Saturday, July 30, 2011

Zombadings: Patayin sa Shokot si Remington

An irrevocable curse, a laser-zapping serial killer and zombies — gay zombies. Who wouldn't be interested in a movie like Zombadings: Patayin sa shokot si Remington?

Jade Castro's gay themed horror film closed this year's Cinemalaya, attracting a bevy of eager moviegoers.

In the movie, Remington (played by acting dynamo Mart Escudero) overcomes his prejudice when he experiences first hand what it's like to be gay.

Just like Remington, most of the gay characters in the movie are stereotypes — cardboard cutouts of people made for the silver screen. They walk, speak and act the same way.

Pigeonholes, together with the movie's blunt humor, give the movie an air of crudeness and inconsideration. People with strong opinions about gender issues: steer clear.

Because Zombadings is a parody of the gay/horror movie genre, watch it with a grain of salt. Suppress your inner Roger Ebert and avoid over analyzing the movie's sociological significance. Accept it for what it is and enjoy Mart Escudero's acting chops. This kid’s bursting with talent.

There’s a new Eugene Domingo in the house, and he’s male.

Release date August 31, 2011 (Philippines) Director Jade Castro Cast Mart Escudero, Janice de Belen, Eugene Domingo Scene-stealer Roderick Paulate. Stellar as always. Essential Onscreen Weaponry The serial killer's laser gun slash gaydar Verdict Nonstop laughs and witty banter from the talented ensemble make Zombadings worth watching.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cinemalaya 2011

Ang Babae sa Septic Tank
Category New Breed (in competition) Director Marlon Rivera Cast Eugene Domingo, JM de Guzman, Kean Cipriano Plot A parody of independent filmmaking in the Philippines Essential actress The goddess has landed. Eugene Domingo shows tyros how it's done. Scene-stealer None, Eugene slayed them all. Verdict Next to Zombadings, it's the most commercially viable film in the festival.

Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa
Category New Breed (in competition) Director Alvin Yapan Cast Jean Garcia, Paulo Avelino, Rocco Nacino Plot Love made more poignant by dance and poetry Verdict Notable for cinematographer Arvin Viola's heartbreaking images, Sayaw is visually engaging.

Category New Breed (in competition) Director Loy Arcenas Cast Fides Cuyugan Asensio, Shamaine Buencamino, Tony Mabesa Plot Family members bicker and grudges resurface when the patriarch of the house suffers from a stroke. Memorable scene The dinner confronatation sequence (can of worms is an understatement) Scene-stealer Actor Joaquin Valdez's Reinhard is a scorcher. Verdict Strong contender for Best Picture

Category New Breed (in competition) Director Joseph Isarel Laban Cast Maria Isabel Lopez, Simon Ibarra, Paolo Rivero Plot A night in the life of novice drug mules Shock value High. Full frontal? Check. Drugs? Check. Okra as a lubricant? Check. Verdict Riveting, but the ending feels rushed

Category Directors Showcase (in competition) Director Jeffrey Jeturian Cast Tirso Cruz III, Raquel Villavicencio, Julia Clarete Plot A family unravels as wounds open and grudges resurface on Christmas eve. Scene-stealer Julia Clarete shines in a role that fits her like second skin. Verdict Tight editing and good ensemble acting make it worthwhile.

Category Directors Showcase (in competition) Director Auraeus Solito Cast Alessandra de Rossi, Clifford Bañagale, Dax Alejandro Plot Four tales of death and rebirth interweave seamlessly in Palawan. What's the 411? The first of a planned trilogy, Busong is Solito's most personal movie yet. Verdict Inspired, lyrical and technically accomplished; one of the year's most relevant films

Category NETPAC (in competition) Director Benito Bautista Cast Ronnie Lazaro, Raymond Bagatsing, Edwin Pamanian Plot A night in the life of a cabbie and the passenger that changed his life Essential actor Raymond Bagatsing shines, but it's Ronnie Lazaro who brings the house down. Verdict The festival's must-watch movie

Category NETPAC (in competition) Director Alvin Yapan Cast Mercedes Cabral, Kalil Almonte Plot A girl's affection for the village sacristan is tested by faith and circumstance. What's the 411? Made on a shoestring budget, Gayuma is Alvin Yapan's ode to his roots. Memorable scene Delfin (Kalil Almonte) fleeing from a floating, talking Sto. Niño Verdict Bad acting and jerky camera movements ruin an otherwise unique, interesting movie.

