Thursday, October 21, 2010

Life as we know it

CAST: Katherine Heigle, Josh Duhamel, Josh Lucas, Christina Hendricks, Hayes MacArthur, Jean Smart, Melissa McCarthy, Majandra Delfino, Faizon Love, Will Sasso. DIRECTOR: Greg Berlanti. WRITERS: Ian Deitchman, Kristin Rusk Robinson GENRE: Comedy-Drama. RUNNING TIME: 115 minutes. LOCATION: United States. DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Bros.

R 14 (For viewers aged 14 and above)

Holly Berenson (Katherine Heigl) is an up-and-coming caterer and Eric Messer (Josh Duhamel) is an aspiring network sports director. After a disastrous first (blind) date arranged by their best friends Peter and Alison Novack (Hayes MacArthur and Christina Hendricks) the only thing they have in common in their dislike for each other and their love for their goddaughter Sophie, the child of Peter and Alison. When Sophie’s parents die in a car accident, Holly and Messer find themselves the unwilling surrogate parents as stated in the Novacks’ will. Messer and Holly are oil and water forced to live under the same roof in raising a child not their own. When they realize Sophie is an orphan and has nobody else in the world, they agree to put aside their differences. Parenting is done in earnest as Holly and Messer juggle career ambitions and competing social calendars to honor their best friends’ wish. (Warner Bros.)

Fans of Katherine Heigl will love this movie—besides being easy on the eyes, Heigl has good comic timing, which explains why she is so much in demand for rom-coms. It’s good to remember that Life As We Know It is a romantic comedy, a genre that may include the facts of life and living but which also may capitalize on these facts as props to justify the improbable plot. The most factual thing about this movie is its portrayal of details where it concerns the experience of sharing a home with a baby: the sleepless nights, poop-and-vomit management, feeding time tantrums, and god-knows-what-other tragedies that can be caused by an unattended toddler.

Like most rom-coms, Life As We Know It comes across as formulaic and in many instances may feel like an expanded television 30-minuter; but unlike most rom-coms, it is premised on love for others, concern for the helpless, trust and loyalty among friends, and goodwill of neighbors. Points for reflection are: 1) having to care for a baby when one is not prepared for it, and 2) what a shared experience of raising an orphan can do to erstwhile enemies. While being surrogate parents to a toddler helps them mature as persons, proximity accelerates physical intimacy between the pair, leading them to skip courtship—which is what happens in so many Hollywood movies, when boy and girl bed even before they get to know each other’s name. Despite the laughs and the artifice, Life As We Know It may still move you to be involved—especially as Sophie begins to call her surrogate mother “mama”—to be concerned about the future of so many Sophies in our midst.--Teresa R. Tunay

The Town

CAST: Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively, Pete Postlethwaite, Chris Cooper. DIRECTOR: Ben Affleck. SCREENPLAY: Ben Affleck, Peter Craig and Aaron Stockard, based on the novel “Prince of Thieves” by Chuck Hogan. CINEMATOGRAPHY: Robert Elswit. MUSIC: David Buckley, Harry Gregson-Williams. GENRE: Drama-thriller. RUNNING TIME: 124 minutes. LOCATION: United States. DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Bros.

CBCP-CINEMA ratings: TECHNICAL: 3.5 MORAL: 2.5 R 18 (Restricted to viewers aged 18 and above)

Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck) is an unrepentant criminal, the de facto leader of a group of ruthless bank robbers who pride themselves in stealing what they want and getting out clean. With no real attachments, Doug never has to fear losing anyone close to him. But, that all changes on the gang's latest job, when they briefly take a hostage, bank manager, Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall). They let her go unharmed, but sometime later she meets an unassuming and rather charming man named Doug... not realizing that he is the same man who only days earlier had terrorized her. The instant attraction between them gradually turns into a passionate romance that threatens to take them both down a dangerous, and potentially deadly, path. (Warner Bros).

Director and co-writer Affleck's screen version of Chuck Hogan's 2004 novel "Prince of Thieves" is meant to be a serious film , yet it is able to cater to the crowd that finds thrills in car chases and bloody bank heists. The story is clear and is enhanced by good direction and tight editing. Cinematography is well-conceived, imbuing a sense of urgency and tension to high- action footage and an intimate feel to close ups that capture the depth of each character’s portrayal. Casting couldn’t have been better, as proven by the flawless acting of the lead characters. Affleck has done a good directing job in that he is able to pull together otherwise ordinary elements into a fresh, cohesive whole.

