Monday, June 28, 2010

LETTERS TO JULIET

Vanessa Redgrave, Amanda Seyfried, Gael Garcia Bernal, Christopher Egan, Franco Nero


"What if you had a second chance to find love?"


Cinema 12, SM Megamall




There is something about films set in Italy that exudes an ethereal with light and breezy vibes. "Letters to Juliet" is no exception. You might even get the feeling of suddenly bursting into a song since most of the stars have appeared in musicals. I'm referring to Amanda Seyfried who starred in the movie adaptation of "Momma Mia" and Vanessa Redgrave and Franco Nero as the star crossed lovers in "Camelot". Yes I'm that old, I remember watching Camelot and swooning over the dashing Franco Nero and getting lost in dreamy wonder from his booming voice.

Anyways the main premise is about Sophie, an American fact checker for the New Yorker who accompanies her fiance, Victor to Verona. Victor is in the process of opening a restaurant in New York so he is in Italy to scout for suppliers. While roaming by her lonesome self (because Victor is too consumed with his business), Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) stumbles upon a magical place. A nondescript 'shrine' where brokenhearted women leave letters about lost loves, break ups and the whole shebang. Eventually Sophie becomes one of the writers who answer these letters. She personally accompanies Claire (Vanessa Redgrave) and her grandson Charlie (Christopher Egan) on a quest. A journey through Tuscany to search for her long lost love, Lorenzo Bartolini (Franco Nero).

The film is like a travelogue as the main characters venture into the heart of the Italian countryside. Gorgeous scenes of lush verdant fields and vineyards are awash. It is further buoyed by an upbeat soundtrack of Italian and English songs. So even though you can easily predict the happy ending (both for Claire and Sophie), this film is a delightful romantic comedy to watch.

The characters are credibly portrayed by a good cast of actors. Amanda Seyfried is so adorably refreshing. Gael Garcia Bernal and Christopher Egan in small yet significant roles. But mostly the film is like a reunion for Guenevere and Sir Lancelot as they live happily ever after not in Camelot but in Firenze. Lovely!

Friday, June 25, 2010

EIGA SAI 2010: Japanese Film Festival



In celebration of the Philippines–Japan Friendship Month, the Japan Foundation, Manila, in cooperation with the Embassy of Japan, the Shangri-La Plaza Mall (EDSA), and the UP Film Institute (Diliman), proudly presents the much-awaited "Eigasai 2010" a Japanese Contemporary Film Festival on July 1 at Shang Cineplex Cinema 4 to open the month-long festivity.

Now on its 12th year, “Eigasai,” which literally means ‘film festival’, it is offering eight contemporary films and 2 anime films in 35mm and DVD format.

An invitational screening of Always Sunset on Third Street 2 (Always zoku San-chome no yuhi, 2007) by director Yamazaki Takashi will be held on July 1 (Thursday) at 7:00 p.m. at the Shangri-La Plaza Cinema 4, Edsa, Mandaluyong City.

All films will be shown with English subtitles.

Admission is free.

Screening venues are at the Shangri-La Plaza Cinema 4 (July 1 to 11) and UP Film Institute (August 18 to 21).

For detailed screening schedules and inquiries, please access the Japan Foundation, Manila website: www.jfmo.org.ph or call the JFM at (+632) 811-6155 to 58.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

OBSESSED

Beyonce Knowles, Idris Elba, Ali Larter


"All's fair when love is war"


HBO





I figure the producers of this dismal film were banking on Beyonce to be the main draw. But as it turns out her character was just as annoying as the protagonist.

Beyonce plays Sharon who accidentally finds out that Derek, (Idris Elba) her husband has been lying about a woman stalker. The stalker is Lisa (Ali Larter) a temp who develops a huge crush on Derek. At first, I figured that Lisa must have misinterpreted his kind gestures (he was giving her some advice about relationships) and nuances as affection. Then eventually as the film progresses we bear witness to her stalker tendencies and she becomes quite a menace to the picture perfect marriage of Sharon and Derek.

