The best film of this year’s Cinemalaya gets its run in theaters
by Philbert Dy
There’s a lot to see this week, but let’s just focus on one for now: Treb Monteras’ Respeto, which took home the best film prize in this year’s Cinemalaya. But more importantly, it’s one of the few films we have so far that actually tries to take on the current situation in this country in a sober yet artful way. It is undoubtedly one of the most important local films of this year, and we here at Rogue have no reservations about recommending it.
Rapper Abra stars in this film as a wannabe rapper who ends up being mentored by a poet played by Dido de la Paz. What at first seems like a mashup of 8 Mile and The Karate Kid soon proves to be something much more ambitious and interesting. Respeto is among the first films to really take on this current era of extrajudicial killings, and it goes further by linking it to the country’s history of violence. It is an audacious piece of filmmaking that often defies expectations.
A group of medical students travel to a provincial municipality during Holy Week, hoping to learn the truth regarding local stories about vampires. The film stars Jerico Estregan, and is produced by his father Jeorge Estregan aka E.R. Ejercito. It is directed by Francis ‘Jun’ Posadas, last seen directing the former governor in the MMFF movie Magnum Muslim .357. Those facts don’t exactly point to a very promising film experience, but you never know. Stranger things have happened.
Darren Aronofsky’s latest picture stars Jennifer Lawrence as the wife of a tortured poet played by Javier Bardem. Her husband inexplicably lets some guests stay at their house, which she has been renovating. Things get pretty strange from there. It’s best not to talk about what really happens, but let it be known that this movie isn’t really the conventional domestic thriller that is being indicated in the trailers. It is far more cuckoo bananas than that, with Aronofsky’s signature intensity applied to what seems to be a largely symbolic tale built on the filmmaker’s obsessions.
The sequel to Kingsman: The Secret Service finds secret agent Eggsy (Taron Egerton) having to turn to the American counterpart of Kingsman when an attack leaves the organization in tatters. And oh, Colin Firth’s character is still alive. Normally, that would be a spoiler, but the film’s marketing seems to have no qualms about revealing that bit of information. Perhaps they are just acknowledging that everything in this film is so juvenile and silly that learning anything about the plot won’t really matter in the long run.
Chadwick Boseman, who at this point is best known for playing Black Panther, stars in this movie as a South African who lands in Los Angeles in search of his missing sister. This appears to be a pretty straight up revenge thriller, with Boseman’s character traveling through the dark underbelly of the city of angels, beating up all manner of criminals along the way. And he’ll presumably do it without the help of a high-tech superhero costume.
Based on the popular manga/anime of the same name, this movie stars Shun Oguri as a samurai trying to make ends meet in an alternate feudal Japan where aliens have invaded and taken over the shogunate. Gintama isn’t the easiest property to adapt to live action, but if anybody was going to do it, it was probably going to be writer/director Yuichi Fukuda, best known for the fizzy bit of Japanese insanity known as Hentai Kamen. Thing are probably going to get weird.
This week in low-budget action films starring actors who were really big just a decade ago: Antonio Banderas is a down-on-his-luck former cop who ends up working the night shift as a security guard at a shopping mall. A young girl running away from a gang of criminals shows up at the mall, and Banderas and ragtag team of security guards are soon besieged on all sides by vicious, well-armed thugs taking orders from Ben Kingsley.
It’s always a surprise when we get some Russian film in our cinemas. This one is from 2016, and is listed on IMDB under the title Ghouls with this synopsis: “It’s a bit of a mess, but something about a Dracula-esque baron who seeks to conquer his long-lost half-vampire daughter, while a very modern-looking supposed-18th century official tries to save her. Like I said, it’s a mess.” That is a direct quote.
The European film festival continues to run at Shang Cineplex until September 26. We suggest just hanging out there on the 25th, when they’re going to be screening Jules et Jim and The Exterminating Angel back to back.
Sari Dalena and Keith Sicat’s History of the Underground screens on the 21st. Kita Kita screens on the 22nd. Mickey Boy Zarate’s Something About Love makes its premiere on the 23rd. And Mikhail Red’s Birdshot runs from the 25th to the 27th.