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!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore


Cast: Bette Midler, James Marsden, Nick Nolte, Christina Applegate, Michael Clarke Duncan, Neil Patrick Harris, Sean Hayes, Joe Pantoliano, Katt Williams, Chris O'Donnell
Director: Brad Peyton
Writer: Ron J. Friedman, Steve Bencich
Genre: Action/Adventure, Comedy, Family
Running Time: 82 min.

Technical: 3.5 Moral: 3 Rating: PG 13

Hairless cat Kitty Galore (voiced with gusto by Bette Midler) is an ex-MEOWS agent who is pushed by a dog into a vat filled with permanent hair remover. She is also kicked out of the house by her former masters and left out in the snow on Christmas day. She then vows to take revenge on dogs and their best friends—humans—wearing various body wigs, disguising herself as a helpless abandoned animal and a harmless house pet to secretly unleash her plan, a weapon of mass destruction. Kitty Galore’s plan, called “The Call of the Wild” is meant to be activated via an orbiting satellite to make all the dogs on the planet go mad, making her gain dominion over all cats who will then enslave humanity. But DOG, the canine counterpart of MEOWS, recruits Diggs (voiced by James Marsden), a German shepherd who loathes cats. He and partner and mentor Butch (voiced by Nick Nolte) join forces to find feisty pigeon called Seamus (voiced by Katt Williams), who alone holds vital clues to Kitty's plan. But the cats are also concerned for humanity, thus MEOWS top cat Tab Lazenby (voiced by Roger Moore) proposes a peace pact with DOG to thwart Kitty Galore’s evil scheme. Soon canine agents Diggs and Butch and MEOWS special agent Catherine (voiced by Christina Applegate) agree to set aside their natural differences in order to hunt down Kitty.

Although the target audience of this spy adventure Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore is children below 12, it’s thoughtful enough to offer something enjoyable for the youngsters’ chaperones as well. The plot and the visuals—clever and seamless CGI—make for an entertaining fable, combined with takes on other movies that grown ups easily recognize. The story and its telling is engaging enough for the young viewers who couldn’t care less who’s voicing which character, or whether or not it’s in 3D, but the oldies accompanying them certainly could make a lively game of spotting which character, line or scene is reflecting bits of James Bond, Batman, Silence of the Lambs, and others. (The title character’s name itself is a baby-talk derivative of James’ Bond’s Pussy Galore).

Judging from the cheers and the general response of the children in the audience, his Brad Peyton-directed movie will certainly enthrall the below-12 crowd who may just “see” their own household pets in the cute characters. Even though its plot is capitalizes on the old good-versus-evil formula that adults may find clicheic, Cats & Dogs: Revenge of Kitty Galore can still be mined for the valuable life lessons it envelopes—lessons on anger, revenge, hunger for power and control, and… uh… animals’ inhumanity to animals (so to speak) may be downsized to for children’s consumption.

In Your Eyes

Cast: Claudine Baretto, Anne Curtis, Richard Gutierrez Director: Mac Alejandre;Story and Screenplay: Keiko Aquino; Producer: Viva Films and GMA Films; Running Time: 100 minutes; Genre: Drama; Location: Los Angeles (California, USA) and Manila.

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

Ibinigay ni Ciara (Claudine Baretto) ang kanyang buong buhay sa pag-aaruga na nakababatang kapatid na si Julia (Anne Curtis) magmula nang mamatay ang kanilang mga magulang. Inambisyon nilang magpunta ng Amerika upang doon buuin ang kanilang pangarap na mas magandang buhay. Makakarating si Ciara sa Amerika at magtatrabaho bilang physical therapist habang inaayos ang papeles ni Julia upang kanyang maipetisyon at sumunod sa kanya. Samantala, makikilala at magiging kasintahan ni Julia si Storm (Richard Gutierrez). Nang minsang manakawan ang tinitirhang bahay ni Julia, nagmadali itong sumunod kay Ciara sa takot na balikan siya ng mga magnanakaw. Hindi pa tapos ang kanyang papeles kung kaya't student visa lamang ang kanyang nakuha. Hindi naman makakatiis si Storm at sasama ito sa kanya papuntang Amerika. Mahihirapang makahanap ng trabaho si Storm sa Amerika at minsan ay magpapasya itong bumalik na lang ng Pilipinas. Pipigilan naman siya ni Julia at maiisip nitong kumbinsihin si Ciara na pakasalan si Storm para mapadali ang pagiging legal ng papeles nito sa Amerika. Pumayag kaya si Ciara? Paano kung tuluyang mahulog ang loob ni Ciara at Storm sa isa’t isa sa kanilang pagpapanggap bilang mag-asawa?

