Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Pelicula: 8th Spanish Film Festival

The Spanish Film Festival returns on its 8th year. It runs from October 1 to October 11. The 41 films to be shown will be divided into three venues.

Por ejemplo, to be shown at the Greenbelt 3 cinemas are contemporary and award-winning films. The official selection of films will run from October 1 to October 11,2009. Ticket prices are P65.

From October 7 - 11, 2009 at the Tanghalang Manuel Conde, CCP Dream Theater, a selection of Filipino and Spanish documentaries will be shown. Admission is free. Seats are on a first come, first served basis.

While at the DLSU-CSB (De la Salle University - College of Saint Benilde), there will be eight classic Spanish films and some works-in-progress by indie directors from the 21 Spanish-speaking countries. They will be shown on October 13-15, 20 & 22.
Admission is free. Seats are on a first come, first served basis.

For the complete schedule of activities, check out the official website at or call the Instituto Cervantes de Manila at 532-1482.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Korean Film Festival

Shangri-La Plaza plays host to the first-ever Korean Film Festival from September 24 to 29 at Shang Cineplex Cinema 3. The event serves as a celebration of the 60th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Korea.

Driving with My Wife's Lover won triple awards in 2007 in the Sundance International Film Fest, International Film Festival Rotterdam and the Belgrade International Film Festival. The story revolves around Tae-han, who runs a stamp shop in a small town. His life changes when he decides to play witness to his wife's infidelity.

Forbidden Quest is an interesting historical comedy that follows the journey of writer Yun-Seo, a man born into a life of privilege. He decides to become the best erotic author of his time, creating palace intrigues as his work increases in popularity.

Dong-ha and Song-hwa are the main characters in the film Beyond the Years. They are siblings who were adopted separately by singer Yu-Bong. Dong-ha falls in love with Song-hwa, but decides that the relationship would not work and eventually leaves home. Still, he never really stops loving his sister, and everything he does ultimately traces back to her.

The Show Must Go On is a dramatic film that revolves around the life of gangster In-gu, who dreams of nothing but moving his family out of their crowded apartment into a more spacious home. His wife tells him to find a more respectable job. His daughter will not acknowledge him so he begins the challenge of finding a means to provide for his family.

Sa-Kwa is a romantic drama that tells the story of Hyeon-jeong, who is unexpectedly dumped by her boyfriend of 7 years. She vows to find a new suitor to replace him as soon as possible, as her biological clock keeps ticking away. She ends up falling in love with the most unlikely man at the same time that her ex-boyfriend tries to win her back.

Old Boy has been given many international awards for excellence (including a Cannes award) and follows the journey of a man who has been imprisoned for 15 years without him knowing why. He is released, only to find out that his kidnapper is not done with him yet.

Barking Dogs Never Bite is a satirical film about a lazy university lecturer who depends on his pregnant wife's salary yet wonders how he can bribe his way to professorship. The constant yapping of a dog in their apartment block finally gets to him, and he sets out to find it with the intention to murder it.

Admission to the Korean Film Fest is free.

Film screening schedules:
Sept. 24 (Thursday)
2:00 PM-Barking Dogs Never Bite (R-13)
5:00 PM-Sa-kwa (R-13)
8:00 PM-Forbidden Quest (R-13)

Sept. 25 (Friday)
2:00 PM-Driving with My Wife's Lover (R-18)
5:00 PM-Forbidden Quest (R-13)
8:00 PM-The Show Must Go On (R-13)

Sept. 26 (Saturday)
2:00 PM-Beyond the Years (PG-13)
5:00 PM-Barking Dogs Never Bite (R-13)
8:00 PM-Old Boy (R-18)

Sept. 27 (Sunday)
2:00 PM-Beyond the Years (PG-13)
5:00 PM-Barking Dogs Never Bite (R-13)
8:00 PM-Driving with My Wife's Lover (R-18)

Sept. 28 (Monday)
2:00 PM-The Show Must Go On (R-13)
5:00 PM-Driving with My Wife's Lover (R-18)
8:00 PM-Sa-kwa (R-13)

Sept. 29 (Tuesday)
2:00 PM-Forbidden Quest (R-13)
5:00 PM-The Show Must Go On (R-13)
8:00 PM-Old Boy (R-18)

Or contact the Shang Cineplex at 633-7851 loc.113 for more details.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Cine Europa
Cinema 1, Shang Cineplex

Period films usually give out this light and breezy vibe since most of them are about damsels with corsets frolicking in decadent lifestyles and obsessing over frivolities. While others are about strong feisty and independent women who unfortunately are stuck in the wrong era. An era where women have no rights, they are not educated, cannot vote and are often married off to older boorish men who don't make them feel special.

