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, October 30, 2009

ASSESSMENT ONLY
Cast: Nicholas Cage, Kristen Bell, Bill Nighy, Freddie Highmore, Donald Sutherland, Eugene Levy, Nathan Lane, Matt Lucas, Sterling Beaumons, Madeline Carolle, Charlize Theron; Director: David Bowers; Producer: Maryann Garger; Screenwriters: Timothy Harris, David Bowers; Music: John Ottman; Editor: Robert Anich Cole; Genre: Children, Science Fiction, Adventure Comedy; Cinematography: Pepe Valencia; Distributor: Summit Entertainment; Running Time: 85 mins.:

Technical Assessment: 3.5
Moral Assessment: 4
CINEMA Rating: For viewers age 13 and below with parental guidance

BRIEF FILM SYNOPSIS

Few characters have made as powerful or as lasting an impression on international popular culture as Astro Boy. The little robot first appeared in 1951 as a character in the celebrated artist and animator Osamu Tezuka’s legendary manga(Japanese comic book) and became an instant icon. He was subsequently featured as the star of his own television series in both black-and white and in color, eventually airing in over 40 countries. Astro Boy created the standard for a new form of animation that has become world famous as anime.

Now for the first time, Astro Boy is brought to life on the big screen. Created with breathtaking computer animation from Imagi Studios, the film Astro Boy is a thrilling tale of a true hero.

Set in futuristic Metro City, Astro Boy is about a young robot with incredible powers created by a brilliant scientist named Dr. Tenma (Nicolas Cage). Powered by positive “blue” energy, Astro Boy (Freddie Highmore) is endowed with super strength, x-ray vision, unbelievable speed and the ability to fly. Embarking on a journey in search of acceptance, Astro Boy encounters many other colorful characters along the way. Through his adventures, he learns the joys and emotions of being human, and gains the strength to embrace his destiny. Ultimately learning his friends and family are in danger, Astro Boy marshals his awesome super powers and returns to Metro City in a valiant effort to save everything he cares about and to understand what it means to be a hero.

Patient X

Cast: Richard Gutierrez, Cristine Reyes, TJ Trinidad, Miriam Quiambao; Director: Yam Laranas; Producers: Jose Mari Abacan, Veronique Del Rosario-Corpus, Vincent G. Del Rosario III, Yam Larnas; Screenwriters: Yam Laranas, Aloy Adlawan; Music: Nani Naguit; Editor: Chuck Gutierrez; Genre: Horrors; Cinematography: Yam Laranas; Distributor: GMA Films; Location: Manila; Running Time: 100 mins.;

Technical Assessment: 2
Moral Assessment: 1.5
CINEMA Rating: For viewers 14 and above

Dalawampung taon na ang nakalilipas nang masaksihan ni Lukas (Richard Gutierrez) ang pagpatay sa kanyang pamilya ng mga aswang dahil lang kinukuha ng mga ito si Guada (Cristine Reyes). Hindi na nahuli ang mga ito ngunit makakatanggap bigla si Lukas ng balitang ang isa sa kanila ay nahuli ng isang pulis (TJ Trinidad) na pinatay rin ng mga aswang ang buong pamilya. Magbabalik si Lukas sa kanilang lugar upang makita ang mukha ng taong pumatay sa kanyang pamilya. Nakakulong sa isang silong ng ospital ang nahuling suspek. Laking gulat niya nang makita niyang ang nahuli pala ay si Guada na bagama't dalawampung taon na ang nakalipas ay hindi nagbago ang anyo. Anumang gawin ay hindi mapatay-patay ang tulad ni Guada. Ito ang pilit na aalamin nila Lukas habang si Guada ay pilit na kinukuha ng mga kasamahan niyang aswang. Ngunit pawang napapalapit si Lukas kay Guada dahil sa naging mabait ito sa kanya. Isa pa, sinasabi ni Guada na ayaw na niyang pumatay ng tao kung kaya't hangga't maaari'y ayaw na niyang sumama sa mga kasamahang aswang. Subalit hindi titigil ang mga ito sa pagpatay sa mga tao sa ospital hangga't hindi nakukuha si Guada. Dito magsisimulang malito si Lukas kung pakakawalan ba niya o hindi si Guada.

Walang dudang maganda ang intensiyon ng pelikula. Wala rin dudang magaganda ang kuha ng kamera at may mga eksena talagang madadala ang manononood sa katakutan. Ngunit hindi pa rin maitatanggi ang napakaraming butas sa kuwento ng pelikula. Nariyang hindi malinaw kung si Guada ba ay kakampi o kaaway. Hindi rin malaman kung paanong naging malapit si Lukas kay Guada at kung paanong ang damdamin sa isang tao ay magbago sa loob lamang ng ilang oras o minuto? Hindi rin katanggap-tanngap ang maraming kamalian sa detalye tulad ng hindi pagtawag ng mas malaking puwersa gayong nalalaman nilang hindi tao ang kanilang kaaway kundi halimaw? Paanong ang isang pasyente ay maiwan sa gitna ng halos abandonado ng ospital? Ilan lamang ito sa mga katanungang iniwan ng pelikula. Sayang at maayos sana ang pagkakadirehe at ang pag-arte ng mga tauhan ay maayos naman. Ngunit kulang na kulang sa bigat at lalim ang kuwento. Maging ang kuwento ng mga aswang ay mababaw din. Walang bagong matututunan sa pelikula kundi ang kung paano patayin ang mga aswang. At maging ito ay hindi kagulat-gulat at kataka-takang hindi nila agad nalaman sa kuwento.

