Thursday, August 28, 2003

Sorry, but I must blog about this.

I was watching a few scenes from the VHS of Amateur Quark and Lia gave me yesterday, and really missed the film. Then I decided to look up Hartley online to see what he's been up to (his last film was No Such Thing), and what do I come across but a notice that Amateur is finally coming to DVD in November! Woo-hoo! Unfortunately, the only feature included in the announcement is a 15-minute documentary (I really hope there's a commentary). Henry Fool will follow in December.

Also, yesterday afternoon I was discussing Promethea on a mailing list. That evening Quark & Lia gave me Promethea Book 2.

Links, links...


I also love this trailer. Nice to see Maria de Medeiros again, who seemed to have dropped from the face of the earth.


from Steven Grant’s August 27 edition of his column Permanent Damage:

“So far there's only one genuine crime that can actually be traced to the Hand Puppet (George W. Bush)'s Administration - ultra-rightwing commentator Bob Novak himself verified that his information that the wife of a diplomat critical of the White House was a CIA agent came from inside the Administration, and revealing that is a Federal crime - but this, if not actually a crime, comes close, and I expect we'll see lots of civil suits if not criminal prosecutions over it once the seriousness of the situation sinks in: it has come out that, for reasons of ‘national security,’ the White House ‘convinced’ the Environmental Protection Agency to bury the information that the air in New York City following the destruction of the World Trade Center was simply not safe to breathe. Instead, at the behest of the White House, they gave it a clean bill of health, even though much of the air in Southern Manhattan and surrounding areas was suffused with a fine dust of glass, concrete, steel, asbestos, carcinogens and other dangerous pollutants. (It's okay to walk on concrete and use glass in windows and Coke bottles; sucking particles of either into your lungs can lead to hemorrhaging, cancer and other ailments.) In other words, it was deemed more politically expedient to ‘put a good face’ on the situation to the rest of the world (not to mention to prevent the prolonged shutdown of the Stock Market) than to protect the health of tens of thousands of Greater New Yorkers.”

Hm. This post turned out longer than I expected.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Man, I must be the easiest person to buy gifts for.

This blog may have something to do with that. But mostly everyone just knows I love comics, and so pretty much everyone gave me comics. Not that I'm complaining. :)

Chris gave me Last Chapter and Worse, a Far Side book. Incidentally, I had given this as a gift myself back in high school.

Just tonight, Ate Cyn and Arnold gave me Graphic Classics: Jack London. Which is great, because I'm not familiar with London's work, so it'll be something new for me.

Don't the cover look spiffy? It should. Arnold drew it.

Also just tonight, Quark and Lia gave me Promethea Book 2, and a VHS tape of Amateur, one of my favorite films which I haven't seen in years and is still criminally not on DVD.

However, Neva went completely overboard. She'd gotten me Dave McKean's Cages about a month ago, but still surprised me on the birthday itself with Chris Ware's Quimby the Mouse. Whattagal.

And I treated myself to The Comics Journal Library Vol. 2: Frank Miller, which I'm reading now. :)

Though the cover is actually red, this is the only image I could find online.

Had a GREAT evening tonight with the couples. We had dinner at Cafea, just playing catch up. I looked at Arnold's designs for the new Captain Barbell and got some news about that project. We also ran into Carlo. After that we caught Spy Kids 3D, which is my first full-length 3D movie experience. They fucking charged us 10 bucks for each pair of 3D glasses, and the red lens wasn't too good on mine. The experience was sort of a letdown for me. We never once, you know, moved our heads to evade something or anything like that. In fact, I wonder if I'd enjoy it more without the 3D effect. But still, it was fun having to put it on and off at certain parts of the film. The film itself was nothing special, but nothing horrible, either. It's more of a kids' flick than the first. I didn't see the second so can't compare, though now I want to see it. Antonio Banderas seems to be funniest in Robert Rodriguez films. While the graphics are great, the movement is clunky and awkward. Stallone can't act for shit, though I liked his hippie, and really enjoyed George Clooney's impression of him. If you do decide to watch it, wait til after the credits for a cute surprise. As usual, Rodriguez did damn near everything on this film: writer, director, editor, producer, visual effects supervisor, composer, songwriter, and re-recording something. The guy's a one-man studio.

