Archive for August 2012

ANALYSIS: Emmy Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series 2012   Leave a comment

EPISODE SUBMISSIONS:

• Joan Cusack, “Shameless” (Can I Have a Mother?)
• Loretta Devine, “Grey’s Anatomy” (If Only You Were Lonely)
• Julia Ormond, “Mad Men” (The Phantom)
• Martha Plimpton, “The Good Wife” (The Dream Team)
• Jean Smart, “Harry’s Law” (The Rematch)
• Uma Thurman, “Smash” (Tech)

Joan Cusack caps off another nomination for Shameless, and this time, she gets a much baitier episode with a speech in the middle and longer screentime to boot. While this goes to show that they like Cusack’s character, I think they’ll go for another nominee that has a stronger and more dramatic showcase. Current champ Loretta Devine also has a shot of reaping a repeat win in this category, and if she managed to win last year for a lesser screentime, then she’s certainly in contention this year. However, is this really a role that requires two Emmy wins? I doubt it. 2010 Emmy winner Julia Ormond has another Emmy bid this year, and her role as Megan’s mom Marie Calvet. She’s very sexy and seductive in her role, and she gets to have a moment in the middle of her submitted episode. What hinders her is the fact that Mad Men is still Emmyless in terms of acting victories, and I doubt that Ormond will be the first one that they’ll reward. Martha Plimpton finally gets a nomination for her The Good Wife stint, and she was loud, effective, and had chemistry with the whole cast. While I wouldn’t be shocked with a possible win (Raising Hope fans might vote for her here), she lacks the key Emmy moment that would have sealed the deal. Jean Smart takes a very baity role being the arch nemesis of Kathy Bates’ Harry, and while The Rematch is not her best submission possible, she still nailed it with key scenes delivered left and right. It also did not hurt that she’s an Emmy favorite. Lastly, Uma Thurman takes on this year’s favorite character, Marilyn Monroe, and even did an interpretation of the infamous Happy Birthday Mr. President number in Smash, but lacks the dramatic gravitas that will give her an edge in this category.

Overall, I put Jean Smart as my prediction in this category, though I wouldn’t be shocked with a Loretta Devine repeat, Joan Cusack upset, or even a Martha Plimpton victory. But in the end, I’ll be sticking with the safe choice and go with favorite Smart.

Prediction: Jean Smart, “Harry’s Law”
Spoiler: Joan Cusack, “Shameless”

Complete Rankings:
1. Smart
2. Cusack
3. Plimpton
4. Devine
5. Ormond
6. Thurman

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REVIEW: The Reunion   2 comments

There has been a long wait for a movie that will incorporate the iconic songs of Eraserheads , and the moment has finally came when it materialized via Frasco Mortiz’s barkada movie The Reunion starring four of the most popular actors now: Enchong Dee, Xian Lim, Enrique Gil, and Kean Cipriano.

The movie talks about how four close friends realized that they’ve been living a life of failures after being the “it boys” in high school when they attended their reunion years after. Pat (Cipriano) is still a wannabe actor who wants to make it a big by auditioning on different reality and talent searches. Boggs (Gil) is a hyper sexual man who was once a basketball varsity jock. Joax (Lim) works as a valet who brings disaster one after the other while Lloyd (Dee) is afraid to move on with his life and is stuck with being a low key photoshop editor. The movie progresses as each one of them tries to correct and improve their own lives.

There’s so much potential with the material that one can’t help but expect at least a decent material when they enter the movie house. It is very much advisable to leave all those expectations once you reach the ticket booth. This movie looks like a pilot of a teen series that will be canceled mid-season. There’s nothing that hasn’t been done before that this film did not incorporate. As if that’s not good enough, there’s also nothing that they did to make it at least innovative.

Now once the film hits its drama stride, things get worse. Whether it’s failed relationships, broken legs, and predictable twists, there’s nothing that can redeem this mess of a film from being a further mess. There were also some unnecessary transitions, sitcom level flashbacks, and an E-heads revival every now and then.

The chemistry among the four leads was passable at times, but overloading us with edited images of them won’t convince us that they’ve been friends forever. The four actors work better when they are tackling their individual storylines rather than being altogether in a scene. Even the female cast leaves no desire to have chemistry at all.

Don’t get me wrong, there were some funny scenes that I can think of, but the overall feeling of this film (together with the material they used) is such a wasted effort. Eraserheads fans and loyalists deserve better than this.

Rating: 1.5 /5

85th Oscar Foreign Language Film: What Should the Philippines Submit?   8 comments

Earlier this week, the Film Academy of the Philippines released the final shortlist that includes the titles of the seven films that they were considering to be the submission of the country to get that elusive Oscar nod in the foreign language category. It has been years now since the FAP has been choosing and the options have ranged from excellent (2003’s Crying Ladies) to good (2009’s Ploning) to plain bad (2010’s Ded na si Lolo).

