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!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Haunted Forest

HAUNTED FOREST 



DIRECTOR: Ian Loreños CAST: Raymart Santiago, Joey Marquez, Jane Oineza, Maris Racal, Jameson Blake, Jon Lucas, Beverly Saviejo  STORY AND SCREENPLAY: Jeps Gallon 
MUSIC: Francis Concio CINEMATOGRAPHY: Rommel Sales, EDITING: Tara Illenberger, PRODUCTION DESIGN Ericson Navarro PRODUCER: Pamela Baldevieso, Lea Calmerin, Lily Monteverde LOCATION: Province in the Philippines  GENRE: Horror   DISTRIBUTOR: Regal Films 
Technical assessment: 2
Moral assessment: 3  
MTRCB rating: PG 13 
Cinema rating: V14
Sunod-sunod ang pinapatay na dalaga sa isang matandang puno sa gitna ng kagubatan. Walang maituring na salarin maliban sa isang baliw na nakitang kasama ng huling biktima. Isasama ni Nardo (Marquez) sa pag-iimbistaga si Aris (Santiago), na lumipat sa probinsiya kasama ng kanyang anak na si Nica (Oineza) matapos mabiyuda. Nang sumama si Nica sa kanyang pinsang si Mitch (Racal) at dalawang kaibigang lalaking sina RJ (Blake) at Andre (Lucas) sa gubat ay titipuhan siya ng sitsit, ang halimaw na nakatira sa matandang puno at siyang pumapatay sa mga kadalagahan. Paglalaruan ang isip ni Nica hanggang unti-unti siyang manghina at mawala sa sarili at mabihag ng halimaw. Hahamunin ng sitsit si Aris na kumuha ng ibang dalaga kapalit ng kanyang anak ngunit hindi nito magagawang magpahamak ng inosenteng babae. Mapapatay siya ng sitsit at makakatakas si Nica, Tuturuan ng isang matanda si Nica kung papaanong magagapi ang halimaw. 
Labing-limang minuto lamang ang kailangan para maikwento ang mga eksenang nabanggit. Ang natitirang halos dalawang oras na ginugol para sa iba´t ibang eksena ay maari nang tanggalin nang hindi naaapektuhan ang kwento. Ito ang malaking problema ng Haunted Forest.  Napakaraming gustong sabihin, napakaraming maliliit na kwento, wala namang isang malinaw na tuon. Naging magulo tuloy ang daloy sa kabi-kabilang mga tauhang ipinakilala at mga pagtatangkang bigyan ng lalim at istruktura. Hindi marunong magkwento ang direktor nito kung ipagpapalagay na maayos ang pagkakasulat ng naratibo. Sablay din ang pagganap ng mga tauhan. Mula kay Santiago na iisa lamang ata ang saklaw na emosyon ng mukha, ang matamlay at malabnaw na pagganap nina Oineza at Racal at ang katawa-tawa sa pagbuo sa tauhan nina Blake at Lucas. Ang editing ay patalon-talon. Kung ang intensyon nito ay gawing parang palaisipan ang kwento, naging matagumpay naman dahil talagang pag-iisipan mo kung ano na ang nangyayari. Marami ring hindi makatwirang eksena: bakit walang babala sa pagpunta sa gubat gayong napakarami nang mapapatay? Bakit nag-hintay hanggang sa huling 15 minuto ng pelikula ang matanda bago niya sabihin kung papaanong magagapi ang sitsit? Nagdrodroga ba si Aris kaya marami siyang masasamang guni-guni? Bakit hindi umubo man lamang ang apat gayon nasa tapat sila ng nasusunog na puno at makapal na usok? Saang probinsiya nasa tabi ng gubat ang sentro ng pista? Maayos ang disenyo ng produksyon pero hindi naman ito naging angkop. Ang tanging napapahalagahan ay ang tunog, musika, at ang sinematograpiya. Pero kahit ang mga ito ay hindi na rin naging sapat para pagandahin ang pelikula. 

Parang may dalawang gustong mensahe ang Haunted Forest.  Una, ang halaga ng pag-uusap, pagpapatawad, at pagkakasundo ng magulang at anak. Malaki ang puwang sa ugnayan ng mag-amang Aris at Nica pero dahil sinikap nila na magkausap ay muli silang nagkalapit at naunawaan ang halaga ng isa´t isa. Ang ikalawa ay ang tungkuling itaguyod ang tama at mabuti kahit pa ang kapalit nito ay matinding sakripisyo. Dalawang ama ang pinapili ng sitsit na kumuha ng ibang dalaga bilang kapalit ng sariling anak. Ang unang ama ay nilagpasan ang konsensya at handang ibuwis ang inosenteng buhay para sa anak. Si Aris ay inihanda ang sarili na labanan ang sitsit o mawalan ng anak kaysa sa ipahamak ang isang inosenteng babae. Maganda sana kung marunong lamang magkwento o pumili ng bibigyang tuon si Loreños. Pero dahil sa gulo ng pagkakabuo ay hindi nabigyang hustisya ang potensyal ng mensahe. 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Unexpectedly Yours


