Category Archives: Family Drama

The Graduate’s Future

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It seemed like an eternity since I last posted due to some life circumstances. As we are picking up the pieces and moving forward in a positive direction, I am very proud to say that my son graduated from Grinnell College with a degree in Psychology  with Neuroscience concentration.  To celebrate this event, I picked the first film of Mr. Mike Nichols added to the Criterion Collection.

The Graduate is a 1967 American comedy drama film directed by Mike Nichols. It is based on the 1963 novel The Graduate by Charles Webb, who wrote it shortly after graduating from the same college our main character in the film graduated from. The screenplay is by Calder Willingham and Buck Henry, who appears in the film as a hotel clerk.

The film tells the story of 21-year-old Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman), a recent college graduate from William College with no well-defined aim in life, who is seduced by an older woman, Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), and then proceeds to fall in love with her daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross).

Like Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa , Williams College is a private liberal arts college located in Williamstown, Massachusetts, United States. Like any current college graduate, there is always going to be that angst on what lies ahead after college life. As I have told my son  ,  ” Pursue your passion with a purpose and do what you love to do best.” During these times of early uncertainty is where you must have a game plan on how to try to systematically map out the steps to take in positioning yourself to the best possible outcome in your career choice. Of course nothing is definite but if you persevere enough, you will eventually get to your destination. You will have some  bumps along the road but it’s how you get back up after you fall  where you gain strength in building the foundation of your life.  ” Life is a marathon and not a sprint. “

I won’t go much into the details about this critically acclaimed and very popular film as it has been ranked #7  in the AFI’s 100 years…100 Movies in the 1998.  The Graduate remains one of the most beloved American films of all time, The Graduate earned Mike Nichols a best director Oscar, brought the music of Simon & Garfunkel to a wider audience, and introduced the world to a young actor named Dustin Hoffman. Visually imaginative and impeccably acted, with a clever, endlessly quotable script by Buck Henry (based on the novel by Charles Webb), The Graduate had the kind of cultural impact that comes along only once in a generation.

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The Criterion Blu-Ray is loaded with special features galore that will cater to any avid film enthusiast.

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Lastly, I would like to share this moment during his senior season that I will remember the most during my son’s journey in college. It came during Mother’s Day weekend last May 2016. The lessons learned in and out of the baseball field will surely help him tackle what life brings  hereafter. We as a family would like to thank everyone who have played a part in our lives  and will continue to support us with love and prayers. Again, thank you very much from the bottom of all our hearts.

Mother’s Day 2016

He garnered  All Academic for his conference and helped his team set some athletic records and recognized by ABCA with a national academic honor. He ended up (in his own silent way) being the career team leader in Sacrifice Hits and HBP to cap off his career. He is also the NCAA Division III record holder for most sacrifice bunts in a game with 3  vs Coe College during his freshman year in 2013. 

2016 Grinnell College Baseball Highlights

NEXT UP …The Criterion Collection’s presentation of GILDA

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I Will Buy You “Anata Kaimasu” (1956)

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With the conclusion of the 2015 World Series between the Kansas City Royals and the New York Mets and the coronation of the never say die  Royals as the  2015 World Series champions, what better way to celebrate our national pastime than to write something about the game of baseball.  Baseball has been a very big part of our lives since the Arizona Diamondbacks won the 2001 World Series in dramatic fashion. My son who was eight years old at that time became interested with learning the game and then began our journey into reaching his maximum baseball potential.

Going into his senior year and last year of playing college baseball next spring, I have a bittersweet feeling imagining that he will eventually hang his cleats and call it a day after having played competitively for the last 15 years. Having coached him from Little League, PONY and watching him play Club baseball and High school baseball I have to also learn to navigate the waters of College Prospect Recruiting to guide him in making a decision to find the right college that fits his needs. A fit that I am grateful he found at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa.

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Currently the most memorable moment of his College Career

 

What are the Probability of playing College and Professional baseball ? Very tough! Here are the facts.

