THE BOY NEXT DOOR (Rob Cohen, 2015)

F01C53FE-D5F1-4D2C-88FA-814D0D744758

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Boy Next Door:

1. The first few scenes reminded me so much of Enough that this could actually have worked as a sequel to that other trashy guilty pleasure. I was surprised Ashley Judd didn’t star in this one.

2. What happened to Kristin Chenoweth? Her unforgiving haircut and old vice-principal face was so far from the cutesy characters she played in Pushing Daisies and Wicked. She had the (relatively) best lines in the movie, though.

3. In one scene, J.Lo kept peeking at the naked young boy next door. Didn’t that make her the predator? Shouldn’t this be The MILF Next Door?

4. A man went out on a date with J.Lo and he still kept glancing at other women. Seriously, was there any man (straight or otherwise) who’d still have the nerve to look elsewhere if Jenny from the Block was seated right in front of him?

5. That sex scene. Ohmy! Worth the price of admission. Sorry not sorry. (FYI, Rob Cohen also directed The Fast and the Furious.)

6. I thought that I had seen the worst when John Travolta stabbed Uma Thurman’s chest with a syringe in Pulp Fiction. And then I saw the epi pen scene in this movie. I almost fainted in my seat.

7. If anything, this movie should serve as a warning to ladies everywhere to check every nook and cranny for hidden cameras before engaging in hot, steamy sex. Unless you wanted to be the next (starlet name deleted due to cybercrime law).

8. The script was obviously written by a woman because the female teacher slept with her male student and the student was supposed to be the bad guy. In comparison, Starting Over Again was written by a woman and it was about a male teacher who slept with his female student and it was supposed to be romantic. Ladies, we need to talk.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published February 4, 2015.)

MORTDECAI (David Koepp, 2015)

dd7bfbc9-3ffe-4b40-aebb-556a760e522a

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Mortdecai:

1. After a string of box office flops, has Johnny Depp’s quirkiness finally overstayed its welcome? Sure, he was hilarious (and even Academy-nominated) in his famous roles as Jack Sparrow, The Mad Hatter, Willy Wonka, and Sweeney Todd. But after playing one campy role after another in recent movies (pasty-white vampire in Dark Shadows, bumbling Native American in The Lone Ranger, and virtual data dust in Transcendence), is it finally time to say enough is enough? Can we have the old, normal Depp please?

2. Mortdecai looked like a career killer (if The Tourist wasn’t bad enough) and this could be the final nail on the coffin. It was a terrible, incredibly corny, infantile, unfunny “comedy” that didn’t even come close to the comedic genius of the Austin Powers movies (yes, even the worst one in the series).

3. Unfortunately, the movie came on the heels of The Grand Budapest Hotel and Depp here was no Ralph Fiennes.

4. Why would a well-trimmed mustache trigger a gag reflex anyway? And how many times did they have to repeat that gag on the gag reflex? How many times did they have to repeat almost all the lame jokes? Did they have to repeat them over and over? Repeat pa more.

5. Aside from Depp, this movie also had Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor, Paul Bettany, Olivia Munn, and Jeff Goldblum. Imagine that awesome pool of talents wasted in an embarrassing movie.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published January 28, 2015.)

MACBETH (Justin Kurzel, 2015)

092e3bd0-5dcb-42fe-89ca-132747e77f03SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Macbeth:

1. The opening scene with the dead Macbaby perfectly set the somber tone of this adaptation. I could barely remember reading the source (maybe I even just read the Cliff’s Notes version) but I didn’t recall an actual baby in the play. I even thought that Lady Macbeth went mad from her frustration of not having (not loss of) a baby and all the references on sucking milk were just imaginary.

(Side note: This reminded me of a local actress who also experienced the same kind of depression and apparently took care of a doll while on the set. Sadness.)

Now that I have a lot of time to read, I really need to catch up on these classics.

2. There were only a few of us in the theater and some understandably walked out halfway through. The movie was a test of patience with its leisurely pacing, extra slow motion battle sequences, Old English dialogue, and constant monologues. But then again, anybody watching a Shakespeare adaptation should have been prepared for that. (Good news: there were English subtitles so I didn’t get an epistaxis trying to figure out what the characters were saying, e.g. “Bid me not speak, see, speak yourselves” for “Kayo na ang sumight sa bangkay”).

