THE IMITATION GAME (Morten Tyldum, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Imitation Game:

1. I just have this certain affinity to insufferable genius characters like Dr. Gregory House (House), Sherlock Holmes (Elementary), John Nash (A Beautiful Mind), or even Tony Stark (Iron Man). The more loathsome they get, the more I love them. You can now add Alan Turing to that list.

2. I absolutely abhor Math and any mention of binomials and factorials make my head spin faster than Michelle Kwan on ice. Props to all programmers around the world.

3. If ever they would choose a clip for the Oscars, I hope it’s the job interview of Alan. The excellent writing just sparkled in that scene.

4. To quote one character, “To pull off this irascible genius routine, one has to be a real genius.” The same can be said of Benedict Cumberbatch who was simply brilliant in this movie. He was great in 12 Years a Slave and August: Osage County but this was definitely his best performance to date.

5. I have a new catchphrase that will replace my favorite Miranda Priestley “By all means move at a glacial pace, you know how that thrills me” bitch quote: “It’s highly technical, you wouldn’t understand.” Boom panes!

6. I think I may be successful in breaking the Enigma code as well since I separate the food on my plate and usually by color. Everything goes together only in my stomach.

7. Did Keira Knightley have her teeth fixed? Her crooked smile was what made her completely adorable. Why?!

8. Must remember to use the word “indecorous” one of these days.

9. “I know it’s not ordinary. But who ever loved ordinary?” Mega feels!

10. Sure you can nitpick about the lack of depth on Turing as a gay character, or how far off the story was from real events, or how it got preachy in the end but it was still a solid and completely engaging film all-throughout.

11. Who run the world? Gays.

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published February 10, 2015.)

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (Bill Condon, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Beauty and the Beast:

1. Similar to A Second Chance, this live action remake of the classic Disney movie was completely harmless and unnecessary. Lower your pitchforks (or eyebrows), please. Inasmuch as I’m sure you would want to launch into your own glorious rendition of Kill the Beast right about now, hear me out first.

The movie was satisfactory. The cast was mostly fine. The new songs were generally okay (although a tad forgettable). Bring your kids (or your inner kid at heart) and wallow in the amazing feeling of nostalgia.

Just never forget that you’re watching a film directed by the same person that most recently gave us The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Parts 1 and 2. (Fade to black.)

2. I never expected a shot-by-shot remake of the cartoon, but I also didn’t see the need for forty additional minutes of filler to explain the stories behind the Prince’s bad behaviour, Belle’s dead mother, and the Enchantress’ double life in the village, among others. You could immediately feel the difference as soon as this one started with the stained glass sequence in the original losing its storybook effect by having the Prince in full Black Swan make-up partying like Lindsay Lohan on a Friday night.

Even with all the back stories, it still wasn’t able to justify why the poor servants had to be included in the curse (and no Mrs. Potts, indirect negligence of an abused child was not reason enough for such a cruel punishment). I did like the explanation on why nobody really bothered checking on the castle post-curse and that was achieved through one line of narration.

3. If anything, this version posed even more questions:

• Given these recent historical revisionisms regarding inventors (read up on Bell vs Meucci haller!), should we assume that Belle actually created the first washing machine? Also, whatever happened to those bedsheets that she tied up for her planned escape?

• Who was that toothless piano (played by Stanley Tucci)? Was he part of the Broadway production (I swear I couldn’t remember that character in the cartoon)? Also, why wasn’t Mrs. Potts talking out of her spout? She ended up looking more inanimate here.

• If her mother really loved roses, then why was she even named Belle? Why not Rose or Rosita or Rosa? (So happy my mom was never fond of champaka.)

• Speaking of, when she brought back that rose heirloom and gave it to Maurice, wouldn’t that make him patient zero for another bubonic plague/outbreak?

4. Sorry bashers, but Emma Watson actually had a decent singing voice (regardless of Auto-Tune). My concern though was that she still acted very much like Hermione in a grand Hogwarts production of Beauty and the Beast. I even had lots of fun imitating her very British accent in provincial France (“Puh-paww!!”, “That’s ab-suhd!”).

The bigger surprise here was Luke Evans, a perfect casting choice for Gaston (no one even falls like Gaston!). I loved every moment he had with LeFou (played by Josh Gad, who should be in every Disney movie moving forward).

