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, August 28, 2009

District 9

Cast: David James, Sharito Copley, Elizabeth Mkandawie, Greg Melvill-Smith, Jason Cope, John Summer, Nathalie Boltt, Nick Blake, Sylvaine Strike, William Allen Young; Director: Neill Blomkamp; Producer: Peter Jackson; Screenwriters: Neil Blomkamp, Teri Tatchell; Music: Clinton Shorter; Editor: Jukian Clarke; Genre: Sci-Fi; Cinematography: Trent Opaloch; Distributor: Sony Pictures Entertainment; Location: South Africa; Running Time: 110 min.;

Technical Assessment: 3.5
Moral Assessment: 2
CINEMA Rating: For mature viewers 18 and above

In Johannesburg, South Africa, an isolated camp 200 kilometers away from civilization has been home to several insect-shaped alien refugees who landed on earth 30 years ago. Apparently, they survived a disaster in their home planet and were stranded on earth because of a mechanical problem in their spacecraft. Finding the aliens hideous and useless, the humans forcibly confined them to live in substandard conditions inside District 9. The aliens, or “prawns” as the humans call them, are too scared and confused to fight back and live by scavenging and selling whatever possessions they have left. The camp is controlled by Multi-National United (MNU), a defense subcontractor who wants to take hold of the aliens’ superb technology and advance weaponry, which, however, turn out to be useless without the alien’s DNA. Over the years, people have grown more hostile towards the aliens and now want them transferred to another isolation camp. The task of serving their eviction was given to a shy but annoying MNU employee named Wikus Van De Merwe (Sharlto Copley). He carries out the job with arrogance and ruthlessness until an accident with a deadly chemical that turns him into one the prawns. Wilkus is forced to be a fugitive from the government and becomes an outcast like the prawns. He then realizes the mistakes of prejudice and segregation. He befriends an alien who was given the human name Christopher Johnson (voiced by Jason Cope), and works against odds to save their race.

DISTRICT 9 is a well crafted story that re-contextualizes the alien theme from man’s most shameful moments during the 1966’s apartheid. The storytelling technique using hand held and continuous cinematography engages the audience closer to the drama. The plot develops smoothly with a strong performance from the protagonist and a clever socio-political commentary about discrimination. The CGIs and production design are decent and satisfactory. But the real strength of the movie is in the director’s interpretation of the script that turns a violent science fiction into a powerful statement against prejudice.

Amidst the blood and gore, the movie develops the theme of acceptance quite well. It illustrates how people should learn to go beyond appearance, race or beliefs. The physical and moral metamorphosis of Wilkus shows how the world would be so much better when man achieves universal solidarity. The secondary theme of marital love is also demonstrated by loyalty and sincerity of Wilkus to his wife.

As a whole, the film is a tight production with a strong message. However, it contains several scenes of graphic violence, brutal action and offensive language. The explicit dark tones of the movie may not appeal to the sensitivities of most viewers. Adults and parents should guide their very young children when watching the movie.

Tarot

Cast: Marian Rivera, Roxanne Guinoo, Ana Capri, Dennis Trillo, Gloria Romero; Director: Jun Lana; Producers: Jun Lana, Rosselle Monteverde-Teo; Screenwriters: Jun Luna, Elmer L. Gatchalian; Editor: Tara Illenberger; Genre: Horror; Cinematography: Mo Zee; Distributor: Regal Films; Location: Philippines; Running Time: 102;

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

Nakalakihan ni Cara (Marian Rivera) ang panonood sa kanyang Lola Auring (Gloria Romero) na mabisang nanghuhula sa pamamagitan tarot cards kaya di nakapagtataka na matutunan din niya ito. Subalit ng mamatay si Lola Auring ay wala siyang pinamanahan ng baraha sa halip ay hiniling niya na isama ito sa kanyang puntod. Makalipas ang panahon ay naging kasintahan ni Cara si Miguel (Dennis Trillo). Naisipan nila na mamasyal sa gubat kung saan misteryosong maglalaho si Miguel. Hindi matanggap ni Cara na mawala ng tuluyan ang nobyo kaya naisipan niyang gamitin ang bisa ng tarot cards ng kanyang lola upang matunton ang nobyo. Di naman siya binigo ng tarot na hinukay pa niya sa puntod ng kanyang lola dahil nagkita at nagkasama uli sila ni Miguel. Subalit kasabay ng kanilang pagtatagpo at paghawak ni Cara ng tarot cards ay ang pagkakaroon ng mga nakakatakot na kaganapan at pagbabanta sa kanilang buhay.

