Friday, January 30, 2004


Remember this mini-fiasco from the Oscars 2 years ago? Animation fans and pundits were up in arms when the legendary Hayao Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke wasn't nominated for Best Animated Feature (and I think Jimmy Neutron was). It felt even worse when it was revealed Tom Hanks headed the selection committee of that particular category. Anyway, this year's nominees are Finding Nemo, Brother Bear, and The Triplets of Belleville. And we all know who's getting the award, don't we? (Although Triplets may be an upset, it's unlikely. The sure thing is, don't bet on the bear.) Anyway, it looks like this year's overlooked short film is Eternal Gaze. Check out the trailer.

Nibbles, one of this year's nominees for Best Animated Short Film, can be seen here. And apparently Destino, one of the other nominees, is a restoration of an old, unfinished collaboration between Walt Disney and Salvador Dali. You can read more about it here.

Speaking of Disney, Pixar have ceased negotiations with them regarding a new contract. Which is great news for me. Pixar said the terms were unacceptable, and it looks like one of the sticking points was complete ownership. Pixar won't have any difficulty finding another distributor: Warner and Fox are already saying they're open to discussions (like they'd say no to money). Then again, the whole purpose of the press release is to announce that they're now available to be courted by other studios. And from now on, Pixar will maintain complete ownership of their films. Studios will distribute the films in a number of formats, and Pixar will make its money there, but also in licensing and merchandise, previously the realm of Disney. As mentioned in the article, the Pixar films have so far grossed around 2.4 billion dollars. For less than 10 films. This is all just another, particularly huge, nail in Disney's coffin.

Here's something cool: Thomas Pynchon had a cameo on The Simpsons. His character had a paper bag over his head. The author hasn't been seen in public in decades, but isn't entirely a recluse, and apparently has taste (being a Simpsons fan), and a not-so-serious way about himself (since he agreed).

And the bad news I read recently is that there are now bots that flood message boards and comment boards with spam. Shit. I've seen 'em popping up on open invite mailing lists, but now... Damn.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

There are other posts I should be uploading before this, but I want to get this off my chest now: the Oscar nominees have been announced. It's not like I hold the Oscars in any divine light; it's flawed just like any other award-giving body and the prestige is becoming more and more limited to helping out the films' box-office. Still...

Initial reactions:

- I'm so glad to see City of God getting a lot of nominations, for a foreign film that not many people have seen. It's been nominated for Director, Cinematography, Editing, and Adapted Screenplay, and yet, NOT for Foreign Language Film. I suspect the Region 1 DVD release will be delayed AGAIN to take advantage of this. I don't mind. If the wait means a possible Special Edition instead of a regular release, it'll be worth it.

- Scarlett Johansson isn't nominated for Best Actress, but Diane Keaton is. For Something's Gotta Give. Hm.

- American Splendor isn't nominated for Best Picture, but Seabiscuit is. Hm. Splendor only got a nod in Adapted Screenplay.

- Glad to see Lost in Translation up for Directing, Picture, Actor, and Original Screenplay.

- Was hoping to see Kill Bill Vol. 1 get a nomination in Sound Editing, at least. Oh well.

- Johnny Depp for Best Actor, eh? Well. Looks like he got Paul Giamatti's slot.

- Keisha Castle-Hughes getting a nod for Best Actress was a surprise. Now I further regret not having caught Whale Rider at Cinemanila.

- I expect Return of the King to snatch up most of the tehnical awards: Art Direction, Costume Design, Makeup, Visual Effects, Sound. But it wasn't nominated for Sound Editing. Though many believe this is the trilogy's year, and will finally snatch those coveted Best Picture, Director trophies.

- We're going to see performances by Annie Lennox, Sting, Elvis Costello, and hopefully, Eugene Levy & Catherine O'Hara will perform their "A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow" from A Mighty Wind. :)

- If Howard Shore doesn't win for his score of Return of the King... heads will roll.

Monday, January 26, 2004



I recently read Scott Morse's The Barefoot Serpent, and really enjoyed it. It was my first Morse book, and now I'm genuinely curious about his other works. And if I become a fan it's partly bad news, because he's very prolific and that can become expensive. Anyway, here's an interview with him on the occasion of his first solo exhibit in LA. Anybody who's there, or will be, try to check it out (and take lots of pictures, and share them with me).

