Tuesday, October 26, 2010


The Shangri-La Plaza hosts the Korean Film Festival from October 27 to 31 and November 2 to 4 at Shang Cineplex Cinema 4.

The event is a partnership between the Embassy of the Republic of Korea, The Korea-Philippine Cultural Foundation, Inc. and The Shangri-la Plaza.

It will showcase Korean cinema with an exciting line-up of widely acclaimed horror and thriller films.

Screening Schedule

October 26, Tuesday
Epitaph (By Invitation Only)

October 27, Wednesday
2 PM Arang
5 PM The Red Shoes
8 PM M

October 28, Thursday
2 PM Hansel and Gretel
5 PM Ghost
8 PM Paradise Murdered

October 29, Friday
2 PM Ghost
5 PM Arang
8 PM Epitaph

October 30, Saturday
2 PM The Red Shoes
5 PM Paradise Murdered
8 PM Hansel and Gretel

October 31, Sunday
2 PM M
5 PM Epitaph
8 PM Arang

November 2, Tuesday
2 PM Hansel and Gretel
5 PM M
8 PM Ghost

November 3, Wednesday
2 PM Paradise Murdered
5 PM Arang
8 PM The Red Shoes

November 4, Thurdsay
2 PM Epitaph
5 PM M
8 PM Paradise Murdered

Admission is FREE. For inquiries please contact 633-7851 loc.113 or log on to www.shangrila-plaza.com for more details.

Monday, October 25, 2010


9th Italian Film Festival
Cinema 4, Shang Cineplex

"Riprendimi" is a dramedy (drama and comedy) about Lucia and Giovanni. On the eve of their anniversary, Lucia (a film maker) recorded a DVD showing a montage of their entire relationship and married life. It is her anniversary gift. When Giovanni (a bit actor) comes home he announces over their romantic dinner that he is leaving Lucia and their baby son Paulino. Lucia is heartbroken. While Giovanni moves on pretty quickly and finds love in the arms of Michaela, a doctor.

It sounds like a pretty ordinary premise for a movie. Except that their lives are being filmed for a documentary. The main focus is to present the lives of temporary actors. Yet as the documentary progresses, all the nitty gritty details of the couple's breakup is recorded for posterity. As they follow the separated couple around, though, both Giorgio and Eros (the film makers) find themselves increasingly drawn into the emotional drama being played out before them.

So there is a film within a film aspect going on. The concept is pretty current as reality shows are the norm, nowadays. Most of the film revolves around people talking directly into the cameras as they (friends of the couple) are interviewed and asked to comment on the ongoing separation.

Although this is a story about a broken relationship, there's as much comedy as tragedy in the tale. Much of the film is very funny yet sad as well. It is a bit difficult to watch as we bear witness to Lucia's anguish over the break up of her marriage. But overall it is a good case study into the break up of a marriage.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


9th Italian Film Festival
Oct. 22 to 26, 2010
Cinema 4, Shang Cineplex,
Shangri-La Plaza Mall,
Free Admission


Oct. 22, Friday

* Si puo fare (We Can Do That), 1:30 p.m.

* Dillo con parole mie (Ginger and Cinnamon), 4 p.m.

* Diverso da chi? (Different from Whom?), 6:30 p.m.

* Tenebrae (Unsane), 9 p.m.

Oct. 23, Saturday

* Chiedemi se sono felice (Ask Me if I’m Happy), 4 p.m.

* La sindrome di Stendhal (The Stendhal Syndrome), 6:30 p.m.

* Cosi e la vita (Such is Life), 9 p.m.

Oct. 24, Sunday

* Notte prime degli esami (Night before the Exams), 1:30 p.m.

* Tenebrae (Unsane), 4 p.m.

* Dillo con parole mie (Ginger and Cinnamon), 6:30 p.m.

* Tre uomi euna gamba (Three Men and a Leg), 9 p.m.

Oct. 25, Monday

* Riprendimi (Good Morning Heartache), 1:30 p.m.

* La sindrome di Stendhal (The Stendhal Syndrome), 4 p.m.

* Se fossi in te (If I were You), 6:30 p.m.

