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!

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”?

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Thor Ragnarok

Direction: Taiki Waititi; Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Jeff Goldblum, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Hopkin; Screenplay: Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost;  Based on Thor by Stan Lee; Cinematography: Javier Aguirresarobe; Editing:  Joel Negron, Zene Baker; Producer: Marvel Studios; Music: Mark Motherscaugh; Genre: Sci-Fi Action; Distributor: Walt Disney Motion Pictures; Location: Asgard, Sakaar;  Running Time: 130 minutes
Technical assessment: 3.5
Moral assessment: 3
CINEMA rating: V14
MTRCB rating: PG13
Thor (Hemsworth), imprisoned by fire demon Surtur learns that the prophesy of Ragnarok – the destruction of Asgard – is going to happen soon because of the absence of his father Odin (Hopkins). Thor returns to Asgard and finds his brother Loki (Hiddlestone) impersonating Odin. He forces Loki to look for their father and finds him in Norway. As Odin dies, Hela, his firstborn daughter imprisoned long ago because of her ambition to take over the Galaxy escapes. She destroys the Mjolnir and upon return to Asgard kills the loyal soldiers and resurrects her ancient army. Before she is able to expand the Bifrost Bridge and expand Azgard’s empire, Heimdall steals the sword controlling the bridge and hides the rest of the Asgardians as a resistance against Hela.  Meanwhile, Thor and Loki crash land on Sakaar. The Grandmaster (Goldblum) forces Thor to compete in the contest of champions and faces off with Hulk.  Eventually, Thor, Loki, Hulk and a former Valkyrie team up to escape Sakaar and save Asgard. A fight ensures with Hela proving to be too powerful despite the combined forces and powers of Thor and company. Left with no choice, Thor asks Loki to allow Surtur to reunite his crown with the Eternal Flame under the city. Hela is destroyed but so is Asgard. In the end, Thor and the remaining Asgardians escape in the Grandmaster’s ship enroute to Earth.
Thor is a combination of a sure win blockbuster: comical heroism, kick ass villain, mesmerizing visuals, recognizable characters, and action-packed scenes. There was no way Thor Ragnarok could have failed in the box office with its irreverent comedy and lighthearted storytelling. You more than relate with the situation because you fall in love with the characters. Overall, the film is enjoyable despite occasional difficulty in keeping up with the names, characters and subplots. But the visuals and action make up for these.
Amidst the predictable courage and teamwork in superhero films, two ideas stand out. First, we are shown the meaning of citizenship. Love of country supersedes self-preservation. Both Loki and Thor made their choices while on Sakaar. Loki saved himself and was contented to be at the beck and call of the Grandmaster, Thor would not stop until he returns to Asgard to save his people. Love of country is not conquering others or expanding an empire as Hela wants. It is protecting the people and making sure they have a decent life. Second, people can always become a better version of themselves. Loki, Valkerie, Hulk and Scourge recognized their past mistakes and followed their heart to take the higher road and fight for what is good. Of course, the transformation comes after admission and with the willingness to embrace selflessness. The movie is a superhero film and naturally would entail fighting and violence. It is advisable to have a mature adult accompany young audiences.