DIRECTOR: Cathy Garcia-Molina  LEAD CAST: Sharon Cuneta, Robin Padilla, Julia Barretto, Joshua Garcia, John Estrada  SCREENWRITER: Vanessa R. Valdez, Kiko Abrillo, Anna Karenina Ramos, Janica Mae Regalo  PRODUCER:  Charo Santos-Concio  EDITOR:  Marya Ignacio  MUSICAL DIRECTOR:  Jessie Lasaten  GENRE: Comedy, Romance  CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Manuel Teehankee  DISTRIBUTOR: Star Cinema Productions/ABS-CBN Film Productions  LOCATION:  Manila  RUNNING TIME:   120 minutes
Technical assessment: 3
Moral assessment: 3
CINEMA rating: V14
MTRCB rating: PG
Sa gabi ng pagdiriwang ni Patty (Sharon Cuneta) ng kanyang ika-50 kaarawan, masasaksihan niya nang di-sinasadya ang wedding proposal ng ex-husband (John Estrada) niya sa bago nitong girlfriend. Maglalasing siya dahil dito at sa sobrang kalasingan, aksidenteng mapapadpad siya sa kuwarto ni Cocoy (Robin Padilla) isang seaman at OFW. Ang aksidenteng pagtatagpong iyon ay mauulit nang magkataon na si Cocoy ang bagong nakabili ng bahay sa tabi mismo ng bahay kung saan nakatira si Patty. At lalong magku-krus ang kanilang landas sapagkat sila pala ay high school batchmates at si Patty ang matagal nang crush ni Cocoy. Manliligaw si Cocoy kay Patty ngunit hindi niya ito papansinin—pero magiging masigasig pa rin si Cocoy at unti-unti, mapapalapit si Patty sa kanya. Ngunit, hanggang kailan kaya kung sa unang tingin ay alangan sila sa isa’t-isa at si Patty ay nasa gitna ng maraming pinagdadaanang problema?
Kung tutuusin, wala naman masyadong bago sa Unexpectedly Yours. As expected, naging de-kahon ang mga karakter nila Cuneta at Padilla. Isang mayaman at sosyalin na babae na alangan sa isang siga at jologs na lalaki. Pero hindi maitatanggi na nariyan pa rin ang kilig sa tambalan ng dalawa. Sayang nga lang at hindi naman ito pinalawig pa nang husto at masyadong nag-abala pa ang pelikula sa maraming suliranin gaya ng generation gap at problema sa trabaho na wala naman kinalaman sa kuwentong pag-ibig ng dalawang bida. Sayang at tila nagkulang sa lalim ng karakterisasyon. Marahil ay natakot ang Star Cinema na hindi mag-click sa kabataan ang tambalang Sharon-Robin kung kaya’t kinailangan pa ang elemento ng mga bagong usbong na batang tambalan na wala naman masyadong ambag sa kuwento. Mahuhusay ang mga nagsiganap sa pelikula at maayos naman ang pagkakabuo nito. Kung lalabas lamang sa de-kahong pormula—mas may maiyayabong pa ang pelikula na magiging unexpected sana. Pero tulad ng dati, alipin pa rin ng komersiyalismo ang kabuuan ng pelikula.
Bilang isang love story, sinasabi ng Unexpectedly Yours na wala dapat pinipiling edad o estado sa pamumuhay ang pag-ibig at lalong hindi ito dapat nakabatay sa pamantayan ng ibang tao, bagkus ay nakasalalay lamang ito sa kung sino ang mga pusong nagmamahalan. Hindi pinipilit ang pag-ibig at hindi rin ito ikinakahiya. Ipinakita rin ng pelikula kung paanong nagkakaiba ang ligawan noon at ligawan ng mga kabataan ngayon na labis na naiimpluwensiyahan ng internet at social media. Sa kabuuan, sinasabi ng pelikula na iba pa rin ang relasyong pisikal kaysa sa nagkikita at nagkakausap lamang sa pamamagitang ng teknolohiya. May halaga pa rin ang personal na pagkakakilanlan at mas makabuluhan pa rin ang tradisyonal na ligawan. Sa mas malalim pang mensahe ng pelikula ay nariyan ang saloobin nito ukol sa pagpapalaki ng anak—na kung saan, hindi sa lahat ng panahon at pagkakataon, ang magulang lagi ang nasusunod.  Darating ang panahon na dapat ding pakawalan ng mga magulang ang anak at hayaan silang matuto anuman ang kahinatnan ng sarili nilang desisyon. Naging magandang halimbawa si Patty sa lagay na ito—bagama’t natagalan bago siya nagkaron ng lakas ng loob, naging magalang at mapagmahal pa rin siyang anak—at lalong naging mapagmahal at maaruga din siyang ina. Nakababahala lamang na tila ginawang katatawan ng pelikula ang ilang mga realidad sa buhay ng isang tao na labas sa kanyang sariling lakas—pagtanda, pagtaba, pag-iisa—mga bagay na hindi dapat gawing biro-biro.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Coco

