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May 22

da Vinci crapfest

Yesterday I spent a couple of hours talking to young activists about the national situation. It was an extremely interesting interaction. This entry in tonypierce.com (hat tip to Mamutong), shows clearly that young people giving their elders a tough time (politically, anyway) is par for the course. The country’s changing, and it was good to talk to students who care about what sort of changes will take place.

I watched The da Vinci Code on opening night and it was a complete waste of time and money. Slate’s review sums it up best: worse than the book. The reactions and reviews of World Famous in the Philippines (who points to Howstuffwork’s analysis of how the movie doesn’t work; they also have a great set of annotated photos of da Vinci’s Last Supper) and Morofilm sum up everything wrong with the film.

After the movie, one of the people I watched the film with, who’d apparently never read the book, asked me what I thought of the book. “Airplane reading,” I replied: fun but forgettable. I had to keep asking a friend during the movie, “was that in the book?” I’d forgotten.

Though it can make for difficult slogging at times, “Foucault’s Pendulum” (Umberto Eco) seems to me to have, at least, solid academic credentials behind it; it was also one of the first Templar-Mason conspiracy novels I read and much more intricately interesting than Dan Brown’s bestseller. The bar for historical-detective-thriller type novels was really set by “The Club Dumas” (Arturo Perez-Reverte). Splendid book, lousy movie.

If you want to get into pseudo-history, you could, of course, read “Holy Blood, Holy Grail” (Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, Henry Lincoln), which is, actually, lots of fun to read. But if one really wants to get into the meat of the matter, and go beyond fiction, Elaine Pagels, can’t be beat: her writing isn’t lurid. The first book of hers I read was “The Origin of Satan (Vintage)” (Elaine Pagels) followed by “The Gnostic Gospels” (ELAINE PAGELS). All these books are available in Metro Manila bookstores, by the way.

This week’s Talk of the town in the Inquirer is on ethanol and the implications of government’s support for its production. Growing energy and opportunities gives an overview of the issues concerned. Ethanol sweeteners discusses the economic benefits and debates on social costs. Seeing through the smokescreen provides the view of sugar planters, while Sugarcane Solomon wanted provides that of the sugar millers.

My column for today is Mediocrity long imposed on voters, a response to a reader’s letter to the editor.

Dante Ang, owner of the Manila Times, only publishes commentaries in his paper when something big is going on. His latest piece, Time to do penance, is aimed at Alfonso Yuchengco. The case is interesting because it involves allegations that Yuchengco and his companies were slandered in the blog of angry education plan holders. the past year has seen the use of the law against Philippine blogs: first, for political reasons and now, for commercial reasons. Atty-at-work takes notice of the case and points out he has an entry on e-libel.

When does a disagreement stop being he said, she said? When the argument starts involving provable, and disprovable, things. The continued claims of Sigaw ng Bayan (the number of visitors, and how they count them) get pretty thoroughly dissected by Captain’s Log and Yugatech (who gets pretty sarcastic in this entry -I love it!). As for what I think, it’s in my May 8 column.

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  1. a de brux

    Right you are MLQ3!

    Went to watch it on Saturday afternoon – cinema was not even third full; was with my 3 kiddies and girlfriend of my oldest.

    I thought many of the scenes bordered on the ridiculous and almost hilarious but on the whole (hubby and I laughed at many of the scenes and the dialogue), don’t regret watching it though – it’s ok for a motion pic thriller – to find out for myself why Pinoy authorities are making a big deal out of really, a thoroughly ordinary motion picture.

    Youngest, 14 yr old kiddie says, “Boring! I told you we shoulda watch Mission Impossible!”

    16 yr old kiddie who’s read the book’s comment was “Book is better…Tom Hanks is pretty forrest gumpish in his role of an erudite, high-flying scholar… pity”

    Oldest kiddie says “Bof!” (An expression of indifference, as in not impressed, shrugged it off) while his girlfriend says “Yeah! I thought it would be a real thriller!”

  2. cvj

    I don’t know what the letter writer’s beef is with Kris Aquino and Cory Quirino. I would even vote for Sharon Cuneta who i think is more qualified than her husband. One thing that irks me about many voters from the middle class is their belief in the superiority of their personnel judgments (as compared with the ‘masa’) combined with their obliviousness to the superficiality upon which they base their decisions. It’s the same shallow analysis that lets Gloria Arroyo get away with being portrayed as a ‘hardworking’ President.

  3. a de brux

    MLQ3,

    The following news item is kinda gobasmacking in the extreme: “Manila vows to padlock theaters showing ‘Da Vinci Code’” http://www.inq7.net/index_network.htm

    Atienza’s gone mad!

  4. jhay

    Hmm..so the movie is that bad huh? I’m going to watch it tomorrow, though my sister has already seen it and has told me that it was not good and quite boring really.

