Monday, February 13, 2012

my two cents' worth

Like what I said previously, I wanted this blog to be some kind of remembrance, of trying to remember what I did and saw and read and listened to. So I'll try to do some kind of media wrap-up on Mondays, or at least once a week, mainly to keep track of the things I do and so I can look back and go "Hey, I'm glad I had a productive time" instead of, oh I don't know, wasting my time playing Sims 3.

What I've been reading:

So far, I've been switching back and forth between Kim Newman's Anno Dracula and Maggie Stiefvader's The Scorpio Races. Anno Dracula, for the most part, is a re-telling of the Jack the Ripper legend within the framework of an alternative Victorian Britain, where Count Dracula is not a fictional character but an actual prince, and becomes the second husband to Queen Victoria. I'm hesitant to say that it's very interesting, but it's certainly quite an interstitial novel that's (so far) moving at quite an enjoyable pace.

The Scorpio Races is a young adult novel that focuses on the Irish legend of the capaill uische, or water horses - savage beasts that rise from the ocean in search of fresh meat. They are captured and tamed by islanders who use them for annual races, adding a dimension of death that's usually not seen in horse racing. (When your mount wants to eat you, that kind of says something about your relationship with your horse.) It focuses on two teenage riders, Sean and Puck, who are both racing for totally different, yet equally valid, reasons. So far, the narrative moves at an expected pace with alternating viewpoints, but I'm trying not to gobble up the whole book in one go.

What I've been watching:

It's been a family kind of weekend, in the sense that everything I've seen so far was with either my dad, my siblings, or a combination of both. Friday night, we watched the Filipino adaptation of Shakespeare's King Lear at PETA, and on Sunday, we watched Chronicle.

Haring Lear (the translation of King Lear in the vernacular) was exceptional for two things: (a) the translation was done by National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera, which meant that I would probably have trouble transliterating inside my head, and (b) the cast was, like back in Shakespeare's day, all men. The costume design was also very postmodern: instead of Elizabethan costumes, or even modern-day clothes, they adapted kimonos and hakamas with a very gothic spin to things. The set design was also quite lovely, all rotting wood in skeletal levels, and the thrones and ghostly chandeliers that denoted the passage of time and division of space - I enjoyed the fact that the stage was very adaptable, and that it was done in such a way that seamlessly integrated things like wind machines and water showers without breaking the pace of the play.

Also, there's something about hearing things in your native language that makes it much more intense and emotional than when you hear it in English. I can appreciate Shakespeare for his wordplay and his narratives and the way he looks at the human experience, but hearing King Lear in Filipino actually made me recoil at the intensity of the way lines were delivered. When it was juxtaposed with the original English lines (some of the characters used their original lines, but it was for a different purpose - in this case, to emphasize class distinctions), it seemed jarring and surprising. And aside from a few quibbles with regards to the actors (some of them forgot their lines) and the ending (really? Ohm Shanti Shanti?), I enjoyed the performance quite thoroughly.

I was also very glad we didn't sit up front because the water from the showers dripped down the stage at some point.

The other thing I watched, Chronicle, was a film I've wanted to see ever since I saw the trailer appended to We Bought A Zoo. It's a low-budget, found footage film centering on three high school students who gain telekinetic powers after finding an alien glow-y thing in a hole in the ground. Despite the sub-par special effects (quite literally, you could see where the trip wires were attached to objects and, later on, the actors) I enjoyed the film. Unlike its glossier, mass market-driven counterparts, Chronicle takes a look at what would really happen if teenagers were endowed with special powers, and the disastrous consequences that could follow. I especially liked the interplay between Andrew and Matt, two of the three protagonists, and how their friendship set up what ultimately became a tragedy.

My brother said, when the film ended, that he felt bad for the guy sitting beside him. Apparently, the guy thought that they were watching an action film, like a Marvel comic book adaptation. He didn't realize it was going to be, in his words, "so dark". To be quite honest, I didn't it was so dark, as it was much more realistic about the consequences, the pitfalls, and hubris of being given special abilities.

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