Monday, January 27, 2014

Upstream Color ~ Review

by: Uel Ceballos

Shane Carruth has deeply engrossed me to the ambit of his film Upstream Color as its baffling twist captivated me right from the very start. Most often than not, I find experimental films to be manipulative in its abstract domination, injecting the cunning style of film to flummox the viewers but with a little success to stir them both mentally and emotionally. However, Upstream Color is far way different. It is experimental in a perplexing way of film art but at the same time comprehensive of all the entrancing emotions that would hold the viewers’ interest from start to finish. Upstream Color is visually stunning, mind challenging and emotionally satisfying – it will get you fully occupied with its involved narrative.

Upstream Color is the life’s story of two individuals whose paths are intertwined with the same mishap. Jeff and Kris are both victims of the parasites that are engendered by the man who is casted in the film as “The Sampler”. Another victimizer is involved, “The Thief” who is shown in the beginning of the movie drugging Kris to hypnotize her and steal her fortunes. The film has incorporated the parasitic creatures as the drugging element that would draw the main characters together in a certain sort of odd familiarity. The use of pigs in the film wherein the “Sampler” has performed operations to connect the identity of the person to his or her new pig counterpart is also a bewildering spectacle. Shane Carruth has added a precious treasure to the list of remarkable Science Fiction films, of which who knows may actually happen somewhere in the future. Okay you may don’t want to imagine it anyway, having and feeling the roundworms visibly crawling beneath your skins then a stranger would perform an operation on you and you’ll just find yourself sharing your individuality with a pig.

This may sound disgusting to you, but Upstream Color is a must-see movie that demonstrated science being weaved to the dramatic existence of two people. I can’t stand the sight of all crawling creatures especially the like of nematodes and its other relatives. I’m having goose bumps in seeing a bunch of them than in seeing a certified ghastly horror film.  But then I got hold of its relevance to the film’s science element and braved their appearances on the movie and I never regret that I did. If I stopped from there I wouldn’t be able to see the full of the movie wherein a different kind of love story is eventually developed between the victims, Jeff and Kris.

Not everybody’s sort of love story, but this is definitely one of the sweetest and most moving depictions of love that I have ever seen. The parasites encounter has placed Jeff and Kris on such wreckage wherein they end up grasping endlessly for the missing fragments of their identity. But on such ruins they have found one another, and with their mental condition failing them due to unknown traumatic and confusing experiences from their past, they have come to a relationship tied strongly by bond of true love. This bond is not supported by any rational ideas as they have seemed to adrift forever in the mystery of their past, but they face things together despite the uncertainties, clutching mainly to their sense of feeling because that's the most trustworthy instinct that they got. Jeff and Kris live their lives with the undetermined past haunting and torturing them, they force their way to move forward hoping against hope that they soon unlock the elusive secrecy before they get completely estranged from their sanity.

A beautiful American experimental film that would make you wish to see more of Shane Carruth's films and his incorporation of science and abstract film style. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A closer look behind SLAMMED's poetry line. ~ Book Review

by: Love Esios

I feel like my whole mental and emotional being have been set to expect loss and tragedy in every final chapter of dystopian novels I've been reading for the past few months. That's why it's a good thing I've found a nice breather in this Colleen Hoover masterpiece.

It's not every day that you'd come across a novel that contains the right mix of love, friendship and kinship coated by poetry while the music of The Avett Brothers are setting the mood in the background.Sure, it's one of those typical love stories. We have here an 18-year-old girl named Layken who lost his dad in an accident, forced to leave her comfort zone to go all the way to Michigan with her mom and younger brother to supposedly live a much simpler kind of life. From across their new home lives the dashing, good-looking boy in the person of Will, who is almost got the same fate as her --- losing both parents to accident and left alone raising a younger brother. And so just like any other love stories, they met, there was spark, and they got electrocuted. (Okay, that was a lame joke!) Kidding aside, I don't think I need to say more. You don't need to be a scientist to know what will happen next.

