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!

Monday, December 31, 2012

Sisterakas


LEAD CAST: Kris Aguino, Ai-Ai de las Alas, Vice Ganda, Kathryn Bernardo, Daniel Padilla, Xyriel Manabat  DIRECTOR:  Wenn V. Deramas  PRODUCER:  Star Cinema & Viva Films  GENRE:  Comedy  RUNNING TIME:  108 minutes  DISTRIBUTOR:   Star Cinema & Viva Films  LOCATION:  Manila, Philippines

Technical assessment: 3.5
Moral assessment:  2.5
CINEMA rating:  V14

Si Bernice (Vice Ganda) at si Detty (Ai-ai de las Alas) ay magkapatid na nagkahiwalay mula pagkabata.  Si Bernice, anak sa katulong ng ama ni Detty, ay lumaki nang may hinanakit kay Detty pagkat noong sila ay pinalayas sa tahanan nila Detty, hindi siya natulungan ng batang si Detty.  Magiging isang matagumpay na negosyante si Bernice at tataguriang “the lord of apparels”, pero brusko at bastos ito sa kanyang mga tauhan kung kaya’t ika-374 nang assistant niya ang lalayas sa kanya.  Magkakataong maghahanap sila ng bagong assistant ni Bernice nang darating naman sa opisina nila si Detty, naghahanap ng trabaho.  Tatanggapin ni Bernice bilang assistant si Detty na wala namang kamalay-malay na kapatid niyang mapaghiganti ang magiging amo niya.  Sa tindi ng kompetisyon mula sa kumpanyang pinamumunuan ni Roselle (Kris Aquino), darating sa puntong mag-aagawan pa si Bernice at si Roselle kay Detty, pagkat may talent si Detty sa pagdidibuho ng mga kasuotan. 
Sa aspetong teknikal ay masasabing pasado ang Sisterakas—ayos lang ang lights, sound, cinematography, sets, plot development, at talaga namang pinaghirapan ang mga damit ni Bernice—dapat lamang pagkat ang karakter nito’y “bongga” at hindi magpapasapaw. May kuwento din naman sana ang Sisterakas, at isang kuwentong hindi basta-basta babahingan ng siryosong manonood.  Lamang, nabubura ang halaga ng kuwento dahil sa mga eksaheradong pagpapatawa ng mga gumaganap, lalo na ni Ganda, na ang tanging puhunan sa pag-arte ay ang taray ng mga linyang namumutawi sa kanyang namumusargang mga labi.  Inasahan naming makakita naman ng pagbabago sa pagganap ni Ganda dito sa Sisterakas pero nabigo kami.  Pareho pa rin ng dati, mapa-sine o mapa-TV, “same same”, ika nga.  Si Aquino man ay… ganon pa rin, sa pagkilos, sa pananalita—para lang nagho-host ng TV show, mas mahaba nga lang ang mga pilikmata niya rito sa Sisterakas.  Masasabing si de las alas ang “nagdala” ng pelikula, gawa ng dibdiban niyang pagganap sa papel niyang hindi nawawalan ng sigla, bait at tiwala sa kapwa sa kabila ng lubos na pang-aapi.
Maraming tao sa sinehan noong araw na manood ang CINEMA ng Sisterakas, mga magulang na bitbit ang mga anak.  Naalala namin ang tanong ng isang7-taong gulang na bata sa kanyang ina noong pinanonood nila si Ganda sa telebisyon.  “Babae ba siya o lalake?”  Sagot ng ina, “Lalake!”  Tanong ulit ng paslit  “Eh bakit ganon siya?”   Paliwanag ng ina, “Nagpapatawa lang yan!” pagkat iniiwasan niya ang mahirap na pagpapaliwanag sa anak.  Sa Sisterakas, ipinapakita na batang paslit pa lamang si Bernice ay “iba” na siya.  Hindi tulad ng ibang mga batang lalaki na mahilig sa tirador, baril-barilan, at manghuli ng palaka, si Bernice ay mahusay magbuo ng mga kasuotan mula sa kung ano-anong bagay (tulad ng lumang diyaryo) at pakendeng-kendeng niya itong ipagmamalaki sa kapatid.  Kung panonoorin ninyo ito at isasama ang inyong mga murang-isip na mga anak, payo ng CINEMA, paghanda na kayo ng mga paliwanag kung sakaling tatanungin nila kayo kung si Ganda bas a Sisterakas ay “sister” o “brother”.


