June 22, 2008

blurb review: The Love Guru

I think the preview showed most of the funny jokes. Nonetheless there were still a few entertaining surprises such as puns and Mike Myer's behavior and good study of a stereotypical guru's mannerism (international wit?).

L-aughing but
nO-t as much as the
V-ery first
timE- but still

G-ot to
LU-v
Mike MyeR-s's
U-nicity
"TM"

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 1:09 AM | Comments (0)

June 17, 2008

blurb review: Kung Fu Panda

I saw this animated movie last week and although it's almost 3 weeks old, you should still see it. It's a good movie for the whole family or anyone who wants to be uplifted.

Cheesy or INSPIRING quotes include "The past is history, the future is a mystery, and TODAY is a gift, that's why it's called the PRESENT."

"Kung Fu Panda" is about a panda named Po (voiced by Jack Black) who wants to be a kung fu master. He gets his wish under one condition; he's training in order to defeat the 'baddest', most 'skilled', angry Tai Lung, the snow leopard, who's out for total annihilation and revenge. Will Po discover the secret in defeating Tai Lung, his dad's secret soup ingredient and the secret to life all in time before it's too late?

the graphics are cool- Computer Generated Imagery (CGI)- in the traditions of Toy Story, the colors are so lively, vivid and sharp. I loved the night scenes with the bright moon, the starry sky and peach tree with pink petals...the fighting scenes are also awesome too!

funny moments occurred when things are incongruent, for example, Po the Panda is the son of a Duck, who manages his own Noodle shop, and at a serious moment when Tigress (voiced by Angelina Jolie) reveals a personal childhood memory, Po makes a disgusted facial expression...

it's cute...

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 4:39 PM | Comments (2)

June 7, 2008

blurb review: You Don't Mess with the Zohan

Yesterday, I saw Adam Sandler's new movie, "You Don't Mess with the Zohan." I was laughing so much that when I tried to stop myself from laughing or tried to suppress it that I've hurt my neck a bit (but heal-able nothing that a little rest from laughing can fix). If you're worried about injuring your neck, don't fret, there are times when the joke goes flat or insider jokes from the culture are used (not funny when you have to think about it in order to understand it).

the movie is about an Israeli soldier, Zohan (Adam Sandler), who is tired of fighting in the war. He fakes his own death and escapes to America (New York City) to follow his dream of being a hair-dresser for Paul Mitchell. This movie pokes fun at current issues such as immigration, terrorism, politics, israeli and palestinian conflict, and more...

(academic theory tidbit about laughing- laughing induced by incongruency [misunderstandings/randomness], ambivalence, and taboo in Zohan. Examples of:
incongruency- word and context do not match, typical to foreigners who do not know a lot of vocabulary
ambivalence- happy for Zohan that he'll be achieving his dream, sad for him that he has to do it incognito
taboo- sexual innuendos- hinted promiscuity of senior citizens, booty snapshots...)

go watch the movie and give it a try, and tell me what you think...

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 5:21 PM | Comments (0)

August 2, 2007

summer of dance

this summer is the summer of dance for me.

I have seen so many dnace performances from the dance festival from Wilma Theater, to the performance at Kimmel Center and recently the performances at the Mann Center. On the first day of August, dancers performed in Mann Center different types of dances: Irish, Japanese and African dancing:
Irish -steps, tapping, a bit of ballet [changement-like movement, restricted leaps]
Japanese- theatrical, miming, kabuki-esque, nature movements-using props, stylized with feet pose and movement, symmetrical
African- beats, rhythmical, bursting, big movement, liberal, jumping, energetic, isolation
AND MORE

later that day, I watched the movie Hairspray- broadway musical turned into film which was inspired by the 80s' movie with Rikki Lake-- it's about rebellion, change, segregation/integration, 60s civil rights movement... with talented cast: John Travolta, Michelle Pfeifer, Christopher Walken, Queen Latifah and more... it's energetic and funny- this musical was more dance oriented than other song-oriented musicals (the songs are okay).

At night, I watched "So You Think You Can Dance" on Fox... Sabra is my favorite dancer this season!

the only thing left for me to do is actually go enroll in dance classes again for fun (I wish)!

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 4:46 PM | Comments (0)

July 29, 2007

un dia espanol

viernes pasado, I had a spanish themed sort of day... I started by going to the Mud Room in Suburban square to make un regalo para/por tia de mi amiga... it was related to the spaniards porque of its Catholic-themed... I painted an icon of Madonna and Child on a plate. I hope it turns out right, especially the colors...

despues I went to the ciudad, specifically el centro, and met con mi amiga en Starbux (I didn't get any drinks just a spinach and queso sconce). Coincidentally, we watched a pelicula called "Goya's Ghost" which is about the Spanish Inquisition during the famous Spanish painter's life Fransisco Goya... I thought this movie was going to be focusing on how Goya worked but instead it focused on the events which inspired Goya's paintings and drawings of violence/pain and ugliness... it was chistosa when I remembered what my Art history teacher said about Goya's realistic depiction of the royal family... in the movie everybody kept pointing out how they were ugly and funny looking, I laughed in my mind...

the movie ended cerca a las siete, so mi amiga y yo went to the restaurante, Cebu, they served Filipino cuisine with a "Spanish" flair. My friend just felt like going there... nothing was planned, un dia espanol just happened. Serendipty.

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 1:41 PM | Comments (0)

July 18, 2007

Transformers

The movie is "more than meets the eye"- well you ain't seeing much in Michael Bay's interpretation of this classic cartoon... just kidding! :)

Overall the movie is good and comic timing is right except for this one part in the middle... the turning point/climax was a little slow and out of character.

The clumsy giant robots trying to make slapstick jokes and the obnoxious FBI agent slowed the pace of the movie.

When it was the main human character being goofy, it was understandable and relatable. An example of this is when the main character's feelings were demonstrated by the songs played by his car-robot, Bumble-Bee... It was a hilarious and cute scene. The robot car was funny with his silence, his miming.