5. Poll question of the day: Did you like Dan Stevens as the Beast? Or more accurately, was he the Prince that you were expecting? Some people (cough, cough) wanted to kill me for laughing during the big reveal post-Beast transformation. My reaction was more of “Ehh” and I wanted it to be more of “Huwow!”. It certainly was no Devon Sawa moment in Casper.

I could understand Dan’s charms in a Benedict Cumberbatch way, but I really expected someone conventionally great-looking. Given the extensive use of motion capture in his Beast performance, he could have been replaced by Andy Serkis (yup, Gollum) and they could have gotten someone physically resembling Prince Charming.

6. When Belle ran up the hill and the camera started swirling around her, did the Sound of Music theme play in your head as well?

7. One of my favorite lines in the movie was from Plumette: “I grew three more feathers and I just plucked yesterday.” Story of my life right there.

8. Where was the openly gay character in the movie? A couple of people asked me if this was appropriate for kids, especially since the issue had been blown out of proportion. Fear not parents, there was no gay kissing or gay sex scene (this was still a Disney film after all).

Actually, there wasn’t even any mention of a character being out and proud. If anything, this should open up a whole new discussion on how Disney’s milking the gay uproar (vis a vis them proudly proclaiming the inclusion of a gay character) when there was none to begin with.

Everything pertaining to homosexuality was actually played for laughs (even that controversial blink-and-you’ll-miss-it dance). That was even more disappointing than the states and countries that banned the movie. Where was the hyped progressivism, Disney?

9. Be Our Guest was my favorite sequence in the original and it felt a bit messy here (even more distracting in 3D/4DX with the constant seat movements and excessive flashing lights). The iconic dance scene was fine (hearing the wonderful theme did give me serious goosebumps) and I kinda liked the yellow dress even if it resembled the Halloween version being sold in Toy Kingdom. But why did they have to remove the romantic dinner? I also missed the swoon-worthy scenes of her blatantly teaching him how to dance and putting her head on his hairy chest. All we got here were those excessive shots of low-hanging chandeliers. Hay.

10. This movie still begged that age-old question though: Is it superficial if a woman falls for a man with a huge, uhm, library?

Rating: ★★★☆☆

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR (Anthony Russo, Joe Russo, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Captain America: Civil War:

1. I had no clue who Doctor Strange was but that awesome trailer made me wish it were November already. Did I just sound like a die-hard Cumberbitch? Probably. But what really sealed the deal was Tilda Swinton looking like a cooler version of the Last Airbender.

2. Was it just me or did this actually feel like a Bond thriller (or a Bourne thriller, or any thriller for that matter)? You could have replaced the Marvel superheroes with real common people and it would still have been completely enjoyable. Sure, the climactic battle scene wouldn’t have been as fun, but my entire point was that this was a good film.

3. Everyone knows that I’m not the biggest fan of action movies, but I really enjoyed all the fight and chase scenes here (the drone shots were really impressive). The movie delivered on its trailer’s promise of an epic battle between the superheroes. I guess I was so used to Fernando Poe, Jr. movies where the bida and (lead) kontrabida have a match-up of their own while the minor characters get their own one-on-ones (with the women relegated to their own eye-scratching and hair-pulling). I really expected a bitch fight between the (balimbing) Black Widow and Scarlet Witch, but I was actually happy it didn’t happen. Each superhero was able to demonstrate his/her strengths and weaknesses by battling every other superhero from the opposing team. Definitely worth the wait.

4. I actually thought that Robert Downey, Jr. discovered the Fountain of Youth when his younger self appeared onscreen until his real more scruffy-looking (and better-looking, right?) other walked out and started discussing the wonders of BARF (was this the same machine used by Clementine to erase the traumatic memories of ex-boyfriend Joel? If you got this reference, you have great taste in films).

Also, that scene with him and Alfre Woodard made me want to start singing “Walk Like A Man” (if you still got this reference, I love you already). And, RDJ was so good in that big reveal scene. *sob*

5. I wonder how King T’Chaka’s campaign would have been if he ran for President here. He would have needed a really good manager.

