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My Neighbor Totoro (Tonari no Totoro) – Review

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SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t watched this movie and have the intention of doing so, I discourage you to read the plot of the story.

My Neighbor Totoro is a well-known Japanese animation film for children (and maybe for adults too) that was released in April 16, 1988 originally in Japan. It runs for 86 minutes, and was directed, screen played, and written (storyboard) by Hayao Miyazaki. It was also made possible by Studio Ghibli, a famous Japanese animation film studio.

via Google Images

Hayao Miyazaki
via Google Images

The plot of the story was about a family moving to a house in the province, finding out that the house they’d be staying in was also resided by ghosts or spirits. The mother of the family was admitted in a hospital even before they moved to the province. It was convenient for them since the province where they moved in was nearer to the hospital. Mei and Satsuki were adventurous and hardworking, doing every task that was asked of by their father who was a university professor. Mei and Satsuki became friends with the spirits that were living in the house and in the camphor tree found near their home. The spirits were named totoros. Unexpectedly, the totoros can be of great help in their life as a family during the run of the story. As additional information, it was set during the 1950s.

via IMDB

via IMDB

The film as a moving image narrates a story. The way that My Neighbor Totoro was narrated as a story through film and animation was surreal. It appeals a lot to the children and young adults because of its flavor of fantasy and adventure. Miyazaki, writing a story that clashes the spiritual world and the real world, was successful of depicting his beliefs as Japanese – their religious belief called Shintoism. For a brief background about Shintoism, it is a religion wherein one worships nature spirits and ancestors (The American Heritage Dictionary). There’s another character in the story that showed a Japanese legend – the cat that shape-shifted into a bus. So, the film shows a culture of the Japanese through its characters.

via IMDB

The Sisters and The Spirits
via IMDB

Despite of what happened in Japan during 1950s, Miyazaki was able to create an entertaining and joyful animation-film. During the 1950s, Japan was recovering with their freedom from the American colonization, and some devastating news was happening like the riot between policemen and pro-Communist demonstrators. Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro was an imagery of the peaceful Japan, the pre-modernized country. The film was also a personal nostalgia of the writer, the time when he was still a child. Miyazaki personally gives importance to the silence that comes in between scenes, as how he said it in an interview: “The people who make the movies are scared of silence, so they want to paper and plaster it over… What my friends and I have been trying to do since the 1970’s is to try to quiet things down a bit; don’t just bombard them with noise and distraction. And to follow the path of children’s emotions and feelings as we make a film.” (rogerebert.com). The animation-film was also considered as an open floor for the diversity of audiences with regards to their culture and beliefs, wherever they may be.

Just as what My Neighbor Totoro showed to the audience: its fantasy and/or reality, the beliefs ingested within the story – how open and flexible enough are we to accept one another’s beliefs? As for the aspiring filmmakers or animators, are we scared for silences in between scenes – scared that the audience may get bored, and forgetting the essence of how a film should penetrate the people’s emotions?

 

References:
http://www.nausicaa.net/miyazaki/totoro/
http://www.totoro.org/
http://www.rogerebert.com/interviews/hayao-miyazaki-interview
http://www.english.ufl.edu/imagetext/archives/v5_2/wegner/

Belated Happy Fathers’ Day Post

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Belated Happy Fathers’ Day Post

Something amazing and touching started happening in my life since Father’s Day last Sunday (June 15, 2014). It was the day before my dad’s birthday. Usually, his birthday would be the same day as Fathers’ Day. That’s how special my dad is. Okay, I’ll stop telling too much sweet words about my Dad. I’m not used to it anymore, but I love him so much.

We weren’t able to celebrate Fathers’ Day the way we celebrate it before, but the Ushering Ministry where my parents are a part of did the celebration by eating the food that Mom prepared for everyone. It made me feel a bit sad because I was guessing that Dad might be disappointed that his birthday or Daddy day wasn’t celebrated by the family. It made me think of what to do for him on his birthday. Oh, well. I simply bought a Knorr soup for him to cook because it reminds me a lot of my childhood with him.

