Tuesday, November 23, 2010


CAST: Denzel Washington (Frank), Chris Pine (Will), Rosario Dawson (Connie), Ethan Suplee (Dewey), Kevin Dunn (Inspector Werner) DIRECTOR: Tony Scott WRITER: Mark Bomback
GENRE: Action/Adventure, Drama, Suspense/Thriller RUNNING TIME: 98 min.

Technical: 3.5
Moral: 3
CINEMA Rating: R 14 (For viewers aged 14 and above)

Thinking he had brought the train to a full stop, the engineer (Ethan Suplee) dismounts. But to his surprise, the train pulls away, under full throttle. On another train, veteran engineer Frank Barnes (Denzel Washington) is training a new man on the job, Will Colson (Chris Pine). The half-a-mile long runaway train is carrying hazardous materials—according to the station yard master Connie Hooper (Rosario Dawson) who is in charge of dispatch and operations—and is speeding towards a head on collision with the train carrying Barnes and Colson. To make matters worse, rookie Colson and veteran Barnes are like oil and water, bickering for control as the precious minutes tick away. Besides sidetracking the collision they know they have to set their mutual disdain aside in order to stop the unstoppable locomotive from hurtling towards a populous district of Scranton, Pennsylvania.

It might not be a good idea for people suffering from hypertension to watch this movie. It is such a superb thriller that keeps you at the edge of your seat—and your neck and shoulder muscles tense from beginning to end. Nearly all Hollywood movies these days come up with a chase scene, either for laughs or for thrills, and if it’s for thrills, the chase is usually between the good guys and the bad guys. But in Unstoppable, the chase is between people and a train! And as the sound effects and photography establish beyond doubt—particularly in those shots where the train rockets towards the audience over the camera placed on the tracks—the runaway train is a murderously heavy machine: having no soul, it couldn’t care less what it destroys.

It’s the people who provide the soul in the story. Barnes and Colson know that even with the right decisions, things could go wrong and thus spell their death. Nonetheless, in their race against time towards a possible tragic ending, they exchange glimpses of their family life which in turn enable them to bond and put their animosity aside. While the story and viewer attention is naturally focused on the problem posed by the runaway train, a softly voiced message is beneath it all: human beings thrive on the love of a family. Making Unstoppable more worthy of viewing is the fact that it is inspired by true events surrounding an incident on May 15, 2001 when an unmanned CSX train “ran away” and in two hours sped through 66 miles before it was stopped in a similar way as the movie shows. Perhaps young kids wouldn’t care to watch Unstoppable but CINEMA gives it a PG 13 rating just the same.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Due Date

CAST: Robert Downey Jr., (Peter Highman), Zach Galifianakis (Ethan Tremblay), Michelle Monaghan (Sarah Highman), Jamie Foxx (Darryl), Juliette Lewis (Heidi), Danny r. McBride (Lonnie) DIRECTOR: Todd GENRE: Comedy RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes LOCATION: USA DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Bros. Pictures

Technical: 3
Moral: 3
CINEMA Rating: Audience Age 18 and above

High-strung father-to-be Peter Highman is forced to hitch a ride with aspiring actor Ethan Tremblay on a road trip in order to make it to his child’s birth on time.

Two different personalities: Ethan is wild, clumsy, bearded and disheveled while Peter is composed, handsome, dry and sarcastic.

Peter a strung-out guy who just wanted to get home to California to see the birth of his child while Ethan is an aspiring actor who is heading to California to pursue his dream in Hollywood.

Both are booted off a Los Angeles-bound flight, their only option of getting there is to rent a car and drive. Given that they cannot stand each other, chaos ensues.

