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, October 30, 2013

Alagwa


Cast: Jericho Rosales, Bugoy Carino; Director: Ian Lorenos;  Screenplay: Ian Lorenos; Distributor: Star Cinema; Running Time: 88 minutes; Genre: Drama; Location: Manila/ Hongkong

Technical Assessment: 3.5
Moral Assessment: 3
CINEMA Rating:  PG 13 for viewers 13 years old and below with parental guidance

Makikita si Robert (Jericho Rosales) na palibot-libot sa mga kalsada ng Hong Kong na tila may hinahanap. Kasabay nito, makikita ang mga eksena ng kanyang nakalipas kapiling ang anak na si Brian (Bugoy Carino). Namatay ang asawa ni Robert sa panganganak kaya mag-isa niyang itinataguyod si Brian sa pag-aahente. Kahit nahihirapan, kita ang pagmamahalan ng mag-ama bagama’t madalas silang nagkakabangga at nagkakasagutan. Minsang matapos ang matinding pagtatalo ng dalawa, mamamasyal sila sa mall. Ngunit mawawaglit si Brian sa paningin ni Robert nang ito ay iwan niya sa palikuran ng mall. Nang ito ay kanyang binalikan, wala na si Brian.  Sa kanyang paghahanap, malalaman niyang maari itong kinidnap ng mga sindikatong dumudukot ng mga bata at dinadala sa Hongkong upang gawing pulubi. Gagawin lahat ni Robert, makita at mailigtas lamang ang anak. Magtagumpay kaya siya sa kanyang paghahanap?

Mariing napahatid ng Alagwa ang damdamin at sanga-sangang emosyon sa relasyon ng mag-ama habang tinatalakay din nito ang napakahalagang suliraning panlipunan na human trafficking.  Matagumpay ang pelikula sa pagtataguyod ng relasyong Robert at Brian. Pinaigting itong lalo ng kahusayan ng dalawang aktor sa pagganap. Hindi matatawaran ang galing ni Rosales sa pelikulang ito. Akmang-akma ang papel na Robert sa kanya. Maayos din ang kuha ng kamera pati na rin ang komposisyon ng bawat eksena. Natural na dumadaloy ang emosyon sa pelikula at hindi pilit. Pawang sumisilip sa mga eksena ng tunay na buhay ang mga manonood habang pinapanood kung paaanong nagkakagalit at nagbabati ang mag-amang Robert at Brian. Kung kaya’t ganun na rin lang ang pag-aalalang naramdaman ng manonood nang mawala si Brian. Isang matinding bagay ang nakataya kung kaya’t mauunawaan ng manonood kung bakit biglang naging mistulang sanggano si Robert na handang kalabanin kahit sino mahanap at mailigtas lamang ang nawawalang anak.

Hanngang saan nga ba ang kayang gawin at isakripisyo ng isang magulang para sa anak? Kahanga-hanga ang paglalahad ng pelikula kung gaano kawagas ang pagmamahal ng isang ama sa anak. Hindi tumigil si Robert hanggang sa huli makita lamang ang nawawalang anak. Katulad din ng walang tigil niyang pagta-trabaho maitaguyod lang at mapag-aral ang anak sa gitna ng kahirapan ng buhay. Paminsan-minsa’y kakikitaan ng kalupitan si Robert kay Brian ngunit mauunawan pa rin na bugso lamang ito ng damdamin sa hangaring mapabuti ang anak. Sinalamin  din ng pelikula ang tunay na mukha ng kahirapan sa bansa, na kung minsan ay hindi pantay-pantay ang pagkakataon para sa lahat kung kaya’t marami ang umaasa na lamang sa suwerte tulad ng pagkapanalo sa lotto (na siyang naging dahilan kung bakit nawaglit kay Robert si Brian). Ang pinakamasaklap pa nito’y kung paanong ang kahirapan ay nagiging dahilan ng paggawa ng mga tao ng karumal-dumal na krimen tulad ng human trafficking kung saan mga inosenteng bata ang nagiging biktima. Isang matinding pagtapik din ang pelikula sa gobyerno at awtoridad na gawin ang kanilang tungkulin upang masugpo ang mga ganitong uri ng krimen na madalas ay nangyayari sa mga lansangan. Ngunit higit sa lahat, isang matinding pagpapaalala ang Alagwa sa lahat ng manonood na maging mas mapagmatyag at hangga’t maaari’y tulungan ang gobyerno at lipunan na magbago. Na ang bawat isa ay may pananagutan sa kapwa at anumang masama o mabuting nangyayari sa bawat isa, lahat tayo ay may pananagutan. Dahil sa tema at ilang eksena ng karahasan, pinagpapalagay ng CINEMA na ang pelikula ay maaaring panoorin ng mga batang edad 13 gulang bababa,  bagama’t dapat silang samahan at gabayan ng mga magulang.

