The Episcopal Commission on Social Communication-CBCP

CINEMA (Catholic INitiative for Enlightened Movie Appreciation) of The Episcopal Commission on Social Communication of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines presents movies viewed in the light of the gospel. . *** For inquiries, please EMAIL: cbcpcinema@gmail.com *** CALL or TEXT: (02) 664 5886 *** or WRITE TO: CINEMA, Episcopal Commission on Social Communication, CBCP Compound, 470 General Luna St. Intramuros, Manila *** Enjoy the reviews, and THANK YOU!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

IT

 DIRECTOR:  Andy Muschietti   LEAD CAST:  Bill Skarsgard, Jaeden Lieberher, Sophia Lillis, Nicholas Hamilton, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff, Jackson Robert Scott  SCREENWRITER:  Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga, Gary Dauberman  PRODUCER:  Seth Grahame-Smith, David Katzenberg, Roy Lee, Dan Lin, Barbara Muschietti  EDITOR:  Jason Ballantine  MUSICAL DIRECTOR:  Benjamin Wallfisch  GENRE:  Horror  CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Chung-hoon Chung  DISTRIBUTOR:  Warner Bros.  LOCATION:  Ontario, Canada and Maine, USA  RUNNING TIME:  135 minutes
Technical assessment: 3.5
Moral assessment: 2
CINEMA rating: V18
Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) is a clown who does the opposite of what he’s meant to do: instead of entertaining, he terrifies children, mimicking their worst fears to scare them and claim their lives. Until a group of teens led by Bill (Jaeden Lieberher)—whose brother Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) was abducted by Pennywise years ago—figures out how the sinister clown magnifies children’s fears to kill their spirit. Bill and friends Ritchie (Finn Wolfhard), Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer), Stan (Wyatt Oleff), Mike (Chosen Jacobs), and Beverly (Sophia Lillis) form a group called The Losers’ Club to defeat Pennywise. The children share one thing in common: they are bullied in school by a gang of three led by Henry (Nicholas Hamilton) and they live almost unsupervised by their cruel parents.
Don’t expect to scream in fright except in a few scenes. This adaptation of Stephen King’s novel of the same title sets out to be a psychological thriller rather than your typical jump-and-jolt horror film. But with too many characters, IT comes short in drawing you in to the mystery of the menacing clown and the tragic experiences of the children, with the exception of Beverly whose character is allowed to develop. Her paralyzing fear of her abusive father and the uncertainties of puberty is played up so well. Sadly, Bill’s central character does not elicit the same empathy, although Lieberher and the child actors deliver good acting.  Interestingly, a combination of good lighting, closeups and music succeeds in portraying the ominous characters of the parents, albeit they appear very briefly in the film.  Skarsgård as Pennywise is convincing, and the camera does well in zooming in on his mouth because rightly so, that’s how he lures his victims, with his cunning, tantalizing words.

There is blood, gore, and violence in IT but the more disturbing element is the theme. The film portrays parents as everything they should not be: cold, manipulative, ruthless.  Some of the children’s fears originate from the parents who either neglect them or abuse them. The children react by either becoming subdued or, pushed to the edge, vengeful and punitive. If at all, the film is recommended definitely not for children but for their parents, as it gives a good peek into how children’s fears are magnified and how their perceptions influence their behavior. Pennywise understands this more than the parents, and so he is able to hijack the children from their homes. A good reminder for parents and significant adults of their responsibility to guide the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual growth of children. The film does have positive lessons to bring to the fore: courage to face one’s fears, and the value of friendship and solidarity. The children draw strength from their togetherness in fighting off the town’s bullies and Pennywise’s evil tricks.  Divided, they disintegrate. But together, they succeed in taking courage to overcome their dreads.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Love You to the Stars and Back

