MOVIE REVIEW: UNFRIENDED (Levan Gabriadze, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Unfriended:

1. The power of social media is really scary. Cyberbullying now seems like a norm whenever any viral picture or video comes out. This film cleverly takes on these topics and adds a paranormal twist in the mix. I’ll probably be staying off Skype for the next few weeks.

2. The movie seemed to have been shot Birdman-style with one, long continuous take. The first few minutes might test your patience but once the tension starts, it won’t subside until the very last scene.

3. I watched this in a room full of teens and the movie, as expected, played surprisingly well. I guess people that are averse and unfamiliar with current technology (Skype, Facebook, Instagram, Google, iTunes) would not feel the whole impact (read: stress levels).

4. There were a lot of explaining that happened which seemed a bit off for this particular movie. For example, how can an internet savvy person not even know what an internet troll means? Or how to play Never Have I Ever?

5. At one point, the lead shared her screen and never disabled that setting but private conversations continued to be held after that. Did I miss anything?

6. These kids type really fast. It takes seconds to complete whole sentences. I barely passed Typewriting 101 so I’m jealous. Yes, it was an actual subject in high school.

7. Finally, we have teens behaving like real teens. No wonder everything felt genuine. And I actually cared about them in the entire 80 minutes that I’ve known them. They will be missed.

8. The scene where she Googled, “Val seizures” generated a lot of laughs because it was just on point and a natural reaction by anyone in that same situation.

9. 15GB download in less than a minute? I want that internet provider!! Wait, then why are the screens still buffering?

10. As with any found footage movie, it stops getting real once the characters continue filming even in emergency situations (in this case, people bringing their laptops everywhere).

11. Why didn’t the Facebook conversations not have the normal chat history? The screen just refreshed every time.

12. Never have I ever felt this scared/tense since the first Insidious. And this wasn’t even the typical horror movie. It was just a really good thriller. Definitely worth a watch. Start liking.

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published May 1, 2015.)

MOVIE REVIEW: THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (Wes Anderson, 2014)

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My kind of whimsical entertainment from the fantastic Mr. Anderson. Truly beautiful!

P.S. Full disclosure: I absolutely abhorred the cloying Moonrise Kingdom.

P.P.S. Tilda Swinton only showed up for 5 minutes and she was amazing as always.

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published April 27, 2014.)

 

MOVIE REVIEW: THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING (James Marsh, 2014)

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My notes on The Theory of Everything:

1. Eddie Redmayne’s one great-looking guy and it was a blow to my ego that even a deglamorized Eddie with chunky glasses, hollowed cheeks, disheveled hair, and wearing frumpy vests still looked miles better than I do. He was brilliant in this film by the way and fully committed to the physical and emotional transformation needed for the role. He rightfully deserved that Oscar.

2. If someone at a party introduces himself as a cosmologist, how fast will you be out the door?

3. I first heard of Stephen Hawking back in high school because of a genius classmate that read A Brief History of Time from cover to cover. Probably twice. I bet he’s one of the richest people in the world now.

4. Tide (yes, the detergent) had the best product placement in the film with that cheesy but sweet explanation about white shirts and the birth and death of stars. Sigh.

5. I obviously got lost in all the discussions about space-time singularity but I loved all the metaphors from the coffee swirls to the circular staircase to the flash-backwards ending sequence. And for somebody who hated Math, I actually was able to relate to the Mathematical probability of happiness.

6. Felicity Jones was just too darn cute but who knew she was a really good actress, too. The scene where Jane was watching Stephen play a game of croquet was heart-wrenching, all because you could see the disappointment, sadness, and love in Felicity’s eyes.

7. Yes, I bawled my eyes out in almost every scene. Don’t even get me started on that kitchen scene with the couple in bed expressing their gratitude. And that color board scene. Sigh.

8. Jane may be the long-suffering wife but it was a welcome relief to see that she wasn’t the perfect partner. Her love affair with Jonathan just made the characters more flawed and relatable.

9. Do they still have those printer papers with the perforated sides? I miss tearing those.

10. The film will start a lot of discussions on religion vs. science (e.g. How did the universe really start?) and we’d be all the more smarter for it.

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published April 7, 2015.)

MOVIE REVIEW: SON OF GOD (Christopher Spencer, 2014)

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I learned more about the Bible watching those Sunday cartoons Superbook and The Flying House.

Before you start stoning me to death, here are my notes on Son of God:

1. Regardless of one’s faith (or lack thereof), The Bible is such a great source of inspirational stories. You can take any section and make an interesting movie out of it. You do not cram everything in a 2.5 hour film, though. It will just be a disaster.

2. The biggest problem in this movie was Jesus and the actor (Diogo Morgado) who portrayed him. I mean why was Jesus boastful, mocking, and defiant in this version? He was like, “Look at me, I’m performing miracles!” It was nothing short of blasphemous.

3. The original source was a 10-hour miniseries from the History Channel and it was obvious. The movie was just badly-edited and jumped from one important event to another. It ended up more like “The Best of The Bible”.

4. Anybody who came from a Catholic school could easily identify the inaccuracies here. And sometimes they were just too infuriating.

5. I didn’t even know that Pontius Pilate was having an oil massage while Jesus was being crucified. And there was even an earthquake immediately after Jesus died. We must have skipped over those in our Christian Living classes.

6. When the movie introduced Barabbas, I remembered Dely Atay-Atayan from John en Marsha. I never forgot the bad guys in the Bible because of her famous “Hudas, Barabbas, Estas!” expression.

7. What spoilers?!

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published April 6, 2014.)

