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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Ruby Sparks

There has been a lot of uncoventional love stories that has surfaced in contemporary Hollywood films. 2 years ago, I was amazed with how witty and realistic 500 Days of Summer was. The latter was just an example that love stories need not to be a fairy tale to be loved by viewers. It was a breath of fresh air to see movies that defies what is norm. This year, another movie tries to live up with what 500 Days of Summer had: realism and wit.

Ruby Sparks tells about a disillusioned young writer who is running out of ideas for a new book. He associated it with the lack of socialism and inspiration as he tends to be anti-social at first. It clearly state that the greatest of minds are usually the autistic ones. Calvin (Paul Dano) sees a psychologist as a method to relieve the stresses of a writer having writer's block. As Calvin ventures off to write a book, he is quickly inspired by a woman who has shown up in his dreams and begins writing about her, calling her Ruby Sparks. As the writing progresses, he feels that he is connected with the woman romantically even though she doesn't really exist. All became completely different when he woke up one morning when Ruby Sparks is in his house, real and tangible. What made things even better is that Calvin has control over Ruby by writing things about her. This became the central theme of the film. How would they be able to maintain the relationship? Will Ruby be able to see her purpose aside from what Calvin wants?

Simple. Poignant. Straight to the point. These are the words that can describe the film. It did not dwell on the magic about bringing a person to life from a figment of imagination, rather, it emphasizes on the consequences of the events. There were no glittery and sparkly effects to impose the events of bringing Ruby Sparks to life. She simply appeared during Calvin's sleep. The situations are not even above the top. There were no overblown lines that drags a lot of films which can sometimes be very repetitive. The writer and the director simply resorted to simple dialogues that really hits the spot.

Ruby Sparks are one of the films that say, "I can make a magical movie without the glitter but I can still pull a tear out of you and hope for a love like this be true." Zoe Kazan who played Ruby Sparks is also the film's scriptwriter. Somehow, Kazan's wit is almost similar with Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) however, Kazan can really pull off drama really good. Kazan and Dano's performance are also beyond expectations.

The simplicity of the film is one of its best asset. The script is well made and made me a fan out of Kazan. Ruby Sparks is one unconventional love story that an avid moviegoer or a hopeless romantic wouldn't want to miss.

GRADE: A-

trailer


Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Mistress

A year ago, No Other Woman was released and has generated a lot of revenues in the box office. Since then, it was hailed as one of the biggest blockbusters in Philippines until Praybeyt Benjamin usurped the position in just a matter of a month. This year, Star Cinema releases another film about infidelity, love and lust. It seems that the genre is a growing trend not only in the big screen but also in our own boob tube.

Sari (Bea Alonzo) is a seamstress-in-training under a moderately known maker of the best suits in town. Typical as she is, she happened to keep a secret which feeds her family three times a day. JD (John Lloyd Cruz) is a womanizer jumping from one sexual relationship to another, showing no signs of committing to a real relationship. JD meets Sari and eventually pursued her. Things get worse when JD has to compete with someone who is familiar with him.

I will not divulge any more of the plot of the film. That would defeat the purpose of you going to the theater and watching it. While Cruz and Alonzo's team up has been successful for the past ten years, this film proved that they indeed have that chemistry. Performance wise, Alonzo has been a versatile actress. This could be her most daring role to date. While John Lloyd looked exhausted during the entire film. Bea upstaged Cruz with this one delivering a very powerful performance as the mistress. The supporting cast did perfectly well which added to the flair of the film.

And though this may not be considered an artistic delivery of a simple plot, Olivia Lamasan was able to make the story as interesting as it should be. I admire that almost 70% of the film were not dubbed which provided even more realistic feel to the lines that were delivered. There were some poignant moments in the film. I liked how they started the film. There was this "Before Sunset" feel between the protagonists' first meeting at a bookstore. While the film tries to be daring in terms of the plot and story, it was still controlled, subdued and inhibited. There were a lot of oppurtunities for characterization and they have used every inch of it to make it effective.

The Mistress may be a good film but it is still well behind Cruz and Alonzo's One More Chance, plot-wise. The Mistress is a must-see. Great chemistry and rich story-telling that would not leave you like you were cheated on the price you pay for the ticket.

GRADE: B+

trailer


Friday, September 14, 2012

Resident Evil: Retribution

Resident Evil has been a cult classic since its release in 1996. Back then, Resident Evil set a bar in 1st person gaming with the horror genre being its main concept. It was in 2002 when the game was materialized as a movie, generating a wide interest and a growing fanbase. After 4 movies and 10 years, Paul Anderson comes back to helm the latest installment of a very successful franchise.

Picking up from the previous movie: Afterlife, it is hard for me to believe that the series was able to make its way to a 5th installment. Alice (Milla Jovovich) is now robbed off of her superhuman abilities. As the T-virus is developed, so did Alice. This made the Umbrella Corporation even more afraid of her as Alice vowed to correct the mistakes that led to the apocalypse the world is in.