Flames of Love


LEAD CAST: Christopher de Leon, Dina Bonavie, Lanie Mercado, Ricky Davao, Jaclyn Jose, Allen Dizon, Valerie Conception, Megan Young  DIRECTOR: Gigi Javier-Alfonso  SCREENWRITER:  Baby Nebrida  PRODUCER:  Jody Nebrida  EDITOR:  Anna Espia  MUSICAL DIRECTOR:  Diwa de Leon  GENRE:  Family Drama  CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Agustin del Mundo RUNNING TIME:   150 minutes  DISTRIBUTOR:  Solar Entertainment  LOCATION:  Philippines

Technical assessment:  3
Moral assessment:  3
CINEMA Rating: V 14

Flames of Love tells the stories several families undergoing crises due to certain misfortunes that plague families: infidelity, drug addiction, sexual abuse of minors, promiscuity, and even abortion.  Through all these domestic situations that drive family members to fight one another to a life-threatening extent, the power of faith prevails: they pray, and learn to forgive one another, although only after so many tears have been shed.
The film marks the return of family drama on the big screen.  Produced by Gold Barn Media and released through Solar Entertainment, Flames of Love tries to focus on despair, hate, hurt, lust, passion, and anger engulfing the hearts and minds of the characters.  It boasts of an all-star cast— Christopher de Leon, Dina Bonnevie, Lani Mercado, Ricky Davao, Jacklyn Jose, Allen Dizon, Megan Young, and Valerie Concepcion, all delivering their roles with remarkable sincerity.  One cinematographic handicap, though, is the use of too many “talking heads”, and with the kind of lines actors deliver, the movie consequently sounds uncomfortably preachy in some parts.
Flames of Love has laughter and tears and aims to impart valuable lessons on life and love, says its scriptwriter-producer Baby Nebrida, adding that “it provides a rich spiritual nourishment that will make you think of how a loving and merciful God can be in control of every near disaster in life.”  One thing stands out in the movie: it is not afraid to “tell it like it is”, portraying family situations so emotionally and realistically that viewers would find it easy to relate to.   Flames of Love was reportedly made “in answer to the call of Blessed Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI to evangelize and spread God’s love and mercy through media as we celebrate the Year of Faith.”  It then becomes a "movie on faith guided by faith".  In consideration of its makers’ intentions, therefore, its zeal to preach becomes understandable.





El Presidente


LEAD CAST: Nora Aunor, E.R. Ejercito, Cristine Reyes, Cesar Montano  DIRECTOR: Mark Meilly  SCREENWRITER:  Roy Iglesia  PRODUCER:  Scenema Concept International, Viva films and CMB Films  GENRE:  Action, Historical Drama  RUNNING TIME: 160 minutes  LOCATION:  Philippines

Technical assessment:  3.5
Moral assessment:  2.5
CINEMA rating:  R 14 (For viewers 14 years old and above)

El Presidente exposes the political infighting, rivalries and intrigues during the revolution that saw Filipinos struggling for independence from Spanish Regime.  It also shows the inner struggle of Emilio Aguinaldo in the process of making decision between life and death, as his ability as a leader is being tested.  (Full review to follow)

Supremo

Cast:  Alfred Vargas, Mon Confiado, Nicco Manalo, Alex Vincent Medina, Edmon Romawac, Shielbert Manuel, Lehner Mendoza, Manu Respall, Jeff Fernandez, Banjo Romero, Alex Cabodil, Nica Naval and Hermie ConcepcionDirector:  Richard Somes: Screenplay: Jimmy Flores;  Producer: PM Vargas, Alfred Vargas, Riza Montelibano, Mai Montelibano and Ellen Ilagan ; Running Time: 150 minutes; Genre: Historical/ Bio-Drama; Location: Philippines

Technical Assessment: 3.5
Moral Assessment: 3
Rating: PG 13  (For viewers 13 and below with parental guidance)

