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!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

TWEEN ACADEMY CLASS OF 2012


CAST: Elmo Magalona ,Joshua Dionisio, Barbie Forteza ,Jake Vargas, Bea Binene ,Joyce Ching, Kristofer Martin, Lexi Fernandez, Derick Monasterio& Louise delos Reyes;DIRECTOR:Mark Reyes;WRITER; Kit Villanueva-Langit;PRODUCER: Annette Gozon-Abrogar (GMA Films),Jose Mari Abacan (GMA Films),Boss Big (SM Development Corporation);GENRE: Comedy/Drama


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

Nababahala na ang magkakaibigan na sina Enzo (Elmo Magalona), Kara (Barbie Fortesa), at Georgina (Bea Binene) sa kalagayan nila sa paaralan. Kung hindi kasi sila pinapansin ay pinagkakatuwaan naman sila.  Tinatawag silang mga "imbals" (short for imbalance) dahil sa gawi ng pagdadala nila ng kanilang mga sarili na medyo kakaiba (o kakatwa) sa mga kaeskuwela nila. Nang muli silang makaranas na mapagkatuwaan ay nagkaisa sila gumawa ng paraan upang matigil na ang mga nang-aapi sa kanila. At iyon ay mangyayari lamang kung babaguhin nila ang kanilang mga sarili mula sa kanilang mga kahinaan. Gumawa sila ng listahan ng mga hakbang na gagawin nila sa kanilang mga sarili at itinakda na sa susunod na prom ng paaralan ay mga bagong Enzo, Kara at Georgina na sila --- may mga kompiyansa sa sarili, pagbutihin ang mga kakayahan, at makilala sa kanilang mga kalakasan. Sa maikling panahon ng pagtahak nila sa inaasam na pagbabago sa kanilang mga sarili ay mga taong naging instrumento upang maisakatuparan nila ang pagbabago ng halos nila namamalayan. Katulad ng nabuong paghanga ni Enzo sa remedial class teacher niya na si Ms Madie (Sam Pinto), ang namuong cyber friendship ni Kara a.k.a Supergirl kay Robin a.k.a Colossus (Joshua Dionisio), at ang pagiging mahusay ni Georgina sa larong football at lihim na pagtingin niya sa kababatang si Jepoy (Jake Vargas). Habang pinagdaraanan ng 3 magkakaibigan ang mga pagbabago sa kanilang sarili ay nakasubaybay naman ang mga kanilang mga magulang samantala ang mga kamag-aral na nanunudyo sa kanila ay hinaharap din ang mga kani-kanyang sitwasyon sa pamilya at sa lipunan.

Simple ang daloy ng  kuwento ng "Tween Academy". Pero may diin ang mga mensahe na binigyan-buhay ng mg eksena. Marami ang miyembro ng cast pero nabigyan-lahat ng highlights ang mga tauhan. Sa madaling salita ay markado ang lahat.  Nakasentro sa 3 magkakaibigan ang kwento pero ang ibang tauhan na sa unang tingin ay walang kaugnayan sa sentro ng istorya katulad ng magkasintahan sa pelikula na sina Ashley (Joyce Ching) at Diego (Kristofer Martin) ay makikitaan din ng koneksyon sa bandang huli kung pagbabatayan ang mensahe na nais ipahatid ng pelikula. Hindi mabibigat ang mga eksena ng pelikula na nangailangan ng malalim na emosyon kaya walang masyadong ibinigay sa kanilang mga pagganap ang artista. Akma lamang ang disenyo ng produksyon pero mas mainam sana kung natural lamang lumabas ang make-up  ng mga bidang babae sa mga eksena ng regular classes dahil high school naman ang setting. Hindi rin maganda sa paningin ang mga composition kung saan hindi kinukunan ang buong katawan ng tao. Maganda ang ideya na ginamit sa musical scoring ang music revivals.  Nakatulong ito sa appreciation  ng mga adult viewers para maalala nila ang kanilang mga kabataan.

