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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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Thursday, August 31, 2017

entry arrow8:53 PM | I'm Going to Work on This Dream Starting Today. No More Pipe Dreams.


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Monday, August 28, 2017

entry arrow5:18 PM | Funny Movies

BBC Culture polled 253 film critics from 52 countries to determine the funniest films ever made. Below are the films that made the Top 100 cut [listed from No. 100 to No. 1]. These are the ones I've seen thus far: 101 out of 101. It took a few days to finish them all, but I'm done!

☑ The King of Comedy (Martin Scorsese, 1982) [tie]
☑ The Ladies Man (Jerry Lewis, 1961) [tie]
☑ The Jerk (Carl Reiner, 1979)
☑ The Hangover (Todd Phillips, 2009)
☑ The Music Box (James Parrott, 1932)
☑ Born Yesterday (George Cukor, 1950)
☑ Ghostbusters (Ivan Reitman, 1984)
☑ Rushmore (Wes Anderson, 1998)
☑ South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (Trey Parker, 1999)
☑ The Exterminating Angel (Luis Buñuel, 1962)
☑ What's Up, Doc? (Peter Bogdanovich, 1972)
☑ A New Leaf (Elaine May, 1971)
☑ Daisies (Vera Chytilová, 1966)
☑ Zoolander (Ben Stiller, 2001)
☑ Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Howard Hawks, 1953)
☑ Kind Hearts and Coronets (Robert Hamer, 1949)
☑ Amarcord (Federico Fellini, 1973)
☑ Waiting for Guffman (Christopher Guest, 1996)
☑ Safety Last! (Fred C. Newmeyer and Sam Taylor, 1923)
☑ Top Secret! (Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker, 1984)
☑ There's Something About Mary (Bobby and Peter Farrelly, 1998)
☑ Office Space (Mike Judge, 1999)
☑ The Dinner Game (Francis Veber, 1998)
☑ The Princess Bride (Rob Reiner, 1987)
☑ Divorce, Italian Style (Pietro Germi, 1961)
☑ Design for Living (Ernst Lubitsch, 1933)
☑ The Palm Beach Story (Preston Sturges, 1942)
☑ Trading Places (John Landis, 1983)
☑ The Nutty Professor (Jerry Lewis, 1963)
☑ The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (David Zucker, 1988)
☑ The Royal Tenenbaums (Wes Anderson, 2001)
☑ In the Loop (Armando Iannucci, 2009)
☑ Love and Death (Woody Allen, 1975)
☑ Ninotchka (Ernst Lubitsch, 1939)
☑ Sons of the Desert (William A. Seiter, 1933)
☑ Hot Fuzz (Edgar Wright, 2007)
☑ Caddyshack (Harold Ramis, 1980)
☑ Step Brothers (Adam McKay, 2008)
☑ Arsenic and Old Lace (Frank Capra, 1944)
☑ What We Do in the Shadows (Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, 2014)
☑ Team America: World Police (Trey Parker, 2004)
☑ Shaun of the Dead (Edgar Wright, 2004)
☑ Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade, 2016)
☑ Zelig (Woody Allen, 1983)
☑ Mean Girls (Mark Waters, 2004)
☑ Broadcast News (James L. Brooks, 1987)
☑ Best in Show (Christopher Guest, 2000)
☑ Harold and Maude (Hal Ashby, 1971)
☑ The Blues Brothers (John Landis, 1980)
☑ My Man Godfrey (Gregory La Cava, 1936)
☑ Seven Chances (Buster Keaton, 1925)
☑ Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Pedro Almodóvar, 1988)
☑ The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (Luis Buñuel, 1972)
☑ Trouble in Paradise (Ernst Lubitsch, 1932)
☑ Animal House (John Landis, 1978)
☑ Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994)
☑ Big Deal on Madonna Street (Mario Monicelli, 1958)
☑ Bridesmaids (Paul Feig, 2011)
☑ M*A*S*H (Robert Altman, 1970)
☑ The Awful Truth (Leo McCarey, 1937)
☑ Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (Larry Charles, 2006)
☑ The Producers (Mel Brooks, 1967)
☑ A Night at the Opera (Sam Wood and Edmund Goulding, 1935)
☑ The Philadelphia Story (George Cukor, 1940)
☑ Sullivan’s Travels (Preston Sturges, 1941)
☑ A Fish Called Wanda (Charles Crichton and John Cleese, 1988)
☑ Singin' in the Rain (Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, 1952)
☑ Clueless (Amy Heckerling, 1995)
☑ Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (Adam McKay, 2004)
☑ Raising Arizona (Joel and Ethan Coen, 1987)
☑ Tootsie (Sydney Pollack, 1982)
☑ Monsieur Hulot's Holiday (Jacques Tati, 1953)
☑ When Harry Met Sally... (Rob Reiner, 1989)
☑ It Happened One Night (Frank Capra, 1934)
☑ The Apartment (Billy Wilder, 1960)
☑ Mon Oncle (Jacques Tati, 1958)
☑ The Gold Rush (Charlie Chaplin, 1925)
☑ Withnail and I (Bruce Robinson, 1987)
☑ The Party (Blake Edwards, 1968)
☑ Young Frankenstein (Mel Brooks, 1974)
☑ City Lights (Charlie Chaplin, 1931)
☑ Blazing Saddles (Mel Brooks, 1974)
☑ The Lady Eve (Preston Sturges, 1941)
☑ Sherlock Jr. (Buster Keaton, 1924)
☑ Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938)
☑ The Great Dictator (Charlie Chaplin, 1940)
☑ Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones, 1975)
☑ His Girl Friday (Howard Hawks, 1940)
☑ To Be or Not To Be (Ernst Lubitsch, 1942)
☑ Modern Times (Charlie Chaplin, 1936)
☑ The Big Lebowski (Joel and Ethan Coen, 1998)
☑ The General (Clyde Bruckman and Buster Keaton, 1926)
☑ This Is Spinal Tap (Rob Reiner, 1984)
☑ Playtime (Jacques Tati, 1967)
☑ Airplane! (Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker, 1980)
☑ Life of Brian (Terry Jones, 1979)
☑ Duck Soup (Leo McCarey, 1933)
☑ Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis, 1993)
☑ Annie Hall (Woody Allen, 1977)
☑ Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Stanley Kubrick, 1964)
☑ Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959)

