ZOMBIELAND (Ruben Fleischer, 2009)

F3AC4331-7CB5-4581-9479-7DCB84DACA90

My favorite scene (aside from everything with Bill Murray in it) was when Jesse Eisenberg said that the best thing about Zombieland was that “There are no Facebook status updates”, and then a year later he played Mark Zuckerberg on The Social Network.

Rating: ★★★★☆

30 DAYS OF NIGHT (David Slade, 2007)

7C427A4E-412A-44AD-99E1-22EC8E2D8FC8

You’re a certified Batang 90’s if you still remember that infamous Three Days of Darkness hoax that seemed like a clever collaborative marketing ploy for supermarkets, candlemakers, and Eveready. This was way before Google and Facebook fact-checks so if Noli de Castro reports on TV Patrol that we needed to cover up/tint our windows and never go out of our homes for the said deadly days, we had to believe and follow him, right?

After the massive panic-buying and constant praying (and the urge not to look out while Jesus supposedly walked the earth), it didn’t happen. One would think that people would be less gullible now in this information age, but not much has changed.

What did this have to do with the movie? Nothing really. It was just a more interesting story to tell.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

#JOWABLE (Darryl Yap, 2019)

8C1BDD74-10E7-46D2-83BD-101BDDD4F8D0

SPOILER ALERT!!

Minsan natatawa na lang ako kapag nakakabasa ng viral post sa Facebook na “10 Realizations After Watching (Name of Buzzworthy Movie)”. Usually kasi napaka-basic ng mga thoughts na nakalista kaya napapaisip ako kung sadyang na-realize lang ba niya talaga ang mga yun after mapanood ang pelikula o isinali na lang lahat ng maisip na hugot na pwedeng i-relate para mag-trend. Very similar sa mga yun ang feeling ko dito na parang Spoken Word Poetry Presents Hugot: The Movie. Like, totoo gurl ngayon mo lang nalaman na mas importante ang pagmamahal ng nanay at mga kaibigan mo kesa sa search for a jowa?

Hindi ako magugulat kung maging box office hit ito kasi sikat talaga online ang source material (pati ang ibang polarizing short films made by the same group). Admittedly, I liked some (parts) of the shorts kasi nakakatawa naman talaga. Bearable ang specific jump cuts style at linyahan niya na puno ng hugot at sigawan. Unfortunately, what worked on a free platform didn’t translate well sa big screen na may kasamang ticket price of Php240. Parang mas mahirap tumawa kapag may bayad na yung recycled material na napanood mo na sa Facebook. Kung tutuusin, even yung majority of the film’s highlights andun na din sa trailer (halos lahat ng scenes dun were just extended to around 10-15 minutes pero wala masyadong added humor).

Sayang kasi ang galing talaga dito ni Kim Molina na super committed sa role, lalo na dun sa scenes that didn’t require her to overact. Nung nasa chapel siya na nagmamakaawa for a jowa, mas naramdaman ko gaano siya ka-desperate to feel loved nung huminahon na siya habang sinasabi ang linyang “Bigyan mo naman ako ng isang taong magmamahal sa akin, Lord”. (Of course, undeniable naman na mahusay din siya kumanta. Fave ko pa rin yung biglang birit niya ng chorus ng Narito Ako sa Bossaboss short.)

Sana lang talaga mas sympathetic ang character niya na si Elsa Mangahas. Jowable daw siya at nasa kanya “lahat ng ginugusto ng mga lalaki sa mundo” pero nuknukan naman ang sama ng ugali niya kasi tinawag niyang mukhang kulubot na bayag at bilog at mukhang bola ang mga kaibigan niya. Minura niya ang isang tindera kasi binentahan siya ng couple shirt tapos alcoholic pa siya na may dalang thermos ng Red Horse at araw-araw nagpapakalasing kahit kasama ang isang bus ng mga bata. Ang idea niya ng perfect girlfriend eh yung magsisilbi ng pulutan sa jowa niya na naglalaro ng DOTA. Tapos blatantly racist pa siya na di makilala ang Indian (also ang daming putok jokes dito) na naka-one night stand kasi lahat naman sila naka-turban. Sorry girl pero baka hindi mo deserve ang wish mo na “madurog ang mani”.

