Wednesday, January 30, 2008


by Reymundo Salao

RAMBO was born out of David Morrell’s novel FIRST BLOOD, which was made into a movie. But while in the book, Rambo was more maniacal and killed off the policemen, the movie adaptation made some changes and made Rambo more defensive and avoided the killing of the cops. There is an alternate ending to FIRST BLOOD found in its dvd where Col.Trautman kills off Rambo, this was based upon the original ending of the book where the story ends when Rambo was dead. But the ending was changed and Rambo surrendered to Trautman. This was done, as Stallone said in an interview, that “it seemed like this terrible, nihilistic ending that just reveled in complete despair”

RAMBO is the kind of hero every audience could sympathize with. In the First Blood movie, he was a supposedly-retired warrior who just wants some peace. He was lonely and got pushed to the edge. In Rambo: First Blood Part 2, he was used and in the process lost his confidence and faith towards the country he serves. And in Rambo part 3, he woke up with the realization that he can never escape from being what he is: a full-blooded combat soldier and is forced to once again become the war machine that he is, in order to rescue his friend. In this fourth installment of the Rambo series, set more than ten years after his last war, regardless of his age, he knows fully well what he is; he knows that war is and always has been in his blood, and must not fight it. Rambo will always be a warrior; live for nothing or die for something.

While Rambo (2) shows the one-man fighting force of our hero, it was well within the boundaries of believability. The mistake was in Rambo 3 when the character of Rambo got too commercialized that even the movie itself felt like a superhero flick. In one interview, Stallone, who co-wrote the Rambo movies indeed have admitted this mistake, that is why this new movie “John Rambo”, goes back to the original core of who Rambo in the First Blood movie is, especially that he has aged, Rambo still kicks ass, but he does not necessarily defeat a hundred soldiers single-handedly. Just like the first & second movie, Rambo has to rely on his lethal wits. His knack for traps and ability to outsmart the enemy is his main weapon.

JOHN RAMBO (which is simply entitled “Rambo” in its US release) is almost 85% action and eye candy, what with its lush tropical setting. The 15% which is that of the storyline isn’t exactly perfect, and has some awkward dialogue. Nevertheless, the movie delivers a very decent sequel. But don’t take “decent” quite literally. You see, the violence may not be as “decent” to everyone’s taste.

The violence in this movie is vividly intense. One may even say that it is almost smut-violence. Scenes of slaughter, massacre and rape are horrifying. Hell may be the only description appropriate. Stallone, in an interview justifies that the gross violence in this movie is necessary to portray what is really happening in Burma. According to him there are even worse things there than what is seen on the movie. Indeed, the violence is so appalling that you feel that something has to be done to fix that country.
Likewise, the villains of this movie are so disgustingly evil that it makes the villains of the other three Rambo movies look like Mother Teresa. There’s even a scene where we see Rambo frown in sheer disgust over how “extra-evil” the main bad guy is (it’s an unpleasant surprise). It somehow makes you wish that there is indeed a real life Rambo out there that will teach these bastards a lesson.

It took a lot of time before a Rambo 4 was made. Stallone and his crew had to make an intensive research where on Earth Rambo could find himself fighting a war again. And in their research, they found out that one of the worst places on Earth where man commits hellish crimes against his/her fellow man is in Burma. Stallone, who wrote the politics aspect of the Rambo: First Blood 2 has indeed an eye for current events.

JOHN RAMBO was directed by Sylvester Stallone, who also wrote and co-wrote the scripts of the previous Rambo movies, except for First Blood. Stallone also did most of the directorial work for Rambo: First Blood part II; it was only ghost-directed by George Cosmatos. Stallone did a great job for this movie. It’s not exactly Academy Award material, but for an action movie, this has my thumbs up. I am a big Rambo fan. I grew up watching Rambo, and as a fan, this sequel does not disappoint. EXPLOSIVE THUMBS UP (although it’s not a movie for the faint of heart—or stomach) For the record, I watched this movie twice already, and I would not mind paying to watch it again.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Stallone's RAMBO (Interview with the Actor & Director) has cooked up a very interesting interview with Sylvester Stallone, the actor & director of JOHN RAMBO, the fourth installment of the Rambo/First Blood series

here are some parts of the interview

Stallone talked to about why he chose the Burmese-Karen civil war, which is still happening, as the political conflict for the storyline of the latest Rambo flick and what the challenges were of bringing back the iconic character. What happened to the shot where you punch the guy's head off?
Sylvester Stallone: I know, that's an optical confusion. What it was, was the knife and it was such a bad print, it looked like I punched his head off. No, that's the shot, absolutely. I kept reading blogs and said, "Guys, look closely. No one can punch someone's head off."

