Saturday, January 07, 2006

Bagong Taon Ay Mag Bagong Buhay…

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


Tomorrow I fly off to Bohol for my yearly visit to our beautiful province. Last time I was there I had limited access to an internet cafe. But a lot can happen in one year. I hope there will be an internet cafe in our town by this time.


Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Greeting

Although it’s been said many times, many ways—
Merry Christmas to one and all!

Christmas is really the time to be with the ones you love. That’s why for the first time I’m spending Christmas here in Baguio with the McVie family! Right now I’m in some internet café down Session Road; the rest are in SM Baguio, doing their thing. We’ll be meeting at Gerry’s Grill later for dinner.

The weather is super-cool, but I seem to have adjusted to it well. The house where we’re staying is owned by Mr. and Mrs. Jim Paredes (yes, he of the APO Hiking fame). It has a fireplace, so we’ve been warming ourselves by a roaring fire every night.

We’re going down on the 26th, then some of us are going to Bohol on the 28th. Again for three years in a row now I’ll be spending New Year away from the noise, smoke and black boogers in Manila. Wheee!

So pardon me if The McVie Show will have regular interruptions from now until Jan. 08, 2006.

Merry Christmas and have a blast in the coming New Year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Supersize Me

I finally saw King Kong last night. The bad thing about me is that when something’s been hyped up to the heavens and is praised by pundits, my knee-jerk reaction is to go the other way. So when I entered the movie house, I had this “Ok Peter, impress me” attitude.

The movie is the cinematic equivalent of a supersized Big Mac meal using quarter pounder patties. It’s great but too much can make you sick. Sure, “Kong” is a non-stop fun romp that masks its three-plus hours fairly well. Yes, it works both as just a straight-forward action-adventure-inter-species-love-story and as a witty (if a bit obscure for the regular viewer) allegory for the movie business. And yes, Peter Jackson is now the new Steven Spielberg since the latter has irrevocably grown up and seems incapable of charmingly innocent escapist movies anymore.

But did he really need all those hours to tell the tale? It took him an hour before showing even a glimpse of Kong. The island adventure was a blast with its non-stop escalation of action, suspense and jaw-dropping effects. He even topped Spielberg in terms of dinosaurs and insects—three t-rexes instead of just two (versus “Jurassic Park 2”), and bigger, nastier insects (versus the Indiana Jones movies). After watching the island sequences you’re left out of breath. Then there’s still the concrete jungle, New York.

The reason why I didn’t mind sitting through about four hours each (!) of Peter Jackson’s extended versions of “The Fellowship of the Ring,” “Two Towers” and “The Return of the King” on DVD is because Jackson needed the time to fully flesh out and make real for us the world of Middle Earth. I didn’t mind the length because I was so lost in the story and the world of Frodo and company.

For me the problem with “Kong” is that despite the fact that I believed in the big ape (congrats to Andy Serkis and the CGI team behind Kong), there were still moments in the film that made me go, “Hmmm.” Naomi Watts, unlucky in love? Hmmm. Three t-rexes in the same area, when they’re highly territorial creatures? Hmmm. Jaime Bell killing off the insects swarming all over Adrien Brody with a machine gun, when he’s never held a gun before? Hmmm. Kong ice skating with Naomi in a frozen pond? Sweet, but still hmmm. Maybe I am being unfair to Jackson and company; that’s what happens when I’m turned off by the movie’s mega-hype. In contrast I had an easier time suspending my disbelief while watching “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang” a movie that had only a poster to promote it.

Sorry Mr. Jackson, I should give your very looong movie another chance. It will be nice to see two of my favorite actors again, Jamie Bell and Kyle Chandler. I fell in love with Bell in “Billy Elliot” (yes I know he was so young then, but he’s grown up now) while I always watched “The Early Edition” just to see Chandler’s droopy yet dreamy eyes.

* * * * *

Gosh, The McVie Show is slowly morphing into a review corner. Argh. I’m not sure why this is so. It’s not that I don’t have a life. Maybe I just think it’s boring or ordinary. I still have a lot of sex, but I’ve decided not to talk about it too much here unless it’s really something new or out of the ordinary or really hilarious.