3. I loved the visuals in the movie, especially the final battle scene with the red and orange hues. I would have to admit that I snickered a bit though when Michael Fassbender’s eyeshadow and mascara got smudged from the constant crying (and also in the scene where Macduff called his kids “all my pretty chickens”).

4. Speaking of Fassy, he was fine as the said “Warrior King” but was still no match for Marion Cotillard’s deranged performance. As the scheming Lady Macbeth, you could actually see her devilish smile even in the dark after her husband said that he had done the murderous deed. Her delivery of the line “A little water clears us of this deed” was just chilling that when she showed human emotions during the latter part of the movie (“Out, damned spot!”), one couldn’t help but doubt if they were crocodile tears.

5. I stand by my belief that Lady Macbeth was somewhat misunderstood. Was she really innately evil or just a completely supportive wife? Did the lack of a child diminish her maternal instincts or made her more selfless and loving? Why do strong and ambitious women always end up getting a bad rap? I digress.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published January 26, 2016.)

ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: THE ROAD CHIP (Walt Becker, 2015)

d110bd0d-a0da-4dac-9d2b-58764ea20333

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip:

1. As a kid, I have always loved the Chipmunks that I would try and imitate their voices by talking in front of an electric fan with the dial turned up to three. (Okay, sometimes I sang the theme song as well: “Alvin, Simon, Theodoooore!”) And no, I never had access to helium balloons. If I did, I wouldn’t have ended up with so much kabag.

2. This fourth film in the series wasn’t any better than the previous sequels, but it was just too hard to hate on these lovable, furry singing creatures. The jokes were completely juvenile so they mostly involved farting, peeing, and pooping. My favorite bit was when Alvin told Dave that they were very mature and then Theodore farted and said in his too cute voice, “Oops, pizza toots!” It might not be funny for anyone over eight, but us kids laughed our hearts out.

3. I wish there were more pop songs included here other than Uptown Funk and Geronimo. Sure, it was fun to hear Conga and Iko Iko but I missed the Chipettes singing Bad Romance and Single Ladies. Plus, the girls were sidelined in the entire movie playing judges in a blatant plug for American Idol.

4. Jennifer Coolidge showed up yet again in a ditzy role which was a variation of her Sophie Kaczinsky in 2 Broke Girls, in turn a variation of her Paulette in Legally Blonde, also a variation of her MILF role in American Pie. Has she played any other character of late?

5. Actually, a lot of good actors (mostly Emmy winners) showed up to cash in their checks. Tony Hale endured a lot of slapstick jokes from various animals that will put his encounters with VP Selina Meyer to shame. Uzo Aduba had a thankless role as a security officer that simply wanted to frisk passengers. Even John Waters showed up for a brief cameo (thankfully, no poop-eating scene).

6. I wouldn’t be spoiling anything if I say that Dave ended up adopting the Chipmunks, thereby one-upping the Brangelina clan. As one character stated, “Families come in all shapes and sizes. We don’t judge.” Aww, now wasn’t that nice?

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published January 26, 2016.)

BLACKHAT (Michael Mann, 2015)

d7f8cc96-fd8d-4af9-a2d9-2f01527596c1

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Blackhat:

1. The movie opened with a great sequence showing information traveling from various circuits and transistors until it finally triggered an explosion in a nuclear reactor.

2. After that scene, basically nothing happened onscreen for the next thirty minutes. That was one incredibly long bathroom break. I couldn’t believe this was from the director of The Insider, Heat, and Collateral (oh, wait).

3. Do you remember those badly-dubbed Chinese movies shown every Sunday morning on Channel 9? This movie had its own version of that. Only the Chinese characters were speaking Chinese. And it was still badly-dubbed.

4. Lust, Caution would always be one of my favorite Ang Lee films. I was so happy to see Tang Wei and Wang Leehom reunite here. Watch that movie and not just for the good (wink, wink) parts, ok?

5. Poor Viola Davis had to wear a horrible wig. She’s a lovely and smart woman. Why did she allow this kind of treatment from Hollywood?

6. Speaking of hair, how did Chris Hemsworth maintain that perpetually brushed up hair? Did they have industrial hairblowers in prison?

7. I loved the Asian tour with the movie jumping from Hong Kong to Macau to Malaysia and finally to Indonesia. I’d never seen Kowloon Station ever deserted, though.