CS: Do you ever imagine a world where you shot the ending of the book "First Blood" and didn't have "Rambo" with you all these years?
Stallone: Yeah, I think about it all the time. I had that debate with Quentin Tarantino who thought I made a mistake. I said, "You know, on an artistic level, you're probably right." But at the time, I had spent a lot of time doing research with veterans and it seemed like this terrible, nihilistic ending that just reveled in complete despair. At that time, we had almost a quarter of a million Vietnam suicides. So I thought, do I want to just end it on that note? Or make him more of a victim who has been created to do a job, does the job, comes home, gets "You know what? You no longer fit in." It's like you train a pit bull. Take a dog, turn him into a killer, now what do you do? You've got to put him down. What happens if that pit bull gets loose? And you realize it's not as bad as you think. You can somehow redeem him. I thought that was more of an interesting story. Again, as Kirk Douglas says, "Not artistic, but commercial."

CS: Did you have to go back and watch the previous "Rambo" films to get back into character?
Stallone: Yeah, you know kind of just the ponderousness that comes with aging, the sense of weight, the sense of knowledge, knowing too much, the lack of naiveté which happened in my life, sort of set the stage for me. I wanted Rambo to be heavier, bulkier, that's why his first line in the movie is pretty negative. He's given up. He has nothing. The other Rambos I felt had a bit too much energy. They were a little too spry. I'm not trying to run myself down but there was much more vanity involved. Tank tops, it was all about body movement rather than just the ferocity and the commitment of what he was doing. This character to me is much more interesting. I like "First Blood" and I like this one, just like the first "Rocky" and the last "Rocky Balboa." Everything in between was kind of trying to figure out what I should do.

CS: Talk about the tone, can you enjoy the gratification with the realistic depiction of violence?
Stallone: If you notice over the opening credits, I had to live up to a certain kind of responsibility because people are dying as we're making the film. Therefore, to just have me running through the film doing these extraordinary heroics I thought would demean what they're going through. So they had to have their moment where you see a village that is decimated. That's what happened. As a matter of fact, it's even worse but I said, "I don't know if that other stuff would fly today. I think the audience really wants something that's hard hitting but has a semblance of reality." We went too far in the old days. We got away with murder. "Jump out of a plane? Well, I don't need a parachute. You use mine." And you made it. Somehow you made it. You landed on a convertible roof and you did it. I said no, this time I'm going to really show it and the violence has to be extraordinarily brutal because we see people beheaded on television. How much harder can you get? You cannot water it down, at least I didn't feel. That was a big bone of contention really. The other thing was do you do a film about a caper, like they wanted to have the corrupt CIA guy and he was trying to sell plutonium rods. I said no. The biggest and most interesting crises in the world is the human crises. It never gets boring. Just like Shakespeare. You don't need a gimmick. It's just man against man, just their intolerance of each other.

CS: How did all the production companies come in?
Stallone: I don't know any of them either. [Laughs] What happened was Weinstein came about 12 years ago. "Would you want to do a Rambo?" I said, "okay." He goes, "We've got this great idea where Camp David's attacked." I go, "I'm out." It just can't be. There's something about nature as part of the character. There's something about the primitive man. He's almost like an Indian. Set in the city, I just didn't think it would fly. So it died for 10 years, resurfaced. At one time, Mark Burnett was talking about doing it when I was doing "The Contender" and then that didn't work. Then I called Harvey Weinstein and talked about these missionary groups that were going to Afghanistan. I said, "This is interesting." No, never got called back on that. So Avi Lerner bought it, New Millennium. He was open to this whole idea. The thing was, I was going to do something about Mexico. Actually the whole Coyote Mexican, remember the people disappearing in Juarez and that whole world. So we went that way and I said, "No, not working. I need something more international." So I did research and found that Burma is one of the great hellholes on the planet. But no one knows about it. It's exotic and it's near Vietnam. The synergy was perfect so that's why.