But wait, I haven’t even discussed the other problematic parts tulad nung pagsampal sa kanya ni “Bumbay” during sex na supposedly comedic. Or yung attempted suicide na mined for laughs (di ko din maintindihan ang logic ng nanay niya dito na si Kakai Bautista na pinakamamahal daw nya ang anak nya pero uminom ng sandamakmak na vitamins matapos iwan ng jowa; also, kaya daw niya mahal na mahal anak niya eh kasi yun ang mag-aalaga sa kanya pagtanda niya luh!). Or yung scenes na kelangan laging nakabukaka si Kim or labas ang panty or basta naghubad na lang yung mga kasamahan niya down to their bras (bakit??).

(Side note: Yung pa-apology ba sa teachers eh dahil sa flak na natanggap ng filmmakers dun sa isa nilang short? Nasaan naman yung para sa child rape victims?)

Anyway, kung bibigyan nyo lang din ako ng luma at corny jokes (I’m sure narinig na ng lahat yung sa nag-wish tapos nadulas kaya naging mukhang kike) eh di sana inilabas nyo na lang ng libre sa FB. Hindi naman pwedeng basta mag-viral lang eh gagawan na ng pelikula. What’s next, Mimiyuuuh the Movie (Drink Your Water Bish)?

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

JOHN DENVER TRENDING (Arden Rod Condez, 2019)

729DEDDB-DE49-45C0-948D-A9EDA8011884

NOON: Nag-post ng suicide prevention hotline at nandiyan daw para dumamay sa mga kaibigan na depressed at kelangan ng kausap.

NOON: Woke feminist na galit kapag may nasasabing masama sa kababaihan.

NOON: Galit na galit sa batang nanuntok ng kaklase. Masama raw ang bullying. Hindi dapat nananakit ng kapwa lalo na ang mga walang kalaban-laban.

NGAYON: Naglabas ng isang 1,000-word essay sa Facebook at pa-witty tweets sa Twitter kung paano maging isang busilak na tao at gumamit ng inane at poorly-worded language tulad ng “slut”, “ahas”, at “ang kapal ng mukha at pekpek mo gurl ikaw na ang nang-agaw ikaw pa ang nagmamaganda pakamatay ka na boba!”.

We (oo, lahat tayo guilty dito) are a nation of hypocrites.

(At dahil ang post na ito ay prime example ng toxic call-out culture, does that make it meta or just ironic?)

Rating: ★★★★★

THE GREAT HACK (Karim Amer, Jehane Noujaim, 2019)

749C9F6F-597E-4036-8C36-1E851C398B32

So the internet gods are listening in on my private conversations with friends? That the microphones and cameras on my laptop and smartphone are picking up details that create my data profile for social media sites to accurately predict my behaviour and interests? It wasn’t merely a coincidence that after I mentioned a planned trip to Tokyo next year, my Facebook feed immediately got bombarded by sponsored Klook ads offering discounted tour packages? Oh, please!! We all signed up for this. We can’t make our lives public on the worldwide web and then fear that strangers know way too much about us, right? It’s time to admit that we’re basically living in a supersized Black Mirror episode.

Although this documentary didn’t contain a lot of new information (especially if one had been following all the discussions related to Brexit, the Trump campaign, Cambridge Analytica, and Facebook-gate), I was still fascinated by the thought that these so-called villains preyed on the “persuadables” and successfully swayed them to their desired results. Will that stop me from taking the next “Which Sex and the City character are you” quiz? My Miranda side is screaming “DON’T!!”, but I’m sure my gullible Charlotte side wins in the end.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

WALKING WITH DINOSAURS: THE 3D MOVIE (Barry Cook, Neil Nightingale, 2013)

0d37691b-4ea4-4bea-9d34-6f60948545cd

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Walking with Dinosaurs: The 3D Movie:

1. I feel like I’m reading a volume of Encyclopedia Britannica dedicated to dinosaurs with the movie pausing to explain each dino name.

2. This is the kind of movie you watch in class where you start zoning out, thinking of how to complete the materias in Final Fantasy VII.

3. I didn’t know dinosaurs communicated via mental telepathy. They keep talking but their mouths aren’t moving. I’m getting confused.

4. I just spent P220 to read Facebook and Twitter updates. Such a waste.

5. I therefore conclude that dinosaurs became extinct because they bored themselves to death.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published January 14, 2014.)

