Tuesday, July 29, 2003

You know what I really hate? When you drive home from a long day (and I'm talking 21 hours) and actually have to contend with morning FUCKING traffic because it's already 8 AM. I mean, all I want is to get home immediately and into my bed... I actually passed my mom on her way to work.

Writing this since it's now useless. Have an hour and a half to sleep, but had to do some stuff. Now thinking if I should still sleep or not.

It helps that I feel I am watching something great unfold.

In a few hours I leave the house again, and will probably not return until tomorrow morning. Again.

I should be sick tomorrow.

Good thing I have a lot of unwatched DVDs.

Saturday, July 26, 2003

Was going through another new set of revisions for First Time when I got the text that it was Not Radio's last episode, which Quark told me about but I didn't take him seriously. So I thought, okay, I'll give myself a break and listen-- and the farewell episode was 3 hours. Not that I'm complaining. It was sad, touching, hilarious as always, and punctuated by great music. I can't believe it's going, and it's still hard to believe that come October it would've celebrated its 11th year. Wow. I feel old. I've discovered a lot of great music thanks to the show. I remember buying Versus's Two Cents Plus Tax the day after Myrene played Atomic Kid. Which is one of the few times I ever bought an album (overpriced, at that, since this was during the CD Warehouse days) having only heard one song (but a kickass one, at that). The other times were Pearl Jam's Ten, and the Juliana Hatfield Three's Become What You Are. And Pavement's Wowee Zowee. Which have all gone on to become favorite albums of mine. Anyway, that's why I'm posting this at 3 AM.


Thursday, July 24, 2003

Whew. Haven't been this tired in a long time.

Keka's almost done, with about 3-4 days left of shooting. First Time has maybe a week to 9 days. Spent part of this week writing the second draft of Big Thing with Lyndon. Final pitch is on Monday, after which I think I'll be able to speak about it, though the project's already been announced to the public. Have some other potential things in the future that could be exciting, but I'd also like to rest before I jump into those.

Entering an online essay-writing contest.


Friday, July 18, 2003

So the summer season is basically over. Who landed on top? X2. I enjoyed Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, but for some reason it wasn't a blockbuster and is considered a disappointment at the box office. The Matrix Reloaded tried too hard, as did Hulk. Haven't seen Terminator 3 yet, but most everyone has been saying it's not bad. But no one seems to go over the line and actually say "It's good!" It feels like everyone expected a pile of shit without the involvement of James Cameron, and were surprised when the pile was smaller than they thought. But still, supposedly, shit. I liked 28 Days Later, but it didn't blow me away. LXG has been getting bad reviews everywhere, and you could pretty much tell from the trailers and the horrible way they've been promoting it that it was going to suck ass. Finding Nemo will at least save the day at the tail-end of the summer.

Oh well. At least Fall is coming up, so everyone's going to be bringing out their Big Meaningful Movies in competition for the Oscars. Which is both good and bad. You get genuine emotion in some of them, but others, of course, try too hard and deliver schmaltzy melodrama. Hmm… what am I really looking forward to? Kill Bill, which has now been split into two films. Return of the King. What else?

There's summer, which is devoted to Making Money. Then there's Fall, which is devoted to Winning Things. So I'm thinking, that dead spot in between winter and summer? Something exciting should be happening there. It would be nice if that were the period when exciting films emerged, with no hidden agendas other than to tell a great story, and deliver it in a kick-ass way. Genuine surprises should emerge from that period because it doesn't come with the expectation that comes from releasing in Summer or Fall/Winter.


It depressed me to find Star Mandarin gone. It's the first channel I go to when I turn on the TV, and I had completely lost track of the date, so when I sat down to watch TV the other day, it was a sad reminder. There was just a screen saying Signal Gone. Now it's some Australian channel. Thinking of switching cable companies, but I don't want to go back to the evil Sky.


Look at this beautiful picture:

Bigger version here.

That's a still from the upcoming film MirrorMask, written by Neil Gaiman and directed by Dave McKean. It's one of the films I'm most excited about. It was commissioned as a straight-to-video project and stars no one I know, but hopefully the impressive visuals convince the Jim Henson executives (who are producing) to give it a shot at a theatrical release. It would be wonderful to see moving McKean visuals on a giant movie screen. It began as a sort-of sequel to Labyrinth, but has become quite something else.

