Sunday, June 15, 2014

Like Father, Like Son ~ Film Review

by: Uel Ceballos

What will you do if after six years, you find out that your child has been swapped in the hospital with the other couple’s child? Would the blood matters rather than the six years that you’ve spent with the child whom all years you thought was your own?

“Like Father Like Son” is a deeply moving Japanese film that tells the stories of two different families whose lives became interconnected through a single incident that happened way back. It took them six years to find out that their sons were exchanged intentionally by an insecure nurse and now they are faced with a crucial decision which they have to make as early as possible. Upon finding this out they are threatened by the possible damages that can be incurred to the children and to them, the parents; who are now quite torn about swapping the children again or leaving everything as they are.

More than the consideration of the legal matters, the Nonomiya and Saiki families are much more concerned about the best possible decision that they could make for their children. Giving the children back to their real parents isn’t the best action to do, though it’s considered to be the first main solution. Nonomiya and Saiki are different in status and lifestyle, the first one may be greater in financial capability, but the second one is far more capable in giving time for the family. While Saiki Yudai, a storekeeper is able to give all the time in the world just to play and bond with his sons, the facts can’t be denied that he needs to strive harder to feed his big family. Nonomiya Ryota on the other hand, earns more than enough as a hard-working architect but his time is often constrained to works, leaving his wife and son often alone at their home. Ryota and Yudai are two different fathers who both love their children to bits, but have different ways of raising them. Now they are both caught into a situation that compels them to begin another new process of fatherhood to the real son that they have never been with for six long years.

Like Father Like Son is a richly emotional film that ponder about the hardest but one of the most important job in the world -- parenthood. When do you really become a parent? Is it by blood solely? Is the tie that is connecting the child to its parents mainly refers to the blood relation? And when you found out that there’s really no connection at all, would that make your parents-child relationship any less despite the years that you’ve spent together? This film explores the parents-child relationship to the extent of going beyond the blood and flesh border.

The children’s slow adaptation to their new home environment after six years of being with another family is definitely out of question. We can’t blame their innocent mind from getting confused on why they are being sent by their parents to another couple’s house – and on why they are finding it hard to grasp the idea that the parents who raised them are not their real parents at all. But despite the child’s tight grip to his old lifestyle (including the family he has grown with), he still grows more and more alike to his parents, particularly to the physical aspects. This is both apparent to the two children – Keita and Ryuusei who grow with great resemblance to their real father -- proving only that one can never deny where he has come from. However, Keita and Ryuusei have also acquired some traits from the man who has raised them, showing as well that loving the person you live with is all enough to grow more like him., maybe not in physical but in emotional and thinking aspects.

This film is undeniably beautiful with its abundant depiction of love and family’s common struggles. “Like Father Like Son” is a sweet and heart-warming expression of love that makes a relationship without blood connection at all, grow way deeper than the one that has.

9 Espresso Shots for this Palm D'Or nominated film. Salute to all the fathers out there! Cheers!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Top 10 Best Movies That I Have Seen So Far (mid-year: Jan-May 2014)

by: Benj Ramos

2014 has been an exciting year for movies. The first quarter kicked in with some films from the Oscars (American Hustle, 12 Years A Slave, Her), book adaptations ( Snowpiercer, Divergent, Diary ng Panget, ABNKKBSNPLako, Heaven is for Real), and sequels ( Rio 2, Amazing Spider-Man 2, X-Men DOFP).

Pinoy films are also rockin' the big screen, and local indies too. In just 5 months I have seen 33 movies which is crazy and expensive. I wanna share with you my list of the best films that I have seen so far this year. Personal biases included:

10. DIARY NG PANGET - Andoy Ranay

This is the only local film that made it to my midyear list. FYI, so far this film is in the top 5 highest grossing Pinoy film of 2014 to date (Wikipedia). This wattpad story adaptation is surprisingly funny. The kilig moments are not forced even though there wasn't enough time for the characters to develop. It stays committed until book 3, which is also the Wattpad releases. And Nadine Lustre looks like Kathryn Bernardo. In the battle of cliches, DNP is way better than ABNKKBSNPLAko (2013) which is also from Viva. Pinoy book adaptation is now becoming a trend because of the positive response from the Filipino audience, hence the upcoming She's Dating A Gangster and Lumayo Ka Nga Sa Akin. 

