27 May, 2009

A Frozen Flower [the barefoot baklesa review]

Is love reduced to nothing more than just really settling for what is there before you as would princes and princesses in a fairy tale? Are we as human beings foolishly conditioned to love what is before us in fear of receiving no other love? Or are we mere slaves to our passions that it clouds our very reason, much to our own demise?

These were but the first few questions left for me to ponder after having seen ‘Ssanghwajeom’ [A Frozen Flower]; a Korean period drama that director Yoo Ha describes as “a love story between men”. No, this isn’t about two Korean cowboys “eating pudding” as the South Park character of Cartmann put it when describing gay movies -I've read from The Man of the Rose that ‘Ssanghwajeom’ [A Frozen Flower] is Korea’s answer to Brokeback Mountain but since I don’t really find the gay cowboy movie remotely entertaining, let’s leave it at that.

‘Ssanghwajeom’ [A Frozen Flower] borrows its title from a song taken from the Goryeo Period of Korean history which poeticized the sexual relationships between men and women. Set during that same era, it tells of a late dynasty Goryeo King [Joo Jin-Moo] who has to contend with the virtual imperial rule of the Yuan Dynasty of China over his kingdom. With his sovereignty under threat for having produced no male heir, the king turns to his chief royal bodyguard, Hong Lim [played by the ever handsome Jo In-sung], to impregnate the Queen [Song Ji-Hyo].

The sexual entanglement ensues to much chaotic result; for the King himself has his own affair with Hong Lim [Jo In-Sung] and would trust no one but him to impregnate the Queen [Song Ji-Hyo], who is nothing more than a trophy wife he has no attachment nor attraction to.

At first, Hong Lim [Jo In-Sung] is hesitant to touch the Queen. She herself, after experiencing years of unaffection and being neglected by the King would soon find herself liberated and enslaved after the veil of sexual intercourse for duty and country is lifted and sex for carnal passion bares its visage, as well as Hong Lim [Jo In-Sung] who has not known any other love but the King’s.

On closer inspection, Hong Lim [Jo In-Sung] may have entered into an affair with the King as a result of his consequences of servitude and loyalty. Becoming the King’s lover and chief bodyguard after being reared by the King himself while still a teenage Prince, and him an adolescent boy-in-training, seems more or less the victim of circumstance here.

Guilt is brushed aside for unbridled passion as the Queen [Song Ji-Hyo] and Hong Lim [Jo In-Sung] continue their secret trysts much to the unraveling of the King’s [Joo Jin-Moo] jealousy. Finding it a bit too much, the film is replete with such explicit sexual scenes between the two that it would not be long until the secret lovers are caught enflagrante delicto by the King himself and a tragic and violent end of Shakespearean proportions comes upon the characters. [Trust me when I say heads will roll, for that will be an understatement when you see one type of ‘head‘ that will roll]

Give or take the complex dynamic of Hong Lim’s [Jo In-Sung] love for both of them, he chooses to turn his head towards the King that perished by his hand meeting his eyes as he took his dying breath with the King’s sword pierced in his heart. The last thing he would see in this world would be the dead frozen eyes of his King.

Was this in any form, his statement of remorse, for having hurt the man who showed him the first kind of love he had ever known? That if he had stood by the King’s love, however one-sided and consequential it was, they would not meet this bloody end? Did he realize, after all this, who he truly loved?

Even I am confused…

But stirring the mist in my crazy head let me just muddle out a few ideas… Hong Lim’s [Jo In-sung] rampage seems to me nothing more than a lover’s quarrel gone wrong. Such a bloody and violent display to show the King that all of it was of the King’s doing and that if he had not pushed him too far, they would not be caught in all this -call it- drama. Then of course, like some of those in pretentious denial about themselves, one could argue that the chief bodyguard is ‘bisexual’ and the King would just have to live with sharing him with the queen.

