Quick REVIEWS – Brave, Big Miracle, The Dictator, Cinemalaya 2012

The Brave, Big, Bitter & Bold
Reviews by Vives Anunciacion
Published Inquirer Libre Aug 1, 2012

Brave
Directed by Brenda Chapman, Mark Andrews

Princess Merida (Kelly Macdonald) dislikes her mother Queen Elinor’s (Emma Thompson) insistence that she should behave as a princess is expected to do and not go about the kingdom shooting arrows through the woods of ancient Scotland atop her mighty steed Angus. In fact, she hates her mother so much that she causes a curse to change her mother in a way that she did not expect to happen.

This is Pixar’s first animation to feature a female lead, and, had there been a charming prince and a lot of singing (there are basically none), this could be categorized as Pixar’s first Disney princess. The animation is lush and extremely detailed as is expected from every Pixar outing. Brave has strong morals on daughter-mother relations – a theme that doesn’t come often in family-oriented animations – but the narrative just lacks the depth of, say, Miyazaki’s Spirited Away. 

It’s obvious Brave wants to portray a heroine in a traditional male-dominated society, however, the portrayal is more of self-expression than an outright rejection of the status quo. Sounds like Slightly Brave to me.

Big Miracle
Directed by Ken Kwapis
Exclusively screening at Eastwood, Lucky Chinatown and Newport Cinemas

Big Miracle is based on true events that happened in Northern Alaska in 1988 when a community of Eskimos, a concerned TV reporter, a greedy oil company, an environmental activist, the US military and a Russian icebreaker all worked together to save a family of three gray whales trapped in the rapidly-forming ice. Drew Barrymore plays the environmentalist and John Krasinski is the reporter who discovered the trapped whales.

If you’re an animal lover, it’ll be hard not to get affected by the proceedings. Whoever thought of bringing beluga whales in tropical Manila should see this film pronto.

The Dictator
Directed by Larry Charles

Sacha Baron-Cohen’s latest satire is his 3rd that began with Borat and continued with Brüno. Cohen plays Aladeen, absolute dictator of fictional Republic of Wadiya, who is summoned to address the United Nations assembly regarding questions on his country’s nuclear weapons program.

The Dictator is relentlessly incorrect, politically speaking or otherwise. It’s often crass and lewd – the same brand of humor Cohen has been known for, though the film repetitively overstates its theme that true happiness can’t be obtained by absolute power and wealth. It’s not even as funny as Borat, but still has a few surprises and asides.

Cinemalaya 2012

This year’s Cinemalaya Awards is a confusing lot. I do know that Mes de Guzman shouldn’t have been in the New Breed category (where newcomers are supposed to compete in.) De Guzman’s Diablo eventually won the major awards in that section. He won an Urian for direction for Ang Daan Patungong Kalimugtong in 2006.

There’s another chance to seeing the Cinemalaya 2012 films when the festival makes its run at the University of the Philippines Film Center’s Cine Adarna in Diliman from August 1-14. Try to catch as many as you can, including all the Short Films.

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