Friday, October 12, 2007

Mein Herz Brennt (My Heart Burns) by Rammstein

English Lyrics Translated from German

Mein Herz Brennt

Now, dear children, pay attention
I am the voice from the pillow
I have brought you something
I ripped it from my chest

With this heart I have the power
to blackmail the eyelids
I sing until the day awakes
a bright light on the heavens
my heart burns

They come to you in the night
demons, ghosts, black fairies
they creep out of the cellar shaft
and will look under your bedding

Now, dear children, pay attention
I am the voice from the pillow
I have brought you something
a bright light on the heavens
my heart burns

They come to you in the night
and steal your small hot tears
they wait until the moon awakes
and put them in my cold veins

Now, dear children, pay attention
I am the voice from the pillow
I sing until the day awakes
a bright light on the heavens
my heart burns

My heart burns

Sunday, October 07, 2007

2007 Shortlist so far: Major Categories

Two months to go, before I wrap up the year's best of the best, here is my own shortlist of the possible 2007 contenders this year for the main categories (8 per each in random order):

This list does not include eligible films that I will be seeing in October and November which are the last film entries of 2007... Possible upsets can still happen anyway...


Joint Security Area (Korea)
Children of Men (UK)
The Letters from Iwo Jima (USA)
I'm a Cyborg But It's OK (Korea)
Salvador Puig Antich (Spain)
Volver (Spain)
The Lives of Others (Germany)
Lilja 4-Ever (Sweden)

Last Year's Choice: Pan's Labyrinth
My Personal Choice as of Today: It is actually between the futuristic drama "Children of Men", the flawless spy drama "The Lives of Others" and the very depressing tale of human trafficking "Lilja 4-Ever"... But I have to say LILJA 4-EVER is way ahead...


Jean-Pierre Dardenne (The Child)
Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men)
Clint Eastwood (Letters from Iwo Jima)
Park Chan-Wook (I'm a Cyborg But It's OK and JSA)
Pedro Almodovar (Volver)
Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck (The Lives of Others)
Sarah Polley (Away from Her)
Lukas Moodysson (Lilja 4-Ever)

Last Year's Choice: Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth)
My Personal Choice as of Today: Two names, Park Chan-Wook and Lukas Moodysson... Chan-Wook of JSA is a personal favorite and Moodysson has just made a shocking masterpiece with Lilja 4-Ever...


Jo In Sung (A Dirty Carnival)
Jeremie Renier (The Child)
Cho Seung Woo (Marathon)
Ken Watanabe (The Letters from Iwo Jima)
Daniel Bruhl (Salvador Puig Antich)
Ulrich Muhe (The Lives of Others)
Gordon Pinsent (Away from Her)
Romain Duris (The Beat that my Heart Skipped)

Last Year's Choice: Daniel Bruhl (The Edukators)
My Personal Choice as of Today: Daniel Bruhl, the basis is more subjective I guess... Ulrich Muhe has to be more objective... Cho Seung Woo is a very safe and sure choice on the other hand...


Gwyneth Paltrow (Proof)
Deborah Francois (The Child)
Kim Mi-suk (Marathon)
Im Soo Jung (I'm a Cyborg But It's OK)
Penalope Cruz (Volver)
Martina Gedeck (The Lives of Others)
Julie Christie (Away from Her)
Oksana Akinshina (Lilja 4-Ever)

Last Year's Choice: Lee Young Ae (Sympathy for Lady Vengeance)
My Personal Choice as of Today: Penalope Cruz and Julie Christie are both very excellent... But there is Oksana Akinshina as the 16 year old Lilja who just blew me away...


Jake Gyllenhaal (Proof)
Anthony Hopkins (Proof)

Song Kang Ho (JSA)
Brad Pitt (Babel)

Leonardo Sbaliglia (Salvador Puig Antich)
Ulrich Tukur (The Lives of Others)
Djimon Honsou (Blood Diamond)
Artyom Bogucharsky (Lilja 4-Ever)

Last Year's Choice: Freddy Highmore (Finding Neverland)
My Personal Choice as of Today: Artyom Bogucharsky from his very moving role in Lilja 4-Ever


Lisa Ray (Water)
Cate Blanchett (Babel)
Rinko Kikuchi (Babel)

Carmen Maura (Volver)
Lola Duenas (Volver)
Blanca Portillo (Volver)
Jennifer Conelly (Blood Diamond)

Olympia Dukakis (Away from Her)

Last Year's Choice: Kate Winslet (Finding Neverland)
My Personal Choice as of Today: Too many acting heavyweights, from Lisa Ray to Blanchett to Maura and Portillo... All of them has almost the same magnitudes but Blanca Portillo as a cancer patient in Volver stays longer and more vivid in my mind...