Thursday, November 2, 2017

Bes and the Beshies

DIRECTOR: Joel Lamangan  CAST: Ai Ai delas Alas, Carmi Martin, Beauty Gonzales, Ms. Zsa Zsa Padilla, Nikko Natividad, Jon Lucas, Wilbert Ross, Emilio Garcia, Sanch Vito Delas Alas, Alan Paule, Mark Joseph Tam, Heaven Peralejo  WRITTEN BY: Ricky Lee, Alpha Habon, Rod Marmol  EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Patrick Neil F. Meneses, Ladylyne de Guzman-Ilao  GENRE: Comedy­  EDITED BY: Vanessa Ubas de Leon  DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRPHY: Miguel Cruz  MUSIC: Emerzon Texon  PRODUCTION DESIGN: Cyrus Khan  PRODUCTION COMPANY: CINEKO Production Inc.  DISTRIBUTED BY: Regal Entertainment, Inc.  COUNTRY: Philippines  LANGUAGE: Pilipino  RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes
Technical assessment: 3
Moral assessment: 2.5
CINEMA rating: V14
MTRCB rating: R13
Matalik na magkakaibigan sina Charla (AiAi delas Alas), Mabel (ZsaZsa Padilla), Tisay (Carmi Martin) at Sophie (Beauty Gonzales).  Batid ng bawat isa ang kani-kanilang pinagdadaanan at gayun na lamang ang suporta na ipinakikita nila sa isa’t isa kung kinakailangan.  Mag-isang itinataguyod ni Charla ang anak na si Benjie habang umaasang babalikan sila ng ama nito sa kabila ng matagal na panahon mula nang iwan sila. Martir na asawa naman si Mabel at sinisikap na manatiling buo ang pamilya sa kabila ng pangangaliwa ng asawa.  Si Tisay naman ay isa sa mga kabit ng police general na naghahangad mabuntis upang di sya iwan nito. Si Sophie naman ay pamangkin ni Tisay at di hamak na mas bata sa kanilang tatlo. Hilig ni Sophie ang sumali sa mga beauty contest na lagi naman siyang natatalo dahil sa magaspang niyang pananalita at personalidad.
Maayos ang daloy ng kwento ng Bes and the Beshies. Madali itong masundan ng mga manonood at kapana-panabik ang mga eksena. Kakaiba ang sumpaan ng pagkakaibigan sa bandang huli na nakaset-up ng kasal. Samantalang di nakaligtas sa tipikal na ending ang pelikula na may bigyan ng bagong partner ang nabigo sa pag-ibig na si Charla.  Bagamat may mga eksena na kung hindi corny ay eksaherada, sa kabuuan ay maganda ang pagkakadirek sa mga nagsiganap at ang trato sa temang comedy na napanatili hanggang sa huli.  Epektibo sa pagpapatawa ang mga nagsiganap at nailabas nila ang pagkakaiba ng mga karakter na kanilang ginampanan. Mahusay ang disenyo ng produksyon—naipakita ang iba’t ibang katayuan sa lipunan ng apat na magkakaibigan at kung paano nagkakasundo at nagkakaisa sila para sa bawat isa. Maganda rin ang mga kuha ng kamera at ang iba’t ibang anggulong ginamit para sa mas makahulugang komposisyon. 

Ang tunay na kaibigan ay isang kayamanan. Katulad ng pamilya, nagsisilbing takbuhan o sandalan din ang matapat na kaibigan sa panahon ng pangangailangan. Ito ang pangunahin mensahe ng Bes and the Beshies at naihatid naman ito.  Kahanga-hanga ang samahan ng mga magkakaibigan dahil sa walang pag-aalinlangang pagsuporta sa isa’t isa at sukdulang itaya ang sarili sa pagharap sa kalaban ng kaibigan at ipagtanggol ito.  Positibo ding mensahe ng pelikula ang pagtanggap sa katauhan ng kapwa katulad ng ginawa ng mga kaibigan ni Benjie ng matapang niyang ipagtapat sa harap ng mga kaibigan at nagugustuhan niyang lalaki na siya ay isang bakla.  Subalit nakababahala ang mga nakapaloob na munting tema ng pelikula katulad ng paghahangad ng anak sa lalaking may-asawa upang manatili siyang kabit nito, magaspang na pananalita at paghikayat pa sa nobyo na maging katulad nya, ang cheap na paraan ng pang-aakit ng lalaki, at ang hayagang paghahangad at pagsasakatuparan ng pagpapaopera upang magpalit ng kasarian ang isang bakla. Ang ganitong mga paksa ay mas akma sa manonood na may hinog na kaisipan.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Barker

