MOVIE REVIEW: BORN TO LOVE YOU (Jerome Pobocan, 2012)

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I honestly sharpened my claws before I saw this movie since the trailer alone was a gold mine of clunky dialogue and bad diction (“Ay lab u por! Por eber!!). Between Coco and Angeline, the English language didn’t just get murdered, it ended up double dead.

With that said, the pair had such great chemistry that it was hard not to like their tandem. Her funny way of talking aside, Angeline actually had an undeniable screen presence and charm. Coco was Coco and he was the type of actor (similar to John Lloyd Cruz) that could make the most out of a weak material.

This was still a bad movie that didn’t steer away from the clichéd Star Cinema formula but it was elevated by the winning performances of its leads.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published May 31, 2012.)

MOVIE REVIEW: CAREGIVER (Chito Roño, 2008)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Mabilis talaga ako maiyak kapag tungkol sa OFW ang pelikula. Napakalungkot kasi isipin lahat ng mga sakripisyo nila matupad lang ang pangarap na magandang buhay para sa pamilya. Yung alam mong titiisin ang lahat (discrimination abroad, homesickness, extra work hours, downgrade sa trabaho) para kumita ng Pounds.

Hindi na bago ang story ni Sarah (Sharon Cuneta), isang magaling na English teacher sa Pilipinas na mas piniling magtrabaho bilang caregiver sa London dahil: 1) “mas malaki ang Pounds kesa Dollars” at syempre lalo na sa Pesos, at 2) yun ang utos ng asawang si Teddy (John Estrada). Nagustuhan ko na malaman ang meaning nito sa status ng kababaihan (married professionals or otherwise) sa ating bansa.

In one scene, pinapanood ni Sarah ang kanyang nanay na pinapaliguan ang kanilang lola. Sinasabi ba nito na lubos na maalaga ang mga babae? O nasa culture nating mga Pinoy ang pagiging mapagmahal sa mga nakakatanda? Kaya ba tayo right fit sa pagiging caregiver? Tumatak sa akin ang masaklap na juxtaposition na hindi man lang niya maalagaan ang lola niya (na hindi siya kilala dahil sa dementia) pero ganun mismo ang job requirement niya sa patients na hindi niya kaano-ano. Ang sakit sa puso.

Mahusay si Sharon dito. Mas gusto ko talaga kapag restrained ang atake niya sa pag-iyak (in peak form nung Madrasta). Ramdam mo yung hiya nung pinagtawanan siya ng isang estudyante na she’ll “make punas punas the pwet of older people there”. At halos masuka na din ako nung kelangan na nga niya magpunas ng pwet.

Sayang kasi nawalan ng direction ang story at naging melodramatic nung naging demonyo bigla si Ted at nung nag-focus sa relationship ni Sarah at Mr. Morgan. Kasi kahit ang dami nang OFW movies (like Anak), may iba pang topics sana na tinutukan (like yung subplot ni Jhong Hilario’s doctor turned nurse na nauwi sa illegal termination) to further show the OFW experience.

At least sa huli na-realize ni Sarah na mas importante ang kanyang self-worth/self-love kesa sa gwapo niyang asawa. Yes, sana all.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: JUPITER ASCENDING (Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Jupiter Ascending:

1. I was so happy that this movie wasn’t Eddie Redmayne’s Norbit. It was weird how much he sounded like Stephen Hawking here still with that low slow rasp. Or at least somebody who smoked five packs of cigarettes every day. You were so lucky, Eddie. Love the freckles, by the way.

2. All the aliens spoke English. At least it would be easy for us to communicate with them. Asking for directions in Jupiter would never be a problem.

3. Channing Tatum with pointy ears still looked a hundred times better than me. You know what they say about people with big ears, they also have a long… life. What were you thinking?

4. Another box office bomb from The Wachowskis. I never liked any of their movies after The Matrix (and yes, that included the lame sequels). Are they now the M. Night Shyamalan of sci-fi?

5. Sean Bean dies in almost everything that he does (Goldeneye, The Hitcher, Lord of the Rings, Equilibrium, Game of Thrones, just to name a few) so I was happy to see that his survival rate increased because of this movie.

6. I’m terrified of bees. I’ve been stung before and it has to be one of the most horrible experiences ever along with the extraction of all my wisdom teeth. The scene where Mila Kunis was swarmed with bees made the audience squeal with delight but left me gasping for air in my seat.

