KNIVES OUT (Rian Johnson, 2019)

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A very modern and clever murder-mystery that went beyond the whodunnit tropes and skewered topics such as social inequity, immigration policies, and… Hallmark movies starring The Wonder Years’ Danica McKellar?! (That last bit made my laugh echo in all four corners of the theater.)

Sure, any amateur Hercule Poirot could have guessed the ending pretty quick (plus I would have preferred less telling and more showing), but it was still a pretty enjoyable ride.

And what a wonderful ensemble!! (If I had to choose my faves though, I’d go for Ana de Armas, Christopher Plummer, and the hysterical Toni Collette.)

That entire donut speech alone probably deserved an Oscar nomination.

Rating: ★★★★☆

ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD (Ridley Scott, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on All the Money in the World:

1. It says so much about a film when the behind the scenes controversies were a lot more compelling than the movie itself. The sudden replacement of Kevin Spacey (amid the #MeToo movement) with Christopher Plummer, the last minute expedited reshoots to make its December 2017 release date (and maintain its Oscar contender status this year), and the huge salary gap concerns between Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams were just juicier and more dramatic.

2. “To be a Getty is an extraordinary thing. I know that because my grandpa told me so.” And he wasn’t kidding. His grandfather was J. Paul Getty (Plummer), named by Fortune magazine as the richest American in the late ‘50s and said to be the richest man in the history of the world. In a Playboy interview, Getty even mentioned that “If you can count your money, then you’re not a billionaire.” I would have been incredibly jealous if only I hadn’t seen so many rich people problems here (like buying a million dollar painting that could not be displayed for public viewing).

3. One of the biggest concerns of the rich would definitely be security. I couldn’t imagine an Ayala or Gokongwei enjoying life’s simple pleasures (like say, hanging out at a local mall) without any fear that their kids might get targeted by kidnap for ransom groups. I used to fantasize that I was a scion of Henry Sy, but it further heightened my already excessive paranoia so I had to give up the dream of having my own Shoemart branch. I guess it was true that “When a man becomes wealthy, he has to deal with the problems of freedom.”

4. Plummer was remarkable in his role and made a detestable character completely human (ergo relatable). He sneered at the poor people that wrote to him asking for help (“If I respond to every person asking for money, I will also be as destitute!”), played hardball with his grandchild’s kidnappers (“I have fourteen grandchildren. If I pay the ransom, I’ll have fourteen kidnapped grandchildren”), and finally agreed to pay the ransom but only as part of his tax deduction. I slightly felt bad for him in the scene where he was playing chess with himself.

(And before I get accused of anything, Williams was also good in her role. I found it odd though that she was billed as a lead, but it felt like she had a secondary character.)

5. Those reshoots worked out pretty well. I actually thought that Getty’s character was very minor and that was why they could easily recast the role. The only weird aspect (and only if you knew about the casting replacement) was that the actor that played Getty’s son looked and sounded very much like a young Spacey.

6. That artistic shot of the newspapers flying in slow motion? I’m sorry Ridley Scott, but Respeto did it first last year. #PinoyFried

Rating: ★★★☆☆

BEGINNERS (Mike Mills, 2011)

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I feel like I’ve aged like Christopher Plummer by the end of the movie. Man, that was a tough one to sit through.

Such a shame since Plummer and Ewan McGregor were so into their characters. It would have been more interesting if the movie focused on the father’s story instead of the tacked-on love angle of son and girlfriend.

And are old gay men supposed to wear neckerchiefs to show their sexual preference? It reminded so much of Robert Arevalo’s Papang in Magkaribal.

Rating: 2/5