On Hideko Takamine (1924-2010)

This month has unintentionally been alloted to re-discovering classic Japanese cinema. I forget clearly now how I was introduced to it, though. Might be through the broadcasts of the  defunct UHF channel 31 of Kurosawa (and Fellini) movies, or having seen the birth (or early years) of the Eiga Sai Japanese Film Festival back in the mid-90s.

By coincidence, I started it by viewing Mikio Naruse‘s When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (1960) starring Hideko Takamine:

When a Woman Ascends the Stairs might be Japanese filmmaker Mikio Naruse’s finest hour–a delicate, devastating study of a woman, Keiko (played heartbreakingly by Hideko Takamine), who works as a bar hostess in Tokyo’s very modern postwar Ginza district, entertaining businessmen after work. Sly, resourceful, but trapped, Keiko comes to embody the conflicts and struggles of a woman trying to establish her independence in a male-dominated society. When a Woman Ascends the Stairs shows the largely unsung yet widely beloved master Naruse at his most socially exacting and profoundly emotional. (Synopsis from Criterion Collection.)

Shortly after seeing that, I found out that Takamine died late last year.

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REVIEW: Rosario (Updated)

Let’s start with the glaring, fundamental mistakes: jumpy editing, scenes out-of-focus or badly framed, puffed up with standard soap opera devices. Then, let’s be specific: ridiculous styling for Ara Mina, Rita Avila, and the impossibly-moustached Philip Salvador, and a too-wobbly record on a grammophone that cannot, and could not possibly make pleasing, audible music.

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Gadget Review: SanDisk Sansa Clip

Sansa Clip
Sansa Clip from Sandisk

The last mp3 player I had -and still have with me- was a 1GB Creative Zen Stone. Cheap, of reasonable quality, and perfect for my daily commutes. I had a 40GB iPod 4th gen previous to that, the drastic drop in storage needed adjustment, but all I had to think about was how my first portable media player was: a TAPE Walkman.

Presently, my Nokia E63 was my all-in-one gadget, but I know how the sound jack it has was pretty off when I listen to music, radio, or an audio book, even with good earphones. The phone wasn’t meant for that purpose, so its not at fault.

My initial choices consisted of the usual devices that pretty much derive its features from the evolved iPod Nano concept: same storage capacity (4GB-8GB), same candybar phone-sized screen, video capability. I didn’t allot a generous budget for this purchase, so there’s also that to consider, which also does easily cancel out what would be the most obvious choice for me: a 160GB iPod Classic.

I saw the Sansa Clip device being sold over at TipidPC before, but didn’t really put it up as a candidate. That is, until the day I realized I didn’t need one common feature that comes standard now with media players: VIDEO. My phone has video capabilities already, and even with that, I don’t use the feature as much.

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REVIEW: Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler

Keep this in mind first: the former passion of movie-watching, and giving out an opinion about each experience, comes rarely to me now. The UP Film Center was my second home back in college (it also happens to be just across the street from my dorm), I surprised my film professor that I wasn’t a film major after taking two subjects already from him, and the first topics I blogged about early 2000 were movie reviews.

Having stumbled upon the new Darren Aronofsky release, The Wrestler, a few weeks back, I knew, instantly, this will be a treat. I’ve seen all this director’s previous films: Pi (its now a blur to me now, though), the frantic and just-alright Requiem for a Dream, and a critically-panned flop, The Fountain, which I actually liked.

Let it be said that there is nothing new, plot-wise, with The Wrestler. In sum, we really just see an aging professional wrestler struggling with real world facts: that he’s old and damaged, that he’s past his career prime, that his neglected daughter hates him, and that the stripper he gets lap-dances from is ultimately hesitant in starting a relationship with him. He wants to correct each mistake, make everything as happy and content, like his beloved hair-metal songs, the soundtrack of his life, his once-celebrated career.

A look of wonder will creep into your face when you see a tanned, bodybuilder-heavy Mickey Rourke in tights, with his behind to the audience, in what looks like a nursery school room. We only get to see his face minutes after, in the wrestling ring. A few minutes more, after a coordinated victory, we see what its like behind the show, the faces behind the characters of any larger-than-life persona you can think of: mayhem, hate, and of course, the contrasting all-American hero. Mickey Rourke plays Ram Robinson, and yes, he is that hero.

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Up Dharma Down’s BIPOLAR Album Launch

Up Dharma Down
Armi of Up Dharma Down

I said this back in 2005:

Up Dharma Down’s current single [Maybe] is good, and frantic with energy. The rest of their stuff sadly doesn’t deliver as much.

Then when Fragmented came out, I was abroad as an OFW, so I settled for one of those mp3 copies you can find over the interwebs. I proved myself wrong about my previous proclamation, forced the officemates to listen to ‘Oo‘ (which they dismissed, but got into when they became aware it was popular back home), and have made it a point to watch the band when I get back home, and yes, get a copy of their cd.

Despite their current mass appeal, I still don’t think Up Dharma Down’s music can really be that much of a major draw in the local music industry. When I got to hear their newer songs live, I honestly believed the next album would be a stretch for your casual OPM fan. I loved where they were going, with the swirly shoegazing, and post-rock power, underlined with sort of drum programming that recalls recent Radiohead. It was clearly undeniable that this was a music collective that may be too massive, too complex, not enough pop to it. I didn’t factor in Armi Millare‘s singing in, because that’s one factor a listener can’t help but be in awe of; even if pogi-rock followers say her singing’s just too odd.

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