Monday, July 18, 2011

Spotlight: Harry Potter & Cinemalaya

So in the last few days I was able to watch FIVE films and four of those I watched in a single day, that's a personal record haha! Anyway, I watched Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 2 and 3 Director's Showcase films and 1 New Breed film at the 2011 Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival. Here are my thoughts (or mini-reviews) of the aforementioned films:

Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 2

I liked it, I love the "finale feeling" it really had. I admit the battle of Hogwarts was not as epic as imagined it when I was reading the book but in a way I liked it because the movie really focused on the intense confrontation of Harry Potter and Voldemort. I also like how they treated Snape's back story, that was good although it was a little too fast. My favorite HP character is Neville and he really shined in this film so I was very pleased. I admit I didn't like the epilogue maybe because I was also not a fan of the book epilogue too (I felt that it was too contrived) but I understand why it has to be there and I can pass by that. Anyway, I know it was hard to adapt the book be 100% faithful but the choices they made were good enough to produce a finely-crafted film. And gotta give kudos to the Harry Potter franchise, to maintain majority of the cast and improving in quality for the last decade is such an amazing feat. One day I'll collect home videos of each movie to complement my book collection :)

8.5 / 10

Busong (Palawan Fate) by Auraeus Solito [Director's Showcase]

I was supposed to watch "Ang Babae sa Septic Tank" starring Eugene Domingo but its Greenbelt screening yesterday was already sold out! So I watched this film instead starring Alessandra De Rossi as Punay, a Palawan native who was born with wounds on her feet and because of that she cannot step on her feet and her brother carries her to find a person who could cure her sister and along the way they met people with interesting stories to share. The story is all about the culture and practices of native Palawan people and the film did a great job of setting the atmosphere right, it really felt authentic from the language they used, the practices, the gestures, the customs and a lot more. The pacing is slow and the story could be confusing at times because it would shift from random flashbacks to present time, from one character to another but I guess it was intended that way. The cinematography of this film is just impressive, I couldn't help but utter "wow" during some shots. I've seen 3/4 of the Directors' showcase films and I think this could be the frontrunner for the top prize.

9 / 10

Bisperas (Eve) by Jeffrey Jeturian [Director's Showcase]

After attending the Christmas Eve procession and mass, the Aguinaldo family discovered that they were robbed while they were out and that incident ignited lingering emotions and sentiments they have been keeping from each other. I admit I was a little disappointed with the film, I enjoyed it but it felt too plain for a Jeturian film. I like how realistic his treatment was with the issues they have for each other and I believe at one point or another the Aguinaldo family issues are something we all could relate to with our own respective families. The film is all about how breaking the "elephants in the room" is so complicated that we sometimes just learn how to coast along. The performances were fine but nothing exceptional. All in all, it was solid film but it really didn't leave a lasting impact to me.

7 / 10

Isda (Fable of the Fish) by Adolfo Alix, Jr. [Director's Showcase]

Well, this is the story of a woman (Cherry Pie Picache) who gives birth to a fish. This was inspired by a story from the show of the late gossip queen Inday Badiday in the 90s. The film embraced its silly story completely but played it straight. The film's laughs are not broad or slapstick, it's subtle and despite the ridiculous of the circumstances the film was still able to treat the material with warmth and grace. Cherry Pie is really a great actress as she can express a mother's devotion to his fish child and you would actually understand her plight! The film also has a nice touch on the lives of people living in the slums that didn't focus on how miserable their lives are just because they are poor.

8 /10

Bahay Bata (Baby Factory) by Eduardo Roy Jr. and Jerome Zamora [New Breed]

"Bahay Bata" takes us on trip on a day in the life of the people in a public maternity hospital. Of the 4 films I watched yesterday this is the one that I liked the most. The film felt so raw and genuine. The way the nurses and the hospital staff interact with each other felt natural and has a smooth flow. The film has heart and it really opened my eyes on how difficult it is to give birth especially under these kind of circumstances. I like the "teenage moms" the most, the way they talked to each other was realistic. But the film's weakest point is nurse Sarah's (Diana Zuburi) love issues with his boyfriend (played by Yul Servo who did nothing on the film). I just think it was unnecessary and served as a distraction to the film. Plus there was a long 'walking sequence' with Sarah that was so draggy.

9 / 10

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