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!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Barker

DIRECTOR: Dennis Padilla  LEAD CAST: Empoy Marquez, Shy Carlos, Wilma Doesn’t, Ronnie Lazaro  PRODUCER: Vic del Rosario, Arlyn dela Cruz-Bernal  GENRE: Romance comedy/action  RUNNING TIME:  76 minutes
Technical assessment: 2
Moral assessment: 2.5
CINEMA rating: V14
MTCRB:  PG
Maganda at mabait na, mayaman pa.  Ano pa ang hahanapin ng probinsiyanong si Coco (Empoy Marquez) sa isang sinisinta, si Bella (Shy Carlos).  Nasa kanya nang lahat, kaya lang strict si papa (Ronnie Lazaro), ilalayo si Bella.  Hindi maglalaon, makikipagsapalaran sa Maynila si Coco, maghahanap ng trabaho, at para hanapin si Bella.  Pipisan muna si Coco sa pinsan niyang si Gorio, at makakakita ng trabaho bilang isang “barker”—tagatawag ng pasahero sa pilahan ng dyip.  Aatake ang budol-budol gang, mangloloob ng bahay, at sa paghahabulan ng mga pulis at mga kriminal, iiitsa at maiiwan ang isang bag na puno ng salaping ninakaw sa dyip na minamaneho ni Gorio.  Lingid sa kaalaman ng magpinsan, hahantingin ng sindikato ng mga kawatan ang dyip na iniwanan nila ng bag.  Maghahalo ang balat sa tinalupan, at dito magkakatagpong muli si Coco at si Bella.
Pagkatapos “makilala” ng CINEMA si Marquez sa Kita Kita, nasabik kaming makita kung anong putahe naman kaya ang ihahain niya sa The Barker.  Tila limang minuto pa lang kaming nanonood ay nayamot na kami, pero tiniis namin hanggang matapos, sa pag-asang baka may maganda namang sorpresang naghihintay sa bandang dulo.  Wala, wala, at wala.  Hindi madaling isa-isahin ang mga kapalpakan ng pelikula, dahil sa dami—ang sabog na kuwento, ang makupad na daloy nito, ang komedyang hindi nakakatawa, ang romansang matabang, ang sobra-sobrang halikan na walang kapararakan—pero ang “pinaka” ay ang nakakasawang pagtitig ng kamera sa mga paandar ng mukha ni Marquez.  Ito ang ugat ng kabiguan ng pelikula—ang pamumuhunan sa tagumpay ni Marquez sa Kita Kita.  Dahil pumatok sa takilya, inulit.  Parang pagtitinda ng hot pandesal—dahil naging mabili nang unang ilabas, binaha ang palengke ng hot pandesal, hanggang sa nalimutan nang ang unang benta ay pumatok dahil may masarap itong palaman—corned beef!—samantalang ang palaman nitong sumunod ay Star margarine at asukal lamang, o gatas kondensada, o latik—matamis pero nakakaumay.  Buong buo at makahulugan ang kuwento ng Kita Kita; sa The Barker, pilit, parang inimbento na lang para makagawa ng pagkakakitaang pelikula.  Kungdi sana sinobrahan ang pagpapatawa, na corny naman, baka umangat ito nang konti, at siryosohin ng manonood.  Sa halip na hamunin si Marquez na higitan ang pagganap niya sa Kita Kita, kinopya lang ito.  Minsan nga, mukhang pinulot lang sa mga retaso ng Kita Kita ang ilang eksena.  Ang mga pakyut at pakyeme ni Coco pag kaharap si Bella ay walang pinag-iba sa ginawa ni Marquez sa Kita Kita, pati na ang close up na paghigop ng mami noodles—siyang siya, iba nga lang ang babaeng kaharap.  At kailangan bang i-close up pa ang ngala-ngala, kampanilya, at tonsils ni Marquez para ipakita sa manonood na ang puhunan ng “barker” ay ang kanyang makapangyarihang bunganga?  Hay, ‘nako!