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Saturday, August 26, 2017

entry arrow5:33 PM | Notes From a Saturday

7:00 AM

I had no idea the Pamahaw Sillimaniana would be one crazy, noisy breakfast party. This is only my second Pamahaw in my history of doing Founders Week. The first one I attended was years ago, and it was held in the intimacy of the University House. Karon, gi-dagsa jud ug alumni.

8:30 AM

When I have important events and to-do's scheduled early in the morning, I turn into a cocktail of anxiety the night before, worrying that I might not wake up in time, worrying that I wouldn't hear the alarm ring. (I've been known to sleep soundly through the shrillest of alarm clocks.) So I often just don't go to sleep, slogging my way through the night until it's time to go and meet my appointment. What else to do? Today, I had a book launch at 7 AM. It's over now, and thanks to everyone who came! It's 8:30 AM, and so now I go to sleep. See you in the afternoon, Dumaguete.

This book started out as Marion Montebon-Dans' final project for my Philippine literature class about ten years ago. I told her, "Mar, why don't you collect your Lolo Joe's short stories?" Her eyes turned wide, and she replied: "My lolo was a writer?" Oh yes he was. People know him as a lawyer and politician, but once upon a time, in the 1950s and 1960s, he was an award-winning writer. That school project became this book, Cupful of Anger, Bottle Full of Smoke: The Stories of Jose V. Montebon Jr., which we launched today. It took a while, but here it is: a book of literary archaeology, saving from obscurity one Dumaguete writer. [And yes, Marion got a 4.0.]

5:30 PM

I can finally stir awake after a sleepless night, an early morning book launch, and a day of sleep. Now hungry.

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Friday, August 18, 2017

entry arrow2:28 AM | A Sobering Reminder

"In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so..."

~ Peter O'Toole as Anton Ego in Brad Bird and Jan Pinkava's Ratatouille (2007)

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entry arrow2:21 AM | A Poet and His Manic Muse

Of course 100 Tula Para Kay Stella easily reminds one of (500) Days of Summer, from which it borrows many conceits -- although to detail them now could entail spoilage, so never mind that. But whereas Marc Webb's film was a romantic fantasy that limned lightness, Jason Paul Laxamana takes his film down surprising darker paths, finally subverting in crucial ways the romantic comedy mold it purports to embody. It's not a perfect film but I like it very much: every aesthetic choice Laxamana makes here seems inspired, from the spot-on casting [JC Santos and Bella Padilla bring charm and groundedness to their roles as stuttering poet and lost soul rocker] to happily imploding the cinematic myth of the manic pixie dream girl, from precise cinematographic and editing choices to giving a dexterous story that encompasses years and yet never losing the narrative line in the complicated unfolding. The poems are a little too Lang Leav for me, but that's a minor thing. We've seen Jason do wonders before in Babagwa and Mercury is Mine, but it is in this film where he comes to his full powers as director.

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entry arrow2:18 AM | Failed the Bar

It is Fame for law students, minus the sophomore and junior years, and it is excisions like this, among others, which make Kip Oebanda's Bar Boys a failure in structure. Contrary to how it is marketed, for example, there are only three "bar boys" instead of four, Kean Cipriano's character quickly being relegated to the wayside as the barkada who couldn't make the cut in the law school entrance exam. [Not a spoiler.] In a story that purports to be an examination of friendship braving the wild storms of law school, keeping him in the mix would have been vital to the storyline. Instead it makes other narrative choices that constantly fall flat while embracing the hoary subplots of bad teleseryes. Too bad, because the premise of following the lives of law students actually sounds interesting -- but the film only demonstrates a sophomoric effort that does try its best, but fails the cinematic bar nonetheless. That heart attack scene is contrived, overlong, and cruel. And that final scene in the Supreme Court? An embarrassment.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

entry arrow2:31 PM | Fools

I was just asked why I fling myself into passion projects that often consume all of me. [The old Survey of Philippine Literature website, the Handulantaw book, the Celebrations anthology, the staging of In My Father's House, the current Buglas Writers Project archive, the current heritage work for the city...]