Ang pagiging kabataan ay minsan lamang darating sa buhay ng tao. Napakahalaga na maging makabuluhan at makulay ang yugtong ito ng buhay upang maging pundasyon ng magandang pagkatao sa hinaharap. Tipikal na mga kabataan na may mga supportive family (kahit na pawang single parents ang ipinakita) ang mga itinampok na tauhan sa pelikula Tween Academy.  Inakp ng mga kabataang ito ang responsibilidad na palaguin ang sarili. May kababaang-loob sila na inaamin ang mga kahinaan at naging bukas para matugunan at maging kalakasan. Sa unang tingin ay hatid ng kayabangan ang maghangad na mapansin pero ipinakita sa pelikula na higit pa sa pagyayabang, ang maghangad na mapansin ay maari rin maging motivation upang hugutin ang mga kagalingan na nasa kanilang mga sarili. Puno ng positibong mensahe ang pelikula na nag-aangat sa magandang kultura ng Filipino katulad ng respeto sa magulang, pagpapahalaga sa kaibigan, pagpapatawaran at pagtanggap ng kamalian, at responsableng pakikipagrelasyon. Sa kabuuan ay ipinakita ng pelikula ang mga tipikal na sitwasyon ngayon ng mga kabataan na pumapasok na sa kamalayan ng paghanga at pakikipagrelasyon. Maliban sa mga tradisyunal na paraan pagpapa-cute sa panahon ng school events, ay nariyan rin ang mga kakaibang lenggwahe at modern technologies tulad ng celphone at internet na dapat isaalang-alang ng mga magulang sa pagsubaybay nila sa kanilang mga anak. Sa kabuuan ay maganda at nakaaaliw ang pelikula subalit dahil sa ilang eksena ng pangungutya sa inosenteng kamag-aral at pagpupuyat sa internet chat ay dapat gabayan ng mga magulang ang mga manonood na edad 13 pababa.

Friday, August 26, 2011

One Day

CAST: Anne Hathaway, Jim Sturgess, Patricia Clarkson, Ken Stott, Romola Garai, Rafe Spall;DIRECTOR: Lone Scherfig;WRITER: David Nicholls;GENRE: Romance, Drama;RUNNING TIME: 107 minutes

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



July 15, 1988 is the graduation day of Emma Morley (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter Mayhew (Jim Strugess) – a friendship and an almost-but-not-quite  romance  between the two begins on this day and their lives are never the same. Every July 15ths of the next two decades, they meet to catch up on each eventhough they have gone separate ways. Each time, they explore the possibilities of their failed romance and why can’t it happen between them. They are exact opposites. Emma is a working-class girl who dreams of becoming a writer in the hope of making a difference in the world. Dexter is a happy-go-lucky rich kid who ends up as a TV presenter and sees the world as his playground. She is determined. He is directionless. They will later on be both involved with different partners but still, they would always end up with the wishful thinking – what if, they will be together? Will it be a happy ending for the two of them?


                            One Day could’ve been a well-crafted movie except for two major problems: plot development and casting. The premise of two platonic friends with that “would be” romance is interesting and is able  to keep the audience’s concern for the couple. However, the interest wades down as there is no urgency or stake to look forward to. The relationship of the two and their problems does not seem to escalate and years after, they still have the same issues that are never resolved. Hathaway and Strugess are both good thespians in their own credits and merits but they apparently lack the required characterization and chemistry for the film. Though it’s not really their fault, it is quite a waste for a film like One Day which is intently done to put some flavor and spice to the otherwise worn-out story of the genre.

                            The film deals with sexual tension between friends of the opposite sex. Sort of saying that a man and a woman cannot be “just friends”. The promiscuity of Dexter though is not tolerated by the rather level-headed Emma but she gives up somehwere in the story anyway and the initial refusal is just a “show” or a result of initial reaction to rejection but not on any moral grounding. The inconsitencies in the characters’ decisions and indecisions leave the audience as  confused as the characters. Although One Day probably tries to show that only real love can make one happy, and that loneliness results into misery, the many scenes devoted to sex, alcohol and drugs contradict any moral it has to say. Dexter all the while in the movie seeks love and sympathy but he does not seem to deserve it until the end. Emma on the other hand seems to have taken all the sacrifice for the wrong choices she makes. In conclusion, One Day is a film that tells the audience that fate is as powerful, if not more powerful, than the decisions one makes.  Still quite contradictory to what our faith would always tell us, that our destiny is determined by our own free-will.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Crazy, Stupid, Love

CAST: Steve CarellRyan GoslingJulianne MooreEmma StoneMarisa Tomei; DIRECTOR: John RequaGlenn Ficarra; WRITER: Dan Fogelman; GENRE: Comedy, Romance; RUNNING TIME: 107 minutes.

