Friday, October 30, 2009

Movie Capsule Reviews: Cinemanila 2009 Part 3

*KARAOKE (Chris Chong), Malaysia, 2008
stars: Zahiril Adzim, Nadiya Nissa
Boring has a new name. And it's "Karaoke". Watching this piece of Cannes trash is like driving rusty needles into your eyes. What a dull, indulgent crapper! The plot, if you could call it that, revolves around Betik, a young man who comes home to help in his family's karaoke business. When not busy staring at nothing, Betik indulges in the most boring of movie courtships with a woman called Anisah. The rest of it was all hazy as I was too busy snoring my ass off. There's nothing to be missed though. I woke up as the film shifts to an excruciating ten-minute scene showing how a factory processes palm oil. I kid you not. Only the most indulgent artsy-fartsies would find meaning in this pointless exercise. Good torture material.
Verdict: BOMB! Avoid!

*HUNGER (Steve McQueen), UK/Ireland, 2008
stars: Michael Fassbender, Liam Cunningham
Like a centerpiece in a sparse living room, there is a radiant 16- minute scene in the middle of “Hunger” that features a conversation between Irish Republican martyr Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender) and a prison chaplain (Liam Cunningham) about the rationale and ethics of a hunger strike. This single-take scene officially puts the “serious actor” stamp on Fassbender’s resume and “OMG-what-is-he-going-to-do-next?!” on Steve Mc Queen’s.
Alternately disturbing and mesmerizing, “Hunger” recreates the last six weeks of the life of hunger striker Sands and the brutality administered to him and several IRA inmates in the infamous Maze prison. By the film’s final third, Michael Fassbender joins Emile Hirsch, Tom Hanks and Christian Bale in the multiple choice question: “Who lost the most weight for a movie role?”

Verdict: 3 stars

*LITTLE ZIZOU (Sooni Taraporevala), India, 2008
stars: Sohrab Ardeshir,Boman Irani
What happens when you put India’s Parsi superstars in one movie? You’ve got a charmless family comedy that will make you want to curse your misfortune for even giving it the time. “Little Zizou” follows a little boy caught in the middle of a cartoonish family feud in the Parsi community. This uber-Parsi movie should appeal to Indian audiences, but for non- Indians like me and my uber-bored friend, you’ll find yourself checking your watch more than usual. We just failed to connect with it. Not even the presence of superstar John Abraham can lend energy to this travesty. And what’s the deal with the mambo dancing and Besame Mucho group singing?
Verdict: 1 star

*SAMSON AND DELILAH (Warwick Thornton), Australia, 2009
stars: Rowan McNamara, Marissa Gibson
It’s a good thing that this is the last film I saw at Cinemanila. Somehow, it breaks the chain of crap-ola movies I saw the past few days and leaves the whole festival on a good note. Warwick Thornton’s piercing cinema is a quiet exploration of adolescent love between two aboriginal fringe-dwellers set in the barren Central Australian desert. Samson is a petrol-sniffer lost in music while Delilah is a traditional dot-painter forced to take care of her ailing grandmother. Thornton’s almost wordless film expands as the lovers confront substance abuse, poverty and racism. Slow in certain parts but don’t zone out, there is so much beauty in this picture to be ignored. The performances are heart-wrenching and the scenery will leave you breathless. A convincing snapshot of the destitute lives of Australian aborigines.
Verdict: 3.5 stars

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