Monday, May 14, 2018

Movie No. 28 (2018): A FANTASTIC WOMAN

A Fantastic Woman (2017)
Director: Sebastian Lelio
Cast: Daniela Vega, Francisco Reyes
In Spanish, with English subtitles


Marina is a transwoman. Her partner, Orlando, dies of aneurysm. This incident puts her into a touchy situation. Orlando's son wants her out of the apartment Orlando owns. Orlando's ex-wife claims his corpse and wants Marina to stay away from the wake. These are things that are expected to happen. But, the movie seems to be not about these eventualities. It discusses the social acceptance of trans-people in general in a country that's primarily Catholic. It digs deeper into the society's cloistered homophobia. However, the character study approach of the movie is, in my opinion, the one that may have caught the interest of the ones who revere it. It might be the reason it won the 90th Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film earlier this year.

Rating: 3.5/4.0

Date seen: April 29, 2018

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Movie No. 27 (2018): A QUIET PLACE

A Quiet Place (2018)
Director: Jan Krasinski
Cast: Emily Blunt, Jan Krasinski

As a horror movie, A Quiet Place is solid and intense. It's different and the narrative is quite original. The opening scene is meticulously crafted to establish the premise. The movie is about sound or the absence of it or the fear of it. Sound or the absence of it is the center of the narrative. 

The movie is also a family movie, a coming of age movie, or even a love story. The idea about the role of sound or the absence of it makes the movie a science fiction movie, too.

As a horror movie, it is a major achievement. The audience are scared not because the movie tells them to be scared on cue. The audience are scared because they feel they're part of the movie. That's how the movie is. It sucks you into its narrative. 

By the way, the presence of Emily Blunt in the movie makes the movie even much better. I can't imagine putting any lesser actress into the movie and still achieve the same impact as this.

This will surely make the list of the greatest horror movies ever made.

Rating: 4.0/4.0

Date seen: April 23, 2018

Movie No. 26 (2018): THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST

The Passion of the Christ (2004)
Director: Mel Gibson
Cast: Jim Caviezel, Monica Bellucci
In Archaic, with English subtitles


The only movie about the Christ I've seen so far that is more concerned about the passion and the violence the Christ experienced in the hands of his tormentors. The graphic violence is painful to watch. Sometimes, I can't see the point of all these. This depiction may be artistic. But, too much of it is numbing. 

The two best things about the movie are the performances and cinematography.

Rating: 2.5/4.0

Date seen: March 30, 2018


Movie No. 25 (2018): NEWSIES: THE BROADWAY MUSICAL

Newsies: The Broadway Musical (2017)
Cast: Jeremy Jordan, Kara Lindsay, Ben Fankhauser

The movie is a recording of the musical straight from the stage. The musical is about a group of newsboys who revolt against greedy businessmen behind newspapers at the turn of the 19th century. 

The musical, complete with song and well choreographed dance sequences, is a real extravaganza. While seeing the musical in the theater may be a different experience, seeing it on film gives a different vantage. It's like seeing it while seated in the best seat in the theater. 

Rating: 3.5/4.0

Date seen: March 30, 2018

Friday, May 4, 2018

Movie No. 24 (2018): REBECCA

Rebecca (1940)
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Cast: Joan Fontaine, Laurence Olivier, George Sanders

The name of the main protagonist in the movie is never mentioned in the movie. She only gets her name after a whirlwind romance brings her to a vast estate. Her name: Mrs. de Winter. In fact, the second Mrs. de Winter. The first Mrs. de Winter was Rebecca, now dead, was the first wife. Her death is a mystery.

The titular character is never seen in the entire movie. However, Hitchcock's masterful direction ensures Rebecca's presence in practically all things she left behind, which adds to the mystery of Rebecca's death. Even the hostility of the army of servants who seem to remain loyal to Rebecca is integral to the atmosphere that Hitchcock creates. And that's what the movie is about.

