With the Globe and SAG nods already announced, and three of the four major critics already revealing their choices, here’s the state of the race (and the last one prior to noms on January).
Archive for the ‘films’ Tag
Okay one more month before we get to see the precursors. Sorry there’s no write up this month, since I’ll soon be updating for December, and this is a pretty stagnant month in terms of premieres and shake ups. Anyway, post your comments and questions below if you have anything. 🙂
PS: Best Actress is so effin boring there’s no changes at all for this month.
Here we go! October batch, as we get closer and closer to the precursors season. Also, Wolf of Wall Street is still in a deadline to meet for this year, and no such announcement was formally made that it will transfer to 2014. Until then, I’d just include it here yet. Plus, screenplay categories and foreign language film!
As always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl
Now we’re getting closer to the Oscar precursor season especially since Venice, Telluride, and Toronto film festivals are all over. They all solidified some films’ and performances chances. Here’s the state of the race for this month:
Hi everyone! It’s Cinemalaya time of the year again. It’s the time when we get to see some of the most exciting and most promising independent films produced by directors both veterans and new ones. This year’s crop of films are really interesting as they varies from different genres and with more big stars having their first Cinemalaya entries (coughVilmaSantoscough). Over the next few days, I’ll be posting my reviews of this year’s entries, and weigh in my thoughts about the ninth batch of indie films. Let’s get the ball rollin’ shall we? 🙂
Director: Gil Portes
Cast: Alessandra de Rossi, Jan Harley Hicana, John Michael Bonapos, Arnold Reyes
Competition: Director’s Showcase
The film tells the story of journalist Eloisa (Alessandra de Rossi) whose expose’ of the truth results in life-changing consequences to a baseball team of poor boys. It is inspired by a true story.
It is interesting to note that the director claims that the movie is a fictional take just based from a true to life story that happened in 1991. While the whole film gives you a lifetime TV movie of the week feels, this is a familiar territory that combines two concepts that Gil Portes excels at: children and inspirational story. The tandem of writer Senedy Que and director Gil Portes already did it before in Mga Munting Tinig, and they successfully did it again with Liars. The story, as told from a series of flashbacks, recounts the step by step process of the fictional Smokey Mountain team, though what’s special with this is that the two main characters (played by Jan Harley Hicana and John Michael Bonapos) were given ample attention in the story and they certainly delivered. Alessandra de Rossi was dependable as always, and the ensemble consisting of Arnold Reyes, Cris Villanueva, and Sue Prado were all given moments to work on. The movie is not something that hasn’t been told before, but it goes on point with the message that it wants to deliver successfully.
Director: Mikhail Red
Cast: Ronnie Quizon, Mike Lloren, BuboyVillar, Earl Ignacio
Competition: New Breed
The film tells the story of a former 1980’s film cameraman who now currently works as a movie pirate operating in present day Manila. He routinely smuggles a digital camcorder into movie theatres in order to illegally record films. One night, he records something else… and the footage goes viral.
The premise of this film is one that simply strikes me as interesting when I first read the synopsis. But I guess that ended up as its strongest downfall, as it did not live up to what I was expecting to see. Helmed by Raymond Red’s son, Mikhail Red, there seems to be a lacking in terms of storytelling. The perceived impact of what Maven (Ronnie Quizon) has captured did not totally live up to the build-up of the film’s intensity. With that said, the style of the direction is commendable here, and if anything, Maven was written and portrayed as a complex and intriguing character that really holds your attention. I like the film’s opening and ending shots, and for some reason, some of the earlier parts with the police reminded me of Lawrence Fajardo’s Posas from last year. Quizon was awkward but that’s what made his performance engaging and convincing, and his portrayal gave justice on how his character was written. If only the viral video was more engaging, it would have been an overall better film.
Director: Carlo Obispo
Cast: Krystle Valentino, Miggs Cuaderno, Arnold Reyes, Julian Trono
Competition: New Breed
The film follows Diana (Krystle Valentino) and her younger brother as they strive to relieve their longing for a family.
