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!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Mistress

CAST: John Lloyd Cruz (JD), Bea Alonso (Sari), Hilda Coronel (Regina), Ronaldo Valdez (Rico), Anita Linda, Carmi Martin, Tony Mabesa, K Brosas, Gabe Mercado, Minnie Aguilar, Nor Domindo, Clarence Delgado  DIRECTOR: Olivia M. Lamasan  PRODUCER:  ABS CBN  GENRE:  Romantic melodrama RUNNING TIME:  125 minutes DISTRIBUTOR:  Star Cinema  LOCATION:  Philippines

Technical:  3.5
Moral:    2.5
CINEMA rating:  V 18

Si Sari (Bea Alonso), isang master cutter sa isang tailoring shop sa Maynila, ay “querida” ni Rico, isang mayamang negosyanteng asawa ni Regina (Hilda Koronel) at ama ni JD (John Lloyd Cruz).  Hindi batid ni JD na kerida ng ama niya si Sari, at wala ring kamalay-malay si Sari na ama pala ni JD si Rico.  Mabibighani si JD at liligawan nito si Sari.  Masugid mangligaw si JD, at bagama’t tapat si Sari kay Rico, kalauna’y makakagaangan na niya ng loob si JD, at sa katunayan ay ipagtatapat niya dito ang kanyang kalagayan bilang isang kerida.  Napakalaki na diumano ang naitulong ni Rico kay Sari at sa kanyang pamilya na sa kanya lamang umaasa sa ikabubuhay at ipangtutustos sa pag-aaral, kaya’t tanggap na niya ang ganoong buhay.  Ngunit matindi ang panunuyo ni JD kay Sari, lalo na’t nang malaman nito na ang tinutukoy na kalaguyo ni Sari pala ay walang iba kundi ang kinamumuhian niyang ama.
Una, sa magagaling na bahagi ng pelikula:  mahusay ang pagganap ng mga pangunahing artista.  Naging kapani-paniwala ang mga tauhang ginampanan nila, lalo na ni Alonso.  Matagumpay ang pagpapakita ng sipag ni Sari sa kanyang piniling gawain, sa pamamagitan ng maraming eksenang kinunan sa tailoring shop at yaong mga kasama ang kanyang inaarugang pamilya.  Dahil sa kagustuhan mong sundan ang takbo ng mga pangyayari, maipipikit mo na lamang ang isa mong mata sa ilang malubak na bahagi ng editing, sa di pantay-pantay na lakas ng mga tunog, o sa ilang malalabong bahagi ng characterization at daloy ng istorya na nakakabawas sa pagmakatotoo ng pelikula.  Tulad halimbawa ng tila deus ex machina na atake sa pusosa bandang dulo.  Biglang-bigla, kaya’t para lamang ipinasok sa kuwento at madali nang matapos.  Sana man lamang ay ipinahiwatig ito nang maaga-aga pa sa pelikula, halimbawa, ipinakita sanang umiinom siya ng mga maintenance medicines niya pagkakain.  (O baka naman meron noon at nakalampas dahil nakatulog kami gawa ng kabagalan ng takbo ng ilang eksena?  Patawarin po.)    
Ang The Mistress ay tungkol sa tinatawag nating “kabit” o “kerida”—si Sari ang “bida” sa dramang ito.  Tila walang maitim na buto, ika nga, sa katawan ni Sari.  Bukod sa ganda niyang pang-beauty queen, siya ay mabait pa, may mabuting asal, magalang, masunurin, mapagmahal sa pamilya, kagalang-galang—aba, ay nasa kanya nang lahat!  Ito ang peligroso sa ganitong uri ng kuwento.  Hindi namin sinasabing imposibleng magkaroon sa tunay na buhay ng ganoong kabuting-tao na “kabit”, ngunit ipinapaalala lamang ng CINEMA na ang kuwentong ito ay kathang-isip lamang—pati na ang mga tauhan, siyempre, kaya “de kahon” ang mga ito, stereotyped.  Ang kabit ay mabait, ang asawa ay mataray, ang nakikiapid na matanda ay tipong asendero, atbp.  Sa The Mistress, kampante ang mga tao sa takbo ng kanilang buhay; parang itinutulak lamang sila ng tadhana.  Kung ano man sila ngayon, iyon ay dahil sa mga pangyayari, sa ibang mga tao, at hindi dahil sa isang matalino at masusing pagbabalik-tanaw o pagsisiyasat sa kanilang mga pinapahalagahang kabuluhan. 
Ngunit bahagi na rin marahil ng mabuting hangarin ng pelikula, idiniin nito ang pagsisisi at paghingi ng tawad sa bandang huli.  Hindi kailanman matatakasan ang pighating dulot ng bawal na pag-ibig—ito ang pahatid ng The Mistress.  At para din marahil pasayahin ang karaniwang manonood na Pilipino na ang hanap ay laging “happy ending”, tinapos ang pelikula ng isang pangakong napapaloob sa pinagtiyap na pangitain.  Maaaring pangitain pa lang, pero “heppy” pa rin.
     

