Saturday, January 31, 2009

DEFIANCE

DEFIANCE
Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber, Jamie Bell,
Alexa Davalos, Allan Corduner, Mark Feuerstein


Bielski partisans



This film is the true story about the Bielski brothers. It was adapted into the screen based on a book by Nechtama Tec, "Defiance: The Bielski Partisans". They were Polish Jews who escaped from the ghetto and sought refuge in the dense Belarussian forest from the Germans. It soon developed into a community of about 1,200 Jews who lived under harsh conditions under the protective eyes of the Bielski partisans. This tale of personal triumphs amidst harsh times is directed by Edward Zwick (The Last Samurai, Blood Diamond).

The main focus are the Bielski brothers who are all multi-dimensional characters in their own right. Led by Tuvia Bielski (Daniel Craig), a former member of the fierce Polish army, he is a calm and collected guy with leadership qualities. As opposed to Zus Bielski (Liev Schreiber), a hot tempered personality with war freak qualities. He even joins the Red Army (Russian forces) which fights the German occupation of Poland. The 3rd brother, Asael (Jamie Bell) is still a young lad who eventually grows to become a brave man, adept at both combat and intuitive skills. Their youngest Aron (George MacKay) witnessed the traumatic execution of their parents and has withdrawn into a muted state of mind.

The film presents the interpersonal relationships between the 'camp' members. Their individualistic tendencies often leads to a divisive community. There are certain boring moments when they depict scenes of life in the community. As well as too "hollywood" type angles like a forced love scene and Tuvia rallying his fellow Jews not to lose hope giving an inspirational speech while riding a horse. Or scenes which make your eyes roll up with disbelief. But they are well balanced with tense, suspenseful shots of explosive skirmishes between the refugees and the German forces. Interspersed with fight scenes of the Red Army battling the Nazis.

The cast led by Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber and Jaime Bell as the Bielski brothers deliver powerful performances. Even though their Polish accent tend to surface intermittently. They are ably supported by unknown actors among them real descendants of those who actually lived in that forest for 2 years. Dialogue is mostly in English with certain scenes in the Russian and German dialect with helpful English subtitles.

But more than anything else, this narrative of a historical event - the survival of almost 1,200 Jews for almost 2 years in the harsh Belorussian forests - (no matter how inaccurate since it was injected a Hollywood twist) deals with hope and personal triumphs. The natural survival instinct of mankind during a terrible crisis, it is beset with inspirational tones and a "never say die" attitude in the face of a powerful enemy.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

CINEMA AUSTRALIA 2009

CINEMA AUSTRALIA 2009

Director Baz Luhrmann’s Red Curtain Trilogy featuring "Romeo + Juliet", "Strictly Ballroom" and "Moulin Rouge"

University of the Philippines- Diliman Videoteque, UP Film Institue
26-Jan Romeo + Juliet (2:30pm) Moulin Rouge (4:30pm)
Strictly Ballroom (6:30pm)
27-Jan Romeo + Juliet (4:30pm) Romeo + Juliet (6:30pm)
28-Jan Strictly Ballroom (4:30pm) Moulin Rouge (6:30pm)


University of the Philippines- Manila
Audio-visual room, Department of Social Sciences
29-30 Jan Romeo + Juliet, Strictly Ballroom and Moulin Rouge
(continuous screening 8:30am - 5:30pm)


University of the Philippines- Los Banos DL Umali Hall
Date (2:30pm)
3-Feb Strictly Ballroom
4-Feb Romeo + Juliet
5-Feb Moulin Rouge

For the Film Synopsis, click here

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

PASSENGERS

PASSENGERS
Anne Hathaway, Patrick Wilson, Dianne Wiest, Andre Braugher, David Morse, Clea DuVall


"The truth can't hide forever"





Anne Hathway in a serious role plays Claire Summers, a therapist who counsels a group of survivors of a plane crash. They suddenly start disappearing before she has a chance to find out the truth behind the tragedy. She also gets romantically involved with Eric (Patrick Wilson) one of the survivors which compromises her position as well as her judgment on the case. The thrilling story takes off amidst strange circumstances of grief sessions intertwined with mysterious persons who may or may not be directly involved with the crash.

