Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Men in Black International

Technical assessment:  3
Moral assessment:  3
CINEMA rating:  V14

Molly (Tessa Thompson) earns a probationary term in MiB after impressing “O”, (Emma Thompson), head of MiB who made her undergo a series of tests.  It’s a dream come true for Molly who as a child befriended and set free a baby alien that had strayed into her bedroom.  In MiB London, Molly becomes the rookie “Agent M” assigned to team up with veteran Agent H, Henry (Chris Hemsworth) Henry, a glib and cocky operative who’ll do anything to accomplish a mission—including having interspecies sex with Riza (Rebecca Ferguson), a glamorous cross between human and octopus. Riza has three arms and she’s an arms dealer—how funny is that—and now happens to be in possession of a little doomsday weapon that H and M must find and destroy, with the full support of MiB London division’s honcho, High T, (Liam Neeson).

With a trite and convoluted plot, Men in Black International (the fourth of the MiB series), can be likened to a dish of plain pasta garnished with nachos, gelatine cubes, jalapeno peppers, sprinkles, baba ghanoush, and Oreo cookies—bland carbohydrates plus garnishings that might be palatable or even exotic when taken singly but when together served as a meal would make you seriously wonder what culinary school the chef got his hat from.  The CGI of the outer space creatures look lifelike; the baby alien and Pawny (M’s minuscule alien sidekick) are endearing enough; the action keeps you from dozing off; the gadgets, although generics, are in new shapes; Riza’s outlandish costume matches the character’s eccentricity, and yet altogether they fail to excite.  Even the much touted chemistry supposedly carried over from Thor Ragnarok by Hemsworth and Thompson can’t save the day.

What, then, spares Men in Black International from total oblivion by its fans?  If you just close your eyes to the abovementioned disappointing elements and focus instead on the human values still enveloped in the story, you’ll find a number of desirable and rewarding traits demonstrated by the characters: kindness to a stranger (Molly saves the life of the baby alien); single-mindedness in pursuing a goal; gratitude for one’s life saved; self-confidence rooted in self-knowledge; sacrificing self-indulgence to give way to service.  In the end traitors are uncovered and a good cause is rewarded; it is unmistakable, too, that good triumphs over evil.—TRT 

DIRECTOR:  F. Gary Gray  LEAD CAST:  Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, Rebecca Ferguson  SCREENWRITER: Matt Halloway, Art Marcum  PRODUCER:  David Beaubaire, Howard Chen, Edward Cheng  EDITOR:  Zene Baker, Christian Wagner, Matt Willard  MUSICAL DIRECTOR:   Chris Bacon, Danny Elfman  GENRE: Science Fiction, Comedy, Action  CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Stuart Dryburgh  DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Pictures  LOCATION:  United States, London, Marrakesh  RUNNING TIME: 122 minutes.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Pokemon: Detective Pikachu

Technical Assessment: 3
Moral Assessment: 3
Cinema Rating: PG13
MTRCB Rating: PG
Set in the Pokemon universe, Tim Goodman receives the tragic news of his estranged father’s accident, Harry Goodman (Ryan Reynolds), a prolific detective of the Ryme City. Tim (Justice Smith) goes there and upon accessing his dad’s apartment to collect his belongings, he finds a vial with an “R” label with it. Curious about what it is, he opens it, only to find out that it contains a chemical that makes harmless Pokemon, pocket-sized monsters, violent for a certain period of time. He then finds Pikachu, his dad’s Pokemon partner who speaks only to him; likewise, he alone can understand it. Tim later on finds out that Pikachu lost his memory but wants to uncover the real reason behind his father’s accident.
An adaptation of the world-renowned video game, Detective Pikachu is a fun treat to its fans who are mostly young or young-at-heart. It is amazing to see those little pocket monsters come bigger than life on screen. The CGI effectively executes what a Pokemon world would look like. It is interesting to see people having actually live-virtual pets. The story and plot development is simple yet focused amidst the seemingly complicated universe of the characters. The dialogue is witty and can even go philosophical at times. Reynolds did a very good job acting and/or voice acting as Pikachu. Despite the limitations of CGI use in expressing Pikachu’s facial expression, Reynolds and the effects team certainly have made it work. Smith and Newton, on the other hand, show much promise. The film though, in its entirety can be dragging at times and tends to alienate non-fanatics of Pokemon.
Detective Pichachu is all about family. Specifically, it follows the estranged relationship of a son to his father as interrupted by ambition and obsession with technological advancement. Family and meaningful relationships, either between humans and humans or humans and virtual pets, are given importance in the film. Yes, peaceful co-existence between humans and virtual aliens like pokemons is possible, as shown in the film. Blood relationships ultimately matter and everything is resolved with genuine love and concern. In a macro perspective, the film tackles evil destruction of the planet—and how humans, more than the aliens, could be the enemies in the care of God’s creation. Given this scenario, certain scenes of violence in the film are inevitable. However, in the movie, those are necessary depictions of evil. It is still good to note that good triumphs over evil in the end – and the young viewers will learn much from it. But CINEMA still believes that children below 13 years of age still needs guidance as they are susceptible to images of violence and may not be able to discern the real enemies are.