The movie slowed down when the rest of the robots were introduced. In five minutes or so, the director/writer/etc. tried to put some character and attitude in the robots- make them spunky and lovable by putting personality in their voice and slick movements. In the end it became too comical especially the scene in the backyard when Optimus Prime (i think) crushed a fountain and in reply he said something like "my bad"... one of the other robots had a temper and he wanted to kill "jokingly" the inquisitive parents.

After this scene, the annoying FBI agent barged in. Forget about decorum and civility (like X-Files's Agent Molder)... the FBI came in with his greasy slick hair, supposedly just "following" orders. His jerky attitude contrasted with the main character's scared demeanour. The FBI was depicted as a scumbag, way too comic... of course later on he admitted that he "began on the wrong foot."

After these two episodes, the movie's pace hastened again. The clumsy robots became agile and the FBI agent became less obnoxious. The action and special effects were spectacular! Transformers, the movie, gets a A--. Good thing it's more than meets the eyes!

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 11:17 AM | Comments (0)

July 9, 2007

latest movies

Paprika- japanese anime about dreams... very fluid even with today's technology in movie-making, animation still appears effortless and graceful when presenting a topic like dreams... the cartoon -look made it easier to identify (simple line concepts).. transition from reality to dream is hard to tell, made it more playful... imaginative... draw what's on your mind with ease and not worry about special effects, stunt men, blue screens, safety, overpaid actors etc... if you can think it you can draw it!

The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)- in spanish with english subtitles, a journey movie both literal and metaphorical... beautifully shot all around south America (perfect for my independent spanish review)... it showed an aspect of the socialist guerilla leader "Che" Guevara (assasinated by Castro's men and the U.S.'s CIA)... the plot/structure is traveling around South America in a motorcycle for months (Romantic), the conflicts/antagonist: internal- the self, physical illness, social issues such as poverty, unfair wages, workers' rights, class system, diplomacy or lack of... Nature and its elements (estaciones)... inspirational!

Vincent and Theo (1990) - an artsy movie about Vincent Van Gogh and his brother Theo, who was Van Gogh's earliest patron and documentor (kept the letters, kept his paintings and organized them into an exhibit, sold them etc)... the actor really portrayed the crazy Van Gogh- I don't know how accurate this is but overall a great supplement to Irving Stone's biographical fiction of Van Gogh in Lust for Life... In art history classes, I learned that Vincent was "off" or on the "mark" spiritually/mystically with his "vision" but I didn't imagine him as super crazy like in this movie... you have to like Van Gogh and his work to watch this movie because at times the transition and plot is rough, it's just the life of Van Gogh and his turmoils...

Bitter Sugar- another spanish flick about love and revolution in Cuba

Harry Potter 5- it reminded me of what's happening lately setting me up for the book, I'm going to buy tomorrow... I heard they cut alot from the book, but I think they covered the gist. Book #5 was the biggest out of the collection.

La Vie en Rose- A French flick about the singer/legend Edith Piaf (the little sparrow)- being a sickly child, praying to Theresa, living in a bordella, mothered by a prostitute, own mother abandoned her for her singing career, working in a circus, singing to get money, losing a child, doing drugs, drinking, fainting on stage, affair with boxer, life=singing etc; The Voice of Paris.

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 10:13 PM | Comments (0)

June 26, 2007

Movie Synopsis at the Ritz

Angel-A- a French movie with English subtitles... it's about a habitual liar who owes money to the mob, and he eventually falls in love with a tall "sexy b!t#h" super model Angel, who's helping him pay for his debts. It's in black and white and it was shot in Paris mostly during early morning before the city became congested (to capture the empty/deserted look).

Once- a modern musical romantic comedy set in Ireland. A boy street musician, who is getting over an unreciprocated love, meets a girl, who motivates him to make an album. The cinematography reminded me of behind the scenes of making an album and making the music video.

Golden Door- the latest from Scorsesi (his work reminds me of peasant French realism/romanticism). It's about immigration- an Italian family migrating to the U.S. It's the Old world of magic/superstition versus the New World of industrialism/pragmatism, where business transaction supercedes love. BUT family unity and hard work are still valued.

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 3:14 PM | Comments (0)

June 23, 2007

first impression: Moore's SiCKo

I saw a preview for Michael Moore's SiCKo, a new documentray about healthcare in America. It looked interesting and humorous. Usually I don't like Moore and his transparencies/biasis (sometimes to the point of extreme-slanting the "facts")- targeting one party over another.

However the film seems to be targeting the government as a whole (not just a party)- but the actual people who makes up the government; and also groups and companies working with the government. I might actually go see this film...

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 10:50 AM | Comments (0)

June 8, 2007

Motion Pictures 2007 (part I)

The 5th Annual Festival of Dance Films/Videos is currently taking place at the Wilma Theater in Philadelphia. It's $5 per screening, but if you buy the DanceBOOM! DancePass- advisable if you'll be watching more than two films, you get one free ticket to every film screening plus you get $10 off every DanceBOOM ticket you buy (next Friday, I'll be attending BalletX- more of this next Friday)...

Last night I attended the first night of screening. They showed a group of shorts (recently I've grown to love this genre) and two longer works from New Zealand and France.

Out of the short-shorts, I liked: "Afternoon of the Chimeras" directed by Daniel Conrad and choreographed by Azure Barton, "Found Our Way" directed by L. Capco Lincoln and choreographed by Misia Denea, "House" directed by Kate Watson Wallace, and "The Inn of Floating Imagery" directed and performed by Kathy Rose.

the films I found hilarious were director and choreographer Trish Sie's "Ok Go on Treadmills" and Jen Simmons and Jodi Netzer's "Table Dance."

In "Afternoon of the Chimeras," the dancers imitate legendary creatures such as phoenix. I don't know many types of chimeric creatures, but i did pick up on bird and snake movements...

