The 500 Film Challenge

The 500 Film Challenge Year Four

Hi everyone! Due to the overwhelming support we’ve recieved for last year’s challenge, I am pleased to announce that this year’s challenge officially begins!

Here are the rules:

1. Watch a film.
2. List them and include a review, a critique, or at least share your ‘experience’ about the film. It doesn’t matter if you suck at writing, as long as you write what the film’s about, what it means to you.
3. Sign-up via this link. https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1-Ojrz4O9wO42_9RWwdhV6OZ3mMsMGUOpyWwLz6dnQaQ/viewform
4. Short films, docu or mockumentaries can be accepted into your entries. Unfortunately, anthologies are considered as a single film.
5. A rewatch of a film can be counted as a single entry per day. But kindly indicate the number of times you’ve seen the film.
6. Have fun! Don’t stress yourself if you haven’t been able to complete the challenge. If you do have any suggestions feel free to let me know. 😉

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Film 66. Leo Carax's The Holy Motors
The 500 Film Challenge, The Good Stuff

Today in Black and White

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19 August 2014

To state that Chris Marker’s La Jetèe is an incredible piece of sci-fi film would be an understatement. In the span of 28 minutes, in what people of this generation (I’m looking at my boyfriend on this one) might call ‘slideshows’ The Jetty as aptly translated in English features photographs of every scene, narrated by a man in French about a person’s exploration in time travel, as well as how far a person can go for his love for another person and his country.

A boy notices a woman’s expression as she gasps at the sight of a man. Several years later the boy is a man and Paris is at a war. He is kidnapped and held hostage underground by scientists who plan to use him for their experiments, one of which is to test whether a person is capable of time-travel. The man is sent into a dream-like stage where he experiences rebirth, early memories of happiness and remorse appear. Until one day he meets a woman, one of whom he cannot remember where he met her. Day by day memories of where they meet and how appears.

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Until finally he was able to visit the future and seek help to rebuild Paris. He is given a chance to fix it, but with this chance there are consequences. The film ends with him choosing what makes him happier, a selfless choice one should make to survive.

But what is it that we’re surviving from? A cynic might discuss.

Books to Movies, Colin Firth Is The Man, The 500 Film Challenge

#1: Bridget Jones Diary 2: The Edge of Reason

Film Title: Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.

1 January 2014

I’ve never seen this in full and so on New Year’s day, just as I was thinking that my year was going to start in a wreck, I managed to find this on HBO.
This one’s not a hard one to find, but in it’s simple plot and witty dialogue about a thirty-something former Singleton being totally overwhelmed by couplehood, I find my self elated. I can actually relate to her character even when she was a singleton and I was no longer one.

Bridget Jones 2 begins on New Years day, when everyone is invited to her aunt’s Turkey buffet and today she finds herself in appropriate clothing: still in a knitted sweater that looks cheesy but doesn’t entirely make her feel alone since it’s the same knitted sweater that was knitted by her hopeful future mother-in-law. And her boyfriend, the dashing Mr Darcy is also wearing one.

She’s still committed to the same things: to snog, to quit smoking, and to have a better career. To watch this film makes me want to do things: to quit smoking, to snog whenever I want and I can with the one I love, and to get a better career.

We still find her entangled with the same old bastard issues with Daniel Cleaver, but here we find a new issue when she finds herself jealous with Mr Darcy’s new colleague: the beautiful Jacinda Barrett.

Its fun to watch. Isn’t too bad. Directed by Beeban Kidron, screenplay by Richard Curtis (Four Weddings and a Funeral and all those other great British romcoms), Andrew Davies (Sense and Sensibility) and Adam Brooks (Wimbledon).

The 500 Film Challenge, The Good Stuff

The 500 Film Challenge, Year 3

2013_gravity_movie-wide

I am trying to be assertive and to assert myself this year, I will not apologize to anyone.

I was kidding. Although being assertive doesn’t sound that bad for me either.
I know, I know every year not only do I launch the challenge in a more gregarious way than the year before, and at the same time I always owe you (whoever you are reading this now) an apology for not keeping up with the Movie Experiences. I will do my best to post them here.