DIRECTOR: Rob Letterman  LEAD CAST: Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, Suki Waterhouse, Omar Chaparro, Chris Geere, Ken Watanabe, Bill Nighy  SCREENWRITER: Dan Hernandez, Benji Samit, Rob Letterman, Derek Connolly  PRODUCER:  Mary Parent, Cale Boyter, Hidenaga Katakami, Don McGowan  EDITOR:  Mark Sanger, James Thomas, Legendary Pictures, Toho, Warner Bros.  MUSICAL DIRECTOR:  Henry Jackman  GENRE: Mystery/Fantasy  CINEMATOGRAPHER:  John Mathieson   DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Bros Entertainment   LOCATION:  United States and Japan  RUNNING TIME:   104 minutes

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Technical assessment: 3 
Moral assessment: 3 
CINEMA rating: V14 
MTRCB rating: PG 
Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga) is a Paleobiologist working for Monarch — an organization studying giant creatures called Titans who are believed to have dominated the earth in the beginning of history. She uses the Orca — a device she and her husband designed to tame and control them — when a Titan larva named Mothra is born. Alan Jonah (Charles Dance) and his group of eco terrorists seemingly kidnap Emma and her 12-year old daughter Madison, allowing Mothra to escape and cocoon herself elsewhere. Meanwhile Monarch scientists enlist the help of Dr. Mark (Kyle Chandler), Emma’s ex-husband and an animal behaviorist to save them. However, they discover that Emma is manipulating the Monarch to help Jonah awaken the Titans so that the earth can be healed and recover from all the human abuses. They awaken the three-headed Monster Zero who begins a killing rampage instead of their expected results. Emma awakens another Titan Rodan in the hopes of defeating Monster Zero, revealed to be Ghidorah. Rodan is subdued and submits to Ghidorah. He awakens other Titans and proceeds to terraform earth. Meanwhile, Mothra emerges from her cocoon and teams up with Godzilla to stop the Titans from wiping out humanity. Emma realizes the error of her ways and joins the Godzilla battle against the Titans.
The story is nothing new — selected people becoming heroes willing to die to save humanity. We’ve seen this plot from Marvel to Harry Potter to all the young adult books turned into movies. So for another of this type to stand out, it needs not only to be visually spectacular on all levels built on experiences that resonate humanity in so many facets. You throw in family and relationship, you throw in unimaginable struggles towards an inspiring victory, you throw in laughs, tears, gasps, and shrieks. Godzilla tried to do all these but ended up with a convoluted narrative coupled with daft storytelling. The constant booming scoring and continuous big CGI fights do not drown the lack of cohesiveness in the scenes. Overall, the movie is more of a mere spectacle. Not even the honorable attempt to talk about symbiotic co-existence or balance in nature strikes any chord.
Amidst the massive destruction that peppers the movie, little acts of heroism can be seen. Young Madison puts her life at risk so that humanity gets a chance to survive, Dr. Mark Russell sets aside his personal feelings to save his family, Mothra sacrifices herself so Godzilla can defeat Ghidorah, and Dr. Emma throws herself in the path of danger once she realizes her mistake. So many other unnamed characters made sacrificial choices along the way. Heroism is in everyone. It does not need grand gestures with fireworks and an orchestra blaring. It only needs genuine desire to do good for the sake of someone else.
Pushing it a little further, the film echoes some Christian ideas of good and evil with the monsters symbolling images familiar to us (three-headed monsters overlooking the fiery hell or Godzilla dying and rising up to saver humanity). While it might not be the best movie to illustrate certain aspects of our faith, if the younger ones enjoy this genre, might as well start a conversation so the afternoon is not totally wasted. — PMF  

DIRECTOR: Michael Dougherty;  LEAD CAST: Vera Farmiga, Kyle Chandler, Millie Bobby Brown, Charles Dance, Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins; PRODUCER: Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni, Brian Rogers; SCREENWRITER and STORY: Michael Dougherty, Zach Shields;  BASED ON: Godzilla, King GhidoraMortha, Rodan;  MUSIC: Bear McCreary; CINEMATOGRAPHY: Lawrence Sher; EDITED BY: Roger Barton, Richard Pearson, Bob Ducsay; GENRE: Sci-Fi Action;  COUNTRY:  USA; LANGUAGE: English  RUNNING TIME: 132 minutes 

