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Silence (2016/I)
Scorsese's Exploration Of Faith And Spirituality Fell Short, 15 January 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Martin Scorsese does another film in the tradition of his former films like "The Last Temptation Of Christ" which explores religious themes such as faith in the face of oppression,spirituality and the conflict of divine nature and human nature in this film entitled "Silence".It was based on the 1966 novel written by Shūsaku Endō of the same title as well as the 1971 Japanese film adaptation of the said novel entitled "Chinmoku" (English translation:Silence).It stars Andrew Garfield,Adam Driver,Tadanobu Asano,Ciarán Hinds and Liam Neeson. Director Martin Scorsese and Jay Cocks wrote the screenplay together.

The story starts when Portuguese Jesuit priest Fr.Alessandro Valignano receives the news that Father Cristóvão Ferreira,who went to Japan has already renounced his Roman Catholic faith.Despite knowing the on- going Christian oppression and the danger they are facing,Fathers Francisco Garupe and Sebastião Rodrigues decided to embark a journey in the country with the help of an alcoholic fisherman Kichijiro. All of them land in a village that consist of many Japanese Christians.

As the story progresses, we get to see both Rodrigues and Garupe witness the on-going violence that has been happening in the country due to Christian oppression.In the end,we get to see themselves also get arrested by the Japanese soldiers with aid Kichijiro. We also get to see the meeting between Father Rodrigues and Ferreira,who apparently has already apostatized being a Catholic and has become already a Buddhist and have immersed into becoming a Buddhist and into the Japanese culture as well.We get to see their exchange of words with Ferreira trying to convince Rodrigues to renounce his faith for the sake of living a longer life as well and to end the suffering,torture and oppression that he is undergoing as well as those that he is witnessing which included the death of many Christian Japanese villagers as well as that of Garupe,who was stabbed in the middle of the ocean.When Rodrigues could no longer bear his suffering emotionally, psychologically and physically,he decided to apostatize in the end and renounce his Catholic faith just like Ferreira as well. But when he passed away and he given a Buddhist burial, interestingly Rodrigues held a small cross in his hand.

After watching this film two days before this review was being written,it led me to the original 1971 Japanese film "Chimoku".Personally,I felt that this was basically more of a remake of "Chimoku" rather than having an American version of the Endō's novel. The interesting exchange of words between Ferreira and Rodrigues from apostasy, God's divine nature particularly being silent especially when man needs His response the most after prayer, and the renunciation of faith could only be a formality to live longer were all explored.Too bad that I just felt the lack of intensity in it and the exploration of these themes was somewhat lacking.

Don't get me wrong. Andrew Garfield and Liam Neeson as Rodrigues and Ferreira respectively could have given a better performance for they are both talented actors. I just felt the screenplay fell short.I blame both screenwriters -Jay Cocks and director Martin Scorsese - for it. Rodrigues just gave up his faith so easily and I felt that he never experienced so much pain physically,psychologically and emotionally from it when he lived as a Japanese pagan and got immersed into their country's culture. Also,the suffering that he had to go through felt lacking as well as the desire want to live longer.I felt that wanting less Christian Japanese villagers killed wasn't enough considering he was a priest - who loves Christ the most.Besides,aren't the Christian Japanese villagers willing to die for Christ? They didn't even stepped on and spat on the Christian carvings and were undergoing a lot of sufferings for very a long time and yet never abandoned their faith.

What's even worse is that the issue of martyrdom among the Japanese villagers wasn't fully explored as well. The film showed that these Christian converts died due to lack of education.Nothing more.Even the complexity of the character of Kichijiro was left at that reason as well together with the on-going Christian persecution that was occurring in Japan during the 17th century. That is why it somehow felt short due to lack of full exploration of the themes about faith and spirituality.It also never took into consideration their pride as a Japanese people and why their love for Jesus is greater unlike the Japanese soldiers,whose love for country resisted Western influence that all pointed to Christianity was definitely mentioned.

P.S. Check out the 1971 Japanese film "Chinmoku".Author Shūsaku Endō's screenplay is a lot better than Scorsese and Jay Cocks' in this 2016 version.

Silence (1971)
A Film About Christian Persecution In Japan, 15 January 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I just saw the Martin Scorsese's 2016 movie entitled "Silence" starring Andrew Garfield,Adam Driver and Liam Neeson two days after this review is being written.I did not realize that there was an original Japanese film entitled "Chinmoku",also known as "Silence" that was released back in 1971. I was fortunate to see it on a website that has Asian movies.Luckily was able to see it a couple of times to make a review and compare it with the Hollywood version.

