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Friday, February 25, 2011

Philography File # 016: Mishka Adams

Accomplished during one of the Cultural Nights at Greenbelt 3 park for a jazz international event. She was launching her latest album "Stranger on the Shore" which is a collection of covers (addicted to her take on Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now").

Philography File # 015: John Sayles

John Sayles is an Oscar nominated director who did films like "Piranha" and "Lone Star". I got the autograph before the screening of his latest Fil-Am war film "Amigo" last February 16 at U-View (Fully Booked, Bonifacio High Street).

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Movie Digest # 078

Glorietta 4, Cinema 6, January 28, 8:05pm

Do you know those rom-coms where the leading man, after hitting an epiphany minutes before the ending, rushes to his lady love, begs for a second chance and promises eternity? I’m tired of those and this one’s no exception. Sure it has Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway (reunited from “Brokeback Mountain”), and both are really good, but that’s about it.

Friends who might appreciate it: Anne-nonimous.

Glorietta 4, Cinema 4, January 28, 10:15pm

Most of my days spent when I was working in Singapore required me to appreciate Canto-Pop even from as far as Hongkong. Enter Andy Lau who is considered as one of the “Heavenly Kings” and who did wonderful films like “Infernal Affairs” and “Full Time Killers”. He’s in this period movie. He plays a cruel officer who transforms into a humble warrior after a tragic overtaking of power, a role that would require him to showcase his innate dramatic dreamcoat and a bit of an action figure. There’s also Jacky Chan who provides support to the project and a whole lot of martial arts spectacle. This is something that we don’t expect in art houses but sure the fight scenes are modestly enjoyable.

Friends who might appreciate it: I don’t know. How about those who miss Cynthia Luster?

Robinsons Galleria, Cinema 8, January 30, 4:15pm

I’ve heard Noriel Jarito’s name before but I haven’t seen any of his short films yet (DVD compilations are being sold at the CCP shop). They are mostly about the plight of migrant workers and this feature length is no different. It’s about an OFW from the Middle East who comes home only to find out that his girl is having an affair with another man. “Rindido” is the state of mind the protagonist has to go through to deal with his adversary. I’m no scriptwriter but I think the film requires a clearer storytelling. For instance, an alternate ending confuses its simple premise and some technical aspects that need extra polishing didn’t help. Best part: the love scene.

Friends who might appreciate it: Definitely not for those who just came home from Egypt.

Glorietta 4, Cinema 6, February 2, 7:50pm

I asked a high school friend to join me in watching this movie hinting that I will be disappointed if I watch it alone. True enough (and to my delight), my friend was a voluntary victim of the scare tactics that the film has to offer but also made it a point to laugh when needed (I think I chuckled in two or three scenes). On the minus side, I find the director a bit lazy on this one compared to his other works like “Feng Shui” and “Sukob”. The CGI is bad, the atmosphere is not balanced and probably the lead character being a male is not as flattering (though Vhong Navarro is a great actor, no doubt). I can say that since the movie made well in the box office, and that the crowd I was in when I saw it gladly reacted to the film, then the mission is accomplished.

Friends who might appreciate it: Those who wish to see Chito Roño’s take on comedy.

Greenbelt 3, Cinema 1, February 10, 8:50pm

Can we conclude that most, if not all, Danny Boyle’s films deal with survival? The poor kid in “Slumdog Millionaire”, the drug junkie in “Trainspotting”, the humans versus zombies in “28 Days Later”, the backpacker in “The Beach”, the astronauts in “Sunshine” and the little boy in “Millions”. This time around, the director opts to lie low with simple film production about a backpacker who gets stuck in a crack when a rock hits his right arm (pretty much the whole ordeal is a summary of “The Beach”). What I like about the film, aside from James Franco’s Oscar worthy performance, is how the whole 127 hours of torment become interesting visually. Thanks to Boyle’s style and the honesty of the real life account from which the project is adapted. Self reflective and engaging (the last 15 minutes made me cringe), this film ups my perspective in life and the people around me.