Paglipad ng Anghel
Category Special Screening (out of competition) Director Clodualdo Del Mundo Jr. Cast Sid Lucero, LJ Moreno, Christian Vasquez Plot After helping an elderly, angel wings grow on the back of a young man. Acting revelation Sid Lucero whips up a storm as a man in doubt. Verdict Far from perfect, but charming nonetheless.

Zombadings: Patayin sa Shokot si Remington
Category Closing film (out of competition) Director Jade Castro Cast Mart Escudero, Janice de Belen, Eugene Domingo Plot A gay themed zombie flick with a twist Essential actor Mart Escudero gives a career-defining performance as Remington, a hapless boy on the verge of gaydom. Verdict A blockbuster in the making. Insanely funny.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Essential Photography: 2009

Actor Andrew Garfield and model Lily Cole

Inspired by the Metropolitan Opera's production of Hänsel und Gretel, Vogue Creative Director Grace Coddington and photographer Annie Leibovitz give the classic fairy tale a sublime twist. Hansel and Gretel are no longer children, but adults. The wicked witch, likewise, ages backwards.

These photographs were published in Vogue's December 2009 issue, the year Terry Gilliam's The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus was released. Two of Imaginarium's young stars — the eternally boyish Andrew Garfield and the doll-like model, Lily Cole — were cast as Hansel and Gretel.

As for the wicked witch, they got a feisty lady named Lady Gaga. Good choice.


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Essential Movies: 2009

Agrarian Utopia (Thailand)
Director Uruphong Raksasad Won UNESCO Award (Asia Pacific Screen Awards) Plot A rural farmer loses his job, forcing him to look for work in the big city Beauty Shots Cinematographer Uruphong Raksasad's lingering takes of rural landscape and gorgeous sunsets Extreme Gastronomy Insects? Check. Dogs? Check. Snakes? Double check.

In the Loop (UK)
Director Armando Iannucci Won Best Screenplay (New York Film Critics Circle Awards) Plot A fictionalized version of events that lead to the 2003 invasion of Iraq Golden Line "You sure you're working as hard as I am? I'm sweating spinal fluid here!" What's the 411? The role of Malcolm Tucker, sharp tongue and all, is allegedly based on Tony Blair's former director of communications and strategy, Alastair Campbell. Scene Stealer Peter Capaldi. 'Nuff said.

Mother (South Korea)
Director Joon-ho Bong Won Best Actress (Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards) Plot A whodunit crime flick involving a mentally unstable young man and his stubborn, iron-willed mother Indelible Scene Actress Hye-ja Kim's surprise dance sequence. She's no John Travolta, but she definitely has the moves down pat.

Eyes Wide Open (Israel)
Director Haim Tabakman Won Grand Prix (Ghent International Film Festival) Plot A Jewish man's affair with a young male drifter results in social estrangement and isolation. Essential Actors Ran Danker is the perfect foil to Zohar Shtrauss. Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal in Brokeback Mountain don't even measure up.
The Breath (Turkey)
Director Levent Semerci Won Best Film (Yeşilçam Awards) Plot A small group of dedicated soldiers defends a relay station against terrorists. What's the 411? The film is based on the 1992 PKK terrorist attack. Twenty-two soldiers died.

Moon (USA)
Director Duncan Jones Won Outstanding Debut by a British Director (BAFTA Awards) Plot A family man yearns for home after being stationed in the Moon for three straight years. Indelible Scene Sam Rockwell dancing. Forget Travolta. When it comes to swing-till-you-drop moves, Sam's the man.

A Serious Man (USA)
Directors Ethan Coen and Joel Coen Won Best Original Screenplay (National Board of Review) Plot A Jewish man's faith in God and in himself is tested as his professional and domestic life go down the drain. Essential Actor A Serious Man wouldn't be as good as it is without theater pro Michael Stuhlbarg. .

Boy (Philippines)
Director Auraeus Solito Plot A young boy falls for a male hustler. Essential Scene On New Year's eve, Aeious goes to bed with Aries. Afterwards, his mother bangs on his door and shouts,"Bilisan niyo! Putukan na!" What's the 411? Although invited to compete in the Silver Screen Awards, the film was banned by Singapore's Board of Film Censors (BFC). Surprise, surprise.

The Limits of Control (USA)
Director Jim Jarmusch Plot A solitary assassin tracks his target, following leads from strangers prone to discussing philosophy, cinema and the metaphysical. Essential Actor Isaach De Bankolé's face is a landscape of restraint and immobility. Sheer brilliance. Beauty Shots Every scene, every angle is achingly beautiful. Kudos to Cinematographer Christopher Doyle.