Monday, March 28, 2016


DIRECTOR: Tom McCarthy  LEAD CAST:  Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci   SCREENWRITER: Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer  PRODUCER:  Blye Pagon Faust, Steve Golin, Nicole Rocklin & Michael Sugar  EDITOR: Tom McArdle  MUSICAL DIRECTOR:  Howard Shore  GENRE: Biographical Drama  CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Masanobu Takayanagi  DISTRIBUTOR: Open Road Films  LOCATION:  United States RUNNING TIME:  2 hrs. 15 minutes
Technical assessment:  4
Moral assessment:  3
CINEMA rating:  V18
Spotlight is about the efforts of a team of crack journalists of The Boston Globe working on a story of sex abuse committed largely by clergymen of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston.  The story was kept hidden for so long by The Boston Globe itself despite the incriminating information provided by the lawyers and victims in the earlier years. To make up for such omission, the “spotlight” team—editor Walter “Robby” Robinson (Michael Keaton) and reporters Mike Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams), and Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James)—is commissioned by the paper’s new chief, Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) to reinvestigate the issue.   After diligently gathering evidences and testimonies from people concerned including the victims themselves—and the team’s searing concern over the possible consequences of unearthing the truth—the Boston Globe publishes the story to a shocked public.
If only the Oscars had an award for Best Ensemble, Spotlight’s actors would romp away with it hands down.  There are no villains, heroes, lead characters, or stars in Spotlight because the film’s spotlight is on the powerful material, which a power-packed cast has given justice to by their on-target performances.  The Oscars’ Best Film for 2015 focuses the limelight on a newsroom crisis involving professional journalists—whose forte is in-depth investigation of local stories—played with such incredibly credible finesse by: Keaton as the even-keeled news editor, Ruffalo, McAdams and Carroll as bulldog reporters contributing their distinctive traits as meticulous fact-diggers in an American city that would rather look the other way in the face of a crackling and definitely damaging controversy.
Spotlight’s dramatic tug of war is caused not by the perennial conflict between right and wrong, or good and evil, but from ethical and moral struggles experienced by the journalists who must decide what to do with the time bomb ticking away in their hands.  Some viewers think Spotlight is a film no Catholic should see; some say it’s a film no Catholic should miss.  CINEMA would hesitate to make such sweeping generalizations because whatever damage the expose can do to the image of the Catholic Church has been done by the actual media coverage of the real-life controversy in early 2002, to be exact.  Spotlight is not an expose in itself but a close look into what went on inside the Boston Globe newsroom and at its editorial board meetings before the public disclosure that rocked the staunchly Catholic community of Boston.  It is not about flaws in the priesthood; it is about a landmark moment in journalism.  In fairness, CINEMA must say director Tom McCarthy handled the material with equal parts skill and respect.  In the hands of an opportunistic filmmaker, the story could have been milked, molded, and marketed like any sensational tabloid material, but Spotlight instead treated the true story not only clinically and level-headedly but with empathy as well.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Miracles from Heaven