This biopic traces the true story of Lady Georgiana Spencer. She (Keira Knightley) is married off to the Duke of Devonshire (Ralph Fiennes) and finds herself trapped in a loveless marriage. Her sole purpose is to bear a male heir for the lineage to flourish. Her husband openly ignores her for failing to bear a son and seeks solace in the arms of Lady Bess Forster (Hayley Atwell) who happens to be the BFF of Gee (as she was fondly called). Quite typical storyline as far as period pieces go but interesting enough to hold your attention span for almost 2 hours.

Authentic costumes depicting the era coupled with realistic cinematography of lavish scenes of the vast English countryside and the ornate balls reminiscent of the times add to the appeal of the film.

Keira Knightley is surely in her elements as she totally immersed herself in her role. Her chiseled facial features complete with stuffy ballgowns and elaborate hair pieces can be described as a "classic" beauty and it all projects well on screen. Her somewhat subdued acting style was quite forceful and believable. Her characterization of Gee as an independent minded avant guarde 'feminist' was sympathetic in nature. You can't help but feel sorry for her miserable life yet at the same time admire her for her feisty spirit and her radical political views.

As usual Ralph Fiennes can do no wrong. Here as the boorish Duke of Devonshire his brooding style of acting did wonders. To the point that despite being such an insufferable man you couldn't really tag him as a villain. In fact, there was a pivotal scene where the Duke expressed to Gee his regrets on causing her so much misery. He wasn't a bad person and felt as much pressure as Gee into producing a son as it was the dictates of society back then.

This was the UK's entry to the Cine Europa so it was the only film where I didn't have to read subtitles. Although sometimes I wish it did because there were some parts of the dialogue I couldn't hear properly due to the pesky moviegoer who kept talking on his cellphone. Ugh.

Friday, September 18, 2009


Cine Europa
Cinema 1 Shang Cineplex

Well don't let the title deceive you into thinking this is a horror flick. This Swedish movie is an odd couple romantic love story about Benny and Desiree. Desiree is a sophisticated librarian who is into music and the arts. While Benny is a farmer who has 24 milking cows and let's say he isn't really into the finer things in life. One day their paths cross at the cemetery of all places. Desiree is visiting the grave of her husband while Benny is (as the title suggests) the guy in the grave next door. Well not literally! He is visiting the tombs of his parents.

The rest of the film presents their whirlwind romance. Their different cultural backgrounds and contrasting life styles posing major hindrance to their blooming relationship. As well as the prejudices they face from their respective friends. Clearly they are poles apart in more ways than one. Yet their relationship is passionate and works to a certain degree. As expected no love story can have a happy ending unless there is some crisis/conflict to complicate matters. But do not despair because eventually they dramatically do end up in each other's arms. I didn't mean to spoil the ending but it was quite predictable from the get go.

A cutesy chick film Swedish style complete with funny lines, tense dramatic moments and the feel good factor reminiscent of most love stories. Dialogue is entirely in Swede with English subtitles. This film proves that yes love is possible even between two contrasting personalities and yes they live happily ever after.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Cine Europa
Cinema 1, Shang Cineplex

Of all the films showing at Cine Europa this year, I was really looking forward to watching this German movie. Based on a true story, it delves on fascism and dictatorship. It narrates how a simple experiment for project week conceptualized by a teacher in a high school spins out of control and takes over the lives of his students.

During an open discussion in his autocracy class, Rainer Wenger is intrigued by a statement from one of his students that dictatorship would never thrive again in Germany. He then devices a plan to prove them wrong. From letting his students wear a uniform for class, designing a logo and calling themselves members of The Wave - the concept evolves from a simple class experiment into a form of supremacy for its members who adopt a superiority complex against outsiders (the other students who aren't part of their group).

A compelling and highly provocative film that makes an effective point. The propensity of the youth to be easily swayed by any higher authority into extremist political views. The unruly bunch of students were at first hesitant and even skeptical about the experiment which started on a Monday. But by the end of the week, their zealous enthusiasm took over with some of them even claiming that "The Wave" gave more meaning to their otherwise boring life. Unfortunately, the experiment goes horribly wrong with tragic consequences.

The movie is entirely in German with English subtitles and it runs for about 1 hour and 4o minutes. Almost 2 hours filed with enough tension amidst dramatic sequences yet it doesn't appear to adopt a preachy tone. It simply and effectively explores human nature. It makes us see how easy it is to create the conditions that appeal especially to the weak, the disenfranchised, the unloved by giving them a sense of being empowered and how their resentment can become a deadly weapon.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Jennifer Aniston, Steve Zahn, Fred Ward, Woody Harrelson

"A touching comedy"

Cinema 3, Shang Cineplex

Sue (Jennifer Aniston) is a sales rep of a company that sells motel art. In short she sells those paintings you find in rooms at cheap inns/motels. Mike (Steve Zahn) on the other hand is the son of a married couple who manage a road side motel. A little mom and pop business, so to speak.