Meron isang mahalagang bagay ang dapat sana’y lumutang sa istorya ng The Barker—ang katapatan at prinsipyo ni Coco na huwag galawin at bagkus ay isauli ang natagpuang salapi sa may ari nito, pero napawalang saysay ito nang bumigay si Coco dala ng awa sa batang magbe-bertdey nang walang perang ipangpa-party.  Di ba’t pareho lang ito ng di katanggap-tanggap na ugali ng mga Pinoy (sa probinsya), na mangungutang, magsasanla ng bahay, o magbebenta ng kalabaw para lang may ihanda sa piyesta?  Gusto lang siguro ng pelikula ay masaya, hapi lahat, tutal, talo din naman ang mga bad people sa katapusan.  Pero hindi yon sapat; sa kabila ng lahat, wala pa kaming natanong na manonood na hindi nagsabing “nadaya” sila ng The Barker.  Sa habang isang oras at 16 na minuto, pwede naman itong tabasan na lang at gawing kalahating oras na komedya sa telebisyon—bakit gagasta ka pa ng mahigit 200 piso para “madaya” ka lang?  Mas sulit pang panoorin ang The Foreigner (Jackie Chan) o Bad Genius (pelikula mula sa Thailand).   

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Across the Crescent Moon

(Editor's note: "Across the Crescent Moon" won Best Global Feature Film and Best Ensemble Acting awards at the International Film Festival Manhattan (IFFM) last Oct. 18 in New York.  The following is the English version of the review in Pilipino CINEMA published in this blog last January).  DIRECTOR: Baby Nebrida  LEAD CAST: Matteo Guidicelli, Alex Godinez, Dina Bonnevie, Christopher de Leon, Sandy Andolong, Gabby Concepcion SCREENWRITER: Baby Nebrida  PRODUCER:  Baby Nebrida LINE PRODUCER:  Christina Nebrida  EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Ana Clemena, Amado Tan  GENRE: Drama, Action  MUSIC: Von de Guzman  CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Topel Lee  PRODUCTION DESIGNER:  Erwin Sanchez  PRODUCTION COMPANY:  Gold Barn Media  INTERNATIONAL  DISTRIBUTOR: Silver Line Multimedia  COUNTRY:  Philippines  LOCATIONS: Tawi Tawi, Simunul Island, Tanay, Clark, Subic, Zambales RUNNING TIME: 130 minutes
Technical assessment:  3.5
Moral assessment:  3.5
CINEMA rating:  V14
MTRCB rating: PG13
“Across the Crescent Moon,” opens with a bitter fight between mother Mita Garcia (Dina Bonnevie) and daughter Emma (Alex Godinez).  Devout Catholics, Emma’s parents are strongly against the love relationship between Emma and her boyfriend Abbas Misani (Matteo Guidicelli) but they will fail to stop the union of the two.  To their dismay, Emma and Abbas get married in Muslim rites, and stay in Mindanao.  Abbas is a soldier in the Special Action Forces (SAF) tasked to deal with the drug and human trafficking problem in Mindanao.  After their wedding the young couple reside in Mindanao with Abbas’ parents Karim (Christopher de Leon) and Sitti (Sandy Andolong) who warmly welcome the Emma to the family.  When Emma becomes pregnant, she pleads with Abbas to return to Manila until she gives birth; fortunately, Abbas is granted his request at work to be transferred to the SAF contingent in Luzon.  Missing her parents very much, Emma pays them a surprise visit.  She finds her mother home, but Mita cruelly disowns her.  In spite of Emma’s delicate condition, Mita’s heart remains hard and cold, without a whiff of mercy for the pregnant daughter.
Local film critics have contrasting reactions to “Across the Crescent Moon”.  There are those who praise it to high heavens, suggesting that the film be seen by every Filipino; others see nothing but the perceived shortcomings of the film, from camera angles to the story flow.  Some say watching the movie is a big waste of time and money; while others aver that one stands to miss much by not seeing it because “it is so special”, being a unique film that courageously tackles and portrays situations that no Filipino movie in the past had ever done.
It is easy to see why critics differ in their view of “Across the Crescent Moon”—a fact that does not augur well for the fate of the film at the box office.  Like average Filipino moviegoers, many critics merely look for entertainment, or amazement at the technical perfection of a movie, to the extent that they become oblivious to the film’s substance and its potential to open doors leading to a society’s redemption.  The theme of “Across the Crescent Moon is hardly entertaining, but what is amazing about it is that it was produced at all—a film that owes its existence to people who gambled their talents, treasure, and conviction in their desire to contribute towards peace and reconciliation in the land.
Actors de Leon, Guidicelli, Godinez and Andolong.