DIRECTOR: Patricia Riggen  LEAD CAST: Jennifer Garner, Kylie Rogers, Martin Henderson, John Carroll Lynch, Eugenio Derbez, Queen Latifah  SCREENWRITER: Randy Brown  PRODUCER:  DeVon Franklin, T.D. Jakes, Joe Roth  EDITOR: Emma Hickox  GENRE: Drama  CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Checco Varese  DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia Pictures  LOCATION:  United States RUNNING TIME:  109 minutes
Technical assessment:  3.5
Moral assessment:  4
CINEMA rating:  PG13
Ten-year-old Annabel Beams (Kylie Rogers) is diagnosed with an unusual disease in her digestive system.   Undeterred by the distressing prognosis of several doctors, Anna's mom, Christy (Jennifer Garner) is not about to give up. From Texas, she flies Anna to Boston to see Dr. Nurko (Eugenio Derbez), a renowned gastroenterologist at Boston Children's Hospital. However, the lab tests draw out the same results—Anna’s life is threatened by a disease that prevents her body from digesting food.  Palliative care is all they are advised to give to Anna who is then sent home.  One day, while playing with her sister up an old tree, Anna falls headlong into its hollowed core.  Not only does Anna survive the fatal accident—she is also miraculously healed of her fatal illness.
Miracles from Heaven is the latest release from AFFIRM Films, a division of Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions (SPWA).  AFFIRM’s Mission Statement says it is “dedicated to producing, acquiring, and marketing films which inspire, uplift, and entertain audiences.”  This boutique division of Sony’s is experimenting with penetrating the mainstream market with Christian films such as War room, Moms’ night out, Heaven is for real, Courageous, and Soul surfer.  Judging from its features played during the just concluded Lenten season—Risen and Miracles from Heaven—AFFIRM seems to be on the right track.  While it is clear that fact-based Miracles from Heaven is designed for believers, director Patricia Riggen’s silver screen take of Christy Beams’ 2015 memoir benefits much from the screen presence of Garner, a versatile mainstream star playing the lead.  Garner’s portrayal of the agonizing mom is so convincing the viewer would think she actually owns the pain; close-ups of her emoting are some of the best shots in the movie.  Rogers as the tormented child is also good for her age—rendering pale by comparison the two-dimensional performances of some of the adult supporting actors.
The film is a rich mine of Christian precepts at work in ordinary lives.  It tries to open the viewer’s eyes to the miracles we take for granted—like acts of kindness we do for others, sharing one’s faith, etc.  As a crossover film Miracles from Heaven may come across as melodramatic, gooey, or even preachy to the cynical, but to its target audience it is a welcome departure from the popular menu of egocentric stories.  There’s an otherworldly sequence towards the end that many believers in NDE (near death experience) will find familiar—when Anna is describing to her parents what took place as she lay unconscious inside the tree trunk.  It is brief but striking, capable of moving believers to tears and arousing the curiosity of even dedicated skeptics.  Here Anna admits (spoiler coming!) she has known all along she would be healed.  How?  In a manner we often read about in the lives of Saints, but in Miracles from Heaven the truth issues “from the mouth of babes”, so to speak.  Why doubt?  The witness of innocence is irrefutable.


DIRECTOR: Kevin Reynolds  LEAD CAST: Joseph Fiennes, Tom Felton, Peter Firth, Cliff Curtis  SCREENWRITER: Kevin Reynolds, Paul Aiello  PRODUCER:  Patrick Aiello & company  EDITOR: Steven Mirkovich  MUSICAL DIRECTOR:  Roque Baños  GENRE: Religious film  CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Lorenzo Senatore  DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia Pictures  LOCATION:  United States  RUNNING TIME:  1 hour 49 minutes
Technical assessment:  4
Moral assessment:  3.5
CINEMA rating:  V 14
Clavius (Joseph Fiennes), the right-hand of Pontius Pilate, is tasked to dig into the mystery of Christ’s resurrection. Assisted by Lucius, both men go around the Jewish community to investigate and search for the truth about the reported “resurrection” of the man who was crucified and who died beyond doubt.  Pontius Pilate insists on putting an end to the rumors and prevent the uprising in Jerusalem, so, Clavius and Lucius look further for the people they know were close to Yahshua (Jesus) and to question them about what really happened, urging them to divulge the truth about the missing body of the Messiah in exchange for their freedom.  The jaded Clavius takes the assignment as just one of the tasks in the endless work of maintaining Roman sovereignty over a people crazy over religion.
Holy Week offers a great way to rest from work and mundane preoccupations while on the other hand focusing on what awaits us after this life.  Easter, the season that reiterates for us the reality of a glorious life after death, inspires us to take into consideration eternal life in whatever we do while here on earth.  That’s not easy to do even during these holy days, and we all know that after Easter Sunday it’s back to work for most of us.  There are, however, ways of “prolonging Easter”, so to speak, that we can use in order to keep alive our innate longing for the eternal in spite of this world’s busyness: the movies!
One of the two movies that viewers and film critics alike have found to be specifically uplifting for believers is Risen.  (The other is Miracles from Heaven).   With clever use of technology, this resurrection themed movie from Columbia emerges with splendid effect.  Part of the movie’s effectiveness in portraying a gospel truth is opening the story with a cynical protagonist. Then, to end the story, instead of proving that the resurrection is a hoax, Clavius after intensive investigation comes to believe in its authenticity.
Believer or not, one would not be wasting one’s time seeing—or experiencing—Risen.  Yes, there’s much violence, corruption, and disrespect for human life in the movies (which compound the evil influence through television, DVD, YouTube and other media outlets), but there is also healing available for our wounded world, if only we would bother to look.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Kung Fu Panda 3

