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!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Breathe

DIRECTOR: Andy Serkis   STARRING: Andrew Garfield, Claire Foy, Tom Hollander, Hugh Bonneville,  Dean-Charles Chapman, Ed Speleers, Diana Rigg  PRODUCER: Jonathan Cavendish  SCREENWRITER: William Nicholson  MUSIC: Nitin Sawhney  CINEMATOGRAPHER: Robert Richardson  EDITOR: Masahiro Hirakubo  GENRE:  Biographical Drama  PRODUCTION COMPANY: Participant Media, Silver Reel, BBC Films, British Film Institute,  Embankment Films, The Imaginarium   DISTRIBUTOR: Bleecker Street (US), STX Entertainment (UK)  COUNTRY:  United Kingdom, United States  LANGUAGE: English  RUNNING TIME: 117 minutes
Technical assessment:  3.5
Moral assessment:  2.5
CINEMA rating:  V14
Robin Cavendish (Andrew Garfield) and (Diana Blacker) Claire Foy meet at a cricket match in a country estate in England, fall in love at first sight, go through courtship, get married, and start an idyllic life in Kenya where Robin is a tea broker.  At age 28, not long after his wife announces she is pregnant, Robin is stricken with a rare polio that paralyzes him from the neck down, unable to breathe without a respirator.  This necessitates their return to England for Robin to get adequate medical attention.  The doctors give him a few months to live, but both he and his wife will defy medical authority and arrange to break out of the hospital.  “Because she loves, he lives”—surrounded by supportive friends the couple come to experience a rich, full life until Robin dies at age 64.
Movies classified as “based on a true story” are seen to have a strong appeal to moviegoers, possibly due to the fact that it’s in the human DNA to want to be inspired.  Breathe has succeeded in inspiring audiences ever since its debut at the 42nd Toronto International Film Festival last September, largely through the remarkable portrayal of its lead actor Garfield (The Amazing Spider-Man, Hacksaw Ridge, Silence) well-matched by Foy’s as the courageous and devoted wife.  The cinematography creates the mood as Breathe takes the viewer on a virtual tour of the lush English countryside, the African landscape ablaze with sunsets, and then plunges one down to the depths of despair upon close-ups of Robin’s wheezing respirator and a morgue-like facility for the disabled in Germany.  Spoiling the authenticity of this albeit romanticized true story is the failure of makeup and prosthetics to age the couple—it’s distracting to see Foy without wrinkles or signs of weariness in the face all through those decades of fighting for her husband’s life.  Likewise, Garfield hardly ages except for a few wrinkles and some gray hair before he dies—surely signs of struggle might have even enhanced his passion to stay alive
Breathe is indeed “a heartwarming celebration of human possibility” in that it depicts the triumph of human hope and creativity over overwhelming odds.  Instead of allowing a life threatening disease (which struck Robin Cavendish when the polio vaccine had been in use for only two years) to imprison the patient, family and friends pioneered efforts to fulfill Robin’s dream.  Oxford University professor and a friend of Robin, Dr. Tom Halle (played by Hugh Bonneville) invented a wheelchair with a built-in respirator, and subsequently more elaborate contraptions that not only freed Cavendish from confinement to a bed but also enabled him to travel the world as an advocate with the battle cry “Why do you imprison your disabled?  Set them free!”  A year after Robin died, his wife Diana, son Jonathan and his wife Leslie established the Robin Cavendish Memorial Fund dedicated to “advancing the health and saving the lives of people with disabilities.” 

While Breathe is a well-applauded cinematic rendition of a true-to-life experience, CINEMA notes that the movie plays down the fact that Cavendish was an atheist, which should explain the circumstances of his death.  The movie therefore should be seen in this light, and young audiences should be guided accordingly.

