Friday, October 16, 2015

Stockholm

Pelikula: Spanish Film Festival
Greenbelt 3 Cinema 1


"Stockholm" had the semblance of the famous Richard Linklater movie "Before Sunrise". In that two strangers meet and end up conversing the whole night before 'sealing the deal', so to speak.  But the key word here is 'semblance' as this Spanish film takes on a deeper, more unsettling manner to drive its message across the big screen.

There are only two persons who play the major roles and their characterization is authentic and sincere despite the mysterious and intriguing aura that envelops them. The first part shows a rather pretentious guy who declares to a girl who just passed by him at a party that he is in love with her. No introductions, no small talk, no exchange of phone numbers ... he just blurts it out to her. Naturally, she is skeptical yet he insists and spends the rest of the night until early dawn convincing her he is true to his word.

Personally, I am too sarcastic and paranoid so I could never grasp the concept of just going with the flow with a complete stranger, at that. The fact that some guy I know nothing about is 'propositioning' me is beyond my belief. Sure I've seen it on movies and it is kind of romantic and maybe just maybe it does occur in real life but I'm not convinced it would lead to anything concrete, relationship-wise.

Yet "Stockholm" had me intrigued especially when the second part rolled in. The sudden or is it subtle change in the characters' behaviors towards each other was an eye opener. I wasn't really surprised as there were signs which manifested themselves in the early part. Yet at the same time, the portrayal was spot on. The fact that the guy's attitude changed the morning after was very realistic. I mean, come on most guys change once they get what they want, don't they? The same goes for her behavior/attitude, it was nicely played. 

The ending for me played out like a moment you kind of expected would happen yet still get shocked when it does. Expected yet tragic but there were certainly signs early on that somehow everything wasn't quite right for one of the characters. It sort of makes you think that the whole encounter was a waste of their time but deep inside I admit there would not have been a better ending than the way the film concluded.

This film is not the conventional boy meets girl narrative, it has more depth even though it doesn't fully explore its characters' past (there is truly no need to do, actually). So it would fit in the thriller genre instead of merely being a romantic interlude in the lives of its youthful characters.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Loreak
(Flowers)

Pelikula: Spanish Film Festival
Greenbelt 3 Cinema 1


I may be wrong yet I believe it is the first time a Spanish film using the Basque language was featured in the Pelikula film festival. It was strange to hear it spoken but the film itself didn't disappoint as regardless of the language used in the dialogue, it was able to retain its essence. A poignant movie that dealt with grief, melancholy and the stage of moving on after bereavement.

Its simple approach while handling such a heavy topic is much appreciated as the characters are quite expressive in their manner of accepting and dealing with the pain of losing a beloved soul.

It starts with Ane, a secretary who works at a construction site who has been diagnosed with the early onset of menopause. She is understandably depressed and stuck in a lonely marriage. 

One day, she starts receiving a bouquet of beautiful flowers but it has no card and no note. Same time, every day onward, the bouquets are delivered through a courier who doesn't know the sender. 

Intriguing premise as soon enough the viewer puts two and two together and surmise who is the sender of the flowers. Until a tragic incident leads to a twisting turn of events both for Ane as well as for the family of the sender as they grapple with their sudden loss.  

Honestly, grief is a very difficult topic to handle either in cinema or in real life. It is very painful and heartbreaking but "Loreak" manages to touch our raw nerves with resorting to a full blown hemorrhage.  And once all the characters involved with the incident are blended into one melting pot and questions are answered, the film takes on a serene and calming effect with a justified closure.

A deeply touching and movie film which I highly recommend to anyone who has lost a loved one and has dealt with grief in any form or shape.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

La Isla Minima
(Marshland)

Pelikula: Spanish Film Festival
Greenbelt 3 Cinema 1


It was time to get out of my comfort zone and immerse myself into the realm of a film festival. The Spanish film festival which started in 2002 is my favorite among the numerous film festivals which make their run, annually. 

Of course, the Filipinos have a special affinity with Spain (even though they conquered us for 400 years lol) as our language is still peppered with several Spanish words. So watching a Spanish film is a bit easier as we recognize some common words we normally use in our daily conversations. Naturally, English subtitles do help a lot to get a better understanding of the dialogue which make or break a film.

"La Isla Minima" is a gripping crime story where two detectives with opposing personalities are assigned to investigate the case of missing teenagers in a southern Spanish town. Set in 1980 in post Franco era, the rustic atmosphere provides a subtle backdrop to the disturbingly eerie abductions which has plagued the little town for decades.  As the two detectives delved further into their investigation, more haunting and harrowing details unfold about the persons involved and their twisted motives for such heinous crimes.

The cinematography was dynamic from the wide angle and high above shots to the sepia like tone which permeated throughout the film. The wardrobe was befitting the 80s era from the clothes worn to the way they parted their hair. From the beginning until the mid part of the movie, the plot moved slowly as it tries to establish its pace but the last few minutes, the tension rose and finished with a dramatic conclusion. 

"La Isla Minima" at times felt like a dragged out episode from any of the CSI TV show franchise albeit sans the glossy Hollywood touch. In this particular case, it is a good thing as there is certainly no need to glamorize everything and by retaining its gritty tone, a more effective story telling approach ensued.
 

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