It’s another eclectic mix of films in cinema this week: two local releases (both romcoms, of course), an animated film, a remake, two biopics, and one raunchy comedy in very limited release. What we’re most curious about this week is Last Night, which is a Star Cinema romcom written by Bela Padilla that seems to kind of be about suicide. That sounds like a minefield, to be completely frank, but it’s interesting to see the conglomerate take on what feels like riskier material.
Toni Gonzaga and Piolo Pascual reunite in a movie about two people who meet on a dark night when both decide that they’ve had enough of life and its heartbreaks. This is a Star Cinema picture, but it’s also a Spring Films production directed by Joyce Bernal. The shadow of Kita Kita and its success continues to loom over an entire genre that has been the bread and butter of our commercial cinema for years. Interesting times.
Devon Seron plays a young woman from a rich family who flies to Korea to get away from her overprotective parents. There she falls in love with a young, handsome businessman played by Kim Hyun-woo. The film is directed by Rommel Ricafort, who only has one other directorial credit under his belt: the Assunta de Rossi film Higanti, which I had described in my review as “completely terrible” and “a flaming pile of garbage.” But let’s not hold that against him.
Dave Franco voices the main character Lloyd, a ninja warrior who happens to be the son of the warlord terrorizing Ninjago city. This is the third feature length animated film built around Lego, and feels a little more desperate to find approval. All of it is of course built around trying to sell your kids more toys. So it doesn’t really matter if the movie is good, as long as it moves units of one of the toy company’s sub-brands. Isn’t capitalism grand?
Opening Friday is a remake of the 1990 Joel Schumacher film of the same name. Ellen Page plays a daring medical student who convinces some friends to experiment with having their heart stopped and being resuscitated, all in the name of finding out what’s beyond the veil. Of course, there are dark consequences behind that veil, and those consequences become the students’ primary concern. What’s truly concerning is that we’re remaking Joel Schumacher movies now.
Exclusive to Ayala is Girls Trip, which stars Queen Latifah, Regina Hall, Tiffany Haddish, and Jada Pinkett-Smith as a quartet of friends who reunite on a trip down to a festival in New Orleans. It looks like another attempt at combining big, raunchy humor with the more low-key drama of friends realizing how far apart they’ve become in their lives. The film has been pretty well received, and it feels like the only reason this film isn’t getting a wider release here is that the leads aren’t white. C’est la vie.
As prominently featured on the poster, Liam Neeson plays Mark Felt, the man who brought down the White House. Mark Felt, as some of you might know, is the man who went by the alias “Deep Throat,” and helped journalists Woodward and Bernstein look into the whole Watergate mess. The film is directed by Peter Landesman, who previously made other based-on-true-story dramas Parkland and Concussion. He’s one of those guys who makes films that feel like they’re angling for awards, but are never really good enough to get any attention whatsoever.
Local posters are hyping this film up as “The Bruce Lee Story,” but it actually just focuses on one particular episode in the man’s life: his notorious unsanctioned fight with rival martial arts teacher Wong Jack Man. Philip Ng, who is 40, plays the 24-year-old Lee. Billy Magnussen plays a character named “Steve McKee,” who is presumably some sort of Steve McQueen analog. Lee is always an interesting subject, but it’s hard to trust Hollywood to get him right. They never really have.
GERMAN FILM WEEK
A lineup of 12 German films are screening in SM MOA and SM North EDSA. Here’s a completely uncontroversial recommendation: check out Maren Ade’s Toni Erdmann. It’s as good as everyone says.
Bradley Liew’s Singing in Graveyards takes over the Cinelokal cinemas on Friday. Watch Joey Pepe Smith wield his unique charisma in a completely sad and strange film about clinging to the last vestiges of dignity in one’s life.
AT THE CINEMATHEQUE CENTER MANILA
On Friday: Rekorder and Anatomiya ng Pag-Ibig. Over Saturday and Sunday: more chances to catch the PPP films Birdshot, Bar Boys, Triptiko and 100 Tula Para Kay Stella.