"Chimoku"(a.k.a Silence) is a Japanese film that was one based on the 1966 novel written by Shūsaku Endō with the same title.It stars David Lampson,Don Kenny,Tetsurō Tamba and Shima Iwashita.Few scenes have dialogues that were English. It tells the story of two 17th century Portuguese priests,Fathers Sebastian Rodrigo and Francisco Garrpe,who went to Japan to search for their mentor Fr.Cristóvão Ferreira,who has never contacted them for the last five years.Added to that,they also intend to evangelize and spread Christianity particularly Roman Catholicism.It was set on the middle of the 1600's when Christianity was expressly banned in Japan.Christian persecution and the killing of Christians were well-known to be occurring. In spite of it,both Portuguese priests are determined to accomplish their mission despite the fact as well that it was believed that Fr. Ferreira has become a pagan.

Before going any further,I would like to say that Scorsese made a remake of this film just like when he did "The Departed" which was basically a remake of the Chinese film,"The Infernal Affairs" instead of saying that he made a film based on novel by Endō. Evidently,this was a little known film. Added to that,there was very little difference made as far as majority of the scenes and the dialogues are concerned.Only a few changes in the conclusion particularly the final scene was made and possibly the running time considering that Scorsese's film is 30 minutes longer.

Director Masahiro Shinoda did a wonderful job in exploring various themes in this little known film that includes the possibility of Christianity in Japan which up to now remains a religion of the minority;cultural difference between Asians and Europeans;faith in the face of oppression as well as the conflict between human needs as well as emotional needs against divine nature;human weaknesses and suffering; psychological make-up and emotional content.

We get to see the cultural difference between the Europeans and the Japanese and was taken into consideration especially when the Portuguese priests arrived into a village where there are many Japanese Christians.This was also taken into consideration in the complex character Kichijiro,who continues to do what the Japanese soldiers would want him to do particularly in degrading Christian statues and carvings as well as trying to pinpoint at Christians whether they are priests or Japanese villagers but deep inside has probably maintained a Christian.Added to that,we also realize the Japanese intense love for their culture,pride and nationalism which remains true today.This was evident among Japanese villagers who became martyrs and gave up their life instead of abandoning their Christian faith as well as the Japanese persecutors who would not want their culture to get influenced from the outside particularly the West.

There were also a lot of interesting scenes between Fr.Ferreira and Fr. Rodrigo with the former confirming that he has apparently apostatized from his Catholic faith and the latter going through intense suffering after undergoing torture from the Japanese soldiers to convince him into renouncing his faith. The needs of divine nature and human nature was clearly explored including the nature of God particularly His silence and make His presence felt.

Finally,it was also worthy to note the changes that both priest have undergone with Fr.Ferreira embracing Japanese culture and Fr. Rodrigo's dark psychological make-up when he finally decided to apostatize when he possibly knew that what he did was not just a formality to save his life but a conversion was indeed going to take place whether he likes it or not.It was clearly seen that there is lack of content and happiness on their part.

Overall,this was a great film.I even it consider a lot better than the Scorsese's 2016 version.All themes were clearly explored unlike the 2016 version wherein there were some themes that weren't explored very well.Screenwriters - author Shūsaku Endō and director Masahiro Shinoda - did a wonderful job of writing the screenplay.Definitely, the viewers will be divided upon seeing this film particularly Christians. But I sincerely believe that the themes were presented fairly whether one dies rather than abandoning one's faith or one apostatizes in order to save one's life.The pros and cons were clearly explored.

The Pointer Sisters Comes Aboard On The Pacific Princess, 14 January 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Isaac and the Mermaids/Humpty, Dumpty/Aquaphobic" is the is the 18th episode of the fourth season of The Love Boat. The Pointer Sisters makes a guest appearance including Jason Hervey, Suzanne Kent, Louis Nye, Audra Lindley, David Hasselhof and Jeff Cooper.

We get to witness Isaac try to impress a concert promoter with his singing skills and he successfully does as he becomes a back-up singer to the Three Chambermaids.Then,we get to see a former All- American football player gets attracted to Julie The Cruise Director and tries to romance her in the process.Finally,a man who is fearful of water is convinced by his wife to take a cruise to cope with it and hopefully overcome it in the process.

