Because Christmas fell on a Monday in 2017, new movies actually opened a couple of days ago, almost immediately after the usual two-week lockout period after the MMFF. This lockout period, as we learned last year, is actually left to the discretion of the exhibitors, who were pretty eager to cut it short for the version of the festival that didn’t involve Vice Ganda. Opening films on a Monday doesn’t seem like the best idea, but very little about movie distribution in the Philippines makes any sense. Anyway, this week, we’re mostly getting the stuff that would have opened in December if it wasn’t for the MMFF, and for some reasons, it’s mostly sequels to films that probably didn’t need sequels.
JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE
The titular board game is magically transformed into a video game, which sends four teams into the mystical jungle of Jumanji, where they take on the physical forms of Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, and Karen Gillan, and are forced to take on a quest in order to get back to the real world. The film opened last month in the US, and it’s received a fairly warm critical reception, with many calling it a “pleasant surprise.” This, of course, indicates, that critics were expecting it to be a steaming pile of elephant dung, and were satisfied to find that it was totally okay.
PITCH PERFECT 3
Anna Kendrick reprises her role as acapella-singing mashup producer Beca Mitchell in a story that takes the graduated Barden Bellas on the USO tour and inexplicably competing for a slot to open for DJ Khaled. The second Pitch Perfect movie was already showing signs that there wasn’t much story left for these collegiate singers, though one could forgive it as a much-deserved victory lap for the unexpected hit. Three movies is really pushing it.
John Cena voices the titular character in this animated adaptation of Munro Leaf’s much beloved storybook The Story of Ferdinand. It tells the story of a Spanish bull who, unlike the other bulls in the ranch, has no desire to be picked for the bullfights in Madrid, and would rather just smell flowers. The book is really simple, but ended up becoming a seminal pieces of pacifist literature. How that simplicity and the book’s themes can be translated into the typically zany cartoon sensibilities of mainstream animated children’s films is the challenge for this movie.
JEEPERS CREEPERS 3
This third film is set between the first and the second movie, which is actually kind of amazing since only a few days pass between the first two installments. Stan Shaw stars as a sheriff leading a team hunting for the creeper. Clearly, since this movie takes place before the second movie, they’re not going to be super successful. But along the way, they’re apparently going to learn the origins of the killer. Because that’s what we all want: to have these mysterious violent forces explained to us. Cool.
This is the one film this week that didn’t open on Monday. Again, local distribution rules feel pretty arbitrary. Anyway, Liam Neeson plays a businessman who gets caught up in a criminal conspiracy on his daily commute home. So he growls at a bunch of people and beats them up. This is clearly not a film set in Manila, because no one can accomplish anything on their daily commute home.
SCREENINGS AT CINEMA CENTENARIO
The new Maginhawa micro-cinema is fully operation, and they’re screening a pretty wide variety of films over the next few days: Sana Dati, Silong, Patay na si Hesus, Ang Larawan, MNL 143, Oro Plata Mata, Independencia, How to Disappears Completely, and more. Click the link to get the full schedule.
SCREENINGS AT THE UP FILM CENTER
The films of CInemalaya have made their way to the UP Film Center. Need recommendations: if you haven’t seen Respeto yet, go do it. But also, check out the quietly moving Kiko Boksingero. It’s a good family film.
The Cinelokal cinemas are going to be screening Jason Paul Laxamana’s Ang Taba Ko Kasi, which stars Cai Cortez as a woman struggling with her weight and torn between romantic prospects.