Review: I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK (3/5)

Young-goon thinks she is a cyborg. Having been admitted to a sanitarium (sounds more like a ‘sanitary atrium’ than a ‘sanity atrium’, don’t you think?), she refuses to eat thinking that food intake will cause irreparable damage to her system. She licks batteries instead to replenish her energy. Meanwhile, Il-Sun (Rain), an anti-social and schizophrenic who thinks he can steal anything (including table tennis skills, politeness, and sympathy), befriends her and soon develops a crazy but deep affection for her.

Two big names are attached to this South Korean import. First is pop star Rain of “Full House” fame. Second is Park Chan-wook, the director of “The Vengeance Trilogy” featuring critically acclaimed films such as “Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance”, “Oldboy”, and “Sympathy For Lady Vengeance”. Having them together in the same film is unimaginable. I couldn’t see Rain basked in the sinister darkness that swaddle Park Chan-wook’s films, but “I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK” is a refreshing change from the retaliation-centric films tailored by the director. Although there is still some of the darkness left (in particular, the hospital massacre scene where the nurses were all shot to death by Young-goon’s finger guns), it is undeniable that the overall mood of this film is painted with pastel colors and bright sunshine.

To divulge the nifty set pieces of this elaborate story would be spoiling half the fun. What I can tell you though is that Director Park Chan-wook is at his most inventive in coming up with characters who have peculiar but believable personalities. Their psychological conditions are way beyond crazy but remain consistent all throughout the film. These characteristics are not randomly designed in order to solicit laughter from the movie-going public but are meant to illustrate a bigger picture.

“I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK” is a cute, adorable, and charming film. It can be silly sometimes, but that’s OK.

Review: Sita Sings the Blues (2/5)

“Sita Sings the Blues” is Nina Paley’s personal interpretation of the ancient Sanskrit epic, the Ramayana, rendered as an animated musical feature. The film links two parallel romantic tragedies: the disintegrating relationship between Rama and Sita, and the break-up of Paley’s marriage.

According to Paley, “The aspect of the story that I focus on is the relationship between Sita and Rama, who are gods incarnated as human beings, and even they can't make their marriage work. Right, and then there's my story. I'm just an ordinary human, who also can't make her marriage work. And the way that it fails is uncannily similar to the way Rama and Sita's [relationship fails]. Inexplicable yet so familiar.”

The presentation is wildly imaginative. It used four distinct styles of animation depicting episodes from the Ramayana, musical interludes by a Betty Boop-gone-Bollywood version of Sita lip-synching 1920s jazz tracks from Annette Hanshaw, Paley’s contemporary relationship struggles, and a narrative slash conversation among three shadow puppets. This humorous and witty trio deconstructs the epic and gives their no-holds-barred commentary. It is like attending a World History lecture from an ultra-hip teacher who is opinionated and as funny as Annabelle Rama.

On the technical side, “Sita Sings the Blues” utilizes Flash animation, vector graphics, Rajput style of brush painitng, and Squigglevision. These techniques blend perfectly in this light-hearted and oftentimes humorous take on the Ramayana.

Although the film is barely 90 minutes long, it is inevitable to be disengaged with the flow of the story. Despite its cleverness and inventiveness, it inexplicably failed to sustain our interest.

Review: Mag-ingat Ka Sa... Kulam (1/5)

I thought we have progressed from shallow scares and awful special effects (the ketchup-looking blood and the flat CGI effects) after decent chillers like “Feng Shui” and “Sukob” has taken center stage, but Jun Lana’s “Mag-ingat Ka Sa… Kulam” reminds us that the “Shake, Rattle, and Roll” era is far from over.

Mira (Judy Ann Santos) is having bouts with amnesia after meeting a car accident. She returns home to her husband and blind daughter (Dennis Trillo and Sharlene San Pedro) where she is forcibly pitted against her demons. She needs to stabilize her precarious relationship with his family and must make peace with a mysterious longhaired woman (Think of Sadako with gray highlights.) who is connected to her past.

During the first act, we scramble with Mira in searching for the pieces of the puzzle to solve her ordeal. A relatively promising start, but old habits prevail. We are soon introduced to a resident clairvoyant, a staple in every horror flick. Flashbacks and plenty of it. Repetitive ‘panaginip lang pala’ scenes. Random and utterly meaningless apparitions. These devices have been used countless times in horror movies. I guess it’s high time to retire them.

Despite the much-lauded ‘clever twist’ (clever according to the ‘masa’ viewers), the film is no better than the recent incarnation or the old “Shake, Rattle, and Roll”. It remains uninspired, dry, and passé.