Can a man commit crimes with impunity and still love anyone else but himself? Can a lifetime of violence be reversed by an uttered intention to change? It seems a tribute to the good in man that one who has been brought up in violence and crime—inheriting his bank-robbing “career” from his father as part of a warped but accepted cultural tradition, much like in the olden days when fathers and grandfathers molded their progeny to their trade—still has a modicum of human goodness in him to resolve to turn his back on evil and take the road to decency. But the will to change is tested and tried through time. There are people who have been killed, abused, betrayed and denied—may the offender simply dispose of them in the new world he wants to create? In this film, time and the future are left to the viewer. Nonetheless, The Town gains merits in painfully trying to depict the effect of the “sins of our fathers” on us and in giving hope to those who yearn for a better world. A sensitive and morally weighty film, but its theme won’t interest young teens, and its well-intended message may be missed, if not misconstrued, by immature viewers.-By Teresa R. Tunay

Monday, October 18, 2010

Petrang Kabayo

Cast: Vice Ganda, Eugene Domingo, Luis Manzano, Candy Pangilinan, Gloria Romero, John Arcilla; Director: Wenn Deramas; Screenplay: Mel-Mendoza Del-Rosario ; Producer-Distributor: Viva Films; Running Time:120 minutes; Location: Manila; Genre: Comedy

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

Nakaranas ng malabis na kalupitan si Peter (Vice Ganda) sa kamay ng kanyang ama (John Arcilla) nung siya’y bata pa.Dahilan upang siya’y maglayas. Mabuti na lamang at natagpuan siya ng isang haciendera (Eugene Domingo) na kinupkop siya at itinuring na sariling anak. Subalit lalaking malupit si Peter sa mga tao man o hayop lalo na sa mga kabayo dahil na rin sa dinanas niyang hirap sa kanyang ama na ginawa siyang panghalili sa kabayo sa kalesa nito. Nang mamatay ang itinuring na ina at ipinamana sa kanya ang hacienda, lalong naging malupit si Peter sa mga tauhan nila. Dahil sa malabis na kalupitang ito ni Peter sa mga hayop ay isusumpa siya ng diyosa ng mga kabayo na sa tuwing siya ay magagalit o magmamalupit sa hayop man o tao ay magiging isang kabayo siya kung kaya’t siya'y magiging si Petrang Kabayo. Magawa kaya ni Peter na magbago dala ng sumpang ito?

Bagama’t hindi maiiwasang maihambing ang Petrang Kabayo na ito sa orihinal na bersyon ni Roderick Paulate noon, masasabi namang nagawa ng pelikulang punuan ang inaasahan ng manonood na maaliw. Salamat sa napakahusay na pagganap ni Ganda bilang Petrang Kabayo at nagawa nitong palutangin ang katatawanan sa kabila ng mangilan-ngilang kabagalan ng pelikula sa pagkukuwento. Dahil kay Ganda, nabigyang buhay ang kabuuan ng tauhan at kuwento ni Petrang Kabayo. Pawang mahuhusay din naman ang kanyang mga kasamang tauhan ngunit dahil siya ang bida at ito ang kauna-unahan niyang pagbibida sa pelikula, ay malaki ang inaasahan sa kanya. Nagampanan naman niya ng buong husay ito at walang humpay sa kakatawa ang mga manonood. Ang sunod na lamang sigurong aabangan ay kung makaya pa kaya niyang masundan o mahigitan ang nagawa niya sa Petrang Kabayo. Hindi kaya maglaon ay maumay rin ang manonood sa kanya at sa kanyang mga patawa?