"Found Our Way" has a split screen, and two dancers are imitating the same choreography being played on the background. Sometimes, the dancers would cross-over on each other's space (you see a split image)...in the end, the two dancers are on the same side...

In "House," the director played with the audience's perception (you think that the dancers are lying flat on a bad, then you realize that they are standing, or the camera view looked as if it's taken sideways but in reality, the dancer is in an awkward L-shape position)...

"The Inn of Floating Imagery" is really creepy and good- the sound, the imagery, the shadows, the spastic/clock-like movements all add to the eerie feel, it was very effective...it was supposed to be inspired by the Japanese Noh theater...

the Longer works...

"Break" from New Zealand, directed and choregraphed by Shona McCaullagh, is 14 minutes long... compared to the other longer work, it's more linear in terms of plot... I like the kung-fun effects and the emotions.

"One Flat Thing, Reproduced" from France is directed by Thierry De Mey and choreographed by contemporary dancer William Forsythe. Like contemporary art, I don't get it... it reminded me of Picasso's cubist artworks. it's linear, flat, and angular, while at the same time, it captures movements (blurring/multiple images), I see ballet movements such as grand plie, back kick, great leg extensions, pointed toes etc. I don't understand the content (if there's one, you know the weird rules of post-modern art...).... looking at the title, and what I reflected on so far, I see a correlation... maybe the irony is that in producing "one flat thing" the dance/idea becomes more 3-dimensional/ real.... of course space is used to play with this idea- bird's eye of view makes it look flat, overlapping/different sizes create levels... it was a visual treat nonetheless...

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 2:02 PM | Comments (0)

June 4, 2007

j'adore Paris, je t'aime

Last week, I watched Paris, je t'aime, a French movie with English subtitles by First Look Pictures. I forgot if the whole movie consisted of 18 vignettes/short-short or not (because in some shorts there were two directors) but I remember the hook/catch phrase they used: "Fall in Love 18 times." How was this movie, made up of lots of stories, going to be different from the other sappy romantic movies out there?

This movie is 120 minutes, and it's made up of short films from 18 different directors like Wes Craven, the Coen brothers, etc., and "a slew of indie actors," such as Natalie Portman, Elijah Wood, Juliette Binoche, and many more (35, Ritz Filmbill, May 2007).

Paris, je t'aime started out by showing clips from all the shorts (transparency, then I started thinking if the movie was going to come together like Alex Robinson's graphic novel Tricked). Then it zoomed to this guy, who was driving through the Parisian streets passing by the famous Eiffel Tower.

He's talking to himself while he tries to squeeze/parallel park his mini-cooper-esque vehicle in a small space (of course he hits the bumpers of the other cars). He starts people watching through his side mirror as he continue talking to himself about being lonely. He sees a single lady, and then she disappears. He comes out of his car to find out what happens to her and he finds her lying on the ground and starts helping her. Conveniently, a doctor is around and stops by, mistakens the woman to be his wife, states that she is okay, and helps him carry her inside his car.

Awkward moment- the guy just waiting for the lady to wake up in his car- all of this happened in less than 7 minutes, setting the tone for the rest of the shorts (as the viewer, I've come to accept this reality and the following). Right away in my mind the nature of this film reminded me of haiku- poetry. In spite of its brevity, it's still jam-packed with meaning. It's literally and visually a flash fiction with romantic and humanistic undertones.

The movie starts out with a typical Parisian image of the Eiffel Tower to draw in the audience and once the audience is hooked, it explores other aspects of Paris not exploited by tourism; "all the tales are markedly unique, and specific to the quirky style of its director" (35).

The directors use the people and objects of Paris to tell poignant stories such as the mother who lost his son, another mother who wakes up early to drop off her baby infant to a daycare and rides the metro to get to her job--being a nanny to a rich couple's baby-- and interracial relationship wrought with inter-religious dialogues. There are also quirky tales about imaginary cowboys, a bald salesman selling hair products to an Asian parlor, and a mime falling in love with another mime in prison (one of my favorites).

Paris, je t'aime also dwells into the night life of Paris, especially a twist/different take on the red district. The movie played on people's expectation: an old guy meeting up with a younger lady in the dark, they are walking, their conversation can be interpreted in many ways, a vampiress falling in love with an American student, an older couple meeting at a bordello, and a famous actress shooting up drugs.

Not only are the creepy stories present but also hopeful stories prevail in this movie: Oscar Wilde's ghost gives advice to the living, actress falling in love with the blind (love is blind, the blind leading the naive), and another one of my faves is a personal narrative from an American woman from a small town traveling on her own (who almost butchers the French language BUT didn't in spite of her American accent-- her sincerity saved her a lot).

In the end, some of the shorts sort of came together and intertwined (but not in an unrealistic way). This was great because it made the movie more cohesive (even though they were locally united, setting as character).

Did I fall in love 18 times after I finished watching the movie? Yes. One of the great things about this movie is that it explored different types of love- family, husband/wife, friends, self, etc. Paris, je t'aime reminds one of appreciating life: all its gifts and curses. The small town American woman in the end, felt lonely and alive; she experienced sadness and joy, and she fell in love with Paris. Like her, I was reminded of the importance of connection with the world community, the little joys of life, and the moments shared with family and friends.

I like this movie; j'adore Paris, je t'aime! Go watch it with your friends and special someone, and you too will fall in love with Paris 18 times! Guaranteed! ;)

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 9:11 PM | Comments (0)

May 31, 2007

Spiderman 3: a critique

Well, I finally saw Spiderman 3; it's not as bad as people claimed. However, I do understand why people would say so and how this movie paled in comparison to the first one.

Spiderman 3 had inconsistent pacing, undefined tone, and weak overall characterization.

This movie had inconsistent pacing and at times it felt choppy. A better editing could have tightened the movie and make it stronger (cut out the extra/unnecessary scenes, have a better sequencing of events). Usually in comic genre, this choppiness is understandable (McCloud's theory- the reader participates and imagines the ongoings in the 'gutter'- make things happen, the reader is like the projector that makes the picture move) but in the movie genre, smooth flow and transition are necessary (the choppiness is more obvious because it's immediate, the audience instead of the reader is receiving information through sight instead of letter and symbols which need to be deciphered).

