Wednesday, March 31, 2010

BEOWULF

Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, Robin Wright Penn
Brendan Gleeson, John Malkovich, Angelina Jolie


"Pride is the Curse"


HBO



It is surprising what a dose of insomnia can do to my movie viewing habit. I couldn't sleep so I ended up watch digitally enhanced actors play out an old epic poem set centuries ago in a God forsaken place. I'm not really fond of this genre.

Ray Winstone who I've known to be a good actor but with a cockney accent so I barely understand what he says is Beowulf. He has been 'computerized' that you barely recognize him at all. I even thought he looked more like Sean Bean than Ray Winstone. He is a brave Geat warrior who heeds the pleas of King Hrothgar (Anthony Hopkins) to get rid of the menacing monster Grendel that has been tormenting a tiny kingdom called Herot. A somewhat egotistical yet fierce warrior, Beowulf seeks glory. After killing the monster, he has to confront its mother (Angelina Jolie). A creature that takes the form of a seductive woman and so she makes a demonic deal with Beowulf who then reigns supremely as the next King of Herot.

After the fierce battle, there seemed to be a lull both in the storyline as well as the film. The gap was noticeable. I wish they explored his reign as the King more extensively. But the last few minutes though was quite exciting as King Beowulf comes face to face with the aftermath of his 'sin'. His personal demons literally coming to haunt him in his old age.

Robert Zemeckis's version of Beowulf was interesting to say the least. It had all the great special effects and the computer generated scenes. The grandiose set design of a very bleak place. Violence and graphic gory bloodbath take center stage. And a cast that has been digitally programmed so they act like cartoon characters. But it wasn't cartoonish at all in its delivery of a folkloric character.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

CRAZY HEART

Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Colin Farrel, Robert Duvall


"The Harder the Life, the Sweeter the Song"



Jeff Bridges moving performance as Bad Blake truly deserves all the accolades he has garnered from his peers and the different awards giving bodies who honored him with the Best Actor trophy.

His subtle and realistic portrayal of a faded country music star struck both as a sympathetic and pathetic character. You cheer him on as he gets more breaks in his musical career and finds romance with a single mother. Then you can't help but condemn him as his battle with alcoholism takes a toll on his precarious career and his chance to find happiness with a love interest.

The film also has a good supporting cast with the ever reliable Maggie Gyllenhaal in a prominent role. Her portrayal of Jean, the single mother who hesitantly falls in love with Bad Blake is raw, exposed and quite convincing. Robert Duvall as his long time friend Wayne has always been a good character actor.

But I was quite surprised to find Colin Farrell was also in this film. He is cast as Tony Sweet, a former protege of Bad Blake but who has surpassed him in country music fame. Not only can he also sing quite well but you would totally forget he is a hot blooded Irish guy with a bad boy image. Heh!

The storyline is simple enough yet it tackles the effects of alcoholism and the difficult travails of a has been musician. I was equally surprised that Jeff Bridges can actually carry a tune, let alone sing entire songs. Songs which echo his harsh life and his long past loves. The kind of songs that really pull at the heartstrings. The kind of songs mostly identified with the country music genre. Songs which gave this film and its star Jeff Bridges a very soulful essence.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Chilean Film Cycle

Instituto Cervantes Manila, in collaboration with the Embassy of Chile in the Philippines, presents a Chilean Film Cycle to be screened prior to the regular 6pm schedule as a gesture of solidarity with Chile after the disastrous quake last February.

"La Fiebre de Loco" ("Loco Fever") will be screened at 4pm on April 10, 2010



One winter, the Chilean officials allowed for a short period the harvesting of
the valuable and aphrodisiac shellfish "el loco" in the seaside village of Puerto Gala. Greed and lust take hold. Greed is embodied by Carlos Maldonato, "El Canuto," who, after convincing his friend Jorge, the priest Luis and the whole community, bought all of the shellfish for a Japanese company. El Canuto also wrangles to get into good stead with an old flame, Sonia. But "el loco" proves to be more effective and more damaging than anyone could have guessed because after the selling part, people disclose a secret with tragic consequences.

"Taxi para tres" ("A Cab for Three") will screened on April 17, 2010 at 4pm.



A poor taxi driver with a big family to support is given a difficult choice from 2 small time crooks: drive them around while they rob, or get locked up in the trunk.

