Saturday, August 29, 2009

What's in store for CINEMANILA 2009?

The 11th Annual CINEMANILA International Film Festival kicks off a brand new decade in its new home – Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. This year’s festival will once again celebrates the best of Philippine and World Cinema in an 11-day event, running from October 15-25, 2009 at the Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, Philippines.

First showcasing Cinemanila Film Festival in 2003 with Lifetime Achievement Awardee Christine Hakim, CNN will give due recognition to Cinemanila for the 2nd time around. In addition, there will be a Global Broadcast for a Global Cinemanila. A joint collaboration between CNN International and the Asia-Pacific Screen Awards, the popular Scene by Scene television series will introduce the 11th Cinemanila International Film Festival on October 2009 to a worldwide audience.

Aside from parallel competitions for full-length, short and documentary films, there will be distinct exhibitions, tributes, marathon showings, outdoor screenings and other special events. Master Classes, seminars and workshops will also be held during the festival and will cover subjects and issues on independent filmmaking. Directors, producers, critics and actors throughout Asia, Europe and North America will be invited to attend this 11-day event at the Bonifacio Global City.

Cannes Palme d’Or Best Director Brillante Mendoza heads the Main Competition Jury of this year’s Cinemanila International Film Festival.

The association between the festival and the world-renowned filmmaker goes way back, as Cinemanila was one of the very first to give Mendoza recognition. Back in 2006, Cinemanila awarded Mendoza the coveted Lino Brocka Award for his film, Manoro. Mendoza was also the Director in Focus during the festival’s momentous 10th edition last year.

This year, the City of Taguig and the Cinemanila International Film Festival give recognition to machinima with the launch of the Cinemanila Machinima Film Festival – the first event of its kind in the country. The contest is open to all individuals or groups, whether amateur, professional or independent. All entries should be in by September 21. Entries can be submitted online at

A portmanteau of “machine cinema”, machinima is real time animation that relies on in-game artificial intelligence and digital puppetry. The first widely recognized machinima film, Diary of a Camper, was based on id Software’s Quake. The 100-minute short showcases the video game’s action and gore but in the context of a brief story. Another landmark machinima film is the Emmy Award-winning 2006 episode of South Park, “Make Love, Not Warcraft,” featuring manipulated footages from Blizzard Entertainment’s widely popular MMORPG, World of Warcraft.

Modern filmmaking gains new meaning with the onset of Machinima – a process that utilizes video games to produce short films and music videos. Since gaining mainstream attention in 1996, Machinima has since been heralded as one of the most groundbreaking movements in modern cinema.

for details on the goings-on at the upcoming festival, go to the festival's website at

Thursday, August 27, 2009


A Landmark Sci-fi Film that will be Remembered for Generations to Come
By Reymundo Salao

28 years ago, a gigantic alien mothership appeared over Johannesburg, South Africa. Everybody's expectations were off track, as the world was surprised that this ship was filled with aliens who were malnourished, sickly, and disoriented. These aliens were given a refugee camp just below the hovering, immobile mothership, a camp which is referred to as District 9, which houses all these aliens on Earth. After 28 years, the intolerance over the alien presence has ran out and these aliens have become a pest to the human society around District 9, and the humans begin to exercise prejudice against the aliens and employed a manner of segregation that will finally evict these aliens into a camp farther from the main city.

It has been called Monumental, Groundbreaking, and a True Instant Classic (and has been given a “Better than Sex” rating by It is only in very rare moments when we get a sci-fi movie this good. One that is destined to be embedded in the annals of cinema. DISTRICT 9 is a work that is original in all aspects, in storyline and in cinematic style. This is sci-fi grounded in reality, by creating a scenario that this might have happened in real life. Just like the short film from which it was based on (entitled “Alive in Joburg”), the director employs some documentary-style filmmaking (mockumentary is the exact term for the style actually, as was used in movies like The Blair Witch Project, & This is Spinal Tap) In effect, the movie creates a scenario that makes all these things in its storyline very realistic. Right from the beginning of the movie, you are being drawn into a realistic “what if aliens did actually land on Earth” situation, which is very effective. It should be noted, however, that the mockumentary aspect is only in some parts, and eventually reverts into being a story that focuses on characters faced with certain situations.