First off, I don't advice you see this film before you are planning a trip which requires you to take a plane. There are a few disturbing scenes which may really put you on the edge of your seat, literally.

Oh the other hand, the film is a good thriller which draws you into the fate of these passengers. Their defense mechanism, their grief and fears are all well portrayed as they come to terms with that tragic event. Then you are rudely shaken by a twist in the ending which I admit I didn't see coming my way. Well I had another theory/scenario in mind so that twist came as a shock for me.

The plot is well paced. The scenes don't put your system into a shock as the flashback sequences (of the minutes before the crash) are intermittently shown. The buildup towards the climax is suspenseful. You want to know the real circumstances of the crash yet at the same time you are interested in watching the 'love' story unfold. Although the premise with the shocking twist towards the ending is not entirely new in movies, "Passengers" offers another perspective angle in showcasing it. The cast are believable. Anne Hathaway is good in her subdued acting and Patrick Wilson is well a pleasant sight to behold in every sense of the word. Take note, I didn't mention his acting. Heh! They are ably supported by good actors like Andre Braugher, Dianne Wiest and David Morse in vital roles. Their characters provide the key to the answer behind the mystery.

I got the sense from this movie, that we should never take things nor life for granted. That we are all merely passengers on this earth. We need to cherish every single moment of every single day because you never know it just might be your last. A bit chillingly morbid thought to process but unfortunately life is indeed short.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The 15th SAG AWARDS WINNERS

I caught the SAG (Screen Actors Guild) Awards midway. Well more likely the significant part since they were already handing awards for the movies section. For the TV part, I don't really watch "30 Rock" and "Mad Men". I did get hooked on "House, M.D." when it first started then slowly lost interest as Dr. House got more neurotic and really irritating to watch. But I do follow religiously Sally Field as Nora Walker on "Brothers and Sisters" and I'm glad she won.

As expected, Heath Ledger won as best supporting actor for his role as the Joker in "The Dark Knight". His award was accepted by a rather emotional Gary Oldman. Meryl Streep's win was a pleasant surprise for her. She even joked she didn't even bother to buy a gown. She was clad in an elegant black ensemble consisting of a oversized blouse and pants. Her role as a nun, the principal in a Catholic school accusing a priest of misconduct in "Doubt" bagged her the award. Another 'upset' was the award given to Sean Penn as the gay activist Harvey Milk in "Milk". They probably thought that Mickey Rourke would surely win for his comeback movie "The Wrestler". Kate Winslet on the other hand was probably a shoo in for her poignant portrayal of Hanna Schmitz in the Holocaust thriller "The Reader" for the best supporting actress category. The best ensemble cast in a motion picture naturally went to "Slumdog Millionaire".

Here is the complete list of winners at the 15th SAG Awards:

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture: Slumdog Millionaire

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role: Sean Penn "Milk"

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role: Meryl Streep "Doubt"

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role: Heath Ledger "The Dark Knight"

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role" Kate Winslet "The Reader"

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series: "30 Rock"

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series: "Mad Men"

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series: Alec Baldwin "30 Rock"

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series:Tina Fey "30 Rock"

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series: Hugh Laurie "House M.D."

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series: Sally Field "Brothers & Sisters"

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries:Paul Giamatti "John Adams"

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries: Laura Linney "John Adams"

Friday, January 23, 2009

BRIDE WARS

BRIDE WARS
Kate Hudson, Anne Hathaway, Candice Bergen, Kristen Johnson, Bryan Greenberg, Chris Pratt


"Even best friends can't share the same wedding date"


Cinema 8, SM Megamall



Liv (Kate Hudson) and Emma (Anne Hathaway) are best friends. It turns out they both get engaged roughly the same time although under different circumstances. They consult The ultimate wedding planner, Marion St. Claire (Candice Bergen) to help them with their respective weddings. One specific request: they want to get married at the Plaza Hotel in NYC. Dates are booked, friends are happy. A few hours later, their wedding dates are now on the same day due to some glitch. Quel horror! But neither of them are willing to compromise and give way so they turn into bridezillas out to ruin each other's wedding. Nice, huh? How's that for friendship?

