Life So Mundane in Batangas
Showing posts with label Movies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Movies. Show all posts

28 September 2015

Heneral Luna, Epy Quizon’s Mabini and Teaching History

Image captured from Heneral Luna official trailer on YouTube.

I finally got to watch the much talked about Jerrold Tarog film “Heneral Luna.” Those who have not seen the movie yet, it is definitely worth the bother. It is a hundred-fold better than your stereotypically formulaic Filipino movie; albeit I do not personally think it will be capable of winning an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

The battlefield scenes loudly cry out for ‘budget’ and ‘CGI;’ and while the primary actors delivered strong performances, the same cannot be said of the supporting cast. The American actors, in particular, looked like they were plucked from off the streets and gave performances that screamed ‘workshop.’

Heneral Luna is nonetheless far from being your cliché-ic historical fiction. It has elements of drama, action and gore to elicit powerful emotions; but lightens these up with whimsical irreverence at times to draw laughter.

Above all, it delivers a powerful message. That the Filipino’s greatest enemy is himself holds true more than a century after the war during which the movie is set touches a raw nerve in the contemporary Filipino.

I have no desire to turn this into a full movie review; so at this point, I turn everyone’s attention to Epy Quizon and his portrayal of Apolinario Mabini in the movie. Quizon gave a strong enough performance in the movie but he also looked a tad too mestizo on screen.

I would have preferred a Malay-looking actor if just to be true to the images of Mabini that we all gawked at in our high school history books.

But outside of the film, social media went gaga over a post that Quizon was supposed to have made about some college students asking him why he was seated for the duration of the movie.

If I was as historically challenged as those alleged college students and did not know that Mabini had lost use of his legs due to polio, I would not have noticed anything remarkable about Quizon being seated all the time.

First of all, Quizon’s character was arguably peripheral to the story; and second, I do not recall any scenes that made Quizon being seated seem out of place. In hindsight, perhaps a scene or two showing him being carried on a hammock would have been so much more useful to the historically challenged.

At any rate, all the attention that Quizon’s post received must have given the movie a new lease on life as it was close to being pulled off movie houses around the country but has since passed the PHP 100 million mark.

There was a whiff of hypocrisy to the way social media feasted on the alleged college students who raised the question about Mabini being seated. If indeed this happened, then yes, the students probably deserved the ridicule.

On the other hand, I taught History for nineteen years and I am the one not surprised. History is just not for everybody; and particularly so in the modern day when careers are built on a student’s strength in Mathematics, Science and English.

History is the cumbersome subject that by its nature requires plenty of reading and memorisation, things that are often beyond all but the most diligent of students. Convincing students of its relevance to the present is any History teacher’s most challenging task.

Creating national identity, of course, is why History is relevant. Most students will probably understand this principle easily enough; but it will nonetheless probably not make them exert the same effort in the subject as they will in what are generally regarded as the ‘major subjects.’

Thus, History is often relegated to the status of a subject one has to take because it is a course requirement; unless, of course, one is dead set on pursuing a degree in the social sciences. At least in the school where I used to teach, career preferences were often in favour of those in the Sciences rather than the Liberal Arts, of which History is a part.

What this creates is a ‘History lang’ mentality. Many History teachers will probably agree with me what a royal pain it is to have to explain to parents why their children failed in the subject; and precisely so because of this mentality even among parents.

I end with a word to those who feasted on the memes and other posts that ridiculed the alleged students who asked why Mabini was seated for the duration of the film Heneral Luna: I hope you did not snore through your History subjects while in school.

History is innately rich and wonderful to explore; but probably not because one has to pass a three-unit course but more because it gives everyone a crystal clear picture of who one really is. The present, after all, is what History creates.

Heneral Luna, the film, cannot be more explicit about this. More than a century later, we are still a bickering disunited people; and if the film touches a nerve, it is because it tells all of us the obvious: we, the Filipino people, need to get our act together.

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06 June 2014

Tom Cruise Provides Great Entertainment in Edge of Tomorrow

And because there was – yet again – another 8-5 scheduled outage yesterday, I did the sensible thing and went to the mall for a movie. As I usually do because I am not particularly fond of queuing up, I went for the opening show.

I actually wanted to see ‘Maleficent,’ but arrived at the movie house to find myself in something of a conundrum. I did not know that Tom Cruise’s ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ was already showing.

Chances were that I would find myself in the company of giggly teenagers with Maleficent; and because it was too early to be annoyed, I thought that Edge of Tomorrow would be the better way to pass the morning.


23 May 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past, A Review

Don’t anyone get me wrong. I liked “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” At IMDB, however, I only gave it a 7 even if its overall average rating from more than 15K viewers was a lofty 8.9. That is as good as I have seen viewers rate a movie on IMDB.

Perhaps, it was because I watched the movie’s first showing yesterday through noontime; but the truth was that there were moments when my eyelids were involuntarily starting to droop. If I am being honest, previous X-Men movies were probably faster-paced than this one.

Yet, thematically, this one is more than just a movie version of a comic book story and arguably has more meat to it than previous X-Men movies. This one has more of a thinking element to it.


