climactic end scene? All of those elements just weren’t there!

I’m not too familiar with David Ayer’s work but did anyone tell him about the idea of ‘show not tell’?? the exposition was practically the concept of ‘tell’ come to life, and the poor font choices didn’t help at all. Other movies (not Marvel ones) have done this introductory montage in a quicker, more coherent, less corny way that still gave audiences sufficient info to go on as the film progresses further.

At the start of the film I was willing to accept the ‘these characters are delusional therefore this film will be kinda off’ excuse but it just didn’t cut it towards the middle. A part of me still wants to use the ‘off’ excuse but the rest of me is just annoyed with how the movie was constructed as a whole.

 

Stars

Before seeing the movie, I had already grown quite attached to the cast after seeing them together. You can see from their social media accounts and interviews that they seem to really like each other in real life, and clearly bonded throughout production. That natural chemistry thankfully makes its way into the movie.

To be honest, the real heroes of Suicide Squad (one of them at least) has to be the casting directors behind the film. The combination of actors seems right in its own ‘wrong’ way, which is exactly what the point of Suicide Squad is.

Will Smith is clearly positioned as the star of the movie here, yet he’s paired with some formidable names that manage to outshine him almost entirely. Some (obvious) favorites include Margot Robbie, who brings the Harley whimsy to life in a very unique way, Killer Croc, and the adorable ( in real life) Karen Fukuhara as Katana. Unfortunately despite my favoritism for now-notable Aussie Jai Courtney, his forced Aussie enunciation just seemed annoying considering that he is Australian in REAL LIFE. Jay Hernandez (El Diablo) is another ‘in-real-life’ fav who just seemed empty onscreen, which was a big blow considering the significant role he has in advancing the plot.

Some reviews I’ve read of the film place the divine Viola Davis as the one of the minor saving graces of Suicide Squad and I have to agree with that. She’s badass, she emanates her signature strong personality and she just seems more menacing than her small screen counterpart Cynthia Addai Robinson. Manic pixie brow queen Cara Delevigne is definitely a magnetic public figure in the fashion world but  seems like she isn’t exuding her full magnetism in this movie. She just comes off as a bit of an ‘ehh’ playing the big baddie. The buildup of her relationship with Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman) felt like one of the victims of the movie’s rumored major post production cuts. I get how Kinnaman’s character is supposed to be a soldier but his emotional moments just didn’t make me feel for his character at all. Would’ve loved to have seen more of an explanation behind the Flagg- Dr. June relationship as it could have made audiences really connect to the two characters.

I can’t do a review of this movie without sharing my thoughts on Jared Leto’s take on the Joker. To be honest, it confused me a lot– especially coming from Heath Ledger’s Joker who came off as a dark, remorseless, deranged madman. Is there a possibility he was going for fun crazy instead of crazy crazy Joker because that’s the only thing that could make me understand how he did it. And lastly: where was the ‘method acting’ at?

SIDENOTE: On Joker x Harley

I’m not a full fledged comic book fan but have somewhat sufficient knowledge on Batman lore (thanks mainly in part to watching my siblings play Arkham Asylum, watching earlier Batman movies, exploring wikipedia and a whole lot of comic wikia sites), and I honestly DO NOT understand how some viewers seemed to think the Joker and Harley thing was even a good relationship.

You don’t need to even know anything about Batman and company to watch the film and realize how demented and disturbing this all is. She’s obviously hypnotized by his aura and does a lot of stupid things just to stay in his good graces, including becoming a bit deranged herself. It’s not a good thing, and is a pretty obvious mirror of what an unrequited, abusive relationship looks like. Are we that hurt, and that desensitized these days?

Summary

Overall, I don’t like it, but I don’t hate it either. Suicide Squad is a mix of good and bad elements, exciting and not-so exciting elements, and stupid and not-so stupid elements. Biased critics might dismiss those off as the new pattern of DC movies but it would be unfair to say that the manic Marvel universe hasn’t made its own share of blunders in the past.  This film has its saving graces: good music, incredible actor chemistry (even the Avengers pale in comparison in my opinion), and a flow that is characteristic of the movie’s disjointed protagonists.

Unfortunately, the bad aspects outweigh the good here and that is enough to make people talk, talk (and keep talking). I’d have to agree with one thing that keeps coming up regarding the film– which was the decision to make it PG. This is a movie about dark, disturbed, deranged individuals and cleaning it up for a young audience just seems like a travesty in itself.

Hopefully this series gets a second chance, an epic extended version, and the opportunity to bring out optimum darkness for maximum effect. That seems like the only way Suicide Squad can truly redeem itself.

