Movies

This Uncertain Feeling: The End of Love (2015) Review

Directed by Eric Hsu (Hsu Li Da)

Screenplay by Eric Hsu (Hsu Li Da)

What is it that we know about love?

This is the question that begs to be known in Hsu Li Da’s second feature film The End of Love. We follow the lives of four contemporary couples at the beginning and or at the brink of their love lives. The key here is simplicity. One looks at The End of Love and it becomes an immediate favourite for its stylish honesty.

THE END OF LOVE (2015)

The film starts off with a man and a woman, whose meeting fits well for the film’s first and last scenes. She lingers a look with what seems to beg for answers (as we are), his on the other hand are filled by a profound look of contemplation. The kind of characters that we find in The End of Love are nothing like the usual ensemble cast of characters trying to explain what love is, which is usually portrayed through various gimmicks and pretentious styles. These characters are real, and each story unfolds naturally like we’ve all met these characters before.

THE END OF LOVE (2015)

An old man meeting his childhood crush at an elderly home; a troubled married couple whose misplaced feelings about their marriage makes them desperate for having a baby; a millennial couple with different priorities: one fighting for his community as an activist, the other working as a bar-girl to sustain the economic status of their relationship; and a student falling in love with his former teacher.

Hsu writes the screenplay as raw and as metaphysical as it could be. During the first few scenes, the married woman discusses briefly her trip to the doctor. The husband invites her for a shower, and she coldly answers “We’re not young anymore”, the same line to be used by the husband as a representation for both of their selfishness and insecurity towards their marriage.

The film’s slow, unhindered scenes offer subtle representations of social issues, death, love, and family. Is this the end of love? One must ask. And oftentimes the question and its answers are always present for us to find out. I find that the ending was left open; perhaps Hsu unknowingly left it there for us to find versions of our own.

This review first appeared on Film Police Reviews.

Indie, IndieFilipino, Movies, The 500 Film Challenge

Notes on ‘Taklub’ (2015)

Lou Veloso’s character in Brillante Mendoza’s film that’s been making waves in both local and international film circuits for almost over a year now is only a blithe example of how experience can get you a remarkable performance. Whether it’s to present how unimaginable a situation is for a small character as his ‘Mang Renato’ in Taklub or how his portrayal can manage to swim along the brilliance of Nora Aunor.

I still stand on what I wrote on Film Police. I still think that Lou Veloso shines more than Ms Aunor, although I admire how she stayed true to the character, without overpowering her co-stars Julio Diaz and Aaron Rivera and Mr. Veloso. There’s just something about the whole performance that at some point did not make me want to believe in what she was [selling] to me. She exudes that matriarchal empathy that the film needs as much as we need our mothers most when times are rough. There are several episodes of personal tragedies faced during Typhoon Haiyan which were featured in local dramas, and Taklub offers it in a grander scale.

Taklub-1

In the recent light of Heneral Luna’s success, let this post be a reminder that Taklub was also screened to local cinemas on September 16th. It would be interesting if people went to watch this one too, then perhaps we can truly confirm that this will continue the change that Philippine Cinema needs.

 

A full-length review of the author is posted under Film Police Reviews. Click here to read more. Photos on this post are taken from the same review.

Books to Movies, The 500 Film Challenge, The Good Stuff

The Quaint Reimagination of ‘Mr Holmes’

MR. HOLMES opens to a soft, glowing view of the English countryside rather than the gloomy mood of Baker Street in London from where the popular detective resides.

The film is based on a novel by Mitch Cullin called ‘A Slight Trick of the Mind’ eighty-eight years after Sherlock’s final appearance in his maker Arthur Conan Doyle’s His Last Bow.

I have a problem with reimagined stories. The ones that are plucked out of the classics and placed in a different setting which could either put them in a far worse situation than they’re supposedly written, or perhaps the writer is trying to borrow a bit of success. After Bill Condon’s stint with the last two Twilight sagas — well, I’m a bit nervous as I even think of those two films.

HOWEVER, from what I’ve seen, there is good intention for Sherlock Holmes in this story.

MOVIE REVIEW: MR HOLMES 2015

Ian McKellen plays the 93 year old Sherlock. Unlike his other roles and the other 70 or more actors who played the literary detective, he looses his charm but the wit is just the same. Perhaps I’m allowed to say that he won the role just right. He permits himself to be just as vulnerable as his character is allowed to be — amidst the imagination and output that his maker, Arthur Conan Doyle, and his dearest friend Dr John Watson has created for fans, in here McKellen allows Sherlock to take himself away from the shadows of the two, hoping to recreate a name for his ‘own’, despite the old age.

The film stays true to Sherlock’s old self: he is a beekeeper during his retirement years, he no longer dons the hat and the pipe (although in the film he claims he detests smoking and that he rarely wears the hat) and proudly claims that it is logic that bounds him as a human, never imagination. Imagination was always Dr Watson, his famed sidekick, was best known for.

Now living in the post-Watson late 1940s era, Mr Holmes is retired, aging, and hoping to win back memories for an old case. He arrives from Japan and as the film bounces back and forth to the old case showing a woman whispering though never uttering a word, to memories of his visit in Japan in search of a plant that would help him regain the strengths of his memory.

He is accompanied by Mrs Munro and her son as he exiles himself with his bees. Laura Linney plays the housekeeper, trying to keep the pace with an accent, although they should’ve just let her be. The boy who plays her son, Milo Parker, wins every scene as he helps Mr Holmes with his bees and with the case.

MOVIE REVIEW: MR HOLMES 2015

As Mr Holmes finds out the true events of his last case, one that involves a Mr and Mrs Thomas Kelmot (played by Hattie Morahan and Patrick Kennedy) he too finds out the reason for meeting the Japanese adviser Matsuda Umezaki, played by Hiroyuki Sanada, which is far more than digging out war zones in search of a mysterious plant.

Mr Holmes unfolds like a true-blue mystery. The elusiveness that was once written about this character is gone, and all we have is a character who’s just as human as we are. Or perhaps that’s just me, getting tired of all these charismatic interpretations here and there. Holmes was never written to be charismatic. As the character says in the film “I have no time for imaginations.”

 

This review originally appears in Film Police, bylines by this blog’s author.