Ang mga aswang ba'y mga halimaw o tao ring likha ng Diyos? Ito ang katanungang gugulo sa isip ng manonood sa kanilang panonood ng Patient X. Ipinakitang nais nang magbago ni Guada ngunit hindi niya magawa dahil kailangan niyang mabuhay. Anong klaseng nilalang ang kinakailang pumatay para mabuhay? Paanong nagkakaroon ng puso ang mga katulad nila? Paano silang nagkakaroon ng damdamin gayong walang awa naman nilang kinakatay ang mga taong kanilang inaatake? Nagiging hati rin ang puso ng mga tao kung ang mga ganitong uri ba'y nararapat patayin. Kung nag-aanyong tao lamang sila ay hindi sana mahirap sagutin. Ngunit paano kung ito ay iyo nang maging kaibigan, o asawa? Sa mga ganitong uri ng sitwasyon, hindi man lang naramdaman ang pananalig ng tao sa Diyos na dapat sanang ginamit din nilang sandata sa paglaban at pagkitil sa mga kampon ng demonyo. Ngunit hindi. Nanatiling umaasa sila sa kanilng lakas kahit pa ang kanilang kaaway ay alam nilang may sa demonyong taglay. Dapat gabayan ang mga batang manonood upang sila'y mapaliwanagan na ang mga ito'y kathang isip lamang at hindi kailanman magiging mas makapangyarihan ang masama sa kabutihan.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Hurt Locker

Cast: Jeremy Renner, Anthony Makie, Brian Geraghty; Director: Kathryn Bigelow; Producers: Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal, Nicolas Chartier, Greg Shapiro; Screenwriter: Mark Boal; Music: Marco Beltrami, Buck Sanders; Editor: Chris Innis, Bob Murawski; Genre: Action/ Suspense; Cinematography: Barry Ackroyd; Distributor: Summit Entertainment; Location: Iraq; Running Time: 131 mins.;

Technical Assessment: 4
Moral Assessment: 2.5
CINEMA Rating: For mature viewers 18 and above

Sgt. William James (Jeremy Renner) is an unorthodox and reckless soldier who joins the Bravo Company as the team leader of Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) unit during the US-Iraq war in 2004. His teammates include tough and uncompromising Sgt. Sanborn (Anthony Makie) and the younger self-centered Eldridge (Brian Geraghty). James's impulsiveness irritates and causes tension within his team. However, James becomes compassionate with an Iraqi boy nicknamed Beckham and raises hell and gets Eldridge shot in the leg when he thinks Beckham was the dead boy implanted with unexploded bombs. The team is called for a final mission two days before they return to their country. They are asked to assist a situation where a helpless man strapped with time bombs is forced to wander into the military checkpoint, but James is unable to diffuse the bomb in time and is force to flee just as the bomb explodes. At this point, Sanborn breaks down and informs James he can no longer stomach the pressure of being in the EOD. After some time, James is seen bidding goodbye to his baby boy and saying that there is only one thing he really loves.

The Hurt Locker is based on the chronicles of freelance writer Mark Boal who was embedded with a US Bomb Squad in the Iraqi war of 2004. Director Bigelow transforms these accounts into a riveting film that realistically captures the psychological and physical dangers of war. The camerawork is excellent and captures the drama of the moment. The characters develop strongly and push the plot effectively. Over-all, this is an excellent anti-war movie because it does not merely moralize about the evil of war but more successfully demonstrates its horrors with the psychological fixation to violence and danger one develops.

As quoted in the opening sequence, war journalist Chris Hedges correctly illustrates that the greater evil of war is not in the physical destruction but in the moral and psychological corruption it brings. Once exposed to such amount of raw, repeated and uninhibited violence, man has the tendency to feel invincible and god-like. He becomes addicted to its thrills and risks regardless of its purpose and consequences. War, therefore, can never be justified as it never becomes a strong enough reason to not only dehumanize the victims but also to corrupt those sent out to perform the acts of violence and aggression. Naturally, the movie contains disturbing images and situations of war. The themes and scenes of the film are better suited for older and more mature audiences.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

500 Days of Summer

Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel, Geoffrey Arend, Chloe Moretz, Matthew Gray Gubler; Director: Marc Webb; Producers: Mason Novick, Jessica Tuchinsky, Mark Waters, Steven J. Wolfe; Screenwriters: Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber; Music: Mychael Danna, Ron Simonsen; Editor: Alan Edward Bell; Genre: Comedy/ Drama/ Romance; Cinematography: Eric Steelberg; Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures; Location: Los Angeles, USA; Running Time: 95 mins.;

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

In 500 Days of Summer, Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is an architect too timid to pursue his career, so he’d rather be a writer of greeting cards. Summer (Zooey Deschanel) begins work as the new assistant to Tom’s boss. He is smitten the moment he spots the pert Summer walking down the office on her first day of work, unaware she’s being noticed. Tom’s chemistry doesn’t remain one-way for long, as Summer notices and likes his looks, so one day she makes her move over the copying machine. In no time at all he falls in love with her, but while she has let him deep into her world, sees no one else but him, and says she is perfectly happy with their relationship, she wants nothing permanent—only to enjoy her life and her youth. Summer’s apparently casual attitude towards love baffles and then frustrates Tom. Sometime around the middle of 500 days serious trouble begins which later on leads to a break up. But Tom wouldn’t fall out of love and is in fact determined to get her back.