After that we used our free games at Timezone, where we all took turns playing air hockey. Lia displayed her skills, trouncing Quark twice, and I got to murder dozens of virtual enemies with some shoot-em-ups.

And Mars is out right now! Wooh!

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Dogville is fantastic. There are people who've called it anti-cinema, but I don't agree. I think that there are some rules that cinema should adhere to, otherwise a work could become a different medium, but most of the time, I'm entertained and delighted that people like Lars Von Trier are still pushing up against the boundaries of what people would imagine and categorize as a film.

To explain, the entirety of Dogville takes place in a warehouse, with no real sets, just a couple of props and labels on the ground that say "Elm St." or "Chuck & Vera" or "Gooseberry Bushes" or "Dog." The actors walk around pretending to walk in and out of doors, etc. I guess the idea is in the absence of props and sets, you really concentrate solely on the characters: their emotions, expressions, reactions. That's the main conceit. The story isn't much of a departure as far as the more popular Von Trier films go (which is mostly a woman suffering every indignity until the breaking point, i.e. madness or death). However, there's a great twist at the end that makes it worthwhile, and almost vindicates the suffering he put his previous characters through.

There are things he does with the experiment that are possible only because it's film, which validates the experiment in my mind. Most importantly, point of view and editing. He can compose shots we won't see if it were theater (top shots, for example), juxtaposing, framing, using negative space, etc. He can go back and forth between separate conversations much smoother, or use jump-cuts.

Even though this is the first part of his USA trilogy, the story would probably fit in with his previous Golden Heart trilogy, as Von Trier himself has admitted. But it's probably that twist at the end that really differentiates it.

Anyway, it's good, it's worth it, watch it, enjoy it. Leaving the theater, you could really feel that everyone was talking about it, and it felt great. Kudos to Cinemanila for getting me in a real film mood again. Even when I'm home I'm watching more. And am just excited for the possibilities, and am glad to be reminded that possibilities exist, and can be exploited with grace and aplomb.

Check out the website of Dogville, too. It's quite good. The trailer, for example, shows nothing from the film, but excerpts from a behind-the-scenes documentary called Dogville Confessions (which I now really want to see), where cast and crew could vent their frustrations or anything else in "confession booths" that were on set during production.


Another film I'm looking forward to.


Ate Cyn redesigned the website of her fiancee. It's not just a great redesign, there's some new material I haven't seen before, too (her fiancee is Arnold Arre, by the way). The watercolor works, in particular, are amazing.

Also check out her website for Sandwich, which is terrific. Nice to see they've got wallpapers. And banners, if you want 'em.

Saturday, August 23, 2003

Holy fucking shit, I’m 23.

23 sounds scary as a number denoting age. It’s not old, but it sounds frighteningly adult. I was just getting comfortable with 22. And this year’s birthday, it really snuck up on me. It was earlier tonight, having dinner with Neva, that I realized, “Oh shit. I forgot it’s my birthday tomorrow.” I honestly was distracted by other things: some stuff I’m reading, Cinemanila, projects…

I re-read my post from the last birthday and noticed some things: both Cinemanila and the Bookfair were on the periphery, and Gamitan had just come out. This year, Keka’s out.

There’s no way that Neva could throw another surprise party after two in a row, so I expect it to be quiet today. Especially since I plan to watch Dogville.

I was born on a Sunday, too.


