Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, Snowden

Out of joint 

Call Tim Burton's latest his idea of an X-Men movie--a group of super-powered mutants aliens whatever, this time children hiding from a hostile world.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Free Range (Dennis Marasigan)

(The film will show at SM Davao Oct. 12 - 18, as part of the To Farm Film Festival


Dennis Marasigan's Free Range is what might be called an advocacy film, or a film made with a specific agenda or cause in mind--in this case a production initiated and partially funded by the ToFarm Film Festival to showcase the Filipino farmer (the entries had a brief run in Manila before swinging through Pampanga, Cabanatuan, Cebu, to end in Davao).

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Deepwater Horizon (Peter Berg)

Oil's well that ends well
The Deepwater Horizon was a specially designed ship meant to prospect in waters five thousand feet deep and drill for oil. I'd read about them back in grade school (far too many years ago), and for a science project tried constructing a model. The principle was simple enough: build a platform with pontoons capable of floating, bolt said platform to the sea floor (actually the bottom of an aquarium tank). If the pontoons are watertight and the bolts secure the platform is stable--buoyancy kept the chains tight, anchoring the platform against wind and rolling waves. I remember assembling the model out of wood and plastic, with metal rods and black tape to simulate the drilling tower; unfortunately the tank I used leaked, and the project was never presented.

So: semi-submersible dynamically positioning rigs--and a movie about the most famous such rig in history, with big explosions thrown in? Color me interested

Monday, October 03, 2016

The Woman Who Left (Ang Babaeng Humayo, Lav Diaz)

Vengeance is mine

Not content to sit long on his silver laurels Lav Diaz entered yet another film in yet another festival and this time struck gold--the Golden Lion in fact, given by the world's oldest film festival. 

The film's scope is smaller, focusing this time on a single woman rather than several groups, its milieu a more recent era (1997--Hong Kong had just been returned to China) rather than a crucial moment in the Philippines' past. But here again you sense that Diaz isn't just marking time--that he's shifted focus and approach from the mythical and broadly distantly historical to the personal and (somewhat) contemporary.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Kubo and the Two Strings (Travis Knight)

High strung

Travis Knight's debut feature (and Laika Studios' fourth) Kubo and the Two Strings functions (as does most of the moviemaking outfit's projects) as welcome alternative to the Pixar/Disney school of animation--darker and not without horrors.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Amok Time (Joseph Pevney)

For the 50th anniversary of Star Trek

Mad men

Fifty years! Fifty years watching and re-watching and poring over the minutiae of this '60s show by TV veteran Gene Roddenberry that lasted at most three seasons (that third almost universally reviled) featuring low-budget effects, cardboard sets, green-dyed women. Broke some ground with a racially diverse cast, was mostly forgiven for the somewhat misogynistic treatment of women (Short-skirted uniforms anyone?), was generally considered the most intelligent science-fiction TV series of its time (if we forget Dr. Who and The Prisoner). 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

8 Mile ( Curtis Hanson)

Bad rap

The title of Curtis Hanson's latest film 8 Mile refers to the avenue separating Detroit proper and Oakland County, and is one of its roughest neighborhoods. Hanson gets the look of the area right--the liquor stores, the gun shops, the closed-down factories and abandoned red-brick houses, even the spindly, leafless trees with branches groping for the gray sky (autumn doesn't seem to exist in Detroit). I spent a few years in that city, and found it fascinating to watch people walk the streets. They never seemed in a hurry to get anywhere, nor have a particular destination in mind; it's as if they simply needed to keep moving, otherwise they'd grind to a permanent stop--