DIRECTOR:  LEE UNKRICH, ADRIAN MOLINA;  LEAD CAST: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt;  SCREENWRITER:  LEE UNKRICH, ADRIAN MOLINA, JASON KATZ, MATTHEW ALDRICH; PRODUCER:  DARLA K. ANDERSON;  EDITOR:  STEVE BLOOM, LEE UNKRICH;  MUSICAL DIRECTOR:  MICHAEL GIACCHINO;  GENRE: ANIMATED COMEDY DRAMA;  CINEMATOGRAPHER:  MATT ASPBURY, DANIELLE FEINBURG;  DISTRIBUTOR: DISNEY PIXAR;  LOCATION:  MEXICO;  RUNNING TIME: 109 mins.
Technical Assessment: 4
Moral Assessment: 4
CINEMA Rating: PG13
MTRCB Rating: G
Aided by ofrenda or photograph display,  Miguel (voice by Anthony Gonzales), a young member of the Rivera Family narrates the family history that leads to the introduction of his living great grandmother Coco (voice by Ana Ofelia Murguia).  The family has a successful shoe business but prior to venturing into shoe making, the family was into music until the father of Coco did not return from a music stint.  Since then the family has become music haters and banned any form of music in the house. But love for music is innate to Miguel so he engages secretly in singing and idolizing a music icon, Ernesto dela Cruz (voice Benjamin Bratt) who died in a concert performance.  Miguel believes that Ernesto was the fore father who abandoned the family.  On discovery of Miguel's inclination to music, the whole family is expectedly against it and everyone wants to stop him. But equally determined, Miguel goes all the way to steal the antique guitar of Ernesto in his grave only to realize that the guitar is under a curse that brought him to the land of the dead and needs a blessing of his dead family member in the ofrenda to bring him back to the land of the living. In this life dimension, Miguel discovers the truth about the family and his music idol Ernesto. He finds out that all the while Ernesto is not worth of his adulation because he murdered and stole the music composition of Hector (voice by Gael Garcia Bernal), the real father of Coco and forgotten for believing that he abandoned the family for music.
Coco has an interesting plot carried out with a character-focused story and concluded with a surprising twist. The voices behind the animated characters are all convincingly portrayed especially Gonzales who did a very powerful voice for Miguel. The lines are delivered well and clear in Mexican accent. Featured songs and musical score are well-blended with scenes and composition that reflect the country's culture and tradition. There is creativity in the cinematography of presenting a landscape of the world of the dead. It is complemented with good editing particularly in many events of transitions from life’s two dimensions and visual effects. Overall Coco is a treat of animated visuals, songs and dialogues that viewers will love.
Music brings color to one's life and helps make meaningful relationships among lovers, families and friends. Talent for music is God's gift that is for nurturing and sharing. Sometimes due to life's circumstances, people would choose to forget and even hate music to be able to move on. However, if music is innate to a person, it also comes out naturally and will find its expression against all odds. In Coco, the main character Miguel is torn between his love for family and his love for music. But he believes in the goodness of music and dreams of making big on it like his idol.  When he makes the decision to defy the family and reach out for his dream, his life is put into danger, at the same time puts him in a situation that unlocks the truth behind the family's hatred for music. In the process, Miguel's initial desire for music and idolatry of a wrong person transforms into a mission to free the family from the curse of banning music in their lives and brings happiness to a living elderly of the family, abuelita Coco. The long lost innocent soul that is threatened to be totally forgotten is saved to be continiously remembered and prayed for by the family. Overall, the film is laden with positive messages; however, young viewers need the guidance of an adult in watching to explain certain aspects, like 1) a family's strong and unreasonable squelching of a young member’s dream; 2) Miguel's apparent disrespect for the dead by gate crashing in the mausoleum and stealing memento; 3) murder and keeping the crime a secret to death for the selfish desire for fame.


Thursday, December 21, 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

DIRECTOR: Rian Johnson  LEAD CAST: Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Mark Hammil, Carrie Fisher SCREENWRITER: Rian Johnson PRODUCERS: Kathleen Kennedy, Ram Bergman EDITOR: Bob Ducsay MUSICAL DIRECTOR: John Williams GENRE: Action/Adventure CINEMATOGRAPHER: Steve Yedlin DISTRIBUTOR: Press Play Pictures, Inc. LOCATION: Croatia, Ireland, Bolivia, England, North Carolina  RUNNING TIME: 152 minutes
Technical assessment: 5
Moral assessment: 3
CINEMA rating: V13
The Resistance is decimated, and Rey (Daisy Ridley) is sent by Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), leader of the Resistance, to find Leia’s brother Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and seek his help. Rey finds Luke in self-exile in an island, living in remorse and wanting to end the Jedi line. Feeling the “force” strong within her, Rey persists in getting Luke to train her in the way of the Jedi, and Luke gives Rey a glimpse of the force. Meanwhile, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), son to Leia, is becoming stronger and darker, yet with moments of vacillation, as an apprentice to Supreme Leader Snoke of the First Order. The Order wants to rule the galaxy, and annihilate all threats to it, especially the Resistance. Despite massive loss of lives, the Resistance gains support from a multitude of oppressed citizens, many of them young. The battle continues.
There’s a lot of drama and soul-searching in this eighth installment of the Star Wars saga. Adam Driver says it well: “Rian [the director] slows the pace and there’s not a moment that’s taken for granted. It’s always broken up into little pieces and the story comes first, before an explosion.” Scenes are extended, clearly with the intent of conveying the conflict within the characters. There’s a zen-like silhouette of Rey at the top of a mountain swishing her lightsaber. There are closeups of Kylo Ren who has the face of an angel, a stark contrast to the consuming thirst for power within him. The treatment of the story plus a sprinkling of twists and humor (there are a lot, but we’ll hold off on the spoilers) opens up a lot of possibilities in future Star Wars movies. The last scene shows a boy wearing the ring of the Resistance making a broom move without touching it. Kylo Ren and Rey can read each other’s mind: are they related? There’s a marked departure from the black of previous Star Wars to now bloody red, like the red Stormtroopers. In the final battle, red oozes out of the rusty planes of the Resistance, and red underneath the ground of salt and snow in the face-off between Kylo Ren and Skywalker. Might this be a foreshadowing of more deaths in the next installment? We enjoyed the visuals and special effects. Take a close look at the intricacies of Snoke’s macabre and sorrowful face. There are new creatures introduced here, the curious little ones called Porgs, which are getting a lot of attention from fans. And it’s a treat to be reunited with the much-loved C-3PO, Chewbacca, R2-D2, and even Yoda who makes an appearance. The film is carefully designed to demonstrate the internal struggle of the characters: should I succumb to my basic desires, or should I offer my life so that others may live? Luke Skywalker intimates to it when he explains the tension between good and bad, keeping the balance between light and dark, and hence balance in the universe.