Rating: 4.0/4.0

Date seen: March 30, 2018

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Movie No. 23 (2018): ANTONIA'S LINE

Antonia's Line (1995)
Director: Marleen Gorris
Cast: Willeke van Ammelrooy, Els Dottermans, Jan Decleir
In Dutch, with English subtitles

A dying, elderly woman wakes up. Convince that it'll be the last day of her life, she relates her life story to family members her deathbed. The woman is Antonia. The movie, told in flashback, is about her life. 

Antonia's life story is full of colorful characters and interesting events. The narrative succeeds in creating a tapestry that is Antonia's line. I can't go into details. I can only say that the movie has universal appeal. Some of its characters are unforgettable. 

This movie won the 1995 Academy Awards for Best Foreign-Language Film.

Rating: 4.0/4.0

Date seen: March 19, 2018

Movie No. 22 (2018): ANG HULING CHACHA NI ANITA

Ang Huling Chacha Ni Anita (2014)
Director: Sigrid Andrea Bernardo
Cast: Angel Aquino, Teri Malvar
In Tagalog/Filipino, no English subtitles

The theme and story of the movie are far from original. I've seen some movies about coming of age, loss of innocence, and discovering sexuality, and how these experiences extrapolate what becomes of the character years later. This movie is not different. But, we can't dismiss it just like that. The movie is definitely not bad. On the contrary, it has the capability of keeping the attention of the audience. It may not be the best of the genre, but it is definitely an important movie because there are only a few movies (locally) whose strength is in the character study and narrative. It's appeal is universal. 

Teri Malvar, as prepubescent Anita, portrays innocence and curiosity effortlessly, Angel Aquino (as Pilar) is outstanding as the outcast, who is Anita's object of affection. The drama is set in the countryside where nothing much happens, so the people are much concerned about ostracizing an unwanted intruder. The movie also successfully projected the country and its people as one character that affects Anita's initiation into adulthood.

Rating: 3.0/4.0

Date seen: March 11, 2018

Monday, April 30, 2018

Movie No. 21 (2018): XENIA

Xenia (2015)
Director: Panos H. Koutras, Panos Koutras
Cast: Kostas Nikouli, Nikos Gelia
In Greek, with English subtitles

The story is very basic. Two young brothers whose mother has just died travel from Crete to Athens to Thessaloniki in search of their biological father. Just like in any great narrative, the brothers' journey are more important than the destination. Indeed, the film explores what the brothers discover about themselves as they come of age during the journey. It's translated into the screen excellently.

The movie was Greece's submission to the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film for 2015.

Rating: 4.0/4.0

Date seen: March 10, 2018

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Movie No. 20 (2018): MY COUSIN RACHEL

My Cousin Rachel (2017)
Director: Roger Michell
Cast: Rachel Weisz, Sam Clafin, Holliday Grainger

Adapted from a Daphne du Maurier, this movie is about a young man (Philip), an orphan, who travels to Italy from England to look for the missing wife (Rachel) of his adaptive cousin, now dead. He suspects that the missing wife might be responsible to his cousin's death. But, the search and eventual meeting results in unexpected turn of events. 

The movie is slow burning. Despite some acts of violence, sexual tension, and intrigue, the movie does not attain its full boiling point. But, it doesn't totally bore. Might have been saved by Rachel Weisz powerful performance, mostly gloomy cinematography, and costume design.

Rating: 3.0/4.0

Date seen: March 10, 2018

Movie No. 19 (2018): I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER

I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)
Director: Jim Gillispie
Cast: Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ryan Phillippe, Freddie Prinze Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar

It's far from being among the best horror/slasher films I've ever seen. I don't find any reason why I'm always glued to the TV screen every time it's shown. Must be one my so-called guilty pleasures. I saw this on the big screen in 1997. I don't remember liking it during the first time seeing it; however, it appears to me as unforgettable. Yes, I will always remember how the characters agree to conspire to hide a crime they accidentally commit. I will always remember a ridiculous scene where one character is roaming around while wearing a crown. I will always remember the grotesque death of some characters. I remember practically everything about it. It's not a good movie. But, I find it entertaining.

Rating: 2.0/4.0

Date seen: March 4, 2018