500 Days of Summer opens on Day 488 and then jumps back and forth, with each episode annotated and marked as “Day…” It is an ingenuous approach to telling a story that allows an incisive look into how love relationships “go wrong”. Billed as a “romantic comedy” this one is anything but light and laughable. In fact, through the recollection of events in a non-linear fashion, the viewer is enabled to seriously analyze how a past event affects and effects a present malady—something which involves the viewer in the characters’ lives. By Day 500 it becomes clear why things turn out the way they do, and we can only hope the characters in the story see it as clearly as we do. Screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber certainly show a good grip on a love affair’s twists and turns, which good actors Deschanel and Gordon-Levitt give justice to. The combination of those factors must have delighted director Marc Webb.

500 Days of Summer is a movie that begins by telling us how the love story will end and is about how clueless the lover is till the end. MTRCB rates it PG 13—CINEMA would be inclined to label it an adult film, due to its attempt to treat the theme deeply. The presence of a pre-adolescent girl as a “love adviser” to an older man doesn’t make it innocent or acceptable. Sex is a given here (and in fact is the main factor in the attraction between the lovers)—and, like an airborne virus, is not a good thing for young people to “catch”. There is a big lesson here about the need to be attentive to signs and signals, especially where it concerns emotions. People like to see what they want to see when it comes to love, and that is what 500 Days of Summer tries to say. Things and people are not always what they seem: while some people may be easy to read, others may be the opposite of the image they project. People hide behind masks without even being aware of it. Experience tries to teach us, but does experience season us? Perhaps the hero here will know after 100 days of .. uh…autumn?

Ang Laro ng Buhay ni Juan

Cast: Ray An Dulay, Angeli Bayani, Nico Antonio, Richard Quan, Ace Ricafort, Perry Ecano; Director: Joselito Altarejos; Producer: Beyond the Box; Screenwriters: Joselito Altarejos, Peping Salonga, Lex Bonife; Genre: Drama; Distributor: ; Location: Manila; Running Time: 100 mins.;

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

Nakapagdesisyon na si Juan (Ray An Dulay), na kilala rin ng karamihan bilang Erwin, na bumalik na sa kanyang probinsiya sa Masbate upang alagaan ang kanyang inang maysakit at tuluyan nang talikuran ang buhay sa Maynila. Magpapaalam siya sa kanyang mga kapitbahay at sa kanyang kinakasamang si Noel (Nico Antonio). Bagama't lantaran ang pakikipag-relasyon ni Juan sa kapwa lalaki, ay hindi naman lantaran ang kanyang trabaho bilang live sex performer sa isang tagong gay bar sa Maynila. Ang araw ng kanyang pag-alis papuntang Masbate ay ang huling araw na rin ng kanyang trabaho. Matapos ang gabi ng kanyang huling live performance at makuha ang kaukulang bayad dito, ay nakapagdesisyon na siyang talikuran ng permanente ang ganitong uri ng trabaho. Matapos niyang magbakasakali sa Maynila ng tatlong taon ay kung anu-anong trabaho na rin ang pinasok niya ngunit hindi niya nakuha ang suwerteng inaasam. Ngayong buo na ang loob niyang talikuran ang mapaglarong siyudad, manalo na kaya siya sa kanyang pagtaya sa bagong kapalaran?

Payak kung maituturing ang kuwento ng pelikula na sinundan lamang ang isang araw sa buhay ng isang taong nais magbagong-buhay. Ngunit ang kapayakang ito ang nagpahatid at naglahad ng epektibong kuwento ng mga taong ang buhay ay nakatago sa dilim. Kitang-kita ang pagkakaiba ng buhay ni Juan sa araw at gabi. Isang tipikal na kuwento ng mga taong nasadlak sa kahirapan at may hanapbuhay na hindi nila kayang ipagmalaki. Maganda at totoong-totoo ang eksenang ipinakita sa pelikula. Malinaw ang pagkakalahad ng kuwento na hitik sa simbolismo. Mahuhusay din ang mga nagsiganap na bagama't mga hindi kilala at hindi malalaking pangalan sa industriya ay nagawang magampanan ang kanilang papel nang makatotohanan. Maganda ang direksiyon ng pelikula sa kabuuan dahil na rin sa naging matapat ito sa mga katotohanan ng lipunan na bihira na lang mapansin ng karamihan.

