LAST CHRISTMAS (Paul Feig, 2019)

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Made the “C” in Christmas stand for cheesy cringe-fest.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

MARRIAGE STORY (Noah Baumbach, 2019)

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It’s no Kramer vs Kramer (or evene dissolution of a marriage and the effects of divorce on family relationships.

Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson were both fantastic.

These are real people with real people problems.

ut still a devastating look at the dissolution of a marriage and the effects of divorce on family relationships.

Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson were both fantastic.

These are real people with real people problems.

Rating: ★★★★☆

SUMIGAW KA HANGGANG GUSTO MO! (Eric Quizon, 1999)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Sumigaw Ka Hanggang Gusto Mo!:

1. If I were ever asked by Cahiers du Cinéma to select the best Pinoy comedy film of all time, this cult classic masquerading as a suspense-horror in the vein of Scream (read: rip-off!!) would definitely be part of my shortlist. What other local film could provide huge laughs by merely casting then-emerging younger teens of T.G.I.S. as dorks from Philippine Science High School?

One where a smart Polo Ravales spouted off scientific names (Venus ponderosa! Venus lamborghini! Venus raj!) while pointing at various Baguio forest wildlife? Where resident geek Kim delos Santos would rather shout “Diptera sacrophagidae!” instead of telling Dino Guevarra that he had a fly on his nose (also, according to Google it was “saRCophagidae”)? Where Dino, whose character was apparently not too familiar with classifications, challenged the rest to just name “formulas”? And where a fully-clothed and badly-dubbed Joyce Jimenez knew every species of pine trees?

I don’t think any of these were meant to be funny because what sounded like the first intentional joke was when Dino called a mushroom as “Bahayus duwendum”. Tiyang Amy and Kuya Dick would be so proud! (Esep-esep!!)

2. As the token Drew Barrymores, most of these kids were immediately killed by a shadowy, raincoat-wearing figure reminiscent of the fisherman in I Know What You Did Last Summer (this came out pre-social media gen so it was just so much easier to steal, I mean get away with, uhm… heavily borrowing from Hollywood movies). I also realized that it would be difficult to name my favorite (read: most hilarious) death scene because there were just too many to choose from.

It would probably be a toss-up between the one where Joyce screamed at the high heavens ala Jennifer Love Hewitt (“Sino ka? Bakit mo ginagawa sa akin ‘to??”) and got stabbed to death before cutting to the main title sequence, and the one where Sunshine Dizon dangled from a cliff six feet high and shrieked until the bands of her braces broke.

(Yes, there were a lot of screaming here in case people got confused about the genre and to remind everyone about the title, of course.)

Oh, and all of these events happened within the first five minutes of the movie! Fun, right?

3. I remember referencing this guilty pleasure when I wrote my notes on Bloody Crayons where I mentioned that Eric Quizon had the audacity to cast himself in the plum killer role while being the movie’s director as well. I guess the character of college professor slash psycho Norman (wink, wink) was just too juicy to pass up on. Plus, he had a lot of acting highlights, most notably the sequence where he shifted emotions from being Norman to childhood alter ego Freddie (wink, wink) and Eric proved that he could outham the hammiest local actors.

Btw, anybody with half a brain could easily figure out the identity of the killer (just look at the poster!) and all possible twists and red herrings even before the movie’s halfway mark. Unless you really hated Bobby Andrews and presumed that he was the bad guy because of his horrible cropped haircut.

4. Onemig Bondoc’s character here got resurrected from the dead, but he still acted like a walking Benguet pine tree all-throughout the movie. On the other hand, Gladys Reyes brought so much life in all of her scenes from her eksenadorang entrance (“Where’s the bangkay?”) up to the ridiculous death of her character who smartly crawled up a chimney and ended up getting roasted to death. (But what happened to her corpse? Why didn’t she fall down after getting barbecued? Why am I wasting even more time thinking about these things?)

Also, in an earlier kidnapping scene, her petite frame was thrown inside a balikbayan box and kicked by the killer until she lost consciousness. I must have turned crazy as well for laughing my ass off during that scene.

5. Aside from Joyce, there were several other future sexy stars that were tortured here, including Rufa Mae Quinto who played an early version of Booba, Assunta de Rossi whose character could be an Anlene spokesperson for not breaking any bones even after she jumped out of a second story window, and a pre-Patricia Javier named Genesis.

6. Burning questions:

• Why did the barkada leave the library and come out of a building labelled “GYMNASIUM”?

• Was Carmina Villarroel (named Carrie, wink, wink) trying to one-up Bobby’s haircut by sporting what looked like a half-Princess Leia?

• Where can I get the services of that DJ who played during the Halloween party, had his own back-up dancers, and engaged the audience with “Handa na ba kayong mamatay”?

• What did Bearwin “Yahooooo!” Meily’s character mean by “Para naman tayong naghahanap ng tutuli sa gubat”?

• Underrated, underpaid, and easily stripped off their license through a public trial? Sounds like reason enough to turn teachers into psychos, no?

7. I’m really curious to know the scientific name of Dino’s chest hair. Help!!

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

DEAD KIDS (Mikhail Red, 2019)

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May isang scene dito that brought back a childhood trauma. Yung part na tiningnan ng isang alta kid yung tag ng shirt ni Sta. Maria at pinagtawanan na department store item.

Kasi nung isang field trip namin wala akong masuot na bago kaya hiniram ko yung polo shirt ng dad ko. Akala ko walang papansin kasi damit lang naman. Pero may isang nakakita na number 7 yung logo sa harap at pilit talaga tiningnan ang tag. Sabay-sabay sila nagtawanan na Jaworski yung brand ng suot ko.

Kaya one big pakyu sa inyong mga rich kidz! Babalikan ko kayo soon!!

(Just kidding, pinagtatawanan na lang namin ng mga friends ko ‘to. Pero totoo ang childhood trauma. So mag-ingat pa rin sila chz.)

P.S. Ang lakas ng star quality ni Kelvin Miranda dito. Pwede sila magkapatid ni Martin del Rosario. At ang galing talaga ni Vance Larena.

P.P.S. Kung nilakihan pa sana ang roles nina Gabby Padilla (I love you!!) at Sue Ramirez, ang laki sigurado ng maitutulong nila sa kwento.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

KNIVES OUT (Rian Johnson, 2019)

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A very modern and clever murder-mystery that went beyond the whodunnit tropes and skewered topics such as social inequity, immigration policies, and… Hallmark movies starring The Wonder Years’ Danica McKellar?! (That last bit made my laugh echo in all four corners of the theater.)

Sure, any amateur Hercule Poirot could have guessed the ending pretty quick (plus I would have preferred less telling and more showing), but it was still a pretty enjoyable ride.

And what a wonderful ensemble!! (If I had to choose my faves though, I’d go for Ana de Armas, Christopher Plummer, and the hysterical Toni Collette.)

That entire donut speech alone probably deserved an Oscar nomination.

Rating: ★★★★☆