If you’re interested, sign up here:

The 500 Film Challenge Year 3

The challenge is simple: watch 500 films for a year, document the film experiences through a blog or through whatever creative way you can express yourself. Make sure to register on the link above so I can keep track of this year’s contenders.

2013 was indeed a great year for box office firsts like Gravity (Cuaron) where CGI was accepted by many since it was backed up by a great story. This too was a great year for Filipino films. It was ended by a controversial fit against My Little Bossings, a film created only for the purpose of profit. This was met by critics and non-critics alike and for once, the number of “fanboys/girls” went into a confusion for seeing something they always seen every year. The MMFF was, to me, a success. I have never seen local theatres be jam-packed with not just kids but adults who were audiences to not action films like Boy Golden, and for the first time we found a fantasy-ish film that made sense and made us laugh hard like Kimmy Dora 3.

And so this year, I am excited to watch whatever our budding filmmakers (whether locally or foreign) have in store for us. I’ve already begun my list for this year’s challenge. As for last year’s results, I’ll keep you posted on how mine and the other contenders made it.
Whether you’re a Cinephile or not, it doesn’t really need to be a lengthy review. You’re welcome to join.

Here’s to yet another year of wonderful movies.

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

Parkland

I can remember when I was younger when my dad had told me about JFK’s assasination. Equipped with a strong imagination when I was a kid as I read him on our one and only Encyclopedia, my dad had told me how he made this impact not only to the American people but to the whole world.

To quote a line on this current film about the assassination of JFK, “My brother just killed the most important man on the entire world.” 

My boyfriend and I decided to watch this over that film that I still heavily feels has ripped off a their story from a Japanese manga about the youth’s hunger for kill. I saw the trailer for this several days ago and I had interest in what POV it may provide in that long time conspiracy about the assassination of JFK.

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A friend of mine from the office told me that the reason behind JFK’s death was due to the Illuminati. Dad tells me that the CIA is behind his death. I too have the same feeling, but for whatever reason it may be, this film will definitely give you a little insight on what happened from the time he was assassinated, to Harvey Lee Oswald’s arrest and his death a day after, and the two’s funeral on the fourth day.

Parkland

Upon JFK’s arrival in Dallas, we find people in offices, in the streets, in shopping markets getting excited to find the young President. I guess real shots of his descent from the airplane were used in the film but we will never see the face of the man who acts as JFK. Dr. Charles ‘Jim’Carrico, played by Zac Efron is a charming representation of the doctor who first examines the late president. He later looses his coolness when he realizes who he’s about to operate on. This film also stars Paul Giamatti who plays Abraham Zapruder, a textile man who shot the footage of JFK’s assassination from 30 yards away through his 8 mm Bell & Howell Zoomatic Director Series Model 414 PD.

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Another notable performance in this film comes from James Badge Dale who plays as Lee Harvey Oswald’s brother, Robert. Within less than 24 hours of the late president’s assassination, he learns that his brother has been accused of killing the president. Finding a different perspective in the story, Dale portrays a character who represents the people infuriated with this person who doesn’t seem to have a soul in killing the nation’s beloved president, and at the same time he tries best to remember that Lee Harvey Oswald is still family. Another point of views come in to play, such as FBI Agent James Hosty, played by Ron Livingston who was investigating Lee Harvey Oswald upon Oswald’s return to the US in 1962. Billy Bob Thornton plays Agent Forrest Sorrels of the Secret Service who was assigned to escort the president for his Dallas trip.

Nobody could have played the role of Mrs Marguerite Oswald than Jacki Weaver who’s high pitched voice has indignantly protested that her son Lee Harvey was working under orders of the US government.

This film is based on the book Four Days in November: Assassination of President John F. Kennedy by Vincent Bugliosi, written and directed by Paul Landessman who writes the script with sublime intensity. This is a delight for conspiracy theorists because although it doesn’t clearly depict who is behind the assassination, the film feels accurate in depicting the events that took place in those four days.