Letters from Iwo Jima
An Inconvenient Truth
Salvador Puig Antich
The Lives of Others

Away from Her
Lilja 4-Ever

Last Year's Choice: The Edukators by Katharina Geld and Hans Weingarner
My Personal Choice as of Today: Lilja 4-Ever by Lukas Moodysson... which could end up in a possible clean sweep by the Swedish film...


Letters from Iwo Jima
The Lives of Others
Blood Diamond
Away from Her
Lilja 4-Ever

Last Year's Choice: The Edukators (Daniel Bruhl, Julia Jentsch, Stipe Erceg, Burghart Klaussner)
My Personal Choice as of Today: The women of Volver (Penalope Cruz, Carmen Maura, Lola Duenas and Blanca Portillo)

Sunday, September 30, 2007

September Movie of the Month: LILJA 4-EVER (Spoiler ahead!)

September has given me 3 great films, one is a very touching Canadian drama about Alzhemer's desease which will surely give Julie Christie an Oscar nomination (mark my word!) and will sky rocket to the 2007's critics top ten list... The other one is the critically acclaim French noir thriller about a young man (Romain Duris) who is caught between his miserable gangster life and his fascinating passion for music. If I have seen these two films in the other months, they have strong chances to be on the top of my lists... But the best of September I should say is the very compelling Swedish drama LILJA 4-EVER.

This must be one of the 5 most depressing films I've seen in my entire life... It has related issues to Hillary Swank's film "Boy's Don't Cry" but this has to be more realistic and even harder to watch. The title of the film sounded to be innocent, full of hope until eternity, at least to a mind of a 16 year old girl.

Lilja is a typical girl in the Soviet Union, she was very happy when she learned that she is going to the US because her mother got married again. What she did not know is that her mother decided to abandon her permanently. As the story progresses, she lost everything, people, relatives, money and the only one on her side is a boy who is frequently beaten by his father... In order to avoid hunger, she was driven to engage in prostitution. This exploitation continued when his boyfriend sold him to a human trafficker in Sweden. And then she learned that all her prayer's to God and Angel's are useless, where her easy way out is simply death.

Lilja 4-Ever closeness to reality is extremely chilling... Actress Oksana Akinshina who played Lilja is undeaniably excellent and convincing. I can't forget the scenes where Lilja is very very happy when she first bought more than two items in the department store and never thinking that her money will run short and just buy everything that she likes. And also when she first had her airplane trip to Sweden and she was very excited to look at her food on a business class service... These made my movie viewing much more painful, she is just a girl who wants to be with her mother, to be at school and to never feel hungry again when the night comes...

But after she became a victim of human sex trafficking, her emotional core and her will to fight were completely destroyed and the only thought that lingers is the paradise that will give to her by death. THe film is so good but cruel to show how innocence, hope and prayers can be destroyed by the sad reality in this world... Lilja has no other choice, she is just a teenager who is trapped in a hell which is literally our world.

In the end of the film, Lilja is completely forgotten, no physical traces have left after her tough decision... but there is only one I guess, she carved her name on a piece of wood and all that is written is: LILJA 4-EVER.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Celebrity Profiles

I am bored... I just want to post the pictures of my favorite celebrities:

Daniel Brühl (German Actor: Good Bye Lenin!, The Edukators, Merry Christmas, Ladies in Lavender, Salvador)

Alexandra Maria Lara (Romanian Actress: Downfall, Youth Without Youth)

Audrey Tautou (French Actress: Amelie, Da Vinci Code, A Very Long Engagement)

I guess this is just the part one... Till the day I get idle again...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Television Devolution...

Book is a medium for WRITERS...
Stage is a medium for ACTORS...
Film is a medium for DIRECTORS... and
Television is a medium for PRODUCERS...

Which one is the nearest to artistic expression and which one is not? I guess TELEVISION gets more and more corrupted exponentially everyday as we turn on our TV sets. Being influenced mainly by the producers, television has a natural inclination towards propaganda and money making. I can count on my fingers the number of TV shows which are made with sincerity and sheer quality.