Resident evil: Retribution



Cast: Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Sienna Guillory, Aryana Engineer, Johann Urb; Direction: Paul Anderson; Screenplay: Paul Anderson; Producer: Paul Anderson, Jeremy Bolt, Don Carmody; Editing:  Niven Howie; Music: Tomandandy; Cinematographer: Glen MacPherson  Genre: Science fiction thriller; Running Time: 95 minutes; Distributor: Screen Gems; Location: Canada, USA, Russia
Technical Assessment     : 3          
Moral Assessment           : 2.5       
Rating                             : V18

Alice (Milla Jovovich) is captured by the Umbrella Corporation after the battle led by former ally Jill (Guilory). She escapes with the help of Ada (Li Bingbing) and Umbrella’s head Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts) who tells her that she has to save what is left of mankind from the Red Queen’s continued release of the T-virus turning the entire world into zombies. As Alice encounters old nemesis Rain (Rodriguez) as well as new monsters as she moves to destroy the Umbrella Corporation’s base.  In the process, she also discovers that memories were implanted on her when she was used as a human bait to measure the population’s response against the effects of the T-virus.  The memories were that of a suburban mother to a deaf daughter whom she eventually took under her protection despite being merely a clone human.
We were expecting a horror film—it was not. I was expecting a suspense thriller, it was neither. Instead it felt like an hour of watching a demo of a videogame.  The storyline was so thin and shallow they really had to bombard the film with fighting, explosions, and blood splattering every five minutes to make it long enough to be classified as a full length movie.  The effects were impressive but they overpowered the scenes as they called too much attention to them rather than enhance and push the story forward.  (Then again, where’s the story to push?)  The scoring must have suited the whole explosive action scene but with so many peppered within the film, it became increasingly irritating. The acting was stiff and cold.  The characters gave no semblance of humanity, thus it was quite hard to identify or sympathize even during the time Alice bonded with her supposed daughter.  It was an okay film overall but missing it would not have mattered also. Maybe the film was meant for the videogame fans who would have been delighted seeing their protagonists in 3D.
There was a gracious attempt to show “feminine genius” battling the evils of the world and giving everything to save life.  Alice’s desire to protect and save her pretend daughter Becky, even after she learned that the latter is merely a clone human, is beyond admirable.  It would have made a point for estimable maternal instinct.  Unfortunately, the stiff performance, the shallow storytelling and the emphasis on killing, gore and blood completely drown these messages.

Monday, September 10, 2012

ParaNorman


CAST: KodiSmit-McPhee,Tucker Albrizzi, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, John Goodman, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin, JodelleFerland, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Elaine Stritch  DIRECTOR:Sam Fell, Cris Butler  SCREENWRITER:Cris Butler  PRODUCER: Travis Knight, Arianne Sutner  EDITOR: Christopher Murrie MUSICAL DIRECTOR:  Jon Brion  GENRE: Action & Adventure, Animation, Kids & Family,Comedy  RUNNING TIME: 92minutes  CINEMATOGRAPHER: Tristan Oliver  DISTRIBUTOR: Focus Features  LOCATION: USA