Friends who might appreciate it: My once-in-a-blue-moon trek buddies.

Greenbelt 3, Cinema 2, February 10, 10:45pm

For the retelling of Rapunzel, yes. For the old-school Disney musical, yes. For the visuals (especially the one involving a gazillion lanterns), yes. It’s three yeses!

Friends who might appreciate it: Ricky Reyes. But wait, we’re not friends. Yet.

Robinsons Galleria, Cinema 7, February 17, 9:30pm

We’ve seen two Ray Gibraltar movies before and both are well received. His second outing, “Wanted: Border”, for instance, is my best Pinoy film for 2009. So I went to the cinema with high hopes (just like those who first saw the movie during Cinemanila last year). And not only that, screenwriter Archie del Mundo happens to be a co-Titusian. “Brod” is about the travails of Terence (Kenjie Garcia), a gay student, in going through the pitfalls of being a fraternity member. The initiation is interspersed with the path that he has to elbow when he meets Tad (Ardie Bascara), his fraternity lord. The two fell in love and together they face the final hazing. Direction is there. It’s just that I am not sure what the hell the film is for. Is it to raise money? Is it a platform for the director to prove that he can do a generic film? As for the story, I think it’s another anti-thesis to male sexuality, a notion (could be cheap to some) that everybody is prone to a sudden “gust of wind”. Archie did this with his “Ben & Sam” wherein a basketball star player is found to be gay. This time around, it’s somebody from the fraternity. Next, I’m guessing, is a taxi driver.

Friends who might appreciate it: Mr. Pete. Sorry, lack of sleep.

Glorietta 4, Cinema 7, February 23, 7:55pm

Of course we are all watching this primarily because of the Coens (and that proposition is still golden with this one). This remake of a 1969 cowboy flick tells the long journey of 14-year old Mattie Ross (convincingly played by Hailee Steinfeld) as she demands justice for the death of his father. Together with U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges is Jeff Bridges) and LaBoeuf (Matt Damon who’s always good with the projects he chose), they take the road to retribution. I haven’t seen all the films of the Coen brothers but I find this one more mainstream audience-friendly than the others. It’s not in a hurry as Hollywood action movies do and has provided much attention to let the flawed characters simmer. It has the mood of John Wayne movies, the vast arid land (which has snow at some point, probably to correct something), horses and those duel scenes. Watch it, watch it!

Friends who might appreciate it: Those who miss the good old Western movies.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Movie Digest # 077

Punta Carretas Shopping, Grupo Cine – Sala 3, November 6, 6:20pm

Same experience when I saw the first movie: a horror train ride. This time around, they incorporated both the prequel and the sequel into one, with the help of a funding from a bigger studio.

Friends who might appreciate it: Male friends who can potentially scream.

Punta Carretas Shopping, Movie Center – Sala A, November 18, 7:45pm

Annette Bening and Julianne Moore lead the cast of this tale about a rainbow family who is shaken by the presence of the two kids’ father from artificial insemination (Mark Ruffalo). At first glance, the movie boasts of acting highlights from the lead. Oftentimes evident of a made-for-TV feel, I can say that it has a good story to tell at the very least. It just so happens that I feel like the film doesn’t make a giant leap from its initial offering (about two lesbian parents). Miss Bening deserves her Oscar nomination for this movie but it is Miss Moore’s presence that made a more affecting impact on me.

Friends who might appreciate it: Those who wish to see Annette Bening do a Hilary Swank role.

Punta Carretas Shopping, Movie Center – Sala B, November 20, 4:00pm

What stands out of this latest franchise is that it has more time to inhale and exhale. It’s not in a hurry. For instance, the last part where the characters are into seclusion, a big chunk of running time is allotted for it. Thanks to the idea of splitting the last book into two movies (which they haven’t done before). I’m not a fan of Daniel Radcliffe and I still find it difficult ‘til now to see him do a scene that requires emotional heights. The film, of course, has other things under its belt: reliable supporting cast, CGI that is getting more and more polished and apparently J.K. Rowling’s participation in the production as a consultant.