DIRECTOR: Antoinette Jadaone  LEAD CAST: Julia Barretto, Joshua Garcia  PRODUCER: Charo Santos-Concio, Malou Santos  SCREENWRITER: Antoinette Jadaone  CINEMATOGRAPHER: Herman Claravall  PRODUCTION DESIGNER: Ana Lou Sanchez  GENRE:  Teen Romance/Comedy/Drama  PRODUCTION COMPANY: Star Cinema  DISTRIBUTOR: Star Cinema  COUNTRY:  Philippines  LANGUAGE: Filipino  RUNNING TIME: 111 minutes
Technical assessment: 4
Moral assessment: 3
Cinema rating: PG13
MTRCB rating: PG
Hindi pa rin matanggap ni Mika (Julia Barretto) ang maagang pagkamatay ng kanyang ina kung kaya’t sa gitna ng matinding kalungkutan,  maiisipan niyang maglayas isang gabi at magmaneho patungong Mt. Milagros—ang lugar kung saan sinasabing may mga nagpapakitang aliens—para sariwain ang alaala ng kanyang ina na nagturo sa kanyang maniwala na walang imposible, maging  mga aliens. Makikilala niya sa daan sa isang napaka-alanganing pagkakataon si Caloy (Joshua Garcia) na tumakas din sa kanyang ina gamit ang bisikleta para puntahan ang kanyang ama na matagal na silang iniwanan, sa pag-asang magkaka-ayos sila ngayong siya ay may cancer na at malapit nang mamatay.  Sa pagtatagpong ito, magkakasama sa paglalakbay sina Mika at Caloy. Unti-unti nilang makikilala ang isa’t-isa at magkakaroon sila ng malalim na pagkakaibigan na mauuwi sa pag-iibigan. Ngunit magiging madali kaya para sa kanilang dalawa ang paglalakbay tungo sa gusto nilang patunguhan?
Isang kaaya-ayang panoorin ang Love You to the Stars and Back sapagkat hindi ito karaniwang romcom na madalas nang napapanood sa mga sinehan. Hindi ito sumunod sa anumang pormula, bagkus, pinili nitong maging makasining sa paglalahad ng isang kung tutuusin ay simpleng kuwento ng dalawang batang naghahanap ng lugar sa mundo—o nagnanais na takasan ito. Ang naging trato ng pelikula bilang road romantic movie ay sadyang nakakaaliw, nakakatuwa at nakakakilig panoorin. Idagdag pa dito ang walang itulak-kabiging husay ng mga nagsiganap lalo na ng dalawang bidang sina Garcia at Barretto. Natural ang kanilang pag-arte at matapat ang kanilang pagbibigay-buhay sa kanilang karakter—sumasabay sa katapatan ng pelikula na maghandog ng naiibang kuwentong pag-ibig na naka-sentro sa malalim na karakterisasyon at malawak na emosyon. Ang daan at paglalakbay ay naging mahusay na simbolismo ng mga kabataang naghahanap ng kahulugan sa kanilang buhay. Ang alien, bagama’t isang kakatwang ilusyon dito, ay simbolo ng paniniwala sa mga bagay na imposible katulad ng milagro. Ang bundok ay sumasagisag sa mga pangarap na mahirap abutin. Bihira sa isang romcom ang sabay kang pakikiligin, paiiyakin at pag-iisipin—at nagawa lahat yan ng Love You to the Stars and Back.
Ipinakita ng pelikula kung paanong ang mga kabataan sa kasalukuyang panahon ay may kakayahan ding mag-isip at makadama sa pamamaraang malalim at makabuluhan. Nagsubok ang pelikula na alisin ang karaniwang maskara ng mga millennial na nagtatago sa bagong teknolohiya ng mga selfie, social media, at kung anu-ano pa. Napagtagumpayan ng Love You to the Stars and Back na kaya ng mga kabataan na maging mapag-masid, matapang, at mapanuri sa kanilang mga sarili at sa paligid na kanilang ginagalawan. Hindi sila maramot at ipinakita yan ni Caloy na mas uunahin ang kapakanan ng iba bago ang kanyang sarili—bagay na napagtanto din ni Mika sa bandang dulo. Sinasabi rin ng pelikula sa maraming pagkakataon kung paano nga ba dapat mabuhay ang isang tao—at yan ay sa pamamagitan ng pagturing sa bawat araw at oras bilang huling mga pagkakataon. Ang eksena kung saan kapwa sila tumawag sa mga mahal nila sa buhay ay patunay na hindi dapat pinagpapabukas ang pagmamahal at ang pagpapadama nito. Marahil nakakabagabag lang nang kaunti kung paanong ang dalawang bida ay sumuway sa kanilang mga magulang sa pag-alis nang walang paalam, maging ang pagpapaubaya ng kanilang buhay sa mga alien na hindi naman nila lubusang nauunawaan—at maging ang panunumbat ni Caloy sa Diyos sa isang pagkakataon—ngunit ang lahat ng ito naman ay naaayon sa konteksto ng kuwento at alinsunod sa natural na daloy ng emosyon, lalo na ng kabataan. Ngunit napanatili ng pelikula na maglarawan ng dalisay na pagmamahalan ng dalawang batang puso na nag-uugat sa malalim na pagmamalasakit at pagkakaibigan kung kaya’t kahanga-hanga pa rin ang pelikula sa kabuuan.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Battleship Island