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


SYNOPSIS: At forty-something, straight-laced Cal Weaver is living the dream-good job, nice house, great kids and marriage to his high school sweetheart. But when Cal learns that his wife, Emily, has cheated on him and wants a divorce, his "perfect" life quickly unravels. Cal is taken on as wingman and protégé to handsome, thirty-something player Jacob Palmer. Jacob opens Cal's eyes to the many options before him: flirty women, manly drinks and a sense of style that can't be found at Supercuts or The Gap. Cal's son is crazy about his 17-year-old babysitter, who harbors a crush on Cal. And despite Cal's makeover and his many new conquests, the one thing that can't be made over is his heart, which seems to keep leading him back to where he began.


Conan The Barbarian

CAST: Jason MomoaRon PerlmanStephen LangRose McGowanRachel NicholsSaïd TaghmaouiLeo HowardBob SappKatarzyna WolejnioNonso Anozie; DIRECTOR: Marcus Nispel; WRITER: Thomas Dean DonnellyJoshua Oppenheimer; GENRE: Action/Adventure; RUNNING TIME: 112 minutes.

Technical Assessment: 4
Moral Assessment: 2
CINEMA Rating: For viewers age 18 and above.


A character originally created by Robert E. Howard, Conan is a great warrior in the continent of Hyboria.  When Conan (Jason Momoa) is but slightly older than a boy, he loses his father.  He alone survives when his village of Cimmeria is razed to the ground and his people, including his father, massacred by a marauding army led by Khalar Zym (Stephen Lang).  This sadistic man is assisted by his sorceress daughter Marique (Rose McGowan) in his search for the missing fragments of a strange mask which will give him the powers of a god.  He finds the last missing fragment in Cimmeria and his army marches on its path of destruction.  Conan grows up in the fringes of the cities, sharpens his fighting skills and nurtures in his heart the desire to avenge his father’s death.  When he is ready for his mission of revenge, he goes in search of his father’s murderer.  Khalar Zym, on the other hand, is on another quest for the only surviving descendant of the pure bloodline of an ancient royal dynasty.  He believes the blood of this descendant, a beautiful girl named Tamara (Rachel Nichols) will bring back to life his sorceress wife and thus usher in an era of unprecedented power and evil in Hyboria.  Conan finds himself thrust into a mission that is more than self satisfying revenge.

Conan The Barbarian is an unadulterated war spectacle. Except for some “peaceful” interludes which are actually scenes of impending bloodshed, the film is crowded with graphic gory fights and fierce battles from the beginning to the end.  And at the end everyone and everything evil is annihilated by the hero just like the expected ending of a fairytale.  For the movie is also like a dark hued fairytale with its sorcery, black magic, monsters, accursed object (a mask, not a ring this time), and the “knight” (but not in his shining armor) who rescues a damsel in distress after slaying, not the dragons, but equally hideous serpents and other sea monsters.  This present movie is a remake of an earlier one that is said to have helped launch an unknown (at that time) Arnold Schwarzenegger into his successful movie career.  It is doubtful, however, that this present movie will bring the lead actor into sudden fame.  Though Jason Momoa has a body that may be the envy of many and fighting skills meant for an action picture, this movie can hardly make an impression.  The setting (some building and castles in the midst of barren deserts look like cardboard sets), the costumes, lighting, dialogues, even the music may need upgrading.  Some of the lead actors, though not so well known, are adequate in their acting.  Rose McGowan as Tamara looks lovely but does not have much chemistry with the hero.  The movie with its hi-tech CGI and good special effects may be entertaining for action picture aficionados.

