The Episcopal Commission on Social Communication-CBCP

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

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Scaregivers

Cast: Jose Manalo, Wally Bayola, Iza Calzado, Paolo Contis, Ehra Madrigal, Edgar Allen de Guzman; Director: Uro Q. dela Cruz; Producers: Antonio P. Tuviera, Marvic Sotto; Screenwriter: Jourdan Sebastian; Music: Vince de Jesus; Editor: Reggie Gulle; Genre: Comedy/ Horror; Cinematography: ; Distributor: APT Entertainment; Location: Philippines; Running Time: 110min.;

Technical Assessment: 3
Moral Assessment: 2.5
CINEMA Rating: For viewers 14 and above

Nagnakaw ng mamahaling pares ng singsing sa isang tindahan ng alahas sina Billy (Jose Manalo) at Bob(Wally Bayola). Pero dahil sa kanilang kapalpakan, sila ay mahuhuli ng pulis at makukulong. Ngunit hindi pa rin nila isasauli ang ninakaw na singsing. Upang maiwasan ang tuluyan nilang sentensiya, magpapanggap sina Billy at Bob na mga baliw. Maniniwala ng hukom at sila ay ilalagak sa isang mental hospital. Ang buong akala nilang dalawa ay tapos na ang kanilang problema, ngunit malalaman nilang sa ospital na pinagdalhan sa kanila ay may pinaniniwalaang multo na pumapatay ng mga nurse at ilang piling pasyente. Silang dalawa ay balak ring patayin. Mabuti na lang at may makikilala nila si Marcia (Iza Calzado) na isang caregiver sa ospital. Tutulungan sila nito na makatakas ngunit malalaman nilang ang pumapatay pala ay dati niyang kasintahan. Ano kaya ang lihim ni Marcia at ng ospital? Makatakas pa kayang talaga sila Billy at Bob?

Isang nakakaaliw na pelikula ang Scaregivers. Bagama’t mga baguhang bida sina Jose Manalo at Wally Bayola, nagawa nilang dalhin ang buong pelikula. Hindi rin naman matatawaran ang husay ng mga pangalawang tauhan. Maayos naman ang daloy ng kuwento at may istorya naman na maaring sundan. Yun nga lang, hindi pa rin nila maiwasan ang paggamit ng mga lumang joke lalo na ng mga toilet humors na masyado nang naging palasak at kadalasa’y hindi na nakakatawa. Halata ring nagkulang sa research ang pelikula lalo pagdating sa pag-proseso ng mga kasong kriminal at pangangalaga ng mga pasyente sa mental hospital. Pawang hindi nito naipakita ng maayos ang tunay na pamamalakad sa institusyon. Maayos naman ang special effects maging ang tunog at pag-iilaw. Maaring hilaw at kulang pa sa mga bagong elemento pero pasado na rin kung tutuusin para sa dalawang baguhan pa lamang sa larangan ng pagpapatawa.

Ipinakita sa pelikula na maaaring magbago ang kahit sino basta’t bukal ito sa kalooban at hindi napipilitan lang. Lahat ng sinumang nagkasala ay may pagkakataon pa ring umangat sa buhay at magkaroon ng pag-asa basta’t magsisikap at tuluyang tatalikuran ang maling gawain. Ngunit maraming ipinakita sa pelikula na labis na nakababaha lalo na sa batang manonood. Una ay ang paggamit sa pangalan ng Diyos at sa pagdarasal bago gawin ang pagnanakaw. Maaring isipin na tama ang ganitong gawain. Pangalawa ay ang ilang mga bastos na uri ng patawa lalo na yung patungkol na naman sa katawan ng kababaihan. Parati na lang bang pantasyang sekswal ang mga kababaihan sa pelikula? Nagbibigay ito ng kalituhan sa papel na ginagampanan ng mga kababaihan sa lipunan. Nariyan din ang isteryotipikal na paglalarawan sa ilang lahi tulad ng mga Tsino at Indian. Sa mga ganitong bagay, kinakailangang gabayan ang mga batang manonood.

Bolt

Cast: (Voices) John Travolta, Susie Essman, Miley Cyrus, Malcolm McDowell; Directors: Byron Howard, Chris Williams; Producer: Clark Spencer; Screenwriters: Dan Fogelman, Chris Williams; Music: John Powell; Editor: Joey Ingram; Animators: Joey Ingram, Josh Mahan;Genre: CGI Comedy; Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Philippines; Location: USA; Running Time: 100 min.;

Technical Assessment: 3.5
Moral Assessment: 3
CINEMA Rating: For viewers of all ages

The pooch Bolt (voice of John Travolta) and Penny (voice of Miley Cyrus) are co-stars in a weekly action television show that has them battling the evil scientist Dr. Calico (voice of Malcolm McDowell). In the TV show, Bolt is a super-dog, with stare that melts steel and a sonic-boom bark that can wipe out an entire fleet of armor helicopters, but he doesn’t know it’s just a show. The dog truly believes he has super-canine powers, as he is carefully isolated in his cage and prevented from living a normal life outside of the film set. To please an adult audience that has gotten tired of the show’s happy endings, the network boss Mindy (voice of Kari Wahlgren) orders the Director (voice of James Lipton) to change his endings or he’d get fired. The Director then ends one episode with the villain Dr. Calico kidnapping Penny—something that Bolt takes for real. Bolt then escapes to rescue Penny, to be joined in time by the Mafiosi cat Mittens (voice of Sussie Essman) and the TV-watching hamster Rhino (voice of Mark Walton). In his self-assigned mission of rescuing his co-star, Bolt is shocked to discover that he has no superpowers after all.