Marami ang katulad ni Juan – mga nagbakasakali sa Maynila ngunit hindi nagtagumpay. Dalisay kung titingnan sa kabuuan ang pagkatao ni Juan. Bagama't nakipagrelasyon sa kapwa lalaki, ipinakita naman na tapat siya kung magmahal at mapagmalasakit sa kapwa. Sa kabila ng kanyang hanapbuhay bilang live sex performer ay mabuti pa rin siyang anak sa kanyang ina at mabait din siya sa kanyang mga kapitbahay. Yun nga lang, sadyang mapaglaro ang tadhana sa mga tulad ni Juan kung kaya't nasasadlak sila sa mga hanapbuhay na hindi nila buong-pusong ginusto. Dapat silang unawain sa halip na husgahan. Ngunit nakababahala pa rin na nagiging katanggap-tanggap na sa lipunan ang pagsasama ng dalawang lalaki na parang mag-asawa. Hindi kailanman magiging panghabang-buhay ang ganitong relasyon at makasisira ito sa pagbuo ng pamilya. Hindi rin dapat gawing dahilan ang kahirapan upang masadlak sa prostitusyon at gawaing nakasentro sa tawag ng laman. Pero kung tutuusin ay biktima lamang ang mga katulad ni Juan ng sitwasyon. Katulad ng ipinakita sa pelikula, hindi ang mga gaya niya ang tunay na masasama kundi iyong mga taong pinagsasamantalahan ang kasawian ng iba. Labis na nakakababaha rin ang ilang ipinakitang eksena ng hubaran sa pelikula lalo na ang pagtatalik ng lalaki sa kapwa lalaki. Bagama't malinaw sa konteksto ng pelikula na ito'y isang naiiba at madilim na mundo, maari pa rin itong magpadumi sa utak ng manonood at makaimpluwensiya ng pag-iisip ng mga kabataan. Kaya't nararapat lamang ang pelikula sa mga manonood na may gulang na 18 pataas.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sanglaan

Cast: Joem Bascon, Jess Evardone, Ina Feleo, Flor Salanga, Neil Ryan Sese, Tessie Tomas; Director: Milo Sogueco; Producers: Gay Ace Domingo, Milo Sogueco; Screenwriters: Gay Ace Domingo, Audie Gonzales; Music: Darryl Shy; Editor: J. M. Basa; Genre: Drama; Cinematography: Alma dela Peña; Distributor: Cinemalaya Foundation; Location: Manila; Running Time: 110 mins.;

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

Si Amy (Ina Feleo) ay nagtatrabaho sa isang sanglaan na pagmamay-ari ng kanyang tiyahin na si Olivia (Tessie Tomas), ang nagpalaki sa kanya matapos sumakibalang-buhay ang kanyang mga magulang noong bata pa siya. Bagama’t nalulugi na ang sanglaan ay hindi ito magawang ipasara ng kanyang Tiya Olivia bilang paggalang sa alaala ng yumao nitong asawa kahit pa ang mga anak nito ay nais na siyang ipetisyon sa Amerika. Sa sanglaan at sa kanyang Tiya Olivia umiikot ang buhay ni Amy at kahit siya’y halos tatlumpung-taon gulang na’y hindi siya halos nakakapamasyal mag-isa at hindi pa rin nagkakaron ng nobyo. Hanggang sa makilala at mabibighani siya sa bagong boarder sa itaas ng sanglaan na si David (Joem Bascon), isang seaman na nag-aabang ng magandang kapalaran patungong ibang bayan. Dito magsisimulang magsubok si Amy na buksan ang sarili sa maraming posibilidad ng buhay sa labas ng apat na sulok ng sanglaan.

Malalim ang pinaghuhugutan ng kuwento ng Sanglaan na ginamit ang katahimikan upang maiparating ito. Naging epektibo naman ito sa kabuuan dahil sa magagandang kuha ng kamera at mahuhusay na pagganap ng lahat ng tauhan. Hindi karaniwang pelikula ang Sanglaan sapagkat di tulad ng karaniwang kuwento, walang masyadong aksyon sa pelikula. Walang hagulgulan, walang histerya at walang gaanong gulatan. Ang lahat ng ito’y pawang sinadya ng mga kuwentista ng pelikula: ang ipakita ang pang-araw-araw na buhay ng mga taong nakakahon sa kani-kanilang mundong ginagalawan. Ngunit tila hindi gaanong naging kaaya-aya sa mga manonood. Marahil ay nasobrahan ng katahimikan ang pelikula at hindi nito lahat naiparating ang tunay na mensaheng nais sabihin. Marahil, nagpadala pa rin ang pelikula sa agos ng kombensiyon at hindi pa rin naiwasan ang paminsan-minsang melodramatikong paglalahad. Sa bandang huli’y mas maraming tanong kaysa sagot na maiiwan sa manonood at naroon ang pakiramdam ng pagkabitin hindi lamang sa kuwento ng pelikula kundi pati na rin sa kung ano ang nais nitong sabihin.

