AD ASTRA (James Gray, 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Grabe ‘teh! Good call talaga na hindi natuloy ang plan ko manuod sa IMAX with Laser ng Evia. Dun lang ako sa Dolby Atmos cinema nila pero nahilo na ako at di nakahinga sa scene na nag-freefall si perpetually sad astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) from outer space to earth.

Akala ko aantukin lang ako sa film kasi medyo traumatized pa ako sa pretentiousness (ay sorry, profundity daw) ng Interstellar at Solaris (the Soderbergh remake), but I survived naman with my major buttered popcorn and large iced tea from Taters (very Krissy lang, sana i-sponsor na nila ako). I can’t say the same for the rest of the audience. Meron mga mahimbing ang tulog habang yung isa eh walang ginawa kundi mag-check ng cellphone (pasalamat siya at five rows ahead siya sa akin kaya di ako pumatol).

I guess tama yung mga nagsabi na this might not be for everyone. Puno kasi ng introspective voiceovers about the meaning of life and relationships (“In the end, the son suffers the sins of the father”) ang pelikula kaya medyo slow ang pacing. Halos bumagsak ako nung Philo classes ko back in college kaya hirap na hirap sumabay yung utak ko dito.

Meron naman mga major ganap every so often (yung mala-Mad Max: Fury Road lunar chase scene, yung baboon na puno ng angst, etc.). Masaya din mag-isip kung ano yung mga space-related films ng cast (every time nagsasalita sa recorded video si Liv Tyler, naaalala ko ang Armageddon at kung bakit mas gusto ko ang Deep Impact).

Natawa ako dun sa space shuttle na naghatid kay Roy sa moon kasi very Cebu Pacific at lahat may bayad. Kulang na lang sumigaw yung FA ng “Snacks for sale!”. Interesting din na ang daming mahahabang hallways sa lahat ng hubs dito, including yung sa Mars. Mayaman talaga ang Amerika. Tapos yung futuristic room na may moving images reminded me of Black Mirror’s Fifteen Million Merits. Nung blooming flowers yung background, sobrang ganda at pwede na ma-post sa One Perfect Shot (o alam na, strong contender na naman si Hoyte van Hoytema for Best Cinematography sa Oscars next year).

But the best thing about this was Brad. Ang expressive ng mga mata niya lalo na sa scene na nananawagan siya sa father niya (the always masungit Tommy Lee Jones) na matagal na di nagpaparamdam. Imagine mo na lang kung gaano kahirap maghanap ng missing tatay sa bawat sulok ng mundo. Eh paano pa kung sa Neptune diba? Walang-wala lahat ng daddy issues ninyo.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

ALIMUOM (Keith Sicat, 2018)

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Everything screamed budget Spielberg from the iPad Minis that doubled as high-tech gadgets down to the futuristic rooms filled with wires and covered in foil. Even worse, this agri-sci-fi lacked an interesting story.

I shouldn’t have laughed so loud all throughout, but there were only nine other people in the theater and they probably didn’t mind. How else to react in those battle scenes that resembled a cheesy Bong Revilla MMFF fantasy film?

Black Mirror’s USS Callister was shooketh to the core.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published September 13, 2018.)

THE GREAT HACK (Karim Amer, Jehane Noujaim, 2019)

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So the internet gods are listening in on my private conversations with friends? That the microphones and cameras on my laptop and smartphone are picking up details that create my data profile for social media sites to accurately predict my behaviour and interests? It wasn’t merely a coincidence that after I mentioned a planned trip to Tokyo next year, my Facebook feed immediately got bombarded by sponsored Klook ads offering discounted tour packages? Oh, please!! We all signed up for this. We can’t make our lives public on the worldwide web and then fear that strangers know way too much about us, right? It’s time to admit that we’re basically living in a supersized Black Mirror episode.

Although this documentary didn’t contain a lot of new information (especially if one had been following all the discussions related to Brexit, the Trump campaign, Cambridge Analytica, and Facebook-gate), I was still fascinated by the thought that these so-called villains preyed on the “persuadables” and successfully swayed them to their desired results. Will that stop me from taking the next “Which Sex and the City character are you” quiz? My Miranda side is screaming “DON’T!!”, but I’m sure my gullible Charlotte side wins in the end.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

BREAKING THE WAVES (Lars von Trier, 1996)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

I’d always remember this film as the one that my college Theology professor detested so much that she spoiled the entire story in one of our classes and discouraged us from ever seeing it, lest our souls burn in the pits of hell.

Being the obedient, saintly, Catholic school-raised kid that I was, of course I ignored her warning and immediately looked for a copy from my favorite mIRC channel (the cinema-related one, not the other kind). I was enthralled for two and a half hours and absorbed every “immoral” theme it had to offer. My spirit felt completely free by the time the bells started chiming in the end.

I guess I still turned out okay. (Not so sure about my soul, though.) Sadly, I never had the chance to tell my dear old teacher how much I loved it and that she “had no right to consign Bess to hell”.

Emily Watson was just phenomenal here. The rest of the cast (especially Stellan Skarsgard and the late Katrin Cartlidge) were terrific as well.

If you were able to watch the National Anthem episode of Black Mirror, you might have heard of the Dogme 95 style as part of the hostage taker’s demands in terms of filming that pig scene (“no background music, only natural light for authenticity”). That directorial choice worked really well in this one. Made me wonder if it was time to revive the Mother Lily Pito-Pito cinematic movement.

