Monday, August 23, 2010

4th International SIlent Film Festival

The 4th International Silent Film Festival Manila, a joint project of the Goethe-Institut, Instituto Cervantes, Japan Foundation and the Embassy of Italy, will be held at the Shang Cineplex Cinema 2, Shangri-La Plaza in Mandaluyong.

As in previous festivals, the silent movie classics will be accompanied by live performances, this time by Caliph8, the Radioactive Sago Project, Tanglaw and Out of Body Special.

Italy will present Assunta Spina (1914) by Francesca Bertini and Gustavo Serena, an operatic tale of love and sacrifice. Music will be provided by Caliph8. Screening is on Aug. 28, 6:30 p.m.

Japan will present Kid Commotion (Kodakara Sodo), a 1935 film by Torajiro Saito. This slapstick comedy focuses on a desperate man whose wife is about to have their seventh child. Music will be provided by the Radioactive Sago Project. Screening is on Aug. 28, 8:30 p.m.

Spain will present Wine Cellars (La Bodega), a 1929 film by Benito Perojo, about a doomed love affair. Tanglaw will provide the music. Screening will be on Aug. 29, 3 p.m.

Germany will present Berlin, Symphony of a Great City (Die Sinfonie der Grosstadt), a 1927 film by Walter Ruttman. This semidocumentary takes a look at the "new" Berlin of the late 1920s. The music will be performed by Out of Body Special. Screening will be on Aug. 29, 5 p.m.

Entrance is free.

Friday, August 20, 2010


Catherine Zeta Jones, Justin Bartha

"She's still got it. He's still getting it."

I don't know why but I had a big smile pasted on my face throughout the entire film. Probably because they are such endearing characters, it made for a pleasant viewing. It is the story of Sandy (Catherine Zeta Jones) a recent divorcee who moves to the city with her two kids to start anew. She gets a lucrative job at a sports channel, moves into a nice loft and hires Aram (Justin Bartha) to look after her kids while she works, goes out on dates etc. As most romantic comedies go, they end up being a couple despite their gaping age difference. As predicted, issues soon crop up and they ... well just watch the film to find out.

It's also a film that reminds us how likeable an actress Zeta-Jones is. Her beautifully expressive face adds credibility to her role and we find Sandy someone we genuinely care about.

Justin Bartha gets to be a romantic lead after supporting roles in "National Treasure" and "The Hangover". His Aram character is such a harmlessly nice guy, you can't help but go 'awww' every time he does something sweet for the kids and Sandy. They do have a fairly good chemistry together in an awkward sort of way.

There are some funny dialogue mostly courtesy of her smart alecky kids and their wise cracking comments. Do watch out for Art Garfunkel as Aram's father. I was notably surprised at how genuine he was despite his very brief role.

The movie as a whole plods along pleasantly enough, delivering smiles aplenty as this unlikely couple deal with each other and the travails of a May December romance.

Friday, August 13, 2010


Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel

"Boy meet Girl. Boy falls in Love.
Girl Doesn't."

We are warned early on in this film that this is not a love story. Fair enough but I figure it can still qualify as a romantic comedy in an unconventional way.

This is the story of Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who falls head over heels for Summer (Zooey Deschanel), a young woman who doesn't believe in true love. We are presented to the different facets of their relationship in a non chronological time frame. Each scene is preceded by a beautiful artwork depicting the day in the 500 days that Summer was in Tom's life. As the film progresses along, we begin to feel invested in their lives as the characters are quite endearing. Both individually and as a couple on the throes of a new and fresh romance, we find ourselves rooting wholeheartedly for them.

I was really impressed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s performance in “Inception” and in this film he is an equally likable chap. Not overtly handsome yet charming in an innocent, boyish way. His characterization of Tom was sympathetic and naive. In fact, I’d say it is quite a reversal of gender personification. Usually it is the female who is the hopeless romantic, the one who pines for true love and the one who wants to immediately label a relationship.

On the other hand, Zooey Deschanel as Summer had a vacant look pasted on her face throughout the entire movie. But in this case, it was befitting of a complex character who was insouciant, indifferent and carefree yet strangely enough she also believed in coincidences and chance encounters.

The film was peppered with a good blend of songs which really help boost the cutesy factor. Tom writes greeting cards for a living that in itself is the cutest thing ever. Bouyed by a wry narration reminiscent of “Amelie”, it is a quirky story of an off beat romance about love and heartbreaks and everything else in between. So it will surely pull at your heartstrings.

The narrator said: "Most days of the year are unremarkable. They begin and they end with no lasting memory made in between. Most days have no impact on the course of a life." I couldn't agree more!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Jennifer Aniston, Frances McDormand, Joan Cusack, Catherine Keener
Scott Caan, Jason Isaacs, Simon McBurney, Greg Germann

The central character in this film would be Olivia (Jennifer Aniston). After all she is the one who has friends with money. She is the only one single and isn’t exactly faring well in life. She earns her keep by cleaning houses, hooks up with really pathetic guys and goes around department stores asking for free sample of expensive creams. I strike her as a pretty lonely character but one who doesn’t really care about what other people think or say about her.

Her married friends on the other hand have pretty cushy lives in terms of material possessions but there are cracks in their personal relationships. Christine (Catherine Keener) and David (Jason Isaacs) write screenplays together and bicker constantly. Jane (Frances McDormand) is pre-menopausal so she is angry all the time while her husband Aaron (Simon McBurney) is a metrosexual yet strikes everyone as gay. While Franny (Joan Cusack)and Matt (Greg Germann) are very well off but have opposing views on parenting.

