Willing to be Illuminated and Pierced

Posts tagged ‘movie’

Movie Perspective: Revealing the Reeking Societal Cancer in “Heneral Luna”

heneral lunaI was never been a fan of General Antonio Luna. Known for his infamous temper, I ever wondered why he was enlisted in the roster of Philippine heroes. At the first week of the “Heneral Luna” screening, I dismissed it as another average period film. Until the social media buzzed with endless accolades for the film.

Although oozing with curiosity, it took me four weeks before seeing it. Notwithstanding the fact I watched it without a date (which I never ever had yet), I got more than what I’ve bargained for.

Much of the movie plot revolves on the Philippine revolution, which coincided at the close of the 19th century. Here was General Luna, pompous and ready to defend his principles — in a defensive move. Not the wimpy kind of general who would shrug his shoulders when the government was ready to deal with the American conquerors, Luna was stubborn to push the Westerners off the newly instituted Philippine Republic.

His ways in disciplining his soldiers, mostly the cowardly ones, and his laid back fellow generals was offensively harsh to many of them. Those who resisted his orders were immediately slapped with Artikulo Uno: those disobedient to the general’s orders can be subject to punishment and death without undergoing military court.

His defense on his stance offended many of President Emilio Aguinaldo’s cabinet members. This had triggered a conspiracy to eliminate the headstrong general. But one thing made Luna’s name forever etched in the pages of history was his love for his Motherland. Never mind the women that he had, the rough way he dealt with his enemies and even allies. Until the end of his life, he was brave enough to stand as a man for his country’s freedom and not for his selfish priorities.

With the the film’s quick plot, I was surprised when it ended after almost two hours. In a short span of time, every historical personality became much alive, and even personal, by the way the actors portrayed them. John Arcilla, who played the role of Luna, convinced me that the general was more than a rash character from my school textbooks. His eyes had this hint of madness that made Luna look much like him (add it with the general’s mustache). Yet, he had also embodied the other dimensions of his character very clearly.

No need to impose how realistic this film should be, as the facts in this part of Luna’s life was well narrated even with a few symbolisms, especially his assassination. (Oops, sorry for spoilers) Jerrold Tarog, the director of his film, had been ingenious in weaving history and relating it to our social consciousness. He had reintroduced a tragic but praiseworthy figure once forgotten in our classes. With that he brought an awakening to a demoralization that has never been cured until now.

This film showed us more than Luna’s character. Though it was not proven in history who killed Luna (though most viewers had implied it to be the president himself), his death had shown how much we are still dealing with the so-called cancer of society: treachery, greed, and selfishness. As Luna was eliminated by Filipino soldiers, the film revealed how his own countrymen was ready to put away unity for the sake of their own selfish agendas. So it is with our society today. I’ve seen this scene many times with our leaders, eliminating one another through character assassination. But I believe it’s not only hitting the political arena, but it goes out to all of us, as well.  Luna’s question echoes to many, “Kaya natin magbuwis ng buhay sa pamilya pero para sa isang prinsipiyong makabayan? (If we can sacrifice our lives for our own families can we not do it for our country?)”. What I got was more than a story, but a reality that we have to tackle and address.

I once thought that Marilou Diaz-Abaya’s Jose Rizal (1998) was the best period film my generation could see. Jerrold Tarog had proven himself a genius in recreating a period film, making it worthy for Oscars. It brought back my faith that we Filipinos can create noteworthy period films that can be entertaining, mind-opening, and worth the sacrifice to see it.

