TV & Film

An International Movie List at Home & My Friend Sofia

It’s technically not allowed by law so thank goodness you didn’t get the idea here to checkout PirateBay and access these movies listed below free of charge. Once you have them, download the subtitle (choose .srt files) unless you speak French and Brazilian (well, Portuguese) and voila! A wonderful international film festival right at the comfort of your home.

Also, if you want to see France (since most movies below are of French production and are mostly set in France, this is the cost-free way to do it). If you love Marion Cotillard, this is a great list for you! The first three movies are with her, plus she is married to that guy she’s paired with in the first movie listed, who directed the second movie with an all-star French cast. Two Brazilian movies that are here are so so so good that I’m on the lookout for more. Meanwhile, two are American series that got us so glued to the couch from morning ’til dawn for days. Keywords: Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright and Jeremy Irons, how in the world would a series go wrong?!

movie posters

This list is a mix of different genres. Comedy, love story, drama, action, and for most movies, all at once! Action movies I started paying attention to recently and I totally like the genre now. It’s not only about the fight scenes but the story can be really incredibly interesting and well-written (I was always on the verge of having a heart attack the entire time I was watching Argo – disregard that this somehow constitutes my idea of being entertained by movies), as well as socially-relevant. If you’ve seen City of God and loved it, you will feel the same for Elite Squad.

Special shoutout to my long-time movie buddy, Sofia, who became a misis  last year. We’ve not seen eachother in years but  know that I miss you constantly. Best wishes again, Pei! This post is for you.

A Film by Sean Ellis: Metro Manila

metro manila john arcilla 2Synopsis

And so it is about Oscar Ramirez, a rice farmer from the north, crippled by rural poverty, who decided to take his chances in the country’s capital, Manila. Together with his wife and two young kids, Oscar braved the notorious streets of Manila (Dan Brown would certainly agree) and the family’s adventure in the gates of hell begins!

Being victims of one scam after another, homlessness, hunger, in short, utter poverty led Oscar’s wife, Mai Ramirez, to finally take in the job of a prostitute. It not only allowed her to bring her two children to work while on duty, it also enabled her to have their daughter’s nagging toothache treated by the doctor who tested her clean for diseases as part of the job. That same day, Oscar got a lucky break and he was immediately hired as a security officer. He was to collect, transfer, and guard large sums of money inside an armored vehicle into safekeeping. His partner, Ong, a generous albeit mysterious officer personally picked him for the job.

One by one, questions about Ong’s character unfold and he becomes central to the movie’s storyline. As Oscar’s character traverses the life of a poor but decent father trying to make a good and decent living for his family, he is tightly caught (even trapped) in the motives of the people around him as reflected by the overall context of the city itself. But as it will turn out, Oscar is not your typical poor but decent father trying to make a good and decent living for his family.

The reason why and all the details in between make this movie worth one’s dime and time, Filipino or not. Lovers of Manila (like me), or not (like Mr. Brown).

Happy Ending Marks the X

To its immediate defense, Metro Manila’s trailer should not lead anyone to think of it as a stereotypical poverty movie about a third world country. I know, we’ve seen this and that before – prostitution, slums, crime. But Metro Manila, a movie set in the Philippines shown now in selected theatres over here in Europe (France, The Netherlands, Belgium), depicts a reality that is skillfully sewn to come up with a believable, compact and thoroughly exciting movie. And for a bit of change, it has an unpredictable ending that would lift your spirits up, since you would find yourself rooting for Oscar, the protagonist, right from the start.

We Like Accurate Surprises

Metro Manila is a surprisingly accurate picture of the Philippine capital by a foreign movie outfit with a highly thrilling plot, coherent script, and a superb cast headed by Filipino veteran actor John Arcilla as Ong, together with the sympathetic Jake Macapagal as Oscar Ramirez, the natural probinsyana charm of Mia Ramirez portrayed by Althea Vega, the heart-wrenching endurance at such a young age of Ana Abad Santos who played the elder daughter’s role of Oscar and Mia, and Miles Canapi and her purely unintentional comedic character as “mamasan” Charlie.