The Episcopal Commission on Social Communication-CBCP

CINEMA (Catholic INitiative for Enlightened Movie Appreciation) of The Episcopal Commission on Social Communication of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines presents movies viewed in the light of the gospel. . *** For inquiries, please EMAIL: cbcpcinema@gmail.com *** CALL or TEXT: (02) 664 5886 *** or WRITE TO: CINEMA, Episcopal Commission on Social Communication, CBCP Compound, 470 General Luna St. Intramuros, Manila *** Enjoy the reviews, and THANK YOU!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Kita Kita

DIRECTOR: Sigrid Andrea Bernardo  LEAD CAST:  Alessandra de Rossi, Empoy Marquez EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Joyce Bernal, Piolo Pascual, Erick Raymundo  MUSIC: Arlene Flredia Calvo  CINEMATOGRAPHY: Boy Yniquez  EDITING: Marya Ignacio  GENRE:  Rom-com drama  LOCATION:  Sapporo, Japan  LANGUAGE:  Pilipino  RUNNING TIME:  84 minutes
Technical assessment:  4
Moral assessment:  4
CINEMA rating:  PG 13
Masayang namumuhay mag-isa ang Pilipinang tour guide sa Sapporo, Japan, na si Lea (de Rossi), nguni’t isang araw, bigla siyang mabubulag.  “Temporary blindness” daw, ayon sa doktor, dala ng stress.  Ang sanhi ng stress?  Nasugatang puso.  Nahuli niyang nagtataksil sa kanya ang boyfriend niyang Hapon, na siyang ikinaguho ng lahat ng kanyang mga pangarap.  Magkukulong at magmumukmok sa bahay ang broken-hearted na babae, at dito naman susulpot sa buhay niya ang kapitbahay niyang si Tonyo, isang OFW sa Japan, at kasulukuyan namang bumabangon mula pagkasawi sa pag-ibig.  Natural lamang na mailap si Lea sa simula, ngunit walang sawang magdadala ng mga niluto niyang pagkaing Pinoy si Tonyo kay Lea araw araw, lilibangin ito sa pagpapatawa, at hihimuking samahan siyang magpasyal sa mga tourist spots ng Sapporo.  Dahil dama naman ni Lea na katapatan ni Tonyo, tatanggapin niya ang alok nitong “maging mga mata” niya habang namamasyal sila.  Unti-unting magkakalapit ang dalawa, at kapwa sila sasaya sa kanilang pagkakaibigan, hanggang isang araw, makakakitang muli si Lea.
Hindi mahuhulaan ng manonood ang buong kuwento ng Kita Kita sa panonood lamang ng pakita o trailer nito. Maaaring isipin nilang, “Mukhang kakaiba dahil hindi pogi ang leading man, pero bulag naman ang babae eh, malay niya?  Cheap comedy lang siguro ito!”  Ganunpaman, halos puno ang sinehan nang manood ang CINEMA samantalang mag-iisang lingo na itong ipinapalabas noon.  At hanggang ngayong halos dalawang linggo na itong tampok sa maraming mga sinehan, mahaba pa rin ang hatak nitong pila sa takilya.  Marahil isa itong palatandaang handa na ang mga Pilipinong manonood sa ganitong uri ng pelikula—madaling sakyan, madaling intindihin, nakakaaliw panoorin, pero malalim ang pinaghuhugutan, kaya’t malalim din ang hatid na katotohanan.  Nababakas sa Kita Kita na may sapat na kaalaman ang nagsulat nito tungkol sa kultura sa Saporro, kung kaya’t naihabi niya nang makahulugan ang ilang mga maliliit na bagay upang isulong at mabuo ang kuwento.  Kung magaling ang pagganap ni de Rossi at Marquez, magaling din ang direksyon at pagkaka-edit ng pelikula.  Napagtagni-tagni nito ang mga pangyayari sa tamang daloy na hinihingi ng kwento, at nabigyang kasiyahan ang manonood ng isang makabuluhang katapusan.   
May kasabihan tayong “Love is blind”—ang pag-ibig diumano ay bulag.  Nabigyang katuwiran ito ng Kita Kita kung saan napalambot ang puso ng isang babae ng isang lalaking hindi naman niya nakikita—ngunit ito ay dahil kahit siya bulag, nakikita niya ang puso ng lalaki, isang pusong mayaman sa kabutihang loob.  May isa ring payo ang mga nakatatanda sa mga kababaihan na nabibigyang katuwiran ng Kita Kita:  “Marry a man who can make you laugh.”  Pakasalan mo ang isang lalaking kaya kang patawanin.  Sa panahon ng pasakit at kadiliman, ang “sense of humor” ng mga taong malapit sa atin ang mag-aangat sa atin.  Tulad ni Tonyo, na dahil sa “sense of humor” niya ay nagsilbing salbabida ni Lea na malapit nang malunod sa pighati.  Ang tunay na “sense of humor” ay hindi lamang basta pagpapatawa—lalo na’t hindi kung pagpapatawa itong may halong panglilibak—kungdi isang magandang katangiang nag-uugat sa kababaang-loob.  Dahil sa “sense of humor”, kaya nating pagtawanan ang ating sarili, at hindi rin tayo napipikon kahit pagtawanan tayo ng iba.  Ang ubod ng kuwento ng Kita Kita, simula puno hanggang dulo, ay ang kagandahang maaaring hindi nakikita ng ating mga mata nguni’t nararamdaman ng kaluluwa: kabutihang loob.  Makita kaya ninyo ito sa inyong panonood ng Kita Kita?