In the spirit of symbolism expected of Asiatic movies, the filmmakers seem to have chosen a vision or longing of true happiness in a painting made by the King himself. It is of a dream of his about him and his chief bodyguard off on a hunt -the promise of which filled his heart with joy. This very painting was ripped apart by Hong Lim’s sword in his violent rage when he went after the King. And by some cinematic choice, after their tragic deaths, this image of the happy hunt is presented to us: the King and Hong Lim riding on horseback with bows on hand ready to strike. The smile on their faces display no care of the world that had bound them once before -something that strikes me as a last minute predictable attempt at the promise of being reincarnated with the one you love or too much heaven in the head.

I can say this much for the other elements of the film: the production values were quite excellent. The production design was very detailed yet fairly streamlined, the musical score kept at the appropriate pace, and the editing is as expected considering some action scenes. Except for the rather lengthy displays of sex scenes, it was a movie that stimulates the senses without doing it too much.

Well, I can’t really say if I’m impressed with Jo In-Sung’s acting on this one. Much as I love the guy, the performance seemed mechanical and studied. While Joo Jin-Moo as the King displayed such gentle nuances that displayed his hidden sexuality above the royal refinement. And Song Ji-Hyo’s Queen is the acting centerpiece of the film worthy of praise.

As I type the last few sentences of this review, A Frozen Flower seems to be leaving more questions than it can answer. Some people can take the plainly obvious unraveling while some can dig deeper into it. Either way, it is one not to be missed.

thus spake the Barefoot Baklesa

24 May, 2009

Hooray for Jiro Shirakawa!!!

I know...
Here I go again...
My last few posts here have either been somewhat related to or have been about Jiro Shirakawa...
Well guess what, with the photo above, I'm sure you've figured out by now that this one still is about Jiro Shirakawa!!! Hahahaha!!!

The Barefoot Baklesa congratulates Jiro Shirakawa for bringing home the top prize in this year's Mossimo Bikini Summit, held last Saturday at the Skydome in SM North EDSA.

for more photos of the said tilt, check out Vince Lopez's multiply site by clicking on the link. Thanks for sharing, Vince!

thus spake the Barefoot Baklesa

21 May, 2009

Jiro Shirakawa "Knows it!!!"

"I've seen him, and he was good looking -in a cute sense- then... I never realized he was going to be this good looking now.", whispered the Barefoot Baklesa to a friend and Mossimo Bikini Summit 2009 organizer last Saturday, who was nice enough to introduce Jiro personally when they made their appearance at Guilly's in Bora after it got cancelled due to a freakish summer storm in the island.

To which he answered, "He is that good looking, and he knows it!!!" followed by what seems to be a curious grin... Not reading too much into that -and having seen Jiro around in certain circles and work incidences, but never actually getting introduced to him formally- he does strike me as a "walang masamang tinapay" kind of guy; who can pretty much get along with anyone.

On the other hand, i don't think photos could do this boy justice. Oh yeah, here I am again with my Japonois persuasions...

I remember a certain younger Brent Javier having this kind of effect on people back in the earlier days of the Mossimo Bikini Summit. And they have been saying this boy is going places and can be the next big thing, the way Brent had been [note the word: had]. Let's not jinx it by sprinkling Brent's karma in his modelling way, okay?

Here's wishing Jiro the best this coming Saturday.

Oh yeah, The 2009 Mossimo Bikini Summit will be held on the 23rd of May, Saturday, 8:00pm, at the Skydome, SM North EDSA.

thus spake the Barefoot Baklesa

17 May, 2009

the 2009 mossimo bikini summit gets blown over by a summer storm

This just in, as the Barefoot Baklesa was enjoying a round of drinks at Guilly's in Bora, the male finalists of this year's Mossimo Bikini Summit have decided to make an appearance. Just earlier, the long awaited search was brought to a grinding halt when the set-up for the said event lost it's footing against what Mother Nature brought in [as in within 20 minutes, the stage for the event was not fit for performance]...Thus the event was cancelled and moved to next saturday with the metropolis as the new venue -well, that's what couturier Eric Pineda told him personally...

