ENCHANTED (Kevin Lima, 2007)

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I’ll be the crazy guy singing That’s How You Know at the (former) fountain area of ATC later.

Amy Adams, Disney legend.

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published September 5, 2017.)

MY FAIRY TAIL LOVE STORY (Perci Intalan, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on My Fairy Tail Love Story:

1. Never ever commit the mistake of making an analogy between Oscar-less Amy Adams and Grammy-less Katy Perry because I would surely hunt you down. It was this undying love for Adams that made me promise to watch Enchanted at least once every year. You know, that clever retelling of a fairy tale where she played a storybook Disney princess banished by her stepmother into the real world and searched for her ever ever after.

I think this movie wanted to be very much like Enchanted (aside from the obvious The Little Mermaid), but it failed to capture the magic of that film. Its idea of romantic love was having a character deliver the line, “With or without your tail, kahit amoy palengke ka pa, bottomline is mahal na mahal kita”. I guess it was meant to be sweet, but overall this mermaid out of water story felt very (insert Ariel’s voice here) what’s that word again… bilasa.

2. I actually thought the movie never recovered from the moment Chantel (Janella Salvador) cracked a joke during her birthday party, “My late mother would be proud of me. Oh, she’s not dead! She’s just late.” Nyek! And that was only ten minutes in.

The only source of fun I had was listening to every properly enunciated word coming out of her mouth (Tita Lea Salonga would be proud). It might be intentional (I’d like to say it was more fortuitous), but Janella sounded very much like a theater actress. If Atlantis Productions would ever stage The Little Mermaid again locally, I’m sure she would be great in the lead role.

3. Wait, if Chantel was a mermaid, why didn’t she have any problems living and breathing in a water-free environment? Instead of a bathtub, she spent her days on a bed. Or even jumping (!!) around from room to room (let me see you do that, Ariel!). Seriously, if I had scaly legs, I would always make sure they were properly moisturized.

4. I couldn’t get over the fact that Chantel immediately accepted that she grew a palikpik overnight, but fainted in the bathroom at the sight of Noah’s (Elmo Magalona), uhm, baby shark?

5. To be fair, the production design and the underwater photography looked really good. One of the very few clever bits here was when Chantel surfaced on the beach with a plastic bag on her head. Environmental awareness from a fantasy film? Not bad. Liked the theme song, too.

6. Speaking of fantasy film, you know you were watching one when spoiled rich kid Chantel looked giddy and excited upon seeing the racks of wonderful clothes that were available in… Robinson’s Department Store.

7. Burning questions:

• When Chantel broke into the highest falsetto and cracked her mirror, how did Noah’s designer glasses remain intact?

• Did Chantel readily own a pair of orange seashell bikini top to match her tail? (More importantly, how much do they cost in Robinson’s Department Store?)

• When Noah mentioned that being in a wheelchair was the latest fashion craze in New York, how dumb were those kids to believe him? And how many PWDs did he actually offend?

8. Chantel was head over heels in love with Ethan (Kiko Estrada) even if he had Keempee de Leon hair and dressed very much like a typical 50ish gay uncle who was on vacation from Saudi Arabia. Didn’t she smell anything fishy?

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

JUSTICE LEAGUE (Zack Snyder, 2017)

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Poor Amy Adams! I had not seen her this lost since Princess Giselle got magically transported to modern day New York. She was in full “gunning for a sixth Oscar nomination” mode in a DC movie that suddenly wanted to be a lighter, funnier version of its recently dreary efforts.

For the record, I was one of thirteen people that actually liked Batman v Superman AND Suicide Squad. This one just took forever for the superheroes to assemble and I felt as sad as Ben Affleck’s Batman when I couldn’t really understand all that Mother Box story (wait, didn’t we see these cubes as well in The Avengers?).