  • Less than three in 50, or about 5.6 percent, of high school senior boys interscholastic baseball players will go on to play men’s baseball at a NCAA member institution.
  • Less than eleven in 100, or about 10.5 percent, of NCAA senior male baseball players will get drafted by a Major League Baseball (MLB) team.
  • Approximately one in 200, or approximately 0.5 percent of high school senior boys playing interscholastic baseball will eventually be drafted by an MLB team.
  • Base on above numbers, you can deduce that education and experience will give you a higher probability to advance professionally.

Baseball is often considered to be a typically American sport, but that doesn’t mean other nations don’t have it. In fact, there are countries, such as Japan, where baseball is just as popular as any other big sport, if not more popular. I am pretty sure that the above numbers mirror those in Japan or any other countries where youth baseball is popular or more popular than in the United States.

In Japan, baseball is played on several levels like here. There is the amateur baseball, high school baseball, college baseball and, of course, professional baseball. Baseball was introduced to Japan around 1873, during the turbulent times of the Meiji restoration. Since its beginnings, baseball in Japan was a club sport. The first ever baseball team was Shinbashi Athletic Club Athletics, which consisted of the players associated with the country’s first railroad, from Shinbashi in Tokyo to the treaty port of Yokohama.

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Today, Japanese professional baseball consists of 12 teams, divided into two leagues: the Central League and the Pacific League. As for the minor league baseball, there are two leagues: the Western League and the Eastern League. This pales in comparison the MLB which consists of a total of 30 teams playing in the American League (AL) and National League (NL), with 15 teams in each league.

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With these facts in mind, we can now begin our journey against Kobayashi’s system. A few words on the director Mr. Kobayashi (not to be mistaken to the character Mr. Pete Postlewaithe played in The Usual Suspects). Masaki Kobayashi (小林 正樹 Kobayashi Masaki?, February 14, 1916 – October 4, 1996) was a Japanese film director who embarked on a career in film in 1941 when he entered Shochiku Studios as an apprentice director under the successful and respected director Keisuke Kinoshita. His work with the Shochiku film company was interrupted by becoming a POW during the Sino-Japanese war. One of the most important filmmakers to emerge from Japan’s cinematic golden age, Masaki Kobayashi is remembered in great part today for his three-part epic The Human Condition (1959–61) which is partly based on his life altering experiences as a soldier and POW during World War 2, but that is just one of the blistering films he made in a career dedicated to criticizing his country’s rigid social and political orders.

He began making his own films in the early 1950s, and when he earned the right to choose his own projects, these turned into highly controversial film subjects. Eclipse’s four-disc collection Masaki Kobayashi Against the System groups three of his strongest 1950s efforts with a similarly scathing 1962 film, made amid other celebrated successes as Harakiri and his atypical color ghost story, Kwaidan. With these last two films he came to be known in the 1960’s as a master of both the samurai movie and the supernatural genre.

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I Will Buy You, is Kobayashi’s 8th but  first great film. For its part, I Will Buy You utilizes a fairly simple story of a baseball scout attempting to sign a hotly tipped college prospect to detail the greedy and morally corrupted scouting world  in a profession geared toward entertainment. What results is a subtly dramatic, morally complex tale of loyalty that forgoes the conciliatory in favor of the tragic.

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The film tackles the emergence of cutthroat capitalism in postwar Japanese life, specifically within professional baseball. The anti-hero is the slick, young, ambitious talent scout Daisuke Kishimoto (Keiji Sada). We first see him chasing down an ace pitcher. But when he finds out he has lost a finger in a mining accident, we never hear about the pitcher again. Daisuke turns his attention to Goro Kurita (Minoru Oki), a seemingly innocent college player who reveals a sharp streak once a bidding war breaks out between several major professional teams. Oki is a young man who is a very talented and successful college baseball player.

What was not shown in the film is how Goro got to this level coming from the countryside. It takes talent, drive to succeed, a lot of hard work with consistent on and off the field training during pre and in season as well as luck to even get the chance to play college and professional baseball. In baseball, I have learned that hustle and hard work trumps talent any day. 