But let us rewind the clock a few hours:

the barefoot baklesa suddenly found himself in a van heading for the Caticlan Port in Malay, Aklan from the de los Reyes ancestral house [Balay de los Reyes] in San Jose, Antique no more than thirteen hours ago...

Upon docking in Boracay Island late that afternoon, I realized that the 2009 Mossimo Bikini Summit was to have their finals that evening at Fairways and Blue Water -which is on the other side of the island. Of course, the Barefoot Baklesa was thinking of the really cute Andrei Endique and his "bishounen" bet: Jiro Shirakawa. Hahahahaha!!!

After getting freshened-up, we decided to take a stroll along the beach -that was around sunset- when a freakish summer storm blew in on one side. With camera on hand, I was able to take a shot of the dark clouds as they blew in... And as mother nature surprised us on one side, she was letting the sunshine out with the sunset just flawlessly descending into the sea which also made a pretty picture...

speaking of what should have made a pretty picture, as I was introduced to the guys by Mr. Eric Pineda [he designed and executed some of the swimsuit sets for this year], I forgot to have my picture taken with them!!! Argh!!!

thus spake the Barefoot Baklesa

07 May, 2009

the barefoot baklesa recommends: Little Ashes

Theater Majors are familiar with the works of Federico Garcia Lorca like El Publico [The Public] and El Malefico de la Mariposa [The Butterfly's Evil Spell] ~if they are not, then they must have enrolled in the wrong theater school~ and no self-respecting student of art could not have at least once encountered and been mesmerized by the works of Salvador Dali... But what most of us do not know, is that these two men, great minds that existed in the grind of the young and volatile modern world, were once entwined in the love that Oscar Wilde once described, "dare not speak its name"

Little Ashes is period drama that explores the little-known passion between these two men; Javier Beltran plays the enigmatic Lorca while the Robert Pattinson of Potter 4 and Twilight fame plays the eccentric Dali. A movie not to be missed, Little Ashes is due for international release on the 8th of May.

thus spake the Barefoot Baklesa

ten things in my gay mind: Welcome the SaGAYlas, Dionisia Pacquiao’s Foundation, and the Jun Lozada Farce

Yesterday, my mother informed my that one of my second cousins suffered a stroke… I never really liked this cousin of mine, and all I really wanted to ask was, “Is she dead yet?” but I spared my mother from hearing it. Now, that may come out as mean, but I take issue with ingratitude and dishonesty. And as I have said a hundred times over, “Beware Karma..” and this is what I meant by it.

This name: Janice Dickinson… I just can’t put it to words how I love the insanity that is this woman!!! And the fact that all the boys she has in that modeling agency and just hot… [insert image of the barefoot baklesa wiping drool from his face] Thanks to Joms for the copy of season 3 and 4 of JDMA…

I could not care less about Manny Pacquiao anymore. He’s not my “champ“… Then again, I am not “the people”! Hahahahaha!!! But on the other hand, his mother, Dionisia Pacquiao, is remotely entertaining.

What is with all that foundation she was wearing? I was going through the channels when I chanced upon her interview and I stopped and asked myself, “Who is this corpse they are interviewing?” She was like one of Madame de Pompadour’s powdered wigs!!! [don’t get it? check your European history, people…] Somebody help her get the right shade of foundation, please… I mean with all that money…

I came upon these photos of my beloved Mario Maurer, already inebriated… Drunk or not, he still makes me all gooey inside…

my thanks to Man of the Rose for the photo...

Now that the merry month of May is upon us, and the many Filipino Fiestas are scheduled within the next few weeks, one more thing shall bring out the gays in full force: The Sagala -or to put it in the appropriate context- the SaGAYla in your local areas will be featuring Queens -and I mean that with amused affection- doing a promenade in their fabulous gowns to distract us from all this third world absurdity…

I hear David Archuleta and David Cook are performing on the same night, at the same venue here in Manila… Not that I find that it has any significance to my life, I just had to ask, “If I were to attend this concert and scream: ‘David! David! David!’ who do you think that scream would count for? David C or David A?” Hahahahahaha!!!