9. GRAND PIANO - Eugenio Mira

Just like a concerto piece, this movie is a continuous rising and falling of suspense. The scenes are mostly happening in real time and it'll keep you on the edge of your seat all throughout this thrilling yet entertaining film. I love the Hitchcock-esque feel of this seemingly Phonebooth meets Speed in a concert hall film. Thanks for this movie now I can tell who is Elijah Wood and who is the Harry Potter guy. Elijah makes a good hand actor because of the choreography of his fingers dancing at the top of the piano keys. The cinematography is stylish. You wouldn't forget the ending. When I saw it, I was like, what the heck just happened??

8. DIVERGENT - Neil Burger

You just can't convert a book and compress it in a 2-hour movie, so do not expect it to be identical with the book. Just like Hunger Games, this is one of my favorite dystopian stories on screen. The world was created that is visually appealing. For non reader like me, the movie is easy to follow and well explained. From the beginning till the end I was hooked. Pacing is just fine, compelling and action packed with some intense scenes. Before Hazel Grace and Augustus became lovers in The Fault in our Stars, they were siblings in this movie. I know right? In some moments I was thinking about incest. Nonetheless Shailene Woodley (as Tris) makes a perfect feminist role model while Theo James (as Four) strains masculinity and strength. 

7. NON STOP - Jaume Collet-Sera

It's not like Taken, but it's still great. This Liam Neeson thriller will blow you away. With a great classic mystery plot, the film will keep you guessing right up to the end. It has a plot with so many twists and surprises which keeps every scene intense and interesting. I have seen so many crashing airplane movies and this one's skyrockets to one of my favorites. And yes, Lupita Nyong'o was there. I was so tired when the movie was over.


SPOILER ALERT. I haven't seen Sam Raimis trilogy so no bias or comparison considered when I watched Webb's. Somehow, Andrew Garfield's reboot stays committed to the comics. Villains are very good. The visual effects and the fight scenes are awesome plus the soundtrack is a killer. Very seldom we see multiple villains in a superhero film thus triple treat for Spidey fans out there. I kinda felt sympathetic to Electro though. And then, Harry reminds me of the young Leo DiCaprio. The movie's action and humor stood out. Sad ending for Emma Stone. My heart broke. 

5. SAVING MR BANKS - John Lee Hancock

Sometimes what happens behind the cam would make just as interesting as what happens in front of the cam. This Oscar snub shows the dark story behind "Mary Poppins". Truly a great funny, touching and sad movie. I'll never look at Mary Poppins the same way again. Got teary eyed watching this. Tom Hanks did a brilliant performance as Walt Disney. I also enjoyed the end credits while they played the actual audio tape recording of Ms. Traverse and Mr Disney's convo.


Flawless is an understatement to describe this Pink Panther-ish film. I love the style and cinematography. This multi-layered film is a mix of funny, smart, violent, exciting and ridiculous scenes. Settings are visually stunning.

3. X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST - Bryan Singer

Definitely a must watch. It's a great entertainment and was even better than expected. Great to see old and new faces come together in a movie. Magneto is such a brilliant character. That slow-mo kitchen scene with Quicksilver is my favorite. That's how you do Quicksilver right. Just an observation, if the Sentinels were created in the 70's why weren't they ever mentioned or shown in the first X-Men series?

2. THE LEGO MOVIE - Phil Lord and Christopher Miller

The animation is amazing. It is so good you can hardly tell if it's CGI or stop motion. Or could be entirely CGI but they made it look like a stop motion. I love how the special effects are made with lego fire and water. I was so pumped because everything was awesome. Thanks for this unique experience, now my childhood is haunting me.

1. SNOWPIERCER - Bong Joon-Ho

You can never go wrong with Korean film makers. Horror, suspense, drama and even comedy, they are excellent in their craft. This film is probably the most underrated movie of the year. Fantastic concept which makes it kinda weird. The subtext is superb -- politics, ego, fear, nature, entertainment, human nature, class system. Intelligent and entertaining with scenes that will make you say, "WTF is that??!". Great acting from Chris Evans. It's like Hunger Games inside a train.