Tuesday, October 28, 2008

CUBAN FILM WEEK

CUBAN FILM WEEK
The Cultural Center of the Philippines in cooperation with the Embassy of Cuba, Manila and the Department of Foreign Affairs present: CUBAN FILM WEEK 2008 from October 28 to October 31, 2008.

Screenings are free on a first come first served basis.
Venue is the CCP Dream Theater.
For more information call 832-1125 locals 1702/1704/1705.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Pict.com

Pict.com
In this age of multi-featured digicams, taking pictures is really easy. We all like to take pictures to capture happy moments during special occasions. In the same manner that we record these snapshots for memory's sake, it is equally important we make sure they are stored properly. Pict.com allows users to upload JPG (JPEG), GIF or PNG files, no other formats are supported. You may upload any amount of files up to 3mb each for an unlimited period of time. You can upload from a URL address and you are given the option to upload several pictures at the same time. Then you can save them all to your verified email address for easy access. That way you are sure your pictures are well preserved.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

BODY OF LIES

BODY OF LIES
Leonardo di Caprio, Russell Crowe, Mark Strong


"Trust no one. Deceive everyone."


Cinema 9, Robinson's Galleria Movieworld



This latest Ridley Scott picture pretty much had everything going on for it to be quite believable. 2 serious actors (Leonardo di Caprio, Russell Crowe) known in the industry for their dedication to their craft. Here I have to add that having a strong screen presence from one of the supporting characters (Mark Strong) was a revelation, in a good way. A solid well paced plot devoid of complicated politically nuanced side plots. Various settings all over the world adding much needed authenticity to the nature of the characters lives. Throw in a somehow forced romantic angle and you surely can't go wrong.

I have to stress out though that there are 2 main points I observed in this action packed film.
1. That the US through its central intelligence agency in all its mighty glory as the vanguard of democracy is willing to fabricate a story to draw out their standard terrorist du jour was revolting, to say the least. They actually played God by controlling a person's life, an innocent bystander at that in their hands.
2. Thankfully these tactics don't always work to their advantage. In the movie, it plays out pretty well in the form of their main agent, Ferris (Leonardo di Caprio) on the field finding himself in a pretty tight spot. Then miraculously being rescued in the nick of time by the person he least trusted.

Well I guess we can all sleep better at nights knowing that these 'tactics' only happen in the movies. But somehow I doubt it.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET

SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET
Johnny Depp, Alan Rickman, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, Timothy Spall


"Never Forget. Never Forgive."




From the actor who gave us memorable celluloid characters such as Edward Scissorhands, Willy Wonka, Ed Wood and Jack Sparrow, Johnny Depp is back to regale us with yet another fascinating character. This time he is Sweeney Todd. A barber who returns after years of imprisonment to exact revenge on his perpetrators. Plus he sings too!

How's that for versatility?

Ably directed by Tim Burton who gathers the same stars (Johnny Depp and Burton's wife Helena Bonham Carter) from his previous animated movie, "The Corpse Bride", this dark horror musical is set in London during the Victorian era. Under such bleak setting, the catchy yet sinister songs of Sondheim permeates throughout the film. Lending their voices as well as their brilliant performances in supporting roles are Alan Rickman, Sacha Baron Cohen and Timothy Spall. Surprisingly all of them can carry a tune despite having no musical/vocal training.

The plot line is understandably dark with violent scenes of Sweeney Todd's hapless victims yet since most of the dialogue is sung, you don't cringe that much. The crisp cinematography of squalid surroundings was very authentic. I, especially like the effect where Burton would add color to his scenes depicting happy moments. A good contrast against the bleak, almost caricature like sequences of squalor. Another masterful effect was the way the blood spurted from the slashed necks of the victims. It seemed like someone had accidentally burst open a can of red paint. It certainly heightened the gory effect of the scenes.

Overall, it is an entertainingly good movie with 'quirky' characters and a dark plot buoyed by equally sinister songs which only a wicked mind like Tim Burton can deliver.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Shopwiki

ShopWiki
Online shopping has never been easier with ShopWiki.com. Its main feature is it finds every store on the Internet through its crawling method. For an online shopper, this means you will find anything and everything for sale on the web. A wider range of products from more stores guarantees better deals and savings for budget conscious shoppers.

Why not start shopping early for Christmas gifts? For the ladies, cosmetics are great gift items. ShopWiki's comprehensive shopping guides offers you all the basic facts about beauty products available on the market nowadays. You can shop for cosmetics based on your budget or according to brand name. Their extensive website also provide valuable makeup tips like what cosmetic items are permitted through airport security when you travel. Their fashion trends and techniques tips such as how to achieve that smoky eyes effect are very interesting to read.

