HERO (Zhang Yimou, 2002)

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Why do I have this weird feeling that Direk Chito Roño chanced upon this film one late evening on HBO before he started pre-production for The Healing? Also, Christopher Doyle’s cinematography was just WOW!!

I remember having the biggest crush on Zhang Ziyi post-Crouching Tiger. Felt so bad when her Hollywood debut via the terrible Horsemen failed miserably. Crossing my fingers for her redemption in God Particle.

And I developed a slight fear of arrows after this. Not even kidding.

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published June 29, 2017.)

MOVIE REVIEW: FAR FROM HEAVEN (Todd Haynes, 2002)

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Racism, homosexuality, sexism, and an interracial relationship in an artificially picture-perfect 50’s suburban neighbourhood. How scandalous!

Julianne Moore (spectacular as always) and her gorgeous flouncy skirts can turn anyone gay before the end of Pride Month.

Was I the only one feeling an underlying sexual tension between her character and the help played by a pre-The Help Viola Davis? (Ooh, how juicy!)

Worthless fact: The best scenes of three of the 2003 Oscar Best Actress nominees actually involved trains.

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published June 19, 2018.)

MOVIE REVIEW: THE HOURS (Stephen Daldry, 2002)

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Three generations of depression and (repressed) homosexuality personified by three brilliant acting legends.

“Someone has to die in order that the rest of us should value life more.” 😭😭😭

Cue Philip Glass’ haunting score.

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published June 13, 2018.)

MOVIE REVIEW: CHANGING LANES (Roger Michell, 2002)

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“I believe in the law. I believe in order and justice. I believe that people are by nature good. I believe that historical forces push us into conflict and without the law as a buffer between people, we would have a world of vendetta, world of violence, world of chaos. The law keeps us civilized.”

I remember watching this in a theater in the early ’00s after the late Roger Ebert praised Amanda Peet’s brief but Oscar-worthy performance. After this rewatch, I still couldn’t understand what he was talking about.

I did enjoy the moral battle between Daredevil and Nick Fury. I just wish the ending wasn’t too clean because we all know that really wasn’t how the world works.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published May 2, 2017.)

MOVIE REVIEW: TWO WEEKS NOTICE (Marc Lawrence, 2002)

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Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant had great chemistry, but I’d rather see their quirky characters as the best of friends. It was also sad that for a rom-com, the highlight for me was when the Counting Crows’ Big Yellow Taxi started to play.

“They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique
And a swinging hot spot
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got til its gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot…”

Ahh, I missed my youthful innocence!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: ONE HOUR PHOTO (Mark Romanek, 2002)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on One Hour Photo:

1. Remember when your parents would invite guests over and the worst thing that your mother could do was bring out her stack of family albums and proudly show your most embarrassing photos to these strangers? Like that picture of you swimming nude in a palanggana looking really silly and it would be everyone’s source of laughter? No? Then you must have been born after the digital revolution.

In my time (did I again sound like I just lived through the Mesozoic Era?), the term Kodak wasn’t just the most popular brand name in the world of photography (sorry Agfa and Fuji!), it was actually a verb synonymous to taking a selfie (“Kodakan na! Piktyuran na!”). Except that it would be really hard to take a selfie back in the day with those chunky Olympus cameras.

2. With the number of filters and Photoshop tools available now, film photography could definitely be considered a lost art. There was always that feeling of excitement in having your film roll developed (I actually missed that whirring sound when rewinding), crossing your fingers that it wouldn’t be exposed (otherwise, goodbye memories!), and just admiring the finished product that couldn’t be saved by any second takes or Camera 360.

3. Although this film might feel a tad dated (Robin Williams’ Sy Parrish actually said “When people’s houses are on fire, what’s the next thing they save after loved ones and pets? Family photos!”. Uhh, I don’t think so), the idea of a lonely psychopath stalking people through pictures could very well apply in this world of Facebook and Instagram. In hindsight, these social media platforms actually made it easier to gain access to people’s lives, unlike before when only the film developers could see you in your kinkiest outfits (hmm, I was suddenly reminded of a grade school teacher who “accidentally” shared her scandalous lingerie photos to some of the boys in class).

4. The late great Robin Williams would always be Mrs. Doubtfire to me, but he was undeniably better in his more serious roles (his critically-acclaimed turn in Good Will Hunting, his criminally-underrated performance in Insomnia, etc.). His character here may be downright creepy (in one hair-raising scene that was the stuff of my nightmares, he imagined trespassing in his victims’ house and decided to poop in their toilet, their TOILET! Nooooo!), but he still exuded a certain warmth that made it hard to completely be scared of him.

His best scene was that reaction shot of him after being told that he was getting fired. The way his face scrunched up not because he was losing his job, but because he realized that he would lose access to the private lives of his victims was terrifying.

Side note: His set of baby blues were just perfect for all the blatant eye symbolisms used in this film.

5. “Nobody takes a photograph of something they want to forget.” Ironically, happy couple pictures would usually be the first to get deleted in your camera roll after a bad break-up. Just me? Okay.

6. I was weirded out a bit in that market scene where old family photos were put up for sale. Why would people sell pictures of their loved ones? And who would buy these stuff (because apparently there were potential customers if these were being sold)? Didn’t they see The Others?

7. I wonder how many people would feel paranoid about posting their photos online after watching this one. Just imagine all the possible stalkers lurking out there. Don’t worry, I promise never to poop in your toilet.

Rating: ★★★★☆