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Finally Found Someone

DIRECTOR:  Theodore Boborol LEAD CAST:  Sarah Geronimo, John Lloyd, Christian Bables STORY & SCREENPLAY: Gilliann Ebleo, Carmi Raymundo, Patrick John Valencia  MUSIC:  Jessie Lasaten  CINEMATOGRAPHY:  Gary Gardoce  EDITING:  Beng Bandong PRODUCTION DESIGN:  Winston Acuyong  PRODUCERS: Malou Santos, Charo Santos-Concio, Vic del Rosario Jr., Veronique del Rosaro-Corpus  PRODUCTION COMPANIES:  Star Cinema, Viva Films  GENRE: Comedy/Romance DISTRIBUTOR: Star Cinema  LOCATION: Philippines  RUNNING TIME: 118 minutes
Technical assessment:  3.5
Moral assessment:  3.5
CINEMA rating:  V14
Araw ng kasal, na-indiyan: hindi sisipot ang nobyo ni Aprilyn (Sarah Geronimo) na si Randy (Enchong Dee).  Sa sama ng loob, nagngangangawang itatakas ni Aprilyn ang wedding car at kung saan saan hahanapin ang nobyong nawawala.  Pagka’t ni ha ni ho ay hindi magpaparamdam si groom, at titirik pa ang tsikot, tuluyan nang mawawalan ng poise si bride—nandiyang umangkas sa tricycle kuntodo naka-wedding gown, nandiyang umakyat sa fire escape, nandiyang maglupasay sa mall, at kung anu-ano pa.  Pagpipiyestahan tuloy ng mga nagse-selfie hanggang maging viral ang mga video—magte-trending ang Aprilyn bilang #ChosBride.  Ito naman ang magiging daan para makilala siya ni Raffy (John Lloyd Cruz), isang PR strategist.  Kliyente ni Raffy si Mayor, na nagkataong tatay pala ng indiyanerong si Randy, at igigiit niya kay Raffy na magbalikan sila Aprilyn at Randy, dahil kailangan ni Randy ng pogi points sa publiko pagka’t ikakasa siya ng tatay niya bilang mayor sa susunod na halalan.
Hindi nakapagtatakang humatak ng 20 milyong piso sa opening day sa Pilipinas ang Finally Found Someone—una, subok na ang Sarah-John Lloyd tandem; ikalawa, sagana sa kilig moments; ikatlo, hitik sa katatawanan; ika-apat, me laman naman ang kuwento.  In short, patok sa Pinoy.  Nang manood ang CINEMA, napansin namin na hati sa dalawa ang audience—ang kalahati ay tumitili sa kilig, at ang iba nama’y natatawa sa mga kinikilig.  Entertaining talaga, pati audienceIn fairness, magaling ang acting, ika nga madadala ka: si Sarah, natural na natural, okey lang magmukhang losyang kung kailangan; si John Lloyd, feel ang papel, at lalaki pa rin kahit umiiyak o kumekembot; si Mayor na buktot na politiko, gusto mong sapakin. Okey ang editing, tinambalan ng matinong dialogue, kaya walang nakakaantok na eksena.
Ang Finally Found Someone ay isang rom-com na malaman.  Lutang dito ang tatlong mensahe: ang karahasan at pagkukunwari ay bahagi ng realidad sa politika; ang isang matatag na pamilya ay kailangan upang suportahan ka sa iyong pinagdaraanan; at ang pagharap sa iyong mga kahinaan ay katapatan sa sarili at sa kapwa.  (Pahabol: ikinalulugod ng CINEMA na pinaninindigan ni Sarah Geronimo ang pag-iwas sa passionate kissing sa kanyang mga pelikula, na tila ba nagsasabi sa mga manonood na hindi mo kailangang labagin ang prinsipyo mo para lang maging "masaya" at popular). 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

