Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a pretty enjoyable Hollywood movie with a handful of scenes of both visual wonder and solid character work. Those scenes would invariably be the ones where the film’s true protagonist, the precocious ape Caesar, played by Andy Serkis, managed to shine. Unfortunately, the movie ends up just a notch better than the usual summer Hollywood blockbuster fare as the actual ascension of these intelligent simians by the end of the film becomes too much of a by-the-numbers affair.

(Spoilers follow)

Will Rodman (Franco) is a brilliant scientist hard at work trying to develop a cure to Alzheimer’s. The potential cure being tested at the moment by their drug company is a virus strain injected into apes which seems to stimulate their brain functions. Right before human testing can begin, though, the project is nearly shut down as a  runaway ape wreaks havoc in the scientific facility and crashes a meeting of the board of directors. Due to this incident, all the apes that exposed to the virus strain get put down save one, a newborn who Rodman agrees to bring home.

At home, we meet Will’s Father, Charles Rodman, (John Lithgow) who turns out to be the very reason why Will is so obsessed with curing the disease. Charles is fascinated with the baby ape Will brought home especially after it first exhibits signs of higher-than-normal intelligence. Wanting to observe the effects of the virus on the ape, now named Caesar, Will decides to raise it. The years soon pass and Caesar proves to be superior in intelligence to human children his age. Believing the virus a successful cure to Alzheimer’s, Will injects his father with a prototype vaccine and cures Charles overnight. As expected, complications would arise which would then supposedly lead to the status quo of the original Planet of the Apes.

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The only reactions I could remember I had from having seen Mideo Cruz’ Poleteismo piece in UP Diliman’s Vargas Museum many years ago were:

a)       a short period of surprise at the phalluses and picture of Christ and “sacred relics” being in such close proximity. This is because I live in a possibly typical Filipino house that has inside it pictures, statues and calendars showing Christ, the Sto. Niño, Mother Mary and saints. Up to now, I still have the tendency to look back at these images whenever “porn” or anything remotely risque is displayed on TV or yes, my desktop computer. And my laptop. I also make sure that the laptop, whenever anything risque is playing on it, doesn’t directly face these religious pictures of Christ, Mother Mary and the saints. As much as possible, I try to position the laptop so it faces the sacred images at angles of 90 degrees or even greater. I also make sure not to walk in front of the religious pictures in my room whenever I’m naked lest they transmit images of my naked body to the corresponding receivers in Heaven. I know that some of these personal practices of mine are silly superstitions and don’t conform with the actual teachings of the Catholic Church but they stem from ten whole years of Catholic school as well as from various assimilated lessons including an anecdote/urban legend I once heard (I think on channel 13). There was this local guy who disrespected some sacred images by masturbating and then wiping off his penis with a handkerchief which had an image of the Lord on it and the next day he woke up with a centipede stuck to his penis . Whatever he did, the centipede wouldn’t let go until finally, he prayed really, really hard for forgiveness and the centipede under orders from God agreed to relinquish its hold upon his genitalia.

b)      a short period of trying to infer what the artist most likely meant by the work (as far as I can remember, I interpreted it as dealing with the Filipinos’ tendency to have a variety of ‘gods’ in their day-to-day lives (movie stars, capitalist Mickey Mouse, etc.) In that sense, yes the ‘message’ is a valid though a hardly original one. I remember how That’s Entertainment segments in the 80s where teen stars would sing in front of the studio audience and the audience would get a chance to go up to the stars and present them with sampaguita necklaces. The amount of sampaguita on an actor or actress would be directly proportional to his or her popularity at the time. These days we don’t do the sampaguita route anymore although we still have the Willie Revillame and Willie Revillame-type shows wherein audience members have to prove their worth in front of their idol by recounting how difficult their lives are, crying, talking about how they love their family members and how much they admire Willie’s looks and kindness.

c)       But so far the strongest reaction I could remember having was curiosity at how long the artist must have taken to collect the individual components of the piece. That’s it. That’s what most piqued my curiosity, whether the component parts (calendars, statues, a Nora picture or several Nora pictures, crucifixes, etc.)  were from the artist’s own family’s collection or whether he had to visit a variety of Pinoy households and ask them for contributions to his installation.

