Showing posts from September, 2012

REVIEW | The Hunting Party (2012)

Richard Gere is Simon Hunt, the discredited star reporter whose career went downhill soon after his meltdown on national television while covering the Bosnian war. His best friend and assistant, cameraman Duck (Terrence Howard),  however, went on to become successful. Five years later, Simon and Duck meet again in peacetime Bosnia, and along with Benjamin Strauss (Jesse Eisenberg), the son of the network's VP, they go on to hunt the world's most wanted war criminal,  Boghdanovic a.k.a. The Fox. Mistaken for CIA agents, the trio gets closer to capturing the war criminal—and to the 5-million-dollar bounty—but not without getting into a series of troubles.
Based on a true story from an Esquire magazine article written by Scott Anderson, The Hunting Party is a monotonous narrative, very much confused with which direction to seriously take. Comedy? Or Drama? The movie opens with these words in gigantic fonts: "Only the most ridiculous parts of this story are true," and a…

REVIEW | Graceland (2012)

For Pinoy mainstream-content folks, do not ignore the indie film Graceland. Winner at the recently concluded Tribeca Film Festival in New York, garnering international praises, the crime thriller rivals your regular Hollywood crime fare, delivering a strong, solid narrative that will keep you riveted to the screen.
Marlon Villar (Arnold Reyes), a religious, mild-mannered, loving father, is the loyal chauffeur to corrupt Congressman Changho (Menggie Cobarrubias). Life is difficult for the poor driver, and yet he never forgets to keep his daily prayers and put his trust in the Lord. But one unfortunate day, Marlon experiences what could be his greatest trial: While driving home Changho's daughter, with his own daughter at the backseat, the car is ambushed by the police, Marlon is knocked out, and the girls are suddenly gone. And thus Marlon is thrown into a horrifying and grim predicament that pushes him to the brink of insanity.

Graceland, written and directed by Filipino Ron Moral…

REVIEW | MNL 143 (2012)

The controversial indie MNL143, disqualified from Cinemalaya this year due to casting issues, has successfully seen light on its own; supported and fought for by art crusaders, and has now been showing locally and internationally, and even world premiered at the 66th Edinburgh Film Festival.
Emerson Reyes' film tells the story of lovelorn FX taxi driver Ramil (Alan Paule) who is driving around Manila in search of his lost love, Mila. The film captures the ordinary daily life of an FX driver, and we watch all sorts of passengers go in and out of his taxi.
The premise of the film is that we sympathize with the protagonist Ramil; his pain and loss, and his hopes of finding Mila before he returns abroad for work.  Will he ever see Mila again? That is Ramil's agony, our agony as audience. And while we suffer from Ramil's perspective, we find entertainment, humor, stress, and even learn life lessons from a plethora of passengers in his FX. 

However, in this film, I felt detache…

REVIEW | Ruby Sparks (2012)

Is there really such a thing as a perfect relationship? Does your dream girl/guy actually exists? The quirky romantic-comedy-fantasy Ruby Sparks tackles the twisted and flawed idea of wanting that "perfect" partner.
Calvin (Paul Dano; There Will Be Blood) is a genius celebrity novelist suffering from a terrible writer's block, unable to come up with a follow-up to his masterpiece— the greatest contemporary American novel of all time—that he has written ten years ago at the age of 19. Like most geniuses, Calvin is lonely and a bit messed up. And like most celebrities, he questions people's affections for him ("They like me for my work, and not me.") And like everybody else, he just wants to be loved. Basically, Calvin lives a depressing life, with only his brother (Chris Messina) as his friend (not even a "valid friend," according to his psychotherapist), and his dog Scotty as his sole companion in his depressingly neat, monochromatic, and sterile a…

REVIEW | The Mistress (2012)

One would never suspect that Sari the seamstress (Bea Alonzo) is a mistress, with her conservative clothes, her sweet, youthful face, her short one-length hair, and her shy, girly giggles. Such is the premise of the Olivia Lamasan film, The Mistress. The kept woman, the concubine, could be your cousin, your plain coworker, or your kind-hearted best friend, or that simple and pretty frequent shopper at National Bookstore. Or it could be you. She doesn’t necessarily look like the vivacious, full-lipped, voluminized-haired Anne Curtis in No Other Woman, nor is she a whore who sleeps with dirty old men for money. She’s a monogamous, caring human being who only happens to be genuinely in love with the right person for all the wrong reasons, or with the wrong person for all the right reasons...with Rico Torres (Ronaldo Valdez), a man who could be older than her father but younger than her grandfather. Do you have the right to throw stones at her? The movie asks.
JD (John Lloyd Cruz) enters t…

REVIEW | Captive (2012)

Warning: contains some spoilers.
What makes 2009 Cannes Best Director Brillante Mendoza's films stand out in Philippine cinema is their sincerity. Mendoza's art is to paint the nitty gritty ills of his country in plain truth, exposing to his viewers shadowy, dangerous worlds meant to shock, thrill, and educate us.
In Captive, Mendoza retells the story of the 2001 Dos Palmas kidnappings, reimagining the plight of the Filipino and foreign hostages but essentially sticking to the true timeline and locations of the entire hostage crisis. In place of the American missionary Gracia Burnham, Mendoza's foreign survivor in this movie is a Frenchwoman named Thérèse Bourgoine (Isabelle Huppert), the central figure of the story.
The movie opens with instant action in the famous Palawan resort, as the Abu Sayyaf, followed by shaky cameras, raid and pillage the guest rooms, with only glimpses and shadows of the victims being seized, half-naked or buck-naked. Depriving us of facial expressi…