hello, december

Manila, 1 December—I figured I should do a drive-by update because just like that, it’s already December! Wow. How’s your Christmas shopping going?! Mine’s been thrown so terribly askew by general Q4 madness, but I do hope to catch up soon! Anyway, just a couple of things for this update:

  1. Knives Out is really damn good and so damn fun!

Or you know what, skip the trailer. We went in without knowing much about anything and it made the experience all the better. If you want a buy-in, choose your own poison: Daniel Craig’s non-James Bond accent? Jamie Lee Curtis’ gorgeous hair? Toni Collette? Very Important Dogs? That Bonkers Soundtrack? Chris Evans’ sweater? All of the above?

All of the above. (But especially Chris Evans in a non-Marvel role. Please bring Chris back into normal movies!)

Anyway, if you love whodunits and that distinct delicious feeling of the reveal after everything falls into place, you’d love how quirky Knives Out is. So fun.

  1. My 2019.11 Spotify playlist is so spot-on.

Every month of this year, I compiled songs I liked throughout the month in a playlist, and in honor of December beginning, I would like to share my Spotify playlist for the month of November because it is actually quite good. Enjoy :)

Standout track: Maggie Rogers - Love you for a long time

Well, that’s it for me today. December! Time flies.

Xo,

K.

portrait of a lady on fire (2019)

Manila, 17 November—Céline Sciamma’s French historical drama “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” is perhaps the best movie I’ve seen this year.

(Spoilers after the trailer)

The film, which won Best Screenplay at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, tells the story of Marianne (Noémie Merlant), a painter tasked to do a portrait of Héloïse (Adèle Haenel), who is set to be married off to her dead sister’s ex-fiancé. Because Héloïse has refused to pose for a portrait (because she does not want to get married), Marianne is hired to be Héloïse’s ‘walking companion’ and has been tasked by Héloïse’s mother the Countess to paint her in secret.

This is the core of the movie’s main tension, which unravels beautifully against the backdrop of sea blues and beach browns of a secluded shore, and right inside the bright blue walls of Marianne's art studio.

Most rave reviews describe the film as “rich”, and it is—every frame looks like a painting. Marianne’s bright red dress contrasts beautifully in relation to Héloïse’s deep blue or sparkling green.

And oh, all that looking. Merlant has the Artist’s Deep Probing Gaze down pat, and Haenel’s lip acting is everything—she treads the thin line between serious and flirty masterfully. It was such a joy to watch, particularly that scene where they try to prove to each other just how well they know each other just by noticing tiny details about each other’s mannerisms.

Also loved the tight metaphors—the fires and the candles, the music, the integration of the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. It was like every detail had been painstakingly put there.

Briefly, I thought the whole apparition in a wedding dress was a bit heavy-handed, but oh boy did it take my breath away when they closed that metaphor with the final shot: Marianne running down the stairs and opening the main door, and Héloïse running after her and asking her to turn around one last time—just like Orpheus—and Marianne thereafter closing the door forever to the image of Héloïse in a wedding dress, the vision vanishing, finally.

I think it was Mary Oliver who said that attention without feeling is merely a report—and clearly, the attention Marianne showered Héloïse is full of feeling. I have always believed that attention is the right beginning of love—the moment you pay attention, that’s it. All that looking in the movie destroyed me, to be honest. They do it so damn well, and the camera work lets you see through Marianne’s eyes so achingly accurate—it’s hard not to fall a bit in love yourself with Héloïse and her possibilities.

Unlike Blue is the Warmest Color—a comparison that is difficult not to make, given they’re both French movies with women loving women at the center—Portrait does not have the same leeriness of Blue at some point. Portrait also does not have explicit sex scenes—or at least, as far as the edit that we watched in Glorietta went. It cut straight to the morning after, the soft white sheets and the afterglow. It saved the tenderness for the imagination—which works for me, since I could fill in the blanks anyhow. (Perhaps explicit lesbian scenes are for men, who could not.)

