Posted in Spring Film Festival: Movie Reviews

Book of Love : A Review

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Jiao Ye at the Casino

This is the second sequel of Finding Mr. Right and obviously I haven’t watch the first film. To start my review, I just wanted to tell you know that I wasn’t at all impressed with the cast since there was no eye catcher. Though I adore how the two main characters were the complete opposite of those common love stories wherein a beautiful girl and a handsome boy matched. Next, considering it as in mandarin plus the transition was very quick , I really don’t got the first scene particularly the beginning where the leading actress was kicked out by her land lord and there’s a scene where in she rode in a motorcycle and kicking butts then she turned around beco

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Jiao Ye and her friends at the Casino

ming casino employee.

 

Honestly, the first part of the film makes me feel dizzy editing and the transitions of the scenes especially the part when the leading actress was at the casino. However, I’m still amazed how the director and writers play and worked with the location and interaction of the two main characters since they were apart from each other. The cinematography was quite well, there were a few interesting cinematography that I liked, how the two crossed paths on foreign land and interacting with the imaginary person they perceived from the letters.

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Two Elderly with Director Xue : Wu Yanshu (left) , Director Xue (middle) and Paul Chun (right)

The movie felt real since it has many emotional failures from both of the main characters, although the two have never met they express feelings through the letter that provide the groundwork for better relationship. Their love might be sophisticated here, but what truly touched me and makes me cry was the elderly couple that the leading actor was trying to con . You will really get a love lesson from the two senior.

 

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84 Charing Cross Road Book Cover

Overall this movie has a better story, than the other Chinese film that I have watched. The relationship between the characters was deeper. It looks like it will remain in our memory for a long time. And as a person who enjoys reading books and loves literature, this film really got me hard. The story telling device of the film was a transparent way to get the two main characters together. Keeping them apart was a mixed bag; their individual stories are given a strong focus than their relationship. For me, for this story and these characters, was not simply effective. It looks like there isn’t really a story theme, emotion or a string that pushes them together beyond the book; 84, Charing Cross Road.

 

 

Still I will gave this film 3 out of 5 star, the actors and the production values are better than average. The editing and cinematography can get occasionally hyperactive but it’s never too distracting. The music and sound effects was OK. The film was actually a well-constructed promotion of the need to go out to find love, and more importantly, self-fulfillment through love’s many forms. I will still recommend this film.     3-out-of-5

 

by: Omido , Christine Jane BABRC 4-2

Posted in Spring Film Festival: Movie Reviews

The Wolf Totem Teaches Not Entertains

by Andrea Montalban

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It’s cute, it’s cuddly and oh so fluffy well at least that’s how Wolf Totem seemed at first, until you get to the part where a mass killing occurs, suicides happen, people go crazy and it’s not just another Asian film after all (or maybe that’s proof that it is proudly Asian?). But don’t let the cute and gruesome distract you from this story’s message, which you may have missed if you fell asleep from the lulling opening credits. Well I won’t blame you because I also yawned while waiting for the movie to start.

Wow I’m a confusing reviewer! And you’re probably all like “So it gets cookies for mixing fluff with gore but it’s boring? How the heck did that happen?”, forgive me but that’s Wolf Totem,– a story  that took place in China when student Chen Zhen volunteered to assist shepherds in inner Mongolia but later learned about the relationship between men and wolves as two different species trying to survive in a single environment – in a nutshell for me. Now if you want a longer synopsis and other details about the film you can Google it and learn how it’s from a semi-autobiography novel, directed by Jean-Jacques Annau, and so on. On with the review!

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Clearly, from the pictures from the film, the cinematography is a winning hundred over a hundred. China’s beautiful plains and hills were featured in almost every shot or transition, even the sky shot (which looked really realistic) during the storm was superb. The establishing shots will all amaze you, however visually astounding scenery displayed over and over can be boring, viewers wish for a plot development and unfortunately, the scenery no matter how breath-taking could not make up for the movie’s lack thereof. Still, aside from the scenery the movie is also a pleasure to other senses with the great musical accompaniment in corresponding scenes; the joyful opening for the positive outlook Chen Zhen has in the start of his journey, the heart throbbing drums for the storm and the movie’s climax, and the sorrowful strings for the lives, both human and animal, that were sacrificed. Personally my ‘wow’ scene and the one that put my hundred to the cinematography is the frozen horse scene, it’s truly a wonder how the scene looked so grotesque and realistic you would want to research if that’s how a horse would look like if they died in the arctic waters, also the expressions of the horses, wide eyes, open mouth as if asking for mercy. It’s horrific but the creators surely put the desperation felt by the animals and those who cared for them into the screen and into the viewers.

