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No one certainly saw this coming, certainly not after the bloodbath Mendoza’s gotten from critics:

Brillante Mendoza of the Philippines on Sunday picked up the best director prize at the Cannes film festival for his dark movie “Kinatay”.

“Kinatay” (meaning “massacre”) notably features corrupt cops hacking a prostitute to pieces with blunt kitchen knives.

Mendoza, at Cannes for the second year running, again split the critics, drawing both hisses and applause for “Kinatay”.

More: Philippines’ Brillante Mendoza scoops Best Director at Cannes


Previously, Mendoza’s film has received a slew of criticism from some prominent critics, notably Sun Times’ Roger Ebert, who said “it is Mendoza’s conceit that his idea will make a statement, or evoke a sensation, or demonstrate something—only if he makes the rest of the film as unpleasant to the eyes, ears, the mind and the story itself as possible.” (Full review here) Maggie Lee of of the Hollywood Reporter added the film was a “prurient and excruciating viewing experience that makes the audience partners in crimes of inhumanity.” On the flip side, Mike Goodridge of Screen International found “Kinatay” a “nerve-shredding exploration of crime, which is both repellent and grimly compelling.”

More: ‘Kinatay’ draws raves, rants in Cannes

Apart from Mendoza’s “Kinatay,” two other Filipino films were in the Official Selection: “Independencia” by Raya Martin and “Manila,” by Adolfo Alix Jr and Raya Martin, prompting Bangkok Post’s Kong Rithdee to write “Filipino directors are on a roll.” He adds:

The strong presence of the Filipinos in Cannes signifies a few things: This is a country mired in economic and political troubles, a country whose film industry enjoys little government support and has no official booth in Cannes (Thailand has two, from the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Commerce). These Manila boys blaze their paths through persistence and intellect – their aesthetics are steeped in the tropical heat and chaotic past of their homeland, and it’s not presumptuous to say that they will be around in the art film scene for a long while.

More: Southeast Asian films step into the spotlight on the French Riviera


slumdog_millionaireSo the year’s most talked-about film, Slumdog Millionaire, is OK, with an above average ensemble bringing to life characters in miserable plight in equally miserable settings. The problem, however, is that the movie doesn’t measure to the hype surrounding it following its recent Golden Globe (and possibly Oscar) win. Nevertheless “Slumdog” does have its moments: Gritty cinematography, for example, reminds one of Fernando Meirelle’s “Cidade de Deus,” but the supposedly surprising but ultimately misplaced dance sequence at the end brings the kitschy dance sequence in “Keka” (by Quark Henares, not Pedro Almodovar) to mind. In all, a good film, but never quite the kind marketed.

tanging20ina20nyong20lahat20small1There is no better way to appreciate a garbage like this than by consciously switching off that part of the brain responsible for logical response. As it were, this movie does not even come close to remotely believable. At its most basic level, the movie is a virtual warehouse of recycled text jokes, worn-out sketches, and ludicrous sub-plots including one where the lead star Ai-Ai delas Alas gets elected as president of the country. That in itself exposes the movie writers’ lack of creativity and originality. See, at some point, comedy has got to be elevated beyond the 2-digit IQ level and still be funny. Ang Tanging Ina Nyong Lahat represents everything comedy shouldn’t be. Problem is, like witnesses to a horrible car crash, the audience can try to look away but would have to try harder.

burn_after_reading_movie_poster_onesheet_coen_brothers1There is a reason the Coen Brothers are famous for their dark humor: The situations they create in movies like Burn After Reading jolt in your face like crazy. Too, the characters are retarded, getting themselves into mess of all sorts, and in the process almost always ending up digging their own graves. “Intelligence is relative” is the movie’s catchphrase, and it is depicted in various scenes ranging from the hysterical to the pathetic. Now say what you will about Brad Pitt’s portrayal of a dimwit; it is Frances McDormand, however, who ultimately brings the house down, sparing no one – not even the Russian embassy – all in the pursuit of reinventing herself by undergoing multiple cosmetic surgeries. Nothing is ever safe in this movie, and in “Burn After Reading,” the Coen Brothers have proven yet again they’re indeed funny.

On the surface, UPCAT the movie has the makings of something worth sitting through. This initial impression, however, is short-lived. Soon enough, this interest dissipates like a cloud of smoke rising up in oblivion as the movie’s storyline unfolds and the viewers are treated to a magnificent fest of incredulity. UP students will never be able to relate to this movie, not one bit, as it veers from anything that closely resembles logic. Instead it careens naturally into an out-of-this-world turn never devoid of cliché and even more outlandish sub-plots. Case in point: the lead character, who so wants to go to UP for college, has no idea both his parents studied there. Ultimately, “UPCAT” can be summed up in three words: waste of time.

waitingposter228x340If there’s one thing this movie was successful in accomplishing, it’s creating tension where there is none. With a plot that can only be best described as flimsy, The Waiting Room drags on for almost two hours, trying to pick up on little stories relating to the complexities of relationships, domestic existence, parenthood, and death. Funnily enough, these fragments are left as fragments, and the whole job of piecing these elements together into something vaguely coherent crumbles as the movie concludes to a ridiculous love affair between two immature strangers.

zack-and-miri-poster1Save for the interesting title, nothing much is going on in this
sex-comedy flicker. Two friends in dire financial straits dipping their toes in the adult entertainment business to make ends meet is one storyline virtually everyone is already familiar with. Yet, the movie makes for a passable fare, if only for its use of dark, often self-deprecating humor and constant barrage of crude language. It is precisely from its uncouthness that the movie draws the laughs, even if the entire movie itself is an exercise in utter predictability.