At least Ezra Miller was funny as Flash even if he had the exact same sequences that were previously done by Evan Peters as Quicksilver (and none of them even close to that awesome Time in a Bottle in Days of Future Past). I wouldn’t mind just a Flash and Wonder Woman road trip movie ala Thelma and Louise (or even Crossroads). Hopefully, without any boxes this time.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

ARRIVAL (Denis Villeneuve, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Arrival:

1. Whenever I watch these alien invasion films, I always find comfort in the fact that these creatures very rarely attacked our country. In this one, they sent twelve pods in twelve different territories and not even one bothered to settle in (or anywhere near) the Philippines.

They must have heard of the MMDA’s revised number coding scheme and decided that our nation did not have the brains to aid in world peace. Or maybe they found out about our aggressive and unforgiving war on drugs and it scared them because let’s face it, symbol-spewing squids floating in thick clouds of smoke sounded highly (stress on high) suspicious to me.

2. “If you could see your whole life from start to finish, would you change things?” Thank you for that wonderful question. I honestly had not given this much thought and if I tried to answer it now I would probably end up babbling even worse than Janina San Miguel (homaygahd!). What I really liked about it though was that it opened this discussion about free will vs destiny.

Regardless if one could turn back time or see the future, it signified that everything in our lives was a result of our choices. Nobody was predetermined to be single and lonely, it was ultimately your choice bes.

3. My brain would often short-circuit in these high-concept sci-fi movies (hello Interstellar!) so a Denis Villeneuve high-concept sci-fi movie was just overkill. I would not even pretend that I fully understood Enemy, but I really liked how it challenged every fiber of my being.

This one was a bit more accessible, with clues sprinkled very much like Easter eggs and scenes that you could easily recall and make you go “Ahhhhh” hours after watching. My favorite was the constant reference to the name Hannah (a palindrome) and how it tied up with the overall theme (and the lead character not believing in beginnings and endings).

4. Much had been said about the Oscar crime committed against Amy Adams (as cunning linguist Dr. Louise Banks), but at least she could sleep soundly at night knowing that she delivered the performance of her life. Every movement, every sigh, every tear, all played to absolute perfection.

5. Could someone explain why a caged bird was with them inside the pod? I initially thought it was used to determine if humans could breathe there, but then they never really took off their hazmat suits until Louise defied orders. Paging Sheldon Cooper!

6. Similar to the recent Miss Universe question and answer debacle, this clearly proved that proper communication and translation were critical in every situation. It could mean the difference between “offer weapon” and “use weapon”. And as one character stated, “Language would be the first weapon drawn in conflict”.

But it really wasn’t about being able to speak a particular language, but being able to influence and inspire other people. Oh, wait…homaygahd!

7. “I’ve had my head tilted up to the stars for as long as I can remember. You know what surprised me most? It wasn’t meeting them. It was meeting you.” So what would be the heptapod symbol for kilig?

Rating: ★★★★★

FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS (Stephen Frears, 2016)

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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: ★★★☆☆

ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS (James Bobin, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Alice Through The Looking Glass:

1. Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland was a blatant visual feast that I found lacking in story given its fantasy-adventure format. This second one by James Bobin (who also directed the fun Muppets movies) was slightly better than the first because it focused on the interesting backstories of some major characters. Although the movie still lagged in some places, it was able to capitalize on its great cast making it a more enjoyable romp.

2. I previously lamented that Johnny Depp’s zaniness had reached its limit and he needed to go back to playing (relatively) normal characters (I blame the fourth Jack Sparrow movie), but his return to the Mad Hatter role was actually quite welcome. I just couldn’t think of any other actor who could perfectly balance the man-child lunacy of the role. When the dying Hatter with all of his colors seeped out of him was lying in bed, it was hard not to get your heart crushed.

3. I had always wondered why the Red Queen (of Hearts) had such a big head that grew even bigger when she was furious and it was explained in detail here. Habang nagagalit, lalong lumalaki (insert Beavis and Butthead laugh here).

Anyway, she was my favorite character ever since. How could you not love someone who would shake a terrarium of pet ants and scream “Earthquake!!”? Besides, Helena Bonham-Carter played the role with such delicious glee (forget Amy Adams, isn’t HBC overdue for an Oscar as well?).

