MOVIE REVIEW: THE DEPARTED (Martin Scorsese, 2006)

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Bloated compared to the incredibly tight Infernal Affairs, but by no means inferior to the original. Great screenplay, amazing cast, masterful direction.

I remember being slightly #TeamBabel that year and this rewatch got me torn all over again.

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published April 26, 2017.)

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: INTO THE WOODS (Rob Marshall, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Into the Woods:

1. A lot of the people in the theater complained that the characters did nothing but sing. It was a musical, for crying out loud! I heard the exact same thing about Les Miserables. No wonder 1dol flopped on local TV.

2. I had grown tired of these reimagining and modernization of classic fairy tales (Maleficent, Jack the Giant Slayer, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters; although I had to say I was excited to watch the new live-action Cinderella).

Happy to see the Babel-like take of the stories here. The movie was actually clever until it turned really serious in its final act. Why couldn’t it have ended with the requisite happily ever after?

3. I absolutely loved the prologue song but the rest were not so memorable. Sure, I enjoyed the diva showdown between the two Princes but I usually leave the theater humming a tune from the musical and it didn’t happen here.

4. Momma Meryl was fine as always but my favorites were the bratty Little Red Riding Hood and the wonderful singing of Emily Blunt. Miranda and Emily would be so proud.

5. Was I the only one bothered by the dark undertones of pedophilia whenever Little Red Riding Hood was surrounded by the grown-ups? First, she was stalked by the Big Bad Wolf, an obvious child predator, and then she was forced to remove her cape by the Baker. Was it just my perverted mind?

6. I knew that the real fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen were really dark to begin with, but I was still surprised this was rated General Patronage. Women got their toes sawed off, several characters were killed, a couple had an adulterous tryst. Uhh, why was this considered suitable for children?

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published February 4, 2015.)

MOVIE REVIEW: BIRDMAN OR (THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE) (Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Birdman Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance):

1. I had always associated Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu with the intersecting stories narrative where major characters in his films had their lives connected and intertwined (FYI, I really loved Amores Perros, Babel, and 21 Grams). It was one big gimmick that worked for me. I wasn’t surprised that his newest film relied on another gimmick (“one long continuous take”) to drive the story.

2. Off the bat, people would either love this or find it completely boring. There were so many insider jokes on cinema and theater and the arts that might just go over their heads. As one character stated, “Audiences love action, not this talking philosophical bullshit.”

3. Michael Keaton looked like Robert Duvall whenever he wasn’t wearing a wig. He was excellent here by the way. The mere fact that he agreed to make fun of his current status (washed up actor who used to be Batman!) was just brave. If Al Pacino could win for all the scenery-chewing in Scent of a Woman, why couldn’t Keaton? I wouldn’t be complaining if he got that Best Actor Oscar.

4. “You confuse love for admiration.” Raise your hand if you were guilty of this.

5. Edward Norton had a lot of nudity here (or scenes that showed him in his underwear or sported a boner). For a more lengthy peek on his gift, you could watch the brilliant American History X. I loved the Norton the Method Actor playing a Norton-ish Method Actor joke.

6. I was initially bothered by the drumming soundtrack. I was expecting Miles Teller to show up practicing in one corner. And then the movie revealed an actual drummer and later on a band in Times Square. I guess the joke was on me.

7. Naomi Watts’ character had this great repartee with Andrea Riseborough’s:

“Why don’t I have any self-respect?”

“You’re an actress, honey!”

8. Speaking of Watts, she was really good in this movie. I was surprised her performance was virtually overlooked against co-star Emma Stone. Everyone knew how much I loved Stone (I even named my car after her) but she was just fine here.

9. Speaking of, there was a blatant Lancome product placement that was here either as a real product placement or as a joke on product placements in movies (or both). With this kind of dark comedy, it was just hard to tell.

10. Similar to Annie, they showed a viral video that was taken from different angles. Probably the only sloppy thing in this film.

11. Did the film miss an Oscar nomination for Best Editing since it really looked like one continuous take? Shouldn’t it have gotten one for making it look like it was one brilliant, seamless take?

12. When Keaton’s character complained about getting overshadowed by Clooney, it was just a wink on the battle of the Batmans. I’d be happy to see a fourth Batman win an Oscar tbh.

13. I hope Wenn Deramas could watch this just for that wonderful takedown on film criticism. I bet he’d have a major meltdown.

14. “A thing is a thing, not what is said of the thing.” This was a sad, sad film. Watch at your own risk.

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published February 1, 2015.)