7. If there’s anything beautiful in this movie, that would have to be the gorgeous gowns worn by Kunis, especially the Swarovski-studded wedding dress created by Michael Cinco. Stunning, just stunning.

8. “Why do I easily fall for men that fall for me?” Raise your hand if you can relate!

9. So Tatum had his wings cut off and earned them back after a job well done? I wonder what Maleficent has to say about that.

10. You’ll have more fun riding the Rialto at Enchanted Kingdom. Not kidding.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published March 1, 2015.)

MOVIE REVIEW: THIRD EYE (Aloy Adlawan, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Third Eye:

1. Where did Regal Films get these extras? The acting in the first five minutes was just horrendous! I hope that wasn’t the only scary thing here.

2. You know that somebody else dubbed for Ejay Falcon since he spoke fluent English.

3. The lead character with the third eye played an opthalmologist. With a cheap painted office signage.

4. Girl, you actually wore a lacy frock paired with a gypsy skirt. Don’t act surprised that your husband left you!!

5. Palmolive should give Carla Abellana a bonus. She was haggard from all the running, but her hair maintained that perfectly bagsak look.

6. It was broad daylight. Wasn’t it too early for the aswangs to be wearing Mena cream?

7. Carla decided to fight back and returned to the aswang village carrying a… golf club!! I hope that was a 9-iron.

8. The aswangs had proper dining etiquette. They placed the laman-loob first in a bowl before making papak. Emily Post would be proud.

9. An entire village had to use a battering ram to break open a puny wooden door. Even if the house had a lot of open windows. LOL!

10. Poor Alex Medina. He was so good in Babagwa and he was just wasted in this crapfest.

11. Wait, if this was an aswang movie, why was it called Third Eye?!

12. Blind.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published February 28, 2014.)

MOVIE REVIEW: WILD (Jean-Marc Vallee, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Wild:

1. The film opened with a scene involving the removal of a dead toenail. Wait, was that a transliteration or was patay na kuko really dead nail in English? Either way, I was in pain. It set the proper tone for all the physical and emotional torture that unfolded.

2. Shouting on top of a mountain is definitely cathartic. Try it.

3. One of the things I hate doing before a big vacation is packing. I don’t like getting wrinkles on clothes that I will be wearing for selfies. And I never pack light even if it’s for an overnight stay.

4. I’ve been seeing a lot of poop being shown onscreen lately. Please tell me this won’t be a trend. People are eating popcorn while watching. On second thought, it can save me the fats and calories. But still, no.

5. One scene showed how we easily judge people based on appearances. Or maybe that was just me being really judgmental.

6. Reese Witherspoon was great in the lead role and I was surprised with all the nudity in the movie. She didn’t even show a lot of skin in Cruel Intentions and that was all about sexuality.

7. This film made me realize that I will never survive camping in the middle of a desert. Or even the first five hundred meter hike. I had to use my inhaler several times while watching.

8. I loved how everything felt like a dream-like state where flashes of the past were inserted during her actual hike. I definitely appreciated this more than Jean-Marc Vallee’s previous effort, The Dallas Buyers Club.

9. How could Laura Dern be playing Reese’s mom? She only looked a few years older than her. She was really fantastic in her limited screen time, though.

10. Can someone explain the significance of the fox? Yes, I’m encouraging you to watch it so you can explain it after. Such a lovely film.

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published February 15, 2015.)

MOVIE REVIEW: PADDINGTON (Paul King, 2014)

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My notes on Paddington:

1. Why do these foreign movies now start with a disclaimer from the distributor explaining why the version you’re about to watch got mutilated? It’s not like we had a choice to begin with. (Ok, illegal downloads but don’t be such a smart-ass.)

2. I still couldn’t understand why the movie filled with British characters had to be dubbed by local actor Xian Lim. It didn’t add anything to the final product. It wasn’t like Paddington had to say a few Tagalog phrases. He actually ended up sounding like a Pinoy Harry Potter with a wobbly accent. Or a distant relative who lived in London for a few months and suddenly had a bloody faux British accent.

3. The mostly English cast was superb. Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, all it needed was a few more Downton Abbey players. And then there was Nicole Kidman.

4. To be honest, I was baffled by the glowing reviews for this movie. Maybe I was just too old and cranky to watch something so juvenile. I know it was primarily aimed at kids but if your idea of humor was a bear sticking toothbrushes in his ear then licking the earwax off before a human character actually used one to brush his teeth, then you might enjoy this.