It is sad to say that the local TV market is stucked in the mediocre to D shows which fools the people on the real concept of reality. Speaking of non-fiction shows, reality TV series try to be as accurate as possible but in the end, people acting in these projects are more unreal than actors playing in the primetime soap operas.

Now we go to soap operas, people are forced to watch (because we can't see good alternatives) several plots manipulated by actors playing characters who dies, go on plastic surgery because he/she can't play anymore because of other projects in the pipeline. Start and end dates in the timelines are also changed because of the sudden fluctuations in the rating and continuous endorsements of products while watching in the middle of the show (why not remove the commercials?). We also have characters who meet each other in absurd circumstances, why? because the writers have already lost creativity on how to fuse frictions between their characters... They only have the same plots recycled over and over again and nothing changes except for the set of typecasts actors.

Not only on local shows, American shows cling on constipated (as Nette said it) actors and writers who can't think without sex, violence, scandals, visual effects on the contents of their materials.

Hmmm... I don't know how to end this but I call this devolution on the worldwide level... Television takes advantage on people so much and like what said in my favorite film "The Edukators", people are like zombies in the front of the boob tubes for more than several long hours...

And the AUGUST film of the month is...

Pathfinder - Seeing this film reminds me a lot of 300's photography... The historical backdraft of the plot which is suppose to be interesting turned out to be one sided. (C+)

Ouija - All aspect of a good horror film is there, blood, twist, a lady with a long black hair but the film falls short on logic... (B)

Recycle - Danny and Oxide Pang, the directors of the very scary film The Eye changed their style a bit and created a very imaginative sci-fi/horror flick that reveals a very touching philosophy and a pro-life commentary. (B+)

Sunshine - I am always fascinated on what is next in Danny Boyle's films. Unfortunately, his recent films like Trainspotting, 28 Days Later and Millions are far better than this movie which tries to capture the same stigma of the Kubrick's masterpice 2001: The Space Odessey. (B)

The Bourne Ultimatum - The greatest merits of this film is its skillful film editing and heart pounding original score which will surely be rewarded by the AMPAS voters with nominations. But honestly, I am still convinced that this film is somehow plotless? (B+)

1408 - The last film of the month that I've seen... Surprisingly Mikael Håfström made me happy again after seeing his previous movies like Evil and Derailed... I greatly commend the editing and the haunting cinematography of this film... (B+)

MOVIE OF THE MONTH August - This is tough because all of the films I've seen this month have their own significant shortcomings and none of them can be considered flawless... But I think, August belongs to Hong Kong's very imaginative surreal entry RECYCLE...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen) * * * * *

"If I keep listening to it, I won't finish the revolution."-Lenin, regarding Beethoven's "Appassionata" Sonata (as recounted in "The Lives Of Others").

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is how to make an authentic contemporary dramatic thriller…

The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen) won the Academy award trophy for Best Foreign Language Film and the European Film Academy award for Best Picture this year. Visually enthralling, poetic, well acted and very well written, The Lives of Others, the third German film to ever win an Oscar is one of the best film of this decade so far.

Today, Germany’s filmmaking status is on its renaissance… it has been almost 40 years since we had the global influence of famous German directors such as Fassbinder, Stanley Kubrick and Fritz Lang, now a lot of new filmmakers are embarking on a series of international hits including this pre Berlin Wall suspense thriller movie.

Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's movie debut focuses on the horrifying, sometimes unintentionally funny system of observation in the former East Germany. In the early 1980s, the successful dramatist Georg Dreyman and his longtime companion Christa-Maria Sieland, a popular actress, are big intellectual stars in the socialist state, although they secretly don't always think loyal to the party line. One day, the Minister of Culture becomes interested in Christa, so the secret service agent Wiesler is instructed to observe and sound out the couple, but their life fascinates him more and more...

Wiesler (played magnificently by Best Actor winner Ulrich Muhe) together with his tech team installed devices so that he can monitor the entire conversation takes place on their residence day and night. But as the story progresses, Wiesler seems to be not faithfully committed to the communist party after all… and this constitutes to several surprising and unexpected events in the story.

The Lives of Others is one of the best thrillers of the contemporary cinema along with Park Chan Wook’s “Oldboy”. Sadly, few Filipinos can see it and as usual, soon the masses must endure a Hollywood version again…

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Latest Reviews: 7/14/2007

VOLVER * * * *

For the last few months, I’ve seen 2 of the most nominated films in the Spanish Academy Awards, Pan’s Labyrinth and Salvador which are different but both excellent films. Adding to this list is Spain’s Best Picture winner Volver which gives Penalope Cruz a shot for a Best Actress nomination in the Oscars.