DIRECTOR: Luc Besson  CAST: Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke, Herbie Hancock, Kris Wu, Rutger Hauer  SCREENPLAY BY: Luc Besson  STORY BY: Pierre Christin, Jean-Claude Mézières  BASED ON Valérian and Laureline  PRODUCERS: Luc Besson, Virginie Besson-Silla  FILM EDITOR: Julien Rey  GENRE: Action, Adventure, Science Fiction  CINEMATOGRAPHY: Thierry Arbogast  MUSIC: Alexandre Desplat  PRODUCTION DESIGN: Hugues Tissandier  PRODUCTON COMPANIES: EuropaCorp, Fundamental Films, BNP Paribas Fortis Film Finance, Universum Film, Gulf Film, River Road Entertainment, Belga Films  DISTRIBUTORS: STX Entertainment (US), EuropaCorp (France)  COUNTRY: France  LANGUAGE: French, English  RUNNING TIME: 137 minutes
Technical assessment:  3.5
Moral assessment: 3
CINEMA Rating:  V14
In the 28th century, Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delavingne) are sent to a mission in Alpha, a huge city in the outer space inhabited by millions of creatures from different planets, to solve a mystery that threatens the peaceful living in the said space station and entire universe. Prior to embarking on the mission, Valerian proposes marriage to Laureline, but the latter prefers to retain their relationship at colleague level because she does not believe Valerian can take serious relationship. The two agents accomplish the mission of retrieving a rare animal and acquiring special pearls that are needed to protect the Alpha. On return to space city, they learn from their commander Arun Fillit (Clive Owen) that Alpha is further threatened with infiltration by dark forces in some areas. During public assembly, the humanoids attack and kidnap the Fillit while the rest of the participants in the assembly are incapacitated including Valerian and Laureline. But Valerian manages to free himself and chases the kidnapers towards the infected area where he suddenly losses control of the vehicle and his contact with Laureline. The latter searches and finally finds him only to be abducted in return. This time its Valerian’s turn to rescue Laureline with the help of Bubble (Rihanna), a shape-shifter. 
Valerian has a character-based plot made interesting by the love angle between the main characters which is tried and tested while accomplishing the mission together. There is miscasting of the main character particularly Valerian who looks more like bubbly teenager than a credible police agent. Nevertheless, the film boasts of excellent CGI  work and is a real treat of visual delights for the viewers. The cinematography is likewise good especially long shots of the universe and close-up shots of details in the highly imaginative production design. The sound effects perfectly fit every movement and action in the space station and enhance the visual effects.
Peace is achieved when there is unity in diversity. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets showcases a big community of  beings from different origins who are peacefully living and working together. They generously share their technology and culture in harmony for the greater good. Keeping and protecting the city from the enemy of peace is a noble and sacrificing act, adhered to to the point that even the personal interest such as the love relationship of Valerian and Laureline takes a back seat for the benefit of the great majority. But this does not make them love each other less; amidst the trials and threat of loss their love and care strengthen them to fight together. On the other hand, the one responsible for triggering chaos and damage to the peaceful city suffered the consequences of his actions. The movie conveys positive messages, however, violent nature of fighting and the killings may need guidance adult for minors to comprehend the movie.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

CINEMA takes a look at real life apes

A gun-toting chimp: fiction today, tomorrow a reality?
CINEMA thinks the Planet of the Apes trilogy may bring to focus the implications of real life scientific research utilizing primates, as its plot revolves around the scientists’ search for a cure for Alzheimer’s disease that created instead an ape with human-like intelligence.
It’s a fact that primates are being experimented upon by humans for medical purposes.  According to US-based PETA—People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals—“over 105,000 primates every year are imprisoned in US laboratories… abused and killed in invasive, painful, and terrifying experiments…”  (See https://www.peta.org/) Primates are prime targets for experimenters because they share important biological and psychological characteristics with humans, such as sensitivity and intelligence.
In July 2011, as Rise of the Planet of the Apes hit the theaters—showing, among other images, a chimpanzee that fired an AK47 towards humans—the Academy of Medical Sciences of Britain (AMSB) said the dangers of disturbing animal-human experiments are real.  In a hard-hitting report the academics warned that research is close to pushing ethical boundaries and urged the government to create tough new rules to prevent such a scenario (of gun-toting primates) from becoming a reality.  Professor Martin Bobrow, a medical geneticist at Cambridge University and lead author of the report, said society needed to set rules before scientists began experiments that the public would find unacceptable.   Three particularly “sensitive” areas in animal research, the report stated, are cognitive, that of reproduction, and creation of visual characteristics that would make them see themselves as human.  Relating to reproduction, the report recommended that animal embryos produced from human sperm or eggs do not develop beyond a period of 14 days.
Furthermore, the AMSB report called for a ban on extreme attempts to give laboratory animals human attributes—such as injecting human stem cells into the brains of primates—and called for a closer monitoring of the experiments by a new body of experts.  “If a monkey that received human genetic material begins to acquire capabilities similar to a chimpanzee, it’s time to stop the experiments,” said Bobrow.  A co-author of the report, Professor Thomas Baldwin, said: “The fear is that if you start putting very large numbers of human brain cells into the brains of primates suddenly you might transform the primate into something that has some of the capacities that we regard as distinctively human—speech, or other ways of being able to manipulate or relate to us. These possibilities that are at the moment largely explored in fiction, we need to start thinking about now.”

