Franz Ferdinand

I was named after Ferdinand the president. It was my late grandfather’s idea; my parents were helpless about it.

Years later, I regretted such name because it means that, by default, people would call me Ferdie. But I learned how to put up with it, not be melodramatic about it and went on with life.

More years later, I realized I regretted the name only because it didn’t have another name preceding it such as Miguel, Joseph, or this best one yet, Franz.

Just imagine the possibilities if it did. People might call me Migz. Or Jose. Or Franz. Or Ranz. Or Anz. NZ. Z.

Or they might call me by the complete first name.

Franz Ferdinand sounds really awesome.

And it would be much more awesome if it were my actual name.

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untitled

The gap between what keeps you busy is sometimes dangerous, until you realize that you are again doused in insignificant loneliness.

This feeling washes over you like the tide on the beach, and you’re just there lying, waiting, doing nothing.

Because unlike before, you gather that it would be best to let this feeling, or whatever it is, categorically, complete its course–because you know that eventually, you’ll get yourself together, even though you do not know what exactly is tearing you apart. Or what exactly it is that engenders this loneliness that is crushing you.

You are not okay. You are lonely. But you figure that you are still okay because you are still aware that you are not okay. And that it is okay to be not okay.

This shall pass. And you thinking that this shall pass is a tinge of optimism.

The night ceases when the day comes.

memories of murder

The thrill of getting to the end of it, of solving the mystery, of connecting the dots and the pieces of evidence, of unravelling the identity of the perpetrator, and of seeing this evil incarnate behind bars as justice is served – well, that’s not what one is going to get from this Bong Joon-ho mystery-murder drama, Memories of Murder. Instead, the director plans on taking the audience to an experience more affecting, poignant and haunting than what any other murder-mystery flick did.

Memories of Murder was based on the first ever recorded serial killings in the history of South Korea. The odious crimes transpired sometime in between 1986 and 1991. The victims – all females – were raped, mutilated, slain and abandoned in some ditch or field. The culprit, unidentified, enjoys freedom up to now; the cases unsolved. Hence, one may think that it is impossible for this story to materialize on the big screen.

Most people who trudge to the cinemas for this genre crave for this ending: puzzles solved, motives of the crime made known, and all secrets revealed – a so-called satisfying ending common to murder-mystery flicks. But Bong didn’t see the story material a challenge at all, and if he ever did, it would be safe to say that he overcame the challenge beyond expectations.

Tension builds as the film progresses. Although a series of murder is expected, one will not be burdened by the predictability of events – even a tinge of it, in fact.

The key to the success of the film is its solid narrative, astounding cinematography, and excellent acting by the leads. The director pieced these elements together, creating one of the most important works in Korean cinema or in this genre in general. A must-watch.

happy friday

It is a Friday, a day on which the working class celebrates the impending momentary freedom from deadlines, heaps of paper work and fastidious bosses. The after-5pm nocturnal hours shall be burned with intoxication under the blinding lights in some party clubs in the city.

But you have a different case: this Friday does not induce any excitement. While you ache from the deadlines and paperwork and difficult bosses, your work does not end at 5 unlike that of other young professionals’; hence, you will continue toiling throughout the night until you get the work done. And in case luck finds you, and you manage to finish the tasks earlier than expected, still, you will not be spending the rest of the night with a beer in your hand because the mere thought of it already creates a bitter taste in your buds – you despise it. Also, the thought of being in a crowd, gyrating, sweating in some party house is far-flung from your idea of fun and relaxation.

Reading a book might do the trick. Or starting your The Flash Season 2 marathon could help you through this weekend. Or perhaps, a movie marathon could provide you the ease you need. But these do not excite you at all. Or probably, nothing does. Nothing will. Sleeping straight twelve hours could be painful in the head, too.

Then you realize how terrible your state has become. You have developed an excruciating repugnance towards work but are also clueless of what to do without it.

But you get down with reason: work feeds you and makes your wallet fat and healthy. Boredom can be painful to a degree but will not kill you anytime soon.

So you retract your conjecture. Your life is not bad at all. The glass is just half-empty.

Me, Myself, and Mum: Novelty in a familiar subject

Warning: Spoilers. Duh. 

When most homosexuality-themed movies would milk from the struggles of a homosexual to gain acceptance from family and society, here comes a film that departs from the norm. Revert the situation: a man finally coming to terms with his real sexuality, convincing his mother, and perhaps his family, that he is surprisingly a heterosexual.

Me, Myself and Mum (Les Garcons et GuiIlaume, a Table! – the original title, but not the direct translation) is a French comedy film whose story is based on the solo stage show by Guillaume Gallienne, the main actor and director of the film. The film is said to be Guillaume’s autobiography, and via his monologue, as if reliving his theater performances, he transports his viewers along his journey to self-discovery.

Growing up, Guillaume bears the penchant for pleasing his upper middle class bred mother, who, with such definiteness, utters at every meal, “Les garcons et Guillaume, a table!” which simply translates to “Boys and Guillaume, to the table!” Consequently this seeps into his perception that his mother sees him differently from his brothers. That perhaps to her he is a girl. And this pleases her. And all is well for him.

Having this in mind, Guillaume as a youngster strives to delight his mother by being the daughter she never had. And just like the tendency of any daughter, Guillaume piously studies his mother’s nuances, imitating her to the best he can. As a result, in separate instances, just by only hearing Guillaume speak, his grandmother would mistake him for her daughter and his father his wife.