The characters of Layken and Will and their love story might sound very conventional to most of you, but there is something more about how Colleen Hoover brought the art of poetry, music and love together in this literary piece. I personally enjoyed how she injected humor in the very tough facade of Layken's character. How, in a way, she mirrors each and every one of us in facing struggles and struggling to come out of it. I kinda like how Will became an example of chivalry in this story. How a good-looking man can also have brains, too! I think any woman would like to have a man who's very charming, handsome and strong yet has a heart so compassionate that a piece of poetry or a sad melody can make him soften up even just a little bit. Though, just like most romantic novels, I feel like I there are some moments when  I was actually looking for some  more masculinity and toughness in Will's character (though I know if that's the only thing I was looking for, I should've just read A Game of Thrones and immune myself on the egotistic attitude of male characters in that book).

I think this novel just proved how hopeless romantic I am. It awakens the flame of poetry in my heart. It even made me want to watch and join poetry slam! :D Yes, it is a typical love story. And who knows, perhaps it's YOUR typical love story, too. :)

I'd give 8/10cups of latte for this. Enjoy! ^___________^

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Great Beauty ~ Film Review

by: Uel Ceballos

Watching “The Great Beauty” is visually and psychologically nourishing as it makes you feel like travelling to a world that embodies the full elements of humanities. The title itself strongly speaks for what the movie is all about and it will never fail your expectations. The film is the great beauty itself. I’ve seen lots of other movies that feature Italy, particularly the Rome with all its exquisiteness and extreme majesty. But none had given me that strange overwhelming sensation over such a splendour beauty. None had hit me with such effect until Paolo Sorrentino’s “The Great Beauty”.

The film is focused to Jep Gambardella, a journalist who has just celebrated his 65th birthday. He’s a socialite who had once written a famous novel during his twenties but nothing follows after then. He works writing cultural columns and engaging himself to nightly parties. Upon reaching his 65th year, Jep has finally come into this sort of rethinking things over and looking back to the past events of his life. Jep is undergoing into this stage that everyone of his age is experiencing – assessing his life which eventually give way to the transformations of views and beliefs, paving the path to new realizations. This is the sort of movie that will make you look deeper into your own life just as Jep did, regardless of your age at the moment. Paolo Sorrentino has inspired a story of an ageing journalist and socialite, incorporating it to the soul-searching process of an individual which occurs through the interwoven accounts with the various beauties of life.

Jep Gambardella, in spite of what he has become, of what status he has achieved through all his hard works, is still feeling unfulfilled. He’s maybe a socialite who sleeps at hours wherein the ordinary people are already waking up, a 65 year old man who was adopted by Rome and showered by its magnificence, a man who had established his name in literature after a successful novel, but Jep Gambardella is missing something and he has finally come into that sense to look for that mislaid piece.

If you’re an artist or you love arts and appreciate it in its various forms and aspects then you’re going to love this movie to bits. The Great Beauty showcases Rome in its finest gorgeousness and mystifying works of arts that flowed in undeniable opulence. In truth, everybody can do that, incorporating a potential story with the intention to exhibit the elegance of the city – the Rome itself is already a sumptuous element that would make up for a classy remarkable film. However, Paolo Sorrentino had executed it in the most unique way, weaving the film with dazzling visuals, striking score, extraordinary performances and unusual sequence of events that would make you all eyes and ears to the movie. The film consists of flashback series as Jep remembers his past which mainly comprises of his first love and his struggles to understand life in its most complicated nature.

Paolo Sorrentino has given the film an enigmatic central character and he has assigned it to Toni Servillo who did an absolutely knockout performance. ­Toni Servillo’s acting has moved me. He had played well the inscrutable character of Jep Gambardella – incomprehensible at some moment, sometimes going blank at all and then all of a sudden, the emotion will outburst from totally zero level to 100% of deliverance. Imagine witnessing such unexpected turn of scene with the poignant soundtrack and stirring acting performance that evokes mixed emotions from the audiences’ part. It’s hard to completely illustrate the film’s magnificence through words alone, unless you see it yourself that’s the only time you’ll fully understand what I’m saying. Everything in the film speaks of beauty, from the stunning visuals, haunting breed of modern classical music and stirring techno-pop, to awe-inspiring cinematic techniques, The Great Beauty is absolutely one of the greatest movies of its time!

