Sunday, October 19, 2014

Movie No. 76 (2014): TOUCH OF THE LIGHT

Touch Of The Light (2012)
Director: Jung-Chi Chang
Cast: Yu-Siang Huang, Sandrine Pinna, Lieh Lee
In Mandarin, with English subtitles

A blind piano prodigy is taken from the country to a university in Taipei. The film basically follows his adjustments in his new world as well as his mother's worries and sacrifices. So, the film is practically without plot. It's more of a character study. So, the movie's strength is in the details. It's so touching to think that the main character can't see most of the important scenes although he uses his hearing faculties to extrapolate into images things that he hears. The music that he plays are feast to the viewer's ears. 

There's another character in movie that the blind prodigy befriends: a dancer who seems to be wasting her life as the delivery girl of a drinks shop. This girl's graceful and fluid dance movements are welcome counterpoints to the prodigy's music. The scenes with the prodigy's mother  are mostly heartbreaking especially when she chooses to keep to herself to keep her son from worrying. 

The movie is generally heart-warming, well-written, and well-acted.

Rating: 4.0/4.0

Date seen: October 19, 2014


Movie No. 75 (2014): MAPS TO THE STARS

Maps To The Stars (2014)
Director: David Cronenberg
Cast: Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, John Cusack, Robert Pattinson

Every character in this Hollywood satire is dysfunctional. Dr Weiss is a psychotherapist. His wife manages the acting career of their teenaged son who has a history of drug abuse. They have en estranged daughter who's just been released from a Florida sanatorium, now trying to reconnect with them (as family). Shunned by her family, the daughter seeks employment, instead, from a once-famous but now fading actress, who is Dr. Weiss's patient. The fading actress, a former child star, has her won issues with her dead mother, a famous actress of the 1960s. 

Everyone is sick. Everyone has motive. This contrasts the seemingly gleeful cinematography. Maybe this is Cronenberg's version of Hollywood. With all the characterization and conflicts shown earlier in the movie, it's not actually unexpected the movie will end in the way it does. But it still gives aftershocks.

By the way, Julianne Moore is superb.

Rating: 3.5/4.0

Date seen: October 19, 2014

Movie No. 74 (2014): DEMENTIA

Dementia (2014)
Director: Perci Intalan
Cast: Nora Aunor, Bing Loyzaga, Chynna Ortaleza, Jasmine Curtis-Smith, Yul Servo, Lou Veloso, Althea Vega, Jeric Gonzales

Mara (Nora Aunor) has dementia. Mara's closest kins take her to Batanes, her hometown, hoping the decision will help her remember things. It does. However, it's the things that Mara would rather forget that comes back. This results in her and her niece experience being haunted by ghostly visitors.

The movie is not at all about dementia, with all the clinical manifestations of a dementia patient. The titular dementia is, I think, allegorical; thinking about it this way makes the movie's kind of horror work really well. 

The bleak cinematography of the vast hills and rough seas of Batanes contribute to the required feel for a horror film. But the best thing about the movie is Nora Aunor herself. She may have been assigned the most difficult roles and layered characters in local movie industry and delivered excellently in practically all instances, but she still managed to surprise everyone with the way she attacked the Mara Fabre character in Dementia. Chynna Ortaleza, Bing Loyzaga and Jasmine Curtis-Smith also did well.

The scene at the hospital is, for me, the scariest. And it's just a normal conversation. 

Rating:4.0/4.0

Date seen: September 28, 2014