This Uncertain Feeling: The End of Love (2015) Review

Directed by Eric Hsu (Hsu Li Da)

Screenplay by Eric Hsu (Hsu Li Da)

What is it that we know about love?

This is the question that begs to be known in Hsu Li Da’s second feature film The End of Love. We follow the lives of four contemporary couples at the beginning and or at the brink of their love lives. The key here is simplicity. One looks at The End of Love and it becomes an immediate favourite for its stylish honesty.


The film starts off with a man and a woman, whose meeting fits well for the film’s first and last scenes. She lingers a look with what seems to beg for answers (as we are), his on the other hand are filled by a profound look of contemplation. The kind of characters that we find in The End of Love are nothing like the usual ensemble cast of characters trying to explain what love is, which is usually portrayed through various gimmicks and pretentious styles. These characters are real, and each story unfolds naturally like we’ve all met these characters before.


An old man meeting his childhood crush at an elderly home; a troubled married couple whose misplaced feelings about their marriage makes them desperate for having a baby; a millennial couple with different priorities: one fighting for his community as an activist, the other working as a bar-girl to sustain the economic status of their relationship; and a student falling in love with his former teacher.

Hsu writes the screenplay as raw and as metaphysical as it could be. During the first few scenes, the married woman discusses briefly her trip to the doctor. The husband invites her for a shower, and she coldly answers “We’re not young anymore”, the same line to be used by the husband as a representation for both of their selfishness and insecurity towards their marriage.

The film’s slow, unhindered scenes offer subtle representations of social issues, death, love, and family. Is this the end of love? One must ask. And oftentimes the question and its answers are always present for us to find out. I find that the ending was left open; perhaps Hsu unknowingly left it there for us to find versions of our own.

This review first appeared on Film Police Reviews.

Indie, IndieFilipino, Movies, The 500 Film Challenge

Notes on ‘Taklub’ (2015)

Lou Veloso’s character in Brillante Mendoza’s film that’s been making waves in both local and international film circuits for almost over a year now is only a blithe example of how experience can get you a remarkable performance. Whether it’s to present how unimaginable a situation is for a small character as his ‘Mang Renato’ in Taklub or how his portrayal can manage to swim along the brilliance of Nora Aunor.

I still stand on what I wrote on Film Police. I still think that Lou Veloso shines more than Ms Aunor, although I admire how she stayed true to the character, without overpowering her co-stars Julio Diaz and Aaron Rivera and Mr. Veloso. There’s just something about the whole performance that at some point did not make me want to believe in what she was [selling] to me. She exudes that matriarchal empathy that the film needs as much as we need our mothers most when times are rough. There are several episodes of personal tragedies faced during Typhoon Haiyan which were featured in local dramas, and Taklub offers it in a grander scale.


In the recent light of Heneral Luna’s success, let this post be a reminder that Taklub was also screened to local cinemas on September 16th. It would be interesting if people went to watch this one too, then perhaps we can truly confirm that this will continue the change that Philippine Cinema needs.


A full-length review of the author is posted under Film Police Reviews. Click here to read more. Photos on this post are taken from the same review.

blogger, Movies, Non-Film Oriented, The 500 Film Challenge

2014 in review


2014 was all about losses and wins. A number of things from a dear friend in Christopher Fajardo to a house I lived in for almost half my life, to pets and comedians and brilliant actors and actresses, to my ever failing ability to keep a proper time management to do the things I love.


This year was surely a year for valuable relationships. I made sure I had that in tact first.


Next year, I do hope to spend much more time at the movies and write about it more.

And yes, I think we do have a winner for the 500 film challenge. And don’t worry, it ain’t me. 🙂


This is me, featuring this year's favorite photo app.
This is me, featuring this year’s favorite photo app.


In case you’re interested, here’s the stats of my blog this year. Thank you!


The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,400 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 23 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

blogger, Movies, The Good Stuff

Everything I Learned, I Learned from the film [500] Days of Summer


It has always been on my annual list of 500 films. Yes, I kind of thought of the number of films to watch in a year was a coincidence, but it’s a challenge on it’s own. Though I could also write a different entry on five ways this film almost ruined me, because for three years now every time I try to manage a list for all of the films I watch, I loose them. But now let’s focus on the things I managed to learn from this film.

Whether or not this was based on an actual person named Jenny Beckman, I will never know. Though I keep tabs on every Wikipedia article on it’s cast and crew (not including boom men, make-up artists, personal assistants to the cast, it’s assistant directors, location manager, and whatever else you can think of) and of the film itself, I think the last time I read the articles about this was waay back in 2009. So, let’s get back on track.

For the benefit of anyone who hasn’t seen this flick, the reasons don’t normally show the order of scenes. And by the way, the film itself doesn’t show the films in order.