Interviewed by CINEMA, its director and screenwriter Baby Nebrida said her intention was to bridge the gap between Christians and Muslims by focusing on correct information and right knowledge of the situation—thus she deemed it best to highlight the goodness and benevolence of a Muslim family in this film.  With this purpose in mind, Nebrida persuaded veteran actors (Bonnevie, de Leon, Andolong) to play alongside neophytes (Guidicelli, Godinez) in this trailblazing movie.
The excellent performances the actors delivered are thus rooted not in acting techniques but in the sincere belief that participation in the film is infusing new meaning in their art. At a press conference prior to the launch of Across the Crescent Moon last January, the actors—both the seasoned ones and the newbies alike, all Christians from Luzon—admitted that in studying their respective roles, and in mingling with the Muslims while on location shooting in Mindanao, their eyes were opened to the beauty of the customs and prayer life of the Muslims.  For the actors, being in the film was not “just a job” but also a “learning moment”—their exposure to a different cultural environment enriched their lives and imbued their performance with freshness and intensity.  The result: whatever technical flaws the film had were overshadowed by the heartfelt performances of the cast.
The core of the plot is the love between two young persons coming from different backgrounds, and its message is the hope of a people’s healing springing from the understanding that love brings.   The role of Bonnevie—Mita, the narrow-minded mother who is complacent in her comfort zone, and has good intentions but lacks genuine understanding of her daughter or her fellow Filipinos—serves as the heart of the movie, for she reflects the transformation that Filipinos need to go through to liberate the predominantly Catholic nation from prejudice against their long neglected Muslim brothers. 

CINEMA won’t wonder if “Across the Crescent Moon” does not become a box office hit in the country, because as surveys made by the film industry itself reveal, the average Filipino goes to the movies to laugh, to get tickled or terrified, to be entertained and wowed by fantastic CGI (computer generated images)—never to meditate upon the future of their country.  The film may not rake in millions at the tills, but as CINEMA views it, a deep regard for its message can heal millions of wounded hearts in the country.  Showing and discussing the film in schools and parishes, particularly in key cities, may help broaden the horizons of the young who are in danger of being engulfed in mediocrity prevalent in the entertainment media, the internet, and society as a whole. 
Director Baby Nebrida (in white) and crew receive the trophies at the IFFM.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Seven Sundays