When one hears the word “barbarian”, one conjures up images of cruelty, immorality or behavior unacceptable in civilized society.  Well, all of these are found in this movie.  And since Conan the protagonist here is called the “barbarian”, one wonders if he can be both barbarian and hero at the same time.  For to most of us, a hero vanquishes what is evil and is the embodiment of what is good and noble, though not without a flaw. Well, Conan is consumed with hate and desire for revenge for his father’s death.  And one can understand why he feels this way.  One can empathize with a son who has lost a reversed father and most especially if the father has been murdered.  It is a crime that cries to heaven for justice and yet one can never justify revenge and exact another death or “take the law into your own hands”.  Our Christian values are such that we cannot right a wrong by doing another wrong.  Now this “barbaric” side of Conan is tempered by another facet of his character – his kindness to others especially the oppressed and the unfortunate as seen in his fights to free the slaves and captives from cruel treatment.  He does not have to risk his life for them or for the girl Tamara who he does not know and to whom he is not attracted, at first.  But he does.  This spirit of self sacrifice, also bravery and heroism in the face of great odds especially when done for others are positive values in the movie, but the  excessive violence, gore and brutality are objectionable especially for the young who can get desensitized  to violence.  Although the sexual scenes are mostly done in the shadows, still there is implicit sexual intimacy outside of marriage and this cannot be condoned.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Revenge Of The College Ghost


CAST:  Carly Schroeder, Cody Linley, Micah alberti; DIRECTOR: Tyler Olier; GENRE: Horror/Suspense; RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes


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


Newly high school graduates Sandy (Carly Schorader) her brother and friends are having fun in their graduation party when they suddenly decide to go to the graveyard where they used to play hide and seek with rhyme as children and do it again as adults.  On arrival at the game site, a strange girl appears and wants to play with them.  Despite finding it odd, they think there is nothing wrong to have her in the game so they take her in.  They continue the fun until the strange girl is trapped to be the end loser of the game and at the full sight of Sandy jumps off the cliff.  The friends report the incident to the police, however the body is nowhere to be found.  Since then, the friends of Sandy are killed one after another without any trace. They disappear together with memories of them except with Sandy who is the only one left to remember her missing friends.  Because of this, she is mistaken to have developed lunatic tendencies and needed medical helps. In Sandy's struggle to prove otherwise, she realizes that a childhood friend named Angela whom they have wronged many years ago has something to do with the strange happenings particularly the disappearance of her friends. 

One thing unusual in the story of the film Revenge of the College Ghost is that, the spirit in revenge is not of the dead rather that of a living person under the state of comma relying on life support who has been confined for a long time at the hospital.  The idea of deleting people in the memories of people they lived with except the lead character is mind boggling for viewers.  However, this niche of the story does not compensate the overall treatment of the film.  The settings together with the flashback scenes are like bits and pieces put together without continuity.  The cast does not look like newly high school graduates in their teens. They appear to be all experienced adults who are into active sex, drinking and looting spree.  Acting wise most of the actors in the film could not do any better.  The film is actually more of a suspense thriller than horror.  The appearance of the shaking ghost does not help either.  Overall, the film has not much to offer technically.

Everybody is called to be good at any stage of life.  The film Revenge of the College Ghost depicts that the wrong deeds in childhood will haunt and even make a person's life miserable.  It touches on a confusing theme of the unlikely wandering of a revengeful ghost of a still living person that is capable of  killing people who wronged her in the past.  With the varying manners of death particularly the very gory ones, obviously, life is not valued in this film. The young people depicted in the film have the tendency to be irresponsible and insensitive.  Whilst the film has the context of the western culture, the Filipino viewers may be cautioned that high school graduation weekend happening can be wholesome as against sexually-oriented, alcoholism, looting and daring graveyard night game as depicted in the film.  Even the lead character who initially resists but eventually joins the looting and even unofficially applies euthanasia to the girl in comma.  The little effort that show good sides of the characters are hardly notice due to overwhelming exposure of conflicting values in the film.

The Smurfs


CAST: Hank AzariaNeil Patrick HarrisJayma MaysSofia Vergara; DIRECTOR: Raja Gosnell; WRITER: PeyoJ. David StemDavid N. Weiss; GENRE: Animation, Family, SciFi/Fantasy; RUNNING TIME: 86 minutes.

Technical Assessment: 3.5
Moral Assessment: 3
CINEMA Rating: For viewers age 13 and below with parental guidance.

