NOTTING HILL (Roger Michell, 1999)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Notting Hill:

1. No matter how many times I tried to repress the memory, I would never forget that I once played Julia Roberts as Anna Scott for a skit about absolute love (how apt!) in a college Philosophy class. Long story short, I couldn’t make the Hugh Grant character William Thacker believable since I obviously lacked his puppy eyes and boyish charm so our group leader thought of reversing the gender roles where I ended up voicing (since I apparently wasn’t too pretty to be Anna as well) the female part.

We recreated that entire iconic bookstore scene and I delivered the “I’m just a girl standing in front of a boy…” line with an awkward high pitch that sounded like Lani Mercado’s wicked witch in the Sleeping Beauty episode of Mga Kuwento ni Lola Basyang. Our presentation obviously bombed (all those confused looks would continue to haunt me in my dreams) and I walked out of that class feeling like Vivian in Pretty Woman getting thrown out of a posh boutique in Rodeo Drive (and since this was real life, I didn’t even get a redemption scene).

2. Julia may have won her Oscar for Erin Brockovich, but her performance here would probably be my most favorite. Sure, the woman with the (then $15M) megawatt smile was basically playing another version of her rich and famous, A-list celebrity persona, but the fact that she gamely poked fun at herself (loved it when Anna pointed at her nose and chin when asked about her cosmetic surgeries) and revealed the sadness beneath all the fame and glory was really admirable.

Her Anna character was also completely flawed (and actually bordered on being despicable with just the way he treated William) and yet I still really, really wanted to be her friend (to the point that it would also be an honor for me to have her in my loo). Her best scene was at the dinner table where everyone was trying to win that last brownie and her face displayed the longing to experience the kind of love that the mortals (er, William and his friends) had.

3. Speaking of that dinner scene, I could easily pinpoint the part where I would immediately start sobbing every single time I’d watch this film. It was when Bella (Gina McKee) explained that she deserved the last brownie for having the saddest life because she was stuck in a wheelchair and could not bear kids. This was followed by a shot of her husband Max (Tim McInnerny) silently giving her this look of genuine love. Romantic or not, we all deserved someone just like him.

(Their other scenes that made me bawl my eyes out: when he carried her upstairs for the night when William decided to sleep over at their house and when he couldn’t afford to leave her during the climactic chase scene and carried her inside the car. Hala, just thinking of these made me teary-eyed again!)

4. A lot of people would probably knock this film down for being too formulaic to a fault, but it shamelessly peddled itself as a fairy tale so I didn’t mind at all (“This is the stuff that happens in dreams, not in real life.”) A huge Hollywood star falling in love with a commoner who looked like Hugh would be the ultimate fantasy, right?

Comical meet cute, set of kooky friends (Rhys Ifans’ Spike as the standout, course), soundtrack of sappy love songs (Ronan Keating’s When You Say Nothing At All >>> Alison Krauss’ version tbh), final romantic declaration of love, all tropes utilized to maximum effect. It was surreal, but nice.

5. I had a (fortunately) short phase where I pretended to be a charming Brit ala Hugh and ended up sounding like a post-Kabbalah Madonna. I replaced my “Susmaryosep” with “Whoopsie daisy” and “Ay tae!” with “Shickity brickity”, but those didn’t stick. Foreign catchphrases and accents were never really my thing. I couldn’t even properly imitate an American accent when I worked as a call center agent that resulted to one customer referring to me as a weird Hawaiian guy.

6. Spot the cameos: Matthew Modine! Alec Baldwin! Mischa Barton! Emily Mortimer!

7. That one long take of Ain’t No Sunshine with the changing seasons was really lovely. I would one day be able to visit Portobello Road Market and that iconic blue door. Who would be willing to fund my London trip?

8. “For June who loved this garden. From Joseph who always sat beside her.”

“Some people do spend their whole lives together.” ❤️❤️❤️

9. I didn’t really need this film to make me realize that some people could influence you to do something better or be a better person even if they had hurt you, but it was nice to be reminded of this with every viewing. #whogoat

10. “The fame thing isn’t really real, you know?”

A huge star ready to give up everything for love? Your move, Bebe Idol Sarah G. Rooting for your happy fairy tale ending as well.

Rating: ★★★★★

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THE 5TH WAVE (J Blakeson, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The 5th Wave:

1. Why are aliens always portrayed as dimwits in alien invasion movies? For a supposedly more advanced species that can create a now identified flying object, they don’t seem to have any good battle strategy and always lose in the end. I guess they have never played Clash of Clans.

In this one, their idea of going into war was a 5-step plan that included an electro-magnetic pulse, tsunamis, mutated bird flu, humans against humans, and basically training an army of kids to work for them. It took months of hovering over the planet to see their brilliant idea self-destruct because they forgot the strongest weapon of all: LOVE.

Cue maniacal laughter.

2. The movie started off fine with our plucky heroine (aren’t they all?) basically narrating all the events ever since the invasion started. It felt like the usual apocalypse survival movie (planes crashing from the skies, huge waves wiping out Thailand, pestilence spreading everywhere) and it was engaging and interesting. But then the movie got sidetracked by a developing love story (and you know that since this was based on a young adult novel, it would be a love triangle) that didn’t serve much purpose except to show a topless tampisaw sa batis scene with our lucky (I mean, lovely) heroine ogling her eyes out.

3. There was also a huge chunk of filler scenes involving a Quantico-style training school with the hopes that this movie would merit a sequel (uhh, I don’t think so).

4. I loved the school’s dedication to continue holding classes even with a huge UFO floating above the building. This should be a lesson for all kids (and parents) eagerly awaiting the announcement on cancellation of classes as soon as it starts drizzling. I remember as a kid waking up at 4am just to listen to the news on the radio. The words “Signal Number 3 in Metro Manila” made me feel like it was Christmas in July.

5. Crocs (yup, the awesome-looking footwear) are very much like cockroaches that can survive a nuclear explosion. Don’t forget to stock up in time for the next end of the world prophesy.

6. I really felt bad for the good actors trapped in this inferior movie. Liev Schreiber didn’t do much except bark orders, Maria Bello was made to look like a rotting corpse, Ron Livingston was tasked to keep making his eyes look big, and of course the talented Chloe Grace Moretz was given a scene where she searches a bag screaming “Where’s my gun? Where’s my gun??” just in case the audience was too dense to know that she was looking for her gun. (FYI, she also had a slow motion run in the woods because, well, the director wanted a slow motion sequence.)

7. I couldn’t believe that this was written by Akiva Goldsman and Susannah Grant (the same people behind A Beautiful Mind and Erin Brockovich). Can someone check if there are alien bugs controlling their brains?

8. “Love’s not a trick, it’s real. I know now because of you.” I suddenly wished that I was one of those people killed by the bird flu.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