NAKALIMUTAN KO NANG KALIMUTAN KA (Fifth Solomon, 2018)

E033EFD8-C18C-46D6-9DB9-3E17F0CC0791

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Nakalimutan Ko Nang Kalimutan Ka:

1. Whoever said that forgiveness was the hardest part of a breakup probably never lost thirty pounds and developed gastritis from crying all night and skipping meals for an entire month. No, forgiveness was relatively easy because it would usually come after the acceptance phase. The real challenge for anybody mending a broken heart would be trying to forget those damned (happy) memories where every littlest thing meant something and always re-opened the floodgates of pain and hurt.

Where even a tiny flying ipis would remind you of the happy and fun times you had with your ex and without realizing it, you’d miss the person again and start questioning what you did wrong and why your love story never worked out the way it should and if you could have done better as a partner even if in reality it was the hinayupak’s fault but you still love the person and that was still your hinayupak and huhuhu another thirty pounds lost after a month.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could just easily wipe our memories clean very much like clearing our browser history after visiting PornHub?

2. In this lowest form of a Pinoy hugot movie (I swear it was one hundred minutes of hugot lines, hugot jokes, and hugot poems), Jaz (a game Alex Gonzaga) decided to literally change her heart to get over her ex-fiancé Migs (Vin Abrenica, an Abrenica who could act!). Not really sure how a heart replacement surgery in an abandoned warehouse called NSKTN Klinika (Room 143, of course!) could make her forget but at least it wouldn’t be too obvious that it was a complete rip-off of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Hmm, Walang Hanggang Sikat ng Araw ng Walang Bahid na Isip (thanks Google Translate!) actually sounded ripe for a spoken word poetry session.

3. This probably would have been forgivable if it was at least funny, but it was just a series of repetitive and corny jokes. In one scene, Jaz was applying for a job and when her interviewer (Ricci Chan) asked her to tell something about herself, her groan-worthy reply was “Di ko na nga alam eh. Di ko na alam kung sino ako magmula nung iniwan niya ako.” And when he followed it up with “Tell me your weaknesses”, she answered back with “Siya. Siya ang weakness ko.” I couldn’t believe I actually paid good money for this when the same brand of humor was available online for free on the VinCentiments Facebook page.

4. I actually felt bad that Alex wasn’t asked to do much except bawl her eyes out whenever she would hear the song Let Me Be the One (the “H”-filled version, “Shomebodehh told meh yhou were leavuhhhrnn…”). You’d be better off rewatching her amusing vlogs instead (especially the ones with newest Internet Sensation Mommy Pinty).

Sayang because Alex did have some nice chemistry with Vin. It probably helped that he was more than just a walking six-pack. I knew he could act (and sing!) ever since his Artista Academy days.

5. Not surprised with the abundant Nagaraya and Happy Cup product placements. But FrontRow?

6. In one scene, a depressed Jaz was shown in full baliw mode celebrating an anniversary with a teddy bear after suffering from UTI (Umibig Tapos Iniwan). It was played for laughs but that moment actually made me sad thinking of the craziest things that people had done while nursing a heartache. Pro tip: Never ever use muriatic acid as a chaser for your Empi Light.

7. More gasgas hugot moments:

• Kung bagay ka, ano ka? – Sana piso kasi ang piso kapag nalaglag, dinadampot. Samantala ako nahulog na, di pa sinalo.

• Kung pipili ka ng lugar, san mo gusto? – Sa sementeryo para ibaon ko na feelings ko sa kanya.

• Kung mahihiram mo ang time machine ni Doraemon, anong babalikan mo? – Babalikan ko siya kasi sa kanya lang naman ako masaya.

Grabe bakit di na lang ‘to ginawang hugot quote book?

And if that wasn’t bad enough, they even included two lengthy spoken word poetry scenes. One had an animated Juan Miguel Severo talking about a pillow soaked in tears. I think it was meant to be poignant, but all it made me feel was head over to the nearest Tempur.

(Side note: The end credits mentioned that Antoinette Jadaone served as a script consultant for this movie. Seriously??)

Kakalimutan ko na lang na pinanood ko pa ‘to. Now where’s that damn clinic to help me forget?

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

EXES BAGGAGE (Dan Villegas, 2018)

F5D4FD05-1882-4EC3-9AB1-97430F5CB641

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Exes Baggage:

1. In the movie As Good As It Gets, obsessive-compulsive Melvin (Jack Nicholson) professed his love to Carol (Helen Hunt) by saying one of the sweetest lines in film history, “You make me want to be a better man.” I remembered watching this in high school when my innocent heart had never experienced any real heartbreak yet. I gobbled up each word of that declaration with the belief that people would actually change themselves to win over (or win back) the person that they truly loved. I obviously didn’t know any better back then.