Masalimuot ang kuwento ng Tarot at parang pinilit lang na ipasok ang tema ng pagbabasa ng tarot cards sapagkat tipikal na katatakutan lang na dulot ng mga ligalig na kaluluwa ang istorya nito. Tila kulang sa pagpiga ng emosyon katulad ng tila lumipas lang na pagbubuwis ng buhay ng isang ina at walang hatid na kilig ng tambalang Marian at Dennis dito. Gayunpaman ay tagumpay sa layunin na makapanakot ang pelikula dahil sa mahusay na paglalapat ng tunog at special effects. Mahusay ang transition ng mga eksena mula sa panaginip at imahinasyon pabalik sa katotohanan. Halata na naging maingat ang aspetong ito ng editing. Sa kabuuan ay naisalba ng mga nabanggit na aspetong teknikal ang mahinang kuwento.

Ipinakita sa pelikula na ang panghuhula katulad ng pagbabasa ng tarot cards ay maaaring masapian ng masamang elemento o pwersa at makapaghatid ng kapahamakan o kamatayan sa mga nilalang. Samakatwid ay di dapat panaligan sa halip ay dapat mag-ingat dahil wala namang tahasang makapagsasabi ng mangyayari sa hinaharap. Marami din namang positibong mensahe ang pelikula katulad ng tapat na pagmamahal ni Cara kay Miguel, pagmamalasakit sa kaibigan, at katatagan ng loob sa kabila ng mga pagsubok. Kapansin-pansin lamang na sa kabuuang daloy ng pelikula ay tila walang pag-uukol sa paghingi ng kalakasan sa Diyos na siyang pangunahin sa kultura ng mga Pilipino. Nagwakas ang pelikula sa nakababahalang patuloy na paghahasik ng takot at pinsala ng masamang elemento sa buhay ng tao.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bandslam

ASSESSMENT ONLY
Cast: Gaelan Connell, Vanessa Hudgens, Alyson Michalka, Lisa Kudrow; Director: Todd Graff; Producer: Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas; Screenwriters: Josh A. Cagan, Todd Graff; Editor: John Gilbert; Genre: “Dramedy” Comedy, Drama, Music; Cinematography: Eric Steelberg; Distributor: Summit Entertainment; Location: USA; Running Time: 111 min.;

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


BRIEF FILM SYNOPSIS

When gifted singer-songwriter Charlotte Banks (Michalka) ask new kid in town Will Burton (Connell) to manage her fledgling rock band, she appears to have just one goad in mind: go-head-to-head against her egotistical musician ex-boyfriend, BEN (Porter), at the biggest event of the year, a battle of the bands. Against all odds, their band develops a sound all its own with a real shot at success in the contest. Meanwhile, romance brews between Will and SA5M (Hudgens), who plays a mean guitar a has a voice to die for. When disaster strikes, it's time for the band to make a choice: Do they admit defeat, or face the music and stand up for what they believe in?

OUTSTANDING FEATURES OF THE FILM: Peer influence on the character development of a teenager, as presented in the movie, is commendable for discussion.

Shorts

Cast: James Spader, Wiliam Macy, Leslie Mann, Jon Cryer, Jimmy Bennet, Jake Short, Trevor Gagnon, Jolie Vanier; Director: Robert Rodriguez; Producers: Robert Rodriguez, Elizabeth Avellan; Screenwriter: Robert Rodriguez; Music: Robert Rodriguez, Carl Thiel; Editor: Robert Rodriguez, Ethan Maniqius; Genre: Fantasy Comedy, Children’s film; Distributor: Warner Bros.; Location: USA; Running Time: 99 min.;

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

The story is set in a community called Black Hall where Mr. Carbon Black (James Spader) its richest and most powerful citizen owns a monolithic corporation that manufactures a super-gadget called the Black Box. This little box can be carried around, deconstructed in various shapes and can do all kinds of tasks, trivial or significant say be a cellphone, a computer or hair trimmer. Mr. Black’s corporation employs most of the townspeople and he tyrannically wants them to aggressively market this device, eliminating all competition. Anyone who does not foe the line gets fired. The Box has greatly affected the lived of most of the townspeople. In the community, there are lot of queer people, and families have become dysfunctional, like the family of nine-year-old Toby “Toe” Thompson (Jimmy Bennett). Toe is detached from his family (who miscommunicates with one another), lacks self-confidence, has no friends and is often bullied, especially by the evil children of Mr. Black. Toe’s situation improves when he comes into the possession of a multicolored stone which has magical powers so anyone who holds it can wish for anything. Nine year old Loogie (Trevor Gagnon) and his two friends find it after a thunderstorm and have wished for the most incredible things. Somehow, the stone inadvertently gets passed around from one person to another granting all preposterous wishes. The rock affects (often negatively but hilariously) the lives of various families including Mr. Black’s. Will it be able to destroy the Black Box or vice-versa?