8. One crowd scene had men pointing guns at each other and people barely noticing. It needed a gunfire before the stampede started. Really?

9. So many IT jargon. My head almost exploded.

10. If you want an exciting digital age thriller, you’d be better off watching the cheesy Sandra Bullock flick The Net. I couldn’t believe it was shown twenty years ago.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published January 25, 2015.)

FIFTY SHADES OF GREY (Sam Taylor-Johnson, 2015)

IMG_2712

My notes on Fifty Shades of Grey:

1. The lights in the cinema dimmed and all of the women started screaming. I knew then that this would be a dreadful experience. If you’re a fan of the book, nothing should stop you from watching anyway.

2. Why was Christian Grey giving me this American Psycho vibe? Actually, I would have preferred it if he were more of Patrick Bateman. For all his sexual fetishes, he still looked completely bland and…normal.

3. I guess the biggest problem was casting Jamie Dornan in the lead role. The character of Grey needed someone more charismatic or appealing. Don’t get me wrong, Dornan looked good but I was expecting a stunner. Grey should be someone so magnetic that he can lead you in his playroom of whips and chains and you would be the one to offer getting tied up. And what’s with that weird European accent?

4. On the opposite end of the spectrum was Dakota Johnson. She was just so gorgeous onscreen (like Charlotte Gainsbourg’s younger sister) that I probably would have enjoyed a role reversal. I obviously haven’t read the book so here’s hoping that happened in the next two sequels. I have to say that I wasn’t a fan of her armpits, though. They looked roughly-shaven and yes, smelly. (I’m judgmental like that.)

5. So most of the sex scenes had to be blurred or blocked because apparently we’re old enough to do it but not to actually see it. And this time, we don’t even get to blame the MTRCB because the film distributor took it upon themselves to censor the movie before submitting it for classification. We’ve seen a lot of frontal nudity and sex scenes with an R-16 rating lately (even Lust, Caution was shown in its entirety here and that was truly erotic). I really didn’t understand this move at all.

6. I mean sex was obviously the theme (and selling point) of the movie. Where else can you hear words like butt plug? Once you start blocking that out, then what would be left? The story? Who watches porn for the story?

7. Even Christian Grey thinks that Beyonce by Beyonce should have won the Grammy for Album of the Year.

8. I loved the casting of Jennifer Ehle and Marcia Gay Harden as the too young to be the couple’s mothers. If the story had more of them, I bet they would have made the movie more interesting.

9. “Laters, baby” not only made me cringe but it also elicited a lot of shrieking typical in a KathNiel movie. Calm down, ladies!

10. Grey knew how to do a mean braid. Beyonce and braiding. It must be very easy to convince him to transition to the other side.

11. Did the room really have to be so dark during the contract signing? Were they owls?

12. If you want much better movies dealing with the same themes, I suggest you watch Steven Shainberg’s Secretary (where James Spader also played a Mr. Grey) or the previously mentioned Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution. All of the things in this movie would be considered child stuff with those films.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

MR. RIGHT (Paco Cabezas, 2015)

13010887_10154099467203544_3268248103624562337_n
My notes on Mr. Right:

1. On the Anna Kendrick scale of movies, this one would be closer to Twilight than Up in the Air. In terms of her comedies, it would be on the side of Breaking Dawn, Part 1 rather than Pitch Perfect. I’m sure she has never heard the term pabebe acting (perfected by Kathryn Bernardo in She’s Dating the Gangster), but it seems to have invaded Hollywood as well through her performance as a hyperactive, kooky, childish woman who spoke ten decibels higher than the normal range.

As Martha, she wore Ariana Grande kitty ears, took selfies of her boobs (“They look like a butt!”), dreamt of dating Lex Luthor, and rawred like a T. Rex (“I am a T. Rex! I am invincible!”). It was all too cutesy (no, pa-cute) that I half-expected her to sing the line “Ikaw nga ba ang icing sa ibabaw ng cupcake ko?”.

2. Sam Rockwell had done a lot of offbeat roles and I immediately loved his Mr. Right character as soon as he started dancing Christopher Walken-style during the opening credits. But then he showed up in the next scene with a mosaic Hawaiian shirt (that not even Mayor Atienza would be caught dead wearing) and sky blue slacks and I immediately took back my heart.