DIRECTOR:  Jennifer Yuh Nelson, Alessandro Carloni STARRING: Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, J. K. Simmons, James Hong, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, Seth Rogen, David Cross, Bryan Cranston, Kate Hudson  PRODUCER: Melissa Cobb  WRITERS: Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger  BASED ON: Characters created by Ethan Reiff, Cyrus Voris  FILM EDITOR: Clare Knight  MUSIC: Hans Zimmer  ART DIRECTION: Max Boas  GENRE: Computer-animated Action Comedy  PRODUCTION DESIGN: Raymond Zibath  PRODUCTION COMPANIES: DreamWorks Animation, Oriental DreamWorks, China Media Capital, Shanghai Media Group  DISTRIBUTORS: 20th Century Fox  LOCATION: United States, China  LANGUAGE: English, Mandarin  RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes
Technical assessment:  4
Moral assessment:  4
CINEMA rating:  VA (Viewers of All Ages)
In the spirit realm, Kai (JK Simmons) has been stealing the chi of past Masters to be able to return to the mortal world. His final combat is with his fomer brother-in-arms Master Oogway (Randall Duk Kim).  Oogway willingly gives his chi with a warning to Kai that the Dragon Warrior will ultimately defeat him. Kai returns to the mortal world and uses the stolen chi of Masters to control his jade warriors. He is able to take more chi of living Masters including Master Shifu and four of the Furious Five. In the meantime, Po (Jack Black) has returned with biological father, Li (Cranston) to the secret Panda village to learn and master chi so he can defeat Kai. Unfortunately, the pandas have forgotten their true selves and how they held the secret of mastering chi. Po assumes the role of a mentor to the pandas after Li and his adoptive father Ping (Hong) convinces him to be his true self. At the end, Po defeats Kai, frees the stolen spirits and understands that being a master teacher is learning to master your true self.
Kung Fu Panda 3 is a lot of fun both for children and adults. Needless to say the animation and technical design are superb. Since most of its audience has followed Po and friends’ story from the two previous films and ongoing TV series, the personalities of each of the characters are well established, making it easy to build subplots and new storylines. The beauty of the film is that it ia able to create fresh conflicts that do not feel over stretched. And even with an all-star casting, the narrative remains focused and fluid. The film is one of the few animation sequels that can stand on its own and be remembered long after it has ended its theatrical run.
Several messages have been touched in he film but the most resounding one is that of learning, trusting and mastering one’s true self. To become a great teacher, Po did not need to learn fancy and sophisticated techniques. To relearn chi, the pandas just needed to do what they did best in their everyday lives. To defeat a strong adversary, the warriors just had to look into their hearts. For every single ordinary person, the same lessons apply. We need not have fancy degrees or learn something someone else is doing… we just have to look into ourselves and discover who we are… who we are meant to be.  And as God’s children, we are meant to be good.  Kung Fu Panda 3 is indeed a film for all ages, with its formative material for the young, and for the old—a stress buster.  A must-see.

