Monday, July 25, 2011


If you are looking for reviews by Northern Portrait, then hop over to his new film blog at . His reviews are still suave and well-written as ever.

I’ll also jump ship soon as this film blog was originally a collaborative project with my cousin Northern Portrait. I just waited for Cinemalaya 2011 to end its fantastic run at CCP.

Thanks, guys! And please do continue supporting local films…

Nel C0stales

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Cinemalaya 2011: Festival winners at Cinemalaya Goes UP 7

Catch the winners of the 7th edition of Cinemalaya when the festival goes to UP Diliman in Quezon City. Price of an admission ticket is 80 PHP. I think only SRO tickets are available for Ang Babae sa Septic Tank. Contact Alex at 0927 2990318.

Cinemalaya Goes UP screening schedule

July 26, Tuesday

5:00 PM Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa
Best Cinematography (NB)
Best Music Score (NB)
8:00 PM Ang Babae sa Septic Tank
Best Picture (NB)
Best Director: Marlon Rivera (NB)
Best Actress: Eugene Domingo (NB)
Best Screenplay: Chris Martinez (NB)

July 27, Wednesday

5:00 PM Amok
Best Editing (NB)
Best Sound (NB)
8:00 PM Bahay Bata

July 28, Thursday

5:00 PM Cuchera
8:00 PM I-libings

July 29, Friday

5:00 PM Niño
Special Jury Prize (NB)
Best Supporting Actress: Shamaine Buencamino (NB)
Best Supporting Actor: Arthur Acuña (NB)
8:00 PM Ligo Na U, Lapit Na Me
Best Actor: Edgar Allan Guzman (NB)

August 2, Tuesday

5:00 PM Teoriya
8:00 PM Bisperas
Best Picture (DS)
Best Actress: Raquel Villavicencio (DS)
Best Supporting Actress: Julia Clarete (DS)
Best Cinematography (DS)
Best Production Design (DS)

August 3, Wednesday

5:00 PM Isda
Best Actor: Bembol Roco (DS)
Best Editing (DS)
8:00 PM Busong
Best Director: Auraeus Solito (DS)
Best Music Score (DS)
Best Sound (DS)

August 4, Thursday

5:00 PM Shorts A
Best Picture: Emerson Reyes' Walang Katapusang Kwarto (SC)
Best Screenplay: Emerson Reyes for Walang Katapusang Kwarto (SC)
Best Director: Milo Tolentino for Niño Bonito (SC)
Audience Choice Award: Emerson Reyes' Walang Katapusang Kwarto (SC)
8:00 PM Patikul
Best Supporting Actor: Jaime Pebanco (DS)
Audience Choice Award (DS)
Best Film for Children (Kids’ Treat)

August 5, Friday

5:00 PM Shorts B
Special Jury Prize: Hanapbuhay (SC)
7:00 PM Ang Babae sa Septic Tank
Best Picture (NB)
Best Director: Marlon Rivera (NB)
Best Actress: Eugene Domingo (NB)
Best Screenplay: Chris Martinez (NB)
Audience Choice Award (NB)
9:00 PM Bisperas
Best Picture (DS)
Best Actress: Raquel Villavicencio (DS)
Best Supporting Actress: Julia Clarete (DS)
Best Cinematography (DS)
Best Production Design (DS)

*NB – New Breed
*DS – Director’s Showcase
*SC – Shorts category

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cinemalaya 2011: 7 competition films to watch this weekend

1. Niño - An artistic portrait of a Filipino family in shambles, Niño is an amazing film debut by veteran theatre personality, Loy Arcenas. It is a welcome respite from the poverty porn films pervading the local film festivals. Sir Arcenas, please do join the New Breed competitions in the coming years.

2. Busong - Auraeus Solito's film contains knockout images. A truth hunter, Solito exposes the social ills plaguing Palawan.

3. Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa - This is the only film so far of Alvin Yapan that I deeply adore. He has finally learnt how to transpose his literary visions into engaging film language. The cotillion scene is a fantastic show-stopper. Bravo!