DIRECTOR: CATHY GARCIA-MOLINA; LEAD CAST: RONALDO VALDEZ, AGA MULACH. DINGDONG DANTES, CRISTINE REYES, ENRIQUE GIL; SCREENWRITER:  VANESSA VALDEZ, ROUMELLA MONGE, KIKO ABRILLO, JORELL GONZAGA; PRODUCER:  CHARO SANTOS-CONCIO, MALOU CONCIO; EDITOR:  MARYO IGNACIO; GENRE: FAMILY DRAMA DISTRIBUTOR:  STAR CINEMA   LOCATION:  PHILIPPINES  RUNNING TIME:   128 MINUTES 
Technical assessment: 4 
Moral assessment: 4 
CINEMA rating: VA
Kaarawan ni Manuel Bonifacio (Veldez) at inaasahan niya ang pagdating ng kanyang apat na anak upang makipagdiwang.  Kaya nga lamang kailangang isugod sa ospital ang asawa ng panganay na si Alex (Muhlach), habang nasa Singapore naman si Bryan (Dantes); ang pangatlong si Cha (Reyes) ay may importanteng kliyente, at hindi naman mahagilap ang bunsong si Dexter (Gil). Tanging ang kaibigang doktor lamang anv makakahabol. Kaya nga lamang ay may dalang malungkot na balita—may cancer si Manuel at dalawang buwan na lamang ang taning. Dahil dito ay mapipilitan ang apat na saluhan at pasayahin ang ama sa huling pitong Linggo ng kanyang buhay. Ang kaso nga lamang ay bukod sa may kani-kanyang personal na pinagdaraanan ang apat, ay mga kimkim na sama ng loob pa sila sa isa’t isa.  Ang tanong, magkakasundo ba ang magkakapatid bago matapos ang pitong Linggo? 
Sa ngayon ay alam na nang nakararami ang sagot dahil unang araw pa lamang ng Seven Sundays ay pinag-usapan at pinilahan na ito. Bakit nga hindi e bukod sa powerhouse casting, tema ng pamilya na malapit sa loob ng Pinoy ito at may halong drama at komedya pa na kinagigiliwan ng mga manunuod. Pero sa totoo lang—hindi ang pormula ang naging dahilan ng tagumpay ng pelikula. Unang una, ang matalinong pagkakapili sa mga nagsiganap dahil ang pagka-angkop ay hindi lamang pisikal kundi sa kanilang ugnayan sa mga eksena. Walang naging pabigat, kalabisan o nang-aagaw pansin. Lahat ay may tamang kinalagyan. At hindi lamang ito usapan ng husay sa pagganap kundi kakayahan na bigyan ng balangkas ang emosyonal at pagganyak ng mga kaeksena. Sa madaling salita—naging natural ang dating at nakakaugnay ang mga nanunuod dito. Ikalawa: ang mismong kwento. Hindi naman ito bago o katangi-tangi. Marami nang nagdaang pelikula na ganito rin ang tema (mula Tanging Yaman hanggang Four Sisters and a Wedding) pero ang balanseng timpla ng drama at katatawanan ay madaling sabayan. Madudurog ang puso sa hinagpis na pinagdaraanan ng mga tauhan, sasakit ang tiyan sa kalokohan ng mga eksena, mangingiti sa kulitan ng magkakapatid at sa likod nito, matatalupan ang buod ng hinanakit, kasaysayan at pagmamahalan sa loob ng pamilya. Ang kwento ay simple pero isang paglalakbay sa buhay. Dapat rin bigyan nang puna ang mabusising disenyo ng produksyon dahil mahigpit ang pagkakahabi nito sa mga mensahe ng eksena. Sa kabuuan, ang tagumpay ng Seven Sundays ay ang tamang paggamit sa mga elemento ng produksyon na tumulong upang maisulong ang kwento at mangibabaw ang mensahe. 
Sabi nilaang pagiging magkapatid ay nangangahulugan ng pagpapatawaran, pagbibigayan at pagmamahalan lagi. Madaling sabihin, mahirap gawin. Dahil kadalasan, kung sino pa ang kapatid ay siyang mas pinagseselosan, pinagkikimkiman ng sama nang loob, pinagdaramutan ng pasensya, kinakalimutan,isinasantabi. Siguroiniisip na porke’t kapatid e hindi na kailangang maging maingat sa pakikitungo, “tutal kadugo”.  At dahil sa katwirang ito, madalas nasisira ang samahanNagkakanta-kanya hanggang tuluyan nang mawalan nang pakialam sa isat isa. Pero sa huli, ang makakahilom ayang pagkakabuklodhindi lamang dahil kadugo kundi dahil iyon ang mismong kalikasan ng pagiging tao… pagiging kapwapagiging kapatidAng kwento ng mga Bonifacio ay kwento ng bawat pamilya--nagkakatampuhannagkakainggitan, may napapabayaan… may nasasaktanPero sa huli, nagkakapatawaranNagmamahalan. Ang kwento ay angkop sa lahat ng gulang—lalo para sa mga bata dahil makikita nila ang halaga ng pagiging buo at kahulugan ng pagiging kapatid. 


Thursday, October 19, 2017

Geostorm

DIRECTOR:  Dean Devlin  LEAD CAST:  Gerard Butler, Jim Sturgess, Abbie Cornish, Ed Harris, Andy Garcia  SCREENWRITER:  Dean Devlin, Paul Guyot  PRODUCERS:  David Ellison, Dean Devlin, Dana Goldberg  EDITOR:  Ron Rosen, Chris Lebenzon, John Refoua  MUSICAL DIRECTOR:  Lorne Balfe, Steffen Thum  GENRE:  Science Fiction, Fantasy  CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Roberto Schaefer  DISTRIBUTOR:  Warner Bros. Pictures  LOCATION:  New Orleans, Dubai, Hongkong  RUNNING TIME:  109 minutes
Technical assessment: 2.5
Moral assessment: 3
CINEMA rating: V13
US space scientist Jake Lawson (Gerald Butler) leads an international crew that builds Dutch Boy, a space station that controls satellites designed to counteract the effects of climate change. But Jake antagonizes the political bureaucracy and loses his post. His brother Max (Jim Sturgess) in the State Department is put in charge of Dutch Boy, causing a rift between the brothers. Dutch Boy malfunctions and causes extreme weather events in various countries two weeks before US President Palma (Andy Garcia) is to turn over Dutch Boy to an international team. Max’s boss Dekkom (Ed Harris) orders Max to bring in Jake to fix the problem. A series of accidents convinces Max and Jake that a key government official is causing Dutch Boy to fail. Max seeks the help of his girlfriend Sarah (Abbie Cornish) of the Secret Service to find who the culprit is.
Geostorm has the perfect material to build a monumental doomsday film comparable to director Devlin’s Independence Day, his previous work of the same genre. The love and allegiance between brothers complicated by rivalry unravels in a backdrop of political ambition and the overriding call for international cooperation to mitigate the impact of global warming. But the film disappoints. The characters are off. Max is anything but a disciplined State Department insider as he gets agitated at the slightest provocation. Jake’s teenage daughter seems to have skipped adolescence and throws lines and actuations typical of an adult. And most confusing of all is Sarah who values her Secret Service duty so much yet readily agrees to give away classified information.  Humor and drama, banter and romance are introduced with such bad timing. Dutch Boy lacks the sophistication of a futuristic space station. Weather events that turn people to ice are executed so gawkily they look absurd.
Like any doomsday movie, expect action, destruction and violence—all within the context of the story. Never mind that once again, America emerges as savior. The key messages underpinning the messianic plot are more important: that of love of country, and the use of technology to contain the destruction caused by man on the very same planet where he lives. The film, too, is replete with family values. There’s a good angle about the effect of adult behavior (in this case, brothers Jake and Max) on the emotional state of a child (Jake’s daughter). However, overall, despite positive values, the film fails to communicate its messages well because of poor technical execution. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Blade Runner 2049