Sa kabila ng maraming iniwang tanong ng pelikula, may mangilan-ngilang malinaw na mensahe itong nais iparating. Nariyan ang pagpapahalaga sa mga magagandang ala-ala at sentimyento. Ito ang dahilan kung bakit ayaw ipasara ni Olivia ang kanyang sanglaan. Ito rin ang dahilan kung bakit pilit na sinasalba ng ilan sa mga tauhan ang ilang kagamitang puno ng ala-ala ng kanilang mahal sa buhay. Sa panahon ng kagipitan, nariyan ang sanglaan na siyang magbibigay ng panandaliang solusyon sa pangangailangan ng mga tao. Ngunit ito nga ay panandalian lamang at walang kasiguruhan. Inihantulad ang buhay ng tao sa isang sanglaan kung saan nakasangla ang buhay nating lahat sa isang kapalarang hindi natin nalalaman. Gaano man kahalaga ang ginto, alahas at ilang materiyal na bagay, may ala-ala man itong iniwan o wala, isa ang tunay na mahalaga at dapat pahalagahan ng tao ayon sa pelikula – pagmamahal at makahulugang relasyon. Magagawang isangla ng isang tao maging ang kanyang buhay alang-alang sa taong minamahal.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Julie and Julia

Cast: Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Stanley Tucci, Chris Messina, Linda Emond, Helen Carey, Mary Lynn Rajskub; Director: Nora Ephron; Producers: Nora Ephron, Laurence Mark, Amy Robinson, Eric Steel; Screenwriters: Nora Ephron, Julie Powell; Music: Alexandre Desplat; Editor: Richard Marks; Genre: Comedy; Cinematography: Stephen Goldblatt; Distributor: Sony Pictures Entertainment; Location: New York, USA; Running Time: 123 mins.;

Technical Assessment: 3.5
Moral Assessment: 4
CINEMA Rating: For viewers 14 and above

The movie is based on two novels Julie Powell’s “Julie and Julia” and Julia Child’s “My Life in France”. It follows the struggles and triumphs of two women from two different eras. Both women are lost and searching to fill up the void in their lives. Julia Child (Meryl Streep) is a 1940s housewife to a sophisticated diplomat, Paul (Stanley Tucci). She is sweet and loving and very bored with her humdrum life. Eventually she finds her fulfillment after taking French cooking lessons in Cordon Bleu and proceeding to write the very first French cookbook in English. Meanwhile, 50years later, Julie Powell (Amy Adam) is about to turn 30 and feels she has done nothing significant in her life, save for working in an agency talking calls to comfort 9-11 survivors. With the encouragement of her husband Eric (Chris Messina), she decides to cook all of Julia Child’s 524 recipes in 365 days.

The movie is a sumptuous visual and emotional feast. Streep delivers a powerful and endearing portrayal of a 1940’s housewife struggling to make sense of her life. Nora Ephron perfectly combines two different lives at the crossroad of an emotional dilemma. The parallelism created is brilliant as two simple plots with two real characters digging deep within themselves to find the courage to transform and become the persons they were meant to be within the context of a successful marital relationship. The production design succeeds in shuttling the audience from the 1940s to 1990s seamlessly.

Julie and Julia pays tribute to marriage and the role of spouses. It presents a very positive view of marriage and value’s the support of the partner in one’s endeavors. The movie also talks about determination and self-reliance amidst the struggle, not only to be successful, but also to be useful and fulfilled. In times, when woman are working and deep into the corporate rat race, it is refreshing to see a movie where the husband does not criticize, compete or forbids the wife. Instead, the husbands in the movie are very supportive and encouraging. Since the subject matter of the movie discusses mature issues, it might not be suitable for very young children. There are some sexual reference and inappropriate language. Teenagers should be accompanied and guided by an adult when watching the film.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

G-Force

Cast (Voice): Sam Rockwell, Jon Favreau, Nicolas Cage, Penelope Cruz, Steve Buscemi, Tracy Morgan; Director: Hoyt Yeatman; Producer: Jerry Bruckheimer; Screenwriters: Cormac Wibberley, Marianne Wibberley; Music: Trevor Rabin; Editor: Mark Goldblatt, Jason Hellman; Genre: Action. Adventure, Family, Fantasy; Cinematography: Bojan Bazelli; Distributor: Walt Disney Studious Motion Pictures; Location: Los Angeles, USA; Running Time: 88 min;

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

Veterinarians Ben (Zach Galifianakis) and Marcie (Kelli Garner) have in their laboratory a quartet of “genetically engineered” rodents—guinea pigs Darwin (voice of Sam Rockwell), Juarez (Penelope Cruz), and Blaster (Tracy Morgan); and a mole named Speckles (Nicolas Cage). They’re supposed to be an “elite” FBI team, the “G-Force”—and together with a fly with no speaking parts they are expected to bust the machinations of electronic magnate Saber (Bill Nighy). Saber is a power-tripping billionaire who wants to control the world through home appliances that transform into deadly computerized killers that when clumped together can further transmogrify into high-tech giants stomping on everything and everyone in sight. The G-Force team’s assignment is to squash this megalomaniac’s plot by getting into the heart of his computer network that controls the appliances.