I love this store called BUY THE BOOK.. I have been purchasing marked down books from them for some time now. The books they have will surprise even the seasoned bargain book hunter who has worn out the many Booksale branches in the Metropolis. Yesterday, while waiting for a meeting, I browsed around and found a few art books I saw at Page One years ago, marked down at a real steal! Of course, I had to BUY THE BOOKs -get it? BUY THE BOOKs?- Hehehehe!!!

Lately, there has been some controversy about Martin Nievera’s version of the Philippine National Anthem which he sang at the last Pacquiao fight I never bothered to watch. A lot of people have had their take on this including the National Historical Institute that quoted a Republic Act on the dictum of performing the National Anthem and how it is to be sung in public. And the latest to join the bandwagon is Party List Representative Teddy Casiño recommending a hearing at the House of Representatives regarding the matter.

I think a “commie” like Teddy Casiño, masquerading as a politician should just concern himself with pretending to be a politician and not waste precious pesos on a preliminary hearing as if there are not many more important things than a carried-away rendition of the National Anthem.

To quote myself when I was in school, “Can we not? Seriously…”

Winner for “Another Television Commercial To Be Remembered For Sheer Campy-ness” is Governor Vilma Santos’ Vaseline Anti-Dandruff Shampoo TVC!!!

Mother: Thanks, Ate Vi!!!
Ate Vi: Thanks Vaseline, Thanks Nature!

Wagi, mga kapatid!!! Wagi!!!

Is it just me, or has the rest of the nation catched-on with the fact that ZTE/National Broadband Deal Scandal star witness Jun Lozada is a such a Drama Queen?

I heard he got arrested and jailed for charges filed against him by former Congressman Mike Defensor a while ago. Apparently, the bail charge was set at a measly 6,000.00 pesos.

But what turns this into a farce is the fact that Jun Lozada refuses to accept help to pay for his bail from the many Nuns and some LaSallian Brothers who are his ardent fans… And to top it all off, he is crying “Harassment” again!

He insists on staying locked-up and makes a big fuss about his deteriorating health while behind bars. And he has the gall to cry “Harassment”? If there is anything more absurd than this…WAIT! Oh yes, there is but let’s save that for next time.

Thus spake the Barefoot Baklesa

03 May, 2009

feel good gay video moment of the week [001]

Here's something from the 1999 movie Trick, starring a very cute Christian Campbell with John Paul Pitoc. Directed by Jim Fall, this movie has a beautiful selection of songs -the best of which, is the song Enter You- a song that is one for the cinematic finales...

"But now you're here,
We meet stage center;
I thought my storyline was through.
Then from the blue,
Enter You!!!"

thus spake the Barefoot Baklesa

01 May, 2009

on this, the first of May:

To recall, after much bitching about the more than often unfair circumstances of the world, a dear friend of mine responded with:
"Welcome to the proletariat world, Niki."

Now, before you pass judgment at me for being a naive elitist -like what I have been accused of previously at some thread- please do note that I am not that disconnected from the world. i have seen my share of what people consider is wrong in this world. That is why I enjoy my trips to Divisoria, Binondo, and Quiapo -there's a part of me that feels alive when I see the dynamics of society, poverty, trade [underground trade at that], the dishonesty of some businesses, social dynamics, etcetera.

I have made great friends with sellers, vendors, tri-bike drivers, cargadores, and have heard their stories... I have always been interested in what they had to say, some struggle by the day, some unsure of what the future is... But what can I do, right?

It's not as if I can go out there and just change the world, wearing sustainable fabric, and singing "kumbaya" with all the rest of them...

But the few that have a place in my heart, are those who love their work and do the work in front of them. Those few who never bother to blame the world or whatever else with what they see is lacking in their lives,and see their best to move up. To them, may Saint Joseph, patron of workers smile from that place above...

On the other hand, I refuse to be political, but I don't see the point in all this protesting on labor day. Funny how they have money to spend on banners, paints, effigies to burn, rally paraphernalia, and torches with fuel, but they complain about not having enough for basic living... I think some people need to sort out their priorities.

thus spake the Barefoot Baklesa