So there, let’s cheer on it with the perfect 10 of Espresso Shots!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Gravity ~ Film Review

by: Uel Ceballos

I love the Gravity film because it granted me the experience of the outer space. I’ve long fancied to be an astronaut and this film had somehow brought my fantasy into its closest reality. Gravity’s execution was breathtaking. It will take you to the world you hardly ever knew (unless you’re a major in Science, you’re an astronaut yourself or something that is related on it) – in the outer space where the greatness of our Creator is truly magnified. From the start to finish, you will never stop wondering on the outer space’s awesomeness despite its unfriendly nature on human. The VFX team had surely exerted lots of efforts and creative juices to make the setting appeared with seemingly undisputed authenticity.

The grandeur views on Gravity is the movie's main selling point as the fantastic depictions of the space stirs the curiosity of people with respect to what lies there beyond the celestial elements. The film was given the title “Gravity”, and 99.9% of the scenes happened in abyss wherein the gravity does not exist. You would see here how the astronauts move in the void as if they are swimming in the underwater. The space is enthralling and terrifying at the very same time. Like the vast desert or the deep ocean, the space’s mysteriousness is inviting yet the potential dangers that it can impose upon you is far superior and innumerable. Everything that you see in the film is seemingly genuine however, if you keep thinking about its digital creation and manipulation, you wouldn’t be able to benefit from the marvelous spectacles that Gravity has in store for your sight. Gravity is a great beauty to behold but it also presents a different kind of thrill that will make you hold your breath up to the end of the film.

Gravity is a sci-fi thriller film that is focused on Dr. Ryan Stone on her first shuttle space mission. While in the mission with the veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski and the rest of the team, a Russian missile hits on non-operational satellite which causes the reaction of high-speed debris coming over to their location. Space debris had hit the Space Shuttle Explorer where Dr. Ryan Stone and Matt Kowalski are and this is the start of the suspenseful series of events that will make you gasp for air. Not to exaggerate things but you will certainly share with Stone’s struggle here as she almost run out of oxygen while working on her way to survive the unforgiving outer space.

George Clooney’s character here has only a short time exposure but he has done it with the expected excellence. Though clad in heavy spacesuit with his face vaguely shown behind the helmet and only his voice justifying the character, he has still made the character likeable and charming in a remarkably Clooney-way. His charm still got its irresistible effect even on such a limited role. His role though short, is very significant to the entire movie as the story of Gravity wouldn’t be strong enough without that character of Kowalski in it.

Only that the entire film is focused on the space drama, putting only to second importance the life’s story of the two main characters. There is the effort though to establish it through the conversation of Stone and Kowalski, but it was very less that their emotional and psychological status wasn't fully developed. The psyche of the characters was not completely established through the story thus I couldn’t tell to what level of appropriateness had the characters justified their decisions and actions. Devoid maybe of the emotional elements with respect to the characters’ inner feeling but Gravity has indeed delivered an incomparable suspense space drama spectacle.

For this wondrous thrilling movie that made me hold my breath and gasped for air, I will rate it with 7 shots of Espresso! 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Life of Pi ~ Movie Review

by: Uel Ceballos 

No film has ever awed me like the “Life of Pi” did. This is certainly one of the most beautiful and enthralling films I’ve ever seen in my years of being a film enthusiast. Director Ang Lee never fails to deliver film with a poetic beauty on such finest and most enthralling spectacles.