4. When Sasha Baron Cohen showed up as Time who was pining for the Red Queen, all I could think of were the Thenardiers and I was hoping for a Master of the House encore.

5. I loved the gorgeous costumes by Colleen Atwood from Alice’s multi-colored Mandarin-inspired gown to the Lady Gaga-ish shoulders of Time and the luscious art direction. I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets recognized in both categories again next year.

6. Three important themes here: a) you can’t change the past, b) a previous lie will haunt you forever with great repercussions, c) a person with a wild imagination can get thrown in the loony bin. And you can add d) Kasalanan ito lahat ni Anne Hathaway.

7. This might be one of the few movies that properly addressed the space-time continuum that proved problematic in films like Looper. I really liked how the future started to rust when a character met her old self and messed up with time (or Time).

8. Pink’s girl power anthem played during the end credits was very fitting given the strong feminist character of Alice. Also, that tribute to the late Alan Rickman (who voiced the blue caterpillar Absolem) made me miss such a great actor. To paraphrase the Cheshire Cat, “Goodbye, sweet butterfly!”.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE (Zack Snyder, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice:

1. I entered the cinema with incredibly low expectations because of brutal reviews from critics and terrible feedback from friends that camped out to watch the very first screening. I was also never fascinated with this match-up and saw it more like Alien vs Predator, a lame cash cow that pitted two popular characters for the sake of seeing which one had the bigger balls (or mandibles). Besides, when it was a battle between good vs good (or evil vs evil), would there even be a winner? When the movie was over, all I could think of was that it wasn’t bad at all. (Even better, it was no Man of Steel.)

2. If I was clueless on the Marvel Universe, I was even more lost in this DC Universe. I would not be geeking out and pointing various differences between the comic books and the movie because I really didn’t know anything, except from what I had seen in previous Superman and Batman movies. I was even puzzled because my idea of Wonder Woman was the red, white, and blue clad Lynda Carter with her magic lasso. Seriously, how many more times would we see another version of Bruce Wayne’s parents getting killed? Remember when Deadpool mentioned that he was getting confused with the timelines of X-Men (“McAvoy or Stewart?”), I felt the exact same way as soon as the flashback started.

3. At least the promised showdown didn’t disappoint. It clearly showed a battle between god and man, one with superhero powers and a major weakness and the other a rich mortal armed with hi-tech gadgets. When they started fighting and destroying buildings, I finally understood why the people hated these two. They were just major nuisances that disturbed the peace of their city.

4. There were two scenes where characters went for a dip even with their shoes on and it really bothered me. It would only take a minute to remove them. Why subject yourselves to super kachichas?

5. A lot of people hated Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor and called him the movie’s Jar Jar Binks. I think the biggest difference was that he was really meant to be an annoying man-child (I loved the scene where he was giving a speech and completely forgot his entire point) while JJB was George Lucas’ failed attempt to create another Ewok. Eisenberg was good here and in one scene even proved that he could out-snot Viola Davis. I did not see him growing up as Kevin Spacey, though.

6. When Jeremy Irons showed up as Alfred, I actually thought that he was an old Robert Downey, Jr. I swear I thought it was an unprecedented crossover.

7. I didn’t know the rest of the characters shown for the future Justice League but I was excited to see Ezra Miller playing the Flash (although this character would always be Dawson’s father to me, you know John Wesley Shipp that was rumored to have a romantic relationship with James Van der Beek). I also recognized Silas Stone (his name was on the computer screen) as the brilliant Joe Morton. Olivia Pope should be proud.

8. Regardless of the ending, Zack Snyder obviously favored Superman more. Now I really understood those sad Ben Affleck memes and videos. His Batman was just depressed and didn’t have the necessary angst for the role (like he was still suffering from a tortured relationship with J.Lo or carrying a guilt for possibly cheating on Jennifer Garner). For a rich guy, he couldn’t even ask his butler to remove his car cover.