The Least Scary Horror Movies

Halloween is right around the corner and different websites are churning out dozens of ‘Best of Horror Films’ list. As deviation to the common practice, Yahoo! Movies compiled the least scary horror movies ever made. Read on and feel free to add movies that should have been on this list.


There's a fine line between being atmospheric and just being boring. This film -- about killer tree pollen -- is filled with long lingering pastoral shots of trees and tall grass punctuated by laughably spectacular mass suicides. In what is supposed to be a gripping suspense sequence, the heroes run away from the wind. Oooh, scary, scary wind. By the time the credits roll, you're more likely to be nodding off instead of contemplating the movie's "deep" ecological meaning.


The 1973 original, which was hailed as "the Citizen Kane of British horror," has an ending that still shocks. The only shock to be found in Neil LaBrute's unbelievably bad remake is the realization that well-paid movie professionals actually thought that dressing up Nic Cage in a bear suit would elicit anything other than laughter.


After watching the original Japanese version of the flick, a genuinely spooky flick about technology and loneliness, you'll never look at your computer in the same way again. This version, on the other hand, just felt stale. Moody lighting? Check. Freaky music video-like dream sequences? Check. Overbearing soundtrack? Check. Wildly over-produced special effects? Check. Vacant, gym-sculpted teens stumbling around in the dark? Check. The resulting movie, like most J-Horror remakes, was so dull that you could say it, um, lacked a pulse.


Director Wes Craven has helmed horror masterpieces like Nightmare on Elm Street. Screenwriter Kevin Williamson wrote Scream. And star Christine Ricci is great at playing cute and creepy. So why is "Cursed" such a bore? It plays out like werewolves on the CW. The characters are all whiny, spoiled 20-somethings, and after the studio cut down the violence to get a PG-13 rating, there weren't any thrills left over. The only frightening thing about the flick is the bizarre Scott Baio cameo.


Stephen King has been responsible for some of the most terrifying books of all time. But, he's also responsible for some of the dullest and silliest movies ever. When lists are compiled of people's biggest fears, "dropping a few extra pounds" isn't generally on there. But that's what happens to the overweight lawyer who gets a gypsy curse placed on him until he withers away to nothing. To break the spell, his mobster buddy strong-arms the shaman into transferring the curse to a pie. "The Shining" this ain't.

See the full list at:

Review: The Band's Visit (3/5)

The low-key but hard-hitting debut feature of Director Eran Kolirin swept the Cinemanila jurors off their feet with its biting sense of humor and pitch-perfect understatement, making it the grand prize winner of the Main Competition during the 10th Cinemanila International Film Festival.

This festival darling is about the Alexandria Police Orchestra visiting an Israeli town to play for the opening of the Arab Cultural Center, but they get stood up in the airport. Out of desperation, they boarded a bus and eventually got lost in a desolate desert town. Stuck in a predicament they can’t get out of, they were forced to spend one awkward night with the locals. Despite the language barrier and the lack of common ground, the Egyptians and the Jews soon made good music together with their shared humanity and sympathy towards one another.

“The Band’s Visit” is a tender affirmation that regardless of war and tension, even conflicting races can and will connect with each other. The characters may have spoken in fractured English, without any fancy vocabulary, but the message they have conveyed in this modest film are far more meaningful and affecting than other more ambitious films.

To end this review, let me cite my favorite scene from the movie:
After one of the Egyptian musicians played his unfinished sonata (He failed to finish it due to family responsibilities.), the Israeli who is facing the same problem with his family told him, “Maybe this is how your sonata ends,” making inference to the dark, empty room where they are in, “Not sad, not happy. In a small room, and tons of loneliness.”

Review: The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela (2/5)

Quite frankly, there is nothing amazing about Raquela Rios, a Filipino transvestite prostitute who dreams of walking in the streets of Paris with his Prince Charming in the form of an affluent, straight Westerner. As much as I want to root for our hero(ine)’s exploits, there isn’t much to love about this movie. The reason why she is called Queen is only given light during her ending monologue. It could have had more resonance if it was used in the beginning and reinforced as the story progresses. This angle, if explored properly, could have added layers that can make this amateurish film compelling enough. However, being a victim of a confused narrative, it engages in documentary-styled confessionals dwelling on the trivial, non-involving matters interspersed with Raquela’s cross-continental trip.

Essentially, it is just another film about transvestites, which happens to be made by an Icelandic national with a Filipino subject.

Review: Imburnal (1/5)

This year’s big winner in the Digital Lokal Competition of Dekada Cinemanila proves to be a milestone… a milestone in disappointment.