Maganda ang pangunahing mensahe ng pelikula ukol sa pakikipag-kapwa tao at pakikitungo sa iba pang nilalang ng Diyos tulad ng hayop, na sa pelikula ay naka-sentro sa kabayo. Ang hayop, tulad ng tao ay dapat ding inaaruga, pinagmamalasakitan at binubusog ng pagmamahal. Inakala ni Peter sa simula na makatarungan ang kanyang pagiging malupit , gawa ng mga naranasan niyang kalupitan mula sa ama, ngunit nagkamali siya at natauhan din naman sa bandang huli na hindi ito nararapat. Napagtanto din niyang sa kabila ng lahat ng kalupitan at kasamaang dinanas sa ama ay pawang kabutihan naman ang ginawa sa kanya ng nag-ampon sa kanya. Matagal bago naghilom ang sugat ni Peter na siya sigurong magiging tanong ng mga manonood. Una, bakit ang tagal pa rin naalis ng poot sa kanyang puso gayong nagkaroon na siya ng magandang buhay? Pangalawa, kinakailangan pa bang magkasakit ang isang tao upang siya ay magbago? Pangatlo, bakit naging mahirap kay Peter na maging mabuti sa mga taong hindi naman naging malupit sa kanya? May ilan pa ring diskriminasyon sa pelikula sa mga itinuturing na pangit at maging sa mga bakla bagama’t ito ang pangunahing tauhan. Hindi rin naging malinaw kung paanong si Peter ay lumaking bakla. Dahil nga ba ito sa pagmamalupit ng kanyang ama? Bunga ng impluwensiya? Sinasabi bang ito ay nangyayari na lamang at hindi ginugusto ninuman? (O ginawa ba lamang bakla ang bida dahil mas nakakatawa ito kaysa kung ang gaganap na Peter ay si Cesar Montano, halimbawa, o kahit si Vhong Navarro?) Hindi naman ito pinalawig ng pelikula pero kahanga-hanga pa rin ang ipinapahiwatig nitong mensahe ukol sa pantay-pantay na pagtingin sa tao: mayaman man o mahirap, maganda man o pangit, ano pa man ang kasarian. –Ni RizalinoR. Pinlac, Jr.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

CAST: Michael Douglas, Shia LeBeouf, Carey Mulligan, Josh Brolin, Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon. DIRECTOR: Oliver Stone. GENRE: Drama. WRITERS: Allan Loeb and Stephen Schiff, based on characters created by Stanley Weiser and Stone. RUNNING TIME: 130 minutes. LOCATION: United States. PRODUCTION: 20th Century-Fox

CINEMA Ratings: TECHNICAL: 3 MORAL: 3 For viewers 14 and above.

Imprisoned for stuffing his pockets while bankrupting his firm, Wall Street trader Gordon “Greed is Good” Gekko (Michael Douglas) is released from behind bars in 2001. Seven years later, he’s the author of “Is Greed Good?” and is back in the limelight as a lecturer to the business community. In one of his lectures promoting his book, he meets up and coming trader Jake Moore (Shia LaBeouf) who catches his attention only when he introduces himself as being in love with Gekko’s daughter Winnie (Carey Mulligan). Winnie hasn’t spoken to her father for years since the death of her brother which he blames on him. Gekko sees in the young man a way to reconcile with his daughter. Winnie remains distrustful, but Jake is convinced of Gekko’s repentance and sincere concern for Winnie’s future.

Gordon Gekko is definitely the most colorful character in the movie, played with convincing abandon by Douglas. Indeed, the most interesting footages in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps are those with Douglas in them. Frank Langella also plays a brief but memorable role as Jake’s mentor Louis Zabel who finds an instant solution to the dire financial state he is in. LeBeouf perhaps looks too wholesome to be credible as an ambitious young man—there’s not enough glimmer of covetousness in his pretty boy looks, but that’s more casting’s fault than his. Mulligan does her role in earnest, and while she’s crying half of the time, she does her best to project the anguish and firmness of her character. Despite a somewhat routine dialogue, it’s a good movie, actually—fast paced, informative in a way, appeals to both intelligence and emotions, and provides a twist towards the end that shifts the story’s center to an unexpected axis.

Not only is Gordon Gekko the most colorful character in this movie; he is also its moral center. He is the repentant sinner upon his release from federal prison, a remorseful father who has realized what he has missed in those long years, but when an opportunity presents itself, he drools and backslides like any other money-monger whose motto is “In Greed We Trust”. How does Gordon Gekko end up? We’re not about to spoil your fun—suffice it to say that the conclusion is a home run for pro-lifers.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole

Technical: 3.5
Moral: 3
Rating: PG 13 (Aged 13 and below with parental guidance).

Brothers Soren and Kludd may look the same outside but inside these barn owlets are worlds apart. Soren (voiced by Jim Sturgess) won’t get tired of the bedtime story their father tells about the Guardians of Ga’Hoole, a noble band of warriors who vanquished the evil army named the “Pure Ones”. For Kludd (voiced by Ryan Kwanten), however, such are silly stories only daydreamers like his brother could buy.
Sneaking out of the family nest one night to try their wings at “flying”, barn owlets Soren and Kludd tumble off a branch to the ground. But before they are captured by a hungry wild boar, they are swooped away in the talons of huge mean-looking owls. Their captors turn out to be the minions of the Pure Ones who run an “orphanage”—in reality a training camp that brainwashes abducted owlets to serve their wicked purposes.