But this is a light comedy with two of the finest comedic actresses in the lead roles so it somehow works for the most part. It has some funny ha ha moments, wedding planning sequences with the thinly disguised underlying theme of lasting bond of friendship gearing its pretty head, eventually. The story is actually told from the perspective of the wedding planner who narrates it through a voice over. I think that casting virtual unknowns in the roles of the soon to be grooms was to give the two leading actresses more focus and more exposure. After all, it is a movie about brides. Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson as the brides to be have good chemistry together and their acting seemed effortless.

The little 'twist' towards the end was a good plot development. Marriage is for life so you should only marry someone who makes you happy even if you suddenly change for the better (like developing more personality) and won't bail out on you if you happen to exhibit a side of you, he never thought existed. Men!

But in the end, it is this quote uttered by Marion St. Claire (the wedding planner) that truly strikes a cord with me and tugged at my heart strings:
"Sometimes in life there really are bonds formed that can never be broken. Sometimes you really can find that one person who will stand by you no matter what; maybe you'll find it in a spouse and celebrate it with your dream wedding, but there is also the chance that the one person you can count on for a lifetime, the one person who knows you, sometimes better than you know yourself, is the same person who's been standing beside you all along."
It made me think of my special bond with my sister who continues to be a guiding force in my life even if I am now happily married to a guy who brings out the best (and the worse, sometimes!) in me.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA

VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA
Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, Scarlett Johansson, Rebecca Hall,
Patricia Clarkson, Kevin Dunn, Chris Messina


"Life is the ultimate work of art"



Lest you think by reading the title that this film was a p0rn flick, well you are utterly wrong. Although the plot does include a menage a trois in the later part of the film, it was brief and not 'dirty' at all. This movie is the latest offering from Woody Allen. His 3rd or 4th movie filmed outside of his comfort zone (New York), the setting is where else but in Barcelona, Spain.

It recounts the story of 2 American (tourists) friends, Vicky and Cristina who plant themselves in Barcelona for 2 months. Vicky (Rebecca Hall) visits the Spanish city for her thesis on Catalan Identity and her friend, Cristina tags along. They are complete opposites in every aspect. Vicky is the sensible, practical one raised on traditional values. She is organized, plans ahead and is engaged to be married to Doug. Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) on the other hand is a careless, free spirit, more adventurous and spontaneous with a rebel streak. A lost soul who is constantly searching for something more meaningful in her life. Although she herself hardly knows what it is. Both women's lives are suddenly turned upside down once they meet the enigmatic local painter/artist Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem). A bohemian artist who is still hooked on (although he denies it vehemently) his tempestuous ex wife, the fiery Maria Elena (Penelope Cruz).

An interesting study of flawed contrasting characters with their numerous hang ups, the film is beautifully narrated by a voice over that helps the audience to better understand the characters. I've always liked voice overs/narrations in films. It reels in the viewer in some form of interactive connection with the people in the film.

The picturesque landscape of Barcelona as well as a side trip to Oviedo adds to the "European" feel. Ably guided by the sounds of Spanish guitar and Spanish songs, Woody Allen takes us on yet another journey wherein he explores human relationships in all its perplexed glory. The American cast composed of Johansson and Hall versus the Spanish duo Bardem and Cruz were constantly clashing against each other (in the film). Staid, straightforward acting vis a vis fiery, passionate Latino brand of acting.

A good film about well developed characters set in a panoramic background, Vicky Cristina Barcelona doesn't disappoint in showcasing Woody Allen's brand of complex yet entertaining portrayal of human relationships.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

JOSHUA

JOSHUA
Sam Rockwell, Vera Farmiga, Jacob Kogan


"The story of a perfect boy who had a perfect plan"


Star Movies



If you go by the blurb of this film it would sound preposterous. Yes sure, if you call ostracizing his parents from his life, the perfect plan! He was far from perfect too. As stories of creepy kids go, this film was as creepy as it gets. That is why I didn't bother watching it at the cinemas, because I scare easily when I watch horror movies/psychological thrillers! But watching it on Star Movies (cable TV) wasn't as bad as I expected it to be. But have no doubt about it - Joshua is pure evil, a sociopath who drives his parents insane, a neglected child with feelings of inadequacy who likes hurting animals.