Director Sherad Anthony Sanchez must be a dropout of Brillante Mendoza’s school of voyeuristic camerawork. Instead of following the characters as they go about their daily lives, the cinematography in “Imburnal” is painfully static. It is as if the cinematographer left the camera on a tripod for ten minutes to continuously shoot even if there isn’t anything happening on screen. It’s definitely a test of patience, and for once I have been patient enough to finish the whole film, waiting for it to redeem itself, but it never did. More than half of the audience left the movie house after its first hour. So MTV generation, may this serve as a warning.

Mendoza’s technique runs on real-time, thus immersing us into the intricate daily routines of the characters and making us empathize with their pleas (like in the case of “Foster Child”). But in Sanchez’s “Imburnal”, the time element is non-existent. The imageries are jumbled and the vignettes being shown are at its most random order. You’ll feel as if Sanchez doesn’t have a concrete story to tell but is merely confusing us with his peculiar brand of faux visual poetry.

Movies used to be fun to watch, why does it have to be a toilsome chore now?

Review: The Strangers (1/5)

Let’s set the record straight. If a movie is said to be INSPIRED by a true story, does it mean that it is a blow-by-blow account of a real-life event? No. It only means that the film borrows fragments of a real life event and makes a story out of this teeny-weeny fragment. The result is still fiction and that ‘INSPIRED by a true story’ tagline is just a marketing ploy.

On the opening credits of “The Strangers”, it proclaims that it is INSPIRED by the real-life deaths of James Hoyt and Kristen McKay in 2005. The premise is simple: a couple staying in a desolate summerhouse start hearing loud knocks on their door, followed by random acts of violence perpetrated by three masked strangers. It is basically a thin story spread over a 90-minute running time. The scares soon die a natural death, leaving us with nothing to hold on to in the end.

Just so you would understand why I watched this film in the first place, take a look at its trailer. The looping music and the clever editing make up for a creepy after-effect.

Review: Foster Child (3/5)

“Foster Child” is a slice of life. This is reality stripped to its core. There are slivers of truth scattered in the long running hours of the film that sparkle like gems amid the bleak Manila setting. In watching films like these, one must learn the virtue of patience – to be patient enough to appreciate the beauty that only subtlety and realism can bring. There is also no room for explanations. Take this film as it is. An exemplification of the “show, don’t tell” principle.

Moreover, Cherry Pie Picache deserves a standing ovation for her honest portrayal of the foster mother role. Her acting is so genuine that acting workshops cannot teach that to non-mothers.

Cinemanila 2008 Winners

Young Cinema: Shorts & Docs
(Edwin, Chair; Arleen Cuevas; Tan Pin Pin)

Best Documentary: Marlon (Philippines) By Ralson Jover & James Amparo

Best Short Film: Tumbang Preso (Philippines) By Antoinette Jadaone

Ishmael Bernal Award: Christopher Gozum For Surreal Random MMS Texts Para Ed Ina, Agui, Tan Kaamong Ya Makaiiliw Ed Sika: Gurgurlis Ed Banua (Surreal Random MMS Texts For A Mother, A Sister, and A Wife Who Longs For You: Landscape With Figures)

International Competition
(Dr. Bienvenido Lumbera, Chair; Tanja Meding; Paolo Minuto)

Lino Brocka Award Grand Prize: The Band's Visit (Israel) By Eran Kolirin
Grand Jury Prize: The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela (Iceland/Philippine S/France) By Olaf De Fleur Johannesson

Vic Silayan Award For Best Actor: Kenneth Moraleda For Lucky Miles (Australia)

Vic Silayan Award For Best Actress: Angeli Bayani For Melancholia (Philippines)

SEA Film Competition
(Wong Tuck Cheong, Chair; Kenneth Moraleda; Anna Capri)

Best SEA Short: Frou Frou…Shh Wag Mong Sabihin Kay Itay By Michael Juat

Best SEA Film: Confessional By Jerrold Tarog & Ruel Dahis Antipuesto

Best Actor: Mario Maurer For Love of Siam (Thailand)

Best Actress: Anita Linda For Adela (Philippines)

Digital Lokal
(Lav Diaz, Chair; Pimpaka Towira)

Lino Grand Prize: Imburnal By Sherad Anthony Sanchez

Lino Grand Jury Prize: Next Attraction By Raya Martin

Best Actor: Carlo Aquino For Carnivore

Best Actress: Jodi Sta. Maria For Sisa

Best Director: Ato Bautista For Carnivore

Un Mdgs Prize: Lay-An, Candles Burning On Still Water By Milo Tolentino

Lifetime Achievement Award: Pete Lacaba

Review: Brutus (2/5)

“Brutus: Ang Paglalakbay” touches bases with our brethren in Mindoro. The focus of this Tara Illenberger-directed film are two Mangyan kids beleaguered by illegal logging and child labor activities. In order to contribute to the finances of their impoverished families, Adag and Payang are forced by circumstances to help illegal loggers transport wood from the mountains down to the capital. Since this activity is illegal, the kids need to take extra caution to avoid forest rangers who serve as vanguards against such law violators.