Monday, June 17, 2019


Technical assessment: 3 
Moral assessment: 3.5 
CINEMA rating: V14 
MTRCB rating: R13 

Sunud-sunod ang malagim na pagkamatay ng mga taong may kaugnayan kay Clarita (Jodi Sta. Maria), na kasalukuyang nakakulong sa Manila city jail. Hirap nang magpaliwanag sa media si Mayor Arsenio Lacson (Noni Buencamino). Ayaw kasi niyang dalhin sa usaping sinasapian ng demonyo si Clarita. Kasi nga namantaliwas ito sa rasyonal na paniniwala. Pero sa hulinakumbinsi na rin siyaPinakiusapan ni Mayor si Father Salvador (Ricky Davao) at Father Benedicto (Arron Villaflor) na palayasin ang masamang espiritu mula kay Clarita sa pamamagitan ng eksorsismoNapapayag naman ng reporter na si Emilia (Alyssa Muhlach) ang dalawang pari na siya na ang mag- dokumento sa gagawing eksorsimo kasabay nag pagsusulat niya tungkol sa kaso ni Clarita.  
Ang galing ng pagganap ni Sta. Maria. Kahit balot ng prosthetic makeup ang mukha, litaw pa rin ang pag-arte niya. Si Buencamino na sa unang parte lang ng istorya lumabas ay astang mayor talaga at komportable sa kanyang karakter. Puede pang pagandahin ang script at palalimin ang karakter nina Davao at Villaflor, para sana’y hindi lahat ng nasasaloob nila ay kailangang isa-isahing sabihin. Siguro kasi ay nagsimula agad sa eksorsimo ang pelikula, hindi napaigting ang suspense, kaya kulang sa sindak at simpatya sa mga karakter. Para palabasing mukhang luma ang mga eksena--dekada singkwenta nangyari ang kababalaghan na base sa tunay na buhay—ginamitan ng madilaw na ilaw at vignette effect ang pelikula. Minsanbiglang magliliwanag at magmumukhang bago ang paligid, kaya nakakalito. Di rin masyadong napagtuunan ng pansin ang bawat eksena kaya parang sinalansan lang ang mga ito. Ang ganda pa naman ng istorya ng dalawang pari at ni Emilia, na may kanya-kanyang dahilan kung bakit pursigidong matulungan si Clarita. Gayunpaman, saludo kami sa production setup, at lalo na sa prosthetic makeup at mga special effects sa tuwing sasaniban si Clarita. Ang layo na ng narating ng pelikulang Pilipino sa aspetong ito. Proud to be Filipino tayo.  
Lumabas kami sa sinehang may malinaw na aral na nakuha sa pelikula. Una, Diyos at Siya Lamang ang makakagupo sa demonyohindi ang paring si Salvador na tiningnang pagsubok sa kanyang kakayanan sa eksorsismo ang kaso ni Clarita. Pangalawasinasamantala ng demonyo ang ating kahinaanlalo na kapag bumibitaw tayo sa ating pananalig at kapit sa Diyos na siyang sandata natin laban sa kasamaan. At ang pinakamagandang aral ay nanggaling mismo kay Clarita, na itinaboy ng kanyang mga kababaryo at nag-iisang tumangis sa pagkamatay ng kanyang ina. Nang sabihin ni Emilia sa kanya na “di ka namin iiwan at lalaban tayo”, sumagot si Clarita: “Ngayon ko lang nadinig ang ‘tayo’.” Nakakayanig. Sa sinabing iyon ni Clarita nakapaloob ang ating papel sa mundo: ang ipadama sa ating kapwa na sila ay bahagi ng isang malawak na sambayanan, at ang pamilyang itohindi ang kasamaan—ang siyang gagabay at aagapay sa kanila. Hindi pagtataboy kundi pagyakap.--MOE  
Director: Derick Cabrido  Lead Cast: Jodi Sta Maria, Ricky Davao, Aaron Villaflor, Alyssa Muhlach  Screenwriter: Derick Cabrido  Producer: Black Sheep Productions  Genre: Horror  Distributor: Star Cinema  Location: Philippines  Running Time: 1hr 25min 

Friday, June 14, 2019

X-Men: Dark Phoenix

Technical assessment: 3 
Moral assessment: 3 
CINEMA rating: V14 
MTRCB rating: PG 