19 May 2014

Godzilla 2014: Yes It is Better than the 1998 Movie

The only reason that I went to see Godzilla v. 2014 was because of the scheduled 8-5 power outage yesterday; and with temperatures averaging the previous days at 37ºC and electric fans incapacitated for the day, a trip to mall was a matter of survival. In the end, I have to thank the outage for my having seen the movie.

I actually liked it.

The immediate concern of anyone old enough to have seen the 1998 Matthew Broderick top-billed movie of the same title would naturally be if the story of this 2014 version would be the same.

It is not, thankfully. The 2014 version is reasonably better.


08 April 2014

Explaining Mel Gibson’s Pained Face at the End of the Movie Braveheart

Those of you who have seen the 1995 Hollywood historical fiction blockbuster ‘Braveheart,’ starring Mel Gibson as the legendary Scottish patriot William Wallace, will remember all too well Gibson’s pained contorted face while he was receiving punishment for high treason as the movie drew to a close.

Because what was shown in this scene was Gibson waist upwards with his chest exposed, it was left pretty much to the viewing audience to interpret what was actually being done to the character Wallace.

Gibson, who himself also directed the film, probably opted for caution in not being more explicit. Gibson’s facial contortions probably did not even do justice to the pain that the patriot Wallace was being dealt, as indeed this part of the punishment was perhaps too graphic to project onto a movie screen.


14 January 2014

Girl, Boy, Baklâ, Tomboy: Crap Story but Vice was Sensational

So yes, this has the makings of an epilogue because most everyone has seen the movie and this piece is of no use whatsoever as a review. And that’s the whole point; now that the movie has grossed over 400M, I did not want to be the one who missed out.

As Vice himself has repeatedly said, this is not a cerebral film and I totally agree. The storyline has as many holes as a fisherman’s net so that one gets the feeling that it was stitched together around a collection of punchlines instead of the other way around.

That said, the punchlines were good! I do not remember having watched a movie and totally forgave the idiocy of the plot.


30 October 2013

A Look at Thor: The Dark World

Don’t anyone get me wrong. As a snotty little boy growing up glued to one of those large by-now antiquated black-and-white television sets, Mighty Thor and Captain America were my favourite characters in the stop-go Jurassic animation style of the classic Marvel Superheroes.

But Thor the first movie never really worked for me; and I guess Thor 2 (The Dark World), now that I have seen it, hasn’t either.

My problem with the first movie was mostly with its almost lazy pacing and the way with which the sinister Loki hogged the story too much. In this era of sophisticated computer-generated effects, I also felt that the movie’s effects were rather lame in comparison to many of the other major productions.


28 August 2013

Highly Recommended: Matti’s On the Job

Finally, my lifelong search for a Filipino movie that will leave me at a loss for words for all the right reasons is over! Director Erik Matti, thank you for making ‘On the Job’ and raising the ante for the entire Philippine movie industry.

I am extremely picky about the Filipino films that I watch; and primarily because I would invariably leave the cinema disappointed and vowing never to see another local film again. Poor technical quality, dragging scenes, bad dubbing, overacting by the performers. These are my pet peeves about Filipino films.

But the greatest thing that has always turned me off about local films has been the inability of local producers to come out with something that is well thought out, believable and does not make the viewer think that watching it has been insulting to one’s intelligence.


16 August 2013

Ekstra: Faceless No More

So yes, I watched Ekstra. I will not be caught dead watching the other Star Cinema movies which are usually formulaic to the point of gag-inducing; but this was an indie film and an award-winning one at that. I wanted to see what the fuss was all about.

But naturally, before the movie began, there was an annoying group of noisy Vilmanians at the back happily chatting away. In fairness, they hushed down when John Estrada and Randy Santiago came on for the anti-camcording ad.

For an indie film, Ekstra’s cast is quite impressive. Vilma Santos, as everyone knows, is in the lead role whatever she has said in talk shows about being an extra for the first time in her career.


13 June 2013

Man of Steel: a Major Upgrade

No, Man of Steel is not an expensive remake of the 1978 blockbuster movie titled Superman which starred Christopher Reeve. Neither is it anything like the more recent Superman movies that promised so much but ultimately delivered far less than what was anticipated. Man of Steel, to put things plain and simply, is a must-see.

Of course, the movie will not win critical acclaim for a carefully thought out storyline or for intricacies in its plot. But it will have its audience holding its breath mesmerised by the fight scenes, awed by its visual composition and, when it ends, begging for more.

Of course, there are parallels to the original 1978 classic here and there. The movie begins at Krypton, a doomed planet where Jor-El and his wife find a way to send their newborn son Kal-El to Earth in a capsule and into safety.


25 April 2013

Watch Iron Man 3 in 2D!

Iron Man used to be my third favourite cartoon hero behind Superman and Captain America in an era of crude stop-go animation, a far cry from the sophisticated computer generated cartoons of the present day. I was, naturally, quite happy when the character was brought to life in the big screen by way of contemporary movie technology.

