Tsotsi (2005): Similar Brutality

From: South Africa, United Kingdom

Director: Gavin Hood

I bought this DVD in my most favorite discovery in Taipei, eslite, and somehow it got lost in all the rubbish that surrounds the movie system in my house. I guess it reappeared when it should have.

I think of South African cinema as quite similar to that of the Philippines, mostly Manila. Most themes circle around the city streets and slums or oppression from crime and poverty. Does that mean we somehow have a similar thread in culture? I’ve never been anywhere in Africa, hence I cannot say. But if that’s true, then perhaps the brutality in its culture is also the source of its spirit, just as it is in Manila.

Tsotsi is a South African word describing a dodgy character, a gangster. He steals and fights to survive. He steals cars with babies, torments blind men in wheelchairs, beats up his friend to a pulp. I don’t want to say that despite these, he’s still has a heart inside blah blah. Because the good guy inside does not survive being a good guy given his circumstances in life. His hidden heart is not permitted to come out from hiding when the world it grew in does not allow hope. He surrenders. He steals and fights.

That world is bleak. That world is raw. And I love that the thoughts it gives you are as raw and as bleak as the non-actors themselves.



What this film holds for me:

What: ambiguous ending which turns out has 2 alternate endings – must get copies of these


Pretty Woman (1990): Mine are broken

From: USA

Director: Garry Marshall

Most people’s favorite scene is the Rodeo Drive one I think. The “Big Mistake. HUGE” one. Rightly so, that’s just iconic. It has all the makings of a fairy tale complete with the title theme song. I love that scene myself, but sadly, that’s not my favorite. My favorite is the opera one. Not on the way to the opera-giving-quarter-of-a-million-necklace scene, but the one where the binoculars were broken. FRICKIN LOVE THAT SCENE. And to add to my adulation, some genius even created a YouTube video for that scene alone. Genius.



What this film holds for me: 

What: These are broken. Mine are broken. 

Who: Patrick Richwood as Night Elevator Operator Dennis

The Sound of Music (1965): Island-Stranding Tunes

From: USA

Director: Robert Wise

Saw this again a few days ago while browsing the TV. Thought I’d just see a little bit to refresh my memory, but then not realizing, found myself watching it til the credits started. Couldn’t just stop the happy this movie brings. Tunes are unforgettable, scenes are dreamlike.

Dad said it best: If I ever get stuck in an island and just have one movie to bring with me, I’ll bring this. Makes it easier to survive.


Didn’t realize was writing without beginning prepositions.


What this film holds for me:

Who: Maria, how do you solve a problem like Maria? You don’t.

What: tunes that will make you sappy and happy


Tug of War! / 綱引いちゃった!(2012)

From: Japan

Director: Nobuo Mizuta

I just love it when I get to watch something that I know nothing about. I’m always in for a surprise, whether good or bad. Tug of War! was no different. I did not know it was a comedy; didn’t know it was literally about tug of war. Wasn’t aware I was up for a light heartwarming ride. Didn’t even know the title. Just sat there and waited for it to reveal itself to me.

The movie was okay, satisfactorily entertaining with all its slapstick humor and caricatures. I enjoyed it. But the surprise hit to me was Tetsuji Tamayama who played Kimio the coach. He was introduced as a shy clumsy tug of war competitor immediately smitten with the female lead. I paid no attention to him at first, as he coached the team and ludicrously professed his affections in secret. He was deliberately awkward and clumsy. Didn’t really pay no mind.

BUT NO. He was a surprise hit. I was surprised by the way his gorgeousness hit me. After the film. TWO DAYS after the film. He’s a revelation. Can’t get him out of my mind. I watched the film during Eiga Sai last week and still, I keep thinking about his face. When I looked him up, lo and behold, he’s more gorgeous in Google. I mean, come on. I keep researching his movies, looking for videos. I am smitten.

Okay, so this is more about a crush than about a movie. I’m sorry.

Tetsuji in Tug of War!