Then you have a complete turn around for the Sharon character as portrayed by Beyonce. From a sweet, gentle wife from the upper class spectrum of society, she turns into a fierce lady from the ghetto with a foul mouth. Probably for Beyonce, she found the role challenging. A deviation from her flawless reputation as a diva. But for me it wasn't really a good role for her to play. Alright given that she portrays an aggrieved wife trying to ward off the insane stalker but still I have issues with her character development.

So this trying hard to be like Fatal Attraction but fails epically movie rates pretty low in my books. I should have just tuned in to the World Cup match instead of enduring this miserable film. Heh!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

2010 Green Film Festival at SM Supermalls

This month, SM Supermalls celebrate World Environment Day with the screening of eye-opening environmental documentaries at the 2010 Green Film Festival.

Starting June 21 and 22 and held every third Monday and Tuesday of the month thereafter, the SM Green Film Festival has gotten bigger and better on its second year, as 36 malls nationwide will showcase four fantastic documentaries that will help more Filipinos learn about what is happening to our environment today.

State of the Planet, a documentary produced by BBC and the Discovery Channel talks about the destruction of the rainforest, extinction of the species, global warning and rising sea levels and other ecological crises our planet faces.

Warnings from the Wild, a documentary produced by BBC and PBS, examines how global warming is affecting the Earth, from polar bears getting thinner and producing less offspring to the migration of the Adelie penguin from its home in the Antarctic.

Meanwhile, Leonardo DiCaprio joins the green movement with the film The 11th Hour, where he explores the devastating effects of carbon dioxide emissions on the planet and the possible ways we can switch and use renewable energy sources.

Finally, the most elaborate documentary series ever produced gives a fresh perspective at the earth’s last wilderness and its wildlife. Called Planet Earth as you’ve never seen it before, the film was commissioned by the BBC and is described as “the definitive look at the diversity of our planet.

SM Supermalls are inviting all public students to catch the free screenings of these must-see films to learn more about our planet and what they can do to help solve the many ecological crises that exist today. SM hopes to reach and educate one million public school children through this effort.

The Green Film Festival is one of the many environmental activities of SM Prime Holdings through SM Cares which aims to raise the environmental consciousness of the public.

Friday, June 11, 2010

LE BEAU MARIAGE
(THE WELL MADE MARRIAGE)

15th French Film Festival
Cinema 4, Shang Cineplex





The major character in this Eric Rohmer film is Sabine. She seems almost ordinary at first. She is averagely pretty, articulate and seems well adjusted to a middle-class existence.

She works in an antique shop in Le Mans where she lives with her younger sister and widowed mother. While the rest of the week she is in Paris studying for a degree in art history. She is also carrying on a casual affair with a married painter named Simon.

One night after she gets tired of playing second fiddle to Simon's children, she announces she is getting married. To whom? Sabine says she doesn't know. She hasn't met the guy, but she has no doubt that she soon will. Sabine is fed up with her single life.

This is more or less the jumping-off place for "Le Beau Mariage". Sabine might at first appear to be ordinary, but it soon becomes apparent that her ordinariness disguises a woman of intense emotional tenacity and moral conviction.

She is alternately sweet and ferocious as she puts into effect her plan to convince Edmond, a 30 something Parisian lawyer, that the two of them are made for each other, or at least as made for each other as any two people ever will. Under any other circumstances Sabine would probably be intolerable in the way she dogs the trail of poor Edmond and refuses to take his lack of telephone calls as a sign of indifference. But she is neither stupid nor arrogant. It seems she is totally convinced of the seemingly utter reasonableness of her plan.

I'd like to say that Sabine is one of the most convincingly intelligent characters I've encountered in a film. She is certainly not an intellectual, but she is a remarkably self-aware, engaging woman with a no-nonsense approach to her life.

The scope of the film is limited, but everything within it is well-defined and illuminating. One has the feeling of having met romantic characters who in no way deny the social and political complexities of the real world that exists just outside the view of the camera.

