Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

CineManila Film Festival Roundup

The 10th Annual CineManila Film Festival concluded recently. Due to time and budget constraints, I was not able to catch more films in the festival but I managed to catch nearly all of my "first priority" films so to speak. Here's the rundown of all them:

Sparrow (Johnnie To) *** - This is the first Johnnie To film I've seen and based on what I've seen, most likely not the last. The lives and modus operandi of a quartet of pickpockets get turned upside-down when a mysterious woman infiltrates their ring. It's quite an engaging, thrilling and funny (but a bit thin) story features some really awe-inspiring filmmaking (an action scene with umbrellas? Holy crap).

The Band's Visit (Eran Kolirin) **** - I'm so glad I was able to catch this film. An Egyptian police orchestra in Israel gets lost and find themselves temporarily stranded in a small Israeli town. A simple yet funny and poignant film that reminds us how great it is to be alive and to be part of the human race. Features some great performances as well including Ronit Elkabetz (who was sensational in another Israeli film I've seen, Late Marriage)

The Diving Bell and The Butterfly (Julian Schnabel) **** - Finally! One of the most highly regarded films of 2007 gets a screening. I can see why it's so highly regarded. This beautiful film about Jean Dominique Bauby editor of Elle Magazine who was on top of the world until it came crashing down on him when he gets a stroke and acquires "locked-in" syndrome. The tale is moving, inspiring and thought-provoking yet not one bit sappy or overtly manipulative like films of this sort tend to be. Great work by Janusz Kaminski giving the viewers a taste of Bauby's P.O.V.

Bayan Ko: Kapit Sa Patalim ("My Country: At Razor's Edge") (Lino Brocka) *** - I saw at an invitation-only screening at the CineManila Film Festival. It's from the 1980's and the most complete version of the film in existence. It was made during the Marcos regime and was banned (and for good reason since it's extremely critical of the government at the time). A tragic, very well-acted saga of a man who's simply trying to make ends meet for his wife and newborn baby. I strongly prefer Brocka's other works (Insiang and Maynila sa Kuko Ng Liwanag) but this one's still well-worth checking out.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


I know it's a bit late. But hey, he's one of the greats.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Top 10 Lists: 2007

10. Zodiac (David Fincher)

09. Away from Her (Sarah Polley)

08. Persepolis (Marjan Satrapi & Vincent Parronaud)

07. Into the Wild (Sean Penn)

06. We Own The Night (James Grey)

05. Ratatouille (Brad Bird)

04. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Cristian Mingiu)

03. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Tim Burton)

02. No Country for Old Men (Joel Coen & Ethan Coen)

01. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson)

And that is it. Those are my Top 10 lists from 1993 all the way up to 2007 (Click on older posts for the rest). Now, 2008 is still not yet through and I usually don't finalize my Top 10 until I've seen all the year-end releases and smaller, more indie/foreign films don't usually come to my country until early on the following year. Please do comment on any strong agreements or disagreements with them.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Top 10 Lists: 2006

10. Monster House (Gil Kenan)

09. United 93 (Paul Greengrass)

08. L'Enfant (Jean Pierre Dardenne & Luc Dardenne)

07. The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros (Aureus Solito)

06. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (Larry Charles)

05. The Departed (Martin Scorsese)

04. Volver (Pedro Almodovar)

03. Children of Men (Alfonso Cuaron)

02. Letters from Iwo Jima (Clint Eastwood)

01. Pan's Labyrinth (Guillermo Del Toro)

Top 10 Lists: 2005

10. Mysterious Skin (Gregg Araki)

09. Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (Nick Park)

08. Pride & Prejudice (Joe Wright)

07. A History of Violence (David Cronenberg)

06. The Squid and the Whale (Noah Baumbach)

05. Good Night and Good Luck (George Clooney)

04. Grizzly Man (Werner Herzog)

03. Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee)

02. The New World (Terrence Malick)

01. Cache (Michael Haneke)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Top 10 Lists: 2004

10. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring (Kim Ki-Duk)

09. Sideways (Alexander Payne)

08. Kill Bill Vol. 2 (Quentin Tarantino)

07. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Alfonso Cuaron)

06. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry)

05. Million Dollar Baby (Clint Eastwood)

04. Kinsey (Bill Condon)

03. Before Sunset (Richard Linklater)

02. The Incredibles (Brad Bird)

01. Bad Education (Pedro Almodovar)

Friday, September 5, 2008

Top 10 Lists: 2003

10. Mystic River (Clint Eastwood)

09. Whale Rider (Niki Caro)

08. The Triplets of Belleville (Sylvain Chomet)

07. Big Fish (Tim Burton)

06. Kill Bill Vol. 1 (Quentin Tarantino)

05. Finding Nemo (Andrew Stanton)

04. Raising Victor Vargas (Peter Sollett)

03. Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola)

02. The Son (Le Fils) (Jean Pierre Dardenne & Luc Dardenne)

01. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Peter Jackson)