I cannot say, though, that I have always been happy with Robert Downey Jr.’s somewhat – and this, some may argue, is putting it mildly – egotistical interpretation of the Tony Stark character, the man behind the iron suit.

That said, big fan of CGI and special effects that I have always been, the spectacular imagery of the first two Iron Man movies has persuaded me to tolerate the Stark egotism, something I do not recall from the original cartoon series that I used to watch.


08 January 2013

The Impossible: an Astonishingly Powerful Movie

This movie “The Impossible” has got to be the best and most astonishingly powerful movie that I have watched in the last few years. Normally, when I watch a movie, I do not allow myself to get sucked emotionally into it, preferring as I do to critique its story for plausibility as well as examine it for its technical execution.

I could not do that with The Impossible, which just simply drew me in as though I was part of it rather than a critical spectator. The emotions that the movie elicited were so powerful that there were times while watching when I could feel my eyes begin to mist. I cannot recall the last time a movie did this to me.


28 December 2012

Vampire Stereotypes the Twilight Movies Laid to Rest

When a former player wanted to see me and was asking if I would be at home about lunch time the next day, I said I probably would not. I wanted to see the last of the Twilight saga. To which his mocking reply was, “Sir, you watch Twilight?”

If I am being honest, I am not really the Twilight-watching type. However, earlier this month, I got started with a passable copy of the first Twilight movie that I downloaded months ago but could not before that day bring myself to watch.


07 November 2012

Skyfall: A Non-Formulaic Bond Movie

Skyfall, first of all, is the Scottish estate where James Bond was born, raised and subsequently orphaned. And I always thought that 007 was English. Of course, I never really read the Ian Fleming novels; just watched the movies as everyone else did.

As a Bond movie, Skyfall is curious. In a manner of speaking, the movie is more about ‘M’ than it is about James Bond. For the benefit of readers who may never have seen a Bond movie before, M is the character which has been played in recent Bond movies by Dame Judi Dench.


18 October 2012

Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles is Great Entertainment

It is no secret that the Philippines is fast becoming a hub – if it is not already so – for computer graphics animators. That is why I went to see “Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles” to see if all the supposed expertise is finding its way into the movie industry.

I am not a fan of the horror genre; and, in fact, I am mystified that people think that being scared out of their wits is a form of entertainment. Tiktik, however, is not horror at all. I would place it more in the category of comedy-action.


14 October 2012

Taken Too (2): A Review

Those among you who have yet to see the Liam Neeson starrer ‘Taken 2’ better be forewarned. Watch this movie first before digging into your DVD collection for the original movie, ‘Taken.’

I watched the sequel not really sure if I’d seen the first one. As the movie started to play, bits and pieces of the story started to sound familiar; albeit, four years is a long time and I have probably seen hundreds of movies since the original Taken was released back in 2008.


26 September 2012

The Mistress: A Sort of Review

So ok; I watched “The Mistress,” big deal! Not my favourite genre, if I am being honest; but there was a scheduled power outage and rather than swelter in the heat, I went for a movie. “Dredd” and “Residend Evil” I had already seen; and I will not be caught dead watching “Pridyider.” So, I went to see “The Mistress.”

“Sabi ko sa ‘yo sa g’yera ako eh!” a male voice a few rows behind me complained to his companion to my utter amusement. Not that the option was available to me since I had already seen the two action movies showing at the mall. The gentleman had my sympathies.


03 September 2012

Indie Movie ‘Captive’ a Reminder of 2001 Dos Palmas Abduction

I am more than a little curious about this independent film “Captive,” which according to last night’s edition of TV Patrol was premiered in Metro Manila. The film is directed by Brillante Mendoza, whose film Kinatay (Butchered) made it to the Cannes Film Festival in 2009.

I cannot say that I know an awful lot about Mendoza; but I understand from some articles that I have read that Kinatay drew rave reviews in Cannes. Captive, from all indications, does not have the shocking rawness of Kinatay but is instead told as a chronicle of the actual events that the inspired the movie’s story.


28 August 2012

Total Recall 2012: Futuristic Entertainment

I had been seeing the Total Recall teaser on television; but I had not really paid it any attention. So, when I finally decided to go see it in a cinema yesterday, I was not sure if it was a remake of the 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger sci-fi classic or a totally new movie. Well, now I can tell you that although both are of the sci-fi genre, that is where the similarity ends. This 2012 Colin Farrell and Kate Beckinsale starrer is an altogether different movie.

There is something cliché-ic to the story being set in a world that man himself has destroyed and made uninhabitable. In the movie, though, two stretches of territory are left where humans continue to survive.


10 August 2012

The Bourne Legacy's Manila Scenes not for Tourists

If you have not gone to see The Bourne Legacy yet, well then make your plans. I am not about to spoil your enjoyment by telling you the story; but the motorcycle chase scenes alone along Metro Manila’s crowded streets will make the trip to the cinema well worth the bother.

I am normally patient enough to wait till a movie comes out in DVD or even until it is shown on HBO – but like most everyone else I was caught up in the hype surrounding this movie because parts of it were shot in Metro Manila.




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