Filler [Feeler]

Let’s just say that I’m on a frostbite stage right now. Reason why I couldn’t write anything. So while I thaw, let me borrow other people’s words. In hopes that it would speed up the process and let me recover.

Everybody’s Free (to wear sunscreen) by Mary Schmich

Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of ’97… wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be IT.

The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience.   I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded. But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked.

You are NOT as fat as you imagine.

Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.

Sing.

Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts, don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.

Floss.

Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive, forget the insults; if you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements.

Stretch.

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t.

Get plenty of calcium.

Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself, either. Your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s. Enjoy your body, use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it, or what other people think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.

Dance.

Even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room.

Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.

Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for good.

Be nice to your siblings; they are your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but for the precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography in lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard; live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.

Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths, prices will rise, politicians will philander, you too will get old, and when you do you’ll fantasize that when you were young prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund, maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse; but you never know when either one might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair, or by the time you’re 40, it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.

The Lovely Bones got too lovely

I had pegged this to be the next heart-crushing movie adaptation since My Sister’s Keeper.

When Suzie Salmon was 14, she was raped and brutally murdered by her nieghbor, Mr. George Harvey. Not able let go of the life and the world she was robbed off, she looks on from the land of in-between as her murderer remains unpunished and her family reels from the tragedy of her death.

First 45 minutes of the film were great. You can easily feel the connections between the characters. What more can you ask from a very talented ensemble cast which includes Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon, and Stanley Tucci? The junior actors deliver remarkable performances as well, keeping up with the veterans. Saoirse Ronan who played Suzie Salmon was a revelation. I expect her to appear in more roles after her performance in this movie.

The Salmon family is a lovely bunch. But their peaceful and loving existence was shattered into pieces when Suzie disappeared one night, and was soon believed to be dead. She was murdered,  her body was never found. That scene where Stanley Tucci’s character, Mr. Harvey, lures Suzie into an underground den was so gripping and so terrorizing, it is the stuff of every parent’s worst nightmares.

But when Suzie died, the rest of the movie also did. This is the saddest the movie could ever get.

With a brilliant cast and a bestseller novel as basis for the plot, what could have gone so terribly wrong?

A director’s overindulgence is to blame. When Suzie died and entered her personal heaven, everything felt so disconnected. Too much CGI effects used in this movie became so distracting, it broke down all the connections that were so beautifully built in the first half of the movie. It became so visually lovely that it overshadowed the harrowing ordeal of losing a child, a sister in the most brutal manner. Mr. Jackson had become so preoccupied with his vision of what Suzie’s perfect sort-of heaven should be like, when his focus should have been on the ones that were left behind – the people whom Suzie cannot let go of. All of a sudden, the script became lousy and some of the characters became useless. Case in point, Rachel Weisz who played Suzie’s mother. It was such a waste!

I wish Jackson had gotten over his fantasy kicks in LOTR, and had completely abandoned them in this movie. Had this movie been presented in a straight-forward fashion, this would have been perfect – the first half was. I guess it’s too bad for those who read and loved the book ‘coz this film had potential…

It could have been “just right” lovely.

Once

Once in a while, you stumble into something effortlessly beautiful.

Love. Music. Love for music.

In the streets of Dublin, a struggling musician finds a kindred soul. The two soon discover that they make good music together, and starts to collaborate on making a demo record.

A film about music artistry with undertones of a potential love story, Once reminds us that in between the lines and melodies, and stripped off  of all the business hullabaloo, music is the language of the human heart. Done with a very low budget, shot  like a home video, and with the two leads having little or no professional acting backgrounds, this indie film is as natural as it can get yet having the capacity to move and inspire. Sparse on the production, rich in heartfelt emotion.

The first time I heard the song Falling Slowly, I fell in love with it. This song, and most of the songs in the film, are collaborations between Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, the movie’s two lead characters who are real-life musicians, rather than actors. It’s really amazing how we get a glimpse of this collaborative process as it is being played out on-screen. Watching this movie, I wish that I were an artist myself. I wish I had that gift of self-expression, to turn raw emotions into another self-sustaining life form. I wish that I could also feel that gratification, that sense of pure bliss after having created something beautiful – like in that scene on the beach at dawn, after they’ve finished their demo recording.

But then again, I’ve accepted that some things come naturally to some people, but not to others. And that’s not too bad, ‘coz we can still live vicariously through their images, their songs, and their words. It doesn’t make the experience less real or less felt. There also exists a unique kind of joy in finding a connection, in discovering an image, a melody, or a line that seem to be made just for you. Sometimes even, it comes as a pleasant surprise.

Like stumbling into something like this that’s so effortlessly beautiful every once in a while.

Lloyd Dobler, where are you?

Twenty years ago, a guy thought of wooing a girl by camping outside her house, hoisting a boom box over his head, blaring Peter Gabriel’s In Your Eyes.

The guy was John Cusack, and it was in this 80’s movie Say Anything.

This scene was just classic. I’ve never seen the movie until a few days back but I have always known about this John Cusack boom box gesture. I don’t really remember how I knew about it, I just did – like it’s common knowledge.

I guess it is that iconic.

And I find this really amazing because come to think of it, everything about the scene was very basic. No dialogues, no special effects, no breathtaking scenery, no altercations, no tears. There was just this guy – a basic guy,  as Ione Skye’s character described him on their first date. He wore his heart out on his sleeve, and declared his love in a song. Well, the boom box did seem heavy but pretty much, that was it. Simple as it is though, it was very eloquent and right on target. A perfect moment – one that girls would surely want to experience and one that boys would want to copy, without worrying about the act being “uncool”.

