Saturday, November 22, 2008

Now Showing: The Women

For a woman who likes to read chick lit and watch chick flicks to entertain herself, I was extremely disappointed with the remake of the movie "The Women". 

The all-star cast did not move me.  What could they do with a poorly-written script, stereotypical characters, predictable plot, and frantic pacing?  The actresses were all "acting" as if on theater, pushing their characters to the limit, and ending up looking like they were desperately trying to prove a point, that women stand up for each other, or at least should do so.  

It could have been handled better, and I say this with additional disappointment, for this was an all-woman cast and crew (almost), and I was rooting for them to show the world the great stuff that women could churn out.  

The relationship between the four main characters could have made more sense if the audience could see why they were friends in the first place.  There was no chemistry and it looked too forced to me, as if they were trying so hard to "be their character" that they forgot how to loosen up and just let the "great friendship" flow aroud them.  

BFFs Mary (Meg Ryan) and Sylvie (Annette Bening) had to constantly remind each other that they were "best friends", when in real life this just happens to women, and this could have been better depicted by looks and actions between the two.  The supportive friends were just secondary characters whose main goal in the movie was "to be there" for Mary, even if it meant sacrificing their relationships and careers.  Who made Mary the center of the universe?  

Debra Messing looked as if she was channeling Dharma of Dharma and Greg.  Jada Pinkett Smith had the most interesting character to portray, but alas, she was not given a meatier script.  She had to act as if on a teaching video of  "How a Lesbian Should React in Each and Every Situation She and Her Heterosexual Friends Are Confronted With".  Talk about putting people into boxes.  

The confrontation between Mary and The Other Woman should have crackled with sarcasm and oozed with pain.  Instead I was just frustrated at Mary and irritated at Crystal (Eva Mendes).  It was unrealistic and unbelievable, even under the excuse that Mary was prohibited by her "smart mother" from confronting her husband Stephen and The Other Woman, and Crystal was a hopeless gold digger with no morals.  I blame the script and the direction.

Mary's behavior did not satisfy me.  It was as if she was in  a long movie commercial of "How a Woman With a Philandering Husband Should Respond".  I would have wanted a more realistic, grounded take on one of the most common problems for women.  It seemed too smooth and too easy.  Meg Ryan tended to smile too much and laugh as if her world was not falling apart.  Maybe that was the point of the movie, but again, they could have shown it more convincingly.  

There was definitely something missing and a whole lot of talking (my father could not last fifteen minutes of the film) that it got too noisy for me during some scenes.  Perhaps the people behind it were too happy that they got the rights to the remake and they had all those beautiful and famous actresses to play their boxed characters that they did not bother to look at the details and nuances that women were expecting to be entertained with.  Annette, one of my favorite actresses, gave the most textured performance of them all, but even she could not salvage a movie this predictable.

The First Wives Club handled the topic of male infidelity better - it was humorous and at the same time staggering to watch.  Or that scene when Emma Thompson held back sobs so her children would not hear her heart breaking from Love, Actually - that really moved me to tears. Even Sex and the City (which was more about Love rather than Sex, to my delight) was five stars better at showing women power, although the budget for wardrobe and accessories there was almost criminal and resulted in corrupting women everywhere to "lust" after goods and to look fabulous at fifty, "the new forty".  

Maybe I'm growing older and pickier, but this movie simply did not do it for me.  It was just one long Dove commercial and an utter waste of talent.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My Favorite Chore

I wonder how many people out there de-stress by doing the laundry or cleaning the bathroom?  I prefer the former to the latter, but both chores relax me.  

The smell of freshly-washed sheets make me happy.  When I pick up my dry cleaning, I welcome the waft of laundry detergents, fabric softeners, and dryer sheets.  I like hanging clothes to dry under the sun and watching blankets on clothespins billowing against the wind.  It is one of my simplest pleasures.  I am like one of those housewives on the soap commercials, smelling fresh, clean shirts as if those were their greatest accomplishments on earth. 

Despite a bad back that had me taking a day off from work, I did one load of laundry today.  I couldn't stand the sight of my overflowing clothes hamper.  As I sorted out the whites from the colored ones, I was able to sort out some of my thoughts.  As I my clothes got cleaned inside the washing machine, I imagined my life getting washed as well.

Come to think of it, I am growing more and more domesticated as the years go by.  I enjoy shopping, yes, but I've also come to enjoy cooking.  Perhaps I'm just going back to my childhood joys, alongside reading and playing the piano.  

I don't like noisy malls and traffic.  I don't like parties and loud music.  I don't remember that I ever did, but now I'm staying away more from them.

So I will end this post and go back to finish my book.  It's raining outside.  And I'm glad to be home. 

Friday, November 7, 2008

This is so High School!

No, I'm not talking about that musical that was turned into a movie.  This is IT, the real thing, my high school batchmates, back in my life, alive and kicking.

We've reloaded our Manila Science High School Batch '91 (and thus she reveals her age) egroup recently, and just like an old friendship, we all picked up where we left off.  Anyone who knows me well can attest that I had loads of fun at MaSci, and that I loved my smart, witty, and creative batchmates.  I cried the most during graduation.  I had them over to my house as often as I could.  I was a walking class directory and birthday alarm.  I went to college with about 100 of them, in U.P.  Before I met the Lord through community, MaSci was my second home.

At the dawn of the Internet era in the Philippines, we had our first egroup.  Everyone was excited and we received hundreds of messages in a month.  But alas, high school tempers flared up and that egroup had slowly disappeared into oblivion.  

