Chris McCandless Into the Wild

I have not been touched by a movie lately as that of the true life story of a young man called Chris McCandless. The movie was based on a novel, I think, by his younger sister. Anyway, except for the images I checked on google, I didn’t want to read any criticism about the life story, else my perception might be affected. There was, I think a proposition not to talk about Chris any longer.

But why not?

I was able to relate with Chris.

Chris was a man in search of his self, his being. He yearned to feel joy and happiness that couldn’t be gratified by the existence he was in.

Chris comes from a rich family. He went to college and graduated. He was an adorable lad, someone you would like for a son, someone you would like for a brother, someone you would like for a boyfriend.

Somewhere in his childhood though, he realized that he has two warring parents. Somewhere in his adolescence, he discovered he has an older brother whom his father never acknowledged as his son by another woman.

Chris breezed through life the protective brother, the ideal student, the traveler. He loved going on adventures.

Right after graduation from college, he did just that. He turned down the gift of a new car, gave his law school money to charity, and disappeared into the highways and byways by a different name: Alexander Supertrump.

Destination: Alaska. A rover wandering in search of a meaning.

Along the way, Chris met a few people. He was the congenial, most likely a gregarious company one would love to spend hours working with or just have a conversation with, or just keep quiet with.

He enjoyed the experiences as if he was born to be free, not trapped in a rich family, business or politics. Those things he resent, without offending anyone.

And when he reached Alaska, the wild area, he found a rusty bus that he turned into his shelter, his abode. And he discovered his happiness. He was overjoyed by the view of the majestic scenes on the horizon, overwhelmed by his becoming a hunter. It was the hermit existence. And he loved it. He was born for it.

And one thing with Chris, he reads and writes.

He loved Leo Tolstoi and Jack London. Perhaps that was the reason. He felt his self fed up with society’s hypocrisy. He felt his self invited into the wild. None most satisfying. To be free.

Did it occur to him that solitary existence could be fatal? Yes. But it was a life’s adventure to take that risk.

In the end, Chris died of starvation, because he couldn’t cross back the river, and he couldn’t hunt for food. Even the berries that he ate turned out poisonous.

A tragic story of a brave soul. Given the strength and vivaciousness, I would probably device my own adventure. For what could be more compelling to know that one could be attuned with the great creation, in the brightest of days, the darkest and coldest of nights,to admire the beauty of snow caps, smell the freshness of the trees, hear the music of the wilds, the sound of silence, and inhale the marvelous scents and exhales into the greatness of the earth and the heavens.

If Chris survived, he could have put into words a story of love. But it was not meant to be. Chris story is a lesson for us, to be true with our selves, to find beauty and joy and happiness. It was his regret, because albeit he felt happiness, it would have been real if he had shared it.

Find your peace, Chris, you already have shared your happiness. My turn to say Thank you, you are worth knowing.

La la Land

Uncanny Saturday afternoon when Jean, Tish and I had to rush to Robinson’s Magnolia, to catch a screening of La la Land. I asked: What?

My two girls rattled about seven Golden Globe awards including Best Picture. I think.

I sort of thought, if it was Best Picture, why is no one swooning gaga over it on facebook? I would have noticed.

Anyways, I went along, wondering about the title. If it’s Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, it’s a treat.

Excitement hushed as I took a bite on my organic chicken burrito. Nah. It was the Los Angeles highway packed with traffic scene, and young people started hopping out of their cars, swaying to a rolling twenties(?) music. I remembered Jean and Tish saying this film garnered Best Music, too.

Okay, a musical. After enduring High School Musical for my two teens a decade ago, I swore I will not watch any teeny boppy flick.

But there goes the story, a man and a woman, Sebastian, a jazz pianist, and Mia, a talented actress auditioning for her place in the theater, accidentally meeting each other here and there, and because of one incidence too many, decided to be together. For four seasons.

It would have been a good love story, except for the part that both are in search of their dreams. As destiny would have it, Mia got her role in Broadway, and Sebastian, after a touring stint with a modern jazz band, built his own jazz bar.

Fast forward five years later, Mia comes back to Los Angeles, now a deemed theater artist, with her husband and a toddler of a daughter. And by some strange pull, she is led to Seb’s, Sebastian’s jazz nook.

And the two saw each other again. No hellos. No words. Just a look and an acknowledgement that, I suppose, they have reached their respective dreams.

Do I like it?

My daughters were disappointed. I had my reservations. Will hold my comments until further feelings arise from reviewing the film in my mind.

And now, after two days, here I am, trying to find the satisfaction one expects from watching a movie.

If this was Best Picture, surely it would have a great impact on me. There was none. Sadly.

And so I had to think more. Those Golden Globe judges must have seen something that would have impacted the viewers.

And so I came up with credits for this movie, even if in my view it is a tragedy.

First, it is a story of the ordinary people. The dreamers, specifically.
Which brings me to the title that I googled for meaning, La la Land, meaning “Los Angeles or Hollywood, especially with regard to the lifestyle and attitudes of those living there or associated with it; a fanciful state or dreamworld.”