Inilahad sa pelikula ang kuwento ni Andres Bonifacio, ang hinirang na Supremo ng Katipunan. Nagsimula ang kuwento taong 1882 sa pagkamatay ng unang asawa ni Bonifacio. Dito rin siya nagsimulang mamulat sa mga sakit ng lipunan kung saan ang kawalan ng katarungan at di pagkakapantay-pantay ng mga Pilipino at Kastila ang punong dahilan. Taong 1896, pinamunuan ni Bonifacio ang Katipunan, isang samahan ng mga Pilipinong rebolusyonaryong mandirigma. Bagama’t walang pormal na pagsasanay, sasabak sila sa digmaan upang labanan ang mapanupil na pamahalaan ng Espanya.  Susugod sila sa Intramuros upang kalampagin ang mapang-aping gobyerno sampu ng mga kawal nito.
Muling inilahad ng Supremo ang isang bahagi ng ating kasaysayan bilang isang bansa sa mata ng isang bayaning lagi nating naririnig ngunit hindi gaanong kilala—si Andres Bonifacio. Matagumpay ang pelikula sa pagnanais nitong buhayin ang mga rebolusyon na pinamunuan ng Katipunan. Bagama’t hindi kalakihang-produksyon, nagawa pa rin nitong iparamdam ang epiko at lawak ng digmaang pinag-buwisan ng buhay ng ating mga bayani noong panahon ng mga Kastila. Naging tunay at totoo rin sa kasaysayan ang pelikula kung kaya’t maraming kabataan ang makakapulot ng aral sa pelikula patungkol sa ating kasaysayan. Mahusay ang pagganap ng mga pangunahing tauhan bagama’t kulang sa emosyon ang ibang karakter. Maayos ang kabuuan ng pelikula mula sa disenyong pamproduksyon hanggang sa pag-iilaw at editing. Nagawa nitong pukawin ang natutulog na makabayang damdamin ng mga manonood. (May isa lamang kaming tanong tungkol sa isang bagay na sa tingin namin ay nakakabawas sa pagiging makatotothanan ng Supremo: bakit naman po napaka-sosyal naman ng porma ng bida?  Napaka-moderno ng gupit ng buhok, at sa puti ng plantsadong kamisadentro ay--nadinig naming wika ng isang manonood--"parang advertisement ng Tide!"  May pagka-banidoso po ba si Gat Andres Bonifacio?)
Anong pag-ibig kaya ang hihigit pa kaysa dalisay at dakilang pag-ibig sa inang-bayan?  Iyan ang mga katagang pinasikat ni Gat Andres Bonifacio. Ito ay kitang-kita sa alab ng damdamin na ipinamalas ni Bonifacio para sa bayan, para sa mga inaapi nating kababayan. Bagama’t naging madugo ang kanilang naging pamamaraan, naging bugso lamang ito ng kanilang dinanas na kaapihan. Maaring sa panahong iyon ay wala nang ibang paraan upang ipagtanggol ang kanilang kaapihan kundi ang madugong digmaan. Kita naman na ito’y hindi naging madali at ginawa lamang nila ang pagbubuwis ng buhay alang-alang sa kalayaan at katarungan. Katapangan at pagmamalasakit ang ipinakitang halimbawa ni Bonifacio. Yun nga lang, minarapat sana niyang tambalan ng wasto at kalmadong pag-iisip ang katapangang ito naging mas matagumpay pa siya at hindi nakaranas ng kaapihan sa kamay ng kapwa rebolusyonaryong mga Pilipino. Nakakalungkot isipin ang naging katapusan ng kwento ni Bonifacio, ngunit marami pa ring aral na matutunan dito. Sa huli’y kasaysayan pa rin ang maghuhusga sa pagkabayani ng isang tao, kahit na siya ay itinuring pang isang “Supremo”.

Cloud Atlas


LEAD CAST: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw, James D’Arcy, Zhou Xun, Keith Davi, Sudan Sarandon, Hugh Grant  DIRECTOR:  Lana & Andy Wachowski & Tom Tykwer  SCREENWRITER:   Lana & Andy Wachowski & Tom Tykwer  PRODUCER: Grant Hill & Stefan Amdt  EDITOR:  Alexander Berner  MUSICAL DIRECTOR:  Tom Tykwer, Johnny Klimek, Reinhold Heil  GENRE:  Drama & Science Fiction  CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Frank Greiber RUNNING TIME:  163 minutes  DISTRIBUTOR:  Warner Bros. Pictures  LOCATION:  Germany

Technical assessment:  3.5
Moral assessment:  2
CINEMA rating:  V 18 

Cloud Atlas threads together six stories that examine how the actions of individuals impact one another in the past, present and future.  The six stories take the viewer from the South Pacific in year 1849 to in the nineteenth century to a distant, post-apocalyptic future in year 2321. According to novelist David Mitchell who wrote the original (novel Cloud Atlas) in 2004, the film is structured, “as a sort of pointillist mosaic: We stay in each of the six worlds just long enough for the hook to be sunk in, and from then on the film darts from world to world at the speed of a plate-spinner, revisiting each narrative for long enough to propel it forward.”
Critics are divided on Cloud Atlas.  Seeing the film previewed at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival where it received a 10-minute standing ovation, film critics either acclaimed it as one of the most important films of the year, or shrugged it off as a “totally unparalleled disaster.”  The gorgeous sets, makeup and special effects definitely add to the credibility of the characters in this film co-written and directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer.   Cloud Atlas owes its uniqueness to the ambitious casting; big stars play six roles each, appearing in all stories, and reprising their roles with equal elan and competence.
But what is Cloud Atlas trying to say to the contemporary man?  The six narratives are independent of one another and yet they are united in celebrating positive values, above all the dignity of all human beings.  Due to its complexity, however, this is a movie that may need several viewings to be fully appreciated, and even then it will be comprehended individually, in accordance with each viewer’s capacity to intuit its worth.  This would be a nice film to watch (even on DVD) with the whole family—it could lead to profound discussions even among teenagers.