The finest hours

DIRECTOR: Craig Gillespie  LEAD CASTChris Pine, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, Holliday Grainger, John Ortiz, Eric Bana   SCREENWRITER:  Eric Johnson, Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy  PRODUCER:  Dorothy Aufiero, James Whitaker  EDITOR:  Tatiana S. Riegel    MUSICAL DIRECTOR:  Carter Burwel  GENRE:  Biographical Drama, Action and Adventure, Mystery and Suspense  CINEMATOGRAPHER: Javier Aguierresarobe    DISTRIBUTOR:  Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures  LOCATION:  United States RUNNING TIME: 117 minutes
Technical assessment:  3
Moral assessment:  3
CINEMA rating:  PG 13
This film is based on a real life story.  The Coast Guard crewman, Bernard Webber (Chris Pine) has fallen in love with switchboard operator, Miriam Pentinen  (Holliday Grainger). He is about to ask permission to get married from their new station’s commander but he is dispatched to rescue the 32 survivors trapped in the oil tanker, SS Pendleton which has broken in half off the Chatham coast after getting caught in a massive storm. It is impossible for any rescue boat to pass the lethal Chatham Bars crashing waves. In obedience to his commander, Weber takes three men on a lifeboat for the daring rescue mission. When SS Pendleton receives the message of a forthcoming rescue, chief engineer Ray Sybert  (Casey Affleck)organizes a strategy to keep the tanker’s stern afloat, hoping they’ll be rescued before sinking. But the rescue boat is tossed by skyscraper waves and loses the compass. Bernie races against time to make the rescue succeed, to atone for the time he couldn’t save townsmen stranded in a previous storm.                                                        

In totality, The Finest Hours is a fine movie. It is able to achieve its visual ambitions of bringing back to life a historical event that happened on a sea. There’s a lot of creativity and talent invested in the film’s visuals using CGI as well as real location that shows captivating sceneries and seascapes. The story is interesting and it presents really compelling characters,w ith actors who are able to deliver. However, the film lacks necessary focus. Its narrative jumps from one subplot to another. Perhaps it is drawn to its own broadness so it has to show three main subplots—Bernie’s impossible mission, Miriam’s worry, and Ray’s dilemma on his ship. Each plot has its own interesting take on the event, but put together, there is something missing. Perhaps it lacks the real heart or maybe, the film is really just focused on the storm and not on the characters. Whichever, the film could’ve been better if it just focused on one plot and played everything there. Giving the plots equal weight has made resulted in sense of vagueness that does not work well for the movie. However, the film’s visual strength and good acting, makes The Finest Hours a good watch.
The Finest Hours is a story of courage, heroism, faith and love amidst the storm. Each character has shown concern for every single life as precious—thus, risking even their own lives to save others. In the battle of man against nature, only real courage and strong faith would make them survive. It is also easy to fall into the trap of “ship of fools” given the gravity and urgency of the situation, but genuine heroism has kept every character afloat, setting aside pride and differences. The film shows the real meaning of camaraderie and brotherhood. Miriam, on the other hand is a woman of strong character. Her steadfast love and faithful heart apparently has been instrumental in sending message of hope and perseverance to Bernie in the middle of the sea. Keeping watch every minute, she managed to play a significant role in the eventual success of the operation. The film really has shown how the crucial hours that spell disaster and survival have shown the finest characteristic of a human being—one that cares for others and would leave self behind for the sake of the common good. They may not have thought of the reward but they had it anyway for they all lived a full life after the storm—a grace given to the ones who are faithful.