Location: Instituto Cervantes
855 T.M. Kalaw St.
Ermita Metro Manila

Thursday, March 25, 2010

NINE

Daniel Day Lewis, Penelope Cruz, Nicole Kidman,
Judi Dench, Sophia Loren, Marion Cottilard,
Fergie, Kate Hudson


"Be Italian"



The setting is Rome. The time frame is the 1960s. A period where great films were made. But Guido Contini (Daniel Day Lewis), a renowned Italian director is struggling. Both in his personal and professional lives. Thus goes the very promising premise of "Nine". Except it is a musical! So you have the cast bursting into song (and dancing too) in this Rob Marshall directed musical. It was based on the Fellini film, 8 1/2.

I have nothing against musicals. In fact, the song and dance numbers were well choreographed. I now have the song "Cinema Italiano" which was excellently performed by Kate Hudson permanently engraved in my subconscious. I like how Marshall used black and white versus color and vice versa to highlight the internal struggle of Director Contini. Rob Marshall's direction and the editing was seamless and well executed.

A cleverly conceived musical which take you into the troubled mind of Maestro Guido Contini as he questions his ability to make another film. Facing a mid life crisis while trying to balance the many women in his life. His wife Luisa (Marion Cotillard), his mistress Carla (Penelope Cruz), his film star Claudia (Nicole Kidman), his confidant and costume designer Lilli (Judi Dench), Stephanie an American fashion journalist (Kate Hudson), Saraghina (Fergie from the Black eyed Peas) the prostitute from his youth and his Mamma (Sophia Loren).

To have these talented pool of actresses in one cast is a visual treat. Then have them sing and dance deserves high praises both for Marshall as well as for the actresses. Each and every one of the them played a vital part in Guido's enigma.

I would give the film a "8 1/2" for its musical numbers. But I would definitely give it a "9" for the way it realistically portrayed the anguished struggle of a film maker battling with his personal demons as he bleeds to come up with a great movie. It is possible to witness it - you simply concentrate hard enough on 'blocking' out the songs and focus instead on Daniel Day Lewis as Maestro Guido Contini's pain!

Try it!

Monday, March 22, 2010

WHEN IN ROME

Kristen Bell, Josh Duhamel, Anjelica Huston, Danny De Vito
Will Arnett, Dax Shepard, Jon Heder


"Did you ever wish for the impossible?"


Cinema 6, SM MegaMall



I have to admit the only reason I wanted to see this film is to be able to set my eyes on the city of Rome, again. I've visited that Italian city several times and I've grown quite fond of it. So although I was a bit disappointed that Rome only got a few scenes, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this film. Perhaps because it also features New York, a city I've always wanted to visit. Or that the main setting is the famous Guggenheim museum, definitely on my list of places to visit in NYC. Alright plus there is a big bonus - Josh Duhamel is hot and really cute!

The story takes off after Beth (Kristen Bell) upon returning from Rome where she attended the sudden wedding of her sister finds several men falling under her spell. Much to her chagrin, she discovers that these men got hooked on her after she drunkenly took the coins which they tossed into the fountain of love. They turn out to be really creepy and relentless in their pursuit of poor Beth. But the main bane is that Nick (Josh Duhamel) who was the best man in her sister's wedding is also under the spell. So despite really falling in love with him, she keeps him at a distance because well it isn't true love!

I like the chemistry between the refreshingly tiny Kristen Bell and the really tall and dashing Josh Duhamel. While on the other hand, I honestly couldn't really stand the silly and stupid antics of the men under the spell. They were portrayed by known comedians like Will Arnett, Dax Shepard, Jon Heder and Danny De Vito. But they simply got on my nerves. I didn't find them funny at all. More like irritating pests you can't shake off no matter how hard you try.

Quite predictable, this romantic comedy has a happy ending and rightfully so since Bell and Duhamel despite the huge height difference look great as a couple so you leave the theater with a big smile on your face.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

KOLJA

Andrei Chalimon, Zdenek Sverak


"The perfect grouch has met his match.
A five year old boy named Kolja."


Velvet Channel



Once in a while, you come across a gem of a movie on TV. Well that is, if like me, you make a conscious effort to check the film listings on the movie channels, daily. So I marked this foreign language film on my calendar given that I'm a big fan of movies with English subtitles. In fact, "Kolja" won an Oscar for the Best Foreign Language Film category in 1997. And rightfully so!