“Brutus: Ang Paglalakbay” utilizes what it has in its fullest extent by employing long shots of the vast forest and sprawling stream channels. The shots are not perfect but are still captivating. The execution and theme may be too ambitious for its resources, but the filmmakers succeed in getting their point across the mountains of Mindoro and show the hard knock life of the Mangyans to the general public.

Although Ronnie Lazaro and Yul Servo are in the film, it relies heavily on the ability of Adag and Payang to carry the movie all the way through. And to elicit response from the audience, the film resolves to shallow gimmickry using a puppy love angle between the two, which seems more exploitative than cute. Another fall back of “Brutus: Ang Paglalakbay” is its tone, that is as self-righteous and as preachy as the sermon of friars. The film is also guilty of lazy storytelling and abuse of flashbacks.

Moreover, the inclusion of the untouchable side-story of the NPA-military conflict to the plot seems far-fetched. The film subtly explores this without giving a firm resolution at the end. It could have been better if the focus is mainly on the two Mangyan kids and their struggles as transporters of the logs. The film ended, without earning its ending.

Review: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (1/5)

From Julian Schnabel, Best Director of the 2007 Festival de Cannes, comes the incredible true story of the former editor-in-chief of Elle Magazine, Jean Dominique Bauby. Using the first person point-of-view, we see the events through the eyes of the main protagonist – with blurred vision and discolored images. He wakes up at the Berck-sur-Mer Naval Hospital with locked-in syndrome, a very rare medical condition wherein a patient is physically paralyzed. He cannot speak and move his limbs, but he can blink his eyes and everything else is normal. Throughout the course of the film, he blinks interchangeably from his present condition to the patchy memoirs of his life. And with his blinking eye, he writes his autobiography “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”.

There is way too much hocus pocus on the narration. Keeping it simple would have gotten the movie farther, because emotions are fleeting and when treated improperly, can dissipate into thin air in just a clap of a thunder. The story of Jean Dominique Bauby is inspiring, and the movie inspired me to dream and snore.

20 Films to Watch in Cinemanila

From over 100 films that will be screened in Dekada Cinemanila, moviegoers may get confused with the variety and volume of films competing for their attention. So here’s a rundown on 20 featured films in this year’s Cinemanila that I THINK are worthy of your time. I haven’t seen all these films, but the merits under their belts and their inviting plots seem enough to earn them a recommendation.

Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone (Japan)
The Gist: The first of four films released in the Rebuild of Evangelion tetralogy based on the original anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Why You Should See It: Let’s all relive those anime marathons on the AXN channel. I know “Neon Genesis Evangelion” is one of our childhood addictions that forced mommy to impose a TV curfew.

Confessional (Philippines)
The Gist: A dying ex-politician confesses his sins and crimes when he was still in office in front a filmmaker’s camera.
Why You Should See It: Said to be one of the most important Filipino films of last year, reaping nominations left and right from here and abroad.

Tsotsi (South Africa)
The Gist: A cold-hearted teenage criminal finds a baby at the back of a car he hijacked. You know what’s next.
Why You should See It: Expect a whole lotta melodrama, but it’s all done in good taste, because if not, this movie couldn’t have won the 2006 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

The Band’s Visit (Israel)
The Gist:
The Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra finds itself lost in the middle of the desert.
Why You Should See It: The synopsis doesn’t really sound inviting, but the hype that surround the film makes me curious. Dubbed as this Cinemanila’s “The Live of Others”, this film garnered the Special Jury Prize (Un Certain Regard) during the 2007 Cannes Film Festival and raked positive reviews from critics all over the world.

The Counterfeiters (Austria)
The Gist:
The inspiring true story of a pre-World War II criminal.
Why You Should See It: A brilliant performance from lead actor Karl Markovics and an Oscar award for Best Foreign Language Film for 2008.

The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela (France)
The Gist:
A Cinderella story of a Filipino transvestite searching for his prince charming.
Why You Should See It: Raquela Rios of Cebu Citeeeeee plays herself in what was supposed to be a documentary. This film screened at the 2008 Berlin International Film Festival won the Teddy Award for Best Feature Film.

I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK (South Korea)
The Gist:
Park Chan-Wook directs a romantic comedy set inside a mental asylum.
Why You Should See It: Black looks good. My name is Rain.

The Love of Siam (Thailand)
The Gist:
After being separated, two best friends confront their feelings for one another.
Why You Should See It: Thailand’s cult gay film, need I say more?