1. Summer Finn is not a Bitch


Summer Finn is not a bitch. Now in one scene Tom, the character played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt might assume she’s a bitch, along with his friend and officemate, McKenzie would also assume the same thing because she wouldn’t give a rat’s ass on another officemate who’s hitting on her. Another scene would explain briefly as to why she sees the world as it is. This scene would be the one at the bar, during an office party where she claims she doesn’t have a boyfriend and doesn’t need to. Summer is just a woman who knows what she wants. As a woman, I find that inspiring. Empowering even.

2. Being Single is one of the most exciting experiences in the world


Back in the old days, men and women are supposed to follow a proper social standing to be accepted in society. A woman going well into her thirties would have been married with three kids, and a man had already wed a woman and have been successful in his profession. Well, we’re way past those days and Summer states that she “doesn’t have a boyfriend because she doesn’t want one” to quote it directly and then further states that “we live in one of the most exciting cities in the world, might as well have fun” which exudes the freedom to choose whatever a woman or a man wants. No offense of course to anyone who reads this and may have found their matches early on but isn’t it fun to see a woman, a person enjoying the freedom of being single instead of wallowing at the thought that nobody else wants to love you that’s why you’re single?
I was single when I first saw this film. It exemplified the feeling to accept the fact that maybe time hasn’t come for me yet to experience what it feels like to be loved back by someone as special [as the one I have now] and enjoy things I couldn’t do had I chose a different path and went on to become someone entirely different. Being a singleton gave me the time to learn about myself, to do things I could share with other people, to undo the things I did towards my siblings in the past by spending time with them. I did all these and when I met the, possible One, I had so many things to share, a passion in life to talk about.

3. There are two kinds of people in this relationship


At least in a relationship that won’t work. A boy named Tom whose early influences were punk rock’s The Smith’s, (whose songs have blown me and my twin away even before this film was even made) 80s romantic love songs like She’s Like the Wind, The Pixies’ Here Comes Your Man, and of course the classic film The Graduate in which the guy gets the girl in the end even if all it takes is to get her away from getting married. Then we have the girl, Summer, whose parents divorced when she was younger, and that even cutting her long black hair didn’t feel anything meant that she can get through with life without caring for anything or anyone that might have an effect on her and might inflict pain or happiness. I like the contrast between these characters. Relationship is a two way street because there’s two of you involved. It can’t just go your own way just cause. Which leads us to the next reason.

Which is 4. Everything should be clear from the beginning of a relationship


Which did not seem clear to Tom as to what Summer wanted in the first place. I’ve had instances in my life wherein I thought the other person knew what I wanted, but he didn’t. And neither did I. So in the end it never worked out. I was a Tom at some point until I almost wanted to have a certain expectation in a relationship but it never went that way because I never did anything to let it go towards that direction. Communication is key as always. Summer asked Tom after the office party if he liked her only as a friend, and he said yes. But he had other expectations. In the end, Summer had to say that there was something she couldn’t understand between them because he never clarified what exactly did he want.

5. This is not a love story.


Films like The Graduate actually meant something completely different for me. In the film, what it meant to Tom was that the guy always gets the girl in the end, no matter what. Although that reference was great, I didn’t expect that classic to be included. This is a film about relationships, told in a nonlinear narrative because that’s how we all look back at the relationships we used to have, or the ones we have at the moment.

6. You find people/things when you stop looking.


I’ve discussed this over and over with my sister, and although the Deli scene was only mentioned by Summer in passing, the Deli was sort of responsible for her finding the man she married. Although it had crushed me several times in the past to know that someone somewhere has met the guy I thought would be the One and are currently spending fruitful days enjoying each other’s company, this scene would play in my memory several times as a reminder of how happy I am at the moment. I met the One at an office party, a party I wasn’t supposed to go to but I had to because my boss told me I would be tagged as Absent (and I am quite obsessed over my attendance). He was sitting outside the bar of the After party. I asked for a lighter and we talked while we smoked. Two years and six months later, I still find myself smiling at the thought of his face smiling back at me, and his hand clutching mine in his.

7. To die by your side is such a heavenly way to die.


I’m actually talking about the Soundtrack. Who knew Carla Bruni could sing back in 2009? This film introduced me to the indie bittersweet song Sweet Disposition by The Temper Trap which was smoothly played during the time Summer and Tom were on their way to Millie’s wedding. Plus we got to see another singing episode of both Deschanel and Gordon-Levitt during the office party scene. My favorite acts like The Smiths (which was always blissful to listen to), The Pixies, Feist and The Black Kids were included. Also, that moment where Tom is left startled in the elevator after Summer sings a line from The Smith’s song to die by your side/is such a heavenly way to die has happened to most of us.