Gripping, thrilling, and entertaining. Though it feels like it was a written novel, to think of it being based on a larger true story makes it even more interesting for a rewatch.

The 500 Film Challenge, The Good Stuff

The 500 Film Challengers

Macky Macarayanhttp://deathoftraditionalcinema.blogspot.com/ )

Epoy Deyto ( http://kawtskamote.blogspot.com/2011/03/500-film-challenge.html )

Queen Kinoc ( http://thequeenkinoc.wordpress.com )

Jay-r Trinidadhttp://targrod.wordpress.com )

Adrian Mendizabalhttp://www.auditoireonfilm.com/)

Jo-Marie Bala (http://popauteur.blogspot.com)

Wanna join? Send me a link to your blog via email at underthefiretree@gmail.com and follow the rules set on https://underthefiretree24.wordpress.com/2013/03/31/the-500-film-challenge-year-two/

Like us on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/The500FilmChallenge

The 500 Film Challenge, The Good Stuff, Wishful Thinking for Philippine Cinema

The 500 Film Challenge Year Two

The 500 Film Challenge Banner 2

I am currently suffering insomnia, so I’ve decided to update everyone about this year’s challenge.

The 500 Film Challenge – Year 2

Unfortunately, due to numerous incidents wherein I had lost my list of films (inducing much more writer’s block into my system… all I could do is sigh.), I decided not to finish Year 1. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do it again this year, right?

So if you’re one of the many few who’s seen this challenge and may have decided to do one for yourself, well thank you very much for joining. Here are new rules I have made for this year’s challenge.

1.)    I started this at exactly January 1, 2013. Since today’s the 29th of March, you may still begin anytime soon. As long as you finish it exactly the same day you began a year later.

2.)    If you’re interested in joining and would want to gain popularity, notoriety, and bragging rights to being the first 500 Film Challenge winner, you must have the following: a stack of movies; an updated list of films which indicate if you’ve already written a review for it or not; your own website, blog, or Facebook Page (if you write your reviews in notes, whatsoever), kindly send me a link to it so I can share this to other challengers and/or readers of this blog; if you prefer writing your reviews for your school paper, or local newspaper, if you can send me a scanned version of your reviews then that would be great! Challengers may send me an email at underthefiretree@gmail.com

3.)    The challenge is 500 films, 500 reviews (or movie experiences, if you prefer treating it that way), in 1 year. Short films are allowed as long as they’re about thirty minutes long. It is important that you write a review for every film you’ve seen. Please indicate the date, the usual credits (doesn’t really matter if you put in all of the crew) and if it is a short film or a full length film.

4.)    You may squeeze in a list of reviews in one post. Just limit it to ten movies and up to 300 words per film.

5.)    Wouldn’t it be more challenging if you’ve created a full review? It’s fun, trust me. I would appreciate it if you’d be a sport and at least make sure that 80% of the film reviews are full.

6.)    If you own a blog or a website, you may also send me the number of views every time you’ve posted a new review. I’d be more than happy to share it to other challengers.

7.)    If you are interested in joining, you may send me an email at underthefiretree@gmail.com or you may also reply to this post.

8.)    I am still thinking of a way to reward the challenge winner. If you have suggestions, you may send me an email about it. I haven’t started a fundraiser for this yet so monetary prizes are not allowed. If you do have an idea of what the prize should be, send me an email about it. Be creative. Awkward and inappropriate suggestions will not be entertained.

Here’s looking forward to a better challenge year. Cheers to you all!

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

#51: Life of Pi

I have given you two stories. Which story do you prefer?