And the miracle of being saved at the last minute, the villain, who never gets killed and always finds a way to come back are all expected in comics but in movies, if one tries to make exactly the same as the comic book it'll be like one of those read-along dvds, one might as well adapt it to the e-book/graphic novel format, why even bother taking advantage of the film medium? The audience might think that the story is over because the villain is killed and then another villain rises, then half an hour later, the first villain is resurrected or loses his memory. The multiple storylines in Spiderman 3 were disruptive.

The tone of this movie is undefined. In Spiderman 1, the tone was consistently dark with a sprinkle of humor (which surprised me especially since Spiderman is a masked hero wearing royal blue and crimson tights- in my mind I'm thinking about Wolverine's comment in the X-men movie about yellow spandex). However in Spiderman 3 it wasn't as dark as I thought it was going to be (I like the concept of the "symbiosis" feeding off hatred and turning the Spiderman suit into black but this wasn't consistent- with better editing, the movie could have focused on this plot as the main arch, and added on to it instead of making it as one of the little plots). The beauty of the first movie is its credibility (its comicness and campiness are not so blatant). The campiness- forget acting, it's all about miming and exaggeration, which do not work in the film medium- it looks fake. It's not the same in paper (the frozen exaggerated moments are apt to spur the reader to imagine the rest)...

One moment, Jamison, the stressed editor, provides comic relief and then suddenly Mary Jane (MJ) is jealous of her boyfriend, Peter. Later on the angry Peter is saying cheesy one-liners wrought with sexual puns and then he's a slimeball checking out every girl in Manhattan, then he's tap dancing with another girl to make MJ more jealous. The comic and tragic moments are not balance (there's no smooth transition from one to the other). The tone is like Harry's character (Peter's bestfirend, who's out to get him for "killing" his father)- it's very schizo.

Because the movie tried to deal with every character, the characterization became weak. The first movie is mainly about Peter Parker and everybody else are supporting actors. In this movie, they tried to make MJ complex by showing her insecurities and jealous tendency, Harry, the schizo, just wants to be loved by his father (he's a rich brat who can paint, cook, and play sports)...the good characters are not as bad as the villains, talk about arch enemies who literally have really archy eyebrows...how about the Sandman character?, who's only hurting people and robbing banks in order to raise enough money for his daughter's operation, then later after all the damage is done then he starts questioning his morals and asks for forgiveness... whose idea was to cast a newscaster/reporter with a British accent working in N.Y. television?

Stan Lee's cameo was as unnatural as ever, the audience is already aware of the movie's comic nature (the magic and illusion gone- I know it's a movie, but it should also lure me in its world).

Spiderman 3 can't stand on it's own (not like the first one), it needs the first two for the audience to understand the growth and maturation of Peter Parker. Having said this, the director/producers have no excuse of disregarding the factors that made the first one successful for the sake of doing something novel to the final installment of the Spiderman trilogy. The factors, which made the first one successful, include great integration and balance from the comic medium to film (importance of flow, pacing, centralized/main plot, strong believable characters). This movie tried to accomplish too much in a "short" time. Instead of making a bang, this movie fizzled out. Potential wasted.

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 9:46 AM | Comments (0)

January 9, 2007

Movies at the Ritz

1. Curse of the Golden Flower
2. History Boys
3. The Painted Veil
4. Miss Potter
5. A Note on a Scandal

The Curse of the Golden Flower

I first saw the preview for this movie during Thanksgiving break. I wanted to see it because it's been a while since a good kung-fu/martial arts movie had been released in the U.S.. The preview was tantalizing too. The colors looked digital enhanced, it's really sharp, clear and bright. The icing on this preview was the costumes and the set, which made me reexamined my concept of China.

So this is the first new movie I saw so far. I was a wee bit disappointed because it wasn't an all out king-fu/martial arts Crouching Tiger type of movie. But nonetheless, the story was still good (I got the genre wrong). The movie did incorporate martial arts but this wasn't the driving force. It was the drama and decadence of a flamboyant Imperial family during the Tang Dynasty which steered the movie's direction.


History Boys

I didn't know what this movie was about, I just watched it because of key phrases that caught my attention: tony-award winning, hilarious, witty, dead poet's society [esque], preparation for entrance examination, question schooling (learning for knowledge or to have an "edge"). The descriptions were right on target.

Coming from an American schooling system, the British system in this movie seemed fantastical, and ideal for scholars (it's like an honor's program that's efficient and have results). I've actually have some classes that were run similar to the movie. The classes were designed very quirkily and liberally (well rounded) for example- lots of impromptu, singing and piano playing in the beginning of class, acting, recitation, foreign language, discussion, essays, poetry reading, lots of talking (sometimes rhetorical, hypothetical)- most of the students in this movie didn't care they just wanted to get the degree, they have the potential and capabilities, they took it seriously enough to attend and learn the 'strategies' BUT there was one student from this class who took everything and integrated with his education and his being, became part of his values and outlook on life, he took the lessons to his heart, he actually believed in them...


The Painted Veil

This movie is based on a book, I haven't read it. I wasn't going to watch this movie because I thought it was going to be another love story that have affairs.

It has affairs and all the who-haha por supuesto, but it is also a decade movie set in the 1920s (I think) flappers, women with a bob, Foreign land (China) and CHOLERA. If you haven't read the book, (and totally clueless about what's going to happen), the main intriguing question: is the protagonist couple going to make it? Will their love survive the CHOLERA?

the movie explored women's rights and issues- independence, marrying for convinience, taboo of being single etc.
Basically, Edward Norton's character marries a spoiled 'free'-thinking woman Naomi Watts. He falls for her, he's a geeky bacteriologist, she's a vixen whose younger sister got married before her. Watts wants to control her own destiny but she's still bound by society's morass. She has an affair, got caught by the husband- threaten to divorce her (taboo) if she doesn't accompany him to Cholera-infested China- out of sheer madness and broken heart and anger- he volunteered to contain and prevent the spreading of Cholera in the province country-side of China, Watts tried to use her woman'y charms by saying that Norton was cruel and that she should divorce him quietyly instead of him divorcing her- Norton fights back by saying that she has no reason to divorce him (she's the adulterous one).