DIRECTOR: Dennis Padilla  LEAD CAST: Empoy Marquez, Shy Carlos, Wilma Doesn’t, Ronnie Lazaro  PRODUCER: Vic del Rosario, Arlyn dela Cruz-Bernal  GENRE: Romance comedy/action  RUNNING TIME:  76 minutes
Technical assessment: 2
Moral assessment: 2.5
CINEMA rating: V14
MTCRB:  PG
Maganda at mabait na, mayaman pa.  Ano pa ang hahanapin ng probinsiyanong si Coco (Empoy Marquez) sa isang sinisinta, si Bella (Shy Carlos).  Nasa kanya nang lahat, kaya lang strict si papa (Ronnie Lazaro), ilalayo si Bella.  Hindi maglalaon, makikipagsapalaran sa Maynila si Coco, maghahanap ng trabaho, at para hanapin si Bella.  Pipisan muna si Coco sa pinsan niyang si Gorio, at makakakita ng trabaho bilang isang “barker”—tagatawag ng pasahero sa pilahan ng dyip.  Aatake ang budol-budol gang, mangloloob ng bahay, at sa paghahabulan ng mga pulis at mga kriminal, iiitsa at maiiwan ang isang bag na puno ng salaping ninakaw sa dyip na minamaneho ni Gorio.  Lingid sa kaalaman ng magpinsan, hahantingin ng sindikato ng mga kawatan ang dyip na iniwanan nila ng bag.  Maghahalo ang balat sa tinalupan, at dito magkakatagpong muli si Coco at si Bella.
Pagkatapos “makilala” ng CINEMA si Marquez sa Kita Kita, nasabik kaming makita kung anong putahe naman kaya ang ihahain niya sa The Barker.  Tila limang minuto pa lang kaming nanonood ay nayamot na kami, pero tiniis namin hanggang matapos, sa pag-asang baka may maganda namang sorpresang naghihintay sa bandang dulo.  Wala, wala, at wala.  Hindi madaling isa-isahin ang mga kapalpakan ng pelikula, dahil sa dami—ang sabog na kuwento, ang makupad na daloy nito, ang komedyang hindi nakakatawa, ang romansang matabang, ang sobra-sobrang halikan na walang kapararakan—pero ang “pinaka” ay ang nakakasawang pagtitig ng kamera sa mga paandar ng mukha ni Marquez.  Ito ang ugat ng kabiguan ng pelikula—ang pamumuhunan sa tagumpay ni Marquez sa Kita Kita.  Dahil pumatok sa takilya, inulit.  Parang pagtitinda ng hot pandesal—dahil naging mabili nang unang ilabas, binaha ang palengke ng hot pandesal, hanggang sa nalimutan nang ang unang benta ay pumatok dahil may masarap itong palaman—corned beef!—samantalang ang palaman nitong sumunod ay Star margarine at asukal lamang, o gatas kondensada, o latik—matamis pero nakakaumay.  Buong buo at makahulugan ang kuwento ng Kita Kita; sa The Barker, pilit, parang inimbento na lang para makagawa ng pagkakakitaang pelikula.  Kungdi sana sinobrahan ang pagpapatawa, na corny naman, baka umangat ito nang konti, at siryosohin ng manonood.  Sa halip na hamunin si Marquez na higitan ang pagganap niya sa Kita Kita, kinopya lang ito.  Minsan nga, mukhang pinulot lang sa mga retaso ng Kita Kita ang ilang eksena.  Ang mga pakyut at pakyeme ni Coco pag kaharap si Bella ay walang pinag-iba sa ginawa ni Marquez sa Kita Kita, pati na ang close up na paghigop ng mami noodles—siyang siya, iba nga lang ang babaeng kaharap.  At kailangan bang i-close up pa ang ngala-ngala, kampanilya, at tonsils ni Marquez para ipakita sa manonood na ang puhunan ng “barker” ay ang kanyang makapangyarihang bunganga?  Hay, ‘nako!