DIRECTOR: Denis Villeneuve  CAST: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Robin Wright, Mackenzie Davis, Carla Juri, Lennie James, Dave Bautista, Jared Leto  SCREENPLAY: Hampton Fancher, Michael Green  STORY BY: Hampton Fancher  BASED ON: Characters from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick  PRODUCERS: Hans Zimmer, Benjamin Wallfisch   GENRE: Science Fiction, Drama, Action  EDITED BY: Joe Walker  CINEMATOGRAPHY: Roger Deakins  PRODUCTION COMPANY: Alcon Entertainment, Columbia Pictures, Scott Free Productions,Torridon Films, 16:14 Entertainment, Thunderbird Entertainment Inc.  DISTRIBUTED BY: Warner Bros. Pictures  COUNTRY: United States  LANGUAGE: English  RUNNING TIME: 2 hours 43 minutes
Technical assessment:  3.5
Moral assessment:  2.5
CINEMA rating:  V18
Thirty years after Blade Runner, we are shown the future by Blade Runner 2049, a dystopian Earth where cars can fly and humans and androids co-exist.  In this world Officer K (Ryan Gosling), a new blade runner of post-apocalyptic Los Angeles Police Department, is tasked with hunting down the remaining replicants—synthetic humans who had staged a rebellion before in much the same way slaves would.  His job is to put the rebellious replicants out of commission and retrieve their eyeballs which bear identity—their serial numbers.  On the job, Office K gets to meet blade-runner-in-hiding Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), the hero of Bladed Runnerwho has settled in his comfortable lair where he enjoys holograms of Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra plus all the booze to last him three lifetimes.  Officer K will soon discover a secret that will break his heart.
Blade Runner 2049 succeeds in portraying a gloomy future for humanity through stunning visuals enhancing the murder-mystery plot.  For one, the thick yellow fog shrouding Los Angeles circa 2049 seems to forebode death-by-pollution for homo sapiens 30 years or so from now.  Holding the attention and interest of the viewer is the question of who in the movie is a replicant and who is not, since one can hardly tell between a real human being and a man-made android that looks and acts like a real person.   For example, the viewer is deceived by appearances until he sees beyond doubt that Officer K’s companion, Joi (Ana de Armas) is but a holograph he had purchased as he would a computer app.  The “cyber puzzle” is a cinematic device cleverly woven into a story that’s meant to eventually lead the viewer to mull the moral or ethical consequences of such technological advances.

Blade Runner 2049 asks us to examine how mankind regards technology, and how we who have a soul relate spiritually with one another.  The provocative plot begins with the discovery of the boxed remains of a female replicant who it turned out—upon examination of her “bones”— had given birth.  Here lies the crux of the matter: if replicants (which are a collection of artificial intelligence) can reproduce, are human emotions like love and desire involved?  If these entities can multiply as humans do, it is not impossible that they can also decide their population growth, even their destinies.  If they decide to reproduce while humans continue to prevent conception and abort fetuses to cut down their population growth, would a probable interspecies war decimate humankind?  Of course, these are mere hypotheses budding out from interesting fiction.  What merits a closer look in Blade Runner 2049 is the film’s treatment of women, which implies that despite all the advances in science, women will hardly move up from being the sex objects that they may be now—at least in the eyes of those who produced this movie.  Imagine, 2049 Los Angeles, flying cars and all—its boulevards illuminated by gigantic advertisements of seductive or nearly nude women, in 3D to boot!  Gentlemen, what’s the point?