4. Bahay Bata - Director Eduardo Roy Jr. made good use of his privilege to film within the confines of the Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital in Manila. The film is a searing eye-opener on the state of health care services for pregnant women and lactating women.

5. Cuchera - The in-your-face shocking images linger
in your mind. This raw, unrefined film could have been a major contender had it not been for its similarity with Halaw. Instead of people being trafficked, illegal drugs are carried by mules inside their abdomen, sex organ, and rectum.

6. Bisperas - Prepare for more 'shit' from Jeffrey Jeturian. The film includes scenes, realistic and unrealistic ones, that seem to cater specifically to foreign film programmers. It is notable though for its spot-on indictment of Catholics who have lost their sense of right and wrong, and understanding of the concept of sin. The queues for communion during Sunday masses rival that of Cinemalaya box-office lines but when was the last time you see hordes receiving the sacrament of penance?

7. Shorts B - The hilarious Hanapbuhay jumpstarts this fine collection of short features. The hardworking Luis diligently scours the area to earn his living. He was even seen in another non-Cinemalaya short, Tingala sa Baba.
- Immanuel is a well-photographed science fiction about a family spending their last Christmas together
- Mikhail Red seems to have tightened his short feature Hazard for Cinemalaya 7. The film tells the story of a father and son having a bonding moment

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Cinemalaya 2011: Complete CCP & Greenbelt 3 screening schedules (grid format), Cinemalaya Goes to UP schedule, Festival passes…

The seventh edition of the Cinemalaya film festival is…
Broader – with exhibition features from several Asian countries
Bigger – with external venues at Greenbelt 3 in Makati City
Better – Hmmmm… There’s the seductive beauty of Busong, the acidic charm of Kano, the hilarious characters of Ang Damgo ni Eleuteria, and the entertaining gem of a film, Niño.

Click here for complete CCP & Greenbelt 3 schedules

Festival is too expensive?

Frankly, I don’t think the passes are expensive. Festival and flexi passes are good deals. The premium pass though is another story.

Festival Pass (PHP 2000)
- access to all 15 competing films (ie. 13 full-length films and 2 short features programs)
- access to 8 Netpac films
- souvenir program
- priority lane access to venues
So that is about 23 films. Below PHP 90 per film lang po.

Flexi Pass (PHP 3000)
- access to all 15 competing films (ie. 13 full-length films and 2 short features programs)
- access to 8 Netpac films
- access to 8 Exhibition films of your choice
- souvenir program
- priority lane access to venues
So that makes it 31 films. Slightly above PHP 100 per film lang.

Mahal pa rin and Cinemalayo for residents north of Pasay and Makati?

Both concerns are shot down when the fest goes to UP Diliman. Price of an admission ticket goes down to PHP 80. The atmosphere at Cine Adarna may not approximate the helter skelter at CCP during festival days but it is still a nice place to watch the entries. The mostly Quezon City-based students are an enthusiastic audience and they really get into the films. There might be a Q&A with filmmakers after every screening.

Cinemalaya Goes to UP Diliman sked

July 26, Tuesday
5:00 PM Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa (Alvin Yapan, Jean Garcia) - Highly recommended ***
8:00 PM Ang Babae sa Septic Tank (Chris Martinez, Eugene Domingo)

July 27, Wednesday
5:00 PM Amok (Lawrence Fajardo)
8:00 PM Bahay Bata (Diana Zubiri)

July 28, Thursday
5:00 PM Cuchera (Maria Isabel Lopez)
8:00 PM I-libings (Rommel Sales, Glaiza de Castro)

July 29, Friday
5:00 PM Niño (Loy Arcenas) - Highly recommended ***
8:00 PM Ligo Na U, Lapit Na Me (Edgar Allan Guzman, Mercedes Cabral)