Each one with different sensibilities is funny, some with dark humor and some slapstick. Peter and Ethan’s experience of shame and guilt and their acceptance lead them to become friends.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

You Again

CAST: Kristine Bell (Marni), Odette Yustman (Joanna), Victor Garber (Mark), Jamie Lee Curtis (Gail), Sigourney Weaver (Ramona), Jimmy Wolk (Will) DIRECTOR: Andy Fickman SCREENWRITER: Moe Jelline GENRE: Comedy RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes LOCATION: USA DISTRIBUTOR: Touchtone Pictures

Technical: 3
Moral: 4
CINEMA Ratings: PG 13 (For viewers aged 13 and below with parental guidance)

Successful PR pro Marni heads home for her older brother's wedding and discovers that he's marrying her high school arch nemesis, who's conveniently forgotten their problematic past. Then the bride's jet-setting aunt bursts in and Marni's not-so-jet-setting mom comes face to face with her own high school rival. The claws come out and old wounds are opened in this crazy comedy that proves that not all rivalries are forever. (MRQE)

A relevant movie showing the effects of bullying in school and how envy and jealousy can lead to violence. You Again proves that acknowledgment of one’s guilt over offense committed even many years back can heal the victim. The message of forgiveness though shown in comedy situation is effective.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Social Network

CAST: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Max Narendra, Justin Timberlake, Armie Hammer Jr, Josh Pence DIRECTOR: David Fincher SCREENWRITER: Aaron Sorkin MUSICAL DIRECTOR: Trent Reznor GENRE: Drama RUNNING TIME: 120 minutes LOCATION: USA. DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia Pictures

Technical: 3.5
Moral: 2.5
CINEMA RATING: R 14 (For viewers aged 14 and above)

The Social Network explores the moment at which Facebook, the most revolutionary social phenomena of the new century, was invented—through the warring perspectives of the super-smart young men who each claimed to be there at its inception. The result is a drama rife with both creation and destruction; one that audaciously avoids a singular point of view, but instead, by tracking dueling narratives, mirrors the clashing truths and constantly morphing social relationships that define our time. Drawn from multiple sources, the film captures the visceral thrill of the heady early days of a culture-changing phenomenon in the making—and the way it both pulled a group of young revolutionaries together and then split them apart. (MRQE)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Till My Heartaches End

Cast: Kim Chiu, Gerard Anderson, Mark Gil, Desiree del Valle, Matet de LDirector: Jose Javier-Reyes; Screenplay: Jose Javier-Reyes; Producer/ Distributor: Star Cinema; Running Time:100 minutes; Location: Manila; Genre: Romance, Drama

Technical Assessment: 3
Moral Assessment: 3
Rating: For Viewers 14 years old and above

Mataas ang pangarap ng baristang si Paolo (Gerard Anderson) at makikilala niya sa pinapasukang coffee shop si Agnes (Kim Chiu), isang probinsiyanang nagpunta ng Maynila upang mag-review sa nursing board exams. Magkakalapit ang kanilang loob habang unti-unting inaabot ni Paolo ang kaniyang mga pangarap. Magiging matagumpay si Paolo sa bagong karera bilang real estate agent. Yun nga lang, sa pagbabago ng kanyang mundo ay hindi naman makasabay si Agnes na nagiging ugat ng madalas nilang pag-aaway. Habang nararating ni Paolo ang tugatog ng tagumpay ay unti-unti namang napapalayo si Agnes sa kanya. Dagdag pa dito ang pagnanais ni Agnes na sundan ang kanyang ina sa America. May patunguhan pa kaya ang pagmamahalan nila sa kabila ng marami nilang pinagdadaanan?

