Watch Me Entertain Myself!

Sacha Guitry once said, "You can pretend to be serious, but you can't pretend to be witty." Oh yes, I'm the great pretender.
(pilot episode: 20 January 2004)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Viva, Jay!

Viva La Vida, Coldplay

These days it’s rare that I gush over a whole album. Well, now I’m gushing like a geyser.

Past bands have been proclaimed as the worthy successor to U2, but Oasis dried up faster than Liam Gallagher could sober up. Early on the successor mantle was transferred to Coldplay. With this album they not only embraced the moniker, they take a stab at something more.

Here they employed producer Brian Eno, best known for helping develop U2’s atmospheric sonic signature in The Unforgettable Fire and perfected in The Joshua Tree. True enough, the first track “Life In Technicolor” sounds like the opening of “Where The Streets Have No Name”. And they still employ the slow-start-building-up-to-a-crescendo structure, popularized by classic U2 and used by Coldplay to highlight Chris Martin’s falsetto.

But while U2-esque hooks abound, the band also sounds like they’ve been released from the confines of their previous sound. There’s a new skip to their playing; and when the tempo shifts, there’s a new energy propelling the band. Handclaps abound in “Lost”, while there’s an unbridled joy in the first half of “Lovers In Japan/Reign Of Love”. New soundscapes abound too: “42” opens with a plaintive piano-and-voice reminiscent of John Lennon, while “Yes” has Mediterranean/Indian hooks. Coldplay evokes western rock with “Violent Hill”, and the titular track employs gorgeous orchestration.

I can’t find any track that’s a throwaway in the whole album. Coldplay has always come up with pretty music before, but this time they leap into a musical territory that is both breathtaking and elegant.

Jay, written, produced and directed by Francis X. Pasion

This is the first and only full-length entry for the 2008 Cinemalaya I’ve watched so far (I’m watching the premiere of 100 later).

This movie is infuriatingly good.

It starts of with the shot of a television in limbo—much like the opening of Baz Luhrmann’s William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet. Then we are drawn into what looks like a TV documentary on the death of a gay teacher, murdered in his bed after being serviced by a home-service male masseur. It goes on lengthily, drawing you into the sad end of the titular character. Then the title appears, and seemingly the real movie starts.

What follows is not another gay-themed indie movie, despite the fact that the titular character and the character that lead actor (and executive producer) Baron Geisler plays are both gay. What follows is a hilarious and cringe-inducing expose on how much a lot of TV news documentary footage are actually “staged” to make for better television.

Baron is utterly consistent in his portrayal of Jay (yes, he also sports the same name as the victim), the gay TV producer who would do anything and everything just to get his story. In fact, I completely forgot that he was slapped with an “acts of lasciviousness” case by William Martinez’ daughter. Coco Martin IS Coco Martin, and he was just sooo pinch-worthy in that movie, dedma na sa akting niya. He was just utterly gorgeous, gorgeous, and—oh, did I mention gorgeous?

The defining moment was at the last scene, where a “twist” is shown. At first I was so thrown off by the ending; it felt like an unnecessary directorial trick that threatened to negate everything before it. And discussing it with friends who also saw the movie, we all agreed that everyone felt bothered by the ending. Until we realized that perhaps that really was the intention of the director. And I grudgingly realized that the ending effectively echoed the theme of the movie, that everything seen on screen has been filtered, clipped and cropped by someone else. It’s an infuriating and brilliant (exclamation) point made by a Pasion-ate filmmaker with a vision of his own.

5 comments:

R-yo said...

now, i should really watch this movie. sana me maabutan pa kong kopya, kahit pirated. :-)

Anino said...

Coldplay rules!!!

joaqui_miguel said...

I haven't got the whole album of Coldplay yet but the single they released is beyond awesome! I love it. :)

That seems to be an interesting movie. Where do I go to watch it? Are they still showing it?

Thanks.

joelmcvie said...

@R-YO: Since it's a Cinemalaya film, the future of it being available on DVD will depend on whether someone forks up the money to distribute it.

@JOAQUI: It's an entry for Cinemalaya 2008, which is still ongoing at the CCP. Call CCP for details and screening schedules. I think Cinemalaya ends this week.

jasonphoon said...

I've been listening to Viva la Vida too and I'm hooked on it!

My favorite song is "Death and all his friends" :)