It is a witty, halcyon entertainment, especially in a season that has otherwise been notable mostly for extravagant overstatement and special effects.

L'HEURE D'ETE
(SUMMER HOURS)

15th French Film Festival
Cinema 4, Shang Cineplex



We are introduced to the characters through a family gathering. Helene, the matriarch is celebrating her 75th birthday and her 3 adult children together with their families have come for the special occasion. The setting is in an ancient house in the countryside. A place that holds numerous antiques, paintings and is fraught with memories. Helene then presents to her eldest son Frederic a well organized list on how to dispose the valuable belongings once she passes on from this world.

Eventually several months later, she dies and the daunting task falls on the heavy shoulders of Frederic who is the only sibling living in Paris. His brother is an expat in Shanghai and busy with forging his career as well as taking care of his family. While the only daughter lives in New York and is occupied with her incoming wedding.

The film focuses on a relevant topic. The one we all have to face eventually in our lives - the tedious and sometimes painful process of inheritance. So we are presented with scenes of curators and appraisers taking stock of the vast antique collection. But it also shows us the different reactions of the siblings on the disposal of their ancestral house. As they sort through the numerous items, they reminisce about their relevance vis a vis their childhood.

It also has some touching and moving moments. A pivotal scene is when Frederic is suddenly overwhelmed with sadness and pulls his car over to a curb and just cries his heart out. Perhaps he didn't want this siblings and his family to see him as weak. I get the impression that is the only time he truly cried over the death of his mother and the passing of his childhood memories. How sad.

Another reflective sequence is a scene at the Museum D'Orsay where Frederic and his wife Lisa look at the objects they've donated which are now prominently displayed. An ironic contrast as it serves as a significant contribution to history and cultural artifacts yet at the same time there is a semblance that the objects are caged in a cold space and devoid of any human context in their family's life.

This film make us contemplate on the futility of hanging onto the past when eventually they do end up as museum pieces or worse merely gathering dust in storage boxes.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

LA GRAINE ET LE MULET
(THE SECRET OF THE GRAIN)

15th French Film Festival
Cinema 4, Shang Cineplex




This film explores the life of a French Arab family. Silmane, the elderly patriarch is laid off from work so he dreams of opening a restaurant. Since he used to work at the shipyard, he decides to convert an old boat into an eatery where he will serve his ex-wife’s famous fish couscous. Naturally, he encounters complex problems involving his family and his business proposal.

The movie has many layers that shift through numerous issues. It offers a very realistic perspective into the modern French minority experience. It also presents the rich Arab culture as exemplified by strong family ties cemented by good food and you might as well throw in some belly dance, while you're at it.

In my opinion, certain scenes were totally dragging. It seemed like it went on forever. Yet I understand that the director wanted to convey the same sense of frustration as experienced by the characters in the film. So in that manner, he did succeed. The extreme close ups of the characters were also distracting.

Filmed entirely in French with some Arabic words and English subtitles, The Secret of the Grain is a good tale of human triumphs despite all odds.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

ROBIN HOOD

Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Mark Strong,
William Hurt, Max Von Sydow, Oscar Isaac


"Rise and rise again.
Until lambs become lions."


Cinema 8, SM Megamall



I suggest you take whatever limited knowledge you have stored in your memory of the legendary figure Robin Hood and throw them out of the window. Arguably your information about him will stem from movies like "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" or worse "Robin Hood: Men in Tights". Because this Ridley Scott is a revisionist take on the life of an archer named Robin Longstride who eventually turns into an outlaw. So you can say that this is a prequel to his "Robin Hood" days.

As most period films depicting the Middle Ages go, there is a bleak undertone that envelops the entire movie. From squalid surroundings, scruffy characters to a murky plot which can match the equally gloomy film about another legend, "King Arthur" which starred Clive Owen. Actually most of the film was striding along on solid ground until it reached the last few minutes when there seemed to be an editing problem. Suddenly Robin Hood who was still reeling in the victory of a battle was classified as an outlaw and vanquished to the forests of Nottingham. Then the film ends!