Perhaps it is time to change seasons. Hmmm.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Cris Pablo Comments

I was taken aback to find out that Cris Pablo left a comment in The McVie Show regarding my critique of his movie Bilog:

hi i was browsing thru the net to search for comments on the movie bilog and i found your blog! thanks for the critique, i loved your critique (ironic no?)... well, regarding the technical (visual and sound quality) i was just as surprised when i saw how our movie was projected on screen and how it sounded on dolby... digital movies like in my case where we only use digital lcd projectors to project our movies, depend so much on the lumens or brightness and contrast of the equipment... we could only afford a 3,000 lumens because it costs P15,000 per day to use a 5,000 lumens projector (this should be the minimum for good quality picture). plus we complained that the light bulb used for the projector seemed quite old and so very dark and when its bright, the image is lost na... pero sa source naman the image quality is good... we had to rent a more expensive projector with 4,000 lumens on the friday screening which costed P6,000 per day (imagine how many tickets we have to sell on a day just to meet that amount. since we are shouldering the rental of projector and robinsons has no responsibility over it, plus the fact that out of P110 ticket we only get around P25 of that... means we have to sell at least 240 tickets!!! hahaha) Anyway, so that's how it went with the video image projection, its really highly dependent on the quality and capability of the digital video projector... to approximate film projectors, they will need a 10,000 lumens projector with dlp sana and not lcd according mismo sa nirentahan namin ng projector. Hope cinemas will buy projectors na ganun kalakas ang lumens. The sound naman, i was disappointed too because several voiceovers that i already deleted resurfaced in what was shown in cinemas... Kasi actually, the reason for this could be: well, palaging nabuburahan ng files, very important video files, sa computer kaya ako what i did was to copy our edited versions to a mini-dv tape para whatever happens to the pc, we will at least have what we call as hardcopy. kaso, hindi napansin ng mastering editor na ang nakuha niyang audio eh yung dating audio where i tried to use a lot of voice overs... regarding the actors, it really was a graduation thesis eh, a recital... something like the design exhibits ng fine arts students... where they hold their exhibits sa malls... ganun din kami, while we were about to be done with our workshop, we discussed with the students and decided na gawing seryosong digital movie at wag magmadali sa paggawa nito... Actually, honestly, laging take 30 ang performance nila pero nang wala na kaming perang pangpakain sa kanila kapag natatagalan ang shooting dahil sa kakailang takes, eh sumuko na din kami at dinaan sa editing...

Parang ang dami kong rason ano? Sorry ha... Hindi ako offended sa comments mo, actually mas gusto ko nga siya kesa sa ibang comments na basta na lang, hindi man lang nag-qualify kung ano yung hindi nila nagustuhan, kaya imbes nakatulong ay tila nakaapak pa sila... Ang critique mo ay maganda dahil inilalahad mo nang maayos ang points mo... Sa akin naman kasi pagdating diyan sa puntong yan ay nasa beholder na yan... Di ko naman masasabing stupid yung mga taong nagustuhan nila ang movie (atin-atin lang ha, actually tinatanong ko sila kung may kaibigan sila sa staff o sa artista para may hint ako kung nagustuhan lang nila kasi kasama ang friend nila hehe).

I hope you will not be mad at me for the kind of movies I made... Wala pa naman kasi akong intensyong gawin silang excellent or art movies or anything other than, may kuwento ako gagawin kong movie tapos susubukan ko ang mga artistang hindi pa umaarte... Ganun ako lagi tumingin sa gawa ko. Ang problem ko lang, sabi ko nga sa friends ko sa Pagdadalaga ni Maximo at sa Masahista, buti pa sila mostly film professionals ang grupo nila composed of at least 5, moneyed, film professionals... Ako madalas dalawa lang kaming talagang professionals kaya madalas ang plano sa preproduction, hindi na-achieve sa actual shoot. Then (I hope you wont say sobra na akong defensive here) pag umabot sa point na wala na kaming magawa kasi, medyo sobra pag kinapos kami during shoots, sa funds (like for food or transpo) hindi na kami makakilos kungdi make do with what we have or what we shot. May mga artista din kaming nakukuhang papayag sa shooting schedule at hindi darating pag naroon na kayo lahat (madalas ito) kaya nakakabaliw!

I will try to make a matinong movie this year, pag nakaipon na ako ng panggawa ng matinong movie hahaha...

If you want, I can lend you copies of my previous movies which were the ones that critiques really liked (slowmotion, etc.) Para hindi mo naman ako isumpa hahaha sa pinaggagagawa ko.

Thanks. merry christmas!

Cris pablo

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McVie’s response:

Cris, I am glad that you're quite open-minded regarding critiques about your movies. From your behind-the-scenes explanation, I understand better why the final product I saw on the Galleria screen is what I described. Believe me, I understand; I work in a network and am familiar with production woes. Clearly a deeper purse can help solve many of the technical difficulties and inadequacies encountered, including the movie projector used. (I read in the papers that SM Cinemas are acquiring new digital projectors. I’m not sure though if their PG policy will accept the kinds of movies you make.)

But what I found more interesting is what you stated: Wala pa naman kasi akong intensyong gawin silang excellent or art movies or anything other than, may kuwento ako gagawin kong movie tapos susubukan ko ang mga artistang hindi pa umaarte... Ganun ako lagi tumingin sa gawa ko.

First, I applaud your desire to give opportunities to fresh new talents. I do believe that encouraging more of them will be better in the long-run for the industry. Second, I take my hat off to you for having the courage and the determination to just grab a camera and put onscreen a story you want to tell. We need more determined storytellers, especially about the lives of Filipino gay men and women. That’s the reason why I’ve seen all three of your movies that had a commercial run. It’s my way of supporting Pinoy pink cinema.

