SM City – North EDSA, Cinema 10, March 7, 2:15pm
How to deconstruct a Hollywood post-apocalyptic movie? This is the answer. It’s a father and son tale of survival set during the end of the world. The take is very calm and therapeutic giving a Zen-like experience to those who are used to suspense-packed and CGI-powered films. But don’t get me wrong. There are some edge-of-your-seat scenes but not scene-stealer enough to ruin the material. CGIs are also used to depict ruins but that’s about it. Viggo Mortensen plays the father and he delivers (just like in his movies of late). Same goes with the actor who plays the son. Charlize Theron did a support as the mother. This is probably one the best films I’ve seen that is adapted from a book that I haven’t read yet.
Friends who might appreciate it: Cormac McCarthy followers.
ALICE IN WONDERLAND
SM City – North EDSA, IMAX Theater, March 7, 6:40pm
Normally, we get the Tim Burton twist at the end of the film he adapted (except of course for “Sweeney Todd” which is purely translated on its entirety). The reimagining part for this Disney-produced film is actually the whole material. We didn’t get to see the child Alice but a 19-year old one who is facing a dilemma of being matched to a man she doesn’t love. That’s enough backstory to tell to build up what’s on Alice’s mind on her way to escape her Wonderland. Well acted and well executed, and just the right amount of eye candy CGI. This is probably the Disney-est you can get from Tim Burton and Johnny Depp and I enjoyed it nonetheless.
Friends who might appreciate it: Those who are expecting less from Tim Burton.
THE RED SHOES
Glorietta 4, Cinema 4, March 10, 8:30pm
There are locally produced indie films that could penetrate the mainstream in terms of star factor and theme and this is one of them. It’s just painful to see a half-empty movie theater for a simple fact that this is not from Star Cinema or Regal. It really matters if a film (or any project in particular) is not promoted much in giant TV networks. This Unitel project, as the print ads teased, is about a boy who steals a pair of Imelda Marcos’ shoes and gives it to the women he loves. Yes, it indeed tackles Imelda as a side dish but there’s more to this film. It’s about shoes and people. It’s about being in love and the roads you have to step on to build your character. It’s also about the Film Center and the lives it ruined, about family and about moving on to redeem what’s in store for you. It’s also about Jose Rizal and the flaw on the anecdote about throwing the other shoe to the river. Marvin Agustin is good in his quiet scenes but at times irritating in “pakilig” and high-pitched sequences. The rest of the cast are magnificent including the ever reliable Liza Lorena and Tessie Tomas, who for me, made an acting turn here as an Imelda Marcos impersonator. The film is not perfect but the imperfections are overshadowed by a clever storytelling and edgy cinematography. I have to agree that this is the first above average Pinoy movie for 2010.
Friends who might appreciate it: Imeldific friends.
BEN & SAM
Robinsons Galleria, Cinema 9, March 13, 3:00pm
Written by a fellow Titusian Archie del Mundo and directed by Mark Shandii Bacolod, the film tackles a boy-meets-boy (thus the title) story set against the backdrop of filmmaking class and college basketball. It storms the notion about the fluidity of sexuality which materializes, for this case, to Ben (Ray An Dulay), a basketball team captain. He is handicapped with a father who left them and an emotionally unstable mother (played by the great Ana Abad Santos). Sam (Jess Mendoza) happens to be his film class thesis buddy. I can say that the film is serviceable enough in terms of coming up with a simple and honest-to-goodness story. It’s just too simple to a point that I end up wanting to know the characters more. For instance, I am clueless about what’s brewing in Ben’s mind. It doesn’t mention per se that he is struggling within. And the love that he shares with Sam doesn’t seem to be rewarding at all. On the plus side, I was actually enjoying the first part involving film class discussions (specifically, the debate about Dante Mendoza’s films). Too bad that the wit is not sustained ‘til the end. This is not Mark Shandii’s best film yet but the fire of his “Fidel” is still there.
Friends who might appreciate it: Probably Ben & Jerry fans.
Glorietta 4, Cinema 6, March 13, 8:00pm
The last time Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon made a project together was for the Bourne series. It is an action packed material with an execution that is hyper realistic. Edgy and groundbreaking, the style seems to raise the bar that even the latest incarnation of the James Bond franchise follows the tradition from. “Green Zone” is no different. It has the real-life relevance of “United 93” and the grit of the Bourne trilogy. Add that up to Matt Damon’s ever reliable performance plus a statement on America’s participation to Gulf Wars, and you’ll get this film.
Friends who might appreciate it: Those who think that Paul Greengrass is a cool director.
ROMEO AT JULIET
SM Megamall, Cinema 7, March 24, 9:30pm
The plot is actually basic. As a metaphor to Shakespeare’s immortal love story, the film tells a tale of the star crossed lovers Joseph and Angel (well acted by Victor Basa and Alessandra de Rossi). Joseph is sexually repressed while Angel is into high-class flesh trade. I can say that it's above average compared to other Pinoy films, mainstream or not. Except for some double-frame sequences, I like most of it. I like its silence, its lingering shots and its pulsating colors that are reminiscent of contemporary Spanish cinema. The back stories about the parents also make up for a good point. Maybe it's telling something about kids being a byproduct of a relationship.
Friends who might appreciate it: Those who are still in search of Adolf Alix’s directorial voice.
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON
SM Mall of Asia, IMAX Theater, March 25, 7:50pm
Predictability in most made for children films is not unusual. Same thing could be said with this tale of courage, friendship and acceptance, told through the eyes of a Viking leader’s son nicknamed Hiccup. But since it’s intended for 3D cinemas, the least a viewer could expect is for it to be a truly enjoyable experience. On that aspect alone, the film delivers big time. Just notice the strand of the characters’ hair and you’ll know how well crafted the film is. But there’s more. The last few scenes, I can say, almost made me wet my 3D glasses. It hits the target and at, the same time, it summarizes what the theme is all about.
Friends who might appreciate it: Those who miss Northern Irish accent and Giant’s Causeway.