Friday 5: Summer Movies

It's been a long time since I've been to the movies, approximately 20 months actually. So when I went, I wanted a sure thing. I don't want to take chances with my sweet, precious 2 hours off. The movie has to be good. It has to be worth my time. I'm glad to report they were.

4 of the 5 movies I saw were here at the Aquarius.

20 Feet from Stardom features "unsung heroes behind the greatest music of our time," backup singers whose voices you know but whose names you don't. It shows a history of backup singing, the obstacles the featured artists faced, the choices they made, what separates the divas from the backup. It displays their talents beautifully and I couldn't help fall in love. There were many performances in the film that were so good they gave me goosebumps, but when I heard Lisa Fisher's studio solo I was blown away. It's true, what our grandparents said, "they don't make music like they used to." The movie ticket was a small price to pay to journey back in time.

Now on to the teen portion. It's like when I read the Hunger Games trilogy and then The Night Circus, The Fault in Our Stars, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Paper Towns and even Ender's Game. All of a sudden all my kindle recommendations were teen lit! Ah, well, at least they were good.

I loved The Way Way Back. I love the cast, the acting, the writing, the story. It started as the summer that would never end, and it became the summer you didn't want to end. Even the trailer is irresistible. Go see it already.

The Spectacular Now was the more serious teen movie. It felt so real, at times uncomfortably so, but that's how it is, isn't it? Shailene Woodley is a star, and she'll be starring in the aforementioned The Fault in Our Stars movie.

The World's End movie got stellar reviews from rottentomatoes.com, Jimmy Fallon, and Kevin & Bean. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost were hilarious in their KROQ interview with Kevin & Bean :) I've never seen Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz. It was just ok for me. It felt too long, but I suppose it's pretty good for its genre.

Just as I started my summer movie spree with a musical documentary that took me back in time, I ended with another one.

Harana documents the vanishing Filipino tradition of the serenade, which was last practiced 30 years ago. The music here is beautiful and it shows that great artists are found not only on main stages. Sometimes they are found on a fishing boat, a rice field, or behind the wheels of a tricycle.

I found out about this film when I went to see Spectacular Now. There were promo postcards just sitting on a ledge inside the Aquarius theater's miniscule lobby. I noticed the title Harana right away. I thought, "Hmm, I wonder what this movie is about because harana means serenade in Tagalog." It didn't occur to me that the movie title and the word I know would refer to the same thing. They did! And there were only 4 showings at the Aquarius: 7pm on September 4, 5, 11, and 12. You can still see it next week.

I bought tickets in advance because we had only 1 chance to see this. My sister Ricci was free from work only on the 4th, and my mother-in-law was available to babysit Amelia only on the 4th before going back to Hawaii. I didn't think the theater would sell out, because how many people could possibly want to see a Filipino documentary about serenading on a Wednesday night? Nevertheless, I wasn't going to take that chance. I bought the tickets over the weekend and went with Ricci and Tom to the first showing at the Aquarius.

Florante Aguilar, the man behind the movie, and Executive Producer Fides Enriquez held a Q&A session after the screening. Florante even signed Ricci's CD. I hope they succeed in getting it into wider distribution. Like Ricci said, it makes me proud to come from such a romantic and musical culture.

Left: This was the postcard I found last week.  Right: Florantes signing Ricci's Harana Kings CD.