That wasn’t the only thing that amazed me during those days (June 15 and 16). During the 3 P.M. Sunday service, there was this boy who sat with his mom in one chair beside me because there was only one free seat, making them share for that seat (don’t worry, I was also a bit confused about how I exaggerated the usage of the word “seat” in that sentence). I didn’t know why but I had this urge to give him my seat (and another one here). By the way, before they sat beside me, the little kid was poking my button pins on my bag (BMO and Jake the Dog pins). I had an idea, “Why not give this to the kid later after the service?” The service went on, and I gave the boy my seat for him to be able to sit well because sharing a seat with his mom may be uncomfortable. I stood up near the tech booth beside my Dad. Hearing Dad laugh at every joke that the speaker says at the stage made my heart glad; it also made him pat me at the back, and kiss my scalp.. did that sound okay? Let me rephrase it.. He kissed my head.. Top of my head. Haha.

Before the service ended, we prayed for the daddies in the church, and went on. I approached the kid and his Mom right away to hand him my BMO button pin, “Hello~ Would you like to keep this? This will be yours now.” His Mom smiled, and looked at her son, pointing at the pin I was holding. I wasn’t able to understand what she was saying to her son, then the kid accepted the pin I gave him. He was so cute~ He seemed to be so shy while he took it from my hand. When they walked past me, I almost cried. I was so happy and overjoyed. Truly, God’s overflowing grace and love can be evident in a person. That’s one testimony to prove that.

Picture not mine! :<

Picture not mine! :<

Peque Gallaga’s Oro Plata Mata (Review)

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Peque Gallaga’s Oro Plata Mata (Review)

Last Saturday (June 14, 2014), I watched Director Peque Gallaga’s known masterpiece in the field of film making, Oro Plata Mata (Gold, Silver, Death), which was released in 1982. It was my first time to watch that movie, and it made me a bit bored because it ran for almost 3 hours. While watching it online, I was joined by my father, telling me that it really was a great film. He also added, “But sadly, after that, Filipino movies suddenly focused on explicit and x-rated movies that has something to do with appealing sexuality and sensuality.” I was never introduced to classic Filipino movies like Oro Plata Mata, making me see how different Filipino movies were during that time. I must also mention the scriptwriter of the movie, Mr. Jose Javier Reyes, who made a wonderful job in making such a meaningful and important story that relates with the Philippine History. Mr. Jose Javier Reyes shared, “Other than Peque asking me to do it, what inspired me to write this movie were stories I learned from my father, Marciano Reyes Sr., about the so-called peacetime and how we Filipinos were never really the same after the War.” (via Rappler.com)

(c) lifestylebacolod.com

Director Peque Gallaga
(c) lifestylebacolod.com

Since I watched the movie online, the version available to watch was not in High Definition (HD) and there were many deleted scenes because of the violence and sexual scenes. Deleted scenes make the movie incomplete for me, but I understand why those scenes were deleted. The person who uploaded the videos may be banned. Anyway, away from digressing.

Oro Plata Mata was really a good movie in terms of its story and importance in the Philippine History. It started with Nick Joaquin’s quote about what happened during the time of war in the Philippines. He stated that, “There has been no peacetime since (the start of the Second World War)…” That certain state that was said by Nick Joaquin was shown in the film: how the Ojeda and Lorenzo families moved from one house or place to another in order to survive in the midst of a war, and how each of them coped up with it. Even rich families were having a hard time living in those times.

Honestly, for me, the theme of the movie was deep if you do not analyze it at all. It may be another film about lives during the war, but like Filipino literature, the director and writer included symbolism in Oro Plata Mata. One symbolism that I noticed was the title of the movie and the families moving from one place to another. Oro (Gold) was the first step: the rich families were all happy as they gathered for a birthday celebration. Plata (Silver) was the second step: the Ojeda family evacuated to the Lorenzo’s hacienda. The joy in the family fell continuously as they were considering safety measures from the Japanese army. Mata (Death) was the third and last step: the time when Japanese soldiers were seen approaching towards the hacienda of the Lorenzo family. They went to the Lorenzo’s forest house. In there, situations among the characters became worse. But in the end of it all, they returned to a happy state, but not as happy as how it once started. As how Trining Ojeda said (which was a highlight in the movie), “Naging hayop nang lahat sa atin. Ang digmaang ito, ginawang hayop tayong lahat (All of us became animals. This war made us all animals.).”

As for my overall comment about Oro Plata Mata: The realism depicted in the film was superb.