And here's the teaser trailer to Kill Bill Vol. 2. I love the music.

Frodo shows he isn't gay.

Disney closes its Florida animation studio.

And the news that Brian Wood's working on a Jennie One/Jennie 2.5 doll two-pack has me tickled pink...


I didn't discuss or review The Matrix Revolutions in detail on this blog. Why? Because it's a waste of time. Honestly. Somehow they made a film worse than Reloaded. Sadly, the bad news is the Wachowskis now serve as a bad example of what can happen when too much creative freedom is given to the writer/director. I'm worried that the next time a brilliant young filmmaker with a sci-fi slant (let me clarify that this doesn't imply the Wachowskis were ever brilliant; think the next Darren Aronofsky) tries to get a film done by a big studio, the bigwigs'll meet in private and say, "You know, it sounds exciting, but it's expensive, and look what happened to the Matrix Trilogy." Anyway, it seems the behind-the-scenes stuff is more interesting. Of course, in their pretension the Wachowskis avoid the media and don't give interviews, etc. So this all comes from news sources: Larry divorced wife Thea Bloom for dominatrix Karin Winslow. Rumors are that he's also undergoing hormone treatments in preparation for a transsexual operation. But one investigation claims that the sex change rumors were generated by Winslow's ex-husband, who IS a female-to-male transsexual. But, Larry IS a cross-dresser. And Bloom's divorce complaint referred to Wachowski as "Laurence Wachowski aka Laurenca Wachowski."

Thursday, January 22, 2004

I have seen Kill Bill thrice in the past week. It is that good.

I don't know if it's my favorite film of 2003 (there are still a couple films I haven't seen like American Splendor, 21 Grams, and Lost in Translation), but it certainly is the most fun. The first time I watched it, practically the entire running time I had a stupid grin on my face. From the Shawscope logo to the cliffhanger of an ending, I was just smiling like an idiot, eyes alive. The last time that happened was Amelie. And you know, it IS a geekfest-- the homages are everywhere. But what's great is that it's fine on its own. The film stands on its own two feet. Does it matter that you recognize the theme from The Green Hornet when she arrives in Tokyo, or Bernard Herrmann's score for Twisted Nerve being whistled by Daryl Hannah in the split-screen scene that's a nod to Brian De Palma? No. But if you do, hey, that's great. It's not important if you know Sonny Chiba from his Street Fighter films or Chiaki Kuriyama from Battle Royale. These are just nice little touches in an already perfectly-baked cake. The plot isn't anything original, in fact it's one of the oldest stories in the world: revenge. It's the execution that's the difference. Elements of Tarantino's style remain: fractured narrative, close-ups of various objects, sense of humor, dialogue, trunk POV shots, careful selection of music. There are great litle moments that don't bear significance to the overall story but are cool nonetheless, like the Sheriff's green shades (and how he calls his son "Son No. 1"), the way The Bride's real name is always bleeped out, and the cereal named Kaboom (a hint if I ever saw one). People think it's gory but actually the violence is almost cartoonish and ridiculous, especially with the gushing fountains of blood. The only semi-queasy moment is when Gogo disembowels this ugly dude. Uma's terrific; she can play it funny like when she sees Gogo's mace drop to the floor, but her shriek upon discovering a flat stomach after waking from her coma is chilling. And as terrific as she looks, it's hard to remember her more radiant than in the first few minutes of the House of Blue Leaves melee, with the streak of blood on her forehead and an almost Charlie's Angels-era Farrah Fawcett do.

I can't wait for Vol. 2.


WETA's working on a live-action Evangelion film?! Holy shit! I really hope this falls in good hands. I was disappointed to discover that the first Series of Unfortunate Events film is being helmed by Brad Silberling, who directed Casper and City of Angels. Hopefully I'll be surprised. I enjoyed the first 2 Harry Potter films enough, even if they were directed by Chris Columbus. Though maybe I should note: I say that as someone who hasn't read any of the books.