Trip Ubusan: Lolas vs Zombies

DIRECTOR: MARK A. REYES  LEAD CAST: JOSE MANALO, PAOLO BALLESTEROS, WALLY BAYOLA  SCREENWRITER:  RAYMOD NAVARRO, MA. ACY Q. RAMOS  PRODUCER:  MARVIC C. SOTTO, ANTHONY P. TUVIERA  GENRE: HORROR, COMEDY  DISTRIBUTOR: APT PRODUCTIONS AND M-ZET PRODUCTIONS  LOCATION:  Philippines  RUNNING TIME:   108 minutes
Technical assesment: 3
Moral assessment:  3
CINEMA rating:  V13 
Magkakasama sa out-of-town trip ang tatlong lola na sina Tinidora (Jose Manalo), Nidora (Wally Bayola, Tidora (Paolo Ballesteros), at ang apong si Charmaine upang ipagdiwang ang birthday ng bata. Subalit bago pa man sila makarating sa destinasyon na beach resort ay aatakehin sila ng mga zombies. Makakatakas naman sila ngunit habang nagpapagasolina sa stop over ay muli silang makakasagupa ng mas maraming zombies. Sa pagkakataong  ito kasama nilang makakatakas sa atake ng mga zombies sina Eva (Angelika Dela Cruz), Macey ( Ryza Mae), ang kuya niya, ilan pang kabataan, at sasakay sila sa tourist bus na minamaneho ni Jordan (Arthur Solinap) at ng girlfriend niyang tourist guide.  Makakatulong sa grupo ang mga nalalaman ni Macey kung paano labanan ang mga zombies dahil sa nakahiligan niya na pagbabasa tungkol dito. Kaya sa kabila ng pagmamaliit ni Eva sa mga mungkahi ni Macey bilang bata ay ginawa pa rin nila ito. Sama-sama silang lalaban hanggang makarating dila sa safe zone. Sa kasamaang palad ay di makakaligtas ang ilan sa kanila at sadyang kailangan magbuwis ng buhay. Mapag-aalaman nila mula sa balita na galing pala sa isang infected meat ang virus at mabilis na nakakahawa kapag nakagat ng taong infected. Samantala, isa sa mga naging enkwentro ng grupo ay makakagat ng zombie si Lola Nidora at lihim siyang magpapasya na magpaiwan dahil alam niya na infected na siya. Subalit batid pala ito ng apong si Charmaine at di ito papayagan na mahiwalay sa kaniya ang lola sa kabila ng panganib. Maalala ni Charmaine ang sinabi ni Macey na kapag maaagapan na talian ay mapapabagal ang pagiging zombie ng nakagat na tao; gagawin nila ito kaya makakarating pa siya sa safe zone.


Bagamat sa malawakang konteksto ay hinalaw sa banyagang pelikula ng Korea ang kwento ngTrip Ubusan: Lolas vs. Zombies, nagkaroon ito ng sariling merito dahil sa pagtatampok sa tatlong lola bilang mga bida. Tumingkad pa ang pagtatampok sa kanilang mga karakter bilang mga lola dahil pawang mga lalaki ang nagsiganap na sila Manalo, Ballesteros at Bayola.  Mahusay ang pag-arte ng mga nagsiganap alinman sa mga eksenang  comedy, drama at suspense. Makabuluhan ang palitan ng mga linya, kaabang-abang ang mga sasambitin ng mga tauhan tulad barahan sa pagitan nina Lola Nidora at Eva at ang mga pangangangaral ng tatlong Lola sa mga bata at mga kabataan. Maganda ang mga kuha ng kamera sa magagandang tanawin na dinadaanan ng bus na kinalulunan ng mga lola at mga kasama nila.  May konting sablay lang sa editing dahil may mga eksena ng pag-atake ng zombies na nakatawa ang mga ito. Naisalba naman ang mga ganitong eksena ng mahusay na make-up at disenyo ng produksyon.

Sa lipunan na maaring ang tingin sa mga nakatatanda ay pasanin at alalahanin, ang pelikulang Trip Ubusan: Lolas vs Zombies ay maaring magbigay ng punto ng pagninilay upang magbago ng pagtingin sa kanila. Naging inspirasyon at sandigan ng mga nakababatang kasama ang pakikipaglaban na ginawa nila para makaligtas sa panganib ng zombies. Hatid rin na mensahe ng pelikula na napakahalaga ng pagkakaisa at malasakit sa kapwa lalo na kapag nahaharap sa panganib at maraming buhay ang nakataya. Pinakita ito sa pelikula  hindi lamang sa pagitan ng magkakapatid na lola, kungdi  kahit sa pagitan ng mga di magkakakilala. Hindi nagdalawang isip na magsakrispisyo para sa kapwa. Hindi pinanaig sa kwento ang isang salungat sa mga planong may pagsasaalang-alang sa kapwa. Kahanga-hanga ang pagmamahalan ng magkakapatid na lola. Mas pinili nilang magkasama-sama hanggang sa huli. Hindi nila pinangunahan na tapusin ang buhay ng kapatid  habang hindi pa nagiging zombie. Positibo ding mensahe ng pelikula ang mga natanto ng mga kabataan matapos pagsisihan ang pagsuway sa payo ng kanilang mga magulang. Bagamat nasa konteksto ng temang zombie ang pelikula, lubha pa ring maselan para sa murang manonood ang madugo at nakaririmarim na pag-atake sa mga tao.