Friday, December 7, 2012

Skyfall


CAST:  Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris; DIRECTOR:  Sam Mendes;  SCREENWRITER:  John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade; PRODUCER:  Eon Productions; GENRE:  Action-thriller;  CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Roger Deakins;  DISTRIBUTOR:  MGM & Sony Pictures Entertainment; RUNNING TIME:  142 minutes;  LOCATION:  United Kingdom, China, Turkey

Technical assessment:  4
Moral assessment:  3
CINEMA rating:  V 14
After being written off as dead, James Bond (Daniel Craig) reemerges in the apartment of M (Judi Dench), right when she is writing his obituary.  Considerably enervated by the bullet that had hit and sent him plummeting down a raging river and spending some time as an unknown entity on some faraway beach, he is subjected to fitness tests for reactivation.  The tests reveal Agent 007’s condition to be below par—scoring low at target shooting among others—nonetheless, M conceals the test results from Bond, and orders him back to service, much to the chagrin of the new boss, Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes). As far as M is concerned, only Bond would be up to hunting down the villain Javier Bardem (Raoul Silva).
Any James Bond film, for all the vices it glorifies and justifies, is welcome entertainment fare anytime.  Credit, maybe, goes to Bond’s plots, or gadgets, or villains, for the habit-forming quality of 007 movies.  Or maybe it’s the Sean Connery mystique that got movie buffs hooked on the series decades (50 years?) ago.  James Bonds of varying charms and shortcomings have come and gone, but none, it seems, approximates the original James Bond’s grace and grit more closely than Daniel Craig.  Somehow his James Bond comes across as more real, alive and authentic.  Now, even if this, Skyfall, were to be the last 007 movie to be ever made, it certainly would be the perfect closure to a much-adored, enduring spy series. 
There’s an element in this particular 007 sequel that was never even hinted at in the previous Bond films—conscience.  The probability shines that despite their violence-fraught occupations, James Bond and M feel that in their heart of hearts, they are really servants to a higher cause.  Even the villain Bardem who becomes heartless from his woundedness musters the guts to prick M’s conscience, saying, “Think on your sins.”  And this happens in the ruins of a chapel in the house where James Bond spent his childhood.  From the dusty and broken symbols of the faith in that chapel, it seems Bond grew up Catholic.   Bond himself, hurt and angry at being shot on orders of M, (making him a virtual “collateral damage”), resurrects himself from his non-existence as a nobody on an island to hunt down Bardem, believing he is serving a greater good even though aware that M could sacrifice him again if need be.  Another humane touch in Skyfall is the affection manifested between Bond and M.  (Spoiler coming!)  The grand old dame M dies in James Bond’s arms; Bond weeps, and the viewer surmises that through all the years, Bond has never loved any woman more than this maternal surrogate.



Rise of the Guardians


Cast: Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, Isla Fisher, Jude Law; Direction: Peter Ramsey; Screenplay: David Lindsay-Abaire; Producer: Christina Steinberg
Nancy Bernstein
; Music: Alexansew Desplat; Genre: Animation; Running Time: 97 minutes; Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Technical Assessment:  3.5
Moral Assessment:  4
CINEMA Rating: GP (for viewers of all ages)

In the animated world, mythical characters are real and assigned to protect certain aspects of childhood. North, better known as Santa Claus  (voiced by Alec Baldwin) and guardian of wonder, is alerted when Pitch or the Boogie Man (Jude Law), keeper of nightmares, threatens to overtake the children with fear to avenge his own disbelieved-in state. So North calls in the other guardians to defeat Pitch. The guardians include Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher), guardian of dreams, Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), guardian of hope and Sandman, guardian of dreams. However, the guardians’ attempts to stop Pitch fail and one after the other they are overtaken and children lose faith in them. In a last ditch effort, North tries to swear in Jack Frost (Chris Pine), guardian of fun and spirit of winter, to help them defeat Pitch and save the children. But Frost needs a lot of convincing as he has remained invisible due to children’s disbelief in him until he discovers his past life and his heroism that merited his being chosen as a guardian.
Rise of the Guardians is a well told well-crafted animated film. The plot and narrative are fluid and tight. Characterization is enhanced by powerful performances from seasoned actors. Visually, the film is a feast for the eyes and the imagination as it seamlessly blends technical ingenuity with craftsmanship. The film is captivatingly entertaining both for the intended young viewers and their adult companions.
Most films meant for children carry with them a strong message of hope, love and unity. Rise of the Guardians does this as well in a very enchanting manner as it makes a play on childhood characters even adults love to continually cling to. The film reiterates the need to protect children with fantasy characters but at the same time it reinforces their faith in a higher being. Unity, commitment to one’s duties and courage are values displayed by the guardians in their quest to defeat Pitch and protect the children of the world. In doing so, the film teaches children that good will always prevail with teamwork and dedication.