J. EDGAR (Clint Eastwood, 2011)

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It was hard to take a biopic seriously when you could still see Leonardo DiCaprio behind all that latex. And I couldn’t just blame the bad make-up.

Leo was slowly becoming the biggest ham actor of his generation. He seemed to be desperately gunning for an Oscar with every acting trick he had learned working with great directors.

Sadly, not even Clint Eastwood or the weak material could save this movie from being a complete bore.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published February 1, 2012.)

RICHARD JEWELL (Clint Eastwood, 2019)

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This is the type of “based on a true story” that makes me lose faith in humanity.

Paul Walter Hauser was terrific in the lead role. His donut breakdown crushed my heart.

And Kathy Bates tearing up over her messed-up Tupperware alone deserved that Oscar nomination.

Rating: ★★★★☆

WATCH ME KILL (Tyrone Acierto, 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Sabi nga ni Tyler Durden, “The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club” so wala na ako ibang sasabihin. Chz.

Nakakatakot ang stone-cold killer character dito ni Jean Garcia. Galit na galit siya sa mundo kaya lahat ng tumatakbo papalayo sa kanya eh agad na pinapaputukan (kaya siguro wala rin siya jowa, no?). Mas walang puso pa siya kay Madam Claudia Buenavista na nagsusunog ng mga alipin. Pati walang kamuwang-muwang na Bounty Fresh chicken hindi pinatawad sa panggigigil niya. Siya lang ang kilala ko na mainit pa rin ang ulo kahit kumakain na ng isang bandehadong kanin. Di ko na pinag-isipan masyado at baka pati ako ay mabaril kapag nagtanong. (Kung ako sa inyo, hindi ko siya isasali sa Fortnite at siguradong ubos kayo.)

Ganito ang mga pelikulang very style over substance. Yung ramdam mo na ambitious dahil sa nagmumurang cinematography (stunning yung final scene kahit parang hawig siya dun sa isa pang pelikula ni Junyka Santarin na Musmos dot dot dot ang haba ng title). Natutulala na lang ako sa ganda ng wide shots, although kapag sinasabayan ng Western musical score eh napapaisip ako na papasok any time si Clint Eastwood (o kaya si Marlboro Man na nakasakay sa kabayo habang nagsasabi ng “Come to where the flavor is. Come to Marlboro Country!”).

Tapos may scene na nag-uusap ang dalawang tao na parehong nakatalikod sa camera habang nakatayo side-by-side pero sa opposite ends ng frame with the bulubundukin sa background para ahrt. To be fair, justifiable naman yung win ni Tyrone Acierto. May mga interesting directorial choices siya dito that worked. Kelangan niya lang talaga ng magandang story na ikukwento (preferably without a lame twist) para less bagot.

For now, Watch Me Kill… your time. Chz.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

AMERICAN SNIPER (Clint Eastwood, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on American Sniper:

1. In one powerful dinner scene, Chris Kyle’s father said that there were three types of people in the world: sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. The sheep were peace-loving and usually prone to oppression; the wolves were violent, lacked empathy, and preyed on innocent beings; while the sheepdogs might show signs of violence but only to defend the weak and oppressed. So which one were you?

2. Bradley Cooper played Kyle, a real-life Navy Seal sharpshooter. He threw on several pounds for this role and looked really batak onscreen. He was good but maybe overpraised with an Oscar nomination.

3. I was reminded so much of the pre-Dota online community game, Counterstrike. I sucked at it while the rest were really skilled with their headshots. I could still remember my clammy hands on the keyboard, heart racing with excitement, while anticipating the opponents’ next moves. This movie offered the same kind of exhilaration and the same fear of pulling that trigger. Only this was real life with real people (some kids) involved.

4. I rarely cover my eyes when I watch a movie. Not even in horror movies. The only time I do it is when it involves needles, or an open heart surgery. I couldn’t remember how many times I had to look away while watching. The scenes with the mother and kid holding a grenade and the other kid holding a bazooka literally left me on the edge of my seat.

5. Although the effects of PTSD were understandable, I think it was tackled much better in Homeland (and yes, Damian Lewis actually gave a stronger, more nuanced performance).

6. That slo-mo bullet money shot. Wow.

7. The movie ended abruptly with just a few sentences filling in the blanks of his death. Even the closing scenes focused more on celebrating a hero and overreached in terms of sentimentality. And then I remembered that this was a Clint “Million Dollar Madison County Baby” Eastwood movie. All was forgiven.

Rating: ★★★★☆

THE BEGUILED (Don Siegel, 1971)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

How could a film made in the 70’s be more salacious than its 2017 remake? The overt scenes of sexuality here made the repressed women’s intentions and future decisions more understandable. There were also key elements (incest, latent pedophilia, extreme violence, slavery) that worked really well with the overall story and milieu.

Geraldine Page as the morally ambiguous yet memorably complex Miss Farnsworth was truly exceptional. I also liked how Clint Eastwood played against type and made the most out of his lecherous McB (he kissed a twelve year old girl on the lips at the start of the film, gasp!).

Moral of the story: Nothing screams gothic horror more than a house full of libidinous women. Beware!!

Rating: ★★★★☆

THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY (Clint Eastwood, 1995)

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When I first saw this movie, I wasn’t too drawn to the love story of these two old people. I guess experience (and age) plays a very big part in appreciating certain topics. What once was boring and tedious is now brilliantly-paced and well-directed. The icky feel of seeing people beyond their prime act like horny teenagers becomes more acceptable and understandable.

Here are two people discovering that love shouldn’t be selfish; that it goes above and beyond making oneself happy. Here is a real love story depicting real, relatable people excellently portrayed by Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep.

One of the best stories about love that I’ve ever seen.

Rating: 5/5