Being a self confessed Oscarologist myself, the thing about these submissions is that one must not focus on what the best movie is about. After all, taste is very subjective. I’m not saying we should just submit what the highest grossing movie is. The Academy still cares for a good script, a polished direction, and effective technical aspects; nevertheless, there are themes that gives AMPAS instant hard on. For one, anything about the War makes your movie go noticed. To be specific, anything about the Holocaust or Nazis gives you instant nomination and wins such as those of Germany’s Nowhere in Arica (2002) and Austria’s The Counterfeiters (2006). But then again, we can’t tackle that. AMPAS also likes character driven films that are thought provoking such as 2004’s “The Sea Inside”, 2009’s “The Secret In Their Eyes”, and current champ “A Separation”.

Anyway, here are the seven films that made the shortlist, and what I think their Oscar chances are if the FAP chooses to submit the said film.


BUSONG

Director: Auraeus Solito
Stars: Alessandra de Rossi, Clifford Bañagale, Dax Alejandro

A participant of the 7th Cinemalaya last year, Busong (Palawan) has already made waves in the international film festival circuit whether as participant or exhibit film. The movie has very good technical aspects (particularly the cinematography, make up, and score) and has improved significantly from Solito’s last effort hat ended up as the country’s Oscar submission (2005’s The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros). My biggest worry though is that the film’s unique theme can go both ways in terms of Academy’s reception. Nevertheless, if this ends up as the country’s submission, it will be in the middle of the pack, meaning it’s not necessarily the best the country has ever submitted but far from being the worst.

CAPTIVE

Director: Brillante Mendoza
Stars: Isabelle Huppert, Joel Torre, Maria Isabel Lopez

It has always made me wonder why were past Brillante Mendoza efforts always snubbed by the FAP in their Oscar selection committee, and the closest answer that I figured out was that maybe because they weren’t show locally for a week that is a requirement for any country for their movie to be considered. I’ve always thought that choosing one Mendoza film is an easy route for, at least, some buzz and promotion since they have the festival backing that leads for easy international buzz throughout festival season. Now, Mendoza, gets his first shot for Oscar gold, and I won’t be surprised if the FAP leans toward this Berlin entry this year. The only downside I see is that reviews were mixed for this particular film, and that will probably its Oscar chances to nab that nom.

 MANILA KINGPIN: THE ASIONG SALONGA STORY

Director: Daryl dela Cruz
Stars: ER Ejercito, Carla Abellana, John Regala

The producers of the film are very vocal about their desire to bring this film to the Cannes, and while that did not materialize, I think they’ll be eye-ing this possibility more. After all, they can boast about the black and white treatment of the film, and it being the symbol of action film resurgence. However, while the movie can brag about the suiting art direction, captivating cinematography, and musical score, the material does not fall under one of the two regular themes that this category loves to see. It’s too lightweight in terms of character development, and I don’t see this appealing to the Academy’s taste at all.


A MOTHER’S STORY

Director: John Lazatin
Stars: Pokwang, Xyriel Manabat, Rayver Cruz

I find A Mother’s Story a surprising choice in the shortlist not because it is a bad film, but it’s not a great film as well. I even forgot that it’s eligible for contention, and that says a lot. While Pokwang nailed her performance as a suffering mother, the rest weren’t able to live up to the material. Also, we already tried submitting a story about an OFW mother who suffers the consequences of being abroad in a better and more received film Anak in 2000, and that did not lead us to a nomination. Point is, this is more suitable for a Lifetime TV movie of the week than a a country’s Oscar submission.


ANG SAYAW NG DALAWANG KALIWANG PAA

Director: Alvin Yapan
Stars: Paulo Avelino, Rocco Nacino, Jean Garcia

This one is my personal option to be submitted, since among the six movies I saw (haven’t seen Captive yet), this is my favorite. However, biases aside, I think what might work for the movie’s favor is that it mixes different forms of art including both literature and dance in it. An art covered in another art featured in another art might be something that will get the attention of AMPAS. The movie also features outstanding technical aspects specifically the sound and editing, and boasts of a strong screenplay and good direction.  If only my vote counts, I’d probably suggest this to be the country’s submission this year. Here’s wishing the FAP follows.


SEGUNDA MANO

Director: Joyce Bernal
Stars: Kris Aquino, Dingdong Dantes, Angelica Panganiban

I wonder who the Kris Aquino fanboy is among the FAP voters, as her movies always find its way to the shortlist. Just when you thought Dalaw was the worst movie to ever be considered, then comes Segunda Mano. I really don’t see anything significant, noteworthy, and award-worthy in Segunda Mano, and not even Dingdong Dantes improved acting or Bangs Garcia’s funny support can save this one. So I’ll advise the FAP to skip this one.


THE WITNESS

Director: Muhammad Yusuf
Stars: Gwen Zamora, Pierre Gruno, Agung Saga

I really don’t see why this is even eligible. I get it that GMA Films is half the producer, but everything else (aside from actress Zamora) is Indonesian production. Truth be told, this is more of an Indonesian production than a local one. Also, this has no buzz, no appeal, and no critical support for it to be chosen.

All in all, I’d be pleased if Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa ends up to be the country’s submission, and I’m fine with a Busong or Captive choice. The four others will contest Ded na si Lolo as the worst submission in years.