MOVIE REVIEW: CAKE (Daniel Barnz, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Cake:

1. Halle Berry did it for Monster’s Ball. Charlize Theron did the same for Monster. Both actresses went on to win Oscars. I guess the no make-up, de-glamorized (literally scars and all) look to win an Academy Award has its limits. Jennifer Aniston was really good here but I still preferred her performance in The Good Girl.

2. Maybe the lack of emotional depth of this movie hurt Aniston’s chances of a nomination. With its heavy themes of suicide, drug addiction, and depression, it should be hitting you right in the gut but it just failed to connect. Although still worth watching, I wasn’t moved by the major dramatic moments (and everyone knows I cry in everything).

3. I felt more sympathy for Silvana, played by the exquisite Adriana Barazza. Why isn’t this woman in more movies especially after her brilliant work in Babel? And why do her characters always have problems crossing the Mexico-US border?

4. Felicity Huffman, Anna Kendrick, Mamie Gummer, Chris Messina, William H. Macy… why are my favorite character actors all here?

5. I completely understand Claire’s addiction on prescription medicines. I just can’t live without using my inhaler every five minutes. I can only imagine how tougher it would be if someone had chronic pain and dependent on Percocet and OxyContin.

6. That scene where the Mexican pharmacist tried to store the pills inside a Mama Mary statue was funny scary. He ended up using a statue of St. Jude which didn’t make it any less sinful.

7. The nurse that took care of Claire was named Malaya. She was mistaken as Imelda and ended up referencing that she did love shoes. #PinoyFried right there.

8. Isn’t Claire Bennett also the name of Hayden Panettiere’s cheerleader in Heroes? Save herself, save the world.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published April 6, 2015.)

MOVIE REVIEW: CLOWN (Jon Watts, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Clown:

1. I just have to say that I had the most unfortunate luck of being in a theater full of several high school cliques and witnessed the battle of who was the noisiest and most annoying group. I must be really old because these kids were just too damn irritating.

2. I love clowns. I’ve never been scared of one even as a kid. Not even after reading (and watching) Stephen King’s It. I know several people though that have a clown phobia. It’s real. I even Googled it and it’s called coulrophobia. I do not recommend this to any of them.

3. The premise was actually good. Mr. Nice Guy wanted to surprise his kid on his birthday. He found a cursed clown costume, wore it, and it didn’t want to come off. He ended up looking like a cross between Heath Ledger’s Joker and Rob Corddry in Children’s Hospital. And suddenly developed a craving for children. Since this was an Eli Roth-produced flick, the ensuing gore and violence was expected.

4. If you easily flinch at the sight of wrists getting slashed, electric saws penetrating human bodies, limbs getting torn off the sockets, and bones breaking outside of the skin, consider yourself boring. I mean, avoid this at all costs.

5. The scene with the pastel colored blood splatter was just genius. It just made it hard to dismiss this film for being incredibly silly.

6. Although the first half was twistedly fun, the second half succumbed to the usual horror movie cliches where a wife would utter the line, “I know you’re still in there” to his incredibly deranged clown husband just because love conquers all.

7. The playhouse of terror scene took forever but I guess an arm taking a slide with a trail of blood should be worth the wait.

8. I just found it weird that the said clown demon could survive a headshot wound but couldn’t even free himself from heavy chains. Or that a knife got lodged on his shoulder even with an invincible costume. Funny indeed.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published April 1, 2015.)

MOVIE REVIEW: CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER (Anthony Russo, Joe Russo, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Captain America: The Winter Soldier:

1. Chris Evans came out onscreen wearing a really fitted tee and looking so ripped that I felt guilty about the Champ that I ate the other day. And then I realized that Captain America’s body was a product of science and unless I get recruited by S.H.I.E.L.D., I would never achieve those pecs and abs anyway so I immediately bid farewell to guilt and started planning my Yellow Cab dinner.

2. How can nobody (except a kid) recognize a world-famous superhero with his own exhibit at the Smithsonian? If Chris Evans ever visited Divisoria wearing only a cap as a disguise, I would instantly know it was Chris Evans and I’d ask for a photo op (if I didn’t instantaneously faint first).

3. Since when did Captain America turn into Jason Bourne (or for that matter, Chuck Norris)?

4. I would advise all parents not to bring their kids to this movie. This is not your typical superhero flick. The amount of violence would be too much for the young ones.

5. Ooh goodie, it’s Emily Thorne!! And Robin from How I Met Your Mother!! And that guy from Gossip Girl!! Note to self: You need to watch less TV.

6. If you ask any guy for a word to describe Scarlett Johannson, 90% of them will say HOT (I’m thinking the other 10% would say something obscene). She was so far from hot in this movie, though. She actually looked old and tired. Can we blame that horrible hair?

7. Again, another scene with Chris Evans wearing glasses to conceal his identity. And Scarlett pulling a PDA to distract the superspies. The agency must be run and populated by idiots.

8. One scene pulled a Transcendence. If you’ve seen its trailer, you’d know what I’m referring to. Got me excited.

9. Do we really need a Stan Lee cameo in each and every Marvel movie? Is this a fanboy requirement? Not that I’m complaining. Playing “Spot Stan” is my favorite thing to do whenever I get bored.

10. I really loved the new Nick Fury. I can almost hear him shout “Get this motherfuckin’ patch off my motherfuckin’ eye!!”.

P.S. It’s a Marvel movie. Do not leave until the screen goes totally blank or you’ll miss the bonus scenes. Yes, plural.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published March 31, 2014.)