Saturday, February 2, 2013

'One More Try' Tests How Far a Mother Could Go

I thought the characters were well developed (except for Zanjoe's. I really didn't get what his beef was.) 

The story is neatly tied. It's one of those well plotted (and at the same time had a big emphasis on character development) movies you see in the Philippines from time to time. The plot and progression wasn't absurd. 

Although some supporting characters I felt were stereotypical, like the liberated OB-GYNE that Carmina Villaroel played, it still possessed a sense of possibility. It must be noted that the plot device reminds me of "My Sister's Keeper" a film based on the novel by Jodie Picoult.

I'm not sure if Dingdong Dantes deserve an acting nomination. I felt he lacked subtlety. 

Angel Locsin's turn was superb.  Angel Locsin's isn't your typical heroine here. She makes tough choices. At the end of the film, her character is transformed. You feel her desperation. You condemn her for the choices she makes. And yet, you would want her to succeed anyway. 

Angelica Panganiban's character was not one dimensional. She portrays it quite sympathetically. You find her unreasonable and at the same time reasonable.

The treatment of male characters is a little flat: Why does Dingdong's character want to have a son so bad? Why does Zanjoe stuck with Angel Locsin even after what she had done? 

Love is deux ex machina here.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Ken Liu's 'Paper Menagerie' Leaves Readers Crying

I like this short story for its simplicity in language, tackling an emotionally complex relationship. If you survey Asian-American literature, this one strikes a balance between being an expository of the cultural nuances of Asian culture, and its "exoticism" or "otherwordliness". 

Murakami and Amy Tan are two authors in the extreme. Ken Liu hits a sweet spot. His short story, "Paper Menagerie" is the first work of fiction to win the Nebula, the Hugo, and World Fantasy. At its core, it tells of a somewhat (and yet at the same time, it seems timeless) contemporary dynamics among offspring of inter-racial marriages and their parents.

"Paper Menagerie"

by Ken Liu
One of my earliest memories starts with me sobbing. I refused to be soothed no matter what Mom and Dad tried.
Dad gave up and left the bedroom, but Mom took me into the kitchen and sat me down at the breakfast table.
"Kan, kan," she said, as she pulled a sheet of wrapping paper from on top of the fridge. For years, Mom carefully sliced open the wrappings around Christmas gifts and saved them on top of the fridge in a thick stack.
She set the paper down, plain side facing up, and began to fold it. I stopped crying and watched her, curious.
She turned the paper over and folded it again. She pleated, packed, tucked, rolled, and twisted until the paper disappeared between her cupped hands. Then she lifted the folded-up paper packet to her mouth and blew into it, like a balloon.
"Kan," she said. "Laohu." She put her hands down on the table and let go.
A little paper tiger stood on the table, the size of two fists placed together. The skin of the tiger was the pattern on the wrapping paper, white background with red candy canes and green Christmas trees... 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Suddenly, It's Magic: Lots of "Kilig" Moments from Mario Mauer and Erich Gonzales

I watched "Suddenly, It's Magic" yesterday. The film has an airy feel, sort of thin adaptation of "Notting Hill" and also reminded me of "Becoming Jane" especially when Jane freed Tom Lefroy half-waythrough their elopement  

You'll appreciate the restrained and subtle acting here from Mario Mauer, that his fans had come to love since "Love of Siam" and "Crazy Little Thing Called Love". Erich Gonzales holds her own, but it's Joros Gamboa and Tweety De Leon that steals most of the scene. I just felt Cacai, who is a pers

onal favorite from the TV5 comedy sitcom "Ang Darling Kong Aswang," was pretty much underused in this film.. Mauer's Filipino maid played by veteran comedian Joy is a delight!

If the amount of "kilig" moments is the barometer, this film will definitely be successful in the box office. My female companion had lots of laugh and "pisil" moments much to the detriment of skinny frame. Mario Mauer, with his his expressive eyes and easy smile, triumphantly elicit shrieks from a bunch of females in front of us. I couldn't help but smile along.

I appreciate the locale, which is Ilocos Norte. It doesn't feel like a travelogue because each location is wrapped well in the narrative, given its own relevance to general plot. Particularly well-done is the use of the local language ("Ilocano") because it provided some cinematic irony, and local flavor (it does not feel like its anywhere 'America'). 

Good movie, light and airy (but by Jove! Let's stop it withthe mistress/kabit plot or subplot please). Here's the trailer for the movie:

Friday, November 9, 2012

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

SKYFALL: Weakest in James Bond Films Featuring Daniel Craig As 007

I watched "SkyFall" last night. It's hard to explain why I watch James Bond films. 

I couldn't really follow the plot, but I thought the first few minutes was fundamentally sound, although it labored establishing the state of things in the movie. 

According to the synopsis from Sony Pictures, in this film "Bond’s loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost." 

All "SKYFALL" Photos Courtesy of Sony Pictures

Daniel Craig, of course, is brilliant here. Great cinematography, typical James Bond. 
But I don't think Sam Mendes is the best director for the franchise.

The film is too slow and had too many exposition. It's still action packed, but there's more sitting and talking here than in any other James Bond film. Mendes just don't evoke thrill, or an immediate sense of danger. In one scene involving Komodo dragon, I only felt missed opportunity to give audience "Ayan na! Kakainin na siya!"

Javier Bardem was wasted here. Unlike in "No Country For Old Men," he's just plain too theatrical here that his performance verges on the comical.

The cinematography is not as great as in Casino Royale, and I wonder why some scenes are composed in the dark. The film has great visuals. In the end, the movie has this feel of a film extending a franchise beyond a trilogy.

My female companion, who prefers Pierce Brosnan, said Daniel Craig is sexy here. His muscular body is in full display, which reminds me to bulk up.

You should watch, too, "Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay" as I expect Bond will get more audience (we caught the last full show at SM Manila. The audience, mostly couples like us, were sparse)  in the next few weeks, but the indie gem may not be in the mainstream cinema for long (It opened yesterday!).

Here's a clip of Adele singing "Skyfall":

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    Somewhere Over the Rainbow - Israel Kamakawiwo`ole