ANALYSIS: Emmy Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series 2012   Leave a comment

I better start these posts, so I cna make it before the Emmy ceremony next month. Here we go with the first category for the year:

EPISODE SUBMISSIONS:

• Will Arnett, “30 Rock” (Idiots Are People, Part Three)
• Bobby Cannavale, “Nurse Jackie” (Disneyland Sucks)
• Jimmy Fallon, “Saturday Night Live” (Host: Jimmy Fallon)
• Michael J. Fox, “Curb Your Enthusiasm” (Larry vs. Michael J Fox)
• Jon Hamm, “30 Rock” (Live From Studio 6H)
• Greg Kinnear, “Modern Family” (Me? Jealous?)

This is a pretty safe group of nominees combining expected newbies and returning nominees for the Comedy Guest Actor category this year. Bobby Cannavale got a surprising nod for the Nurse Jackie’s fourth season, and since his guest stint is season-long, it does not give him any favors when they’re required to submit a single tape only. In “Disneyland Sucks“, while he gets longer scenes that were indeed funny, it does not match the material by all the other nominees. Voters tend to like Will Arnett in 30 Rock so much, since they’ve nominated it for the fourth time already, and while he gets a better tape this year via “Idiots Are People, Part Three“, it does not scream Emmy winning, and this category is not kind enough to overdue nominees. Greg Kinnear‘s guest stint on Modern Family resulted to a consecutive Emmy nom for him. He doesn’t do much in his tape, and his role is pretty reactionary though if voters find the whole situation funny, that’s the only way I see them eliciting votes. Another 30 Rock star who got nominated here is Jon Hamm who was already nominated here two times in 2009 and 2010. In his tape “Live From Studio 6H”, he gets to play various characters including a black face actor and a misogynist news anchor. He gets to do a lot of physical comedy and I can see this clicking to voters. Michael J. Fox earns both comedic and dramatic guest acting nominations this year, and he has a pretty good chance of winning at both. For comedy, his nomination comes from Curb Your Enthusiasm, and the season finale episode “Larry vs. Michael J. Fox“, we saw him playing arch nemesis to Larry David outwitting each other. The last nominee is Jimmy Fallon going back and hosting Saturday Night Live; a show he was once a part of. The chemistry was there and the material was handled smoothly in one of the best episodes of the season.

In the end, I see it as a race between Fox and Fallon, but since Fallon was in every skit of his submitted episode, I give him the edge and my prediction in this category. I won’t be surprised if Fox pulls the win though, but I’m pretty confident with Fallon.

Prediction: Jimmy Fallon, “Saturday Night Live”
Spoiler: Michael J. Fox, “Curb Your Enthusiasm”

Complete Rankings:
1. Fallon
2. Fox
3. Hamm
4. Kinnear
5. Arnett
6. Cannavale

REVIEW: The Healing   1 comment

Celebrating her golden year in showbiz, the Star for All Seasons Vilma Santos tries doing something new by venturing new territories and doing a suspense-thriller movie under  the supervision of the country’s top horror master Chito  Roño. This experiment turned out to be more than satisfying and every inch enjoyable.

The Healing started with Seth (Santos) bringing her father to a faith healer in hopes that his stroke will be healed. Miraculously enough, her father is perfectly fine the following day. This prompted her neighbors (incidentally all having something to be healed) to ask Seth to accompany them and be healed as well. Surprisingly, Manang Elsa was reluctant and denied to lend them any help, but gave in the end as well. True enough, everyone felt better the following day, but it seemed that a pattern regarding death haunts their batch one by one.

As for starters, I really find the movie engaging despite the formula being pretty similar to past Roño efforts. As a matter of fact, there were some scenes recycled from his similarly themed movies. With that said, I noticed how crisp and sharp the technical details were. I’m probably one of the few who wasn’t bothered with the color themes of the movie, and I think that clearly helped set the mood of the scenes. The cinematography, editing, and visual effects were clean as well, and the score fits the bill of the impending scenes that were about to happen. This is a good testament of how Roño takes notice of the details in his film from the smallest up to bigger ones.

I noticed some flaws in the story telling (with the chronology of the events, to be more specific), and while at times you feel that it’s already predictable, there’s a way in which the director attacks the scene and hooks you back from the beginning. The highlight was probably the temple scene, as it was a clever take on different scare tactics which was handled effectively by the people involved. True enough, it has a large cast but it has a pretty good one at that; Vilma Santos was not given much to do yet still blends well with the rest of the ensemble.

If you enter the cinemas trying to be critical with how “authentic” the material will be, then you’d be disappointed. However, if you enter the cinema trying to ride the experience of what this movie has to offer, then I’m sure you’ll have a treat. Gore, laughter, drama, and supernatural haven’t blended that well in years, and The Healing is a very good representation of mixing that the right way.

Grade: 4 / 5

85th Oscar Predictions: August Edition   Leave a comment

Posted August 9, 2012 by Nicol Latayan in Awards, Films

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