The film is based from a novel of the same title written by Yann Martel, focusing to Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel whose faith is challenged by adversity and catastrophic event that have nearly thrown him into lethargic solitary if Richard Parker hadn’t made it to the lifeboat when the Japanese freighter Tsimsum met its doom. Only that Richard Parker is the last companion that you would ever pray to have whether in an island or in a lifeboat that measured only for 30 headcounts of survivors. This is all for the reason that Richard Parker is not like anyone of us, he’s a fierce and strong 450-pound Bengal tiger who consumed ten pounds of meat a day. Imagine being with him for 227 days in the midst of Pacific just like Pi had experienced when the shipwreck happened.

The book itself is already an astounding masterpiece that it interested producers to adopt Life of Pi for a motion picture. One would be curious to think on where side of the Earth did Yann Martel inspired this story just like where hole did Tolkien dug the Hobbit and where island did Suzanne Collins find the Panem for her Hunger Games. The book was written in a manner that will set you grasping the elements of religion and spirituality for the sake of getting educated by it if not submitting to it. It’s a beautiful story that in one way or another you would hope it were all true not because you’d revel for such tragedy but because the whole event, unforgiving and calamitous on its being, carries with it a message that no one would acquire with totality otherwise experienced first-hand.

Meticulously weaving the fiction elements and sequences is one thing, rendering it into film is another story. No wonder that the project had gone through series of events before the concept was concluded and the people to work behind it were finalized. The film was made to be a 3D live action computer-animated adventure that thanks to the deity of visual effects, Life of Pi mesmerized us with its aesthetic cinematography. It would never come into your mind that Richard Parker wasn’t a real tiger at all and the place they were set into wasn’t the vast and enigmatic Pacific Ocean as you thought it was. Even the earlier parts of the movie which told Pi’s life back in Pondicherry granted us with genial sights of India in its peaceful and vibrant uniqueness of culture and tradition. Watching Life of Pi will fill your eyes with the loveliness yet ferocious temper of nature. You’ll get reminded that ocean, island, wild flora and fauna alike all share magnificent beauties along with savage attributes of which once provoked will get you near zero percent of chance to survive.

Though we viewers haven’t witnessed how everything was made in this another 3D phenomenon success after the movie Avatar, it’s needless to justify now that all was created out of scrupulous effort and years of expertise in 3D visual effect and artistic film treatment. Magic was figuratively done when the leading visual effect company Rhythm and Hues had turned the giant wave tank into Pacific Ocean and created the character of Richard Parker the tiger. One of my favourite sights in the movie is that shot of Pi standing on the boat with the water on still and reflecting the magnificent sky with hues of enticing blue and sun-orange.  The scene is too powerful that dialogues are unnecessary because that few seconds of the silent view can already speak for itself – such profound, deeply moving beauty is both communicative and prevailing, the kind of artistic approach that Ang Lee is well adept at.

Not only that Life of Pi was able to intrigue us with its promising technological prowess but it did set us all curious of the leading cast Suraj Sharma who is fresh and inexperienced in acting but did a knockout performance in his role of Pi. Ang Lee has given the film an interesting appeal when he chose international casts for the movie, cutting off from the potential list those who appeared to be inharmoniously recognizable among the others.

For those who haven’t watched this movie yet, go and find time to see. This will surely worth your time and will touch your soul.

I’ll cheer on it with 10 Espresso Shots and I hope to see more movies as splendid like this one!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

TOP 10 PINOY FILMS OF 2013 THAT I HAVE SEEN ~ by: Benj Ramos

Bale hindi talaga ako pro sa pagsulat ng film review kase ang alam ko lang ay manood at kumaen ng nachos sa loob ng sinehan at saka magtiis ng ihi hanggat di natatapos. Pero since 50 pinoy films ang napanood ko nung 2013, hayaan nyo kong magbigay ng opinyon ko about my Top 10 Best Pinoy Films That I Have Seen. Masusi kong ni-rank ito sa tulong ng SGV & Co, Punong Bayan at Pamet.

