Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Girl Within

A take on the film The Danish Girl
by Love Esios

I have always been an enthusiast of visual and performance arts ever since I was in elementary. Though I was not gifted with the ability to draw straight lines and create accurate curves, I've always wondered what could have been in the mind of an artist while he/she was creating his/her masterpiece. Such vivid and powerful imagination behind that small ball of tissue.

In the movie The Danish Girl, that vivid and highly creative imagination would be found lingering inside the brain of Einar Wegener (portrayed by Eddie Redmayne). Einar used to be a highly respected and talented painters of his time until he found something else inside him -- Lily. His wife, Gerda (portrayed by Alicia Vikander) treated the whole circumstance as a role play until his husband couldn't hide his true identity anymore. And so, the painful process of losing her husband began... and it ended with Einar becoming Lily who underwent one of the first sex-change operations in history.

It's a beauty and a struggle seeing Eddie Redmayne portray Einar and Lily respectively. At the beginning of the movie, you would immediately observe the tenderness in his demeanor. I can imagine Einar being lost in his own world while working on his canvass. You can see in his eyes the love that he has for his wife. And the struggle from within him when he first realized that there is something wrong with him. The conflicting and inconvenient truth that he is Lily and that Einar is just a tiny figment of his own self. When he began the process of transforming to Lily, I found him really beautiful. It's hard to imagine that almost two years ago, Redmayne portrayed a character with motor neuron disease. His flexibility to give life to two different characters had earned him a nod to the Oscars.

Alicia Vikander was also amazing as Gerda. She was fierce, determined and her love for Einar -- unconditional. It made me think how sick and tragic it was to love someone who couldn't love you back. That she has lost her husband to a character that she had just imagined. If that was what really happened, you could also argue that perhaps Gerda also have that homosexual tendency because most of her art work were a reflection of what was also going through her mind.

Shot in the backdrop of 1920s Copenhagen, this riveting story of Einar and Gerda and the liberation of their own personalities would make you think of the real meaning of love, life and freedom that goes beyond one's gender preference.

As powerful as the message that director Tom Hooper wants to convey through this film, I'll give this a film a shot of 8 espressos.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

A Child called it ~Book Review

by: Uel Ceballos

This one really got me. As I flipped through the first few pages, I couldn’t take the ripping emotion. I couldn’t imagine a child being tortured like that. However along the pages, something hits me as well – could it all be as true as it was marketed? At some point, the child must have been really abused. But abused like that at such young age, he must have been really strong at heart and mind to survive the pain. “A Child called it” is a biographical novel of Dave Pelzer about his childhood. As a child he was being abused by his emotionally unstable mother. There was even a time when he was stabbed but never brought to the hospital. I haven’t witnessed that kind of horrible event thus it made me doubt. What kind of mother was that? What kind of father, who after seeing his child stabbed just stayed calm and unaffected? Or did the child was just in his illusion of being stabbed?

Dave Pelzer wrote the book in the point of view of a child. It was effective, though some events might have gone beyond reality, only the author knew. It took a lot of courage for someone to recount the dark days of his past. Much painful was to remember every single detail; to transform it into words and write into paper. I don’t know. Perhaps Pelzer was crying while typing each word in his manuscript. “A Child Called it” was an awakening force, a reminder to everyone that in some dark basements of a house that we passed through, a child might be suffering in verbal, emotional, and physical abuse. Way back in Pelzer’s days, there wasn’t any law passed about children abuse. Issues on children’s matter are left to their parents’ concern. In this case, the things that Pelzer experienced might all be true, even the stabbing part; and there must have been other children who experienced the worst. My heart was dying just having to think of it. I couldn’t even starve my pet dog, what more a human? But the book reminded me as well that in this planet we called Earth, there were heartless creature who lived among us. Such the like of Pelzer's parents. 

“A Child called it” was a torture read but it would worth your time. It introduced you to the days that you wouldn’t want to be in; to a journey that you wouldn’t want to take. Dave Pelzer and all the others who experienced the same thing were extraordinary, strong people. God would not give them these challenges if He knew they wouldn’t make it. My heart goes out to them. God bless them.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Revenant ~ Film Review

by: Uel Ceballos

Before you watch The Revenant, make sure you’re in a good emotional condition, neither going through a stress nor any sort of depression. The film is as beautiful as the snowy wilderness, yet as cold and unforgiving as the hail storm. Leonardo DiCaprio has given so much for this film, more than enough to deserve him an Oscar award. The material itself is already devastating and having good ensemble to deliver the story is close to the perfection of a masterpiece. 