Meron isang mahalagang bagay ang dapat sana’y lumutang sa istorya ng The Barker—ang katapatan at prinsipyo ni Coco na huwag galawin at bagkus ay isauli ang natagpuang salapi sa may ari nito, pero napawalang saysay ito nang bumigay si Coco dala ng awa sa batang magbe-bertdey nang walang perang ipangpa-party.  Di ba’t pareho lang ito ng di katanggap-tanggap na ugali ng mga Pinoy (sa probinsya), na mangungutang, magsasanla ng bahay, o magbebenta ng kalabaw para lang may ihanda sa piyesta?  Gusto lang siguro ng pelikula ay masaya, hapi lahat, tutal, talo din naman ang mga bad people sa katapusan.  Pero hindi yon sapat; sa kabila ng lahat, wala pa kaming natanong na manonood na hindi nagsabing “nadaya” sila ng The Barker.  Sa habang isang oras at 16 na minuto, pwede naman itong tabasan na lang at gawing kalahating oras na komedya sa telebisyon—bakit gagasta ka pa ng mahigit 200 piso para “madaya” ka lang?  Mas sulit pang panoorin ang The Foreigner (Jackie Chan) o Bad Genius (pelikula mula sa Thailand).   

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Across the Crescent Moon

(Editor's note: "Across the Crescent Moon" won Best Global Feature Film and Best Ensemble Acting awards at the International Film Festival Manhattan (IFFM) last Oct. 18 in New York.  The following is the English version of the review in Pilipino CINEMA published in this blog last January).  DIRECTOR: Baby Nebrida  LEAD CAST: Matteo Guidicelli, Alex Godinez, Dina Bonnevie, Christopher de Leon, Sandy Andolong, Gabby Concepcion SCREENWRITER: Baby Nebrida  PRODUCER:  Baby Nebrida LINE PRODUCER:  Christina Nebrida  EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Ana Clemena, Amado Tan  GENRE: Drama, Action  MUSIC: Von de Guzman  CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Topel Lee  PRODUCTION DESIGNER:  Erwin Sanchez  PRODUCTION COMPANY:  Gold Barn Media  INTERNATIONAL  DISTRIBUTOR: Silver Line Multimedia  COUNTRY:  Philippines  LOCATIONS: Tawi Tawi, Simunul Island, Tanay, Clark, Subic, Zambales RUNNING TIME: 130 minutes
Technical assessment:  3.5
Moral assessment:  3.5
CINEMA rating:  V14
MTRCB rating: PG13
“Across the Crescent Moon,” opens with a bitter fight between mother Mita Garcia (Dina Bonnevie) and daughter Emma (Alex Godinez).  Devout Catholics, Emma’s parents are strongly against the love relationship between Emma and her boyfriend Abbas Misani (Matteo Guidicelli) but they will fail to stop the union of the two.  To their dismay, Emma and Abbas get married in Muslim rites, and stay in Mindanao.  Abbas is a soldier in the Special Action Forces (SAF) tasked to deal with the drug and human trafficking problem in Mindanao.  After their wedding the young couple reside in Mindanao with Abbas’ parents Karim (Christopher de Leon) and Sitti (Sandy Andolong) who warmly welcome the Emma to the family.  When Emma becomes pregnant, she pleads with Abbas to return to Manila until she gives birth; fortunately, Abbas is granted his request at work to be transferred to the SAF contingent in Luzon.  Missing her parents very much, Emma pays them a surprise visit.  She finds her mother home, but Mita cruelly disowns her.  In spite of Emma’s delicate condition, Mita’s heart remains hard and cold, without a whiff of mercy for the pregnant daughter.
Local film critics have contrasting reactions to “Across the Crescent Moon”.  There are those who praise it to high heavens, suggesting that the film be seen by every Filipino; others see nothing but the perceived shortcomings of the film, from camera angles to the story flow.  Some say watching the movie is a big waste of time and money; while others aver that one stands to miss much by not seeing it because “it is so special”, being a unique film that courageously tackles and portrays situations that no Filipino movie in the past had ever done.
It is easy to see why critics differ in their view of “Across the Crescent Moon”—a fact that does not augur well for the fate of the film at the box office.  Like average Filipino moviegoers, many critics merely look for entertainment, or amazement at the technical perfection of a movie, to the extent that they become oblivious to the film’s substance and its potential to open doors leading to a society’s redemption.  The theme of “Across the Crescent Moon is hardly entertaining, but what is amazing about it is that it was produced at all—a film that owes its existence to people who gambled their talents, treasure, and conviction in their desire to contribute towards peace and reconciliation in the land.
Actors de Leon, Guidicelli, Godinez and Andolong.