Directors Chris Williams and Byron Howard see to it that all the elements of an animated adventure are present in Bolt. The plot is simple but credible, the CGI enhances the story, the characters so alive with their human qualities well projected by the just-right artistic rendering, etc. The chase scene is particularly impressive and can be thrilling to both young and adult audiences. If the viewer pays attention to the dialogue, he will see familiar characters in real life

There are many lessons to be learned in Bolt as the viewer—whether or not he goes for talking animals— becomes a “co-journeyer” of the dog in his self-revealing experiences. The movie is a modern-day parable about growing up, shedding the innocence (or naivete) of childhood, learning to trust change, others, and oneself as one wakes up to reality and sees that the world is not all pink candy floss and honey. There is something both pathetic and endearing about the Bolt character: he is a victim of exploitation, raised and trained to believe he is much more than he really is. In a way he is deceived and is bewildered to discover he is an ordinary dog, thus is greatly hurt when he is replaced in the set by a look-alike because the show must go on. This story says much of the movie world where “stars” are created by their publicists and made to believe they are much more than they really are—because it is what fans want. The movie offers food for thought and contains no objectionable material.

Twilight

Cast: Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Billy Burke, Ashley Greene, Peter Pacinelli; Director: Catherine Hardwicke; Producers: Wyck Godfrey, Greg Mooradian, Mark Morgan; Screenwriters: Melissa Rosenberg, Stephenie Meyer; Music: Carter Burwell; Editor: Nancy Richardson; Genre: Drama/ Fantasy/ Romance/ Thriller; Cinematography: Elliot Davis; Distributor: Viva Films; Location: Washington, USA; Running Time: 122 min.;

Technical Assessment: 3
Moral Assessment: 3
CINEMA Rating: For viewers age 13 and below with parental guidance

Twilight is a movie adaptation from Stephanie Meyer’s series. After 17-year-old Bella Swan’s (Kristen Stewart) mother remarries, she is sent off to live with her father Charlie (Billy Burke) in the small town of Forks Washington. She becomes attracted to a mysterious classmate Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), who is actually a 108-year-old vampire resembling a teenager. Edward’s genteel and gracious ways endear him all the more to Bella and despite trying to resist the mutual attraction. The two teenagers fall deeply in love with each other. The Cullen family’s loyalty and ethics are put to test when the nomadic vampires arrive and endanger the life of Bella.

Most movie adaptations of great novels end up disappointing and wanting. This movie is no different with interpretation of Edward and Bella’s characters lacking in depth and the struggle of the Cullen family to co-exist with the humans downplayed. However, as a romantic fantasy for teenagers, the movie succeeds in connecting with the target viewers and eliciting enough sympathy and fondness. The production is decent with an imaginative camerawork, tight editing and impressive CGIs. The production design and the music successfully deliver the Gothic romance it intends. Overall, the movie is quite enjoyable and respectably moving.

One’s background does not necessarily spell the kind of person he is to become. The Cullens are vampires and by nature they are violent, blood-thirsty and heartless but instead, they are doing their very best to be decent, loving, and caring as is humanly possible. In the same manner, regardless of one’s root, family history, psychological background and personal past, the kind of person one will turn out to be depends on himself and his desire to choose what is good and right as opposed to what is expected by society.

The movie, though not objectionable, has several short but intense action violence, mild sensuality and some sexual references, and may not be acceptable for younger teens. Young audiences need to be guided by their parents as some scenes and dialogues are not appropriate for them.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

One True Love


Cast: Marian Rivera, Dingdong Dantes, Iza Calzado, Boots Anson-Roa, Pinky Marquez, Chinggoy Alonzo; Director: Mac Alejandre; Producers: Jose Mari-Abacan, Roselle Monteverde-Teo ; Screenwriter: Annette Gozon-Abrogar; Music: Von de Guzman;Genre: Romance; Cinematography: Mo Zee; Distributor: GMA Films; Location: Manila; Running Time: 130 min.;

Technical Assessment: 3
Moral Assessment: 3
CINEMA Rating: For viewers 14 and above

Masayang magkasintahan sina Joy (Marian Rivera) at Migs (Dingdong Dantes). Hindi na nagdalawang isip pa si Joy nang alukin siya ng kasal ni Migs. Ngunit lingid kay Joy, mayroong kababatang kasintahan noon si Migs na si Bela (Iza Calzado) na nasa Canada. Nagkahiwalay sila ni Migs dahil pinili ni Bela na samahan ang kanyang pamilya sa Canada. Nang malaman ni Bela ang tungkol sa pagpapakasal ni Migs, magbabalik ito sa Pilipinas para sana pigilan si Migs ngunit malalaman niyang hindi na siya mahal nito tulad ng dati pagkat si Joy na ang bago nitong mahal. Matutuloy ang kasal nina Migs at Joy. Ngunit isang gabi pa lang silang nagsasama ay maaaksidente si Migs. Matagal na mawawalan ng malay si Migs at sa kanyang paggising, tanging ang alaala ng pamilya at ni Bela lamang ang matatandaan niya. Wala siyang alaala ni Joy. Labis itong ikalulungkot ni Joy ngunit hindi siya agad na susuko. Aalagaan niya si Migs hanggang sa magbalik ang alaala nito at tuluyan siyang makilala. Ngunit sadyang hindi maalala ni Migs si Joy at ang pagkakaalam niya’y si Bela ang mahal niya. Dito magsisimula ang kalbaryo ni Joy. Sino ang tunay na isisigaw ng puso ni Migs sa bandang huli? Ang babaeng una niyang minahal o ang babaeng nagturo sa kanyang umibig muli?