The plot looks promising enough: guinea pigs versus coffeemakers, blenders, refrigerators, etc. Picture that: if all the gadgets you can plug into your home’s electrical circuit are programmed to attack you, what are your chances of being saved from doom by guinea pigs? Although they are “genetically engineered” to outsmart computer wizards, don’t we either just welcome rodents as mere caged pets or eradicate them as pests in our homes? For all its CGI sophistication G-Force comes across as a bland dish which needs much more chili and garlic than its spunkiest voice-performers Penelope Cruz and Nicolas Cage can provide. Lovers of furry little things that we are, we sort of expected some real original stuff that would finally win the world’s respect for these humble creatures—after all, rodents make up more than one-third of all living mammal species on earth. We hoped G-Force would make us ooh and aah, like Up, or Wall-E, but instead, we came out of the theatre thinking, “Yeah, they’re cute.” Period. And the human characters (Galifianakis, Gerner, Nighy) served as mere props—they might have appeared more alive had they been animated.

There is one important message that is in danger of being buried under all that madcap action, and that is: the value of believing in yourself. It’s articulated towards the end of the story, as something is revealed to the rodents that threatens to dampen their enthusiasm for their world-saving mission. Notice also that the mice outsmart men here, but not because they’re smarter than humans per se, but because this being a good-vs-evil story, the fight is between those who destroy and those who save others from destruction. Of course, those who save, win. Visually, young children will enjoy G-Force; thinking adults will benefit from it.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Fame

Cast: Naturi Naughton, Kay Panabaker, Megan Mullaly, Charles S. Dutton, Kelsey Grammer, Bebe Neuwirth and Debbie Allen ; Director: Kevin Tancharoen; Producers: Mark Canton, Gary Lucchesi, Tom Rosenberg, Richard S. Wright; Screenwriters: Allison Burnett, Christopher Gore; Music: Mark Isham; Editor: Myron L. Kerstein; Genre: Romance, Comedy, Musical; Cinematography: Scott Kevan; Distributor: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM); Location: Los Angeles, USA; Running Time: 107 min.;

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

Fame is a remake of a 1980’s film of the same title. In is set in a New York performing arts school named Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts where we see aspiring actors, singers and dancers from their auditions until their graduation four years later. Jenny (Kay Panabaker) wants to be an actress but is too uptight and shy to let go. Marco (Asher Book) is a carefree singer who falls in love with Jenny. Meanwhile Denise (Naturi Naughton) studies classical piano at her parents insistence when she longs to be a pop singer and Malik (Collins Pennie) hides from his mom that he is enrolled as an actor-rapper. Making sure that the students are well rounded is Principal Angela Simms (Debby Allen) and several other performing arts teacher who show the students how life and drama are intertwined.

There is no reason to produce a Fame remake other than to ride on the success of other musical films. The angst and struggle that made the 1980 version successful is no longer present in the 2009 version. While the characters and their issues are cleaner, the passion and brilliance are disappointing. A main problem is that it tries to present 10 different stories spanning four years in 107 minutes. So no one goes beyond being sketchy caricature stereotypes. The production design’s shoddiness is emphasized over time as none of the characters change appearance even though the plot spans four years. The musical numbers, though, are entertainingly good, showcasing the talents of the casts. Director Kevin Tachareon manages to bring energy to the scenes.

Fame
challenges parental authority especially when what they want contradicts what their children feel should be done. No matter if parents only have their child’s welfare in mind. Although being assertive and determined to achieve something important and fulfilling is a laudable virtue, it should not be made at the expense of a strict or uncompromising parent who wishes only to ensure that their children are always on the right path. Fame questions fame itself. It presents success and popularity secondary to having Christ at the center and being fulfilled personally. Fame is not the product of discipline, perseverance and talent but a bonus to being accomplished as a person, as a member of society and as a child of God. Fame emphasizes being true to oneself and using this honesty to harness and unleash one’s creativity and talent. However, the movie contains scenes involving suicide, a sexual situation, underage drinking, bad language and compromising scenes and situations--definitely not suitable for very young audiences.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

Cast: Michael Douglas, Jesse Metcalfe; Director: Peter Hyams; Producers: Mark Damon, Limor Diamant, Mosche Diamant, Michael P. Flannigan, Ted Hartly, Peter Hyams; Screenwriters: Peter Hyams, Douglas Morrow; Music: David Shire; Editor: Jeff Gullo; Genre: Action, Drama; Cinematography: Peter Hyams; Distributor: Anchor Bay Entertainment; Location: USA; Running Time: 105 min.;

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

Ambitious TV reporter and journalist C.J. Nicholas (Jesse Metcalfe) is doubtful of star district attorney Mark Hunter's way of putting criminals behind bars. C.J. is convinced that Hunter presents planted evidence through DNA results in cases reliant on circumstantial evidence in order to convict criminals and set outstanding record for his political ambitions. As C.J. aspires for a Pulitzer Prize, he frames himself for the murder of a prostitute to prove his convictions about Hunter. He records himself setting-up circumstantial evidence point to him until he is caught. He then waits for the perfect timing in court to catch Hunter in the act of presenting falsified evidence. But then Hunter turns out to be more ruthless than he thought so things do not turn out as planned.