The film puts a lot of effort to portray how exactly and when precisely Joshua turned into a disturbed child with serial killer tendencies. The characters are well developed. Plausible acting performances from the cast contribute to the disturbing thriller factor. Special mention goes to Vera Farmiga as Abby, the mother who suffers postpartum depression. Her descent into a mental wreck as she suffers a total meltdown was very believable. And of course, Joshua who was portrayed by Jacob Kogan. His steely gaze can melt an iceberg. His quiet deceptive demeanor gave me chills. The setting has all the natural tones to depict a suspenseful thriller. Yet at the same time, there are several loopholes within the script which taint the natural flow of the film. For example, the father (Sam Rockwell) didn't use the video tape to prove just how mentally disturbed his son was. But then if he did the film won't have taken its due course.

If you ask me, I simply think that Joshua is a neglected child. He feels his parents don't love him as much as his newly born sister. With a father who works all day and a mother who is sinking into depression from the demands of caring for a newly born baby, I'm afraid he doesn't really have a very stable home environment to nurture. Bu to turn to violent means just to demand attention I reckon is a completely different ballgame. That in essence is what this film is all about - a kid who doesn't get enough love and support from the very people who brought him into this world would certainly not be exuding with love to give, himself!

Monday, January 19, 2009

CHINESE SPRING FILM FESTIVAL

The Ateneo de Manila University, Ricardo Leong Center for Chinese Studies and Ateneo Celadon present this year’s Spring Film Festival at the Shangri-la Plaza Mall. From January 21-27, get your tickets now for only P100!



Featured Films:
ALL THE WAY directed by Shi Runjiu (2001)
An innocent is drawn into a life of crime by a woman's wiles in this drama from China. Wang (Jiang Wu) is a naive truck driver who gives a ride to Molly (Karen Mok),a pretty girl who works at a beauty salon. What Wang doesn't know is that Molly's boyfriend is a professional thief. Through his generosity he is drawn into a heist planned by Molly and her significant other. When the crime attracts the attention of the police, Wang finds himself sinking deeper into hot water.

ELECTRIC SHADOWS directed by Xiao Jiang (2006)
While riding his bike, Mao Xiaobing (Xia Yu), is attacked by Ling-Ling (Qi Zhongyang). Apart from not explaining her attack, Ling Ling asks that he feeds her fish while she is in custody. He later finds out that her humble apartment in fact houses a shrine to his favorite form of escape - the movies. He finds the screenplay of her life in a form of a diary and sets his imagination to wander off, trying to discover what other common aspects they both possess apart from their love for movies. This is director Xiao Jang's first feature film.

LUXURY CAR directed by Jiang Cheng Xia Ri (2006)
An old school teacher from the country side journeys to the city of Wuhan in search of his only son. His dying wife has requested to see her boy one last time. He is met by his daughter, Yanhong, who works in a karaoke bar. She then introduces him her boyfriend and to a police officer who sympathizes with his plight and agrees to help. Things get complicated as the policeman slowly notices that Yanhong's boyfriend, an older man and owner of the bar, as a man he arrested 10 years ago.

A WORLD WITHOUT THIEVES directed by Feng Xiaogang (2004)
Bo (Andy Lau) and Li (Rene Liu) should have made the perfect Bonnie and Clyde, partners in crime and passion. They swindle their way across China, until one fine day Li suddenly decides to call it quits, both to her egregious lifestyle and to her entanglement with Bo. It is at this crossroad in their lives and relationships that they run into Fu Gen (Wang Baoquiang) in a train station, an encounter that will alter their fate forever.

SCREENING SCHEDULE
January 21, Wednesday
1.00-2.30 Luxury Car
3.00-4.25 All The Way
4.55-6.30 Electric Shadows
7.30 World Without Thieves Gala night - invitational

January 22, Thursday
2.20-4.00 World Without Thieves
4.30 - 6.05 Electric Shadows
6.35-8.00 All The Way
8.30-10.00 Luxury Car

January 23, Friday
2.20-345 All The Way
4.15-5.45 Luxury Car
6.15-7.55 World Without Thieves
8.25-10.00 Electric Shadows

January 24, Saturday
2.20-3.50 Luxury Car
4.20-5.45 All The Way
6.15-7.50 Electric Shadows
8.20-10.00 World Without Thieves