Shorts may be a children’s movie but it is likely that a child will not find it easy to follow and understand the film. Using the non-linear method of storytelling, it is presented in episodes which are jumbled up with no attempt at chronology or logic. It is narrated by Toe Thompson who zigzags through the tale of the wishing rock like only a nine year old boy can. It begins with episode 2, goes back to episode 1 and goes on merely rearranging and presenting colorful, kinetic and engrossing images (to the child at least) with some newly minted characters like the giant one-eyed booger monster. The children get to be happily entertained and never mind if the film is quite confusing with the virtual absence of a plot. The adults may find some humor (though rude at times) in the absurdity of it all. The film is populated by such weird characters that one wonders if anyone can identify with any of them. Perhaps a nine year old who gets bullied outside the home and finds no adult sympathetic or interested in his plight inside his supposed place of refuge, can connect with Toe Thompson. Ironically, this character maybe considered a misfit but he is not rare in our own “saner” world. Though at times exaggerated for effects in their acting, the cast especially the children characters do adequately well. The photography is acceptable. Director Robert Rodriguez probably wanted to do something similar and yet different from his earlier well received work, Spy Kids.

In Shorts, one observes the effects of miscommunication or lack of it. It can make a family like the Thompsons dysfunctional. But better communication and getting “connected” can help make the family whole again. Also, one sees the effects of wishing for things that are inappropriate for one’s situation. Like Loogie and his friends who get the wish of a fortress surrounded with a moat and protected by crocodiles and snakes only to realize the danger they find themselves in. And one sees how ridiculous and limiting life can be if one is extremely obsessed with anything like Dr. Noseworthy with his horror of germs. And probably, one realizes like Mr. Black that rather than create a black-box that can be used to terrorize and indignify people, one can instead create something that can make life better for each one.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Love On Line

Cast: Sotto, Jose Manalo, Paula Taylor, Gina Pareno, Leo Martinez, Ricky Davao, Manilyn Reynes; Director: Tony Reyes; Distributor: Octoarts Films; Location: Manila; Running Time: 110 min.;

Technical Assessment: 2
Moral Assessment: 3
CINEMA Rating: For viewers 14 and above

Madalas pag-initan ni Samson (Vic Sotto) ang kasambahay na si Tot (Jose Manalo) dahil sa katamaran nito. Hindi nga lang magawang palayasin si Tot dahil tanging ito lamang ang nakakapag-bigay ng dugo para sa ina ni Samson (Gina Pareno) na may kakaibang karamdaman. Sa halip na gawin ang trabaho, nauubos ang oras ni Tot sa Internet kakahanap ng magiging kasintahan. Minsang nilagay ni Tot ang larawan ni Samsom sa kanyang profile sa isang social networking website, dumagsa agad ang mga nais makipagkaibigan sa kanya. Isa sa nagustuhan ni Tot si Paula (Paula Taylor) at pumayag agad itong makipag-eyeball o makipagkita sa kanya. Sa una’y magagalit si Samson nang malaman nitong ginamit ni Tot ang kanyang larawan ng walang paalam ngunit kalauna’y mapapapayag din niya ito na makipagkita kay Paula dahil ang alam ni Paula, si Tot ay si Samson. . Agad na magkakasundo at magkakamabutihan sina Samson at Paula na labis na ipagseselos ni Tot at dahil diyan, gagamitin ni Tot ang isang mahika kay Samson kung saan ay magkakapalit sila ni Samson ng pagkatao sa loob ng tatlong oras araw-araw. Magdudulot ito ng kalituhan kay Paula na siyang magpapagulo sa sitwasyon ng kanilang relasyon. Malusutan kaya ito ni Samson?

Ang Love On Line ay tumutukoy sa makabagong teknolohiya ngayon, ang Internet at ang lawak ng impluwensiya nito maging sa pakikipagrelasyon. Ngunit naging pawang mababaw at makaluma pa rin ang naging pagtrato ng pelikula sa dapat sana'y napapanahon at modernong konsepto. Ang pagpasok ng mahika sa gitna ng pelikula ay pawang hindi angkop sa nais nitong palabasin. Nakapanghihinayang na sa kabila ng hindi matatawarang galing sa pag-arte ng mga tauhan, hindi pa rin nakawala ang Love On Line sa pagiging slapstick nito sa pagpapatawa. Nariyan pa rin ang pambabatok, pananampal, paggamit sa mga bakla at pangit bilang mga instrumento ng patawa. Labas tuloy ay pawang kulang sa sinseridad ang buong kuwento at walang anumang bigat o lalim ang buo nitong daloy. Hindi iniaangat ng Love On Line ang komedyang Pilipino, sa halip ay pinapalala pa nito ang kalagayan ng naghihingalong industriya.