The film is an inferior remake of a 50's film noir. The premise remains to be controversial and interesting but apparently flawed and quite stupid. Implicating one's self in a crime to prove a point is preposterous especially if what's at stake is just an ambitious and imaginary award like a Pulitzer for TV reporting. The first act is definitely dragging and boring and Tamblyn's role is nothing but functional until the end of second act. Douglas delivers well but appears over-the-top in the presence of amateurish Metcalfe. The film gets exciting though towards the climax but the display of other twists and turns is quite a disappointment and spoils the entire experience of viewers.

The film effectively portrays how one's ambitions could turn into corruption. One that is present even in the judicial system just for one’s personal interest and gain. Hunter's character is a clear manifestation of the flawed justice system. But Nicholas' selfish ambition does not make any difference. His interest is pure and noble at the onset and the journalistic method to find out the truth is commendable but it proves to be as cruel, if not more cruel than Hunter's. In the end, the audience is left with more questions and a stronger dismay of truth's relativity and elusiveness. Farrel's character, although functional, has remained consistently pure and loyal to truth and justice which eventually prevailed in the story. One very disturbing message though is the casual sexual intercourse between her and Nicholas which is obviously outside the confines of marriage. This and the film's entire theme and premise are fit only for audiences 18 years old and above.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Ugly Truth

Cast: Katherine Heigl, Gerard Butler, ; Director: Robert Luketic; Producers: Kimberly di Bonaventura, Gary Lucchesi, Deborah Jelin Newmyer, Steven Reuther, Tom Rosenbeg, Kirsten Smith; Screenwriters: Nicole Eastman, Karen McCullah Lutz; Music: Aaron Zigman; Editor: Lisa Zeno Churgin; Genre: Romantic Comedy; Cinematography: Russell Carpenter; Distributor: Columbia Pictures; Location: Los Angeles, California; Running Time: 95 min.;

Technical Assessment: 2.5
Moral Assessment: 1.5
CINEMA Rating: For mature viewers 18 and above

Abby Ritcher (Katherine Heigl) is an award-winning producer of a morning show whose ratings are slowly dropping. Mike Chadway (Gerard Butler) is crude host of a late night talk show entitle the Ugly Truth. Abbey is a conservative control freak who can’t get a man to date her after their first dinner. Mike is a cynical chauvinist who thinks women try to hard when men are only after sex. After a heated argument on-air, Abbey and Mike are forcibly teamed up when he is hired by her boss to spice up the ratings of her program. As expected, the two clash at every occasion as Abby finds Mike vulgar and disgusting while Mike thinks Abby is uptight and domineering. However, Mike does spruce up the ratings, salvages the relationship of his married anchors and proves to make the right decision so Abby can get her neighbour Colin (Eric Winter) interested in her. Thing take another twist when both realize they have feelings for each other and share a passionate kiss. But the ugly truth is the relationship cannot work.

The ugly truth about The Ugly Truth is that is tries so hard to be original and funny but ends up being a poor deconstruction of When Harry Met Sally. The scenes rely on crude sex jokes for laughs and fail to elicit genuine tickles and brilliant comedy. The story is predictable and offers nothing new to keep the audience watching after the first 30 minutes. Romance does not surface with Heigl and Butler’s non-existent chemistry and their flat and unsympathetic performances. Even the hot air balloon chroma looks crude and old. The only thing memorable about the movie is the choices of contemporary music.

The movie tries to intellectualize men-women differences and relationships. It has hoped to say two important things. One, that no matter how cruel fate has been, there is always a window for happiness if one dares to jump into the moment. Two that a relationship can never be based on concepts and theories and that true love begins when one accepts the other for who she really is. However, all it achieves is to be a collection of offensive uncensored sex jokes and bad language. Not only has the movie trivialized man-women interaction and reduced relationship as an excused to be licentious, it also portrays men as shallow and insensitive primates. The movie is not suitable for young impressionable teenagers and a waste of time for the adults.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Nandito Ako..... Nagmamahal Sa'yo

Cast: Kris Bernal, Aljur Abrenica, Baron Geisler, Ana Capri, Julio Diaz, Lloyd Samartino, Valeen Montenegro; Director: Maryo J. delos Reyes; Screenwriter: Jake Tordesillas; Genre: Drama; Distributor: Regal Films; Location: Manila and Bohol; Running Time: 105 min.;

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

Si Tata (Aljur Abrenica) ay mag-isang pinalaki ng kanyang ina (Ana Capri) sa Quiapo. Dahil sa hirap ng kanilang buhay ay mapipilitan ang ina ni Tata na kumapit sa patalim nang lingid sa kanyang kaalaman. Masasangkot ito sa ilegal na bentahan ng droga at mapipilitan itakas ang pera bunsod ng malubhang karamdaman. Ang lahat ng ito ay hindi malalaman ni Tata hanggang marating nilang mag-ina ang Bohol, ang lugar ng kanyang hindi nakilalang ama. Ipapakilala si Tata sa kanyang ama (Lloyd Samartino) ngunit hindi siya nito agad na matatanggap lalo pa't mayroon na itong pamilya at ang nag-iisa niyang anak na si Prince (Baron Geisler) ay abala sa kanyang kasal. Nang malaman ni Prince ang tungkol kay Tata ay tatanggapin niya ito sa kundisyong magpapa-DNA test muna. Gayunpaman, magiging maayos naman ang pakitungo nila kay Tata. Ngunit makikilala ni Tata ang pakakasalan ni Prince na si Steph (Kris Bernal) at siya'y mabibighani dito. Sapagkat abala sa maraming bagay si Prince, maiiwan madalas si Steph kay Tata at silang dalawa'y magkakalapit. Dahil dito'y magsisimulang malito si Steph sa kanyang nararamdaman kay Prince at hindi nito malaman kung itutuloy pa niya ang pagpapakasal.

