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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Monday, November 30, 2015

entry arrow2:01 PM | Scene From Sidney Lumet's Murder on the Orient Express (1974)

Mrs. Hubbard: (Butting in) And I was nearest to his murderer.

M. Bianchi: You mean you saw the man? You can identify the murderer?

Mrs. Hubbard: I mean nothing of the kind. I mean there was a man in my compartment last night. It was pitch dark of course and my eyes were closed in terror…

M. Bianchi: Then how did you know it was a man?

Mrs. Hubbard: Because I have enjoyed very warm relationships with both my husbands.

M. Bianchi: With your eyes closed?

Mrs. Hubbard: That helped.

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Thursday, November 26, 2015

entry arrow9:00 PM | Maria Taniguchi and the 2015 Hugo Boss Asia Art Award

Congratulations to Dumaguete artist Maria Taniguchi for winning the 2015 Hugo Boss Asia Art Award!

She won the award for emerging Asian artists, beating two other artists from China and three from Taiwan, Myanmar, and Cambodia. Starting in 2013, the award is given out every two years to contemporary artists in the early stages of their artistic creation and exhibition practices.

The 34-year-old Sillimanian alumna, who is known for her large-scale monochromatic brick paintings (all referred to as Untitled), was singled out by the jury for her "very singular, humble, but extremely focused practice of painting and video." The art of Taniguchi, explains Silverlens Gallery which represents her, is highly concerned with structure, history, and artistic strategies. Apart from paintings, Taniguchi also makes videos and sculptures. Her works, said Larys Frogier, chair of the Hugo Boss Asia Art jury, "enriched the realm of media and raised a unique sensitivity of making the picture with infinite possibilities of meaning." Taniguchi's Untitled paintings, two video works, I See, It Feels and Figure Study, and a sculptural work, Untitled (ram dram sram), are on show at the Rockbund Art Museum in Shanghai, China, until January 3.

[Text modified from Coconuts Manila]

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entry arrow8:25 PM | The 'What Is' of Popoy and Basha

I quite liked Cathy Garcia Molina's A Second Chance, much to my surprise. I was prepared to dislike it, given the iconic nature of the 2007 film and the high expectations we often bring to the follow up -- but as it unfurled for me, it revealed its appropriateness as a sequel.

This is Popoy and Basha post-honeymoon, and it is to the film's credit that it decidedly went for an uncommon conflict that's not often dished out by cinematic factories like StarCinema. No queridas here, and no complicated love triangles to warrant a search for yet another chance at making things right. The problem that faces our favourite couple is grittier than those hoary teleserye staples of a problem, and perhaps touches on something a bit more pragmatic: it's being P80 million in debt, and trying to stay liquid. (Ack.)

There were scenes from the film that made for uncomfortable viewing, simply because they hit the right notes about what it's like, really, about being grown up: we're all just flailing as we go, hoping the decisions we make are the right decisions, although deep inside, we really have no idea what we are doing. I guess it's more or less a grown-up film in the sense that it doesn't shy away from confronting issues of adult failures and missed chances. (Ack.)

In tackling the unraveling of a marriage, the film readily reminded me of Richard Linklater's Before Midnight and Ingmar Bergman's Scenes From a Marriage -- but Garcia-Molina takes the influences from both and mixes it with quote-worthy pathos the way Pinoys like their spaghetti: sweet and easy to digest. It works. Even when the actors strain for the credible with lines such as "It’s brave to ask 'what if,' [but] I think it’s braver to ask 'what is'" -- perfectly tailored for the sobbing masses to quote and requote forever -- there is sincerity somewhat in the endeavour that it is able to skirt what could easily be maudlin.

Garcia-Molina, of course, has never really been a cinematic director, and so we don't really get a film that's beautiful to watch. But she is a very capable craftsperson, and she ably stitches shots together and paces all the other elements in such a way that hits the right notes and does its job in selling just enough a story to make it compelling. It works in satisfying the most basic of our expectations, and I'm glad I got to see Popoy and Basha again. Although I'm #TeamTrisha forever. (No Tricia in the film though. Ack.)

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Sunday, November 08, 2015

entry arrow11:19 AM | Artists at Work

I have a thing for documentaries about artists pursuing and crafting their passions, may it be about sushi masters (Jiro Dreams of Sushi!) or typeface designers (Helvetica!) or dancers (Pina!) or comic book artists (Crumb!) or magazine editors (The September Issue!) or graffiti artists (Style Wars!) or animators (Waking Sleeping Beauty!) or filmmakers (Jodorowsky's Dune!) or writers (Regarding Susan Sontag!) or photographers (Bill Cunningham New York!) or back-up singers (20 Feet from Stardom!) or painters (Cutie and the Boxer!) or fashion designers (Unzipped! and Dior and I!).

To start the week before school starts, it's Jody Lee Lipes' Ballet 422 (2014) for me, his immersive look into Justin Peck's creation of the 422nd ballet for the New York City Ballet. Peck (in photo), at 25, has been called ballet's 'boy wonder': although still a member of the corps de ballet, City Ballet’s lowest rank of dancers, he has been choreographing for many of its principal stars. Delicious documentary (and subject, ehehe).

The most powerful moment for me in the film comes right at the very end when Mr. Peck's inaugural work for City Ballet, Paz de la Jolla, ends to rapturous applause, and we find the young choreographer making his way to the stage to take a bow with the rest of the company. You would think the film will end there, right at that moment of triumph. But no. The camera soon follows Mr. Peck backstage -- and you wonder where he is going -- then we find him making his way to his dressing room, to suit up and prepare for the next portion of the program, where he is just one member of the corps. It comes as a pleasant shock: the film comes full circle in that sequence -- and it tells us this is really a film about an artist learning to make his way into his world, and that there is always a time in the artist's life where humble beginnings and the start of something big fade into each other. In Vulture's article about Mr. Peck, Mr. Lipes gives us a way of seeing the film: “With Justin, we wanted to capture that moment in an artist’s career when things are starting to happen, but they’re still learning.” Powerful stuff. Inspiring and humbling at the same time.

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