10. BLUE BUSTAMANTE by Miko Livelo

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Wag nyo ko kasuhan ng livelo, number 10 talaga to. Salamat sa mala- bioman na ideya ni Miko.

It's about George Bustamante (Joem Bascon) who struggles to find a job in Japan. Gusto sana niya engineer pero di siya pinapalad. Thanks to his partner-in-crime portrayed by Jun Sabayton he lands into a job he never imagined doing -- a TV actor.

He keeps this job a secret to his family fearing that it might disappoint his wife Juniper (Dimples Romana) and his son Kiko.

Challenge sa masculinity ni George ang umarte sa isang kiddie show. Pero wapakels nakamaskara naman siya hindi siya marerecognize. This film is more than a sentai film (setai ha hindi hentai, magkaiba yun), it's a movie for OFW in a lighter approach. Nostalgic ang aura especially sa audience na naabutan ang ganitong klaseng palabas. Papasilipin ka sa off screen production.

9. TUHOG by Veronica Velasco

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Perstaym ko marinig ang title kala ko bastos ang plot. Medyo sexually suggesting kase eh, Tuhog. Ano pa ba pwedeng pelikula pag ganyan ang pamagat? Uhog pwede pa.

It's a movie of 3 stories tuhog into one. Tonio (Leo Martinez) fears aging. He feels least important as he grows old. Fiesta (Eugene Domingo), a grumpy bus condutor who dwells in fear and hatred has found a new hope when she meets Nato (Jake Cuenca) and proves her that there's more to life. Caloy (Enchong Dee) and his LDR partner Angel (Empress) are virgins who are excited to meet and to have sex for the first time.

Tonio's story is my favorite. Hindi porket matanda na e hindi na pwede tuparin ang mga pangarap. Yung kay Fiesta naman medyo mahaba ang exposure ng story nya. Yung kay Caloy parang it lives up to the title, 'Tuhog'. Medyo SPG.

The characters aren't related unlike sa Jologs. Tinuhog lang talaga sila. The film depicts the 3 stages of life: Coming of age, being in love and getting old.

8. ALAGWA by Ian Loreños

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Robert (Jericho Rosales) is a single dad who works pasideline-sideline in the Chinese community. He lives with his son, Brian (Bugoy Cariño). It's a natural father-son relationship though minsan napagbubuntungan ni Robert ang anak sa mga pagsubok na pinagdadaanan niya. Until one day, his son gets kidnapped and as the desperate father searches unveils the hidden modus of selling kids in Hong Kong to make them beggars.

I haven't seen Loreños' The Leaving so this is the first film he introduced himself to me. And yeah, i want more.

This film about child trafficking gives Jericho a stellar performance. It somehow reminds of Slumdog Millionaire, that child selling thing. And please, don't blink at the ending. Napamura ako.

7. TRANSIT by Hannah Espia

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A Filipino family in Tel Aviv with expired visa is in hiding after the Israel Government passed a new law deporting kids of migrants. Janet (Irma Adlawan) and his brother Moises (Ping Medina) hide their children from the police authority.

What sets it apart from that tuhog-tuhog interconnected storylines is that Transit gives you the perspective of each character. Hindi ka mauumay sa paulit-ulit na eksena because it gives the audience something new which is not shown in the previous scene.

Kudos to the characters because they speak Hebrew like a pro. And that scene where Joshua (Marc Justine Alvarez) recites the Torah is pretty impressive. Indeed, deserving to represent our country in the Oscars for Best Foreign Language film. Kaya lang it didnt get the nomination.


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Tatlong magkakaibigan na sa sobrang kaadikan sa gimik at sugal at napasok sa isang illegal sports betting collection. Blinded with their big earnings, they don't see the consequences await them.

Superb acting from the 3 mainstream actors, Rayver Cruz, Joseph Marco and Mateo Guidicelli especially to Mateo.

I was not aware na may nageexist na ganitong illegal activity until this film. So pati UAAP at kung anu ano pang labanan na pwedeng pagpustahan ay nahahanapan ng pagkakakitaan. Sa mga nasisilaw sa easy money, watch this.