Passion


Cast: Rachel McAdams, Noomi Rapace. Karoline Herfurth; Direction: Brian de Palma; Story : based on Love Crime by Natalie Carter; Screenplay: Brian de Palma, Natalie Carter; Cinematography: Jose Luis Alcaine;  Editing: Francois Gedigier;  Music: Pino Donaggio; Producers: Said Ben Said; Genre: Drama;  Location: Germany; Running Time: 94 minutes; Distributor: E1 Films

Technical Assessment: 2.5
Moral Assessment: 2
CINEMA Rating: R18

Christine (Rachel Mc Adams) has everything—a blossoming career, a devoted lover Dirk, and a loyal subordinate, Isabelle (Noomi Rapace)  who almost hero-worships her. All seems well until she takes full credit for an advertising campaign Isabelle developed. Christine is immediately offered the New York post as a promotion. Isabelle is immediately upset but is resigned to acceptance as Christine playfully tells her that it was just a professional move. Unknown to Isabelle, Christine is fully aware of her affair with Dirk whom she has manipulated to end the relationship and break her heart.  Isabelle retorts by uploading her original ad campaign on the Youtube and alerting the corporate office of  her genious so that the New York position is offered to her instead. Christine humiliates Isabelle and ruins her reputation. The  latter seemingly is driven to emotional destitution and develops an addiction to drugs. Only after Christine is found dead and she gets arrested for the murder, does she struggle to regain her life back and prove her innocence with the help of her secretary Dani (Herfurth). But her nervous breakdown is revealed to be a cover for another well-planned revenge which Dani unfortunately knew too much of.

De Palma has a reputation as an effective suspense and crime thriller visual director. His penchant for off centered angles, split screen editing, abstract composition and his 360 slow panning shot to emphasize drama always resounds in his best works. Unfortunately, his brilliant style did not shine in this film as his attempts to create an erotic thriller comes across as cheaply staged and vulgar. It does not help at all that the film is remake of Love Crime with several elements altered to try to make the story more sensual than necessary. The storytelling is overthought that the plot becomes confusing with De Palma constantly shifting from dream to reality. In the second act, when the conflict is revealed, the whole film falls apart and never recovers leaving the audience confused and lost.

The film demostrates a classic case of bullying in the corporate world where those can, do, and those who can’t, retaliate when no one is looking. Power struggle brings out the best and the worst in people, especially in the corporate world where fearlessness is defined by the capability to step on boundaries for the sake of a promotion. Integrity, teamwork and decency are brushed off as everyone looks after his own interest. Further, at the heart of self-centeredness and greed,  revenge and getting even thrive and consume the person’s humanity. He thinks that no one who has gotten the best of him deserves to live. Yet at the end of the day, success means absolutely nothing as those who have schemed maliciously find themselves alone with an endless void. Because the more one destroys lives of other people, the more broken and lost one becomes. The movie proved these concepts but the portrayal of the physical and emotional violence were unnecessarily graphic. Further, vengeance was served to those who tried to take advantage or oppress another but again in a very violent manner that Passion seems a very subtle translation of aggression—the dominant emotion of the film.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Gravity


LEAD CAST:  Sandra Bullock, George Clooney  DIRECTOR: Alfonso Cuaron  SCREENWRITER:  Alfonso Cuaron, Jonas Cuaron  PRODUCER:  Alfonso Cuaron, David Heyman  EDITOR:  Alfonso Cuaron, Mark Sanger  MUSICAL DIRECTOR:  Steven Price
GENRE:  Drama, Mystery & Suspense, Science Fiction, Fantasy  CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Emmanuel Lubezki RUNNING TIME:   90 minutes  DISTRIBUTOR:  Warner Bros. Pictures  LOCATION:  United States, United Kingdom, outer space.

