Cinemanyak Previews The 2009 Academy Awards

Cinemanyak Previews The 2009 Academy Awards

Sunday, September 30, 2007

BANGKOK LOVE STORY: Director and Screenwriter Wasted a Good Story

Cinemanyak Rating: 5.0/10
IMDB Rating: Not Available
Tomatometer: Not Available
Rotten Tomatoes Critics' Rating: Not Available
What's your rating? Post a comment below.

BANGKOK LOVE STORY is a good film, that is if you isolate cinematography and the homoerotic story line from the distracting side stories, the gloominess of the plot and the unbearable (bad) acting. And the rain, oh my gosh, it keeps on falling every time the story reaches its peak. Do all sad stories happen underneath the rain?

Let me start with the good things:

One, cinematography is stunningly beautiful! The whole of Bangkok turned dark as Gotham City. It's like watching a gangster film from New York, which perfectly fits to the plot. The director used unconventional angles and shot some speed in high speed, making the picture looks slow on screen. Imagine Wong Kar Wai and Spike Lee combined.

Two, the homoerotic plot is fantastic. I could say it is better than Brokeback Mountain. The tension is there. It is unpredictable. And it is "acceptable" (usually, a homoerotic film crosses the boundary of porn. Bangkok Love Story was able to manage it well).

The story is about a hitman hired to kill a cop. When they met, the hitman kept him in a hidden roofdeck house. As the movie goes along, they suddenly felt that they were falling for each other. They denied that were gay, primarily because of their profession, but in then end they were not able to fight it and just got together. Looks simple but it is not.

The writer overloaded the story with so much twists and side characters that it destroyed the perfect homoerotic plot I've seen. Add the following to the story above: AIDS, Tubercolosis, Drus Lords, an overacting wife (of the cop; yes he's married!), and serendipitous events which makes the film more depressing. To sad! The writer just missed a gem here.

Bangkok Love Story is still screening in all cineplexes around Bangkok.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

SHINDO: Music & Real Friendship Captured in a Good Film

Cinemanyak Rating: 7.0/10
IMDB Rating: Not Available
Rotten Tomatoes Critics' Rating: Not Available
Tomatometer: Not Available
What is your rating? Post a comment below.

I was able to watch SHINDO at the Siam Cineplex Art House in Bangkok. Not knowing what to expect, I did enter the large theatre together with 6 other Chulalungkorn University students (the market of the Art House as the campus is just behind Siam).

Shindo is a story about 2 piano prodigies: a young girl (Uta) at her early teens, and an adult guy (Oto) at his early 20's. Uta already earned a name in playing the piano since she was a child. Her mother is very persistent in asking her to continue playing, but she wants to stop to live a normal life outside the stage spotlight. Oto is exactly the opposite, not having the same talent as the young girl, he puts all of his energy in practicing pieces just to get into a music school.

Their friendship appeared to be beneficial for both of them. Uta inspired Oto to reach for his dream as a musician. Oto inspired Uta to look for her purpose in life (eventually, she found out that playing music is her sad).

The thing I love with this film is its simplicity: the story, the directing, the music, the cinematography. No drama, very pure. This makes Shindo very believable. You may not be able to relate to piano playing, but its rawness of its emotions will certainly move you.

The director may have the perfect love story to exploit, but he rather made Uta and Oto friends from beginning until the end. This is the best platonic boy-girl relationship I've seen in screen so far.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Cinemanyak Visits Art Houses in South East Asia

A lot are asking where I view the films I feature in the site. I do 3 things: catch the latest film festival, buy dvds and watch at home, and go to the nearest art house in town.

During my recent trip around South East Asia, I visited some of the best are houses in the region. I hope we could have more of these in Manila.


Restaurant, bar, studio and a film theatre in one. This high end art house offers themed dinner which suits aptly to the film to be screened (I was able to attend a wine and cheese party prior their "Sideways" screening).

HOUSE in Bangkok
A typical cineplex with modern interiors, and art films on the screen. A bit hard to find though; no connection to the BTS or MRT.

Old cinemas refurbished into its old grandeur, fit to the art films they flash to their screen. It's like watching a movie in old Escolta and Avenida, but in digital sound.

The official art house of the Cultural Center of the Philippines. This small viewing room screens award winning film (both local and international) for free!