DirectionRyoo Seung-wan; CastHwang Jung-min, So Ji-sub, Song Joong-ki, Lee Jung-hyun ScreenplayRyoo Seung-wanProducerCho Sung-minCinematography: Lee Mo-gaeEditingKim Jae-bum, Kim Sang-bumGenreWar, DramaLocationHashimi Island, Japan; DistributorCJ Entertainment  Running Time: 132 minutes; Running time: 132 minutes;
Technical assessment:  4
Moral assessment: 3
CINEMA rating: V18 
MTRCB rating: R16 
Bandmaster Lee Kang-ok (Jung-min) and his daughter So-hee (Su-an), streetfighter Choi Chil-sung (So Ji-sub), comfort woman Oh Mai-nyeon (Lee Jung-hyun) are conscripted Koreans of the 2nd World War and forcedly employed in Hashima Island during the 2nd World War. The Koreans are treated harshly and inhumanely by the Japanese and each of these main characters do their best to survive. As the War reaches the end, Independence fighter Park Moo-young (Song Joong-ki) plotto rescue Yoon, a Korean spiritual leader also detained in Hashima Island. Lee agrees to assist in obtaining some keys in exchange for his and So-hee’s escape. However, Park discovers that Yoon is actually a traitor. The plan changes to lead an escape for the 400 Korean captives. Meanwhile, as the Japanese is about to lose the war, they scheme to blow up the island to wipe out any witness to the Korean slavery. 
Battleship Island is neither a documentary nor a historical film, hence to criticize its inaccuracies or melodramatic storyline is inappropriate. What it is is a depiction of humanity amidst extreme pressure and struggles. There are three storylines to follow: the father and daughter pursuit of survival, the unlikely romance amidst cynicism and brokenness and loyalty to the nation versus deception. These are three common conflicts happening in every other storytelling but what makes it unique is the humanity of each character and how it is constantly tested in the perils of war and degradation. The balance of comic and agony, the contrast of classical music soothing and brutally savage deaths, the thin line between self-preservation and self- sacrifice make this film haunting, disturbing and real. The strength of the film lies, not in the spectacular production design so meticulously put together to transport viewers to the hellish internment camp that is Hashima or the insightful cinematography tightly woven together but in the direction of Ryoo 
Anytime a person is faced with life or death—he chooses either to save or to sacrifice himself. Each character in the movie decided and acted foremostly to stay alive—only Lee seemed to have concern for people other than himself. It is heartbreaking to watch fellow countrymen beating and betraying one another because it mirrors present day society. It is painful to witness how the weaker ones are exploited and dehumanized for the sake of profit and power. This, too, is true today. But when the Koreans unite and start thinking outside their comfort zones, when they commit to fight for the weaker one, when they decide to die so others may live—love pours out like waterfalls and hope sparkles as brilliantly as the sun.  Naturally, because it is a war movie, themes and scenes are too violent and disturbing for younger audiences.


