UNBROKEN (Angelina Jolie, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Unbroken:

1. One of the most heartbreaking scenes in the movie happened at the start when a soldier got shot and he cried, “I wanna go home”. I could only imagine the same pain and helplessness of all the other soldiers currently fighting in these senseless wars.

2. Remember how running was used as a metaphor for life in Forrest Gump? I bet Angelina Jolie has watched that film countless times that Robert Zemeckis could actually sue for plagiarism.

3. I was happy to see Finn Wittrock in the cast. He was so good as Dandy Mott in American Horror Story: Freak Show. Unfortunately, I started to lose interest immediately after his character exited the movie.

4. So Jack O’Connell went for Method acting looking necessarily gaunt and famished with zero body fat. He looked like a cross between Kevin Bacon and Ethan Hawke. Christian Bale will be proud.

5. I wonder if a seagull tastes like chicken. Also, I love sashimi but will it taste the same if I eat fish straight out of the sea?

6. Some people will find the movie’s themes of faith and resilience and forgiveness as life-affirming. Others, like myself, will find them incredibly corny. Life-affirming, but corny.

7. Why did it feel like there were only three extended scenes in the movie? The initial plane fight, the endless boat survival, and the tedious prisoner of war setting?

8. Do not bring popcorn. One scene involved scooping poop and dumping them in the ocean. I was just thankful this was not shown in 4D.

9. Why did it feel like there was sexual tension between Zamperini and Watanabe? The constant torture and name-calling looked exactly like a high school relationship. Was I just too bored and distracted by then? Has anyone read the book? Was it much better than this adaptation?

10. The old Zamperini running in the Japan Olympics almost made me cry. Almost.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published February 27, 2015.)

AMERICAN HUSTLE (David O. Russell, 2013)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on American Hustle:

1. If you hate character-driven films filled with constant babbling and highstrung emotions, don’t watch American Hustle. You’ll get bored.

2. David O. Russell handled his actors really well here. They portrayed despicable beings but I wanted to hang out with them.

3. Amy Adams was the best thing in this movie. And it didn’t hurt that she looked really hot during the entire thing. Give her an Oscar please.

4. Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence & Jeremy Renner were excellent. Made me forget the awful taste of Silver Linings Playbook.

5. Amy Adams’ cleavage should be in a Best Supporting (Unsupported?) category of its own.

6. I loved the songs used in the movie. The Delilah sing-along was great but J.Law’s Live and Let Die scene alone merited another Oscar nod.

7. You have to admire Bale and his method acting. That tummy made me want to hit the gym. I wonder if he shaved his head for the comb-over.

8. I’ve never been this entertained by a Russell movie since Three Kings.

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published February 7, 2014.)

FORD V FERRARI (James Mangold, 2019)

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As someone who wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a carburetor and radiator (and had the best nap during The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift), I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this racing drama slash male ego-fest.

Best viewed in a theater with excellent sound system. I watched it in the ATMOS cinema of Ayala Malls Manila Bay (sponsor me please!!) and I braced for impact every single time a race car zoomed past the screen.

Terrific ensemble cast led by Matt Damon and Christian Bale (“The bloody door won’t close!!!”), with the latter probably headed for his nth Oscar nomination.

Rating: ★★★★☆

AMERICAN PSYCHO (Mary Harron, 2000)

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When Patrick Bateman (a superb Christian Bale) rattled off his morning routine in full pornographic detail (“In the shower, I use a water-activated gel cleanser, then a honey-almond body scrub, and on the face an exfoliating gel scrub”), I realized that he should be considered the father of influencers.

Rating: ★★★★☆

JOY (David O. Russell, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Joy:

1. If David O. Russell and his repetitive cast (Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Robert De Niro) had a TV equivalent, it would definitely be Ryan Murphy and his American Horror Story crew.

Joy would be American Horror Story: Freak Show, a complete mess from such a talented group and a huge letdown from their previous effort (American Hustle = American Horror Story: Coven).

Wait, so does that make Silver Linings Playbook the American Horror Story: Asylum of the series? I guess that would explain the mind-boggling accolades (an Oscar for Lawrence over Jessica Chastain and Emmanuelle Riva? Please.) I know, I sound even more bitter than my single friends last Valentine’s Day.

(Weirdly enough, this film started with the Name Game song which was also an iconic production number in Asylum.)

2. There was always a certain level of camp in these Russell movies and when this one started with the life as a telenovela metaphor (complete with a Susan Lucci cameo), I thought it would nail its theme of female empowerment with a certain degree of winking fun. Unfortunately, it got bogged down by the too obvious inspirational message (“You’re just one kitschy invention away from becoming a success!!”) that led to a predictable and phony resolution.

