Monday, October 31, 2016

Movie No. 75 (2016): TRIANGLE

Triangle (2009)
Director: Christopher Smith
Cast: Melissa George, Michael Dorman

Cruising in the Bermuda Triangle, a group of six encounter a strange weather condition that throws them into the water and overturns the yacht. Most of them survive; they jump into a another ship that suddenly appears when the dark clouds disappears. But, the perceived rescue turns into a nightmare.

It's hard to make a gist of what happens in the ship. The twists can mess up your head in an intriguing way, like what Chris Nolan's Inception did to my head. This is definitely an achievement in writing, editing, and directing. One of the best movies of last decade!

Rating: 4.0/4.0

Date seen: October 31, 2016

Movie No. 74 (2016): MOONLIGHTING

Moonlighting (1982)
Director: Jerzy Skolimowski
Cast: Jeremy Irons
In English and Polish (with English subtitles)

Nowak (Jeremy Irons) and three other Polish construction workers arrive in London, practically smuggling cheap hardware implements. They have been contracted to provide cheap labor in repairing the apartment bought by a Polish official living in London. Only Nowak speaks English. Problems arise when the news about changing political state in Poland reaches Nowak. Back home, the Solidarity movement falls. Travel from or into Poland is difficult. He keeps the news from the other three. Soon, the group is plagued with financial difficulty, which leads to Nowak's getting into shoplifting schemes and other petty crimes to make ends meet.

The script presents a daily pattern among the four men. Pattern changes, through subtly, when Nowak gets into his shoplifting schemes, which provide scenes that are tense and mostly well-orchestrated (kudos to good writing). Nowak can be interpreted as the metaphor for the hypocrisy of communism. Jeremy Irons does the Nowak character excellently (thanks to his good looks). 

Rating: 4.0/4.0

Date seen: October 30, 2016

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Movie No. 73 (2016): CHRONIC

Chronic (2016)
Director: Michel Franco
Cast: Tim Roth

The movie is about David, an on-demand home care nurse for terminally ill patients. He provides for the patient as long as the patient is alive. When the patient dies, he'll be assigned to another. What's peculiar about David is the emotional attachment he develops with every patient he's assigned to give care. When he's alone, he seems to be in another world. He has chronic depression. The movie's title could have been referring to his psychological state or to the state of David's patients. 

The movie is a character study with well-structured script. David is a departure from the types of characters Tim Roth would play on screen. But, he did it excellently. I've only seen a handful of Tim Roth's films. I'm convinced his best performance, so far, is as David in Chronic.

That ending; I don't know how to digest it. I'm still puzzled at the moment. This is not the first time I've seen this kind of ending. But, looking back, I think, the early parts of the film prepared the unprepared audience for it.

Rating: 3.5/4.0

Date seen: October 29, 2016

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Movie No. 72 (2016): LOUDER THAN BOMBS

Louder Than Bombs (2016)
Director: Joachim Trier
Cast: Gabriel Byrne, Jesse Eisenberg, Isabelle Huppert, Amy Ryan

When grief, loss, and memory are at the center of the story, expect drama that can be weird or detached. Louder Than Bombs is both weird and emotionally detached. But, that's not a bad thing. That's what it is.

A father and his two sons deal with the death of the mother, a war photographer. The loss has different effects on the three men. The younger son seems to be the most affected, creating weird memories about her mother to hold on to, avoiding having friends, and drowning himself in violent video games. The older son, an academic whose wife has just given birth, has taken a break to deal with the mother's photographs that are to be exhibited as a posthumous tribute to her. The father is shown to be opening himself for a new relationship - after two years - and discovering secrets of his (now) dead wife. This turns the family home into a battlefield - where a silent war is conspicuous.

While flashback is used as effective narrative vehicle, it's the performances, calculated phase, different points of view, and cinematography that contribute greatly to the mood the movie attempts to convey. 

Rating: 3.5/4.0

Date seen: October 29, 2016


Sunday, October 23, 2016

Movie No. 71 (2016): THE WAILING

The Wailing (aka Goksung)
Director: Na Hong-Jin
Cast: Kwak Do-Won, Jun Kunimura, Hwang Jung-Min
In Korean (and some Japanese), with English subtitles

The movie was also released outside South Korea as "The Strangers."

A stranger arrives in a quiet village. A murder, almost a massacre, happens. The stranger is suspect. But when family members begin killing each other, the village is stirred. This the movie's plot. This plot drives the narrative, which makes an entertaining, suspenseful, brain-twisting, and unforgiving movie.