Despite the fact that we get to see the usual silly, comedic or serious stories that includes romance and love, what makes this an unusual episode is the guest appearance of the successful mainstream group of singers made up of Ruth, Anita, and June Pointer or better known as the Pointer Sisters. No question that the Pointer Sisters were definitely well-known back in the 70's and 80's.

Doc Resists A Woman's Advances For A Change, 13 January 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Lose One, Win One / For the Record (The $10,000 Lover) / Mind My Wife" is the 17th episode of the fourth season of The Love Boat. Guest stars for this episode includes Dorian Lopinto,Sam Chew Jr.,Steve Marachuk,Ron Palillo,James Darren,Gina Hecht,Jim McKrell and Jill St. John.

A woman and her fiancé are on board as passengers. The woman meets fellow passenger whom she believes as someone she knows from High School.Unfortunately,the said passenger denies ever knowing the woman at all. A geeky passenger is said to be on the verge of setting a new world record in terms of having sex with women.The keeper of the said record is about to collect $10,000 bonus if it happens but the geeky passenger unfortunately meets a woman that she fell in love with. The best friend of Doc is called to do hospital duties that is why Doc was asked to take care of his wife.Things get out of hand when the wife makes advances towards him and later the Captain.

It was a funny episode especially when we get to see characters and the Love Boat crew facing obstacles with other people.It was also nice to see Doc resisting women for a change instead of the usual playboy that the viewers are accustomed with.

The Doc-Gopher Rivalry, 12 January 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Gopher's Bride/Love with a Married Man/Not Tonight, Jack! is the sixteenth episode of the fourth season of The Love Boat. Guest stars for this episode includes Marie Laurin,Dana Wynters, Paul Burke,Susan Oliver,Patrick Wayne,Trish Stewart, Pamela Jean Bryant and Paul Gale.

Isaac and Doc had been using Gopher's name to write love letters to a woman.Both were surprised when she appears on board and turns out to be a very beautiful woman.Doc and Gopher try to outdo each other in romancing her.Meanwhile,workaholic couple is part of the list of passengers.The man finds another love among the passengers.Finally,another man is surprised to discover that he and his girlfriend are about to share quarters.

Well,it was nice to see the Doc-Gopher rivalry when it comes to women for a change.This makes it different as compared to the usual love stories that are written for it with only the list of guest stars - which the show is known more - that makes it different.

Good Enough For A Dramedy, 11 January 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

First Voyage, Last Voyage/April the Ninny/The Loan Arranger is the fifteenth episode of the fourth season of The Love Boat.The list of guest stars for this particular episode are the following: Charo, Larry Linville, Rachel Jacobs, Alex Woodard, Kathleen Nolan, Maureen McCormick, Richard Kline, Lisa Hartman, Erik Stern, Jay Thomas, Dody Goodman and Ty Hardin.

We get to April in this episode.She becomes unofficially the foolish person for the two children of the TV sportscaster.Meanwhile,a loan shark sends one of his goons to a fellow passenger for a debt collection.But only things become more complex.Finally,a young woman that travelling with her parents and who is about to die because she is suffering from leukemia falls in love with a fellow passenger.

Well,this the combination of drama and comedy in this episode was good enough although one cannot say it is an unforgettable episode of The Love Boat.

Awkward Characters, 10 January 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Trigamist/Jealousy/From Here to Maternity fourteenth episode of the fourth season of The Love Boat.The guest stars that are appearing in this episode includes Michael Young, Nancy Walker, George Gobel, Rebecca Holden and Pat Crowley.

This is definitely a funny episode when we see many awkward characters aboard. One includes a female judges who gets attracted to a male co- passenger whom he placed on probation after getting married to three women at the same time.Vicki gets extremely jealous when her father gets attracted to a beautiful female passenger.Finally,an expectant couple continues to pester a Doc when he tries to make a move on another passenger.

This was definitely very funny and entertaining as we get to see these numerous awkward characters aboard.

A Filipino Film Masterpiece About Muslim Rebellion In The Philippines, 9 January 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Talented Filipino actor Cesar Montano and director Marilou Diaz- Abaya teams up once again in this film that tackles the Muslim rebellion in the Mindanao region of the Philippines entitled "Bagong Buwan" (English translation: New Moon) after both teamed up in what I consider a Filipino film masterpiece in a biopic about the national hero of the Philippines,"Rizal". The movie tackles about the ill-effects of war and violence as a resolve to settle tensions and conflicts between the Filipino Christians and Muslims that is reflected between the all out war by the Philippine government and the Moro Rebel group known as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front(MILF). Added to that,it also tries to examine the reasons of the conflicts that have existed for many years between the Filipino Christians and Muslim through the different characters of throughout the screenplay.Amy Austria,Jericho Rosales,Caridad Sanchez and Carlo Aquino co-stars.