Jean is eight, in a car with her parents. She can’t control her telekinetic powers. She flips their car in the highway, instantly killing her mother. Professor X (James McAvoy) who runs a school for X-Men or mutants, takes her in. Fast forward. Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) is with a team of X-Men led by Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence). They save all the human astronauts in a ship spinning out of control. As Jean steadies the ship, a big ball of fire explodes, and Jean absorbs all the light and force. She survives, to the disbelief of her fellow X-Men who now call her Phoenix (like the bird that dies and is born again). The explosion turns Phoenix to an all-powerful mind-control mutant, and once again, Jean cannot master her power. And there’s a band of aliens that are out to get that power to save their race, led by Vuk (Jessica Chastain). Jean has to decide: keep the power and wield it. But for whom and for what? 
“The women,” Mystique says, “are always saving the men around here, you might want to think about changing the name to X-Women.” Leave that to Jennifer Lawrence to inject women power in the script. That’s probably the only quotable from the movie, because the rest is hackneyed. Since Stan Lee, the creator of many much-adored superheroes of the Marvel universe died, we’ve said goodbye to the original cast of his creations as franchise mergers and acquisitions happen. It was adieu to the original Avengers cast, and now with Dark Phoenix, we say farewell to the X-Men: First Class of McAvoy, Michael Fassbender’s Magneto, and Jennifer Lawrence. Now when superheroes say goodbye, we expect a bang and a heartbreak. And we expect them, new and old, to save the universe, because that’s what they’re meant to do. In this movie, our superheroes do less saving, more dealing with their inner conflicts and lots of close-ups of conflicted characters. The original cast moves us, but Sophie Turner, fresh from Game of Thrones, needs to shed off a bit of the android look. As with the action scenes, the rendering of special effects and editing make them hard to follow, and equally hard to notice the music.  
Power threatens to suck in Professor X. To make the X-Men accepted by society, he embraces acclaim and puts his team in danger. He rewires Jean’s brain to bury her bitter memories and harness her telekinesis—a big ethical issue in science. His conflicts are subtle, and his faith in mutants and his desire to save the world from evil make the gray areas disappear. The most difficult choice is with Jean Grey. She too has power, more than she can wield and want. She chooses to use it to save her friends and family, and that kills her (technically no, because she’s the Phoenix). Professor X eventually recognizes his grievous fault, and there’s a coming home to peace and reconciliation, even between Magneto and Professor X who, before their retirement, stood at opposing poles of power. These are all good themes, best discerned by young adults but not children, especially because there is death of a parent involved, the death is cause by a child, and another parent resigns from his responsibility. The value of watching Dark Phoenix is in the opportunity to weigh these lessons against the laws of justice and concern for others that are inscribed in the human heart, laws that give us a sense of rightness about them.—MOE 

Director: Simon Kinberg  Lead Cast: Sophie Turner, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Lawrence  Screenwriter: Simon Kinberg  Producers: Todd Hallowell, Simon Kinberg, Hutch Parker, Lauren Shuler Donner  Editor: Lee Smith  Musical Director: Hans Zimmer  Cinematographer: Mauro Fiore  Genre: Sci/Fi, Adventure  Distributor: Warner Bros.  Location: Canada, USA  Running Time: 1 hr 53 min

Sons of Nanay Sabel

Technical assessment: 1.5
Moral assessment: 2.5
CINEMA rating: PG13
MTRCB rating: PG      