What puzzled me is this: Wala pa naman kasi akong intensyong gawin silang excellent or art movies or anything other. Maybe you just want to downplay your efforts or perhaps you don’t want to sound like some haughty auteur with a touchy ego. But if you view your digital films as just some casually-produced home movies, this particular viewer doesn’t see them as such—especially if your films go on a commercial theater run and people pay to watch them.

Why not set your sights higher? If you’re going out of your way to produce a movie (not the easiest, most casual task to do), why not make an excellent one? They don’t have to be “art” movies. They just have to be well-crafted ones. There are Hollywood movies that are examples of well-crafted productions—writing, acting, editing, etc. And it’s about doing things better, if not best; why not aim for something that’s Oscar-caliber?

What you need is a lot more funds before even shooting a single frame. You also need a producer and production manager who will relieve you of the coordination work so you can concentrate more on the creative aspects of filmmaking. The concept of Bilog had so much potential it pained me to see how so much of it was lost in its execution, due to circumstances both within and outside of your control.

In the end it is insisting on coming up with the best—script, cast, crew, materials, equipment—in every effort you make. Maybe you can ask your Maximo Olivero and Masahista colleagues how they were able to come up with the funds. Maybe you can look for a co-producer who can help come up with the money.

As I’ve said there are few Filipino film makers who tackle gay themes upfront and fearlessly. I support your efforts in coming out with your stories. I just hope they are better told next time.

Thanks for taking time out to respond to a closet cinema critic.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Good Good, Movie Movie

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While everyone else was going ape over King Kong I decided to go counter-popular and trooped to Glorietta to watch Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, the movie starring Robert Downey, Jr, Val Kilmer and Michelle Monaghan, written and directed by Shane Black, the creator of the “Lethal Weapon” series.

Both lead actors have had their share of fairly rough times in their careers. This movie has proven that they are two of the more engaging—if not quirky—actors around; heaven forbid the two would do a movie with Johnny Depp. The whip-smart repartee between the two is one of the best reasons to watch the movie.
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Robert Downey, Jr just before they fry his balls.

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Val Kilmer in a real gay role, unlike his role in Batman.

The other is Ms. Monaghan. She not only manages to hold her own against these two veterans, she manages to steal several scenes from under their noses. I’ve never seen her in her previous work, so her performance here was a pleasant surprise. She gave a funny and touching performance that never felt forced.
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Michelle steals another scene at gunpoint.

Downey plays a petty thief who stumbles into an audition and is hired as lead in a cop movie. Kilmer is the private detective hired to “train” Downey for his role. Monaghan is the childhood crush of Downey who finds herself in the middle of a murder case.

Mistaken identity, corpses left and right, a dismembered finger, electrocuted gonads and mouth-to-mouth action between Downey and Kilmer—the twists keep coming. Yet it is the sizzle and spark between the leads that fuel this movie. I’m sure that the three are no match for the king-sized gorilla stomping its way across almost all the cinemas in Metro Manila. But if you want an alternative from Peter Jackson’s hard-to-miss monster of a movie, then get moving or else kiss kiss this movie goodbye goodbye.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Sacred Feces!

Your EQ is

50 or less: Thanks for answering honestly. Now get yourself a shrink, quick!
51-70: When it comes to understanding human emotions, you'd have better luck understanding Chinese.
71-90: You've got more emotional intelligence than the average frat boy. Barely.
91-110: You're average. It's easy to predict how you'll react to things. But anyone could have guessed that.
111-130: You usually have it going on emotionally, but roadblocks tend to land you on your butt.
131-150: You are remarkable when it comes to relating with others. Only the biggest losers get under your skin.
150+: Two possibilities - you've either out "Dr. Phil-ed" Dr. Phil... or you're a dirty liar.

Well, I guess I’m a damn great liar, mwhek-hek-hek!

Seriously, there were questions wherein my answers were neither of the choices given. So I just chose the one which I knew would be the right answer, even if it’s something that’s not my third or fourth choice for a course of action. Oh well, it’s just an online quiz, anyway.

Justify My Lines, Part 2

I also realized that lines on the face are good if you’re an actor. Sometimes lines can add character where there is none. A squint can be elevated from a mere actorly gesture into an acting choice.

Take Clint Eastwood for example. In Million Dollar Baby he and Morgan Freeman just had to stand there, look impassively and say nothing to earn an Oscar nomination; meanwhile poor Hillary Swank had to spend months in strenuous training and preparation to earn accolades for her acting. They just relied on their lines; she had to memorize hers.

Sometimes a few lines on the face may convey more meaning than a dozen on page. So I should just stop right now and frown. Or smile. Or squint.

You may raise your eyebrows now.