Technical assessment:  4
Moral assessment:  4
MTRCB rating:  PG 13
CINEMA rating:  V 14 (Viewers aged 14 and up)

Two astronauts Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), a bio-medical engineer, and Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney) a veteran flight commander, are the only survivors during a mission to destroy an old Russian space station.  With their spaceship imperiled by a debris storm and the rest of the crew dying before their very eyes, the stranded pair must squeeze their guts dry to survive 600 miles from Earth in negative zero temperature as their oxygen supply runs out.  They must bring their ship back to Earth—but how in the face of such helplessness can they do so?

Rare is the film that can take the viewer out of his orbit and paradoxically into himself, and Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity is such a rarity.  Clooney handles with finesse a happy-go-lucky character that under duress would shine with unusual nobility; Bullock plays out with depth a character that’s is stone outside and putty inside.  The chemistry between Bullock and Clooney is flawless, their acting solid, leading the viewer to surmise that their career path must have prepared them for this one obra maestra that will be remembered for its power to hold the viewer spellbound for a full hour and a half.  Of course, Jonas Cuaron takes a chunk of the credit for it, for the engaging script.  Except for one negligible slip (see if you can spot it), the editing is seamless; so is the dovetailing of CGI and watertight cinematography—just the right elements to create the tension that is so masterfully heightened by the pitch-perfect musical score.

Gravity is the story of Dr. Stone—a woman that at first comes across as a toughie, almost like a covert tomboy, what with a boy’s name and a “hard” surname, but as the cosmos compels her would later on reveal her true tenderness.  The impossibly composed Kowalski is an indispensable device to effect this transformation.   To capture all the nuances enveloped in the basically two-character film, the viewer must first free himself of the weight of his own reasoning.  Never mind that Stone has an almost superhuman presence of mind, steering the ship and hitting the right buttons without hesitation.  Isn’t weightlessness supposed to adversely affect brain functions and alter judgment?  But there she is defying all odds and… well, accomplishing the impossible.  Damned lucky?  But that’s just it—Gravity subtly instills in the viewer’s mind a truth costumed in sci-fi: that there’s an eye in the sky that sees all and knows all and can do all.  In Stone’s case, “all” is finally standing naked before a mirror and confronting all that toxic baggage in her bowels that’s preventing her from taking the flight to human fulfillment—grieving over the loss of her child. Never mind that this all took place in a hallucinatory state—let’s not doubt the power of The Eye to do that.

A woman’s invincible maternal instinct is subtly underscored here, with thoughtfully placed and timed images alluding to maternity: Stone, dressed down to her underwear and curled into fetal position, swoons weightless inside the spacecraft; defeated by frustration in an attempt to communicate with the Chinese space station, she softly ululates, like a she-wolf who has lost her pup; she hears a baby crying—a baby, in space with the Chinese astronaut?—but the crying does revive her hope and will to survive; finally when her ship lands on earth, plunging into the ocean, she’s home, back to the water-filled womb of Mother Earth, eager to begin a new life, with her feet firmly planted on the ground.  You might think CINEMA is reading too much into a mere movie, but it’s all right—blame it on those shots of Earth viewed from outer space, they’re totally priceless and beautiful beyond words.  Detaching from Earth most definitely alters human judgment, but oh, what an infinitely good, loving, and beautiful Creator we meet out there! 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Prisoners


                                                                       
RUNNING TIME:  153 minutes
LEAD CAST:  Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard, Melissa Leo, Paul Danao
DIRECTOR: Denis Villeneuve
SCREENWRITER:  Aaron Guzikowski           
PRODUCER:  Broderick Johnson, Kira Davis, Andrew A. Kosove, Adam Guzikowski
EDITOR:  Joel Cox, Gary D. Roach
MUSICAL DIRECTOR:  Johann Johannsson
GENRE:  Drama, Crime & Thriller
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Roger A. Deakins
DISTRIBUTOR:  Warner Bros.
LOCATION:  US

TECHNICAL:  4
MORAL:  2.5
MTRCB RATING:  R13
CINEMA RATING:  R18

Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) is a deeply religious man who prides himself in being ready for any eventuality. They live in a small town and with his wife Grace (Maria Bello) and two children, they celebrate Thanksgiving with the Birches, Franklin and Nancy (Terrence Howard and Viola Davis), who have two children of the same age. The two girls, Anna Dover and Joy Birch, asked permission to go out for a walk but didn’t call their elder siblings to accompany them as instructed. While the rest of the families stayed inside, Anna and Joy disappeared. A frantic search ensued, and the only clue is a van parked on the side street on which the girls wanted to play earlier. Alex Jones (Paul Dano), the van’s driver, is apprehended by Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal), but is found to be a mentally challenged drifter with an IQ of a 10-year old, and is soon released for lack of evidence. Alex was raised by his aunt Holly Jones (Melissa Leo). He rarely speaks. Impatient with how the police are handling the case and desperate to rescue his little girl Anna, Dover kidnaps Alex who told him earlier that, “They (the girls) only cried when I left them.” He uses torture to interrogate Alex to get out everything he can from him. Will he have enough time to learn his daughter’s whereabouts and save her?