Postscript! 

Warming up to the idea of Batfleck is taking much longer than expected since Batman versus Superman. We’ve only seen bits and pieces of Ezra Miller’s turn as Barry Allen so there isn’t enough material to judge on– I can’t say I’m a big fan of that suit, though. One good thing about Miller is that he exudes the same good boy vibe that makes Grant Gustin work on the small screen. Still keeping up high hopes despite the continual disappointments!!

 

The Inspiration Awakens: A Star Wars Review

———– REQUIRED SPOILER ALERT TAG——————-

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. SPOILERS ABOUND.

READING BEYOND THIS MEANS YOU’VE SEEN THE MOVIE.

———–SPOILERS ALERT SPOILERS ABOUND————-

I have never been the biggest Star Wars fan.

My closest long term Star Wars memory involves being the unfortunate reason behind why my siblings were unable to finish watching  A New Hope in theaters (or was it The Empire Strikes Back?) because the sounds frightened the hell out of me and I was crying like a typical spoiled baby.

But that doesn’t mean I’m dismissive of the franchise as a whole. As someone who used to be quite the avid writer type, I have nothing but the deepest respect and admiration for Lucas type individuals who are able to craft elaborate characters, worlds and societies that have now become iconic.I mean, who doesn’t love Jedis, Chewbacca (our shih tzu was named after this furry phenom) or Darth Vader? To me they may just be characters but to some they bring back a  world of incredible childhood memories.

Never fear Star Wars fans, the Force Awakens is the stuff of millennial brand childhood memories for both real children and children at heart.

It seems only apt to begin this section with acknowledging that yes: I may have screeched upon seeing the iconic font, score and production style all back together. If a not-so big fan like myself reacted that way, one can only imagine how the fanboys and fangirls are doing.

Because the film is still quite fresh, I’m skipping elaboration on the plot in favor of a paragraph in order to acknowledge both the old and new faces in this billion dollar franchise.

Daisy Ridley’s Rey is not your typical feminist icon, but what she is a symbol of perseverance. This young Brit isn’t here to be the next Emma Watson, but a breakout star in her own right.  Who gives a crap about John Boyega’s skin color when he shows that he’s got the chops and personality to boot?

Searching for Gwendoline Christie and Lupita Nyong’O in the film was one of my favorite moments so I’m not spoiling anything on where you can spot them in the movie. One hint, though: it takes a world of good senses to do so successfully. Adam Driver plays dark and disturbed to perfection, and is a face we should all be excited to know more about.

The movie is jam packed with the most eccentric group of film extras ever, but its heart continues to lie with Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford). Both play old, reunited rocker couple to perfection, and are heartwarming to see onscreen.

That’s about as far as I’m willing to go in order not to step on any toes and anger any die hard fans. Perhaps, once I’ve refreshed my knowledge of the franchise and enough people have watched it (read: everyone else who hasn’t), than we can talk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rotten, But Still Sweet: A Slices of Life Martial Law Special

Would this have been possible?

I probably wouldn’t have had a computer and a keyboard, but a typewriter and paper. It would be what it was– a much simpler time devoid of technology.

Would I be this willing to speak? To mention names and grievances so freely? I don’t really know if my opinion would have mattered back then, but was it the sole concept of having an opinion against the government that served as basis for the atrocities that happened?

These were just some of the thoughts that were running through my mind (and are still doing so), as I read through articles that commemorated the proclamation of Martial Law. I admit that it isn’t a date in our history that sticks to me as well as June 12, and so I have social media to thank for reminding me about this pivotal point in our history (forgive me for this!!!).

The commemoration of the proclamation of Martial Law feels extremely timely, especially in the wake of a supposed Binay- Marcos tandem come 2016. When asked whether he would apologize for his father’s mistakes during Martial Law, this was Bongbong’s response:

“Will I say sorry for the thousands and thousands of kilometers [of roads] that were built? Will I say sorry for the agricultural policy that brought us to self-sufficiency in rice? Will I say sorry for the power generation? Will I say sorry for the highest literacy rate in Asia? What am I to say sorry about?””

One wonders whether he was simply ignorant of the things that happened, or he simply refused to acknowledge them. We can only hope that this won’t be a ‘like father, like son’ instance.

Beyond the economic progress and educational reform was the price of free speech, of media. Individuals that had years to go and a life ahead of them were traumatized and oftentimes killed all because they weren’t afraid to speak their minds.

This is definitely a stark contrast to the life led by the youth today– us.