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Star na si Van Damme Stallone

DIRECTOR:    Randolph Longjas  LEAD CAST:   Candy Pangilinan, Paolo Pingol, Isaac Aguirre, Sara Brakinsiek, Junyka Sigrid Santarin, Mara Marasigan, Erlinda Villalobos, Acey Aguilar  SCREENWRITER: Alpha Jabon  GENRE:  Family, Drama  LOCATION:  Philippines  RUNNING TIME:   97 mins.
Technical assessment: 3.5
Moral assessment: 3
CINEMA rating: V13
MTRCB rating: PG
Bisperas ng Bagong Taon nang ipanganak ni Nadia (Candy Pangilinan) ang isang sanggol. Punong-puno siya ng alinlangan—tila hindi saya ang dulot nito sa kanya; tila may mapait na lihim o nakaraan ang kaakibat ng sanggol.  Sa kabila nito, papangalanan niya ang sanggol sunod sa pangalan ng mga paborito niyang sikat na Hollywood action stars na sila Van Damme at Sylvester  Stallone—Van Damme Stallone, palayaw, Vanvan (Paolo Pingol).  Didilim muli  ang mundo ni Nadia nang ma-diagnose si Vanvan na may Down Syndrome, isang panghabambuhay na karamdaman na nagsasabing hindi siya katulad ng karaniwang mga bata sa kilos, sa isip, at sa kakayanan, at siya’y mapag-iiwanan at maaring pang-habambuhay na magiging alagain.  Sa kabila ng maraming alinlangan at pagdurusa sa pagiging solong ina—magpapasya si Nadia na palakihin si Vanvan at ang panganay niyang anak na si Tano (Isaac Aguirre). Papasok sa eskuwela si Vanvan kasabay ni Tano—at dito magsisimulang mapukaw ang interes ni Vanvan na maging artista matapos siyang gumanap sa isang pagtatanghal.  Matupad kaya ni Nadia ang pangarap na ito ni Vanvan na maging “star’?
Tunay na makabagbag-damdamin ang Star na si Van Damme. Naging epektibo ang istilo nitong “cinema verite” kung saan parang nanonood ka ng tunay na buhay, walang drama, walang histerya, pero punong-puno ng damdamin. Damang-dama at kitang-kita ang sinseridad ng pelikula na ipakita sa manonood ang buhay ng isang pamilyang namumuhay kasama ang isang may Down Syndrome. Sayang nga lang at hindi masyadong napagyabong ang relasyon nina Vanvan at Tano, ngunit sinundan naman nito ang damdamin ng isang ina sa kanyang anak kung kaya’t maaari nang palagpasin ang gsnitong kakulangan. Napakahusay ni Pangilinan sa pelikulang ito—marahil lumutang ang kanyang pagganap sapagkat tulad ni Nadia, may anak din siyang mistulang Vanvan sa tunay na buhay, hindi nga lang sa eksaktong kalagayan.  Mahusay din si Aguirre at ang mga nagsiganap na Vanvan mula pagkabata hanggang pagtanda. Magaling ang pagkakasulat at pagkakadirehe ng pelikula; naging maingat sila sa pagtalakay ng isang napaka-sensitibong paksa. Sa pagpapayabong ng interes at kaalaman ukol sa isang bagay na hindi madalas nabibigyan ng pansin tulad ng pagkakaroon ng isang anak na may developmental disability, naging matagumpay ang pelikula.
Sinasabi ng pelikula na isang biyaya ang pagkakaroon sa pamilya ng isang tulad ni Vanvan—ito ang nagbibigay saya at sigla sa kanila. Sa kabila ng hirap at pasakit, hindi dapat itatwa ang mga tulad nila, dahil bagama’t sila’y “naiiba”, tulad pa rin natin sila na may puso’t damdamin—at  mga pangarap din. Punong-puno sila ng maraming posibilidad na maaaring maging ganap sa tulong ng pagmamahal. Ito marahil ang pinaka-mensahe ng pelikula—walang imposible basta’t papairalin ang pagmamahal at sasabayan ng pananampalataya sa Diyos. Mahalaga ang pagmamahal at malasakit ng isang ina, magulang at buong kapamilya at mga kaibigan upang lumaking kapaki-pakinabang ang mga tulad ni Vanvan. Naging positibo ang mensahe ng pelikula patungkol sa pagtanggap sa kapamilyang may Down Syndrome. Naging maingat din sila sa pagtalakay ng mga komplikadong sitwasyon ng pamilya—tulad ng pagkakaron ng relasyon sa labas ng kasal—hindi ito kinunsinte, bagkus ipinakita nito ang maraming suliraning dulot nito. Nariyan din ang pagpapakita kung paanong malalagpasan ang malabis na hinagpis at kaguluhan ng isip; dapat ay mag-desisyon at pumanig sa kung ano ang tama at nararapat ayon sa kagustuhan ng Diyos. Dahil sa ilang mga sensitibong paksa, minarapat ng CINEMA na ang pelikula ay akma sa mga manonood na may gulang 13 pababa ngunit may gabay ng magulang.