May ilang katanungan lamang ang CINEMA: naubusan na ba ang industriya ng pelikula ng mga babaeng maaaring gumanap bilang mga lola?  O nakakatawa lang ba kung mga lalaki ang gaganap bilang mga babae?  Kung ganon man, bakit ito nakakatawa?

Friday, December 1, 2017

Fallback

DIRECTOR: Jason Paul Laxamana  STARRING:  Zanjoe Marudo, Daniel Matsunaga, Rhian Ramos, Lemuel Pelayo, Marlo Mortel, Ricky Davao, Tetchie Agbayani and Cai Cortez.  WRITTEN BY: Jason Paul Laxamana  GENRE: Romance, Comedy  PRODUCTION COMPANY: CINEKO Productions, Inc.  DISTRIBUTED BY: Star Cinema  COUNTRY: Philippines  LANGUAGE: Pilipino  RUNNING TIME: 1 hour 58 minutes
Technical assessment: 3
Moral assessment: 3
CINEMA rating: V14
MTRCB rating: PG
Sa kabila ng pagiging laging sawi sa pag-ibig, si Michelle (Rhian Ramos), isang production assistant at location manager ng mga pelikula,  ay hindi naman tuluyang sumusuko at lagi pa rin siyang nagkakaroon ng nobyo. Itong huli niyang relasyon kay Chris (Daniel Matsunaga) ay halos perpekto na, ngunit tila nakakaramdam siya na hindi na naman sila magtatagal sapagkat may mga senyales siyang nakikita na may ibang babae ito. Naaapektuhan na ang kanyang trabaho dahil dito kung kaya’t papayuhan siya ng kanyang boss (Tetchie Agbayani) na magkaroon siya dapat ng tinatawag ng fallback o reserbang karelasyon para kung sakaling iwan siya ni Chris ay meron na agad siyang pamalit at hindi na siya gaanong masasaktan at  hindi na rin siya mangagamba sakaling maghiwalay sila ni Chris. Sa isang hindi sinasadyang pagkakataon ay magkakapanagpo silang muli ng kanyang  ex-boyfriend na si Alvin (Zanjoe Marudo) at tila mabubuhay ang nakaraan. Si Alvin na ba ang perfect fallback ni Michelle?
Simple lamang ang produksiyon at kuwento ng Fallback kung tutuusin – pinagyabong lamang nito ang isang ideya na maari o pinaniniwalaan na pwedeng panlaban sa heartbreak. Mainam na nakasentro ang pelikula sa tema nito—yun nga lang, naging mababaw ang pag-trato nila dito. Mababaw ang hagod ng karakterisasyon sa pelikula at hindi malinaw ang pinanggagalingan ng mga pangunahing tauhan—lalo na si Michelle. Ano pa bang mayroon sa kanya bukod sa pagiging laging palpak sa trabaho? May pamilya ba siya? Walang gaanong nakataya sa kuwento at hindi kataya-taya ang kanyang pagkatao upang makaramdam ng simpatya ang manonood sa kanya. Kulang din sa tinatawag na chemistry ang mga tauhan. Pawang pilit ang kanilang mga tambalan. Sayang at maayos na sana ang daloy ng kuwento at mahusay naman ang mga artistang nagsiganap pero malaki ang kakulangan ng buong kuwento sa pagpapayabong at pagpapalalim ng kabuluhan ng relasyon. Malabo rin ang nais ipahiwatig ng treatment ng pelikula  sa paghahalo-halo nito ng kung anu-anong elemento at genre—tulad ng tila horror sa simula at comedy sa ilang eksena—sa madaling salita, hindi malinaw kung anong nais nilang palabasin sa kanilang palabas. Liban na lamang kung sinasadya nila itong gawin pagkat nais nilang palabasin na ang bawat relasyon talaga ay magulo—kasing gulo ng kanilang isipan habang ginagawa nila ang pelikulang ito
Kontrobersyal ang ninanis talakayin ng Fallback pagdating sa relasyon. Tama nga kayang magkaroon ng fallback para hindi maging napakasakit ng kabiguan sa pag-ibig? Sa ibang aspeto ng buhay tulad ng trabaho, pag-aaral, paglalakbay, pananalapi—akma at nararapat ang konsepto ng fallback—nagkakaron ng marami at iba pang pagpipilian sa buhay, at nagiging handa sa mga hindi inaasahang pangyayari. Ganun din ba sa relasyon? Hindi gaanong malinaw ang naging tayo ng pelikula dito. Una, pinalabas nilang fallback ang isang relasyon na higit na malalim kaysa sa kasalukuyan— pawang hindi angkop na tawagin itong fallback—na sa simula pa lang, kita nang hindi ito isang reserba lamang kundi ito ang mas tamang pagpipilian. Naglagay sila ng isa pang fallback na sobrang kabaligtaran naman – isang walang kalalim-lalim na pagpipilian at hindi na kailangang pag-isipan. Sa isang banda, pumapabor ang pelikula sa fallback, sa isang banda naman ay hindi.  Sumakutawid, ang fallback ay isang kathang-isip lamang. Walang fallback pagdating sa relasyon. Hindi maaring tawaging fallback kung relasyon ang pag-uusapan—pakikiapid o panlilinlang ang maaring itawag dito. May mga bagay sa buhay na sadyang nilikha at dinesenyo upang magkaroon ng misteryo at gawing itong makabuluhan dahil dito. Hindi ito pwedeng ma-kontrol at lalong hindi maaring ipilit o hulaan. Ang nararapat lamang ay maging tapat at maging mabuti upang maging karapat-dapat sa sinuman na itinakdang maging kasintahan man, o kaibigan.  Ang ideya mismo ng fallback ay nakasasama sa pagyabong ng katauhan ng isang tao.  Hindi matututo mula sa mga dagok ng buhay o relasyon ang isang tao kung lagi na lamang nitong tatakasan ang hapdi ng pagiging sawi.  Nagiging addiction lamang at hindi tunay na pag-ibig ang pakikipagrelasyon kung ang habol lang ng isang tao dito ay saya, pasarap, at ang seguridad na lagi siyang may nag-aabang na "kapalit".   

