Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Yes, I know that's a lame title for a blog entry but forgive me as I'm still reeling from my whirlwind weekend schedule. I currently have colds and a mild cough. Anyhow, I rested pretty much all Monday but decided to go out yesterday, Tuesday, after sending off BC at the airport and caught the last remaining films of the 10th Cinemanila here at Gateway. Funny how this mall is so close to where I now live yet I was still not able to attend the screenings early on. Part of the reason, of course, is Cinemanila's well-known inefficiency when it comes to organizing. They opened on October 16th with no schedule to hand out to attendees and since I do not have the luxury of visiting Gatway Mall on a daily basis, I just gave up on them. Last night, on my way up, I espied a former SPi co-worker who I know volunteers for Cinemanila and we had a long chat on the films being shown, the funding the government gave them (or the lack of it) and the scheduling. As per his suggestion, here are the three films I was able to catch in this year's harvest of films (the rest I will just have to find in St. Francis Square *wink*).

The Love of Siam (2008; Thailand) A coming-of-age film about unrequited love and survival on a daily basis. I know it's got that commercial appeal (why, I was just expecting Sharon Cuneta to bounce onto the set any time) but at 150 minutes it's painfully long - too long, in fact - and was milked for all its emotional worth. The best performance here is by Sunee, the mother played by Sinjai Plengpanich who's won Best Actress four times in Thailand for this role. Her son in the film, Mario Maurer as Tong, also gave a restrained yet natural performance and thus won for him the Best Actor award in the Southeast Asian category of the 10th Cinemanila Film Festival. Not bad for a greenhorn actor. He will surely give our biatch-ey actors a run for their money. Overall, the film is heart-felt but can be tiring after a while because it tries hard to please everybody, not to mention the repetitive issues that can't seem to find some sort of resolution. Directed by Chookiat Sakveerakul.

The Blind Pig Who Wants to Fly (2007; Indonesia) is about the experience of being a Chinese in Indonesia. The film, however, doesn't delve much into this topic. Instead, it gave us several almost-silly short footages of scenes that don't seem to add or contribute to the story. I swear I felt catatonia starting to slip in but I held my ground because I need to know if there is some sense to all this at the end (there was none). Filmed by an Indonesian Chinese by the name of Edwin, I think The Blind Pig Who Wants to Fly is one of the most boring films I've ever seen. A complete nonsense. Dousing myself with gasoline and striking a match would have been a more pleasurable optpion.

It's supposed to be some kind of a rogue film vis-a-vis the crass commercialism plaguing the Indonesian film scene but seriously, much of the material is wasted on long, slow shots that are all pointless. Ediwn should learn filmmaking from our local indie directors. Direk Tikoy Aguiluz, if you are reading this, kindly send me my ticket refund.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007; France) The former editor of the French ELLE awoke from a coma three weeks after suffering a stroke. Removed from all that is aesthetic, will he find a reason to live? Based on a true story, the film begins on a brilliant note and ends in a soaring manner. The thing with good films is that they tell a cohesive story (Edwin, are you listening?) and no amount of visuals can make up for a really good script (you know, the kind where people actually do say something). Anyhow, the film's visuals are stunning (with an almost lomo-like palette) and the lines witty and intelligent.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is based on the memoir of the same title by Jean-Dominique Bauby. The film depicts Bauby's life after suffering a massive stroke at the age of 42 which left him with a rare condition known as the "locked-in syndrome". The condition paralyzed him with the exception of his eyelids (more so of the left) so he communicated by blinking. The film was directed by painter and interior decorator Julian Schnabeland (Before Night Falls) and stars Mathieu Amalric (Antoinette, Munich, Quantum of Solace) as Bauby. It was originally to be produced by Universal Pictures and to star Johnny Depp but both withdrew from the project. The project eventually won for Schnabeland the Best Director plume at the 60th Cannes.

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