CS: Discuss location scouting before the movie and the shooting conditions themselves?
Stallone: Funny you bring that up because the location scouting was truly hell. We had to go to places where we were not going to be so confrontational with Burmese agents that are all over Thailand and they're very, very sensitive to their image. Especially down in Mae Sai where people have disappeared. It's a serious situation. The Thais were very, very worried about their image so we decided to go up north to Chiang Mai, try to find something that would sort of be obscure to both of them. We wouldn't be in their faces but the locations themselves were so inland, sometimes we would have to use elephants to get inland. We spent days on the river. In the mountains would have been great to go up to these areas, but just something that felt as though this would be Rambo territory, would be as rugged as his life had been and bleak, but also serviceable for some of the actors who I didn't want to put them through the kind of hell that they had to be put through. But it was a lot of work. It took four different trips back and forth. 18 hours each way is a lot of scouting back and forth, a lot of jet lagging.

CS: How do you bring back someone else's franchise, "Death Wish?"
Stallone: I think "Death Wish," if it were done today, would be volcanic. The idea of Jeff Goldblum being a mugger who breaks into an apartment is very simplistic. It gives you an idea how bad the elevation of violence has become. I would focus on defense attorneys, I would focus on [the people] allowing this crap to happen – not so much the guy on the street, it's like who permits it. What if it happened to you, that your daughter was grabbed and her eyes were put out; would you want to sit there and defend that guy? So there's moral questions here that are being presented that have not been answered in 30 years. So by no means is it the pacifist [origin of the original]. Also, I see – I'll give you a little hint – he was a very violent human being, completely violent, an ex convict who walked the walk, was accepted back into society and did everything he could to be a [good person]. Like these thieves and junkies who now work on the side of the law, they've gone that way, but when something happens he reverts back to that guy. So now you've unleashed a man who really understands the world of violence; he isn't burdened with this passive-aggressive, conscientious-objector kind of thing. That's been done. It's like what happens when the wolf has gone from wolf to wolf in sheep's clothing back to the wolf. Now the fellow on the street has a problem because he knows how to deal with that kind of mentality because he was a prisoner. So it would be a different take [Laughs].

CS: How do you make "Rocky" and "Rambo" relevant today?
Stallone: If I were trying to go after a youth audience and trying to find something hip, using certain music and whatever, I think that would be pretty obvious and be rejected. There's some things that never change and are universal truths. As you get older, they become more and more apparent about how difficult life is and like the speech in "Rocky" about taking punches and life gives you punches. The young people who would support "Rocky" more than even people my age I think really enjoy and embrace those kinds of lessons. I think the lesson that is somewhat presented here, that war is hell and there is no winner ever and unfortunately people just have to find it out the hard way, will translate. And eventually after a man takes that journey, a woman takes that journey, you always hope that you can go back home, that there's still some gateway back to peace, peace of mind where you can start to rebuild. That's the only thing I hope works. I think it does work because they're just universal truths that never, ever change. No matter what society is, just everybody wants freedom, everyone wants peace of mind but it comes at a horrible price.

CS: Was it hard to bring the movie in at an R rating? Did you want more?
Stallone: I couldn't believe it first of all. When babies are being bayoneted, I thought this will never go. We presented it but I did have a caveat with the MPAA. I said, "Guys, this is happening today. If we're ever going to do something responsible where art has the ability to influence people's awareness, impact the lives of these people, don't dilute it. Don't water it down. It's got to be uncomfortable. It is uncomfortable. It's miserable. It's distasteful. It's horrifying. But if you're not going to do it, don't do the movie. Don't do violence light. It's just wrong. Don't cut away too soon. Just let it sit in. I want people to feel it." To their credit, they allowed this film to be as truthful as it could.