These ordinary people have this illusion that their lives will only have meaning if they attain their dreams. And, more often, they miss out on one important thing: LOVE. These dreamers mistake that success and happiness can only be achieved after realizing their dreams. And love can be set at bay. These dreamers, unbeknownst to themselves, have been reduced to a mechanical existence, mere robots, or even slaves of their own passion. Thus, the tragedy.

Second, this movie brought isms for revaluation. The idealist and the realist, for one, comes in conflict. Holding on to tradition, as sustaining the art form of original jazz, for another, as against reinventing the music to fit in to the new techno-aided sound.

Third, the slow, or rather seemingly unhurried presentation of events, as contrasted to the quick flashback of what could have been, allowed the audience to create misgivings, hoping, as I did, that I could have my happy ending. Nah, again. It was a ploy utilized to make the viewer own the tragedy. For who amongst us did not miss on true love, and lived with what we bargained for.

Fourth, the music was jazzy, and it brought the audience, including the juvenile, to a time melancholic, like dream time.

There are many other things worth commenting about, such as the acting, remarkable, and the costumes, appropriate and nice, ha ha, and the dancing, and the museums, and the stars. Oh, well. But I leave that for others to see.

Fill in the gaps.

Do I like Star Wars?

Well, like Harrison Ford. you can omit me from the discussion. Enough of the force and Darth Vader for me, especially so when the rise to evil of Anakin disillusioned many a fan that evil could be so fascinating.

Yet, with my daughters, I found myself in sync with the millennials watching the sequel hoping to know whatever happened to Luke Skywalker. Who would not want to know. After all, there is a Jedi in all of us.

The demise of Hans Solo was the last straw. Every one was talking about Ford wanting an end to his character, and I wondered if only I had seen it was a cinematic technique from Oedipus Rex, that the son will slay the father in a place where three roads meet. With Hans, it was on a bridge that hanged over a pit.

Suffice it to say that bringing back the Star Wars characters of my youth fascinated me, even if the new characters are totally millennial in action and disposition. Oh well.

Surprises of surprises, my daughter brought me yesterday to a movie treat called Rogue One. I asked right outside the theater at Century Mall if the movie was starring Baymax? My daughters sighed in disgust. They filled me in that this was a side story in Star Wars.

And I found myself enjoying a rebel group led by a lady, offering their lives, with only courage and resolve, to secure a document from Darth Vader’s Imperial Globe, a document that shows a loophole, or a fault, or the Death Star’s Achilles Heels, that which makes the sinister headquarters vulnerable.

The lady heroine is known as Star Dust, a romantic name given by her parents to a child whose life’s story is as contrary to her poetic alias. She was brought up by a questionable creature after her mother was killed and her father taken. Yet, her child’s longing for father remained, as a star dust does in the vast multitude in the galaxy.

So I found myself loving Star Wars again. And if may mention, to spoil you further, that the force is strong, with the Jedi perhaps descendants of ancient arts born from the cold Himalayas, I don’t know really.

No way to end this piece but to say that “I am one with the force and the force is with me.”

Bourne Again

I was asking Jean and Tish what the title of the sequel to the Bourne series was, and they simply said Jason Bourne. Oh well, being a Ludlum fan, I was particular about those titles:The Bourne Identity, Bourne Ultimatum (film), The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Legacy. I was thinking about a word with a letter Y at the end that would be appropriate for the latest Bourne movie, one that came rather long from the last Matt Damon starrer. I was hoping, after Erin Cross with Jeremy Renner, the two assets would team up for a spectacular revenge against the covert CIA program that used and abused government special forces for their self-serving purposes. Thus, there was much excitement on my part to see Jason Bourne, even if I Knew Matt Damon would not be dashingly slim nor young anymore.

So it was a date, yours being truly thankful Tish got a Sunday to spare, and Jean willing to shoulder the tickets, the buko juice and the steaming dimsum and mami later,

Oh it was Jason Bourne all right, and after several years, he still has not remembered his own identity fully, has gone to physical brawls, as if it is the only solution by which he could deal with an elusive past, and it took an original character, Nicky Parsons, a CIA clerk, who hacked on the program files and saw the David Webb file, Bourne’s real identity, to prompt Jason to be who he really was.

Thus, the movie Jason Bourne,

It was all right, as I said. All the Bourne trademarks are there: the plot, the sound effects, the script, an all original Bourne, including the deception and the betrayal, the chase,the fast action, and all the super Bourne intelligences: driving cars and motorbikes, natural intuition on impending danger, map reading, direction, wire skills on creating sirens for diversion, etecera.

It was a good movie, our cup of tea. But over cups of tea at Hap Chan, for lack of more things to talk about, just sad on losing Nicky, and agreeing her character needs to go, the movie was simply all over, a Bourne again.

Civil War

Written last Wednesday. The internet went down. Posting only today.

Civil War opened today. My daughter Tish and I sat on the first screening.

Oh well, the Captain America series, if I recall right the trilogies of the Avengers, is perhaps the most incredible. The third installment that I had the most exciting and fun time watching was a real treat.

