My favorite movie from last weekend was the fantastic Simon Pegg action-comedy Hot Fuzz. Aside from being two hours of pure awesomeness, the movie was highlighted by random cameos from famous people, including Cate Blanchett, Bill Nighy, Peter Jackson, and The Office co-creator Stephen Merchant. My favorite cameo, however, was the one by Martin Freeman, whom you probably remember as the guy in the softporn shoot in Love, Actually, but who became famous for his role as Tim Canterbury in the original UK production of The Office.
I got hooked on the original series a few years ago, mostly because I was working in a job that I didn't like very much (I ended up staying less than a year) for a boss that reminded me of the buffoon from the show. It was laugh-out loud hilarious, and became one of my favorite TV shows ever, and until now I harbor deep affection for the people who were behind it. I also liked the fact that no one I knew got into it, and that not everyone got it, and that it was like this obscure little secret that I had all to myself. Of course, millions of people around the world loved the series, too, but they didn't really count. Like me, however, those millions of people who ended up liking the show count it as among their favorite things ever.
(It took me a while to warm up to the American version, but it got me in the end. Like the original, it's become quite obscure among my circle, with its handful of fans that I know being real fanatics about it. It's a testament to the show's lack of fans in the country that it's notoriously hard to find DVDs of the show anywhere. A few months ago, I spent three hours in Quiapo looking for copies of the third season, and I ended up having to pay close to a thousand bucks for a boxed set that only one stall in the whole place carried.)
The story of Tim and receptionist Dawn Tinsley (played by Lucy Davis, who starred in Shaun) is one of the greatest TV romances, and even John Krasinski, who plays Tim's American counterpart Jim Halpert in the US version, thinks so. What made the Tim-Dawn dalliance much sadder (and ultimately, more fulfilling) was the fact that, unlike Jim, Tim had nothing going for him. He was okay-looking, but he's not the hunk that Halpert is. He's stuck in a dead-end job and he'd just turned thirty, and in the most depressing manner, ended up celebrating it with work mates he didn't even like. He'd dropped out of college and is still living with his parents, and while he'd always talked about going back to school to get a psychology degree, everyone knows he'd never get around to doing it. The only ray of sunshine in his life was the receptionist, but she'll be leaving for Florida with her fiance Lee.
As much as I like the American version, there was nothing there (or in any other show) that was quite as quietly heart-rending as this scene from the final episode of the regular series of the British version. Tim just learned that Dawn was leaving, and he makes his last stand:
That was how it ended! And Ricky Gervais would have left it that way, too! What a cruel, cruel bastard!
Fortunately, they ended up producing a couple of Christmas specials (after fans threatened to burn down the BBC, I think). It was set three years later, Dawn had been living unhappily in Florida with Lee, and Tim was still toiling away at his office. The office was holding a Christmas party, and the documentary crew offered to pay for Dawn and Lee to go back and attend. It took them three years, but Tim and Dawn finally got their happy ending.
(Yazoo's hit song, Only You, was playing when they got together.)
Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup
I caught the last screening of Across the Universe last night with Tseri in Glorietta. It's an odd movie. I certainly liked some parts better than others; there were lots of powerful imagery and the arrangements of the songs were quite imaginative. I thought that the storytelling could have been tighter, the visuals and the choreography more consistent, and the storyline more epic. The movie felt like a bunch of loosely-related music videos, and some of them were good.
I did enjoy myself though, but that's not a hard proposition given that you're basically listening to Beatles music for a couple of hours. The experience was a bit weird though, because you sit there and you know all the lyrics and yet, you can't sing along like you would during Beatles night at 70s Bistro, lest you end up looking like those dorks who go to the theater and sing along loudly to the movie version of Rent.