8. Friends and (your sister) is all you need to get through a [messy] break-up


Well if you don’t have a sister, then a brother or someone whose close enough to a sibling helps. Other heads are better than one and friends and family help us get through life. Tom’s friends were always there for him even before, within, and after his relationship with Summer ended. This helped me realize that as stubborn as I was when I really wanted someone at some point in my life, I got through it with so much help from them. If my sister hadn’t told me how foolish I looked like to be chasing after a failing dream, I wouldn’t believe how foolish I did look.

9. Expectations vs Reality


Admit it. You always wanted to stay on that other side of life. The Expectations part of life. Filled by daydream, illusions, and fantasy. The Reality part is always too scary to look at but that scene where Expectations vs Reality was phenomenal for me. Especially when they really had to literally push the Expectations part out of the screen was genius. Heartbreaking, but really genius.

10. Intense Passion can be Inspiring and Destructive


When Tom and Summer were in the good times of their relationship, they were both benefiting from it. Sexually fulfilling and inspiring for both of them. The wisdom Summer gained from Tom’s hopeless romantic mood had encouraged her to realize that not all relationships would fail much like her parents’. Plus, she gained a friend in Tom. Tom was inspired to do well at work, and realize that he should pursue his passion as an architect and that being a card writer wasn’t all he was good at. It became destructive to both of them along the way, but in the end letting go of the other had at least taught them a few things as a couple and as friends.

11. Lessons from a Fallen Love


It had to end, at some point or the other. They both became people for the things they learned about each other that they wouldn’t have learned had they still kept their relationship. For me, it’s okay to look back and the things I learned were beneficial to who I am. It’s not who I am completely but the experience I had from a Fallen love is interesting. Like Tom there were times when I’d remember and be bitter about it. But mostly these days I’m not. But without overcoming it, I probably wouldn’t have met my guy from the office party, just like Tom meeting Autumn while going for an interview for an architecture firm and knowing what he wants for the better. And Summer ending up married to the guy who changed her mind about how relationships should be but staying firm on what she really wants in life. Happiness.

blogger, Classics, Movies, The 500 Film Challenge, The Good Stuff

Les Cousins (The Cousins)

13 June 2014

Dear Being Chris,

It’s Friday the 13th and I chanced upon Claude Chabrol’s Les Cousins. It says on the back that this is a love story. Well, sort of. About this provincial man going to Paris to study Law and live with his cousin and then he falls in love. The summary at the back’s quite vague so I’m giving it a chance. Plus its a film by Chabrol and you know how the French New Wave gets me all excited. By the way, that transition from Charles bedroom to Paul’s driving in Paris was cute.

Paul took him to the Latin Quarter, in a club called the Union. There his cousin introduces him to the locals while flirting with a girl named Martine. While he watches a game of bridge,walks in a girl whose smile can easily put a strain in your heartbeat. Her name is Florence. They get introduced and he lights her cigarette. But she leaves after seeing Vonvon in just a split second. Ah, there goes that momentous look as Charles comes after her. He finds her outside walking away with another man. He decides to go inside a bookstore and looks for a Balzac novel. The bookshop owner is delighted and lets him take Lost Illusions for free.

His cousin Paul looks charming even with the trimmed beard all over his chin and the sides of his mouth. He gathers some friends in their apartment for a little soirée. It’s early 60s France but he plays Mozart for the evening.

Charles reminds me of Montgomery Cliff. Florence appears in the scene a few moments later, she looks very pretty. He tells her “I’ve been waiting for you ever since, well, for a very long time.”

After Mozart, Paul puts Wagner on. Suddenly the lights go out, and in comes Paul with a soldier’s hat and a candlestick holder filled with candles. He recites a poem which ends as Charles and Florence kiss. The record scratches as Philippe, one of Paul’s friends makes a scene.


Charles and Florence flee, as they hide behind a skinny tree they kiss. It was quite romantic. I love it when a man in a film becomes completely bashful of himself and thinks he says stupid things or if he’s got a stupid face. He confirms this with Florence and like this manic-pixie girl she’s becoming she tells him flat out that she thinks he’s got a lovely voice. She begs him to recite her a poem, but instead he tells her “I’d rather think it for you and then you tell me if it’s good”, and they just stare at each other for a while. He confesses he loves her but worries about the guy he saw her with. She tells him he’s just a friend, but he tells her he’s not all about “just friends”. He asks her out for a quick drive but this fancy meet-cute gets cut short after Paul ends the party and drives Florence along with another woman. He ends up in a different car with thoughts in his mind about his feelings.

Is Paul in love with Florence? But there’s something strange about Florence too.

