Hats off to this year’s Oscar acting nominees, who willingly braved heretofore unchartered territories to serve their art: Matthew McConaughey lost 47 lbs to play an HIV-stricken homophobic, Christian Bale had a pot belly and an uncooperative toupee, Jared Leto wore high heels and tight skirts, Michael Fassbender carried a whip and a Bible, Meryl Streep hurled scathing insults at everybody she loved, and Jonah Hill ate a goldfish and put on a prosthetic penis.
Like Tom Hanks (“Captain Phillips,” “Saving Mr. Banks”), Robert Redford should have been in their company for his virtuoso performance in JC Chandor’s almost-dialogue-free shipwreck drama, “All Is Lost” (check out our Jan. 18 article). But, his portrayal may have been too “subdued” for the Academy’s voters. Heck, his character didn’t even have a name!
But, therein lies the rigorous thespic rub—even without show-stopping lines, facial props and prosthetics, and a life-threatening illness, the 77-year-old acting great manages to shine a light on the indomitability of the human spirit—and the depths of his acting gifts. Props to UIP-Solar for releasing the film here, despite its limited box-office appeal, and to SM Cinemas for the Cine Exclusive treat—at, would you believe?, “only” P95.50! If you love great performances, you don’t want to miss this. Go.
We didn’t have high hopes for Jose Padilha’s revival of Paul Verhoeven’s “RoboCop”—but, instead of the loud and bloated actioner we thought we’d get, the Berlin-winning filmmaker’s reboot of the 1987 sci-fi franchise has turned out to be an engaging action romp that smartly incorporates its cautionary themes into its man-versus-machine premise.
Set in 2028 Detroit, the movie is trotted out as an Origins story that chronicles the birth of a different kind of superhero in the person of Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman), a loving family man cum incorruptible cop, whose vital organs are transferred into a robotic vessel after he is critically injured in the line of duty.
However, unlike Bruce Wayne or Clark Kent, Alex’s free will is heavily compromised by the controlled medical and technological innovations that otherwise keep him alive—for one, the varying levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter released by the brain that plays a role in memory, mood, movement, behavior and cognitive functions, are affecting the way he interacts with his distraught wife (the stirring Abbie Cornish) and son!
Kinnaman gets outstanding support from the lovely Cornish, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Jackie Earle Haley and Samuel L. Jackson.
Despite the rushed resolution of its ending, the film effectively raises pertinent ethical and moral questions as RoboCop puts the fear of God in remorseless criminals and erring public officials: Is it alright to violate some civil liberties in the urgent pursuit of justice? Does the end always justify the means? Look around you and decide.
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