Isang tipikal na kuwentong pag-ibig ang Till My Heartaches End na sinubukang bigyan ng bagong-bihis sa pamamagitan ng paggamit ng naiibang paraan ng pagkukuwento. Ang kuwentong pag-ibig ng dalawang pangunahing tauhan ay inilahad sa punto de vista ng mga taong nakapaligid sa kanila. Isang makabagong paraan ito ng pagkukuwento. Yun nga lang, halos hindi maramdaman ang damdamin ng dalawang bida. May pagka-malamlam ang pagganap ni Anderson at Chiu sa kabila ng kanilang sinseridad pero may kilig pa rin ang kanilang tambalan. Maayos ang kuha ng kamera at malinis naman ang daloy ng damdamin ngunit tila nakakainip paminsan-minsan ang paikot-ikot na problema ng dalawang bida. Marahil ay sinasadya naman ito sa kuwento. Epektibo ang mga pangalawang tauhan pero hindi naman gaanong nabigyan ng kuwento ang mga ito at naging halos palamuti na lang. Sa kabuuan ay nakaka-aliw at nakakakilig pa rin ang pelikula at ang pagsusubok nitong bigyan ng bagong timpla ang isang tila gasgas na kuwentong pag-ibig.

Ipinakita ng pelikula kung paanong ang dalawang magkaibang pagkatao ay maaring magkatagpo sa pag-ibig. Dumaan sa maraming unos ang pagmamahalan nila Paolo at Agnes dahil sa maraming komplikasyon sa kanilang paligid at sa pagkakaiba na rin ng kanilang pananaw sa buhay at pag-uugali. Totoong-totoo ang mga problemang ito at naging totoo rin ang pelikula sa pagsasabing mahirap talaga itong lutasin sa kabila ng pagnanais ng isa’t-isa na magparaya. Ngunit tunay na pag-ibig pa rin ang natatanging pag-asang pwedeng panghawakan sa bandang huli. Marami ring argumento ang pelikula na nararapat pag-isipan ng manonood ukol sa kung ano nga ba ang dapat mas bigyan ng halaga, pangarap o pag-ibig? Maaari bang magtagpo ang paghahangad ng yaman at pagpapayabong ng relasyon? Sa nagbabagong panahon at nagbabagong mundo, saan nga ba dapat ilugar ang puso? Sa ipinakita ng pelikula, sinasabi nitong pagmamahalan at relasyon pa rin ang pinakamalaga sa mundo ngunit hindi naman nito lantarang ipinakita ang nararapat na sakripisyong kaabikat nito. May mga ilan ding nakakababahalang mensahe ang pelikula tulad ng maaaring ipagsawalang-bahala na lang ang ilang maseselang isyu sa relasyon gaya ng pagsiping sa iba. Bagama’t wala namang ipinakitang maseselang eksena bukod sa ilang halikan, masasabi pa ring ang tema ng pelikula ay nararapat lamang sa manonood na may edad 14 pataas. --By Rizalino R. Pinlac, Jr.

Eat Pray Love

A review by Peter Malone

For the many readers who liked Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, they will know that the title refers to the twelve months that the writer took out of her life to take stock, enjoy and marvel at the world, and to come kind of self-forgiveness and acceptance. She spent four months in Rome (eat), four months in India (pray) and four months in Bali (love). For those who did not read the book, the film is an opportunity for them to accompany Liz on her geographical, psychological and spiritual journey.

What makes the film easier for many audiences is the fact that Julia Roberts plays Liz Gilbert. Twenty years ago, she was the glamorous Pretty Woman. Ten years ago, she was the feisty saviour of victims, Erin Brockovich. Now she offers a character for women in mid-life who want to take an initiative to discover their better selves. Julia Roberts, looks beautiful at all times, but harried at first, becoming more radiant and then, without make up, her older, even plainer, self. Though we are conscious that it is Julia Roberts we are watching, she does transform herself into Elisabeth Gilbert making the journey credible.

Though the film is long, the first episodes are rather hurried, too hurried to really grasp the personalities of her husband who loves her (Billy Crudup) but whom she divorces, of her younger, actor partner (James Franco). We get glimpses (and during the journey some flashbacks) of the relationships and why they failed. Viola Davis is solid as her best friend.

Then the film settles down to indulge us with the vistas of Rome and plenty of food, glorious food, Italian-style. With good friends and learning the difference between entertainment and real pleasure (Italians pointing out that this is a mistake that busy Americans make), Liz puts on the kilos with happy abandon. And, then she is in India.