That’s it. The fact that letter C was the strongest reaction I had could be due to a lot of things. It could be that the piece itself was inherently weak and only relied on shock to make itself memorable. Or maybe the shock itself was the purpose? It could be that I simply didn’t have the art education required to understand the various layers of meaning the piece might have had and could only proceed to guess at the main message or thesis right away which at the time I gathered as: “Filipinos practice polytheism. Come see the examples:

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The Rules of Magic: Chapter One (draft 1)

by Noel Pascual

“Magic is real.”

Last words I ever expected Manuel Enriquez to say on the evening news but there you go. To tell you the truth I wasn’t even paying that much attention to the special report right before he said those words. I just vaguely heard him mention some disclaimers, warning people to sit tight and to try and not be too shocked by the news.

It was just a little before nine and we were all set to have dinner, me, my girlfriend and her siblings. The TV in the living room was just background noise competing with the dogs’ howling outside. But then, something about the way he said those three words caught me. I walked over to the TV to see what this could possibly be about. Did I hear it correctly?

There in the newsroom was the veteran anchor Manuel Enriquez, same old wrinkled face, horn-rimmed glasses, slicked back hair. But now he wasn’t behind the news anchor’s desk the way he usually was. This time he was up on his feet as he addressed the camera. And there was something different about him, too. I wasn’t sure if it was due to my imagination or if it was some strange lighting mistake. This weak yellow glow or reflection round the body and on the face that, at that time, I didn’t know were the first signs of exposure.

What I’d realize later during one of the times I rewatched the footage on youtube was that that broadcast, that was the tipping point, what changed it all. The other stations would broadcast their own reports in a span of minutes and so would the BBC and CNN after an hour but that moment when those three words were said, that moment just plain upended everything we held true about reality and life. Magic. Is. Real.

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I think by now, pop culture would’ve prepared most people to some degree with regard to the possibility of certain previously inconceivable events occurring: zombie apocalypses, for one thing. I’d just step outside one morning, see the smoke coming from a burning mall in the distance, sirens blaring everywhere, and people who are missing chunks off their arms and legs and faces biting and killing other people, I’d simply say: “Oh, zombie apocalypse. Fuck.” right away and skedaddle.

It goes the same for accidental time travel. Oh, look, it’s suddenly morning again and events are happening exactly as they happened half a day ago: “Time travel. Neat.”

If the time travel spans years, one would just walk around town, notice all the different buildings, fashion and the newspaper on the stands, and realize what really happened. You shouldn’t go around thinking it’s some elaborate April Fool’s day joke involving the entire city block. Because really, nobody actually likes or hates you enough to play such an expensive prank on you.

Los Cronocrimenes Spoilers Ahead
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How to Quit:

So, that up there is City of Wonder from Google Plus’ new batch of games. It’s not really new since Facebook had City of Wonder for a while now but I never really got into a lot of the social network games over at Facebook. The last Facebook social network game I played is probably Mafia Wars and for a period of about a week, I found myself having to log in to Facebook every couple of minutes just to see how my crime syndicate was running, how much money I was making, if any palookas were trying to muscle in to my territory. So, yeah, I was addicted for a period of a week and then I stopped. I realized the money I was making in Mafia Wars wasn’t real money. Well, duh, you’re probably saying but hey, that was the realization I got that allowed me to nip the addiction in the bud. Afterwards, I never really got to try any Farmville or Restaurant City or any of the games that got incredibly popular.

Just earlier this year, I also tried Echo Bazaar/Fallen London which is a bit like Mafia Wars except there’s a greater focus on narrative. So that was about a couple of days trying to get as high a level as possible but by the end of it, I think I just plain deleted the accounts I had. Accounts, yeah, since I wanted to have multiple characters who were ‘allies’ of each other and in these social games, having allies invariably bestows upon you some in-game bonus.

Now, as for City of Wonder, well, it took me about a couple of hours of playtime for my accounts (yes, accounts) to reach a certain level and I thought, well, I’d better stop this right away before I get any more competitive. And then I found the simple way to get rid of any addiction for these types of games if in case you find yourself addicted to them.

Wreck your city. That’s it. Just sell whatever items you have, specially the ones crucial to your city progressing. If you’ve spent a good amount of time creating improvements, the idea of all your in-game hard work being wasted should prevent you from even trying to log back in. It’s just too bad that this method doesn’t work on other forms of time-suckage like excessive manga-reading but for all those social network game addicts who really want to quit but can’t, this should work.

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