Isang kakatwang kuwento ng mga kakatwang posibilidad ang In Your Eyes. Bagama't maaring nangyayari ito sa tunay na buhay, hindi naging kapani-paniwala o kapuri-puri ang pagkakalahad nito. Nagkulang ang pelikula sa maraming bagay katulad ng tamang hagod ng emosyon at malalim na karakterisasyon. Paanong napaibig ng isang lalaking walang kabuhay-buhay na gaya ni Storm ang dalawang babae? (Maliban na lamang kung ang hanap ng magkapatid na ito’y isang lalaking mayabang, mainitin ang ulo, isip bata, at “bagyo” kung magalit? Akma ngang “Storm” ang pangalan niya: pa-sumpong-sumpong, walang direksiyon, at mapanira.) At paano rin magiging malalim ang pagmamahalan ng isang babae’t isang lalaki kung wala man lang matibay na pundasyon at matinding pagsubok na pagdadaanan? Lumalabas na ang pagmamahalan sa pelikula ay nag-uugat lamang sa tawag ng laman.
Nakapanghihinayang ang husay nina Barreto at Curtis na nahaluan ng walang husay na pag-arte ni Gutierrez na sa kabila ng itinagal sa industriya ay kagandahang lalaki lamang ang bentahe. Puwede din naming ipikit ang mga mata namin sa pag-arte ng mga ekstrang walang ibubuga, ngunit hindi maaaring palusutin namin na ang batikang aktor na si Joel Torre na bilang doktor ay pasulpot sulpot lamang sa eksenang parang kidlat upang sa pamimilosopo niya’y maliwanagan ang landas ni Ciara.

Walang makabuluhang kurot sa damdamin ang kabuuan ng pelikula at higit pang naging katawa-tawa ito dahil sa masagwa nitong musika na ubod ng lakas at bigla na lang papasukin ang iyong pandinig habang wala naman itong kinalaman sa eksenang dumaraan sa iyong paningin. Pilit mo mang abangan sa bawat dibdibang eksena ay hindi mo makikita ang koneksiyon ng pamagat (“In Your Eyes” na pamagat din ng isang popular na awitin) ng pelikula sa takbo ng kuwento na lumaylay nang husto sa bandang dulo at pumalpak nang labis sa kabuuan.

Puno rin ng nakababahalang mensahe ang pelikula. Nariyan ang lantarang pagtatalik ng mga tauhan sa labas ng kasal; ang “safe sex” na umaasa sa nakagawiang paggamit ng condom. Nagkindatan lamang sa bar ay nauwi na sa paggawa ng mga bagay na dapat lamang ay sa mag-asawa. Pinawawalang halaga nito ang nararapat na proseso ng pag-iibigan, at sa halip na magsimula sa panunuyo, ay inuuna nito ang tawag ng laman. Ginagawa nitong makatuwiran ang maling paniniwala at gawain. Hindi ito magiging magandang halimbawa lalo na sa mga kabataan na maaaring magpadala sa mga luha ni Curtis, sa pagka “martir” ni Barretto, at sa tulis ng ilong (ahem!) ni Gutierrez.

Higit na nakababahala ay ang pinaka-sentro ng kuwento kung saan ang dalawang tao ay nagpapakasal sa kung ano-anong dahilan maliban sa pagmamahalan sa isa’t isa. Bagama't maaaring talamak na ang praktis na ito sa mga kababayan nating nasa Amerika, hindi pa rin ito dapat ginawang napaka-kaswal at kaakit-akit na gawain. Nauuwi ito sa maraming komplikasyon sa relasyon at pamilya na siya namang sinikap na ipakita ng pelikula ngunit hindi ito naging epektibo pagkat walang tunay na pagsisising naganap sa mga nagkamali upang maging sanhi ng kanilang malalim na pagbabago. Sa kabila ng kanilang sinapit, bulag pa rin sila sa katotohanang itinulak nila ang kanilang mga sarili upang masadlak sa mga sitwasyong kanilang kinahinatnan.

Maliban sa pagmamalahan ng magkapatid—na hindi rin naman matatawag na dalisay dito pagkat ang pundasyon nito ay pangangailangan at hindi tunay na paghahandog ng sarili—walang ibang uri ng karapat-dapat na pagmamahalan ang isinasaad sa pelikula. Maaaring sa mababaw manood ng pelikula o sa mga ayaw mag-isip, naging wasto na ang ipinakitang “pagmamahalan” ni Ciara at Julia, ngunit sa mga masusing manonood, butas-butas ang In Your Eyes. Pinalalabo nito ang guhit na naghihiwalay sa tama at mali. Dito ang mga tauhan ay nagtatalik, nagsasakitan at napapariwara nang walang ibang dahilan kundi ang makasariling kasiyahan at “pagmamahal”. Ang mga butas nga bang naturan ay nasa pelikula o nasa mga mata lamang ng tumitingin?

Hindi ang lahat ng nanonood ng sine ay naghahanap lamang ng libangan—mayroon sa kanilang nangangailangan ng gabay, mayroon ding hinog ang isip at mapagtanong. Tulad noong nakaupo sa likuran namin na malakas na nagwika, sabay hagikgikan, matapos ang pelikula, “Ano ba yan! Pagkatapos nyong guluhin ang buhay ng mga tao, magsasalubong lang kayo sa ibabaw ng tulay, ayos na naman?”