Pronounced as Purok Siyete (or its English translation “Zone 7”), the movie depicts and creates an atmosphere of its own – something that gives you a clear description of how it feels like for Diana and her brother. The concepts of waiting and longing to be a part of a family were on full display effectively, thanks to the endearing performances of both Krystle Valentino and Miggs Cuaderno. I admit that this is one of the few great surprises I have seen so far, and most of it is credited to director and writer Carlo Obispo. Diana’s character is one that is probably more known in movies: the optimistic barrio lass who despite the trials and being the breadwinner of her and her brother do not lose an inch of hope that someday, they too will finally get what they long have wanted. What makes this one different though is that Diana was more humanized; she’s very much transparent that it’s easy for the audience to smile, laugh, and feel for her. I also like how this one ended when it puts the whole story on a full circle. And yes, let me reiterate that you have to pencil in Krystle Valentino bas she showcased one of the best performances of the year by far.
EKSTRA (The Bit Player)
Director: Jeffrey Jeturian
Cast: Vilma Santos, Tart Carlos, Marlon Rivera, Vincent de Jesus
Competition: Director’s Showcase
A socio-realist drama-comedy film, it follows a seemingly usual day in the life of Loida Malabanan (Vilma Santos), as she embarks on yet another shooting day of a soap opera as an extra.
Probably the most buzzed about film in this year’s batch, Ekstra will surely go on to be one of the more prominent and memorable films this year. On one hand, it gives us a glimpse of how it feels like to be an extra – how they’re treated in TV production, what they do in between takes, how they get the roles that they do among others. It’s this kind of “backstage peek” that makes the audience get really interested in. And Ekstra showed that comprehensively in a funny and humorous manner. On the other, if you’re not into that kind of thing, then this one is not for you. It’s too overstuffed that it just went on and on and on. There are parts that can still be trimmed down from it, and it just felt too long. The truth is despite the normal people enjoying the glimpse of what it’s like in a soap opera set, it does cater more to those people who are really a part of it with inside jokes thrown endlessly left and right. With that said, this is a Vilma Santos vehicle, and Santos certainly delivered. More than the witty one-liners or the endless lines, one thing that I’ve always like about her is her great physical acting, and she does that lot in here. She really commands the screen, and it’s nice to see her show it again. I guess my favorite is the one near end of the film when the camera just stares at her – that’s when her emotions are on full display, stripped of the environment where she was just the day before. This somehow reminded me of Ang Babae sa Septic Tank¸ and while both contained impeccable lead performances, it just tends to go beyond the line of too much over the top every now and then. If anything, I enjoyed Antoniette Jadaone’s solo feature Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay as a better vehicle to see a day in the life of a bit player.
Expect the second batch to come during the next few days. And as always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl
The Metro Manila Film Festival kicks off today, and there’s no better way than to start the reviews by writing one for arguably the most quality film of the bunch. Brillante Mendoza’s Venice entry Thy Womb was in the shortlist months before but actually did not make the final list. However, as fate would have it, one movie backed out paving the way for its inclusion in the final eight.
Thy Womb takes us all the way to Tawi Tawi in Mindanao. There, we meet Shaleha (Aunor) a Badjao midwife who ironically can’t provide her own offspring to her husband Bangas-an (Roco). This led the couple to explore endless options in order for Shaleha to give what she knows her husband wanted from the start.
With such an interesting premise, director Mendoza grabbed every possible chance in order to let the story speak for itself. Most of the time, we are following Shaleha and Bangas-an’s daily routines. It is with this straightforwardness that the story let the audience be a part not only of their culture, but with the life of the couple. I’ve always like how the breathtaking Tawi Tawi was depicted; in its own, it can be considered as a character in the film. Think of Manhattan in Manhattan or New York in Sex and the City series (lousy comparison, but I do hope you get the point), where in the location itself has a lot of stories to share to its viewers. And Mendoza introduces Tawi Tawi to us by giving us bits and pieces of their colorful traditions and culture.