There are so many remarkable scenes in the film that will break your heart; at the same time make you praise the excellence that Leo had delivered for his acting. Leo is a good actor and we all know that. But what he did in The Revenant is something bigger. He certainly went through a deep internalization of his character, dig for the strongest emotion that he could get, and swam through surges of emotional pain just to get it all done with mastery. And not only Leo, but all the casts have showed a good performance. Hats off to Forrest Goodluck here for his amazing performance as Leo's son, where they nailed together the heart-melting father-son scenes in the midst of cold and tragedy. And of course Tom Hardy who made everyone hate his character so much, playing as Fitzgerald, Tom made me forgot my fangirl crush on him. 

The last White-Indian film I appreciated was the Dance with Wolves, of which novel I read first before watching the film adaptation. I read lots of novel that featured the struggle of the Native Americans and my heart goes out for them, always. But I know the white men also had their stands and reasons, and I could only go as far as sympathizing with the beaten and abused because they weren’t my own race and I couldn’t judge because I didn’t know the full history. However, I’m always sympathetic and in watching The Revenant, I became emotional with the truth that we are all victims of the territory war – no side can win, no side will ever win. 

I have researched about the real story behind the person played by Leo, who was Hugh Glass. His story, recounted many times in novels and books, had now been mixed-up by fictional events. Nonetheless, a good story was always created out of Hugh Glass’ widely known story of survival and retribution – there is so much to pull out from it and Michael Punke’s novel of The Revenant is one example. Haven’t read the full novel yet, but with Inarritu’s film adaptation of the novel I have a sure vibe that it’s equally superb. 

Aside from cinematography and good casting, two other elements worthy of praises are the scoring and the surreal sequences. Both remarkable and appealing to the audiences, these elements gave the film a separate goose bumps; aside from the suspense account of the natives and the thrilling survival of hunger, colds, and wilderness. The surrealism of Glass reminiscing the past, delivered a beautiful scene – juxtapose of the world’s ruthlessness and the love’s power over any ugly truths. The surreal, mystifying memories of Glass’ wife always break the icy cold moments in the film, those parts with restrained emotions wherein only hatred, chase, and battle are the highlights. The scoring is a great work. It didn’t spice up the scene, but the scoring is the scene itself that is reborn through the notes. Beautiful, engaging music – appealing and provoking, I love The Hateful Eight’s scoring but The Revenant is a strong contender even to this category. 

The Revenant is a great work. Kudos to director Alejandro Innarritu and to the whole production team and cast ensemble. Every scene is worth watching!

P.S. I believe this year is Leo’s year, it ought to be Leo’s year. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

10 Best Foreign Films of 2015 That I Have Seen

by: Benj Ramos

1. Mad Max: Fury Road - dir. George Miller 

2. Kingsman: Secret Service - dir. Matthew Vaughn 

3. Inside Out - dir. Pete Docter and Ronnie del Carmen 

4. Timbuktu - dir. Abderrahmane Sissako 

5. Predestination - dir. Michael and Peter Spierig 

6. Shaun the Sheep movie - dir. Mark Burton and Richard Starzak 

7. The Little Prince - dir. Mark Osborne 

8. Star Wars: The Force Awakens - dir. JJ Abrams 

9. The Martian - dir. Ridley Scott 

10. Creed - dir. Ryan Coogler

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Sa Bawat Dulo ng Walang Hanggan (kasi nga #WalangForever)

ni Love Esios

Minsan, may darating na pag-ibig sa buhay mo na babali sa dati mong paniniwala sa pag-ibig at babago sa pananaw mo ng walang hanggan...

 --- Ayan yung ideyang naglalaro sa utak ko ng sumunod na araw pagkatapos kong manood ng Walang Forever. Nauna ng magbigay ng opinyon ang isa kong kaibigan tungkol sa pelikulang pinagbibidahan nina Jennylyn Mercado at Jericho Rosales. Bilang akala ko 'di ko na ito mapapanood, nagtanong ako sa kanya kung kumusta yung pelikula. Sabi niya, "Ang babaw ng istorya, friend. Sorry friend."

Eh 'di ako naman, nasayangan. Sabi ko, buti pala hindi ko pa napanood. Pero sadyang mapaglaro lang siguro ang tadhana kasi nakapanood pa rin ako at paglabas ko ng sinehan, sumisinghot-singhot pa ako habang nagpupunas ng luha sa pisngi. Ang nasabi ko na lang, "Wow. Grabe."

Simple lang naman ang kwento, oo. Nothing spectacular, nothing extraordinary. Same old plot. Dalawang taong pinagtagpo ng ulan, pinagbuklod ng pag-ibig at pinaghiwalay ng buhay. Pero ang tingin kong natatangi sa pelikulang ito ay ang mahusay na pagbibigay-buhay ng mga aktor sa mga karakter ng isang simpleng ngunit paulit-ulit na kwento ng pag-ibig.