Ian Loreños is also the director of Alagwa which is also part of this list. I had a chance to ask him if he's more into a crime-thriller director but he said he's open for different genres. Sir suggestion ko, stick to what you do best

5. DANCE OF THE STEEL BARS by Cesar Apolinario

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This is a film inspired from the dancing inmates of Cebu. Frank (Patrick Bergin) is a philanthropist accused of murder. Mando (Dingdong Dantes) who has a passion for dancing is a convicted murderer. Allona (Joey Paras) is a transexual who helps Mando in fulfilling his dream.

Two "steel" movies premiered in the same date. Alam kong dadagsain si pareng Superman kaya inuna ko yung kay Dingdong. At tama nga, wala pa kameng bente sa loob ng sinehan. Walang regret.

Dingdong is a versatile actor. I've seen his other film, Tiktik and that one with Bea Alonzo. And he can dance pala ha. Found out that he was a former member of a dance group.

This semi fiction semi documentary-ish film will tell you that not all prisoners are guilty; and not all guilty and convicted are natural evil.

4. EKSTRA by Jeffrey Jeturian

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Loida (Vilma Santos) works as a telenovela extra to support her daughter from studies. All she wanted is to be the best extra she can be. She believes in giving your 100% in everything that you do, whether for a small or big role. But how will she handle the pressure of being the primera extra given that chance to have scenes with the biggest stars?

The film gives you the off screen production of teleserye. This time, bidas are not bida. Extras are. Vilma takes home the Best Actress in an Extra Role if there is such thing. That audition scene? EPIC.

3. BABAGWA by Jason Paul Laxamana

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May gwapong lalaki sa facebook. Biglang icha-chat ka. Kukunin number mo. Kikilitian ka sa kanyang bedroom voice. Tapos hihingian ka ng pera. That's the modus of Greg (Alex Medina) with the help of the mastermind, Marney (Joey Paras). Pero paano kung mainlove siya sa bibiktimahin nya sanang si Daisy (Alma Concepcion)? Ipaglalaban ba ni Greg ang sinisigaw ng puso o ang sinisigaw ng kanyang sikmura?

Bakit ito nasa number 3? Kase ito ang the best Cinemalaya entry na napanood ko this year. It is as if you are watching a real thing caught on tape. Very timely lalo't nauuso ang mga posers at manggagancho sa social media. Morever, it allows you to use your senses. Lilituhin ka sa iyong nakikita, naririnig, nararamdaman at naiimagine.


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Siblings decide to sell and divide their properties now that both of their parents died. But the hardest decision is what to do with their aged nanny, Yaya Teresa (Rustica Carpio) who has served in their family for 60 years.

Jose Javier Reyes should stop his chismoso career on TV and start writing and directing films like this. Sa kabilang banda, Rustica Carpio once again has showcased her believable acting skill.

Makinig ka sa usapan ng magkakapatid. Yung feeling na isa ka sa kanila at hinuhusgahan mo kung sino ang tama at may katwiran. Sino ka sa kanila? Bawat karater ay may point.

With this all star casts and outstanding screenplay and cinematography, it easily paves its way to the top of my favorite Sineng Pambansa entry for this year.

1. ON THE JOB by Erik Matti

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This is a crime thriller film about two inmates na nakakalabas pasok sa selda at kumikita para pumatay whoever they are ordered to kill. Tatang (Joel Torre) is a pro in doing so. Eventually he'll pass it on to his curious and determined apprentice, Daniel (Gerald Anderson). However, Francis (Piolo Pascual) makes sure it's not going to be easy for them

This is the best Pinoy action film i've seen, bar none. Hence, also the number one for my year end list. Malungkot, masaklap, madilim at masalimuot. It gave me a heart attack in every scene. Cinematography is outsanding. Clear ang mensahe. And, JOEY MARQUEZ.