Friday, August 25, 2017

Annabelle: Creation

DIRECTOR:  David F. Sandberg LEAD CAST:  Anthony LaPaglia, Miranda Otto, Stephanie Sigman, Talitha Bateman, Lulu Wilson, Samara Lee  SCREENWRITER:  Gary Dauberman  PRODUCERS:  Peter Safran, James Wan  EDITOR:  Michel Aller  MUSICAL DIRECTOR:  Benjamin Wallfisch GENRE:  Horror  CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Maxime Alexandre  DISTRIBUTOR:  New Line Cinema  LOCATION:  California, USA  RUNNING TIME:  1 hour 50 minutes
Technical assessment: 3
Moral assessment: 2
CINEMA rating: V14
Dollmaker Samuel Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia) and wife Esther (Miranda Otto) live a happy life with their daughter Bee (Samara Lee) in a picturesque country home. Their life crumbles when Bee dies in a road accident. In grief, the couple invokes the spirits to get glimpses of Bee, unintentionally conjuring evil forces to infest Annabelle, the doll Samuel was making at the time of Bee’s death. A priest locks Annabelle in a chamber, only to be unbound 12 years later by curious Janice (Talitha Bateman), one of the orphaned girls under the care of Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman) who are welcomed by the Mullins to their home. Janice becomes possessed and her friend Linda (Lulu Wilson) tries to free her by throwing Annabelle in a well, but evil has been unleashed and Janice sets out to wreak horror and blood in the household.
Hands-down to the film’s meticulous production design. The old Victorian country house, costume, makeup and music, with the 1940s song You are My Sunshine that unfortunately becomes associated with horror, all make for an eerie setting. There is gore alright, but what makes the film petrifying is the effective use of slow panning of the camera to extreme close-ups, lighting, haunting imagery with ascending music and sounds, and the characters’ penchant for whispers. Even with numerous allusions to the 2014 film Annabelle, this prequel which is the fourth in the Conjuring franchise is easily comprehensible for first-time viewers. The film’s letdown is in the story, dialogue and characterization. One would think that a child’s inquisitiveness can be quashed by grotesque dolls and creepy movements in the dark. But the orphans are unperturbed and they wander about. Samuel is shallow in his grief, and Esther’s character is wasted the whole time behind the canopy of her bed.