Through the years, I must have heard every single version of that promise. Changing for the better? Swearing to always remain faithful moving forward? Pledging undying love after endless second chances? Although there wasn’t any bitterness left for any of my exes after our failed relationships, my already jaded heart couldn’t hold still when Nix (Carlo Aquino) told his ex Pia (Angelica Panganiban), “Paulit-ulit kong isusugal ang puso ko maramdaman ko lang ulit kung anong meron tayo noon.” ULUL!! I expected her to say, “Narinig ko na yan, boy! Wag ako!!”, but this was still a Star Cinema movie after all.

2. I really liked how this was able to capture those awkward moments specific to recent exes (because after our hearts were fully healed, we would usually end up as good friends with them, right?). In one scene, Pia bumped into old married flame Migz (Joem Bascon) and I felt every uncomfortable minute of that encounter. I also used to run the other direction whenever I would see a recent ex heading my way in the mall (twice as fast if said ex was with a new jowa). I mean, what kind of small talk would we have? “Uy, ang gwapo ng ipinalit mo sa akin! Good job! High five!!”. Uhh, no thanks! Not everyone could be as strong as Angelica who even declared on national TV that she was willing to be a ninang to the baby of a recent ex. Tibay mo, gurl!

I also appreciated how it fully displayed all the insecurities that couples would feel whenever they start discussing their exes (especially when comparisons would come into play). No amount of self-confidence or belief on the strength of your relationship would go unscathed once the classic “Sinong mas minahal mo?” question comes up. Or even worse, “Nagustuhan mo lang ba ako para makalimutan sya?”.

(Side note: It was a bit understandable for Pia to feel insecure about Nix’s ex Dwein because she was played by the gorgeous and classy Coleen Garcia. Ibang level ang ganda ni Ate Gurl dito.)

3. I wish we knew more about Nix and Pia for us to fully root for their relationship. How could we say that these two people really loved each other when the only grand gesture we saw was Nix preparing her a romantic dinner? Sure, he was also a gentleman for not taking advantage of a drunk woman, but you wouldn’t go into a relationship with every decent guy you meet.

The thin plot mainly worked because of the undeniable chemistry of CarGel (that entire pretend dancing in the condo scene alone was worth the ticket price). I felt bad that Carlo got saddled with an unsympathetic, irrational (“Sana pinakilala mo ako ng maayos para di na sya nag-small talk sa’yo!”) character full of hang-ups, but he still made the most out of his role. And what was his problem with his girlfriend showing a little bit of cleavage? Insert Nadine Lustre sound bite here.

It was Angelica who really stood out though for embodying a perfectly flawed character who could be my best friend any day (even if she had the gall to ask Nix to take her home after a night of partying then drive her back to work immediately after). Her wonderful performance ranged from hilarious (“Gumising talaga ako para magising mo ako”) to heartbreaking (“Sanay naman ako. Sabihin mo lang talaga. Sanay na akong iniiwan”). I wanted to give her the tightest hug during the scene where she was packing her suitcase.

4. It was a bit funny how the Alamat ng Santol turned into the Alamat ng Werewolf in the subtitles pero naitawid naman. But I was more curious about that Alamat ng Bakla on Social Media and the belief that guys with more than fifty photos in their Facebook profile pic album were gay. But what if they only had five choice topless pa-delight and pa-abs pics? Asking for a desperate friend.

5. Best moment in the film for me:

When Pia offered to prepare breakfast and coffee for Dwein but she declined (di ata sya umiinom ng Great Taste White) which prompted Pia to say, “Meron naman akong dalang bibingka.” I wasn’t sure if it was meant to be hilarious, but I really laughed my head off.

6. “Ang takot magmahal after masaktan, di nagmahal in the first place. Kaya mo dapat pagdaanan ulit lahat ng pain at sakit para maramdaman ulit ang pagmamahal. Dapat ganun ang love, it overpowers pain.” O di sige Pianalyn, ikaw na ang matatag!!

7. Lovely cinematography. Of course I wondered why Pia would read under a green lamp/light, but I wouldn’t want that to ruin the movie’s aesthetics.

Also, first time to watch panties being removed while set to an indie soundtrack. Loved most of the songs though, especially Maybe the Night.

8. I teared up a bit when Nix started talking to Pia’s car, not because it was unfortunately named Ogie, but because he was making a last habilin to a non-living object to take care of this person that he truly loved. I thought it was the perfect sad ending to a relationship that was never meant to be.