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Movie Persepective: The Humbling Hero’s Bow Of “Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends”

“Man does not live by strength alone.” This and other memorable lines have been found worthy for an ending fit for a legend at the third and final installment of the Rurouni Kenshin trilogy, “The Legend Ends”. For the first time, I was one of those given a chance to see its premiere night. For a Rurouni Kenshin fan like me, I wouldn’t trade this ticket even for a thousand bucks. After being left hanging in the second part, Himura Kenshin finds himself returning to his roots. In order to defeat a nation’s crumbling under a madman like Makoto Shishio, the former Battousai has to learn how to overcome his past, his fears, and himself. Of course, I wouldn’t be a spoiler although some of you (especially those who had followed the anime series) may be guessing how the story will gou. But the movie emphasized one point — to have the will to live. Up to the end, Rurouni Kenshin did not disappoint me. Though much has been left out from the series to fit into the film (like the highlights of the one-on-one matches with the members of the Juppongatana), the final installment retained the very soul and mantra of Kenshin himself. Just like the anime series, Rurouni Kenshin is not just a battle of swords, and fighting styles, with a bit of ostentatious politics lurking behind the higher-ups in society. It is the battle of principles. Kenshin’s “will to live” — which his Sensei Hiko Seijuro emphasized — is not for on glory and fame alone. To live is for the most important things in life, which is, not only for self, but for others and the peace of society. Although our timelines are far off from Kenshin’s “new era” under the Meiji reign, still his principle is something that we can learn from. While I couldn’t help but gape at the impressive fight scenes and quick storyline, it brings to the point the need to search and think about of our purpose in life. We live for something far more worthy than money, fame, and power. When we take off our eyes from the temporal things, we’ll find something more worth fighting for. I’m sure I’d miss Kenshin again after the final installment. But I’m sure this ending, though humbling, is a worthy bow for a remake. Screening of “Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends” in Philippine cinemas begins at September 24. I bet you have to get in line first before countless Kenshin fans start to fill the queue. 🙂 IMG_20140922_225846

To be a Wallflower, Anyone? (Movie reflection from “The Perks of a Wallflower”)

I hated prom nights. I was very glad I never had been to one in high school. Due to forgotten circumstances, our school decided to postpone such an activity in our batch alone. To justify my joy, I reasoned out it helped us save supposed-to-be-wasted-money…but the truth is, I wouldn’t have the chance to be lonely as a wallflower.

Much was my anxiety as a teenager. It’s so natural how I wanted attention and how I wished I was every boys’ talk of town. I was not a typical popular girl and had this secret jealously with the pretty and popular.  (I was quite childish, boyish, and a bit nerdy.) But perhaps, being an unattractive wallflower has its perks, too.

When I treated another friend to watch The Perks of a Wallflower, we expected it as a typical teen flick. But my reason for seeing film was Emma Watson. Appreciating her since those Harry Potter series, I expected her to break off from her bewitching character as  Hermione Granger. At this point, she surprised me on how she Americanized herself as a typical high schooler named Sam.

The film’s protagonist, Charlie, was a shy freshman who mingled with a group of seniors who helped him out breakout from his shell. He was utterly close to Sam and her stepbrother Patrick. These guys did not mind Charlie’s introvert character as they had him tag along their parties and school lunches (they were totally loud and fun-loving). Being older and more liberated, they were able to share to him their self-expression. In reciprocation, Charlie mingled well. But as their friendship progresses, they began to pour out and even share their inner frustrations and even pains.

As a light, realistic teen flick, it lightly dealt with difficult issues of teen sexuality and abuse. It’s more of a picture of how adolescence, despite of the promising hope of youthfulness, can be a painful can affect one’s mind and being. On the lighter side, these young people tried to live day by day by shoving off each other’s differences and try to turn away from the pains by living loud and free.

I loved the friendship that was built despite of their differences. In high school, factions and groups were made according to your kind. But not Charlie and his friends. Together, they explored the wonders and even the hardships of a teenager. Senior or freshmen, they go through the same realities.

Being a teenager is never easy. Being a wallflower shouldn’t be a big deal since dealing with the pains of adolescence is much harder. I guess, if Charlie had not been with these older people, he wouldn’t have dealt with his dark secret at all – even at the point of almost bringing him to insanity.

So, Charlie isn’t really alone. And I’m not alone, too. I guess a wallflower is really better since I’m no heart throb too focused on myself not realizing the joy of sharing adolescence with the oddest friends. Prom night or no prom night, unpopular wallflowers like me is no big deal at all. Differences will never be an issue as long as there are real friends who understand your difference. It is only fellow teenagers who can understand teenagers, despite of the misfits they do in life. They learn from one another and carry what they can as they age more.

