Monday, February 18, 2013

LINCOLN

Daniel Day Lewis, Tommy Lee Jones,
Sally Field, David Straithairn

Cinema 5, SM Megamall



I guess this Steven Spielberg movie can't really classify as a biopic, per se.  It deals with merely a short aspect (his final four months) of Abraham Lincoln's presidency.  Set in January 1865, he just got reelected to his second term, the Civil War is still brewing and he is hard pressed to have Congress pass the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. A controversial law that seeks to abolish slavery in the Southern States. 

So this well structured film mostly shows the different tactics Lincoln and the members of his Cabinet along with high ranking members of the Republican Party resorted to get the crucial 20 votes (from representatives of the Democratic Party) to pass the 13th Amendment.  

At the same time, there is a human tale. More notably him as a husband to his depressive wife Mary (Sally Field) and a father to 2 boys. We learn that he lost his young son Willie to typhoid fever, a sad incident that haunted him till his last breath.  How he tried his best to prevent his older son Robert (Joseph Gordon Levitt) to enlist in the army.

Daniel Day Lewis' performance is truly remarkable. I like how he completely immersed himself in the persona of the 16th US President.  From the high pitched voice (sometimes he sounded like Bill Clinton), his quirks as well as his manner of walking.   Abraham Lincoln is portrayed as a learned man that likes to tell stories, can easily talk to people from all sectors of society but can also be quite firm when he decides to take action.

The wranglings within Congress is quite a handful to absorb. Many characters abound, most of whom I'm not at all familiar with since I'm not American.  But I'd say "Lincoln" is worth watching for the formidable acting of this year's Best Actor at the Academy Awards, Daniel Day Lewis.

Friday, February 15, 2013

FLIGHT

Denzel Washington, Bruce Greenwood,
Don Cheadle, John Goodman, Kelly Reilly

Cinema 1, Shang Cineplex



Denzel Washington shines in his role as Capt. Whip Whitaker, a washed out pilot who is battling alcoholism in "Flight". This is one of his most complex, least sympathetic character to date and he gives a towering performance by dominating the film as he struggles to confront his life, his conscience and his various responsibilities. 

The first part where the horrifying plane crash occurs is gripping, edge of your seat action.  I mean after seeing that scene, I was just thankful I wasn't a passenger on that fateful flight. 
 
Sadly, the rest of the film loses momentum as it follows Whip's self-destructive alcoholism as he is caught up in an investigation into the cause of the plane crash. An addiction which he openly denies as well meaning friends try to help him and are spurned. Eventually he alienates his friends and family and seeks comfort through a stranger named Nicole (Kelly Reilly).

This is where the film runs into further problems. It wastes far too much screen time developing Nicole's character, only to drop her midway just when she developed some relevance.  Her character isn't all that interesting to begin with, and the same can be said for most of the rest of the characters.

The only redeeming factor would be Washington's fine performance as the embattled Capt. Whip, a truly flawed character who painfully seeks to extricate himself from the many demons haunting his life.

Friday, February 1, 2013

THE IMPOSSIBLE

Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor,
Tom Holland, Geraldine Chaplin

"Nothing is more powerful 
than the human spirit"

Cinema 2, Shang Cineplex



This film is based on a true story about one of the families that survived the disastrous tsunami which occurred in 2004.  It was adapted into film from the book written by Maria Belon, a Spanish tourist vacationing in Thailand along with her family on that fateful day, December 26, 2004.

For some reason, the nationality of the family was changed into British and the lead roles were portrayed by Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor.   While the family was relaxing by the swimming pool area, a tsunami struck the coastline of Thailand.  It was disturbing to watch the realistically shot scenes of the huge waves crashing into the resort.   For several minutes, your eyes are glued to the screen as you watch Naomi Watts being tossed around like a log in the debris filled ocean.

The destruction is vividly portrayed. The devastation is raw and piercing. For a few moments, I actually held my breath as I felt I was drowning just from watching the scenes unfold on screen.  Wide aerial as well as blurry underwater shots of the catastrophe hold you captive.

After the initial shock wears off, you sort of rejoice that Maria and her eldest son Lucas are miraculously reunited amidst the devastation.  The pace slows after the initial rush, once they are rescued by villagers and sent to a refugee hospital.  The rest of the movie focuses on their efforts to survive (Maria lying in a hospital bed waiting her turn on the surgery table)  while Lucas tries desperately to find his father and brothers.

The last part of the film drags on as the director desperately stretches every minute to add some drama.  The predictable outcome is best described by the title. It is quite impossible that family members can find each other owning to the huge logistical problems involved after such a devastatingly wide spread disaster occurs. But true enough, all the members of the Belon family survived and live on to retell their story through a well executed Hallmark type film. 

The acting is good with Naomi Watts even getting a best actress nomination in the Oscars but I'd say the horrifying tsunami sequence is for most part the saving grace of the film.
 

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