Kaleldo (Philippines)
The Gist: Three sisters. One wedding. A plethora of emotions. And the summer heat.
Why You Should See It: The film is divided into three segments narrated in the point of view of the three sisters with symbolical elements attach to each depending on the foreboding emotion prevalent in the segment. Style, style, style.

Late Fragment (Canada)
The Gist: There are three strangers and they will kill each other. Weeeeh!!! And yeah, you need to click the button before they do that.
Why You Should See It: This is an interactive film. A remote control will be passed around the audience to turn the direction of the narrative. This is a step ahead of the alternate endings of soap operas wherein we have to text our votes for our desired ending.

Sita Sings the Blues (US)
The Gist:
Ramayana. I forgot what that is. Go Google.
Why You Should See It: An epic tale starring shadow puppets singing jazz tunes. This is too cool for school.

PVC-1 (Colombia)
The Gist: The harrowing true story of terrorism. A woman turned into a human time bomb.
Why You Should See It: Premiering at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, this 84-minute film was shot in real-time – no cuts and no second takes.

Romulus, My Father (Australia)
The Gist: A drama from Raimond Gaita’s memoir of his struggles in a foreign country with his father.
Why You Should See It: Eric Bana stars in this Australian Film Institute’s Best Film of 2007.

Tirador (Philippines)
The Gist:
Quiapo. Elections. Holy week. And the intertwined lives of Caloy, Leo, Rex, and Odie.
Why You Should See It: Recipient of the Caligari Film Award during the 2008 Berlin International Film festival, this more modest feature from Brillante Mendoza (in contrast to “Serbis”) has made the rounds in international filmfest circuit.

You, The Living (Sweden)
The Gist:
A tragicomedy starring an overweight woman, a disgruntled psychiatrist, a heartbroken groupie, a carpenter, a business consultant, an elementary school teacher, and many others.
Why You Should See It: Offbeat and innovative, the narrative of this film is told in succession of 50 short sketches.

Babae Sa Breakwater (Philippines)
The Gist: An urban tragedy about the slums of Manila brimming with eroticism and emotions.
Why You Should See it: Aside from being featured in the Director’s Fortnight section of the Cannes Film Festival, this film went on to bag the Best Picture award from Gawad Urian and YCC.

881 (Singapore)
The Gist: Two Singaporean girls join together to form the Papaya Sisters, a getai group.
Why You Should See It: I love musicals and I’ll grab every chance I’d get to see a Foreign-language musical. “Love Songs” from France didn’t disappoint. I hope this Singaporean musical dramedy wouldn’t too.

Sukiyaki Western Django (Japan)
The Gist: An epic tale of blood, lust, and greed.
Why You Should See It: This film is helmed by Japanese cult director, Takashi Miike who is responsible for “Ichi, the Killer” and “One Missed Call”.

Ten Canoes (Australia)
The Gist: Ten canoes, three wives, one hundred and fifty spears… trouble.
Why You Should See It: Dubbed as the first full-length feature in Aboriginal language, this film won a special jury prize at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. Film critics still haven’t gotten over this one-of-a-kind film.

Noise (Australia)
The Gist: The search for truth, for witnesses, and for the killer behind a heinous crime.
Why You Should See It: We all love crime movies. This film follows not the killer or his persecutors, but everyday people whose lives were stirred by the events.

Not included in this list are the documentaries and shorts, since I’m not into those. Also not included are the films competing for the Digital Lokal award. I’m planning to see them all anyway, and I hope that you do too. See you at Gateway guys.

The Films in Dekada Cinemanila

Can I just say WOW? What a selection!

Opening Film: Sparrow (Hong Kong)
Closing Film: Bayan Ko (Lino Brocka)

International Competition
1. Band's Visit (Israel)
2. Lucky Miles (Australia)
3. Night Bus (Iran)
4. Melancholia (Philippines)
5. The Truth About Queen Raquela (Iceland/ US/ Philippines)
6. United Red Army (Japan)
7. Vanished Empire (Russia)

SEA Competition
1. 12 Lotus (Singapore)
2. Adela (Philippines)
3. Blind Pig Who Wants to Fly (Indonesia)
4. Confessional (Philippines)
5. Flower in the Pocket (Malaysia)
6. Love of Siam (Thailand)
7. The Photograph (Indonesia)

Asian Cinema
1. 881(Singapore)
2. 3 Days to Forever (Indonesia)
3. Breathing in Mud (James Lee)
4. Assyl : Park and Love Hotel (Japan)
5. Dreams from the Third World (Singapore)
6. The Elephant & the Sea (Malaysia)
7. Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone (Japan)
8. Genghis Khan (Japan)
9. Good Man Dog (Taiwan)
10. Good Cats (China)
11. In Dreams Begins Responsibility (SEA Omnibus)
12. Jellyfish (Israel)
13. Love of Siam (Thailand)
14. Opera Jawa (Indonesia)
15. The Red Awn (China)
16. Sukiyaki Western Django (Japan)
17. Susuk (Malaysia)
18. Tropical Manila (South Korea/ Philippines)

