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?


At 9:53 AM, Blogger Neth said...

i loved volver.. because.. we were seated sa pinakaharap ng sinehan.. and as i gazed up... i can see penelope in all her glory.. gandang babae talga.. haahahaha :)

lahat ng angulo, prettiness! :)


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