Many years later, we have probably matured and missed high school even more, so we tried again.  Efforts were made to organize mini-reunions.  Threads were introduced in the yahoogroup to entice members to email.  It did not pick up easily, like a diesel engine.  

But it was only a matter of time before my outspoken batchmates would enter into an online debate about health care, legal issues, and the economy.  Reading the entries, all well-written and well-supported, became a habit for almost 150 members of the world's labor force.  MaScians scattered across the globe slowly came together to support whichever side they were on.  I did not contribute to the intelligent conversations.

I was more interested in reminiscing.  And I'm glad we're on that thread now.  Oh, the revelations!  The implications.  The what-ifs and could have beens.  The resolutions and reconciliations.  We're onto something here.  

MaSci was a huge part of my life that I had relegated to the background for fear of being inconsistent with who I had become, or trying to become.  Now I can slowly see that I can be true to myself with them, for I no longer need their affirmation.

To my batchmates, I hope all 316 of us could be accounted for.  Spread the word!  Masci91reloaded.  We don't need a movie to know we have great stories to tell.  Get in touch with me and I will add you to our yahoogroup.

Campus Girl is back. ;) 

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My Unexpected Passengers

I was late for mass, coming from work, and I was so lost in thought, when I heard a tap on my car window, passenger side.  I was stuck in traffic along Old Balara, near U.P.  I saw two boys gesturing if they could ride with me.  

I rolled down the window, unsure if I heard them right.  

"Pwede po pasabay?" they said in chorus.  I was curious at this new mode of transportation.  I asked them where they were going.  They said they lived near the basketball court near Ayala, which was just a few meters away.  It was past 6:00 p.m. and alarm bells were ringing in my head. 

I had never allowed total strangers to ride in my car before.  I stared at the boys and asked for their names.  They gave it to me.  They were both 11 years old and were studying at "Balara Filter".  They were in school uniform, carried backpacks, and reminded me of my nephews.  

Traffic was really bad so I had time to interview them.  They said they did it everyday as they had no money to pay for jeepney fare.  

I should have been scared and just driven off.  But I wasn't.  I let them in, put the seat belt on the first boy, and carried a conversation with them.

I even forgot to lock the car doors immediately.  I was just curious if their parents were aware of that practice of riding in strangers' cars, and the boy sitting at the back (is it obvious I have forgotten their names already?  I'm bad.)  told me that his older brother taught him the trick.  I kept looking at their faces to see any mischief or malice. There was none.  They said they tried to avoid heavily-tinted vans.  They said really kind people let them ride, and they especially loved riding on the back of motorcycles.  I warned them that they should always wear their helmets and that it was not the safest vehicle around (for I had just seen, a few nights ago, two men lying unconscious along the Quezon Avenue underpass going to Circle, after the motorcycle they were riding on hit another vehicle).  

We talked about school and family, in that ten-minute ride.  The cars were moving at a snail's pace and so I was able to talk to my young passengers.  The one beside me wanted to be a civil engineer and the one at the backseat wanted to be a computer programmer.  I encouraged them to study hard as there was no better feeling than graduating with a degree in the course of their dreams and being able to help their respective families.

I dropped them off at the basketball court and they thanked me.  I will never forget their reply when I asked them how they chose the car to hitch a ride with:

"Naghahanap po kami ng matatanda at mga babae"  (We look for old [can I say older here, or would it be inaccurate?] people and women).  I'm not sure, I will take it that they chose me because I was a woman driver.  Hah.

"Takot po kami sa balbas-sarado"  (We're afraid of bearded men.)  I said not all bearded men should be feared and not all shaven ones should be trusted.  I added that they should take care and study hard always.

I did not make it to mass at all for the traffic delayed me as usual.  I went straight to my scheduled confession, as that was one of the reasons I was rushing home in the first place.  I had a feeling I encountered Jesus even way before I arrived at the Parish of St Benedict.  

In case you're wondering, I did check.  My wallet, which was lying beside my young friend in the backseat, was untouched.  My two cellphones, within easy reach of my little front seat passenger, remained intact.  I had no reason to be afraid.  They just needed a ride.

I just wished the world was a safer place for young students, and that I did not have to check if anything was taken from me.  

I wished we could trust more people, and be trustworthy.  Then oh what a wonderful world this would be.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Campus Girl

I love the U.P. Diliman campus.  I love the trees and the grass, the Sunken Garden and the amphitheater, the Oblation and the Chapel.  I love eating at Rodic's, having a picnic at Sunken, taking a walk around the Academic Oval or the track behind Bahay ng Alumni.  I love the dorms and the vendors, the College of Music and the Main Library, bbq at Beach House, chicken pork adobo at Chocolate Kiss, baked oysters at Chateau Verde.  

I love the UP Vargas Museum, the Cordillera Coffee, the plays and the concerts.  I love to sit in at English classes, listen to the students at Abelardo Hall, watch the sunset at the Admin building, and listen to the Carillon.

After studying for eight years in U.P. (business econ and then law), I have come to know its nooks and crannies, and I still go back as often as possible to experience its secrets.  

If I would go back to school, I would enroll either at the College of Arts and Letters or the College of Music.  But I don't want to study in the near future.

Instead I will enjoy the weekend walks and the occasional visits, every chance I get.  

There is probably one thing only that I missed from my college days, and that is a visit to the Observatory to gaze at the  beautiful nighttime sky.  I think I have waited too long for the perfect moment to do that.  So I will just do it.

Love is a strong word, but that is how I feel.  U.P. aking mahal. :-)