Australian Focus: Dreams From Down Under
1. 10 Canoes
2. Boxing Day
3. Lucky Miles
4. Noise
5. Not Quite Hollywood
6. Romulus, My Father
7. Storm Boy

World Cinema
1. 4 Minutes (Germany)
2. California Dreamin (Romania)
3. Diving Bell & the Butterfly (France)
4. The Counterfeiters (Austria)
5. Caramel (Lebanon)
6. Il Divo (Italy)
7. It's A Free World (UK)
8. Jellyfish (Israel)
9. Late Fragment (Canada)
10. The Mirror (Russia)
11. Sita Sings the Blues (USA)
12. Tsotsi (South Africa)
13. You the Living (Sweden)
14. Youth Without Youth (USA)

Four From South Korea
1. I’m A Cyborg But That’s OK
2. West 32nd
3. With A Girl of Black Soil
4. Milky Way Liberation Front

International Shorts
1. G 16, G 17 (Malaysia)
2. HALF TEASPOON (Indonesia)
3. MOX (Germany)
4. JAI (Thailand)
5. Retrace (Malaysia)
6. My Sars Lover

Tribute to Quinzaine des Réalisateurs of Cannes Film Festival

Quinzaine Shorts
1. Muro Brazil
2. Kamel S’est Suicidé Six Fois, Son Père est Mort (France)
3. Summer Afternoon (Taiwan)

Quinzaine Features
1. 40 x 15 (France)
2. Babae Sa Breakwater (Philippines, 2004)
3. Batch ’81 (Philippines, 1982)
4. Caramel (Lebanon, 2007)
5. PVC-1 (Colombia, 2007)
6. Stranger than Paradise (USA, 1984)
7. Now Showing (Philippines, 2007)

Director in Focus : Brillante Mendoza
1. Masahista
2. Kaleldo
3. Manoro
4. Tirador
5. Foster Child
6. Serbis

Digital Lokal
1. Ala Pobre Ala Suerte (Briccio Santos)
2. Carnivore (Ato Bautista)
3. Imburnal (Sherad Anthony Sanchez)
4. Ang Manghuhula (Paolo Herras)
5. Next Attraction (Raya Martin)
6. Sisa (CJ Andaluz)

Philippine Panorama
1. Babae sa Breakwater
2. Bayan Ko
3. Brutus
4. Confessional
5. Himala
6. Kisapmata
7. Now Showing
8. Sta. Mesa

Documentaries in Competition
1. Darling! The Pieter –Dirk Uy’s Story (New Zealand/Australia)
2. Joy to the World, Ang Prosesyon (Philippines)
3. Marlon (Philippines)
4. The Old Fool Who Moved Mountains (Philippines/China)
5. Paper Cannot Wrap Up Embers (Cambodia)
6. Shahida – Brides of Allah (Israel)
7. Teak Leaves in the Temple (Indonesia)
8. TXT B4 Marriage (Philippines)

Documentaries in Exhibition
1. Be Like Others (Iran)
2. Invisible City (Singapore)
3. Panudlak (Welcoming the Dawn)
4. The Third Wave (USA)

Young Cinema : Shorts in Competition
1. Amihan (Joanna Vasquez Arong)
2. Bunot (Ivy Universe Baldoza)
3. Esbat (Carlo Obispo)
4. Frou Frou Shh.. Wag Mo Sabihin Kay Itay (Michael Juat)
5. Inday Wanda (Nelson Caliguia)
6. Kalawang na Ginto (Vic Acedillo Jr.)
7. Kamera (Mikhail Red)
8. Surreal Random Mms Texts Para Ed Ina, Agui, Tan Kaamong Ya Makaiiliw Ed Sika: Gurgurlis Ed Banua (Christopher Gozum)
9. Tumbang Preso (Antoinette Jadaone)
10. Undertakers (Emmanuel Palo)

Young Cinema : Shorts in Exhibition
1. #Cafe (Leo Valencia)
2. Bulong (Pedro Valdes)
3. Pass (Vicente Garcia Groyon)
4. Walong Linggo (Ana Isabelle Matutina)
5. Trails of Water (Sheron Dayoc)
6. Pagtakas sa Kawalan (Richard Legaspi)

“100”, “Andong” Receive Honors in Pusan International Film Festival

Cinemalaya 2008 darlings “100” and “Andong” were honored during South Korea’s nine-day 13th Pusan International Film Festival (PIFF), which screened 315 movies from over 60 countries.