* Chiedemi se sono felice (Ask Me if I’m Happy), 9 p.m.

Oct. 26, Tuesday

* La ragazza del lago (The Girl by the Lake), 1:30 p.m.

* L’abbuffata (The Feast), 4 p.m.

* Cosi e la vita (Such is Life), 6:30 p.m.

* Almost Blue, 9 p.m.

Schedules are subject to change without prior notice. For film schedules and other inquiries, contact 633-7851 loc. 113 or log on to www.shangrila-plaza.com. Seats are on a first-come, first-served basis.

Monday, October 11, 2010


Ben Affleck, Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Hall, John Hamm

"Welcome to the bank robbery capital of the world"

Cinema 3, Shang Cineplex

After a slew of Spanish films overload, I was really looking forward to some mindless entertainment c/o Hollywood. But I guess I picked the wrong film since "The Town" hardly qualifies as "mindless". And that is a good thing because frankly it has been a (long) while since I've watched an 'intelligent' film.

A well crafted heist movie that had all the key elements of a blockbuster yet at the same time, it had some soulful depth and edgy vibe to make it highly entertaining. It unfolds in the bank robbery capital of the world, a town named Charleston in Boston. A suspenseful bank robbery in progress marks the scene where we are introduced to the ensemble cast. Multidimensional characters composed of bank robbers, FBI agents, bank manager, junkie siblings and a host of other bit players in supporting roles. There are dramatic elements, thrilling action sequences, romantic entanglements and even a tinge of redemption - which are all mixed and well blended together under the able direction of Ben Affleck.

I'd have to say that Ben Affleck unfortunately doesn't know how to act. So it is really great that he found his niche behind the cameras. He can pat himself over the shoulder for a well done job in his second directorial work.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


9th Spanish Film Festival
Cinema 1, Greenbelt 3

The film unfolds through the eyes of Lea, a student in Toulouse who goes back to Girona, Spain to attend the funeral of her grandfather. It turns into a reunion of sorts as family members gather for the wake and funeral. A nostalgic time as uncles, aunts and cousins reminisce as they grieve together. Yet at the same time, they still maintain a certain degree of aloofness. A careful attempt to avoid intimacy in order to keep up a good appearance.

Based on the numerous family reunions I've attended, I notice there is a guarded tendency for us to merely share news we think are worth sharing. This same premise is explored in the film as we only get bits and pieces of information about each character. There is no pressing need for the audience to be spoon fed every single detail of their lives.

And surprisingly, I find that technique quite acceptable. Not because I didn't care about the characters, I did. The director or scriptwriter felt it was up to the viewer to form their own conclusions.

The movie is inundated with long yet soulful scenes of pure silence and quiet solitude. Prodding much contemplation for the characters who pretend that all is well on the outside. Yet deep inside, they are deeply troubled with sentiments like loneliness, break ups and a general sense of a vague uncertainty. Fears and apprehensions which afflict most if not all of us, naturally!

Saturday, October 9, 2010


9th Spanish Film Festival
Cinema 1, Greenbelt 3

This Peruvian film focuses on Fausta who suffers from "la teta asustada" which literally translates to 'frightened breast'. It is said to be a condition that afflicts the children of women who were raped or abused during Peru's years of terrorism.

Fausta is inherently a timid and innocent girl who certainly seems harmless. Yet she feels the need to torture herself emotionally and physically as a result of her 'situation'. She is constantly terrified, especially of men, and goes to extreme lengths to protect herself against a largely non-existent threat of rape.

The film which is set in a dusty and arid Peruvian town draws much inspiration from its authentic location. Giving us a glimpse into the daily existence of its inhabitants who are mostly poor yet are also enriched by their religious beliefs, local folklore and ancient traditions.

For instance, they kept showing numerous wedding ceremonies. These include odd pairings, absurd photo moments and celebratory dancing. The brides are always content in their wedding gowns and the gathered observers are always euphoric despite the fact that the impoverished backdrop is bleak, hopeless and foreboding.

What's even more remarkable is that these moments of happiness are depicted as not only a result of the bad times, but as an inherent and inevitable consequence of suffering.