It’s your usual love story. Boy and girl are polar opposites. The girl’s a mega-achiever who feels alienated from her peers. The guy’s a bit of a slacker but one who is smart, funny, kind, devoted, and noble. He shows her a world outside the confines of the prestigious academe. He shows her how to belong. They fall in love, put in the parental factor and some other conflict to break them up, but they eventually kiss and make up.

Again, the general plot is basic. But Cameron Crowe’s script is refreshing even after twenty years. There is something about this movie, and in all of his other films that I love, that is very truthful and earnest, minus the overkill. I loved how everything just seems to be falling into place – not rushed nor dragged, but naturally believable. That when they started to say that they love each other, they’re just mere affirmations.

I also loved the lines – a bit nerdy, a bit quirky, but never trying too hard to be anything.  Just to give you a sample, from now on, my definition of a date would be a prearrangement, with a possibility for love.

Music. I will always wonder how Cameron Crowe knew that Peter Gabriel’s In Your Eyes is the perfect song to play for that monumental boom box scene.

And of course, I loved John Cusack as Lloyd Dobler. Every girl wants to be with him, and every guy wants to be him.

You can never have too much butter

Meryl Streep is the film industry’s equivalent of Madonna.

I never quite understood the fascination with Meryl Streep until recently.  The first time I came to know about her was back in the 90’s. I was a child then and I vaguely remember Manoling Morato and MTRCB fussing over Bridges of Madison County. I never really paid attention to that though. That was clearly for adults and it’s something that my mom wouldn’t so openly discuss had I attempted to ask. So instead, I was busy channeling my inner Pink Ranger and Sailor Moon, morphing to save the world from alien monsters.

From the time I became aware of her, Ms. Streep never was the epitome of cool for me. Yeah, they say she’s THE Greatest actress. She’s won so many Oscars, this and that awards, but I couldn’t care less. Only old people could relate to her.

Quick Translation: she and her films were boring.

That was until she played the devil incarnate who wears prada. It was then that I started to take notice of her work and acknowledged to myself, “Oh yeah, she can be cool. She is a good actress. It’s actually fun to watch her.” Saw her next in Mamma Mia and she had me again convinced that her films are not a drag and that her acting chops were superb. I  started to understand the respect Hollywood dotes on her.

But it was in Julie and Julia that I became a believer.

Her portrayal of the insanely high-pitched and extremely tall chef extraordinaire Julia Child merits all superlatives. What I consider as great acting is when all traces of the actor – the celebrity or the person she is, and the characters she played in the past, disappear on screen. It is doubly hard I guess if the character is based on a real person, ‘coz there certainly is a fine line that distinguishes portrayal from an impersonation. Streep was as natural as the ingredients Child would use in her recipes. I honestly think there’s no one else in Hollywood who could play this role besides her.

Suffice to say, Julie and Julia is hands down a Meryl Streep film. She owned it. But while Streep is the brightest spot in this movie, the others were also stellar. Amy Adams, who shares the other title role with Streep as Julie Powell, gave a subtle but very convincing performance. She portrays a failed writer who rose to blogger stardom after cooking her way through Julia Child’s cookbook and writing about it on line. Stanley Tucci and Chris Messina play the husbands, perfectly complementing the two leading ladies. I would also have to commend on how tasty the food looked like, and how the people in the movie eat with such orgasmic quality. Food, indeed, is like a major character itself in this film – one with no dialogue but very eloquent.

Kudos to Norah Ephron, the film’s screenplay writer and director, for making the full two hours of the movie (yes, it is that long) effortlessly charming. This is not your ordinary chick flick, and I’m not even sure that I  should categorize this  movie as such. But surely, it was a very delightful experience.

So going back to Meryl Streep being the film industry’s equivalent of Madonna, I wonder what role she’s gonna do next. Whatever it is though, I’m sure viewers will end up pleasantly surprised. She has certainly made herself known to a younger set of audience, a proof of her enduring star power most actors can only dream of.

This is a regimen, like doing sit-ups

Watching Julie and Julia reminded me so much of why I started this blog.

An attempt to finding a voice.

But instead of cooking food and writing about it, ‘coz Lord knows what a terrible disaster that would be, I choose music, books, and films as conduits to tap into as much self-expression I am capable of. As this is intended to be a regimen, I am expecting that this personal exercise would extend myself in terms of being able to share my thoughts and feelings with depth and eloquence.

‘Coz as Ms. Spektor once sang, “if you never say your name out loud to anyone, they can never ever call you by it.”

So tell me, what can one do in 525,600 minutes?

Let’s play some numbers game this 2010, shall we? This year, I challenge myself to a number of tasks in lieu of the personal objectives I’ve set for the year as stated in 2010 is… page. They say everything happens when you turn 25, and 2010 is that year for me. I’m about to experience the so-called “pivotal” one – And I’m gonna make sure that it lives up to the hype!

It starts with a call to action, and this game will set the ball rolling.

Thus, by the end of 2010, I would have…

  • 600 Friends in Facebook
  • 180 Films seen
  • 180 Film reviews written
  • 8 Novels read
  • 8 Book reviews written
  • 24 Music Album reviews written
  • 12 Music Playlist uploaded at 8tracks
  • 8 Art Exhibitions attended
  • 12 Concerts/Gigs attended
  • 2 Stage Plays attended
  • 1 Major out of town vacation trip
  • 4 Minor out of town vacation trips
  • 27 Academic Units finished
  • ___ Bank Savings

A page, labeled as Tabs on 2010, will be maintained to summarize the progress for each task, while detailed documentation will just be all over the place. So much to happen and so much to do this 2010. The year holds much promise, I am just eager to bite into it.