What I found contrived was the '60s setting of the movie. I just felt that it was a little lazy, the use of The Beatles as shorthand for the decade. It reminds me of a piece from Nick Hornby that I wrote about previously, where he was arguing for the songwriting merits of Ben Folds. In the latter part of the essay, he rued the fact that the craftsmanship that goes into writing songs as good as Folds's "Smoke" is never appreciated, because his songs are just songs, and they're not meant to change the world. He explains further:
The Beatles had a context, too, but they seem to have inhaled that along with everything else: they have hoovered up and become the sixties, and everything that happened in that extraordinary decade somehow belongs to them now. Their songs have therefore become imbued with all sorts of magic that doesn't properly belong to them, and we can't see the songs as songs anymore.
Hornby isn't a Beatles detractor. In fact, in one of the few moments from the book High Fidelity that wasn't in the movie, his hero Rob Fleming explains his relationship with the Beatles, and how it's his go-to music every time he's depressed over the last girl he's pining for:
"...I'll be playing the Beatles when I get home. Abbey Road, probably, although I'll program the CD to skip over "Something." The Beatles were bubblegum cards and Help at the Saturday morning cinema and toy plastic guitars and singing "Yellow Submarine" at the top of my voice in the back row of the coach on school trips. They belong to me, not to me and Laura, or me and Charlie, or me and Alison Ashworth, and though they'll make me feel something, they won't make me feel bad.
As a whole, the movie felt lacking, and there just wasn't enough magic. It could have been much grander. The Fab Four's music has inspired much better fiction (Haruki Murakami's seminal novel, Norwegian Wood, comes to mind). Across the Universe was alright, but it didn't make you fall in love, or break your heart gently, or inspire you to take on the rest of the world, or give you a quiet sense of comfort-- at least not the way those Beatles records did.
- The Royal Tenenbaums (I'm also planning to read J.D. Salinger's shorts, I'll try to see if I can spot all the references) - The Darjeeling Limited (I wanted to go with Wes Anderson all weekend, but I couldn't find his other movies in Quiapo) - Sabrina (the old one, with Bogey and Holden and Hepburn, not Gere Ford and Kinnear and Ormond) - Casablanca (I'd been trying to find other Bogey films, like The Big Sleep and The Maltese Falcon, but I couldn't find them) - Across the Universe (yinaya ako bigla ni Tseri na manood sa Glorietta mamaya... eh easy ako eh) - Dan in Real Life - I Could Never Be Your Woman (heh) - Hot Fuzz (Simon Pegg yeah!) - Snatch (ok, I never got through this movie before because I couldn't understand the accent- I rented a tape out of the ACA in LB, I think- but now the DVD's got subtitles) - Three Kings (speaking of which, check out this awesome Esquire feature with George Clooney, where the reporter takes the actor across various Internet sites related to him) - The Brothers Solomon (Wills Arnett and Forte yeah!) - Chuck season 1 - Lost season 3
For those who'll be staying in for the weekend-- what would you guys be watching?
You can judge the Pacquiao fight, even if it's not a book
Last night, while watching the ACC Championship game between UNC and Clemson, my roommate walked in with his boyfriend and asked me about the Pacquiao-Marquez match. Neither of them saw the fight, and they were curious about why there was such a fuss over the results.
So I started to tell them about how boxing matches were decided, and how close the split decision was, and how it was usually up to the judges to decide such a close fight. I'd spend ten minutes explaining, and neither of them looked like they were able to wrap their heads around the idea.
Them: "So, the judges, they count the punches for each round?"
Me: "No. They try to figure out who won each round, who got the best shots in, who controlled the pace of the match."
Hanggang kailan ka ba maghihintay, hindi ka ba nagsasawa Inday?
May ilang linggo na ang nakaraan, nanood kami ng mga kaibigan ko ng gig sa 70s Bistro, kung saan tumugtog ang Sponge Cola at Sugarfree. Unang pagkakataon namin panoorin sa Bistro ang Sponge Cola, at pinili talaga namin ang gabing yun dahil kasama namin ang isang officemate na boyfriend ng isang miyembro ng banda.