And here's another beauty:

James Jean is one of my favorite artists. His soft brush strokes, composition, and use of color are just inspiring. His figures are always interesting to look at, and everything looks so… cotton-candy. Yum.


Yesterday was another great Keka shoot. It was at Quark's lola's house, where he used to live. I hadn't been there since the night of the Rage Against the Machine concert. Before that, maybe grade school. It's a fascinating house, the structure's almost maze-like. Must've been great when they were kids. His lola's so cool. She's very animated and lively. She does these magnificent jigsaw puzzles, the heavy-duty kind that go from 1000 to 15000 pieces. Some of them are framed, like the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the dining room that took 6 months. Some of the crew were admiring the one she was working on now. She has processes: start with the edges, work inwards. Group colors and shapes together. Proceed with caution. Neva and I spoke to her for about 15 minutes, asking stuff like was she interested in puzzles as a child (No, it only started in her old age as a hobby). Neva mentioned she'd always wanted to try one of these daunting puzzles, and Quark's lola went to a cupboard, opened it, and showed us boxes and boxes of completed jigsaw puzzles. She couldn't frame them all, she said, because they'd run out of wall space, but she didn't have the heart to break them after completing them so she just left them in the boxes. She told Neva to pick one and take it with her. She was even offering one to me but I declined and said I didn't have the time anyway. What a sweetheart.

It was Vhong Navarro's last day. He was a real stand-up guy, and his improvisation is incredible. He might have difficulty remembering his lines sometimes, but his attitude as an artista is solid. I hope he remains modest as his star continues to rise.

It was good for me because I had such a shitty Wednesday. A bit of family problems, coupled with weird body exhaustion, ending with slight paranoia. Horrible, horrible day.

Big Thing is being revised. We're going to submit a second draft soon, but not sure when. Some of the requested changes were, as expected, ridiculous, and will promptly be ignored. Some were already being worked on by us. Others, we can't avoid, so the nature of the project is turning into a bit of a beast and I can't say that my excitement about the project hasn't waned. It's a fucking damn shame, too, because for a while there everything was looking good. Even had a director who would know how to do it. These things continue to change all the time, so I don't think I'll be announcing much until sometime when they're editing, maybe. Recent political factors have come into play (where is the money coming from?, who wants to appear in the film?) that worry me. Hopefully we'll be able to figure out a way of salvaging what we've already worked on.

Friday, July 11, 2003

Dammit. Star Mandarin will disappear from Destiny on July 15. Fuck fuck fuck. That's probably the one channel I watch more than anything else when I actually find myself in front of the TV. Honestly, I seem to not have the patience for TV anymore. I used to be a TV addict; followed several shows religiously. Thought I wouldn't be able to live without it. Somewhere around college, though, I found that I wasn't watching any shows anymore. Felicity was in eternal reruns by then. The only thing I seemed to watch with any regularity was Conan, but that went too. Nowadays, when I actually find myself turning on the TV, and not to watch a DVD, I just browse through the music video channels, FTV, and Star Mandarin. It'll be a great loss for me: I discovered a lot of fun films through that channel. Some cool directors, a few great ones. What I love most is that it's fairly up-to-date. Some of the films on the channel were in Hong Kong theaters just a few months prior. And they also played Japanese movies (though dubbed in Mandarin; since I was reading subtitles anyway it didn't matter). Hell, I'll even miss the commercials terribly. Most of them are insane and funny, and, if you'll notice, Pinoy commercials have been aping them more and more recently. Woe! Woe is me!

I know I'm going to go through withdrawal. It's going to be difficult when a channel that keeps you up-to-date on the Hong Kong film landscape is suddenly taken away from you. It's like the world wants me to buy pirated DVDs.


So, then: John Pham.

