We’re all still reeling from the fact that Wonder Woman was good and made a ton of money. But there’s no time to contemplate how this might change the landscape of cinema because there’s a whole new batch of movies to consider. First up: a reboot of the Mummy franchise that doubles as the kickoff point for a whole new cinematic universe starring the Universal Monsters. But there’s also James Gray’s The Lost City of Z, which is being touted as an early contender for one of the best movies of the year, and became a focal point of a conversation about how difficult it is now to make a film in Hollywood that isn’t a remake, reboot, or part of a greater cinematic universe. So this week we are confronted with a deep philosophical battle about what it is that Hollywood is supposed to be. And like so many battles these days, it seems unlikely that the little guy is going to win out.
Director James Gray, it could be easily argued, has never made a bad film. And yet, most people have never seen a film by him. Little Odessa, The Yards, We Own the Night, Two Lovers and The Immigrant combined probably don’t even come close to the box office gross of any of the Transformers movies. But Gray continues to plug away, making the kind of serious, low-key adult dramas that just aren’t made anymore. In his latest, Charlie Hunnam plays Col. Percival Fawcett, a British explorer who disappeared in the Amazon back in the 1920s. The film is one of the best reviewed movies of the year, but it doesn’t have a superhero in it, so to date it’s only made back a fraction of its budget. Sight unseen, we here at Rogue recommend this movie. A cinephile’s life is made better by the presence of James Gray.
On the other side of the cinematic spectrum, we have The Mummy, which a) is a reboot of a blockbuster franchise, b) is written and directed by Alex Kurtzman, best known for his involvement in franchises like Transformers and Star Trek, and c) is the first movie in the Dark Universe, a shared cinematic universe that will star the classic Universal Monsters. And oh, Tom Cruise stars in it, and he falls out of a plane at some point. This is modern blockbuster Hollywood summed up in a single movie. Pick your poison.
Exclusive to Robinsons Movieworld cinemas this week is Korean film Fabricated City, which is about a hardcore gamer who is framed for the sexual assault and murder of a minor. He and his online friends then try to clear his name, and in the process unearth a massive conspiracy to protect powerful men from suffering the consequences of their crimes. With this just in limited release, it does feel like the post-Train to Busan Korean film hype has died down. Too bad.
Naomi Watts stars as a widowed child psychologist taking care of her catatonic son in their large, kind of spooky home in the wilds of New England. A boy (Room’s Jacob Tremblay) shows up at her door on the night of a deadly storm, but then disappears the next morning. Then, as these things tend to go, our intrepid child psychologist becomes the victim of a series of jump scares. Where did that raccoon come from? We will never know.
Everyone’s familiar with the Resident Evil films starring Milla Jovovich. But there is actually a parallel franchise of CG-animated films that hew closer to the video game narrative. Vendetta is the third film in this series, and it tells a story that takes place between the events of the sixth and seventh installments of the games. It follows the characters Chris Redfield, Leon S. Kennedy, and Rebecca Chambers as they try to stop a deadly virus from being set off in New York City. Prepare to dive straight into the uncanny valley.
We are not totally sure this movie exists. It is apparently about a fifteen-year-old girl who lost her parents and moves in with her uncle, who is a mayor of a small town. And in this town she befriends a robot dog voiced by Michael J. Fox. The robot dog then helps the teenage girl deal with her grief while also playing a pivotal part in the re-election campaign of her uncle, who is up against a candidate bought off by an evil fast-food conglomerate. We are not making this up. This is all on the IMDB page, we promise.
22ND FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL
The annual French Film Festival kicks off on June 9 and runs until June 17 at Greenbelt and Central Square BGC. Tickets for the films will be 100 pesos each. The biggest film in this year’s lineup is Olivier Assayas’ Personal Shopper, which stars Kristen Stewart as a young woman living in Paris who acquires couture for a celebrity while trying to make contact with the spirit of her dead sibling. That old chestnut.
Check out our full preview of the films in this year’s lineup.
Sleepless will continue to run in select SM Cinemas until June 8. On June 9, it is being replaced by Louie Ignacio’s Area, which is about a brothel outside of the main red light district of Angeles City, home mainly to aging prostitutes catering to local clientele. The film actually had a short run in cinemas back in November of last year. If you missed it, here’s your chance to see Ai Ai de las Alas play an aging prostitute.
The Institute shines a spotlight on Adolfo Alix Jr., screening his Cinemalaya films Kalayaan and Porno over the weekend. On Tuesday, June 13, they’re screening Teng Mangansakan’s Forbidden Memory, a documentary about the Malisbong Massacre that premiered during the last edition of the Cinema One Originals.
This weekend, the Cinematheque Center will be screening selections from the French Film Festival.
On June 8, 3PM, film scholar Teddy Co presents a lineup of films designed to make you feel icky and stuff. The free screening will be followed by a discussion on why we do things like this to ourselves. It ought to be a good time.
On June 10, The Society of Filipino Archivists for Film presents two documentaries by Nick DeOcampo: Cine: Spanish Influences on Early Cinema in the Philippines and Film: American Influences on Philippine Cinema. Admission is free, and the screenings will be followed by an open forum with Nick DeOcampo himself.
If the French Film Festival isn’t enough French cinema for you, head over to the Alliance de Francaise every Wednesday for a free screening of a French movie. Today, June 7, they’re screening Guillaume Nicloux’s La Religieuse (The Nun). Next Wednesday, it’s Thierry Binisti’s coming-of-age drama Une Bouteille a la Mer (A Bottle in the Gaza Sea).