Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Nicole Kidman, Nicholas Cage, Liana Liberato, Cam Gigandet

"When terror is at your door, you can run, or you can fight"

Just as the Millers discover that their teenaged daughter Avery (Liana Liberato) has sneaked out of their house to party, a bunch of thieves posing as security men invade and hold them as hostage. Taking place over a single evening, Kyle (Nicholas Cage) a diamond broker and his bored and neglected wife Sarah (Nicole Kidman) are tormented by the robbers who plan to steal the diamonds together with cash inside the safe.

What follows are a lot of seemingly empty threats, a lot of yelling and some infighting among the invaders. As the incident progress several cracks in the Miller's not so perfect marriage come to play. The plot is complex and the tension frequently abated by the introduction of unnecessary flashbacks to reveal the back story of each characters.

The heist doesn't go as planned as people start revealing head-spinning secrets one by one. A cat & mouse game ensues, as the family constantly tries to escape while everybody involved try to figure out who betrayed who.

"Trespass" is fraught with bad, cheesy dialogue, implausible story line, unnecessary plot changes, and lame editing. Even the presence of two top notch actors do nothing to salvage this predictable thriller. The only 'positive' thing that you get out of this film is that you cannot trust anybody. Be extra wary of people who install your top of the line security alarm system. Either that or you simply don't neglect your wife. It would spell trouble with a capital "T".

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Lubna Azabal, Maxim Gaudette, Melissa Desormeaux-Poulin

"The search began at the opening of their mother's will"

The last will and testament of Nawal Marwan specifies 2 requests that her twin children Jeanne and Simon must first comply with before she is granted a proper burial. They are handed two letters to be given to their long lost father and a brother they never knew existed.

The tantalizing puzzle begins in Montreal, Canada where the twins live. The sullen Simon doesn't care about the letters but Jeanne decides to return to her mother's homeland somewhere in the Middle East. She discovers the shocking truth about their mother's troubled past and the disturbing circumstances of their birth.

The plot then shifts to Nawal's turbulent story. A tale born out of a tragic love affair in a fictional city called Daresh which has become the battleground of a civil war between Muslims and Christians. Terrorism, martyrdom and imprisonment also figure quite prominently in Nawal's fate. It is told through flashbacks which are entwined with Jeanne's journey to unveil the mystery behind the two letters.

The film moves seamlessly between Nawal's world and the twins. Mirror images are used like a remote road seen through the mother's eyes, then the daughter's; a city street then and now. The past is where all the intrigue of the movie lies, and that is where the film is at its most compelling. But it can also be quite disturbing to witness the sheer brutality both physically and mentally that Nawal endured in her lifetime.

The skillful acting skills of the cast shine through like a beacon in this very dark and heavy drama. The pacing was a bit slow and was dragging at times with scenes focusing heavily on the suffering and torment. So much so that when the viewer is fed with a final twist towards the end, you feel like you were hit in the head with a hammer and you almost forget to breathe as you gasp to grasp the crucial detail in the puzzle.

No wonder this Canadian film with dialogue in French and Arabic with English subtitles was nominated in the Foreign Language Film category in the 2011 Oscars and even if it didn't win, I still highly recommend it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


11th Israel Film Festival
Greenbelt 3, Cinema 5

"A Matter of Size" is a comedy about four overweight Israelis who quit their diets, embrace their weight and take up sumo wrestling under the grudging instruction of a Japanese restaurateur. When newly fired Herzl takes a dishwasher job at a Japanese restaurant and discovers sumo culture, it gives everyone new purpose – or at least something to do.

The film has its amusing moments as the four friends take up a sport where being fat is honored instead of ridiculed. Likewise it is highly emphasized that 'sumo is not just about being fat', it is a well defined albeit complicated art.

Shots of them, clad only in their bright red fighting mawashi, as they jog through green fields, perform the graceful ritual warm-ups, and strain to push one another out of an improvised wrestling ring in the forest are ludicrously funny and beautiful.

Beyond the physical training, the film also forces the characters to confront their buried psychological issues. Subplots involving infidelity and sexual orientation with a tinge of romance work to support the main theme of self-acceptance. It does capture the essence of Israeli Jewish humor with dialogue such as "even on a diet, you have to eat," and "with your mouth, we only talk."