January 25, Sunday
2.20-4.00 World Without Thieves
4.30-6.05 Electric Shadows
6.35-8.00 All The Way
8.30-10.00 Luxury Car

January 26, Monday
2.20-3.55 Electric Shadows
4.25-6.05 World Without Thieves
6.35-8.05 Luxury Car
8.35-10.00 All The Way

January 27, Tuesday
2.20-3.45 All The Way
4.15-5.45 Luxury Car
6.15-7.55 World Without Thieves
8.25-10.00 Electric Shadows

Friday, January 16, 2009

TRANSPORTER 3

TRANSPORTER 3
Jason Statham, Natalya Rudakova, Francois Berleand, Robert Knepper,Jeroen Krabbe


"This time, the rules are the same. Except one."

Shang Cineplex




Frank Martin (Jason Statham) is back in the 3rd installment of the Transporter. I watched the original and actually liked the 'concept'. A man who happens to be ex military is hired by dubious elements to transport (drive) a package to any destination. He gets paid a hefty sum. He is guided by a set of strict rules. To cite a few - he drives his own car which is custom made to suit all types of dangerous situations. The total weight of his passengers need to be a specific sum. Always wear the seat belt. He never opens the package. He wears impeccable tailored suits. But then rules are meant to be broken and that's when it gets exciting!

The thing about the Transporter is that he is also funny in that dry witty Brit sense of humour kind of way. He is organized, neat and is very calculative. He is 'trained' to drive under any precarious circumstances. He can fight the whole lot of them, them being the bad guys. He also gets to drive to panoramic locales all over Europe. In short, he takes his job seriously and he is really good at it.

In this film, he is now based in a little town off Marseilles, in sort of retirement mode, spends his days fishing with his friend, Inspector Tacori. But he is suddenly and reluctantly forced to take up a new task. He needs to transport a passenger from Marseilles to Budapest and he ends up all the way in Odessa, Ukraine. Once again more scenic routes on his journey, a 'difficult' passenger/package and along the way he 'battles' quite efficiently the villains.

But then they decided to throw in a romantic angle. An unknown starlet who cannot act at all and has only one pained expression on her face. They don't have any chemistry. The love story is forced. The transporter is at his best working alone without any annoying distractions like a love interest.

Otherwise the stunts are still amazing. The driving is top notch and the scenery is breathtakingly gorgeous. The theme is environment protection - quite appropriate. His friend, Inspector Tacori is still around for some good repartee. So it was worth sitting in a cold nearly empty movie theater and be regaled with Frank Martin's antics.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Optimized Web Presence

Optimized web presence
Good web exposure is the key to having a successful small business. But you don't have to go broke hiring expensive website builders to promote your establishment.

At Web Presence Two they make use of the free blogger tools to create comprehensive websites. Thus keeping the overhead cost at a minimum. Yet they provide good quality service by offering RSS Feeds, simple content management, blog hosting interface and fully Search-Engine-Optimized (SEO) features. So you are ensured of a prominent web presence for your business to prosper at a lower price.

Visit their website for full details of their services.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Madison Square Garden Tickets

Madison Square Garden Tickets
I've always wanted to go to New York. It has been a lifelong dream of mine to explore the Big Apple. Soak in her charms, her little quirks and everything it has to offer. Madison Square Garden is certainly on my list of places to visit in the city that never sleeps. It is a great venue to watch a wide variety of shows from concerts, boxing matches to all sort of sporting events like hockey and basketball games. But it is very difficult to get tickets to any of these shows. It is important to book way in advance if you want to see any of the shows.

ACheapSeat.com is a professional ticket broker which can provide many Madison Square Garden tickets, daily. They offer tickets at the lowest prices available in the market. Among them United Center Tickets and AllState Arena Tickets.

So next time you plan on visiting MSG to watch a show, don't forget to book your tickets online with this premier ticket company.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON

THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Julia Ormond, Taraji P. Henson


"Life isn't measured in minutes. But in moments."