That in what we consider is the most evil person, there is good within, in all of us. And that there is redemption, but that it is a choice. That’s the storyline of Star Wars. Which is a rather adult theme. Also resonating to many is women power, Afro-Americans and Asians who have big and positive roles in the movie—a very good take on transcending gender and race. As to the action, we don’t think children will do as director Rian Johnson says: “but it also means that it makes you come out of the theater wanting to run in your backyard, grab your spaceship toys and make them fly around.” The conflict in the story may be too deep for young audiences. There’s less action, more introspection. CINEMA gives this a V13 for adult guidance, especially in explaining the relationship between children and their parents. Kylo Ren’s wrath against his parents and Rey’s resentment for being abandoned are sensitive subjects. We hope you enjoy the movie, this is a different Star Wars, which retains some much loved elements in the series but clearly is exploring a different path now.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Wonder

Director: Stephen Chbosky; Cast: Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, Jacob Tremblay, Mandy Patinkin based on the Story of: R. J. Palacio; Screenplay: Jack Thorne, Steve Conrad, Stepehn Chbosky; Cinematography: Don Burgess; Editing: Mark Livolso; Music:Marcelo Zarvos; Producers: Michael Beugg, Dan Clark, David Hoberman, Todd Liebermen; Genre: Comedy-Drama;  Location: New York; Distributor: Lionsgate  Running Time: 140 minutes
Technical assessment: 4
Moral assessment: 4.5
CINEMA rating: VA
MTRCB rating: PG13
For the longest time, Auggie has been homeschooled by his mom Isabel (Roberts) because of the fear of the other children’s reaction to his physical deformities. This year, Auggie starts 5th grade and Isabel thinks this is the best time for him to enter formal school since every student will be a newcomer. In school, Auggie excels in class but struggles to deal with bullies and false friends. He develops friendship with Jack Will but is devastated when he overhears him saying he only pretended to be friends and would kill himself if he looked like Auggie. He is befriended by another 5th grader named Summer and eventually forgives Jack who realizes his friendship with Auggie was real. Meanwhile, Via is going through her own struggles because she has been feeling left out by her mother and her childhood best friend Miranda is suddenly ignoring her. As Auggie works out the ordeals of being ostracized, he rediscovers his family’s unequaled love and support and finally gains the admiration and respect of the entire school as he is awarded the Henry Ward Beecher Prep Medal for showing that strength is measured by the number of hearts he can carry.
The strength of Wonder is the storytelling and how each element fell perfectly in place. Needless to say, the plot is compelling and tight as it is a bestselling novel, but translated into film, it deepened and made the situation so simply relatable. Tremblay and Robert’s chemistry was unquestionably authentic that it was so easy to see each other’s joy and pain. While it remained faithful to the printed material, the silver screen version offered raw insights into the different levels of struggle a family goes through. It would be difficult not to fall in love with Auggie and his family or with his story and the storytelling.
This is one of those movies that the entire family should watch together. It not only shows real difficulties family members go through individually but more importantly how the pain, trials and challenges are overcome when they are united. The movie transcends bullying and insecurity issues because it emphasizes love, support. and communication. While the original novel was written as a children’s book, the messages are for the whole family. If there is one must-watch family movie this year, make it this one.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Murder on the Orient Express