Friday, November 24, 2017

Justice League

Direction: Zack Snyder Cast: Ben Affleck, Gal GadotHenry Cavill, Amy Adams, Ezra Miller, Jason MomoaCiaran Hinds. Diane Lane; Story: Chris Terrio and Joss Wheton based on Justice League by Gardner FoxScreenplayChris Terrio and Zack Snyder; CinematographyFabian WagnerEditingDavid Brenner, Richard Pearson, Martin WalshMusic: Danny ElfmanProducersCharles Roven, Deborah Snyder, Jon Berg, Geoff JohnGenreSci-Fi Action;  Location: Gotham and MetropolisDistributorWarner Bros.  Running Time140 minutes;  
Technical assessment: 3.5  
Moral assessment3 stars 
CINEMA rating: V13 
MTRCB rating: PG13 
To stop Steppenwolf (Hinds) from conquering the Earth, the three Mother Boxes, containing unparalleled energy, are distributed for safekeeping to the Amazons, Atlanteans and mankind after their combined armies defeat and imprison Steppenwolf and his army. However, Superman’s death triggers the Mother Boxes to come alive and free them. Bruce Wayne/Batman (Affleck) and Diana Prince/Wonderwoman (Gadot) team up and recruit Atlantean Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Mamoa), Barry Allen/Flash (Miller) and Victon Stone/Cyborg (Fisher). The team is formed too late as the Steppenwolf gains two of the Mother Boxes. Wayne decides to use the energy of the remaining Mother Box to bring Superman back to life.  However, the resurrected Superman is disoriented and attacks the team until Lois Lane (Adams) arrives and calms him down. The unguarded remaining Mother Box is easily retrieved by Steppenwolf so the superheroes decide to defend humanity even without Superman. At the last minute  
Superman arrives to assist the united heroes. Fear consumes Steppenwolf causing his own Parademons to attack him. The movie ends with hints of the heroes becoming a real team and Lex Luther planning to form his own group against them. 
Justice League is all hypein its publicity and propaganda and in its storytelling. The action scenes and visuals, with all its multi-million dollar effects and design, will impress some and entertain a few. The story is old and tired. Preventing a vanquished villain from gaining full control of its powers and assembling a team to stop it is just too familiar. What made it even less engaging were flat storytelling and too many back stories in the exposition. It took a long time to get to the action, which is not expected of a superhero movie. But the greatest failure of the film is the shallowness of the characterization and their lack of chemistry with each other. It just did not work. The attempts to be funny were forced and the moments of insight were overworked.  That it comes right between successful and loveable superhero movies from a competitor studio does not help. 
To be a person for others is the usual and natural orientation of superheroes and heroines. In the earlier years, they saved the world because that is what they do. But modern heroes now make a conscious choice. They are faced with moral dilemmas, internal conflicts and polarization of social acceptance. Yet in the end, they make their choices not because they are programmed to do so but because it is the right thing to do. Because they value life. Because they understand that their powers are not for themselves but for service. Heroism is not about one’s superiority but about sacrifice. Power thrives when there is heart and soul. Power is the combined strength of people (or heroes) for a greater cause. Power is fueled by selflessness and compassion. Justice League has a lot of positive values to share but needs the guidance of adults to clarify the messages. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

