Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Our New Home: baratillo books cinema @ cubao

Visit us at our new home baratillo @ cubao

Saturday, February 25, 2006

New Domicile


Thank you for visiting this blog.

I have moved a couple houses down Harvard Street and have occupied a new domicile. Quite near the commercial district of Cubao. An on-line ukay-ukay/baratillo blog of my own. Drop by and you will the find me there writing, reflecting and selling some stuff.

Three of my blogs - Harvard Street Cubao, Library 7 and cine67 - have now merged. Here is my new blog:

baratillo books cinema & pinoy blog @ cubao

Drop by anytime.

Again, thanks for visiting.


Saturday, February 18, 2006

Brokeback Mountain

The movie is about two cowboys who met while guarding some sheep on Brokeback Mountain develop deep affection for each other; the love that cannot be named. The film was adapted from a short story by E. Annie Proulx who also wrote the Shippin News.

It is a love story. Between two cowboys guarding sheep. Imagine the Marlboro Man falling in love with the other Marlboro Man. I its something new. This not your typical tragic love story. No Capulets and Montressors to muck things up, only society and its present morality. It is an interesting story you keep asking where is it going to take me. You have an idea of how it will end, but you ask how will it end? If that makes any sense.

I received a copy of the short story a couple of weeks before the film came to Metro Manila. Again an interesting story. How about the film?

Ang Lee’s treatment was superb. The panoramic shots were magnificent and subdued. Heath Ledger’s acting was great, without a minimum amount of words and a great amount of internalization he was able to bring to life the melancholic cowboy, while Jake Gyllenhaal managed to bring forth the inner frustration of his character. Watching the movie, you get to see the characters transform and remain the same through the years. The sexual interplay between the characters is essential but was not overdone. It was not only Eros. And I guess that is what is satisfying about the movie, you come in expecting an Eros-laden film and leave with a realization that like all good relations it ends up with Philia.

Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Directed by Ang Lee. Short story written by E. Annie Proulx. Screenplay written by Larry McMurtry. Actors in the film includes: Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Randy Quaid, Anne Hathaway, Michelle Williams, Valerie Planche, Graham Beckel et al.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Watching Musicals



During last 2005's Christmas Holiday we were able to get a lost of VCDs and DVDs. Two reasons led to this consumption of DVDs:

  1. The 13th month pay and the Christmas bonus
  2. 2005 Metro Manila Film Festival
We were able to watch the following films:

  • The Sound of Music
  • Fiddler on the Roof
  • Oliver!
  • My Fair Lady

These film adaptations of Broadyway and West End Musicals are a delight to watch. The sets were grand and the choreography was great. The musicals themselves had more layers than an onion.

The first film musical I ever watched was the Sound of Music. Our parents took us to the Abelardo Hall at the University of the Philippines to watch the film. The hall was filled with children trucked in by their families to watch Julie Andrews sing on a mountain in Austria. Interesting film/musical it combined music, family life, Austria and the Nazis.

I like musicals because they are multifaceted medium. Aside from the story line and the acting it uses different techniques to bring up a point. The songs and their rendition give depth to a character and delineates the purpose of this character. In Jesus Christ Superstar, one watch and understands at once the character of Herod, Caiphas, Annas, Pontius Pilate, Judas, the Apostles, Jesus and the people through their songs. The chorus for each musical defines for us the mood of a particular crowd. And in Les Miserables, the song Stars of Javert effectively wraps around him the mystique of self-righteous anger he holds against nearly everyone. In West Side Story, Rita Moreno's song I want to be in America encapsulates the reason why they are in the United States.

Clearly the marriage of acting, dance and song is a powerful tool. Similar to the Opera, for what is Opera but the ancestor of the musical. In form and in manner the musical is opera. Except that the musical can be understood nearly all over the world, because it is in the lingua franca of our generation - English.

It is not hard to appreciate and learn things from the musical. Love, betrayal, politics, murder and the mundane are subjects of the musical. Lessons in religion and politics can be taken from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Time Rice's Jesus Christ Superstar. We can learn a lot in politics and the human relations from Stephen Schwartz's Pippin and Webber and Rice's Evita. Or enjoy the poems of TS Eliot in the musical adaptation of his collection of poems about Cats, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats.


The only draw back with Musicals that was also inherent for Opera during its heyday was its inaccessability from mere mortals like us. Not everyone can afford to watch a West End or a Broadway Musical; much less have the money to go to London or New York. Often times we have to wait for local versions of the musicals. And often at a steep price, although today the price of a seat in the local cinemas can be as pricey.

There are two things that have enabled us to enjoy these musicals:

  1. Film adaptations
  2. Mass produced copies, video tape and video discs, of the film adaptations.
Now we can watch them at home. Interesting thing about the old Musicals, from the sixties downwards, is that they also have intermissions, scheduled breaks within the acts.


Several years ago, I heard the tape recording of A Filipino Rock Opera based on the comic characters of Nonoy Marcelo and it was entitled Ikabod Dagang Sosyal. It had a couple of lively songs and one tha became a hit. As far as I know it was only played in London at West End. I wonder if any of our local theatre groups, PETA or Repertory Philippines or the CCP Theatre Group and other similar groups will stage this Rock Opera.

As for my nephews -

One liked Oliver! while the other seemed to like My Fair Lady! As for me I still like Pippin and Evita, the movie adaptation of Maddona was horrid. Although I do not mind whistling or humming the song of Alfred Doolitle entitled With A Little Bit O' Luck.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Rome and Roman-themed films

The latest mini-series about Rome has finally ended. What was described in one British daily as a sandal and sex mini-series has waved good bye with the assasination of Julius Ceasar. As any good mini-series it had left everything in a cliff-hanger.

Despite its faults I like the mini-series Rome. The story was more focused on the people in Rome and took great liberties in omitting or embellishing the historical facts. Missing were the battle scenes that made Julius Ceasar great. It would have been great to see the decisive battle of Julius Ceasar in Gaul or in Pharsalus - where he fought against Pompei. What a sight it would have been, The army of Pompey and the Senate clashing againts Ceasar's army. Things would have been peachy if they remained true to the character of Augustus. The character has a lot to catch up on in season two of Rome.

Still it was good romp. Although, the series suffered from the HBO censors - who trimmed certain parts of it.

The things I noticed about Roman films/mini-series.

Romans, especially the patricians speak with an English accent. The only time I noticed a Roman spoke with a non English accent was in Caligula and perhaps in Titus Adronicus.

The best battle scenes were probably in Spartacus.

The best coliseum scene would be the Gladiator.

Personal favourite from childhood watching the films during Holy Week would be The Robe, Demetrius and the Gladiators, 500 Spartans (?). Ok the last one was not about the Romans, but I thought the movie deserved to be mentioned.