Friends who might appreciate it: Easy. Fans of the book.

Punta Carretas Shopping, Cines Hoyts – Sala 1, December 5, 8:30pm

Director Rodrigo Cortes’ challenge there is to create a story out of the claustrophobic box that serves as a coffin for Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds). Send in all the camera angles and you’ll have all the options for a serviceable storytelling. A bit mind-numbing to some but I enjoyed the tricks. Feels like a film school workshop has been thrown in and the student filmmaker got a good grade.

Friends who might appreciate it: Those who paid for half the price in a small cinema somewhere in Montevideo.

SM Mall of Asia, IMAX Theater, January 15, 4:45pm

I was warned that the first Tron is a requirement. At some point, yes, but I think the sequel can stand on its own. There’s nothing much to root for story-wise though. It feels like the whole movie is just an episode of a bigger one. CGI is above average and should be the primary reason why the film has to be experienced in IMAX.

Friends who might appreciate it: Jeff Bridges fans. The movie has two of him.

Greenbelt 3, Cinema 2, January 16, 8:50pm

The first few sequences of the movie are very much reminiscent of Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s critically-acclaimed German film “The Lives of Others”. Not that I was expecting it to be brilliant, not to mention that it is shot in Venice, but I ended up asking for more. I am not sure, too, if I like the twist (even if it’s delivered by the ever reliable Johnny Depp).

Friends who might appreciate it: Lovers of the most romantic city in the world.

SM Megamall, Cinema 7, January 19, 9:00pm

“Presa” is Adolf Alix’ take on the lives of Filipino women prisoners. Mostly off-angled to present the dullness within, the movie deals with the country’s top actresses to deliver the tales of longing, cleansing and retribution. There’s Anita Linda, Rosanna Roces, Jody Sta. Maria, Tetchie Agbayani, Lisa Lorena, Angeli Bayani, Ina Feleo and more who all made one hell of an ensemble performance. I just don’t like the idea that everybody has to share their piece, echoing the “Cell Block Tango” from the musical “Chicago”, given the limited timeframe. Some scenes are stand-out like the trip to the pool and Anita Linda’s moment with her weeping shadow (this one got me).

Friends who might appreciate it: Those who think that the film deserves the very first Best Indie Film award on the recently concluded MMFF.

Glorietta 4, Cinema 5, January 21, 10:30pm

I am not sure if I have seen a Clint Eastwood film before where the storytelling involves different geography. On top of that, there’s the CGI (which is enjoyable in the first few minutes of the movie) and there’s paranormal activity. I think it’s the mix of these new stuffs that stirs the film from its potential goodness. Nevertheless, the story is conveyed through and that silver lining about the characters’ new lease on life is very much appreciated.

Friends who might appreciate it: “X-Files” spectators.

Newport Cinema, Cinema 3, January 22, 7:50pm

Just like “The Tourist”, the film also suffers from the demands of a major Hollywood studio. Very basic in terms of blockbuster mold and I am not sure if Michel Gondry intended it that way. I was looking for a different touch, something that would stand out in most of his films and music videos, but I ended up with only two distinctly Gondry montages.

Friends who might appreciate it: Atenistas and La Sallistas alike.

Philography File # 014: JM de Guzman

I already had JM's autograph during Cinemalaya 2010 in time for the screening of the ensemble film "Rekrut" then saw him again during the gap for the staging of Dulaang UP's "Orosman at Zafira". He is now becoming one of the fast-rising young actors for 2011. He just wrapped up two drama shows on TV and is now ready to reprise the role of Gabriel (originally by Rico Yan) in the remake of "Mula sa Puso". Beyond all the details, I decided to create a separate Philography File entry for him because of the dedication. He is the first celebrity who addressed me as "tagailogspecial".