When the trailer was released earlier this year, the mere presence of Michelle Rodriguez intrigued me. How would they ressurrect a dead character? How would the presence of Rodriguez's character affect the whole story? In short, what the hell is Rodriguez doing in this film? I have nothing much to say with regards to its plot. It deliberately defined the true meaning of an installment. Since the 3rd film, Resident Evil has steered away from the game's concept and tried to be an action-packed film trying to fill eye-candies.

While the film has been giving us bits of information film by film, it seems that the series has grown tired and has exhausted every efforts in story-telling that they have to provide us with minute details. The action scenes are recycled from the previous movie and makes the viewers say, "Ay nakita ko na yan." (I have seen that before). While Paul Anderson is a gifted filmmaker, it seems that he has nothing left in his sleeve for this franchise. Bringing back the characters is already a bad sign that the series is now facing an impending doom, just like the apocalypse the story is facing and the hopelessness the characters are experiencing.

Mila Jovovich still rocked as Alice in the film making her hold her reign as the Queen of Kick-butt but Michelle Rodriguez still steals the show. The manly aura behind Rodriguez is still there. There were a lot of familiar faces in the film. The way they were brought back in the story was beyond unacceptable.

While Resident Evil: Retribution boasts of great CGI effects and an almost acceptable action scenes, plot wise, it moved just a little bit. Bottomline, the whole story from Resident Evil 3 - 5 could've have been made as one and would not waste our time with the last 3 installments.

GRADE: C-

trailer


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Amorosa: The Revenge


Skylight films can be considered to be a newbie in the industry but after delivering a very impressive Corazon: Ang Unang Aswang back in March of this year, I was encouraged to see their new horror film which stars Angel Aquino. Skylight Films is considered to be an Indie Film Strip backed by ABS-CBN Films. Expectations are high, after all, The Road set a bar on the quality of Philippine Horror Films, but will they be able to meet or at least catch up with Yam Laranas' masterpiece?

Amorosa follows the story of Rosa (Aquino) who suffers Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after a car accident that happened between her and her family. The death of her husband left her to take care of her 2 children portrayed by Enrique Gil and Martin del Rosario. With nearing bankruptcy, they opted to go to Tagaytay to be the innkeepers of of their grandmother's business. Unknowingly, there are mysteries that covers the place when unexplained murders of rapists surfaced.

Though the plot is simple, the film ha been screaming, "YOU ARE WATCHING A HORROR MOVIE." The film is more of a compilation of all scenes that suggest that we are indeed watching a horror movie: self-opening doors, unexpected power interruptions, gardeners telling you about the ghost that haunts your house, flashbacks, groaning ghosts, etc. There were a lot of inconsistencies with the execution of the film. Minor mistakes are so noticeable. While Fur Elise is their anthem for eeriness, people who are familiar with how it is played will be laughing over how the actors played in on screen, I smirked.The script is also faulty with lots of cracks in between that instead of setting the mood for the film, it steers on the comedic side.

Solid performances from the whole cast but it was the writing that made the film unbearable to watch. Although Topel Lee is an established director, he was a bit rusty with this film. The film has a lot of potential, but even though the actors did their part well, the writing must be at par or even better.

GRADE: D

trailer

The Reunion

File:Thereunionposter.jpgFor years, the Philippine Cinema has catered to a very limited genre of films, those that are usually made are those who can generate a hefty amount of money or features new stars that has really very wide fan base. It has been quite long since the last Filipino Teen movie and I thought, Filipinos has completely forgotten about it. This year, The Reunion tries to revive the genre that made Claudine Barreto and Mark Anthony Fernandez a household name back in the 90s.

The Reunion tells the story of 4 friends who are not-so-successful with their chosen careers. Now that the upcoming High School Reunion is coming at a close, they are a bit hesitant of showing up knowing that their classmates has better fortunes with their lives. Lloyd (Dee) is an artist working as a graphic artist in local print shop, Boggs (Gil) is a failed real estate agent, Pat (Cipriano) is a singer who wants to make it big in the industry by joining talent shows and Joax (Lim) who is the leader of the group is a lost soul. As the Reunion approaches, they tried to examine their lives and what could have led to their present situation. The adventure started with them finding where Ara (Christine Reyes) is, which they seem to consider as the source of all the changes that happened to them.

The Reunion does not really follow what the title is. I find it really irrelevant. While the soundtrack is really superb, the story lacks the depth of the characters that could have made it a successful piece.The plot has been used over and over again that it has been tiring to watch. There were solid performance for most of the actors in the film. Cipriano, as a newbie, has still more workshops to attend. The situations that the gang was in were pretty ridiculous. Though there are some comedic moments worthy of a laugh or so, still the ones that were not properly executed outweighs the good ones.

The Reunion is a movie that passes by. It is not as memorable as Pare Ko back in the 90s. This is one of the problem of this film, once you get watch it, you get out of the theater and you would wonder what was the film you just watched.

GRADE: C

trailer