Nevertheless the cast was composed of good and talented actors who tried their best to work on a seemingly faulty script. Russell Crowe although sporting a Gladiator haircut passionately portrayed Robin Hood with much conviction. The rest like Cate Blanchett, William Hurt and Max Von Sydow among others performed equally well. Although there wasn't much character development on Robin Hood's merry men, I figure the title says it all. This is the story of an archer named Robin Longstride who heroically becomes Robin Hood: an outlaw with a heart. Heh how's that for a title to the sequel, eh?

Monday, June 7, 2010

L'AMOUR C'EST MIEUX A DEUX
(LOVE IS BEST FOR TWO)

15th French Film Festival
Cinema 4, Shang Cineplex



This light romantic comedy tells the story of two best friends who have different notions about love, relationships and dating in general.

Michel believes that love can only blossom out of a chance encounter. Stemming from the fact that both his parents and grandparents have enduring marriages which blossomed by chance. While Vincent has long term commitment issues so he prefers to play the field. But fate has other plans for them. As expected, both men end up finding their respective matches despite and inspite of the numerous twists and angles which may suggest otherwise.

A simple and light fare that has its funny as well as mushy moments. It has a good ensemble cast who portray characters with vibrant personalities. Set in modern day Paris, it offers a refreshing insight into dating, relationships and everything else in between.

It is filmed entirely in French with English subtitles. Yet it also features songs in English which do their bit in highlighting certain scenes.

A feel good movie that doesn't disappoint!

Friday, June 4, 2010

SEX AND THE CITY 2

Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon, Kim Cattrall,
Chris Noth, David Eigenberg, Evan Handler


"Carrie on!"


Cinema 2, SM Megamall



Over indulgent decadence is how I would describe this film. From the over the top gay wedding, the designer clothes (imagine wearing high heels in the desert!!!) to the gaudy and tacky lifestyle of the rich and famous in a strictly Islamic city of all places.

Yes the girls are back. The film takes off 2 years after Carrie's wedding to Mr Big. Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) is now living a very cushy life as Mrs Preston yet somehow she feels their marriage has lost its sparkle. Samantha (Kim Cattrall) is still very much single and quite fabulous yet she is undergoing menopause and needs a million pills to keep away the hot flushes. Charlotte (Kristin Davis) is still prim and proper and her perfectionist attitude is interfering with her motherhood duties. Then you have the every feisty Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) who suddenly decides to quit her job because of a difficult boss. An act I deem insensitive because there are many people losing their jobs during this recession.

Then they decide to take the insensitivity issue further by embarking on an Arabian adventure where they flaunt their aging bodies in designer clothes without respecting the cultural values of their host country. Tsk tsk. That really left a big taste in my mouth. Having lived in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates for 6 years and a place I've grown fond of I didn't exactly like the girls attitude and behavioral habits in their let's pretend Morocco is Abu Dhabi segments.

I always thought it was tolerable to watch 4 'mature' women yap about their lives in TV show. A short 30 minutes, at that. But then they decided to turn it into a full length film and I thought OK so let's see how far they can stretch the plot. They concentrated on Carrie's wedding or non wedding so it was fairly watchable. We all love wedding themed films, right? As for the sequel well I believe they simply ran out of ideas so they decide to throw in an Arabian adventure for good measure.

After I've exposed all the flaws of this sequel, I still like to say I liked the film! It had different layers. The main essence of the TV show wasn't completely lost amidst the decadence. It still had Carrie's voice overs (I'm a sucker for voice overs in films). It still focused on their lasting and enduring camaraderie. It had its funny moments (menopausal references were hilarious). Its tiny insights into married life were refreshing.

So if only for those essential details, I'd say the film all 2 and a half hours of it is worth watching.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Football Film Cycle

Instituto Cervantes Futbol has a special four-film line-up that offers the best Spanish and Latin-American films on the sport.