Through hardship, they learn to love each other, and in the end the audience is reminded that in this romantic background, CHOLERA lurks around.

I like the way the movie was shot, the scenes were magnificent. (I think I saw a classmate from high school in the movie theater).


Miss Potter

This is a charming movie. When I saw the poster for this movie, I thought it was going to be another nanny movie. I changed my mind when I saw a trailer for it. This movie is about Beatrix Potter's ( children's author and illustrator) life- it explored her inspiration, how she first got published, her first love, personal tragedy and her legacy (giving land to the british people, preserving farm lands and other beautiful lands from developments and her literature and art)...

Miss Potter is a quirky character, she talks to her drawings and she calls them her friends. The movie has a bit of animation, once in a while the audience see from Potter's point of view- wiggling ducks and moving animals. The British landscape was awesome too. Beofre falling in love, Ms. Potter vowed not to get married for convenience/money/property etc.

She wasn't my hero before but now she is (she made the Diezmos Inspirational People list). Renee Zellwigger (wrong spelling) did an okay job as Miss Potter (she's cast a lot ot play British people). I notice that most of her projects tend to depict real people (I think this is the hollywood trend right now). She's the type of actress that's willing to gain pounds to play a fat character, to wear realistic make-up to take away the glamour. In this movie she's very sanguine.

Ewan McGregor played her love interest, and Emily Watts is also part of the cast. McGregor's character here reminded of his Moulin Rouge character- hopelessly romantic young man/poet.

Potter's courage is admirable- she stuck to her beliefs and her interest. Nature was her muse and she used this as the base for her work. She achieved her dreams and more because of her perseverance.

I'm can't wait to start taking water colors next semester and paint like Potter!


A Note on a Scandal

Scandal is the word that'll attract attention. This movie (starring Kate Blanch, Judi Dench) reminded me of Thomas Mann's Death in Venice. It explored the themes of youth, old age, and obsession. The movie is not as lyrical and poignant as the book. The movie is a bit more twisted, specially the ending cycle repeats, never broken.

In this movie, there was a lot of laughter from the audience because of Dench's character's sarcasm and dry humor. I didn't catch most of it while watching the movie but reflecting back I realized that the audience laughed not in disrespect but because of the wit and also Dench's good acting and awesome timing and delivery.

The plot- Dench's character, Barbara "Covett", a teacher who's about to retire, obsessed about Sheba (Blanch), a middle age art teacher. Sheba in turn has an affair with her 15 year old male student. Sheba is facing a midlife crisis, her marriage to an older guy is stale. Covett finds out about Sheba, and uses this information to strenthen her 'friendship' with Sheba. So a lot of obsession.

The one scene that directly reminded me of Mann's story is when Sheba put on make-up that made her look like she was in the 80s. In Mann's novel, Aschenbach put make up to hide his wrinkles- the similarities are strinking especially in their ridiculousness- looking both like clowns and achronistic.

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 6:39 PM | Comments (0)

April 16, 2006

goriness

lately I've been watching philippine TV on cable- feature-like interview/coverage and "expose," it made me think about media coverage from other countries (not the U.S.), since the west sets the "standard" I wanted to see how they were similar or different.

I didn't watch enough to be able to tell the difference. Some of the juxtaposition, I found were interesting especially this 'human interest' story they did where they covered about organizing a place whether home or work (cleaning up the mess) and followed by this story on protecting coral reefs specifically the ones that surrounded Philippines. They went back and forth covering points, basically paralleling the former to the latter.

In some ways it was distracting, but the transition made it smooth. The overall theme was there, and I understood the association about messy personal human living quarters reflecting the damaged ocean ecosystem specifically the reefs. It addressed two issues, they complimented each other, which revealed the significance and the relationship between the two. It made it well-rounded by taking a personal issue and globalizing it (using analogy, metaphor, cause and effect).

The really gory stuff followed it. It was an expose, dealing with a manual for the disposal of dead person and a barrel load of dead babies piled up (think "pickled"). The news station was tipped and they showed the blur images of the dead babies. Before the explanation, the first thing that came to my mind was black market stem cell research. Then they explained that the dead babies where passed to the funeral home to be disposed of. The funeral home being unsanitary hadn't been doing their job.

I was thinking how rights are affected by this expose (if somewhere in the Philippine law, there's privacy rights and warrants). They didn't bust in, rather they had a surprised "sanitary inspection." the people acted all nonchalant but as the health authorities questioned them in depth, they incriminated themselves (once again, issues of right- right to be silent, to have an attorney--- I know these rights are specific to the U.S.--- however Philippines is a democratic country and their government is modeled after the West).

Seeing how effective the authorities moved and handled the issue (concern for the genral health of the people-- improperly disposed dead people can spread some kind of outbreak, my grotesque mind was thinking of resident evil babies), their actions made me wonder, if protecting rights of the criminal in this situation would delay the prosecution or save him so he could continue doing more bad things, sometimes overt criminal acts and innocent until proven guilty are impediments and red tape bueaucracy... journalism, tv media exposing the truth in expose- vigilante?

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 1:33 AM | Comments (0)

April 15, 2006

Maybe it was the moon

Maybe it was the full moon shrouded by cloud mist that could account for the craziness of learning while having fun, or could it be spring (life) burgeoning, trees retain their bare look as yellow-green leaves bloom-- a diaphonous fashion. Or maybe it was the delicious $2.75 White Chocolate Strawberry Torte Cake or the Caramel Frap and Green Tea Frap, I had in Starbucks. Well whatever it was, I found myself applying almost everything I'm learning this semester to the three movies I watched at the Ritz.