Spiderman: Homecoming

Running Time: 133 minutes; Cast: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey, Jr., Jon Favreau, Marisa Tomei; Direction: Jon Watts; Story:  based on Spiderman by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko; Screenplay: Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Jon Watts, etc; Cinematography: Salvatore Totino; Editing: Dan Lebental, Debbie Berman; Music: Michael Giacchino; Producers: Kevin Feige, Amy Pascal; Genre: Action; Location: New York; Distributor: Sony Pictures Releasing
Technical assessment: 3.5
Moral assessment: 3
CINEMA rating: V14
After the victory of the Avengers against Loki and the Chitauri invasion, Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) is initially commissioned to clean up the city. However, their operation is taken over by Stark’s Department of Damage Control (DODC) and in retaliation and to salvage his investments, Toomes keeps portion of the Chitauri to create advance weapons to sell to petty crooks. Eight years after, 15 year old Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is drafted by Starks (Robert Downey, Jr.) to help them settle a dispute against Captain America (Chris Evans) but is asked to return to his normal life as he is not yet ready to be a full pledge Avenger. Peter, however, dreams to be an Avenger and devotes his entire time and energy to stop petty crimes within his neighborhood. Accidentally, he discovers Toomes—who has transformed himself into the metal-winged Vulture—and his dealings, and attempts to end it himself, although unsuccessfully most of the time. All the while, Tony Starks monitors his activities and intervenes when necessary until he decides to confiscate the Spiderman suit. Peter, upon learning both the true identity of Vulture and his ultimate plan, makes a final attempt sans the Spiderman suit to thwart his plans and rescue DODC’s plane.
The 3rd reboot of Spiderman offers a fresh insight into Peter Parker’s character—this time with an awkwardly fun and colorful coming of age passion to initially belong to a prestigious team and eventually to do what is right.  It is frustrating, though, how the movie tried too much to integrate his storyline into the Marvel Universe, ultimately giving too much screen time to Iron Man. The computer generated visuals balance the narrative and humor well. With three different treatments of three Peter Parker/Spiderman, the movie might appeal to some and bore others, depending on which personality they like better.
Adolescence is an awkward stage of confused assimilation—on the one hand, teenagers are so ready to be part of anything prestigious or popular, on the other hand, they do not always have the maturity to grasp the responsibility nor the patience to learn what is needed. However, if the heart and person of the young ones are formed well, the desire would be less to be part of what is popular than to be part of what is right and good. Here lies the role of mentors, role models and guides. As adults, these are what we are expected to be for our young ones.  To hold their hands until their steps are sturdy and straight, to shape their minds until their reasons are clear and righteous and to light their ways until their eyes can distinguish truth and justice on their own. Beautifully, Tony and Peter became poster children of adult-young mentoring.