12 March 2013

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#51: Life of Pi

Directed by Ang Lee

Starring Gautam Belur (Pi, age 6), Ayush Tandon (Pi, age 13), Suraj Sharma (Pi, age 16), Irrfan Khan as the adult Pi, Tabu (Gita Patel, Pi’s mother), Adil Hussain (Santosh Patel, Pi’s father), Ayan Khan (Ravi, Pi’s older brother age 7), Mohammed Abbas Khaleeli (Ravi, age 15), Vibish Sivakumar (Ravi, age 18), Gerard Depardieu (the Cook), Po-Chieh Wang (Sailor), Rafe Spall (Writer/Yann Martel), Shravanthi Sainath (Anandi), Andrea Di Stefano (Priest)

Screenplay by David Magee

Produced by Ang Lee, Gil Netter, David Womark

I have never read the book but as I saw its title on the bestseller’s list when I was twelve, I thought it was about a man who was named after Pi, the mathematical symbol and thought it was a book about that. After a great interest in this year’s Oscar list (in which I notice all of them are about two hours long), I found myself immersed in this film’s trailer alone, wondering what the experience was to watch this, and then catch up with the book afterwards.

It is one of the greatest cinematic experiences I’ve ever enjoyed in years. The film begins as a writer played by Rafe Spall (One Day, Prometheus) visits Pi Patel after being referred to him by his uncle to tell him of the incredible story of his life. At this point, Pi is played by Irrfan Khan (New York, I Love You) as an adult. He looks at the writer with doubt but proceeds with telling him the story of his youth.

Piscine Molitor Patel was apparently named after a famous French swimming pool in which his uncle considers to be the cleanliest swimming pool he’s ever been on. But as he grows up in the French district of India, he changes his name to “Pi” after being teased as “Pissing Pi” and automatically becomes a school legend after he explains to everyone in school how his name is related to the mathematical symbol and jots down the entire meaning of the symbol in its numerical order during his first day in Math Class.

His family used to own a zoo, as he tells the writer his fondness for animals. One particular animal has caught his interest, a bengal tiger named Richard Parker. As he attempts to see the tiger eye to eye by handing him a piece of meat with his bare hands, his father runs in angrily telling him that animals are unreasonable beings. “They have no soul and they do not think like we do.” By proving his point, his father an ever reasonable man brings in a goat, ties it on Richard Parker’s cage and within a few minutes Pi and his brother along with their mother witness the tiger devouring goat. He was born a Hindu, but he is also a Catholic and a Muslim. He explains to the writer that “You never know your God until you are introduced to Him.” And that all he’s ever really wanted to do was to love God and to understand him in all three. His faith in God plays a vital role in the story.

Soon his father decides the family must move to Canada since the family business can no longer flourish in India, they set off for Winnipeg, Canada on the ship called Tzimtzum, a Japanese Freight ship along with all their owned animals. The only noted scene where Gerard Depardieu appears is when the family gets their meal. Since they are all vegetarians, Pi’s mother requests to get a vegetarian meal but the cook (Depardieu) continuously prepares rice/porridge, sausages, with gravy and garnish on top. Pi’s father takes rage on the cook insisting that they be given proper food. But the cook reminds them that he cooks for sailors, not zoo owners. Thus the entire family feed on rice and gravy on top. Later on while the whole family is asleep, Pi wakes up to a noise he hears from outside. He tries to awaken his brother but he refuses to wake up. He steps out of their cabin and sees that there is a storm outside. Several of their animals are released, two Toucans and a struggling zebra among others. He admires the storm, watching the marvelous waves struck against each other. Up until he witnesses one of the crew members fall into the ocean and half of the ship being devoured completely by the ocean. His instincts tell him to rescue his family, in which he attempts to do. He goes back into the cabin and we are sent into a 3D masterpiece of including the usual setting when one gets into the water, where all sound is mute and desolate. I admired this part, because although I didn’t see this on 3D, I felt Pi’s panic when he jumped into the water to attempt to rescue his family. Though he searched deep into the ship, he was not able to find them. He swims back out, still in search of his family, but he is immediately taken by a crew member to take the lifeboat. A panicked Zebra jumps into the Lifeboat and the cook and Pi falls into the water.  But Pi swims back up and gets into the lifeboat.