Thursday, October 12, 2017

New Generation Heroes

DIRECTOR:  Anthony Hernandez  LEAD CAST:  Aiko Melendez, Anita Linda, Jao Mapa & Joyce Peña   PRODUCER: Rea Flores  EDITOR: Mark Jazon Sucgang  MUSICAL DIRECTOR: Alfredo Ongleo  GENRE: Drama  CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Arvin Viola  DISTRIBUTOR: Golden Tiger Films  LOCATION: Philippines  RUNNING TIME: 112 minutes
Technical assessment: 2
Moral assessment: 4
CINEMA rating: PG13
MTRCB rating: GP
Ito’y tatlong kuwento ng mga bayani ng bagong henerasyon.   Una, si Gener (Jao Mapa), isang may-ari ng junkshop na nangangalap ng mga lumang aklat para turuan ang mga batang walang kakayanang pumasok sa paaralan sa kanilang lugar bunga ng kahirapan at maagang pagsabak sa paghahanapbuhay.  Pangalawa, si Lolita (Joyce Penas), isang gurong balo na gagawin ang lahat para maitaguyod ang dalawang anak kung saan ang isa rito ay may cerebral palsy. Pinagsasabay ni Lolita ang pagtuturo at pagtitinda ng kung anu-anong bagay at pagkain sa kanyang mga kapwa guro. Pangatlo naman si Cora (Aiko Melendez) na isang OFW sa Korea at nagtuturo ng English sa mga Koreano. Lingid sa kanyang kaalaman, napapariwara na ang kanyang panganay na anak na lalaki pati na rin ang kanyang asawa.
Malaki ang problema ng New Generation Heroes kung paglalalahad ng interesanteng kuwento ang pag-uusapan. Nariyan ang laylay na editing na lubos na nakababad sa mga eksenang walang katuturan sa kuwento. Kulang na kulang sa sukat ang mga eksena na karamihan ay mahahaba at walang tamang hagod. Hindi rin agad makita kung ano ang dapat sundan sa kuwento—walang problemang dapat pag-tuunan ng pansin, walang malinaw na layunin ang mga bida, at wala ring matatawag na totoong kuwento ang pelikula.  Malabis ang pagkukulang ng direktor at manunulat sa aspetong “kuwento”. Ang mga karakter na binuo ay hindi gaanong hinubog at pinagtuunan ng pansin. Sa pagdudumali ng pelikula sa pagsusubo ng nais nitong iparating na mensahe, nalimutan nitong alalahanin kung magkakaroon ba ng pakialam ang manonood o kung may manonood ba hanggang dulo.  Malinis ang kuha ng kamera at maayos ang tunog ngunit ang musika ay tila naging malabis sa pagdidikta ng emosyon sa manonood sa halip na pang-tulong lamang sa pagpapalawig ng tamang timpla ng mga eksena.  Maging ang mga nagsiganap ay tila asiwa sa kanilang mga linya at eksena. Marahil mas nakabuti pa kung naging dokumentaryo ang naging estilo ng pelikula upang naging mas makatotohanan. Sa kabuuan ay isang malaking kasayangan ang pelikula lalo pa’t marami sana itong makabuluhang isyu at tema na nais talakayin.  

Pagdating sa mensahe, kita naman na busilak ang pelikula sa paglalahad ng kabutihan ng mga guro—m ang kanilang  mga sakrispisyo—maitawid lamang ang isang klase at makapag-hubog ng mga kabataan. Isa sa madalas makalimutan ng mga guro ay kanilang mga sarili—hindi na sila nakakapag-asawa sa sobrang pagka-abala sa mga estudyante. Nariyan din ang pagsakripisyo ng sariling pamilya tulad ni Cora. Si Gener naman, sadyang kinalimutan na ang sariling ambisyon alang-alang sa mga batang lansangan. Si Lolita nama’y nanatiling malakas at matatag sa gitna ng kanyang mga pagsubok dahil sa mga anak. Nariyan din ang pagpapatawad at pagtanggap sa bawat ka-pamilya anuman ang mga naging kasalanan at kahinaan ng mga ito. Kahanga-hanga ang pelikula sa katapangan nitong magpakita naman ng kabutihan at lahat ng mabubuti sa gitna ng maraming kasamaan na nangyayari sa lipunan. Dalisay ang layunin ng pelikula, walang duda, lalo na kung patungkol sa kahalagahan ng edukasyon at pamilya ang pag-uusapan. kung kaya’t minamarapat ng CINEMA na gawaran ito ng PG 13 rating—kinakailangan lang gabayan ng magulang ang mga bata dahil sa ilang isyung pinag-usapan tulad ng droga, krimen. at maging sekswalidad.  