London has fallen

DIRECTOR: Babak Najafi  LEAD CASTGerald Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Alon Moni Aboutboul, Angela Bassett, Robert Forster, Melissa Leo, Radha Mitchell SCREENWRITER:  Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikt, Christian Gudegast, Chad St. John  PRODUCER:  Gerald Butler, Mark Gill, Danny Lerner, Matt O’Toole, Alan Seigel, Les Weldon   EDITOR:  Michael J. Duthie, Paul Martin Smith  MUSICAL DIRECTOR:  Trevor Morris  GENRE:  Action Crime Thriller, Adventure  CINEMATOGRAPHER: Ed Wild  DISTRIBUTOR:  Lionsgate Films  LOCATION:  United States RUNNING TIME: 99 minutes
Technical assessment:  3
Moral assessment:  2.5
CINEMA rating:  V18
The United States launches a drone strike that ruins the wedding of the daughter of Pakistani’s arms dealer Aamir Barkawi, the mastermind behind terrorist attacks in Europe and around the world.  Surviving the disaster, Barkawi meets his son, Kamran to set plans for a profound and absolute revenge on the West. Two years later, the British Prime Minister Wilson dies under mysterious circumstances. In short notice, the powerful leaders in the world gather in London’s St. Paul Cathedral for Wilson’s state funeral that starts out as the most protected event on earth. It turns deadly when the terrorists having infiltrated every branch of the police and armed forces, surprisingly wreak carnage, indiscriminately slaying world leaders, civilians and pulverizing city infrastructures. While Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerald Butler) brings the American President Benjamin Asher to safety, the terrorists abduct the president. Kamran prepares to execute Asher, publicly broadcasting the video feed live around the world. Banning risks his life to keep his boss alive.
Two lessons are a standout in London has fallen:  terrorism and vengeance bring no peace; and the best security for a child is love, not baby monitors, not armaments.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Hail, Caesar!

DIRECTORS: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen  STARRING: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton and Channing Tatum  PRODUCERS: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner  WRITERS: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen  FILM EDITORS: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen  MUSIC: Carter Burwell  NARRATED BY: Michael Gambon  GENRE: Comedy, Drama, Music, Mystery  CINEMATOGRAPHY: Roger Deakins  PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jess Gonchor  PRODUCTION COMPANIES: Working Title Films, Mike Zoss Productions  DISTRIBUTORS: Universal Pictures  COUNTRY: United States  LANGUAGE: English RUNNING TIME: 1hr. 46 minutes
Technical assessment:  3.5
Moral assessment:  3
CINEMA rating:   V14
In Hail, Caesar! 1951 Hollywood fixer Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) is the head of property protection at Capitol Pictures.  He shields the studio's stars from any scandal and ensures that their public persona is what the studio wants. He is pressed into action when superstar actor Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) is kidnapped and held for ransom by a mysterious group called “The Future”. Mannix races to quietly collect the ransom money without gossip columnists Thessaly and Thora Thacker (Tilda Swinton in a dual role) catching wind of the scandal.  Check out the review of Hail, Caesar! By the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) here:

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Girlfriend for hire

Direction: Vanessa de Leon; Cast: Yassi Pressman, Andre Paras; Story:  Based on Wattpad’s short story with the same title; Screenplay: Jose Javier Reyes;  Editing: Vanessa de Leon; Producers: Vincent de Rosario III, et al; Genre: Romance; Location: Metro Manila; Distributor: Viva Films  Running Time: 104 minutes
Technical assessment:  2
Moral assessment:   2.5
CINEMA rating: V14
Si Nami (Yassi Pressman) ay isang iskolar sa Stanford, isang kolehiyong pangmayaman. Madalas siyang makabanggaang landas si Bryle (Paras), ang kaisa-isang apo ng may-ari ng paaralan. At sa mga pagkakataong ito ay lagi silang magbabangayan.  Nang maglayas si Nami dahil sa problema sa bahay ay siya naman mabubundol siya ni Bryle na namumublema sa kundisyon ng kanyang lolo na dapat siyang makapagbigay ng apo magtutuloy sa lahi ng mga Stanford. Makikipagkasundo ang binata na ipakikilala si Nami bilang nobya sa kanyang lolo kapalit nang pagpapatira sa condo at pera. Kaso nga lamang ay magkakahulugan sila ng loob. Lalong magiging kumplikado ang sitwasyon sa pagbabalik ng nobya ni Bryle na maglalagay sa damdamin ng binata sa alanganin.
Malaki ang kakulangan ng kwento ng Girlfriend for hire. Unang-una ay gasgas na ang buod nito at kakatwa ang pinagpapalagay na magkakahulugan ng loob ang mga tauhan sa kabila ng kanilang pagkakaiba ng motibo at prinsipyo. Lalo nang naging kakatwa ang daloy na ang mismong suliranin sa kanilang relasyon ang siya rin namang nagsilbing resolusyon.  Walang kahirap hirap sa dalawang tauhan na panindigan o ipaglaban ang kanilang “pag-iibigan”.  Kapag dumako pa tayo sa pagganap nina Pressman at Paras ay lalong nagiging kabugnot-bugnot ang desisyon panuorin ang pelikulang ito. Sinasalo lamang ng mga teknikal na aspeto ang pelikula—musika, sinematograpiya, disenyo. Pero tulad ng lagi naming binibigyang-diin, kung hungkag ito, hindi makakasalba ang mga palamuting teknikal na ikukulapol dito.
Girlfriend for hire ang tipo ng pelikula na simula pa lamang ay alam mo na ang katapusan. Ang mas malala ay lagi na lang umiikot ang mga kwento mula Wattpad sa mga mababaw at imposibleng relasyon. Ang mga babae ay humaling na humaling sa mga lalaking abusado o makasarili at sa isang iglap, biglang mababago ang ugali ng lalaki at sila ay mabubuhay nang “happily ever after”. Sige, maaaring patok ang mga kwentong nakakakilig na ito sa mga kabataan pero ano naman kaya ang mensahe ukol sa relasyon at pag-ibig ang naipapamahagi ng mga ganitong pelikula?  Kung bakit nanatili si Nami bagamat hindi maganda ang pakikitungo sa kanya ni Bryle ay isang malaking palaisipan, kungdi man katangahan.  Sadya ba siyang mahina at walang paninindigan o ipagpapalit ang dignidad para sa kaunting luho?  Kung may saysay man ang kuwentong ito, ito ay para ipakita sa kabataan kung ano ang mga relasyong dapat iwasan.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Zoolander 2

Direction: Ben Stiller; Cast: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell, Penelope Cruz; Story:  Based on characters by Drake Sather and Ben Stiller; Screenplay: Ben Stiller, John Hamburg, Nicholas Stoller, Justin Theroux; Cinematography: Dan Mindel; Editing: Greg Hayden; Music: Theodore Shapiro; Producers: Stuart Cornfeld, Ben Stiller, et al; Genre: Comedy; Location: Europe; Distributor: Paramount Pictures Running Time: 102 minutes;
Technical assessment: 2
Moral assessment: 2.5
CINEMA rating: V14
Derek (Stiller) and Hansel (Wilson) have been recruited back into the world of high fashion after a decade of reclusion. This time, Valentina Valencia (Cruz), an Interpool Agent for the Global Fashion Division persuades the two to help her uncover the mysterious deaths of celebrities all of whom end up with Zoolander’s signature “blue steel” pose. As they dredge the high fashion world in this decade, the two ex-supermodels run into old nemesis led by Mugatu (Ferrell) with his usual convoluted sinister plots.
Why Ben Stiller pursued to produce, write, direct, star and lose money and dignity in this unnecessary sequel is incomprehensible. It took him more than a decade to come up with a sequel and honestly, the original Zoolander brand would have been better remembered without this ridiculous follow up. The story is paper thin and relies solely on cameo appearances of celebrities and recycled gags. It is lazily written and appears to be a vanity project banking on the prequel’s reputation alone. Zoolander and Stiller look pathetic and weary as they try very hard to sustain that snooty image of a high profile supermodel. While Stiller still retains the perfect timing to deliver his idiocies which are actually funny, his writing and directing skills are inadequate. Zoolander 2 feels like a toothless tiger trying hard to throw a satirical bite at the artificiality of high fashion… but it for non-Justin fans, the opening scene makes it worthwhile.
Zoolander 2 does not pretend to deliver any message, neither should we pretend to find one. The gags are crass, tasteless and sacrilegious. There are too many worn-out sex jokes that are not even funny. And its reference to religious traditions and teachings border on offensive. On the other hand, the film struggles to make two points: recapturing one’s glory and fatherhood. While the former is presented as vanity and senselessness, the latter equally fails to make any connection. Its supposed father-looking-for-his-son plot barely redeems itself because Zoolander did not exhibit any real affection for his son when the latter failed to meet his standards of beauty. But the biggest disappointment of Zoolander 2 is its failure to make any significant insight in contemporary issues like social media, technology, modern relationships, and the like.