Prisoners brings together an ensemble cast where almost every actor has been awarded or nominated for awards. Each of them gives an incredible performance, thanks to the masterful handling and direction of Denis Villeneuve. Jackman and Gyllenhaal portray their multi-faceted characters with relentless intensity and believability. From the first scene in the forest to the cramped room where Alex was tortured, Roger A. Deakins’ cinematography is poetic, broody, and masterful. Aaron Guzikowski turns a simple story of abduction into a complex thriller, suspense and drama where unexpected plot twists, the inner struggles of characters and surrounding circumstances are well intertwined, keeping the viewers at the edge of their seats for 153 minutes! It would have been better if it was 10-20 minutes less, though. Johann Johannsson’s music adds to the anxiety, conflict and overall darkness. Prisoners, Villeneuve’s first English language film is simply a technical masterpiece.

Prisoners draws you to relate intimately with the story – long after the credits roll. It invites you to look at the gray and complex areas of life and makes you question:
·       What is my worst fear?
·       What am I willing to do for the sake of people I love?
·       How far can parents protect their children from danger?
·       Is torture and murder ever justified, no matter what the circumstances? Can I take the law in my hand?
·       What imprisons me? What can push me to the edge? What do I run away from?
·       What choices do I make? How do they impact the life of others?
·       Does my faith inform my actions and behavior?

The film begins with Dover telling his young son, “Be ready. All that stands between you and being dead is you.” A few minutes later, he finds out for himself it was not so. No one can truly feel safe, in spite of a basement full of supplies for survival. And violence, for whatever compels a person to it, demeans the aggressor and victim. Prisoners not only invites us to look at the paranoia and violence in our world but also at the pain and barricades we make to shield ourselves from uncertainty. It also encourages us too, to make peace with our prisons and make choices not from fear but out of compassion.

Religious imagery appears significantly in the film – crosses, a Masonic ring, an alcoholic priest… A preacher is heard on the radio as Keller turns it on: “Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7). Plus the Our Father is prayed not once but twice. When was the last time you heard a Hollywood movie do these? Is this Villeneuve’s way of confronting America and the world to look beyond ourselves to a God who is Father? Because of the intense and frequent violence and emotional stress, some vulgar language, and the moral dilemmas in it, CINEMA encourages ethical and moral discussions about the movie among adults, and gives this film an R 18 rating.

Kung fu divas


Lead cast: Ai-ai delas Alas, Marian Rivera; Direction: Onat Diaz; Screenplay: Onat Diaz; Location: Isla Marikit; Genre: Fantasy-Comedy; Running Time: 102 minutes;  Distributor: Star Cinema
 
Technical Assessment :  3
Moral Assessment:  2.5
MTRCB rating:  PG13
CINEMA rating:  V14