Technical:  3
Moral:  3
CINEMA rating:  V 14

Eleven-year-old Norman Babcock (voice of Kodi Smith-McPhee) can communicate with the dead.  For him, his dead grandmother (voiced by Elaine Stritch) is still alive, as she still hangs around the family house and talks to Norman as though she never left home.  His parents are worried that his behavior indicates that he can’t as yet cope with the loss of his grandma, but Norman is convinced otherwise.  In fact, Norman is so at home with ghosts, that on the way to school each day, he greets dead people he never even met in life—and sometimes dead birds and animals, too, like a raccoon run over by a motorist.  This makes him a weird kid, shunned, teased and bullied by schoolmates, except by one, another reject named Neil (voiced by Tucker Albrizzi) who will be part of the adventure awaiting Norman when the latter finds out from his oddball great uncle Mr. Prenderghast (voiced by John Goodman) that he has been chosen to save their zombie-infested hometown, Blithe Hollow, from the curse of an 18th century witch.
Why is it that any movie town that has witches and ghosts and ogres in it must have “Hollow” as a second name?  Is it because Hollow smacks of Halloween?   That gives you a clue to the nature of ghoulish entertainment ParaNorman offers its audience.  So many ghost movies have been made that it’s hard to think anyone can still come up with something new to startle audiences.  In this sense, ParaNorman’s supposed shockers fail to shock—though it’s more likely we’ve been desensitized by seeing too many horror movies.  Be that as it may, there will always be youngsters who’ll shriek at a ghostly surprise—as those we encountered in the mall theater we watched at.  Perhaps movie critics grow old and blasé but there will always be new moviegoers to terrorize.  One thing about the animation: the ugly zombies become uglier and duller due to the 3D; that might as well stand for Dark, Dim and Dreary, not worth the price of admission.  They should have made the zombies out of glow-in-the-dark stuff—at least they’ll look exciting.
There are definitely positive elements in ParaNorman, like Norman’s grace under bully pressure, a sign that the boy is really brave, accepting, and self-confident inside.  His calmness in the presence of ghosts or his family’s incredulity is also another admirable trait; after all, how many 11-year olds do you know can deal with the living dead without flinching?  ParaNorman is a statement about intolerance, claiming that evil deeds (unjustly condemning and burning a suspected witch at the stake) result from fear and inspire vengeance.  It is also a plea made on behalf of children to be heard by parents and elders alike, no matter how “different” the child is, because being different can also give a person the power to do good for others.   
One dangerous side of ParaNorman, particularly since it is directed at children, is its casual treatment of homosexuality.  A brief and apparently humorous scene shows a muscular man, all that time presented as a he-man, later on matter-of-factly saying he has a boyfriend.  Is that supposed to signal to the audience that same sex relationships ought to be accepted as natural and normal?  Beware that youngsters do not get subtly brainwashed by seemingly harmless incidents in movies into accepting errant behaviors that could lead to self-destruction or defilement in the light of the gospel.

Bwakaw



Cast: Eddie Garcia, Rez Cortez, Armida Siguion-Reyna, Gardo Verzosa, Luz Valdez, Soxy TopacioDirector: Jun Robles Lana Screenplay:  Jun Robles Lana; Producer: Antonio Tuviera; Running Time: 110 minutes; Genre: Drama; Location: Philippines