At the ashram in India, Liz assumes the dress styles, the rituals, the manual work of service (yes, that is Julia Roberts scrubbing floors), the silences, the hospitality and the meditative space that leads her to a conclusion that ‘God is within me, as me’, a reflection worth some more reflection. The film captures the colours of India, even at a wedding, and should entice happy visitors to Italy to take a second look at their affluent world in comparison with the poverty and hardships of India.

There is a standout sequence in the Indian episode, a clip that could stand alone for use in seminars on alcoholism and self-improvement. The writing of the film takes off and is brought to dramatic power by the performance of Richard Jenkins.

What do you do when you have purged yourself of some spiritual ailments? Go to Bali, seek the help of a wise man and some alternative healing – and allow yourself to fall in love. That requires inner freedom, an acknowledgement of past failures but, most importantly, discovering self-forgiveness. In the beauty of Bali and with Javier Bardem on hand, it is, after many difficulties, possible.

The trouble with Eat Pray Love is that one wants to respond to the character and how she handles her journey rather than sit back and accept the film and Liz Gilbert. This is very much a First World story, the aftermath of New Age fashions and the discovery of Eastern mystic practices if not Eastern religion. Very few (very few) women can take the time, let alone afford the time and expenses for such a journey. This is the spiritual trek of a wealthy woman. While holiday and break are necessary, and Liz is introduced to some mysticism and asceticism in India, we ask, ‘to what purpose?’. By the time she has come to terms with herself and found love, we wonder what the moral bases of her life consist of, what is the nature of her integrity and the tension between some absolutes she has discovered and the relative importance of principles to be held on to or discarded.

Many men in the audience have found sharing this journey a tedious movie experience. Many women will be encouraged to follow Elizabeth Gilbert in her search in as much as their means allow them. Her story, book and film, is at least an attempt, in a pluralist world that has become even more pluralist, to attempt a search for life values.

CINEMA RATING: Technical: 3 Moral: 2.5 R 14

White House

Cast: Gabby Concepcion, Iza Calzado, Joem Gascon, Lovi Poe, Angel Jacob, Maricar Reyes; Director: Topel Lee; Screenplay: Lamberto Casas, Jr; Running Time:100 minutes; Location: Baguio; Genre: Horror

Technical Assessment: 2
Moral Assessment: 2.5
Rating: For Viewers 14 years old and above

Isang kilalang ispiritista si Jet Castillo (Gabby Concepcion) na aalukin ng trabaho ng isang malaking estasyon ng telebisyon na gagawa ng isang “horror reality show” kung saan ang mga kalahok ay ikukulong sa isang haunted house at ang makakatagal ng tatlong araw ay mag-uuwi ng isang milyon. Pinuntahan ni Jet ang sinasabing haunted house sa Baguio na kilala bilang white house. May mararamdaman siyang di kanais-nais- mayroong nagmumulto sa bahay na nagbabadya ng panganib dahil maaari itong makapanakit. Tatanggihan ni Jet ang trabaho at pagsasabihan ang executive producer (Maricar Reyes) na huwag nang ituloy ang programa. Ngunit magiging mapilit ito at itutuloy ang pagpapa-audition sa mga nais maging kalahok. Samantala, ang nag-iisang anak na babae ni Jet ay magkakaroon ng kakaibang karamdaman. Mapagtatanto niyang kinuha ng isang masamang espiritu ang kaluluwa ng kanyang anak. Dahil ang hinala niya ay isa itong espritu mula sa white house, kakailanganin niyang bumalik doon upang mabawi ang kaluluwa ng anak. At dahil wala siyang oras na dapat sayangin, masasabay ang paghahanap niya sa espiritu sa pagsho-shooting ng reality horror show. Dito masasaksihan nilang lahat ang malalagim na pambibiktima ng multong tinatawag na black lady (Iza Calzado).