The first film my friend and I watched is called L'enfant (French for 'The Child'). I had no idea what this film was about. I read the blurb written on the movie poster: "tour de force" and something blah blah "artsy" "compelling." I had two summer semester of Elementary French (15 weeks, 4 days, 4 hours per day in various texts- movie, music, television news, children's picture books, cuisine, art, etc) so the sounds weren't foreign to me. I recognized some of the vocabulary and grammar composition. The word that stood out the most was "d'argent" which meant "money" (hmmm I wonder why?).

The pace was slow. Right away I questioned the plot (Writing of Fiction, Publication Workshop). Plot versus story (Why and how versus when). Only trouble is interesting rang in my head. Basically the movie is about a very young couple who just had a child. I figured that the title was a pun. It begs the questions: who's raising who? who's the child? Metaphorically, the child is the young parent. Literally it was the baby. The fact that this is basis of the whole movie presents tension (underlying conflict of providing for this newborn while at the same time growing up for the characters). Clues scattered showing the immaturity of the characters: wasting money, playing with food, bad behavior like stealing, being selfish etc.

***Caveat: Here's where I destroy the ending by revealing it for anyone interested in watching the movie.

My writing teachers imparted in me the mantra of "make your characters suffer," "torture them," "forget ethical issue of the death penalt(electric chair), this issue doesn't apply in writing." So while watching, I wondered: how this character was going to suffer? what's the main conflict? the action? the theme? I started guessing.

The beginning characterized the protagonist as irresponsible, and provided background. Then it progressed to the male character being in debt, needing money, then he came up with this brilliant idea-- why not sell his newborn son to this shady underground adoption agency that sells and buys newborn baby (crises)?

cause and effect
His girlfriend fainted, she was brought ot the hospital, she told the police, he went back called the dealer and ask for the baby back...

I was thinking "make the character suffer"

the dealer told him to meet in this garage (at first I thought that there was no way the dealers would return the baby)
they asked him to give back the money and his sell phone, I thought that they would lock him in the garage, run away with the money, the baby and his cellphone--- to my surprise they gave him back the baby, but now he owns them because according to them it cost them extra for backing out of the deal...

once the baby is back, his girlfirend is pissed- tension high, i saw how the girl ignored him and how he tried to gain back her trust (the "no" dialogue)

problems rise- now some kind of low class mafia is after him, his girlfriend rejects him, he needs money. he called one of his contact, who was a kid younger than him. He borrowed the kids scooter and invited the kid to go stealing with him...building up to the climax, the kid got caught, the main protagonist 'grew up' took responsibility for his actions and turned himself in. The conclusion was his girlfriend visited him in prison, it was implied that his girlfriend knew what he did, and felt sorry for him, forgave him. they cried, the end (it was this abrupt too in the movie).

The second movie was more of a documentary about oppression specifically in the gay community and how sex was used to celebrate liberation. This documentary was aptly titled Gay Sex in the 70s. There were hilarous moments when the interviewee were candid but also there were graphic images. What was poignant was what the commentator said about"not being alone, striving for human contact" (even if at the price of sexual exchange and its not yet recognized disease AIDS).

Gays who came out were the flower child of the hippies who continued to question authority (distrust them, why should they believe the government who told them that whatever they were doing was immoral?, when hundreds thousands of people died listening to the government). Then it was revealed to me how the stereotype of gay men's promiscuity began, sexual liberation (Kate Chopin). Twentieth Centruy Art (Ross Bleckner), ---the "politics of the personal"---- gays have been suppressed for so long, take away the reign and they took advantage of that without thinking about consequences, in the 80s, AIDS started showing up (illustrating how the older generation affected the younger ones).

The third movie had more of an obvious plot compared to the first one (especially over the documentary). It was romantic. It was called Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing and Charm School (reminded me of musical dace, Jazz, and the fiction writing mantra- "fiction can go inside the heads of people revealing their thoughts rather than audience interpreting facial expressions). I like the idea of the movie.

Basically the premise: a guy on the way to meet his "sweetheart" for Hotchkiss' Ballroom dance lessons got into a car accident. Another guy (makes bread for a living), who recently lost his wife crossed paths with this injured guy and called 911 for help--- in order to keep the guy in the car accident conscious, the bread guy had to talk to him, this was when his plan to meet his "sweetheart" was revealed. The bread guy ended up promising the dying man that he would go to the dance class to tell the sweetheart that he kept his promise.

The bread guy never found the sweetheart, BUT instead he found dancing therapeutic (to drive away his demons, helped him move on with his life, let go of his dead wife, finding new love). Later it was revealed that the "sweetheart" didn't go to the school, she got the invitation, and she kept a box full of memorabilia of the dead guy (car accident), their love was never realized, they never acted upon it, the desicions they made separated them from each other (the guy went to prison, she was just by herself, cranky)- when the guy finally decided to act on it, he got into a car accident and died...

I liked the idea a lot. However, the flashbacks were overused. There was a flashback within a flashback. The flashbacks distorted and jumbled the timeline and the pace. I understood now how Movies can get away with this technique more frequently than fiction writing. I was reminded of point of view. There were three main ones: the car accident guy, the bread guy, and the sweetheart.

everytime the car guy reminisced, time slowed down (I get that this is like your whole life flashes before your eyes time is relative). It's just incongruous with the rest (it wasn't so cohesive-- even the French "avant-garde" film was more unified). I recognized how the camera jumped "head." The bread guy found the sweetheart in her trailer, he left after telling her about the car guy. The camera then zoomed to the sweetheart as she opened the box of memorabilia... later on the movie ended, it flashback to the statement the car guy made in the beginning of the whole movie-- this was where it was revealed that he was in prison and he just got out. Overall the time used in Marilyn...'s was more circular as opposed to the linear order of L'enfant and Gay sex in the 70s .

