Seven Days of A+ Movies

Posted by Abdel Kadz on Sunday, November 30, 2008 with 142 comments
What a cinematic experience the last seven days were for me. If there were one more thing that I am passionate about besides my music, favorite TV shows, and books, it’s movies. They’re not the typical commercial ones that scourge our theaters nowadays, though, the reason being I do not frequent them anymore. My penchant goes for foreign, festival and award-winning films, visual spectacles that leave me awestricken and bringing my mental faculties to bear a cerebral undertaking of their own. I am more than proud to say, of course, that I have watched many of them since this fascination began years ago. This blog is for the seven that I only recently got a hold of; finding them on the DVD stands before was like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Scorpio Nights, 1985

Scorpio Nights neither falls on the festival, foreign, or award-winning category, save for the two plums it garnered from Urian for cinematography and music. This film is one of the few ever to make the roster of notable movies made in the Golden Age of Philippine Cinema, the 1980s. I began watching Scorpio Nights expecting a lot because of its notoriety of being bold enough in a time where the nation is in Martial Law and where pene films became a rebellious art form. But it being labeled porn is a misnomer. I have seen more films where sex scenes are far more graphic than what "Scorpio Nights" had to offer. The movie, in its indie-like form and its cinematography, still manages to draw audiences in to the labyrinthine lives of its protagonists, Danny and the wife of their security guard neighbor downstairs, and in how their fates would soon end in the hands of the latter's husband. 3+/5

Hotaru No Haka (Grave of the Fireflies), 1988

When the word “anime” is mentioned, visions of animated characters with spiky hair and superpowers come to mind. But with “Grave of the Fireflies,” you see neither. The story revolves around two siblings, Seita and Satsuko, who are caught in the throes of war where they both have to fend for themselves after their mother died in an air raid and their father, as a naval officer, was on the high seas fighting for Imperial Japan (he too was inferred to have met his demise in the latter part of the movie). Reading of rave reviews before watching it, I prepared myself to cry like a baby girl, like one particular book did to me, “A Dog of Flanders.” I know now why most who watched this 1988 war classic did so upon finishing the film. It clearly showed the harsh and heart-wrenching realities of a nation at war where the real people on the losing end are the innocent children who had to sacrifice themselves for something they do not have anything to do with in the first place. I did (almost cried like a baby girl) after watching it, but it was another movie (Central Station) that would leave my eyes welling up in admiration. 4/5

Central do Brasil (Central Station), 1998

This is one of the best movies for me, and I have nothing to say but praises. Fernanda Montenegro as Dora, a retired teacher who writes letters for a living, catapulted this film to the prestige it is reaping today. To say her performance was natural, convincing, and effective are understatements. You just have to see this to believe how great she was in the film. She’s the artiste personified, and I would give her all the acting plums if ever my movie reviews amount to something.

The supporting cast did a superb performance as well, from Josue, the kid she helps after his mother died in a car accident and whom she forms a bond with that transcends friendship and love; the two siblings Moises and Isaias, who turned out to be Josue’s long-lost brothers; Irene, the next-door neighbor who served as Dora’s conscience; and even the “clients” who, in their inability to read and write, brought a new life to the movie as they mouthed the words that Dora then wrote into letters.

Walter Salles did such an amazing job in directing this movie. From the script, cinematography, music, acting, down to everything, Central Station is what a cinematic experience should be like. One of those movies that you should watch before you die (I'm disappointed not to see this film on the list). Highly recommended. 5/5

To be continued...

SIDENOTE: Because of the length of this post, I decided of doing it in two parts.
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