3. The scenes that made my blood curdle from the icky pabebe-ness were:

• The meet cute in 7/11 where they bumped into each other and boxes of Trojan condoms flew in the air in slow motion like doves in a John Woo movie

• When Martha and Right had their first date in the park and a sloppy hitman started shooting at them and they ended up faux dancing to avoid the bullets

• Immediately after that scene, they were in matchy-matchy Bitch 1 and Bitch 2 couple shirts (trademarked by Tina Paner and Ramon Christopher) and heart-shaped sunglasses on the way to a club

• That god-awful jumping on the bed scene that came straight out of High School Musical

• A knife-throwing foreplay session (ugh!)

4. I could never eat inside the bathroom (much less the shower) even if it were the tastiest In-N-Out burger. The thought of the toilet staring at me while I chew would be enough to start my heaving. Gross!

5. Britney’s fans would be surprised to see Anson Mount in this movie. He was completely unrecognizable with the shaggy beard. If Brit was not yet a woman in Crossroads, she would definitely be one after she hitchhikes with this new Ben.

6. If anything, the lame but goofy action scenes (and all the gratuitous violence) were a bit fun to watch. To be perfectly honest though, I was rooting for the villains to kill the pabebe couple whose most romantic line in the entire movie was “I feel like I’m in a coma with you.” Shoot, shoot, shoot!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

THE VISIT (M. Night Shyamalan, 2015)

12814140_10153947302023544_6662987572404421700_n

My notes on The Visit:

1. I had some serious doubts about this film because of two things: a) it used the no longer novel shaky cam/found footage style that was only scary because of the migraine that it might cause, and b) it was directed by then genius filmmaker turned gimmick auteur M. Night Shyamalan.

I could still remember the sight of Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel kissing in a field of swirling pollens to save their lives from (spoiler alert!!) the deadly greenhouse effect in The Happening. Yes, it was a tree-hugging horror movie that Leonardo DiCaprio would probably be endorsing soon. I was so mad that I wanted to take revenge on nature and eat a bowl of salad after watching all that awfulness.

(And then he made the execrable The Last Airbender and I promised that I would never pay to see his movies again. I lied. I still watched After Earth. In love and in movies, I just never learned.)

2. The premise was so simple and ordinary and maybe that was what made it more scary. Two kids (Becca and Tyler) were sent to live with Nana and Pop Pop, the grandparents they had never met, for a week as part of Becca’s documentary. They followed the normal house rules (curfew at 9:30pm, never go to the basement, eat all you want, have fun and enjoy) and everything was going fine until the oldies started displaying some unusual and disturbing behavior (read: screaming nonsense, crawling around the house at night like an animal, projectile vomiting, you know, the usual stuff that grandparents do).

3. After watching countless horror movies (both good and bad), I had grown immune to the scare factor. No amount of limping ladies that never had a haircut or crying ghosts or monsters lurking under the bed could easily scare me. I was pleasantly surprised with the goosebumps moments in this one, especially since these were real people. If it happened to them, it could easily happen to us (and by us, I meant me), too. I swear after this, I would probably freak out if I see my grandmother holding a kitchen knife.

4. Even with all the lingering strangeness, there were still a lot of funny scenes because of the playfulness of the kids. I loved how Tyler (played by the amazing Ed Oxenbould) was a germaphobe, thus further lowering his survival rate, and how he would use the names of singers as curse words (Shakira! Shania Twain! Sarah MacLachlan!!). My favorite bit was when he saw Nana naked and scratching the walls and he still had time to joke (“I’m blind!!”).

5. The biggest concern with these found footage films was that the characters didn’t drop the camera even in the face of danger and this was no exception. The kids were chased everywhere and they still needed to record everything. Why?! (Oh, otherwise there wouldn’t be any movie.)

6. If you live with your grandparents or if you’re planning to visit them soon, here are some questions that might help you decide if you should watch this one:

a) Has any of them ever asked if you mind getting inside the oven to clean it?
b) Do your grandparents not use a mirror since they’re too scared of their reflection?
c) Have there been instances of them rocking in a chair while laughing hysterically?
d) Do they stand quietly outside your door at night?

Now you decide.

7. Would it be a big spoiler if I told you that since this was a Shyamalan movie, there would be a big twist at the end? Really?! How many Shyamalan movies have you seen? Anyway, this one crumbled a bit after the big reveal, but it was still worth the ride.

8. Lesson of the day: “Shit does not taste like chicken.”

Rating: ★★★★☆