John Pham is a very impressive writer-artist. He puts out an independent comic book called Epoxy. Which is not, in itself, particularly unique (putting out an indie book, not Epoxy; Epoxy's pretty unique as I'll explain below), but why I chose to write about John Pham is: he knows how to deliver a package. I'd first read about Pham in an article at Popimage. It proved interesting, but I didn't exactly have a burning desire to go out immediately and get the book. However, it was at CCHQ the next time I was there, so I got it. The first issue was US$4 for 64 pages. Most comics these days are US$3 for 22 pages. Unfortunately I got busy and forgot I had the issue; it was in its plastic for about a month or two before I unearthed it beneath all the crap it got buried under. So I finally got to open it up, and lo and behold: beyond the attractive price/page ratio, the cover was a gatefold, it came with a free, cute bookmark, AND was signed and numbered by Pham! Now that's how you make a customer feel good. It helped immensely that the issue was kick-ass, too. It's got 3 stories that will run together for the rest of the series: one's a manga hybrid about a dragon chasing an android through future Tokyo about a debt, one's a girl's coming-of-age story, and the last's about a one-armed boxer. The range of stories within the issue itself is impressive, but Pham goes even further: he slightly alters his art style to fit each narrative. Sadly the next two issues weren't at CCHQ anymore. I went to his website and there are details there: the second issue is slightly shorter, but the 3rd is a HUGE issue, and goes for US$15 because of its size (not page count, it's literally around the size of a newspaper). He also has other products on his website: some zines, a handmade sketchbook or two. Check it out.

If you're thinking of changing your wallpaper anytime soon, consider this.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003


In what is sure to be the funniest story I'll hear all week (aside from Lyle's First Time stories), a Spanish-made Hulk doll won by a 6-year-old in the UK apparently comes with a penis that is 1/6th the entire height of the Hulk. Says the mother, "A hulk with a bulk like this just shouldn't be allowed."

"You wouldn't like me… when I'm horny."

Hmm… I wonder if they made a Betty Ross doll…


Weird referrals recently have been searches for:

dentist comments alan moore
human murder weapon
soft porn massage parlor more than film
pictures of couples fighting

and one for the Hall of Fame:

pauly shore fansites


I enjoyed 28 Days Later, though it was pretty much everything I expected. It didn't blow me away, but people had been telling me that it wasn't good, so I was glad that it wasn't bad after all. There were times, though, where I questioned the use of video. There are some standout scenes (the stairway chase, the tunnel, the finale) but there were also some scenes that I thought either went on too long or could have been improved. Still, I think that when I have some more free time I'll finally get around to reading Alex Garland's novels.

However, I loved About Schmidt. I thought that the subject matter might be too dull, but I shouldn't have worried. It's funny as hell, and I'd forgotten just how good a filmmaker Alexander Payne is. The editing, the shots, the score, the acting, I loved everything. It's one of those films that I'm sure everyone else but me will find slow-moving, but I don't care. If a film this good can be made from what I thought would be boring, then there's still so much to be done out there.

I also read Y: The Last Man - Unmanned over the weekend. Written by Brian K. Vaughan and drawn by Pia Guerra, it's a series with a great concept: what if, all of a sudden, every male in the world died (including animals)? It's not an original concept, mind you; Frank Herbert, as well as other science-fiction writers have tackled the concept of "Gendercide" before, and there's even an indie film in the US right now called The New Women that's about the same thing. However, the execution's the thing, and Y has got it down pat. I couldn't finish it fast enough. There's one last living man, though (hence the title), but the situations that Vaughan has come up with are all excellent: the reactions of government, religion, occupations, etc. The parties of Democratics and Republicans continue to vie for power. Because most of the higher-ups in government were male, the Secretary of Agriculture becomes President of the US. There's a radical extremist group of feminists calling themselves Amazons who undergo willful mastectomies just like the Amazons of old (it helped them use bows better). Women in the middle east are suddenly liberated and unsure what to do with such freedom. All very fascinating, this has the makings of one of the best series ever. Can't wait for the second volume.


It's been a weird week for links. As I was watching 28 Days Later, there was a book in my lap also about a virus wiping out most of humanity (the aforementioned Y). Last week, Lyndon and I showed up at Quark's wearing the exact same pants on two separate days. A few hours after seeing Jay Ilagan's daughter, I saw a Jay Ilagan film on TV. A single word in last week's script, which I had written without any serious thought (it was just something that came up in dialogue), proved to be absolutely essential in the final climax of the third act.

I'm taking my cue from Alan Moore and avoid going to conclusions. I'm just going to take note of them when I do notice them, and maybe smile to myself, and observe my reactions to such things.