Cherie Gil on “Oro Plata Mata”:

“Oro, Plata, Mata” is what art is all
about. The masterful manner of Peque’s execution of
every scene, almost unmatched to this day, brought
us a masterpiece — one of the most important films
ever made in our country. (Rappler.com)

References:
http://wordzoned.blogspot.com/2013/03/the-great-restoration-oro-plata-mata.html
http://sinepatrol.blogspot.com/2013/03/oro-plata-mata-1982-peque-gallaga.html
http://www.rappler.com/entertainment/23378-cherie-gil-oro-plata-mata
http://www.rappler.com/entertainment/17092-oro,-plata,-mata-revisited,-restored,-riveting-still

The Surface of The World: Architecture and The Moving Image

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Our school is having an ongoing exhibition at our very own contemporary art museum, MCAD (Museum of Contemporary Art and Design) called:

the surface of the world
ARCHITECTURE AND THE MOVING IMAGE

It runs from June 06, 2014 until September 27, 2014. If you are from Manila, Philippines or from abroad, you are very welcome to view the exhibition. It has free admission, too! Click here and here to know more about the details of the exhibit.

(c) Benildean Press Corps Photo by Joaquin Talan

The entrance of the MCAD
(c) Benildean Press Corps
Photo by Joaquin Talan

The exhibit transformed the MCAD into a dark two-floor exhibition space. Every art work was a form of short film and video installation. International artists and a local artist were chosen by the curator of the exhibit, Clare Carolin. Moving on from the important details of the exhibit, there is an art work that I found very interesting among all the other video installations in the exhibit.

IMG_0860

Isaac Julien’s “Enigma” (2014)

The first art piece that caught my attention was Isaac Julien’s Enigma (2014). It is a time-lapse composite of 2500 still photographic images shown from an LCD TV on a wall. At first, I was not able to notice that those were a series of photographs. It amazed me to read the art piece definition after staring at it for a couple of minutes. It showed the city of Dubai and the activities that happen to it within 24 hours from a distant point of view. Thinking about how the artist was able to compile thousands of photographs from a semi-bird’s eye view was exemplary. Truly, technology is continuously developing throughout the world, even in the field of the arts. Being included in the exhibition, Enigma was the only time-lapse composite art work that showed a landscape of the city of Dubai. But knowingly, it is not an ordinary landscape time-lapse composite images. It suggests a deeper meaning about Dubai and its economy.

The Surface of The World exhibition suggests that the architecture of structures became part of the environment of us, human beings. Film or the “moving image” has its own boundaries within the building structures. But does it really mean that the artists can be bounded by these things or will they creatively perceive the world around them? In Isaac Julien’s Enigma, he represented the idea of capitalism (in terms of Economics) at the city of Dubai. Within that not-totally-a-landscape art piece, the city was shown as alive: the people in it and the buildings. What made these buildings among the vast field and ocean in Dubai city were the people who were existing in the photographs of the artist. But most of all, it is the capitalist system that made the city live like this. Isaac grasped the idea of capitalism in his art work, the Enigma which literally means mysterious.

A Past Hobby

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A Past Hobby

For now, let me share with you a story about my pastime since I was in Grade 2: Sketching. I won’t totally discuss how I got into this pastime (I’ll try to, but in my mind, it will be a part of this post), but I’ll describe how I sketch, and probably what I draw, then explain why.

When I was a little child, I was inspired to be a writer of fictional stories about princesses and the invisible people of this world for I was opened to a lot of fairy tale stories with princesses in it; That is normal for a little girl like me in my time. Along with my stories came drawings to illustrate it. My mother told me that I write good stories, so I pursued my writing and drawing (my Dad is a freelance artist that’s why I was inspired to draw also). Next, I became a fan of animé, specifically of Naruto (not Shippuden), since I was in fifth grade. My drawings started to improve because my friends gave me gifts: a sketch pad, pencils, and watercolor pencils. I was inspired to draw more. Because I was a fan of animé, my drawings looked like these:

Fotor060419176

 

I cannot say that I was an otaku. Instead of digressing into the term otaku, I will go around the idea of my drawings as into the animé style. Animé was popularized by Japan. I like the way they played around with reality, especially with how they drew their characters. Animé is totally different with cartoons (specifically in America). I can say that Asians are really good in drawing (when I say Asian, I only refer to Koreans or Japanese because theirs are the only styles of drawing that I saw and knew). Far from being biased, I look at Japanese art in animé as fantastic. I cannot specify what made me dwell in the way they draw it, but I can only say that it really is amazing.