With several teams aggressively recruiting Goro Kurita , the story focuses mainly on  Daisuke Kishimoto who plays a young scout from the Toyo Flowers. In the earlier and middle part of the film, we are given a chance to chime in on his interior thoughts in voice-over as he sizes up people and situations he faces. While a relative newcomer and somewhat naive, he’s also quite shrewd and calculating. He’s focused on success and money as are almost everyone he encounters, yet the way that he’s portrayed makes him a relatively sympathetic character that is immersed in a situation where one doesn’t know whom to trust.

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At this point of the story, we can’t avoid to draw comparisons between more recent sports movies like Moneyball and Jerry Maguire. Sports agent Daisuke Kishimoto/coveted player Goro Kurita as compared to Sports agent Jerry Maguire/free agent Rod Tidwell.  Sports movies in Hollywood during present times were more inspirational and wholesome as compared to this movie. Sports agent point of view in I will buy you “What do I have to do to sign him?” as compared to Jerry Maguire “What do I have to do to keep him”

Goro Kurita’s trainer for the past 4 years, Yunosuke Ito, is a very important intermediary. He’s in a position to extract bribes or payoffs to influence Goro and to allow access to him and his family. Goro’s girlfriend, Keiko Kishi, has a very different agenda and values than the scouts, Ito and Kurita. Goro’s family, parents and brothers, appear at first to be naive peasants; but when the bidding war starts, they are right in the thick of it. Goro himself is at first seen as interested only in the game, but as the story develops his innocence is only on the surface.

The story’s main theme is the conflict between humanity and the human being as a commodity. One’s interest is mainly maintained by witnessing how huge sums of money involved affect different persons. There is a good deal of suspense in seeing how people’s behaviors are affected under this pressure and incentive. I am sure Goro Kurita’s final decision will leave more questions than answers as to where his loyalty really was before, during and after the recruiting process.

Was he bought or not?  If he was, when was he bought?

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Will definitely miss these days…

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Coaching Days for the Centerfield Royals

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With Mr. Mark Grace of the 2001 World Series Champions Arizona Diamondbacks

Penaflors with Hit King!

With Mr. Pete Rose “Hit King” (4256 Hits)

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Grinnell College Florida Spring Trip

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Sophomore year at Salpointe Catholic

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2010 National Classic

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Photoshoot at Centerfield Baseball Academy in Tucson, AZ

Our family would also like to sincerely  thank all the people (Coach Hollibaugh, Coach Cooprider and the rest of the GC Baseball coaching staff, Andy Morales, all his coaches from Little League, Club Baseball and Salpointe Catholic High School as well as all the baseball families we met the last 15 years)  and organizations (Centerfield Baseball Academy, Fallon Sports especially Jeff Fallon, Perfect Game especially Mr. Jerry Ford, Grinnell College, High School Baseball Web ) for giving my son the chance to succeed and helping us through our jouney. Very much appreciated.

This post is part of the Criterion Blogathon, hosted by Criterion Blues, Speakeasy and Silver Screenings.

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Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother (Make Way For Tomorrow)

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HONOR THY FATHER AND THY MOTHER… A pretty simple but very powerful phrase. Words are not enough to explain the feelings I had upon watching the Criterion release of Make Way For Tomorrow originally shown in 1937. It definitely struck an emotional chord inside of me. After I immigrated to the United States in 1994, I always wondered when I would be able to re-unite with my parents. I finally had the opportunity to take care of them after my petition for them was granted and they emigrated here from the Philippines to the USA in 2002. My father who had prior experience in living in the US after he was sponsored by the Philippine Navy to train in the US Naval Academy in San Diego for a few years after WWII had an easier time adjusting to the move. He definitely instilled in me a lot of Western influence that shaped how I grew up. My mother who was a teacher on the other hand, had a harder time adjusting to the “Culture Shock” but eventually settled in.

Those were really happy times. Spending time catching up and reminiscing my childhood, and finally meeting their grandson. It will be short-lived and bittersweet though as my “Papa” was stricken by a terminal illness after a year and decided to go back home to the Philippines to spend the rest of his life there. It was a gut wrenching feeling having to bring them back to their flight back home.  He eventually succumbed to his illness and my “Mama” followed him in heaven a few years after from stroke complications. I will be eternally grateful to my sister and her family who took care of them through all this back home and my wife for being so supportive and allowing me the opportunity to give back a little. I wished I had more time with them but in life you sometimes just have to play the cards you are dealt with. God Bless their souls.