Aware of their captors’ nefarious activities to annihilate the owls of the “lesser species” (meaning those outside of the Pure Ones’ dominion) but deceived by the promises of their evil Queen Nyra (voiced by Helen Mirren), Kludd accepts to be a future soldier while Soren is sent to the camp’s slave labor area when he defends a tiny elf owl Gylfie (voiced by Emily Barclay). Soren and Gylfie think the owldom must be warned of the Pure Ones’plan to wipe them out, but who will escape the camp to do it? An old warrior from the ranks of the Pure Ones, Grimble (voiced by Geoffrey Rush) trains the young pair to fly so that they may one day escape the camp and warn the unsuspecting owls.

Directed by Zack Snyder and brought to the screen by Animal Logic, the same studio that made that penguin movie, Happy Feet, this owl film is definitely something worth hooting about. It’s a visual treat, right from the start. The animators certainly created a magical world—forest, sea, sky—that one could only wish to be real in its majesty and beauty.

This is one time you’ll forget about those plastic 3D glasses you’re wearing as you note the fine details, colors and textures that the film is never short of: the subtle lighting shifts on the owls’ feathers ruffling in the breeze, on the scenic backdrops of sea or storm, on Soren’s flight through a nasty funnel cloud, or on the clouds made translucent by their gliding across the sun. Such gorgeous photo-realism takes Legend of the Guardians several notches higher than even the better animation films so far made, especially with the impressive rendering of the owls’ eyes.

From childhood we know that owls, with their wide, intelligent looking eyes, have traditionally symbolized wisdom, but being nocturnal, they can hardly be scrutinized at the zoos, so we have never really seen how they move their eyes. But now, Legend of the Guardians gives us owls with eyes as expressive as humans’. We know a bit about CGI and how difficult artists find it to capture the eyes in animation, but here we have owls’ eyes so realistically conveying human emotions about equally human concerns, like their family’s future or vanquishing evil, that we could come to think they’re not really owls, much less animated owls, but actually human beings in owls’ clothing!

Preposterous though that may sound, Legend of the Guardians depicts laudable ideals and most assuredly delivers a message on the human condition. Perhaps the story and the script are rather familiar to adults, but to preteens in search of heroes a tale of bravery like this would be uplifting, inspiring us to self-confidently keep our head and heart in the right place in the face of adversity.

The movie is definitely worth a peek for viewers of all ages, but please keep the younger children (below primary school age) and nervous 10-year olds out of the audience. Although it’s a worthy story about the quest toward self-awareness, the dark story is generously spiked with intense situations, and startling fierce encounters between good and bad owls—the stuff nightmares are made of.

You’d never think that owls would be concerned with heroism, honor, adventure, peace, legends, power, family, orphans and class distinction but Legend of the Guardians says they are, indeed. Well, as we have said, these owls to us feel like humans. The only thing that will probably jolt you out of this “humanowled” world is the warriors’ intricately crafted combat masks. Appreciating the craftsmanship you’d think, “Gee, how could owls make such exquisite metal masks?” Then you’ll realize: it’s only a movie! --By Teresa R. Tunay, OCDS

Monday, October 4, 2010

I do

Cast: Erich Gonzalez, Enchong Dee, Dennis Padilla, Pokwang, Isay Alvarez ; Director: Veronica Velasco; Producer: Malu Santos; Screenwriter: Veronica Velasco; Distributor: Star Cinema; Genre: Comedy/ Drama; Location: Manila; Running Time: 100 minutes
Cast: Steve Time: 88

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

Si Yumi (Erich Gonzalez) ay naniniwala sa kapalaran at nangangarap na balang araw ay makikilala niya ang kanyang Prince Charming at sila’y ikakasal sa kanyang dream wedding. Nang makilala niya si Lance (Enchong Dee), aakalain niyang ito na ang kanyang hinihintay. Magiging mabilis ang pangyayari sa kanilang dalawa at makalipas lamang ang ilang buwan ay magugulat na lamang si Yumi na siya ay nabuntis na pala. Sa takot ni Yumi sa kanyang pamilya ay agad niyang niyaya si Lance na magpakasal kahit hindi pa ito handa, bukod sa hindi rin matanggap ng pamilya ni Lance na ikakasal ito sa isang hindi nila katulad na Tsino. Magiging malabis ang kalituhan ni Lance at hindi nito itutuloy ang pagpapakasal kay Yumi. Maraming beses silang mag-uurong-sulong sa pagpapakasal dala ng maraming aberya, pati ang komplikasyon sa kani-kanilang pamilya, damay na rin ang kanilang anak. Matupad pa nga kaya ang inaasam ni Yuming dream wedding?

