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Monday, July 24, 2017

Movie Review: 'Kita Kita' Is Intimate and Endearing


There was a sizable audience tonight when we watched a screening of Kita Kita at SM MOA. It is always great news for local cinema when an indie-produced film makes a breakthrough in the box-office through sheer word-of-mouth only.

While I was watching it, it reminded me of the American movie, Lost in Translation, released in 2003, which had a similar thread to this movie - its simplicity, the surprising unaffected chemistry of the two leads, the blossoming of the romantic possibilities, and the way it showcases the beauty and uniqueness of Japan, as seen through the eyes of the female directors (Sofia Coppola, Sigrid Andrea Bernardo) of these movies.

I highly suggest that you watch both movies one after the other, and explore the complexities of human relationships as the directors present isolation and heartbreak.

One is set in the tranquil (well, that's the way it looked to me) city of Sapporo in the lovely island of Hokkaido, in northern Japan, while the other is set in the frenetic city of Tokyo, amidst the sheen of Park Hyatt Tokyo, and the craziness of Shibuya and Shinjuku.

They are both beautifully photographed, with a tender musical score that would make you want to book a trip to Japan, right here, right now, and follow the leads of both movies, as they visit the delightful sites of both cities.

Well, back to the story.

As both leads find each other, we revel at the connection that they make with each other, even though from face value, they may not seem the most likely of couples. Alessandra looks lovely but is depressed, and so is Scarlet's character, maybe not too depressed but is ignored by her husband.

Come to the rescue, Bill Murray and Empoy Marquez, who are both comedians so they don't exactly have matinee idol looks. Surprisingly, there is a bubbling chemistry that you can feel they have with their beautiful leading ladies. There is no corniness in their facial expressions and you can feel their earnestness to connect with the two women.

I saw that kilig in English is to gush (Kita Kita had subtitles - and you can bring a Japanese-speaking friend along since a good percentage of the movie is in Japanese) - and I won't be surprised if many, especially the millennials, would be able to identify with Alessandra and Empoy.

I was wistful as I left the theatre after watching Lost in Translation and you will too, after watching Kita Kita. The circumstances of how both movies end are not the same, but they tap at the same vein of what might have been.

The third movie that you can bookmark with these two movies is Atonement, with Keira Knightley and James McAvoy, but you'd need too much tissue paper already.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Revisiting Cafe Breton in Greenbelt 5

It has been awhile since we last ate in Cafe Breton in Greenbelt 5.  We were actually looking for a dinner place and we were tired of walking already, so we ended up there.  Most of their menu are their famous crepes but they do have 'heavy food' so we ended up ordering spaghetti for the kids and burgers and salads for us adults.

The burgers were tender and juicy and the salad was delicious as well.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Only people who have never traveled the world think they are better than everyone else

Unlike most of my friends who pride themselves for visiting as many countries in the globe that they can cover, my family is a bit weird, as we prefer to visit the same cities again and again, especially if we had an enjoyable time there.
We were already departing Brunei this time, but the funny thing was we were already planning our next trip to it - this time - hoping to bring the kids along!
I think it's important that they experience the Istana royal family visit so that they can shake hands with the Sultan and his gracious family, and experience the post-Ramadan open house celebrations of the Muslims, as it is a totally different cultural experience that would give them an appreciation that it is not only a Christian world.

Also, nothing like real world experiences to teach them how to behave properly in a different culture, practice the proper etiquette and develop their interest in food, fashion and interior design, which is not always Western in context.
Ignorance is often the source of all the intolerance in the world so when I encounter people who make stupid racist remarks (whether they be white, Filipino, Chinoy or whatever), I just say to myself, this person has never been anywhere in the world.
Only people who have never traveled the world think they are better than everyone else.

Monday, June 26, 2017

What If We Practiced Urban Planning in Metro Manila

My topic for my students last term was on urbanisation and one aspect I concentrated on was urban planning.

I told my students that if you were Superman and could hover over L'Arc de Triomphe in Paris, you would see that 12 streets emanated from it, something you won't really notice when you're down on the arc, since you'd be dizzy from all the cars whizzing around you and of course, by the immense structure of the arc, which houses the tomb of an unknown soldier.
Furthermore, you won't see any skyscrapers in that area, as all buildings that tall were built in an area they call La Defense.
So I don't think you'd ever see a condominium development in front of the Eiffel Tower anytime soon - but here, the Manila government of Mayor Lim did not do their due diligence and allowed a condominium development to rise behind Jose Rizal's memorial.
That's how we revere our national hero. Walang urban planning, bara-bara na lang.
So I told my students, you could just imagine the political will of the French, not to allow any private developer to desecrate any of their important historical sites, something which unfortunately, many of our city mayors do not have.
Luma na? Gibain na! Gawing mall.
May open space? May park? Sementuhin na. Gawing mall.
So I told my students, by the time they reach 30, Metro Manila will have cemented all its open spaces and parks and turned them into big, humongous, boring malls.
By the way, the picture above is the Quezon Memorial Circle and its bevy of parks, way back when. Nowadays, at the rate the current local government is going, all that greenery will be gone in 20 years - and Quezon City will have no more 'lungs' and fresh air to breath.
God forbid, the UP Diliman administration of the future will also think of converting all of Diliman's open spaces into one nameless big mall into another.
It actually has begun already.......

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Beautiful Pre-World War II Pictures at Quezon Resto in Fisher Mall

The Quezon Restaurant in Fisher Mall has been there for a few years now but it's only today that we tried it - and the lunch buffet was good!
What was more interesting were their collection of pictures of the city of Manila circa the 1920s-1930s.
My pictures here don't do them justice because of their glass frame and their chandelier lighting which causes some reflection on the pictures.
Manila was indeed a genteel and a beautiful city by the bay before with, already at that time, a mixture of American and Spanish architecture.
Too bad the Japanese bombed almost everything into ruins in World War II.