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Last Night

Direction: Joyce Bernal; Lead Cast: Piolo Pascual, Toni Gonzaga;  Story/Screenplay; Bella Padilla;  Editing: Marya Ignacio; Cinematography: Boy Yñiguez; Producer: Neil Arce; Location: Manila; Genre: Romantic Comedy; Distributor: Star Cinema
Technical assessment: 2.5
Moral assessment: 3
CINEMA rating: V14
Wala nang makitang dahilan si Mark (Pascual) para mabuhay. Napalayas siya sa kanyang bahay, hiniwalayan ng asawa, idinemenda ng mga kaibigan dahil sa perang nadispalko ng kanyang nanay na ngayon ay hindi na niya mahanap. Nang tatalon na sana si Mark sa Jones Bridge ay siya namang sisigaw at hihingi ng tulong si Carmina (Gonzaga) mula sa pagkakasabit sa gilid ng tulay. Ililigtas siya ni Mark at sandaling maantala ang pagpapakamatay ng dalawa. Magkakasundo sila na sabay magpapakamatay na mauuwi pagkahulog nila sa isa’t isa. Kaya lamang, nang magdesisyon na si Mark na huwag nang ituloy ang pagpapakamatay upang mabuo ang relasyon nila ay mawawala naman si Carmina. Sa gitna nang paghahanap, matutuklasan ni Mark ang katauhan ni Carmina na maaring tuluyang dumurog sa kanyang pagkatao.
Sa simula ay simpleng “romcom” ang takbo ng naratibo sa nakasanayang magaslaw na komedya ni Gonzaga at mapagnilay na atake ni Pascual. Pormula. Mabenta. Nahuhulaan na ang wakas. Tama? Mali—dahil sa isang iglap, biglang-biglang babalikwas ang salaysayin. Ramdam na ramdam namin ang pagtahimik ng mga kinikilig na manunuod sa sinehan nang magkahugis ang  kwento sa likod ng katauhan ni Carmina. Masasabi namang malinis ang pagkakagawa at mahigpit ang pagkakahabi. Dahil sa loob ng ilang minutong si Gonzaga at Pascual lamang ang sinusundan ay hindi naman naging kabagot-bagot ang panunuod. Kung minsan nga lamang ay nakakasuya ang kagaslawan ni Gonzaga dahil medyo hindi na kapani-paniwala. May kaguluhan din ang punto de bistang pinili ni Bernal. Sa isang banda, mas tama sanang kay Mark lamang ito dahil siya lamang dapat ang nakakikita kay Carmina. Pero sa kagustuhang ibenta ang pelikula bilang romcom ay ginawang punto de bista ng manunuod na hindi na naging lohikal nang mabuo ang istorya. Ang pinakamalaking problema ng pelikula ay ang kawalan ng kakayahang tuldukan ang mga pangyayari. Kuha na, pinipilit pa. Naging kalabisan ang mga huling eksena matapos malinawan ang pakay ng Carmina. Sa halip na mahulog ang loob mo at madama ang sakit ng paghihiwalay ay gustong-gusto mo nang matapos ang iyakan nilang dalawa. Nauwi rin sa pormula. Sayang, naging mababaw tuloy ang kabuuan nito.
Ang pagkitil sa buhay ay hindi katanggap-tanggap na alternatibo. Una, napakahina ng pagkatao mo na hindi mo kayang lagpasan ang kasalukuyang dagok o sakit upang makita ang pag-asa ng bukas. Ikalawa, napakamakasarili mo dahil nalulugmok ka lamang sa sariling sakit nang walang pagtimbang sa masasaktan mo. Ikatlo, napakahina ng pananampalataya mo dahil nakalimutan mong hindi ka naman binibitawan ng Diyos.

