Showing posts from December, 2012

PIETA (Kim Ki-duk, 2012)

At first glance, Kim Ki-duk's 18th feature PIETA makes itself known as something not easy to watch. A loan shark, Lee Kang-do (Lee Jung-jin) cripples debtors who are unable to pay money in order to collect from their insurance policy. Cold and brutal, Kang-do goes about his business without penchant for mercy or reason. 
Kang-do's balance is shaken upon the arrival of a mysterious woman (Cho Min-soo) claiming to be his mother who abandoned him at a young age. At first, Kang-do resents the woman and the fact that he may have a shot at redemption with the presence of a blood relative. However, things turn really interesting as Kang-do is disarmed by the woman's persistent demeanor, imposing upon his routine until Kang-do is unwittingly emotionally attached. Suddenly, Kang-do decides to dissuade from his path of unrighteousness. 
Told in a relaxed but disquieting pace, filmmaker Kim Ki-duk peppers his story with a vicious treatment with the way he depicted the uneasy relatio…

THY WOMB (Brillante Mendoza, 2012)

A classmate of mine once joined a beauty pageant back in high school, and she was handed this question: "What is the essence of being a woman?"
The question was the mother of all cliches, but I remembered the essence of her answer by heart. She said, "the essence of being a woman is being able to give birth to a child, hold that child in your arms, and raise him." She won that pageant. 
Brillante Mendoza's latest cinematic offering revolves around that same idea. The title itself, THY WOMB clearly and categorically pinpoints motherhood, or rather the capability of a female human being to conceive and give birth to another human being. Along the journey, Mendoza also deconstructs the role of a woman, a mother, a wife, and a member of a particular community, where tradition is of utmost importance. In the lead role, superstar Nora Aunor is gripping as Shaleha, a Muslim woman living in Tawi Tawi with her husband, Bangas-An (Bembol Roco). What seems like a quiet a…

THE BOURNE LEGACY (Tony Gilroy, 2012)

Matt Damon made Jason Bourne so iconic that it is impossible, or rather a mortal sin to replace him with another actor. Imagine what the suits at Universal exclaimed when Damon said he won't do Bourne 4 unless Paul Greengrass is at the helm once more. 
But the franchise had to be saved, and what Tony Gilroy did with THE BOURNE LEGACY is quite an achievement, although not completely at par with the first three films. He managed to introduce a main character who's running away from the same CIA operatives that are Pontius Pilating their way into our consciousness, and one might say that Jeremy Renner's character Aaron Cross mimics the same struggles Bourne had to endure to fight for his life. They were both test subjects by the government that are easily expendable the moment the program goes haywire. As the new protagonist in the same Bourne universe, Renner is muscular, gritty and able, yet he possesses that certain gentleness evident even in intense situations. It wouldn…

CATNIP (Kevin Dayrit, 2012)

There is a big difference between obscure and cluttered. CATNIP, I think is too concerned with trying to impress with visuals, and verbal metaphors and what-have-you that the story is lost in translation. Some parts are funny, others sentimental, and maybe even shocking, but as a whole the film fails neither to impress nor to express. There's too much going on and too loose a narrative for a film that runs just a few minutes past the one-hour mark. The experience is like a Gaspar Noe feature sans the shock value.
Introvert Liv (Lauren Young) who has a history of family abuse finds comfort in seemingly perfect Cieca (Maxene Magalona). Told via a series of flashbacks, segment gaps, and way too much figures of speech for one sitting, the story jumps from documentary to comedy to drama to psychological thriller. If for any comfort, Ramon Bautista's cameo is so outrageous you will remember it for eternity. 
Perhaps there's a target audience for this, what particular group of p…