Juliette Binoche, Catherine Deneuve, and Ethan Hawke star in 'The Truth.' Photograph from IMDb
Culture Movies

The festival that brought ‘Call Me By Your Name’ to Manila is back with more great films

CinemaOne Originals on its 15th year will be screening a harvest of buzz-worthy foreign films in its World Cinema section this November. Here’s a helpful guide. 
Bam V. Abellon | Nov 06 2019

We have CinemaOne Originals to thank for bringing to Manila some of the most talked about films in the international awards circuit—and giving us the privilege to watch it in the big screen. Before we ever got to acquaint ourselves with the Olivia Colman starrer The Favourite, the festival introduced us to Yorgos Lanthimos by screening The Lobster in local theaters. It also brought us Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name in November 2017, months before it became the Oscar sensation. The Manila screening was such a success it didn’t only give the annual Bench Body show a run for its money, it had follow-up screenings and a thousand requests for more after that. Over the years, the November film extravaganza that showcases what is essentially daring new cinema in the Philippines also throws a spotlight to world cinema and its many flavors. Among the many titles, we remember A Fantastic Woman which starred the sensational Daniela Vega, BPM by Robin Campillo, Neruda by Pablo Larrain, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri which won for Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell the Oscars for Best Actress and Supporting Actor in 2018, respectively.    

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For its fifteenth anniversary, the CinemaOne Originals Festival will again bring international movies to Philippine theaters, through their World Cinema section. Eight award-winning movies from different parts of the world will join the roster of eight local independent films. ANCX has prepared an easy guide to help you decide what to watch.

The movies will be screened in selected theaters from November 7 to 17.


The Lighthouse

Director Robert Eggers, who is best known for the horror film The Witch (2015), gets only praises for this psychological horror film. Starring Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe, the film, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last May, revolves around two lighthouse keepers, who get stuck in a remote island due to a storm. They begin having fanciful and absurd visions—a recurring one-eyed seagull! Mermaids!—as days go by. As they get to know each other, they each experience feelings of anxiety, which turn into annoyance, then rage.

Willem Defoe supervises Robert Pattinson in a New England island in The Lighthouse. Photograph from A24 Films

Best thing said about it: “That’s all there is, the two men and the lighthouse—plus a matched pair of brilliant performances, torrents of astonishing language, a slow crescendo of fateful sounds and a succession of hypnotic images, in black and white on an almost square screen, that lend a rock-solid sense of reality to a growing struggle for dominance.” – Joe Morgenstern, The Wall Street Journal

Screenings: November 7, 7:00 p.m., Ayala Malls Manila Bay

November 9, 2:00 p.m., Power Plant Mall

November 13, 7:30 p.m., Gateway

November 16, 7:30 p.m. Glorietta

November 17, 6:00 p.m. TriNoma


Matthias and Maxime

Matthias and Maxime is a love story between two friends who need to dig deeper into unexplored feelings to move forward in their relationship. Maxime has been his mother’s caretaker for a long time, until he decided to travel to Australia and leave his aunt. Matthias is a lawyer who wants to make it big in the firm he works for. One day, Matthias’s sister, an aspiring director, asks Matthias and Maxime to star in her movie. Along the way, the two men find out that in one of the scenes, they have to kiss. When they do, the moment sparks confusion and tension between them. Canadian Xavier Dolan, wrote and directed the film. He also plays the role of Maxime.

Gabriel D'Almeida Freitas and Xavier Dolan put their friendship to the test in Matthias & Maxime. Photograph by IMDb

Best thing about it: “As ever, Dolan’s creative motor runs on dialogue: people talking, talking, talking. Sex is the one thing that stops the flow.” – Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

Screenings: November 9, 10:00 p.m., Power Plant Mall

November 12, 7:30 p.m., Gateway

November 13, 10:30 p.m., Trinoma

November 15, 10:00 p.m., Glorietta

November 16, 8:00 p.m., Ayala Malls Manila Bay


Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Portrait of a Lady on Fire is a story about the slow development of attraction, which, in turn, grows into love.

Marianne, an artist, was commissioned by a countess to paint a portrait of her daughter, Héloïse. The painting was meant as a gift for Héloïse’s fiancé. But Héloïse refuses to pose for the painter, so the countess suggests to Marianne that the artist memorize her daughter’s face instead of asking for a sitting. Slowly, as the two women quietly study each other, they develop new and unexpected feelings toward the other.