This Czech Republic movie narrates the story of Franta Louka, a concert cellist in Soviet-occupied Czechoslovakia. He is a confirmed bachelor and lady's man. Formerly a member of the Philharmonic orchestra, he now makes ends meet by playing at funerals and painting tombstones. His friend Mr. Broz, a gravedigger suggests a scheme for making a lot of money. It involves marrying a Russian woman so that she can get her Czech papers so after much pondering, Louka reluctantly agrees. After she secures her papers, she bails out on him by emigrating to West Germany. In the process she leaves Kolja, her five-year-old son with his grandmother. Yet when the grandmother dies, Kolja must come and live with his stepfather - Louka.

This simple film works in more ways than one. It is endearing to watch the emotional interaction between Kolja and Louka. To witness how their relationship develops from awkwardness to a strong bond between a parent and a child. Even though they can't communicate properly given that the little boy only speaks Russian while the musician's mother tongue is the Czech language.

The actor who portrays Kolja is so adorable and is quite adept in showing his emotions through his facial expressions. It is equally interesting to watch how a confirmed bachelor suddenly adapts to having a child in his care. Set amidst a background of political intrigue, the film shows how the Czech citizens deal with and react to the Soviet invasion of its country. The setting is in a little apartment in Prague as well as the luscious Czech countryside.

A poignant film that proves that sometimes all it takes is a scenic backdrop, some talented actors to essay an interesting plot by keeping it simple yet it has a profound effect on society and on life in general.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Cine Con Europa - extended!

Instituto Cervantes extends cycle of Spanish-European films!

Due to the successful month-long run of Instituto Cervantes' Cine con Europa, a unique cycle of film gems co-produced between Spain and member-countries of the European Union, the Spanish cultural center will extend the film screenings until April 24, 2010.

A cacophony of drama and the hilarious sit alongside an unabashed popular blockbuster – the celebration of Spanish and European films will be delivered yet again at Instituto Cervantes' Salon de Actos every Saturday for the whole month of April at 6 p.m.

This event is also part of Spain 's presidency in the EU.




The cycle continues on April 10 with "Amor Idiota" (Idiot Love), an absorbing but dramatically uneven yarn of sexual obsession that extracts plenty of smart comedy from its darkness. This movie is strictly for adults (R-18).




Showing on April 17 is "Lo que sé de Lola" (What I Know About Lola), a meticulously constructed take on loneliness in which a maladjusted Frenchman (Leon) observes the life of a vivacious Spanish woman (Lola). This movie is strictly for adults (R-18).



On April 24 Cine Con Europa wraps up with "Una Casa de Locos" (The Spanish Apartment). The film follows Xavier, an economics student in his late twenties, who signs on to a European exchange program in order to gain working knowledge of the Spanish language.

Cine con Europa is organized by Instituto Cervantes de Manila in collaboration with the Spanish Embassy in the Philippines , and Spanish Agency International Cooperation for Development (AECID).

Admission to all the screenings is FREE on a FIRST-COME, FIRST-SERVED basis.

For more information, please call 5261482 or visit http://manila.cervantes.es

Instituto Cervantes
855 TM Kalaw St., Ermita, Manila
Tel: (632) 526 1482
Fax: (632) 526 1449

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Russian Film Festival



To commemorate the 35th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Russian Federation and the Republic of the Philippines on June 2, 2011, a festival of Russian films will be presented at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) on March 16-20, 2010 and Onstage, Ayala Center, Cebu City on March 26-27, 2010.

A photo exhibit will also be mounted for the duration of the festival to commemorate Soviet Union's victory in World War II.

The event is a presentation of Mosfilm Studios, Russia’s biggest filmmaker, in cooperation with the Embassy of the Russian Federation, Film Development Council of the Philippines, the CCP and the Philippines-Russia Friendship Society.

Five classical and contemporary films produced by Mosfilm will be screened:
Ward No. 6, Vanished Empire, The Star, Mirror, Agony.

Russian Film Festival 2010 Screening Schedule:
March 16 (Tue) 07:30PM, CCP Little Theatre - Ward No.6
March 17 (Wed) 04:00PM, CCP Tanghalang Manuel Conde (Dream Theatre) - Vanished Empire
March 17 (Wed) 07:00PM, CCP Tanghalang Manuel Conde (Dream Theatre) - The Star
March 18 (Thu) 04:00PM, CCP Tanghalang Manuel Conde (Dream Theatre) - The Mirror
March 18 (Thu) 07:00PM, CCP Tanghalang Manuel Conde (Dream Theatre) - Agony
March 19 (Fri) 07:00PM, CCP Tanghalang Manuel Conde (Dream Theatre) - Vanished Empire
March 19 (Fri) 04:00PM, CCP Tanghalang Manuel Conde (Dream Theatre) - Ward No.6
March 20 (Sat) 04:00PM, CCP Tanghalang Manuel Conde (Dream Theatre) - Agony
March 20 (Sat) 07:00PM, CCP Tanghalang Manuel Conde (Dream Theatre) - The Mirror


All screenings are FREE on a first-come, first served basis. Kindly note that the CCP Dream Theatre has a limited seating capacity of 100 persons only.