Other Art Houses:
- Instituto Cervantes, Manila (screens free Spanish films every Saturday, 6PM)
- Indiesine, Robinon's Galleria Manila (Filipino Indie all year long. Mostly not subtitled)
- Cinekatipunan, Magnet Cafe Katipunan Manila (Filipino Indie, normally school works. Screenings start at 5PM)

Here are some useful links:

Sunday, September 23, 2007

DONSOL: Philippines' entry to next year's Oscars

Aldolfo Alix's entry to the 2006 Cinemalaya Indie Film Festival was chosen to represent the Philippines in the next Oscar Awards. DONSOL got the awards for best cinematograpy and best actress (Angel Aquino) in the CCP-housed festival.

This is another success of Philipine Indie.

Last year, another indie film was chosen to represent the Philippines in the Oscars (Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros).

Pelikula: 6th Spanish Film Festival @ Greenbelt

The 2007 SPANISH FILM FESTIVAL is near! Greenbelt 3 Cinemas in Manila will house this year's "cinema fiesta".

Festival schedule below. Click the film title for synopsis, reviews and film details.

2 Tue

14 Sun
2:00 Derecho de familia
No sos vos, soy yo
7:00 Audience Choice

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Cinemalaya @ Indiesine

For those who missed the screenings at the CCP, Cinemalaya films are currently running at Indiesine (Robinson's Galleria).

In the line up are: TRIBU (Best Picture, Best Actor), ENDO (Jury Prize, Best Actress), GULONG, LIGAW LIHAM, SINUNGALING NA BUWAN (disqualified during the festival) and TUKSO (Best Screenplay)

Lalake Sa Parola: Tell me what went wrong?

Cinemanyak Rating: 1.0/10
IMDB Rating: Not Available
Rotten Tomatoes Critics' Rating: Not Available

This is a disappointing film. Very disappointing.

Unconventional story telling which confused us in the start, bad acting until the end, pixelized cinematography, an ending with unclear character-conflict resolution...and a lot of homoerotic scenes badly done.

Don't watch this film. Period.

But in case you want to, it is still running in Indiesine, Robinson's Galleria

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

First Silent Film Festival in Manila

The 1st International Silent Film Festival is currently running at the Greenbelt 3 Cinemas. This is a unique film series which combines classic black and white silent films with local live music.

September 4 – The Adventures of Prince Achmed/Die Abenteur des Prinzen Achmed (Germany), music by Drip

September 10 – The Sixth Sense/El Sexto Sentido (Spain), music by Wahijuara

September 13 – A Monster Serpent/Orochi (Japan), music by Makiling Ensemble

All screenings start at 8PM.

The festival is sponsored by the Goethe-Institut, Instituto Cervantes and the Japan Foundation, in cooperation with Ayala Malls Cinemas, Greenbelt and YoCard.

Lav Diaz's "Death in the Land of the Encantos" won in Venice

Lav Diaz's 9-hour movie DEATH IN THE LAND OF THE ENCANTOS won the Golden Lion Honarable Mention Award in the recently concluded Venice International Film Festival.

"Long live Philippine Cinema!" Diaz said in this acceptance speech. "In spite of all the madness in this world, it's still a nice place to live in. We still have a cinema. We have the Venice Film Festival."

"Encantos" tells the story of a poet who returned to his hometown in Bicol after the destruction and aftermath of supertyphoon Reming.

Ang Lee's x-rated, sexually explicit film LUST, CAUTION won the top prize, just 2 years after he got the same award for BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN.

BRAD PIT won best actor.

Monday, September 10, 2007

October is Cinemanyak Month: Spanish Film Festival and Cine Europa Back-to-Back

Cineastes will go crazy this October! Two of the longest running international film festivals in Manila will happen back-to-back this October.

Pelikula: Instituto's 6th Spanish Film Festival

Pelikula will open on the 1st of Oct with the invitational screening of UNIVERSO CHOMON. Pelikula is now the biggest showing of Spanish cinema in South East Asia.

Greenbelt 3 will house the festival until Oct 14.

Cine Europa 2007

The annual film festival of the European Union, Cine Europa shows the best cinema of the region. The festival will show Oscars 2007 Best Foreign Film THE LIVES OF OTHERS from Gernamy.