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A glimpse of the horse scene in ‘Wolf Totem’

Another thing that made this film amazing is the acting of the animals. Kudos to the trainers, staff and actors who worked patiently with them. Kudos most of all to the wolves and special effects that made this film amazing. You guys were an animal on cam!

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     Now let us go to the plot, as I have mentioned earlier there is very little movement in the story. The hero stays in the village, learns about wolves, hero ends up being a burden, hero leaves and kidnapped cub is freed. As the movie ended all there was is frustration.

It was boring. Sure, the old culture of some of the Chinese was depicted in the scenes where they have to sacrifice wolf cubs in order to maintain balance, but there was never really an answer with the ending, there was not solution. Except that the wolves will suffer more. The end.

The film was like a documentary from Animal Planet and History Channel, which definitely do not hold people’s interest for more than thirty minutes, Wolf Totem lasted for two hours. It is a film for people with a passion for films that do not entertain well but teaches a lot.

DISCLAIMER: I do not own Google, Animal Planet, History Channel, and I only used pictures from the movie as part of this review.

Posted in Spring Film Festival: Movie Reviews

Paint the town with ‘Red Amnesia’

by: Fathrize Liam S. Ceñedoza


As odd as movies can be, Red Amnesia can be counted as an odd film which will make you think twice about life. The movie contains scenes where you will question whether the things you are doing for a long time is really right or is it an illusion of right established by a changing society for the satisfaction of being a part of this ever shifting environment.

This 115 minutes movie started with a slow drama depicting a old woman’s life, Deng Meijuan portrayed by veteran actress Lu Zhong, building pressure and suspense throughout the movie. There is an uncomfortable sensation watching Deng do her daily routine comfortably. This builds the tension with the depiction of calm before a storm.

Deng’s routine includes her giving unwanted care for her first son, jun, and his family. her daughter-in-law openly shows her dislike of Deng’s habits. This is the depressing portrayal of reality that children neglects the parents after making and starting their own family. It shows the struggle of an old lady trying to fit in a society where she is not familiar with and a place where she has a house but is not quite her true home.

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Another minor conflict in the movie is the life of Deng’s second son, Bing. As a homosexual, he is not quite accepted by his conventional mother but Deng is still concern and still takes care of Bing. Even though it is evident that Deng does not approve of her son’s lifestyle, her motherly instinct allows her to take care of him still. Director Wang Xiaoshuai did an amazing job with this.

The major conflict in this movie is the problem with the intruder. Not only her life is at take but also her image. Policemen and Deng’s sons do not believe her complains about telephone harassments and blaming her ‘hallucinations’ for her fantasy of having a stalker.This conflict was not taken seriously until Deng’s safety is at stake.

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Another important message of the story is Deng’s affection for the unnamed young boy who helped her once on her errand. It led her to dream of him romantically due to lack of attention because she is recently widowed. It is quite disturbing considering the two and their age gap. It also shows how dangers are posted due to Deng’s intention being hospitable to the young boy. Her act of cooking meals for the boy symbolizes her desire desire of taking care of someone and failing thus giving it to other people, even to a stranger.

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‘Red Amnesia’ has a theme that tackles not only an individual’s personal issues but also conflicts with family, politics, society and also with the culture and tradition that one holds. It shows the depiction of reality in a society of people you do not know but has a motive yo harm you and the vulnerability of an elderly in a place where they are left with no one to accompany them.

This is the kind of movie that will make you silent and hold on for the next scenes with solemn camera shots and feelings of being stalked. ‘Red Amnesia’ is a movie that talks about not only the elderly but also to the young ones and their life decisions that may affect their future according to their tainted past.


 

Posted in Spring Film Festival: Movie Reviews

Red Amnesia: A Film To Remember

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by: Thea Amor Alvarado

“Expect the unexpected.”

In celebration of the Chinese New Year, Wang Xiaoshuai’s Red Amnesia- a partaker of the 11th Spring Film Festival, is the embodiment of such quotation.

Red Amnesia is part of Wang’s trilogy films that everyone can enjoy without charge. Together with the other Spring Films- “Wolf Totem,” “A Complicated Story,” “Book of Love,” “Everybody’s Fine,” “Horseplay” and “Red Amnesia”, all you need to do is arrive an hour before the screening since the seats are limited.

