Always tell someone where you are going (and other lessons learned from “127 Hours”)

After having watched “127 Hours” I have learned some very important lessons that I should remember everytime I have the urge to travel somewhere:

1. Always remember to tell someone where you are going…in case you fall into a crack in a canyon and your hand gets pinned in a boulder. So, people, I am in Africa.

2. Bring loads of water. It saves you from the inevitable moment when you have to drink your own pee.

3. Never buy the China-made knife. Bring your Swiss knfie instead.

4. Bring food.

5. Ropes are important.

6. Don’t forget your digital camera. It can save you from a Wilson-the-ball/Tom Hanks-madness.

7. Your arm is not as important as you think it is.

And in related news…if you were Aron Ralston and trapped in a boulder, would you give up your arm to free yourself?

127 Hours – a study in existential transformation in the most unlikely of places

So, a former housemate of mine introduced me to “127 Hours” with the idea that it is about a guy who cuts off his arm when he is trapped in a boulder in a canyon for five days.

I didn’t think much of it, but I did copy his copy of it. I had heard it nominated for the Oscars (as of press time it had lost out to “The King’s Speech”) and that made my interest a bit more piqued. But not sufficiently piqued as to actually watch it. The thought of another film, much like “Castaway”(can you actually bear tw hours of Tom Hanks? I didn’t think so) and “Ladder 49” where someone is trapped somewhere and you watch two hours of the person struggling, just seems unbearably boring for me. So I held out on it til yesterday, when I was at home, having watched all of my movies and now ready for “127 Hours”.

After finally watching it, though, I had to kick myself for not having watched it sooner. The difference between this film and the ones that came before it, was director Danny Boyle’s trademark filmmaking style and James Franco’s gritty performance as Aron Ralston.

Boyle’s frenetic, kinetic, filmmaking style, fraught with MTV-saturated images, backed by an upbeat soundtrack that pushes rather than constrains the scenes and breathtaking cinematography of the Utah canyons, does not interfere at all with Franco’s intense depiction of a solitary, secretive man who is more at home in the wilderness than in the office, and who, moment-by-moment, manages to infuse this character with more life even without dialogue or other characters. The script is fast-paced and clean, and clocking in at one hour, 30 minutes, and proves that the age-old adage, less is more, is true in this case.

There is no Wilson in this movie, no elaborate flashbacks to stretch the drama. In fact, flashbacks are not treated as such, and are actually both memory and introspection and imagination for Franco’s Ralston, who imagines his treatment of past lovers, family and friends with casual indifference at first, but gradually, as the days progress, with much regret. But the most fascinating thing about this movie is the age-old theme of literatures past, man vs. nature and man vs. himself, when, stripped of all the trappings of everyday urban life, Franco’s Ralston comes to appreciate the daily routine only a man trapped in a boulder can appreciate: 15 minutes of sun on his toes, a bird flying overhead for eight seconds, water, camera, the luxury of memories, and also comes to appreciate the devastating realization that he was responsible for where he was in now and no other, and thus, being responsible for himself and his actions, his destiny and his future, Ralston is able to break free from his predicament by doing the one unimaginably harrowing thing anyone can do: cut off his arm with a cheap, dull, China-made knife. I think that was the most compelling part of this film – the idea of accountability and of personal responsibility, an amazing existential moment that seems unusual in post-millenium cinema.

I like this so much I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a great film to watch this year. If you are going to watch anything, watch “127 hours”.

What would you write if you wrote letters to your ex-es…?

Lazy Thursday in the office. Thinking I’ve had enough of volunteering (it seemed like a good idea a year ago haha!), and surfing the net for something to do.

Came across this contest on the Jessica Zafra website, Letters to your Ex-es, that just had to be read.

A random sampling: 

I haven’t realized that I’ve got a crapload of emotions to tell all my exes the following (well, not really all, the others I don’t even know their real names).

So this is part deux, to my exes (part 1 was reply # 3 in this post) :

To R: I am really sorry that I told you I’ll be staying in China for good. It was just a quick business trip for me, but to you it may seem like 3 years of my absence. I was overly immature to break it up that moment that I used the “long distance” get out of jail free card.

To B: I always knew that you wouldn’t feel for me the way I feel for you. I am so glad that we never consummated whatever relationship we had, at least we’re still friends now. I received the Japanese cookbook you sent me last week (thanks) and I hope you enjoyed The Killers DVD I sent you. I know – you’re the R&B kind of guy, but “somebody told me… that you had a boyfriend who looked like a girlfriend that I had in February of last year …” and I associated the music with you (fast forward to Chapter 4 of the DVD please).

To H: I stopped bugging you to return that Alanis Morissette CD “because the love that you gave that we made wasn’t able to make it enough for you to be open wide”. So please stop asking me for your Fiona Apple CD back, you Criminal!

To F: I thought I needed closure. But I guess the VD tests were enough. I am very happy not to get anything from you, even if I lost a lot of investment to you. I’m just happy I’m very disease-free. If you’re still the way you were when we were together, please get tested. For your sake.

To G: My apologies for not attending your wedding. I was really swamped with work and the date coincided with our product launch that I can’t leave behind. Thank you for thinking of me when you asked me to read the gospel in your wedding. At least I knew whatever we had meant something. I still owe you a wedding gift. See you in June?

Click here for more (it’s just addictive!).

What’s your comfort film?

So last night, whilst talking to my housemates (a Chinese Canadian guy and a new British Chinese guy – yep, it’s two guys, a gay person and a house) we were talking about homesickness and what whether we have comfort films (like comfort food) that help get us through those dark times.

Housemate number 1 (Canadian) says his comfort films were Se7en, 12 Monkeys and  Fight Club (“Do you have a thing about Brad Pitt?” housemate number 2 asks.).

I remember the first time I was overseas, I was spending a disturbingly inordinate amount of time watching movies and television series (hence the birth of this blog), and I remember watching “Hairspray”and “Stardust”over and over again at the time. I also remember watching a few Filipino films (say that fast, 10 times) as well.

When I was in Canada, for some strange, inexplicable reason, I used to watch D.E.B.S over and over again.

Alright, it's probably the short, plaid skirts, the legs attached to them, and the hotness of two girls making out that probably made this a comfort film for me. 🙂

When I went back home to the Philippines, I used to watch “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”over and over again, as well as “Battlestar Galactica”, “True Blood” and “Glee”.

When I’m feeling down, I usually turn to light, romantic, usually teen films or comedies. I refuse to watch horror now because they’ll just depress me more.

Right now, it’s “Zoolander” that I love watching over and over again, along with “How to Train a Dragon”. If I could snag “The Producers” and “Team America”, I’m all set.

What about you, what’s your comfort film?