For more information, kindly call the CCP Media Arts division at 832-1125 local 1704 and 1705.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

THE GREEN ZONE

Matt Damon, Brendan Gleeson, Greg Kinnear, Jason Isaacs,
Amy Ryan, Khalid Abdalla, Yigal Naor


"Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller is done following orders!"


Cinema 4, SM Megamall




Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon are back. The dynamic duo who entertained us with the last two Bourne (The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum) movies come a packing with this action filled caper set during the early years of the Iraq War.

It is 2003 and Baghdad is levelled down to the ground. There is total chaos. Conditions are pretty bad - no electricity, no water and the populace live under bleak, depressing circumstances. Enter Roy Miller (Matt Damon) a chief warrant officer who is assigned to hunt for WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) based on 'reliable' intelligence reports. But he keeps coming out empty because we ALL know by now - there never were any WMD in that country. Frustrated yet somehow righteous, he makes it his mission to uncover the source of the Intel reports and makes it his quest "to justify the war" - never mind if he encounters authoritative persons who can really make life miserable for him in more ways than one. The film is peppered with references to characters who played significant roles in the invasion of Iraq. CIA operatives, shady Pentagon officials, Wall Street Journal reporter, special ops forces - throw in a former general in the Bath party of Saddam and Freddy (Khalid Abdalla) a patriotic Iraqi citizen who is dragged along to act as an interpreter.

The action is fast paced. Loud explosives contribute to the ear deafening factor amidst the total destruction of Baghdad, a capital city once revered in history for its architectural wonders. The entire cast (Greg Kinnear, Brendan Gleeson, Amy Ryan, Jason Isaacs) of good actors all play highly convincing characters with varying degrees of personalities. Of course, the presence of Matt Damon as a passionate soldier who feels the need to do things right is the main essence of the film. He is great in these type of roles.

The plot though plays out like an anti-War, anti-America political commentary with some holier than thou statements from Freddy who spews venom against his so called 'rescuers'. And rightly so since they just invaded his country with nary a thought on the devastating consequences. Some scenes are shaky as they are filmed with a hand held camera but thankfully they are just a few sequences so it won't give you much of a headache.

Overall it is a highly entertaining film with a good cast but somehow it feels like an after thought as the story line focuses on the search for WMD. A topic so passe it makes me think of fashion faux pas like shoulder pads.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

FROM PARIS WITH LOVE

John Travolta, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Kasia Smutniak


"Two agents. One City. No Merci."


Cinema 12, SM Megamall


Pierre Morel, the director of "Taken" is back with another action filled movie set in Paris. In this spy genre film, a personal aide to the U.S. Ambassador in France, James Reece (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) gets his first assignment as a CIA operative. He can't believe his good luck until he meets his new partner, Charlie Wax (John Travolta). The special agent is a trigger-happy, wisecracking, loose cannon who's been sent to Paris to stop a terrorist attack.

Together they embark on a wild goose chase through the Parisian underworld where low life criminals/terrorists breed and fester. Shooting spree, high speed car chases, fast paced action sequences are the main fare as the duo race against time to foil the attack. In the process, Reece discovers his sense of purpose through betrayal and deceit and openly questions his capability to make it as a bonafide agent.

Travolta shines in his role as Charlie Wax. It reminds me of his Pulp Fiction role. The days when his portrayal of eccentric and flawed characters fit him to a T. He is an endearing character you love to hate yet at the same time find quite adorable in a repulsive sort of way. His onscreen rapport with Jonathan Rhys Meyers (another good and believable actor) was palpable and they make a good duo despite their contrasting personalities.

The action sequences were somewhat convincing. It is a fast paced and well edited movie. Cinematography is a combination of bleak, morose settings along with crisp background scenery of the city of Lights, Paris. But just like in his previous film "Taken", Morel's Paris is not a romantic place where love blossoms. Instead it essays the underbelly of the criminal world where evil minds are always hatching some terrorist plot to wreak havoc and mayhem.