Directed by Chris Martinez, the dramedy “100” bagged the Audience prize, dubbed as the KNN Award, and $20,000 in cash. The film stars Mylene Dizon as a woman trying to fulfill her wish list before she dies. Lending their comical chops alongside Dizon are Tessie Tomas and Eugene Domingo.

According to Maggie Lee of The Hollywood Reporter, “100” is “thoughtfully scripted and performed with a delicate balance of gravity and humor.” (To read my review of “100”, visit:

Meanwhile, “Andong” won the Best Short Film or the Sonje Award and $10,000 in cash. This film tells the story of an impoverished kid’s obsession on having P20 to buy a raffle ticket. According to the PIFF committee, “Andong” is cited for "excavating a truthful story from the midst of the city dumpsite and told it with witty humor and brilliant performance." (My review of “Andong” is coming up soon.)

Here is the complete list of winners:
New Currents Award (Best Film) – “Land of Scarecrows” by Roh Gyeong-tae (South Korea) & “Naked Of Defenses” by Masahide Ichii (Japan)
Special Mentions – “Members of the Funeral” by Baek Seung-bin (South Korea) & “Er Dong” by Jin Yang (China)
Sonje Award – “Andong” by Milo Tolentino (Philippines) & “Girl” by Hong Sunghoon (South Korea)
Mecenat Award – “Mental” by Kazuhiro Soda (Japan) & “Old Partner” by Lee Chung Ryoul (South Korea)
FIPRECI Award – “Jalainur” by Ye Zhao (China)
NETPAC Award – “Members of the Funeral” by Baek Seung-bin (South Korea) & “Treeless Mountain” by Kim So Yong (South Korea)
KNN Movie Award (Audience Award) – “100” by Chris Martinez (Philippines)

Aside from “100″ and “Andong”, the following Filipino films were also screened in PIFF: Jerrold Tarog and Ruel Dahis Antipuesto’s “Confessional,” Francis Xavier Pasion’s “Jay,” Joel Ruiz’s “Baby Angelo,” Dante Mendoza’s “Serbis” and Adolf Alix Jr.’s “Adela.”

As part of the Special program featuring Asian superheroes and animation, “Lastikman”, “Captain Barbell”, “Darna: Ang Pagbabalik” (and Indonesia’s “Darna Ajaib” as inspired by our Darna), and “Urduja” were also screened during the said filmfest.

Review: Eagle Eye (2/5)

Sci-fi movies are characterized by stirring plausible plotlines in a microcosm of unreal settings. But a good science fiction does not only blend these elements to perfection, it also blurs these distinctions to make the audience question the very nature of the genre: is this just a sci-fi film or a premonition of what will become of reality? As moviegoers, we do not ask sci-fi movies to be realistic but they should be believable at the very least – that beneath the oddities is a concrete, seemingly imminent possibility well articulated by the film. Unfortunately, “Eagle Eye” must have shunned this idea and came up with an utterly illogical and unbelievable sci-fi flick that only holds water in the terrorism and artificial intelligence department.

After discovering that his bank account is mysteriously filled with $750,000, Jerry Shaw (Shia LaBeouf of “Transformers”) finds his apartment crammed with guns, ammonium nitrate, and all sorts of military weapons. He then receives an anonymous phone call telling him that the FBI will arrive shortly. They did and he got arrested. Meanwhile, a single mom named Rachel Holloman (Michelle Monaghan of “Gone Baby Gone”) also receives a phone call from the same woman who demands her blind obedience to her bidding in exchange of her son’s safety. Soon enough, Jerry and Rachel fumble through a series of tasks designed by the omniscient woman. We take thrill in the action and in the suspense of not knowing what is happening to the two leads and why this is happening. But as soon as the mysterious woman reveals her identity and her motives, we couldn’t help but lose interest.

Although undeniably action-packed and exciting, this DJ Caruso (“Disturbia”) directed film leaves us with far too many questions. Questions that dwell on plot holes, thus merely serving to heighten our dislike and disbelief to the material.

"Ploning" to Compete in the Oscars

Ploning is a 2008 Filipino film starring Filipino actress Judy Ann Santos (also a co-producer) in the title role. The movie is based on a popular Cuyunon song of the same title about a girl's hidden feelings in a man's point of view. It was filmed in the small municipality of Cuyo, Palawan.

Ploning is the official entry of the Philippines to the Best Foreign Language Film category to the 2009 Academy Awards. It was also screened in the Paris Cinema International Film Festival on July 5, 2008.