Sinubok ng White House na magpakita ng kakaibang pelikulang katatakutan sa pamamagitan ng paghahalo ng tinatawag na reality TV show na usong-uso sa panahong ito. Nakakaintrigang panoorin ang pelikula dahil dito. Dagdag pa diyan na pinagbibidahan ito ng mga kilala at respetadong mga artista sa industriya. Ngunit sa simula pa lang ng pelikula ay pawang magiging malaking pagsisisi ang panonood nito. Karamihan sa mga sitwasyon na kinahantungan ng mga tauhan sa kuwento ay pawang bunga ng kani-kanilang katangahan at kabalintunaan. Lahat ng ninais ng pelikulang iparating sa manonood ay bigo. Bigo itong magtanim ng takot at misteryo sa manonood.. Nakabulatlat antimano ang anumang nais itago ng pelikula kung kaya’t wala na itong gulat sa bandang huli. Maganda sana ang mga special effects na mukha namang pinagbuhusan ng talino ngunit dahil palpak ang pagkukuwento, ay pumalpak nang todo ang pelikula sa kabuuan. Mababaw ang karakterisasyon ng mga tauhan na hindi man lamang pinalawig, tuloy, walang kakampihan o kakaawaan man lang ang manonood. Marami pa sanang pwedeng iganda ang pelikula ngunit sinayang nila ang pagkakataong ito. Marahil nagkulang sila oras sa paghahabol na maipalabas ito sa panahon ng Undas.

May ilang malilinaw na puntong nais sabihin ang White House sa kabila ng kakulangan nitong teknikal. Una ay ang dalisay na pagmamahal ng isang ama sa kanyang anak na gagawin ang lahat, susuungin ang panganib mailigtas lamang ang anak sa kapahamakan. Ganyan ang ipinakita sa katauhan ni Jet. Pangalawang ipinakita sa pelikula ang pagsasalarawan ng kung paanong ang mass media ay ginagamit at pinagkakakitaan ang kasawian ng iba. Ipinakita ring pinarurusahan ang sinumang naglalagay sa buhay ng tao sa alanganin maging ito man ay isang taong may mataas na katungkulan. Pangatlo ay pinaigting ng pelikula ang kapangyarihan ng kabutihan laban sa kasamaan. Naging matagumpay man si ‘black lady” sa simula ay hindi pa rin ito nanaig sa bandang huli. Yun nga lang, marami nang buhay ang nasayang at nawala nang ganun-ganun na lamang. May mangilan-ngilan lamang tanong at nakakabahala sa kuwento. Tulad halimbawa ng hindi paglilinaw kung bakit ganoon na lamang kasama ang tinaguriang “black lady”. Saan nanggagaling ang kanyang poot at galit? Tila yata hindi ito masyadong napalawig sa pelikula. Pinalabas na sadya lamang siyang masama at may makitid na pag-iisip. O marahil, may diprensiya siya sa pag-iisip? Maging yun ay hindi malinaw. Hindi rin maganda ang mga ipinakitang larawan ng kababaihan sa pelikula. Ang isa ay kaladkarin, ang isa nama’y ubod ng hina, at ang isa nama’y labis ang kasamaan. Ang karamihan sa mga tauhan sa pelikula ay isteryotipikal. Ang lalaking bida naman ay tila lumalabas na bayani at tagapag-sagip. Hindi rin gaanong ipinakita ang kalakasan ng pagdarasal sa pelikula dahil hinayaan nitong maraming buhay ang mawala. Para bang walang silbi ang mga dasal at orasyon laban sa masamang espiritu. Hindi napalawig ang kapangyarihang taglay ng panalangin sa kabuuan ng pelikula. May mga ilang eksesan pang nakababahala tulad ng lantarang pagtatalik sa labas ng kasal isinasapubliko pa sa kamera, at paggamit ng ipinagbabawal na gamot na pinalabas na katawa-tawang gawain sa halip na ipakitang ito ay masama. --By Rizalino R. Pinlac, Jr.