3. In one scene, Lawrence (playing Curacha) divided the basement with a masking tape so that her father and ex-husband would know their sides of the room. It reminded me so much of Maricel Soriano “splitting” areas and possessions with her husband Cesar Montano in Kung Kaya Mo, Kaya Ko Rin. Maricel was so obsessed with boundaries that she even placed markers on walls, on the floor, and even inside the refrigerator (and since she bought all the grocery items, she moved them all to her side naturally). It was that kind of crazy humor sorely missing in this movie.

4. I previously mentioned my obsession with the O Shopping Channel and prior to that, the Home Shopping Network. If I actually bought everything that I wanted there (Butterfly Abs, Siluet 40, and Ab Rollers, among others), I would have been Laboracay ready as early as Christmas.

5. Seriously, how could QVC have sold that many Miracle Mops within the short timeframe given the number of customer service representatives on the phones inside the room? Did they have call centers in the Philippines that wasn’t shown? 50,000 items sold in a matter of minutes and yet some agents would complain when there were 30 calls on queue. This movie should be a requirement in Call Center Orientation.

6. Don’t you find it weird that when these characters chop off their own hair, they always end up getting a salon-ready look? I once cut my bangs and I ended up looking like I had a severe case of typhoid fever. Why don’t we have Miracle Scissors? Hey, that may be a good invention idea!!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

THE BIG SHORT (Adam McKay, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Big Short:

1. The words Finance, Housing Market, and Wall Street automatically send a signal to my brain to shut down and prevent any possible aneurysm. Sure, I love the smell of money, but anything numbers-related immediately puts me to sleep. The only knowledge I have about the stock market is limited to the Hollywood Stock Exchange where you get to trade virtual movie stocks based on their box office performance. So yes, I do know how to long, short, sell, and cover stocks but an online game doesn’t even come close to the real thing.

2. I loved how this movie treated its audience like newbies (or dummies) to the industry. It took its time to explain terms needed to fully understand the financial crisis and collapse of the housing market. What better way to understand subprime loans than with the help of Margot Robbie drinking champagne in a bubble bath? Or Anthony Bourdain comparing a CDO with his three day old halibut stew? And even Selena Gomez breaking down a synthetic CDO? (I still didn’t completely understand everything but I guess that only made the movie sound smarter.) Take note, this was a comedy. A very funny one.

3. As a person with self-diagnosed ADHD, I didn’t mind the stylistic editing on speed, random images, and crazy montages. Again, numbers meant boring and my short attention span could only take so much.

4. I was surprised that Christian Bale got the sole acting nomination for this film. Don’t get me wrong, he was great as the metal music-loving, glass-eyed Michael Burry, but I thought Steve Carell was so much better as the fidgety, hot-tempered loon Mark Baum. He was loud and obnoxious and yet completely relatable. (I loved how his character as a kid studied the Talmud looking for inconsistencies in the word of God.) Definitely a better performance than in Foxcatcher.

Favorite Mark Baum line:

“I hate it here. Everyone’s walking around like they’re in a fucking Enya video!”

5. When Brad Pitt showed up as the voice of reason Ben Rickert (“If they’re right, people lose homes, jobs, retirement savings, pensions. Just don’t fucking dance”), you realize that there were no heroes in this movie. You might be rooting for these losers (if they were so smart and made money out of something that everyone else didn’t believe in, were they still?), but they were making money out of people’s future miseries.

6. How could you not love a movie where the song Saigo No Iiwaki played in the Japanese restaurant scene? Or maybe you’d know its Tagalog counterpart, Ted Ito’s Ikaw Pa Rin?

All together now…”Nais ko’y makapiling kang muli. Nais ko’y mayakap kahit sa sandali. Kung pangarap ma’y tatanggapin ko. Ikaw pa rin ang iniibig ko.”

Rating: ★★★★★

THE PRESTIGE (Christopher Nolan, 2006)

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This movie plays very much like a magic trick with its three stages: The Pledge, The Turn, and The Prestige. The less one knows about how it works, the better the results are.

Behind this entire spectacle is Nolan, probably more known for his work on The Dark Knight and Inception. I prefer his little gems (this and Memento) since they create so much impact from such seemingly simple premises.

Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, and Michael Caine all provide amazing turns in their respective roles. Some might feel that this film is too gimmicky and a cheat, but hey, isn’t that how magic works?

Rating: 5/5