SYPNOSIS: The Smurfs make their first trip to the big screen in Columbia Pictures'/Sony Pictures Animation's hybrid live-action and animated family comedy, The Smurfs. When the evil wizard Gargamel chases the Smurfs out of their village, they're forced through a portal, out of their world and into ours, landing in the middle of New York's Central Park. Just three apples high and stuck in the Big Apple, the Smurfs must find a way to get back to their village before Gargamel tracks them down.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes


CAST: James Franco, Tom Felton, Andy Serkis, Brian Cox, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, David Hewlett, Tyler Labine, Leah Gibson, Jamie Harris; DIRECTOR: Rupert Wyatt; WRITER: Amanda Silver, Rick Jaffa, Jamie Moss, Pierre Boulle; GENRE: Animation, Suspense/Thriller; RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes.

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



Rise of the Planet of the Apes opens with a mad hunt for simians in the deep jungle, for transporting to a laboratory in New York, where Will Rodman (James Franco) does research  exploring drug therapies for diseases of the brain.  One of the apes, named Bright Eyes, soon catches the technicians’ eye for her superior intelligence—the effect, apparently, of her being given the test drug.  Convincing his boss that the drug has great potential for medical and financial success, Will makes a presentation for the board of directors to invest in the breakthrough drug.  Bright Eyes is supposed to be the star of the presentation, but as she is coaxed out of her cell, Bright Eyes becomes vicious, resulting in a wild chase in the laboratory that ends in the presentation room where Bright Eyes is shot dead on the conference table.
Soon Will and his assistant discover a baby chimpanzee under Bright Eyes’ bed, and realize that the dead chimp in her ferocious behavior was not being aggressive but only being protective of her new born.  Meanwhile, the boss has ordered that all 12 chimpanzees being drug tested be put away.  Because Will and the assistant do not have the heart to put down the baby chimp, Will agrees to secretly take it home for a few days.  Days stretch into weeks, months and years until the baby chimp, named Caesar by Will’s Alzheimer-stricken father, grows into a remarkably intelligent simian.  Caesar’s loyalty to his human family results in mayhem, disturbing the neighborhood until there is no choice but for Caesar to be hauled away to the local zoo. 
If you have seen Planet of the Apes’ progenitors, you might expect another B-movie of this one, but no.  First, the apes here are no longer actors wearing ape suits.  And the apes here are… well, the apes here rise, as the title says.  Especially Caesar.   Motion-captured by Andy Serkis, Caesar—who reaps our kudos for singlehandedly creating the suspense in this film—is nothing the audience is prepared to meet.   Serkis motion-captured the character Gollum in Lord of the Rings—remember?
Motion-capturing is a fascinating cinematic process where the human actor plays the part but the film character’s image is subsequently superimposed on the actor’s.  Avatar used the same technology and the same WETA FX team of technicians.  In this case, the actor is Serkis, and the character is Caesar the chimp.  Thus in the final product we don’t see Serkis anymore, only the chimp.  That’s pretty tough for Serkis who had to learn how to move and emote like an ape for his character to be credible.  Human acting skills plus technology equals astonishing movie moments.  Director Rupert Wyatt plus Serkis plus WETA FX techno-magic equals the rise of Rise of the Planet of the Apes.  Add to that the just-right script by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver and you have a powerful tale to remember.  Franco’s performance also reveals a compassionate dimension never before seen in past roles.  We cannot go on assessing the film without eventually giving spoilers.   In order to grasp the complexity of the plot as well as the mysteriousness of life that it dwells on, one must view the film—rather, experience the film—even without reading a review of it.    
One exceptionally good thing about Rise of the Planet of the Apes is the confident handling by Wyatt of red-hot issues like DNA manipulation, man’s cruelty to animals, father-son relationship, corporate greed and the dignity of death.  His almost casual treatment of such delicate subjects serves as a flawless background for unexpected tenderness, much like crumpled black velvet cradling exquisite pearls in its folds.  We have yet to meet a person who wasn’t uplifted from watching this film.  Go see it and tell us what you think.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Cowboys & Aliens

CAST: Olivia Wilde, Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig, Sam Rockwell, Clancy Brown, Paul Dano, Keith Carradine, Abigail Spencer,, Ana de la Reguera, Noah Ringer; DIRECTOR: Jon Favreau; SCREENWRITER:  Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Damon Lindelof, Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby; PRODUCER: Alex Kurtzman, Scott Michelle Rosenberg, Roberto Orci, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard; EDITOR: Dan Lebental, Jim May; MUSICAL DIRECTOR: Harry Gregson-Williams; GENRE: Action/Adventure, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Thriller,  Western & Adaptation; CINEMATOGRAPHER: Matthew Libatique; DISTRIBUTOR: Universal Pictures; LOCATION: USA; RUNNING TIME: 118 minutes.