"A Matter of Size" has its entertaining moments, but sadly never gets beyond that, with a sappy yet very flat ending to a premise that had so much potential. Its storyline mirrors a bit too much like "The Full Monty" but sadly is not enough to replicate that British film's charm and wit.

Monday, November 14, 2011

11th Israel Film Festival

The Embassy of Israel in Manila will host the screening of the Israeli box office hit "A Matter of Size" for its 11th Film Festival in coordination with the Ayala Center and Greenbelt Cinemas.

The featured movie is an Israeli film that portrays four overweight friends who try to lose weight, but use their situation to turn themselves into sumo wrestlers, while providing a hearty, feel-good comedy film with full of surprises.

The movie portrays an everyday problem, wrapped in Jewish humor and transcends all cultural and language barriers. It truly is a one of a kind movie, that goes beyond the underdog to hero cliche.

Date: November 14 & 15, 2011.

Venue: Greenbelt 3, Cinema 5

Sunday, November 13, 2011


MovieMov: Italian Cinema Now
Greenbelt 3, Cinema 3

This politically incorrect comedy starts with a voiceover from Checco who recounts his pathetic life. The inept buffoon who works as a bouncer at a local disco applies to be a carabineri (military police officer) for the 3rd time and fails. But through dubious family connections, he gets a job as security detail at the Duomo, Milan's famous cathedral. After several disastrous mishaps, he is assigned to guard the Madonnina, the statue of the Virgin Mary located on the rooftop of the imposingly grand cathedral.

His bottomless stupidity makes him the ultimate prey for Sufien and his sister Farah who plan to bomb the cathedral's famed rooftop. Farah attempts to get into his good graces by pretending to be a love interest. And Checco being a fool falls for her, unbeknownst of her hidden agenda.

Corruption, the church, terrorism and the north-south divide all come in for blunt ribbing in this wacky comedy. Foreign audiences might not quite get the local humor based on numerous Italian stereotypes, especially between the north and south. But the broader comedy, which pokes fun at Italian ignorance of Arabic culture and dare I say the Catholic church can easily resonate with the offensive humor.

The gorgeous cinematography featuring the beautiful city of Milan more than makes up for the really lame storyline. It was surely a vehicle to showcase the dry and mostly offensive humor of the main character, Checco who is portrayed by a top comedian in Italy. Seeing Milan and most of all the Duomo again in all its splendor made it worth enduring this film. Thankfully it was free of charge because I certainly won't pay a dime to view it.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


MovieMov: Italian Cinema Now
Greenbelt 3, Cinema 5

Rosario, an Italian living in Germany owns a successful restaurant/hotel business. He has been living in Germany for 15 years with his German wife, Renate and their young son, Mathias. Soon enough, two visitors from Italy show up and his sordid past catches up with him to interrupt his peaceful existence.

"La Vita Tranquilla" explores the premise of redemption. Is it possible to redeem oneself from a violent past? How long can you keep your past life, a secret?

Apparently for Rosario, 15 years is not long enough. Now he fears that if his past resurfaces, his old personality will too. Rosario knows that his current life is at an end, but he doesn't know why. His mind is so fixated on figuring out if he can cheat death as well as protect his current family from learning about his past. He is too distracted with sorting out his past that he compromises the very existence that cradled him for so long.

Part of the film's success lies in the way it balances contrasting concepts: Family offers both security and betrayal. It is also full of subtle modulations with two different scenes juxtaposed together to create a bigger impact. It is mostly a riveting character study of a marked man's frantic quest to keep his true identify from surfacing to the fore. The pacing of the story is slow, at first. But eventually perks up during the last quarter with an intense go-for-broke situation prevailing with a somewhat tragic and quite sad ending.

Friday, November 11, 2011


MovieMov: Italian Cinema Now
Greenbelt 3, Cinema 3

Secrets abound in this family drama set in Puglia. Tommaso is an aspiring writer who returns from Rome to his hometown. His father is planning to hand the family pasta factory to him and brother Antonio. Tommaso also intends to come out of the closet to his family. Yet at the opportune moment, he is preempted by his equally secretly gay brother, Antonio. One paternal heart attack later, the traditional Cantone family is in shambles.

This isn't merely a coming out of the closet tale. The entire film prevails on the notion of impossible love as well as the pursuit of happiness without the fear of repercussions for our actions. Everyone in the family seems to have one or two secrets related to love and loss, and those dramatic elements of the storytelling play out well.

