Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

"Would you like a brownie?"
"Yes. Thank you."
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a heartfelt story about a 15 year old kid Charlie (Logan Lerman) who just wants to make it through high school. He's described as introvert and antisocial until he accidentally became friends with Patrick (Ezra Miller) and Sam (Emma Watson), and everything will never be the same again.

Partying, drugs, depression, suicide, sex, and other issues adolescents face were there. What sets the story apart from other typical high school flicks is the way it tells the dark secrets, the struggles and realities of life, in a way for the viewers to better understand why kids behave like they do.

Lerman did an excellent portrayal of the withdrawn Charlie. His acting looked natural, credible, and really moving. Miller's flamboyant performance provided the needed comic relief to the story. Watson showed she has really matured as an artist from her Harry Potter days, well, minus her quite unsuccessful attempt with her American accent.

The "look" of the movie is not very extravagant and all, but it has it's own sense of beauty which I really appreciated. Many of the lines thrown were unforgettable. I'm sure "We choose the love we think we deserve", "Welcome to the island of misfit toys", "I feel infinite", among others ring a bell for you. And there were scenes which are so touching. The most haunting scene for me was the finale at the tunnel where Charlie was standing at the back of the pick-up and narrated,
"But right now these moments are not stories. This is happening, I am here and I am looking at her. And she is so beautiful. I can see it. This one moment when you know you're not a sad story. You are alive, and you stand up and see the lights on the buildings and everything that makes you wonder. And you're listening to that song and that drive with the people you love most in this world. And in this moment I swear, we are infinite."
This is a timeless movie everyone can related to, regardless of generation. It is a work of art which is fun to watch, sometimes depressing, but it will definitely linger in your heart.

My rating: 90%

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Mistress

I’m really a sucker for Filipino films, especially those produced by Star Cinema. It’s one of my ways to support the industry. Why would I not support Filipino movies when film makers always try to make quality works of art?

Just last month, Star Cinema revived the John Lloyd Cruz-Bea Alonzo love team through The Mistress (directed by Olivia Lamasan). The Mistress is a four-sided story about the wife (Hilda Koronel), the benefactor (Ronaldo Valdez), the lover (Cruz), and the mistress (Alonzo).

The story is kinda predictable and cliche for me so I don’t want to share the details anymore. Perhaps the only twist of the plot was that JD Torres (Cruz) turns out to be the son (well, not actually biologically) of Rico (Valdez); hence, the line by Regina (Koronel) “Layuan mo ang mag-ama ko. Tagalog ‘yan para maintindihan mo.” (Stay away from my husband and my son. That’s in Tagalog so you would comprehend.)  In the movie trailer though, Regina just said “Layuan mo ang asawa ko…” (Stay away from my husband…) so as not to spoil the twist.

The usual John Lloyd and Bea throwing cheesy lines tactic was again used to make the movie lasting in the mind of the viewers. This technique in script writing proved to be successful for Star Cinema in making many of its films very memorable.

There were some parts of the film that left me hanging though, like:
  • What was JD’s real intentions for pursuing Sari (Alonzo)? Sometimes the attraction seems real. Sometimes it looks only as a means for revenge. In the end, it was still unclear for me.
  • How could the best cutter of the tailor shop make a serious error of using the wrong material to make a barong? Why did JD and Sari drive all the way to the province just to deliver the barong when they could just have it delivered by courier? These are just examples of many poorly written parts of the story.
  • What was the story of the kid for? Just comic relief? I think the scenes were unnecessary and did not help develop the plot or characters. There were many unnecessary scenes that when removed, could have shortened the film’s running time.

The lesson of the film or the reality shown by the story is that cheating never brings good. Everyone suffers in the process, and it was well-told through the misery that the characters went through. The part that I loved the most was the ending. For me, it was realistic and believable, and no other alternate ending could have been better.

I can say that I liked the film, though I didn’t love it. It actually made me cry and laugh. The finale took me by surprise. It totally blew me away and broke my heart at the same time. I just had some reservations with some of the scenes that I mentioned. Overall, I think it was a good (versus outstanding) film.

My rating: 75%

Bwakaw (Cinemalaya)

Movie poster
I was able to watch the limited cinema screening of Bwakaw last month at the Glorietta 4 cinemas. Bwakaw is a movie about an old gay man who does not have relatives living with him anymore. His only companion in life is a stray dog named Bwakaw (a Filipino slang for "greedy for food").

Bwakaw was one of the films under the Director's Showcase category during the 2012 Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival.

Bwakaw is a drama-comedy about growing old, and everyone's fear of growing old alone. Rene is a gay man who came out of the closet at age 70. Ailing in his twilight years, he thinks it is now too late for love, even companionship, and that all there is to look forward to is Death.

He has made a will, bequeathing his few possessions to his even fewer friends. Everything is packed and labeled, ready for distribution. He has even paid for a coffin, taking advantage of a funeral home's Summer Sale. Nowadays the only companion Rene has is Bwakaw, a stray dog that hangs around his house and follows him wherever he goes.

Cast (in credits order)
As Rene waits for the day of his death, he gets the surprise of his life when it is Bwakaw who suddenly falls ill and is diagnosed with cancer. Rene is surprisingly affected, and he realizes that he values Bwakaw more than he thinks. In his struggle to get Bwakaw cured, Rene finds comfort in the most unlikely person: Sol, a tricycle driver who helps him bring Bwakaw to the vet and befriends him. Buoyed by Sol's friendship, Rene starts living.

Little by little he discovers simple joys. To the surprise of his friends, he even has his hair dyed to look younger. One day, he finally decides to make a move on Sol. The revelation that Rene is gay and has feelings for him surprises and disgusts Sol. He rejects Rene and leaves in anger.

In the meantime, Bwakaw's condition gets worse. Not even Rene's ancient Santo Entierro (a supposedly miraculous statue of Jesus Christ) can save Bwakaw. Bwakaw dies, and Rene's neighbors help him bury the faithful dog.

But Bwakaw's death, even while it was still only imminent, has made a difference. Rene has found a new appreciation for life and what is most important. He decides to unpack the things that he has already willed to other people and make his house more inhabitable. He is, after all, still alive.

My take on the movie
I liked the film. It has a very heartwarming and touching story. It showed the harsh reality that some gay men experience once they become old -- being alone. On the bright side, it teaches that one may be alone literally (in an abode), but one will realize that you have people (or a dog) around you who loves and cares for you sincerely.

The cinematography was pretty good for an indie film. There were no special effects, as it was not necessary. The locations and the sets were appropriately selected to give the desired mood of the movie.

The acting was outstanding. Eddie Garcia's portrayal of an old (discreet) gay man was believable. He was consistently in character throughout the film. Armida Siguion-Reyna's acting was moving. Soxy Topacio and Joey Paras provided the much needed comic relief to  instantly bring the viewers' emotions away from the very heavy dramatic scenes.

Overall, I recommend movie lovers (gay or straight, young or old) to see this film.

Movie trailer

My rating: 85%

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