Screenings will be held every Saturday, 6 p.m. at the center’s Salon de Actos.

June 5 Loving Maradona - a documentary that follows the life story of Argentina´s legendary football player, Diego Armando Maradona. In this film, Maradona narrates his beginnings — from his impoverished childhood to his remarkable rise to stardom. The soccer star also bares details about the controversial “Hand of God”¨goal, as well as the places that have been part of his life such as Naples, Barcelona, Cuba, Rio de Janeiro, among others. This documentary is directed by Javier Vázquez.

June 12 David Serrano’s comedy flick Días de Futbol (Soccer Days) A group of unsuccessful men on their thirties who have been friends since childhood, discover a solution to their problems: soccer/football.


June 19 Hannes Stöhr’s Galatasaray Dépor (One Day in Europe) It tells four picturesque and casual stories of eccentric protagonists which depict the misunderstandings caused by intercultural communication. All happening in one day and in different cities, the film shows that language barriers and cultural differences are common reasons of misunderstandings.

June 26 La Gran Final (The Great Match) This is a comedy consisting of three parallel stories about the trials and tribulations of a group of men who have things in common: they live in remote regions of the planet are determined to watch the final match of the 2002 World Cup between Germany and Brazil.

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

For information, call 526-1482 or visit http://manila.cervantes.es.

Instituto Cervantes de Manila
855 T.M. Kalaw St., Ermita, Manila.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

15th French Film Festival



The French Film festival celebrates its 15th Anniversary this June, fifteen years of bringing French culture to the Filipino people through the screening of some of the most popular and critically acclaimed French films.

As a tradition, the French Film Festival pays tribute to Philippine cinema on June 12, with the screening of “Lola” at the Shang Cineplex.

The festival will open on June 3, 2010 at the Shangri-La Plaza with the screening of "L’Amour C'est Mieux a Deux" by Dominique Farrugia. The French Director is currently shooting a new film in the Philippines and will be the guest of honor of the Festival.

The French Film Festival will run from June 3 to 13 at the Shang Cineplex of the Shangri-La Plaza in Manila.

A retrospective of classic films of Eric Rohmer will run at the Cultural Center of the Philippines from June 15 to 19, in honor of the late filmmaker who passed away early this year.

Screening Schedule is not final and is subject to change.

June 3, Thursday
7:30 pm L’Amour C'est Mieux a Deux

June 4, Friday
12pm L'Heure d'ete
3 pm La Fille du RER
6 pm La Graine et le Mulet
9 pm Les Bureaux de Dieu

June 5, Saturday
12 pm L'Amour C'est Mieux a Deux
3 pm Le Premier Venu
6 pm Welcome
9 pm Dans La Vie

June 6, Sunday
12 pm Le Genou De Claire
3 pm Le Beau Mariage
6 pm L'Heure d'ete
9 pm La Fille du RER

June 7, Monday
12 pm La Graine et le Mulet
3 pm Les Bureaux de Dieu
6 pm L'Amour C'est Mieux a Deux
9 pm Le Premier Venu

June 8, Tuesday
12pm Welcome
3 pm Dans La Vie
6 pm Le Genou De Claire
9 pm Le Beau Mariage

June 9, Wednesday
12 pm Les Bureaux de Dieu
3 pm La Graine et le Mulet
6 pm La Fille du RER
9 pm L'Heure d'ete

June 10, Thursday
12pm Dans La Vie
3 pm Welcome
6 pm Le Premier Venu
9 pm L'Amour C'est Mieux a Deux

June 11, Friday
12pm La Fille du RER
3 pm L'Heure d'ete
6 pm Le Beau Mariage
9 pm Le Genou De Claire

June 12, Saturday
Lola

June 13, Sunday
12pm Le Premier Venu
3 pm L'Amour C'est Mieux a Deux
6 pm Les Bureaux de Dieu
9 pm La Graine et le Mulet
 

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