Summer Hours (Olivier Assayas) **** - Three siblings argue and decide what to do with their mother's house and various properties after she passes away. It sounds like a bore but it's anything but. It's a beautiful, lovely, emotional film about loss, memories, family, the changing world and our changing lives. I found it melancholy but also quite life affirming and treats the subject without manipulation or cinematic sentimentality but still manages to be quite emotional. It's a lovely, unforgettable film.
24 City (Jia Zhangke) ***1/2 - I have
been watching a few films that combines elements of documentary and narrative
filmmaking lately. This one continues that trend. This film is a series of
interviews of a group of people who have worked in Factory 420 in the Chengdu
province of China which manufactured airplane parts. Some of the interviews are
from real people. Some of it is from actors. Apart of Joan Chen's segments (who
is excellent, her segments are the best in the film), I had trouble telling
which is which. Some segments of course are better than others. But the film
mostly works as a whole and it's gorgeously shot.
Rise of the Guardians (Peter Ramsey)
***1/2 - I haven't read the books it was based on but I do love the concept:
Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and the Sandman teaming with a
young whipper-snapper Jack Frost to defeat the Boogeyman. It falls slightly
short of being as amazing as the concept sounds, HOWEVER, the film itself is
still pretty darn good and features some GORGEOUS animation. Indeed, it's some
of the best of the year. It's not gonna replace Nightmare Before Christmas as a multi-holiday
animated flick but as it is, it's still a good time in the movies.
Genghis Khan (Manuel Conde) **** - This
Filipino film from 1950 was thought to be lost until quite recently when viable
prints were found in Europe and was restored. Featuring narration by critic
James Agee, this epic historical drama about the rise Genghis Khan may not be
completely historically accurate and the obvious low-budget at times show
(which, IMO, adds to its charm) but the film is wonderfully shot and at times
feels almost Kurosawa-like. Not a lot of Filipino films before 1970 still exists
and it absolutely feels wonderful that this particular part of our cinematic
EDSA XXX (Khavn de la Cruz) *** - I
don't feel completely comfortable reviewing this film since what I saw was a
work-in-progress version shown out of competition at a Filipino film festival.
The best way I can describe this film: Imagine Alejandro Jodorowsky was Filipino
and made a sci-fi/political satire/musical. It's as bizarre as it sounds but, as
it is, very enjoyable, breezy romp. It's set in a futuristic dystopian
Philippines (now renamed Ek-Ek-Ek) where it's revealed four aliens are actually
controlling the Philippine presidents. It's shot very low-budget completely on
the historical island of Corregidor. Its strangeness is both an asset and a
liability. Some of the stinging satire may be lost on some people. But the songs
are pretty darn good and even in its unfinished state, it's made with a lot of
passion and love.