Charles asks Florence to meet after class but she forgets the time and ends up talking to Paul and his hustler of a friend Clovis. He convinces her that wanting him for herself would be selfish. “You are meant for caressing, not for feelings” he tells her. It appears that Florence has had a reputation of sleeping with many of Paul’s friends. She reconsiders an offer to sway her feelings towards Paul instead. Clovis convinces her that having sex with Paul would be a better way to forget her feelings with Charles and in a way she won’t become a distraction to Charles studies. And as we know it, they head over to the bedroom.

As awkward as it sounds, this becomes both heartbreaking and motivating for Charles to move on and study further.

Juliette Mayniel and Jean-Claude Brialy
The stunning Juliette Mayniel as Florence

Paul passes the exam as he predicted without even taking the time to read his notes. Not only did he get the girl, he gets to prove he’s far more better than Charles. Unfortunately for Charles, he lost the girl and his chances of getting through with life as that violent ending occurs.

"We were happy, us three" Juliette Mayniel, Jean Claude Brialy and Gèrard Blain
A longing exists between Florence and Charles
Charles' innocence has been broken after a recent discovery

Paul’s thrill-seeking life may not have been used to the kind of honesty Charles was about to afflict him, but I guess in a way it was better that Charles had died that way rather than be filled with more unfortunate events by means of killing Paul. It saddened me though that his love for Florence had to be ruined that early. It was selfish for Paul to think that the two did not deserve the kind of relationship they would have if they were to become a couple.

Well, I enjoyed that drama Chris. The close-ups on these three main characters were stunning. Also, that bit when Paul was waking up his Italian-Jewish friend Marc had a close up and said, “You scared me Paul.” That was clever.vIt’s one of the most memorable lines one could ever say in a black and white French New Wave film like this.

From one half of your beloved Kinoc twins,

Books to Movies, Movies, The 500 Film Challenge, The Good Stuff


I can remember when I was younger when my dad had told me about JFK’s assasination. Equipped with a strong imagination when I was a kid as I read him on our one and only Encyclopedia, my dad had told me how he made this impact not only to the American people but to the whole world.

To quote a line on this current film about the assassination of JFK, “My brother just killed the most important man on the entire world.” 

My boyfriend and I decided to watch this over that film that I still heavily feels has ripped off a their story from a Japanese manga about the youth’s hunger for kill. I saw the trailer for this several days ago and I had interest in what POV it may provide in that long time conspiracy about the assassination of JFK.


A friend of mine from the office told me that the reason behind JFK’s death was due to the Illuminati. Dad tells me that the CIA is behind his death. I too have the same feeling, but for whatever reason it may be, this film will definitely give you a little insight on what happened from the time he was assassinated, to Harvey Lee Oswald’s arrest and his death a day after, and the two’s funeral on the fourth day.


Upon JFK’s arrival in Dallas, we find people in offices, in the streets, in shopping markets getting excited to find the young President. I guess real shots of his descent from the airplane were used in the film but we will never see the face of the man who acts as JFK. Dr. Charles ‘Jim’Carrico, played by Zac Efron is a charming representation of the doctor who first examines the late president. He later looses his coolness when he realizes who he’s about to operate on. This film also stars Paul Giamatti who plays Abraham Zapruder, a textile man who shot the footage of JFK’s assassination from 30 yards away through his 8 mm Bell & Howell Zoomatic Director Series Model 414 PD.


Another notable performance in this film comes from James Badge Dale who plays as Lee Harvey Oswald’s brother, Robert. Within less than 24 hours of the late president’s assassination, he learns that his brother has been accused of killing the president. Finding a different perspective in the story, Dale portrays a character who represents the people infuriated with this person who doesn’t seem to have a soul in killing the nation’s beloved president, and at the same time he tries best to remember that Lee Harvey Oswald is still family. Another point of views come in to play, such as FBI Agent James Hosty, played by Ron Livingston who was investigating Lee Harvey Oswald upon Oswald’s return to the US in 1962. Billy Bob Thornton plays Agent Forrest Sorrels of the Secret Service who was assigned to escort the president for his Dallas trip.

Nobody could have played the role of Mrs Marguerite Oswald than Jacki Weaver who’s high pitched voice has indignantly protested that her son Lee Harvey was working under orders of the US government.

This film is based on the book Four Days in November: Assassination of President John F. Kennedy by Vincent Bugliosi, written and directed by Paul Landessman who writes the script with sublime intensity. This is a delight for conspiracy theorists because although it doesn’t clearly depict who is behind the assassination, the film feels accurate in depicting the events that took place in those four days.

Gripping, thrilling, and entertaining. Though it feels like it was a written novel, to think of it being based on a larger true story makes it even more interesting for a rewatch.

Classics, Movies, The 500 Film Challenge

Much Ado About Nothing (2012)

We’re about to finish this year’s challenge! (Yay!) I do apologize if I haven’t been able to update this blog for my recent film viewings but I do promise (and I will try best) to post all of them before the year ends (which is in two days by the way.. eeek!). I created an excel file which showed the statistics of my day to day viewing and saved this on my 3 year old laptop which, unnfortunately, retired early this year.