Mike who doesn't really have much of a life aside from helping out in the family business, somehow manages to find the courage to be 'friendly' with Sue who happens to be a guest in the motel. Mike develops an instant attraction to Sue and pursues her in some stalker like behavior which I found a bit disturbing. Yet it is in this pursuit where the film draws its character.

You see in my opinion, Mike isn't really a stalker, per se. He is just a simple guy without any major plans in life who suddenly develops some direction and a sense of meaningful purpose once he meets Sue. He doesn't have a threatening personality neither is he isn't the violent type. I figure it helps a lot that Steve Zahn portrays Mike as a naive, innocently cute character. As cute as a love sick puppy who follows his object of desire everywhere she goes. It is a far more mature role for him instead of his usual sidekick for comic relief supporting roles in his previous films.

Jennifer Aniston's portrayal of Sue was averagely alright. She didn't come across as particularly interesting though she has this pragmatic vibe to her personality. A girl who doesn't have a lot of friends to hang out with. She has her job which permits to travel regionally from time to time. She has practical type of personality with a heart of gold. Her one true wish is to put up a homeless shelter where the residents can play midnight basketball.

Interesting enough, the odd pairing of Aniston and Zahn works. They have good chemistry together in this quirky and off beat romantic comedy. For some strange reason, the song by Air Supply "Two less lonely people in the world" kept creeping into my mind while watching this eccentric rom com! Heh!

Monday, September 14, 2009


Cine Europa
Cinema 1, Shang Cineplex

France's 'entry' to this year's Cine Europa is a schmaltzy romantic comedy. Basically a chick flick about two sisters who have different ideas and notions about romance. Lena, a musician (Marion Cotillard) is level headed while Ariane (Julie Depardieu), an editor of photo novels (a magazine type novel with illustrations and dialogue) tends to over romanticize her relationships.

The film explores the ups and downs of relationships presented in realistic tones. That is if you include love affairs with men other than your boyfriend/partner. The steady plot is coupled with certain dream like/animated sequences which depicts Ariane's fairy tale like love stories for the magazine.

The characters are well developed and portrayed convincingly by good actors. Most of the comedy comes from the dialogue (which is entirely in French with English subtitles) as well as funny situations which mostly involve Ariane's pathetic antics vis a vis her relationship with Farid, her commitment phobe partner.

I was surprised to learn that it was only about an hour and a half because it seemed like this rom com dragged on forever. Only to conclude with a somewhat predictable ending, not necessarily a happy one at that. It was probably not really worth lining up for but hey it was shown for free (all the films in Cine Europa were shown on a first come, first served basis) and it gave me a rare chance to 'practice' my French. That is for me to find out if I could still understand the language without necessarily reading the English subtitles. I'd like to say I managed fairly well!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Cine Europa

A total of 18 European films will be shown at the Shangri-La Plaza Mall Cineplex from September 11 to 20. The festival moves to Cebu City and Cagayan de Oro City for screenings in October.

The featured films come from Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

At this year’s Cine Europa 12, you will get the chance to win a free trip to London, courtesy of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Rajah Travel Corp.

Cine Europa 12 is supported by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Rajah Travel Corp., Yo Card and Click the City.

Admission to screenings is free on a first-come, first-served basis.

Click here for film screening schedules.

For inquiries, please contact the Shangri-La Plaza Cineplex at 633-7851.

Friday, September 4, 2009


Cinema 5, SM Megamall

I don't normally watch animated feature films at the cinemas because I don't feel I would get my money's worth. But this time I made an exception. I did watch it at a cheaper price though but nonetheless it was within the comforts of a cinema. Luckily there weren't any noisy kids in the theater so I was able to absorb the story with delight.

The main reason I watched this 'cartoon' are its main characters. They are human beings and not some talking animal. Carl & Ellie are an adorable couple. They remind me so much of my parents! The first part which chronicles their life together was very poignant even sans dialogue. It was beautifully put together and it summarized their love story gracefully. I totally loved Ellie. She had a beautiful spirit. I was crashed when poor Carl was left alone to fend for himself after her death. So when he ventured on his little adventure in his house lifted by a thousand balloons. You can't help but cheer for his success after all he was fulfilling Ellie's life long wish to visit Paradise Falls.

Then those nasty talking dogs show up and I somehow lost interest. But I knew their purpose was to serve as obstacles for Carl and Russell which is a naturally effective way to convey conflict in a movie, animated or otherwise. Another 'flaw' in this film is how come Charles Muntz didn't age that much given that he was already in his prime when Carl was still a young boy.

Having said that "Up" is truly an uplifting tale. It teaches us to never give up in pursuing our dreams (no matter how old we are!). That obstacles and adversities will surely surface but it must not stop us from venturing on our little adventures.

Before I forget, there was an added bonus before the main feature. A very short animated film about babies of all sorts and shapes being manufactured in the sky by big clouds then delivered by storks to their mothers. It was the cutest film clip I've seen in ages.

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