Being Spain’s most popular and talented director, Don Pedro Almodovar always captures the taste of the critics and audiences with his works. All About My Mother, Talk To Her and Bad Education are all above average films from Spain. Volver is a very touching dark comedy about a ghost of a dead mother who comes back to the world in order to fulfill her unfinished business with her daughters.

The heart of the film is Penalope Cruz in the lead and Carmen Maura in the supporting role. Penalope portrayed a troubled and yet caring mother who caught in the middle of an accidental murder of his husband because of an attempted rape of her daughter. Like mother like daughter? As we go along with the story, facts and series of inconvenient truths will be revealed as we see how our lead characters suffered from unhappy marriages. Carmen Maura on the other hand is superb as the mother and grandmother who just wanted to ask for her daughter’s forgiveness for their family’s misfortunes.

Overall, the film succeeded because of the excellent cast, script and precise direction. Volver, as compared to Goya nominated films Salvador and Pan’s Labyrinth is also a true European gem, very powerful in storytelling and for giving an emotional roller coaster ride to the international audience.


1974 is a very crucial year in Spain. A turning point where Franco's dictatorship is on the brink of its downfall and this is because of a young man who changed Spain's destiny into a much better future.

Salvador Puig Antich is a militant, bank robber who opposes dictatorship and fascism. On one of his bank robbing attempts, he accidentally killed one of the policemen and he was the last man sentenced to death by guillotine.

I’ve waited for this film for so long (but I won’t be bias). Salvador stars my favorite actor Daniel Bruhl who happens to be German but can speak in 4 languages fluently (German, Spanish, French, English) and Leonor Watling from the international critics favorite Hable Con Ella. The first act of the film is quite boring because it can’t handle the bits of pieces of scenes altogether. It consists of several flashbacks from Salvador’s memory as he confesses his ideals to his defense lawyer.

The second act of the film is way better than the first act. The second act showed the last 12 hours in the life of Salvador Puig Antich as he struggles on his fear of losing his life. The last scenes are very agonizing and touching. First, Salvador’s facial expression when he is about to be separated from his sisters is very remarkable (he is about to cry several times but managed to prevent his tears flowing from his eyes). Second, his reaction of mixed sadness, anger and regret can be seen when he first saw his deathbed and got an idea of what “garrote de vil” is all about.

I guess this is one of the greatest commentaries about the death penalty because the last minutes of the film showed how he exactly died from being strangulated (until his neck broke) slowly and slowly until life is taken away from him.

Overall, the film is saved by the second part which made the movie very emotional and a tear jerking one. After watching this film, against or not against the death penalty, you will think twice about your stand on this subject matter.


I usually hate Michael Bay's films, most are really shallow and cheesy like Pearl Harbor. But Transformers is good. That is all I can say, although not flawless in many ways, well spent budget in this cool and nostalgic film.(for the 80's babies at least!)


Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, The Letters from Iwo Jima are recent Clint Eastwood films which can be say as flawless and beautifully directed masterpieces. Well, this is not true for Flags of our Fathers...

Clint Eastwood's attempt to give synergy to his uninspiring cast is very evident althroughout the film. The three main characters (including Jesse Bradford and Ryan Philippe) are by far, the greatest disappointments in the film. Their roles is very overwhelming to them that they can't play them well... We can't see the connection between these three people and the reckless editing have already lost us a lot of times. Anyway, from the beginning, the script and storyline are very limited and shallow... In the end, a script which has nothing good to offer will just leave all its audience cold and unsatisfied.


Park Chan Wook is perhaps my favorite director of all time along with Steven Spielberg for giving us strings of A list movies like Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, Oldboy, JSA and now, this funny and quirky film... Despite of being influenced by existentialism once again, this romantic comedy Korean film is very different from his previous works because commonly, Chan Wook reveals strong themes and commentary on his films. But on Cyborg, he just played along with his cast and materials on continuous scenes of quirky imaginations and surrealism as we see the pains and joy of our two lead characters inside a mental hospital (with their inmates). One believes that he can steal people's traits and one who believes that she is a cyborg... The film leaves us the question... What is the purpose of our existence? Do we get closer to our purposes in life by sticking more to the truth and rationality OR is it love a better catalyst in providing the significance of our existence?