SNOWPIERCER (Bong Joon-ho, 2013)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Snowpiercer:

1. I couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed this film. From the dull title to the seemingly tacky poster, I thought it would be a terrible B-movie at best. It ended up as a stylish and ambitious futuristic English film from a French novel and Korean director. Mindblown.

2. I guess I just really appreciated the vision of Korean filmmakers. I started last year with Park Chan-Wook’s Stoker and loved it as well. Great minds.

3. I rarely liked action films but this one just belonged to a different genre. There were equal parts suspense, violence, and comedy.

4. In an alternate universe, Tilda Swinton would get an Oscar for this film. The “Be a shoe” speech alone was just pure brilliance.

5. I’m happy I knew little about the film. Every time an Oscar nominee or winner showed up, I squealed with delight. They were all perfect!

6. I’d shut up now before I spoil it for you guys. The less you knew, the better. (I fear that it’s an acquired taste, though.)

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published January 30, 2014.)

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POLICE STORY 2013 (Sheng Ding, 2013)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Police Story 2013:

1. Wait, I thought Jackie Chan had retired and his last movie was Chinese Zodiac? Well, I guess not.

2. You watch a Chan movie for the stunts and you never ever get disappointed. He’s in his late 50’s and he still kicks ass (literally).

3. The movie was probably meant to be seen in 3D with all the broken shards and shrapnel and wood shavings flying towards the audience.

4. Jackie Chan does drama! And he’s actually good in his crying scenes. Several girls seated next to me had to reach out for their hankies.

5. The plot was preposterous to say the least with a character going to all lengths for what turned out to be a simple misunderstanding. (Don’t worry, a plotless movie cannot be spoiled.)

6. Stay for the end credits. One scene showed Chan’s dedication to his work. I hope he never retires.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published January 28, 2014.)

THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY (Ben Stiller, 2013)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Secret Life of Walter Mitty:

1. It was so scary how much I could relate to this movie. It was like watching my life unfold onscreen.

2. “My life is one big daydream”. I couldn’t stop the tears. Why was I even crying?

3. And then I was laughing like a madman with that Benjamin Button bit.

4. These places looked gorgeous. I just added Greenland, Iceland, and the Himalayas on my bucket list.

5. Ben Stiller and Kristen Wiig were just too good. One could sense their characters’ sadness behind those smiles.

6. Loved, loved, loved the soundtrack!!

7. I just kept smiling through all tears.

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published January 25, 2014.)

GRUDGE MATCH (Peter Segal, 2013)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Grudge Match:

1. The movie opened with a Manny Pacquiao fight. I actually thought it was a Public Service Announcement to pay taxes.

2. Oooh, so this is a comedy about two old boxers starring actors that played Rocky Balboa and Jake LaMotta. It should be fun.

3. After the success of Meet the Parents, Robert de Niro seemed to have found his niche in these corny lightweight comedies.

4. I laughed so hard during that Rocky reference with Stallone about to punch a hanging piece of meat. I guess I was the only old person here.

5. It’s Jon Bernthal Week! He was good in The Wolf of Wall Street, too.

6. Another proof of the Oscar Best Supporting Actress Curse: Kim Basinger.

7. Holyfield and Tyson in the end credits! I wonder if the movie were funnier if it starred them instead.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published January 20, 2014.)

TARZAN (Reinhard Klooss, 2013)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Tarzan:

1. Oh no, it’s an animated reimagining of Edgar Rice Burrough’s Tarzan! I thought it was a live action movie with a shirtless Kellan Lutz.

2. It starts with a scene from outer space. A meteor crashes into Earth during the dinosaur age. Wait, is this still Tarzan?

3. Given the current technology, I can’t believe how horrible the animation is. Definitely a step backwards for cartoons.

4. If Tarzan wasn’t raised by apes and knew how to talk as a kid, why would he suddenly act like an ape and not know how to speak? Groan.

5. With this and Hercules, it’s just the start of the year and K.Lutz already owes me a great deal of money.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published January 20, 2014.)

THE WOLF OF WALL STREET (Martin Scorsese, 2013)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Wolf of Wall Street:

1. I’m surprised McConaughey’s not getting any Oscar buzz for this movie. That 7-min restaurant aria was just brilliant.

2. I had a smile plastered on my face the entire time.

3. Sex, drugs, profanity. I’m just waiting for the violence to experience a full-blown Scorsese film.

4. DiCaprio’s basically playing a version of himself. No wonder he’s so great here. Probably his best performance to date.

5. I bet a lot of guys will envy that lighted red candle. LOL!

6. That cerebral palsy phase scene has to be one of the funniest I’ve seen all year. Who knew Leo can do great slapstick? Give him an Oscar.

7. Jonah Hill is slowly becoming one of my favorite actors. He does really great work in these intelligent movies.

8. I’m going out and buying the soundtrack.

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published January 16, 2014.)