5. The trench coat on Paddington reminded me so much of streakers. He could be the nicer cousin of Ted.

6. Two scenes were straight out of the Mission: Impossible movies and I have to say Kidman did it better than Cruise.

7. I liked the bit explaining how parents suddenly become overprotective of their kids. If only the film focused more on the heart instead of the crass.

8. The movie did make me crave for marmalade. Wait, is that different from jam? Or jelly? Either way, I need a jar now.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published February 16, 2015.)

MOVIE REVIEW: JOHN DENVER TRENDING (Arden Rod Condez, 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on John Denver Trending:

1. Kumusta na kaya si Amalayer Girl? Nung 2012 pa pala nag-viral yung video niya ng paninigaw sa isang security guard sa LRT Santolan station. Alala ko noon na ang daming bwiset na bwiset sa kanya (kabilang na ako). Siguro kasi iniisip natin kadalasan na maarte kapag pa-English English ang isang Pinoy. O siguro kasi ang feeling natin sa kanya eh mababa ang tingin niya sa mga blue-collar workers. O kaya kasi mahilig lang tayo mang-down ng ibang tao to make us feel better about ourselves. Yung lagi tayong tama, mabuti at busilak ang kalooban at yung mga nasa viral videos na yan eh deserve ang bullying kasi masasama ang ugali.

Napakadali para sa atin mag-judge ng iba habang nakatago sa harap ng mga computer at phone screens. Attack agad lahat ng keyboard warriors (aka toxic kuyog culture) kahit di pa alam kung ano ang totoong story. Puro mura, puro pintas, minsan may death threats pa na kasama di lamang sa taong involved kundi pati sa pamilya nito. Nakakalungkot na ganito tayo ngayon sa panahon ng social media.

(And sobrang hypocritical lang na ang sunod na posts ng iba eh Bible quotes or suicide prevention hotlines. Puh-lease!)

2. Medyo similar ang nangyari kay Amalayer at sa bida dito na si John Denver (Jansen Magpusao). Pinagbintangan siya ng mga kaklase niya na nagnakaw ng iPad pero ang nahagip lang ng video eh nung binubugbog na niya ang kanyang classmate. In-upload ng isang mokong sa Facebook (“PASIKATIN NATIN ANG GAGONG TO… LIKE AND SHARE HANGGANG UMABOT KAY TATAY DIGONG!”) bago tuluyang mag-viral. Umikot ang buong pelikula sa epekto ng cyberbullying kay John Denver at kung paano nito sinira ang buhay niya at ng kanyang pamilya.

3. Malinis ang pagkakalahad ng story. Nagustuhan ko na kahit ang daming not-so-subtle hints na hindi siya ang nagnakaw (yung charger na lang ang naiwan sa classroom nung pumasok siya, yung bag niya na hinalughog, yung mga construction workers na padaan-daan sa mga eksena), bilang manonood mapapaisip ka pa rin hanggang dulo kung kinuha ba niya talaga ang lecheng iPad na yan.

Lumabas ang pagiging judgmental ko lalo na at hindi naman siya ulirang kabataan. Napaka-flawed ng character niya (ang lakas ng tawa ko nung inalaska niya ang isang classmate na hindi naman memorized ang Lord’s Prayer) kaya may second thoughts pa rin kung maaawa ka sa pinagdaraanan niya.

4. Inspired ang casting kay Jansen lalo na at hindi siya trained actor. Bumagay yung rawness ng performance niya dun sa innocence ng character. Ang lakas ng star quality niya sa big screen. May ilang eksena lamang na medyo pilit ang emosyon (para sa akin kinulang siya dun sa crucial scene na tinakpan niya ang mukha niya para humagulgol) pero bawing-bawi kapag natural lang ang batuhan niya ng mga linya with his mother (Meryll Soriano). Yung itsura nung mukha niya dun sa ilog pagkatapos dumugo ang ulo ng nanay niya, sobrang sakit sa loob panoorin. Ramdam yung guilt sa lahat ng nangyayari kaya di nakakagulat yung choice niya sa dulo.

5. Pero grabe halimaw din si Meryll sa actingan. Sa sobrang huge fan ako ni Maricel Soriano eh napaisip talaga ako dito kung mas magaling pa siya sa auntie niya. Nung andun sila sa principal’s office tapos sinabi niya yung line na parang “Eh bakit kayo naman, sir. Kung sabihin ko na may shabu ang brief n’yo, ibababa nyo ba?” gusto ko mag-standing ovation sa sinehan. At nung sinabi sa kanya na may record ng violations (including theft) ang anak niya na di niya alam, para akong si John Denver na gusto ko na lang matunaw sa kinauupuan ko. Ultimo pagpunas niya lang ng pawis sa mukha after pagsasampalin ang anak eh sobrang nuanced. Napakahusay!!