All the movies were fun and educational. It's good to know that things I'm learning in college are actually being processed in my head...

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 10:43 AM | Comments (0)

October 14, 2005

Alias and ER.

It's been the third week of Alias, so far so good. Last week's episode wasn't as good as this week. For a recap go to Alias, or ask me and I'll do my best...

I also saw E.R., what I've noticed so far is an emphasis on personal responsibility. The hospitals and all its doctors and nurses are human too, they can only do so much before the individual takes responsibility for his or her actions.

This sort of reminded me of elements of journalism stressing personal responsibility...

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 12:42 AM | Comments (0)

April 8, 2005

The Grudge

From the perspective of Chauvunistic Criticism (Chauvinistic Critique)

"The grudge," the movie is a social commentary of woman's irrationality in holding on to grudges. Because of this stubborness inherent in woman's genes, nothing not even death can take away woman's grudge on another human being, even they hold grudges with their woman peers.. .Several consequences of this grudge are evident in society today...friendships become dispensible, bystanders caught in the middle are persecuted with the same grudge...why hold on to this...scientist are even baffled by this "phenomena" of paradoxity of having an advantage intellectually in comparison with the opposite sex yet they seem inferior to their emotions thus allowing themselves to be subjugated by their own irrationality...another incongruity is seen in the way they whined while expectin to have equal rights, john "stamos" would say "give me a break". IN Conclusion, the irrationality exhibited by women is not really so far-fetched, it's natural, it's in their nature to hold onto grudges...

disclaimer: this is a creative writing exercise so please don't hold any "grudges" on the writer, thank you!

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 8:51 PM | Comments (0)

April 1, 2005

matrix iii

this movie doesn't suck...

for a long time now, I wanted to see this movie, and over the easter break, I finally did. While I was waiting, I've heard bad reviews about this movie. I saw it and it was perfectly fine...of course it' wasn't going to be the first because , it's part 3 of a trilogy, the story had to go on...I did like the philosophy that was mentioned-- about human concepts, and the nuances of language....the most important thing that was emphasized was relationship/interconnection...and my favorite: Choice. Neo kept fighting not only just to live (or to love etc, etc.) but because he chose to. Thus personally I choose to aim to win a Caldecott Award in my career. Wish me luck!

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 2:19 PM | Comments (0)

January 6, 2005

Alias Season Premiere

Okay, so after a semester of waiting, a two hour Alias was premiered yesterday.

The beginning credits changed, which focused more on Sydney, the leading star.
It had a classic Alias beginning that started right away with action and went backwards to recap the story. I think Rick Yune and Angela Bassett were the guest stars that appeared.

Marshall was hilarious, and Sydney was okay.

I feel that the season premiere was not a bang. Especially since the producers/directors/etc. could have done more in two hours. The show felt like it was drawn out. Basically it was just an assemblying of the "new" non existant secret covert agency called "APO" working for the CIA. It slowly revealed agendas and possible story plots of the characters. The Premiere also somewhat recapped last season and tried to connect what was happening in the present to what happened last season.

The beginning was slow and I hope that the show gains momentum.

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 11:43 AM | Comments (0)

December 30, 2004

a national treasure

so so far I've seen The National Treasure with Nicholas Cage, and The House of Flying Daggers with "Zhang Zhiyi". Although both are action adventure films, both are from different genres.

The National Treasure is one of those blockbuster summer movie "roller-coaster" type thrill, jam-packed with actions, "almost" predictable plot line (but there's still some surprises), and awesome sceneries (Philadelphia, Washington D.C., New York and more). Throughout the movie, one may ponder of what the national treasure may be. Is it materialistic treasures of gold and other "galours" or is it a treasure of great importance, worth and "truth"? Will the treasure finally answer tertullian's question: "What has Athens has to say to Jerusalem?" Only one way to find out, watch it!

The House of the Flying Daggers is an action adventure, romance and drama film saturated with martials arts, great stunts and visual and colorful effects. It is a mix of historical fiction with a fairy-tale undertone. It is almost a typical written-in-the-stars love story about crossed-star lovers caught in a war between two groups of people in 859 AD China. What separates this movie from the typical "Aidian" opera tragedy is that the characters acted against the expectations of the inevitability and the "gods". They knew that fortune and the odds weren't in their favor yet they were "brave enough to risk everything." The daggers in the title foreshadows a Macbethian twist that literally stabs the audience in the heart rather than in the back "et-tu-Brutae" style, a complete volte-face. This is a typical movie with atypical surprises, so brace yourself!

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 3:36 PM | Comments (0)

October 31, 2004

The Village: Some thoughts on the movie

When I told people that I was going to watch The Village, they gave me that look of "Don't-watch-it-it's-definitely-not-what-you-expected-it-sucks" sort of look, you know how that look looked, eyes dilating like a white flower blossoming as if injected by some unknown narcotics that make your eyes travel backwards in your eye sockets in 80 seconds.

The next sentence I'm about to write will "ruin" the movie for you; so fellow reader, you've been warned (I'm sure you've heard from your neighbor's friend's sister's cat's vet's god-child's twin brother's dust bunnies' indoor closet monster's chia pet's manufacturer how "horrible" the movie was).

The reason: "It's not what you expected." So What!

I agree that the trailer was "way" misleading. The trailer gave us an impression that it was going to be a "scary" movie. It blatantly lied to us, what an affront to our intelligence. BUT, when was "Hollywood's effrontery" ever not apparent? It's Hollywood! The question you should ask is:"Was it an insult to our intelligence or a flattery to our capacity to think (and use our God-given brains)?

Yes, the movie is different. From the camera angle shots, and the philosphical message the director was conveying; it was different from the current movies out there. It wasn't just a cheap thrill that lasted in an hour and 45 minutes. It made you think "Why" while watching it and "why" afterwards.

The main theme of "The Village" was innocence. Dear reader, you must admit that there is something "scary" with being innocent. Being ignorant, not knowing what's on the other side or what's around the river bend, "paying a price and losing our chance of knowing, just to be safe." Innocence was shown in the way some of the scenes were shots and in the dialogue and actions performed by the characters.