Hindi na masyadong bago ang konsepto ng amnesia sa mga kuwentong Pilipino. Pero nagawa naman ng One True Love na bigyan ito ng bagong bihis sa pagkakaroon ng bagong loveteam sa katauhan ni Marian Rivera at Dingdong Dantes sa pelikula na talaga namang subok na ang husay at tatag sa pagpapakilig ng manonood. Hindi rin matatawaran ang husay ni Iza Calzado. Maayos ang daloy ng kuwento. May kabilisan nga lang kung minsan kung kaya’t hindi masyadong nahahagod ang damdamin. Medyo lumaylay din ito at napalabis ang haba sa bandang huli. Maraming mga eksenang maaaring tanggalin nang hindi makakasira sa kabuuan ng kuwento. Mayroon ding mga karakter na napabayaan. Tulad na lamang ng lola ni Joy. Ano na ang nangyari sa kanya? Kataka-taka din na walang ibang mundo si Migs kundi ang pamilya. Walang barkada. Walang kaibigan. Hindi rin ganoon kaliwanag ang proseso ng resolusyon. Pero sa bandang huli nama’y masasabing maayos na rin ang pelikula sa kabuuan.

Ang pagmamahal nga ba ay isang pakiramdam o isang desisyon? Paano kung iba ang dikta ng isip sa puso? Ano ba talaga ang dapat na mas manaig? Ipinakita sa pelikula na ang tama pa rin ang nagtatagumpay kaysa sa mali. May mga nagagawang desisyon ang mga tao dala ng emosyon ngunit sa bandang huli’y uusigin tayo ng ating konsensiya at ang katotohanan at kabutihan pa rin ang mananaig. Kapuri-puri ang pelikula sa pagpapakita ng kahalagahan ng pamilya--ang tanging makakapitan ng sinuman sa oras ng kalungkutan, kasiyahan at pighati. Wala ring bahid ng kasamaan si Joy. Bagama’t tao pa rin na nasasaktan, naging mapagbigay at matiisin pa rin siya. Alam niya kung kailan dapat lumaban at kung kailan dapat sumuko. Higit sa lahat, matatag din ang kanyang pananampalataya sa Maykapal na ang lahat ay aayon din para sa kanya at para sa kabutihan balang araw. May mga malabis na halikan lamang sa pelikula na kailangang gabayan ang mga bata. Ang pakikiapid din ni Migs kay Bela ay dapat maipaliwanag nang husto.

Burn After Reading

Cast: Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton; Directors: Ethan Coen, Jeol Coen; Producers: Tim Bevan, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Eric Fellner; Screenwriters: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen; Music: Carter Burwell; Editors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen; Genre: Comedy/ Crime; Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki; Distributor: Viva Films; Location: New York, USA; Running Time: 96 min.;

Technical Assessment: 3.5
Moral Assessment: 3
CINEMA Rating: For viewers 14 and above

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) analyst Osborne Cox (John Malkovich) quits when he learns he is being fired. He decides to write his memoirs and saves them on a computer disc which Washington-based physical fitness instructors Linda Litzke (Frances McDormand) and Chad Feldheimer (Brad Pitt) discover. Linda desperately needs money to undergo cosmetic surgery, hoping it would be her key to finding the right man. Chad is an airhead, and since they believe they have classified information in their hands, they scheme to blackmail Cox. But Cox, a self-righteous alcoholic, is too smart to fall for the ploy, so the odd couple instead try to sell the disc to the Russians. The Russians, in turn, couldn’t care less, but lovelorn Linda and Chad are not about to give up that easily.

Burn After Reading is a crisp, well-crafted tragicomedy written and directed by Joel and Ethan Cohen who won an Oscar last year for their grim work, No Country for Old Men. The pendulum swings to the extreme opposite as the perfectly cast top-flight actors and the witty, tight script give life to a small world full of losers. The actors deliver fabulous performances in this dark comedy—delivering surprises to the viewer so accustomed to seeing them in more or less type-cast roles. Who would think Brad Pitt, voted one of the “sexiest men in the world”, could break his own glamorous image by playing such a convincing all-brawn-and-no-brain gym instructor? Can you imagine the smooth and suave ladies’ man George Clooney swinging between being an opportunistic womanizer and a jittery paranoid? The great John Malkovich, who seems to have been born to play psychotic roles, here gets funnier the angrier he becomes. All the playors, really, deserve applause for putting together this highly polished and entertaining film.