District 9's main character is a very flawed character. He is not exactly morally upright, he's clumsy, and oftentimes annoying. In obvious reasons, he even is a selfish character. An unlikely protagonist, but is a very efficient plot device to spice up the story. Most movies these days are just very predictable, but District 9 is not like that. It is very unpredictable. I myself was buzzed with its tense atmosphere because you really do not know what will happen next and you have no idea what will be the fates of these characters in it. As the film unfolds, you realize that the humans aren’t exactly as nice as we may wish to think of ourselves to be. We begin to see how the humans are very prejudiced, and often cruel to the aliens. Then we are led to a scenario where we see the aliens go through a maltreatment that is horrific and disturbing. What is likewise horrific and disturbing is that these things could and would make sense in reality as to how we humans and our institutions work. Sure, we see aliens in this movie, but they may well be a metaphoric representation of the Jews during the World War 2 era when they were being victimized by the Nazis. These aliens may be metaphoric representations of the victims of Apartheid, and of other racial and xenophobic injustices that actually occur in many parts of the world. And the message has quite an emotionally impact. There is a point in the movie that makes you root for the aliens and wish that the first 30 minutes of the movie Independence Day would just happen all of the sudden. But if Blomkamp did want to send out a message about prejudice and humanity, he was doing it effectively in a subliminal manner. The film was never ever preachy. It sends out an idea and a message, but it does not say it with boring academic ways, but does it via action and dramatic impact.

So after it gives you this mild social commentary, after it feeds you with profound stuff to ponder on and give you this slice of wisdom, the film immediately proclaims, okay, it is now time to see some glorious explosions and breathtaking action sequences. The movie has this cinematically ideal growing progression, from a dialogue-rich introduction, to minor suspense and thriller, and it leads up to a very spectacular action (a movie that you should watch right from the beginning to the end, and not just walk in the middle, out of sequence). The screen immediately becomes a war zone. Not only does this movie stand out as a good movie in terms of cinematic quality, but also by making a film out of a 30 million budget (which is a very small budget when we are talking about action-adventure Hollywood movies) and making it look like it was more than a hundred million dollar movie. The effects were more than effective, the creatures were photo-realistic, and the explosions were more than enough to fill your eyes with awe.

The best movies are always defined by how balanced it is. Movies that are almost perfect have that flawless balance of a really smart, really meaningful storyline, and spectacular eye candy. This movie really is a landmark movie in the history of sci-fi film history. This is the kind of movie that will still be talked about in film history for decades to come. This is your one chance to watch in the big screen a movie that will soon be remembered as a timeless classic.

Monday, August 24, 2009

District 9 Premiere Night at Robinson's Movieworld

Probably the best movie of the year, which is produced by The Lord of the Rings' director Peter Jackson and directed by Niel Blomkamp, DISTRICT 9 had its premiere night screening at Robinsons Movieworld, Robinson's Mall, Iloilo City August 24, 2009. This screening was sponsored by ABS-CBN Iloilo, M.O.R. Radio & the film is distributed by Viva Entertainment.

I was invited at this evening's premiere night screening &, my God, I confirmed that this movie is indeed one big gold standard movie. It confirmed that this is easily THE best movie I've seen this year so far. I thought both Star Trek and Up would go neck-to-neck at being the champion. But I was wrong. District 9 does crush them right past. I have yet to finish my full review of the film, but for now I can clearly give you an idea of how good the film is, it is a balanced mix of a great storyline and amazing action. Almost flawless. It is a landmark in sci-fi film history. This is the kind of movie that will be remembered for decades. And you should not miss it when it opens this week, specifically opening on Wednesday, August 26, 2009.

[special thanks to Maam Josephine Ong & the staff of Robinson's Movieworld]

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The LAST JOURNEY of NINOY to be shown this sunday

In remembrance and in commemoration of Ninoy Aquino's Death Anniversary, Unitel Productions with the Benigno S. Aquino Jr. Foundation (BSAF) presents a docu-drama entitled "The Last Journey of Ninoy" which details the last few days of the former senator, as he decides to take the dangerous and courageous return to the Philippines which led to a death which was the spark that began the People Power Revolution. This film is directed by Jun Reyes and stars Benigno "Bam" Aquino IV in the role of Ninoy. (check out an article of Bam's role in this project: CLICK HERE for that article)

The film was originally slated to premiere on August 4, but was postponed when Ninoy's wife, former president Corazon "Cory" Aquino, passed away on August 1 due to cardiac arrest.

