Movies and suicidal teens: Why Cinemalaya’s #Y makes me feel uneasy

Back in college, I was once forced to defend the moral acceptability of suicide in a debate. In my effort to win for our team, I said there’s an unwarranted social stigma against people who are just exercising a legitimate solution to their problems, and on the basic level, killing yourself doesn’t impinge on the rights of other people anyway, so really, it shouldn’t be an issue at all. I argued that there’s a need a demystify the very personal decision of taking one’s life, that there shouldn’t be a problem in ending it because it’s yours anyway, like a personal property no one should have an opinion about or power over. If you have a car and your neighbor blows it up, you can sue him, because it’s not his. But if you blow up your own car without any collateral damage, you’re perfectly fine. It’s the same with life, if you can accept the crude analogy.

In some countries like Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Colombia, and some states in the United States (Oregon, Washington, Vermont, New Mexico), assisted suicide- the one where a physician usually administers a lethal drug to the person- is legal. I’m alright with the idea of killing yourself, but if and only if you’re terminally ill. If it’s about suicide of an otherwise healthy individual who seems resigned to his/her sad life, I think the government should err on the side of prudence and focus on the value of promoting life and positivity instead of telling its citizens it’s okay to be defeatist.

I was never a fan of killing one’s self, and I still am. At that time, though, I had to win a debate round, so I tried arguing why it’s okay, even if you’re healthy. But it’s not, okay? Killing yourself when you’re not terminally ill is not cool.

Two years later, still in college, I had to write a paper on suicide reporting, and it was then that I learned more about suicide. Contrary to popular belief, suicide isn’t caused by a singular event, say, losing a bet in a casino or having your humiliating sex tape leaked into social media. Suicide is caused by a confluence of factors: toxic environment, unhealthy family dynamics, bad friends, lack of support systems and a host of other things that only need a trigger to blow up. That is why the Society of Professional Journalists reminds reporters not to attribute a person’s suicide to a singular event, because psychology shows that motivations behind killing one’s self are way deeper and more complex that what we usually think. What separates the suicidal people from the normal ones is that the normal ones are capable of overcoming problems because they are free from the lethal combination of external factors that drive them to their breaking point. Suicidal people have it differently, which is why I was slightly disturbed after seeing #Y, one of the entries in this year’s Cinemalaya (Philippine independent Film Festival).


See the movie’s trailer here.


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On protagonists with secret pains but are totally cool about it

If you’ve just seen Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy and raved about how fantastic it was, I want you to know that you’re not alone and there is no shame in your enthusiastic appreciation. It’s so good, no?


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We saw a four-hour film that’s not Nymphomaniac

My friends and I decided to spend more than four hours of our Sunday to watch Lav Diaz’s ‘Norte: The End of History,’ or as my friend Elfer put it, Norte: The End of Attention Span. While a swarm of pre-teens lined up for She’s Dating the Gangster (God bless Philippine cinema), my pretentious friends and I decided to check out the other Filipino film which was screened at Cannes.


The film, loosely based on Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, revolves around an opinionated law school dropout, Fabian, and his frustration with the Philippines. In actualizing his Machiavellian desire to rid society of evil, he kills an abusive usurer and her daughter, and flees to the city. An innocent father of a poor family takes the fall. After four years, Fabian returns to the province to atone for his sins, but his guilt and intellectual convictions drive him on the dangerous edge of sanity.

In coming up with my opinions on a movie, I rely on my immediate impression after the film ends, after which I rationalize why my thoughts and feelings were such. It’s my first time to watch a Diaz film, and I’m afraid I struggled digesting the four-hour opus. Up to now I still don’t know what to make of it. In explaining my thoughts to a friend, I said I thought understanding the film was like learning German. I know a little German, but I don’t really know German.

Let’s start digesting it then.

Continue reading “We saw a four-hour film that’s not Nymphomaniac”

Philip Seymour Hoffman, 1967-2014

photo by Georges Biard

Philip Seymour Hoffman, perhaps the most ambitious and widely admired American actor of his generation, who gave three-dimensional nuance to a wide range of sidekicks, villains and leading men on screen and embraced some of the theater’s most burdensome roles on Broadway, died on Sunday at an apartment in Greenwich Village he was renting as an office. He was 46.

The death, from an apparent drug overdose, was confirmed by the police. Mr. Hoffman was found in the apartment by a friend who had become concerned after being unable to reach him. Investigators found a syringe in his arm and, nearby, an envelope containing what appeared to be heroin.

(Read the rest of the New York Times obituary here)

I only know a few of his movies, but he was brilliant in Capote, which I liked very much. Too bad he died from an apparent drug overdose. Thanks for the movies, Mr Hoffman.

On a side note, he’s signed to play the Hunger Games’s Plutarch Heavensbee until 2015. I wonder who will assume his role now.


Polar vortex meets class struggle on a train

Last night I went to see Snowpiercer with friends and thankfully it made up for the utter waste of time that was That Awkward Moment (I beg you, don’t watch that sorry excuse of a movie).

Snowpiercer has a pretty interesting plot- global warming prompts the government to cool the earth artificially, but instead of improving the weather they create polar vortex maximus, killing almost all life on the planet. The only survivors are passengers of a globetrotting train with a perpetual-motion engine. They took a ride 18 years ago. They are governed by a certain Wilford who takes care of the divine engine, which maintains the balance in the train-slash-humanity.

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Less drama, more action

Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is a visual spectacle that packs more action and thrill than the first installment of the trilogy, which is appropriately so given its supposed goal of upping the ante for the final movie.

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Gravity (spoilers included)

In what could be the most laughably pitiful movie of all time, Sandra Bullock’s character manages to incur all the bad luck in the universe in Gravity, a thrilling story set some 600 kilometers above Earth.

She’s so lucky, she’s a star.

Continue reading “Gravity (spoilers included)”