The Shangrila Plaza will house the festival from October 18 to 28.
Cebu will have their run from from October 5 to 7.
Davao will have theirs from October 12 to 14.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Paris Je T'aime: 18 Films in 2 Hours

Cinemanyak Rating: 8.0/10
IMDB Rating: 7.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes Critic's Rating: 7.0/10
Critics' Tomatometer: 84% (Certified Fresh by Rotten Tomatoes)
What's your rating? Post a comment below.

Awards and Accomplishments:
Official Selection, 2006 Cannes Film Festival
Official Selection, 2006 Toronto Film Festival
In Exhibition, 2007 Cinemanila

18 stories. 18 acclaimed directors.
1 film.
1 theme... love in Paris.

I watched the film after seeing some directors involved in this ambitious project: Gus Van Sant and Christopher Doyle to mention a few. Seldom do you see acclaimed directors and Cannes winners together.

Given 5 minutes each. The directors gave their own interpretation of "love in Paris". Some were experimental, some were conventional. There were films about vampire couples, homosexuals, a Moslem and a Christian, 2 clowns, a divorced couple, a blind man and an actress, Asians trying to be French, and more. Very diverse. Truly interesting.

I was lukewarm to the idea at first. They may be acclaimed directors and known film makers, but how can they manage a "chopseuy" of stories? I was thinking then that things will be left hanging and unresolved at the end. But to my surprise, it didn't feel that way.

Yes, some things were left hanging...but the film gave a different feeling in the end: it made us miss all the characters terribly! Thanks to the perfect ending where they showed everyone in a montage and in 18 split frames, accompanied by a lovely song entitled "We're All In The Dance".

It's a good film. I would recommend it. (By the way, I watched it twice. In Cinemanila and during my flight from Manila to Singapore).

Below is the trailer. I'm also posting the ending of the film which made most of the people in the theater cry (it's a spoiler, so don't play the second video if you are planning to watch Paris Je T'aime) .

Sunday, August 26, 2007

CINEMANYAK: Now in Rotten Tomatoes

CINEMANYAK is now a part of the Rotten Tomatoes vine of critics. Cinemanyak reviews will now be linked to one of the biggest film-info sites in the web.

Send in your views and reviews, and join Cinemanyak in throwing those "fresh" or "rotten" tomatoes.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

CINEMANYAK BREAKING NEWS: Pisay, Tirador and Death in the Land of the Encantos entered Toronto Int'l Film Festival

3 Filipino films got in Toronto Film Festival:
- Pisay the Movie (Auraeus Solito, 2007 Cinemalaya Best Director)
- Tirador (Brillante Mendoza)
- Death in the Land of the Encantos (Lav Diaz's 8 hour film).

Toronto is considered as one of the top film festivals in the world, next to Cannes and Berlin.

CINEMANYAK BREAKING NEWS: Kubrador won the Critic's Prize in this year's Brisbane Int'l Film Festival

Good news for the Philippines. 2006 Cinemanila Best Picture KUBRADOR won the Critic's Prize in the recently concluded Brisbane International Film Festival. This is the 10th best film recognition for the Jeffrey Jeturian masterpiece.

Kubrador is a film about a "jueteng" (illegal number game) collector. As she goes around the tight streets of Manila, she meets the bettors who desperately put all their hopes into jueteng, wishing that it will bring them out of poverty. Every bettor has a story...and the collector, played by Gina Pareno, is a witness to all of these. After earning money through their hopelessness, she realizes in the end that she herself was hopeless.

A 6.9/10 in IMDB. Cinemanyak thinks it should be 7.5/10.

Volver: Pedro Almodovar's Newest Masterpiece

Cinemanyak Rating: 8.0/10
IMDB Rating: 7.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes Critic's Rating: 7.7/10
Critic's Tomatometer: 91% (Certified Fresh by Rotten Tomatoes)
What's your Rating? Post a comment below.

Awards & Achievements:
Winner - Best Screenplay, Cannes Film Festival
Winner - Best Actress, Penelope Cruz, Cannes Film Festival
In Competition - Cannes Film Festival
Nominated - Best Actress, Penelope Cruz, Oscars
Winner - Best Director, European Film Awards
Winner - Best Actress, Penelope Cruz, European Film Awards
Nominated - Best Picture, European Film Awards
Nominated - Best Foreign Film, Golden Globes
Nominated - Best Actress, Golden Globes
Winner - Best Film, Goya Awards
Winner - Best Director, Goya Awards
Winner - Best Actress, Goya Awards

Pedro did it again! A wonderfully crafted opus which brings you to the emotional highs and lows of his character. I was however disappointed after watching VOLVER. Knowing it won best screenplay in Cannes (it also won 38 other awards and got 47 nominations from different award giving bodies around the world), I was expecting to see something bigger and better than Hable Con Ella (Talk To Her).