Interviewed by CINEMA, its director and screenwriter Baby Nebrida said her intention was to bridge the gap between Christians and Muslims by focusing on correct information and right knowledge of the situation—thus she deemed it best to highlight the goodness and benevolence of a Muslim family in this film.  With this purpose in mind, Nebrida persuaded veteran actors (Bonnevie, de Leon, Andolong) to play alongside neophytes (Guidicelli, Godinez) in this trailblazing movie.
The excellent performances the actors delivered are thus rooted not in acting techniques but in the sincere belief that participation in the film is infusing new meaning in their art. At a press conference prior to the launch of Across the Crescent Moon last January, the actors—both the seasoned ones and the newbies alike, all Christians from Luzon—admitted that in studying their respective roles, and in mingling with the Muslims while on location shooting in Mindanao, their eyes were opened to the beauty of the customs and prayer life of the Muslims.  For the actors, being in the film was not “just a job” but also a “learning moment”—their exposure to a different cultural environment enriched their lives and imbued their performance with freshness and intensity.  The result: whatever technical flaws the film had were overshadowed by the heartfelt performances of the cast.
The core of the plot is the love between two young persons coming from different backgrounds, and its message is the hope of a people’s healing springing from the understanding that love brings.   The role of Bonnevie—Mita, the narrow-minded mother who is complacent in her comfort zone, and has good intentions but lacks genuine understanding of her daughter or her fellow Filipinos—serves as the heart of the movie, for she reflects the transformation that Filipinos need to go through to liberate the predominantly Catholic nation from prejudice against their long neglected Muslim brothers. 

CINEMA won’t wonder if “Across the Crescent Moon” does not become a box office hit in the country, because as surveys made by the film industry itself reveal, the average Filipino goes to the movies to laugh, to get tickled or terrified, to be entertained and wowed by fantastic CGI (computer generated images)—never to meditate upon the future of their country.  The film may not rake in millions at the tills, but as CINEMA views it, a deep regard for its message can heal millions of wounded hearts in the country.  Showing and discussing the film in schools and parishes, particularly in key cities, may help broaden the horizons of the young who are in danger of being engulfed in mediocrity prevalent in the entertainment media, the internet, and society as a whole. 
Director Baby Nebrida (in white) and crew receive the trophies at the IFFM.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Seven Sundays