Eventually this story of four best friends whose lives are thrown off balance as the realities of early middle age set in doesn't really resolve anything. It just presents a glimpse into the lifestyle of well off people and their gamut of hang ups and insecurities. But it has a nice balance of comedy and drama as essayed by the good acting skills of its talented ensemble cast notably Jennifer Aniston and Frances McDormand who shine in their roles.

Monday, August 9, 2010


Amanda Seyfried, Julianne Moore, Liam Neeson

"If the one you love was lying to you,
how far would you go to find out the truth?"

Cinema 7, SM Megamall

Catherine (Julianne Moore), a gynecologist sets up a surprise birthday party for her husband David (Liam Neeson), a professor who commutes regularly between New York and Toronto. When David misses his flight home to Toronto, Catherine suspects that he is having an affair with one of his students. So she hires an 'escort' named Chloe (Amanda Seyfried) to seduce her husband and report back if he takes the 'bait'. Soon enough, a simple business transaction develops into a sordid affair tinged with betrayal, deceit and sexual tension.

An upscale part of Toronto sets the tone for this erotic thriller. It is exemplified by the beautifully adorned house and the tony private clinic. A glimpse into the lifestyle of the upper class who are materially secure yet they are also mostly lonely, confused and fraught with insecurities just like the rest of us.

Atom Egoyan, the Canadian director of Turkish descent tried to feed a sense of suspense by peppering the film with ominous music which tend to startle you out of your stupor. A stupor brought about by the electrifying screen presence of Julianne Moore and Amanda Seyfried. Her role as Chloe is a total contrast to her usually wholesome roles. Here she is mature, seductive and cunning yet she still maintained a youthful, playful demeanor. Liam Nesson on the other was undercast and not really utilized well even though he was the catalyst that got the plot into motion.

The story develops at a mostly steady pace with the occasional suspenseful twist(s) thrown in for good measure. I admit I was totally clueless about the twists and actually had to replay back some scenes in my mind to get the 'hints'. I also found the ending to be pretty 'convenient' and frankly that is quite unfortunate.

Friday, August 6, 2010


Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor

"Who is Salt?"

Cinema 4, SM Megamall

Since the trailer practically reveals that Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie) is a Russian spy working at the CIA, you would think there isn't much left to decipher. But you are wrong because the film delivers with a powerful punch as there are alot more to discover about Salt's true identity. Numerous action filled sequences, death defying stunts (mostly from its lead star), as well as various twists and turns abound in this complex spy thriller adventure.

The film succeeds in capturing our undivided attention because we are awed by the mesmerizing screen presence of Angelina Jolie. Her chiseled features, her flexible and well toned body even the way she delivers her dialogue is captivating. So much so that we simply realize just how preposterous the entire plot truly is as the end credits roll by. Come on, covert Russian spies trained during their childhood who are suddenly activated to wreak havoc on America is a far fetched premise, don't you think so?

Yet it is well executed and well paced with many action sequences and just the right amount of drama to make it a good entertainment piece. The support cast who are mostly male are believable and don't overshadow its main star.

The entire film hangs on Angelina Jolie literally and figuratively and she succeeds brilliantly. Not afraid to do her own stunts like leaping from one moving vehicle to another. And also not consciously minding her looks, she played the 'double' agent, realistically. A spy of many disguises, a master tactician and highly skilled in defensive training, she was fearless and quite fierce.

Ok, I will stop gushing over Angelina Jolie and conclude by saying that she triumphs in a genre that is mostly dominated by action stars without losing her femininity.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Film Cycle "Madrid: Una Ciudad de Cine"

Instituto Cervantes de Manila, the cultural arm of the Spanish Embassy, explores film gems set in Spain’s historical capital of Madrid as it presents Madrid: Una Ciudad de Cine this whole month of August, every Saturday, 6 p.m. at Instituto Cervantes’ Salon de Actos.

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

Goya award winner "Tiovivo c. 1950" will be shown on August 7. The film, directed by José Luis Garci, offers a nostalgic vision of several people in Madrid all managing to survive in the face of post-war era.

Showing on August 14 is Manuel Gómez Pereira’s Spanish romantic- comedy flick "El amor perjudica seriamente la salud" (Love Can Seriously Damage Your Health) which narrates a long-time on-again-off again love affair between two characters (played by Pénelope Cruz and Gabino Diego) when the Beatles arrived in Madrid in 1965.

Screening on August 21 is "Mujeres al borde de un atague de nervios" (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown), a Spanish comedy film that brought Almodóvar to international attention having been nominated for the 1989 Academy Awards and winning five Goya Awards in Spain, including Best Film.

Alejandro Amenábar’s "Abre los ojos" (Open Your Eyes) will be screened on August 28. This film depicts the story of a former womanizer (Eduardo Noriega), disfigured in a car crash who has trouble distinguishing dreams from reality. American Director Cameron Crowe remade this film as Vanilla Sky in 2001, with Tom Cruise in the lead role and Penélope Cruz reprising her role as Sofia.

For more information, please call 5261482 or visit Instituto Cervantes de Manila is at 855 T.M. Kalaw St., Ermita, Manila.

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