So next time you need to shop online don't forget to drop by ShopWiki.com!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

CINEMANILA

10th CINEMANILA

The 10th Cinemanila International Film Festival runs from October 16-29 at Gateway Cineplex 10, Araneta Center. Aptly so, the biggest draw this edition are the films themselves. Cinemanila has put together an impressive line-up that boasts of the toast of Cannes, the much heralded in Venice and the grand winners from some of the major international film festivals. The best films from over 35 countries all over the world are also in full force.

Dekada Cinemanila will run from October 16-29 at Gateway Cineplex 10, Araneta Center, Quezon City. The admission price is P151. Click here for the schedule of the films.

Monday, October 13, 2008

FUERA DE CARTA

FUERA DE CARTA
(CHEF'S SPECIAL)


Javier Camara, Lola Duenas, Fernando Tejero, Benjamin Vicuna


Pelikula: Spanish Film Festival



A delightful comedy that dwells on a myriad of topics among them cooking, romance and family bonding moments. A fitting way to end this year's 7th Spanish Film Festival as it was voted the audience choice film. I was lucky I was able to get tickets for three just in the nick of time before it was fully booked!

The film centers around Maxi, an ebullient gay chef whose main obsession is to get a star rating for his restaurant Xantarella from the Michelin group. Complications arise when his kids (15 year old son and 6 year old daughter) from his previous scam marriage show up at his door upon the sudden death of their mother. Maxi's life is turned upside down as he tries to run a successful restaurant, be a good father/mother to his children as well as jump start his budding love life.

A realistic portrayal about the ups and downs of a stressed out person leading a hectic lifestyle. His precious time is stretched out way thin from all angles. The taxing demands of his business, his futile attempt to be a nurturing parent as well as his passionate desire to follow the dictates of his heart.

An engagingly fun movie filled with its fair share of drama, comedy and everything else in between. The quirky plot was commendable in the way it deals with homosexuality in a mature manner. It was made more so endearing by its well developed characters with their multi-dimensional personalities. A highly entertaining film entirely in Spanish with English subtitles.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

STELLET LICHT

STELLET LICHT
(SILENT LIGHT)


Cornelio Wall, Maria Pankratz, Miriam Toews


Pelikula: Spanish Film Festival




Let's see now - here's a film directed by a Mexican director, Carlos Reygadas which is set in rural Mexico. But it focuses on a married Mennonite farmer with 7 children who is having a passionate affair with another woman. They speak in a dialect called Plattdeutsch which is of German/Russian origin. But there are English subtitles so you won't get lost in translation. Because there is a tendency for one to simply tune off from sheer frustration while watching daily life slowly unfold in this unique film. Minimal dialogue in a strange language with scenes of wasted footage of nothing and anything thrives through out the movie. Then you have blaring sounds like the crunching of feet on snow, the stillness of the sun as it rises or crickets at night which can drill your brain into numbness. Well that's just the physical/technical aspect of the film.

In essence it dwells on the conflicted soul of Johann who is deeply troubled for being unfaithful. He talks to his father and his friends about it. They all offer different opinions but mostly tell him he is doomed. He is torn between his wife and the other woman. He is filled with regret and guilt. Just as he decides to turn a new leaf, a life shattering event occurs which further catapults him into remorseful moments. A certain scene towards the end merits further scrutiny and discussion as to what really occurred. There are several and different interpretations regarding that scene. Talks of reincarnation, deep slumber and reawakening come to my mind.

I admit that this film won't appeal to the mainstream. It takes a certain type of audience to appreciate this sort of movie. An audience intelligent and patient enough to sit through scene after scene of nothingness without getting bored. An artistic work of seemingly nothingness yet infringed with deeply spiritual tones. My advice just be open minded and don't expect too much from this film. Or else you will end up hugely disappointed.

Monday, October 6, 2008

CONCURSANTE

EL CONCURSANTE
(THE CONTESTANT)


Leonardo Sbaraglia, Chete Lera, Miryam Gallego, Fernando Cayo


Pelikula: Spanish Film Festival
Cinema 1, Greenbelt 3




Martin Circo Martin is filthy rich. He just won the top prize in the most lucrative game show on TV. 3 million Euros worth of prizes NOT cash!

But he is miserable.

His life has been jolted into a chaotic mess. Because you see now he has to find the funds to pay for the tons of extra expenses. For instance, the insurance for the two cars, the yacht as well as the mansion which are among the numerous prizes he won. As if he isn't stressed enough, he decides to take out a loan based on the ill advice of a unscrupulous lawyer to pay for the said incurred expenses.

