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Showing posts from January, 2013

REVIEW | Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)

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If you loved the Brothers Grimm fairy tale Hansel and Gretel as a child, then you might wanna know what happened fifteen years later after Gretel kicked the witch’s arse into the oven.

In MTV Films’ Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, we see the siblings, played by Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton, all grown up and earning their living as witch hunters in the small German town of Augsburg. And they’re good at it, despite Hansel being a diabetic (remember the witch in the gingerbread house had fatten him up?). Hansel and Gretel are ruthless and fearless, eliminating evil witches with their guns and explosives and clever weapons, while cussing sharply, dropping f-words here and there. They are awfully smug, too, because they are, for some mysterious reason, invincible—spells and curses seem to bounce off of them. But when they finally find themselves faced against Muriel (Famke Janssen), the most evil sorceress of them all, it's proving to be a rather difficult challenge.

This action…

Ballet Philippines' A Midsummer Night's Dream

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Guest post by Ballet Philippines

After the critical and box-office success of Rama, Hari, which had its full-house audiences giving rousing standing ovations after each performance, Ballet Philippines once again takes on an old-time favorite and gives it a new twist in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM.
Running for one weekend only from February 15 to 17, 2013 at the CCP Main Theater, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM is a new ballet adaptation choreographed by Hong Kong-based award-winning Filipino choreographer Carlo Pacis. Based on the timeless romantic comedy of William Shakespeare and the music of Felix Mendelssohn, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM is a world premiere, and is Pacis’ first full-length ballet for Ballet Philippines.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream weaves together the lives of mortals and fairies. Oberon, the King of the Fairies, and his Queen, Titania, are fighting over an Indian changeling. To punish her, Oberon instructs the mischievous Puck to place the juice of the Love-in-Idleness flower …

REVIEW | Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

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Silver Linings Playbook, a contender for this year's Oscar Best Picture and Best Director, as well as in all four acting categories, is a romantic comedy set in the midst of mental disorders.
Bipolar and garbage bag-wearing Pat Solatano (Bradley Coper) is released from a mental institution and returns to live with his mom (Jacki Weaver) and his superstitious OCD father (Robert De Niro) who is a  bookie favoring the Philadelphia Eagles. Pat only wants one thing: to win his wife, Nikki, back, who's gotten a restraining order against him. Pat is full of hope and positivity, and firmly holds on to the belief that every cloud has a silver lining. But then Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), with her own mental issues, suddenly enters Pat's life-- and derails his plans.


Written and directed by the meticulous David O. Russell, based on Matthew Quick's debut novel of the same title, Silver Linings Playbook is smart enough, fairly witty, and has that trademark of Russell's over…

REVIEW | Amour (2012)

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Amour, a French-Austrian-German co-production, written and directed by Michael Haneke (White Ribbon), tells a tale of love tested during suffering.
Husband and wife Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) are retired musicians in their eighties, long-married, settled, and live alone in a small Parisian apartment, sometimes visited by their daughter (Isabelle Huppert). One day, Anne suffers a stroke, and thus begins the couple's descent into a daily, hellish and escalating suffering, with Georges trying everything he could to ease his wife's pain.


This is my first orientation to a Haneke film. In Amour, the camera becomes a gaping observer of the characters-- most of the time just parked in one corner, openly staring and watching vigilantly like George does with his beloved, dying wife. The camera, like vulture eyes, is waiting for death. It's a painful film, tackling life's natural cruelty: the inevitable old age and death, and the monster that is t…

REVIEW | Django Unchained (2012)

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Quentin Tarantino has made our fantasy of revenge against the Fuhrer and Nazi Germany come true in Inglourious Basterds, with his trademark style of cool and shocking violence. In that movie, he also introduced to us the  unforgettably ruthless Jew Hunter, played by Christoph Waltz, who nabbed that year's Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

And now, in his spaghetti western Django Unchained, Tarantino takes us back to the period of African-American slavery in the South. And he brings back Waltz-- still in a German role.



It's 1858, in pre-Civil War, and German dentist-turned-bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) frees a slave named Django (Jamie Foxx) and makes him his associate. The duo rides across America fulfilling their "opportunistic" professio, and eventually find themselves in a mission to rescue Django's wife (Kerry Washinton) from her ruthless owner, Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), in his huge plantation called Candyland, where they also meet…

REVIEW | Life of Pi (2012)

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Yann Martel's Man Booker Prize-winning novel Life of Pi is a profoundly affecting experience.  A young, bookish and religious Indian boy named Pi (pronounced as "Pie") from Pondicherry narrates his extraordinary ordeal as a castaway; shipwrecked in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with Richard Parker,  a dangerous  450-pound Bengal tiger, as his sole companion.

The book was masterfully written; poetic, intensely vivid, and mainly presents, with such clarity, the thoughts, feelings and spirituality of Pi as he suffers tremendously in the limitless sea—  a  prey to his companion. It's a one-man's extraordinary fight against nature and hopelessness. Hence, the book, being too internal and lyrical, seems  "unfilmable." And even if it is, you'd still doubt if Yann Martel's brilliant fiction can ever be translated satisfyingly to the big screen.


But director Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and Screenwriter David Magee (Finding Nev…

Film Check's Top 10 Movies of 2012

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2012 was essentially a mediocre movie year, but there were a few very good ones that stood out for me.  Film Check's Top 10 list is based only on films that were released in 2012 andwhich I saw in the same year.
List does not include 2012 movies that are creating a buzz, such as Life of Pi, Les Miserables, Zero Dark Thirty, etc., as they are not yet released in Philippine theaters. Sadly, also not among the judged are those 2012 much talked-about films that are gathering dust in my movie cart: Amour, Rust and Bone, Moonrise Kingdom, etc. (must see immediately).
So,  here's my Top 10:


1. The Dark Knight Rises An immensely satisfying, emotional, and dramatic conclusion to Nolan's brand of Batman. [My review]

2. Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted Thoroughly enjoyable and hilarious for both kids and adults. Experience an absorbing, colorful, witty, and rich narrative in stunning visuals. You'd be talking about this animated flick (in between fits of laughter) long after y…