Burn After Reading is a comedy meant to take you beyond laughter. Offering great gags—thanks to the plot and the well-measured humor packaged in dialogue that respects the viewer’s intelligence—the film presents the human condition which is at once pathetic and laughable. After watching it, the family may dwell on questions such as: How far could a woman go to be loved by a man? What would a man do to affirm his self-image? In what ways does the business of espionage dehumanize people? How can the formation of conscience in youth affect one’s decisions in adult life? How important is self-knowledge in guiding one through the pursuit of one’s dreams? Caution on the foul language which youngsters might tend to imitate.

Monster Slayer

Cast: Trevor Matthews, Robert Englund, Rachel Skarsten; Director: Jon Knautz; Producers: Neil Bregman, Trevor Matthews, Patrick White; Screenwriter: John Ainslie; Music: Ryan Shore; Editor: Matthew Brulotte; Genre: Horror/ Suspense; Cinematography: Joshua Allen; Distributor: Epic Pictures Group; Location: USA; Running Time: 85 min.;

Technical Assessment: 3
Moral Assessment: 2
CINEMA Rating: For mature viewers 18 and above

Jack Brooks (Trevor Matthews) has had anger management issues ever since he witnessed his whole family shredded to pieces and eaten by a monster. To this day, he loses his temper over the smallest petty issue. He works as a plumber and takes up night classes upon the insistence of Eve, his whinny nagging girlfriend. After one of their classes, Professor Crowley (Robert Englund) requests him to check the water pump and pipes in his house. While attempting to fix the old house’s plumbing, Jack accidentally unleashes the evil buried in the backyard. Crowley is drawn to the black heart which immediately forces its way inside him. The professor is transformed into a voracious pus-filled octopus-like monster during their chemistry class and eats most of the students who also become flesh-eating monsters. Jack then realizes that he can no longer run from his anger and returns to save the students and kill the monsters.

The movie is fairly decent and technically acceptable. Although it takes almost half the movie before something happens, but when the excitement comes, it is able to keep the audience on the edge of their seats. There is a good storyline behind the blood and gore with a well-paced editing and satisfactory camerawork. The acting is so-so except for Englund. Over-all, the movie delivers quite a respectable scare and suspense.

Sometimes, our past leaves deep scars in our being that we end up becoming lost, broken and unproductive. In as much as our past shapes us, it should not control us. Our past should offer lessons for growth and improvement and whatever mistakes we might have committed then should be help us become better persons now. Our pain should push us to creatively work around our issues and our scars should be a reminder not of what we failed to do but what we can do better the next time. Only when Jack was able to divert his guilt and pain of losing his family into fighting evil did he learn to control his anger.

The movie has too much gore and blood for young audiences. Parents are cautioned against allowing their children to watch the movie unsupervised.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Women

Cast: Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Eva Mendes, Debra Messing, Jada Pinkett Smith; Director: Diane English; Producers: Diane English, Mick Jagger, Bill Johnson, Victoria Pearman; Screenwriters: Diane English, Clare Boothe Luce; Music: Mark Isham; Editor: Tia Nolan; Genre: Comedy/ Drama; Cinematography: Anastas N. Michos; Distributor: Picturehouse Entertainment; Location: Massachusetts, USA; Running Time: 114 min.;

Technical Assessment: 3
Moral Assessment: 2.5
CINEMA Rating: For mature viewers 18 and above

Friends Mary Haines (Meg Ryan), Sylvie Fowler (Annette Benning), Edie Cohen (Debra Messing) and Alex Fisher (Jada Pinkett Smith) are there for one another. Mary is a mother of one and seems in a perfect marriage. Sylvie, single, is a high profile woman’s magazine editor. Edie I a mother of three girls who won’t stop getting pregnant until she gets a son. Alex is an avowed, incorrigible lesbian. Two things they have in common: long-standing friendship and a passion for shopping, preferably at Saks Fifth Avenue. When Sylvie learns from a manicurist Tanya (Debi Mazar) at Saks that Mary’s husband Stephen is the lover of the store’s perfume sales girl Crystal Allen (Eva Mendes), the trio tries to find a way to tell Mary ever-so-gently. But Mary also discovers it from the same gossipy manicurist, and decides for divorce. The four friends conspire to break the affair, but despite Stephen’s attempt to reconcile with Mary, she cannot be moved.

The dramedy The Women is inspired by the Clare Booth Luce play of the same title, and like the latter’s 1939 film adaptation by George Cukor, it also does not show males on the screen. There are two males, however—two husbands and a boss—but they are only heard on the phone with the women. It has a strong all-star cast including Candice Bergen (as Mary’s mother Catherine), Chloris Leachman (as Maggie, the Haines’ housekeeper), Carrie Fisher (as a gossip columnist), and Bette Midler (as Hollywood agent Leah Miller), which gives the movie a “chick flick” flavor. The script is also adapted from both the play and the 1939 screeenplay, using a story that is almost the same as the original although with a contemporary backdrop relying on the power combination of fashion and publishing. Gimmicky additions are the use of split screen, an entire fashion show, and a prolonged childbirth scene.

We can’t help thinking that The Women is but a small part of the trend to highlight female-bonding in cybermedia. Circulating lately via internet and email are Power Point presentations stressing how the world becomes a better place to live in when women –sisters, friends, mothers and daughters, grandmothers—are there for each other. In fact, Jada Pinkett’s line on the glories of lesbianism is a rather blunt statement for the advantages of female bonding—albeit sexually perversive. The movie’s main theme, marital infidelity, is very much adult but its comedic approach may lighten the impact of adultery in the viewer’s mind. The Women has been compared to the recent movie version of Sex in the City, featuring another quartet of female friends, but The Women covers more ground in terms of women’s issues such as the inevitable betrayal between close friends, the desire to have sons, the impact of divorce on children, society’s apparent tolerance of extra-marital affairs, the reasons behind a husband’s infidelity, etc. Because of its adult themes, CINEMA rates The Women as a movie for adults 18 and above.