Thankfully, you can always rely on Travolta, Rhys Meyers and Liam Nesson (the main character in "Taken") to come to your rescue!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

EDGE OF DARKNESS

Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone, Danny Huston, Bojana Novakovic


"Some Secrets take us to the Edge"



Mel Gibson is back! And back with a vengeance in this suspense filled drama that hinges around a murder which unravels industrial secrets within the corporate world.

Here he portrays Thomas Craven, a Boston homicide detective whose daughter Emma (Bojana Novakovic) is viciously murdered on their front porch. At first, he naturally thinks that he was the target. Yet it seems that his innocent looking daughter had gotten herself involved in pretty nasty corporate espionage stuff. And there is nothing more heart wrenching than to have your only child murdered - thus driving poor Mel Gibson over the edge and he won't stop until he finds her killers.

During the first half of the movie, the plot plods on at a slower pace as Craven encounters clues that might help him solve the mystery. He meets an assortment of characters both sympathetic as well as bad guys. The story picks up towards the end as the mastermind(s) behind the killings are unmasked. Culminating in a somehow predictable ending where as expected Mel Gibson kills everybody who had anything to do with his only child's brutal slaying.

The action scenes are pretty much subdued, I would say. Not as gory nor violent as I thought they would be. But nonetheless they are indeed gruesome and fast paced. Mel Gibson is understandably much older and I believe this fatherly role suits him. They also inserted scenes where he gets to 'interact' with his dead daughter, adding some level of humanity into an otherwise physically demanding role. He also had good rapport with Ray Winstone who convincingly portrays some sort of cleaner that is in charge of hiding evidence on behalf of very powerful clients. Well that is, if you can understand Winstone's accent and dreadful way of not properly enunciating his words!

The plot line is very current as the bad guys (a US based conglomerate) are into the manufacturing of weapons of mass destruction using foreign parts so that when sold to their foreign ally won't be traced back to the US of A. How cunningly convenient and totally evil minded of them. Tsk tsk. Overall it is a good comeback vehicle for Mel Gibson. I'm looking forward to seeing him in more good roles that have a nice blend of action scenes coupled with angst ridden human drama.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

LAW ABIDING CITIZEN

Jaime Foxx, Gerard Butler, Colm Meany, Bruce McGill


"How do you stop a Killer who is already behind bars?"



This film focuses on Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler) a man who, ten years after his wife and daughter are brutally murdered, resurfaces to extract justice from the people who allowed the killers to go free. His raw vengeance threatens not only the district attorney, Nick Rice (Jaime Foxx) the man who allowed mercy to supersede justice, but also the system and the city that made it so. The best part is that he does all these acts of violence while he is behind bars!

The main characters are engaged in a battle of wits. Gerard Butler is a man hiding behind a subtle demeanor that masks a knowledge in tactical strategies. While Jaime Foxx portrays a ruthless district attorney who has no qualms making deals with criminals as long as his record as a ball busting prosecutor remained intact. You can't help but dislike both men for a number of different reasons.

The plot was a tad unbelievable. It isn't realistic for a man to be so powerful and adept at wreaking havoc by taking the law into his hands while being incarcerated in jail. Never mind that he was some skilled tactician in the art of psycho warfare in his previous occupation. A fact that is revealed midway and after a whole lot of violent scenes of destruction and mayhem. The story pretty much picked up during the middle part as they play a game of cat and mouse with time running out of their hands. It concluded with some glorifying ending that aims to show that crime doesn't pay.

Friday, March 5, 2010

ALICE IN WONDERLAND

Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway,
Crispin Glover, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, Michael Sheen


"You've got a very important date"


Cinema 10, SM Megamall



It is definitely no wonder that if you want to be transported to a fantasy land then Tim Burton will be the perfect man to take you on that journey. In his latest masterpiece, we join him as he brings back Alice (Mia Wasikowska) who returns to a magical land which of course, looks astounding. Wonderland is an amazing place, often colorful, but equally often ravaged and bleak. It's a treat for the eyes, with the imagination and design shining through the technology.

I have to admit though that if Tim Burton had decided to do the film in full animation, I wouldn't have watch it at all. I like the idea that it is peppered with characters portrayed by actors even though they are completely CGI-ed up. You have a red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) with a big head who often shouts "Off with their heads!". She is cunning, wily yet also hilarious at times. She also paints as a lonely figure who is prone to maniacal tendencies.

Even though Alice is the main character, the Mad Hatter completely steals the show. Johnny Depp's heavily made up face, his tangerine hairdo and colorful attire all contribute to his intriguing characterization of a persona that is both comical and tragic in nature. You expect only the best from an actor who has regaled us with a wide variety of roles throughout the years. He has played Sweeney Todd, Willie Wonka, Edward Scissorhands and a pirate named Jack Sparrow. So he can definitely add the Mad Hatter to his impressive line up of memorable characters.