Ang pagpapakasal (sana) sa isang prinsipe ang mag-aahon kay Sabel (Ai-Ai Delas Alas) mula sa kahirapan, ngunit mauudlot ang lahat dahil matutuklasan ng prinsipe na inabandona ni Sabel ang kanyang anim na anak sa isang bahay-ampunan. Mula sa pagkakapahiya sa pag-iwan sa kanya ng prinsipe sa gitna ng simabahan sa mismong araw ng kanilang kasal, nagdesisyon is Sabel na balikan ang madre sa kumbento na pinag-iwanan niya ng kanyang anim na anak. Mula sa mga addresses na iniwan ni Sister Maria, isa-isa niyang kinuha at binawi ang kanyang mga anak mula sa mga pamilyang umampon sa mga ito. Sa ganito  magsisimula ang kwento ni Sabel bilang ina—sa pagbawi sa mga nakalipas na panahon na nawala siya sa piling ng mga anak. Hindi lamang siya kundi pati ang anim na magkakapatid ay ngayon pa lang magkakakilala at magkakasama matapos ang mahabang panahon. Maging matiwasay kaya ang kanilang pagsasama-sama?
Palasak ang tema at halos walang ipinakitang bago ang pelikula. Matatandaang sumikat si Delas Alas sa kanyang pelikulang Tanging Ina  kung saan mayroon siyang maraming anak mula sa iba’t-ibang ama. Halos ganun din ang takbo ng kuwento ng S.O.N.S. (Sons of Nanay Sabel). Parehong kuwento sa parehong karakterisasyon—isang ulirang ina na maraming pinasok na trabaho mapakain lamang ang maraming anak. Marahil kung may bago sa pelikula, ito ay ang musika ng grupong Ex-Batallion na kung saan si Delas Alas ang kanilang manager. Lumalabas tuloy na pawang pinilit  gawin ang pelikula upang magkaron ng exposure ang grupong ito. Bagama’t nagbigay ng bagong timpla ang kanilang musika sa pelikula, hindi pa rin ito naging sapat para masabing isang magandang karanasan ang panoorin ito. Sa kabuuan, nakakabagot ang pagiging luma ng konsepto ng pelikula. Nasayang ang talento ng mga nagsiganap maging ang ilang mga talaga namang nakakatawang eksena.
Malakas ang mensahe ng pelikula patungkol sa pagmamahalan ng isang pamilya sa pamumuno ng isang ina. Ngunit sadyang hindi lang matapat ang pelikula sa kabuuan sa tema at mensaheng nais nitong iparating. Maraming tanong ang naghahanap pa rin ng kasagutan tulad ng: Bakit sa iba’t-ibang lalaki nagkaanak si Sabel? At bakit hindi na niya nabalikan ang mga anak kahit pa makikitang kaya naman niyang igapang ang pagpapalaki sa mga ito? At isang araw dahil lamang sa siya ay napahiya, babalikan niya silang lahat ng walang pakundangan sa damdamin ng mga taong kumukupkop na sa mga ito? Ganun-ganun na lang ba talaga yun? Iiwan ang mga bata pagkatapos ay babalikan kung kelan gusto? Taliwas at lihis sa tamang hakbang ng pagbuo ng pamilya ang landasing tinahak ni Sabel. Malinaw na ito ay di katanggap-tanggap at parating nauuwi sa masalimuot na kinakahinatnan ng mga kabataang namumulat sa ganitong uri ng pamilya. Bumawi naman ang pelikula sa bandang huli kung saan naghari ang pagmamalan ng mag-iina at magkakapatid. May pagsisi at pagpapatawad sa mga kamalian ng nakaraan. Yun nga lang, kung itatama sana ang mali, sana’y itama ito nang tama at hindi sa padalos-dalos na paraan.—RPJ
DIRECTOR: Dado Lomibao
STARRING: Ai-Ai Delas Alas, Mark Maglasang, John Maren Mangabang, Flow G, Jon Gutierrez, James Samonte, Scusta Clee, Jon Santos, Nova Villa, Kylie Versoza
SCREENPLAY BY: Mel Mendoza Del Rosario
GENRE: Comedy
MUSIC BY:  Vincent De Jesus
EDITED BY: Tara Illenberger
COUNTRY: Philippines
LANGUAGE: Filipino            
RUNNING TIME: 1 hour 48 minutes

Friday, June 7, 2019

Quezon's Game

DIRECTOR:  Matthew  Rosen

LEAD CAST:  Raymond Bagatsing, Rachel Alejandro
SCREENWRITER: Janice Perez, Dean Rosen
PRODUCER:  Carlo Katigbak, Olivia Lamasan, Lorena Rosen, Linggit Tan
GENRE: Historical Drama
LOCATION:  Philippines

RUNNING TIME: 125 minutes  

Technical assessment:  4
Moral assessment:  4
CINEMA rating:  V14
 Ang Quezon’s Game ay tungkol sa isang makabuluhang pangyayari noong panahon ng yumaong Pangulong Manuel Quezon na ni hindi nakatala sa ating mga aklat ng kasaysayan o nababanggit man lang sa ating mga silid-aralan.  Nagsimula ang pelikula sa isang pagtatanong ng Pangulong Quezon (Raymund Bagatsing), “Could I have done more?”  Taong 1938, tinatanaw na ng mga Pilipino ang ipinangakong kalayaan mula sa mananakop na Estados Unidos.  May nais gawin si Quezon: taos puso niyang hangad na sagipin at bigyan ng kanlungan sa Pilipinas ang libo-libong mga Hudyo (Jews) na tumatakas mula sa tiyak na kamatayan sa kamay ng mga Nazi sa Alemanya.  Ngunit ito’y salungat sa kagustuhan ng Amerika—ang Pilipinas noon ay isang Commonwealth government pa lamang, mula 1935 hanggang 1945.  At mismong mga kapartido ni Quezon na hindi sang-ayon sa kanyang layunin ay halos magwikang, “Ano’ng pakialam natin diyan?  Bakit natin poproblemahin iyan?”  Buong-loob niyang ipagtatanggol ang kanyang paninindigan—sa kapwa Pilipino at sa pamumunong Amerikano man.  At sapagka’t darating ang panahong matatanto niyang dahil sa karamdaman ay bilang na ang kanyang mga araw, higit pa niyang paiigtingin ang pakikipaglabang kupkupin sa Pilipinas ang mga biktima ng mga Nazi.