Kurap


Cast: Ashley Rhain Arca, Christian Burke, Jojit Lorenzo, Sherwin OrdoƱez; Director: Roni Bertubin; Producer: Antonio de Guzman Jr.; Screenwriter: Romualdo Avellanosa; Genre: Drama; Distributor: Silangan Pictures; Location: Manila; Running Time: 90 min.;

Technical Assessment: 3
Moral Assessment: 2
CINEMA Rating: For mature viewers 18 and above

Si Ambet (Sherwin Ordonez) ay isang mandurukot sa Quiapo na pinasok din ang pagbebenta ng mga bagay na nakaw tulad ng cellular phone, kasabwat ang ilang kaibigan. Nang magkasakit ng glaucoma (isang sakit na unti-unting nagpapabulag ng mata) ang kanyang nakababatang kapatid sa ina na si Luchie, kinailangan niya ng mas maraming pera upang maipagamot ito. Sakto namang dumating sa buhay nila si Marlon (Jojit Lorenzo), isang amateur videographer, upang alukin siya ng pera kapalit ang pagtuturo nito ng mga illegal na negosyo sa Quiapo. Mapipilitan si Ambet na ipagkanulo ang mga kaibigan sa ngalan ng pagmamahal nito sa kapatid at sa salaping kanyang makukuha. Ngunit ito rin ang simula ng panganib sa kanyang buhay.

Para sa isang Indie (independent) na pelikula, maayos ang daloy ng kuwento ng Kurap. Malinaw ang karakterisasyon at nagamit nang husto ang lugar ng pelikula. Sinubukan nitong pasukin ang ilang bagong elemento ng paggawa ng pelikula. Nariyan ang kakaibang paggamit ng cinema verite kung saan pawang kunukunan lamang ang mga pangyayari sa makakatotohanang paraan. Naisalarawan ng pelikula ang talamak na kalagayan ng mahihirap sa lungsod. Medyo gasgas na nga lang ang Quiapo bilang kumakatawan sa lahat ng sakit ng Maynila. Hilaw pa rin sa pag-arte ang ilang tauhan bagama't maaari naman itong palagpasin. Marami ring eksenang tuhog at hindi ginamitan ng tripod kung kaya’t lumabas na nakakahilo at magulo--isang kahinaang maituturing ng cinema verite approach sa pagsasapelikula. Labis ring madidilim ang mga eksena kahit na nga ito marahil ay pagbibigay-simbolismo sa madilim na mundo ng mga mandurukot, snatchers, at iba.

Sa isang mundong nababalutan ng kadiliman at kahirapan, kinakailangan ang malinaw na paningin upang malaman kung saan nga ba patutungo ang lahat nang ito. Sa bilis ng mga pangyayari ay maaaring magbago ang takbo ng lahat sa isang kurap. Ito ang nais sabihin ng pelikula. Binuo ang kuwento upang muling buksan ang mata ng manonood sa mga nangyayaring kahirapan at kasamaan. Ngunit pawang naging malabis ang pelikula sa paggamit ng kapangyarihan nitong magsiyasat at magbulgar ng sakit ng lipunan. Maraming elemeto ang walang malinaw na pinanggagalingan at patutunguhan. Sa isang banda ay kapuri-puri ang tapang ng pelikula sa pamumunasa kultura ng mass media kung saan talamak ang kasamaan at pangungurakot. Anito, walang pinagkaiba ang media sa mga snatchers, mandurukot, namimirata at mga prostitute. Sa mundong ito, mas talamak ang korupsiyon at panlalamang sa kapwa. Pero ano’t ano pa man, isang madilim na pelikula ang kurap na walang ipinakikitang pag-asa o inspirasyon man lamang. Labis na nakababahala ang pagkakaroon ng papel ng isang bata sa pelikula na kung saan ay marami siyang nakikitang masama. Maari ngang nangyayari ang mga ito, pero nakababahalang wala man lang pag-asang dala ang isang bata hanggang sa katapusan ng pelikula. Kinokonsinte rin ng pelikula ang pagtatalik ng hindi mag-asawa maging ng mga bakla. Walang pagbabago, walang pagsisisi at walang sinumang mabuti at walang Diyos na pinaniniwalaan ang mga karakter sa pelikula. Idagdag pa rito ang maraming eksena ng paghuhubad at pagmumura ng mga tauhan. Nararapat lamang ang pelikula sa mga manonood na may gulang na at sapat na hinog ng isipan.

