Abre los ojos

Dreams can turn into nightmares, while seemingly perfect lives can take a 180-degree turn. Do you sleep? Or do you open your eyes?

Abre Los Ojos.

Here’s the original to Cameron Crowe’s Vanilla Sky. Plot-wise, there isn’t much difference between the two. But what Abre Los Ojos had done successfully, Vanilla Sky wasn’t able to replicate.

This Spanish film written and directed by Alejandro Amenabar is a fusion of romance, drama, mystery, and science fiction. It tells the story of Cesar, a very rich and very handsome young man who had a perfect life. On top of that, he was about to experience the feeling of being in-love the night he met Sofia. But as fate would have it, he got into a major car crash the morning after when  Nuria, his obsessed ex-fling upset by his relationship with Sofia, drove the car off the road. Nuria dies and his face disfigured beyond repair. Needless to say, his life drastically changed after that…

It’s just too bad that like most people, I had seen Vanilla Sky first before this. Much as I love Cameron Crowe,  his version, although faithful to the original script, failed to achieve the impact it was supposed to make. Abre Los Ojos fuses together the different aspects of the film seamlessly especially during the parts where the main twist was unraveling. I didn’t feel that the rug was being pulled out from under me as everything was explained. The narrative provides enough build up for that, at a comfortable pace so that the audience wouldn’t find the outcome of the story too weird. Amenabar employs a masterful technique for revealing things, the same way he did in The Others.

Twisted and interesting. This film makes one reflect about existence and choices.

Plus, Noriega the actor who plays Cesar, is way more handsome and did a much better performance than Tom Cruise. So if you haven’t seen Vanilla Sky, ditch the idea of seeing it and just stick with this original.

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Do not let your fire go out. Spark by irreplaceable spark.

Playlist Title: Anthems for the weary heart

Tracks:

Foo Fighters – Best Of You

Dashboard Confessional – Vindicated

Switchfoot – Dare You To Move

Natalie Imbruglia – That Day

Travis – Turn

Metric – Twilight Galaxy

John Mayer – Vultures

Audioslave – Be Yourself

The Killers – All These Things That I’ve Done

Leading sedentary lives

When will I ever learn that without real people, all you’ll be able to give me is static?

When laws of attraction are in action

Playlist Title: Love (Or Something Like It)

Tracks:

Ida Maria – I Like You So Much Better When You’re Naked

Ladyhawke – Back Of The Van

Athlete – Superhuman Touch

Ellie Goulding – Starry Eyed

Blur – Girls And Boys

Ne-Yo – Closer

Taken By Cars – Logistical Nightmare

Jeff Buckley – Everybody Here Wants You

Lady Gaga – Lovegame

Merril Bainbridge – Mouth

Up Dharma Down – Every First Second

Taken By Cars – Uh Oh

Lackluster

Watched Fame yesterday, on an April Fools’ Day. The movie was probably the day’s joke.

Oh boy, was this really terrible! And to think I rarely use  that word to describe movies I’ve seen. A movie can either be generic or shallow in content but  could still have some  form of entertainment value, like the vast majority of Hollywood flicks out there.  Whereas some unconventional cinema can oftentimes be too twisted, I couldn’t quite follow its drift. But probably because of the weirdness, it maintains its appeal.

So what constitutes “terrible” anyway?

Terrible is when you don’t even have to work out a few brain cells to understand the plot but end up still not getting the movie. I mean, I won’t necessarily call a stupid movie a terrible movie for the very reason that I know that it’s a stupid movie and it shows on screen. At the very least, it’s consistent.

But when a movie showcases itself as big and as intense as the desire of a performance artist (mind you, a PERFORMANCE artist!) to perfect his art, to achieve fame, and then just flatlines like a lump of lifeless mass the entire two hours worth of screen time – it’s unforgivable. Borrowing from American Idol lingo, the closest thing to having a “moment” in this movie, out of all the song and dance production numbers, was when Naturi Naughton sang “Out Here On My Own”. That was it.

For a material that talks about people having big ambitions, the characters lacked depth, emotion, and substance. The script was just poorly written. Everyone was paper-thin. You could have found more passion, ambition, and greatness watching Step Up 2.

Consider this one a rip-off of the High School Musical trilogy except that this had zero chances of achieving the same amount of fame. As for the original, I haven’t seen it but I’m sure it was great. Its remake was a disaster though.

A guide to funny people

Best to manage your expectations if you are to watch Judd Apatow’s Funny People.

Adam Sandler. Seth Rogen. Leslie Mann. Jonah Hill. Jason Schwartzman. With small roles played by Sarah Silverman, Ray Romano, Paul Reiser, etc. And oh, there’s Eric Bana – apparently he did comedy in Australia before making it big in Hollywood.

More than your usual number of comedians in one film. With an overpopulation of comic talent, it would only be natural to expect them to have a killing – moviegoers laughing out loud, tearing up, catching their breaths, and falling off their seats. If this were a comedy flick, that is.

If you’re expecting a bushy Steve Carell getting a chest wax kind of hilarity like in the earlier Apatow hit The 40-year Old Virgin, then this might leave you feeling short-changed. Or rather, sorely disappointed.

In its defense, I think the movie might have suffered from a case of mistaken identity. At 2-1/2 hours long, it  couldn’t have been a straight up comedy flick. It just couldn’t. Comedies running that long are not sustainable unless they’re genius good. After all, happiness is such a fleeting concept.

But should you choose to stick around, you’ll probably find out that Funny People can be interesting. More than the plot being driven by comedy, the plot is about the funny people driving the comedy instead. Judd Apatow feels a bit nostalgic and delivers an ode to the comedy scene. And so, the movie was not necessarily hilarious but humor was scattered here and there to set the tone. Whereas, the juice is somewhere behind the spotlight, the open mic, and the curtains where the lives of a few funny people by profession play out.

There’s one in all of us

Fancy a scream?

There’s one in all of us –

A child who couldn’t make sense of the world that surrounds you.

A hollow feeling, a sense of brokenness that remains undefined.

A desire to disappear and escape,

To tear things down ‘coz maybe it could fix things.

To punch holes into trees ‘coz maybe it could make you feel whole again.

Like some form of violent energy will make transference possible.

‘Coz you feel like imploding though you know better that it’s physically impossible.

So you find a way to explode instead.

Loneliness can be as vast as the universe itself yet your body can keep it prisoner.

You and loneliness, in one body, imagine that?

I have never gone to a shrink session before but some people say that watching Spike Jonze’s Where The Wild Things Are somewhat feels like that. I guess I would have to agree.

It understands your loneliness, your pain, without questioning the validity of your feelings. Rather, it just lets you be. It does not offer any resolutions, just acceptance – knowing that people sometimes must first learn how to deal with themselves.