BASEMENT (Topel Lee, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Basement:

1. Why were some of the actors not using their own voices? And why were they overacting like there’s no tomorrow?

2. The movie could easily be summed up as “a bunch of morons trapped in a mall with an aswang”. Are you laughing already?

3. The performances here were horrible. Everyone wanted to be the worst actor and they all won. Special credit to Sarah Lahbati and Teejay Marquez.

4. I simply lost it when the lower half of the manananggal wearing black Soen panties started prancing around.

5. One character had a handful of salt and ran after Ms. Soen. By the time she caught up with it, the salt was gone. It… melted?!

6. The lead character challenged the manananggal to a duel and brought out a… fire extinguisher!! Whee!

7. The only thing scary here was that I paid Php180 for this crap. What a waste!

Don’t expect hugs from a scared date. She’ll probably slap you instead for making her watch this.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published February 15, 2014.)

PROJECT ALMANAC (Dean Israelite, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Project Almanac:

1. Did the movie really need the overused shaky cam approach? Also, shouldn’t that entirely disappear whenever they time travel?

2. My other problem with this found footage style, the batteries last forever. When they found the old videocam after 10 years, how could the batteries still be working? Apple, were you taking down notes?

3. Their initial goal for time traveling was to kill Hitler but due to limitations they ended up just trying to save the grade of one friend. Also, it took them several tries to help him, yet they didn’t want to go back several times in history to win the lottery? Really?

4. Can two me (older and younger) exist in a wormhole? What happened to the time space continuum? Also shouldn’t there be a butterfly effect? If he had to go back in time to destroy the time machine and successfully did it, then that meant there won’t be any time machine in the future that would make him go back in time to destroy the time machine? Still with me?

5. One character said, “From now on we’re filming everything.” But weren’t they from the start?

6. The references to Looper, the Terminator movies, and even TimeCop further showed that there were so many better movies out there that already covered this same theme. Next, please.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published February 15, 2015.)

WILD (Jean-Marc Vallee, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Wild:

1. The film opened with a scene involving the removal of a dead toenail. Wait, was that a transliteration or was patay na kuko really dead nail in English? Either way, I was in pain. It set the proper tone for all the physical and emotional torture that unfolded.

2. Shouting on top of a mountain is definitely cathartic. Try it.

3. One of the things I hate doing before a big vacation is packing. I don’t like getting wrinkles on clothes that I will be wearing for selfies. And I never pack light even if it’s for an overnight stay.

4. I’ve been seeing a lot of poop being shown onscreen lately. Please tell me this won’t be a trend. People are eating popcorn while watching. On second thought, it can save me the fats and calories. But still, no.

5. One scene showed how we easily judge people based on appearances. Or maybe that was just me being really judgmental.

6. Reese Witherspoon was great in the lead role and I was surprised with all the nudity in the movie. She didn’t even show a lot of skin in Cruel Intentions and that was all about sexuality.

7. This film made me realize that I will never survive camping in the middle of a desert. Or even the first five hundred meter hike. I had to use my inhaler several times while watching.

8. I loved how everything felt like a dream-like state where flashes of the past were inserted during her actual hike. I definitely appreciated this more than Jean-Marc Vallee’s previous effort, The Dallas Buyers Club.

9. How could Laura Dern be playing Reese’s mom? She only looked a few years older than her. She was really fantastic in her limited screen time, though.

10. Can someone explain the significance of the fox? Yes, I’m encouraging you to watch it so you can explain it after. Such a lovely film.

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published February 15, 2015.)

THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI (Martin McDonagh, 2017)

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It came very close to being unbearable when it ceaselessly tried to elicit laughs from such serious themes and situations. Very much like its deeply-flawed characters, this one was just beyond redemption. Frances McDormand was phenomenal as always, but this was a waste of a really talented cast.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published February 15, 2018.)

PADDINGTON (Paul King, 2014)

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My notes on Paddington:

1. Why do these foreign movies now start with a disclaimer from the distributor explaining why the version you’re about to watch got mutilated? It’s not like we had a choice to begin with. (Ok, illegal downloads but don’t be such a smart-ass.)

2. I still couldn’t understand why the movie filled with British characters had to be dubbed by local actor Xian Lim. It didn’t add anything to the final product. It wasn’t like Paddington had to say a few Tagalog phrases. He actually ended up sounding like a Pinoy Harry Potter with a wobbly accent. Or a distant relative who lived in London for a few months and suddenly had a bloody faux British accent.

3. The mostly English cast was superb. Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, all it needed was a few more Downton Abbey players. And then there was Nicole Kidman.

4. To be honest, I was baffled by the glowing reviews for this movie. Maybe I was just too old and cranky to watch something so juvenile. I know it was primarily aimed at kids but if your idea of humor was a bear sticking toothbrushes in his ear then licking the earwax off before a human character actually used one to brush his teeth, then you might enjoy this.

5. The trench coat on Paddington reminded me so much of streakers. He could be the nicer cousin of Ted.

6. Two scenes were straight out of the Mission: Impossible movies and I have to say Kidman did it better than Cruise.

7. I liked the bit explaining how parents suddenly become overprotective of their kids. If only the film focused more on the heart instead of the crass.

