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: THE LAST FIVE YEARS (Richard LaGravenese, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Last Five Years:

1. Before the screening, a disclaimer was flashed onscreen stating that the movie was made up purely of songs (just in case one didn’t know that this was based on a musical). It also gave away the entire plot and basically spoiled the movie. Did we really need that?

2. Speaking of need, why did the movie have subtitles? I have never seen the stage play but I sure had fun singing along.

3. I’m sure the source material played better onstage. The movie was just several vignettes stitched together and shot without much movement. The storytelling was clever (two points of view told in reverse until they intersected) but it was a pain to sit through.

4. I have loved Anna Kendrick since Up in the Air and she was a fine actress here still. I was just not too keen on the constantly high pitch of her singing. Like she was always calling the birds to dress her up for the ball.

5. Jeremy Jordan played one of the most despicable characters in Smash. I didn’t hate him so much here but he was too bland.

6. Although there were some good lines (like that dig at Russell Crowe getting cast in a musical), I felt like the characters were just singing something banal all the time. I’m sure you do this a lot. You’re in bed and bored and you start humming and it becomes a full blown song…”Wala akong magawaaaaa! Anong gagawin kooooo!” Exactly like that.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published February 25, 2015.)

MOVIE REVIEW: THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR (Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Huntsman: Winter’s War:

1. One of the best decisions made in this unnecessary prequel/sequel was the removal of Kristen Stewart, whose Snow White was already sleepwalking through the first movie even before she bit into the poisoned apple. If I were that bored, I would probably be sleeping with my married director, too.

The other good thing was bringing back the wonderful Charlize Theron, fully inhabiting the role of wicked Queen Ravenna, truly the most enchanting creature in that mythical land. I wasn’t even sure why she had to listen to her gong-like golden mirror lie that she wasn’t the fairest of them all. Seriously, in what world would she be less gorgeous than anyone (molting gold or otherwise)? Oh right, this was a fantasy.

2. Wait, what happened to the vanity story? Did Queen Ravenna have the King killed as well because he had fairer, more younger-looking skin than her? I expected her to be shallow, but I didn’t realize that she was this unexplainably treacherous.

3. It was obvious that Liam Neeson provided the voiceover here because every time I felt my eyelids drooping, I could actually hear him saying, “I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. But if you fall asleep, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you” and I would be fully awake once again.

4. With the current weather, I think Ice Queen Freya (played by Emily Blunt) would be the perfect BFF. Forget airconditioning, her touch alone would send literal shivers down your spine. Plus, wouldn’t it be fun to sing-along to Let It Go while she cast these icicles all around you? You could probably borrow her gorgeous outfits for Halloween, too. (First dibs on the one with the divine train.) And don’t get me started on that polar bear fit for a grand entrance in any formal party.

5. Just so people wouldn’t forget that Chris Hemsworth was surrounded by talented actresses and was still part of the movie, he got his own topless tampisaw sa batis scene. Will those abs be front and center in Thor: Ragnarok as well? Asking for a friend.

6. Speaking of talented, I couldn’t believe that Jessica Chastain actually accepted the thankless role of female warrior Sara where she had to go full pabebe mode (refer to Anna Kendrick in Mr. Right) even if she was way too old for it. Besides, her weird accent sounded like a cross between Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn and Madonna after visiting England. Whatever happened to our Oscar dreams?

7. “Love ends in betrayal. Always.” Oh my, Sara was even more jaded than my friend Alfrenette (not her real name) and this was a girl whose heart got trampled on by the most evil queens on the planet. Sara, similar to what I always told my friend, all you really needed was some good *** (it was pie, just in case you were curious).

8. Great, we’re stuck with just two dwarves and they ended up to be Grumpy and Chubby (and their girlfriends). They were supposed to be the funny ones, but were just mildly entertaining. Wait, that makes me sound both grumpy and chubby! Argh!!

9. Similar to Mara Clara, I immediately knew that that eternity necklace would figure prominently in a key scene. (“She is not Cupid. I doubt that an arrow to the heart is an expression of her love.” Har har!) And that hanging bridge? Of course it would get cut off.

10. I hear Ravenna and I think Mulawin.

11. More questions about the movie:

* Why did they have to fight Ravenna if all they needed to do was destroy the mirror? Were they too scared to have seven years of bad luck?

* Why didn’t the Ice Queen use her freezing powers to stop the bleeding? Hadn’t she heard of a cold compress (or cryotherapy)?

* Why didn’t the frozen dwarves shatter into tiny ice pieces similar to what happened to Ice Queen’s boyfriend? (And don’t tell me it was because he fell down to the ground.)

12. Seriously, I had this really strange theory that the Ice Queen’s daughter wasn’t killed and that it was Snow White, thus her name (and Kojic soap complexion). No wonder I’m an unemployed writer.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: MR. RIGHT (Paco Cabezas, 2015)

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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: ★★☆☆☆