CCP's Pasinaya 2011

Every year, the Cultural Center of the Philippines opens its doors to the public through an event that consists of 100+ teasers and programs. Headlined by the center's resident groups like Tanghalang Pilipino and Ballet Theater Philippines, it is also participated by cultural groups from different schools. By the promise of it, it's very jampacked. I, for instance, missed two of the shows that I really wanted to see (excerpts from "Zsazsa Zaturnnah, Ze Muzical" and "Beatles in Baroque") because the house was already full. It was frustrating. The priority pass that costs P100 (which is a baller band and that is cool)doesn't work as an assurance for a seat. Aside from the dance numbers that popped from almost everywhere, I was delighted to see Ballet Philippines' "Hero's Journey" and the Phillipine Madrigal Singers' "All For Love" (which is in preparation for their concert of the same title for the February 12 and 13 weekend also in CCP).

More details about the event can be found in CCP website. And more pictures here.

SIDE TRIP: At around 3pm, I hurried to Robinsons Galleria to meet the group who would visit the shoot of the short film "Mate" (done by some students from Letran). The location is in Lakeside Park in Angono, Rizal, which I think prettier if we reached it before dusk. Some attempts at night shots here.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

SOFIA, Boots, Amalia

Last Saturday (February 5), I had the chance to be seated right behind two of my mom’s all-time favorite actresses. Miss Boots Anson-Roa (who probably had a vote from my mom when the great actress ran for senatorship) was in the first row, closer to the aisle than Miss Amalia Fuentes (mom calls her the epitome of beauty). The Society of Filipino Archivists for Film (or simply SOFIA) held their screening of Elwood Perez’ bold film “Isang Gabi, Tatlong Babae” (a 90’s movie also has the same title with three different stories starring Cristina Gonzales, Tetchie Agbayani and Ruffa Gutierrez). Too bad Pilar Pilapil didn’t make it but it was jam-packed nevertheless. Those who were standing and occupying the space in the middle had to leave Tanghalang Manuel Conde and settle for a simultaneous screening on a plasma TV just outside the theater. Since it was crowded, the dreaded air conditioner cooperated.

The copy of the film that was exhibited is not in perfect condition. It isn’t finished actually. Our dear archivists had to extend it with a poor television copy from GMA7 (GMA Arts, as the logo points out). Just the same, it doesn’t affect much of my appreciation to Mr. Perez’ campiness (the director was celebrating his birthday on the date of the screening, doubly campy, I would say). At first glance, the title might be a little titillating. It’s a bold film, yes, with lots of fleshing out as per 70’s standards and with some very suggestive scenes of copulation. More than that, it’s a film about women who stumbled, fell and attempted to gain their own salvation. The way the intertwining episodes are arranged, it looks like a retelling of “Oro, Plata, Mata” where the “gold” part belongs to a social climber celebrity while “silver” pertains to the elusive search of comfort from both the mother and son and “death” belongs to the crossroads the woman has to face when choosing between her two lovers who happen to be father and son. Of course, it wouldn’t be an Elwood Perez-Orlando Nadres-Joey Gosiengfiao movie without the lines “Ako’y isang dukha subalit mukha namang one million pesos!” and the “eksena” scenes with Mona Lisa holding a duck on her right shoulder as a fashion accessory or the poor boy petting a dirty-looking rat. Clincher: Mary Walter making sexual advances to Amalia Fuentes.

After the screening, a crew from ABS-CBN interviewed the ladies in the house (Marissa Delgado and Vangie Labalan were also present as well as Orestes Ojeda). Miss Fuentes remains sensible as ever with her opinion about the industry then and now. She mentioned that there is a very thin line nowadays for the actors/actresses appearing on TV or in movies. Food was served in the lobby and people found time to take pictures and just mingle. At one time, Miss Fuentes even screamed “Hindi na ako sanay sa ganitong atensyon!” which put a smile on everyone’s face. That was the most well attended SOFIA event I’ve been to so far (also the most surprising to have finally met the Nepaleses from LA) and I am looking forward to next month’s screening (Mario O’Hara’s “Bagong Hari”).

More pics here.
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