Noémie Merlant is an awakened artist in Portrait of a Lady on Fire. Photograph from IMDb

Best thing said about it: “The film depicts a female space, in which men are out of frame. This is an all-female cast film exploring female desire from a woman’s point of view.” – Sheena Scott, Forbes

Screenings: November 9, 4:30 p.m., Power Plant Mall

November 11, 7:30 p.m., Gateway

November 14, 10:25 p.m., TriNoma

November 16, 2:30 p.m., Ayala Malls Manila Bay; 10:00 p.m., Glorietta


The Father

Dark comedy meets father-and-son drama in this Bulgarian film by writer-directors Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov. The Father revolves around the relationship between a 40-year-old man named Pavel and his eccentric father, who is a painter. Pavel comes back to his hometown to attend the burial of his mother. After the event, he accompanies his father as the latter shows grief in odd ways—e.g. he believes his wife is trying to contact him from a different plane. Their adventures bring about quirky humor and complicated scenes, whose meanings are left to audience’s interpretations.

Ivan Savov deals with grief in a quirky way in The Father. Photograph from IMDb

Best thing about it: “The story may test the limits of plausibility in places, but overall this off-the-map road movie is a humane, compassionate, character-driven delight.” – Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter

Screenings: November 9, 12:00 p.m., Power Plant Mall

November 15, 5:15 p.m., Gateway

November 16, 12:00 p.m., TriNoma; 10:30 p.m., Ayala Malls Manila Bay


The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão

Two sisters are separated in their youth. And their longing for each other’s presence in a life full of misfortunes and missed chances is the heart of The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão. Eurídice dreams of becoming a professional classic pianist, while Guida is the free-spirited older sister who elopes with a sailor. The two, who grew up in a mysoginistic environment, yearn to be free. One day, Guida comes back alone and pregnant, and is disowned by her father. She searches for Eurídice, who, unknown to her, was forcefully married off by her father. The sisters continue to search for each other despite fate throwing them obstacles and twists. 

Carol Duarte plays the titular character in The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão. Photograph from IMDb

Best thing said about it: “Karim Aïnouz’s ravishing period saga lives up to the description — high emotion articulated with utmost sincerity and heady stylistic excess, all in the perspiring environs of midcentury Rio de Janeiro — while surprising with its pointed feminist politics and occasionally sharp social truths.” – Guy Lodge, Variety

Screenings: November 14, 7:30 p.m., Gateway

November 15, 10:25 p.m., TriNoma

November 16, 2:00 p.m., Glorietta; 9:45 p.m., Power Plant Mall; 5:00 p.m., Ayala Malls Manila Bay


The Truth

The Truth is Japanese director Kore-eda Hirokazu’s first film done outside of his hometown. Fronted by big stars Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche, and Ethan Hawke, the story is about the relationship between an actress with a diva reputation, Fabienne (Deneuve) and her daughter, Lumir (Binoche). When Fabienne releases a memoir about her family life, Lumir, who is visiting with her husband (Hawke) and their child, confronts her mother about the inaccuracies in the book. The film explores their strained relationship through a mix of dramatic and comedic scenes.

Juliette Binoche and Ethan Hawke confront a diva in The Truth. Photograph from IMDb

Best thing said about it: “This is a story that recognizes how family is a living thing, and how dangerous it can be to place all your trust in any memory that refuses to make room for a new one.” – David Ehrlich, IndieWire

Screenings: November 9, 7:30 p.m., Power Plant Mall

November 10, 3:00 p.m., TriNoma

November 15, 7:30 p.m., Gateway

November 16, 1:00 p.m., Ayala Malls Manila Bay; 5:00 p.m., Glorietta


Two Popes

The movie is about the private and public moments of two popes: Pope Benedict XVI (played by Anthony Hopkins) and Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio (played by Jonathan Pryce). This funny and poignant Netflix film follows two men and their conversations on faith, The Beatles, football, etc. 

Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce talk about faith in The Two Popes. Photograph from IMDb

Best thing said about it: “The Two Popes explores these holy men as men, unfailing in their faith but capable of weakness all the same. They tease each other and argue about soccer, acknowledge their own egos and struggles in connecting with God.” – Katey Rich, Vanity Fair

Screenings: November 13 (Gala), 8:30 p.m., Ayala Malls Manila Bay

November 16, 9:30 p.m., TriNoma


Knives Out

From the writer and director of Star Wars: The Last Jedi comes this comedy-murder-mystery film. It begins with the 85th birthday party of the wealthy crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer). For the occasion, the matriarch invites his quirky family to her mansion, hoping to mend some issues. The day after the party, Thrombey ends up dead and all the remaining family members are now suspects in the crime. With an all-star cast, it manages to cast a spotlight on all of its lead actors and actresses: Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Michael Shannon, to name a few.

Daniel Craig investigate a death in Knives Out. Photograph from MRC II Distribution Company L.P.

Best thing about it: “There is a mystery stacked on top of another mystery that you don’t even realize exists until it rears its head at the moment you thought the whole thing was over.” – Iana Murray, GQ

Screenings: November 16, 6:30 p.m., Gateway