WALKING WITH DINOSAURS: THE 3D MOVIE (Barry Cook, Neil Nightingale, 2013)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Walking with Dinosaurs: The 3D Movie:

1. I feel like I’m reading a volume of Encyclopedia Britannica dedicated to dinosaurs with the movie pausing to explain each dino name.

2. This is the kind of movie you watch in class where you start zoning out, thinking of how to complete the materias in Final Fantasy VII.

3. I didn’t know dinosaurs communicated via mental telepathy. They keep talking but their mouths aren’t moving. I’m getting confused.

4. I just spent P220 to read Facebook and Twitter updates. Such a waste.

5. I therefore conclude that dinosaurs became extinct because they bored themselves to death.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published January 14, 2014.)

47 RONIN (Carl Rinsch, 2013)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on 47 Ronin:

1. Ohmy, they speak English in feudal Japan. I think I’ll enjoy this movie. Ugh!

2. Wait, isn’t this the sensei of Emily Thorne? Is she also one of the ronins? That would be so cool!

3. I want the Lady Gaga-inspired outfit that the old man wore when he committed seppuku. It’s perfect for the Golden Globes tomorrow.

4. I loved the part where Keanu Reeves started singing, “Langit kaaaa, lupa akoooo…”

5. One character is named Oishi. My tongue started craving for those delicious salty shrimp crackers.

6. A man gets thrown in a deep pit and one year later he still looks healthy. What multivitamins do these samurais take? I want ’em.

7. A version of the the Sanduguan using blood fingerprints to sign a contract. I wish they focused more on this band of brothers.

8. The theater actor with the funny white mask looks like Ketchup Eusebio. Watch the movie and tell me I’m wrong.

9. “I will search for you through one thousand worlds and ten thousand lifetimes until I find you.” Eek! It just gave me heartburn.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published January 13, 2014.)

THE IMMIGRANT (James Gray, 2013)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Immigrant:

1. Marion Cotillard’s performance in La Vie en Rose is still my most favorite Oscar-winning acting piece ever. And that’s coming from the biggest Kate Winslet fan. She just makes these things look easy.

2. Cotillard elevated this run-of-the-mill melodrama with her sympathetic turn as the destitute turned prostitute Ewa Cybulski. Sometimes though, all the movie needed was a voiceover from dear Ate Charo.

3. One of my favorite scenes here was when she didn’t know how to eat a banana and just chomped on one, peel and all.

4. This was set in the early 1920’s and yet the same immigration problems still exist. I don’t think I’d ever resort to prostitution if I were denied entry in the US but the thought of not seeing Emma Stone perform in the last few shows of Cabaret might make me reconsider.

5. Here’s a tip I learned from the film: prick your finger and dab some blood on your lips, then slap your cheeks three times on each side. The finished product will either make you look like a gorgeous Oscar winner or a bloodied version of your ugly self.

6. If you were a desperate whore, would you choose your ruthless pimp or a romantic magician? They had weird love stories in the olden times.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published January 6, 2015.)

THE CONJURING (James Wan, 2013)

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My notes on The Conjuring:

1. I had never played Hide and Clap and I probably never would. I still wasn’t sure why a mother would allow herself (or her kids) to be blindfolded and grasp their way around the second floor given that they could fall down the stairs and break their necks (at a minimum) any time during the game, but I learned that one should never teach parents how to raise their kids. Besides, I was a klutz even in Marco Polo so a simple game like this would end up with me flailing my hands frantically for an hour and my playmates dying of boredom (or suffocation) in a cramped closet. For the record, I jumped out of my seat when Lili Taylor lit that match and the ghost hands clapped, so the end still justified the means.

2. The movie overall felt a bit disjointed with three different stories: about a haunted doll (that spawned the horrendous Annabelle spin-off), about a family (of mostly young girls, gasp!) trapped in a haunted house, and about an exorcism. Each was strong on its own, but felt like fillers combined together. It was a shame because if it focused on the haunting of the old house alone, it would have been a great little chiller.

3. The demonologist couple (played by the Kris Aquino of Hollywood horror movies Patrick Wilson and the superb Vera Farmiga) said that demonic spirits don’t possess things, but humans. So what was with their room full of supposedly possessed items (Annabelle included)?

4. When the bruises suddenly showed up on the mother’s body, I remembered my fear as a kid of getting cancer. I think I got it from watching too many Lovingly Yours, Helen episodes where the first symptom of leukemia would be these huge unexplainable bruises on your arms and legs. I would always run to my mother crying about my future demise whenever I’d see one even if was a result of me bumping my body parts on every type of furniture (refer to klutz item on #1).

5. Grammar Nazi alert: Warren’s Home vs. Warrens’ Home.

6. There were several scenes that effectively scared the crap out of me: when one of the daughters was standing on the stairs in the middle of the night (no sound effect but it was really creepy), when somebody clapped from inside the closet, and when the camera focused on Linda Blair on top of the said closet. I might have peed a little on that last one.

7. It was explained that the three stages of demonic possession were infestation, oppression, and the actual possession, but they could very well have been talking about the stages of my love life.

Rating: ★★★☆☆