This Time I'll Be Sweeter

DIRECTOR:    JOEL LAMANGAN   LEAD CAST: BARBIE FORTEZA, KEN CHAN  SCREENWRITER: RONA LEAN SALES  PRODUCER:  LILY MONTEVERDE,  ROSELLE MONTERVERDE  EDITOR:  CHARLIEBEBS GOHETIA  MUSICAL DIRECTOR:  PAULO PROTACIO  GENRE: DRAMA/ROMANCE  CINEMATOGRAPHER:  SHERMAN PHILIP SO   DISTRIBUTOR:   REGAL ENTERTAINMENT RUNNING TIME: 104 MINUTES
Technical assessment:  2.5
Moral assessment:  3
CINEMA rating: V14
Sa klaseng kinabibilangan ni Erika (Barbie Forteza), isang mass com student, ipinangako ng guro  na sinumang makapagsusulat ng isang artikulong mailalathala sa isang pambansang pahayagan ay sigurado nang makaka-Uno na grado.  Sinamantala ito ni Erika para ma-interview ang sikat na varsity swimmer na si Tristan (Ken Chan).  Sa madaling salita, nalathala ang artikulong isinulat niya pero ikinainis naman ni Tristan na naging publiko na ang para sa kanya ay isang personal nang bahagi ng kanyang buhay.  Dito magsisimula ang pagkakalapit ng dalawa, ngunit matutuklasan ni Erika na habang siya ay in love na in love na kay Tristan, ay nakikipaglaro lang pala ito sa kanya at sa katunayan ay may nobya na.  Dalawang beses madudurog ang puso ni Erika sa mga kamay ni Tristan, susuong pa kaya siya sa ikatlong pagkakataon?
Tila baga ginawa lang ang This Time I'll Be Sweeter para lamang maglungsad ng isa na namang bagong tambalan pang-romcom.  May istorya naman, at may intensyong magturo ng leksiyon, pero patse-patse ang pagkakahabi ng kuwento—tagilid ang editing—tuloy naging artipisyal, at hindi naging malalim o totoo ang hubog ng mga tauhan kaya’t bumaha man ang luha ni Erika, halimbawa, ay hindi nito maantig ang habag ng manunood.  Katawa-tawa din ang ilang detalya, tulad nang si Tristan ay nasa airport—sa karaniwang departure area lamang naghihintay, pumipila tulad ng iba at hindi kilala ng mga ground stewardess—hindi ba’t bilang anak ng may-ari ng airline ay nasa First Class Lounge man lamang siya, at eestimahin ng mga airline personnel?  In fairness, mahusay ang pag-arte ni Chan bilang lasing na Tristan.  Pero ang karamihan ng mga eksena, halos pa-kyut lang, hindi kapani-paniwala, at parang nagmamanipula sa damdamin ng manunood.
Natubos lamang ang This Time I'll Be Sweeter ng isang pangyayari sa katauhan ni Erika.  Bagama’t masugid siyang reporter, nilagyan niya ng hanggahan ang pagiging agresibo sa paghahanap ng kuwento.  Tinalikuran niya ang oportunistang editor pagkat pinili niyang igalang ang pagdadalamhati ng nagluluksang pamilya ni Tristan.  Ang pagsasa-alang-alang sa damdamin ng mga naiwan ng mga yumao ay isang bagay na dapat itaguyod ng ating lipunan, lalu na sa mga panahong ito kung kailan maraming nababalitang pinapaslang ng mga nakamotor at di-kilalang salarin.  Ipinakikita din ng pelikula ang kahalagahan ng suporta ng pamilya at mga kaibigan sa taong may pinagdadaanan.