Ang pangunahing tauhan na si Samson ay wagas at dalisay ang hangarin sa ngalan ng pag-ibig. Hindi rin matatawaran ang pagmamahal niya sa kaniyang ina na hindi niya iniiwan sa gitna ng karamdaman nito at tinutulungan pa niya ito sa negosyo.. Ngunit hindi maiaalis na ang buong kuwento ay halos sumentro kay Tot, isang taong tamad, mapagkunwari at mainggitin. Maaring si Tot ay simbolo ng mga taong walang pag-unlad dahil na rin sa taglay nitong masasamang katangian. Nariyang ubusin ang oras sa Internet para sa mga walang kapararakag gawain, at nagbabalatkayo para lamang makakuha ng atensiyon lalo na sa mga kababaihan at pawang hindi naman relasyon ang hanap nila kundi panandaliang aliw lamang. Gayunpaman, naging instrumento pa si Tot upang matutong umibig muli si Samson na nakaugat naman sa pagbabalatkayo. Tuloy kahit mali ay kinunsinte na rin ni Samson si Tot. Mababaw naman ang samahang Samson at Paula na hindi halos maaaring ituring na tunay na pag-iibigan. At sa dami ng kabataang gumagamit ng Internet sa ngayon ay hindi magandang halimbawa ang pelikula sa paghubog nito sa makabagong konsepto ng pag-ibig. Hindi masama ang teknolohiya hanggat ito ay ginagamit sa kabutihan sa halip na sa pagbabalatkayo. Ang paggamit rin ng kapangyarihang itim at mahika na labis na nakaapekto sa daloy ng kuwento ay nakababahala rin. Hindi dapat paikutin ng mahika o teknolohiya ang takbo ng buhay ng tao.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Time Traveler's Wife

Cast: Eric Bana, Rachel McAdams, Ron Livingston, Arlis Howard; Director: : Robert Schwentke; Producers: Brad Pitt, Nick Wechsler, Dede Gardner; Screenwriter: Audrey Niffeneger, Jeremy Leven, Bruce Joel Rubin; Music: Mychael Danna; Editor: Thom Noble; Genre: Sci-fiction Romance; Cinematography: Florian Ballhaus; Distributor: Warner Bros; Location: Chicago; Running Time: 107 min.;

Technical Assessment: 2
Moral Assessment: 3
CINEMA Rating: For viewers 14 and above

On a snowy Christmas day, young Henry DeTamble (Alex Ferris) and his mom drive through the slippery streets, singing jolly Christmas songs to their hearts content, unmindful of the approaching car ahead. But just before they crash, young Henry slowly disappears inside the back seat and reappears a few yards away with an older man who tells him he is the future version of himself. This incident begins a series of time tossing to the past and future for Henry. His time travels are beyond his control and he is unable to take anything with him, even his clothes on his body, which forces him to break into houses and steal people’s belonging’s to cover himself and survive. The next time we see him is in the library where he meets Clare Abshire (Rachel McAdams), who recognizes him instantly although he has never seen her before. Apparently, Clare recognizes him because of several meetings they had in the past beginning when she was 6 years old. Eventually, they get married despite his genetic “chrono-impairment” condition which gets worse whenever he is stressed or upset. At first they seemingly have a happy life until Henry disappears for awhile and reappears again, sometimes as an older man, sometimes a young boy.

Time Traveler’s Wife is the film adaptation of Audrey Niffeneger’s novel of the same title. Although, director Schwentke remains faithful to the literary version, the execution is weak and faulty. For one, Bana and McAdams do not have enough chemistry to make the audience believe and sympathize with their unrequited love. The plot development is confusing and stuck at the surface level. The characters critical to push the story forward are mere cardboard cut-outs used to fill in some gaps in the scenes. By the time we get involved with Clare and Henry, the end credits are already rolling.

The film underscores the power of love against time, distance and uncertainty. Henry and Clare’s love for each other is admirable and courageous. Despite the struggle and complications their relationship poses, they choose to remain faithful and committed to their marriage. Their situation can mirror most marriages nowadays when one spouse has to work away from home for a long time and husband and wife’s relationship is challenged by the loneliness and temptations created by time and distance. Further, the movie reiterates the value of life despite the many difficulties surrounding pregnancy and motherhood.

There is some light nudity, non-graphic premarital relations, and mild inappropriate language in the movie. Parents are advised to guide their young children who might watch with them.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Hangover

Cast: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha, Jeffrey Tambor, Rachel Harris, Heather Graham, Rob Riggle; Director: Todd Phillips; Producers: Daniel Goldberg, Todd Phillips; Screenwriters: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore; Music: Christophe Beck; Editor: Debra Neil-Fisher; Genre: Comedy; Cinematography: Lawrence Sher; Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures; Location: Las Vegas, USA; Running Time: 100 min.;

Technical Assessment: 3.5
Moral Assessment: 2.5
CINEMA Rating: For mature viewers 18 and above

On the day of the wedding, three groomsmen Phil, Stu and Alan (Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis) wake up in a $4,200-a-night-suite in Las Vegas with a chicken in the bedroom, a tiger in the bathroom, and a baby in the closet—but without the fourth member of the past night’s stag party: bridegroom Doug (Justin Bartha). They had meant to spend Doug’s last night as a bachelor by drinking and gambling and be home for the wedding the next day, but now they must first find the bridegroom. Phil, Stu and Alan have absolutely no memory of the night before, and in their search for Doug, they encounter people who remember them and recall for them bit by bit what took place during the (unmemorable) night. Encountering more mishaps in their search, they piece together the events until the fact surfaces that Alan had secretly laced their drinks with a drug that would disable the memory while the user is under its influence.