Passengers

Cast: Anne Hathaway, Patrick Wilson, Dianne West, David Morse, Andre Braugher, Don Thompson, Chilah Horsdal, Stacy Grant; Director: Rodrigo Garcia; Producers: Joseph Drake, Nathan Kahane, Julie Lynn, Judd Payne, Matthew Rhodes, Keri Selig; Screenwriter: Ronnie Christensen; Music: Ed Shearmur; Editor: Thom Noble; Genre: Thriller/Romance; Cinematography: Igor Jadue-Lillo; Distributor: Tristan Pictures; Location: Vancouver, British Columbia; Running Time: 93 min.;

Technical Assessment: 3
Moral Assessment: 3
CINEMA Rating: For mature viewers 18 and above

A plane crashes on a Vancouver beach with most of the one hundred passengers perishing. Claire Summers (Anne Hathaway), a young psycho-therapist, is asked to counsel the few survivors to help them cope with their near-death traumatic experiences. She meets the five of them in group therapy sessions but one of the survivors Eric (Patrick Wilson) refuses to join the group but insists on one-on-one home visits. He is hesitant to talk about the crash but feels reinvigorated with this second chance at life due to his miraculous survival. At least two of the survivors recall seeing a flash of light and a loud explosion before the crash. However, the investigators say the accident is due to pilot error. When her patients gradually disappear or fail to attend the sessions one by one, Claire senses an airline cover-up. Her relationship with Eric becomes more personal and Claire knows she violates her profession’s ethics, having crossed the ethical line with a patient. Some unusual, ominous things start to happen and Claire feels there is some mystery at the heart of things. What will Claire uncover?

In the ads promoting Passengers, the movie is compared to the Sixth Sense and Final Destination and so the spectators expect preternatural happenings and thrills. This could be misleading. Passengers offers very minor thrills, and practically no scares nor dramatic moments. The crash, the opening scene, sets the screen into some mild action, but after that, the film plods on and can be boringly slow with virtually nothing interesting happening. Some characters flit in out of the story like Toni (Dianne West), Claire’s kind neighbor. Then there is gradual romantic bonding between Claire and Eric as Claire begins to open up so that keeps the story progressing. The spectator may not know exactly where the story is heading but must be open to some mysterious climax. And in the last fifteen minutes, the director gives the story a surprising twist and ties up all the loose ends. Far from being a supernatural thriller, the film is a character piece. Anne Hathaway’s and Patrick Wilson’s adept performances are a plus for the film and so are those of some minor characters like Dianne West and Daniel Morse. The cinematography has helped build the dreary, spooky mood with its constant images of the palpable cold weather and dark overcast skies.

The film Passengers has a new slant on the “after-life” and like such films in the same genre, it affirms the fact that there is life after this earthly existence. The film suggests that somehow, the way we live our lives here on earth has some bearing on that other future life. Take Eric, a “survivor” who feels he has to do now what he had always wanted to do but did not, so now in his “present” moment he is in a frenzy of activities among them painting, motorcycle riding, swimming in the cold bay in the dead of night. Or Sharon, another “survivor” who has feelings of regret because somehow she had not been able to set things right with her parents who sort of abandoned her when she was very young. Or even Claire who had problems with her sister. Claire now wants to reach out to her sister and tell her how much Alice her sister meant to her. Probably the film may spur the spectator into a realization that in this short earthly life, there is much to value especially in our relationships with loved ones and others, and that we must choose to make these relationships beautiful, fulfilling and satisfying as we wish--while we still can.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

Cast: (Voices) Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric The Entertainer, Andy Richter, Bernie Mac; Directors: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath; Producers: Mireille Soria, Mark Swift; Music: Hans Zimmer; Genre: Animation/ Action/ Adventure/ Comedy/ Family; Distributor: Paramount Pictures; Running Time: 89 min.;

Technical Assessment: 3
Moral Assessment: 2.5
CINEMA Rating: For viewers 14 and above

Dance-loving lion Alex (voice of Ben Stiller), lively zebra Marty (voice of Chris Rock), worrier-giraffe Melman (voice of David Schwimmer) and voluptuous hippo Gloria (voice of Jada Pinkett Smith)—a quartet of wild animals pampered in New York City’s Central Park Zoo—find themselves stranded in Madagascar. Longing for the comforts of their city home they agree to take an “Air Penguin” flight across the Atlantic on a refurbished wrecked plane taped together by displaced penguins and chimpanzees. But what do you expect of a makeshift aircraft launched into orbit by a giant slingshot? They crash-land in an animal preserve on an African savanna. Here’s where the zoo-raised foursome get to meet their wilder cousins, problems arise, and the adventure begins.

The story is not complicated enough to interest parents or adult viewers but young ones perhaps couldn’t care less because there’s more than enough to get distracted with: the sunny atmosphere, the lush settings, the magnificent landscapes, thrilling action (sacrifice to a volcano), and the animals’ human antics. All these combine to make of Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa a more engaging movie than the original Madagascar . But does this mean it’s safe enough for viewers of all ages to watch?

Parents are cautioned against the potty humor and the violent moves animations like to think they can get away with. Although on the surface it looks like it’s aimed to please kids, deep within it’s a film for adults (and precocious adolescents, perhaps). The four animals have issues too grown-up for young children to understand or be exposed to. Alex (the lion) tries hard to prove himself to his father. Marty (the zebra) undergoes an identity crisis when he joins a herd of zebras in the wild. Melman (the giraffe) is burning with secret love for Gloria (the hippo) who is in turn smitten by the charms of a he-hippo. It is claimed that with this story-line, Madagascar 2’s directors and co-writers Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath offer lessons about the value of self-confidence and true love. But it could also be perceived as a veiled challenge to the idea of conformity. As a toddler-lion, Alex is a disappointment to his father, the macho leader of the pride, because the son is giggly, loves to dance, plays with butterflies and is too friendly to be leonine. (A father unable to accept a gay kid?) As for the hippo-giraffe partnership—it remains ambiguous. It could be saying that true love knows no class barriers, or that one could defiantly go after one’s heart’s desire regardless of the impossibility of starting a family. For pray, tell us, can a hippo and a giraffe mate to produce an offspring? (Shades of same-sex marriages?) Let’s just hope the implications escape young viewers while providing a moral brainteaser to adult audiences.