Sa simula ay tila ginawang katatawanan ang pagkitil sa buhay pero kung susuriin, sinagot ng pelikula ang tatlong isyung nabanggit. Ipinakita na kung papaanong ang kakayahang tanawin ang sinag ng pag-asa sa hinaharap ay magbibigay liwanag kahit gaano man kadilim ang pinagdaraanan. Nang sa bingit ng pagpapakamatay ay tulungan ni Mark ang matandang hinimatay, gumaan ang kanyang kalooban at nakita ang halaga ng sarili.  Nang pinili ni Mark na patawarin ang sarili, nakapaglingkod muli siya sa mga bata at nagkaroon ng determinasyong hanapin ang ina. Ipinakita rin ni Carmina ang hapding idinudulot ng mga luha ng mga naulila ng mga nagpatiwakal. Ang pagpigil (ni Carmina) sa mga nais magpakamatay bilang pagtubos sa sarili ay pagkilala sa kamalian niya. Kapwa rin nila sinabi na para magkita sila sa langit ay kailangang pagsumikapang magkaroon ng mabuting buhay. Maraming aral ang pwedeng mapulot mula sa kwento, kaya nga lamang ay pinilit itong ihain bilang isang ordinaryong kwento ng pag-ibig.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

DIRECTOR:  Matthew Vaughn   LEAD CAST:  Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Julianne Moore, Mark Strong, Halle Berry, Jeff Bridges, Pedro Pascal  SCREENWRITER:  Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn  PRODUCER:  Adam Bohling, David Reid, Matthew Vaughn  EDITOR:  Eddie Hamilton  MUSICAL DIRECTOR:  Henry Jackman, Matthew Margeson  GENRE:  Action-Adventure, Comedy  CINEMATOGRAPHER:  George Richmond  DISTRIBUTOR:  Warners Bros.  LOCATION:  England, Wales, Italy  RUNNING TIME:  141 minutes
Technical assessment: 4
Moral assessment: 2.5
CINEMA rating: V18
MTRCB rating:  R13
Kingsman, a British secret intelligence service, is wiped out—its headquarters blown up and its agents killed, save for two.  Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and Merlin (Mark Strong) find a clue from the rubbles that leads them to their counterpart US spy organization called Statesman. Kingsman and Statesman track The Golden Circle, the group that sought to destroy Kingsman.  Headed by drug lord Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore), the group puts toxins in recreational drugs, threatening to kill millions.  Poppy offers to release an antidote if the US stops its war on drugs.  Meanwhile, agent Harry Hart (Colin Firth) survives the gunshot in the first Kingsman movie (The Secret Service), but suffers from amnesia.  He regains his memory and joins Eggsy in the mission.
Kingsman animates the screen with a powerful cast. Firth’s Harry, despite the eye patch, makes a dramatic switch from a mousy scholar to the resolute agent that he really is. Moore’s Poppy and her quirks are so over-the-top funny and ridiculous.  Strong’s Merlin breaks our heart when he gives up his life for the mission while singing Take Me Home, Country Roads.  Egerton’s Eggsy is perfect as an ever-so-grateful agent looking to Harry for affirmation.  Bruce Greenwood as the US President is a parody of the real life leader, and he does it so well. Kingsman floods us with meticulously choreographed fight scenes in a dainty 1950s diner, with graceful executions of punches and kicks, guns, explosions, and CGI, made more exciting with riveting music and sound effects. Death, goofiness, violence, and drama are weaved so well into the story that we find ourselves relishing them in equal measure.
Therein lies the danger in Kingsman.  For young audiences especially.  It makes the wrong delightful, fun and guilt-free.  With drugs as driver of conflict in the story, Kingsman can add noise to the real life division caused by the Philippines’ war on drugs and its associated extra-judicial killings.  Kingsman has all the elements of extreme and excessive violence strapped into its storyline: guns, explosions, drugs, alcohol, punching, cuss words, even a macabre meat-grinding of live, fully-clad humans to turn them into burger patties. Women are portrayed at their worst: whimsical, capricious, with one so gullible and vulnerable she doesn’t even notice a tracking device has been inserted into her private parts. And so, although the heroes win over the villains in the end, Kingsman is an egregious route to impart its lessons (yes, we didn’t miss them): drug abuse is dangerous; relationships matter; loyalty, friendship, brotherhood, and sacrifice for the common good.