Hence, I was only able to retrieve the ones I saved earlier on my journal (from January to March) and have been saving some on my phone from end of July till present. I have been finishing this one blog post about Josh Whedon’s retelling of one of my favorite Shakespeare comedies. And as I’ve stated before I’m not much of a critic so I’ve created a film “experience” about the film. If you’re interested, read on.

Directed by Josh Whedon

Screenplay by Josh Whedon

Starring Alexis Denisof, Amy Acker, Clark Gregg, Nathan Fillion, Reed Diamond, Fran Kranz, Jillian Morgese, Sean Maher, Spencer Treat Clark, Riki Lindhome, Ashley Johnson, Emma Bates and Tom Lenk

I’ve seen the 1993 version of one of my favorite Shakespearean comedy and was delighted with that version. But I have never been more excited to find this fresh, modern take on the classic tale between witty lovers Lady Beatrice and Signor Benedick and the almost tragic love story of Count Claudio and Lady Beatrice’s cousin, Hero. The play that was first published in 1623 has both elements of politics, love, honor, deception and comedy. The 1993 version stayed true to the play being set in the 17th Century with it’s costume and production arrangements. This film from Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Josh Whedon offers a fresh take by putting all characters in modern clothes but the dialogue stays true to Shakespearean prose.

It’s set in black and white, and the film starts as Lady Beatrice and Signor Benedick (played by Amy Acker and Alex Denisof) are in a flashback.

220px-MuchAdoLeonato (Gregg) the governor of Messina, his daughter Hero (Morgese) and only heir, and Lady Beatrice all gathered in the kitchen of Messina, a posh Hampton-esque home which is actually set in Santa Monica, CA. A message has been delivered that Don Pedro, a prince from Aragon along with his men Benedick and Count Claudio (Kranz) have come back from a successful battle. This message is literally sent into Governor Leonato’s Blackberry via BBM. Upon hearing this, Lady Beatrice pokes fun of his service as a soldier. The two have a longtime “merry war” between them thus almost all throughout the film. Count Claudio, who has been in love with Hero for quite some time now rekindles his feelings with Hero upon seeing her.

Later that evening, a planned masquerade ball is held in the backyard of this makeshift Messina. Don Pedro disguises as Count Claudio in order to woo Hero. The scene, masked in the serenity of the outdoors, tipsy guests, wine, acrobatic dancers and a bossa nova song in the background makes it feel oh-so-sexy without losing it’s intention to the origins of this story. At the ball we find Signor Benedick garbed in an Arabic shawl covering half his face as his mask, while Lady Beatrice wears the same satin gown she wore in the flashback and a bejeweled mask. They banter around about Signor Benedick, LB either knows that the man masked in the Arabic shawl is Signor Benedick, or not but proceeds in belittling him, stating that Signor Benedick is a ‘Prince’s Jester’, a dull fool. On some corner of the party we find Count Claudio glancing at Hero and Don Pedro, with a hint that he may be a little bit jealous that it isn’t he who’s wooing Hero at this moment. He proceeds to drinking a bit more for the night to mask his anxiety.

The morning after we find Count Claudio, drunk and dipped in the pool with goggles. Don Pedro’s brother, Don John along with his friends Comrade and Borachio (Lindhome and Clark) float from behind telling Count Claudio that Hero has a thing for Don Pedro. The count is furious, thinking that his companion has betrayed him. Everyone in the kitchen convinces him that Don Pedro has successfully wooed Hero and a wedding can be scheduled the next day. The two lovers are as merry as a peach but in the background we find Lady Beatrice and Signor Benedick begin to banter again to each other. Once the two leave the room, everyone else begins to plan how to match the two.

That very day, Signor Benedick spies on Leonato, Don Pedro, and Count Claudio stating that they overheard from Hero and the house maid Ursula that Lady Benedick has professed hidden desire for Signor Benedick. He cannot believe it himself but he begins to like the idea. I have been waiting for him to mutter the words ” Love me? Why it must be requited!” which were my favorite lines from the original play. And yes he does say it at this point. Alexis Denisof’s Signor Benedick is as witty and comical as Kenneth Branagh’s, his playboy air isn’t lost at all which makes his portrayal in this film convincing. At first I thought he would be too old for Amy Acker, but then it kind of grows on you. The women also talk about Signor Benedick’s confession, making it a bit loud for Lady Beatrice to overhear. She too, begins to like the idea that Signor Benedick may have feelings for her after all.