Noong nalaman kong nagwagi bilang pinakamahusay na aktor si Jericho Rosales sa MMFF, naitanong ko sa sarili ko, "Wala na ba talaga silang ibang choice?" Kahit 'di ko pa napapanood ang Honor Thy Father, nasabi ko agad na, "Bakit hindi si John Lloyd?" Kasi siguro bilang manonood, ang stereotype natin, kapag umarte ng drama, magaling na. 'Pag umiyak ng bongga, ay may pag-asa ito. 'Pag love story ang theme, ay walang saysay yan. Rom-Com... sus!

Eh tinaob ng napakahusay na pagganap ni Jericho Rosales ang lahat ng mga stereotype sa utak ko. Pinaghandaan niyang mabuti ang kanyang karakter. Inalam niya ang bawat pakiramdam, bawat iniisip at bawat ikinikilos nito at inari niyang kanya. Marami na akong nakitang aktor na umarteng may sakit sa pelikula at telebisyon pero mas nakita ko ang pagiging natural sa karakter ni Echo. Pigil pero andun yung tindi ng emosyon. Makikita mo sa mga mata niya ang paghihirap ng kanyang kalooban. Ang kawalan ng pag-asa. Iilan lang silang ganoon. Iilan lang ang mga aktor na matalino at nag-aaral ng mga karakter nila. Buti isa doon si Echo. Mahusay. ;-)

Matapos kong mapanood yung English Only Please noong nakaraang taon, napagtanto ko na may ibubuga naman pala talaga si Jennilyn Mercado. Sa kanyang ikalawang rom-com, ipinakita niya na hindi mo kailangang umiyak ng bongga at humikbi na parang katapusan na ng mundo para manalo ng isang parangal sa pag-arte. Minsan, kailangan mo lang isapuso ang karakter na binibigyan mo ng buhay. At kapag nakakonekta ka sa kanya, doon nagsisimula yung magic. Doon mo masasabing napakahusay niya dahil nagawa niyang pag-isahin ang dalawa: siya at ang kanyang karakter.

Nais ko ring bigyan ng pansin ang supporting cast ng pelikulang ito. Unang napansin ko kaagad si Pepe Herrera. Paano ko naman kakalimutan ang paborito kong Tolits ng Rak of Aegis. Hahaha! Hanggang sa sumunod na sina Jerald Napoles, Nico Antonio, Cai Cortez, Kim Molina at Myke Salomon. Feeling ko nasa Rak of Aegis reunion ako eh. Hahaha! Mahusay ang suporta kaya nabigyan ng resonableng comic relief ang pelikula.

Bukod sa mga nakakatawa at nakakaantig na linyahan nila Echo at Jen sa pelikula, pinakatumatak sa akin ang natatanging eksena ni Ms. Irma Adlawan kasama si Echo. Alam mo yung sinasabi nila sa teatro na kahit gaano kaliit ang eksena mo, nasa sa'yo pa rin ang ikagaganda nito. Sa loob ng ilang minuto, pinaluha ako ng todo ng eksenang yun. At hindi siya dahil kay Echo, dahil siya kay Ms. Irma Adlawan. Ang galing! :)

May forever man o wala, bawat kwento na nabubuo sa ating mga buhay ay nagwawakas din. Pero sa bawat pagwawakas, may nagsisimulang panibagong pahina. Parang pag-ibig lang. Sa bawat pagtatapos, may mas magandang kwento ng pag-ibig na sisibol at babali sa dati mong paniniwala tungkol sa pag-ibig at babago sa pananaw mo ng walang hanggan. Nasaktan ka man, nabigo, happy man ang ending ng love story mo o tragic, babalik at babalik ang puso mo sa pag-ibig na nagbago sa'yo. Tulad nga ng sabi ni Ebe Dancel sa kanyang kanta,

          "Bawat kanan at kaliwa
          Kanluran man o hilaga
          Ang bawat daan ko
          Ay patungo
          Pabalik sa'yo..."

Kudos sa writer ng Walang Forever pati na rin kay direk! Maraming salamat sa isa na namang magandang pelikulang Pilipino! :-)

Walong tagay ng espresso po para sa inyo! :-)

Thursday, December 31, 2015

My take on About Time ~ Film Review

by Love Esios

photo grabbed from
2015 is closing in a few hours. That means, you are able to complete 365 days of your life and in a few, you are going to complete another set of 365 days as we welcome another year full of hopes and aspirations.

But what if your dad told you a secret that you can travel back in time? Will you immediately jump into the opportunity of going back into one of the days in our previous set of 365 and make it better?

In the movie About Time, Tim Lake (portrayed by Domnhall Gleeson) was told by his father (portrayed by Bill Nighy) a family secret --- men in their family can travel back in time. Tim was skeptical at first, but when he tried to go back to the time when he didn't kiss a girl on New Year's day, he was shocked that he could actually do it. And during that time, he kissed that girl with so much confidence and passion.

