Sunday, December 31, 2017

Movie No. 93 (2017): VOICE FROM THE STONE

Voice From The Stone (2017)
Director: Eric D. Howell
Cast: Emilia Clarke, Edward Dring, Martin Csokas

A Gothic setting. A child who refuses to speak. A hired nurse hired to take care of the child. A disconnected father. A dead mother. A voice from the stone. Strange dreams. Supernatural phenomena. All these seem to be a complete ingredient for a horror film. But I was wrong. While the movie has the feel of a horror film, it's not necessarily a horror film. More of mystery. All the characters have their own kind of sadness and longing, which are important forces for the flow of this slow burning narrative.

Rating: 3.5/4.0

Date seen: December 30, 2017


Movie No. 92 (2017): THE LION KING

The Lion King (1994)
Director: Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff
Voice cast: Matthew Broderick, Jeremy Irons, Moira Kelly, Nathan Lane, James Earl Jones
Animated film

I saw the movie in early 1995. The movie was praised by adults and enjoyed by children despite some scenes depicting violence that were essential to the story. For me, it was awesome. I really enjoyed it, everything about it - story and script, characters, and, since the movie is a musical, the songs and score. 

This is the only second time seeing the movie. I saw it on December 30, 2017 when it was shown on HBO. While I was not as ecstatic as when I saw it in 1995, the movie still looked great. It has now definitely earned the tag 'classic."

Rating: 4.0/4.0

Date seen: December 30, 2017

Movie No. 91 (2017): BEFORE THE FLOOD

Before The Flood (2016)
Director: Fisher Stevens
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio (host)

Before The Flood is movie documentary treatise about climate change, its perceived causes and effects. The scope is epic, which extends to scientific, political, and social aspects of it. Leonardo DiCaprio hosts the documentary effectively, using his influence as celebrity and as UN Messenger of Peace.

Rating: 3.5/4.0

Date seen: December 29, 2017

Movie No. 90 (2017): PARIS CAN WAIT

Paris Can Wait (2017)
Director: Eleanor Coppola
Cast: Diane Lane, Alec Baldwin, Arnaud Viard

The wife of a movie director decides to go for a road trip en route to Paris while her husband has already flown ahead to Paris for some business meetings. One of her husband's associates is her chauffeur and tour guide. This movie is supposed to be a road trip with stops at some interesting places along the way. While the stops are interesting, the trip itself is almost boring. If I were in that road trip, I'd rather sleep in the car in between stops instead of listening to two uninteresting characters.

Rating: 2.0/4.0

Date seen: December 29, 2017

Movie No. 89 (2017): FREE FALL

Free Fall (2013)
Director: Stephan Lacant
Cast: Hanno Koffler, Max Riemelt
In German, with English subtitles

A policeman who is soon-to-be father embarks into an unfamiliar "world" when a new colleague arrives. Now he lives in two "different worlds." The world he has always known gets stirred. This new unfamiliar world sucks him into a free fall. This is just the way I describe it. 

As a gay film, Free Fall is conspicuously unconventional for one made in Europe. It's full of cliches that can only be associated with those in the stage of denial. The outstanding aspect of the film is the believable portrayals of the two lead actors. The other aspects are passable.

Rating: 3.0/4.0

Date seen: December 29, 2017


Movie No. 88 (2017): CALL ME BY YOUR NAME

Call Me By Your Name (2017)
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Cast: Timothee Chalamet, Armie Hammer

A coming-of-age tale or a story of first love or a story of sexual awaking is not uncommon in many movie narratives. Call Me By Your Name is not different. But, the rustic setting and the Graeco-Roman ruins as backdrop of the unfolding story make this bittersweet movie nostalgic and poetic. The characters are real persons. The place is an omnipresent character. The performances are heartfelt.

Rating: 4.0/4.0

Date seen: December 28, 2017

Movie No. 87 (2017): THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)
Director: Martin McDonagh
Cast: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell

A grieving mother pours her frustration into painting three billboards along the road leading into her town (Ebbing, Missouri) her protest directed at the chief of the local police, for having done no arrest, so far, more than half a year after her daughter was raped and murdered. The result is a darkly comic drama that will keep the audience on the edge of their seats. 

Good performances. Good script and story
. Good editing. Good movie.

Rating: 4.0/4.0

Date seen: December 28, 2017

Movie No. 86 (2017): BABY DRIVER

Baby Driver (2017)
Director: Edgar Wright
Cast: Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx

The movie's creativity in using various music for effective characterization and to move the narrative forward with ease is conspicuous. This is a crime movie and it's done with style, with characters who can be real people. We don't need superheroes here. Only a well-written script is key.

This is definitely one of the best movies of 2017.

Rating: 4.0/4.0

Date seen: December 28, 2017
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Saturday, December 30, 2017

Movie No. 85 (2017): LOVELESS

Loveless (2017)
Director: Andrei Zyvagintsev
Cast: Alexei Rozhin, Maryana Spivak, Matvey Novikov
In Russian, with English subtitles

The movie is a complex narrative that discusses a "loveless" marriage and divorce and their effect on an "unwanted" child in the midst of religious fundamentalism, current social norms and selfie culture in Russia.

The movie is full of metaphors. There are cinematic executions that make the movie more artful and help make the narrative flow fluidly. Some scenes that linger on my mind are those that show the soon-to-be-divorced couple having sex with their respective lovers while their son is "walking out" of their lives. The image of a severed body of a child in one scene is a shocking metaphor to the effect of the negligence of the adult society on Russian children in general. Writing reminds me of Stings protest song called "Russians." The line "I hope the Russians love their children, too." reverberates. I also love the movie's seeming tribute to Michael Antonioni's L'Avventura, Ingmar Bergman's Scenes From A Marriage, and, in my opinion, Atom Egoyan's Exotica, in some scenes.

I really love this movie despite its disturbing theme or message. As a movie, with all the necessary aspects, Loveless deserves love. This is one of the best movie's I've seen recetly.

Rating: 4.0/4.0

Date seen: December 26, 2017

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Movie No. 84 (2017): DEDMA WALKING

Dedma Walking (2017)
Director: Julius Alfonso
Cast: Joross Gamboa, Edgar Allan Guzman, Dimples Romana, Candy Pangilinan

Dedma Walking is part of 2017 Metro Manila Film Festival.

Upon learning he has cancer and having only a few months to live, John convinces his best friend, Mark, to stage his fake death, wake, and funeral, to see who come to his wake and hear what people say about him. John, a CEO of his own businesses, and Mark, a salesman and part-time theater actor, are best friends. John is reserved when needed; Mark is loud. Both cross dress on occasions.

The scenes at the wake are fun to watch. All comic scenes with Mark are hilarious. Edgar Allan Guzman is really good. He and Joross Gamboa deserve an acting nod for their respective portrayals. 

Equally hilarious is the constant reference to an French Film which can be taken as a metaphor for the ticking clock that send John to his final days. Then French Film, which is in blank and white photography, stars Eugene Domingo who is being chased by the reaper. 

While the movie is generally hilarious, some unexpected dramatic moments balance the overall feel of the movie. Dedma Walking is really very entertaining.

Rating: 3.0/4.0

Date seen: December 25, 2017