Quantum of Solace: 007

Cast: Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Amalric, Giancarlo Giannini, Jeffrey Wright, Judi Dench; Director: Marc Forster; Producers: Barbara Broccoli, Michael G. Wilson; Screenwriters: Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade; Music: David Arnold; Editors: Matt Chesse, Richard Pearson; Genre: Action/ Adventure; Cinematography: Roberto Schaefer; Distributor: Columbia Pictures; Location: Bolivia, Austria, Italy; Running Time: 110 min.;

Technical Assessment: 3.5
Moral Assessment: 2.5
CINEMA Rating: For viewers 14 and above

James Bond, 007 (Daniel Craig) is shocked and badly shaken by what looks like his beloved Vesper Lynd had betrayed him and then she was killed. Determined to go after those responsible for her murder, he follows trails leading to places from London to Italy, Austria and Bolivia. He meets Camille (Olga Kurylenko), who he thinks could lead him to Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric) who appears to be working on a coup de tat, who, in turn could lead him to General Medrano (Joaquin Cosio), an exiled Bolivian, who happens to have been the man directly responsible for the massacre of Camille’s whole family. Bond believes that finding them and their Quantum Organization would mean the end of his search. 007 also goes looking for Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini), for some help, although in their previous association (in “Casino”) Bond had not been able to trust him wholly. As he continues his pursuit he is aware that MI6, the CIA, and of course the terrorist syndicate are after him. MI6’s M (Judi Dench) under whom he works does not trust him; neither does he trusts her with what is happening. He is making a desperate try to keep ahead of them and find the culprits he is looking for.

This is the second James Bond movie that Daniel Craig has acted in. It is history that the first Casino Royale was a box office hit. For those who enjoy James Bond and his exploits, Quantum of Solace could also be just as entertaining. It is a 110 minute fast-moving quest for those who killed the only woman 007 loved. He has been restless and unable to sleep because he has yet to catch the culprits, not minding the toll he has to pay for all the dangers he has to endure. He shows the ability of a super hero in the air, on the sea, riding a horse, a chase and fight on the rooftops, among other unbelievable but realistic looking actions. Because of the fast moving sequences of the story, viewers may want or need to watch a second time, so that they could better appreciate the details on the screen.

Take note that the protagonist in most instances in the story shows and acts how terribly angry he is by the murder of his loved one. To quote some lines in an observation from a review: ‘As M (Dench) puts it, if you want to see an anti-hero “so blinded by inconsolable rage that you don’t care who you hurt” then Craig’s ice-cool Bond is the guy to leave you shaken and stirred (Tim Evans, Sky Movies Reviews Editor). A touching scene to look out for is when “Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini) asks James Bond to forgive. He is asking Bond to be at peace with himself and part of that is forgiving Vesper, realizing that he was in love with her and she was in love with him.”(Ruben V. Nepales, Only in Hollywood.)

Monday, November 3, 2008

High School Musical 3: Senior Year

Cast: Zac Efron, Vanessa Anne Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Lucas Grabeel, Corbin Bleu, Monique Coleman; Director: Kenny Ortega; Producers: Bill Borden, Barry Rosenbush; Screenwriter: Peter Barsocchini; Music: David Lawrence; Editor: Seth Flaum; Genre: Musical/ Comedy/ Drama; Cinematography: Daniel Aranyo; Distributor: Walt Disney Studious Motion Pictures; Location: Utah, USA; Running Time: 112 min.;

Technical Assessment: 3.5
Moral Assessment: 4
CINEMA Rating: For viewers of all ages

Sweethearts and senior high schoolers in Albuquerque, New Mexico Troy (Zac Efron) and Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens) face the prospect of pursuing college hundreds of miles apart. A basketball star who loves to sing, Troy could go along with his father’s plan for him to join the team at the University of Albuquerque where his father Jack (Bart Johnson) is coach, or he could go to New York’s Juilliard School where someone had secretly applied on his behalf. The academically gifted Gabriella, on the other hand, has been accepted at Stanford University in California but hesitates to grab it lest she miss the familiar surroundings and her loved ones, especially her one true love Troy. Meanwhile, they are kept high and busy by the coming prom and a play based on their own lives that they have to stage.

A movie that ought to delight local audiences as Mamma Mia recently did—High School Musical 3: Senior Year has for its assets energetic dances, lively music, and songs anybody can sing along with. Viewers can easily follow the simple plot which is kept free of sub-plots and unnecessary glitches. As a big-screen sequel to High School Musicals 1 & 2, HSM 3: Senior Year boasts of crisp cinematography and costumes and sets that are absolutely eye candy. The young actors prove themselves up to their roles, performing their own songs and dances remarkably well. (It should also please the local audiences to know that Vanessa Hudgens is half-Filipino—another Lea Salonga in the making?)