After the storm he finds himself in the lifeboat with an injured zebra, and riding on a net filled with bananas is an orangutan they named Orange Juice. Pi asks Orange Juice where her baby is but the orangutan just gives him a smug. Out of the blue a spotted hyena emerges from beneath the lifeboat’s tarp and taunts Pi. Pi swings the boar at the hyena but it spots the injured Zebra. With all the occupants of the lifeboat starving from seasickness, the hyena attacks the Zebra and then later on attacks Orange Juice which immediately rages Pi. Suddenly the tiger Richard Parker emerges from the tarp and attacks the hyena. Pi immediately thinks he might be next and so he swings the boar at the tiger. Richard Parker takes his swing at Pi and throws him off the boat. The next few scenes I won’t reveal but all I can say is that the only animal left is the tiger.

He adopts several survival plans, attempts to outwit Richard Parker but fails, and oftentimes succeeds. A scene in which they finally share the boat is remarkable, both cinematic and story-wise.

Richard Parker

 

I have found myself asking if it is possible for a man and an animal to communicate in this way. The relationship between two survivors are evident: they have to stick with each other so they can both survive. When Pi attempts to steal the boat from Richard Parker after hunting for fishes, he suddenly finds himself caught in a situation on whether to trust his instincts or to stick with his conscience. This animal did somehow save his life earlier. And so they both stick with each other, even after discovering a floating island that literally gives meaning to the term Virgin Island. On their 227th day of being shipwrecked, they land in Mexico where they both part ways, almost half dead.

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But what Pi couldn’t understand, and even us the audience could not understand at this final moment between the two is when Richard Parker walks, away from the boat, without even looking back at Pi, but stops before he jumps into the jungle. He stops for a moment, and you would expect him to look back, but he doesn’t. Pi tells the writer how devastated he is when Richard Parker just left him there by the shore. When he is rescued by the villagers, he cries out loud, not because of hunger, but because of the pain this tiger has left him.

Yet another heartbreaking part of this story is added, when Japanese investigators visit him in the hospital for the ship’s insurance. Since he is the only living survivor of the ship, he is asked of how the ship sank and how he survived. But as he tells them of the story which includes the animals, his family sleeping in their cabins, lost away into the depths of the sea, none of them believes this. And so, Pi makes up a story, a less fantastic account of sharing the lifeboat with his mother, a Buddhist sailor with a broken leg, and the cook. The cook kills the sailor in order to eat him and use him as bait. His mother later struggles with the cook and pushes him to a smaller raft and the cook stabs her and she falls overboard. He returns to the lifeboat and kills the cook. The writer notices the comparison between two stories: Pi’s mother is the orangutan, the cook is the hyena, the zebra was the sailor, and Richard Parker the tiger was Pi himself. Pi asks the writer which story he prefers, with doubt and cynicism one would chose the second, but the writer attempts to mask his doubt and tells Pi that he prefers the story with the tiger in it because “it is a better story”. Pi grins back at him to which he responds “And so it goes with God.” The writer asks if he doesn’t mind that he use that story, Pi tells him that the story is his, it’s up to him to do whatever with it. As the writer glances back at the insurance report and sees that they have written in their report that Pi survived with an adult Bengal Tiger for 227 days.

Suraj Sharma’s performance as the 16-17 year old Pi Patel is remarkable, especially in parts wherein he had to react with the tiger. I haven’t seen any of his works yet but his performance is astonishing, one must look forward to the part in which he weeps upon killing a fish, and although he is supposedly hungry and tired, him making up the second story while weeping in parts that needs weeping to is just impressive.

It was perhaps a good decision to adapt the film into mostly 3D effects to capture that poetic, and epic masterpiece in which most scenes had to be shot in water. I must read the book to get some facts straightened up. A must-see movie for fans of the book, for those who like Action and Adventure, and for those who plan to go back to their faith in God.

The 500 Film Challenge

500 Film Challenge Updates, Year Two

So without further adieu, here’s a quick update on my new challenge. As much as I’d want to treat all my reviews as babies for these films, I do need to make sure that this time I’d make at least a quick review/film experience on these. There are a lucky few that may need my attention (and has been hanging around my Drafts list) but may not be found fully in this list yet.

In case you’d want to challenge yourself and join, you may simply email me at underthefiretree@gmail.com.