August 2, Tuesday
5:00 PM Teoriya (Alfred Vargas, Sue Prado)
8:00 PM Bisperas (Jeffrey Jeturian)

August 3, Wednesday
5:00 PM Isda (Adolfo Alix Jr)
8:00 PM Busong (Auraeus Solito) - Highly recommended ***

August 4, Thursday
5:00 PM Shorts A (Includes Emerson Reyes' Walang Katapusang Kwarto)
8:00 PM Patikul (Joel Lamangan)

August 5, Friday
5:00 PM Shorts B (Includes Hanapbuhay, Immanuel, and Hazard)
7:00 PM New Breed (Best Picture)

9:00 PM Director's Showcase (Best Picture)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Rizal sa Dapitan (1997, Tikoy Aguiluz)

Jose Rizal was a gambler who regularly played the lottery in Spain. He thought that a possible win may help big time in having his book published. It was only later that he won a large prize from a Spanish lottery. The winnings were used in purchasing hectares of land during his exile in Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte. The place holds the distinction of being a Heritage Zone mostly because of the innumerable Rizal tangibles and intangibles.

Rizal sa Dapitan, an award-winning film by director Aguiluz and scriptwriter Jose Lacaba, gives us a restraint account of Rizal’s stay in that small town from 1892 to 1896. It features arguably the best Rizal performance by a movie actor (Albert Martinez). The movie may be of worth even for those who are already well-versed in Rizal’s life. There may be a surprise, or two, left for the Rizal enthusiasts.

A well-loved doctor, Rizal’s legacy goes beyond his clinic. He creates the town’s water system, organic gardens, and fruit orchards. He made improvements to the town plaza by planting trees. He is a firm believer in education. Not only did he build a school for the children but he also teaches the kids in the afternoons.

This strong belief in education is one of the reasons why he rejects the idea of revolution as broached by Pio Valenzuela. Jose Rizal (Albert Martinez) believes that the Filipinos are not yet ready for independence. He may be a gambler but he is not a fool to push his ill-armed and ignorant compatriots to wage war against the Spaniards.

Rizal’s honor and integrity is severely tested when friends and allies coerce him to escape. He refused saying that he gave his word not to leave the place illicitly.

It is in this idyllic town that he meets Josephine Bracken (Amanda Page). The film shows the couple having a mock wedding because the Spanish parish priest will not accede to their marriage. They eventually became live-in partners. It is not entirely a rosy affair in the beginning. There is a scene wherein Rizal confronts Bracken about some rumors that cast a bad light on the character of the lady. The heated argument may have led to Bracken giving birth prematurely to a stillborn baby.

Rizal as a father? Yes, he is the father, not of Adolf Hitler, but of Francisco Bracken Rizal. And, he is also rightly called the Father of our Nation. He takes pride in being part of the Los Indios Bravos. He calls for reforms that will in time pave the way for complete independence of the Filipinos. His determination to forge a nation with common aspirations and ideals makes him the First Filipino.

Watch the film and be proud seeing Jose Rizal used his immense talents and skills to great use. Poet. Sculptor. Surveyor. Engineer. Naturalist. Surgeon. Farmer. Educator. Businessman. Nationalist. The list goes on and on…

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Tree of Life (2011, Terrence Malick)

To be happy is to love…

The extraordinary, scintillating, and cathartic film bombards us with beautiful scenes of love: Children playing happily on the streets… A lad comforting a crying brother… A mother doling out advice to her three sons… Father and son collaborating on a musical duet…

Those halcyon days are long gone for a middle-aged executive named Jack O’Brien (Sean Penn). He glimpses back at the best of times but remembers mostly the worst of times.

Where were You?

A family outing turns into a lesson about life’s dark side. The religious lad asks the Lord, ‘why did a boy have to die?’ His dad, who prefers to be called father, decides to prepare his sons to get adjusted to the real world. It is a world fraught with dangers and evil people. He teaches them how to survive.

