THE GIFT (Sam Raimi, 2000)

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If there was one thing that Being John Malkovich taught me, it was never to get inside other people’s crazy heads. I wouldn’t wish to be a psychic even if it could guarantee a possible win at the lotto (besides, it was mentioned here that this gift didn’t work for personal gains). It’d just be too scary (and dangerous) to know everyone’s dirty little secrets.

Queen Cate Blanchett was magnificent as always. I also liked Giovanni Ribisi doing his usual cuckoo bit, but the biggest surprise in this psychological thriller was Keanu Reeves (finally) delivering a decent performance.

As the biggest fan of Dawson’s Creek, I remember watching this for the first time and being appalled when Katie Holmes (aka virginal Joey Potter) made buyangyang her boobies, while the rest of the guys thanked Raimi for the gratuitous nudity.

Also, the bimpo made me cry. I’m a hopeless emotional mess.

Rating: ★★★★☆

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GET OUT (Jordan Peele, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Get Out:

1. It was probably around the 40-minute mark when the mostly white houseguests were excitedly fawning over Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) that I realized this film had the exact same setup as Shake Rattle and Roll 2: Aswang. Chris was obviously Portia (Manilyn Reynes) and his white girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) was Monica (Ana Roces), the bearer of the townspeople’s feast of the month. The similarity was so uncanny that when a white woman grabbed Chris’s bicep and asked if black meat really tasted better, I really thought that he would be the night’s main course (my brain was screaming: “Stay away from the banig!!”). I felt a tad disappointed that it wasn’t the silly premise that I expected, but I was still surprised with the crazy route that this film took.

2. The opening sequence alone screamed Wes Craven, with a black man getting assaulted in a dimly-lit and deserted (read: quietly creepy) street (I wouldn’t be surprised if it were named Elm). It had the same laugh and then shriek approach that the director used in the cold open of Scream 2 (remember when Omar Epps got stabbed by a dildo through a glory hole? Oh wait, that was Shawn Wayans in Scary Movie, but same diff).

3. “My father would have voted for Obama a third time” was the equivalent of “I’m not racist, I have a lot of black friends” excuse. The fact that it was repeated several times here (and even declared proudly by an older white male) clearly drove home the movie’s message. Actually, there were so many instances that showed the day-to-day realities of the black man experience (Chris’s initial reaction to meeting Rose’s parents was: “I don’t want to be chased off the lawn with a shotgun”, a white police officer asked for his ID even if he wasn’t driving) that felt terribly depressing (and scary, very much like Bradley Whitford’s corduroy pants).

4. Excellent performances all around. The Armitages (Whitford, Catherine Keener, and Williams in her very appropriate, most annoying Marnie mode) made me frightened of these seemingly perfect white suburban liberal-minded families. But even better were the performances by the black cast. Kaluuya delivered a starmaking turn, LilRel Howery had the best lines (“T, S, motherfuckin’ A!”, and reminded me so much of Atlanta’s PaperBoi), but my favorite was Betty Gabriel with her creepy Stepford Wife smile. I didn’t care so much about the Baron Geisler brother, though.

5. I was such a skeptic and would usually laugh whenever I’d hear people getting held-up through hypnosis (Budol Budol!), but the Sunken Place here really left me feeling disturbed. The sound of a spoon stirring in a teacup would never be the same again. Also, all the hypnosis scenes with the out-of-body experience and peering through distant holes made me think so much of Being John Malkovich (also with Keener!).

6. That Behold the Coagula video reminded me of The Dharma Initiative in Lost. We need to go back.

7. I wish there was a more directly racist explanation on why black people were being targeted for the experiments (when one character asked, the simple response was a bit generic that they wanted people that were physically superior). It could have been an even more effective commentary on racism in this kind of social satire.

8. Seeing Papa Armitage getting killed by the horns of the very animal that he hated was just sweet revenge. I also had this oddly satisfying feeling while Rose was getting choked (maybe it was because she annoyingly ate her colored cereal separate from her glass of milk, with a straw to boot).

9. When the police car arrived towards the end of the movie, I actually felt really bad for Chris because in my mind, a white officer would step out and shoot him right on the spot. I would like to believe that I wasn’t the only one who thought the same way. Such a sad world we’re living in, no?

Rating: ★★★★☆

ASSASSIN’S CREED (Justin Kurzel, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Assassin’s Creed:

1. My least favorite part of playing video games would be the cutscenes, the animated clips usually shown between chapters to fill in the story gaps or propel the plot forward. I didn’t like them much because they defeated the purpose of playing: the full interactivity and complete control of the game. I could never relive the horror of helplessly watching Aeris getting stabbed by Sephiroth.

This movie was just as frustrating because all throughout I just wanted to grab a controller and make Michael Fassbender run as far away from this mess as possible. (Who was I kidding? I also wanted him to take off his garb and flash his Fassy.)

2. The movie started with an opening crawl that involved the Order of the Knights of the Templar, the urgent retrieval of the Apple of Eden, and an eagle that seemingly flew for thirty years and my head started to ache. Unfortunately, there was no X button that would allow me to skip to the good parts.

3. If there were an actual Animus, it could be an awesome ride in Disneyland. I mean it looked really fun when people started invading the mind of John Malkovich in Being John Malkovich and this felt like it would be the same experience. Only John Malkovich would be replaced by the 500 year-old memory of a dead person. Ooh, creepy with a touch of sinful! Count me in.

4. I liked the videogame feel especially during the Animus transition scenes. I just wished that the action scenes were more exciting because the swooping cameras alone certainly didn’t do the trick (even the rooftop scene towards the end was so incoherent and felt endless).

5. I was completely baffled by how they were able to wrangle such a talented cast that included Fassy, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, and Charlotte Rampling. The sales of this game must have been really lucrative.

In one scene, Fassy even sang like a madman (I didn’t just imagine that, right?) and he probably did that for a handsome paycheck.

6. “Violence is a disease like cancer.” How timely! Seriously though, it was interesting to hear the link between heredity and crime that proved that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

And speaking of apple, what was the need for that genetic code that contained free will that could completely eradicate violence? And why the hell did Fassy keep free falling from buildings?

Rating: ★★☆☆☆