Tetsuji in Tug of War!

What Google gave me

What Google gave me

Thank you internet

Thank you internet

What this film holds for me:

Who: TETSUJI TAMAYAMA, that’s who

What: nothing else I’m afraid 

The Normal Heart (2014) / Shame (2011): Saturday Sadness

From: USA (The Normal Heart) / UK (Shame)

Director: Ryan Murphy (The Normal Heart) / Steve McQueen (Shame)

I don’t even know if I can finish typing this, so no promises.

My face is hot and crusty with dried up tears. My heart is slowly throbbing with memories of devastation. My mind is cloudy and heavy with teary fog. My writing is melodramatic. This is all because of these two frickin movies.

5PM – Shame

Even Michael Fassbender’s glorious nudity is not enough to distract you from this movie’s seeping ache. It’s just there, underneath their shoes, between the cracks, in the ruffle of their hair. It’s not abrasive but it’s throbbing.


7:32 PM – The Normal Heart

I saw The Normal Heart a week ago and the whole week succeeding that was a just a heavy blur. I watched it again to desensitize my emotions but all it did was squeeze my heart until it bled salty tears. Now I believe I’m not a crier when it comes to films, but this one just gets to me. I’m not even talking about sickness scenes, but just the plain scenes where they hug or lie on the bed. I had to hash it out numerous times with my best friend to make it into something casual and not a protruding thorn in my brain.


I knew I shouldn’t have watched two movies in a row, more so two devastating movies. My heart broke into two, one half for each movie I watched.


What this film holds for me: 

Who: Matt Bomer, you are one dedicated son of a b*tch. And your angles leave me gasping for air

Who: Mark Ruffalo, only you can make the Hulk disappear completely

What: the wedding

What: running scene in Shame is no-cut gorgeousness

Rushmore (1998) / Grand Budapest Hotel (2014): Anderson Double

From: USA (Rushmore), Germany and United Kingdom (The Grand Budapest Hotel)

Director: Wes Anderson

I think I’m a Wes Anderson fan without me knowing. I don’t particularly scour collections for his work.  I don’t anticipate the release dates. I don’t know all of his characters or even what he looks like (but now I do, because I just looked him up). They just come along through friends swapping movies or an attractive DVD cover. Sometimes, it’s just because there’s a trailer on TV and it’s so golden and very curious-looking that it made me curious.

But I must say, whenever I watch a Wes Anderson film, I feel like I should be fan. I feel like everybody should be a fan. Why?

Because Mr. Anderson’s scripts are simple but ornate

Rushmore is just about an overachieving kid who develops a crush on a teacher. That’s it. The whole movie can be summed up in one sentence but it takes the genius of Wes Anderson to make you want to watch it for 93 minutes.


Because Mr. Anderson gives a whole new meaning to movies being moving pictures

In Grand Budapest every shot is a post card you want to send to someone. The actors even pause for a millisecond every time, as if they’re being photographed on set. There is too much attention to detail, if there is such a thing. I literally kept saying wow, that’s f*ckin gorgeous. You know that every pattern, color, object is deliberately put on that screen. You don’t only want to watch the film, you want to be in the film.


Even if you ignore the fact that his go-to cast includes an iconic representative from every generation, you cannot ignore how masterful everything else is. But really, you cannot ignore that cast. You cannot ignore Wes Anderson.


What this film holds for me:

Who: Jason Schwartzman as Max Fischer – he’s so good he’s irritating

Where: Republic of Zubrowka should be real must be real

What: Mendl’s Courtesan au Chocolat- they even teach you how to make it here



Music Vid: Arcade Fire’s We Exist

Although Arcade Fire isn’t really my cup of tea when it comes to music preference (but they are genius), I must say they make the best music videos. Scenes from the Suburbs is a notable one. That’s just in another level.

This one is another. Andrew Garfield, your commitment to a role is astounding.


What this video holds for me:

Who/what/how: Andrew Garfield and those stilettos