This Week in Cinemas — January 25, 2017

Love that’s foolish, a wall that’s great, and the annual Spring Film Festival

by Philbert Dy

Love that’s foolish, a wall that’s great, and the annual Spring Film Festival

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This is one of those odd weeks of movies when nothing big is really opening. Well, except for The Great Wall, which is technically a big budget blockbuster, but is so conceptually weird that it’s almost hard to think of it in that way. Odd weeks like this do offer up room for some unusual releases, and that’s what we seem to be getting spades.

Local Releases:



What’s this? A local romcom with a song for its title? How novel! Joel Lamangan helms a new film about a bunch of young people (among them, Jake Cuenca, Angeline Quinto, and Cai Cortez) who struggle with the ups and downs of relationships. Because in the age of the immoral, Christmas-stealing, uncommercial indie, a Joel Lamangan romcom is exactly what we need.




Matteo Guidecelli plays a Muslim SAF agent who takes on a human trafficking operation in Mindanao. If that sentence isn’t too patently absurd for you, you might go on to learn that the film also seems to be somewhat about the tension between his family and the family of his wife-to-be, who is a Christian. This movie sounds like a minefield, which probably means we should all see it.


Foreign Releases:




This week in white people saving Asians, we’ve got a new epic martial arts fantasy movie directed by Zhang Yimou. The Great Wall stars Matt Damon as a warrior that has found his way to China in search of a weapon, and ends up helping the ancient Chinese Power Rangers in their fight against monsters trying to tear down the titular structure.




Michael Keaton plays Ray Croc, founder of McDonalds in this biopic from the director of The Blind Side and Saving Mr. Banks. Given the state of our arteries from a lifetime of eating Big Macs, this movie is probably the only way we should experience McDonalds from now on.




We’re continuing to feel the fallout of the local success of Train to Busan. The latest Korean film to make our shores is A Violent Prosecutor, which is the directorial debut of Lee Il-hyung. The titular short-tempered prosecutor is wrongfully convicted for a murder, and in prison, he teams up with a charming swindler in a quest to clear his name. All signs point to there being violence, and some prosecution.




We listed this as opening last week, but like so many things on our local release schedules, it just suddenly changed. We’re reasonably sure this Jamie Dornan-starring movie adaptation of a novel opens this week, though. Unless it doesn’t. This is like, the third time its opening date has changed.




A gang of rich young people are partying on some island, and take a designer drug offered to them by Pierce Brosnan. The drug takes away their inhibitions, and while this leads to some crazy fun at first, things quickly take a turn for the worse. Urge, the directorial debut of Aaron Kaufman, a producer on films like Sin City: A Dame to Kill For and Machete Kills, arrives in our cinemas with the rare R-18 rating. Presumably because drugs are bad, kids.




This week in really obscure films that have somehow make their way into our cinemas, The Crew, AKA Flight Crew, the 2016 Russian film about a hotheaded young pilot recently discharged from the Air Force. He gets a new job on a commercial airline, and ends up leading the air crew on an unexpected rescue mission on a volcanic island. We don’t know what to make of it. There are quite a few good review on IMDB, but given how Trump won the US Election, the Internet just doesn’t feel like the most reliable source right now.


Special Engagements:




Six Chinese language movies are screening for free from January 25 to 29 over the Shang Cineplex. A quick recommendation: Red Amnesia from director Wang Xiaoshuai, which is a movie that tracks China’s complex relationship with its past as embodied by a widow who cannot deviate from her routines. Given our own complex relationship with our history, the film’s exploration of old wounds seems totally relevant.




The screening room at Fully Booked High Street is putting on a bunch of screenings starting January 27. They’re showing the MMFF films Sunday Beauty Queen, Seklusyon and Saving Sally, as well as the WWII Documentary Valor: The Legacy of Col. Emmanuel V. De Ocampo.




Cinema ’76 has a packed schedule of the most popular films they’ve shown since their opening. And it’s where you can still catch MMFF Best Picture Sunday Beauty Queen. It’s like a public service at this point.




In the next seven days, the UP Film Center is offering a free screening of an Italian film, several chances to catch QCinema’s short films program, and the restored version Lamberto Avellana’s Portrait of an Artist as a Filipino.