I did miss in Volver the twists, turns and suspense Pedro is known for. The plot is unconventional, yet a bit predictable. Cinematography is fantastic, especially in the opening scene at the cemetery. One thing amazing though is how Pedro exposed each character in separate segments of the film...then tied them up perfectly towards the end.

Commendable acting from Penelope Cruz! She really stunned me.

Don't get me wrong, it is a good's just over rated for me.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Ploy: An Artistic Psychological Drama Put Into Film

Cinemanyak Rating: 8.0/10
IMDB rating: 7.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Critic's Rating: Not Available
Critic's Tomatometer: Not Available
What's your rating? Post a comment below.

Awards & Achievements:
Official Selection - Cannes Film Festival, Director's Fortnight
In Competition - Cinemanila Film Festival (ASEAN sidebar)

I'm starting to like Thai films. I was able to watch 3 at Cinemanila.

When I was in Bangkok last July, I was so happy to see that PLOY is currently running in the cineplexes. I've seen good reviews from those who were invited in Cannes, thus I know very well that this film is a must see.

The first few frames of the film reminded me though of my favorite director, Wong Kar Wai. The shot of passports being stamped reminded me Wong's Happy Together opening scene. Whilst Ploy's slow, lingering shots reminded me of Wong's 2046 and In The Mood For Love.

But in spite of this resemblance, Ploy is still unique...thanks to its good screenplay.

The film is a psychological drama about suspicion and jealousy. What started as a small misunderstanding between husband and wife, was later turned into a story of murder, rape and violence. And this is all because of a stranger named Ploy.

The tension of the story is good enough to sustain the audience interest for 2 hours. Story telling was perfect, and direction was superb. Cinematography was perfect.

Ploy is truly a Cannes material. You can still catch this film at Cinemanila, which will end on Aug 28.

Irina Palm: The Best Hands in Town!

Cinemanyak Rating: 7.5/10
IMDB Rating: 7.5/10
What's your rating? Post a comment below.

Awards & Achievements:
Winner - Reader Jury, Berlin Film Festival
In Competition - Berlin Film Festival
In Competition - Cinemanila Film Festival

IRINA PALM...boring title at first. But after watching the movie, I can't help it but smile everytime I hear "Irina Palm".

Irina Palm is a movie about a widowed grandmother, Maggie, who wants to save her grandson from cancer by sending him to Australia for treatment. The problem is they don't have much to pay for his airfare and hospital bills. Without any work experience, she walks around London to look for a job. After multiple rejections, she ended up in a Soho sex club. She then agreed to masturbate men through a hole for 800 pounds a week.

Now you know why "Irina Palm"...becasue she has the best palm in town!

A drama-comedy neatly directed by Sam Garbarski. This film competed in this year's Berlin Film Festival. Irina Palm's unconventional storyline will leave you awake for 2 hours, though there are some lags in the story telling that will make you wish you could fast track time.

Cinemanyak recommends this film for its unique plot and amusing humor. Aside from that, it is a so-so art film.

Persepolis: An Animated Feature Not For Kids

Cinemanyak Rating: 9.5/10
IMDB Rating: 8.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes Critic's Rating: 7.4/10
Critic's Tomatometer: 100% (Fresh by Rotten Tomatoes)
What's your rating? Post a comment below.

Awards & Achievements:
In Competition - Cannes Film Festival
Winner - Cannes Jury Prize
Winner - Cinemanila Jury Prize

Quoting a post in IMDB, PERSEPOLIS is a film about humanity where humanity is illegal.

This film opened a window to the difficult, often unreasonable, Iranian society. But the best thing about Persepolis is that they have exposed the story a funny, black and white, full length animation.

I think this is the most acclaimed animation feature since Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Persepolis won the Jury Prize in this year's Cinemanila, and was selected in this year's Berlin Film Festival.