And for a movie that had an artist lead POV, we did not have hagod scenes—scenes where the camera deliberately lingers or crawls across the other woman’s body. Unlike Blue, which had several scenes which really felt like there was someone else in the room with the lead girls. Portrait has none of that, at least in my view. It preserved the intimacy of the scenes, and I liked it.

Speaking of intimate scenes I liked: The one that stood out for me was the whole Last Night In Bed scene, where they discuss regret and remembrance, fully clothed and fighting sleep. After a five-day trip, Héloïse’s mother is coming back that following morning, which would put an end to their lovers’ tryst. I loved how vulnerable they became, how much of themselves they revealed. I remember the first time I wanted to kiss you. GAH.

Speaking of GAH moments, I have two words I will not expound: Page 28.


Related media

Happy weekend,

K

jagged little pill

Manila, 8 November—Among my earliest memories as a child coming of age is riding shotgun in the morning with my mother on the way to school, turning the radio on and tuning into an FM station.

This was a Big Deal, because morning drives were often reserved for the same old boring AM station and the morning news on the radio. This was almost non-negotiable; I learned early on how important the news were, especially traffic updates (at the time almost nonexistent; my mother drove us to school on the way to work, Cavite to Alabang, in 20 to 30 minutes. School day morning rush hour! I doubt you can cross the length of SM Southmall in under 30 minutes these days) and the occasional weather updates, particularly whenever it rained. So I almost never messed with the radio.

On occasion, however, my mother let me choose what to listen to during our morning drives, and so I’d tune in on whatever station my classmates were talking about (at the time, people sorted themselves into 89.9 Magic people and 93.1 RX people, for some reason).

Long story short, that was how I met Alanis Morissette. I remember listening to Hand in My Pocket and having to turn the volume down whenever she sang chickenshit because god forbid my mother find out that I was into songs by angry women who liked to curse on the radio HAHA

Whenever I hear Alanis songs these days, it always brings me back to those car rides, being much younger, and being only half-heartedly into the boy bands that were also beginning to get pretty popular at the time (HAHA raging gay child is gay).

I still get this distinct ding in my chest whenever I hear Head Over Feet out of the blue—love at first hear? Is there such a thing? And of course, singing along to Ironic and You Oughta Know (IT’S NOT FAaaAIR TO DENY MEEeeeEEE) at the top of my lungs.

Man, do you remember how shocked we were by pixelated naked!Alanis on MTV when Thank U came out? Do you remember how relatable That I Would Be Good and Perfect were, at least for overachieving girls? And man, do you remember how glorious those MTV Unplugged sessions were!!! Sigh.

And then there was Feast On Scraps. Because Simple Together.

Grabe yung AOL Music Sessions guys!

And Hands Clean, of course.

Oh wow, these two tracks in particular truly bring me back a decade and a half in terms of heartache haha. ANYWAY. I’m talking about Alanis because earlier this week, I got wind of a Broadway musical inspired by Jagged Little Pill.

The song featured was You Learn, and for the first time, I heard it—watched it—interpreted by an ensemble. And it was beautiful. I realized it’s such a great song to do in multiple voices, because we all learn differently. And if there’s a song that truly aged well, it’s this.

You live you learn, you love you learn
You cry you learn, you lose you learn
You bleed you learn, you scream you learn

You grieve you learn, you choke you learn
You laugh you learn, you choose you learn
You pray you learn, you ask you learn
You live you learn

That mashup to Thank U at the end killed me

Thank you India
Thank you providence
Thank you disillusionment
Thank you frailty
Thank you consequence
Thank you thank you silence

*a tear fell*

Thank you, indeed.

Happy weekend,

K

hiatus

Malay, 30 October—Just dropping this quick note to say I have been spending my after-work hours and entire weekends trying to power through writing assignments, and that explains for the most part the brief hiatus.