The film which was just shot in 12 days at a house in Santa Monica that Josh Whedon’s wife had designed. I am amazed at how brilliant the screenplay was created, it still stayed true to Shakespeare’s original play and at the same time audiences of this generation will still relate to it’s prose, a prose filled with humor and a wise poke at gender politics, deceit, and romance. Amy Acker’s performance is young and smart and at the same time she brings out the vulnerability that a strong woman often hides. Fran Kranz’ expresses Count Claudio in the most charming way possible as he is smitten and oftentimes too easily deceived by this love he feels for Hero. Although of course Hero hasn’t really done anything to deceive him.

I don’t think you won’t be needing SparkNotes to understand this movie, which makes it great since this contemporary version is as close to it’s original screenplay and yet it never looses it’s charm and wit that it looses when Shakespeare’s plays are interpreted in these modern times.


Much Ado About Nothing

Books to Movies, Movies, The 500 Film Challenge, The Good Stuff

#51: Life of Pi

I have given you two stories. Which story do you prefer?

12 March 2013



#51: Life of Pi

Directed by Ang Lee

Starring Gautam Belur (Pi, age 6), Ayush Tandon (Pi, age 13), Suraj Sharma (Pi, age 16), Irrfan Khan as the adult Pi, Tabu (Gita Patel, Pi’s mother), Adil Hussain (Santosh Patel, Pi’s father), Ayan Khan (Ravi, Pi’s older brother age 7), Mohammed Abbas Khaleeli (Ravi, age 15), Vibish Sivakumar (Ravi, age 18), Gerard Depardieu (the Cook), Po-Chieh Wang (Sailor), Rafe Spall (Writer/Yann Martel), Shravanthi Sainath (Anandi), Andrea Di Stefano (Priest)

Screenplay by David Magee

Produced by Ang Lee, Gil Netter, David Womark

I have never read the book but as I saw its title on the bestseller’s list when I was twelve, I thought it was about a man who was named after Pi, the mathematical symbol and thought it was a book about that. After a great interest in this year’s Oscar list (in which I notice all of them are about two hours long), I found myself immersed in this film’s trailer alone, wondering what the experience was to watch this, and then catch up with the book afterwards.

It is one of the greatest cinematic experiences I’ve ever enjoyed in years. The film begins as a writer played by Rafe Spall (One Day, Prometheus) visits Pi Patel after being referred to him by his uncle to tell him of the incredible story of his life. At this point, Pi is played by Irrfan Khan (New York, I Love You) as an adult. He looks at the writer with doubt but proceeds with telling him the story of his youth.

Piscine Molitor Patel was apparently named after a famous French swimming pool in which his uncle considers to be the cleanliest swimming pool he’s ever been on. But as he grows up in the French district of India, he changes his name to “Pi” after being teased as “Pissing Pi” and automatically becomes a school legend after he explains to everyone in school how his name is related to the mathematical symbol and jots down the entire meaning of the symbol in its numerical order during his first day in Math Class.

His family used to own a zoo, as he tells the writer his fondness for animals. One particular animal has caught his interest, a bengal tiger named Richard Parker. As he attempts to see the tiger eye to eye by handing him a piece of meat with his bare hands, his father runs in angrily telling him that animals are unreasonable beings. “They have no soul and they do not think like we do.” By proving his point, his father an ever reasonable man brings in a goat, ties it on Richard Parker’s cage and within a few minutes Pi and his brother along with their mother witness the tiger devouring goat. He was born a Hindu, but he is also a Catholic and a Muslim. He explains to the writer that “You never know your God until you are introduced to Him.” And that all he’s ever really wanted to do was to love God and to understand him in all three. His faith in God plays a vital role in the story.

Soon his father decides the family must move to Canada since the family business can no longer flourish in India, they set off for Winnipeg, Canada on the ship called Tzimtzum, a Japanese Freight ship along with all their owned animals. The only noted scene where Gerard Depardieu appears is when the family gets their meal. Since they are all vegetarians, Pi’s mother requests to get a vegetarian meal but the cook (Depardieu) continuously prepares rice/porridge, sausages, with gravy and garnish on top. Pi’s father takes rage on the cook insisting that they be given proper food. But the cook reminds them that he cooks for sailors, not zoo owners. Thus the entire family feed on rice and gravy on top. Later on while the whole family is asleep, Pi wakes up to a noise he hears from outside. He tries to awaken his brother but he refuses to wake up. He steps out of their cabin and sees that there is a storm outside. Several of their animals are released, two Toucans and a struggling zebra among others. He admires the storm, watching the marvelous waves struck against each other. Up until he witnesses one of the crew members fall into the ocean and half of the ship being devoured completely by the ocean. His instincts tell him to rescue his family, in which he attempts to do. He goes back into the cabin and we are sent into a 3D masterpiece of including the usual setting when one gets into the water, where all sound is mute and desolate. I admired this part, because although I didn’t see this on 3D, I felt Pi’s panic when he jumped into the water to attempt to rescue his family. Though he searched deep into the ship, he was not able to find them. He swims back out, still in search of his family, but he is immediately taken by a crew member to take the lifeboat. A panicked Zebra jumps into the Lifeboat and the cook and Pi falls into the water.  But Pi swims back up and gets into the lifeboat.