Montano plays the lead character Ahmad,who works as a surgeon in Manila,the capital of the Philippines.When he got the news that his son Ibrahmi got killed when a stray bullet hit him,he decided to go back to his hometown in a province and Mindanao. He stays with his mom Bae Farida,his wife Fatima and his other son Rashid.Realizing that the violence have become an everyday occurrence with the armed conflict going on between the Filipino soldiers and the Muslim rebels, he tells tries to convince his family to go and transfer to Manila as he strives to live a peaceful life.He is met by a lot of resistance with his family. He decides to stay for awhile and tries to convince each of his family members even more as the days go.Meanwhile,Ahmad treats the victims of the violence.

Then as the story proceeds,we get to meet different characters aside from his family as he stays in his province which provides Ahmad (the audience as well) insight on why this conflict has been going on for years.Among those presented are the following: Difference in religious beliefs;the Filipino Muslim's strive to fight for their liberty and rights;the feeling of prejudice by the minority Filipino Muslims from the majority of the Filipino Christians;the lack of education; poverty;and the feeling of neglect by the Filipino Muslims as well as the lack of trust from the Philippine government.Going into the conclusion, we get the death of many characters including Ahmad due to the violence of war which led to the decision of Rashid to join Musa to become part of the Moro rebel group; and Francis,a Catholic stowaway kid whose parents got killed joins Fatima and Farida,both of whom teach kids the ways of peace.

This was definitely a great Filipino film that provides the viewers a great insight about the on-going Muslim rebellion in the Philippines.I would like to credit screenwriters - director Marilou Diaz-Abaya,Ricardo Lee and Jun Lana - for a wonderful job of writing a great screenplay.It definitely tackled a lot of issues that would give the viewer a lot of insight on why this rebellion has been going on for years.Although it was evident that it also tries to present war to resolve nothing at all,the issues presented about this on-going conflict from the different characters that Ahmad came into contact with from his family,a Filipino soldier, his brother Datu Ali,Francis and the villagers in his hometown is what made it an outstanding film as it shows a the predicament of Filipinos Muslims that made more than just another typical anti-war film.I would also like to commend the cast particularly Cesar Montano for providing a great performance as well.Arguably, he remains to become the best Filipino actor to date.Finally,Marilou Diaz-Abaya did really made the film interesting and worth watching.Nobody overacted thanks for her.It also did not resort to any melodrama or melodramatic scenes which is typical among many Filipino films.

Truly a Filipino film masterpiece!!!

Eskapo (1995)
Explains The Lopez-Osmeña Friendship, 8 January 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A Filipino friend of mine told me that his father used to work as a manager of a bank back in the Philippines wherein the Lopez family deposited their assets.When Eugenio "Geny" Lopez, Jr was still alive, he would provide money worth millions of pesos to his former prison mate, Sergio "Serge" Osmeña III as a gift for Christmas. Hence,the movie "Eskapo" figures on how a long-term friendship between these them was developed.

Christopher De Leon and Richard Gomez stars are Geny Lopez and Serge Osmeña respectively in this political thriller entitled "Eskapo" (English Translation:Escape).It tells a story on how these two political prisoners figured an escape plan when both were among the people imprisoned during the presidency of the late Ferdinand Marcos during the Martial Law Years back in the 1970's.Dina Bonnevie co- stars.

When President Marcos declared Martial Law after an ambush on the Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile falsely transpired, thousands of Filipinos were jailed.Among them were Geny Lopez and Serge Osmeña.Both Lopez and Osmeña belong of a prominent family plan who never supported the Marcos dictatorship.After Geny and Serge through the help of their families tried all legal means of their release that included a hunger strike,they finally decided to plan a prison escape.With the help of Geny's relatives like his wife Chita, his sons Gabby and Raffy together with Jake Almeda-Lopez,they managed a successful prison break from the Fort Bonifacio maximum security prison.