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


A stranger (Daniel Craig) who knows and remembers nothing except the English language stumbles into a desert town named Absolution with a shackle around one wrist.  Lean and mean, he s a gunslinger and is feared from the start, but when recognized as the wanted criminal Jon Lonergan, he becomes the target of the town’s iron-fisted ruler Colonel Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford).  Absolution’s town folks live in fear but the fear of human tyrants turns into terror of the unknown when the town is attacked by screaming aliens who set it on fire and abduct townsfolk at random.  Then the mysterious stranger Lonergan becomes the town’s sole hope for salvation. Lonergan slowly starts to recall who he is and where he’s been, and discovers the power behind the shackle on his wrist.  Aided by another mysterious traveler Ella (Wilde), Lonergan forms a posse oddly composed of  his opponents, Dolarhyde and his cohort, outlaws, Apache warriors.  They have one thing in common: their survival is threatened by the aliens.
The title sounds jokey, but the movie is not.  It’s in fact a cross between a class B Western (set in 1873) and class B science fiction, but in fairness, director Jon Favreau makes the odd combination work, turning it into light entertainment that is never too funny to look trivial.  But maybe because at this point, one cannot imagine a movie being that funny when Daniel Craig is in it, he who plays characters in movies that forbid him to smile.   Besides, Craig is, after all, still James Bond in the back of our mind, nobody to fool around with.  That may not be too good for Craig’s career in the long run.  Stereo-typing equals predictability, see?  It’s bad for the box office.  But let’s focus on Cowboys and Aliens for now.  Technically it’s okay, even surprising at some turns in spite of its computer generated protagonists, and with some big names in the kitchen like Harrison Ford, Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard and Brian Gazer, the viewer is assured the storyline is worth the time it takes to finish a bucket of popcorn in the theater.
Cowboys and Aliens is “new” in the sense that the good guys and the bad guys of the traditional Westerns here stop trying to annihilate each other and instead merge to fight off the extraterrestrials.  When enemies unite to reduce collateral damage by saving the innocent, that’s good for planet earth, isn’t it?  When bad guys rise to goodness and good guys rise to heroism, the transformation does everyone a lot of good, correct?  Cowboys and Aliens is strong on promoting the family, too, and that makes it easier for the viewer to close an eye on its Western style and CGI violence.  There’s a part where a character complains that God hasn’t done much for him, and another answers to the effect that we shouldn't expect God to do everything—we have to “earn His presence... recognize it, and act on it”.   Not a bad message for a movie that aims to be a different Western, one with aliens with secret inner parts that unfold from their chest cavities—like the lethal drills that protrude from James Bond’s car tires—to rip humans open.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Ang Babae sa Septic Tank

CAST: Eugene Domingo, JM de Guzman, Kian Cipriano, Cai Cortez; DIRECTOR: Marlon Rivera; SCREENPLAY: Chris Martinez; LOCATION: Manila; GENRE: Comedy; RUNNING TIME:100 minutes.

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

Hindi magkamayaw sina Rainier (JM de Guzman) at Bingbong (Kian Cipriano) sa ginagawa at binubuo nilang indie film  na pinamagatang “Walang-wala” na siyang ipambabato nila sa mga international film festivals.  Si Rainier ang producer habang si Bingbong naman ang direktor. Kasama nila bilang Production Manager si Jocelyn (Cai Cortez). Habang pinag-uusapan ng dalawa ang binubuong kuwento ay nabubuo naman ang mga eksenang ito sa isip ni Jocelyn. Ang “Walang-wala” ay patungkol sa isang ina na si Mila na nahihirapang tustusan ang pangangailangan ng pito niyang anak kung kaya’t mapipilitan siyang ibenta sa pedopilya ang isa niyang anak. Si Eugene Domingo ang pangunahin nilang artista na nais nilang gumanap bilang bida. Sa sanga-sangang imahinasyon at paghihimay nina Rainier at Bingbong, kasama na rin ang panghihimasok ni Eugene Domingo bilang bida ng pelikula, makikita ang iba’t-ibang perspektibo at posibilidad ng “Walang-wala”. Nariyang maging isa itong dokumentaryo, musical at maging isang soap opera.