Civil War is an all super heroes cast, except for my two other favorites, Thor and Hulk. The rest of my favorites include Iron Man, his friend War Machine (does he go by another name?) Hawk-eye, Black Widow, Falcon, Ant Man. Surprise, surprise, Spider Boy did spin his web. And new characters such as the Black Panther, Scarlet Witch, and Vision, make up the other warriors.

Kudos to the script writers for getting a fantastic choreography of the super powers, all in search of Bucky, the Winter Soldier, for reasons personal and tragic.

If you can’t remember the Winter Soldier, he is Steve Rogers’ best friend.

I want to put my excitement here, but my daughter said that would be tantamount to you wanting to terminate me, So I will wait till you get to see the movie.

Hmmmm. Now I know what happened to Howard. Sorry. I can’t restrain myself.

Spotlight on.

Tomorrow signals the beginning of Semana Santa, when we wave our palms to welcome the Lord as He enters Jerusalem.

Yet today, I feel it is already a Black Saturday.

My daughter Tish and I meant to be attuned with the Lenten Season, as we try to do so every year. Today, we were early for a recollection at our parish church, St. Paul of the Cross. One morning, we thought, to refresh in our hearts the Passion of our Jesus, a necessary restrengthening after a long year of busyness. I have no problem with the faith, fortitude is a blessing. My upbringing in the Catholic Church was a formidable one. Still, a renewal of sorts comes in useful, to wave off temptations. More importantly, Tish is hungry for a credible theological study, an infallible standpoint or viewpoint why the church we love, the Catholic Church, is the one true church. The public schools which Tish attended fell short of defining in an intellectual or academic presentation, our being and our relationship with God. In other words, even the teachers have not read the entirety of the Bible, otherwise, they could have inculcated in their students the faith in a very satisfactory level. Anyway, that was why we were punctual, because we want to know.

Fr. Alex Balatbat of the Archdiocese of Antipolo shocked the laity, most of whom were white-haired servers from different ministries, when he opened with a statement that we would be talking about the enemy, or the devil. It was a tactical strategy, he said, because in warfare, if you do not know the enemy, you will lose.

He proceeded narrating the battle of a second lieutenant Archangel Michael, the very one who defeated the five star general of a seraphim called Lucifer, the bearer of light, and cast this evil one not into hell, but right here on earth.

That is why, he proposed, to look beside you or right behind you, the devil might be there, in the form of a good person, waiting for an opportunity to tempt you. Beware, he said, because the devil can imitate even the voice of God.

Which brings me to why I am feeling a Black Saturday today. Do not get me wrong, because Fr. Alex wrapped up the Recollection with the hope in the Eucharist and an overwhelming Mercy that was instituted and bequeathed to us in the Last Supper, after one of the apostles betrayed our Lord for thirty pieces of silver that first Maundy Thursday. Fr. Alex said he had succumbed to many temptations, too, as many priests,did. Like all of us. No such thing as a perfect human being.

And I had the sad luck of picking SPOTLIGHT, Oscar’s best picture, a film highly recommended by a friend, Denis Andrenson, that movie that revealed the atrocities of the clergy, towards poor, innocent, impressionable and lonely children. I did remember those who called themselves men of God, and they dressed in robes, and yet somehow, I know, they have abused their priesthood.

No, the molestation did not happen only in Boston, nor was it a single incident. At the tail end, I saw Manila. It was a global psychiatric phenomenon that affected the Vatican. The tally of priest molesters still has to be divulged. The more depressing thing, many of the molested did not survive. Those who did kept away from the faith.

You and I will have a long week, and perhaps you could include in your quiet moments watching Spotlight, and make an effort to pray for our erring priests. Lucifer was a seraph. Our church had been infiltrated. We are called to arms.

What Bucket List?

I call my sister every dawn, Manila time. That is sometime in the afternoon, I suppose, LA time. We talk about this and that, mostly about our family, the every day thing.

This morning though, she told me that the cross stitch she worked on after our Mommy passed away was in her Bucket List. Although I have an idea that the list is supposed to be about the things that one likes to do, or as one friend puts it on facebook, about the places one wants to visit, I really have no idea why it is called a Bucket List.

So, Google shows me Bucket List is a Morgan Freeman/Jack Nicholson movie, the two on my long list of credible actors. Why did I miss this 2007 movie? I don’t know. In 2007, if I remember right, was the last time I saw and hugged my parents. It was also the year my Jean graduated from High School, the year she entered college, and the year the termites crept inside my ceiling.

Just the same, I took a sneak preview of Bucket List. I have not found a complete copy of the movie.

It is sad, I suppose. And it is about people dying, whatever the cause is, and these people are undergoing some sort of introspection about their lives. And these people are left with some wishes they would like to do, with the little time left for them to live.

I am not qualified yet to write my Bucket List. I am not dying yet. But this sure makes me meditate about some things I have probably not done. Oh no, I do not have a grand ambition of walking the Great Wall. nor get myself in a predicament of how to get down from the tip top of the Great Pyramids, lest one gets stuck in the tomb forever, but this sure gets me thinking, what are the things I still want to do at this point in my life.

Good advice, Ate Grace. I will come up with a long one, I think. Somewhere on top of that list is to visit you guys. For there is nothing like family.

 

 

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