Between the last time we saw each other here and today, some notes:

  • We watched Carly Rae Jepsen perform at the New Frontier Theater and it was marvelous. Hearing Run Away With Me and Cut To The Feeling live will surely be among my most favoritest moments of 2019. (She also sang Too Much, Party for One, and Want You In My Room—it was everything we imagined it would be and more.)

    Carly Rae is that friend we all deserve when younger—medyo happy, medyo gaga, medyo tanga sa pag-ibig pero hindi naman masyado para relatable, nananakit pero honest lang.

  • Best maganda pala ‘to no discovery during the concert: HAPPY NOT KNOWING

  • Julien is such a musical name, no?

  • Anyway: My officemates got pretty invested in the whole Barretto saga. Were you? I was too preoccupied cramming??

  • The President is trying to pass off his drug promises to the Vice President. This government is truly the embodiment of everyone’s officemate from hell. In this case, they’re that officemate who couldn’t deliver on their own KRA so they’re passing it off as your KRA. Jesus.

  • Last point: Where are my Halloween Twitter threads! Rec some!

So there, seven bullet points. I’m going back to my paper now. I hope you have a restful long Undas weekend!

PS. Boracay is still stunning after all these years.

No filter needed. <3

xo,

K

how's your Q4 so far?

Manila, 14 October—In true Q4 fashion, my calendar for the last three months of this decade has been filled. Yes, just like that. Must be a common feeling, no? So I felt like I should check in with you and ask about your Q4: How is it shaping up? Is it as crazy as most Q4s go? You know what they say about toilet paper rolls approaching the end—it’s out before you know it. I kind of agree.

Speaking of last quarters: Can you believe the 201x’s are ending?? I was too busy to notice, actually, until someone pointed it out on my feed. Ten years. That’s about a third of our lives, come to think of it, and what have we become—aside from Q4 slaves, that is. I remember how 2009 turning 2010 was kind of a hopeful time, as we were headed into an election year, and we were looking at our first new president after nine years.

And now here we are—well, what else is there to say aside from, What the fuck?

Anyway: The ten-year-olds who listened to this are now twenty, nbd. Still the best incarnation of this particular franchise.


Anyway, my Q4’s a little bit more complicated because of school and I’m in the middle again of having to write a lengthy term paper that I only half-know how to do (I think that’s actually a rather generous assessment of my capabilities right now lol). The sample paper is 150-ish pages long, so. Guess who’s spending Nanowrimo writing a long ass term paper that will definitely be more than 50k words + references??

That would be me. Haha.

On the upside: I do enjoy this class better now! We have a good book that I’m reading alternately on my phone and on my computer, and I have enough idea what to write—and just a dim idea of how to organize them and what frameworks to use. Gasp, dare I say I’m even kind of excited to actually write it? There, I said it.


Reading list

🍸 Why you never see your friends anymore via The Atlantic - Reading this I learned that Russians once attempted to abolish weekends. Also, over the weekend, I remembered this article again, because I attended my godson’s first birthday in Batangas, and I saw my friends-slash-fellow-godparents at the party. The tribe you build, people. You gotta work on it on regularly.

🚬 How your insecurity is bought and sold by Mark Manson - Reading this I learned that the tobacco industry capitalized on the women’s liberation movement to sell cigarettes. Hot damn, what a ‘good’ campaign though? Also, who else to better start this than Sigmund Freud’s nephew???

✒️ A forty-year career by Will Larson. Something to think about—how does one build an enduring career in a world that wires us to burn-out (and burnout quickly)?

🖤 Eulogy for a Gadfly by Kristine Fonacier. Renowned activist and performance artist Carlos Celdran died earlier this week. He was 46. The New York Times has an obituary on him, too.

🌈 Here, have Tessa Thompson feeding Brie Larson to the lesbians. You’re welcome.

Have a kind week ahead,

K

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