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It is a suspense thriller movie that focuses in the story of Deng, a widowed elder who keeps receiving anonymous phone calls and later finding out that her mysterious caller is someone from her remorseful past. She is living alone, content with what she has, independent and does not give up her family duties until satisfied enough to relax with her television and foot bath spa. Deng has two sons and a mother at a nursing home that she visits and brings home cooked meals everyday. This routine of hers starts to derail because of the occurrence of the calls where no one ever says anything on the other line. However, after a few more calls, she starts to hear breathing on the other end. She starts to think that her sins from when she was younger are haunting her.

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A scene from Wang Xiaoshuai’s RED AMNESIA

 

The movie progresses as a teenage lad, another character, surfaced.  He is always wearing a black and blue striped shirt and continues to follow the old lady wherever she goes. This confused me as to whether he is in love with the old lady or is in a mission to kill her.

The plot develops and becomes clearer when the movie explained her reasons of guilt. Deng worked at a factory in the mountains where she and her family also live when a crisis caused the factory to be closed. That’s when problems arise as to what they will do for a living and how will they feed themselves. In addition to this, only one family can leave for Beijing where life is better. The choices are between the families of Deng or Zhao’s who is a close friend of hers and an ally in a movement against shutting the factory down. That time, Deng was pregnant with her second son and refuses to succumb to poverty so she used the movement to her advantage and leaked the information to the government saying only that Zhao was part of it. As a result, Deng’s family was chosen to be transferred in Beijing.

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This is when the mysteries of the story start to unfold. The lad, a fugitive from murder and break-ins and who also kept on following and observing Deng appears to be the grandson of Zhao, fixed on revenge at first but ceased after experiencing the kindness of the elderly woman. I had to trace the dots backwards and start comprehending the flow of the story.

As the show nears to reaching its climax, you start to take in more of the story’s depth. The seasoned director Mr. Wang makes you understand but then forces you not to

accept the reasons that the plot is trying to serve you. The story abruptly ends at the death of the lad who tried to escape from the hands of the police but failed miserably.

The story is very human. Thriller, drama, comedy flavored with motherly love in one package. How about a round of applause Mr. Wang?

Posted in Spring Film Festival: Movie Reviews

Complicated Story: A Movie Review

fb_img_14864767248551The title itself gives justice t
o the whole plot of the story in so many ways. Keeping high expectations with Hong Kong or China based movies allowed me to prepare myself to anticipate many twists in the story.

The film is about a woman named   Liu Yazi, a woman who is financially besieged and is badly in need of  money. She will eventually bite to an offer to become a surrogate mother of an unidentified couple.

The story will start to get complicated as they couple withdraws the offer and forced Liu to have an abortion.

By looking at the synopsis, obviously, this is not as common story you could probably see in any movie either foreign or local. The process of surrogating is a taboo idea most especially in highly conservative societies such as the Philippines and China. The plot allowed me to understand better the process as well as the deeper story of surrogate mothers. The struggle she have faced as she had this moral dilemma of either letting the twins (another twist by the way) live even if they were not hers or to simply abide with the agreement and abort the pregnancy.

By the lenses of a politically active student like me, it’s more than just the twists of love as the real father Yuk Cheung starts to develop a certain romantic feeling for Liu, this story could also be about so many social issues such as the struggles of Chinese students to fund their studies abroad, or the controversy of allowing and legalizing surrogation. Another angle I have managed to focus to is the progression of the story, the branches or side twists of the film gave more spice to the entire story as a whole. One example of this is when Liu found out that the lawyer  Kammy Au whom for all these time have been assisting all her needs has developed feelings for her as well.

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photo source: GOOGLE.COM/complicatedstory

 Liu at this point is not just confused about deciding for her pregnancy but also for her own gender orientation. (I can still recall the time she was kissed by Kammy) Another socially relevant discussion was opened up as this angle have come to life, the Lesbian and Gay community. Who would have thought that Kammy is gay? (no one!) These progressions gave me an impression that the story was well planned and well written by its creators Kei  Shu and Kiwi Chow. 

Finally, on the cinematography aspect of the film. There is nothing much that I don’t like in general. The phase of the story is easily being coped to because of the viewer friendly shots  such as emphasizing little details of the story. All-in all, it I can rate the film as 7 over 10!

Ma. Pauline M.Tan

BABRC 4-2

Posted in Spring Film Festival: Movie Reviews

To: You, From: Me (Book of Love – Movie Review)

To: YOU

 

Book + Letter = Love

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Love?

Can someone really fall in love through letters without even meeting the other person you are exchanging messages with personally?