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

Si Rene (Eddie Garcia) ay 70-taong-gulang na nang matanggap sa sarili ang pagiging bakla.  Ngayon, siya’y nabubuhay nang mag-isa matapos pumanaw ang kanyang ina.  Sa kanyang palagay ay wala na siyang dahilan upang  maging masaya sa buhay sapagkat buong buhay niya, siya ay nagbalat-kayo at huli na ang lahat para sa kanya.  Dahil dito’y pinaghahandaan na lang niya ang kanyang kamatayan.  Naka-kahon na ang lahat ng gamit sa kanyang bahay at may listahan na rin siya ng kanyang mga huling habilin.  Maging ang kanyang kabaong na nabili niya noong ito’y naka-sale ay ipinauwi na rin sa kanyang bahay sapagkat magsasara na ang binilhan niyang punenarya.  Ang tanging kasama na lamang ni Rene sa buhay ay ang napulot na asong pinangalanan niyang Bwakaw.  Bagama’t sa simula’y di alam ni Rene kung paano ito mamahalin, kalauna’y ito na ang kanyang magiging matalik na kaibigan.  Magsisimulang  magbago ang pagtingin ni Rene sa buhay nang magkasakit si Bwakaw ng cancer.  Kasabay nito’y makakatagpo siya ng bagong pag-ibig sa katauhan ng tricycle driver na si Sol (Rez Cortez).  Sa unang pagkakataon, haharapin ni Rene ang buhay sa halip na kamatayan.  Ngunit ito kaya’y magtatagal?
Isang nakakaaliw na panoorin ang pelikulang Bwakaw.  Swabe ang hagod ng mga eksena at malinaw ang daloy nito na sumasalamin sa uri ng pamumuhay sa mga karatig-nayon sa Pilipinas.  Naipakita ng pelikula ang bibihirang tapat na pagsasalarawan ng pamumuhay ng isang komunidad sa bandang lalawigan.  Payak at ang tanging yaman lamang ng mga tao ay ang makabuluhang relasyon at pagkakaibigan.  Ngunit ang tunay na hiyas ng pelikula ay ang mga nagsigananap dito na pinangungunahan ng batikang si Eddie Garcia na nagwagi bilang pinakamahusay na aktor para sa pelikulang ito sa ginanap na Cinemalaya.  Bagama’t wala nang kailangan pang patunayan ang isang Eddie Garcia, nagawa niyang buhayin ang katauhan ni Rene nang hindi kinakailangang maging stereotyped.  Kakaibang lalim at natural na atake ang pinairal ni Garcia dito at nararapat lamang ang tinanggap niyang pagkilala.
Ang Bwakaw ay tumatalakay sa isang buhay na puno ng maraming pagsisisi.  Pagsisisi sa inaakalang pagbabalatkayo at pagkakakulong sa isang pagkataong taliwas sa tunay na kagustuhan.  Resulta’y isang buhay na nababalot ng matinding kalungkutan.  Sinasalamin ng pelikula ang karamihan sa kinatatakutan ng mga tao—ang tumanda at tumandang nag-iisa.  Kapag pinagsama ang dalawang ito, tiyak na magiging miserable ang buhay ng isang tao hanggang kamatayan.   Hindi rin naman ito nangangahulugang tama at totoo.  Nang makatagpo si Rene ng pagmamahal ay nagbago naman ang kanyang pananaw, ‘yun nga lang, ipinakita pa ring nakasalalay sa ibang tao ang kanyang kaligayahan.  Ang pagiging miserable ni Rene ay nag-uugat sa kanyang maling pagtingin sa sarili, sa mundo, sa buhay at sa simbahan.  Kung tutuusin ay walang dahilan si Rene na magalit sapagkat naging mabuti naman ang buhay para sa kanya.
Nakababahalang pawang ang simbahan at ang mga turo nito ukol sa homosekswalidad ang itiniturong ugat ng pagiging miserable ni Rene.  Hindi nagbago ang kanyang pagtingin ukol dito hanggang sa huli bagama’t bukas ang simbahan na siya ay tanggapin.  Marahil ay pinatigas at minanhid na siya ng panahon at talagang nagsara na ang kanyang puso’t isip sa paniniwalang hindi siya pinaboran ng Diyos kahit kailan.  Kita naman sa pelikula na patuloy pa rin si Rene sa paghahanap ng tunay na kaligayahan at paunti-unti naman ay natutunan na niyang muling manalangin.  Maaring matagal pa, malayo at di-tiyak ang landas na tatahakin ni Rene, ngunit ang mahalaga’y nanatiling may pag-asa.  Kasama na diyan marahil ang pag-asang matagpuan niya ang tunay na kapayapaan at kasiyahan sa pagtanggap niya sa pagmamahal ng Diyos na nakahandang tumanggap sa kanya maging ano at sino pa man siya.  Sa bandang huli’y maaari ding isipin na hindi kaya naging “bwakaw” lamang si Rene sa pagmamahal sa kanyang sarili kung kaya’t di na niya nakita ang lahat ng pagmamahal na nakapaligid sa kanya?