Haven’t updated in a while. The Keka premiere was last Monday, and it was a blast. It’s incredibly satisfying seeing the film on the big screen, especially since I’d already seen it a few times during editing and dubbing. JA’s work is stunning, and even the days that Ody and Lyle shot meshed well, I thought. Despite Quark’s horror stories with the MTRCB, I thought it came out great. I laughed at the right moments, and Katya’s so much better than anyone expected or gave her credit for. Lia’s opening credit sequence was genuinely moving; I keep forgetting to tell her this, but what I love most about it is that it goes back and forth between certain shots/scenes. A typical, lazy version would just go shot, shot, shot with no returns… but hers considers movement, and best of all, returns back to previous shots, sometimes with different permutations, like going through a photo album where the pictures are jumbled out of order. Which is how memory works. Probably the best compliment I can give her in that regard is that it really makes you believe in them as a couple. The funniest scene for me is the morgue. Rey Solo’s performance was a hoot. The funnest scene has to be the musical number. Especially when the frat boys leap from behind their posts. The score is amazing. I told the Diegos at the after-party that I particularly loved the music in the scene in the graveyard near the end, and Diego said that it was really just Keka’s theme, but acoustic. See, I’m a fucking moron when it comes to simple shit like this. It should be easy but it flies over my head. But it can still move me.

Maybe the best thing I can say to Quark about Keka is that even with all my expectations (and I never doubted he could make a great film to begin with), it still exceeded them. So I’m really happy for him, and am proud to say I know the guy. There’s an excruciatingly few number of people who have to deal with his particular dilemma: having achieved my dream project at the tender age of 22… what next?

If you haven’t seen Keka yet, do so. Soon. And if you like it, tell everyone you know to go see it. Even if you didn’t like it, tell everyone to see it so you can compare notes and see if they agree with you.


My other highlight of the year is meeting Fernando Mereilles, the director of City of God. It was a complete accident. Alexis and I were sitting at Popeye’s when I saw Tikoy Aguiluz, Festival Director of Cinemanila, walk by real fast in a hurry with a Caucasian guy. Just on the off-chance, I ask Alexis, “Is that Mereilles?” and he looks and says, “Yes!” so we get up and run after them. Surprising myself, I wasn’t a flustered buffoon. I shook his hand and simply said Thanks for making a great film, speaking as a film buff. And that I was glad to hear that a 2 ½ hour serious film was such a hit in his native country, especially among the youth. He was gracious and said thanks, and I got a picture taken with him, while Alexis distracted Tikoy. So that was a real treat. How many times do you get to meet someone who did something that inspired you? And tell them personally that you’re grateful?

Get this: the next day, he was watching a film with us. We saw him while in line for Lav Diaz’s Hubad sa Ilalim ng Buwan, and invited him to watch, and lo and behold, he did. He had to leave early, though, to introduce City of God in the other theater, but still! :) That evening he won the Grand Jury Prize at the Awards Night. Gracious as ever, when he accepted the award he was talking about Brazilian films, which I found refreshing. Instead of taking the credit and letting it be about him, which everyone was prepared and perfectly willing to do (since he deserved it), he still wanted to act as an ambassador for Brazilian cinema. I was with JA as he got Mereilles’s autograph. I never got his autograph; I had wanted to interview him personally but he left two days early. Oh well. He’ll be back soon enough: part of his next film will be shot here.

Today I met Prabda Yoon, who is a nice, amiable chap. He's 30 but has published 10 books, and his recent script was directed by Pen-ek Ratanaruang, a film called Last Life in the Universe, which was shot by Christopher Doyle, one of my idols. Check out the trailer on the website, it's pretty interesting. Alexis interviewed him for and I sat in.


Everyone seems to be getting hit by the Blaster worm. I had to download the patch and removal tool for Neva. Know why I haven’t been hit? I’m still on Windows 98! Dear Lord, I’m too obsolete to even be bothered with…


Cecile leaves today for Connecticut, so adieu and a safe trip to her. :)

Apologies to Clar. :)

Greetings also to Carlo, whose birthday was yesterday. :)


Holy fucking shit. 23.

Where the hell did the time go?