Ang CINEMA rin, magtatanong: “Ano nga ba talaga, direk, ang punto mo?” Ito ba’y para pukawin ang isip ng mga Pilipinong nasa Amerika? Para kumita lang ang pelikula? Para panatiliin lang na nasa eksena ang mga artista? Pero may pag-asa pa, direk. Puwede pang gumawa ng sequel ang In Your Eyes para iwasto ang mga pagkakamaling ikinakalat nito ngayon, pero pamagatan mo naman kaya ng “In God’s Eyes”?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Salt

Salt: Look beyond the action to get the message
By Teresa R. Tunay, OCDS

* Cast: Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alex Pettyfer, Gaius Charles, Victor Slezak, Marion McCorry, Jonah Keyes
Genre: Suspense/Thriller
* Running Time: 99 min.
* Director: Phillip Noyce
* Writer: Kurt Wimmer, Brian Helgeland


Salt is a curious amalgam of James Bond, Bourne Identity, McGyver and Spiderman—and because the lead character is a woman, anything the guys can do she can do better.

Salt opens with with a near naked Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie) being tortured in a North Korean dungeon to talk, but all she says, in tears, is “I am not a spy…” Actually she’s really a spy, one of CIA’s toughest and brightest A colleague, Ted Winter (Liev Schreiber) fetches her out of captivity, saying Salt owes her freedom to her admirer Mike (August Diehl), a German scientist whose forte is arachnid research and who soon after becomes her husband.
The chase begins when a Russian defector, Orlov (Daniel Olbrychski), who at interrogation pins down Salt as a KGB agent in deep cover whose mission is to assassinate Russian president Matyveyev (Olek Krupa), currently in the United States to attend the funeral of the American vice-president. The lie detector test registers truth in everything Orlov claims, leading Salt’s other colleague, Agent Peabody (Chiwetel Ejiofor) to believe Salt is really a Russian spy. Ted doesn’t believe it, however, but joins Peabody in the hunt for the elusive Salt whose main concern now is to reach her husband while evading pursuers.
Salt is one thriller you can see three times and not tire of. Jolie as the action star is at her elusive best, reportedly doing 95 percent of her stunts and exuding mystique that combines toughness and fragility. If you’ve ever seen one of those gold-plated real orchids from Singapore, you’ll know what Salt’s persona is in this film.
Originally meant for Tom Cruise (as Edwin Salt), this action masterpiece would have been generic, but because the role went to a woman, and the intriguing Angelina Jolie at that, the movie Salt took on a spicier flavor. We agree with one American film critic who says Jolie is a fine-looking woman whose lips, eyes, profile, nose, boobs, butt and indeed the whole of her enigmatic beauty has been celebrated on celluloid, but this time, Salt celebrates her ankles.
She jumps from one moving truck to another, traverses a high rise window ledge with bare hands and feet, rolls off a flyover and lands on a moving van, and descends an elevator shaft by just jumping from level to lower level—doing all those and more, the character could have died from a fractured skull, internal hemorrhage or a snapped spine, but here Salt survives without as much as spraining an ankle. Indeed, much like a grain of salt on a free fall from the shaker but defies the laws of physics and manages to escape the frying pan. (Boy, that can only happen in the cartoons!)
Salt is a curious amalgam of James Bond, Bourne Identity, McGyver and Spiderman—and because the lead is a woman, anything the guys can do she can do better. Makes you wonder if real life spies can be that good or indestructible but you don’t care for answers and instead go along with the chase because it’s advancing the story, and a good story to boot. The story is really about sleeper spies in the US, orphans trained from childhood by the Russians, to one day patriotically wreak havoc on American society and then the whole world. Evelyn Salt is supposed to be one of those orphans.
Viewers of Salt are enjoined to look beyond all the media sizzle generated by Jolie’s exceptional stunts and dive deeper into Evelyn Salt’s conflicted character. Without second thoughts and second glances she kills everyone who gets in her way but risks life and limb to save the life of her pet puppy. Aware that as a spy she can’t offer a future to the man who offers her marriage, she believes in love and marries him anyway. Brainwashed from age 12 to believe in the nobility of her murderous mission, she grows up as the compleat spy, and yet look what happens when everything is taken away from her.
If there is one very important thing Salt is leading us to examine, it is how we adults have come to regard our children. Salt may not be consciously doing it but it’s making us see what happens when children are used as pawns in vicious adult games, when their native intelligence is hewn to serve inhuman purposes, and when their innocence is sacrificed at the altar of ideology.
It’s adults with warped values who lead children into the dark to suite their destructive schemes, in the process destroying their souls. In Salt, the setting is espionage; in real life, the stakes are higher. Mothers push their children into prostitution and mendicancy. Fathers lure their daughters into incest. Governments and schools inculcate in children the culture of death attractively veneered as “reproductive health”. In Salt, orphans are programmed like dogs to kill for their masters’ own shining goal, and yet, can all the evil in the world really kill the human spirit? You might find the answer in Salt.

CINEMA RATING: Technical: 3.5 Moral: 3 R 14

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