Cinema 2, Shang Cineplex



I totally loved this movie. A sweepingly beautiful tale of a unique man's life well lived told in narratives of flashbacks in sepia tone. With contemporary overtones of modern day New Orleans as menacing Hurricane Katrina looms in the background. It is peppered with emotionally strong and very endearing characters whose peculiar lives vividly unfold on screen. Their stories presented in the most intimate cinematographic angles I haven't seen in movies for a long time . A cast of good talented artists whose love for their craft is evident in their heartfelt performances.

Here's the link to the short story of F. Scott Fitzgerald upon whom this David Fincher epic tale is based. But thankfully the film is a lot more poignant than the creepy short story.

It was especially fascinating to watch Brad Pitt turn from a wrinkly old man to a man in his teens. The wardrobe department and the make up artist did a really convincing job of making us believe that short old person was indeed Brad Pitt. I am equally impress with Cate Blanchett's ballet moves. I read that she really did perform those dance steps herself after months of rigid ballet lessons training. While Brad Pitt was slowly getting younger frame by frame, Cate Blanchett was growing older right before our eyes. The contrast between the two characters was evidently the strong selling point of the film.

Supporting roles in the side plots were filled with good artists like Julia Ormond (in a brief role but it has been a while since I saw her in a film, she has been one of my fave actresses of all time), Tilda Swinton (effortless acting as always) and Taraji Henson as Queenie was in my opinion the central character which held the film and dare I say Benjamin Button, together in a world where people can be unkind to deviant characters.

The love story that develops within the film and endures through time was very well presented. It didn't delve into schmaltzy mushy stuff. It was poignant, intimate and very heartfelt. It was further buoyed by being filmed in historic New Orleans. The film showcases its natural charm, its historic significance up to contemporary times. New Orleans has a special meaning to Brad Pitt due to the ravages of Hurricane Katrina and he has done some charitable work of building houses for the victims to help them recover from the devastation.

Overall, the film was well executed. The cast were precise in their acting. The story was interesting to follow despite being almost 3 hours, for me it wasn't boring to watch. It is different, unique and unusual yet it still felt familiar and was inspirational in echoing its poignant message across - that life goes on inspite and despite our shortcomings, our misgivings and our flaws, it's up to us to make each and every single moment count!

Monday, January 12, 2009

GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS WINNERS

I woke up early to catch the 66th Annual Golden Globe Awards show, live. I sat back and was awed by the beautiful and elegant gowns. This year the trend seem to be one shoulder strapped gowns in neutral and pastel colors. The winners list include a posthumous award (for Heath Ledger), underdogs (cast and crew of Slumdog Millionaire) taking center stage and a has been star (Mickey Rourke) thanking his canine friends for sticking with him through thick and thin. Awww!

Here are the complete set of winners:
Best Motion Picture - Drama
Winner: Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama
Winner: Mickey Rourke for The Wrestler (2008)

Best Television Series - Drama
Winner: "Mad Men" (2007)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama
Winner: Kate Winslet for Revolutionary Road (2008)

Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
Winner: Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
Winner: Colin Farrell for In Bruges (2008)

Best Director - Motion Picture
Winner: Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series - Musical or Comedy
Winner: Tina Fey for "30 Rock" (2006)

Best Original Score - Motion Picture
Winner: Slumdog Millionaire (2008) - A.R. Rahman

Best Television Series - Musical or Comedy
Winner: "30 Rock" (2006)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television
Winner: Paul Giamatti for "John Adams" (2008)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Musical or Comedy
Winner: Alec Baldwin for "30 Rock" (2006)

Best Screenplay - Motion Picture
Winner: Slumdog Millionaire (2008) - Simon Beaufoy

Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television
Winner: Laura Linney for "John Adams" (2008)

Best Foreign Language Film
Winner: Vals Im Bashir (2008)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Winner: Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight (2008)

Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Winner: "John Adams" (2008)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
Winner: Sally Hawkins for Happy-Go-Lucky (2008)

Best Animated Film
Winner: WALL·E (2008)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series - Drama
Winner: Anna Paquin for "True Blood" (2007)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Drama
Winner: Gabriel Byrne for "In Treatment" (2008)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Winner: Laura Dern for Recount (2008) (TV)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Winner: Tom Wilkinson for "John Adams" (2008)

Best Original Song - Motion Picture
Winner: The Wrestler (2008)("The Wrestler")