Friday, August 15, 2003

Just a quick post to let you all know that the website for Keka is now up. A lot of the pictures used on the site are mine. :) Not that you’d know it from the site credits, though… (oho, bitter daw). And here is the Victorian Sex Cry Generator. Good fun for a few minutes. My favorite is “Please sir, I beg you! Ease back your attack so that I may compose myself to compass the admission of that stupendous head of your machine!”

If you haven’t seen Finding Nemo yet, you must. The PowerBooks sale is pretty good, too, if you can find something you like. Instead of the standard 20% discount, this year the standard discount went up to 30%. I recommend Samuel Delany’s Times Square Red, Times Square Blue (which is in the 50% off section), the graphic novels, and the usual suspects: Neal Stephenson, Philip K. Dick, Jeff Noon, Chuck Palahniuk, Haruki Murakami, Douglas Coupland, Michael Chabon, Truman Capote, etc.

Monday, August 11, 2003

Got a reply for my second Help Request from Blogger: they can't find a more recent copy of my template, so I went and did all the changes myself (again). I restored the links box to the best of my memory (even added a couple of people), but it may not be complete, so if you were linked before and aren't now, comment and I'll rectify the problem (please also tell me if there are any broken links, or if I'm using an old URL of yours).

Hope to watch some films at Cinemanila today.
Hurrah! MINDFUEL is one year old.

I honestly wasn't sure if it would make it this long. It seemed possible at all times that I'd just lose interest, or neglect it long enough that it wouldn't be worth reviving. But I'm glad it's still here. I'm glad I can look at old entries and see what I was doing, thinking, angry about, ensorcelled by. So I think that in some shape or form, I'll be keeping MINDFUEL for some time yet. Thanks to all faithful readers, commenters, linkers, and people who've signed my Guestbook.

No reply yet for the second help request from Blogger, so we'll see when I just lose patience and restore the template myself (painstakingly).

Finally got to drop by the set of First Time again yesterday. My first visit to my episode. Saw people speaking my dialogue (well, some of it; the script's changed a lot). "Actors" who I know will at least be getting PAID. Robert Quebral is the cinematographer of my episode, and it looks great. Saw some of the changes done to my script, and I figure only about 40% will remain. Reasons for the changes vary: weather wasn't always cooperative so schedule was a problem, so is the budget, and let's be generous by saying some of the "actors" have difficulty memorizing and delivering lines... even if they are sometimes one-liners (heard a horrible story about an actress who couldn't even knock on a door convincingly). Oh well. I've distanced myself from the story enough that it doesn't matter to me anymore (and I understand the necessity of the changes given the circumstances). And this way I will genuinely be surprised myself when I finally see the movie.

The guy playing the main male character was talking to me, and I don't think he knew I was the writer, because he kept telling me that "I'm not actually supposed to be in this film e, I'm supposed to be doing wholesome roles only."

Also dropped by Marie's shoot for her student video. Ody Flores (who did some work on Keka as well when regular DP JA Tadena couldn't make it) is shooting the project and his work looks amazing. Jaime Fabregas remembered me from when we acted together in Marc Abaya's short about two years ago. And I met Epi Quizon, who said he liked the script for Big Thing and his character, which also made me happy.

Unfortunately, developments on Big Thing are going south. There's a new director attached, who I'm not familiar with, and I guess he didn't like our script because he's having it revised by someone else. And I had to find this out myself, no one "officially" told me. So I guess Lyndon and I may be out of the loop now. I just want to get paid at this point.

Saturday, August 09, 2003

For a day or two MINDFUEL was dead. The template disappeared, as I mentioned, and when I published a new post, the entire blog disappeared as well. I fired off a help request and hoped for the best, dismayed by the notice that mentions they're concerned, but must prioritize paying members. Understandable. Got the reply today, and the blog's back up, but as anyone can see, it's an old version of my template, before the great links box reshuffling. So I fired off another help request. I hope they can help me out.