The advent of technology and the freedom of speaking out have made the concept of opinions and thoughts seem almost useless. We hide behind pseudonyms and IP addresses and the comfort of knowing that we’ll never get caught.

This results in opinions for opinion’s sake. (I have been guilty of this numerous times– this blog is a testament to that).

I’m not saying it’s wrong to exercise this freedom, but there are times when speaking your mind should be done with a certain positive aim in mind: one that leads to action. Why should we limit ourselves to being the nameless sect of ‘netizens’ that bash politicians when the things we talk about on social media platforms can be discussions that encourage us to make the move?

Instead of hating on Binay for his skin color (which is underhanded even for someone like Binay), why not make the move to register and actually vote come 2016? In the mean time, why not make it a point to educate people on candidates, their policies and their past? Educate people to make the right choice.Propose solutions for everyday issues like traffic and BEEP cards instead of being complainers. Write rationally, post politely.

Better yet, use social mediums to instigate positive change.

The youth needs to know about these stories– about the atrocities, the deaths and the trauma that probably still lingers today. Perhaps it is awareness of what these activists, writers etc. went through that will truly open the eyes of those who still seem to not see the bigger picture.

Here’s to hoping that once awareness kicks in, appreciation for the freedom to speak out will follow, and along with this: the responsible use of extensive mediums like social media.

Today is not a happy day. #NeverAgain

Postscript: Jerrold Tarog’s got an extensive trilogy of period films to work on, so I’m calling on the future Brilliante Mendozas of this country– make a film about Martial Law. I’ve heard of the movie Dekada 70 (Vilma Santos, Luis Manzano..?) but haven’t seen works about it since. Consider it, please!!!!

Hope for the Future: A Review of “Heneral Luna”

Although Philippine cinema is still  littered  with its share of questionable films (“Etiquette for Mistresses”????, “Ex with Benefits”????), Jerrold Tayog proves that there’s much hope for the future of Philippine film.

Enter Heneral Luna.

This film is no atypical biopic– one at begins at one’s early years, or opts for a less conventional flashback ending, as most do. Instead, it begins somewhere in the middle, right in the heat of the action. The plot mixes historical reality with tinges of fictionalized events, and thus proves to be a challenge to recount without unintentional ‘spoilage’.

One thing I do advise is a quick look through of the events that follow the intrusion of the Americans into the Filipino-Spanish brouhaha (sometime around 1899, to be exact), in order to get a feel of where the story is at.

John Arcilla is impeccable in the titular role–breathing dynamic personality into the character of Antonio Luna. He plays brusque to an almost brilliant degree. Yet he comes off a little one dimensional in some scenes that require Luna’s signature ‘temper’ to shine through.

Comedians Leo Martinez and Archie Alemania unintentionally inject humor into the film (perhaps because of their prominence as comedians), but do so in such a way that they prove not to overwhelm the film’s more serious bits. They also prove themselves capable actors that are able to transcend their comedic roots without much difficulty.

Mon Confiado plays Luna’s stoic polar opposite Emilio Aguinaldo, brought to brilliant life with both hair and understated flair. The film paints Aguinaldo in an odd light, one that makes him seem like the real pushover in his own government (could anyone offer me insight with regard to how this was a stark contrast to his portrayal in El Presidente?) . At the end of the day (hair jokes aside), Aguinaldo is the puppet master of the revolution, and he, in turn, is played around with by the Americans.

Epi Quizon may seem underutilized in his role as the sublime paralytic Apolinario Mabini, but shows us in his acting that he may know more than he’s letting on.

The film lacks a strong female presence, but does the Filipina woman true justice in its portrayals. Mylene Dizon’s Isabel is no obedient lover, but a woman brave enough to face her ‘lover’ Luna in negotiations. Luna’s mother is a warm presence in his life, proving to be one of the few people who can calm him down.

Needless to say, the production value of the film is impressive. From picturesque shots of soldiers walking the fields to the incredible aerial shot of Luna in contemplation, the movie was clearly made with a meticulous eye. The dialogue is in conversational Filipino (or perhaps, Tagalog to be politically correct?) and is sprinkled with tinges of Spanish and even French. The best parts of the film are Luna’s moments of unbridled brashness– most of which are probably understood (and appreciated) only by Pinoys.

[I’m reserving a separate post in order to jot down my interpretations of scenes in the film that very much parallel our current political situation.]

Heneral Luna brings to impressive life characters that only used to live in our textbooks– imbuing them with a certain level of humanity that makes them reachable to the modern day Filipino. This is not a film that’s here simply to make you brush up on your Hekasi– it’s here to teach a lesson, one that seems extremely timely in our contemporary age.