2008 Movie Round-up #8

I saw the first two movies, Reservation Road and Cloverfield more than a month ago, when I still had a lot of spare time to leisurely catch up on some films. I saw Ploning with a friend a few weeks ago at the cinemas.

Reservation Road Cloverfield Ploning

Reservation Road (2007, USA, dir. Terry George) is about two dedicated fathers in an intertwined struggle of coping up with loss and guilt. One of them, the character played by Mark Ruffalo, accidentally hits and runs over the son of the other father, played by Joaquin Phoenix. In some twisted turn of fate, Phoenix ends up hiring a firm with Ruffalo as attorney. Frustrated and enraged with the slow developments in the investigation of his son’s death, Joaquin eventually takes justice in his own hands and soon discovers the grave involvement of Ruffalo, among a handful of other contrivances. The film is a fairly convincing family drama with a largely powerful cast. What I found fairly unique about the film is that, as a family drama, it focused largely, without reservations, in exposing the emotional turmoil among fathers, as opposed to relying on the traditional dramatics of wailing female characters.

Cloverfield (2008, USA, dir. Matt Reeves) is an entertaining monster thriller. The title Cloverfield is the code name for a tape found by the US Military among the rubbles of Manhattan after it was obliterated in order to defeat a large monster. The tape is a self-documented film taken by a group of friends trapped in Manhattan as it was taken siege by the creature. The story’s nothing really new, a monster basically attacks Manhattan, with the plot focusing on a group of friends who tries to evade the danger posed by the monster. Cloverfield simply repackages the story into a fairly unique concept of self-documentation, shaky video-camera style, in a fairly suspenseful pace.

Ploning (2008, Philippines, dir. Dante Nico Garcia), shot entirely in picturesque Cuyo, Palawan, is a touching and lovely film about patient love. It’s a subtle film, not very complicated. Judy Anne Santos did a brilliant performance. None of the usual wailing and melodrama, just beautifully powerful but restraint acting. It’s not a perfect film, in fact there came a point when I think I had too much of all unnecessary scenic shots, it felt like the film is turning into a dramatic excuse to sell panoramic views to prospective tourists. The film is highly likeable, however. I came out of the cinema feeling touched, peaceful and serene.

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