Friday, June 19

Are you there, God? It's me, Beckham

Lemondrop reacts to the attention of a Rolling Stone cover wherein a naked girl is splashed with writing from a Stephen King novel: "In our opinion, the "naked chick covered in writing" theme is getting to be as tired as the patented "startlet with her hands over her boobs" magazine cover... we decided to turn this cliché on its head by plastering some of our favorite guys with quotes from books girls like." The result is the male body as a teen girl's notebook, like David Beckham with lines from Judy Blumes' "Are you there, God? It's me, Margaret."

But if you ask me, the best male body as notebook is still Ewan McGregor in Peter Greenaway's The Pillow Book.

Tuesday, June 16

Movie in Three Frames

Your favorite movie distilled into three frames. What can I say, the three-act structure is basic and works really well. Also, this kind of reminds me of the "sweded" movies in Be Kind, Rewind, except these are "meticulously handdrawn" and rendered in animated .gifs.


Thursday, June 11

Zim and Co.

It's French Spring in Manila once more, and the 14th edition of the French Film Festival offers a selection of movies that gives us a glimpse of a France that's more than just croissants on the Rue Montparnasse.

Last Monday, I caught the evening screening of Zim and Co, which features Adrien Jolivet as Victor Zimbietrofsky, a twenty-something guy who gets a little high, spends the night playing a gig for the deaf, goes to the markets to help move boxes, gets paid, and early in the morning, his motorbike skids past a car driven by a middle-aged man.

There's a dent on the car but this man thinks it's a grave injustice. Our guy Zim gets called for it, and the judge looks in his record and finds a previous offence, which now makes Zim a two-time offender and sent to jail immediately. Unless, the deal goes, Zim can find a job that gives him a payslip (taxes for the government, yey) before the end of the month.

Zim isn't a lazy ass. He scours the ads and manages to find a job which requires a car and a driver's license, both of which he doesn't have. But Zim is a resourceful young man and enlists the help of his friends. There's Arthur, whose dad wants him to succeed in the trade of bodyworking cars and thus earn pension later on. There's Cheb, who wants to invent the next best thing to sliced bread, or at least find your mobile phone when it's ringing. There's Safia, a Muslim girl who works in her uncle's canteen.

All the young people in Pierre Jolivet's Paris are street-smart and willing to help each other get better, even through ingenuous means. They need to survive by their wits, as the system isn't exactly friendly to a young Africans, Muslims and Polish immigrants. Zim is the only white guy, and he slightly benefits from this system--after all, the bureau needs to meet the quota of having enough white guys driving in the streets. In a world like this, where people are out to rip you off, where your family doesn't quite understand why you'd quit a boring factory job, where a small mistake can cost you your future, friendship is really the only thing going for you. (The movie also reminds me a lot of the Cinemalaya film Endo.)

Director Pierre Jolivet has this to say: “At twenty most youngsters create distance between themselves and their family and find the substitution in their peers. It’s the beginning of fears yet a feeling of being indestructible. It is this battle of contrasts that we tried to portray”.

The French Film Festival is ongoing until June 14 at the Shangri-la Plaza Mall, Cinema 3. Entrance is free. Tickets are handed out two hours before the screening.

Wednesday, June 10

Save yourself, go online

The Independent reports of a recent debate in the UK which tried to assess social responsibility in a wired world. Helen Milner, the managing director of an organisation that works to bring technology to everyone in the UK, spoke on behalf of the 25% of people who, she claimed, have no access to the internet. The unwired class has become the new lumpen proletariat in a world where cheap goods and services can be had online. Meanwhile, the general argument is that people who have no idea how to send e-mail are "Luddite losers," said to be "doomed to analogue oblivion." Technological ignorance is a sign of failure in a Darwinian digital democracry. The digital divide has turned into a chasm, and it is up to this unwired class to get online and save themselves. The network is there: in libraries, schools and townhalls. Get online and survive in this new digital democracy. However, Milner expressed a different argument: instead of a digital democracy, what the new technology culture does is to echo and replicate the unequal hierarchies of 19th century capitalism. Who has the money will prosper was the game then, and who has access to the internet--which requires money just the same--is the game now. To avoid the duplicating the same social inequalities, the wired class actually has a responsibility to help the unwired play catch up.

I can imagine that the number of the great unwired is even bigger in the Philippines, where a lot of villages across the country don't even have decent roads, regular electricity, much less telephone lines and wireless modems. It does not make sense to adopt the Keener argument: sure, wireless mobility can be had for Php1k a month, but in the countryside, who will choose wi-fi over food and electricity? It makes more sense to follow the Milner argument that narrowing the digital chasm needs social responsibility. But how to do that in a country where a broadband deal is seen as an opportunity to deepen the pockets of a few wired men?

Thursday, June 4

Wag Pigilin

Signboard outside a barber shop, spotted while waiting for the bus. Nothing is ever free, sadly; gall stones can be avoided for Php5.