The shots were not the conventional-3-million-dollar-picturesque type that you might think of coming from an academy award nominated director such as M Night Shyamalan. There were scenes that were shot with a raw quality you get from shooting from a camcorder. Don't get me wrong, this wasn't like the blair witch project. Even some of the transitions from one scene to the next were choppy. The angles: such scenes taken from the perspective of a doorway or a simple object such as a rocking chair straight in the center (almost a post modern in your face attitude) were crude and unrefined. Uncouth as all of these were; they succeeded in portraying the motif of childish innocence.

The actors characterized children's boldness, shyness, irrationality and "blind" faith fairly well. These attributes were personified in the characters Kitty(Judy Greer), Lucius (Joaquin Phoenix), Noah (Adrien Brody) and Ivy(Bryce Dallas Howard). Kitty showed her boldness by blurting out her lovey dovey feelings for Lucius. When she got rejected, she was bawling her eyes out. The way she "bawled" was so exaggerated that it was almost bad acting, but it was true to her character that she succeeded in rendering. Lucius stuttered; His lack of confidence was seen in his tacitness, lack of eye contact, and always down-cast head. Noah was the one who stabbed Lucius (probably because of his jealous feelings towards him and Ivy). Ivy was the synesthetic blind heroine. She was able to see through sounds. In spite of the predicament, she faced of secrets uncovered, her blind fate in her father's instructions on how to get the medicine saved the person she loved.

I admit that I wanted a nice conclusion. The ending in spite of its "niceness" was open-ended, but it was good enough for me: conclusive and definite. Plainly, growing up is very important. One cannot stay in never-never land forever. Progress is important, or else anything as beautiful as red flowers/berries can be misconceived as harbinger of a "beast." "Can you feel it there beyond those trees, or right behind those waterfalls?, Can you ignore that sound...[of] something that might be coming around the riverbend? Only one way to find out, go pass the riverbend and enter the woods, and leave "THE VILLAGE"!

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 1:01 AM | Comments (0)

May 24, 2004

"You're not supposed to know"

"You're not supposed to know", Alias season finale was tops...

Top secret of course. But the one obvious thing was a cliff hanger ending that most suspected in a "season finale". Yesterday, Sunday May 23, at 9pm on ABC (Channel 6 (Phila.)) the Alias season this year ended. In a paradoxical way things were revealed and at the same time it weren't (Have to wait for the next season).

One of my SHU friends (I"m not sure which one , but it's one of them) told me a couple of months ago that she was suspicious of Sydney's (Jennifer Garner's character in Alias) father's actions in the past. Throughout my knowledge of the show, Sydney's father appeared to be a "good guy". He loved his daughter, he protected/trusted/helped her. There were times when he did things that questioned his integrity and morals (one might asked: "Was that a good thing or not?"), and in the end in a way, things ended with a "happy note": the world didn't end, no missiles were launched, not as many people died, and the main character's loved ones were still there (ready for the next episode). BUT Sydney's father, Jack Bristow, engendered the shiboleth/saying: "It's my way or the highway." When he wanted information, it was either his way of illiciting it out of people through coercion (Ultimately to death) or not. Being somewhat of a gung ho for "good guys winning", I personally wanted the "bad guys" to lose no matter what.

I know the "end does not justify the means" (For me, this is more true than false) for Jack (Sydney's father) however the end did justify the means. This persuaded me to believe that Jack was not as "good" of a person as I thought he was. Another question popped in my head, if Jack supposedly was not a good guy, how about Arvin Sloane (Jack's friend who in the first season was the main "antagonist" and who supposedly made Sydney's life a living "hell")?

***Cavaet: For those who are not that familiar with Alias (recap), the following might get confusing, but all are welcome to read on and be enlightened.

In the beginning of the third season, Arvin Sloane supposedly had a volte face, his affinity to do 'wrong' vanquished as he learned more about "Rimbaulde" and suddenly he had the ebullience of "Mother Teresa" to help the poor and to give to charities. Sydney, who woke up in Hong Kong (devoid of any memory of how she got there and was mistaken to be dead for the last two years), was of course skeptic. All throughout the third season, I, along with Sydney, doubted Sloane's intentions. Finally, with the manifestation of Sydney's "long lost half sister", and Sloane's 'all too willingness' to save his daughter (Yup that would make Sloane somewhat of a blood family member to Sydney), I changed my mind about Sloane. Unfortunately, my opinion did not stay this way. Sloane was just using his daughter to learn more about Rimbaulde.

Here's the twist (inevitable). Lauren, Vaughn's ex-wife who was a traitor-double agent told Sydney (while they were beating each other senseless) about being pawns in this game. The difference between Sydney and Lauren was that Lauren knew 'who was controlling who'. Lauren controlled her own 'destiny'. Unexpectedly, Lauren was out manuevering Sydney, and she was winning. Vaughn came to the rescue. That was the end of Lauren. Or was it? After a couple of shots, yes it was, but not after she delivered with her last breathe a numerical message to Sydney:"1062". In a "normal" ending, the fall of the antagonist, and the farewell-everything-is-going-to-be-okay-we're-going-to-live-happily-ever-after KISS signaled the end. However in a cliffhanger, one should instead look for the "fat lady" not a 'normal ending.

Sydney found the truth in box 1062. She realized that people she trusted were not as they appeared (they were enthrallingly multifaceted). As she read the 'truth' encoded on the black paper, her father interrupted: "You were never supposed to have found these documents." She looked up, her eyes, trembling orbs of dew, disappointed and confused, gazed at her father, uncertain, as the truth mocked her.


WOW! Next season will be da bomb. There's so many angles to look at, Sloane's, Sydney's sister's (Nadia), Jack's, her mother's, Vaughn's, of course Sydney's, and many more. STAY TUNED!

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 5:56 PM | Comments (1)