Honestly, at the back of my head, the practical part of me constantly admonishes me: "Don't do it, Ian. You have no idea what you are jumping right into."

Many times I don't listen to it. It's foolish, I know, AND exhausting, but oh well. I remember Oro Plata Mata director Peque Gallaga once attesting that his 1982 film was the work of fools who didn’t know any better: "Had we known what we were in for when we started, we probably wouldn’t have bothered at all, let alone see it through." Thank God, they were foolish. Oro Plata Mata remains 35 years later gutsy filmmaking of the highest order.

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Saturday, August 12, 2017

entry arrow4:48 PM | Life Without the Lag

Fast wifi indeed calms the nerves. Honestly, there was one Saturday not too long ago where I spent the better part of five hours going from one place to the next to find good wifi, and only managed to do one -- ONE -- serviceable piece of work in that time. What I know would normally take me 10 seconds to accomplish I could only do so in 15 excruciating minutes. The whole thing just got to my nerves, and I had to pause and wonder: "The things I could do with a PROPER office and GOOD wifi." Today, I was able to send several work files over FB Messenger in one go. I used to do that file by file, in the span of an hour. Moral: if you want good productivity, invest in your people and their work place.

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Friday, August 11, 2017

entry arrow10:26 PM | Hesus May Be Dead, But the Film is Very Much Alive!

Quick post-screening recommendation for Victor Kaiba Villanueva's Patay Na Si Hesus: Watch it like your life depends on it.

It is uproariously funny, but its drama also cuts deep. It will affirm your love for Filipino film, and it will make you believe Bisaya filmmaking has become a formidable force. The audience I saw it with tonight hooted and laughed -- and by God, there's nothing like the nuances of Cebuano to really relish every line-reading. Spread the word when the film opens for a regular run in Rob on August 16 for the Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino!

You will thank the cinema gods you caught this gem of a film.

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Wednesday, August 09, 2017

entry arrow5:53 PM | Jolts of Joy

Going around town doing chores and to-do's today, mostly small things I couldn't exactly fit into my daily schedule and have to make space for. What amazed me is the surging joy I felt having found and purchased exactly the right kind of coin purse I've been looking for. A coin purse. As source of happiness. Amazing.

You know what's also amazing? Finding out that you did something for a friend that gave him a jolt of joy he badly needed. "Thank you," he texted me. "I'm in a cab and in tears." Awwww.


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Tuesday, August 08, 2017

entry arrow10:23 PM | The End of a Long Day

What is the end of a long day? A catch in your voice that betrays the long hours already survived, and knowing it is a cycle. A sigh of relief when 7 o'clock comes, and the evening is suddenly spread before you like a buffet of possibilities -- and a sigh of dejection when you realize the night is in fact short. A wonderment bubbling in your head that asks, "Where did my youth go? My spontaneity?" The end of a long day is a dream of drinking red wine without the repercussions. The end of a long day is to dream of Friday night. The end of a long day is to spy your notebook of to-do's and dream of exorcism. The end of a long day is thanking the universe for survival, and hoping in the end all these is worth something.


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entry arrow12:27 AM | Fascism in Living Color!

Word has it that Mike de Leon's Batch '81 (1982) -- his searing look into the world of fascism and fraternities -- has been restored by Italy's L’Immagine Ritrovata and Singapore's Asian Film Archive, and is currently scheduled for screening as part of the Venice Classics section of the coming 74th Venice International Film Festival. It will be presented in an lineup that includes Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1900 (1976), Michelangelo Antonioni’s Red Desert (1964), Milos Forman’s Black Peter (1963), Claude Chabrol’s The Third Lover (1962), Jean-Luc Godard’s Two or Three Things I Know About Her (1967), and Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977).

Read more here.

I'm quite happy that a significant number of our film classics are being restored. It's quite a boon to be able to teach/show these restored films in classes and screenings without straining people's imaginations to make them somehow "see" what made them great in the first place. You don't have to explain too much anymore these days: they see the full glory of the restored images and sound, and they respond with enthusiasm. Talk about finding new audiences!

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Wednesday, August 02, 2017

entry arrow8:23 AM | "Later."

Finally, the poster and the trailer for the film adaptation of one of my favorite books has dropped. (Must temper expectations, but it's so hard...). But here's a look Call Me By Your Name, the film adaptation of André Aciman's novel, directed by Luca Guadagnino, written by James Ivory, cinematography by Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, edited by Walter Fasano, and starring Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet, and Michael Stuhlbarg, with music by Sufjan Stevens.

Both look delicious and promising, but must temper expectations!

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