THE LAST JOURNEY OF NINOY will be broadcast simultaneously on TV (the ABS-CBN TV network with ANC, ABSCBN Channel 2 and TFC) and through live Internet video streaming on August 23 (Sunday) 10:30 PM.

Singer is remaking EXCALIBUR... Singer the Remake-meister???

Singer is remaking EXCALIBUR (too)???

Warner Bros. and Bryan Singer are unsheathing "Excalibur," redoing the 1981 John Boorman movie about King Arthur and the Knights of the Roundtable.

The project is still in the early stages, with Warners only tying up the remake rights, which it shares with Boorman. Singer's involvement is still in the talking stage and Legendary Pictures may come aboard the project.
[read the full article from the Hollywood Reporter]

Bryan Singer, the Remake-Meister?

So Bryan Singer is remaking EXCALIBUR
But waitaminute... isnt Singer doing a Battlestar Galactica Remake as well? In the midst of the success of the NEW Battlestar Galactica series which has relaunched and has spawned a new horde of followers, Singer wants to do the same stunt as he did in the Superman genre? ...satisfying his devotion for nostalgia, taking a potential fictional material, and instead of making something new with such material, he makes an homage of the old stuff he used to love...?

Sure, there are some materials out there that were remade excellently. Dawn of the Dead was one. And we've also seen homages done well too. Kill Bill was a movie that took more than one genre from the good old days and re-used them to be appreciated by a younger generation. It's really not easy to claim that all remakes and homages are bad. But Bryan Singer's Superman Returns should have been evidence enough to keep Singer away from remake projects.

"Oh this guy is a Bryan Singer hater!" No. In fact, I am a big fan of Singer when he made Apt Pupil, & The Usual Suspects just blew my brains off in devotion for this guy. But just like Tim Burton & his shitty Planet of the Apes, not all film idols are flawless.

Remaking John Boorman's "Excalibur" ...really? It's not as if John Boorman owns the rights to King Arthur's story? Come on, we all know that there will be changes made anyway. So why call it an "Excalibur" remake. Why not call this project an "Untitled King Arthur story"? While I'm crossing my fingers, I am assuming that it actually is not exactly an Excalibur remake, and more of just a fantasy-based King Arthur story. Producers have indeed expressed that this will be different from the Clive Owen-starred King Arthur movie. And in my opinion, they're probably using the "Excalibur remake press release" in order to cash in on the popularity of "Excalibur" and to explain their creative approach on this particular Arthurian movie in the simplest manner-- "Exacalibur Remake"

Galactica & Excalibur, damn that Singer... If you thought those Singer Remake stories were amusing, hey, there's another remake movie he's attached to as candidate for director---The Remake of "Jack the Giant Killer"

Let Routh play Jack!

Bryan Singer to take on BATTLESTAR GALACTICA

It was initially reported by Entertainment Weekly that Bryan Singer is signed on to direct a feature film version of Battlestar Galactica, which isn’t expected to be a continuation of the most recent Ron Moore Sci-Fi channel television show, but instead a complete re-imagining of the original 1970’s series. Variety later confirmed that Universal Pictures has set Bryan Singer to direct and produce a feature version of "Battlestar Galactica."

It's not clear whether Ronald Moore, exec producer of the recent series, will be invited to write the screenplay, but Singer will clearly put his own creative stamp on the project, as the studio indicates that the film will be "a complete reimagination."

In late 2001, Singer was planning to help DeSanto produce a new Battlestar Galactica television series for Studios USA (now NBC Universal Television Studio) and the FOX network. Singer was scheduled to direct the mini-series which would have served as a backdoor pilot for a potential series. Speaking to Variety in February 2001, Singer said he was "confident that the Galactica brand is a sleeping giant. It was a show I watched during its initial run, from the pilot to the final episode. The essence and the brand name is quite potent in a climate where there's a great deficit of sci-fi programming." Despite his enthusiasm, production delays caused by the September 11, 2001 attacks meant Singer had to drop out due to his commitment to direct X-Men 2. FOX then lost interest in Galactica and Studios USA took the project to the Sci Fi Channel and a different production team. This resulted in the new Battlestar Galactica 2003 mini-series and 2004 television series.

