Sunday, September 30, 2007

5th Australian Film Festival

5th Australian Film Festival
Filipinos are set to experience Australia for real on reel this year as the Australian Embassy unveils the 5th Australian Film Festival on 2-11 October 2007 featuring some the best films from Down Under. Fourteen critically-acclaimed feature films and shorts will provide audiences a rare glimpse of Australia’s cultural landscape, history contemporary society and filmmaking excellence.

The films will be screened at three venues — Shangri-La Plaza Mall Cinema 3, University of the Philippines-Cine Adarna and Ayala Onstage at the Ayala Centre Cebu.
Admission fee is Php50.00 at the Shangri-La Plaza Mall and Php35.00 at the UP Cine Adarna.

The 5th Australian Film Festival is presented by the Australian Embassy and the Australian Film Commission in cooperation with Qantas, the official carrier of Australia, Shangri-la Plaza Mall and Makati Shangri-La Hotel. Major partners are Executive International Movers, Wine Depot, Arts Council of Cebu, ETC, 2nd Avenue, NU 107, Wave 89.1 and Jam 88.3.

Screening Schedule: Shangri-La Plaza Mall Cinema 3
October 2
2:00
4:00
7:00 Cool White; Jindabyne (by invitation

October 3
2:00 Love Serenade
4:00 Harvie Krumpet; Look Both Ways
7:00 Cracker Bag; Floating Life

October 4
2:00 Australian Rules
4:00 Breathe; The Caterpillar Wish
7:00 Cool White; Japanese Story

October 5
2:00 Looking for Alibrandi
4:00 Harvie Krumpet; Jindabyne
7:00 Cracker Bag; Lantana

October 6
2:00 Looking for Alibrandi
4:00 Australian Rules
7:00 Breathe; Look Both Ways
9:00 Floating Life

October 7
2:00 Love Serenade
4:00 Japanese Story
7:00 Cool White; The Caterpillar Wish
9:00 Lantana

For the movie synopsis, visit the Australian Embassy website.

Monday, September 17, 2007

THE BRAVE ONE

THE BRAVE ONE
Jodie Foster, Terrence Howard, Naveen Andrews, Mary Steenburgen, Nicky Katt

"How many wrongs to make it right?"

Cinema 2, Robinson's Galleria

If you didn't know any better, you might think this film is about an American Indian named The Brave One. British actor of Indian descent, Naveen Andrews though has a very brief role. So in this case, The Brave One would refer to Erica Bain portrayed by Jodie Foster in yet another kick ass female role.

Erica Bain is known as the Voice on her radio talk show. She records a myriad of sounds one hears in New York City then gives her audience a running commentary. The nitty gritty part of the city not the touristy sections. One evening during a stroll in Central Park with her fiance, they are viciously attacked by thugs for some cheap fun. David is killed while Erica survives but is deeply scarred both physically and emotionally for life. Frustrated by the slow justice system, she turns into a nocturnal vigilante.

While the movie does have violent scenes, they are shot in a way that they don't overwhelm your senses in a jarring way. Well not mine, anyway. In some ways it was justified because she was avenging the death of her fiance but on the other hand she was taking the law into her own hands.

Instead I believe the main gist of the film as presented by Neil Jordan, the Irish director (Crying Game, The End of the Affair, Michael Collins) is the anguished transformation of Erica Bain's personality. In the beginning of the film, she is depicted as a contented soon to be married woman. After the tragedy, she becomes a deeply frustrated person with paranoid tendencies. The first time she fires her gun was clearly to defend herself against an attacker. She is shaken yet at the same time is totally calm and feels empowered. Erica Bain was a pretty complex character and it helps that a fine actress like Jodie Foster gets to essay out her conflict ridden personality. Her steady and sturdy performance gave an otherwise predictable plot a grittier edge over your typical Dirty Harry or Death Wish flicks. Once in a while, it is refreshing to see a film with a strong female character in the lead role.