Huling pagkakataon na ni Charlotte (Ai-ai delas Alas) na magkaroon ng titulo bilang beauty queen kaya pagbubuhusan niya ng panahon ang paghahanda para sa Hiyas ng Dalampasigan. Mabigat ang hamon para sa kanya na magkaroon ng korona dahil tanging siya na lamang ang hindi pa nananalo sa beauty contest sa kanyang pamilya. Abot kamay na sana niya ang korona sa Hiyas ng Dalampasigan nang biglang dadating at sasali si Samantha (Marian Rivera) at aagawin ang titulo. Ang bangayan ng dalawa ay mauuwi sa personalan hanggang matuklasan nila na sila pala ay kambal na anak ng isang hari sa Tsina na kinakailangang matutong magtulungan upang maipagtanggol ang kanilang kaharian laban sa nagbabadyang kasamaan.
Sa kabuuan, masisiyahan ka naman sa Kung Fu Divas dahil mahusay sina delas Alas at Rivera sa pagganap at sinikap iangat ang antas ng produksyon. Dahil sanay na rin naman ang manunuod sa istilo ng patawa ng pelikulang Pinoy ay patatawarin na nila ang kababawan ng komedyang nakahain. Kaya nga lamang, nakalimutan ng mga nasa likod ng produksyon na ang isang elemento ng tagumpay ng isang pelikulang maraming computer generated effects at chroma screen ay ang maihabi ito nang mahigpit sa eksena para magmukhang isang tunay na mundo ang ginagawalan ng mga tauhan. Sa Kung Fu Divas, tiniyak na matutukoy ang bawat special effects na ginawa at nagsusumigaw sa pagyayabang  ang pelikula na kaya na rin nitong makipagsabayan sa Hollywood. Pero malayong-malayo pa ang lalakbayin ng produksyon hangga’t hindi nito natututuhang maging pino at pulido.  Maganda sana ang konsepto pero mahina ang pag-unlad ng kwento. Naroroon pa rin ang tagpi-tagpi at pampahabang mga eksena. Sa totoo lang, kitang-kita na pinilit hubugin ang kwento para mabigyang-katwiran ang pagkuha sa dalawang bida sa halip na iayon ang artista sa nabuong istorya. Kulang din ang pagkakabuo sa mga katauhan kaya’t halos hindi nila nakuha ang simpatiya ng manunuod—hindi mo nga maalala ang mga pangalan nila sa pelikula. Nakakabagabag pakinggan ang madramang usapan ng dalawa habang nasa bingit ng kamatayan ; baka mas gustuhin mo pang mahulog na lamang sila at tuluyan nang maglaho sa kawalan kaysa tiisin mo ang walang katuturang drama. Bilang isang pelikulang kung fu, salat na salat ito sa aksyon at teknik sa mga eksenang aksyon. Pinilit pagtakpan ng mga malalapitang kuha ang mga fight scenes para hindi mahalatang kulang sa kakayahan, galing, magandang koreograpiya, at buhay sa pagganap ng kanilang mortal na kalaban.
Ano nga ba ang kahulugan ng kagandahan? Sa Kung Fu Divas, nag-uumapaw ang pasaring sa ideyang panlabas na anyo lamang ang batayan ng kagandahan ng babae at ang halaga niya ay nasa dami ng humahanga sa kanyang itsura. Sinikap bigyang diin ng pelikula ang mensahe na panloob na kagandahan at kabutihan ng ugali ang higit na mahalagang sukatan ng sukatan ng pagkatao ng isang babae. (Sana nga lamang ay nakuha ito ng mga manunuod na abalang-abalang tumatawa sa paulit-ulit nitong komedya). Marami rin isiningit na aral ukol sa pagkakaisa, pagmamalasakit at pagsasa-isangtabi ng sariling interes para sa kapakanan ng mas nakararami. Pero kasabay nito, may mga patawang hindi lamang paulit-ulit kundi medyo nakaka-ilang na ring panuorin, tulad ng paglaglag ng salawal ng mga kababaihan nang makakita ng makisig na lalake. Nakakalungkot din ang tuwirang pagbansag na “pangit” sa mga babae sa pelikula, lalo na iyong ginamit na artista para sa dating mukha ni Samantha bago siya nagpa-ayos ng mukha at katawan kay Vicky Belo.  Sa kabila ng magandang hangad nito at tila malinis na pagpapatawa, hindi angkop ang pelikula sa mga batang manunuod.

Runner runner


                                                                       
LEAD CAST: Justin Timberlake, Gemma Asterton, Anthony Mackie, Ben Affleck,
DIRECTOR: Brad Furman
SCREENWRITER:  Brian Koppelman, David Levien      
PRODUCER:  Arnon Milchan, Jennifer Davisson Killoran, Leonardo DiCaprio, Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher
EDITOR:  Jeff McEvoy
MUSICAL DIRECTOR:  Christophe Beck
GENRE: Mystery, Suspense, Drama
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Mauro Fiore
RUNNING TIME:  91 minutes
DISTRIBUTOR:  20th Century Fox
LOCATION:  US, Puerto Rico

Technical - 3
Moral - 3
MTRCB Rating - R13
CINEMA Rating: Age 14 and above

Richie Furst (Justin Timberlake) is on the lookout for the cheaters who rub out his money over online poker.  The money he lost is intended to pay for the school tuition of his graduate studies. His search brings him to a remote place where he meets Ivan Block (Ben Affleck), the corrupt owner and host of the online game.  Surprisingly, the two click and become friends. But being in illegal business,  the FBI is after Ivan. The officers are convinced that Richie being once a victim himself can be an asset to track Ivan down and fall on the hands of the law.  The chase after the gambling culprit appears to be never ending but the term runner is also figuratively refered to Furst as the runner of Block for anything that he needs.