This is practically a horror movie. But this is one that doesn't necessarily induce scare and screaming. The horror lies in the way the movie disturbs the consciousness. It's scary because it stays with you for quite sometime after seeing it.

I have to mention, too, the outstanding cinematography. The editing, particularly during the last 10 to 15 minutes, is masterful. 

Rating: 4.0/4.0

Date seen: October 23, 2016

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Movie No. 70 (2016): ANG BABAENG HUMAYO

Ang Babaeng Humayo (The Woman Who Left) (2016)
Director: Lav Diaz
Cast: Charo Santos, John Lloyd Cruz, Noni Buencamino, Michael De Mesa, Shamaine Buencamino
In Tagalog, with English subtitles

The film won the 2016 Venice Film Festival Golden Lion Award last month.

I will not write about the cinematic and editing styles Lav Diaz used in the film. These are the same style he used in his other masterpieces. I have adapted to these styles. I have adapted to his cinema. I like every minute I'm immersed into his cinema. It's the same experience watching Ang Babaeng Humayo. Most, if not all, scenes are mesmerizing.

Like his other movies that I've seen (Norte, Hele, and Serafin Geronimo), Ang Babaeng Humayo is based partly from classic literature; this time Tolstoy's God Sees The Truth, But Waits. The movie begins with Horacia being set free from prison after 30 years of confinement. Her best friend in prison confesses having committed the crime that was used to frame Horacia 30 years ago. Horacia's ex-flame (Rodrigo) masterminded the frame up out of jealousy. Horacia, now outside the prison, plots for revenge patiently. She assumes two identities: dressed as tomboy at night while stalking Rodrigo, maintaining a local diner and frequenting the church at daytime. In this quest, she meets unlikely but interesting 'creatures.' Of these, the most interesting is an epileptic homosexual tranvestite, Hollanda (John Lloyd Cruz). Hollanda seems like a lost soul with whom Horacia easily forms bond after some (cinematically well-developed) circumstances. The revenge is materialized, with some (justified) twist, leaving Horacia "empty but relieved." The ending, however, is uncertain.

While Charo Santos delivers a strong performance, the supporting cast also perform explosively. John Lloyd Cruz is most notable. With the Hollanda character, he just proves that he's one of the best actors that ever graced the Philippine Cinema. A lot of TV and movie celebrities now are mostly just TV and/or movie stars. Only a few of them are real actors or artists. John Lloyd Cruz is both a star and actor/artist. John Lloyd Cruz stands out in three scenes, in my opinion: (1) the dance in the dark, (2) the Sunrise, Sunset scenes, and (3) the interrogation scene. In the other scenes he's just being Hollanda. Noni Buencamino is unrecognizable as balut vendor befriended by Horacia. he is unrecognizable not because he has prosthetic on but because he's simply in character. Michael De Mesa's brief scene is unforgettable.

The movie is not perfect. In fact, I'm wandering how Horacia learns about being a thug. In one scene she's shown beating hard a bully like a real thug. In some scenes with voice-over, Horacia narrates like Charo Santos in Maalala Mo Kaya. But these are easily eclipsed by the good things about the movie.

Rating: 4.0/4.0

Date seen: October 2, 2016

Movie No. 69 (2016): HESUS, REBOLUSYONARYO

Hesus, Rebolusyonaryo (2002)
Director: Lav Diaz
Cast: Mark Anthony Fernandez, Ronnie Lazaro, Donita Rose, Pinky Amador, Joel Lamangan
In Tagalog, with English subtitles

The movie was made in 2002. The setting of this dystopian drama is 2011. This movie tells the story of a freedom fighter (Hesus, played by Mark Anthony Fernandez) and his comrades in the movement under the totalitarian regime of General Racellos. The feeling of dystopia is shown in the movie through deserted streets and burning shanties. There are instances of erring citizens shown queued up to sing Lupang Hinirang, reminiscent of Martial Law days. In fact, what the movie depicts in the backdrop is akin to Martial Law's. 

I've recently seen three of Lav Diaz's recent masterpieces. In the late 1990's I saw Serafin Geronimo. In fact, I saw the movie again a couple of years ago. In all these films, the style of Lav Diaz are very conspicuous. This style of immersive long shots from immobile camera, which places the audience where scenes take place, is one style that he is known for, which many around the world love. I saw this, too, in Hesus, Rebolusyonaryo. The cinematography is certainly artful.

Rating: 3.0/4.0

Date seen: September 25, 2016