This is the question that bothered me ever since. I heard a lot of stories of couples who started their relationship through sweet words written in a piece of paper. And these days, now that we live in a digital world, some started off with a text message or an email. It is weird for me to believe how on earth these people fall in love with someone without seeing his/her in the flesh. I ask… What if he/she is not as what you expect him/she would be? What if that person has a criminal record? Or what if he/she is ugly? Do these people ever wonder what kind of person is behind those words they fell into? Well, no one can ever tell. Words can be mixed to make it flowery and deceive people. You might not know it because it may appear sweet and delicious, but is actually deadly like a poison berry once you take it.

 

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Movie Poster

The Chinese movie “Book of Love” tells the story on how a relationship between a casino hostess from Macau and a real estate broker in Los Angeles sparked through exchanging of letters because of the book 86, Charing Cross Road written by an American novelist Helene Hanff, which the movie is also inspired. It all started by mailing their own copies of the book to the address (which is also the title of the book) and surprisingly receiving it back with a letter inside. Then the story revolved on how they started hating each other, having a teacher-to-student-like relationship, friends and unconsciously falling for each other.

 

Now you know where I was getting all these questions, eh?

Cute. Witty. Dramatic. Romantic. These words best describe the whole plot of the story. It will give you that sort of “Oh no!” expression in every conflict that happens inside the movie. And that “awww” feeling when something good happens. The movie is filled with a very dark, yet sunny feel to it every time the story of the female protagonist, Jiao, is being told. And vice versa when the character of Daniel, the male protagonist, was presented. Jiao embodies the meaning of a person who gambles in life and love. Being indebted her whole life and not being loved equally by the men she fell in love is what makes her character the unluckiest of all. But, this girl is strong and steady as a tree during a typhoon. On the other hand, Daniel is the guy who is living the dream and has a wealthy life. But everything seems empty for him until he met the old couple from one of the houses he is selling and exchanged letters with Jiao whom all changed his whole perspective in life.

Honestly, the story was good but kind of predictable and plain in my opinion. Maybe adding a generous amount of seasoning to it will make the movie perfect. The only times that made me hold onto the story is from the first half and the times when the old couple appear. These moments are like waves of the ocean, strong and powerful. (Note: The story of make you believe that ‘forever’ does really exist.) By the time it reached the other half, it became just a ripple. But hold on so tightly and wait till the last moments of the movie because it is when bigger waves splash. Would they finally meet at the end? Well, it’s for you to know. Watch it.

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In terms of cinematography and editing, I cannot say much about it because it is not an action or fantasy movie where you will (un)conciously criticize on how great the camera angling is or whether the editing using CGI or Computer Generated Imagery sucks. The main focus of the movie is for the audience to feel every bit of emotion that the writer and the director wants to relay. And I think they successfully delivered it with “Book of Love”.

Talking about the actors, I would give them a round of applause for giving the right emotions to every scene whether they need to cry, feel lonely, angry or in love. I would like to commend the actors who played as the old couple. They gave such a deep illustration of a married life throughout the years and made us feel it is real, though the story is fiction. And of course, the main actors who gave their best interpretation of their characters, a

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Director Xue Xiaolu (center), actor Paul Shun and actress Wu Yanshu

miserable but strong woman and a positive but empty guy. What made me say that these actors were incredible is through the way they act with their eyes. The eyes are the window through your soul, as they say. And through eyes, you can see one’s true emotions. Well, these actors acted using the power of their eyes. As an audience, you can see that pure emotions are being delivered through the screen. They gave me this chilly but in a good way feeling when the camera focuses on their faces and *snap* the emotion from the eyes just hits you right down to your heart.

 

 

 

The movie also teaches a lot of valuable lessons not just in love, but also in life. It conveys very deep scenarios where I’m sure anyone can relate to.

 

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Going back to the question I had in the beginning… can you really fall in love with someone you are exchanging letters with even you have not seen him/her in person? Let’s think of it.

Well, I guess it can be quite possible for some. I mean, take it from the story of Helene Hanff and Frank Doel. The two created such beautiful friendship through exchanging letters even they have not yet met personally. And this is Hanff’s inspiration in writing her critically acclaimed novel, 86, Charing Cross Road (which I personally want to read.) For twenty years, they write in a piece of paper about their lives and mail it to each other even they were millions of miles apart. So if they became friends through letters, maybe the possibility of falling in love with someone through letters is the same.

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“Book of Love” is a movie that will break the audience’s hearts upon watching. The combination of a good storyline and powerful casts made this romantic-comedy movie a hit. Surely, hopeless romantic people would definitely fall in love with this film. And of course, to those who have already found the right person for them. I hope this would inspire the viewers to find love.

Wait until your ‘letter’ comes.

😉

From:  Jan Von Roi M. Sarmiento (BABRC 4-2)


Photo source:

http://m.chinadaily.com.cn/en/2016-04/27/content_24890517.htm