Runner Runner has an impressive plot that tackled the online gambling cheating.  It uses voice over that helps to establish a central character portrayed by Timberlake. There are delivery of meaningful lines especially when Richie realizes that gambling runs in the family emanating from his very own father who happened to be bosom buddy of Ivan. Actingwise, Timberlake and Affleck are commendable in this film. Those in support roles are not behind in their portrayals too. The cinematography gave a treat of summer sceneries. Overall, Runner Runner has the ingredients of a film that keep up to its technical qualities.

It is a noble act to desire for higher studies and especially if the person works hard to pay for it. There is no shortcut to achieve a sweet success. The movie shows that getting money from gambling is wrong and that the school administrator does not tolerate any illegal action like gambling for this matter.  The school clearly sets out the consequences should anyone figure on this prohibited act. However, human weakness like allurement of money and wealth victimizes the character of Furst (Timberlake) in the film.  But it was never late for him to get over from the pigeon hole that he gets into.  He felt sorry that gambling actually runs in the family that he has been very part of it from the very start. Nevertheless, it did not stop him to go to the side of the law and to set him free.

There is no upside in gambling. In any way, it will take over a person -- wealth, body and soul. In the same way, a corrupt person should pay for every crime that he commits. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

About time

LEAD CAST: Domhall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy, Tom Hollander, Margot Robbie  DIRECTOR: Richard Curtis  SCREENWRITER:  Richard Curtis  PRODUCER: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Nicky Kentish Barnes  EDITOR:   Mark Day  MUSICAL DIRECTOR:  Nick Laird-Clowes  GENRE: Comedy, Drama, Romance  CINEMATOGRAPHER:  John Guleserian RUNNING TIME:  123 minutes  DISTRIBUTOR:  Universal Pictures  LOCATION:  Great Britain

Technical assessment:  3.5
Moral assessment:  3
MTRCB rating:  PG 13
CINEMA rating:  V 14

            Tim Lake (Domhall Gleeson) gets a rather weird gift when he turns 21: his father (Bill Nighy) reveals to him a family secret that’s supposed to be kept between them—all the men in the Lake family are gifted with the ability to time travel.  No need for elaborate space suits and abracadabras: just find a dark secluded place (like a closet), close your eyes, clench your fists tightly, tell yourself where (or when) you want to be, and poof, you’re there.  Tim thinks it’s a joke until he tries it to rectify something that happened at a party the previous night—and it works.  Time leaves Cornwall for London to study law and find the girl of his dreams.  After a suspenseful and virtual “blind” date in a lightless bar he sees her—and they fall in love.  
            Director Richard Curtis (Love Actually, Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral) spins a delightful rom-com that weds the whimsical and the earthbound.  Despite the incredible element of time travel, the plot advances credibly and does not really capitalize on the supernatural to drive home its point.  Gleeson (Bill Weasley in the Harry Potter series) and McAdams are naturals as a loving couple, matching chemistry and perfect comic timing; Nighy couldn’t have been better cast.  About time scores high in the technical department, from characterization down to costume and make-up (note McAdams’ bangs an inch too short of her desired look).  While there’s really nothing extraordinarily exciting going on, the stimulating story and the fast pace keep viewers hanging on to scene after scene till the end.
            It is a pleasure to find a down-to-earth movie among the sci-fis and superhero flicks in the multiplexes’.  About time is also a soft-sell for the joys of marital fidelity, planning a family, growing up being cared for by devoted parents, etc.  The movie shows that in our time when broken families seem to be the norm, and when parents and children become strangers if not enemies, it is possible to still build your own world where children are wanted, welcome, and raised in love.  Premarital sex is implied, but considering that About time is not a Filipino movie but is rather set in a culture that permits it, this slightly off element is overshadowed by the many other positive values it depicts.  Even time travel is used here as a mere device in delivering the movie’s message: that while there are things in our past that we wish we could change, life sooner than later lets us glide into maturity until we reach that point when living from day to day we find joy and contentment.