Philippine Submissions to the Oscars
2000 Anak
2001 Gatas: Sa Dibdib ng Kaaway
2002 Mga Munting Tinig
2003 Dekada '70
2004 Crying Ladies
2005 No submission
2006 Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros
2007 Donsol
2008 Ploning


Dekada Cinemanila: Films in Competition

For a decade now, the Cinemanila International Film Festival has been able to bridge the gap between the Philippines and the rest of the world via the language of film. It has pioneered exceptional contributions to the Filipino film industry and elevated the level of excellence in filmmaking year after year. Now, as it toasts to its first ten years of existence, Cinemanila looks ahead into once again charting new horizons and establishing another set of achievements for the Filipino filmmaker and for Philippine Cinema.

Dekada Cinemanila will run from October 16-29 at Gateway Cineplex 10, Araneta Center, Quezon City.


The Band's Visit (Eran Kolirin, Israel)
An Egyptian police orchestra is sent to Israel for a cultural event. When they get there, it turns out that no arrangements have been made for transport to their destination. And when they do find a ride, they end up in the wrong town.

Lucky Miles (Michael James Rowland, Australia)
An Indonesian fishing boat leaves a group of Cambodian and Iraqi men on the Western Australian coast. The authorities round up most of them right away, but three men manage to escape. The three go on a journey through the Australian desert, driven by the promise of a bus past the dunes.

Melancholia (Lav Diaz, Philippines)
The film is a meditation on love and sadness, portraits of people trying to come to grips with the reality of sadness in this world.

Night Bus (Kiumars Pourahmad, Iran)
Three Iranians are tasked to cross the desert in a bus carrying thirty-eight Iraqi prisoners.

The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela (Olaf de Fleur Johannesson, Iceland/Philippines/France/Thailand)
Raquela, a transsexual from Cebu, dreams of leaving the island and living in Paris. To this end, Raquela decides to become an internet porn star.

United Red Army (Koji Wakamatsu,Japan)
The true story of the United Red Army, a Japanese paramilitary group in the seventies made up of idealistic students and workers, who wound up harming themselves and others.

Vanished Empire (Karen Shakhnazarov, Russia)
The story of young people in love, set against the backdrop of the rise and fall of the Soviet Union.


12 Lotus (Royston Tan, Singapore)
A talented singer finds that her success cannot make up for the love and acceptance she is missing from her loved ones.

Adela (Adolf Alix, Philippines)
Adela, a former radio star, is celebrating her eightieth birthday. She tries to treat it like any other day, but she cannot run away from her loneliness.

The Blind Pig Who Wants to Fly (Edwin, Indonesia)
A surreal take on the intricacies of the lives of the Indonesian-Chinese. An Indonesian Chinese family tries to get by in a society that doesn’t love them.

Confessional (Jerrold Tarog and Ruel Dahis Antipuesto, Philippines)
A documentarian goes to Cebu to capture the Sinulog Festival on film, only to find his camera pointed in the direction of a local politician who wants to confess all his sins.

Flower in the Pocket (Liew Seng Tat, Malaysia)
Two motherless boys attempt to reach out to their workaholic father by adopting a puppy.

The Photograph (Nan Achnas, Indonesia)
A young prostitute befriends an old photographer. She finds out that he is dying, and sets out to fulfill three wishes represented by three photographs.

Love of Siam (Chukiat Sakveerakul, Thailand)
Two boys grow up as best friends, only to be separated when the sister of one of the boys goes missing. Years later, they meet again. One of them became a member of a boy band, whose managing assistant looks very much like the other’s long lost sister.


Ala Pobre ala Suerte (Briccio Santos)
A young girl travels to a government housing project near a railway to learn of her father’s tragic death, and the strange miracle that keeps the community together.

Ang Manghuhula (Paolo Herras)
A failed fortune teller returns to her hometown to save her daughter from the fate she herself escaped: to be the town’s next fortune teller. But in order to save her, she is forced to use the gifts that she has been running away from all these years.

Imburnal (Sherad Anthony Sanchez)
A coming-of-age story about two kids who gain an education in love and desire as they observe people at the broken waters where the river meets the sea.

Next Attraction (Raya Martin)
A look behind the scenes of an ongoing short film production set in the city center that was once a glorious part of town. The short film is about a teenager who runs away from home, and has his first sexual experience as he wanders around the city.

Carnivore (Ato Bautista)
A young man from the provinces goes to Manila and joins an infamous fraternity, dreaming of making it big. But as his initiation goes on, he is driven further and further into the depths of darkness.
Sisa (CJ Andaluz)
A retelling of Dr. Jose Rizal’s immortal novel, Noli Me Tangere, told from the point of view of Sisa, the tragic mother figure of those stories.



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