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: ★★★★☆

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PATINTERO: ANG ALAMAT NI MENG PATALO (Mihk Vergara, 2015)

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My notes on Patintero: Ang Alamat ni Meng Patalo:

1. “Sa patintero, mananalo raw ang pinakamabilis tumakbo. Pero ang totoo, mananalo ang pinakamatatag ang puso.”

I was immediately transported back to the early 90’s pre-videogame, pre-Facebook era when kids like my reed-thin old self played real games (and by real, I meant sweaty running in the dirt until my Tide-white school polo shirt had turned the color of my favorite Serg’s chocolates).

Lunch was my favorite time of the day with every minute spent on the patintero grounds of Zobel. I hated losing because it meant crawling under this long line of legs of classmates that would be jeering and using the forbidden (and humiliating) “S” word known to a young boy: SUPOT.

2. The nostalgia factor alone was enough to make me like this movie. My heart could not contain its excitement when the basic rules of the game were discussed: doble balik, no touchback, no double team. Even seeing the old two-peso decagon coin brought back a lot of good memories.

3. Given such an interesting premise, I wish the movie stuck to being a film made for children, instead of catering to the children at heart. Similar to the excellent RPG: Metanoia, it could have been a great way to show the kids today how things were prior to DOTA.

I was actually surprised with the G rating given the comic violence and profanity (mostly from the kid actors). The animated sequences were great (a heightened depiction of the game’s action) but did we really have to see the kids punching and hitting each other in reality?

My inner prude even groaned a bit in the scenes where our underdog heroine raised her middle finger to her hecklers, uttered the word “Pakshet!”, and rallied her team by saying “Talunin na natin ang mga gagong yan”. (Please don’t say, “Well, that’s reality” because it will just make me even sadder.)

4. Were the animated fight sequences inspired by Kung Fu Hustle? I actually expected the Auntie played by Suzette Ranillo to show up with hair rollers since she already had the cigarette down pat.

5. I was really bothered when they started the game with missing players. Any patintero fanatic would know that you couldn’t play with uneven teams. I mean that was usually how I got to play: out of lack of choice during a schoolyard pick or it would be a default.

6. My favorite dialogue in the movie:

Kid 1: “Candy?”
Kid 2: (shakes head) “Nag-quit na ako.”

My second favorite:

Bully: “Bakit hindi perfect ang ginawa mong assignment namin?”
Geek: “Sino naman maniniwala na makaka-perfect kayo?”

7. The movie needed a stronger narrative (especially with the free fishballs and sudden character changes in the end), but all was forgiven with that Maselang Bahaghari move that made me tear up a bit. Now that was definitely a heart heart moment.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

BEAUTY AND THE BESTIE (Wenn Deramas, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Beauty and the Bestie:

1. Ever since Petrang Kabayo became a huge hit (and after close to a dozen collaborations), you already knew what to expect from a Vice Ganda-Wenn Deramas movie. It was the same old formula recycled to death (insult one-liners, Pinoy pop culture parodies, endless sight gags, lowbrow slapstick, etc.) and your enjoyment depended on how you embraced this kind of humor.

BATB was still trashy to a fault but at least it was really funny. (Deramas had been vocal about the goal of his movies and he actually succeeded on this one.)

2. That awful anti-piracy ad with Derek Ramsay was ripe for a parody and the movie really got it right (eskinita chase, Kristoffer King, tomatoes and all). Maybe we should have replaced that one with this so that everyone could have a great laugh before each screening. Runner-up for best parody: the Ate waitress Happy Birthday dance.

3. Sample brand of humor:

Vice and his stand on riding in tandem…

“Paano gaganda ang buhay mo sa pagsakay sa motorsiklo na yan? Bumbay ka ba?”

Vice on the importance of skincare…

“Bakit di yang mga pores mo ang isara mo dahil bukas na bukas?”

Coco Martin displaying his English proficiency…

“Alam mo kung bakit di kita pinapansin? Kasi di kita maintindihan Ingles ka ng Ingles.”

4. Speaking of Coco, I was happy to see that he has improved a lot as a comedian. His best moments were those where he wasn’t even trying (twerking like a hot mess, taking advantage of his lisp by saying things like Elith Thupher Thecreth Thask Force, or making a fist by instinct when Vice tried to kiss him). Maybe it was time for him to rest from all the heavy drama and explore his rom-com leading man potential instead.

5. Not all of the jokes worked but those that did were just hilarious. Inasmuch as I really enjoyed that Hold On car sequence, I probably laughed the loudest in that whole Japanese restaurant fishpond scene.

I mean seriously, what was the most embarrassing thing you had done in an upscale resto? Had you ever chewed on the compressed table napkin? Mistook the bowl of water for hand washing as soup? Spill!

6. The JaDine romance (similar to AlDub’s in My Bebe Love) was completely disposable. Although Nadine Lustre was really game, the tandem’s love story was obviously just included to pull in the teen audience (and the love team’s ginormous fan base). All was forgiven though because James Reid bared his abs.

7. Further proof that Jacky Woo was the only available actor that can play Japanese characters in local cinema.

8. If you were keeping track of Deramas’ fascination with videogames, here was a rundown:

Praybeyt Benjamin 1 – Angry Birds
Praybeyt Benjamin 2 – Plants vs. Zombies and Dota
Beauty and the Bestie – Fruit Ninja

What else did I miss?

9. I felt bad that Miss International 2013 Bea Rose Santiago had to fart during the beauty pageant. Definitely not something fit for a queen. And speaking of queens, Vice Ganda’s got legs for days, no?

10. In one scene, I watched in horror as Nadine paraded onscreen wearing a horrible off-shoulder yellow blouse and pleated grey skirt combo. In a hospital. The fact that Vice made a brutal joke about it made me love him even more. Grabe sya oh!!

Rating: ★★★☆☆