Keka's in dubbing! The editing's all but done. Then I guess sound mixing, and grading. And then that's it. Time to watch. I hope we can do some cool Keka articles for

Will finally get to visit First Time again in a few hours. :)

Finally got to see, and eat at, Kusineo. Thus I also finally got to see Meg since she got back, and was introduced to Nicole, who is a quivering kinetic dollop of cute. I think all restaurants should have their own Nicole. I also wish she'd update her blog more.

Tomorrow this blog turns one. How time flies...

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

For some reason Blogger has lost my template. Hmm... at this point I can't really say I'm surprised anymore.

Keka's last day was yesternight. Both fun and slightly emotional. I'm both glad and sad to know it's over. If that makes any sense. Maybe those involved will understand better.

Cinemanila begins today. There's a Wong Kar Wai retrospective as well as a lot of other great things to see: Swimming Pool, Uzak, The Man Without a Past, Public Toilet, Talk To Her, Dogville, City of God, Dolls, Infernal Affairs, 24 Hour Party People, etc. Also short films by Quark and Chris. Go and see.

Keka's now being dubbed and edited at the same time. Cool.

Chuck Palahniuk's Lullaby didn't really blow my mind. It's not as funny as his other books, and it's exactly in the same style. I guess I should resign myself to the fact that he won't change that style anymore. It's not a bad style, it's quite unique and can be very effective, but after five books of it you'd think he'd experiment a little bit, just for variety. Maybe he's scared of going too far from what he's known for...? Still, he packs a lot of great, quotable sentences and gives you small things to think about through the whole book, and you can probably finish it in a day. The ending kind of disappointed me, it was more of a character ending than a plot ending in the sense that the protagonists reach an impasse in their relationship and get over it, but still have a lot of things to do. So the story isn't really "done" when you finish the book.

Finding Nemo could be the best film of the year. Certainly in the Top 10 immediately. It's wonderful, and the best compliment I can give it is that it made me feel like a kid again. Spectacular, heart-warming, and funny. Great cinematography. The voice actors are all excellent choices, might I add.

Bad Boys 2. Ehh...

Monday, August 04, 2003

Okay. Right.

Keka has one last day of shooting left. Only one sequence to go. Then Quark has editing, dubbing, sound mixing, grading, and everything else that has to happen for him to submit the film on I think Aug. 10. Some of the editing's been done already, and he showed sequences to the crew yesterday and it looked lovely and amazing. I'm very excited about it now, and really happy for him. A subtitled print will not make it in time for Cinemanila, so it will be showing in the festival, but not in competition (the subtitled print was necessary for some of the judges who don't speak Tagalog); it'll be in exhibition. A premiere event is being worked out for Ateneo. General release is on Aug. 20; posters are already up everywhere.

The days in between Keka shoots are usually spent resting, or, like Saturday, using work as an excuse to finally meet up with Ate Cyn and Arnold about Big Thing and Arn's possible involvement with that, but generally catching up with them as I haven't seen them since last year (!). Today I had the choice of going to Keka editing and visiting the set of Gagamboy, but I opted to stay home and rest because I wasn't feeling too well this morning and don't want to put my health at risk and possibly miss the last day tomorrow. I feel better now, and hope to keep it stable for tomorrow.

Going to Keka's last day tomorrow also means, it seems, missing the first day of shooting of my episode for Lyle Sacris's First Time. I wanted to be there, but I chose Keka over it since I've been with the production almost the whole time (though I maybe missed 4 days).

The pitch last Monday for Big Thing went surprisingly better than I expected it to, but not without its share of trademark ridiculous moments. It looks like it's a go, but recent developments have seen me slowly detaching myself from it emotionally but still trying to help in certain aspects. Also, a couple more things to work on in the script, which means Lyndon and I will go to Draft 3...

PowerBooks' Annual Sale has begun. There's also a few books on sale at Fully Booked. I recommend Iain Sinclair's Downriver and Neil Jordan's Nightlines (also called Sunrise with Sea Monster), both at 50% off.

Two new Mirrormask pics can be seen here. Man, I'm getting much too excited about this film...

Am now reading a book I've been looking forward to for some time now, Chuck Palahniuk's Lullaby.