Director Chito Roño did a wonderful job in it.We get to see an good story from beginning to end.The performances of De Leon and Gomez were worth mentioning as they had great chemistry and the difference of their personalities was highlighted in the film.The optimistic Osmeña was played well by Gomez despite his tendency to overact and to purposely steal as well as dominate scenes over his co-stars.De Leon did a masterful job of reciprocating him by not doing the same to play effectively as the reluctant Geny and not to counter Gomez's overacting to form a chemistry between them as well as an interesting friendship between two different people.The escape scenes was also filled with great tension and suspense to keep it interesting despite the audience knowing that the real-life people involved are alive when the movie was released and have successfully escape.Added to that,it definitely provides the viewer about the ill-effects of Martial Law,the abuses of the Marcoses and that of the Marcos dictatorship particularly how justice is being served and how Filipinos - rich and poor -are suffering from it.

This makes Eskapo a good Filipino political thriller after all these years because of these reasons stated.

Noy (2010)
No Wonder It Did Not Make The Oscar's Short List Of Nominees, 7 January 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Filipino socio-political film "Noy" started with lots of promise.This independent movie starring Coco Martin that tells a story about a poor family breadwinner named Noy,who fakes his credential in order to find a job as a journalist and was assigned to cover candidate Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III during the presidential elections in the Philippines.

Noy could have been provided viewers with many interesting themes such as the socio-economic conditions in the Philippines such as poverty, its political situations and the possible difference then President- elect of the Philippines Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III would make compared to past Philippine presidents in terms of addressing the problems that the third-world country has been facing throughout the years particularly poverty.This film that also stars Erich Gonzales,Cherry Pie Picache,Joem Bascon,Cheska Billiones,Vice Ganda and Baron Geisler could have become one of the best Filipino films ever made has the screenwriters provided a focused parallel story about the family breadwinner Noy and President Noynoy. It could have been a compelling film that would give viewers a view of the Philippines socio-economic conditions and political system.Unfortunately,that was not the case.

The screenwriters - Rondel Lindayag,Coco Martin,Francis Xavier Pasion and Shugo Praicoare - are to blame here first of all considering that the film lacked focus and direction in terms of what the film would be all about.Presenting a good parallel story of the journey of President Noynoy Aquino from being a presidential candidate to becoming the President of the Philippines who promises to make life better for the Filipinos and what Noy could have possibly learned from him especially when it comes to poverty or whether Aquino is capable to his making changes would have been a good idea.Instead,we are presented a movie that was scattered all over the place especially with two awkward different plots of both Noynoy and Noy respectively.

Here are the reasons why.First,we are treated more about Noynoy as the person and the celebrity.Viewers get to learn more about the prominent family that he came from like being the son of the late Philippine President Corazon "Cory" Aquino and the late Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr.Also,it was more about his personality and the number of celebrities supporting him. Secondly, we are treated more about Noy's socio-economic conditions belonging to a poor family and how his family suffers from it.Instead of focusing on why many Filipinos have remained poor all throughout the year or how poverty has affected Noy in terms of opportunities in life and how he contributes to society, we are presented on Noy's life like his struggles at work being a fake journalist and how he remains optimistic in life in spite of it.

What's even more awkward is the fact that the love story between Noy and Divine was included in the screenplay.Honestly,it practically has very little bearing to the movie's themes at all.I just felt that the insertion of this love plot was a waste of running time as we only see two people who have no reason to be together just cry over their unfortunate situation of their affair with Noy being unable to provide and commit to the relationship and Divine being committed and engaged to get married to someone else.Even their love scene between the two when Divine intends to end to relationship and is about to leave Noy to marry his boyfriend becomes more awkward for does not contribute anything to the themes (or multiple themes unfortunately) the story is trying to present.The Noy-Divine romance plot just made this a typical Filipino romantic film for awhile and somehow made we forgot that this is an independent film.This was basically for the purpose of melodrama and to please those Filipino viewers who love melodramatic features.Nothing more. And independent films need no melodrama.More so a socio-political film like this.

The conclusion was also a mess.We get to see Noy get killed after two people robbed his place.Instead of seeing a transformation in his character in observing Noynoy that would have been observed throughout the film,a peculiar narrative from Coco Martin was inserted about the similarities and differences about his life and President Aquino's life at end.This just felt out of place after the direction of their stories was different from the beginning of the film. In the end,President Aquino just basically became a trademark for the film and its themes about politics and poverty were just used for it to get its classification as an independent film. No wonder it did not make the short list of nominees as the Oscar's Best Foreign Language Film in the Academy Awards back in 2011.

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