CS: What was the most challenging in making this film?
Stallone: Well, we had a crew in "Rocky" of about 60 people. There was 570. That's how hard it was to move through the jungle and everything else. It was the hottest temperatures in 94 years. They called it the burning season. I even wrote lines in there about when they're going up the river and it's always hazy and foggy. That was the burning season. The entire country's burning to the ground. They can see it from satellites. They had to send in military. It was just out of control. It was just burning and burning and burning their land. Every time we cleared it, people were just getting sick. There are 165 different snakes in Thailand, 90 that were poisonous. So we lived with the constant problem of people being bit. Centipedes which are the size of your shoe being found in your shoes. It was a rough, rough... Julie Benz coming from "Dexter" went, "What?" Welcome to action films. But it was extremely difficult. You know what it reminded me of? I was watching the making of David Lean's film, "Bridge Over the River Kwai," how much you just had to truck and use brutal manpower and get inland. There's nothing glamorous about it. I'd watch these men shoulder these giant generators and cut trails with a cigarette in the mouth, no shoes. You could never have done it anywhere else on the planet. Believe me, when we were starting to get all the threats from the Burmese, I said, "Can't we shoot this in Puerto Vallarta?" I tried, you don't know. You don't know.

CS: Are people surprised by your artistic motivations because the characters are so physical?
Stallone: I don't know if that's quite apparent but I know what you mean. If there isn't some kind of thought behind it, because muscles are easy. Anybody can do muscles. You just go violence, violence, violence, violence, action, action, action. But if you can find those little moments in between that connect to the people that aren't so physical, that's what takes the time and that to me is the challenge and that's what I love about it. Anyway, thank you.

you can find the full interview here

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Indie filmmakers urge MTRCB: Change rules reports (written by Marinel Cruz) that Indie Filmmakers urged MTRCB to change their rules because they’re lopsided, if not outdated.

This is what several independent filmmakers—troubled by the handing out of “X” ratings to their short films and documentaries—are asking the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), referring to its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR).

Aside from the documentaries, there were also other issues. Jimenez is the producer of Khavn dela Cruz’s short film, “Three Days of Darkness,” which also got an “X” rating for “prolonged sexual activities, including pumping scenes, masturbation and lesbian lovemaking.”

Quoting a three-member committee that reviewed the film, Jimenez said he was disappointed with the MTRCB decision that said the short film “has no redeeming value and is therefore unacceptable for commercial screening.”

Jimenez initially applied for a 15-day screening permit and got an R-18 rating. The film later received an “X” when Jimenez reapplied, this time for a five-year permit.

Paolo Villaluna, co-director of the full-length feature “Selda” believes the “political rule” in the Board’s IRR should be revised. “How many anti-Bush films have been made in the US this year alone? And they have TV hosts like Jay Leno making fun of Bush, but the government’s okay with it,” he said.

A portion in “Selda,” co-directed by Ellen Ramos, had to be deleted to avoid getting an “X” rating, said Villaluna.

The directors also appealed for a representation of the independent film sector in the MTRCB’s board membership. “The Board should have separate guidelines when it is dealing with the independent community. We now have a hundred indie films all hoping to be screened in theaters,” said Villaluna. “I hope the MTRCB will open its system to this new industry. In fact, it should be thankful because a huge bulk of the Board’s resources these days actually comes from the indie sector.”

read the full article here

Friday, January 18, 2008


By Reymundo Salao

With the showing of the indie Ilonggo film “When Timawa Meets Delgado”, this only means that we are indeed foreseeing a good future for Ilonggo filmmakers. Just some months ago, Joenar Pueblo also released for public showing his film “Dagyang”. We all know how independent cinema has proven itself to be better than big production companies. Indie flicks like “Kubrador” and “Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros” have all been made by independent film makers with little or no help at all from big production companies. While these movies have won awards from reputable film festival bodies like the Cannes Film Festival and other foreign film festivals, Manila’s big production companies has done nothing more but make and remake the same old rotten expensive movies that do nothing but please their own manipulated film festivals. While these big Tagalog movies continue on destroying the reputation of Philippine Cinema, it is clear that the ones that will eventually save this reputation are the independent film makers.