  5. manuelbuencamino

    Is Dante Ang so far out of the loop in Malacanan he has to kiss Mike Defensor’s ass? I wonder what that’s like? On second thought, I don’t ever want to find out what that’s like.

    I feel sorry for Dante Ang. Sorry in the sense that there was a time he was allowed to kiss the ass of GMA herself. It must be a great blow to the ego of the man that he is now relegated to kissing the ass of GMA’s butler.

    In the world of butt kissers it’s not what or who you know that counts. It’s where you got the brown spot on your nose that counts.

  6. Betol

    Mr. Quezon, III

    I agree on both Foucault’s Pendulum (and Name of the Rose) and The Club Dumas. Hopefully they won’t try to make a movie out of Foucault’s Pendulum. The Ninth Gate was indeed terrible. But this is to be expected of movies. You can never capture the essence of the characters or the intricacies of the plot from the book and transfer it into a two hour movie. Therefore, movie makers have to make up for it in other ways, by taking liberties under th guise of artistic license, add some graphic violence, and in many cases, lots of sex.

    Nothing wrong with movies but if you like books, don’t go to see the movies based on the books you’ve read.

  7. a de brux

    Hahahah!

    MB! That’s one solid kickin’ ass piece.

    Mebe coz Dante ain’t leashin his writers no mah!

  8. jher

    a de brux,

    kala ko r-18 ang movie? bakit pinapasok kiddies mo? anyway, their “reviews” on the movie is eksakto. a waste of time and money.

  9. RoelM

    MLQ III:

    It appears that Elaine Pagels is not so highly regarded by many scholars on Gnosticism and the early church. Here is an example:

    http://www.cwnews.com/news/viewstory.cfm?recnum=43736

    Perhaps her interpretations have been too obviously influenced by her personal spiritual interests. She appears to be somewhat of a popularizer, somewhat like Dan Brown but more scholarly and with less of the gross errors.

  10. mlq3

    Betol, if only I could, I’d hold back from reading a book until the movie came out, just so I wouldn’t be disappointed.

    RoelM: Thanks for the tip, will check it out. I’m all for popularizers though, but I wonder if that means she isn’t the best layman’s introduction to Gnisticism?

  11. R.O.

    ahihihi! what a beautiful title!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  12. RoelM

    MLQ3:

    From what I’ve read of others’ comments, it appears she is far from being the best layman’s introduction. I don’t know, however, who is.

  13. tony

    the young lady you spoke of in your opening paragraph was the valedictorian of her class. the “elder” who you referred to has been doing a pretty poor job of trying to please both sides of the political spectrum.

    she was given a standing ovation because she did what her classmates elected her to do – speak for them.

    sen mccain has gone through a lot in his life. he’s a geniune hero. however if he didnt think that he was going to take some heat for the colleges that he chooses to speak at, or the votes that he has chosen to cast, then he’s crazy.

    the day Americans of any age bite their tongue instead of speaking out when the cameras are on them is a very dark day.

  14. Karl

    I reserved my comment till i saw d movie.
    I taught myself not to be disappointed of any reviews,I have learned not to be bored even when it appears that everybody is bored.

    Although Betol is correct that the movie most often than not does not give justice to any written piece;I don’t find it that crappy butr everything was rushed like the first 50 or so pages was shown in the first five minutes of the film.

    Reagrding the inq articleof MLQ3…I think the letter to the sender and myself might have been in the same wavelength at that ceratin point of time,I almost agreed with him or her.
    I did not read the letter but only the article of MLQ3.

    Re:
    A debrux you might have found it boring because you have lived in France for 30 years… and all for their lives your children might have been so used to the Louvre and the streets of Paris…..well you wer not the only one who got bored anyways; i watched in an afternoon were many were snoring.

  15. Iloilo City Boy

    I don’t know why so many so-called “Filipino church leaders” and moralists are making a big fuss over the showing of Da Vinci Code in theaters. As a novelist, Dan Brown only did to religious history what Michael Crichton did to science and technology: which was to make an otherwise boring topic more interesting to readers. I also agree with you that the book is better than the movie.

  16. Sol

    http://news.inq7.net/nation/index.php?index=1&story_id=77179

    What kind of “mistakes” are people pointing out on Dan Brown’s book? It’s fiction. The author can alter anything.

    Anyways, have you read the news lately? Read what Mike Bichara said about people in the provinces. It’s like he’s implying that people there aren’t smart enough to understand the movie. Sad, really…

    But I’d love them to explain something to me. Why would they fuss over the Da Vinci Code and let a movie like “The Omen”, which is about an ANTI-CHRIST, be allowed?

  1. blog @ AWBHoldings.com » The Da Vinci Code Bashfest

    […] Manolo Quezon says that watching the movie “was a complete waste of time and money”. […]

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