This film flows by through the narration of Martin who recounts his fateful stroke of (bad) luck. It tackles the issue of consumerism as well as the inner trappings of greedy financial institutions. Basically it felt like a long and winded lecture on economics presented in a non linear manner. It is mostly a hodge podge of fast paced scenes which fuels the already chaotic storyline. It is peppered with a bunch of colorful characters who combine to provide dry humor, angst and dramatic sequences guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat. It all builds up to a climatic and explosive ending.

Given the current economic meltdown plaguing the world today, El Concursante is an appropriately themed 'educational' film about the consuming pitfalls of maintaining a lifestyle where material wealth takes precedence over anything else.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Savoy Autos

Savoy Autos
It is always wise to read up on a product before you purchase it. Especially expensive items like electronic gadgets, appliances and vehicles. You have to pay attention to every nitty gritty detail to ensure you get your money's worth.

If you are scouting for a sturdy SUV/truck type of vehicle, the dodge ram 1500 is a good choice. The Carconnection.com website provides an extensive review of the vehicle. Their auto experts test drove the vehicle then provided their opinion by comparing it with similar vehicles in the market. Their reliable ratings system took into account the performance, the style, the comfort and quality as well as the features and the safety factor of the 2009 Dodge 1500.

There is also a photo gallery as well as links which enumerate the various specifications. There are reviews from other auto experts. There is a section where consumers can post their opinions as well as links to related news on the vehicle. You may arrange for a free test drive and/or get free price quotes by comparing prices from local dealer ratings for the 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 by submitting your zip code. For instant reactions, you can write your own comments on their interactive website.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

LA TORRE DE SUSO

LA TORRE DE SUSO
(SUSO'S TOWER)


Javier Camara, Gonzalo de Castro, Cesar Vea,
Jose Luis Alconbendas, Fanny Gautier, Malena Alterio


Pelikula: Spanish Film Festival
Cinema 1, Greenbelt 3




A touching drama complemented with light comedic moments that deals with long lasting friendships, coping with loss as well as coming to terms with one's limitations.

After ten years, Cundo comes home for the funeral of his friend,Suso. He reunites with his childhood friends who never left the small mining town. Cundo discovers that Suso had a final wish - to have a tower built on his property so he can see the world from above. So despite some opposition from his friends, Cundo decides to pay tribute to Suso by fulfilling his intriguing last wish. In the process, the friends expose their vulnerable sides as well as deal with their frustrations both within themselves and with each other.

Buoyed by a narration from Suso himself, this film is set in a clean little town surrounded by luscious mountains. The endearing ensemble cast all gel well together. Individually, their different and unique personalities depict characters who reflect genuine human emotions. Interestingly enough though we are not given a glimpse of Suso not even in a photograph. We merely learn of his life through his friends who all react differently to his sudden demise. But ultimately his death serves as the unifying force among his childhood friends. Friends whose journey in life have been saddled with all sort of upheavals.

This well developed film is fraught with laughter filled moments, dramatic situations and poignant snippets - just like life itself!

MIGUEL Y WILLIAM

MIGUEL Y WILLIAM
(MIGUEL AND WILLIAM)


Will Kemp, Elena Anaya, Josep Maria Pou, Juan Luis Galiardo, Geraldine Chaplin


Pelikula: Spanish Film Festival
Cinema 1, Greenbelt 3




This farcical comedy operates on the premise that famous authors Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakepeare are vying for the attention of one woman, Leonor. She is a struggling actress living in London who has fallen in love with William Shakespeare. But she is bethroned to the Duke of Obanto so her father sends her back to her native Spain. There she meets Miguel de Cervantes, who has lost his inspiration to write. William travels to Spain to pursue Leonor and suddenly faces both his rivals, Miguel and the Duke. Both Miguel and William are then commissioned by Leonor to write a play which will be presented at her wedding to the Duke. A comedy of errors ensues in this period drama set in a small Spanish town.

A rather ridiculous plot which prevails with some comedic scenes, mostly courtesy of dear old William Shakepeare's romps. He mostly speaks in English given that he is British, after all. Miguel de Cervantes is portrayed as a tax collector who has developed mental block and therefore lost his ability to write his novels. Both authors collaborate to come up with a comedy that lambasted the Duke and his family. A clash of ideas unfolds between the two great writers. Mostly drawing their inspiration from the beautiful Leonor. The characters in their books are based on real people like Sancho, a hired help in the castle of the Castillian Duke. He turns out to be Sancho Panza (Panza meaning fat)!

It is really a whimsical comedy which doesn't really take itself too seriously. The characters are mostly caricatures types. It succeeds in turning a hypothetical situation into a situational comedy which never really makes much sense but it was entertaining enough to take one's mind off more pressing matter like this global economic crisis. Heh!

