blogger, Semi-good

Things to do before 2013 ends

1.) Watch CinemaOne Originals, and the rest of the other film festivals.

– it’s no one’s fault, but the delay of accomplishing this year’s 500 film challenge has got to do with the fact that you’ve lost the excel file where 300 of the films you’ve seen this year are listed. It’s no one’s fault and so I’d like to put the blame on myself instead. And so before the year ends, I’d like to catch up on the remainder of my list by attending this year’s CinemaOne Originals.

2.) Remember that you’re already twenty-three.

– unlike other twenty-three year olds, I’ve just decided on what to take up for college. But keeping in mind I’ll be twenty-four. Six years from next year I’ll be thirty. Yikes. Did I gave it my all? Never be afraid to take up on a new challenge (no breakfast prepared? take a walk and for sure a nearby shake stand is ready to whip up a healthy breakfast for you.), take risks and do whatever it takes to conquer your fears. Yes, that number one fear is..

Yes. I only got two on my list. Shit.

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CinemaOne Originals FilmFest, IndieFilipino, Semi-good

Mariposa sa Hawla ng Gabi (2012)

Erich in Mariposa sa Hawla ng Gabi

Directed by Richard V Somes

Starring Erich Gonzales, Maria Isabel Lopez, Mark Gil, John Lapuz, Joel Torre, Alfred Vargas, Odette Khan, Dennis Padilla

Story by Richard Somes, Screenplay by Somes, Boo Dabu, and Jimmy Flores

 

I have never seen Erich Gonzales in an indie role before. Nor have I ever imagined her being as feisty as her role in Mariposa sa Hawla ng Gabi. If there ever was, you are free to remind me or let me know of it. We all remember her as that girl who won the star search, that girl from Davao who won household hearts with her roles in local telenovelas and movies with leading men and storylines that are a bit risqué but with the help of the studio she is in contract with it becomes your typical “tweetums” flick. She’s your typical image of sweetness.

But in Mariposa, we see a different side of her acting prowess as she takes the lead as Maya, a simple but feisty young woman from the slums of a province who goes to Manila in search of her older sister. She receives a telegraph from a woman whom her sister lives with, played by Maria Isabel Lopez. With a little hint from a calendar Maya looks at, the year is 1994. There is nothing much in the set design that would contradict that we are in the early nineties, her outfits are mostly boyish flannel shirts and jeans and Chuck Taylors.

As she arrives in Manila, posters of a young woman endorsing soap is everywhere. Is she her older sister? Or does she just look familiar? Maya looks at the poster but doesn’t say anything. This may or may not lead us to think of the two but that I cannot tell and I guess you’d have to see the movie yourself. At the bus station she meets the Maria Isabel Lopez character. She asks about her sister but only gets a bad feeling that something has indeed happened. She asks the irritating question of “Asan ang ate ko? Anong nangyari sa kanya?” / “Where’s my sister? What’s happened to her?” I guess more than once… but she doesn’t get a reply. We the audience are left to believe that there is something in store for this story. And we are about to get a brief answer.

Maya is brought to the morgue to see her sister’s dead body, but since she doesn’t have enough money to claim the body, she decides to avenge her sister’s death and make the people responsible pay. She starts off by looking for her sister’s ex-boyfriend played by Alfred Vargas. He accompanies her in tracking down the people who killed her sister. Turns out the bad guys work with the police so turning them in would be difficult, but that event never happens anyway. The leader of the bad guys is played by Mark Gil whose bittersweet romance with his ex-girlfriend turns into a sick business of kidnapping girls and changing their faces to match that of his idea of the “perfect girl”. He’s also into monkey business which you’d have to watch to film first to understand what it is. The addition of that into the story is something I find bewildering. The early action scenes were exciting to watch although you’d get to see a different woman’s hair being pulled instead of Erich’s (her voice gave it away, I guess. It was so funny to watch rather than exciting) but as the story continued to progress, so did the enthusiasm I had earlier to continue watching the film. Figuring out whatever symbolism or meanings there were in each scenes, I’d say it fell flat as there was that need of a back story to back up the part where they all go back to their lives like nothing happened. They just had to finish it off by finishing it off the way movies do—- killing the bad guys and walking out.

It’s still a good film you should consider watching. But proceed without any expectations of the type of action films you’re hoping to look forward to.

Indie, Movies, Semi-good, The 500 Film Challenge, Writer's Block Miseries

#336: Gigantic

11 September 2011

I was excited to get my hands on a copy of this film by Matt Aselan which stars Paul Dano, Zooey Deschanel, Ed Asner, and John Goodman. I haven’t heard of this until I stumbled upon a synopsis of this film thru wikipedia.

The plot is simple and very interesting: A mattress salesman plans to adopt a chinese baby. Although he’s applied to get one several times, he never gets qualified. His plans to adopt is temporarily set aside once a quirky woman arrives in the mattress shop to pay for the bed her father chooses to buy. After paying, the woman takes a nap on the bed. Soon they begin a casual affair, although as you find me typing in the words ‘casual affair’ and perhaps several images of meet-cutes in the park stream in your mind, these scenes are quite few in the film. Not that I want that conventional Hollywood rom-com thing wherein the lovers go everywhere hoping to make us feel all giggly. There’s a few of that in this film. So few that I was hoping for a breakthrough.