The fact that Terrence Howard is also in the cast is another big plus. Another good actor who seems to be relegated to supporting roles, his portrayal of Detective Mercer was subtle yet forceful at the same time. I like the chemistry which developed between Erica Bain and Detective Mercer, it seemed natural and not merely sneaked into the script to give it some romantic angle.

Overall, the film succeeds in showing a justified vigilante only because her need to avenge the death of a loved one was more powerful than a need to get rid of the bad elements in society. I don't condone violence nor do I feel that people have to take the law into their own hands to bring about justice in this world. But sometimes don't you just wish it was as easy as shooting a criminal point blank then simply getting away with it? OK so don't answer that, it's just wishful thinking on my part.

A well directed film which although lasting almost 2 hours, the sequences were not dragging nor boring to watch. It had the correct amount of thrilling moments, a bit of comedic dialogue, a poignant story amidst the violent scenes set in a gritty city that never sleeps, New York. Its top notch cast is an added bonus!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

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Monday, September 10, 2007

DISTURBIA

DISTURBIA
Shia LeBoeuf, David Morse, Carrie Ann Moss,
Matt Craven,Sarah Roemer, Aaron Yoo

"Every killer lives next door to someone"

Cinema 3, Shang Cineplex



Disturbia which comes from a play on words from “Suburbia” starts off pretty intense. Within the first ten minutes, you feel a lump in your throat as you witness the horrific car accident which claims the life of Kale’s (Shia LeBoeuf) father. This scene comes right after you see a heartwarming father - son bonding moment while fly fishing. It was quite unnerving.

Then you settle down and patiently wait then wait some more for the nitty gritty parts to get rolling. By that, I mean the part where you know there is a serial killer (David Morse) living next door so you expect some gory blood splattering moments. A year later, Kale has an electronic ankle bracelet to monitor his movements for three months. His ‘punishment’ after he punched his Spanish teacher in the face. So how does a teenager with all the modern electronic gadgets at his disposal while away his boredom? He turns into a voyeur by spying on the comings and goings of his neighbors, particularly on Ashley, who just moved in next door with her parents. By this point, you start wondering if this is yet another teen flick where a teen aged peeping tom with his token Asian best friend (Aaron Yoo) tries to establish some love connection with his new female neighbor, Ashley. (Sarah Rohmer)

Meanwhile, you only get bits and pieces of information on the criminal activities supposedly perpetrated by creepy next door neighbor, Mr Turner. A news report on the TV, a passing glimpse on a newspaper article, suspicious behavior from said neighbor and a whole load of paranoid assumptions from Kale.

You tell me if you had to pick between a frisky teen aged voyeur and a creepy serial killer which one would be the more fascinating character to explore? The latter, right? But yes I realize the main premise of the movie is the voyeuristic tendency of the main character but this only proves that if you are a nosey person then you truly deserve the more than you bargained for share of trouble.

The chill factor comes in the final moments of the film, a tad too late and too in your face for comfort. Accompanied by the standard ingredients for scare tactic scenes - the loud dramatic creepy music, the flashing of lightning and the dark basement with floating bodies. It felt like in the course of the film they realize they are running out of tape so they just haphazardly throw in the good guy is chased by the villain scene just to give the film its climax.

The movie has a lot of loopholes but it is mainly salvaged by the fine acting performance of Shia LeBouef. A young actor whose facial expressions can change within seconds. He projects well on screen and has a wide acting range for someone so young. He shows potential and hopefully he doesn't waste it in some teen flick. The towering frame and gruff voice of David Morse makes an excellent villain, for sure. But they should have developed his multi-faceted character more instead of merely showcasing him as some menacing figure who harassed girls in a parking lot.

This film was touted as the “Rear Window” for the MTV generation. This is definitely not a Hitchcockian thriller. The more shocking part (for me) came when Kale pointed out to Ashley she is ‘different’ from the average teenager in this age of the iPod, YouTube and the Internet. Why? Because get this, she reads books instead of partying. Now that’s disturbing.
 

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