Sa ilalim ng direksiyon ni Matthew Rosen (isang Hudyo mula sa Ingglatera), naisalarawang mabuti ni Bagatsing ang pagiging makabayan at makatao ni Quezon.  Anupa’t minsan nga ay maiisip mong ang imahe sa sinehan ay totoong si Quezon, buhay at gumagalaw ang isang retratong dati’y nakikita mo lamang sa beinte-pesos na papel na araw-araw ay ibinabayad mo sa palengke at sa dyip.  May damdamin din ang pagganap ng mga supporting actors na sila Audie Gemora (bilang Sergio Osemna), Rachel Alejandro (bilang Gng. Aurora Quezon), Paul Holme (bilang Consul Cartwright), James Paolelli (bilang Paul Mcutt), Billy Rey Gallion (bilang Alex Frieder), at Tony Ahn (bilang Herbert Frieder).  Kaiga-igaya ang cinematography—marunong “makiramdam” para sa mga closeups ang kamera, at nabihag din nito ang ganda ng kapaligiran.  Hindi naman masisi ang kamerista kung lumabas na isang napakakinis na tourist resort ang Maynila noong mga panahong iyon—ito’y dahil sa talagang sa isang high end resort kinunan ang pelikula, sa Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, sa Bataan.  Sa production budget na US$500, hindi na marahil kayang lumikha pa ng higit na makatotohanang mga sets; sa kabutihang palad, hindi hinihingi ng salaysay ang mga eksena sa mga kalye ng Maynila.   
Bukod sa kabayanihang ipinamalas ni Quezon sa pagsagip sa sampung-libong mga Hudyo (na nag-uugat marahil sa likas na pagka-maaruga ng mga Pilipino), ipinakita din ng pelikula na higit pang matayog ang adhikain ng pangulo—ang buwagin ang mga di makatarungang gawi na humahati sa sangkatauhan at yumuyurak sa pagkatao ng mga Pilipino.  Nagngangalit na ipinamumukha ni Quezon sa kapwa Pilipino na ang isang Pilipinong nasa Amerika, kahit mataas ang kanyang katungkulan, ay hindi maaaring gumamit ng palikurang para sa mga puti lamang.  May bukod na palikurang nakatalaga para sa mga “may kulay”—hindi man “itim” ang Pilipino, hindi rin siya “puti”.  Iminumulat din niya ang mata ng mga kababayan sa katotohanang sila ay inaapi sa sarili nilang bayan: “Sa Army and Navy Club, may karatula, ‘Bawal papasukin ang mga aso at mga Piilipino.’”  Lubhang napapanahon ang mensahe ng Quezon’s Game sa kasalukuyan kung kailan dapat higit na pahalagahan ng liderato ang buhay ng tao at ang pagka-Pilipino ng mga Pilipino.  Isang munting paalala mula sa CINEMA: Mapapansin sa pelikula na kahit masasal na ang kanyang pag-ubo gawa ng tuberkulosis, kahit umuubo na ang pangulo ng dugo, patuloy pa rin siya sa paghitit ng tabako.  Sapagka’t siya’y tao lamang?  Tularan natin ang kanyang kagitingan, matuto tayo sa kanyang kahinaan.—TRT      

Thursday, June 6, 2019


DIRECTOR: Guy Ritchie  LEAD CAST: Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Will Smith, Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad  SCREENWRITERS: John August, Guy Ritchie  PRODUCERS: Jonathan Eirich, Dan Lin  EDITOR: James Herbert  MUSICAL DIRECTOR: Alan Stewart  CINEMATOGRAPHER: Alan Stewart  GENRE: Fantasy, Animation  DISTRIBUTOR: Press Play Pictures  LOCATION: Jordan, England  RUNNING TIME: 127 minutes.

Technical assessment: 3.5 
Moral assessment: 3.5
CINEMA rating: V13 (Viewers 13 and below with parental guidance) 
MTRCB rating: G 