After the storm he finds himself in the lifeboat with an injured zebra, and riding on a net filled with bananas is an orangutan they named Orange Juice. Pi asks Orange Juice where her baby is but the orangutan just gives him a smug. Out of the blue a spotted hyena emerges from beneath the lifeboat’s tarp and taunts Pi. Pi swings the boar at the hyena but it spots the injured Zebra. With all the occupants of the lifeboat starving from seasickness, the hyena attacks the Zebra and then later on attacks Orange Juice which immediately rages Pi. Suddenly the tiger Richard Parker emerges from the tarp and attacks the hyena. Pi immediately thinks he might be next and so he swings the boar at the tiger. Richard Parker takes his swing at Pi and throws him off the boat. The next few scenes I won’t reveal but all I can say is that the only animal left is the tiger.

He adopts several survival plans, attempts to outwit Richard Parker but fails, and oftentimes succeeds. A scene in which they finally share the boat is remarkable, both cinematic and story-wise.

Richard Parker


I have found myself asking if it is possible for a man and an animal to communicate in this way. The relationship between two survivors are evident: they have to stick with each other so they can both survive. When Pi attempts to steal the boat from Richard Parker after hunting for fishes, he suddenly finds himself caught in a situation on whether to trust his instincts or to stick with his conscience. This animal did somehow save his life earlier. And so they both stick with each other, even after discovering a floating island that literally gives meaning to the term Virgin Island. On their 227th day of being shipwrecked, they land in Mexico where they both part ways, almost half dead.


But what Pi couldn’t understand, and even us the audience could not understand at this final moment between the two is when Richard Parker walks, away from the boat, without even looking back at Pi, but stops before he jumps into the jungle. He stops for a moment, and you would expect him to look back, but he doesn’t. Pi tells the writer how devastated he is when Richard Parker just left him there by the shore. When he is rescued by the villagers, he cries out loud, not because of hunger, but because of the pain this tiger has left him.

Yet another heartbreaking part of this story is added, when Japanese investigators visit him in the hospital for the ship’s insurance. Since he is the only living survivor of the ship, he is asked of how the ship sank and how he survived. But as he tells them of the story which includes the animals, his family sleeping in their cabins, lost away into the depths of the sea, none of them believes this. And so, Pi makes up a story, a less fantastic account of sharing the lifeboat with his mother, a Buddhist sailor with a broken leg, and the cook. The cook kills the sailor in order to eat him and use him as bait. His mother later struggles with the cook and pushes him to a smaller raft and the cook stabs her and she falls overboard. He returns to the lifeboat and kills the cook. The writer notices the comparison between two stories: Pi’s mother is the orangutan, the cook is the hyena, the zebra was the sailor, and Richard Parker the tiger was Pi himself. Pi asks the writer which story he prefers, with doubt and cynicism one would chose the second, but the writer attempts to mask his doubt and tells Pi that he prefers the story with the tiger in it because “it is a better story”. Pi grins back at him to which he responds “And so it goes with God.” The writer asks if he doesn’t mind that he use that story, Pi tells him that the story is his, it’s up to him to do whatever with it. As the writer glances back at the insurance report and sees that they have written in their report that Pi survived with an adult Bengal Tiger for 227 days.

Suraj Sharma’s performance as the 16-17 year old Pi Patel is remarkable, especially in parts wherein he had to react with the tiger. I haven’t seen any of his works yet but his performance is astonishing, one must look forward to the part in which he weeps upon killing a fish, and although he is supposedly hungry and tired, him making up the second story while weeping in parts that needs weeping to is just impressive.

It was perhaps a good decision to adapt the film into mostly 3D effects to capture that poetic, and epic masterpiece in which most scenes had to be shot in water. I must read the book to get some facts straightened up. A must-see movie for fans of the book, for those who like Action and Adventure, and for those who plan to go back to their faith in God.

blogger, IndieFilipino, Movies

Lone Auteur


Been here last night. I’ve been invited here before but due to the location of the venues (last year I think it was at B-Side in Makati) I never went. But thankfully, since I now live in Quezon City I had no other reason not to go. And so I went alone and took the pedicab from home to Freedom Bar. The event, which is organized by the University of the Philippines Cineaste Studios, the country’s first film related organization.

I was looking forward to the silent film competition called “Haute Auteur Silent Video Competition 2013” and last night was when the winner for the said competition was announced.

Apparently since I had somewhere else to go by 11pm I left at 9:30 but was satisfied with what I saw among the finalist in the Silent Video competition.