Isang matalinong produksiyon ang Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank. Nagawa nitong kilitiin ang imahinasyon ng mga manonood sa maraming posibilidad ng isang materyal pampelikula. Sa pagsilip sa mundo ng paggawa ng independent film ay makikita ang maraming realidad na nakapaloob dito. Bagama’t simpleng maituturing ang kuwento ay hitik ito sa mensahe patungkol sa pang-aabuso ng sistema ng sining na siya mismong kinabibilangan ng pelikula. Walang itulak kabigin ang mga nagsiganap at nangungun na riyan si Eugene Domingo na gumanap bilang siya at ginampanan din niya sa iba’t-ibang atake ang papel ni Mila. Isa ito sa pinakamahusay na pagganap ni Domingo at hindi tatayo ang pelikula kung hindi dahil sa husay niya. Sa kabuuan ay pulido ang pagkakagawa ng pelikula sa kabila ng kakulangan nito ng tunay na kuwento. Ang mga komentaryo nito sa lipunan ay sapat na upang mapukaw at makiliti ang mga manonood.

Sa gitna ng matitinding hagalpak ng tawa ay hinahalukay ng Ang Babae sa Septic Tank ang maraming sakit ng ating lipunan. May matinding kahirapan sa ating paligid at walang konkretong aksiyon ang mga mamamayan upang ito ay maibsan. Sa halip, ito ay niroromantiko at inaabuso ng ilang sektor ng lipunan na tulad ng pulitika at particular na rin ang sining ng pelikula. Sa kahirapan ng buhay nakakatagpo ng inspirasyon ang mga alagad ng sining na ginagamit lamang nila sa pansariling interes. Ang kahirapan, prostitusyon, at marami pang sakit ng lipunan na makikita sa mga bansang kung tawagin ay Third World tulad ng Pilipinas, ang siyang pumapatok at bumebenta sa mga film festivals na karaniwang ginagawa sa mga bansang mauunlad. Ang pelikulang tumatalakay sa mga sakit ng ating lipunan ang siyang ipinapamalas sa mata ng mga banyaga. Sa prosesong ito, nagiging mababa ang tingin sa atin bilang lipunan kapalit ng tagumpay para sa mga tinuturing na alagad ng indie filmmaking.  Katulad ng mga simbolong umiinog sa pelikula, sa kabila ng kinang ng mga bituin at makinang na daigdig ng pelikula, pawang “dumi” lang ang  lahat na itinatago ang kabulukan sa halip na usisain at gawin ang nararapat upang maiangat ang uri ng pamumuhay ng mahihirap nating mga kapatid at kababayan. 

Larry Crowne

CAST: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Rami Malek, Bryan Cranston, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Wilmer Valderrama, Taraji P. Henson, Pam Grier; DIRECTOR & WRITER: Tom Hanks; GENRE: Comedy, Drama; RUNNING TIME: 99 minutes.

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


Just-divorced Larry Crowne (Tom Hanks) has been Employee of the Month for eight months straight at the local UMart store.  But he is the first to go when retrenchment time comes.  Reason?  He has no college degree.  Now jobless and with a mortgaged house, he sells all but the barest necessities through his neighbor Lamar (Cedric the Entertainer) and enrols at the local community college.  There he is befriended by a fetching young woman Talia (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) who playfully christens him “Lance Corona”, updates his look and his lifestyle to match the new name, and invites him to join their scooter club.  In Public Speaking class he meets the teacher Mercedes Tainot (Julia Roberts), and from then on life becomes one safe and  wholesome scooter ride.
 