Bagama't kung tutuusin ay gasgas na ang kuwentong inihain ng pelikula, nagawa pa rin nitong bigyan ng bagong bihis ang lumang istorya sa pamamagitan ng paglalagay nito sa dalawang magkaibang lugar – ang magulo't masalimuot na Quiapo at ang matulain at payapang Bohol. Ito rin ang dalawang lugar na nag-uugnay sa dalawang pangunahing tauhan. Maganda ang mga kuha sa Bohol at talaga namang nakabibighani at mapapaibig ang sinumang makakapunta rito. Sayang nga lang at hindi gaanong napagyabong sa kuwento ang pag-iibigan ng dalawang pangunahing tauhan at hindi rin gaanong naging napakabigat ang tatsulok na pag-ibig dahil halata at pilit na ginawang bagay sina Tata at Steph at si Prince ay naging pawang panggulo lamang. Samakatuwid ay pawang wala naman talagang dapat pagpilian si Steph sa simulang-simula pa. Labas tuloy ay sadyang mahina ang kanyang karakter pagdating sa pamimili at pagdedesisyon. Kakatwa rin ang ilang mga linya na sa halip na lumabas na madrama ay nagiging katawa-tawa. Isang malaking kahinaan ng pelikula ang kalamlaman ng pag-arte ng dalawang panghunahing tauhan. Wala tuloy epekto ang daloy ng emosyon dahil hindi nila ito naipakita at naipadama ng maayos.

Dalisay ang kuwentong pag-ibig na ipinakita sa pelikula. Kitang pinahahalagahan nito ang pagkakabuklod ng pamilyang Pilipino, lehitimo man o hindi ang anak ay dapat bigyang ng pantay na suporta at pagmamahal. Nakatutuwang makita na bagama't lumaki sa isang magulong lugar na tulad ng Quaipo ay nagawang palakihin ng kanyang ina si Tata na may pananampalataya at takot sa Diyos. Si Steph naman na lumaki sa karangyaan ay pinalaking nanalig sa Diyos at mapagpakumbaba. Nakababahala nga lang ang ginawang pagkapit sa patalim ng ina ni Tata upang makapunta lamang sila ng Bohol at masiguro ang pagsuporta ng ama nito sa kanyang pag-aaral. Maaari naman itong unawin sa kadahilanang nauubusan na rin siya ng panahon dahil siya ay may karamdaman na. Yun nga lang, bakit sa bandang huli'y mas nagtagumpay pa rin ang masasamang loob sa halip na sila ay maparusahan? Bagama't kita sa mga mata ni Tata ang pagnanasa kay Steph sa unang araw pa lamang ng kanilang pagkikita ay pilit niyang pinigilan ito at hindi siya gumawa ng anumang hakbang na ikasisira ng kanilang pagkakaibigan at pati na rin sa relasyon niya sa kanyang kapatid sa ama. Marahil ay kapalaran na ang sadyang nagtutulak sa dalawa kung kaya't sila'y naging magkalapit at tunay nga namang mas karapat-dapat sila sa isa't-isa. Pinakita rin ang kabanalan ng sakramento ng kasal na hindi dapat ipinipilit ayon lamang sa kagustuhan ng ibang tao. Ang sakramentong ito ay iginagalang at dapat na pinagbubuhusan ng malalim na pagpapasya hanggang sa pinakahuling sandali.

Pandorum

ASSESSMENT ONLY
Cast: Dennis Quaid, Ben Foster, Cam Gigandet, Antje Traue; Director: Christrian Alvart; Producers: ; Screenwriter: Travis MIlloy; Music: Michl Britsch; Editor: Philipp Stahl, Yvonne VAldez; Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy; Cinematography: Wedigo von Schultzendorff ; Distributor: Cinestar; Location: Berlin, Germany; Running Time: 110 min.;

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

BRIEF FILM SYNOPSIS

It tells the terrifying story of two crew members stranded on a spacecraft who quickly realize they are not alone. Two astronauts awaken in a hyper-sleep chamber aboard a seemingly abandoned spacecraft. Its pitch black, they are disoriented, and the only sound is a low rumble and creak from the belly of the spacecraft. They can't remember anything – who are they, what is their mission? The only way out of the chamber is a dark and narrow airshaft. Corporal Bower (Foster), the younger of the two, crawls inside, while the other, Lt. Payton (Quaid), stays behind for guidance on a radio transmitter. As Bower ventures deeper and deeper into the ship, he begins to uncover a terrifying reality. Slowly the spacecraft's shocking and deadly secrets come unraveled, and the astronauts realize that the survival of mankind hinges on their actions.