Shot with a mix of carefully framed long shots and mobile close-ups, this is certainly one of the strangest films I've watched in my viewing history. I can't say that it was eccentric nor was it quaint, I figure that unique would be the correct word!

Friday, October 8, 2010


9th Spanish Film Festival
Cinema 1, Greenbelt 3

"El cielo abierto" is a romantic comedy about finding love when you least expect it.

Miguel has it really bad. His doctor wife Sara has just left him for his father. Yes you read that right. Sara ran off with her father in law, Miguel's father. His mother in law Elvira (Sara's mother) shows up in town for her medical check up. She is totally clueless about the troubles in the marriage. Naturally and falsely accuses Miguel of ruining the marriage.

Then his wallet gets stolen by one of his mentally challenged patients. Because you see, Miguel is a doctor too, he is a psychiatrist. Although at first glance, he hardly looked like a medical practitioner. But things aren't so hopeless as a stolen wallet leads him to Jasmina, the thief's (his patient) loquacious sister.

It seems pretty complicated but in essence it is quite simple. It is a refreshing take on a boy meets girl (albeit under unusual circumstances) factor. They fall in love and live happily ever after. Except it is devoid of cliches, strives on an unusual plot, has endearing characters and tinged with bits and pieces of funny situational comedy. All the essential ingredients needed to make a movie that is both enjoyable and quite a delight to watch.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Julia Roberts, James Franco, Javier Bardem, Richard Jenkins

Cinema 4, SM Megamall

I bought Elizabeth Gilbert's memoir/book in the hopes of finishing it before the film was shown. I still had a few pages to go but decided 'what the heck' I'll watch it anyway. I was curious about the novel as it is described as "One woman's search for everything across Italy, India and Indonesia." Places which I've had the chance to visit and explore to my heart's content. In fact, I called India or specifically New Delhi home for about 4 years way back in the late 1970s.

I actually loved the book for its humorous prose. Liz's witty exuberance was infectious as she took us on a pilgrimage of self discovery. As for the movie with Julia Roberts in the lead role, I believe it was a pretty much fair adaptation of the book. Although in the film, she did come across as being too flippant for walking out of her marriage. Viewers who haven't read the book need to understand that there were various and in my opinion quite valid reasons for her to end her marriage. She didn't simply give up because she was too self absorbed and/or unhappy.

The film which spanned on for 2 hours and 20 or so minutes was a bit long to be fully appreciated. It took liberties in changing certain aspects of Liz's life to make it more appealing to the female crowd. It also banked on the unwavering charisma of Javier Bardem to boost the romantic love interest factor. Even though in the book, Felipe is supposed to be a much older Brazilian man. So it was difficult to reconcile the initial hesitation and qualms that Liz had in plunging into a new relationship.

In conclusion, I think it came across as being too much of a travelogue about a fanciful woman who had to venture into foreign shores to find happiness. For me, I would have appreciated it more if it was a thought provoking and insightful film about soul searching and self discovery. But that's just me!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


9th Spanish Film Festival
Cinema 1, Greenbelt 3

The first thing I noticed about this film is how quiet it was. You could hear the creaking sound of the seats of the other viewers who were probably restless. Not restless out of despair because it had some compelling moments which kept you glued to the screen. But probably from a sense of unease over the buried secrets which threaten to unravel. Yet at the same time you develop a feeling that those secrets are probably best kept hidden. As it would only invoke old tensions and wounds which have festered for over 30 years.

Martin, a former revolutionary in Argentina who has been living in exile in Spain for more than 30 years receives a phone call. Raul, a former comrade invites him to participate in an excavation in a deeply forested area. Their aim is to search for the remains of their companion, Ezequiel who disappeared after a skirmish with the army.

During the day, they dig at the site. While at night, they spend their time looking at old pictures and reliving their memories. Individually and together they relive their experiences in an effort to come to terms with the past.

There are no flashback scenes to re-enact their 'armed struggle'. Nothing much is revealed about their missing companion nor any information shared about what they have been up to in their respective lives since the liberation. For some, their way of understanding the world has changed greatly over the years while others seem to remain frozen in time.