DIRECTOR:  Kenneth Branagh  LEAD CAST:  Kenneth Branagh, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Josh Gad, Judi Dench, Leslie Odom Jr., Willem Dafoe, Penelope Cruz, Derek Jacobi, Daisy Ridley  SCREENWRITER:  Michael Green  PRODUCER:  Kenneth Branagh, Mark Gordon, Judy Hofflund, Simon Kinberg, Michael Schaefer, Ridley Scott  EDITOR:  Mick Audsley  MUSICAL DIRECTOR:  Patrick Doyle  GENRE:  Mystery, Drama  CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Haris Zambarloukos  DISTRIBUTOR:  Warner Bros.  LOCATION:  Italy, Malta, New Zealand, France, England, Turkey  RUNNING TIME:  114 minutes
Technical assessment:  4
Moral assessment:  2
CINEMA rating:  V14
At the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, the skills of the world famous detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) shine when he solves a particularly tricky crime.  Intending to rest a while in France, he boards the “Orient Express”, a luxurious train from Istanbul, Turkey to Calais, France.  On the train, sinister businessman Samuel Ratchett (Johnny Depp) offers Poirot a job as his bodyguard for the three-day journey, as he had been receiving death threats, but Poirot rejects it.  That very night, Poirot hears noises from the adjacent compartment, which is Ratchett’s; he looks out the door and sees a man in a red kimono escaping down the corridor, apparently from Ratchett’s room.  The next day, it is announced that Ratchett has been stabbed dead.  An avalanche on the snowy mountainside derails the train before it makes any stop, convincing everyone that the murderer is still on board.  While the “Orient Express” undergoes repair Poirot sets to work to find out who the killer is.     
Murder on the Orient Express is the fourth major adaptation of Agatha Christy’s classic.  With the famous European train of the 30s, the Orient Express, as the setting, the film features a star-studded cast—which includes Judi Dench, Derek Jacobi, Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley, Olivia Colman, Willem Dafoe, Josh Gad, Penelope Cruz—where the stars play supporting roles.  Since Depp dies within 30 minutes of the movie, he gets limited screen time, and because the movie is plot-centered, the story “divides” the limelight among the murder suspects.  Period detail, costumes, setting, production design are all excellent, enabling the viewer to vicariously enjoy the luxury train and its scenic snowy mountain route.
It’s not quite possible to dwell on the moral aspect of Murder on the Orient Express without getting entangled in spoilers, so suffice it to say that CINEMA gives the film a “2”—Disturbing—as far as its ethics is concerned.  It is hoped that the viewer will be mature enough to discern the values in the movie and appreciate CINEMA’s rating for it. 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Breathe

DIRECTOR: Andy Serkis   STARRING: Andrew Garfield, Claire Foy, Tom Hollander, Hugh Bonneville,  Dean-Charles Chapman, Ed Speleers, Diana Rigg  PRODUCER: Jonathan Cavendish  SCREENWRITER: William Nicholson  MUSIC: Nitin Sawhney  CINEMATOGRAPHER: Robert Richardson  EDITOR: Masahiro Hirakubo  GENRE:  Biographical Drama  PRODUCTION COMPANY: Participant Media, Silver Reel, BBC Films, British Film Institute,  Embankment Films, The Imaginarium   DISTRIBUTOR: Bleecker Street (US), STX Entertainment (UK)  COUNTRY:  United Kingdom, United States  LANGUAGE: English  RUNNING TIME: 117 minutes
Technical assessment:  3.5
Moral assessment:  2.5
CINEMA rating:  V14
Robin Cavendish (Andrew Garfield) and (Diana Blacker) Claire Foy meet at a cricket match in a country estate in England, fall in love at first sight, go through courtship, get married, and start an idyllic life in Kenya where Robin is a tea broker.  At age 28, not long after his wife announces she is pregnant, Robin is stricken with a rare polio that paralyzes him from the neck down, unable to breathe without a respirator.  This necessitates their return to England for Robin to get adequate medical attention.  The doctors give him a few months to live, but both he and his wife will defy medical authority and arrange to break out of the hospital.  “Because she loves, he lives”—surrounded by supportive friends the couple come to experience a rich, full life until Robin dies at age 64.
Movies classified as “based on a true story” are seen to have a strong appeal to moviegoers, possibly due to the fact that it’s in the human DNA to want to be inspired.  Breathe has succeeded in inspiring audiences ever since its debut at the 42nd Toronto International Film Festival last September, largely through the remarkable portrayal of its lead actor Garfield (The Amazing Spider-Man, Hacksaw Ridge, Silence) well-matched by Foy’s as the courageous and devoted wife.  The cinematography creates the mood as Breathe takes the viewer on a virtual tour of the lush English countryside, the African landscape ablaze with sunsets, and then plunges one down to the depths of despair upon close-ups of Robin’s wheezing respirator and a morgue-like facility for the disabled in Germany.  Spoiling the authenticity of this albeit romanticized true story is the failure of makeup and prosthetics to age the couple—it’s distracting to see Foy without wrinkles or signs of weariness in the face all through those decades of fighting for her husband’s life.  Likewise, Garfield hardly ages except for a few wrinkles and some gray hair before he dies—surely signs of struggle might have even enhanced his passion to stay alive
Breathe is indeed “a heartwarming celebration of human possibility” in that it depicts the triumph of human hope and creativity over overwhelming odds.  Instead of allowing a life threatening disease (which struck Robin Cavendish when the polio vaccine had been in use for only two years) to imprison the patient, family and friends pioneered efforts to fulfill Robin’s dream.  Oxford University professor and a friend of Robin, Dr. Tom Halle (played by Hugh Bonneville) invented a wheelchair with a built-in respirator, and subsequently more elaborate contraptions that not only freed Cavendish from confinement to a bed but also enabled him to travel the world as an advocate with the battle cry “Why do you imprison your disabled?  Set them free!”  A year after Robin died, his wife Diana, son Jonathan and his wife Leslie established the Robin Cavendish Memorial Fund dedicated to “advancing the health and saving the lives of people with disabilities.” 