One of my favorites would have to be Ramon Raquid’s Figures which features a guy brushing his teeth but this would appear as “figures” due to the Solarized format of the  video.

I had one free beer and saw a long time friend along with her boyfriend who was one of the finalists. I wasn’t able to meet Radioactive Sago Project but I was satisfied that I went and at least try to enjoy every bit of ht show.

Good luck to all finalists.

CinemaOne Originals FilmFest, IndieFilipino, Love Stories, Movies, The Good Stuff

Baybayin: The Palawan Script

Baybayin poster, courtesy of
Baybayin poster, courtesy of


Baybayin: The Palawan Script

Written and directed by Aureaus Solito

Music and Sound by Diwa De Leon

Starring Alessandra and Assunta de Rossi, Adrian Sebastian and Sue Prado


Alba and Alban are half sisters who share the same name when written in “Baybayin” (which I’ve learned was incorrectly referred as “Alibata” but is known as the Tagalog/Filipino Script). Alba’s father is Canadian, while Alban’s father is a Palawan who died a few years back due to malaria. Their mother is a healer who at the beginning of the film cures a young boy named Bagtik from being sick and possessed. Upon being cured, Bagtik decides to never speak again and chooses to write in Baybayin as a means of communication for the rest of his life.

Alba and Alban form a friendship with Bagtik and they grow a fondness for him and his innocent ways. Their mother and their father notice this and had once talked about how their friendship might be like an old fable about two sisters falling in love with one man. A few months later, their mother dies from Malaria. As a tradition in the Palawan culture, when a family member dies the family left behind must leave their home and build a new one elsewhere, so that they can leave the past and move on. Alban being the oldest is left with her relatives, while Alba is taken by her Canadian father.

A few years later, Alban and Bagtik are now older, played by Assunta de Rossi and Adrian Sebastian. Their fondness has bloomed into love and so they decide to live with each other. Assunta picks the spot at her former childhood home, a lovely spot beside the shore and a shoreline that connects their home to the other island, which seemed to be traced by God Himself.

Alba is now played by Assunta’s real life sister, Alessandra de Rossi, who also played a part in Solito’s Busong. She is now clad in modern clothes and speaks Tagalog more fluently than Palawan. She makes a stop first by a relative’s birthday party wherein she meets a soldier who introduces himself to her. This man is played by Mon Confiado who reprises his role as, well, a promising villain. Alba ignores his attempts to woo her and he seems to be dissatisfied by this. On the evening of her stay, he attempts to rape her but she manages to fight back and run away into the forest. In the forest she is found by an old friend who takes her to her sister.

What I don’t like much about previous Filipino films is that when there is a necessary shot in the forest, especially at night, you will anticipate a fight with the darkness. You will be left clueless as to why there is a scene in the forest although there is nothing you could see. Independent and mainstream cinema has improved and we can now see into the dark spaces, unless it is a required technique that everything has to be dark and the acting is really blah.


Unless the projector used is really dull, I assure you that although some scenes were shot during dawn or at night, you can see that the acting (especially the locals) is really natural. I was worried at first that I might not see Alessandra properly making her way out of the forest, but I was not disappointed. The “innocent” love scenes between Alban and Bagtik are also impressive. Since it is told in the movie that Palawans do not kiss but rather they feel each other’s presence, and that is enough. It felt romantic and important, not cynically depressing.

The people’s love for tradition and their island is not always evident in all places. This pretty much describes our whole country in general. While others strive to protect our Indigenous people, others are blinded by what money, modernism and image can do. Aureaus succeeds in showing us the beauty of own country, our own traditions, our own language, and that love is innocent and kind, if that is what this movie attempts to show us about.

Mon Confiado’s character along with the American tourist and his stout, colonial-mentality infused wife help make the movie real, by trying to steal this Paradise from its caretakers. There is one scene in which Mon and his troop find their way into the elders’ ceremony and steal their gongs just because he heard that the gongs are expensive when sold and that the sound of these have irritated him for the past three years.

The de Rossi sisters are effective as Alba and Alban. I have never heard of them being in love with one man in real life but if they have been able to translate it to the film quite convincingly. They are both known to be loud and outspoken in real life but they have a way of being their exact opposites in the films they star in. Not that I am offended by them being chosen in this role. I was actually excited to see them act together again. They are effective as a team, along with Adrian Sebastian, because they understand each other. A normal person, let’s say that person has been brought up in values of this dog-eat-dog world, would not allow this situation to happen. But since Alba understands that Alban and Bagtik have been taught growing up that this kind of situation happens. That kind of innocence and naivety can exist. This kind of idea may sound threatening to most of us, but the three makes it seem harmless. That as long as love exists, in both sisters and their love for one man, and their love for cultures and traditions, it doesn’t really matter.