Aladdin (Mena Massoud) steals for a living in the merchant city of Agrabah. One day, he finds Jasmine (Naomi Scott), a princess disguised as a commoner, arguing with a vendor after she gets the vendor’s farm produce without paying and giving them away to two hungry children.  Aladdin helps her escape. Thus begins a love story that sees Aladdin sneaking into the palace to see Jasmine, where he gets kidnapped by the evil Jafar (Marwan Kenzari), advisor to Jasmine’s father the Sultan (Navid Negahban). Jafar sends Aladdin—nimble and bold—to find the magic lamp. Aladdin gets the lamp and hands it to Jafar.  Instead of rewarding Aladdin as promised, Jafar throws Aladdin to a ravine. The cunning Abu, Aladdin’s monkey, steals the lamp and gives it back to Aladdin.  Out comes the Genie (Will Smith) who grants Aladdin’s wish to become a prince so he could be with Jasmine. But there’s Jafar, who wants both the lamp and the Sultan’s throne.  
Big shoes to fill for Will Smith who takes on the role originally played by Robin Williams in the popular animated film in 1992. Smith plays the human parts of the Genie here, but his hip Genie is CGI and his blue presence  dominates the screen, even eclipsing Massoud’s Aladdin. We see the familiar elements: the lamp, the jewels, the carpet, the desert—but the CGI doesn’t show the shining-shimmering-splendid whole new world.  Lighting could have sprinkled magic to the set, but as it is, many scenes are either dark or bland. Naomi Scott is great, but her voice is reminiscent of Hollywood pop instead of the solid timbre we’ve come to associate with Princess Jasmine (missing Lea Salonga who sang A Whole New World in 1992).  Instead of giving us a variety of songs, the movie over-extends a few musical performances.  Compensating for these technical shortcomings, however, is the heart and spunk in the support cast: Abu the monkey, Baba the Sultan, the flying carpet, and Dalia the maidservant, making Aladdin an entertaining experience on the whole.  Incidentally, Aladdin turns out to be a huge success at the box office worldwide, grossing a total of $462 million against a production budget of $183 million.
Hollywood brings us another woman power movie in Aladdin. Writer-director Guy Ritchie gives Jasmine a brand new solo titled “Speechless”.   “I won't be silenced / You can't keep me quiet / Won't tremble when you try it / All I know is I won't go speechless, speechless.” Here’s a young woman who has the grit and fortitude to be sultan but does she have the gender for the role?  See what her father ultimately does.  Hers is a story of a character unfolding to reach her full potentials—definitely a good role model for young girls, especially her love and respect for her father.  Parental guidance alert on Aladdin’s character: stealing is bad, there is no such thing as a petty thief, or petty theft, and there is no adventure in stealing. Still, we recognize that at the heart of the film is the story of two men: the evil Jafar and the orphan Aladdin. Both are after the lamp. One wants it for power, the other for love. Aladdin foregoes the riches and makes as his final wish freedom for his friend the Genie. Now that’s compassion, earning a just and satisfying ending.—MOE

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Between Maybes

DIRECTOR:  Jason Paul Laxamana  LEAD CAST:  Gerald Anderson, Julia Barreto  SCREENWRITER: Jason Paul Laxamana  PRODUCER:  Olivia Lamasan. Carlo L. Katigbak  EDITOR:  Mai Clapardo  MUSICAL DIRECTOR:   Paulo Protacio  GENRE: Romance Drama  CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Carlos Mauricio  DISTRIBUTOR:  Black Sheep Productions  LOCATION:  Japan, Philippines  RUNNING TIME:    107 minutes

Technical assessment:  3.5

Moral assessment:  3
CINEMA rating:  V 14

Rinding-rindi na ang dating child actor na si Hazel Ilagan (Julia Barreto) kapuputak ng kanyang ina gawa ng katamaran niyang mag-audition para makakuha ng papel sa pelikula.  Feeling niya ay itinutulak lamang siya ng kanyang inang stage mother (Yayo Aguila) para magpatuloy ang kanilang maginhawang lifestyle noong siya ay tanyag na batang artista at kumikita ng malaking salapi.  Sa kagustuhan niyang tumakas sa situasyon, naglayas siya at tumungo sa Japan, sa isang di-kilalang bayan—Saga—para matahimik at walang makakilala sa kanya.  Magkukrus ang landas nila ni Louie Puyat (Gerald Anderson), isang special case immigrant ay mag-isang namumuhay nang matahimik bilang empleyado sa isang restaurant.  Bagama’t sa simula ay may inis sa pagitan ng dalawa, unti unti silang magkakalapit hanggang humantong sa kagustuhan ni Hazel na manatili na lang sa Japan kasama ni Louie.
Bagama’t hindi maikakailang kathang isip lamang ang romansang Between Maybes gawa ng labis na makinis na pagtitiyap ng mga pagkakataon, buong husay na ginampanan ng dalawang millennial actors ang kani-kaniyang papel.  Naging malaking pang-akit ang Japan bilang setting ng pelikula, ngunit sa halip na gamitin lamang ang lugar “para maiba naman”, magaling na naihabi ng direktor sa daloy ng kuwento ang ilang bagay sa kultura ng mga Hapon, tulad ng payak at mapayapang pang-araw-araw na pamumuhay, at ng mapagpitagang paghahanda ni Louie ng tsaa.  Kapuri-puri din na—dahil sa matalinong paghubog ng karakter ng mga tauhan—napaikot ni Laxamana ang kuwento mula sa simulang tila ubod ng kababawan hanggang sa pagtatapos nito na nagpapakita ng kahinugan ng isip sa pagpapasiya.
Hindi lamang isang drama ng romansa ang Between Maybes: may pahatid itong mensahe para sa pamilyang Pilipino tungkol sa maaaring kahinatnan ng mga batang pinatitigil sa pag-aaral dahil higit na mapapakinabangan bilang artista.  Naging ehemplo si Hazel para sa mga magulang na nagsasamantala sa tagumpay ng anak upang masunod ang pansariling luho: hanggang Grade 4 lamang ang narating ni Hazel, at dahil sa maagang tagumpay at kabulagan ng mga magulang ay naging isa siyang tipikal na spoiled brat, mapagmataas, walang modo, at nahirati sa pagsamba ng mga tagahanga.  Nang mag-isa siya sa Japan, naroon pa rin ang mala-prinsesa niyang attitude: akala niya’y puwede niyang utusan kahit sino; sa laki ng kanyang ulo, hindi siya makapaniwalang hindi siya kilala ni Louie, walang recall sa binata ang kanyang mga commercials bilang isang child actor.  Sa kabilang banda, naroon si Louie, may lungkot ang pagkabata, ngunit kontento at nabubuhay sa sipag at tiyaga: magalang, mapagbigay, at tumutulong nang walang pagsasamantala.  Hindi marahil pakay ng Between Maybes, pero naipakita nito na kailangan nating higit pang pahalagahan ang pagkabata ng ating mga anak—pagkat sila ay mga kaloob sa atin ng Lumikha –TRT