DIRECTOR: CATHY GARCIA-MOLINA; LEAD CAST: RONALDO VALDEZ, AGA MULACH. DINGDONG DANTES, CRISTINE REYES, ENRIQUE GIL; SCREENWRITER:  VANESSA VALDEZ, ROUMELLA MONGE, KIKO ABRILLO, JORELL GONZAGA; PRODUCER:  CHARO SANTOS-CONCIO, MALOU CONCIO; EDITOR:  MARYO IGNACIO; GENRE: FAMILY DRAMA DISTRIBUTOR:  STAR CINEMA   LOCATION:  PHILIPPINES  RUNNING TIME:   128 MINUTES 
Technical assessment: 4 
Moral assessment: 4 
CINEMA rating: VA
Kaarawan ni Manuel Bonifacio (Veldez) at inaasahan niya ang pagdating ng kanyang apat na anak upang makipagdiwang.  Kaya nga lamang kailangang isugod sa ospital ang asawa ng panganay na si Alex (Muhlach), habang nasa Singapore naman si Bryan (Dantes); ang pangatlong si Cha (Reyes) ay may importanteng kliyente, at hindi naman mahagilap ang bunsong si Dexter (Gil). Tanging ang kaibigang doktor lamang anv makakahabol. Kaya nga lamang ay may dalang malungkot na balita—may cancer si Manuel at dalawang buwan na lamang ang taning. Dahil dito ay mapipilitan ang apat na saluhan at pasayahin ang ama sa huling pitong Linggo ng kanyang buhay. Ang kaso nga lamang ay bukod sa may kani-kanyang personal na pinagdaraanan ang apat, ay mga kimkim na sama ng loob pa sila sa isa’t isa.  Ang tanong, magkakasundo ba ang magkakapatid bago matapos ang pitong Linggo? 
Sa ngayon ay alam na nang nakararami ang sagot dahil unang araw pa lamang ng Seven Sundays ay pinag-usapan at pinilahan na ito. Bakit nga hindi e bukod sa powerhouse casting, tema ng pamilya na malapit sa loob ng Pinoy ito at may halong drama at komedya pa na kinagigiliwan ng mga manunuod. Pero sa totoo lang—hindi ang pormula ang naging dahilan ng tagumpay ng pelikula. Unang una, ang matalinong pagkakapili sa mga nagsiganap dahil ang pagka-angkop ay hindi lamang pisikal kundi sa kanilang ugnayan sa mga eksena. Walang naging pabigat, kalabisan o nang-aagaw pansin. Lahat ay may tamang kinalagyan. At hindi lamang ito usapan ng husay sa pagganap kundi kakayahan na bigyan ng balangkas ang emosyonal at pagganyak ng mga kaeksena. Sa madaling salita—naging natural ang dating at nakakaugnay ang mga nanunuod dito. Ikalawa: ang mismong kwento. Hindi naman ito bago o katangi-tangi. Marami nang nagdaang pelikula na ganito rin ang tema (mula Tanging Yaman hanggang Four Sisters and a Wedding) pero ang balanseng timpla ng drama at katatawanan ay madaling sabayan. Madudurog ang puso sa hinagpis na pinagdaraanan ng mga tauhan, sasakit ang tiyan sa kalokohan ng mga eksena, mangingiti sa kulitan ng magkakapatid at sa likod nito, matatalupan ang buod ng hinanakit, kasaysayan at pagmamahalan sa loob ng pamilya. Ang kwento ay simple pero isang paglalakbay sa buhay. Dapat rin bigyan nang puna ang mabusising disenyo ng produksyon dahil mahigpit ang pagkakahabi nito sa mga mensahe ng eksena. Sa kabuuan, ang tagumpay ng Seven Sundays ay ang tamang paggamit sa mga elemento ng produksyon na tumulong upang maisulong ang kwento at mangibabaw ang mensahe. 
Sabi nilaang pagiging magkapatid ay nangangahulugan ng pagpapatawaran, pagbibigayan at pagmamahalan lagi. Madaling sabihin, mahirap gawin. Dahil kadalasan, kung sino pa ang kapatid ay siyang mas pinagseselosan, pinagkikimkiman ng sama nang loob, pinagdaramutan ng pasensya, kinakalimutan,isinasantabi. Siguroiniisip na porke’t kapatid e hindi na kailangang maging maingat sa pakikitungo, “tutal kadugo”.  At dahil sa katwirang ito, madalas nasisira ang samahanNagkakanta-kanya hanggang tuluyan nang mawalan nang pakialam sa isat isa. Pero sa huli, ang makakahilom ayang pagkakabuklodhindi lamang dahil kadugo kundi dahil iyon ang mismong kalikasan ng pagiging tao… pagiging kapwapagiging kapatidAng kwento ng mga Bonifacio ay kwento ng bawat pamilya--nagkakatampuhannagkakainggitan, may napapabayaan… may nasasaktanPero sa huli, nagkakapatawaranNagmamahalan. Ang kwento ay angkop sa lahat ng gulang—lalo para sa mga bata dahil makikita nila ang halaga ng pagiging buo at kahulugan ng pagiging kapatid.