Make Way for Tomorrow, by Leo McCarey, is one of the great unsung Hollywood masterpieces, a very moving Depression-era depiction of the frustrations of family, aging, and the generation gap.  An inspiration for Yasujiro Ozu’s Tokyo Story, this is among American cinema’s purest emotionally driven films.

Leo McCarey, made his name with his comedic flair. He was the first to pair Laurel and Hardy, he directed the best Marx Brothers’ movie (“Duck Soup”). In the same year as “Make Way for Tomorrow,” he made Cary Grant a star in “The Awful Truth.” When McCarey won the Best Director Oscar for the latter, Peter Bogdanovich tells us, he stood up and said, “You gave it to me for the wrong picture.”  It was quite a different tone of film he made that Mr. Orson Welles said that,  “This movie can even make a stone cry.”

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The plot concerns an elderly couple Barkley Cooper (Victor Moore) and Lucy Cooper (Beulah Bondi) who was forced to separate after 50 years of marriage when they lose their house during the great depression due to foreclosure and none of their five children will take both parents and so has to be separated.

It’s all supposed to be a temporary arrangement for three months or so until the children can arrange something more permanent. Lucy goes to live with her son George (Thomas Mitchell) but she always seems to be in the way, especially when George’s wife Anita (Fay Bainter) is teaching her bridge class. Barkley goes to live with his daughter Cora (Elisabeth Risdon), who obvious resents his very presence and arranges for him to go live in California with another of his children. Lucy was eventually told by her favorite son George that he also arranged her transfer to a nursing home in what was one of the most touching scenes of this film.

Lucy and Barkley do their best to maintain their dignity all the while but their distance apart and longing for each other was starting to manifest their loneliness.Their children arrange for them to meet in the city before Barkley gets on the train for California. There’s also a family dinner planned for the evening, but Bark and Lucy made their own plans to go out and spend one last afternoon together before having a farewell dinner with the four children. They had a great time strolling around the city and reminiscing about their happy years together, even had a car dealer (while trying to sell them a car) drive them to “The Vogard”, the same hotel in which they had stayed on their honeymoon 50 years prior. Their day is made so pleasant partly because of the kindness of people they encounter, who, although strangers, seem to find them a charming couple, to genuinely enjoy their company, and to treat them with respect, which is in stark contrast to the treatment the two are received from their children.

Eventually Barkley and Lucy decide to continue their wonderful day by skipping the farewell dinner and dining at the hotel instead; when Barkley informs their daughter with a dry phone call, it prompts introspection among the four children. Son Robert (Ray Meyer) suggests that each of the children has always known that collectively they are “probably the most good-for-nothing bunch of kids that were ever raised, but it didn’t bother us much until we found out that Pop knew it too.” George notes that it is now so late in the evening that they won’t even have time to meet their parents at the train station to send off their father. He says that he deliberately let the time pass until it was too late because he figured their parents would prefer to be alone. Nell (Minna Gombell) objects that if they don’t go to the station, their parents “will think we’re terrible,” to which George matter-of-factly replies “Aren’t we?”

At the train station, Lucy and Barkley say their farewells to one another.  This is one of the most heart wrenching scenes I have witnessed on screen. Barkley tells Lucy that he will find a job in California and quickly send for her; Lucy replies that she is sure he will do so. They then offer each other a truly final goodbye, saying that they are doing so “just in case” they do not see each other again because “anything could happen.” Each makes a heartfelt statement reaffirming their lifelong love, in what seems an unspoken acknowledgment that it is almost certainly their final moment together.

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I want to personally thank my parents for bringing me to this world and showing un-conditional love and support for me to reach where I am right now in life. For always placing their children first and foremost before thinking about themselves. I wished we had more time together but I know deep in my heart that we will still see each other again someday.

Love thy parents while thou still have the chance to show them.

This film transcends all generations and is highly recommended to anyone born on this earth. 

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