Friday, October 3, 2008

MADE OF HONOR

MADE OF HONOR
Patrick Dempsey, Michelle Monaghan, Kevin McKidd, Sydney Pollack


"It takes a real man to become a maid of honor"



Truth be told, this film has nothing much going for it except for the charming presence of Patrick Dempsey. It is predictably obvious that Hannah (Michelle Monaghan) would end up with Tom (Patrick Dempsey) because come on did you notice any chemistry between her and Colin, her (old) Scottish fiance? Zilch! Even the panoramic Scottish backdrop couldn't salvage this mismatched couple.

Does this film prove that men and women cannot really be 'just friends'? I guess so. They had a good 10 year old friendship as a solid foundation for their relationship. Besides I believe you are much better off marrying someone who is your best friend than some stranger you barely know. A foreigner with a completely different culture and upbringing at that! So there is definitely no contest at all.

Except that they chose to stretch this premise into a full length movie. A movie not entirely bad simply because you choose to gloss over its shortcomings by swooning over Patrick Dempsey the entire time. He was in his elements by simply doing what he does best. Being funny, charming and oh so likable even though he tried hard to make the audience dislike his philandering ways. Sorry Patrick it simply didn't work. Hehe

A pleasant light romantic comedy movie that deals with friendship, wedding preparations and a fairy tale romantic ending. A winning formula which will work any time.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

LO MEJOR DE MI

LO MEJOR DE MI
(THE BEST OF ME)


Marian Alvarez, Juan Sanz


Pelikula: Spanish Film Festival
Cinema 1, Greenbelt 3





This film is the story of Raquel and Tomas. She works the night shift at a radio station as a newscaster while her boyfriend, Tomas is a professional athlete. Due to their conflicting schedules, they decide to live in together. The boxes have barely been unpacked when Tomas gets sick during a training session. It turns out he has developed a form of hepatitis and is in need of an urgent liver transplant to survive. Raquel wants to donate part of her liver to Tomas. He refuses her offer.

This film centers mostly around the conflict between Raquel and Tomas. Their different priorities in life has put a wedge on their relationship. As Tomas lies restlessly in bed waiting for a suitable liver transplant donor, he gets to re-examine his life. In the process, Raquel also goes through a period of self discovery vis a vis her relationship with Tomas as well as her life in general.

Certain scenes were obviously filmed using a hand held camera ascertained by the shaky grainy texture of the sequences. It is set mostly in the hospital room where Tomas is confined. As well as the radio station where Raquel works. This film explores the different emotions involved in making life altering decisions. His sudden illness puts their relationship under intense scrutiny as the couple learn to adjust to each other's flaws and imperfections.

An interesting change of heart towards the end of the film sort of sneaks up on you. Befitting the vague and conflicted nature of its characters, the last few minutes of the film is literally cast in darkness. You can barely make out a shadow of Raquel and Tomas discussing their scars on the rooftop of their apartment as the sun fades. I figure it is a dramatic and unique way to end a film to signify the uncertainty of their future together. But unfortunately, it gave me a throbbing headache from straining my eyes. Ouch!

LA CAJA

LA CAJA
(THE WOODEN BOX)


Antonia San Juan, Angela Molina, Mari Carmen Sanchez, Elvira Minguez


Pelikula: Spanish Film Festival
Cinema 1, Greenbelt 3



The opening scene of this film is set in a hospital where Don Lucio has just died. His widow, Eloisa take his body home in order to prepare it for the wake and funeral. One by one his neighbors drop by to pay their last respects to Don Lucio, a man who was much hated for his despicable personality. The inhabitants of the small fishing town finally get to settle old scores and in the process heal their wounds.

A dark comedy based on a novel by Victor Ramirez, this film was mostly populated with fascinatingly strong female characters. Each of them portrayed by good Spanish character actresses with interestingly colorful personalities.

The movie had a cohesive plot with its fair share of funny moments tinged with dry humor. It was very interesting to watch the way certain shocking details of Don Lucio's life were revealed by his neighbors reaction to his death. In certain scenes, the disclosure were spilled through the dialogue. While other times it was disclosed through visual effects. The pacing of the film was well developed so as not to shock the audience in just one sitting.

The Filipino audience could very well relate to some of the shenanigans of the Spanish characters, their personalities, their way of thinking as well as their way of life. Familiar rituals like holding a wake, inviting people to recite the rosary for the soul of the deceased are now very much ingrained in Filipino society.

This quirky comedy was a delight to watch. I strongly recommend it for its view on the way we live our life as well as how we want to be remembered by our peers when we reach the end of our existence on earth.
 

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