Friday, August 21, 2009


“Up” on the Highest Level
[spoiler-free review]
By Reymundo Salao

“Up” is everything great and wonderful in a family movie. Before I lay down my very brief and ultra-spoiler-free synopsis, I’d just want to say that this is clearly one of the best movies of this year. It is literally “Up” there in the top three of the best films of the year, and this is an opinion shared by almost all the critics and all the audiences that have actually watched this movie. The most romantic, the most funniest, and the most adventurous movie, all in one package. The storyline is rich, prolific and wonderfully heart-melting, the humor is spot-on rib-tickling, and the fun factor is high “up”.

Basically, the storyline is about an old guy named Carl Fredrickson, who decides to go on an adventure that he feels he has missed out when he was younger; in one particular place in South America. So, he has turned his home into a flying house powered by balloons, and flies to South America. Unknowingly, this Cub Scout kid named Russel tagged along for the journey, and together, they ended up in South America, where they face an exciting adventure with a giant bird, a talking dog, and a crazy old stranger who has his own diabolical plans. I actually don’t want to lay down a detailed synopsis for this movie because it has other things in it that are just pure delightful surprise for its audience. Not only that, this has a storyline full of heart, and is surely more than just what we see in the trailers. As much as possible, I don’t want to tell you what’s inside the box; you have to open the big delightful gift yourself.

This is clearly Disney Pixar’s best animated movie; high “Up” in the entertainment factor, and high “Up” in the storyline aspect as well. Not only is this energetic kid fun, but it is also, at the same time, Pixar’s most mature storyline. In case you hadn’t noticed, Pixar’s movies consistently have been true to the legacy of being real modern day fairy tales. If you thought Wall-E and The Incredibles were groundbreaking, wait till you see “Up”. The romantic aspect of this movie is just purely tear-jerkingly lovely. I don’t care if you are Rambo or Chuck Norris; there are parts of this movie which will melt your heart and water up your damn eyes.

I don’t care if you are as killjoy as a Mother Superior, the fun factor of this movie is energetically good. The characters are memorably witty, the dogs are the ones that are most hilarious. Everything in this movie works, from the music to the plot, to the voice talents, and to the progression of the storyline. This is one of those almost perfect (if not actually truly perfect) animated movies ever made. “Up” is gold standard great movie.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Public Enemies

Exhibiting the Prowess of Digital Film-making
By Reymundo Salao

PUBLIC ENEMIES is about John Dillinger, one of the most wanted bank robbing criminals in the United States during the 1930s. It is set during the height of his notoriety as an outlaw, was considered one of the top public enemies at the time, and how he is being pursued by the law enforcers, specifically by Melvin Purvis, who was assigned to head a task force in order to hunt down Dillinger.

Let me just start off that Public Enemies is a ballistic-scorching hot action flick. I was really expecting this to be a bit boring since this is based on real events, but it really does give you a big bang of an action ride, and before you realize it, two hours and a half had already passed.

The movie is directed by Michael Mann who is one of the best action directors, and is responsible for movies like Heat, Miami Vice (he created the series & directed the movie), and Collateral. As in many of Michael Mann's films, there is a minimum amount of needless cinematic style. He usually employs high definition digital cameras, often giving the movie a very realistic feel. High-def digital sometimes come off as video sometimes, and creates scenes that look like they're off of a documentary. This is unusual for period pieces. When we watch American gangster movies set in 1930's, they are usually presented with some artistic visual filter. From the film noir grainy look, up to the over-attractive visual styles used in films such as Brian De Palma's The Untouchables. If you add the overdone cinematic style with the distinct look and culture of the 1930’s, it does make the era too beautifully cinematic, but you could not relate to it because it feels like its another world, it feels like you’re watching a movie set in the 1930’s.

Shooting his film in digital HD is bold in the sense that this has never been done before and I am really impressed by this approach because it gives the period of the 1930’s more life and it becomes relatable. When you watch the movie, it feels like you actually belong to that time period, it makes you feel and accept the environment that it creates. You’re not just watching the 1930’s; you ARE in the 1930’s.

The HD quality is also best appreciated in the gunfight scenes. When those tommy guns and submachine guns go off onscreen, it engulfs the whole theater, the loud crack bang crash that is just noisy enough for it to be sweet sweet music to action movie fanatics like me. Chaos that is pure joy. I advise you to watch this in the movie theater in order to get what I feel. It really is a shame if you watch it just in video, or from a bad pirated copy because you would have missed out on the overall bang effect of the movie. And the chase scenes are beautiful. There is an evening forest scene whish is just full of tension and where one of the cleverly rare stylish angles were used, specifically in a scene where Dillinger is chased by one of Purvis’ best agents.