The Indie film scene of Manila has already strengthened itself and has even made itself popular in some portions of Metro Manila. Meanwhile, here in Iloilo, our Indie Film scene was born some years ago with CINE ILONGGO and the films it produced. For a couple of years, it had a brief hiatus. But when Pueblo released “DAGYANG”, it jumpstarts CINE ILONGGO back, letting the public know that it has never gone away and has always been there.

It has been easier for artists to make films now because advances in technology had made filmmaking less expensive. It does not take anymore for one to be very rich to make a film; it only takes a camera and a great degree of talent. On the other hand, there will always be ruthless critics. There will always be people who will never give the slightest appreciation for the raw approach of indie filmmaking. They will complain that these indie films look cheap, or they will complain that they are boring, uninteresting, and unexciting. But we must also keep in mind that many of the great filmmakers began in indie filmmaking. The Lord of the Ring’s director Peter Jackson started out with weird and cheap-looking indie films entitled “Bad Taste” and “Braindead”. Spider-man’s Sam Raimi also began with a cheap-looking weird flick entitled “Within the Woods” which he later remade into the 1981 cult classic “Evil Dead” (which later had a phenomenal Part 3 entitled “Army of Darkness”). These big directors all began with small quirky films. Despite their small budget, their talent shines; this has been taken notice by their audience and also taken notice by producers who have an eye for talent. Likewise, we may never know who among these independent Ilonggo filmmakers would someday become the next Peter Jackson or Sam Raimi. How would you know if you refuse to watch them? Them being Ilonggo filmmakers should be good enough reason to make you watch their films. I do hope that our local theaters here in Iloilo would continue on supporting Indie Films. It has always been a sort of wishful thinking of mine that Iloilo would make its mark as a place where great filmmakers would come from.

Let us support Ilonggo Films!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Screening Schedules this Week [01-16-08]

National Treasure: Book of Secrets
11:15 AM, 1:30 PM, 3:45, 6, 8:15 PM
Elizabeth: The Golden Age
11:15 AM, 1:30 PM, 3:45, 6, 8:15 PM
Death Proof
12:15 PM, 2:15, 4:15, 6:15, 8:15 PM
I Am Legend
11:15 AM, 1:30 PM, 3:45, 6, 8:15 PM
11:15 AM, 1:30 PM, 3:45, 6, 8:15 PM
When Timawa Meets Delgado
11:15 AM, 1 PM, 2:45, 4:30, 6:15, 8 PM

Martian Child
12:20 PM, 2:30, 4:40, 6:50, 9 PM
I Am Legend
11 AM, 1 PM, 3, 5, 7, 9 PM
11 AM, 1 PM, 3, 5, 7, 9 PM
National Treasure: Book of Secrets
11:20 AM, 1:45 PM, 4:10, 6:35, 9 PM
Sakal, Sakali, Saklolo
11 AM, 1 PM, 3, 5, 7, 9 PM
Elizabeth: The Golden Age
12:20 PM, 2:30, 4:40, 6:50, 9 PM
Death Proof
11:25 AM, 1:20 PM, 3:15, 5:10, 7:05, 9 PM

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

It's 2008 & we're back!!!


Thank God the MMFF is over. Don't get me wrong. I love Pinoy movies... but i don't like CRAPPY Pinoy movies. And there's no line-up of bad movies like the Metro Manila Film Festival... especially the recent one. If you want to patronize & support Pinoy Cinema, watch movies like Kubrador, Maximo Oliveros, & Blackout... their dvds have been released already, it's worth a purchase.

May I add that the only good movie in the MMFF is BANAL, which is directed by a TV News Reporter, Cesar Apolinario. Yes, this "newbie" filmmaker won over the other has-been (overused) directors because those old directors are never any good at their craft anyway (how many million times more can we endure Joel Lamangan direct badly made movies or see Bong Revilla as some overweight action hero). Cheers to Apolinario! May he get better in his craft!

Anyway... MY APOLOGIES because THIS SITE HAS BEEN inactive for the past weeks, mainly because of the MMFF which this site abhors & thinks of as a breeding ground for movies that destroy the reputation of Philippine Cinema.

SO now, without any further bullshit, we're back...