Here's the new trailer of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. This is the next film I'm really really REALLY looking forward to. I mean, you can't go wrong with a title like that. The fact it's written by Charlie Kaufman and directed by Michel Gondry doesn't hurt, either.

Check out Neva's blog if you haven't been there lately; she's got a new look and has suddenly (and stealthily) become very active. She also has a new website, and Letters to Myself, one of my favorite poems of hers (because it was culled from my letters to her :p ) was recently published online.
Goddammit, I work so slowly now! What’s wrong with me!? (Don’t answer that.) I used to be able to crank out a 3-page essay for Fr. Nick 10 minutes before class and now it takes me over 5 hours to write 4 300-word reviews.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Had a whole lot of fun going through the Indiana Jones Trilogy Box Set. Indiana Jones isn’t just the standard-bearer in adventure movies, it also holds a lot of sentimental attachment on my part, as it’s part of a few laserdiscs my family had since I was 9. So I’ve seen the films dozens of times. But since my laserdisc player got busted a few years ago, I haven’t seen them since. So it was terrific being able to watch them on DVDs, and finally going through supplementary material that was heretofore limited to a few paragraphs on the production.

I have to say, watching the 3 films after such a long time, really made me feel like a kid again. Certain scenes I still knew verbatim, but there are a few gags I’d forgotten about, and seeing them again, and being surprised by them again, just reminded me so much of why I love movies. The supplementary material I enjoyed just as much; I finally found out some backstory as to how these films I’ve loved since childhood came to be made. I was going to list the amusing anecdotes down but there are just too many, the best advice I can give all of you is to go through the box set yourselves, you definitely won’t regret it. Some of the highlights, though, were finally seeing what Short Round looks like now (like Stephen Chow, and still with a bit of an accent; I really hope he’s in Indy 4 even if I think Indy 4 itself is a bad idea), and seeing some of the behind-the-scenes footage shot during the production of the films. Witnessing a little bit of the flirtation between Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw (they marry a few years after Temple of Doom), the origin of the project (Indiana named after George Lucas’s dog, Spielberg agreeing to direct it on Lucas’s vacation from Star Wars), seeing Jim Steranko’s original concept paintings that defined the look of Indy (with the jacket, hat, and whip), how the mine chase in Temple of Doom was partly shot by a Nikon SLR shooting at a frame a second, that there are “hieroglyphs” of R2D2 and Threepio in the Well of Souls in Raiders, that the nightclub in Temple of Doom is called Obi Wan, that Dan Aykroyd had a bit part I never noticed before. Man, there’s just so much fun stuff, it’s amazing. And it really was a time when they had to invent a lot of things for the elaborate set and action pieces. There wasn’t much CGI, and I sort of miss that era. I very much prefer actual stunts to CGI, when possible. That’s partly why the fucking Mummy franchise is just bollocks compared to Indiana Jones. And did you know that the much-maligned Temple of Doom was responsible for the creation of the PG13 rating? It’s all there. Another reason why I enjoyed everything immensely is that these are films I know very well, and fell in love with, at a time when I wasn’t yet considering trying to be a filmmaker. So I wasn’t thinking about how they shot this scene, or how they pulled off that stunt or this special effect. Nowadays, if I’m watching a movie part of me is figuring out how they shot this, or how that scene was lit, and how good the dialogue is, and, especially since Keka, continuity errors. Seeing now, at the age of 23, how something I fell in love with at the age of 9 was made… it’s like magic. :)

(And I should say that I love Temple of Doom, even if it is my least favorite. When I was 9 that film frightened me to death. It’s more of a horror than an adventure film, but I think it fits in the canon perfectly and can’t imagine the franchise now without it. It felt like a necessary step between Raiders and the damn-near perfect Last Crusade, which goes down in my book as one of the best films ever made. It still brings a tear to my eye at certain scenes.)

Thursday, January 15, 2004


Last week the U.S. began fingerprinting and photographing visiting foreigners arriving at air- and seaports. And a recent poll, conducted after Saddam's capture, revealed that 7 out of 10 Americans still think Saddam had something to do with 9-11. And so continues the spinning of American media, owned largely by Bush's buddies, while the White House itself gets caught in lie after lie after lie... even one about the poem Dubya supposedly wrote for his wife... tsk tsk... for shame, Dubya, for shame. Cribbing poetry? That's just a whole new low. Even for you.


