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


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


Her (2013): Paintings of Photographs

From: USA

Director: Spike Jonze

When I started this, I made a quiet pact with myself to avoid writing about current films as much as possible. I am amending that contract now with a clause: UNLESS SUCH FILM HITS YOU SO HARD IT CANNOT BE UNDONE.

Her hit me so hard. It cannot be undone. I approached it with caution and I told myself it would be a melancholic ride. I came prepared. When the credits rolled I did not feel sad. I felt I was not allowed to feel sadness. The whole 126 minutes was like a series of painting that look like photographs – looked immaculately real but really was not. It fools you into thinking it is real but you do not care.

The whole principle of Her is not a reality at the moment but it looks and feels so tactile and relevant. Samantha, she who does not exist, is more real and more significant and more sufficient than anything and everything in Theodore’s life.

I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to feel sadness. Her would leave you hurt and confused and content, but in the end both lost and found.


What this film holds for me:

What: Theodore panicking and running around like the human that he is

Who: Spike Jonze and the first time I encountered his high-tech melancholia in I’m Here (note: must write about I’m Here see I’m Here entry here)

Silent Film: Keisatsukan (1933)

From: Japan

Director: Tomu Uchida

The Silent Film in Manila just concluded and I’m so psyched I witnessed a couple of the films. Although not meaning to, I always end up watching the Japanese offer and most of the time it’s a comedy. This time around though, it’s Keisatsukan (A Police Officer), a superb film noir about gangsters and policemen. So I was extra excited.

In my self-deprecating opinion, I think there are two kinds of musicians in the context of this city’s Silent Film Festivals. One: musicians who accompany the film by providing different sound effects for each scene, or two: musicians who provide a fluent score and seamless atmosphere.

Although I am in love with this particular festival, I was struggling to avoid being disappointed by last Friday’s musical act. Pulso is wonderful and they create gorgeous electronica harmonies but their set for that film left me questioning. It was in some parts serrated and failed to invoke the undertones and mood the scenes already held on their own. Perhaps it was just me, but they did not quite stir up and intensify the proper emotions. I would consider them as the first kind of musician, although not consistently. The film was 121 minutes long, and I felt all of that 121 minutes, sometimes quite impatiently.


What this film holds for me:

What: gorgeous long takes; some proper subtle acting

What was said: “Sons of blue bloods invariably become reds.” 

The Deer Hunter (1978)

From: USA

Director: Michael Cimino

I was stuck in an apartment with no internet and no cable last week. Weirdly enough, there was television and a DVD player and the only DVD there was a copy of The Deer Hunter. How lucky can you get? I am saying this with no tinge of sarcasm at all. I loved the situation I was in.

A lot of things went on in this film and a lot of emotions broke through. It’s unarguable that the performances of some of the most brilliant actors in history are brilliant. They were so young then, handsome, rugged, brash, and carefree. Too many subversive themes, simplistic portrayals, and realistic scenes. It was well enough that I watched this alone with no distractions. It glued my eyes to the screen. How can you not watch the Russian roulette scenes?

Robert de Niro was ingenious, but Christopher Walken, you take the cake in this one.


What this film holds for me: 

What: Russian roulette, distorted and magnetizing

Who: Christopher Walken. Oh jeez. 

Sylvain Chomet Watch 1 Get 1



What a weird and wonderful day it was, having watched a  Sylvain Chomet double feature. I had a slow day so I decided to fish out a random film from my untouched DVD pile, a collection of films I’ve amassed but have not had the chance to see (or even open) yet. The yellow cover of the DVD prompted my impulse pick and I am thrilled that it did.

The Triplettes of Belleville (Les Triplettes de Belleville) is surreal and enthralling and chilling all at the same time. The fluidity of everything is ingenious. The symbolism is up to the brim. It’s quirky with the  people who look like animals, gadgets used otherwise, shifting of shapes, household musical items, and the revelry and music. It’s sinister and scary at some corners with myself personally feeling a chill and a tension. Loved it.

But then wait, there’s more. After the film, I browsed through the special features like I always do, and I found a hidden treasure! A short film also from the magnificent Sylvian Chomet called The Old Lady and the Pigeons (La vieille dame et les pigeons) was also stored in that same DVD. How generous is that? The short film was even scarier, quirkier, and more bizarre than the full-length film. Pigeons, and man pretending to be a pigeon, gluttony, old ladies in parks, American tourists in France, and gardening shears – all in 20 plus minutes of animation. Brilliant brilliant brilliant.

I know these are not on the list, but what the heck. Sylvian Chomet, I double love you. And thank you also for The Illusionist. I triple love you now.



What these films hold for me:

Who: pigeon man, kitty girl, mouse mechanic

What: Tour de France and pigeons


Drive (2011)

From: USA

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

Yesterday, I went to a Vinyl Day Celebration with my sister, whose current obsession is the long player. It was advertised as an outdoor event where vinyls will be sold at great discounts, local bands will play, freebies will be given out. Sounded great but to be honest, I’m not really into the whole vinyl-playing, band-watching, denim short-wearing crowd. No offense, it just isn’t me. I like my beats fast and my bass down low, just like what Dev and The Cataracs said in that song.

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But, I digress. While my sister was perusing the boxes of vinyls, I saw a stack of OSTs. Interesting to see that they had soundtrack records for both classic and newly-released movies. More interesting, I saw the OST for Drive. Now the last thing I want to do is to pretend to have the preferences that I don’t. I’ve seen the viral reviews for the score to this film, almost 87% of watchers keying in on how cool, ethereal, vintage, on-point, unique, atmospheric it is. All I could think of was, how come the first thing I noticed was the music and my reaction was not so positive? I guess it all boils down to preference. I’m not saying Cliff Martinez didn’t do a super-cool electronic-pop score. He did. It’s just me. I know it’s a brilliant score to a brilliant film, and I agree to the latter. It is a brilliant film. OST aside, I love this film. I love me some hammer-weilding, satin jacket wearing, mumbling anti-hero. I love fast cars, silent romances succeeded by violent encounters, and slow build-ups to emotional explosions. I particularly like head-smashing hammer scenes and elevator scenes that start in awkwardness and end with blood and brains all over. I love the tense atmosphere partnered with the nonchalant acting. The best thing though: OPEN ENDINGS. I love me some ambiguous finales. I’m a total sucker for that. So thank you Nicolas Winding Refn for always leaving us short.


Jeffrey Overstreet of Filmwell said it just about right: If Sofia Coppola were a dude making genre action movies to impress Quentin Tarantino … those movies would be a lot like this.

Couldn’t have said it better.

So. I would ignore the rant on vinyls and scores, and just focus on the entirety of it.
What this film holds for me:
What: hammer never looked so dangerous; elevators never looked so terrifying
How (I felt): tense and anticipating, but calm and collected
*Vinyl photos are from Satchmi’s Vinyl Day 2013.