Nag-enjoy naman kami sa set ng Sponge Cola, kahit halata na hindi sila sanay tumugtog sa mas intimate na setting ng isang bar gaya ng Bistro. Samantala, bawing-bawi naman kami sa Sugarfree, dahil game na game si Ebe na tumugtog. Hindi ko alam kung dahil Sponge Cola crowd ang laman ng bar, pero parang kami lang ang game din makipagkulitan sa kanya. Nang manghingi siya ng mga request na kanta sa audience, kami lang yung sigaw ng sigaw.
"I took my love and I took it down, climbed a mountain and turned around, then I saw my reflection in snow-covered hills..."
"Fake Plastic Trees!"
"Her green plastic watering can, for her fake Chinese rubber plant, in the fake plastic earth..."
"Kamukha mo si Paraluman, nung tayo ay bata pa..."
"Crazy for You!"
"I'll do you one better: Sorry, is all that you can't say, years gone by and still, words don't come easily, like sorry..."
Pinagbigyan niya ang huling request namin (All I Want Is You ng U2) kapalit ng isang San Mig Light sa bucket namin, na masaya naman naming ibinigay.
Pati yung mga Sugarfree songs, binigyan din ng bagong mga twist. Sa bandang huli ng "Prom", bigla na lang kumanta si Ebe, "We're the king and queen of hearts, hold me when the music starts... (dahil "Prom" nga naman). Sa kalagitnaan naman ng "Burnout", bigla siyang bumanat ng "Bilanggo-oh... sa rehas na gawa ng puso mo..." Kung may pre-cursor nga naman sa pure Pinoy emo ng Sugarfree, ito ang pure Pinoy emo ng Rizal Underground.
Naalala ko nang huli kong mapanood si Mike Villegas (sa isang gig ng asawa niyang si Bayang Barrios) na kumanta ng "Bilanggo". Bago simulan, nagpasubali muna siya, "I wrote this ten years ago for Bayang, nanliligaw pa lang ako sa kanya... hindi niya ako sinagot."
What was the first song you ever heard by 6? "Mushaboom"
What is your favorite album by 2? Cutterpillow
What is your favorite lyric that 1 has sung? "Walang kadala-dala, naghihintay sa wala."
How many times have you seen 11 live? I've never seen him live.
What is your favorite song by 7? "Girlfriend"
What is a good memory you have involving 20? I used to make mix CDs with Carnival as the first song.
Is there a song by 3 that makes you sad? Yep, the single from their latest album ("Someone to Love") kind of describes my life.
What is your favorite lyric that 14 has sung? "It just keeps adding up, I think I'm cracking up."
What is your favorite song by 19? "Lintik"
How did you first get into 22? I read about them on a music blog in Salon in 2004.
What was the first song you heard by 21? "Di Na Natuto", I think
What is your favorite song by 4? "Burnout"
What is a good memory you have involving 13? We went to a gig at 70s Bistro and we had a picture taken with Imago lead vocalist Aia, and afterwards I exclaimed, "Yes, may picture na tayo with Kitchie!" The look on her face was priceless.
Is there a song by 23 that makes you sad? No, her songs that I like are generally happy. She has a cover of "Hallelujah" though.
What is your favorite album of 15? "Corinne Bailey Rae"
What is your favorite lyric that 9 has sung? "Give me my money back! Give me my money back, you bitch! (And don't forget to give me back my black t-shirt!)"
What is your favorite song by 8? "Someday"
How many times have you seen 5 live? Zero
What is your favorite album by 12? I don't really have a favorite, I don't even know most of their other songs, I just really like "Such Great Heights"
What is a good memory you have involving 25? It involves a car, and a girl, and a cover version of "Ikaw ang Aking Mahal".
What was the first song you heard by 18? "Di Mo Lang Alam"
What is your favorite song by 17? "Para sa Akin"
What is your favorite album by 24? "Suntok sa Buwan"