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Winner: Kate Winslet for The Reader (2008)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

KUBRADOR (THE BET COLLECTOR)

KUBRADOR
(THE BET COLLECTOR)

Gina Pareno, Fonz Deza, Nanding Josef, Domingo Landicho


Cinema One




Normally I don't watch local movies. Why not? Well there are several reasons which I rather not discuss. But as I was waiting for hubby to come home, I was flipping the TV remote and chanced upon "Kubrador" on Cinema One. Fortunately it just started so for want of something to watch, as well as knowing fully well that it won raves and awards in the international film festivals circuit, I stayed put to view the film.

It tells the story of Amy, a bet collector of the illegal numbers game, jueteng. Amy is an interesting character of contrasts - she is deeply religious yet earns her living through illegal means. She puts up a tough bossy exterior yet she is also easily affected by grief.

The slums or the depressed areas as we like to refer to it in this country is the main setting of this bleak film. A film that doesn't hide behind glossy technical aspects. Through shaking hand held cameras, it vividly presents the tiny alleys of the congested surroundings, the squalor, the rampant corruption and the daily grind of ordinary slum dwellers. It also features a myriad of supporting roles essayed by good actors, thespians known in the theater as well as the celluloid industry.

But kudos goes to Gina Pareno for convincingly depicting a humanely resilient character complete with valid fears, immeasurable flaws, yet driven by a fatalistic belief in God and in mankind. Her personification of a mother who earns a meager income through jueteng is very poignant, sympathetic and emotionally powerful. The typical matriarch of a dysfunctional family who just keeps on giving her very best even when she is ill. She defines the whole film and she truly deserves all the awards she has accumulated so far.

Although the main essence of the film is Amy. It also puts an indelible mark on the ills of Philippine society where sadly poverty, corruption and injustice take center stage. And Jeffrey Jeturian, the director makes no qualms nor excuses about presenting this 'ugly and raw' side of the Philippines to the world through his thought provoking film.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

WANTED

WANTED
James McAvoy, Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman, Thomas Kretschmann, Common, Terence Stamp


"Choose your destiny"




The main attraction of this film are the kick ass stunts performed by Angelina Jolie. And I'm sure there will be people who will say that Jolie herself was the main draw. I'd have to agree on both counts. Because frankly if not for those adrenaline pumping action scenes, this film won't really appeal to ordinary moviegoers.

A group of assassins calling themselves the Fraternity set out to kill 'bad' people whose names are deciphered using a loom of fate. Sounds preposterous I know. A plot only plausible in comic books but since they decided to adapt it into a film, somehow the idea or the whole premise works to the advantage of its main character.

Wesley Gibson is portrayed by the indefatigable James McAvoy who unfortunately loses his sexy Scottish accent for this role. An ordinary accounts executive stuck in a job he hates with a girlfriend who is cheating on him with his best friend. Things though change for the better once his past catches up with him. His life is suddenly thrust into a world of high powered guns, assassins and death defying stunts. A complete turnabout from his old boring life. A reluctant phase where he discovers talents he never knew he had and superhuman killer instincts he rather not acquire. He is ably trained by a group of highly skilled experts in the field led by Sloan (Morgan Freeman) and Fox (Angelina Jolie).

The film is filled with the training sessions of Wesley, his 'adventures' as an assassin and ends with a invariable twist where the cards are turned against him, dare I say in a good way. I did notice something I found odd. The fact that the transactions details in the ATM scenes were in Russian and not in English. It just seemed out of sync with the rest of the film.

The stunts are visually appealing with CGI shots of a bullet curving in slow motion. As well as Angelina Jolie merely pouting her alluring lips while performing incredulous action scenes. The acting was good with Morgan Freeman and James McAvoy taking the helm by pumping some much needed depth into their characterization. The editing was alright, it didn't numb your senses with non stop action scenes. It actually had a valid storyline, mind you. So this film isn't a total waste of your precious time.

Monday, January 5, 2009

DvD Movie Catalog Program

Throughout the years, I have collected quite a number of films in different formats like VHS tapes, Vcds and lately DVDs. They are all scattered around in boxes, on shelves or under the TV rack. Now I found a useful way to organize them in one easy to use DVD Catalog program. I can manage them into a neat orderly DVD database.