Apparently Brother Bear is the second-to-last traditional 2D animated film from Disney. The last one will be Home on the Range, whose trailer I've seen and it didn't really do anything for me. It certainly feels like an era's ending, although you have to be honest that their traditional 2D films haven't really been staggeringly good lately. It's pretty much been downhill since Hunchback, for me. There were a few good ones along the way (I quite like The Emperor's New Groove, and Neva likes Lilo & Stitch). Disney as an empire has been crumbling, it's on its last legs now and those will give way soon if they don't do something. One interesting piece of news I've read recently is that a majority of the employees from the animation division that they're shutting down are banding (or really just remaining) together to form a mini-animation studio of their own. It is hoped that this will mean they're free to do stories they really want to do, and not have to answer to higher-ups who really know nothing about storytelling, and won't have to pander to children as a main audience. So this could be exciting; they're like an indie production company, but in animation.

No one sees the Pixar films as Disney films, they're seen as Pixar films, and even their contract is soon going to be up with Disney, and word is they don't want to renew (so they can make all the profit they deserve), while EVERYONE knows Disney is desperate to keep Pixar happy, because really, they're all Disney's got left that's both excellent and making boatloads of money. I mean, has anyone noticed all these straight-to-video sequels they've been pumping out the past few years? All of it bollocks. The only way Disney is going to keep Pixar happy is by offering some record-shattering new contract. All advantages are on Pixar's side. The afterbirth that was Titan A.E. resulted in Fox dissolving its animation division, and when Warner mishandled the marketing of the wonderful The Iron Giant, Pixar immediately hired director Brad Bird (whose name I first noticed when he was working for The Simpsons), who's now doing the next Pixar film (The Incredibles).


Thank you God. New Shithouse strips (and an overhaul of the website, too).

And, sadly, Maria Schneider's Pathetic Geek Stories is leaving its home, The Onion. At least it's just to her own website.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Man, there are a couple of things I want to post about but time is short, things are busy, and I have a few lot of things I have to finish.

But Kill Bill comes out today, and your instructions are to buy the KEKA DVD (which has some great features), and the new Ciudad album, which is almost sold out of its first print run.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Wonder Woman was created by William Moulton Marston, who was also a doctor. A psychologist, I think. Anyway, he also invented what became the polygraph, the lie detector test. And what's Wonder Woman's weapon? The Golden Lasso, which is unbreakable. And if you're tied up in it, you are compelled to speak the truth. You can't lie. Interesting.

I've read that there's quite a lot of bondage subtext in those old Wonder Woman strips. She constantly ties up villains, or gets tied up herself. One article I read said that her creation was tinctured by Marston's being a psychologist. He's said to have mixed the bondage/Amazon woman/pin-up girl sexual appeal of a woman with the girl-next-door sensibility, and that this is why Wonder Woman is the only major female comic character to have endured the decades (she was created in the late '30s, I think), and remain a pop culture icon of sorts.

Just wondering about Wonder Woman because I've been enjoying the new creative team on her book, led by writer Greg Rucka. One of the interesting things he mentioned in an interview in preparation for the gig was that he had to research a lot because Wonder Woman by default is a kind of feminist icon, and the character has gone through several permutations over the decades because feminism itself has changed through the decades, and she has to "change" in kind to represent her context.

I was also wondering if this applied to Mars Ravelo's Darna, supposedly a carbon-copy Wonder Woman, but with different origins that tie her in to a socio-political context inherent in the third world. Who even remembers Darna now? The recent mini-series Mango Comics published didn't really show off her uniqueness, in my eyes. What is her significance to the common Filipina? Especially in this day and age?