The tranquil family life is regularly shaken up with marital conflicts. These shouting bouts soon escalate into physical abuse. These latter events serve as trigger for the lad to have an intense hatred for his father. He releases his pent-up emotions through delinquent acts. He indulges in torturing frogs by tying them up in rockets. He blasts off the pointer finger of his little brother.

In his current state as a top executive, he tries to get a grip on his failed relationship with his father. He still looks up to the sky as if seeking for answers to his questions. (Director Malick is famous for his sky scenes and one of the most memorable is this film’s picturesque skyscraper scene blackened by a swarm of insects).

His father, Mr. O’Brien (Brad Pitt), is just like most parents who wish only good things for their kids and loved ones. They try to send their children to prestigious schools and provide them with the best food and shelter they can afford. They pray daily for the Lord to deliver them from evil and accidents. But, no matter how sheltered they are, the kids eventually get to face bullies, rumor-mongers, despicable ones, and low-life scums. How will religious, loving kids, who haven’t experienced traumatic events, react to evil things?

Mr. O’Brien’s approach is to toughened out his kids. He hones their boxing skills and teaches them to fight back. Jack obviously is a good student as he gets to make it to the top of a cut-throat world. But, it is a lonely world. There is a scene showing him all alone in a landscape that seems to be out of this world.


Amidst the search for answers, that word suddenly crops up in Jack’s mind. It will turn out to be one of the most important advices handed out by his beloved mother.

Corollary to love being the road to happiness, forgiveness is the key to surviving in an unfair world. Some people will ultimately disappoint and hurt you. The key factor is not to hold a grudge and just to forgive them. Enemies are not vanquished through fighting. They disappear when you love and consider them as friends or loved ones.

This Palme d'Or winner reminds critics of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey because of the creation scenes, wordless segments, monolith-like door in the alien landscape, life flashbacks, and the use of classical music, among other things.

Malick’s film though reminds me more of Sari Dalena’s magnificent short film The White Funeral. The lahar-ravaged landscape, erupting volcanoes, sins engulfing hearts of people, and the themes of forgiveness and rebirth are just some of the major images and topics also dealt with in The Tree of Life. The two films also feature powerful, memorable music scoring and sound effects. Both films have given me by far some of the most inspiring and uplifting cinematic experiences in my life. I can’t wait to see them again.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Jose Rizal movies: Screening schedules

Haven't seen Gerardo de Leon's epic Noli Me Tangere? In a few days you'll get your rare chance to watch it.... on the big screen!

SM Cinemas, Goethe Institute, and the Cultural Center of the Philippines join the nation in celebrating Jose Rizal's 150th birth anniversary with a simultaneous nationwide screening of the classic movie. The early morning screenings at SM Cinemas are for FREE.

Click here for SM Cinema sked (Jun 16 - Jun 21)

Can't wait for de Leon's Noli Me Tangere? Then catch Eddie Romero's take on Rizal's first novel. The 13 television episodes will be shown at the Cultural Center of the Philippines' Dream Theater. Admission is FREE.

Dream Theater, CCP Sked:

Eddie Romero's Noli Me Tangere (made-for-television)

Jun 15, Wed
9:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Jun 16, Thu
9:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Jun 17, Fri
9:00 AM - 4:00 PM

If you'll ask me what Rizal-related movies I highly recommend, then the Sisa movies are on top of my list along with Bayaning 3rd World. Mario O' Hara's enchanting, sexy Sisa and Gerardo de Leon's masterful Sisa will be screened back to back this week at UP Film Institute. Admission ticket is PHP 35.

Videotheque, UP Film Institute Sked:

Jun 16, Thu
Gerardo de Leon's Sisa - 5:00 PM
Mario O' Hara's Sisa - 7:00 PM

Jun 17, Fri
Gerardo de Leon's Sisa - 5:00 PM
Mario O' Hara's Sisa - 7:00 PM

Jun 18, Sat
Mario O'Hara's Sisa - 2:30 PM
Gerardo de Leon's Sisa - 5:00 PM