There is an inclination for one to further analyze the real vs fantasy dilemma often questioned by Alice as she strolls through Wonderland. Yet at the same time, you are captured by the visual kaleidoscope that you simply sit back to enjoy the vivid cinematography and the plot which unfolds like a daydream.

In that sense, Tim Burton succeeds in bringing a well loved children book unto the big screen. You will be amused by the captivating characters like a talking mongrel, a playful Cheshire cat, a loony white Rabbit and a wise blue caterpillar - they will certainly appeal to young kids. Yet as most fairy tale books go neither is it entirely child friendly as scary characters like a growling Bandersnatch and the menacing Jabberwocky set the bleak, depressing undertones in the story.

Overall, it is an entertaining fun way to spend 2 hours to simply get lost in a fascinating world of make believe!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Citibank Free Movie Pass Promo


Lights, camera, Citi!

Every time you use your Citibank Credit Card you get FREE Movie Passes for the following transactions:

(1) Minimum single receipt purchase of P1,500 = Get 1 Free Movie Pass
(2) Minimum single receipt purchase of P5,000 = Get 2 Free Movie Passes
(3) Minimum single receipt purchase of P20,000 = Get 4 Free Movie Passes

Each Free Movie Pass is worth P100.

Free Movie Passes may be redeemed within 30 days from the date of purchase.

Only purchases in Philippine currency are qualified.

Simply present your Citi Card and surrender your valid charge slip at the following participating cinemas: The Ayala Malls Cinemas, The Shang Cineplex, Eastwood Cinemas and all Robinsons Movieworld.

For more details, visit the Citibank website at http://www.citibank.com.ph

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

ELEGY

Ben Kingsley, Penelope Cruz, Patricia Clarkson,
Peter Sarsgaard, Dennis Hopper, Deborah Harry


Star Movies




Spanish director Isabel Coixet's films tend to enthrall us with thought provoking plots that are presented in simple narratives. She caught my attention with such intriguing films like "The Secret Life of Words" and "My Life without Me".

"Elegy" is Coixet's film adaptation of "The Dying Animal", a novel by Philip Roth. It relates the lonely existence of David Kepesh (Ben Kingsley) a professor and cultural critic who begins a passionate affair with Consuela (Penelope Cruz) his much younger Cuban student. David internalizes his thoughts out loud through a narrative where he expounds on morality, old age, jealousy, obsession, commitment (lack of) and sensuality among other existential topics. He also confides in his best friend, George (Dennis Hopper) a philandering lothario who tends to give him sexist pieces of advice vis a vis love and life in general.

The main draw of the film is the brilliant acting performance of Sir Ben Kingsley. Here he is a deeply vulnerable, raw, and exposed character with numerous flaws. His stance and his eloquent delivery of dialogue is haunting and poignant. Penelope Cruz is equally explosive in her subtle role as the student who captures and in turn awakens the fiery sexuality of the aging professor. Their romantic chemistry was intense. The supporting roles are well cast with Dennis Hopper and Patricia Clarkson providing significant fodder to the main characters.

The rather vague ending was a bit melodramatic yet overall this film was a moving and powerful account about a complex of emotions between a tortured soul and the woman he fell in lust and eventually in love with!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Cine con Europa

Instituto Cervantes presents Cine con Europa, a cycle which showcases films coproduced between Spain and member-countries of the European Union (EU) such as Portugal, United Kingdom (UK), Italy and Germany. Cine con Europa is part of Instituto Cervantes de Manila’s celebration of Spain’s presidency of the EU.

Screenings will be held at the center’s Salon de Actos every Saturday for the whole month of March.



"La Conjura de El Escorial" (El Escorial Conspiracy) will open the festival on March 8.

On March 13, Vicente Peñarrocha’s fantasy flick "Arritmia" based on the true human psychological damage that has been carried out in Guantanamo Bay, will be shown.

Brad Anderson’s thriller-drama "Transsiberian" about deception and murder when an American couple encounters a mysterious pair of fellow travelers on a Trans-Siberian train journey from China to Moscow, will be screened on March 20.

Dark comedy "La Caja" will be screened on March 27.

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

Call 5261482 or visit their website.

Instituto Cervantes de Manila is at 855 TM Kalaw Street, Ermita, Manila.
 

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