Brian Weathersby is the mattress salesman, played by Paul Dano in a pokerfaced babyface fashion. His face is mostly in a bit of a smug accompanied by wonder in a low-key performance. He’s often being attacked by a homeless man played by Zach Galifianakis, one time using a pipe and the other shoots him during a hunting trip. Their last encounter is in a fist fight which ends up as Brian stabs the homeless man. The homeless man disappears, making us understand that everything is just a figment of Brian’s imagination but leaves him in a beaten up state.

Zooey Deschanel plays Harriet/Happy Lolly, the girl who finds herself comforted by the mattress she pays for for her father. She lives a privileged life with her father, and works with her sister who’s a host at a local show. Deschanel’s performance is as usual fresh and quirky but unpredictable.

The film also stars Jane Alexander and Ed Asner as Brian’s parents who both live upscale outside of the city. Mr. Weathersby is somewhat cool and very unconventional. John Goodman plays Al Lolly, Happy’s father who refuses to pay the extra delivery charges after purchasing the $14,000 mattress. Both wealthy parents appear to be very unusually supportive.

This movie is very.. very… boring in a sense that you would still want to watch it just to find out why things happen in the film. If I might add the part at the beginning wherein Brian’s friend, a gerbil scientist, experiments with mice swimming in a tank. According to a review I read by Stephen Holden from the NY Times, this is Aselton suggesting that this is his approach to the world, as a scientist examining a species under stress. Reading this made the film a whole lot sensible. In a way, Gigantic isn’t just a blunt comedy trying to make a point but showing us that generational misunderstanding isn’t just about a film with kids on a rebel against their parents.

 

Semi-good, The 500 Film Challenge, Uncategorized

#433: The Bride Who Wore Black

2 may 2011

Chris Fajardo tells me that this film inspired a couple of movies including Lino Brocka’s Angela Markado which starred Hilda Koronel and a couple of blood spattering victims. This movie allegedly inspired the two movies Kill Bill in which Quentin Tarantino, the said films’ director, allegedly denies.

These allegations have given me the inspiration to not only find out if it is in the same respect as Kill Bill Volumes 1 and 2 has give me, but also to find out if there are ninjas or women garbed in blood, sweat, and swords.

****

If it weren’t for Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill films, I might’ve thought that this movie was something I’ve never seen before. But thank goodness that it was quite a long time ago and I sort of  set aside my memory of that blockbuster into some part of my brain to understand Francois Truffaut’s The Bride Who Wore Black starring a bodacious Jeanne Moreau as the main bride set out for revenge against the five men who shot her newly wed groom.

 

 1968

Francois Truffaut has mentioned in some interviews that this film is a homage to Alfred Hitchcock films. A thought that has never crossed my mind. In the lines of it being a suspense thriller that would be deemed controversial during those days would be a much better description of what this film is. It stars one of the 60’s french new wave cinema’s most talented actress Jeanne Moreau whom I can say is amazing in carrying out the character of the widowed and pained bride. This film begins in a confusing state: Julie Kohler is about to jump off the window up until her mother stops her. She then decides to leave town and track five men whom she is determined to charm and kill. We are also lead into a confusing state as we try to understand why she kills, who these men are and what her purpose is on killing them.

The answer to these questions are shown after the first two men on her list are dead. A smart flashback brings us to the part where five drunken men are happily playing in an apartment across a church. As the wedding bells ring to greet the newly wed, one of the five drunken men place a bet to shoot outside of their window. We hear a single gun shot, and guess who ends up dead.

As she moves on to her next victim, she is seen crossing out a name on her little book. She follows her next victim Morane and his kid from school. She pretends to be his son’ s school teacher and waits for Morane’s arrival from work. She cooks them dinner, plays hide and seek, and puts Morane’s son to bed. As she is about to go home, she claims to have lost her ring. Morane offers to look for the ring and ends up in the crawlspace under the staircase. Julie then locks the crawlspace and reveals to him (with finesse) her true identity. Morane pleads for his life and admits that the gun shot was an accidental shot made by his friends, adding that they were all horrified for what they’ve done and have lost communication with each other for the guilt and fear of being able to do such terrible thing ever again. However, Julie seems determined to continue on with her revenge ducts tape the crawlspace door and leaves Morane suffocated.

The fourth man ends up being arrested by the police (which seems to make her job much easier), and the fifth man named Fergus, an artist is killed by her by shooting him with an arrow as she poses for him as Diana the Huntress. She plans to cover her tracks by cutting out her face from the portrait, but leaves it. On Fergus’ funeral, she allows to get caught and admits to the murder of all four men.. but she never reveals why she did it.

The difference between this and Tarantino’s Kill Bill is that in the end Kohler remains as the psychopathic bitch that she’s become after losing the only “reason” for her existence. Since Kill Bill ends as Thurman kills Bill. This film ends as Kohler kills a random person in prison. I may have liked this film better than Tarantino’s if I saw this first. But I wouldn’t regard it in a Hitchcockian fashion.