The story is good, no doubt about that.  But in its telling, the viewer might somehow expect something more gripping, some seismic spurts to lend spice to break the bland succession of events and to heighten the impact of the plot’s positive aspects.  But then, although the subject is serious enough to merit a more profound, dramatic treatment, Larry Crowne is still billed as a romance-comedy, so it’s a compromise at best, but not without merits.  As far as the script demands, lead stars Hanks and Roberts did their best and came out convincing and credible personae as what you might encounter in a small town that can pretty much exist without the rest of the world encroaching on private lives.   You get to view them as Larry Crowne and Mercedes Tainot, stripped of the glamour of their real life Hollywood identities, which makes them real good actors in our eyes. 
 
In its own quiet way Larry Crowne succeeds in giving hope for fresh beginnings to persons nearing the end of their line.  Larry is tearful over his retrenchment but it also serves to emphasize his tender nature: he is one hero who rises above misfortune without firing a gun, burning a building or plotting revenge on his oppressors.  The only “violence” here is when he smashes his scooter onto a couple of tables displaying cheap garage sale items.  Hanks as director and writer (with Nia Vardalos) probably created the Larry character to remind us that gentlemen are a vanishing breed in this day and age.  For what male nowadays would have the guts to disengage himself from a woman’s tight embrace and a devouring kiss-hungry mouth, say goodnight politely, and while tickled to high heavens still walk away without looking back?  Larry Crowne is also a subtle statement about prejudice against non-college graduates in America, a bias so common it’s been taken for granted.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Captain America

CAST: Chris Evans, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, Hayley Atwell, Stanley Tucci; DIRECTOR: Joe Johnstone; SCREENPLAY: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeekyl; Based on Captain America by Joe Simon; EDITING:  Robert Dalva and Jeffrey Ford; PRODUCER: Kevin Feige; MUSIC: Alan Silvestri; GENRE: Sci-Fi Action; DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount Pictures; LOCATION: USA; RUNNING TIME: 124 minutes.

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

Steve Rogers wants to serve his country and enlist in the Army. However, he is not physically qualified to become a soldier and is rejected for the 5th time. After he and his best friend attend the Modern Marvels of Tomorrow exposition, Rogers tries his luck one last time. Scientist Dr. Erskine (Stanley Tucci) overhears Roger’s fervent conviction and approves his application to the US Army’s special unit, Strategic Scientific Reserve. Rogers works hard and displays common sense but always falls short to the physical demands of the training, much to the disgust of Col. Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones) who believes he is simply too weak and skinny to be chosen as the super soldier experiment. But when he shows how he is willing to sacrifice himself to save the team, Erskine knows he has found the right person. The experiment transforms Rogers into a well-built muscular soldier with enhanced physical. However, Erskine is killed by a Nazi spy and the transformed Rogers is simply reduced into a performing war mascot, Captain America touring cities and camps. However, SSR officer Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) refuses to believe that this is Rogers destiny and helps him fly into enemy lines to save his enlisted childhood friend, now captured by Schmidt/ The Skull (Hugo Weaving). Captain America destroys the base, saves 400 soldiers, brings back hi-tech enemy weapons and proves his worth in fighting the war.

It is always inspiring to learn the back stories of popular heroes whose quests and triumphs we already know. Captain America presents Steve Rogers as a character with dreams and struggles any person can identify with. The story telling is straightforward and clear with a production design that is well-researched and thorough. The visual technique is entertaining but average. Ironically, the story development is more interesting in the first act, where Rogers struggles to be accepted in the US Army. The movie begins to lose momentum during the 2nd act where Captain America battles with the Skull because the scenes are longer than necessary and too much emphasis is given to the special effects and post production techniques. Overall, Captain America is enjoyable (especially is watched in 3D) but pales in comparison to Iron Man and Thor which completes the back story of the Avengers characters.  It gives a good back story but offers nothing new or noteworthy. It is entertaining enough to hold the audience captive for the next few minutes but not memorable enough to be talked about after wards.

Captain America emphasizes two strong points. First, heroism is not about the strength of the body but the genuineness of the desire to protect and serve up to the point of self- sacrifice. Although Rogers was physically transformed into a super soldier, it was his heart and spirit that made him a hero.  Second, the movie reminds us how every person has a place in history if only he will patiently persist and learn not to run away from pain or failure.

Although the theme and language of the movie is suitable for the family, it remains a war movie with several violent action scenes that may be disturbing to the younger audiences.