Much of the humor in and the structure of the The Hangover revolve around the four friends’ getting lost. Clueless about what they have done since they shared some potent drinks on the roof of Caesar’s Palace and desperately trying to find explanations for a virtual “rude awakening”, they provide really funny situations to an otherwise inconsequential movie. The movie succeeds in involving the viewer in this ridiculous whodunit situation, and the acting and dialogue are so good that you may even come to the point of caring about the crazy quartet, believing in the angelic-faced hooker, being entertained by the diminutive but mean Chinese mobster, hoping they find the groom safe and sound, and praying that nothing that bad happens to the baby in the pram tailing a delivery truck. This movie deserves credit for its being specifically written, not assembled from recycled parts of other comedies corny, vulgar, half-baked or all three combined. There is a solid story, and the extraordinary level of detail in the dialogue complements the characterization to a credible degree.

A plus in the movie is the power of friendship—what friends would go through to ensure the wellbeing of another. Ironically, this positive element also constitutes the negative one—what stupid and dim-witted risks these friends would take for the sake of the missing one. This is a movie men would enjoy and whose characters they would secretly relate to. Women should also learn something about male instincts from this movie, and brides can take a hint or two about how to occupy their fianc├ęs to spare the latter from similar situations a few nights before the wedding day. While the laughable parts of the movie seem harmless enough for younger viewers, CINEMA would still rate it for adult viewers 18 years old and up for its raunchy theme depicted in flash still shots towards the end, and its treatment of life-trivializing and therefore life-endangering situations (tiger in a bathroom, baby in a pram towed through traffic).

Friday, August 14, 2009

And I Love You So

Cast: Bea Alonzo, Sam Milby, Derek Ramsay; Director: Laurenti Dyogi; Genre: Drama; Distributor: Star Cinema; Location: Manila; Running Time: 100 min/;

Technical Assessment: 3.5
Moral Assessment: 3
CINEMA Rating: For mature viewers 18 and above

Natagpuan ni Lara (Bea Alonzo) kay Oliver (Derek Ramsay) ang isang perpektong asawa na makakatuwang ng panghabangbuhay. Labis na pinaligaya ni Oliver si Lara ngunit limang buwan pa lamang silang kasal ay binawian ng buhay si Oliver sa mismo pang kaarawan ni Lara. Makalipas ang pitong buwan ay labis pa rin ang pagdadalamhati ni Lara sa biglaang pagkawala ng asawa. Makikilala niya si Chris (Sam Milby), isang happy-go-lucky na nawalan din ng asawa. Magkakalapit silang dalawa at magkakaibigan ngunit pilit pipigilan ni Lara ang kanyang nararamdaman sa takot na makasakit sa mga ala-alaalang iniwan ng nasirang asawa lalo pa’t hindi pa naman ito nakakapagbabang-luksa Sa gitna ng kanyang pagkalito ay may malalaman pa siyang sikreto ni Chris na labis niyang ikakagalit dito.

Makabuluhan ang tema ng And I Love You So na tumatalakay sa pagdadalamhati ng isang babaeng nabiyuda ng maaga. Mabibigat ang emosyon at damdaming ipinamalas ng mga karakter lalo na ni Alonzo. May mga ilang eksena nga lang na hindi maiwasan ni Alonzo na magpa-cute sa pag-arte ngunit maaring dala rin ito ng ilang mga linya sa pelikula na pawang pinilit. Mahusay naman ang pagkakaganap ni Milby at ng iba pang nagsiganap. Maayos naman ang sinematograpiya at kaaya-aya sa paningin sa bawat eksena. Sa bandang huli nga lang ay pawang may hahanaping kulang sa pelikula. Isa na rito marahil ang hilaw na pagkakalarawan sa relasyong Lara-Oliver na pawang lumabas na walang kapintasan ang huli. Ang naging resulta tuloy ay pawang hindi tao ang kanyang karakter. Hindi rin napaigting ang relasyon ni Lara sa mga tao sa kanyang paligid at umikot lamang ang kanyang buhay kay Oliver. Mas naging mahusay pa sana ang pelikula kung napalalim pa nito ang mga damdamin at relasyon at hindi lamang sumentro sa pagdadalamhati.