Yet silence speaks louder than words in this hushed and intense film. It unfolds at a slow pace with silent musings and extreme close up on the characters' faces whose mere expressions can evoke a thousand stories. Lovingly framed long takes are the norm, though the slowness rarely devolves into mere dullness.

"The Damned" is a painful journey into the past as the search for traces of a dead man are revealed through intriguing secrets, glances and resentments of characters that have been hurt by the history of their country.

Monday, October 4, 2010


9th Spanish Film Festival
Cinema 1, Greenbelt 3

At first, I thought that this film was a documentary because it commenced with film clips of scenes with background noise and voices of people conversing with each other. Shot entirely in black and white, "Bolivia" is a stark glimpse into the life of Freddy, a Bolivian immigrant who works as a cook in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The only indication of the time frame of the movie is shown through a boxing match aired live on TV - the Mike Tyson vs Evander Holyfield fight.

It sparingly presents the discrimination he faces from his boss and the customers of the diner as well as the hardships he endures as an undocumented low wage earner in a foreign land. The setting is mostly in the small restaurant where a small group of regular clientele converge for their meals. A venue where they also usually discuss about their grievances. They talk about their miseries, woes, the growing number of immigrants and well basically anything under the sun.

The film is basically simple without any major conflicts to jar our minds. Yet the minimalist approach doesn't belittle the various adversities that immigrants (all over the world) face and are facing daily in their new 'home'.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


9th Spanish Film Festival
Cinema 1, Greenbelt 3

*** This is a repost of my previous review of this film. It is included in the current line up of films showing at the Spanish film festival. ***

This Argentinian film won in the best foreign language film category at the 2010 Oscars.

The setting is present day and it focuses on Benjamin Esposito, (Ricardo Darin) a retired criminal court investigator who is trying to write a novel about an unsolved homicide case that has haunted him for 25 years. After visiting his ex-superior Irene (Soledad Villamil), who's now a high court judge, Benjamin decides to re-investigate the case and we flash back to the crime scene circa 1970s where a beautiful young woman was raped and murdered.

As Benjamin attempts to recall the details of the case, various events unfold from the questioning of the victim's troubled husband, to the discovery and arrest of a probable suspect. The title is never fully explained but I figure it refers to a particular photograph that reveals the true identity of the killer/suspect.

The film is beautifully shot with inventive and authentic cinematography. The plot unfolds like a traditional detective story with a powerful story of unrequited love bubbling away at the sidelines. The story unravels through flashbacks but since they use the same actors (just alter their hairstyles to fit the period) the scenes swift by effortlessly. There are also some terrific scenes (a chilling elevator shot and a chase through a soccer stadium) along the way and a powerful and shocking ending that can be a bit alarming.

Even though it stretches to 2 hours, it is a compelling thriller with the right blend of drama, romance and social awareness. It's the kind of film that lingers in your mind long after the end credits have rolled by.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


9th Spanish Film Festival
Cinema 1, Greenbelt 3

This comedy presents the story of Eliseo and Nati. Both of them dealing with some unfortunate mishaps in their respective lives. They are also a bit lacking in the attractive department so it makes it doubly hard for them to succeed in their endeavors.

Eliseo walks with a limp, has a bad comb over and has had his heart broken several times. Nati, on the other hand is old, has lost a breast to cancer and her husband leaves her for a younger woman. Oh and they happen to be 'related' as she is married to Eliseo's brother. A death in the family brings them together.

The movie is entertaining because it has much humor, funny situations and the camaraderie among the merry bunch of characters is infectious. It is further buoyed by a good soundtrack with the cheesy yet immortal song "Eres Tu" getting a lot of exposure as it plays a significant impact on the love story. A romance that slowly develops amidst a crisp cinematography of a picturesque rural Aragon town surrounded by mountains.

This light hearted romantic comedy will pull at your heart strings with its endearing characters and quirky storyline. You will find yourself smiling as you leave the cinema carried by the thought that even 'ugly' (but I certainly didn't find them ugly at all) people do get their happy endings, after all!

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