Friday, December 26, 2008

08 : Circus

My favorites for 2008.


The ladies ruled my music player.

1. Estelle feat. Kanye West - American Boy

2. Rihanna - Don't Stop The Music

3. N.E.R.D. feat. Julian Casablancas and Santogold - My Drive Thru

4. Amy Winehouse - Love Is A Losing Game

5. Amy Winehouse - Tears Dry On Their Own

6. Madonna feat. Justin Timberlake and Timbaland - 4 Minutes

7. Kylie Minogue - Wow

8. N.E.R.D. - Everybody Nose (All The Girls Standing In The Line For The Bathroom)

9. Keane - Spiralling

10. Shelby Lynne - Anyone Who Had A Heart

11. Coldplay - Viva La Vida

12. The Pussycat Dolls - When I Grow Up

13. Vampire Weekend - Oxford Comma

14. Rihanna - Disturbia

15. Madonna feat. Pharell Williams - Give It 2 Me

16. M.I.A. - Boyz

17. Duffy - Mercy

18. M.I.A. - Bird Flu

19. I'm From Barcelona - We're From Barcelona

20. Carrie Underwood - All-American Girl

21. Dengue Fever - Tiger Phone Card

22. Black Kids - I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You

23. Ne-Yo - Closer

24. MGMT - Time To Pretend

25. Om Shanti Om soundtrack - Deewangi Deewangi


It's still too early to know what really were the best films of the year. Here are some that are supposedly excellent and that I'm really looking forward to watching (of course, we'll hopefully get to see them after weeks of being subjected to bad Indiana Jones rip-offs and unnecessary horror sequels this holiday season).

Ponyo On The Cliff By The Sea (Hayao Miyazaki)

Milk (Gus Van Sant)

Slumdog Millionaire (Danny Boyle)

Che (Steven Soderbergh)

The Wrestler (Darren Aronofsky)

Man On Wire (James Marsh)

Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman)

Happy-Go-Lucky (Mike Leigh)

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (David Fincher)

Frost/Nixon (Ron Howard)

Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Woody Allen)

Doubt(John Patrick Shanley)

Waltz With Bashir (Ari Folman)

My favorites among the non-2008 movies I saw this year:

1. Phantom India (Louis Malle) - This landmark, but little known, 1969 7-hour opus by Louis Malle (Elevator To The Gallows, Les Amants), resurrected on DVD by Criterion Collection, is perhaps the greatest documentary on India ever filmed. This is not your typical BBC or Discovery Channel routine job. It is a highly personal account of the filmmaker's journey across India, with a narration by Malle himself. While watching it, I felt there was something oddly familiar about it. Then it hit me: oh my god, it sounds like a blog, perhaps the best travel blog you'll ever come across. The film reveals as much of India as the filmmaker's soul, with a camera that sees everything, and a narration that is reflective, inquisitive, judgmental at times, funny, and ultimately, beautiful. (Phantom India's companion documentary, the of-the-moment "Calcutta," is more typical of a western documentary on Asian poverty, and doesn't benefit from the filmmaker's insightful narration, therefore a less enduring work). Like its subject, Phantom India is timeless, massive, intimate, surprising, challenging, quirky, and utterly, achingly beautiful. Required viewing for everybody interested in India, if not for the entire human race.

2. Syndromes And A Century (Apichatpong Weerasethakul) - I don't know what it means (yet), but like Wong Kar-Wai's In The Mood For Love, I'll probably watch it again and again to find out. Intriguing, intoxicating.

3. Raiders of the Lost Ark (Steven Spielberg) - Of course I've seen it before, but not on DVD. It has lost none of the excitement and fun.

4. Days of Being Wild (Wong Kar-Wai) - One of those movies that took me forever to see. Wong Kar-Wai's star-studded 1990 film, a sort-of-prequel to In The Mood For Love, reveals that the director's hopeles romantic stylings have been there all along. Immerse yourself in Christopher Doyle's cinematography, Xavier Cugat's "Perfidia," and the charisma of the young cast, but the romance and yearning are all Wong Kar-Wai's. The movie was partly shot in the Philippines, and I've never seen Manila so lovingly shot in a movie as in this one (perhaps the only other time I've seen Manila photographed in such a manner was in Jim Libiran's "Tribu," but that was set in the slums). Tita Muñoz makes a cameo as Leslie Cheung's Filipino mother. Go see it.

5. Network (Sidney Lumet) - "I am mad as hell, and I am not gonna take this anymore!" Also, still the most acidic fuck-you to corporate media in the history of corporate media and fuck-yous.

6. 3 Days To Forever (Riri Riza) - The main characters spend the movie driving from Jakarta to Jogjakarta, passing through Puncak Jaya, Bandung, and other Indonesian towns, stopping to party, smoke stuff, get laid, enjoy the views. It's the fantasy road trip I haven't taken! Yet!




The hits:

1. The whole Nepal experience (finally coming to this blog very soon, I think!) - to top it all off, I was able to visit/see the country's UNESCO World Heritage Sites, all 10 of them!

2. Finally stepping on Indian soil - a dream come true

3. My brother's wedding

4. The Eraserheads reunion concert

5. Nearly passing out becaue of the heat, hunger, and exhaustion in Ayutthaya, Thailand - I'd prefer to pass out because of travel anytime, than because of, well, anything else!

The pits:

1. People moving on - sad, but inevitable

2. The doctor's diagnosis that reminded me that I'd been living a very sweet life indeed

3. When the most stupid and rude mechanic was sent to fix my computer and wiped out almost all my travel photos - like your whole family dying on you, at least for three days (silver lining: there were backups, but not for everything!)

4. Prices just keep going up, up, up...while the salaries stay the same.

5. Cory Aquino apologized to Joseph Estrada for EDSA II?? I'm sorry, but was she out of her mind? She should then apologize to all of us who went to EDSA for four straight days to hopefully drive away the drunken, womanizing, stealing, good-for-nothing bastard out of office. Early this month, I attended a screening of the Mike de Leon (et al) Ninoy-era documentary "Signos," and after the screening, a middle-aged former street activist stood up and voiced out his disenchantment and dismay over those people whom they counted on during the Marcos era, who had/have not really done anything --and in fact, they themselves--did/have done harm to the Filipino people. Well, I'm 32, and I feel the same way now. God bless this country.

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