I think the biggest con that the movie had was during the near end of the movie, when a turning point was revealed. I don’t feel that it was established well enough to elicit the intended impact that the writer aimed. While it is, indeed, a game changer, it felt a bit premature given the lack of actual build up. With that said, I like the insertion of small ironies here and there regarding the couple’s life experiences.
Time and again, it is a common fact that Nora Aunor is one of the best talents that ever graced Philippine cinema. And Thy Womb is another testament of that. I’d even dare say that at times, she elevates the material with her performance. Her poignant turn as Shaleha is probably one of my favorites for the year. La Aunor’s stare can paint a thousand emotions without even battling a single word. Bembol Roco was an apt counterpart to Aunor’s Shaleha. Roco is the yin to Aunor’s yang. Both Lovi Poe and Mercedes Cabral have shorter screentimes and weren’t given that much to do, but their presence were definitely felt.
Thy Womb, above anything else, is a journey. A raw and poignant journey that leads its viewers not only to the bluest of the seas and the farthest of the islands, but to the lives of Shaleha and Bangas-an. And it is a journey that is definitely worth seeing.
Here are the reviews of the other Metro Manila Film Festival 2012 entries:
You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl
After a string of horror, comedy, and flat out drama movies the past few months, Star Cinema goes back to one of its strongest genre by doing a romance film. Suddenly It’s Magic stars Filipina Erich Gonzales and Thai superstar Mario Maurer and helmed by one of their top notch directors, Rory B. Quintos.
Thai superstar Marcus Hanson (Mario Maurer) is in a personal and professional burnout, so he escaped to the Philippines in order to get much deserved rest. There, he met provincial lass Joey (Erich Gonzales), whom he felt a strong connection with. Joey was mending a broken heart, and the two find each other’s company special. Once Marcus goes back to Thailand, the two must adjust to the conditions of their previous lives in order to maintain their relationship.
As for starters, this film was obviously greenlit due to Maurer’s sudden popularity in the Philippines. With that said, I already left my expectations before I entered the cinemas. I knew this will have the same predictable and recycled subplots especially since there seems no room left for a more creative one or interesting story to tackle. And boy was I surprisingly correct. One can see what will happen a mile away, and the only thing that will make you gasp is… how correct you are! Fiesta scenes? Check. Upstaging gay best friend? Check. Girl falling over the boy? Check. It’s as if someone was tasked to collect different scenes from past rom-coms and combine them here.
There also seems to be some major continuity issues here and there, such as hair colors and the language used. Are we supposed to believe that when Joey’s character speaks Taglish, Marcus’s character will really understand the whole context of it? Some storylines were also just dropped off in the middle of the film, with no signs of even coming back.
Despite that, I still find a handful of interesting things to see in the film. I like the scene where Marcus’s mother is talking to Joey. This highlights what the different approach in acting we have from them. A scene that could have been histrionically portrayed here was calm yet full of impact delivered by the Thai mother. There was also the language play with Thais being forced to speak in English in some parts that sacrifices the impact of the movie. I also notice how Rory Quintos has this knack of showing beautiful cinematographic scenes to envelope the watchers to be a part of it (though it was done better in Kailangan Kita)
The camera really loves Mario Maurer’s face, and there’s no bad angles of him. I recall the whole cinema going wild every time he has a close up scene. Time and again, Maurer has proven that he has the chops (Love of Siam anyone?), though it still depends on the material he was given to. In here, he was not required to do much except to be cute and charming, and that’s not difficult for him to do. Erich Gonzales captures the naive woman effectively, and she seems to be a fit to Mario’s mestizo features. The supporting characters were alright, and while Joross Gamboa’s gay best friend was a crowd favorite, the role has been done a thousand times now and has already lost most of its magic. My favorite though is every scene that involves Thai actress Baifern Pimchanok, as I was smitten by her.
All in all, this one seems predictable as the other romance movies, but one thing that it genuinely and successfully achieved is the charm of the two lead characters. With that, there’s no wonder, it will be a hit to its definite target audience.