Bad Genius

DIRECTOR: Nattawut Poonpiriya  LEAD CAST: Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying, Chanon Santinatornkul, Teeradon Supapunpinyo, Eisaya Hosuwan  PRODUCER: Jira Maligool, Vanridee Pongsittisak, Suwimon Techasupinan, Chenchonnee Soonthonsaratul, Weerachai Yaikwawong  SCREENWRITER: Nattawut Poonpiriya, Tanida Hantaweewatana, Vasudhorn Piyaromna  CINEMATOGRAPHER: Phaklao Jiraungkoonkun  EDITOR: Chonlasit Upanigkit  MUSIC: Vichaya Vatanasapt  GENRE:  Heist Thriller  PRODUCTION COMPANY: Jor Kwang Films  DISTRIBUTOR: GDH 559  COUNTRY:  Thailand  LANGUAGE: Thai with English subtitle  RUNNING TIME: 130 minutes
Technical Assessment: 3.5
Moral Assessment: 3
Cinema Rating: A14
MTRCB Rating: PG13
Lynn (Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying), is a teenage student genius who transfers to an upscale school in ninth grade upon her father’s decision, despite her initial objections. She ends up meeting and making friends with some affluent students, who eventually offer her money in exchange for helping them cheat during school tests. Lynn devises a brilliant plan to broadcast the answers to tests to an entire room of mostly cheaters. As if it’s not enough, her friends challenge her to cheat and do the same for them in a strictly monitored international test for them to have the opportunity to study abroad. Will they be able to pull it off and get away from the crime?
Bad Genius is undeniably a clever film done with such admirable genius. The pacing and plot development are brilliant. It was able to capture its theme from micro to macro perspective seamlessly. The characterization is consistent and the actors, especially the leads all give justice to their multi-layered persona. The film takes its international audience to a milieu both familiar and strange—making the film entirely universal despite the different language. The film style is a fusion of modern technique and sincere emotions that one could easily overlook the film’s rather long running time. The excitement during the entire running time does not falter and up to the end the film does not disappoint. Amid the bunch of teeny-bopper romcom films that audiences usually see, Bad Genius is a breath of fresh air—and it somehow shows that there are many other issues and concerns of the young that films should tackle aside from romance.
Bad Genius takes cheating to a different level and provides a platform for dialogue on a wider social issue of inequality. While God may have gifted human beings with different talents, it is not meant to foster inequality; rather, it’s meant to test one’s responsibility to either prosper such gift for good or not. It is not the ability or the talent itself that makes a person good or bad, but how it is put to use. It is clear in the film that the more blessed one is, the more responsibility he or she has in society. Inequality stems from human weakness of greed and selfishness. Temptation always exists to test one’s character. The film depicts social ills—poverty, corruption, dishonesty—and these exist even in educational institutions. But then goodness triumphs over evil in the end as it is seen that crime, however small, does not pay. What makes the film uplifting is the glimmer of hope it gives as it shows that humans can win over temptations and that doors and chances to correct mistakes for the greater good are always open to those who sincerely repent. But then given the film’s theme on cheating, the very young might see it differently and might selectively pick-up cheating ideas as those petty crimes are mostly committed in classrooms—so CINEMA deems Bad Genius as appropriate only for audiences 14 and up. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Ghost Bride