"Loose Cannons" has elements of farce, comedy capped with a tragedy that basically ties all the loose ends together. It is however marred by distracting side plots which although significant are not given more depth. These scenes were presented as flashbacks with nary a dialogue. They did jar the senses as they had this silent movie effect with a self explanatory tone attached to them.

The film is kept rocking by a good soundtrack of original songs. Subterfuges both realistic and ridiculous keep this amiable family drama going through the first half. Although the last half starts to morph into serious daytime TV soap opera, the quirky characters with their eccentricities pretty much make this quite an engagingly entertaining piece.

It's as complicated and colorful as family usually is.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


MovieMov: Italian Cinema Now
Greenbelt 3, Cinema 5

This story about a newly elected Pope who suffers an anxiety attack had me in stitches. Being a Roman Catholic, anything and everything about the Vatican and the Pope in particular is sacred. It is blasphemous to even be thinking such irreverent thoughts about the Holy Father. But a cleverly written plot peppered with small doses of laughter at the expense of the Vatican would certainly not hurt my spirituality.

This comedy by Nanni Moretti does not intend to mock the Vatican or the Pope. In fact, it did a good job in portraying human emotions. Being the head of the Catholic Church is a gargantuan task that most Cardinals silently pray not to be picked as the new Pope. The Holy Father is a man weighed down by the immensity of this burden. He must reconcile human fears with spiritual responsibilities, and he is drawn equally to the life of the world and the life of the mind. This was realistically projected in a vivid scene where the camera pans away to a wider angle to show him as a lone figure against the massive Sistine Chapel frescoes.

Michel Piccoli as the newly elected Pope was excellent in essaying such a difficult role. He imbues his Pope with a level of grief, disappointment and lost in deep contemplation. An accidental holy man who is confused and trapped by responsibilities way beyond his capabilities.

So while the newly elected pontiff roams around (like a runaway bride) the streets of Rome in the hopes of discovering himself, the Conclave of Cardinals are still sequestered within the Sistine Chapel. How they occupy their valuable time is where most of the laughter is drawn from during the movie. The volleyball competition was hilarious. Most of the laughter is brought about by the sheer absurdity of the entire premise. To show deeply religious Cardinals as having fun as opposed to the way they are portrayed in public is really funny in my books.

"Habemus Papam" wants to emphasise the human consequences of a great religious office, and in that it succeeds. Certainly, the finale, when it comes, is strangely shocking and has far more deeper implications than what meets the eye. But it did make a valuable point by creating quite an impact on the audience who had certainly stopping laughing by then.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Moviemov: Italian Cinema Now

Moviemov is a travelling festival supported by the General Direction for Cinema of the Italian Ministry of Heritage and Culture. It is co-organized by and in collaboration with the Italian Embassies in Bangkok and Manila, as well as Institutional and Private Partners, whose goal is to create a line-up of films and events that will best promote and show in Asia what present-day Italian cinema is all about.

The Moviemov film festival is envisioned to become like the prestigious Venice and Cannes Film Festival. The opening of Moviemov film festival will be highlighted by the Red Carpet Evening on November 9, 2011 at Greenbelt 5, Fashion Walk.

The theme this year is "Buon compleanno Italia!" or "Happy birthday Italy!" and it is even more special as Italy turns 150 years old as a nation.

All the events are free admission.

Films to be shown:

Italian Showcase
Habemus Papam - November 9, 8:00 pm, Cinema 5
Mine Vaganti - November 10, 5:00 pm, Cinema 5
Passione - November 10, 9:00 pm, Cinema 5
Una vita tranquilla - November 11, 6:30 pm, Cinema 5
Che bella giornata - November 12, 7:30 pm, Cinema 3
Vincere - November 11, 8:30 pm, Cinema 5
Corpo celeste - November 12, 6:00 pm, Cinema 5

Tribute to Bernardo Bertolucci
Il conformista - November 10, 9:30 pm, Cinema 3
Ultimo tango a Parigi - November 11, 9:00 pm, Cinema 3
L’ultimo imperatore - November 12, 9:30 pm, Cinema 3
The Dreamers - November 13, 9:30 pm, Cinema 3

Tribute to Brillante Mendoza
Serbis - November 9, 8:30 pm, Cinema 3
Lola - November 12, 4:00 pm, Cinema 5
Kinatay - November 13, 5:30 pm, Cinema 3

For more information, please visit the official website of Moviemov at

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