Kahanga-hanga ang pagiging wagas ng relasyong Lara-Oliver at tunay namang bihira na sa panahong ito. Maging huwaran sana ng manonood ang kanilang samahan na bagama’t maikli ay tunay na malalim at puno ng pagmamahal. Nakakabahala naman naging buhay ni Chris na naging masalimuot dahil sa ginawang panloloko ng kanyang asawa. Naging pariwara si Chris a kaniyang pakikipag-relasyon sa mga kababaihan na pawang bunga ng pagrerebelde at paghihiganti. Ngunit ipinakita naman sa pelikula na ito ay hindi magdudulot sa kanya ng kaligayahan. Marahil ang higit na nakakabahala ay naging bayani pa siya sa buhay ni Lara. Naging mapusok din sa kanilang mga damdamin sina Lara at Chris na talaga namang hindi katanggap-tanggap ngunit lumabas din naman sa kuwento na parehas na ligaw ang mga damdamin ng dalawa ng ito ay maganap. Hindi pa rin tama ngunit nailahad naman sa pelikula na ito ay mali. Sa kabila nito, maseselan pa rin ang ilang eksena at nararapat lamang ang pelikula sa mga manonood na nasa wastong gulang at hinog na kaisipan upang hindi rin maligaw ang kanilang pananaw ukol sa relasyon, lalo na sa relasyong mag-asawa at pakikipagrelasyong sekswal.

Book of Blood


Cast: Jonas Armstrong, Paul Blair, Sophie Ward, Doug Bradley, Gowan Calder, Graham Colquhoun, James McAnerney, Romana Abercromby, Simon Bamford; Director: John Harrison; Producers: Lauri Apelian, Clive Barker, Joe Daley, Micky McPherson, Jorge Saralegui, Nigel Thomas; Screenwriters: Clive Barker, John Harrison; Music: Guy Farley; Editor: Harry B. Miller III; Genre: Thriller/ Horror; Cinematography: Philip Robertson; Distributor: RCV Film Distribution; Location: Scotland, UK; Running Time: 105 min;

Technical Assessment: 1.5
Moral Assessment: 1.5
CINEMA Rating: For mature viewers 18 and above

Book of Blood is an adaptation of Clive Barker’s two short stories, “On Jerusalem Street” and “Book of Blood.” In the film, a bounty assassin named Wyburd (Clive Russell) tracks down the very frightened and almost deformed young Simon McNeal (Jonas Armstrong), whose skin is filled with occult writings. Wyburd tells Simon that he has been hired to remove his skin but will give him a quick death if he tells him the story of the writings. We learn through flashbacks that Simon was a psychic who was tapped to help in the investigation of paranormal researcher and best-selling author, Mary Florescu (Sophie Ward). She has apparently discovered a haunted house in downtown Edinburgh where a young girl was skinned and killed by unseen spirits. Also, the house is said to be standing at the intersection of so-called “highways” transporting souls in the afterlife. Wanting to learn its mystery, she employs her student Simon, whose family tragedy seemingly made him sensitive to the occult. At first, Simon fakes his visions and orchestrates scenes to scare Mary. But later on, the dead communicate with Simon for real and start carving their messages on his flesh.

Book of Blood starts off very promising and impressive. The first hour carries solid moments with a strong premise, great musical scoring, an eerie set and impressive CGIs. But in the middle, the film takes a nosedive with one lame scene after the other. The acting is dry and flat except for Clive Russel. By the time the story develops into something interesting, the audience are so far removed from the film that no amount of special effects or shock thrills will bring them back. The script is the major problem in the movie. It is too long and predictable with all the unnecessary prologues and epilogues. The premise of the film is good but direction is lethargic and predictable. Overall, the movie does not give justice to the book nor to the genre.

Like most horror thrillers, the movie once again romanticizes death, afterlife and spirit … in the negative sense. For horror film producers, spirits are just another means of presenting blood, gore and violence on screen. The movie is visually appalling and morally disturbing. Not only does it bring a twisted concept of afterlife and spirits, but presents them is a very gruesome manner. Blood, sex and flesh are served to the brim. The horror does not come from the story but from the shock and disgust of seeing excessive and uncensored gore. Parents are strongly warned not to allow their young children to watch the movie or the DVD release.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

G. I. Joe: Rise of Cobra

Cast: Dennis Quaid, Channing Tatum, Sienna Miller, Marion Wayans; Director: Stephen Sommers; Producers: Lorenso Di Bonaventura, Bob Ducsay, Brian Goldner; Screenwriter: Stuart Beattie; Music: Allan Silvestri; Editor: Bob Ducsay, Jim May; Genre: Action; Cinematography: Mitchell Amundsen; Distributor: Paramount Pictures; Location: Brussels; Running Time: 118 min.;

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

The world's peace is threatened by the corrupt weapon dealer Destro (Christopher Eccleston) of Cobra organization and therefore those in command responsibility do not take it sitting down. Equipped with high technology weapons, the elite G.I. Joe team is tasked to face it off with the Cobra group to prevent their evil plan and spare the innocent people. As in any high profile mission, a battle with the equally high technology-equipped group is not an easy task. In this case, any help extended to fulfill the mission is necessary as offered by Ripcord (Marlon W) and Duke (Channing Tatum) particularly to find Baroness (Sienna Miller).