The film unpeels a most vulnerable emotion—grief—made more painful because it involves the loss of a child. The devil seizes the opportunity and the parents realize all too late that instead of holding on to God who is faithful to tide over His children in their sorrow, they have bargained with the devil. The film’s message is clear: do not cavort nor collude with any spirit, because that is an open invitation to the devil. There are subthemes of good throughout the film: deep faith, honesty, friendship, and charity. Nonetheless, the film is disturbing. For all its cinematic value, juxtaposing innocent children with evil is still unnerving. The devil is real, and the film leaves no doubt about it. Why Annabelle/Janice kills only two people when she could have killed all is not the question. What is appalling is that she kills only the parents, and in such gruesome way. Even with the priest saying towards the end that the doll is now empty of any evil force, succeeding scenes show otherwise: Janice escapes, is adopted and later slaughters her adoptive parents (plot of the 2014 Annabelle) and the demon nun appears in a convent in Romania (plot of The Nun, the next film in the Conjuring series). 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Pamilya Ordinaryo

DIRECTOR:  Eduardo Roy, Jr.  LEAD CAST:  Hasmine Kilip, Ronwaldo Martin, Maria Isabel Lopez   WRITER:  Eduardo Roy, Jr.CINEMATOGRAPHY: Albert Banzon  EDITING:  Carlo Francisco Manatad  MUSIC: Edwin Fajardo  PRODUCERS:  Almond Deria Hernandez, FErdiand Lapuz  PRODUCTION DESIGN:  Harley Alcasid   GENRE:  Drama  LOCATION:  Philippines  LANGUAGE:  Pilipino (with English subtitles)  RUNNING TIME:  1:47
Technical assessment:  3.5
Moral assessment:  2.5
CINEMA rating:  V18
MTRCB rating:  R-16
Nabubuhay sa pagnanakaw sila Jane (Hasmine Kilip) at Aries (Ronwaldo Martin), naturingang mga “street dwellers” ng lipunan—yaong mga taong naninirahan sa kung saan-saang kalye at mga lugar na pampubliko sa Maynila.  Edad 16 si Jane, at si Aries, 17, may anak silang mag-iisang buwan ang edad; at sinasabi nilang sila’y mag-asawa, at ang apelyido nila’y “ Ordinaryo”.  Kahit na mukhang “astig” si Jane, darating ang araw na mahihimok siya ng isang bakla na tanggapin ang alok nitong tulong.  Pupunta sila sa supermarket at habang namimili si Jane ng mga lampin, ipapahawak niya ang anak sa bakla.  Habang nakapila sa kahera, matutuklasan ng bakla na kulang ang kanyang pambayad, kaya’t magpapaalam ang bakla upang  sumaglit sa ATM.  Hindi na ito babalik, tangay ang sanggol.
Humakot ang Pamilya Ordinaryo ng mga gantimpala at papuri sa mga international film festivals sa ibang bansa, simula ng 2016 release—karamihan dito’y Best Actress (Hasmine Kilip), Best Director (Eduardo Roy, Jr.), at Best Film.  Hindi kataka-taka, pagka’t sadyang kahanga-hanga ang husay ng pagganap ni Kilip—isang di kilalang artista—at ng pagkakadirihe ni Roy, kaya’t nagmistulang dokumentaryo ang pelikula.  Nitong nakaraang Mayo, nakamtan din ni Ronwaldo Martin (batang kapatid ni Coco) ang Best Actor award sa Harlem (New York) Film Festival.  May mga pagkukulang din ang pelikula, kabilang dito ay ang paulit-ulit na linyang binibigkas ni Kilip at Martin—ang dating tuloy ay parang imbento lang nila ang sinasabi pagkat nakalimutan nila ang script, ngunit naremedyuhan dapat ito ng editing.
Hindi maikakaila na ang kuwento sa Pamilya Ordinaryo ay ordinaryo na lamang, kung baga, sa malalaking siyudad tulad ng Maynila, ngunit sinikap pa rin ng pelikula na imulat pa ang mga mata ng mga taong nagiging manhid na sa kalagayan ng mga dukha sa Pilipinas.  Nakapagngingitngit kung paano pinagsasamantalahan at inaabuso ng media, ng masasamang-loob, at ng kapulisan sila Jane at Aries.  Magkahalong inis at habag din ang mararamdaman ng manonood gawa ng mga palalong hakbangin ng dalawa sa paghahanap ng kanilang nawawalang sanggol.  Ang galit ng lipunan ay dapat ituon ng manonood hindi sa tao, kungdi sa sistemang lumalamon sa puso at diwa ng tao.  Bitin ang katapusan ng pelikula, tila baga hamon sa  manonood upang magpasiya sa sarili kung ano ang nais niyang mangyari, at ang nararapat niyang gawin.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Ang Manananggal sa Unit 23B