Rating: ★★★★★

SIN ISLAND (Gino Santos, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Sin Island:

1. Think of the worst adjectives that could apply in any romance-suspense-thriller and it would be the perfect description for this ridiculous, trashy (basura kung basura!), mindless, basic movie that had the technical polish of a same-day edit wedding video. I spent the entire time figuring out if the campy humor was intentional or not (if it were, I wish it went all out and crossed over to Joey Gosengfiao territory).

Where else would you hear a character say the line, “Exclusive ang kaputahan ko. I only give my puta self to the one I love”? The ending even blatantly ripped off (read: garapalan) the last few scenes of Fatal Attraction. Needless to say, I enjoyed every torturous minute of it.

This was probably my favorite guilty pleasure since Jaclyn Jose delivered the atrocious “Kaya kabit ang tawag sa kanila kasi daig pa nila ang epoxy kung kumabit. Kaya kerida kasi mga kiri. Kaya mistress kasi nakaka-stress!” in Nuel Naval’s A Secret Affair.

2. I still hadn’t gotten over the British Madonna accent of Xian Lim in Paddington 2 so it was only apt that this one started with an overly-modulated voiceover of his character David reminiscing the fun times he had with his wife Kanika (Coleen Garcia). The moment he said, “I can still remember the first time we met…”, I immediately brought out two valid IDs and my initial cash deposit to open my very first BDO savings account.

(Side note: During the family dinner, David’s dad said something like “We were worried about this one” referring to the fear of his son never getting married and for a second there I really thought that he was going to joke about David’s sexuality. Insert side eye emoji here.)

3. May galit ba ang Star Cinema sa flight attendants? Why were they usually portrayed as horny unprofessionals fawning over their senior hunky pilots (see also Just the 3 of Us)? I’d be really scared with all the raging hormones onboard that flight.

In one scene, Kanika gave this lame excuse for taking good care of sick DILF pilot Stephen (TJ Trinidad), “Syempre kelangan ko kayo alagaan kasi kung di kayo gumaling, sino maghahatid sa amin sa Pilipinas?” (Anak ng tokwa isa lang ata ang piloto sa airline nila!)

4. To be fair, she seemed to be aroused by everything around her. She was the type of woman that had no qualms undressing and dry humping her husband in the hallway just outside the room where his entire family was having dinner. She also had these constant bouts of wet dreams that looked straight out of a Cinemax After Dark special. I started to wonder if she actually had an allergy to any type of clothing. Kanika? More like Katika.

(Another side note: Coleen always had memorable names in these Star Cinema films. She played a horny (what else?) med rep named Arkisha in Ex with Benefits. We might need to start coming up with cool names for her next role as, say, a horny mountain climber? Suggestions please!!)

5. One dinner scene with friends was reminiscent of The Entire History of You episode in Black Mirror that I expected David’s eyes to start glazing over. Of course it was done Pinoy-style, so Stephen had to say the line, “I love cheat days. Kahit ano pwede mo kainin” before slurping on a piece of tahong. For a moment there, I thought that he would actually swallow it whole, tahong clit and all.

6. “Welcome to Sin Island! Short for Sinilaban!!” Bwahahahaha! Gusto ko rin silaban ang buong sinehan, but I was having too much fun already.

7. The best part of the movie was Nathalie Hart (formerly Princess Snell of Starstruck), who would have given Rosanna Roces a run for her ST star crown in the 90s. Her limited acting range as crazy Tasha was perfectly suited to the genre and she just delivered a playful, go-for-broke, balakayojan performance. Her first scene alone where she was doing nude yoga along the beach was a killer. David created a ruckus that disrupted her zen moment and her facial reaction was a cross between “Watdapak!” and “Shet, may kasama utot ko!”.

I knew I was watching an effective kontrabida because the Titas of Batangas behind me were audibly wishing for her demise (“Ayan na naman ang impakta! Bakit di pa yan mamatay?”). Their blood pressures definitely went through the roof when Tasha came out of David’s bathroom and wiggled her underwear in front of Kanika while saying “Sorry naglakad kasi dito ang panty ko eh”. A chorus of “Impakta talaga ‘to! Impaktaaaa!” filled the entire cinema. I wasn’t surprised that when Kanika dragged Tasha by the hair while inside a moving car, everyone in the cinema cheered to their hearts’ delight.

(Yet another side note: These Titas of Batangas spent the entire time arguing that the actress playing Tasha was Sarah Lahbati.)

8. Of course there was a legal wife-kabit confrontation, but this one involved a staredown set inside a steaming sauna (walang metaphor na di inurungan! symbolism in yo face!). If it weren’t obvious enough, another girl entered the room then jumped out screaming “Aray! Bakit sobrang init naman dito?”. Kanika and Tasha also took turns in saying “If you can’t handle the heat, then stay out of the kitchen”. Wait lang, bakit kitchen pa rin??

9. The sex scenes here were as unerotic as the ones in Fifty Shades Freed. Fogged up shower sex again? A jazzed up version of Isang Linggong Pag-ibig playing in the background? Maple syrup licked off Xian’s chest? Eww.

10. Speaking of Xian’s chest, does anyone know what cream he uses to maintain the pinkish glow of his nipples? Asking for a friend.

Rating: ★★★☆☆