Transformers: The Last Knight

DIRECTOR:  Michael Bay  LEAD CAST:  Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Hopkins, Josh Duhamel, Laura Haddock  SCREENWRITERS:  Art Marcum, Matt Holloway, Ken Nolan  PRODUCERS:  Don Murphy, Tom DeSanto, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Ian Bryce  EDITORS:  Roger Barton, Adam Gerstel, Debra Neil-Fisher, John Refouga, Mark Sanger, Calvin Wimmer  MUSICAL DIRECTOR:  Steve Jablonsky  GENRE:  Science Fiction, Adventure  CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Jonathan Sela DISTRIBUTOR:  Paramount Pictures  LOCATION:  England, Scotland, Ireland, California, Arizona, Michigan  RUNNING TIME:  149 minutes
Technical assessment: 1.5
Moral assessment: 2
CINEMA rating: V14
MTRCB rating: PG
The fifth installment of the Transformers franchise, Transformers: The Last Knight retells the history of the series in a different light. The film opens in England in the Dark Ages, amidst a battle involving King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, establishing that once upon a time, the wizard Merlin was handed-over a powerful staff by the Transformers that time—which was instrumental in King Arthur’s victory over invaders. Hundreds of years later, the evil sorceress Quintessa sends the dark Transformer Megatron to find the staff, casts a spell on Optimus Prime so it would turn against mankind. In the present day, Transformers are being hunted down by the government, and Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) is protecting the good ones like Bumblebee and the Autobots. Yeager eventually becomes involved in the hunt for Merlin’s staff, meeting Viviane Wembly ( Laura Haddock) and Sir Edmond Burton (Sir Anthony Hopkins) who both lead him into the discovery of his significant role in finding the staff –on which,  the final fate of the Earth and all humanity lies.
The film runs for two-and-a-half hours of convoluted plot without a sense of centrality and purpose as it jumps from one subplot to another. The explanation of the back story has taken more than half of its running time so nothing much is left for meaningful characterization, or at least a central tension to look forward to besides the motherhood doomsday sci-fi stereotypical of a plot. The film is nothing but a two hour and half full of ear-splitting noise and senseless battles. It seems that the filmmakers are themselves hardly convinced that alien robots would have a significant role in human history that it would really need a lengthy exposition enough to suspend disbelief of the audience. The fans of the series may not really care that much for as long as the high-tech visual effects (VFX) are shown along with all the spectacles expected of a Transformers franchise. But even the VFX scenes and transitions do not make so much of an impact—quite apparently in the heat of battle scenes, there is no single shot of both humans and VFX character in one frame. The two worlds and their spatial relationship are not clearly established.  so as to create the logical tension between the two. The alien robots who are supposed to be the titular protagonists and antagonists stay in the background with the humans at the center and heart of the story who are given more active participation in pushing the plot forward. Transformers: The Last Knight fails in its entirety for the lack of soul and focus.

Transformers: The Last Knight is a vague spectacle. So vague that even its moral underpinning is buried deep in the grandeur of its VFX minus a compelling story to ponder on. The film’s theme remains in its usual territory—the battle of good vs. evil. This time around, it is not only humans who are capable of goodness but alien robots as well. In essence, both humans and aliens are capable of being either good or evil. In the movie, the two forces unite to save the Earth from total destruction. It is inherent for humans to save humanity but for aliens to have a deep concern for humanity is not quite believable. However, the Transformers portrays it as possible—these robots, though non-humans have also the capacity to reciprocate goodness and fight dark forces if need be. The strange action of Optimus Prime at the start confuses the audience of its allegiance but the revelation towards the middle part explains it thoroughly. Although alcohol consumption is shown infrequently, it is taken lightly at the opening scenes, with Merlin the wizard babbling with inebriation. There are also highly suggestive shots of the young girl Izabella with her low-neckline shirt when she was running and a high-angle shot of her showing her legs spread and again the low-cut of her neckline. These scenes are unnecessary to the plot development and may leave a not-so-good impression on the very young.  The movie is not for very young audiences because of the use of vulgar language and graphic violence, so CINEMA deems it fit only for audiences 14 and above, preferably still with parental guidance. 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