Ang minor quibble ko lang ay yung spotty accent niya. Although na-explain naman na hindi siya tubong Antique, ang obvious lang kasi nung disconnect ng pagsasalita niya sa kanyang anak. May isang beses pa na nahaluan niya ng “so” ang sinasabi niya kaya medyo na-distract ako sa eksena kasi out of character.

6. Wala lang yun sa dami ng scenes na tumagos talaga sa puso ko (meaning more ngawa ako diba) lalo na kapag naka-focus sa simple moments nilang mag-ina. Naiiyak pa rin ako kapag naiisip yung part na sinubuan niya ng flower icing ang nanay niya matapos siya tawaging “animal!” (ang ganda ng pasok ng haunting score dito huhu). Bulakbol siya pero sweet naman pala. A few seconds lang pero ang daming sinabi tungkol sa kanila at sa kanilang relationship.

Pati yung tahimik silang naglalakad sa may dalampasigan tapos bakas sa mukha ni nanay yung frustration, embarrassment, at disappointment pero mahal na mahal pa rin nya ang anak niya kaya nasasaktan siya para dito. Durog na durog ako dun.

7. Maganda yung paggamit ng symbolisms dito. Yung mantsa sa uniform niya na kahit anong kuskos niya ay hindi matanggal. Parang Scarlet Letter lang na naka-tattoo sa noo niya na nagsusumigaw na “MAGNANAKAW!”. Yung kahit anong explain at defend niya sa sarili eh wala naman naniniwala at tuluyan nang nabahiran ang reputasyon at buong pagkatao niya. Tapos nung flag ceremony siya lang talaga ang namumukod-tangi na hindi gumamit ng Tide kaya nag-stand out ang naninilaw niya na suot.

Maganda rin yung juxtaposition na ginamit sa power of chismis lalo na dun sa kapitbahay sa sinasabing aswang. Minsan mas malala pa sa bala ng baril ang mga salitang lumalabas sa isip at bunganga ng mga tao.

8. Nakakangalit yung entire investigation process ng mga pulis. Naalala ko tuloy yung isang eksena sa Pamilya Ordinaryo na tungkol din sa police brutality. Grabe yung feeling ng helplessness kapag talaga person in authority ang nang-ha-harass sa isang tao. Nakakatakot kapag naka-uniporme ang demonyo.

9. Sa dami ng eksenang naglalakad siya, ang ganda nung biglang tumakbo si John Denver off-path. Malaman. Kaya siguro sobrang polarizing din ng ending nito. For me, justified naman siya sa context ng theme. Hindi siya nagmukhang cop-out. Mas nag-resonate pa nga ang perils ng social media dahil sa powerful scene na yun. Kapag ramdam mo na sobrang squirmish ang mga katabi mo sa sinehan dahil sa pinapanood nila, alam mo na malakas ang effect nito. Hindi nila makakalimutan ang nakita. Para na rin niyang sinabi na in essence, lahat tayo ay guilty sa pagpatay kay John Denver.

10. Yung isa sa pinaka-paborito kong eksena sa Philippine Cinema 2019 ay nung tahimik na kumakain ang pamilya nila ng Cloud 9 sa pilapil. Malayo sa gulo ng mundo, hiwalay sa ingay ng social media. Sa panahong ito ng Digital Age, hindi kaya yan ang pinakamainam para sa ating lahat?

Rating: ★★★★★

MOVIE REVIEW: SNOWPIERCER (Bong Joon-ho, 2013)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Snowpiercer:

1. I couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed this film. From the dull title to the seemingly tacky poster, I thought it would be a terrible B-movie at best. It ended up as a stylish and ambitious futuristic English film from a French novel and Korean director. Mindblown.

2. I guess I just really appreciated the vision of Korean filmmakers. I started last year with Park Chan-Wook’s Stoker and loved it as well. Great minds.

3. I rarely liked action films but this one just belonged to a different genre. There were equal parts suspense, violence, and comedy.

4. In an alternate universe, Tilda Swinton would get an Oscar for this film. The “Be a shoe” speech alone was just pure brilliance.