G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra is a spectacular film that is highly complimented by special effects and brilliant use of computer technology. Obvious efforts were put in keeping up the story; however, too much build-up of characters somehow complicates the plot and becomes boring at some point of the film. But the rest of technical aspects are good and succeed in creating excitement for young viewers. The chasing scenes in Paris, the explosion of Eiffel Tower, the deep of polar ice caps, and the wonders of high technology system and weapons are amazing ingredients of the film. Acting wise, all the actors gave justice to their respective roles as required. The director gave each character the necessary highlights in the story. Overall, G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra is indeed a good and entertaining film that immortalizes a popular set of toys.

Any person who is entrusted with a mission where precious life and world peace are at stake must be responsible, whether as an individual or as a member of a team. When your mission is on the side of the truth, evil forces expectedly get in the way, so it is important to keep focus. Relationship in terms of love and friendship are natural to humans and may be a factor in fulfilling or non-fulfilling of tasks. This is a challenge of focus and priority. In a team environment, it is vital that all members hold on to one another's strength in order to overcome weaknesses and succeed in the team’s mission. The advances in technology are a gift to human beings and should be used for human advancement.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Last Viewing

Cast: Janice de Belen, Maro Panganiban, Sherwin Ordonez, Angel Jacob, Tommy Abuel, Leandro Baldemor; Director: Ronaldo Bertubin; Producers: Ferdinand Lapuz, Antonio de Guzman, Olivia Madrigal; Screenwriter: Romualdo Avellanosa; Distributor: David Entertainment Productions; Location: Manila; Running Time: 120 min;

Technical Assessment: 2.5
Moral Assessment: 3
CINEMA Rating: For viewers age 13 and below with parental guidance

Si Laura ay isang crematorium supervisor na tulad ng mga bangkay na kanyang sineserbisyohan ay naging malamig na ang pakikitungo sa mga tao buhat nang itinakwil siya ng ama dahil ipinagbuntis niya sa pagkadalaga si Heidi (Maro Panganiban) na isang autistic. Bagama’t mailap sa lahat ng tao, si Laura ay naging mapagmahal na ina kay Heidi. Ipinasok ni Laura si Heidi sa isang day care center at isang araw bago ang graduation nito sa kinder ay ipinamili niya ito sa isang tiangge. Nalingat si Laura at hindi napansin na naglalakad na palang palayo ang anak at tuluyan na nga itong mawawala. Hahanapin ni Laura ang anak ngunit sadyang hindi na niya ito makita. May isang manghuhulang magsasabi na si Heidi ay nasa mabuting kamay ngunit nanganganib ang buhay. Mapapanatag ng kaunti si Laura sa kasiguruhang ito na buhay pa ang anak ngunit sadyang hindi pa rin niya ito makikita. Itutuloy ni Laura ang kanyang buhay sa gitna ng kalungkutan at makalipas ang apat na taon ay muli niyang makikita ang anak sa isang kakatwang sitwasyon.

Sa simula’y may kabagalan ang kuwento at tulad ng tema at karakter ng pangunahing tauhan sa pelikula, pawang napakalamig sa manonood ng palabas. Ngunit habang tumatagal ay umiigting ang kuwento at naipapamalas ang tunay na damdamin, diwa at lalim ng pelikula. Bagama’t walang masyadong gulat at malalaking eksena, lutang na lutang ang tamang timpla ng emosyon sa kabuuan nito. Hindi matatawaran ang pagganap ni Janice de Belen na nagampanan ng buong husay ang kanyang papel bilang walang emosyon na karakter. Ito ang naging tunay na yaman ng pelikula. Sa gitna ng mapanuksong histerya na karaniwang makikita sa ibang pelikulang melodrama, nagawang panghawakan at pigilan ni de Belen ang malabis na emosyon at bugso ng damdamin. Maging ang mga pangalawang tauhan ay pawang mahuhusay din liban na lang sa ilan na pawang karikatura ang labas. Mahusay sana ang direksiyon kung naiayos lamang ang daloy at napalalim pa ang karakterisasyon. Sayang din at hindi gaanong lumutang ang kalugaran at konsepto ng pelikula na may patungkol sa mga taong “naghahanap-patay.” Ang mga kuha ng kamera ay pawang madidilim at kung minsan nama’y kakatwa ang anggulo. Pero ito marahil ang nais ipahiwatig ng Last Viewing sa kabuuan: ang dilim at gulo ng buhay at kamatayan at ang liwanag nito sa pagitan.