If ever that prom night pushed through, I guess I’d have some of my fellow misfit friends stand with me on the wall. I don’t have to be popular to express myself, right? Charlie was not popular, yet was accepted because of friends who had some crazy fun and shared frustrations with him.

If I were the person now back then, perhaps I’d just dance crazy just like Patrick and Sam. Then towards the night, with some 90’s rock music, stand on the top of the pick-up truck and wave your arms like an eagle.

To be a wallflower, anyone? 🙂

Casting the First Stone (and a bit of a movie reflection from “The Mistress”)

I find that my movie night out with a friend last Friday was so unusual. I’m no cheezy romantic, but for the sake of destressing from our normal reality, we watched “The Mistress”. Believe me, this is the first time I watched a Pinoy romance in cinemas. 🙂

The story begins with the pretty tailor Sari meeting the architect JD. And in order not to spoil the rest of the story, I’ll just run through to say there was an attraction, a pursuit, a surprise, a conflict and an ending (haha…because the point of this writing is not the John Llyod-Bea pair up).

The movie though, reflects one slice of reality. It made me think a lot on judging others and ourselves.

Bea Alonzo’s character, Sari, is not the typical selfish, villainous-type of mistress that was usually portrayed in traditional media. Her family’s breadwinner, she makes sure she could provide everything they need to survive. Despite of her simple and giving nature, no one would think of her as a mistress of Rico Torres, a rich, old tycoon and CEO of a huge telecom company…this one, of course, disappointed John Lloyd Cruz’s character, JD. Yet, after five years of being the other woman, she did not abuse the old man’s kindness, more so being spoiled.

So, who the victim here? Actually, all of us can be like Sari. It’s surprising how good people can hide some dark secrets. Shocking, but true. It’s easy to condemn the bearer of the closet when the skeleton inside jumps out. In this world though, we’re all prone to fall into deep sin…even the most “righteous” of people.

When JD asks Sari what if she had never met Rico Torres, and everything on earth is OK. When they close their eyes, it made them see themselves ending together. But then, Sari asks, “Pwede bang magkatotoo ang kunyari lang? (Can something we have pretended become a reality?)” That one choice she made turned her away from that one thing that she could have been hoping at that point in time.

We all have choices and no law stops us from picking the path we take. However, the consequence arrives at the end of the road. We can’t judge Sari for choosing to be a mistress just because she wanted to gain something. But she was trapped in the choice she had made. In the end, after all the conflict, she had to let go…as her affair ended in a tragic turn.

I find that there’s a little of Sari inside of us. We might be seen as good people and yet there are bits of secrets so dark that can turn off anybody when found out. We can be trapped in the choices that we make, no matter how we are taught to obey these rules and laws. One fatal attraction can become a deadly blow, if not to us, to the people around us. We can all be victims of our choices. And yet, who are we to judge others who try to keep their skeletons in their closets?

When the Pharisees brought an adulterous woman before Jesus (John 8:2-11), He did not decide just like the rest of the crowd. As he was challenged to answer on what to do on her since the Law of Moses says that such a person be stone, He gave them an equally challenging answer instead, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

I wonder how this present day society would react when the Lord Himself would tell us the same. We’re used to social media bashing, vengeful reactions, and negative speculations when we have not seen the other side of the story, at all. Are we that “righteous” to think that we are above the rest of the condemned? Aren’t we condemned along with the rest of the sinful society, too?

And yet, in His grace, Jesus told the woman “Go, and sin no more”. That’s grace. She did not deserve it and yet He gave it.

In all of us, there is both goodness and wickedness. We are all victims to a fallen world and to our condemned selves. Yet, we can’t just point a finger to a fellow brother who is just as filthy as we are. And yet, here’s a God who gives His grace to wretched man. It’s just up to us to go for it and to give up our wretchedness. And yet, our fellow man needs help, too. Who, then, would be willing to cast the first stone?

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