Tag Archives: Xian Lim

tv + film by Philbert Dy

‘Sin Island’ is Embarrassingly Bad

This movie about infidelity feels like children playing at being adults

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Sin Island is about married couple David and Kanika (Xian Lim and Colleen Garcia). David is a successful photographer, but his career goes into a downward spiral after an accident that leads to a lawsuit. This puts a strain on their marriage, which leads Kanika into an emotional affair with an airline pilot. When David finds out about this, he runs away to Sinilaban Island. And there, he meets Tasha (Nathalie Hart), who he ends up sleeping with. Kanika travels to the island to patch things up, and David seems willing to reconcile. But Tasha isn’t ready to give David up just yet.

You might note the word “emotional” in describing the affair that Kanika has with the pilot. It ends up being a big part of this movie: while David actually goes on to sleep with someone else, Kanika’s unfulfilled desires are treated as an equal sin. This wouldn’t be such an issue if the film didn’t dedicate a pretty long stretch to figuring out the math of their infidelity. As it is, the math is awfully unequal, and ends up giving voice to some toxic attitudes about sex. It also makes the story pretty uninteresting, as it means that it never really reckons with the real effects of infidelity.

In lieu of any discussion about how these two can actually try to work toward fixing their relationship, the film mainly gets into a thriller plot involving Tasha, because it turns out she’s crazy. And not just the kind of crazy that might have her doing nude yoga on a beach. The kind of crazy that turns murderous. It’s a development that has become a cliché of the local film that involves infidelity, which is less about trying to unpack the serious repercussions of that kind of betrayal, and is instead mostly about mounting scenes in which women behave very badly in the name of fighting over a man.

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To that end, the film somewhat delivers. There are a couple of idiotic, gonzo scenes that have the women involved acting really crazy. It’s fun only to the extent that really dumb things can be fun. The fun isn’t derived from the film exhibiting any sort of creativity or ingenuity. It is drawn instead from its inability to mount anything in a way that makes any sense. Consider the sequence where David arrives on Sinilaban. Someone from the hotel says, “welcome to Sin Island.” Rather than immediately connecting the dots, David looks puzzled. The hotel employee helpfully explains that it’s short for Sinilaban Island. Because clearly, no one could have figured that out.

It’s in the most basic elements that the film really struggles. The setup to David’s initial industry downfall is labored and contrived, the film going through hoops to make sure that the character isn’t really at fault. Supporting characters exist to voice the most inane things to the leads. The technical package is subpar, particularly in the sound mix. There are sequences where it doesn’t even feel like the characters are talking in the same room. Performances are not great all around. But it’s hard to know what the actors are supposed to be doing under these unenviable circumstances.

Sin Island feels like children playing at being adults. It feels so completely juvenile in its attempt to address the complexities of marital infidelity. As it goes on, it just gets puerile, getting off on poorly staged sex and violence, while still pushing toward a conventional conclusion that seems to ignore the utter insanity that these characters went through. It is in fact so bad that there is a chance this film might go down as an ironic favorite for fans of terrible cinema. Except it isn’t actually interesting in the way a lot of the best bad movies are. It’s mostly just embarrassing.

Philbert Dy
Philbert Ortiz Dy has been reviewing movies professionally since 2007, and has thus dedicated his life to being yelled at by fans of literally everyone. He is currently the Online Editor of Rogue.ph. Yell at him on Twitter at @philbertdy.
tv + film by Philbert Dy

‘Paddington 2’ is Still Wonderful, in Spite of Local Issues

A clunky vocal replacement can’t derail this whimsical, delightful sequel

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Paddington 2 has the titular bear (voiced locally by Xian Lim) trying to find the perfect birthday present for his Aunt Lucy. He finds a rare pop-up book depicting London landmarks, and he takes on a bunch of jobs to earn the money to buy it. Unfortunately, before he makes enough money, the book is stolen, and Paddington is wrongly accused of the deed. He is sent off to prison, where he tries to maintain his sense of civility, while on the outside, the Brown family investigates the theft and tries to clear the name of their beloved adopted bear.

The first Paddington film was a bit of a surprise: an exceedingly clever children’s film that wielded whimsy as it spoke of tolerance and kindness in current times. This sequel doesn’t quite have the relevance that the original did, but it doubles down on the whimsy, in the end creating a delightful, thoroughly good-natured experience that prizes human (and ursine) decency above all. And it combines this approach with dazzling filmmaking craft, putting together some genuinely thrilling sequences in the midst of all the charming, genteel behavior of its characters.

But let’s talk about the elephant in the room, first of all. The local version of this movie replaces the voice of Ben Whishaw with Xian Lim’s. This choice might have worked better if the sound mixing was better. Paddington always sounds like he’s in a different room. But technical issues aside, Lim’s vocal performance doesn’t really feel particularly suited to the character. His vague approximation of a British accent gets distracting, the language basically not sounding right in dialogue with the other characters. It doesn’t ruin the experience as a whole, but it’s an issue that should probably be taken into account in the decision to see this movie.

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But really, the sheer quality of the project as a whole shines through. There are quite a few truly bracing sequences in this movie. Its neatest trick involves a time lapse that takes place during a long tracking shot, the scenery changing dramatically as the camera moves through the space. But it isn’t purely technique that gives the film its appeal. There is a clear sense of artistic vision, an understanding of what kind of story is being told. The film is really good at capturing the depth of kindness that these characters are capable of, and its best, most affecting sequences build something out if little more than a small change in expression.

The film also happens to feature some of the best British talent around. Returning are Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins, who even with a little less screen time, are able to get across pretty full character arcs. Brendan Gleeson is wonderful as a prison tough who becomes one of Paddington’s staunchest allies. But this movie fully belongs to Hugh Grant, who as the ex-actor Phoenix Buchanan, gets to ham it up in the best ways possible. The film’s funniest scenes invariably involve Grant alone in a room, just talking to himself. It is a broad performance, certainly, but it feels studied and clever in ways that just lend it an extra bit of panache.

Paddington 2 is still pretty great, in spite of the voice issue. Honestly, it isn’t enough of a detriment to negate all the good that the movie delivers, even if it does get distracting at times. But the appeal of its filmmaking still comes through, and the heart of it remains the same. It’s a very simple film in the end. It’s really just about the power of people being nice to each other. In this day and age, in a time when everything can seem so terrible, this movie feels particularly welcome. We can all use a little more kindness in our lives.

Philbert Dy
Philbert Ortiz Dy has been reviewing movies professionally since 2007, and has thus dedicated his life to being yelled at by fans of literally everyone. He is currently the Online Editor of Rogue.ph. Yell at him on Twitter at @philbertdy.