Friday, January 02, 2004

My monitor's tube has given up the ghost; it is dead and gone. But forsooth, it has served us well, since I was in late high school, methinks, or was it the beginning of college? Thereabouts. We dug up an older, smaller monitor and thankfully it's compatible. My dad won't shell out the 5k to get a new 17-inch monitor. I guess we aren't liquid. With the expansion of the farm it's been a little difficult. We have no drivers right now, so when school starts I'm going to be without a car again (Mom & Dad take a car each, and Lee drives himself to school now), so if I need to go out I have to wait for one of them to get home or commute. This also kind of explains why we haven't gotten the ATOZ's airconditioning fixed; the new compressor it requires is 16k. I doubt the cracked windshield will be replaced anytime soon either.

I remember one Christmas I got a lot of boxer shorts for some reason, not all of which fit. I mention this because this year, I've received 3 wallets. And how were your holidays? I'm not complaining, though, 2 are really nice, but I don't know when I'm going to use them.

I was at my relatives the other day. Mom's side. 3 of my mom's brothers live in the same village. We took a walk to my cousin's house, and they showed me their collection of pirated DVDs, which almost puts mine to shame. They've got shelves and shelves, and they're even labeled according to genre. My other cousin mentioned that he and his family don't even rent movies anymore, they just come over here and borrow.

In these kinds of family gatherings, the kids tend to separate into their groups, usually according to age range. Well, I was hanging out with my younger brother and our cousins his age (an average of 6 years younger). And while at the computer of one cousin, I started poking around and indeed, found the porn folder, which definitely puts mine to shame.

It got me thinking about how difficult it was to get porn while I was in high school: they were all bootleg VHS tapes, and borrowed magazines. Nowadays, you can get thousands of VCDs/DVDs on the street for around 50 bucks. The internet allows access to all kinds of filth at a few clicks. To say nothing of FHM and its competitors.

And now I'm wondering like a conservative fuddy-duddy: does all this warp our fragile little minds? I mean, the profusion, the ease of access, everything's too convenient now. It doesn't have that "edge" of being forbidden material anymore.

Because what I found on my cousins' harddrive was disturbing: it wasn't the porn (mostly small videos of XXX scenes), it was collections of videos of deaths. Or brutal accidents. The kind you can't air on TV. Now, I've seen an episode or two of Faces of Death in my time, but some of this was really sick shit. There was footage of a newscaster who put a gun in his mouth and blew out the top of his head, a woman crushed by a toppled chimney, a kickboxer who broke his leg, a skateboarder who broke his arm, and the worst was this Russian terrorist video where a guy's head was being held to the ground. They were in some forest, and it must've been cold because the terrorists were dressed like it and the captive's breaths could be seen when he exhaled. It's a pretty close shot of his head, when all of a sudden this knife plunges into his neck and the terrorist just keeps stabbing and stabbing like he's sawing off the neck. The captive of course is screaming, but his throat is literally coming apart and it's really more of a sickening, gurgling sound. The sound of an animal dying. The blood is just black, and gushing out stronger and faster than I expected, and it's just that much darker as it pours out onto the snow. There's a cut and the last bit of flesh connecting the head to the body is severed, then the head is being carried around by the terrorists.

Right after I saw this my 13-year-old cousin, the one whose computer this is (also the one I mentioned was on Friendster), tells me it's time to eat dinner, as if I didn't just watch someone murdered in close-up.

I'm 10 years older and I'm the one disturbed, whereas he doesn't even flinch.

The word desensitized somehow seems inadequate.


Wow. I realize that's actually a horrible post to open the new year. Sorry about that. I wasn't really planning on writing about it. Then again, that's how most of these posts go: I sit down with a vague idea of what I want to write about but more often than not it meanders onto another track. Well, at the very least, the post tends to become a surprise to me, too. Maybe it's a barometer for what my subconscious is stewing about.

Other posts are written way in advance, and actually take a little cultivation before I publish them. Some of the more sensitive ones, definitely.


This Christmas season has been, for me, really a kind of bleah one. Bland and unremarkable. More than other times, it seems, I didn't really feel the spirit of Christmas, and felt that it snuck up on me like some unremembered sibling's birthday. I'm strapped for cash, so most gifts are going to be late this time around (sorry, guys). In fact, come to think of it, everyone but Neva's gift is late.

Still, I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday season, no matter where they were.

Let's hope that the coming year will bring better things for all of us.

It has to.