After my amazement with animé until my third year in High School, I suddenly became interested with drawing real people. Certain people-slash-friends of mine inspired me to draw people. I found a human’s eye to be dazzling. When I entered College, the people around me helped me to be a more observant person, making me more logical and critical in analyzing people – their behavior and the like. I concluded, upon observing people who are close to me and even those who aren’t, that the eyes of a person speak a lot about who they are – their thoughts, what they want to say, what they intend to do or to say, and how they feel at the moment. Whenever I draw this time, I emphasize the beauty of their eyes, or sometimes I draw eyes alone, randomly. Because I loved eyes, I started to become a total fan of ball-jointed dolls, particularly those from Korea. They look so realistic, and they usually become the subjects of my drawings. Their beauty made me insecure at first, but I started to appreciate my beauty as a creation of God sooner after that. The dolls’ eyes gave them life, really.

Images of the BJDs aren't mine.

 

A past hobby, indeed, that turned into still, a hobby. Didn’t I make any sense with that sentence? Today, I’m still trying to draw more people, but my laziness keeps me from doing it. For now, I’m writing essays and poems – that’s my hobby for now.

Escolta and Art

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Escolta and Art

I can say that this is a “Real Junior Now” semi-part two blog post of mine. Check the “Real Junior Now” here, if you want to read it: https://whoismaria.wordpress.com/2014/05/24/real-junior-now/. This will be a deeper and more personal blog post for me, and it will be a bit artsy (I hope not).

As I said in my recent blog post, I went to Escolta. I walked from Quiapo church to Escolta which takes less than a kilometer, I guess. While walking, I was observing the surroundings and the landmarks I passed by: the Quiapo church, the Quinta Market, the people who were selling, along with those buying in the sidewalk, the BPI building, and the other old buildings found along the Escolta street. I appreciated the architecture of the old buildings, particularly its neo art deco style. My previous subject, Philippine Art and Design History, made me appreciate the Philippine architecture during the early 20th century. Escolta was being eyed on by groups of people who are interested in the cultural heritage lately, I suppose.

During my stay in the organization’s office, I learned a lot from the curator-speaker-lecturer that time. She made me realize that it’s not really more about the art or the “object” made. It is more about the artist – his/her experiences and creativity as an artist. It inspired me to promote the artists more. It made me feel more of being an arts manager. She taught me to look at the artists differently, that they are human beings like us. The only difference is that art is their way of life and, their creativity never leaves them. Their mind and wild imagination keeps them living and breathing. Just the thought of it keeps me motivated to push through becoming an arts manager in the near future.

Real Junior Now

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Real Junior Now

Yesterday, I went to a meeting with a curator, Miss Dayang Yraola along with some friends-slash-blockmates for an arts project as our internship. INTERNSHIP. I will be having an internship already! I can’t “somehow” believe that I’m an intern now because I am only an eighteen-year old yet I’ll be working with art projects, international artists, and curators. It’s exciting because it makes me feel like I will be a legit arts manager soon.The meeting was held in the organization’s office at Escolta, so going there from our house through commuting was a bit hassle for me because I have to choose between two options: ride the FX to Quiapo then walk to Escolta, or ride the FX to SM North EDSA, ride a jeep to LRT, then simply ride the LRT to Carriedo. I chose Option A. I love adventures, and the first option saves more money than the second one.

I wasn’t lost. I was able to go to Escolta safely without a friend, and I walked towards the location with the (guessing) knowledge of how to go there from Quiapo church. Plus, I wasn’t late for the meeting-slash-lecture! Throughout the meeting, I learned more about the art project where I will be be a part of, the tasks that I will be soon accomplishing and crowd funding. I realized that I need to know what I really can do and what I want in life because my learning ground won’t be the school anymore sooner. I lived long enough in my fantasy, not in the reality where I must be living. But I guess I need to live in my fantasy now and then to keep myself inspired.

Going to school with my friends-slash-blockmates, we rode the LRT altogether. Aren’t we sweet? Anyway, we met our (kind and probably an awesome) professor from our TECWRI (Technical Writing for Arts Management) class. We were late for almost an hour, and she dismissed the class earlier than the usual time (it should’ve been 17:40, but we were dismissed at almost 16:10).

I’ll have another blog post for personal reflections during that particular day. Please do get ready for a semi-artsy blog post every week. I’ve been gone for a long time now. I apologize. I was too lazy to open my blog and post random stuff again. Someday soon, I’ll post about my personal life, like how I’ve been doing these days. Thank you for continuously reading my blog posts! If you are fond of poems and personal sentiments, feel free to follow or read my posts in my other blog, mournwithtears.wordpress.com. God bless!