Sunday, March 6, 2016


DIRECTOR: Lenny Abrahamson  LEAD CAST: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, William H. Macy, Joan Allen, Sean Bridgers, Megan Park & Tom McCamus  SCREENWRITER: Emma Donoghue CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Danny Cohen  PRODUCER:  Ed Guiney  EDITOR: Nathan Nugent  MUSICAL DIRECTOR:  Stephen Rennicks  GENRE: Drama DISTRIBUTOR: A24 Films  LOCATION:  Canada, Ireland, UK RUNNING TIME:  118 minutes
Technical assessment: 4
Moral assessment: 3
CINEMA rating: V-14                                               
Five-year-old Jack (Jacob Tremblay) and his Ma (Brie Larson) are locked-up in a room. The two of them have managed to live in the tiny little space. Ever since Jack’s birth, their world has revolved inside the four corners of the room. Jack has never seen the outside world—the small room is their only world. Everything seems to be fine but little by little, Jack sees that something is terribly wrong in their situation. As he is now five-years-old, her Ma tells him their real story. How they got locked up there and how dangerous their situation is. His Ma plans an escape plot so they can finally be freed. However, a more complicated outside world awaits them, which both of them are not prepared to face.
Room is a compelling, extra-ordinary film that thrives on its simplicity and honesty. There is no special effect or suspenseful scene, not even hysteria—just plain and simple play of emotion—real emotions, so real as though one is watching a documentary. The real gem of the movie is its actors who played their roles excellently well. Larson is able to deliver such riveting performance, providing the needed combination of deep sadness, tragic joy, and painful love. Tremblay is as impressive as he delivers a natural performance giving playful innocence, intelligent curiosity and smart ignorance. The director blends all the complicated gamut of emotions and the gravity of the mother-son situation into a watchable narrative that flows just naturally as it should, making the audience really involved in the unfolding of the story.
The bond that is built between Jack and Ma is the most arresting thread in the film’s narrative. Given the complexities of their connection, still, love prevails. This is a clear triumph of good versus evil. Amidst the apparent hopelessness and despair, there is redemption for as long as there is love. The society may question the decision of Jack’s Ma to contain him in a room instead of letting him go, but, in the said scenario, it is only a mother’s love that could sustain such a distressing situation. In spite of the inherent darkness of their past and present, the two still manage to appreciate life and the world in general because they have each other.  They sustain one another. Their love is a clear testament of the power of humanity to transform lives, and even alter the world—all that is needed is a heart.  The world we create is the kind of world we create in our hearts. Even in the four corners of a tiny room, Jack’s Ma is able to make the world a great place for him. This kind of humanity, the capacity to love and the mysteries that go with it is God-ordained. It is through the manifestation of love that we see God at work. Above all, Jack’s Ma chooses life over death and in that choice, she also chooses love over hatred, and she makes those choices in the face of the hardest consequences. For its sensitive theme that may be too much for the very young, CINEMA recommends the film as appropriate only for viewers 14 years-old and above.