All My Movies™ is movie database software which you can download for a certain fee. It is a multilingual movie organizer which you can use to build a comprehensive DVD library. Once you enter the title of the films, the software will automatically fill in the details from the Internet movie database.

Its main features among others include additional Internet movie database which imports movie, cast, filmography and biography details. It also provides cover image and movie posters from databases like Amazon.com and DvdEmpire.com. It has the ability to save your collection to mobile devices like PDA or smartphone. You can also use it as a video play lister where you can watch movies directly from the program. The only system requirements for All My Movies™ is a PC with Windows 98/ME/2000/XP/Vista to run.

So get your movies collection organized by downloading All My Movies™ right now!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

SEVEN POUNDS

SEVEN POUNDS
Will Smith, Barry Pepper, Rosario Dawson, Woody Harrelson


"Seven Names. Seven Strangers. One Secret."




Will Smith in a serious dramatic role is just as believable as any of his funny, goofy characters in his comedic roles. He's good, period!

In this movie, he plays a depressed IRS agent named Ben Thomas who is on a personal quest to atone himself for his horrific past. Here, Will Smith as befitting his role looks haggard and forlorn. A deeply troubled man trying to stay on the path of his decision. His character looks totally dejected that you can't help but feel his agony. A well acted convincingly realistic portrayal.

There are also good solid performances from the supporting cast like Rosario Dawson, Barry Pepper and Woody Harrelson. Their vital roles added some heart and soul to the overall dramatic effect/vibe of the film.

The plot is basically a tragic story but filled with poignant scenes of hope, new beginnings and a deep belief in the kindness of mankind. In between all the depressing storyline, a real pure love story develops and it envelopes you within its intimate, feel good warmth albeit with sad streaks of looming tragedy. Running at a little over 2 hours, the pace of the film can be slow during certain sequences. Clues about the traumatic event are shown in flashback format throughout the movie. But if you are clever enough you can more or less guess what really happened. The film sort of picks up and reaches its crescendo at a fast pace with a big reveal/twist right before the ending.

So regardless of whether you agree or not with the decision of Ben Thomas, this film can make you ponder about just how precious life really is.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

THE HAPPENING

THE HAPPENING
Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, John Leguizamo, Ashley Sanchez


"We've sensed it. We've seen the signs. Now it's ... happening"




The thing with M. Night Shyamalan movies is that you always expect it to be as good if not better than his first venture, "The Sixth Sense". And as usual more often than not, you end up terribly disappointed!

So on that premise alone, you can figure out that "The Happening" wasn't up to par with the other Shyamalan thrillers wherein some unexplained phenomenon wrecks havoc on the characters' lives culminating with a twist towards the end.

But once you let go of any expectations and simply sit back to try and 'enjoy' the movie, "The Happening" isn't that bad, after all. Because you do still have that strange and weird threat going on. A certain fear of the unknown circumstance still permeates throughout the entire movie. You still have the main characters running for their lives with that terrified look on their faces. There is still a child involved. So all these and more still sustain your somewhat limited interest till the very end.

You simply need to excuse or gloss over certain flaws. For instance, the way the dialogue uttered by some of the characters seemed totally on cue and scripted. Or the bad acting in certain scenes by a few of the characters. Speaking of main characters, Mark Wahlberg does his best to portray Elliot Moore as a multi-dimensional persona. The hero who is expected to know what to do during stressful situations yet at the same time he is also vulnerably weak in the face of an unknown life threatening occurrence. The rest of the characters pretty must just breeze through during the entire film.

In the same manner that Zooey Deschanel's portrayal of Alma Moore as some spaced out and troubled wife was difficult to read, this movie was also out of bounds. It is not quite the thriller you expected but neither is it your standard horror flick with disturbing scenes of violence. Probably just chalk it up to some unknown fluke of nature which just happened to capture your attention deficit interest for 90 minutes. I like to think that the esteemed director wanted to warn us of global warming and/or climate change and chose to highlight it by presenting us with this nature.taking.its.revenge movie. So if only for that 'warning', the movie pretty much got its message across the screen visually, vocally and graphically, loud and clear!
 

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