Monday, December 19, 2005

Weekend at the movies

So what did you do during the weekend?

I found some time in my hands last Saturday afternoon and happened to be in the vicinity of the Quaipo district. Being one of those people who can't resist good bargains at quaint places even if it means driving around and around side streets that require clipping the car's side mirrors to get through - I naturally ended up at the Muslim Trade Center. I know what you are thinking - baaaaaaaaaaaad place to be; gasp! it's almost like being in Tondo at midnight with a Rolex strapped to your wrist and bling blings on your neck, wrist and fingers (although why anyone would dare wear a Rolex and bling blings if one doesn't have private transportation is beyond me, but I digress). Muslims take a bad rap for simply being muslims and that is really unfair.

And if one happens to be around the Muslim Trade Center area - one and only one product comes to mind. Nope - not batik (although they do have those in all shades and textures), not pearls and corals (although they have those too including what they claimed to be genuine south sea pearls at Php200 a string - any one who thinks he has stumbled into real pearls at such a ridiculously cheap price needs to be strung upside down?), but yes, DVDs and VCDs!!!

I plead guilty to buying pirated DVDs although I hasten to add - I DO NOT, repeat, I do not buy pirated original Filipino music or Tagalog movies. I draw the line there. Oh I know, someone out there from the Philippine movie industry or from some government bureau must have a ready argument to counter why it is the same banana and therefore just as evil. What do I care. Like I said, for as long as those actors and actresses and singers and TV hosts continue acting like they are entitled to roll in luxury simply for having the ability to create scandals and to be daily fodder to gossip in Bandera and Tiktik I will not empathize with their plight. You want sympathy from ordinary Filipinos? Simple - stop acting like you guys are on top of the food chain.

Anyway. Where was I? Oh movies. There is something about this consumerism thing - even stalls in Quaipo specialize! (Those who are interested in finding where the octople x movies are - just enter the trade center and keep on walking deep into the - ehem - bowels of the place until the air becomes so palpable you can almost touch it and the temperature comes close to the Sahara desert. You can't really miss it. Along the way, the dvds and vcds that are displayed become more and more suggestive. When you reach the section, all pretenses are bared - be warned, it is not for the faint hearted. All parts of the human anatomy are displayed in all shapes and textures on the covers of the multitudes of DVDs and VCDs. A deeply religious person who strays into the area will jam the confessional for years and years).

A few months ago I discovered some stalls that specialize in hard-to-find concert DVDs including those of classical artists. Whew! Imagine, buying a whole collection of John Williams classical work on guitar for 1/20th of the record store price. Also last month, I stumbled upon a stall selling nothing but - hold your breath - collections of hit TV shows from Dallas to ER to Queer As Folk to Carnivale to Desperate Housewives.

Last Saturday, I found this stall that sells DVDs of films exhibited or cited in various "alternative" film festivals from around the world. This place must be a film lover's concept of heaven. And the DVDs were selling at only Php50 each. I picked four films - Ethan Mao, Cinema Paradiso, Eating Out, Sugar and vowed to come back on a weekday when I probably will not have to smell someone's armpits while flipping merchandise.

I watched the films over the weekend. I loved all four films (of course I have watched Cinema Paradiso before, but it is one film I will watch over and over again). I will not do full reviews here - I will just single out what I liked about each one. Well, except for Cinema Paradiso - that is one film that does not require another review specially from someone who watches films purely for pleasure.

Ethan Mao is about this Chinese American named Ethan Mao. The fact that the main character is Asian is immaterial actually because the conflict in the story is universal - it is about fathers and sons, brothers, stepmothers, friends, lovers, etc.

Sugar is a deeply disturbing film about a boy's coming of age and a hustler's coming to terms with human emotions. It is a sad, sad film that is somehow liberating as well.

And Eating Out is this film by Q. Alan Brocka - it is a hilarious twisted take on Meet the Parents and La Cage.

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