War for the Planet of the Apes

DIRECTOR:  MATT REEVES   LEAD CAST: ANDY SERKIS, WOODY HARRELSON, STEVE ZAHN, KARIN KONOVAL, AMIAH MILLER  SCREENWRITER: MARK BOMBACK, MATT REEVES  PRODUCER: PETER CHERNIN  EDITOR:  WILLIAM HOY, STAN SALFAS  MUSICAL DIRECTOR:  MICHAEL GIACCHINO  GENRE: SCI-FI ACTION ADVENTURE  CINEMATOGRAPHER: MICHAEL SERESIN  DISTRIBUTOR: 20TH CENTURY FOX  LOCATION:  UNITED STATES  RUNNING TIME:  2 hours 27 minutes
Technical assessment:  4
Moral assessment:  3.5
CINEMA rating:  V14
MTRCB:  PG
Enhanced primate Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his apes are forced into a deadly conflict with an army of humans led by a ruthless renegade colonel (Woody Harrelson).  After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind. As the journey finally brings them face to face, Caesar and the colonel are pitted against each other in an epic battle that will determine the fate of both of their species and the future of the planet. (mrqe.com)
After Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014), War for the Planet of the Apes which is derived from Pierre Boulle’s novel (1963) begins two years after humans and primates fight for existence.  With characters created by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, the film is scripted by Mark Bombeck and director Matt Reeves as a character-driven action adventure.  Award-winning actor Serkin’s performance resulting in motion-capture visual effects is flawless.  Serkins as Gollum in Lord of the Rings is unforgettable; as Caesar here he stirs human empathy.  The colonel himself (Harrelson’s character), in an eyeball to eyeball scene with Caesar, says of the ape’s eyes “They’re almost human”.  Of course, Serkin didn’t do it alone—credit also goes to the team of effects artists who create the digital characters from the computerized 3D images of their actions and facial expressions.  Thanks to Seresin’s evocative cinematography and the stirring musical score by Giacchino, the total product is so convincingly real that only the most skeptical would doubt the story’s probability. 
Is it possible for an animal to have scruples, like human beings?  In War for the Planet of the Apes, we see an ape with a conscience and a human being without a heart.  Have man and ape switched roles?  No, and neither is depicted to be judged harshly, for the plot and the dialogue clearly unveil where each is coming from.  In this installment, Caesar is drawn to the dark depths of his heart, wanting revenge more than anything else—but has the discernment to realize that he is becoming more and more like the human-hating ape Koba (Toby Kebell).   The colonel wears a cross and a brown scapular around his neck, displays a small cross on his wall, and yet remains conflicted.  This thought provoking movie offers many topics for discussion, such as leadership, animal rights, compassion, loyalty, friendship, and vengeance as the result of being wounded (whether human or ape), etc.   While plumbing the depths of simian and human creatures, the movie also provides comic relief  through the antics of the zoo chimpanzee self-named “Bad Ape” (Steve Zahn), CINEMA—with due respect to MTRCB’s rating of PG—thinks that’s not enough to let your young children watch it.  The theme and its accompanying violence might scare and scar more than entertain them.
CINEMA TAKES A CLOSER LOOK AT REAL LIFE APES
CINEMA thinks the Planet of the Apes trilogy may also bring to focus the implications of real life scientific research utilizing primates, as its plot revolves around the scientists’ search for a cure for Alzheimer’s disease that created instead an ape with human-like intelligence.
It’s a fact that primates are being experimented upon by humans for medical purposes.  According to US-based PETA—People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals—“over 105,000 primates every year are imprisoned in US laboratories… abused and killed in invasive, painful, and terrifying experiments…”  (See https://www.peta.org/) Primates are prime targets for experimenters because they share important biological and psychological characteristics with humans, such as sensitivity and intelligence.
In July 2011, as Rise of the Planet of the Apes hit the theaters—showing, among other images, a chimpanzee that fired an AK47 towards humans—the Academy of Medical Sciences of Britain (AMSB) said the dangers of disturbing animal-human experiments are real.  In a hard-hitting report the academics warned that research is close to pushing ethical boundaries and urged the government to create tough new rules to prevent such a scenario (of gun-toting primates) from becoming a reality.  Professor Martin Bobrow, a medical geneticist at Cambridge University and lead author of the report, said society needed to set rules before scientists began experiments that the public would find unacceptable.   
Three particularly “sensitive” areas in animal research, the report stated, are cognitive, that of reproduction, and creation of visual characteristics that would make them see themselves as human.  Relating to reproduction, the report recommended that animal embryos produced from human sperm or eggs do not develop beyond a period of 14 days.  The most controversial field, according to the report, deals with animals with “uniquely human” characteristics; the report called the experiments here “Frankenstein types with humanized animals”.  Thus, the AMSB report called for a ban on extreme attempts to give laboratory animals human attributes—such as injecting human stem cells into the brains of primates—and called for a closer monitoring of the experiments by a new body of experts.  “If a monkey that received human genetic material begins to acquire capabilities similar to a chimpanzee, it’s time to stop the experiments,” said Bobrow.
A co-author of the report, Professor Thomas Baldwin, said: “The fear is that if you start putting very large numbers of human brain cells into the brains of primates suddenly you might transform the primate into something that has some of the capacities that we regard as distinctively human—speech, or other ways of being able to manipulate or relate to us. These possibilities are largely explored in fiction, but we need to start thinking about them now.”


