MOVIE REVIEW: BREATHE (Andy Serkis, 2017)

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In another (desperate?) bid for an Oscar nomination, Andrew Garfield has moved on from playing a real-life man of faith battling enemy soldiers without the use of a gun to a real-life faith-challenged man battling polio and its debilitating side effects with just a respirator. Unlike his performance in Hacksaw Ridge though, this one seemed to be a result of watching Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything one too many times (something I was guilty of as well).

Claire Foy (looking very much like Adele’s older sister) as his patient and devoted wife fared significantly better. She had a fantastic scene where she stormed down a hill after being accused that she saw her husband as a burden and it made me want to do a catch-up on the first season of The Crown.

Although this biopic was clearly well-intentioned and made to be inspirational, the central love story just felt very bland. The only source of tension was when a kid and his dog accidentally unplugged the breathing device and even that scene had me giggling because of the clunky way it was handled. I’m definitely going straight to hell.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS (Stephen Frears, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Florence Foster Jenkins:

1. I remember reading this incredibly malicious yet equally juicy blind item about a popular local young star who ordered that hundreds of mannequins be placed in her concert venue to mislead the general public in believing that she actually had a sold out show. It sounded incredibly silly when I first read it, but after seeing this movie, it might not have been too far-fetched.

Florence (Meryl Streep, a hoot) was a rich socialite in the ’40s who clearly thought of herself as a really talented opera singer (in reality, the New York Times dubbed her the Worst Singer in the World). Without her knowledge, her husband St. Clair (a terrific Hugh Grant) would often pay a select group of audience members to cheer and applaud during her shows (one old lady even said “I don’t hear very well, but I know Madame Florence is magical”).

It must be true that what the eyes don’t see (or the ears don’t hear?), the heart doesn’t grieve over.

2. I really liked the fact that St. Clair (I thought it was Sinclair up until the end credits rolled) was also an unsuccessful artist (he moaned over the fact that he had never played the lead in Hamlet). It was like watching two losers who were bonded by their failures find happiness in each other. His blatant love and respect for her (notwithstanding a mistress on the side) also made his being an enabler a bit more understandable.

3. With a voice that defied medical science, one could easily conclude that Florence was the Anne Curtis of her time, but the biggest difference was that Anne acknowledged the fact that she couldn’t sing that well (or to some people, at all). Florence might have shared the exact same passion but she was simply oblivious to her blatant lack of vocal skills.

Even worse, she was surrounded by greedy (practical?) people that were all in on the joke. On the flipside, would you rather be the heartless cynic willing to speak the truth and crush the dreams of a dying old lady?

4. I suddenly missed the American Idol auditions where contestants entered the room like they were the second coming of Adele or Beyoncé, but ended up instead as part of the show’s gag reel because they couldn’t hit a single note. Were their delusions of grandeur coming from vainglorious egotism or enablers from home that declared them the best singers ever?

Search for Mary Roach, James Lewis, and Isadora Furman. You can thank me later.

5. Momma Meryl obviously had a lot of fun in the role and this would probably be what the late Julia Child sounded like while singing in the shower. In one scene, she had the audacity to stop a pianist from playing because he was “raping her ears” and it was made even funnier delivered by the greatest actress of all time pretending to be the worst singer of all time. Her final aria (with the realization that people were laughing at her) really broke my heart.

With all of that said, Amy Adams was robbed of an Oscar nomination.

6. “People may say I couldn’t sing, but no one can ever say I didn’t sing.” Sounds like a good tagline for the next leg of the Annebisyosa Tour.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR (Johannes Roberts, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Other Side of the Door:

1. Mothers always make the toughest decisions in movies. Whenever a mother of two kids gets involved in an accident with them, you can expect a Sophie’s Choice moment where she has to decide and save (and therefore show her bias/favoritism/put more importance to) a specific child. She’s then subjected to endless guilt and shame on top of the overwhelming feeling of loss.

I last saw this happen in the local horror flick Amorosa where Angel Aquino had to decide if she should save Enrique Gil or Martin del Rosario. Tough call, right?

2. In this movie, Sarah Wayne Callies (Lori of The Walking Dead) was placed in the same situation and the consequences of her choice made her desperate to do anything to communicate again with the son that she lost. An Indian woman advised her that she could do this in an abandoned temple between the dead and the living (huh?) as long as she didn’t open the door (insert Ate Gay joke here) and let out the spirits saying hello from the other side (insert Adele joke here). Since this was a horror movie, you knew that door will be opened.

3. Why are most of the (good) scary stories set in Asia? Even Hollywood remakes tried to bring back the stories to their original settings because it just seemed more natural. The Grudge sent Sarah Michelle Gellar back to Japan. Even the recent horror flick The Forest had to use a Suicide Forest in Japan. (Wait, I’m visiting Tokyo soon. Should I be scared?) It must be the exoticism of the region that just made it more mystical. (FYI, this movie was an exception. Completely horrible.)

4. Most of the scenes were too dark that it was hard to see the apparently horrific things happening onscreen. The sound effects cued every scare, but nothing worked.

5. Do you still remember Flower Girl from Sukob? The one who reminded siblings not to get married on the same year? The one who left a trail of leaves whenever she made a surprise appearance? The only one that successfully killed Kris Aquino outside of her massacre movies? She has finally conquered Hollywood. I’m so proud of her!

6. I remember reading this short horror story where a father was trying to pacify his crying son who was saying that a monster was under his bed. When he peeked under, he saw his real son who shushed him and said that there was another boy on his bed. That was a real goosebumps moment. The movie tried to incorporate a similar scene but it was nowhere near as effective.

7. After an hour of terrorizing the family, how did they get rid of the ghost? The mother begged him to go away. Eh puwede naman pala pakiusapan jusko!!

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