While Breathe is a well-applauded cinematic rendition of a true-to-life experience, CINEMA notes that the movie plays down the fact that Cavendish was an atheist, which should explain the circumstances of his death.  The movie therefore should be seen in this light, and young audiences should be guided accordingly.

Trip Ubusan: Lolas vs Zombies

DIRECTOR: MARK A. REYES  LEAD CAST: JOSE MANALO, PAOLO BALLESTEROS, WALLY BAYOLA  SCREENWRITER:  RAYMOD NAVARRO, MA. ACY Q. RAMOS  PRODUCER:  MARVIC C. SOTTO, ANTHONY P. TUVIERA  GENRE: HORROR, COMEDY  DISTRIBUTOR: APT PRODUCTIONS AND M-ZET PRODUCTIONS  LOCATION:  Philippines  RUNNING TIME:   108 minutes
Technical assesment: 3
Moral assessment:  3
CINEMA rating:  V13 
Magkakasama sa out-of-town trip ang tatlong lola na sina Tinidora (Jose Manalo), Nidora (Wally Bayola, Tidora (Paolo Ballesteros), at ang apong si Charmaine upang ipagdiwang ang birthday ng bata. Subalit bago pa man sila makarating sa destinasyon na beach resort ay aatakehin sila ng mga zombies. Makakatakas naman sila ngunit habang nagpapagasolina sa stop over ay muli silang makakasagupa ng mas maraming zombies. Sa pagkakataong  ito kasama nilang makakatakas sa atake ng mga zombies sina Eva (Angelika Dela Cruz), Macey ( Ryza Mae), ang kuya niya, ilan pang kabataan, at sasakay sila sa tourist bus na minamaneho ni Jordan (Arthur Solinap) at ng girlfriend niyang tourist guide.  Makakatulong sa grupo ang mga nalalaman ni Macey kung paano labanan ang mga zombies dahil sa nakahiligan niya na pagbabasa tungkol dito. Kaya sa kabila ng pagmamaliit ni Eva sa mga mungkahi ni Macey bilang bata ay ginawa pa rin nila ito. Sama-sama silang lalaban hanggang makarating dila sa safe zone. Sa kasamaang palad ay di makakaligtas ang ilan sa kanila at sadyang kailangan magbuwis ng buhay. Mapag-aalaman nila mula sa balita na galing pala sa isang infected meat ang virus at mabilis na nakakahawa kapag nakagat ng taong infected. Samantala, isa sa mga naging enkwentro ng grupo ay makakagat ng zombie si Lola Nidora at lihim siyang magpapasya na magpaiwan dahil alam niya na infected na siya. Subalit batid pala ito ng apong si Charmaine at di ito papayagan na mahiwalay sa kaniya ang lola sa kabila ng panganib. Maalala ni Charmaine ang sinabi ni Macey na kapag maaagapan na talian ay mapapabagal ang pagiging zombie ng nakagat na tao; gagawin nila ito kaya makakarating pa siya sa safe zone.


Bagamat sa malawakang konteksto ay hinalaw sa banyagang pelikula ng Korea ang kwento ngTrip Ubusan: Lolas vs. Zombies, nagkaroon ito ng sariling merito dahil sa pagtatampok sa tatlong lola bilang mga bida. Tumingkad pa ang pagtatampok sa kanilang mga karakter bilang mga lola dahil pawang mga lalaki ang nagsiganap na sila Manalo, Ballesteros at Bayola.  Mahusay ang pag-arte ng mga nagsiganap alinman sa mga eksenang  comedy, drama at suspense. Makabuluhan ang palitan ng mga linya, kaabang-abang ang mga sasambitin ng mga tauhan tulad barahan sa pagitan nina Lola Nidora at Eva at ang mga pangangangaral ng tatlong Lola sa mga bata at mga kabataan. Maganda ang mga kuha ng kamera sa magagandang tanawin na dinadaanan ng bus na kinalulunan ng mga lola at mga kasama nila.  May konting sablay lang sa editing dahil may mga eksena ng pag-atake ng zombies na nakatawa ang mga ito. Naisalba naman ang mga ganitong eksena ng mahusay na make-up at disenyo ng produksyon.