5. I’m happy I knew little about the film. Every time an Oscar nominee or winner showed up, I squealed with delight. They were all perfect!

6. I’d shut up now before I spoil it for you guys. The less you knew, the better. (I fear that it’s an acquired taste, though.)

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published January 30, 2014.)

MOVIE REVIEW: MARY POPPINS RETURNS (Rob Marshall, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Mary Poppins Returns:

1. One of the highlights of Saving Mr. Banks (a great companion piece to this film) was the scene where an uptight P.L. Travers (played by the superb Emma Thompson) unexpectedly lowered her guard and started dancing along to Let’s Go Fly a Kite. It was a touching moment especially since the author notoriously hated the Disneyfication of her novels (“Responstible is not a word!!”), particularly Mary Poppins.

I wonder how she would have felt with this one given that it lacked an LSS-worthy melody that the original had in abundance. Can You Imagine That? and Trip a Little Light Fantastic were fun and frothy, but they just weren’t as memorable as Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (an exercise in spelling and enunciation) or A Spoonful of Sugar.

For the record, my favorite tune from the 1964 classic was Oscar winner Chim Chim Cher-ee. Fun online fact: If you scratch “-2 – 2 + =“ on your pillow, it would sound very much like this song. Aren’t the interwebs wonderful?

2. Although billed as a sequel (with the Banks children all grown up), this still felt very much like a remake (seriously, why did they even bother?). If anything, I was happy that they kept the 2D animation during some of the fantasy sequences because it perfectly captured the old school magic of films.

3. I really thought it would be hard to match the wonderful performance of Julie Andrews (whose stern but loving version of the magical nanny reminded me of her stern but loving grandma slash Queen of Genovia in The Princess Diaries), but Emily Blunt completely owned the role (not a trace of imitation!) while paying homage to a well-loved Dame. At least she had a fun moment in the bathtub for a change.

4. It was sad to see Lin-Manuel Miranda sticking out like a sore thumb among the mostly English (and incredibly good) supporting cast. Although this was a musical where people actually floated while holding on to balloons, there was just something off with his over-the-top (read: theater-ready) acting.

Julie Walters was a hilarious scene-stealer as always, but I was more pleasantly surprised by Ben Whishaw. In one scene, he was clutching on to his dead wife’s pearl necklace while singing that he needed a few suggestions on how to brush their daughter’s hair and I was trying my best not to burst into tears.

As for the kids, they were fine enough, although I was wishing one of them could be like a young Freddie Highmore in Finding Neverland.

5. Been a fan of Rob Marshall’s impressive choreography since Chicago and it was in full display here. When the Banks’ house got rattled by an exploding cannon, the siblings caught the falling furniture (a few lamps, an heirloom clock) like they were in a ballet. I also liked the (intentional?) nod to Velma Kelly in the A Cover is Not a Book production.

6. I understood the decision of making this version of Mary closer to her disposition in the books, but it was also the reason why I thought that this sequel needed a bit more heart. Like I wanted to be a puddle of sobbing mess when she would leave the children in the end and it didn’t happen. I had more of an emotional attachment with Sam in Wanted: Perfect Mother.

7. Why did Mary let the poor leeries climb all the way up the clock tower when she could have done it in the first place pala? Did everything have to be a teachable moment?

8. “Cleaning is not a spectator sport” sounded like something Marie Kondo would say. Yes, this movie gave me a tiny spark of joy.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: 47 RONIN (Carl Rinsch, 2013)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on 47 Ronin:

1. Ohmy, they speak English in feudal Japan. I think I’ll enjoy this movie. Ugh!

2. Wait, isn’t this the sensei of Emily Thorne? Is she also one of the ronins? That would be so cool!

3. I want the Lady Gaga-inspired outfit that the old man wore when he committed seppuku. It’s perfect for the Golden Globes tomorrow.

4. I loved the part where Keanu Reeves started singing, “Langit kaaaa, lupa akoooo…”

5. One character is named Oishi. My tongue started craving for those delicious salty shrimp crackers.

6. A man gets thrown in a deep pit and one year later he still looks healthy. What multivitamins do these samurais take? I want ’em.

7. A version of the the Sanduguan using blood fingerprints to sign a contract. I wish they focused more on this band of brothers.

8. The theater actor with the funny white mask looks like Ketchup Eusebio. Watch the movie and tell me I’m wrong.

9. “I will search for you through one thousand worlds and ten thousand lifetimes until I find you.” Eek! It just gave me heartburn.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published January 13, 2014.)