DIRECTOR: Chito S. Roño  CAST:  Kim Chiu, Matteo Guidicelli, Alice Dixson, Christian Bables, Robert Seña, Ina Raymundo, Beverly Salvejo, Isay Alvarez, Nanding Joseph, Mon Confiado, Cacai Bautista, Victor Silayan, Luz Valdez, and Jerome Ponce.  WRITTEN BY: Charleson Ong, Enrico Santos, Cathy Camarillo  PRODUCED BY: Charo Santos-Concio, Malou N. Santos  GENRE: Horror  PRODUCTION COMPANY: Star Cinema   COUNTRY: Philippines  LANGUAGE: Pilipino, Chinese, English
RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes
Technical assessment:  3.5
Moral assessment:  3
CINEMA rating:  V14
MTRCB rating:  PG 13 
Nahaharap sa malaking problema ang pamilya ni Mayen (Kim Chiu). Baon sila sa utang dahil sa naluluging negosyo na sinundan ng malubhang pagkakasakit ng ama na si Manuel (Robert Sena). Taglay ng pamilya ni Mayen ang pinaghalong kultura ng Tsina at Pilipinas, sa katunayan isa sa hanapbuhay nila ang pagpapatuloy ng isang Chinese tradition para sa mga ispiritu ng mga namayapang Tsino na di na masyadong tinatangkilik sa makabagong panahon.  Kasabay pa ng krisis sa pamilya ang personal na problema ni Mayen sa nobyong si Clinton (Mateo Guidicelli) na ipinakasal ng pamilya sa ibang babae. Dahil dito ay mapipilitan si Mayen na tanggapin ang alok ni Mrs Lao (Alice Dixon) at pumayag na maging “ghost bride” kaugnay ng sinaunang kaugalian ng Tsino bilang pag-alala sa yumao kapalit ng malaking halaga.  Kasama sa kasunduan ang pagsusuot ni Mayen ng antigong pulseras hanggang sa maganap ang kasalan at kailangan niyang magbyahe sa China upang personal na daluhan ang seremonya. Malalaman ni Mayen na nakuha ni Mrs. Lao ang pangalan nya sa internet site na DateQuest. Maaayos naman ang problema sa pera ng pamilya ni Mayen at pagpapagamot ng ama, subalit matatanto ni Mayen ang tila sumpa na nakabalot sa pasya niyang pumayag sa kasunduan.
Misteryoso pero may lohika ang kwento ng Ghost Bride. Mainam ang pagkakatahi ng mga sinasaliksik na impormasyon hinggil sa sinaunang kultura ng China at ang pag-uugnay nito sa kasalukuyang panahon. Magaling na ideya ang setting sa Binondo na kilalang lugar kung saan maraming residenteng Tsino. Bagamat bagay kay Chu ang papel na Mayen ay limitado naman ang I pinakita niyang damdamin na hinihingi sa mga eksenang katatakutan. Mabuti na lamang at mahusay ang make-up at visual effects, gayundin ang mga inilapat na tunog. Nakakagulat ang paglitaw ng mga multo at nakakatakot ang mga hitsura nito. Mahusay din ang sinematograpiya kung saan maliwanag na naipakita ang detalye ng mga palabas at seremonya. Makahulugan ang kuha ng kamera sa bundok ng Himalayas sa Nepal sa wakas dahil pinakita ng magandang tanawin at tahimik na bundok na tapos na ang panganib at kaguluhan sa buhay ng mga sangkot.  May simbolismo din na epekto ang mga komposisyon katulad ng paglalagay ng mga imahen ng Buddhismo at Jesus Nazareno, na nagpapahayag ng magkahalong kultura at tradisyon ng Pilipino at Tsino.
Ang pamilya ay karapat-dapat ipagsakripisyo at ipaglaban—sukdulang itaya ang buhay at kinabukasan masiguro lamang ang kaligtasan ng bawat isa. Ganito ang ipinakita ng pangunahing karakter sa pelikula. Isang mapagmahal at may malasakit na anak sa magulang at matanda sa pamilya gayundin sa kabuhayan. Nanindigan din siya sa sariling desisyon ng mapag-alaman nya na nakompromiso ng magulang ang kaligayahan. Gayundin naman ng buong tapang niyang hinarap ang mga dapat gawin upang itama ang mga maling desisyon na kanyang ginawa alang-alang sa pamilya. Nagpakita din ng spiritualidad sa kwento kung saan lumapit sa mga relihisoyong Buddhist monks ang pamilya upang makatulong at labanan ang mga masamang espiritu. Hindi rin pinagtagumpay sa pelikula ang mga ganid at mapagsamantala katulad ng karakter ng mayamang pinagkakautangan ng pamilya. Sa kabila ng mga positibong mensahe ng pelikula ay maraming malalagim at nakaka-stress na eksenang maaaring makabahala sa manonood, lalo na ng mga menor de edad.