Friday, July 21, 2017

Bloody Crayons

DIRECTOR: Topel Lee  LEAD CAST: Janella Salvador, Elmo Magalona, Sofia Andres, Diego Loyzaga, Jane Oineza, Maris Racal, Yves Flores, Empoy Marquez, Ronnie Alonte  WRITERS: Carmel Josine Jacomille, Rogelio Panahon Jr., Justine Reyes de Jesus, Kenneth Lim Dagatan, John Paul Abellera  SCREENPLAY: Quark Henares  BASED ON: Bloody Crayons by Josh Argonza  PRODUCERS:  Charo Santos-Concio, Malou Santos  GENRE: Suspense-Thriller  CINEMATOGRAPHY: Zach Sycip  PRODUCTION  COMPANY: ABS-CBN Film Productions, Inc.  DISTRIBUTED BY: Star Cinema COUNTRY: Philippines  LANGUAGE: Filipino,English  RUNNING TIME:  110 minutes 
Technical assessment: 4
Moral assessment: 2.5
CINEMA rating: V14
MTRCB rating: R13
Dumating sa isang ilang na isla ang grupo ng mga kabataan para sa shooting ng kanilang film project  Titira sila pangsamantala sa lumang bahay na pag-aari ng pamilya ni Olivia (Jane Oineza).  Masaya ang lahat sa pagdating sa isla, subalit bago magdilim ay magkakaroon ng tensyon dahil  sa mga isyu ng love triangle  sa pagitan nina Marie (Sofia Andres), Kenly (Diego Loyzaga), at Olivia, at ang maapektuhan ang matalik na pagkakaibigan ng huli kay Eunice (Janella Salvador) dahil sa paglilihim nito sa kaibigan.  May mabubuo ding isyu sa sarili ang direktor ng grupo na si Kiko (Elmo Magalona) dahil sa makikita nya na pagiging malapit ni Eunice kay John (Ronnie Alonte).  Hindi nila kaklase si John, isinama lamang nila marahil para makatulong sa project.  Sa akalang huhupa ang nabuong tensyon sa mga kasama ay naglaro sila ng Bloody Crayon kung saan bilang mga manlalaro ay sasailalim sa confessions, rules at consequence na pag-inom ng pinaghalo-halong inumin sa bloody mug. Sa larong ito unang namatay ay kanilang kasama na si Marie dahil sa pagkakalason sa ininom na tubig pagkatapos uminom ng laman ng parusang bloody mug.  Susunod ang isa-isang pagkamatay ng magkakasama.  
Malikhain ang kwento ng Bloody Crayons na pinatingkad ng ginawang trato ng direktor upang mapuno ng suspense  mula sa simula hanggang sa resolusyon.  Epektibo ang pagpapalitan ng mga eksena ng shooting at aktwal sa paghahatid ng tensyon.  Maganda at masining ang mga kuha ng kamera sa iba’t ibang anggulo ng isla, ng dagat at talampas, ng loob at labas ng lumang bahay, at ng kagubatan.  Maayos ang mga komposisyon katulad ng mga eksena ng pagtatampisaw ng mga tauhan sa dagat, pag-uusap nina Eunice at John sa balkonahe na lihim palang nasasaksihan ni Kiko, ang pag-iisa ni John sa loob ng patibong na may daanan palabas sa dalampasigan, atbp.  Ang mga inilapat na tunog, musika at ilaw ay pawang mga akma sa hinihingi ng eksena at kabuuang istorya. Gayundin ang disenyo ng produksyon, kasuotan  at make-up. Tama lamang at kapani-paniwala ang pagganap ng mga kabataang artista sa kani-kanilang karakter. Gayunpaman, medyo nakakabagot ang pinatagal na eksena ng habulan nina Olivia at Eunice sa kagubatan at ang mahahabang usapan sa mga sitwasyong puno ng tensyon.  Sa kabuuan ay mahusay ang teknikal ng aspeto ng pelikula.


Mga kabataan, bilang mga mag-aaral na nagnanais kumpletuhin ang school requirement  upang makapagtapos ng kanilang kurso, ang itinampok sa pelikulang Bloody Crayons. Napadpad sila sa malayong isla dahil dito. Bilang mga responsableng mag-aaral ay ginagawa ang lahat upang matapos ang kailangan sa paaralan.  Subalit kung may mga isyu sa bawat isa ay mas mabuti na ayusin muna  bago pumalaot  bilang magkakasama.  Ang mga nabunyag na paglilihim ang naging mitsa ng pagsambulat ng galit at pagiging mapusok ng mga tampok na kabataan sa pelikula.  Dalawang gintong aral ang dapat tandaan ng isang tao upang mas maging maayos sa buhay: una, “ang katotohanan ang siyang nagpapalaya”; ikalawa, “walang lihim na di nabubunyag”.  Ang mga ito ang hindi isinaalang-alang ni Eunice dahil sa pagnanais niya na protektahan at huwag masaktan ang matalik na kaibigan. Ang inaakalang simpleng film project ay nauwi sa patayan at tuluyang pagtuldok sa mga pangarap na makapagtapos ng kanilang kurso.  Nakakahindik na magagawang patayin ng isang kabataan ang mga kaibigan dahil sa kabiguan sa pag-ibig, pagtataksil ng kaibigan, paglilihim na ginawa siyang tanga. Maaring labis ang sakit na dulot ng ganitong karanasan pero may paraan upang malampasan ito ng isang tao sa pamamagitan ng tamang proseso at paggabay. May pananagutan ang mga magulang at paaralan sa mga ganitong sitwasyon.  Ang pagsisisi ay palaging nasa huli.  Maliban sa pagpatay ay lumutang din ang temang pre-marital sex, pagtataksil at paglalasing sa mga ikinumpisal sa larong Bloody Crayon na siyang pinagmulan ng simbuyo ng mga damdamin sa mga tauhan ng kwento.  Maseselan at nangangailangan ng proseso ang mga temang ito at nangangailangan ng hinog na isipan ng manonood.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Ang Pagsanib kay Leah de la Cruz