DirectionPrime Cruz;  Lead CastRyzza Cenon, Martin del Rosario, Cholo Barretto, Vangie Labanan;   Story/ScreenplayJen Chuanunsu;  EditingGalileo TeCinematography: Tey ClamorProducer: Perci Intalan, Jun LanaLocation: Metro Manila; Genre: Romantic ThrillerDistributor: The Ideal First Company  Running Time: 82 minutes.
Technical assessment3  
Moral assessment3 
CINEMA rating: V18 
Si Jewel (Cenon) ay isang misteryosang dalaga na mag-isang naninirahan sa Unit 23B. Sa umaga, siya ay isang mahiyaing guro ng Ingles sa internet pero sa gabi, siya ay nagbabagong-anyo at nagiging mapusok at mapang-akit. Lilipat sa gusali nila si Nico (del Rng osario) at kanyang lola (Labalan)Magsasanga ang kanilang landas at buhay nang maging magkalapit silang magkaibigan. Dagdag pa ang pagkakasundo ni Lola at Jewel sa isa’t isa. Unti-unti ay mahuhulog ang loob ni Nico kay Jewel, kaya nga lamang ay may matinding lihim ang dalaga na maaring makasira sa kanilang pagkakaibigan o sa buhay ni Nico. 
Sinikap ni Prime Cruz na bigyan ng bagong kahulugan ang alamat at kwentong bayan ng mga manananggal sa pagsilip ng pagiging tao nito at pagkakaroon ng kakayahang magmahal at magpahalaga. Salungat ito sa nakasanayang pananaw sa mga nilalang ng Literaturang Filipino. Hindi maikakaila ang husay ng sinematograpiya nito na kahit ang mga hindi nakaiintindi ng kasanayang ito ay mapapansin ang laro ng ilaw at imahen ng mga eksena. Kapuri-puri rin ang daloy ng kwento. Tama ang paninimbang kung kailan dadaanin sa kilig ang pag-usbong ng pag-ibig at sindak sa pagkakatuklas sa tunay na katauhan ni Jewel. Malaking bagay ang karakter at pagkakaganap ni Lola dahil nabigyan nito ng gaan at katotohanan ang relasyon nina Nico at Jewel. Mahina ang pagkakagananp ni Nico. Wala siyang iniwan sa kapirasong kahoy na nabarnisan sa labas pero hungkag sa loob. Pwede nang patawarin ang mala-robot na pag atake ni Cenon kay Jewel, hindi siya kapanipaniwala sa kabaitan o sa pag-aakit pero mayroon namang mga pagkakataon ng kinang tuwing nilalabanan niya ang pagbabagong anyo (kaya siguro maya’t maya ang mga eksenang ito para mapanindigan na humusay nang gumanap si Cenon). Ang tambalan nina Cenon at del Rosario ang pinakamahina sa pelikula. Wala silang “chemistry”, ika nga. Maganda ang materyal at ang sining nito. Mas mapaghuhusay sana ang pelikula kung mas bihasa ang mga gumanap. Ang pinakamatitibay na eksena ay kung kailan tahimik na nagkakatinginan lamang silang dalawa. Walang kumikilos,walang nagsasalita pero napakalakas ng damdamin sa pagitan at napakarami nang maaring pagmuni-munian. 
Dahil ang kinatatayuan ng kwento ay tungkol sa manananggal, asahan na may mga mamamatay o mga ilang karumaldumal na eksena. Pero sa mga kamay ni Cruz, hindi ito ang kanyang binigyang-diin. Sa halip, ipinakita ang pagsusumikap ng isang nilalang na labanan ang tawag ng laman at kung papaanong ang pag-ibig ay mas makapangyarihan kaysa kamunduhan. Malakas din ang mensahe sa pamilya at pag-aalaga sa matatanda at nagtangka rin si Cruz na pahagingan ang isyu ng “EJK” o extra judicial killings. Samakatuwid, sa gitna ng konteksto ng likas na patayan dahil sa tema ng “manananggal”, naisingit ang tema ng buhay, pagmamahal at paggalang sa tao. Kailangan nga lamang ng mas mature  na manunood na may matalim na kabatiran at malawak na pag-iisip para hindi mauwi sa simpleng naratibo tungkol sa hindi makatotohan nilalang or sex and violence ang pelikula. 