Monday, May 27, 2019

Five feet apart

CINEMA rating:  PG13
Technical assessment: 3
Moral assessment: 3.5
Stella Grant (Haley Lu Richardson), a teenage patient of cystic fibrosis (CF) is restricted with routine regimen and to observe at least 6-feet apart from fellow CF patients to lessen the risk of cross infection for their life-threatening illness. Stella adheres to this restriction and makes herself engaged instead into social media where she shares awareness about CF. At the hospital she meets Will Newman (Cole Sprouse), also a CF patient who is on medication trial but unlike Stella, Will is not diligent about the restrictions of their sickness.  Stella reminds him to observe the rules which Will agrees on the condition that they draw each other closer thus they shorten distance from six to five feet apart.  The two of them start falling for each other and secretly go on dates. When Stella’s best friend Poe (Moises Ramirez) dies, she is saddened that she never gets to hug him because of the required distance. She realizes not to let her condition waste her life, not being able to touch the people she loves. Wearing gloves so she can hold hands with Will, their next date brings them to the pool edge where she falls and is brought to emergency.
Five Feet Apart is both an informative and touching story about cystic fibrosis disease and the struggle of people suffering from this illness. There is creativity in the title and including Stella’s vlogging activity in social media for raising awareness about cystic fibrosis as a genetic disorder.  The director did a good job in his melancholy yet hopeful treatment of the film. Richardson stands out in her acting and she effectively engages the viewers in sympathizing with the character of Stella. The final scene with her thought of Will is a very touching moment of the film. The production establishes well the hospital setting.  The rest of technical aspects such as sound, lights and music are all appropriate. The editing is likewise commendable for the smooth transition of scenes from hospital to dating venues. While similar themes have been dealt on in many films, Five Feet Apart differs in the characters’ light treatment of their life-threatening illness.
No matter how depressing and life-threatening the situation—choose life. This is the message of the film Five Feet Apart. Despite the reality of the life-threatening illness, Stella remains hopeful and enthusiastic about living life.  Illness, marital problem of parents, and sudden death in the family may lead some people to depression but the film presents an optimistic character. This may serve as an inspiration especially for viewers in similar situation. The film puts to good use the presence of social media as a companion in Stella’s journey, and as information tool to raise public awareness about cystic fibrosis as a genetic disorder. The film is also a good reminder for sick people to be cooperative with their treatment and not to give their caregivers a hard time. Along with the main message of choosing life, the film is also about compassion, diligence, love, and sacrifice.—IBD

DIRECTOR: Justin Baldoni  LEAD CAST: Haley Lu Richardson, Cole Sprouse, Moises Arias  PRODUCER: Cathy Schulman, Justin Baldoni  SCREENWRITER: Mikki Daughtry, Tobias Iaconis  MUSIC: Brian Tyler, Breton Vivian  CINEMATOGRAPHER: Frank G. DeMarco
EDITOR: Angela M. Catanzaro  PRODUCTION COMPANY: CBS Films, Welle Entertainment, Wayfarer Entertainment  DISTRIBUTOR: CBS Films, Lionsgate  COUNTRY:  United States  LANGUAGE: English  RUNNING TIME: 116 minutes