Bagama’t kung tutuusin ay gasgas na ang kwento ng I do, nagawa nitong bigyan ng bagong bihis ang tila palasak nang konsepto. Maraming nakakaaliw na eksena na binigyang buhay at kulay ng mga batikang komedyante at aktor. Ang mga bida naman, bagama’t halatang mga pa-cute pa ay nagawa namang umarte sa mga eksenang kinakailangan at sadyang ibinagay sa kanila ang kani-kaniyang papel. Pero nagkulang pa rin sa hagod ang pelikula. Bukod sa kakulangan ng hagod ang pag-arte ng mga pangunahing tauhan lalo na si Dee, kulang din sa lalim ang kabuuang pagkukuwento ng pelikula. Hindi gaanong napalalim ang mga tunay na isyung dapat tinalakay. Sa halip, nasobrahan ng pagkaka-sentro sa kasalan ang kwento, kaya’t halos mawalan na ito ng saysay. Maaring ito rin ang gustong palabasin ng pelikula sa kabuuan ngunit nabigo ito dahil sa mahinang pundasyon ng kuwento. Sa kabuuan tuloy ay madali ring makakalimutan ang pelikulang ito.

Ang kuwento ng mga kabataang mapupusok na nauuwi sa di-inaasahang pagbubuntis ay palasak na rin sa lipunan. Isa itong problemang dapat pagtuunan ng pansin at hindi magkakaroon ng solusyon kung dadaanin na lamang sa tawa. Ito ang ginawa ng I Do – ang gawing katatawanan ang isang napakaseryoso, at maging mga sagradong sitwasyon. Walang nakakatawa sa maagang pagbubuntis nang wala pang kasalan. Magiging sanhi ito ng marami pang komplikasyon na dapat sanang ipinakita sa pelikula upang maging halimbawa sa mga kabataang manonood. Oo nga’t mabigat na ang buhay at hindi na dapat lalo pang pabigatin ngunit sa ginawang pagpapagaan ng I Do sa sitwasyon ay lalo itong naging nakakabahala. Wala ngang matinding halikan o hubaran na ipinakita ngunit ang pagkauwi ng isang bubot na relasyon sa pagbubuntis ay hindi dapat ipinagsa-walang bahal ng perlikula. Wala man lang matapat na pagsisisi mula sa sinumang tauhan. Bagkus, nakatuon pa rin ang babaeng tauhan sa maraming ilusyon— ilusyon ng pag-ibig at pagpapakasal. Hindi dahil sa isa itong mahalagang sakramento kundi dahil, isa itong magandang palabas. Hanggang sa huli’y parang hindi naman nabago ang pagtingin na ito. Para bang ninais pa nitong sabihin na, basta’t mahal mo’y, yun na. Hindi isina-alang-alang ang kahalagahan ng sakramento at ang malalim na inspirasyong kaugnay dito. Sa malaking bahagi ng pelikula, naging insidental at tila palamuti na lamang ang naging anak ng dalawang tauhan. Kahit paano mo ito tingnan, ito’y isang kamalian. --By Rizalino Pinlac, Jr.

Charlie St. Cloud


LEAD CAST: Zac Efron, Amanda Crew, Charlie Tahan, Augustus Prew, Donal Logue, Kim Basinger, Ray Liotta DIRECTOR: Burr Steers SCREENWRITER: Craig Pearce, Lewis Colick PRODUCER: Marc Platt GENRE: Drama RUNNING TIME: 109 minutes DISTRIBUTOR: Universal Pictures LOCATION: New England, USA

Technical: 4 Moral: 3 For viewers 14 years and above

Overcome by grief at the death of his younger brother, Charlie St. Cloud takes a job as caretaker of the cemetery in which his brother is buried. Charlie has a gift and special bond with his brother (Sam) whom he can see. Charlie meets up with his deceased brother each night to play catch and talk, but when a girl walks into Charlie’s life, he must choose between keeping his promise to Sam, or going after the girl he loves. The movie presents life after death in a realistic way: the dead are still alive though in a different form.