This week: a rather unusual batch of smaller movies being thrown into cinemas before Holy Week. Smaller American indie movies like I Kill Giants, Unsane, and Wonderstruck have just suddenly crept into the release schedule, perhaps owing to the fact that the next big blockbuster releases have been deferred until Black Saturday. Also, for people looking for some religious-themed cinema appropriate for the occasion, Mary Magdalene and Paul, Apostle of Christ.
Mary Joy Apostol, best known for her turn in Birdshot, now stars in Simplicity, where she plays a talented young woman who, thanks to a viral video, gets a chance to compete on her favorite reality TV show. Rhian Ramos and Solenn Heussaff show as the feuding hosts of the show. The movie is directed by David Hulbert, whose unusually detailed bio on IMDB doesn’t really get into how he got to the Philippines and ended up directing a lesbian-themed movie starring Donnalyn Bartolome of Kakaibabe fame. This is a mystery that’s going to bother us for a long time.
Exclusive to SM is the latest film from Steven Soderbergh, Unsane. The Crown’s Claire Foy plays a woman who involuntarily committed to a mental institution. She believes that a persistent stalker is behind this situation, but she starts to find it difficult to tell what’s real and what isn’t. Soderbergh shot this entire movie on an iPhone 7 Plus, and kept it a secret until pretty recently. The director’s maverick reputation continues to grow.
This is the real surprise of this week: the latest Todd Haynes film, which adapts the book of the same name by Brian Selznick. The last time a Selznick book was brought to the big screen, it was Martin Scorsese’s Hugo. This time, cult favorite Haynes brings to life the story of two children fifty years apart in search of parents. Haynes’ films generally don’t make it here, so this movie feels like a strange treat.
I KILL GIANTS
Based on the graphic novel by Joe Kelly and Ken Niimura, I Kill Giants stars Madison Wolfe as a young misfit convinced that giants are real, and that it’s her responsibility to kill them when they show up. It’s the feature film debut of Anders Walter, who has already won an Academy Award for his short film Helium. The source material is really great, and one hopes that the graphic novel’s strangeness and emotionality make it to the big screen.
Remember Gnomeo and Juliet? No? Well there’s a sequel now. Johnny Depp joins the fray as the titular detective character, joining James McAvoy and Emily Blunt’s Gnomeo and Juliet on an investigation of the mysterious disappearance of several garden gnomes. In the trailer, Sherlock opines that they’re going to need a boat to cross a body of water, to which someone replies, “no ship, Sherlock.” Get it? It’s just like, “no shit, Sherlock,” but with “ship” instead of “shit.” Truly, we are in the golden age of cinema.
Rooney Mara plays Mary Magdalene, one of the most prominent disciples of Jesus Christ, played here by Joaquin Phoenix. The film reinterprets her story, separating her from the middle age depiction of Magdalene as either a whore or a promiscuous woman, and instead painting her as a proto-feminist who would go on to be instrumental in preserving Christ’s legacy. That’s a worthy approach, though reviews appear to be lukewarm at best.
Once-ubiquitous leading man Sam Worthington plays an Air Force pilot chosen to take part in an experiment that will transform his body to survive the harsh conditions of Titan, one of Saturn’s moons. The experiment works, but it comes with some pretty dealy side effects. This movie isn’t getting a theatrical release in the US, and is instead just dropping on Netflix. Meanwhile, we didn’t get Annihilation in cinemas. One suspects this is not the fairest trade.
This movie is from 2016, and it’s the product of a crowdfunding campaign. A police officer finds a bloodied man on the street, and he brings him to a hospital. Strange things begin happening that appear to be related to the arrival of hooded figures and a secret hidden in the lower levels of the hospital. Satanic panic!
PAUL, APOSTLE OF CHRIST
Opening Friday. James Faulkner plays Paul, an infamous persecutor of Christian who ends up becoming one of the most loyal and fervent disciples of Christ. The film also stars Jim Caviezel as Luke, which must feel like a downgrade after playing Christ. Anyway, Paul the Apostle plays a huge role in establishing what would become Christian dogma, and maybe this movie will explain what he had against women and gay people and stuff.
Sheron Dayoc’s award-winning Women of the Weeping River takes over the Cine Lokal cinemas. It’s a great, nuanced movie about conflict in Mindanao. Go check it out.
SCREENINGS AT THE UP FILM CENTER
Sa Gabing Nanahimik ang mga Kuliglig will kick off the weekend, before giving way to Raya Martin’s adaptation of Smaller and Smaller Circles. Also screening next week: Tandem and Malinak Ya Labi.
SCREENINGS AT CINEMA CENTENARIO
Women’s month continues. Do try to catch Motherland on Friday.