The material is very powerful that it covers topics like: the fall of the Shah, Iraq's invasion of Iran and the ultra-conservatism of some of our Islam brothers. But these were perfectly balanced with humor by introducing: Jichael Mackson, Bruce Lee, the lead's gay boyfriend and more. Watch out for the "Eye of the Tiger" part in the's freakingly hilarious!

Through the eyes of an idealistic, westernized Iranian girl Marjan, Persepolis showed how people in Iran learned to live a life as dictated by their conservative society...yet still dream of becoming more free.

Persepolis is a must see!

4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days: Cannes Winner in Cinemanila

Cinemanyak Rating: 10.0/10
IMDB Rating: 8.4/10

Rotten Tomatoes Critic's Rating: 7.8/10
Critic's Tomatometer: 100% (Fresh by Rotten Tomatoes)
What's your rating? Post a comment below.

Awards & Achievements:
Winner - Cannes Film Festival (Palm D'or)
Winner - Cinema Prize of the French National Education System (Cannes Film Festival)
Winner - FIPRESCI Prize (Cannes Film Festival)
In Competition - Cinemanila Film Festival

"A slice of life" -- this is how I describe 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS & 2 DAYS. The film is powered by raw and real emotions, which complements its linear and flat plot. For 2 hours, the film will never allow you to leave your seat, nor close your eyes. You just want things to unfold continuously in front of you.

I was struck with the crudity of its cinematography, setting and edit: handheld shots, underexposed lighting, gloomy Romanian town, wet weather. But I then realized that this is what the film wants to paint: the reality of abortion.

This film is not about a girl who wants to abort a baby, it is about hopelessness and lossing hope.

A true cinematic wonder! It derserves the Palme D'or. A must see.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Cinemalaya Winners: The Most Prestigious Philippine Indie Film Festival

CINEMALAYA just finished it's successful 3rd run at the epicenter of Philippine culture and arts...the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).

For those who are unfamiliar with Cinemalaya, it is the biggest and the most prestigious Indie Film Festival in the Philippines.

Indie means new breeds, new comers and first timers. In fact, Cinemalaya only accepts films from those who have not directed more than 3 films in their lives. This makes the festival very most entries are experimental and extremely unique than those which are shown commercially. Below are some entries:
  • Kadin - 2 children walk miles and miles around Batanes to find their missing goat
  • Pisay - a film about this famous HS of highly intelligent kids
  • Gulong - a tale of 3 children looking for a bike to use for their summer vacation
  • Tukso - Murder told in 4 different views
  • Tribu - a story of the gangs of Tondo

Here are some of the winners in this year's Cinemalaya (full length feature):

  • Best Film - Tribu
  • Best Director - Auraeus Solito of Pisay (same director of Pagdadalaga)
  • Best Actors - the cast of Tribu (by the way they are real gang members)
  • Best Actress - the actress in Endo
  • Best Cinematography - Kadin (hands down!)
  • Best Editing - Endo
  • Best Production Design - Pisay

After watching Cinemalaya, you will really feel confident that Philippine Cinema is alive (again)!

Death Proof Gala in Cinemanila

Cinemanyak Rating: 8.0/10
IMDB Rating: 8.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes Critic's Rating: Not available
Critic's Tomatometer: Not available
What's you rating? Post a comment below.

Awards & Achievements:
In Competition - Cannes Film Festival

was one of the highlights of this year's Cinemanila, the most celebrated international film festival in the Philippines as of the moment. No other than Quentin Tarantino attended the gala premiere of his film in Manila.

I was stunned with Death Proof. Quentin veered away from his "traditional" gun-induced violence, but maintained the amount of blood and gore on the screen...this time through car crashes. I can also say the the final car chase scene is one of the most cinematic I have seen. Quentin said before the screening that this was shot without CG, and is considered as one of the top three car cashes ever in film.

Besides that, Quentin was able to show in Death Proof his mastery of dialogues. The best screenplay he has done since Pulp Fiction. All elements of the film were well thought of: the music, cast, production design, lighting and even the editing...with its missing frames, scratches and dirt. Everything ties together to create the illusion that you are wacthing a 60's/70's B-movie inside a grindhouse.

And just like a true grindhouse B-movie, it's plot is pretty staightforward. But Quentin added more into it though his witty dialogies and visuals.

This is truly the second best Tarantino film (Pulp is still way on top).