Friday, July 04, 2003

Sorry, but John Pham will have to wait.

I just wanted to say that I'm finally finished with Big Thing! Woohoo! Well, the first draft, anyway. Lyndon and I finished it at approximately 3 AM today. We were able to crank out a full-length feature film script in just about 3 days, all told. Which is not something I want to do again.

The first draft will undoubtedly go through a lot of fine-tuning, proofreading, and plot hole fixing. We've to inject a few more scenes and minor characters to make everything gel more cohesively, and to our complete satisfaction. Still, it's pretty much alll there. The skeleton and central nervous system are in place. So are the vital organs and various other important body parts. Skin's there. We still need to fine-tune some details like complexion and texture and facial features, but otherwise, fingers crossed, it should be okay from here on in.

We've been holed up at Quark's place for five straight days. We ate lots of great food and played with their great dogs when bored. My socks were accidentally taken once when the helper thought it was Quark's.

Nonetheless, it can be tiring as hell sitting in front of a computer for a week. I honestly considered calling in sick last Thursday just so we could have a day of rest, but decided against it. I did feel like it, though, because I wasn't just tired, I was sick of the subject matter of the script, and felt some time away from it, not thinking about it, would allow us to re-approach it with a fresh outlook. But we have this weekend to do that, now. I want to watch 28 Days Later. And read a book or two. Catch up on some DVDs if I have time, but I probably don't.

Viva feedback will be coming soon. Hope it's good news.

I've had some pretty cool experiences and "firsts."

Wrote my first bomb-defusing scene. First female-on-female fight scene.

Also, wrote a scene earlier tonight that just made me smile like an idiot. It was almost 6 pages long, a fight scene, mostly silent (around 4 sentences uttered, all short). But it's between two superpowered individuals. And speaking as a 14-year comics lover, it felt great to finish it and realize I'd written my first superhero battle. WOOH!

It's been great collaborating with Lyndon. Since we didn't know each other very well, we were genuinely surprising one another with the ideas we'd come up with, and we had a pretty congruent sense of humor throughout, and we'd riff on one another's scenes and come up with more scenes or shots or throwaway characters and it actually became a matter of what to keep out instead of what more we can add. We must've high-fived and laughed maniacally about 50 times this week.

I really hope this gets the right director because if it's someone who doesn't get the humor then it all goes to pot.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Hey, my health actually improved and I hadn't noticed! No more throat problems, cold is gone, and thus so are the headaches and nausea (for now). Big Thing proceeds apace. Lyndon and I submitted the treatment last night and are writing the script for the rest of the week, to be submitted on Friday if you can believe that. Then if there are revisions/major changes asked for by Viva (I hope not), we have one week to make the final draft. We've been writing at Quark's since Monday. He was nice enough to offer his home as a midway point for me and Lyndon, since he lives up North and I'm from down South. We were originally going to work in Ortigas, but the availability of a computer wasn't airtight so it was a good thing Quark came up with the offer. Whattaguy.

Saw Vittorio De Sica's Two Women. Great film. I love how De Sica moves his camera, it's so precise and subtle. Graceful, too. I wonder if he'd use handheld if he were still alive today and making films. There's a couple of great shots in a church when some Moroccan refugees come across Sophia Loren's character and her daughter. One really frightened me, made my blood turn to ice, and it's amazing because the movement in the shot is so slow, as opposed to the blink-and-you'll-miss-it kind of suspense shot. And of course, Jean-Paul Belmondo is always enjoyable to watch.

Slowly going through Top Shelf Asks the Big Questions, a terrific anthology that's exposing me to a lot of great artists I've never heard of. There's a section where cartoonists pay tribute to Peanuts, an excerpt from the sketchbook of Martin Tom Dieck, an interview with and portfolio of David Chelsea (who's amazing), and even an article on the Swiss comics scene, with some examples of their comics translated in English.

Once I find some more time, I'm going to add more links and re-structure the links box. Next post should be about the impressive John Pham.

Bulletproof Monk and Night at the Golden Eagle both suck. Too bad; I was hoping they'd be good.

Catch Dancer in the Dark at Greenbelt 1 Art Film this week. Bring tissue.