LEAD CAST: Sarah Lahbati, Julian Trono and Shy Carlos DIRECTOR: Erik Matti  SCREENWRITER: Charlene Esguera  PRODUCER: EriK Matti & Katski Flores  MUSICAL DIRECTOR:  Francis de Vera  GENRE: Horror  DISTRIBUTOR:  Viva Films, Reality Entertainment  LOCATION: Philippines  RUNNING TIME: 97 minutes
Technical assessment: 3.5
Moral assessment:  2
CINEMA rating:  V18
MTRCB rating:  R13
Isang “inactive” na pulis si Ruth (Sarah Lahbatti), at namamahinga sa Barangay Dalisay.  Palaging laman ng isip ni Ruth ang kapatid niyang si Erik, as tila plagi niyang sinusulatan at inuunawa kahit hindi ito sumasagot.  Galing sa isang simbahan, lalapitan siya ng teenager na si (Julian Trono), at papakiusapan siya nitong tulungan ang kanyang malaking “crush” na si Leah (Shy Carlos) na tila sinasaniban.  Bagamat nayayamot sa kakulitan ni Gabriel, mapupukaw ang kalooban ni Ruth na dumamay nang masaksihan niya ang tangkang pagpapakamatay ni Leah na tatalon mula sa balkonahe ng kanilang bahay.  Kasama si Gabriel, magiimbestiga si Ruth sa kaso nang malaman nilang sinugat-sugatan din ni Leah diumano ang yaya nitong si Rosario bago siya tumalon.  Lalawig ang pag-iimbestiga ng dalawa at may mauungkat sila tungkol sa isang kulto.  Ano ang kinalaman ni Rosario, ng isang pari, ng isang madre, sa pagsanib na nangyayari kay Leah?
Kahindik-hindik ang simula ng pelikula, at agad ay iisipin mong kakaiba itong horror movie—hindi nagtutumili, pero nakakakaba.  Magaling ang cinematography, musika at editing ng pelikula, nagtulong-tulong sila upang mabuo ang “atmosphere”.  Dinala ng mahusay na pagganap ni Carlos, Lahbati at Trono ang kuwento mula simula hanggang katapusan.  Ngunit sa hindi matukoy na paraan, hindi mahawakan ng pelikula ang interes o simpatiya ng manonood sa kanyang kabuuan.  Maraming bagay na dahil salat sa katuwiran o lohika ay nakakawalang-gana nang sundan.  Maaaring humanga na lamang tayo sa galing mag-“emote” ng mga artista, pero ano ang saysay ng kuwento, at ng mga umano’y lihim na isinisiwalat ng ano man yaong espiritung sumasanib kay Leah? 
Maaaring gustong sabihin ng Ang Pagsanib kay Leah de la Cruz na ang mga kasawiang-palad na nangyayari sa tao ay nanggagaling din sa kaniyang sarili—sa kamangmangan o pagkukunwari—na ang isang tao ay “minumulto” ng kanyang lihim, maging ito man ay isang kasalananan o nakaraang hindi maiwanan.  Ngunit ang bagay na ganitong kalalim ay hindi matagumpay na mabibigyang katuwiran ng isang pelikulang gumagamit ng ideya ng “pagsanib” ngunit wala namang malinaw na iginagawad na paliwanag o lunas upang ang manonood ay maniwala sa katotohanan nito at mag-isip kung paano ito pupugsain upang ang manaig at lumutang ay ang likas na lakas ng loob ng tao na nilikhang kawangis ng Maykapal.  Gawa ng malagim na sinapit ng mga tauhan—kahit na ang inaakala nati’y “matibay” sa kanila—binigyan ng pelikula ng labis na kapangyarihan ang puwersa ng kadiliman.  Walang kapatawarang nasasalamin sa kuwento.  Hindi mabuting panoorin dahil baka paniwalaan ng mga murang isipan.