The movie has a stellar cast. On top of the list are, of course, Johnny Depp as Dillinger, Marion Cotillard as Billie (Dillinger’s love interest), and Christian Bale as Purvis. No question those three are superb. The film also includes Stephen Dorff, Rory Cochrane, Giovanni Ribisi, Leelee Sobieski, Stephen Graham, and Billy Crudup all in secondary or minor roles. Even jazz mistress Diana Krall has a scene in the movie where she sings in a club. To all you giddy fan-girls, Channing Tatum is also in this movie, which I consider his best role as an actor because we see him for half a minute running scared, gets shot by Christian Bale, falls down on a bloody wound, chokes, and dies. Icing to the cake.

The movie is not historically accurate. In case you’re not familiar with Dillinger’s story, it would be wise for you to research about Dillinger. You will find that the movie clearly made drastic alterations in order to make the movie more cinematic. I am usually against this idea, but Mann has made a movie impressive enough to make me forget such protest. It is also clear that this movie gives Dillinger the heroic protagonist side, to the point that you never see him do anything negative, even the scenes where he robs banks come off as a sort of Robin Hood act. In addition to that is the love story between Dillinger and Billie Frechette, which defines Dillinger’s character as having a strong romantic side.

Overall, the film is a ballistically great gangster movie. It is more entertaining (not necessarily better) than Heat & Collateral. It has great acting, great action, and great effects. PUBLIC ENEMIES is probably THE action movie of the year.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

ALIVE IN JOBURG [the basis for the full-length movie DISTRICT 9]

You people may have already seen the trailer of the upcoming Peter Jackson produced, Neill Blokamp directed film DISTRICT 9 (if not, there's a link below this article). Well here's the short film from which DISTRICT 9 is based. It is entitled ALIVE IN JOBURG. Watch this short film. & Enjoy...

Alive in Joburg is a science fiction short film directed by Neill Blomkamp, released in 2005 by Spy Films. This film is considered one of the reasons that Blomkamp was offered the director's job for the upcoming Halo film. However, that film has since been put on hiatus. Instead of working on Halo, the producers (Peter Jackson, decided to expand Blokamp's short film with the movie DISTRICT 9.

If you ask me, it's a good thing that the film adaptation of HALO did not work out. This opened the opportunity for Blokamp to break into Hollywood with a project that is decently original rather than starting out with a reputation that is merely riding on an existing well-known property. With a movie like DISTRICT 9, this could possibly make Blokamp an instant "gold standard" director.
[check out the trailer for DISTRICT 9 here]

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Paramount did not show G.I.Joe Movie to critics

No go: Paramount won't show critics `G.I. Joe'

Source: Google News

"G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" opens Friday, but Paramount Pictures isn't screening the blockbuster for critics beforehand. Only a select few writers from blogs and movie Web sites have seen it for review — such as Harry Knowles, the self-professed "Head Geek" from Ain't It Cool News — and their opinions have been mostly positive.

Instead, the studio says it's intentionally aiming the movie at the heartland, at cities and audiences outside the entertainment vortexes of New York and Los Angeles. Paramount held a screening Friday for 1,000 military service members and their families at Andrews Air Force Base; it's also focusing marketing efforts in places like Kansas City, Charlotte, N.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

While appealing to a sense of patriotism nationwide, the plan also is inspired by the disparity that existed between the critical trashing "Transformers: Rise of the Fallen" received and the massive crowds it drew at the box office.

Read the Full Article here
This is very suspicious. Suspicious how many of these "selected" critics generally gave it a high rating. It would not take for one to have detective brains to make a wild guess... a guess that surely be offensive.

Personally I think they're trying to cover up the fact that their movie is bad. It's like a desperate move not to let the mass audience in general have the idea that this was given a bad rating by critics.

Devin Faraci from the film Web site is one of the few writers who have seen it for review purposes, says in his review: "If I was 10 years old, `G.I. Joe' would be one of the best movies I had ever seen."

It's like saying "you have to be immature to love this movie"

This project was hounded by bad news long before its release date. And actually, these marketing people behind it are doing a great job trying to cover their asses.

But that's all my opinion anyway. The movie opens this Friday. I had originally planned to boycott this movie, but friends of mine who are on vacation here in Iloilo insisted and said they would pay for my ticket. If that happens, I'll get you back & will let you know if it is indeed crap or not.