REVIEWS – ParaNorman; The Captive; W.E.

Not ordinary
Review by VIves Anunciacion
Published September 11, 2012

ParaNorman
Written and Directed by Chris Butler, co-directed by Sam Feil

ParaNorman is about a misunderstood boy who can speak with the dead (voiced by Kodi Smit-Mcphee) who saves the town of Blithe Hollow from a zombie attack caused by a centuries-old witch’s curse.

ParaNorman is from the same company that brought us Coraline – you know, that children’s stop-motion animation with so much depth and darkness it’s good enough for adults. More importantly, ParaNorman takes a more progressive stance against the real-life issue of bullying (instead of the usual superpower revenge.)

Please, please see this movie with your kids. It’s animation with smarts and a heart. Good design and great music score, too.

The Captive
Directed by Brillante Ma. Mendoza

Mendoza is getting a lot of press today with his Venice Film Fest entry Thy Womb (Sinapupunan) starring La Aunor. The former Cannes Film Fest Best Director (for Kinatay) didn’t get raves with The Captive, a retelling of the abduction of tourists from Dos Palmas Resort in Palawan in May 2001 by the Abu Sayyaf. The hostages were held captive for little more than a year.

Mendoza tries to bring the audience into the thick of things with very in-your-face camera work and little musical cuing, but it is largely due to French acting superstar Isabelle Huppert’s raw portrayal of missionary Thérèse Bourgoine that keeps this show interesting. It’s Mendoza’s biggest project (Action scenes! Tanks! Hysterical crying galore from all female actors!) but it is actually less sophisticated than the film that landed him in the world map, Kinatay.

Except the Therese-Amir parts where we can see some authentic human dynamics, like its ever panning cam (or cut to B roll) The Captive is anonymous, random, ephemeral. A distant, uninvolved recollection of an event – and nothing more.

W.E.
Directed by Madonna

Believe it or not, this is Madonna’s second directorial debut (after the exercise that we shall call Filth and Wisdom (2008) back when she just split with Guy Ritchie.) Believe it or not, it’s not a terrible film – it’s better than many so-called-films that come out every year.

The story of the scandalous affair between Wallis Simpson (Andrea Riseborough) and King Edward VIII (James D’Arcy), and the parallel contemporary story of a woman Wally Winthrop (Abby Cornish) and a Russian security guard Evgeni (Oscar Isaac).

Musically luscious, cinematographically stylish, the costumes are sensuous and extravagant as only Madonna – through years of music video training – can imagine. Riseborough shines as the woman most hated by the fairy-tale loving world. Intriguingly, it has a coherent story – something local “directors” can’t seem to accomplish.

Lastly, CineEuropa 15 is ongoing at Shang Cineplex, Mandaluyong until September 16 this Sunday.

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