Sa lipunan na maaring ang tingin sa mga nakatatanda ay pasanin at alalahanin, ang pelikulang Trip Ubusan: Lolas vs Zombies ay maaring magbigay ng punto ng pagninilay upang magbago ng pagtingin sa kanila. Naging inspirasyon at sandigan ng mga nakababatang kasama ang pakikipaglaban na ginawa nila para makaligtas sa panganib ng zombies. Hatid rin na mensahe ng pelikula na napakahalaga ng pagkakaisa at malasakit sa kapwa lalo na kapag nahaharap sa panganib at maraming buhay ang nakataya. Pinakita ito sa pelikula  hindi lamang sa pagitan ng magkakapatid na lola, kungdi  kahit sa pagitan ng mga di magkakakilala. Hindi nagdalawang isip na magsakrispisyo para sa kapwa. Hindi pinanaig sa kwento ang isang salungat sa mga planong may pagsasaalang-alang sa kapwa. Kahanga-hanga ang pagmamahalan ng magkakapatid na lola. Mas pinili nilang magkasama-sama hanggang sa huli. Hindi nila pinangunahan na tapusin ang buhay ng kapatid  habang hindi pa nagiging zombie. Positibo ding mensahe ng pelikula ang mga natanto ng mga kabataan matapos pagsisihan ang pagsuway sa payo ng kanilang mga magulang. Bagamat nasa konteksto ng temang zombie ang pelikula, lubha pa ring maselan para sa murang manonood ang madugo at nakaririmarim na pag-atake sa mga tao.

May ilang katanungan lamang ang CINEMA: naubusan na ba ang industriya ng pelikula ng mga babaeng maaaring gumanap bilang mga lola?  O nakakatawa lang ba kung mga lalaki ang gaganap bilang mga babae?  Kung ganon man, bakit ito nakakatawa?

Friday, December 1, 2017

Fallback

DIRECTOR: Jason Paul Laxamana  STARRING:  Zanjoe Marudo, Daniel Matsunaga, Rhian Ramos, Lemuel Pelayo, Marlo Mortel, Ricky Davao, Tetchie Agbayani and Cai Cortez.  WRITTEN BY: Jason Paul Laxamana  GENRE: Romance, Comedy  PRODUCTION COMPANY: CINEKO Productions, Inc.  DISTRIBUTED BY: Star Cinema  COUNTRY: Philippines  LANGUAGE: Pilipino  RUNNING TIME: 1 hour 58 minutes
Technical assessment: 3
Moral assessment: 3
CINEMA rating: V14
MTRCB rating: PG
Sa kabila ng pagiging laging sawi sa pag-ibig, si Michelle (Rhian Ramos), isang production assistant at location manager ng mga pelikula,  ay hindi naman tuluyang sumusuko at lagi pa rin siyang nagkakaroon ng nobyo. Itong huli niyang relasyon kay Chris (Daniel Matsunaga) ay halos perpekto na, ngunit tila nakakaramdam siya na hindi na naman sila magtatagal sapagkat may mga senyales siyang nakikita na may ibang babae ito. Naaapektuhan na ang kanyang trabaho dahil dito kung kaya’t papayuhan siya ng kanyang boss (Tetchie Agbayani) na magkaroon siya dapat ng tinatawag ng fallback o reserbang karelasyon para kung sakaling iwan siya ni Chris ay meron na agad siyang pamalit at hindi na siya gaanong masasaktan at  hindi na rin siya mangagamba sakaling maghiwalay sila ni Chris. Sa isang hindi sinasadyang pagkakataon ay magkakapanagpo silang muli ng kanyang  ex-boyfriend na si Alvin (Zanjoe Marudo) at tila mabubuhay ang nakaraan. Si Alvin na ba ang perfect fallback ni Michelle?
Simple lamang ang produksiyon at kuwento ng Fallback kung tutuusin – pinagyabong lamang nito ang isang ideya na maari o pinaniniwalaan na pwedeng panlaban sa heartbreak. Mainam na nakasentro ang pelikula sa tema nito—yun nga lang, naging mababaw ang pag-trato nila dito. Mababaw ang hagod ng karakterisasyon sa pelikula at hindi malinaw ang pinanggagalingan ng mga pangunahing tauhan—lalo na si Michelle. Ano pa bang mayroon sa kanya bukod sa pagiging laging palpak sa trabaho? May pamilya ba siya? Walang gaanong nakataya sa kuwento at hindi kataya-taya ang kanyang pagkatao upang makaramdam ng simpatya ang manonood sa kanya. Kulang din sa tinatawag na chemistry ang mga tauhan. Pawang pilit ang kanilang mga tambalan. Sayang at maayos na sana ang daloy ng kuwento at mahusay naman ang mga artistang nagsiganap pero malaki ang kakulangan ng buong kuwento sa pagpapayabong at pagpapalalim ng kabuluhan ng relasyon. Malabo rin ang nais ipahiwatig ng treatment ng pelikula  sa paghahalo-halo nito ng kung anu-anong elemento at genre—tulad ng tila horror sa simula at comedy sa ilang eksena—sa madaling salita, hindi malinaw kung anong nais nilang palabasin sa kanilang palabas. Liban na lamang kung sinasadya nila itong gawin pagkat nais nilang palabasin na ang bawat relasyon talaga ay magulo—kasing gulo ng kanilang isipan habang ginagawa nila ang pelikulang ito
Kontrobersyal ang ninanis talakayin ng Fallback pagdating sa relasyon. Tama nga kayang magkaroon ng fallback para hindi maging napakasakit ng kabiguan sa pag-ibig? Sa ibang aspeto ng buhay tulad ng trabaho, pag-aaral, paglalakbay, pananalapi—akma at nararapat ang konsepto ng fallback—nagkakaron ng marami at iba pang pagpipilian sa buhay, at nagiging handa sa mga hindi inaasahang pangyayari. Ganun din ba sa relasyon? Hindi gaanong malinaw ang naging tayo ng pelikula dito. Una, pinalabas nilang fallback ang isang relasyon na higit na malalim kaysa sa kasalukuyan— pawang hindi angkop na tawagin itong fallback—na sa simula pa lang, kita nang hindi ito isang reserba lamang kundi ito ang mas tamang pagpipilian. Naglagay sila ng isa pang fallback na sobrang kabaligtaran naman – isang walang kalalim-lalim na pagpipilian at hindi na kailangang pag-isipan. Sa isang banda, pumapabor ang pelikula sa fallback, sa isang banda naman ay hindi.  Sumakutawid, ang fallback ay isang kathang-isip lamang. Walang fallback pagdating sa relasyon. Hindi maaring tawaging fallback kung relasyon ang pag-uusapan—pakikiapid o panlilinlang ang maaring itawag dito. May mga bagay sa buhay na sadyang nilikha at dinesenyo upang magkaroon ng misteryo at gawing itong makabuluhan dahil dito. Hindi ito pwedeng ma-kontrol at lalong hindi maaring ipilit o hulaan. Ang nararapat lamang ay maging tapat at maging mabuti upang maging karapat-dapat sa sinuman na itinakdang maging kasintahan man, o kaibigan.  Ang ideya mismo ng fallback ay nakasasama sa pagyabong ng katauhan ng isang tao.  Hindi matututo mula sa mga dagok ng buhay o relasyon ang isang tao kung lagi na lamang nitong tatakasan ang hapdi ng pagiging sawi.  Nagiging addiction lamang at hindi tunay na pag-ibig ang pakikipagrelasyon kung ang habol lang ng isang tao dito ay saya, pasarap, at ang seguridad na lagi siyang may nag-aabang na "kapalit".   