With such generosity, coupled with his seemingly theatrical but nevertheless sincere and palpable execution of his own confused and lowly-esteemed younger self, Guillaume shares his embarrassing moments from his taunting stay in an all-male boarding school, his funny encounters in learning Spanish and dancing sevillanas in Spain, his first heartbreak when he attended an English school, the unsuccessful forays in gay clubs for a sexual experience, the awkward screening for the military service for which he is assessed unfit, the confronting psychotherapy sessions, and his oxymoronic painful spa relaxation – all in which he generously deprecates himself for the marriage of wit and humor. And in this, he is successful.

The story however takes a turning point when at a friend’s dinner party Guillaume is swoon over by Amandine to whom he later gets engaged.  He discusses this to his mother and implies that he is not a homosexual and she and the rest of the family should accept this. But his mother is in denial simply because – which Guillaume realizes– she is afraid of losing his son to another woman. That all along, this has been the reason why his mother would distinguish him from his brothers to be the daughter she never had.

The movie offers a different perspective on gender confusion, if that makes sense. The idea of a man initially seen as a homosexual and who has now accepted his heterosexuality – because that’s what he really is – and is now yearning for his family to do the same is somewhat a novelty. This is, as the cliché goes, a breath of fresh air. And that alone is an enough reason for anyone to view this film.

More than that, Me, Myself and Mum has a heart. And its heart is Guillame himself, who after realizing what he really is does not blame his mother or anyone for his having to go through the trauma and complications of gender confusion. There is no self-pity. He does not succumb to anger but instead appreciates his mother for being instrumental to his profound understanding of women – one of whom he marries.

It is also great that Guillaume decides to play the character of his mother for most part of the film and later have another actor play the role after he realizes he is not a homosexual. This can be considered a technique to emphasize the transition of the main character’s perception of himself imitating his mother to his real persona – the heterosexual Guillaume. Clever.

Despite all this, the film lacks a little more exposition of Guillaume’s discovery of his heterosexuality. That as soon as he sees Amandine and is struck by her presence, the film cuts to the pivotal scene where Guillaume confronts his mother of his heterosexuality without revealing much of the journey he goes through before reaching the point where he exclaims to himself, “Yes, I am a straight. I have been wrong. Mother has been wrong. They are wrong all along.”

Nevertheless, for all the good things mentioned above, Me, Myself, and Mum is a must-see. Moreover, it is a French comedy – which may be too much of generalizing, but c’mon? Who doesn’t like French comedies? Watch it.

skinny head

Since nothing is more tragic than a day bereft of purpose, and ideas from the required academic readings will not seep into my dilapidated brain after hours of attempt, plus remaining in bed may only intensify this rumination, which is something I’ve been trying to avoid, I will thus make this day meaningful by feeding the dogs, paying the bills, cleaning my room, drinking cake milk tea, watching Spy, visiting the National Museum, singing Lilac Wine by Jeff Buckley while taking a bath, surviving the heavy traffic, delighting in the summer heat, laughing at loneliness, sporting a skinny head, praying and staying alive.

The day does not need to be lofty. It just needs to be something.

old boy

What would you do if you were snatched away from freedom one rainy night and confined in a strange room for fifteen years? You’re abducted away from your wife and little daughter for a reason unknown to you. You had nothing in that room but a bed, a TV, a toilet, your angst and pain. You’re gassed every now and then rationed meals as needed. Your mind flew to delusions. And all of these fuelled your desperation to break free from this confinement. Secretly, with a metal chopstick, you carved that usually-hidden part of the walls and intended a crevice. Luckily, your efforts managed a way out.

Then in an instant you woke on a roof deck – you’re free! But fifteen years had passed. News had it on the TV you mechanically watched during your incarceration that you murdered your wife; hence, you’re a fugitive now. You didn’t know where to start, and you’re too deranged to think about it.

Then one day, a stranger handed you a mobile phone.

A call vibrated from that phone – it’s he, your perpetrator: the one who set out to kill temporarily your existence. The moment struck you. Your lips jerked for words you longed to ask: Why did you imprison me? The strange man on the other line managed a response. I am a scholar and you were my study, my major.  He urged you to think your lifetime over. He left a word.  Be it a grain of sand or rock, in water they sink as the same. You’re puzzled. Then you thought of vengeance. It smelled sweet. But you thought it would be sweeter if you had a taste of it; hence, you sought for it.

This is not the first Korean film I have watched. I have seen several but none among them is as riveting, disturbing and clever as this Park Chan-Wook neo-noir masterpiece, Old Boy.

At first, the film isn’t easy to follow. To some the absurdities at the beginning may send them searching for another flick worthy of their time. But if you are keen on peculiarities and can stretch your patience to a few more minutes after spending the first 10 or 15 of peering at the screen and hearing nothing but monologues from what seemed to be a mentally-deranged man, you will find all of these shards and fragments slowly forming a beautiful and affecting piece.Then sooner you’ll see the protagonist tread on a quest to seek vengeance and unravel the identity of his nemesis and the reason for his confinement.

Furthermore, fans of this genre will have a generous treat of blood, violence, humor reminiscent of the Kill Bill series by the auteur Quentin Tarantino.

Unlike the Tarantino flick, however, this Park Chan-Wook does not give his protagonist the fruit of his labor. Instead, he is shown that the vicious circumstances in the present result from the sins of the past, which, in the case of the story, can never be atoned for. And as he nears the finality of what he thinks is a sweet justice, the most brutal punishment yet than all those which scourged him in his confinement will hit him hard right into the core of his soul, making him despise the realities he can never overturn. And no amount, no other form of torment could surpass this punishment, turning him to a creature bereft of humanity: a dog wagging its tail, woofing at its master, almost literally. And on this premise banks the mind-boggling, shock-inducing finale akin to the level of Hitchcock’s Vertigo.

Watch it.