Henry Cavill, on the other hand, could still barely act, but was shown as the real hero even if he had enough time to bask in the glory of his billowing cape while the people on the roof were close to drowning. He even had a scene where people surrounded him and touched him like a god (although I was sure that even James Reid would be treated that way if he stood in the middle of the activity center in ATC).

9. Wonder Woman clearly knew how to accentuate her assets (considering that she was played by a previous Miss Universe candidate). All of Gal Gadot’s dresses showed her cleavage and/or back. But nothing beats the beauty of Lois Lane (Amy Adams) who always came first in terms of saving, regardless if people were dying everywhere. She took “ganda mo gurl” to a whole new level.

10. Here are some questions from a self-confessed comic book idiot:

a) How could Superman not hear that there was a bomb in the court room? He couldn’t be that distracted, right?

b) What were the flying taong insekto?

c) Was Wonder Woman a witch if she lived way back in 1918?

d) If Batman knew that Superman’s weakness was kryptonite, why couldn’t he have made a simple bracelet that he could attach to him? (I saw one used in the Supergirl TV series.)

e) Speaking of, how could even Superman fly carrying the kryptonite spear when Lois even had to throw it away because it was seeping his strength?

f) Was Superman the first person to show up in court wearing his underwear outside?

g) Did people hate the movie because “people hate what they don’t understand” or because it had a bummer of an ending (giving Star Cinema another reason to have a requisite happy ending)?

11. No mid-/post-credits sequence. Now that was even more sad than the funeral.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

JOY (David O. Russell, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Joy:

1. If David O. Russell and his repetitive cast (Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Robert De Niro) had a TV equivalent, it would definitely be Ryan Murphy and his American Horror Story crew.

Joy would be American Horror Story: Freak Show, a complete mess from such a talented group and a huge letdown from their previous effort (American Hustle = American Horror Story: Coven).

Wait, so does that make Silver Linings Playbook the American Horror Story: Asylum of the series? I guess that would explain the mind-boggling accolades (an Oscar for Lawrence over Jessica Chastain and Emmanuelle Riva? Please.) I know, I sound even more bitter than my single friends last Valentine’s Day.

(Weirdly enough, this film started with the Name Game song which was also an iconic production number in Asylum.)

2. There was always a certain level of camp in these Russell movies and when this one started with the life as a telenovela metaphor (complete with a Susan Lucci cameo), I thought it would nail its theme of female empowerment with a certain degree of winking fun. Unfortunately, it got bogged down by the too obvious inspirational message (“You’re just one kitschy invention away from becoming a success!!”) that led to a predictable and phony resolution.

3. In one scene, Lawrence (playing Curacha) divided the basement with a masking tape so that her father and ex-husband would know their sides of the room. It reminded me so much of Maricel Soriano “splitting” areas and possessions with her husband Cesar Montano in Kung Kaya Mo, Kaya Ko Rin. Maricel was so obsessed with boundaries that she even placed markers on walls, on the floor, and even inside the refrigerator (and since she bought all the grocery items, she moved them all to her side naturally). It was that kind of crazy humor sorely missing in this movie.

4. I previously mentioned my obsession with the O Shopping Channel and prior to that, the Home Shopping Network. If I actually bought everything that I wanted there (Butterfly Abs, Siluet 40, and Ab Rollers, among others), I would have been Laboracay ready as early as Christmas.

5. Seriously, how could QVC have sold that many Miracle Mops within the short timeframe given the number of customer service representatives on the phones inside the room? Did they have call centers in the Philippines that wasn’t shown? 50,000 items sold in a matter of minutes and yet some agents would complain when there were 30 calls on queue. This movie should be a requirement in Call Center Orientation.

6. Don’t you find it weird that when these characters chop off their own hair, they always end up getting a salon-ready look? I once cut my bangs and I ended up looking like I had a severe case of typhoid fever. Why don’t we have Miracle Scissors? Hey, that may be a good invention idea!!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