Monday, August 21, 2017

Baby Driver

DIRECTOR: Edgar Wright  STARRING: Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Eiza González, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, Jon Bernthal  PRODUCER: Nira Park, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner  SCREENWRITER: Edgar Wright  MUSIC: Steven Price  CINEMATOGRAPHER: Bill Pope  EDITOR: Paul Machliss, Jonathan Amos  GENRE:  Action  PRODUCTION COMPANY: Working Title Films, Big Talk Productions, Media Rights Capital   DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Pictures Releasing  COUNTRY:  United Kingdom, United States  LANGUAGE: English  RUNNING TIME: 113 minutes
Technical assessment: 4
Moral assessment: 3
CINEMA rating: V18
MTRCB rating: R13
Baby (Ansel Ergot) works as a getaway car driver to pay off debts from criminal mastermind, Doc (Kevin Spacey).  Doc assembles a different team for each robbery project, except for Baby whom he retains thinking that he’s his lucky charm. Baby is a highly skilled driver, an expert at car chases and escaping authorities. The secret of Baby is music—he always listens to music on an iPod—it is what inspires him and puts him on the mood, dictating his moves in driving-robbery operations. And music tells much of his past, present and future. Along the way he meets and falls for Deborah (Lily James) through music as well. Baby does not want to stay in the criminal activity for long—but after he pays off his debt, Doc won’t let go of him.  How will Baby’s music play as Doc is out to control his decisions and his life?
Baby Driver is undeniably one stylish film treat rarely seen in its genre. The genius lies in the rhythmic combination of powerful music, calculated visuals and classical storytelling. Every sound, music, frame, scenes, and sequences are tightly knit and carefully planned, and each part of the film becomes both a visual treat and compelling story. The chase scenes are superb and the simple emotional scenes are infectious. It is full of style yet full of heart. The entire ensembles seem to be enjoying their part. Ergot is perfect for the part—his moves are effortless and his acting very natural.  James as his love interest delivers a fine performance as well. In its totality, Baby Driver is a delight to watch—it’s a breath of fresh air from the usual chase movies audiences see about cars, gangsters, and sex. This film proves that art and pop culture can meet somewhere and come up with a tight feature that would make one believe in the power of music and love once again.  The surprise ending delivers the movie’s message clearly.
Baby Driver shows the real dark side of the underworld in a different light. Amidst the darkness, there is one soul that yearns for goodness and peace. The film shows how the dark world can be very cruel, heartless and evil. It does not glorify criminals but it shows how one gets to be lost by circumstances beyond his control and free will. It is almost paradoxical that the lead talented driver cannot seem to drive his own life at first—but goodness of heart made him do so. He was able to muster courage to get out of his situation when love becomes stronger than fear.  Justice is served in all respects in this film—whether through man’s court or the highest court. In situations where it seems evil is king, one is able to prove otherwise—even in one’s weakest moments, there would come a strong desire to fight for what is right. It is never easy and it would entail sacrifice. But then, faith in man’s innate goodness will prevail in the end—healing and change takes time but it will be worth the wait if one is looking forward to eternal happiness—made possible by the power of real love. The heavy theme on the criminal world, strong crass language, gory visuals and graphic violence and some sexual innuendos might be too emotionally gripping for the very young so CINEMA deems the film as appropriate only for mature audiences 18 and above.