High School Musical 3: Senior Year is family-friendly entertainment all the way, thanks to Disney. While it seems aimed at tweeners (aged between 12 and 19), it is nonetheless appealing for every member of the family, as proven by the response it gets from theater audiences who are mostly parents treating their grade-school kids and high schoolers on a sem break weekend. Some foreign reviewers have criticized the movie to be “too clean it squeaks”—alluding to the chaste relationship between the high school sweethearts—but this only goes to show that such critics must have seen too many Sex and the City episodes that they have come to expect the whole world to be so oriented. So it’s “too clean it squeaks”—what’s wrong with that? Isn’t it good for the family—especially the young members—to see a movie where the teenagers seriously think about education for a decent future instead of drugs and unwanted pregnancies? We asked teenagers who have seen the movie—they like it because they can resonate with the characters who have remained blissfully innocent up to their senior high year. Regardless of the dark realities about the youth that media want to play up, this is the greater reality—that there are still millions of teenagers out there who are emotionally healthy and are not in a mad rush to travel the road to perdition.

My Only U

Cast: Toni Gonzaga, Vhong Navarro, Dennis Padilla, Arlene Muhlach; Director: Cathy Garcia-Molina; Producer: Malou Santos; Screenwriter: John Roque; Genre: Romantic Comedy; Distributor: Star Cinema; Location: Manila; Running Time: 110min.;


Technical Assessment: 3
Moral Assessment: 3
CINEMA Rating: For viewers 14 and above

Walang inaabot ng 25 anyos sa lahi ni Winona (Toni) sa kanyang mother side kung kaya’t nangangamba siyang bago sumapit ang kanyang ika-25 na kaarawan ay mamamatay rin siya. Ito rin ang dahilan kung bakit hindi siya nagpapaligaw kahit kanino at ibinuhos na lamang ang oras sa paghahanapbuhay para sa bulag na ama (Dennis Padilla). Hindi niya alam na may lihim na pagtingin sa kanya ang kanyang kababata at kasero na si Bong (Vhong Navarro). Nang sumapit ang kaarawan ni Winona ay tuwang-tuwa siyang nakaabot siya ng 25 anyos. Itinuturing niya itong extension ng kanyang buhay. Ngunit malalaman ni Bong na may malubha palang sakit si Winona at hindi na rin magtatagal ang buhay nito. Ililihim ito ni Bong kay Winona sa pagnanais na bigyang kasiyahan at pag-asa ito sa mga nalalabi pa nitong araw. Ipinangako ni Bong sa sarili na babantayan at poprotektahan niya si Winona. Pero darating ang oportunidad kay Winona na makapunta ng Japan. Mapigilan kaya ni Bong lumayo si Winona? Paano kung malaman ni Winona ang paglilihim na ginawa ni Bong tungkol sa kanyang sakit? Magkatuluyan pa kaya sila?

Tulad sa inaasahan, isang nakakaaliw na pelikula ang My Only U. Bago at hindi karaniwan ang kuwento nito at sadyang nagampanan ng husto ng mga artista ang kani-kanilang papel. Ngunit hindi maitatatwang minadali ang pelikula kung kaya’t pawang maraming eksena ang kulang sa hagod ng emosyon. Ang labas tuloy ay sobrang de-numero ng istruktura nito at kitang-kita ang kamay ng manunulat sa buong kuwento. Bagama’t may kurot, wala gaanong kilig na mararamdaman sa kuwentong pag-ibig ng pelikula. Masyadong tumutok sa mga lumang joke at patawa na hindi naman gaanong naging epektibo. Nagbabalik ang mga lumang istilo ng mga pelikula na mayroong sayawan, kantahan, at mga gasgas na karakter na ngongo, mataba at andres de saya. Pati ang ilang pagsingit ng mga artista at karakter sa ibang pelikula ng Star Cinema ay pawang nakagulo sa daloy ng kuwento.

Sadyang nakalilito ang mensahe ng pelikula. Bagama’t sinasabi nito na ang tunay na pag-ibig ay naghihintay at nagtitiis, naging pawang makasarili pa rin ang bida sa pagtatago ng katotohanan. Sa pagkakataon bang ito ay tama lamang ang magsinungaling? Masyado ring pinangungunahan sa pelikula ang buhay at kamatayan. Kinondena nito ang pagiging mapaniwalain sa mga haka-haka, signos at kung ano pa mang kapangyarihan na hindi akma sa turo ng simbahan. Sadyang nakababahala rin ang mga eksena ng pamamatok ng asawang babae sa asawang lalaki at ang paggamit sa kapansanan ng tao bilang katatawanan. Sa kabila nito’y may mabuti namang mensahe ang pelikula ukol sa pagmamahal ng anak sa magulang,pagkakaisa ng magkakapit-bahay at pagmamahalang wagas hanggang kamatayan. Kapuri-puri rin ang ilang eksena na nagpapakita ng pagka-relihiyoso ng mga karakter. Yun nga lang, ang paniniwala nila sa Diyos ay pawang hanggang doon lang. Kapupulutan din ng aral ang masayahing disposisyon ng mga karakter sa gitna ng problema. Ang pagpapakitang ang kamatayan ay hindi lang isang malungkot na yugto ng buhay kundi maari ring maituring na masayang katapusan at simula ng panibagong paglalakbay.