#1. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (1 January)

– I’m happy I missed this for the world.. If it weren’t for sheer curiosity, I wouldn’t watch it. I may have made a quick review for this.

#2. Dr. No (2 January)

– I had to watch this, knowing that this is where James Bond first premiered. I got frustrated at Ursula Andres’ hair. But it’s a good spy film to catch. Especially if you’re into anything vintage and vintage James Bond played by the immortal Sir Sean Connery.

#3. The Legend of Zorro (3 January)

– I was entertained. You can let the whole family watch this with you as a sequel to the first, aptly titled Mask of Zorro.

#4. The Truth About Cats and Dogs (6 January)

– I’m still finishing a full review on this. I am equally enthralled to find Janeane Garofalo in a lead role, especially with charming young Ben Chaplin. I was surprised to actually continually hate Uma Thurman and then accept and love her after watching this. I’ll post the review soon. I promise.

#5. Bandidas (6 January)

– a film by Norwegian directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, shot in a picturesque western featuring two equally beautiful and talented actors Salma Hayek and Penelope Cruz along with the ever adorable Steve Zahn as their unexpected leading man. It’s a great comedy including witty antics and dialogue. Written and produced by Luc Besson.

Salma Hayek and Penelope Cruz in Bandidas

#6. Rebel Without A Cause (6 January)

– a classic film of rebellion of the American youth set in the 1950s and is one of three films James Dean has ever starred in before his tragic death in 1955. I’ll be having a full review for this.

#7. New York, I Love You (7 January)

– several short films combined to culminate their love for one of the most exciting cities in the world. A sequel of sorts to Paris, Je’ taime and is the second film in the Cities of Love franchise. 11 short films each with a different director including Natalie Portman and Mira Nair. My favorite would have to be the one about method actors, and the little stint about strangers between Chris Cooper and Robin Wright.

#8. Reality Bites (7 January)

– you may die if you were born after 1994. Or if you haven’t seen this yet, you must see it before anything else happens to you.

#9. Senna (7 January)

– this british documentary film depicts the brief life of Brazilian 3 time motor-racing champion Ayrton Senna. With breathtaking clips including during his races through the cameras on the cars he drove.

#10. Like Crazy (8 January)

– a story about a long distance relationship between an exchange student from the UK played by Felicity Jones (Hysteria) and american student Anton Yelchin. Heartbreaking and disfunctional.

#11. Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos / Three Years Without God (11 January)

– Mario O’ Hara’s epic psychological drama during the Japanese occupation. Featuring performances from Christopher de Leon, Nora Aunor, and Bembol Rocco.

#12. Giant (9 January)

– haven’t finish this. yet

#13. Rock Star (10 January)

– classic Jennifer Aniston and Mark Wahlberg where he sings his heart out and fakes a british accent. He used to do a cover band for a popular rock and roll band and when he is suddenly discovered by the band’s lead guitarist. He is catapulted into fame for successfully belting out the same old songs, almost even better than the guy he replaced. But after realizing that he’s just a cover singer and not much of his talent can be taken into by the band, he walks out and hands his microphone to a fan and never returns back.

The 500 Film Challenge

#3 The Legend of Zorro

Catherine Zeta-Jones and Antonio Banderas

Directed by Martin Campbell

Starring Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta – Jones, Rufus Sewell

Screenplay by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman

 

03 January 2013

I was actually fifteen when this was released (2005) and had no idea a sequel was made. But thanks to reruns on cable I was able to watch it. I was eight years old when The Mask of Zorro but I still did not manage to watch it back then and now. My parents didn’t have time. I didn’t think I’d enjoy it now, but I did.

You can check the entire plot on wikipedia.org (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Legend_of_Zorro).

Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones reprise their lead roles. Rufus Sewell plays the villain, Count Armand, who surprisingly pulls of a great mexican-infused accent. Adorable then-child star Adrian Alonso plays Joaquin De La Vega. It’s a great family friendly film. Banderas and Zeta-Jones look like they were made for each other in this film.