After thoroughly going through the process of time-travelling with his dad, Tim resolved himself that he's going to use his new-found skill to get a girlfriend. He tried to use it with his first love Charlotte but he wasn't able to capitalize on it. Not until he met Mary (portrayed by Rachel McAdams) on a blind date that he realized that he is actually in-love. And that is the beginning of the real struggle of a complicated life for a time traveller.

Now here comes the question: What sets this movie apart from other films with time travel plots? This British romance-comedy masterpiece of Richard Curtis was peppered with British punch lines that you will truly leave you with a hearty laugh. It has also made me look back on the unfortunate events in my life brought by wrong decisions and impulsive decision-making. It affirmed my belief that love is so much stronger than any fear, doubt or sadness combined.

We may not have the ability to go back in the past and make it better, but I guess this movie wants us to see the beauty of living your life to the fullest every day. And that every day is also an opportunity to make things right and make it the best day ever.

The year will soon come to an end. Another year is about to unfold. May the year 2016 be "about time" spent with the people you love. Spend your time wisely, seize every moment and allow yourself to be filled with love so that you can share more love in return. Let's always remember that unlike Tim, there's not going back for us again. So enjoy the moment while it lasts. :-)

Before I forget, let me give this movie an 8.

Cheers for 2016! :-)

Top 15 Best Pinoy Films of 2015 That I Have Seen

by: Benj Ramos

15. ARI: MY LIFE WITH A KING - dir. Carlo Enciso Catu

MMFF New Wave Best Picture awardee. Poetic, simple and funny. When a film gives you a discovery, it is a good film. ARI gives us characters that we have never seen before— a group of Kapampangan poets with a King.

14. TAKLUB - dir. Brilliante Mendoza

My favorite Nora film over Thy Womb, Hustisya and Kwento Ni Mabuti. It is almost a sincere post Yolanda tribute.

13. TANDEM - dir. King Palisoc

My favorite MMFF New Wave film. Post On The Job genre. Looks like OTJ really sets the bar high. Props to Nicco Manalo. Nakakainis lahat ng characters!

12. IMBISIBOL- dir. Lawrence Fajardo

Almost sleep inducing but lemme give props on how it was done. Never imagine the outcome after seeing this from Virgin Labfest. Sayang talaga si JM, back to back siya dito sa list (#13-Tandem) and last year, That Thing Called Tadhana.

11. WATER LEMON - dir. Lemuel Lorca

Weird, funny and witty. Pero mostly weird. Jun-Jun Quintana is a breakthrough. 

10. MANANG BIRING - dir. Carl Joseph Papa

Fresh and creative. It was never afraid to step up, and it worked.

9. BAMBANTI - dir. Zig Dulay

This Sinag Maynila film entry is about a struggle of trust from a mother to her son. It all started with a lost golden watch, and the son becomes the suspect. It invites us to be the judgmental audience. Has several good moments and better performances as expected. 

8. DAHLING NICK - dir. Sari Dalena

Nick Joaquin in a nutshell. Reliable and interesting interviewees, bonus na narealize kong may ibang writers na akala ko patay na pero buhay na buhay pa pala. Di lang ako masyado naadvise na 3 hours pala ‘to.

7. KID KULAFU - dir. Paul Soriano 

It wanders through an old Mindanao of boxing, agriculture and kulafu. Excellent perfomances from Buboy Villar as Pacman and De Rossi as the infamous Dionesia. A fairy tale without glass slippers but a boxing gloves instead. So far,it wins the boxing match of films about Pacman.

6. MISS BULALACAO - Ara Chawdhury

Ang wild nito. At ang wild ng Biliran! It delights me when a film showcases the beauty and culture of the Philippines.

5. APOCALYPSE CHILD - Mario Cornejo and Monster Jimenez

The best Q Cinema entry so far from the film fest’s three-year run. Bale ang ganda ng Baler. I can never be friends with the characters coz they’re so out of my league. Rich kid problems.

4. HENERAL LUNA - Jerrold Tarog

Your HEKASI books comes to life, and with dialogues. Punyeta the Spoliarium scene, it was so clever. This has set the standards of period slash history films. I hope Hermano Puli and Goyong also deliver.

3. Honor Thy Father - dir. Erik Matti 

A real second chance for John Lloyd after the disappointing A Second Chance. No more love team for JL, please. Meryll Soriano is the next big thing in indies.

2. AN KUBO SA KAWAYANAN - dir. Alvin Yapan

It takes a good director to teach the insect, stones, ants, slippers and the entire kubo to act. Everything that you see from this film are actors. They are as equally good as Mercedes Cabral.

1. ANINO SA LIKOD NG BUWAN - dir. Jun Lana

Amazingly executed. You think you know it, then you don’t, and then you think again, then you hold back on what you think the ending might be and then you just stop guessing. Take each scene at a time as the story unfolds. Cleverly choreographed.