Maliwanag ang mensahe ng pelikula ukol sa pagmamahal, pagpaparaya at pagpapatawad. Si Laura ay halimbawa ng isang taong nawalan na ng tiwala sa lahat dahil sa kanyang naranasang pagtatakwil ng ama. Anumang pilit niyang punan ang lahat ng kakulangan sa kanyang buhay sa pamamagitan ng pagmamahal sa kanyang anak ay hindi pa rin maging sapat sapagkat napuno na ng galit ang kanyang puso. Sa kabila ng ipinapakitang panlabas na lakas ni Laura ay kitang marami rin itong kahinaan. At kahit pa akalain ng lahat na siya ay “walang puso,” busilak ang kalooban ni Laura na pawang kabutihan ang nais para sa kanyang anak at mga mahal sa buhay. Sa paghahanap niya sa kanyang anak ay kasabay niyang hinahanap ang mga sagot sa maraming katanungan – tulad ng kung paano patatawarin ang amang minsang nagtakwil sa kanya. Hangga’t hindi niya magagawang magparaya at magpatawad ng buong puso ay hindi rin niya maibibigay ang kanyang sarili kahit pa bilang ina sa kanyang anak. Sayang nga lang at pawang walang naging papel ang Diyos sa buhay ni Laura. Hindi rin siya nakita man lang na nagdasal kahit pa sa gitna ng maraming kagipitan at kadiliman sa kanyang buhay. Ngunit ang pinakamahalaga ay ang mensahe ng Last Viewing na ang lahat ng nangyayari sa ating buhay ay may mas malawak na dahilan at ang mapagmahal na Diyos ay hindi kailanman magpapabaya dahil nananatili Siyang tapat sa sinumang may malinis na hangarin. Ang kailangan lang ay maging handa rin tayong maging bukas at handa sa pagmamahal na ito.

Nothing But The Truth

Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Matt Dillon, Alan Alda, Vera Farmiga, David Schwimmer, Angela Basset, Noah Wyle; Director: Rod Lurie; Producers: Marc Frydman, Rod Lurie, Bob Yari; Screenwriter: Rod Lurie; Music: Larry Groupe; Editor: Sarah Boyd; Genre: Suspense/ Drama; Cinematography: Alik Sakharov; Distributor: Cinestar; Location: USA; Running Time: 108 min.;

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

Rachel Armstrong (Kate Beckinsale) is a passionate Washington DC investigative reporter on the rise. But her dreams plummet hard when she incurs the wrath of the White House after exposing CIA secret operative Erica Van Doren (Vera Farmiga) and then later refusing to reveal her source. Rachel is put behind bars and sent to trial with government prosecutor Patton Dubois (Matt Dillon) ruthlessly drilling hard on her. But she remains steadfast and refuses to name her source even at the expense of her freedom, her safety and her relationship with her son. As we follow the suffering Rachel experiences behind bars and the legal struggle of her lawyer, Albert Burnside (Alan Alda), as he pleads her case on First Amendment grounds, we also see Erica Van Doren fighting hard to protect her reputation in the CIA and the sanctity of her other life as a loving mother.

The movie is based on the exposition of Valerie Plame, an undercover CIA agent, and the subsequent incarceration of Judith Miller, a New York Times reporter, in 2005. Writer and director Rod Lurie delivers a powerful moral drama told from a feminine point of view. Although Beckinsdale’s performance is at times overtaken by her co-actors, she still manages to shine during the dramatic highlights and bring Rachel to life. The film is provokingly well made, drawing the audience into the struggle of the protagonists and teaching them to realize the evil of public apathy.

Nothing But the Truth raises several questions. How does a person choose during tough times? Does she value her self and her family more over truth and her principles? Does she succumb to pressure to ensure her safety and freedom? The film shows us how the line is drawn when we are asked to choose between one’s moral aptitudes versus self-preservation. At times, we have to uphold truth, justice and integrity at the expense of our personal happiness.

Our duty to our country, to the truth and to the common good should surpass our desire to protect our selves. This proves to be a painful and difficult choice, especially in times when people have become too self-centered and self absorbed. Nonetheless, it is the choice made by heroes and saints at heart.

Themes and situations in the movie will be more appreciated by mature adult viewers. The movie contains a mild sexual scene, violence and inappropriate language. Thus, parents are strongly cautioned against allowing their young and impressionable children to watch the movie.

Monday, August 3, 2009

It's Alive

ASSESSMENT ONLY
Cast: Sharon Farrell, Andrew Duggan, Michael Ansara, Guy Stockwel, John Ryan, James Dixon, Daniel Holzman, Shamus Locke, William Wellman Jr.; Director: Larry Cohen; Producer: Larry Cohen; Screenwriter: Larry Cohen; Music: Bernard Herrmann; Editor: Peter Hones; Genre: Horror/ Suspense; Cinematography: Fenton Hamilton; Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures; Location: USA; Running Time: 91 min.;

Technical Assessment: 3
Moral Assessment: 1
CINEMA Rating: For viewers 14 and above

BRIEF FILM SYNOPSIS

It's about an ordinary couple who become the parents of a bouncing baby boy. Unfortunately, the infant is a grotesque monster who embarks upon a grisly killing spree throughout Los Angeles! The cops attempt to track down the blood-thirsty babe, as the parents (who have no idea how or why this happened) try to cope with this unusual ordeal.

OUTSTANDING FEATURES OF THE FILM: The film does not show the cause that made the newly born baby a monster, engaged in killing spree of doctors and nurses on the time of his birth. However, the plot tells the audience that would be mother tried to abort the fetus but failed. Is the baby possessed by evil spirit that will lead him to murder people?