8. The movie did make me crave for marmalade. Wait, is that different from jam? Or jelly? Either way, I need a jar now.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published February 16, 2015.)

THE WOMAN IN BLACK (James Watkins, 2012)

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Horror movies are my guilty pleasure and it takes a lot to scare me nowadays. This run-of-the-mill haunted house movie (chockfull of cheap scares) didn’t work for me at all.

It took forever to reveal the back story and the slow pacing further tested my patience. Creaking doors, rocking chairs, ghastly dead children, these were elements that we’ve all seen before. I was just waiting for the scene where a cat will jump out of the dark (another animal did the trick here).

Daniel Radcliffe and his wooden performance made me realize just how good the Harry Potter material was. And what was up with that woman in black? She was just being a bitch.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published February 14, 2012.)

THE VOW (Michael Sucsy, 2012)

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I am happy and in love.

With that said, I didn’t fall one bit for this sickly-sweet love story that will surely melt hearts this Valentine season. As soon as the words “inspired by a true story” appeared onscreen, I knew what I was in for.

There were so many unbelievable clichés thrown in that you’d completely understand why they had to start with that disclaimer.

Channing Tatum may have looked the romantic lead part but he was definitely not equipped to play it (and no, gratuitous nudity doesn’t fall under the “equipped” part).

There were some good moments in there but very much like a fling, most of the film was completely forgettable.

In the scale of romantic movies, this one was closer to the execrable Dear John than the uber-cheesy but more heartfelt The Notebook.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published February 14, 2012.)

STARTING OVER AGAIN (Olivia Lamasan, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Starting Over Again:

1. With a better treatment (and alternate ending), this could have been a great Star Cinema, feel-bad Pinoy movie. It might have been predictable and clunky, but it did have some really good lines and realistic scenes of heartbreak.

2. Toni Gonzaga (as Patty) was effortlessly funny, although she struggled a bit in her dramatic scenes. (Side note: She needs to have her legs insured. They looked amazing and she knew just how to accentuate them.)

As Marco, Piolo Pascual just didn’t seem to exert any effort at all. Was I the only one annoyed by his excessive use of the word “diba” in that confrontation scene? It didn’t help that he sounded more bitchy than hurt. (At least he fared much better in his silent crying scenes.)

3. In all my years of travelling to and from Alabang, I’ve never taken an actual train. Especially since there are hundreds of buses and jeepneys and shuttle services that will drop you in South Station or Metropolis/StarMall. Where is this train and where are its stops?

On a related note, my favorite scene in that sequence was that of Patty getting off a moving bus. It was just too hilarious. And it elicited the expected reactions from the very amused crowd.

4. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Iza Calzado is a brilliant actress. I loved how calm and collected she was during Patty’s confrontation scene with Ginny. Her restraint showed the maturity of her character and her nuanced performance made that scene even more powerful. She also had the best lines in the movie. I wonder why she’s not given the projects she deserves.

5. “A relationship should have the right ingredients: love, trust, and an allowance for mistakes. Love is greater than someone’s failures. In love there is no fear.”

I bawled my eyes out.

And Patty’s line about their non-romantic love:

“Our love may be quiet and boring, but it’s sure.”

Shet. Pass me the tissues.

6. If I were in this movie, I would be Beb played by the dependable Cai Cortez (ok, insert the fat joke here). But really, I saw myself in her character. I would be that one friend who wouldn’t mince words no matter how brutal the message would be; that one friend who would offer you a hug then slap you back to reality.

7. I will forever use these memorable lines in future drinking sessions with relapsing friends:

“Yang hope na yan, lason yan. Parang drugs, nakaka-adik.”

“Adik ka na naman sa pag-asa. Try mo kaya lumaklak ng realidad.”

8. Why do we have this growing trend in local movies where seemingly smart women beg other women to lend or give up their boyfriends/husbands? Icky.

I’m happy to see though that the “third wheel” here wasn’t made to look like a devil in the last act just to justify the break-up and possible happy ending for the leads. Patty was really nice and giving and there was just no reason for Marco not to love her. In fact, she did look like Mama Mary.

9. And here’s my message to all my exes (parang ang dami): “I can never un-love you. I just love you in a different way now.” (Sob.)

10. I really hated that wood-crashing scene. It felt straight out of a Wenn Deramas movie. Worst possible deus ex machina.

11. After Forever and a Day, I wonder if Star Cinema will ever have the balls again to end films the way they really should.

I’m sure a lot of people loved the cameos and they felt the need to give its audience a hopeful ending. In real life though, it would take years before Ginny will get over Marco, more years for her to pick up the pieces, and even more years to finally meet the right one. (And that’s already being hopeful.)

12. If the movie ended with Ginny deleting the message and the camera panning out showing Ginny ready to move on with the swelling theme song in the background, I would probably have rated this higher. Maybe they’ll consider that for the DVD? For all the Bebs out there, please?

P. S. Two girls in front of us were taking selfies (with flash) during the closing credits so I gave one of them “sungay”. Made them stop.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published February 14, 2014.)