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Loving Vincent

DIRECTORDorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman  LEAD CAST:  Douglas Booth, Helen McCrory, Chris O’Dowd, Aidan Turner, Jerome Flynn  SCREENWRITER: Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman & Jacek Dehnel  PRODUCER: Claudia Bluemhuber  EDITOR: Dorota Kobiela & Justyna Wierszynska  MUSICAL DIRECTOR:  Clint Mansell  GENRE: Animation Biography, Crime/Drama  CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Tristan Oliver & Lucasz Zal  DISTRIBUTOR: Solar Pictures (in the Philippines)  LOCATION: London, England  RUNNING TIME: 94 minutes
Technical assessment:  4
Moral assessment:  3
CINEMA rating: V14
Loving Vincent begins a year after Vincent’s death. Armand Roulin (Douglas Booth) is tasked by his father Joseph (Chris O’Dowd), a postman, to deliver Vincent’s letter to his brother Theo (Cezary Lukaszewicz). Armand goes to Paris and learns that Theo died shortly after van Gogh’s death. Though reluctant at first, Armand turns his errand into a quest that leads him to Auvers-sur-Oise where Vincent died. He meets Dr. Paul Gachet (Jerome Flynn) and his daughter Marguerite (Saoirse Ronan), and the many people who were Vincent’s subjects in his paintings. Puzzled by the strange circumstances of Vincent’s death, Armand investigates and hears from the people closest to the painter or those who knew him.  Did he shoot himself, and then changed his mind? Or was he murdered? If someone else shot him, who did it and why?
In the letter found in his breast pocket when he died, the Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh wrote: “We cannot speak other than by our paintings.” This is exactly what directors Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman tried to do in Loving Vincent, the first full-length oil painted animation film. It tells the story of Vincent van Gogh, one of the greatest revolutionary forces in art, by bringing his masterpieces back to life and allowing the subjects of these paintings to speak about his childhood, his passion, his tortured life and his mysterious death.  Kobiela and Welchman did a live-action version of the film first and then a team of over a hundred painters and animators rendered each frame in van Gogh’s style producing 65,000 paintings! The result is a mesmerizing visual delight! If you’ve ever wanted a painting to come to life, this is a must-see. Non-art lovers might find it dizzying and a strain to the eyes, though. Loving Vincent brings together van Gogh’s story and his colorful masterpieces in such a compelling biography, using pencil drawings for flashbacks. Although a veritable unknown in his lifetime, selling only one out of 860 paintings he made in eight years, Van Gogh has become one of the most loved painters of all times. Did he commit suicide? The film presents many hypotheses and each of the characters saw Vincent in a different light. Was he a gifted but tortured soul? Unbalanced in mind and heart? The film masterfully blended Vincent’s works with an appropriate musical score while the plot is simple and straightforward.
Although there are scenes of drinking and fights, plus Vincent’s mysterious death from a bullet wound, Loving Vincent is replete with values that may seem foreign and outdated today: integrity and doing what is right; honoring friendships; respect and the search for truth. Despite all the rejections he experienced in life, Vincent tried to assure everyone that no one is to be blamed for his death. Was it ambition that drove him to work so hard at his craft? Or was he trying to prove himself worthy of love and acceptance? Or was he compelled to put on canvas his own vision of the world expressing the joy and beauty he saw in it, regardless of other’s reception? Through his paintings, Vincent Van Gogh continues to speak to the men and women of today. Could he be telling us: “What you are is God’s gift to you. What you make of yourself is your gift to God”?