Saturday, October 21, 2017

Key House Mirror

3rd Danish Film Festival
Cinema 4, Shang Cineplex

Lily and Max live in a nursing home. Max suffered a stroke and is mostly bed ridden from his paralysis. Lily, the ever faithful wife also lives in the same facility in a nicely furnished room, complete with a TV and a receiving area. When I first saw this setup, I was impressed as I know that health care in Scandinavian countries are highly subsidized by the government.

So while Lily is the only fit person in the facility, she does follow a daily routine of taking care of her husband. But it really isn't much as there are staff to do all the 'heavy lifting' so to speak when it comes to providing adequate health care. So she does have time to go for walks, feeding some ducks on a pond and also play bingo and join in other fun activities at the facility.

Lily soon takes a liking to a new occupant across her unit, a charismatic fellow named Erik. He is a former pilot and currently suffering from Parkinson's Disease. Much to the chagrin of the other senior citizens, Lily and Erik develop a romantic (and sexual) relationship. Lily 'justifies' by saying that Max was never the passionate type so at this stage in her life, she feels she has the 'right' to satisfy her needs.

Things get complicated when Lily gets stubborn and insist on traveling to Paris with Erik to fulfill her bucket list. By this time, she has been diagnosed with dementia so it is really heartbreaking to watch. A point of contention is when she argues with her daughter and begs her to take her home but her only offspring thinks it is too much of an inconvenience for them.

I was shocked as I was raised in a culture where we don't shuttle off our parents to a nursing home when their fragile and frail bodies need medical attention. Having said that, I do understand how 'convenient' it can be to have old people live in a facility where their medical needs can be totally cared for by duly trained medical staff.  Well I guess it is also convenient if health care was 'free' so that would really give one peace of mind knowing that they get the care they deserve during their twilight years.

Films dealing with senior citizens really touch me to the core and I get highly emotional watching them. The realistically poignant acting performances of the actors did tug at my heartstrings. I remember watching the lead female star in another poignant film dealing with euthanasia in last year's Silent Heart.  In this film,  her delivery is on point. So even though the pacing and the story line could do with some editing, I went home thinking I should give my parents, several tight hugs.

The title is derived from the three words (Key House Mirror) which Lily had to remember during a memory test performed by a psychiatrist. Unfortunately, she couldn't recall them. :(

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Commune

3rd Danish Film Festival
Cinema 4, Shang Cineplex

1975, Erik inherits a huge house upon the death of his father, his wife Anna decides it would be a good idea to turn it into a commune. A motley crew of random people are interviewed and soon they become inhabitants of this suburban Copenhagen house. To keep things in order, they each are given chores to do within the house and every evening they 'report' about their daily activities. In short, they share everything.

Things are going well until Erik (an architecture professor) begins an affair with one of his students. After he was caught by his 14 year old daughter, he tells his wife about it but instead of kicking him out of the commune, she invites the younger woman to come live with them. Perhaps she didn't want any scandal given that she is known TV broadcaster yet it is at that precise point that the film starts to stagger. 

The mental and emotional toll on Anna is painful to watch yet it is quite realistically portrayed by the Danish actress. Trying desperately to keep a stoic facade yet slowly spiraling out of control is a difficult role for any actress to imbibe. She did a good job and is the main draw of the film.

It is to be said that only a Danish film can do justice to this controversial setup that was quite common in that Scandinavian country during the early 1970s. I always thought of people from Denmark as free spirited people and this film just proves my point.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Foreigner

Jackie Chan, Pierce Brosnan

"Never push a Good man too far"

Cinema 3, Shang Cineplex

It's my birthday and I'll watch a film if I want to ... so I did. Having said that, I am not a big Jackie Chan fan but among the films showing today, it held the most potential to satisfy my movie craving.

The film kicks off with an act of terrorism, a bombing at a local bank which cost the lives of 12 people. Among the fatalities is Fan, a teenager who was at an adjacent dress store picking out her gown for a prom. Her father Quan (Jackie Chan) is heartbroken and naturally distraught. He keeps hounding the local police for more details about the perpetrators of this horrific crime. When weeks past and Quan is still seeking answers as well as justice for his daughter, his next focus for constant harassment is a local politician named Liam Hennessy (Pierce Brosnan) whose past affiliations may hold the key to the identities of the suspects. 

An older Jackie Chan and dare I say much wiser as lately his roles are more mature and he is not just a 'ninja' who karate chops all the villains. Quan is a multi-dimensional character whose troubled past add much depth and further cements our understanding of why he would go to great lengths to 'capture' the terrorists responsible for his daughter's untimely demise. Naturally there are still some nicely choreographed action scenes courtesy of Chan who we all know does his own stunts in all his films. 

But beyond all the necessary stunts, the plot revolves around a believable political thriller. The IRA and British government 'negotiations' and the behind the scenes concessions and demands from both sides to aim for a lasting and peaceful solution - provides a good backdrop - so it goes beyond just another predictable father.seeking.justice.and.revenge.for.his.slain.daughter premise. Pierce Brosnan is as Irish as one can get so his role was appropriate for his age, his stature and his craft.

A good blend of action and political thriller with a few twists thrown into the mix makes "The Foreigner" an entertainingly good film!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

La Noche qui mi Madre mato mi Padre
(The Night my Mother killed my Father)

Pelikula: Spanish Film Festival
Cinema 1, Greenbelt 3

This comedy which unfolds during 'business' dinner has all the right elements of a good film where situational humor is used instead of slapstick or silly antics from its characters.

An actress past her prime plan is to convince a popular Argentinian actor to be part of a new project. Her scriptwriter boyfriend and his ex-wife who is a producer is also part of the dinner ensemble. When the actress's ex-husband shows up with his new girlfriend, things spiral out of control and her play is interrupted. Or was it really a ploy and part of her plan? All sorts of twists and turns develop and it is these situations which really add sparkle to this comedy.

The cast of veteran Spanish actors, all perform really well. Their combined acting skills do contribute to a successful comedic romp with a 'modern family' type of setting. It is mostly dialogue driven, the plot moves at a fast pace and then slowly eases down to a believable conclusion. This comedy could have easily gone wrong with too much hysterics but thankfully it didn't!

Friday, October 6, 2017

El Bar
(The Bar)

Pelikula: Spanish Film Festival
Cinema 1, Greenbelt 3

This intriguing thriller explores how people's fears can reveal who they really are. A game of survival unfolds among perfect strangers who find themselves trapped inside a typical Spanish bar/resto after a fatal shooting occurs once one of them leaves the place. Suddenly, it seems the streets outside the bar is bare of any movements and it is emptied immediately following the shooting.

As we learn more about the people inside the bar, the whys and hows they happen to be in that specific place, the film takes on a somber tone. The mystery further permeates as bits and pieces of information slowly surface regarding the real reason they are stuck in that tiny enclosure.

At the beginning, the film unfolds at a fast pace as intrigue envelops the plot/story line. It was like living out a nightmare in real life - a situation where you cannot find any solace nor solution to the problem at hand. 

It is terrifying yet at the same time, as the mid part slows to a dragging pace, you suddenly see how absurd and ridicule the whole situation, really is.  Towards the anti-climatic conclusion, you can't wait to end the misery of the last few characters as well as your own.

It is a fairly good thriller to watch but do lower your expectations. 

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