Captive (Brillante Mendoza) ***1/2 - Director Brillante Mendoza's latest opus is about a group of people vacationing in a Philippine beach resort taken hostage by a fundamentalist Filipino-Muslim separatist terrorist group, the Abu Sayyaf. Isabelle Huppert plays a French Christian social worker. Just like with Mendoza's previous work, Kinatay, this is a challenge to get through. The film unfolds unconventionally, foregoing the expected narrative trappings and instead lets the film just happen, almost documentary-style (it is quite loosely based on a true story that actually happened). It's this structure that makes the film a trial to sit through, at times excruciating but people open to Mendoza's style (an increased budget allows him to be more visually gorgeous this time around) will find the film rather rewarding and thought provoking as both the hostages and their captors are humanized throughout. Not my favorite Mendoza film but a solid entry nevertheless. Huppert is of course predictably outstanding. It helps that Brillante is fantastic with actresses.
The Cabin in the Woods (Drew Goddard)
***1/2 - This got a theatrical release here but I opted not to see it since I
heard it was butchered by the distributors. I'm so glad I did. I can't imagine
watching this with the gore (and to a lesser extent, the nudity) toned down. But
beyond that, this film is a wonderfully clever deconstruction of the horror
genre, more so than, dare I say, Scream.
I don't wish to reveal too much of the plot. Part of the joy here is to let all
the unexpected twists and turns to unfold before your eyes. It's equal parts
funny and scary with co-writer and producer Joss Whedon's quality stamp all over