A Weekend of Wanderings

(Another super late post)

Most of us probably enjoyed the long weekend following the commemoration of Jose Rizal’s 150th birth anniversary. I had some plans that didn’t materialize because of the weather we had but what was left of it, I realized just now, was centered into being lost and finding one’s way out. I’m talking here about the two films I saw and a book I just finished reading. Ironically, all of them were about getting lost and finding your way out in the end.

Sans Toi ni Loi

I thought I would once again fail to catch even a single movie featured in this year’s French Film Festival at the EDSA Shangri-la Mall but then I made it to the 6 p.m. screening last June 18, the second to the last day of the week-long festival.

I was on solo flight. I really don’t have anything against watching films alone on a movie house. I have done this for quite a few times already. I remember I tried doing a marathon of films alone during one Cine Europa. The first time I watched the first part of Harry Potter’s last installment, I was also alone. So I really have no qualms about falling in line for the tickets on my own. The thing was that, these free film festivals make me reminisce about my college life where, together with my classmates, I would also fall in line and wait patiently for my turn to be issued the free ticket. Seeing some groups of people meet and have a chat there made me miss my old college movie buddies.

So the first (and the last) movie I saw in this year’s French Film Fest was Sans Toi ni Loi (Vagabond), a film that dates back in 1985 (seeing the year on screen made me feel old!) The story opens with a death scene — a woman is found dead in a ditch during one cold winter morning in a village somewhere in France. The police ruled out foul play and declared it a natural death. Because no one really knew where she came from, people started making stories out of the protagonist’s life, with those who were fortunate enough to meet her reminisce on how their lives have been turned upside down by our protagonist.

The lady, Mona Bergaron, was actually a drifter who spent her life hitching rides, camping out in the middle of winter season and once in awhile, asking for small jobs then using her earnings to buy dope. As she went on with her life, she met people whose lives would eventually get affected with her stubbornness and quirkiness.

One of the people Mona met was a shepherd-farmer who tried to give her a piece of land and a place to stay. Apparently, this man used to be like Mona—going from one place to another, enjoying the freedom of traveling. One day though, he realizes that he needs to stop. He said something like “if you want to live, you have to stop.” He did stop, settled down and made himself busy with his herds of sheep and his farm. As the movie went on, I kept guessing that Mona’s death got something to do with the tractor I’ve been seeing in some of the scenes. In the end, she died because she just couldn’t handle the icy weather. So much for her wanderings, eh?

Wandering, the Astral Way

On Sunday, I finally caught Insidious. Even though I’ve heard some people recommending this film, I didn’t expect to get really scared by it. I don’t know, it must be the series of Hollywood horror films I have caught recently that left me wondering if the American film makers have really lost to the Asian horror films. Maybe it’s just the Asian in me.

The film starts with a family who has just moved in a new house which is reminiscent of those of the Amityville types (pointed, with creepy attics–I think almost all American attics are creepy). One day Dalton, one of the kids, started checking out the attic. Trying to discover what’s inside the room, he fell from a weak ladder. Then one day, he didn’t wake up. The parents thought it was the house that had the problem but upon consulting a medium, they were told that it’s not the house that’s haunted but Dalton himself. Accordingly, Dalton has the ability to leave his physical body and travel around, thinking all the time thinking that he’s just dreaming and in his dreams, he is flying. What he doesn’t realize is that it’s his astral body that’s been traveling around. This time though, his wandering led him to a place called the Further that is not for living creatures such as Dalton.

There were “gulat” moments but not really that scary that you’d wish the movie would soon be over. The story was okay; at least they gave the audience believable explanations as to why and how things were happening. Of course, there were still scenes that one could find to be flawed. I would have loved it if I saw these with friends of course and all of us would wait who’d get scared or “gulat” next.

Finding Your Place on Earth

Lastly,  I finally finished the book I have been reading for weeks – The Honk and Holler Opening Soon. Set in Sequoyah, Oklahoma, “Honk and Holler Opening Soon” is named after the café owned by a Vietnam War veteran Caney Paxton who never set foot outside the café ever since it opened twelve years ago.Together with the rest of the locals, Caney’s life will be changed when a woman, Vena Takes Horse and a Vietnamese refugee, Bui Khanh arrive on the café a few days before Christmas.

Vena has spent her life walking away from the people she loves because she just couldn’t seem to find her place in the world. In the end, she realizes it is in that old town in Sequoyah that she belongs.

The theme is pretty much the same with that of Billie Lett’s more famous book “Home Is Where the Heart Is” (which starred Natalie Portman in the movie adaptation).I bought this book because of the first one but years passed without me reading the it. The reason, I think, was that I was afraid of getting disappointed should I not find the story as good as “Home Is.” But when I finally started reading it, I got hooked. Billie still has that same magic in bringing to life the characters in her story. And like her other book, the story has a happy ending anchored on real life —things may still be far from perfect but they are bearable, especially if people continue to go out of their way to help out those in need.

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