Friday, November 24, 2017

Justice League

Direction: Zack Snyder Cast: Ben Affleck, Gal GadotHenry Cavill, Amy Adams, Ezra Miller, Jason MomoaCiaran Hinds. Diane Lane; Story: Chris Terrio and Joss Wheton based on Justice League by Gardner FoxScreenplayChris Terrio and Zack Snyder; CinematographyFabian WagnerEditingDavid Brenner, Richard Pearson, Martin WalshMusic: Danny ElfmanProducersCharles Roven, Deborah Snyder, Jon Berg, Geoff JohnGenreSci-Fi Action;  Location: Gotham and MetropolisDistributorWarner Bros.  Running Time140 minutes;  
Technical assessment: 3.5  
Moral assessment3 stars 
CINEMA rating: V13 
MTRCB rating: PG13 
To stop Steppenwolf (Hinds) from conquering the Earth, the three Mother Boxes, containing unparalleled energy, are distributed for safekeeping to the Amazons, Atlanteans and mankind after their combined armies defeat and imprison Steppenwolf and his army. However, Superman’s death triggers the Mother Boxes to come alive and free them. Bruce Wayne/Batman (Affleck) and Diana Prince/Wonderwoman (Gadot) team up and recruit Atlantean Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Mamoa), Barry Allen/Flash (Miller) and Victon Stone/Cyborg (Fisher). The team is formed too late as the Steppenwolf gains two of the Mother Boxes. Wayne decides to use the energy of the remaining Mother Box to bring Superman back to life.  However, the resurrected Superman is disoriented and attacks the team until Lois Lane (Adams) arrives and calms him down. The unguarded remaining Mother Box is easily retrieved by Steppenwolf so the superheroes decide to defend humanity even without Superman. At the last minute  
Superman arrives to assist the united heroes. Fear consumes Steppenwolf causing his own Parademons to attack him. The movie ends with hints of the heroes becoming a real team and Lex Luther planning to form his own group against them. 
Justice League is all hypein its publicity and propaganda and in its storytelling. The action scenes and visuals, with all its multi-million dollar effects and design, will impress some and entertain a few. The story is old and tired. Preventing a vanquished villain from gaining full control of its powers and assembling a team to stop it is just too familiar. What made it even less engaging were flat storytelling and too many back stories in the exposition. It took a long time to get to the action, which is not expected of a superhero movie. But the greatest failure of the film is the shallowness of the characterization and their lack of chemistry with each other. It just did not work. The attempts to be funny were forced and the moments of insight were overworked.  That it comes right between successful and loveable superhero movies from a competitor studio does not help. 
To be a person for others is the usual and natural orientation of superheroes and heroines. In the earlier years, they saved the world because that is what they do. But modern heroes now make a conscious choice. They are faced with moral dilemmas, internal conflicts and polarization of social acceptance. Yet in the end, they make their choices not because they are programmed to do so but because it is the right thing to do. Because they value life. Because they understand that their powers are not for themselves but for service. Heroism is not about one’s superiority but about sacrifice. Power thrives when there is heart and soul. Power is the combined strength of people (or heroes) for a greater cause. Power is fueled by selflessness and compassion. Justice League has a lot of positive values to share but needs the guidance of adults to clarify the messages.