6. Chris Evans looked so pale, like he stepped out of a Twilight movie. With that said, he still decimated my remaining self-esteem when he started flexing his biceps and flaunting his ripped upper torso while holding on to the runaway helicopter. No wonder Captain America only needed a shield when he already had those big guns. (Emily Thorne, you lucky girl.)

7. The proposed UN agreement regarding the need for supervision of superheroes was reminiscent of the Mutant Registration Act in the X-Men movies. One of them said it best with “If we don’t put limitations, we’re no different from the bad guys” and of course, my recently quoted “You’re wrong. You think you’re right. It makes you dangerous.” Who knew that choosing if you’re #TeamCap or #TeamIronMan would actually reflect one’s political views?

8. I know that one character mentioned it but why were Thor and Hulk really missing in action? The Incredible Hulk going head-to-head with the giant Ant-Man (Hantik Man! Har har!) would have been a real showdown. Also, I wanted to see Pepper. Please tell me she’s really pregnant. Everyone has a gimmick now, right? I hope that would be hers.

9. The movie felt like it was really made for grown-ups. It took its time (read: felt overlong) to explain everything and some might find these parts a bit dragging. I’m still a kid so yes, my mind wandered a bit during all the pseudo-philosophical discussions. It was a giant (bold) step for Marvel movies, though. (Wait, why was this a Captain America movie when it felt very much like an Avengers movie?)

10. I was amused by Peter Parker and his onesie but he will forever be Andrew Garfield to me. Also, the fall of War Machine was eerily similar to the death of Gwen Stacy.

11. Daniel Bruhl will have more screen time in the next movie, yes? Yes?

12. If I were the Winter Soldier, the key words that would trigger my inner rage would be: SIR. WALA. PONG. BREAST. PART.

What would be yours?

Rating: ★★★★☆

ZOOLANDER 2 (Ben Stiller, 2016)

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My notes on Zoolander 2:

1. The original Zoolander was a clever comedy that tried to stretch its Blue Steel joke for an hour and succeeded. It was a brutal satire on the fashion industry that was really meant to be dumb and offensive.

This sequel was the movie equivalent of reheated leftover pizza. It was the exact same pizza with the exact same toppings, only not as good compared to when it was freshly-delivered. No amount of extra hot sauce cameos could make it any less stale.

2. Why do a lot of people still hate Justin Bieber? I always tried to separate his private life from his music so I ended up getting really addicted with his newest album Purpose (I listened to it once or twice a day, and by once or twice I meant maybe a couple of hundred times). People actually cheered when he got killed with a million bullets during the opening sequence and I didn’t find it funny. I mean seriously, that scene wasn’t even remotely funny (just like the remaining hour and thirty minutes of the movie). And where were his bodyguards anyway? Didn’t they usually end up on TMZ for treating him like a baby?

3. Sample juvenile joke:

“Jack Ryan and Jack Reacher. Tonight will be a total jack-off!”

The two horny teens in front of me laughed their asses off.

4. Aside from the Bieber cameo, there were tons of celebrities (Susan Sarandon, Billy Zane, Katy Perry, Ariana Grande, Sting, Susan Boyle, John Malkovich) and fashion luminaries (Alexander Wang, Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss) that also showed up, proving that Ben Stiller was still an A-list star after the disastrous Night at the Museum sequel (hey, maybe he should avoid these sequels, especially a possible The Watch 2 ugh!). I may never be able to look at Kiefer Sutherland and think Jack Bauer ever again, except with a pet goat and a sumo wrestler.

The best cameo, though, was by Benedict Cumberbatch who played the androgynous supermodel All whose mantra “All is All” was directly lifted from the original Queen of Philippine Music Anna Dizon is Anna Dizon.

5. The movie was at its best taking potshots at the fashion industry and calling Anna Wintour the White Witch of Narnia, shaming Tommy Hilfiger as White Privilege, and mocking Marc by Marc Jacobs. Was it completely mean? Yes, but still hilarious (besides, these personalities were all game).

6. In one scene, Valentina (played by the eternally gorgeous Penelope Cruz) said, “Please accept my apologies”, and Zoolander replied with, “None taken”. It was the type of senseless humor that we should have gotten more of here. Anyway, apology accepted and no offense taken, but no more Zoolander 3, please!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