But then Pia stepped out of her car, ignored the mystery man named Anton calling her, and implied a more hopeful ending. Tanga!! (Also, poor Anton.)

Rating: ★★★☆☆

CRAZY RICH ASIANS (Jon M. Chu, 2018)

B0C3809E-6B30-439A-B53D-9753CB2838B4

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Crazy Rich Asians:

1. I remembered watching this episode of Bonkers Closets on Facebook that featured the humongous fingerprint-protected walk-in closet (and by walk-in, I meant way bigger than our entire house) of crazy rich Singaporean socialite Jamie Chua. It stored hundreds of her Birkins and Louboutins and every kind of sparkly Chanel dress that any woman (and gay man) could ever dream of. She even called one of her purchases, an Hermès Mini Pochette worth over $11k, completely useless because it could only fit a credit card and a piece of tissue. It was this same kind of opulence (read: ridiculously excessive levels) that I expected from this movie.

As a third world citizen without a Jamba Juice card, but mooches off of my friend’s Netflix account, I wanted to see how these crazy rich Asians were living my fantasy life that I would have to pick my jaw off the sticky floors of the cinema after every scene of extreme extravagance. Aside from that overhead shot of the Young estate with what seemed to be a built-in lagoon, there really weren’t a lot of “Kalokang mayayaman ‘to!” moments here, though. I had more “Wow!” moments while skimming over the Yes! issue of Willie Revillame flaunting his mansion and luxury cars.

(If anything, this movie worked as a really effective tourism video for Singapore because every location just looked incredibly gorgeous.)

2. Wait, I’m not required to lower my standards naman just because Asians are finally getting represented in Hollywood, right? So I should be as brutal to this cliché-ridden rom-com the same way that I would to a Star Cinema langit-lupa love story? Because seriously, that plane scene reeked of Bea Alonzo flying to Cagayan de Oro with Dingdong Dantes running after her and then making that grand proposal while every passenger cheered even with their flight delayed. Why should this one get a free pass as an enjoyable, fluffy piece of entertainment just because it’s an “important” film?

3. The opening scene was my favorite because I weirdly enjoyed squirming in my seat while watching that really uncomfortable discrimination situation. I even remembered being in a slightly similar incident when my family had a vacation in (guess where?) Singapore back in the early 90’s. We were eating at KFC and the locals sneered at us like we were stray dogs that got lost in that establishment (of course back then I had no clue that they looked down on Pinoys as second-class citizens so I just thought they weren’t too happy with the crispy chicken they were eating).

When the legendary Michelle Yeoh served that fitting retribution to the hotel manager with such intense coldness, I came very close to standing up and cheering from my seat. I’d have preferred it though if she ended that scene with “Wala pang taong hindi rumespeto sa pangalang ELEANOR Young! At ang hindi marunong rumespeto sa AKING pangalan ay ASO lamang!!”. (If you got that reference, you have excellent taste in films.)

4. So many #PinoyFried in this movie, although none of them actually portrayed Pinoy characters (except for Astrid’s maids, of course!). Nico Santos’ fey turn as cousin Oliver was a delight, although it wasn’t surprising given his amazing turn as Mateo Fernando Aquino Liwanag in Superstore.

And speaking of Aquinos, when crazy rich Kris showed up onscreen as Princess Intan, there were some audible gasps from the audience. I guess none of them were able to watch Magic to Win 5 on the big screen. I still think it would have been the biggest casting coup if she played Imelda Marcos (the only woman that could put Jamie Chua’s shoe collection to shame).

5. I completely get the use of the very Asian mahjong game in that climactic showdown between Eleanor and Rachel (Constance Wu), although I honestly didn’t understand all of the symbolisms. The only thing I noticed was that Eleanor took the East seat which was significant in The Joy Luck Club (now there’s a brilliant Hollywood Asian film) since that was where the dealer sat and where all things began (in the novel/film, Jing Mei took that seat to replace her dead mother Suyuan who started the said group). 

Wouldn’t it have been great though if they amped up the camp factor and showed more clashes between these strong women (very much like a Pinoy cockfight)? With two brilliant actresses front and center (fyi, this should serve as your reminder to finally catch up on Fresh Off the Boat), this could have been really fun.

(Also, the Nick character was so bland that I couldn’t see why two amazing women were “fighting” over him. No amount of Henry Golding’s shirtless scenes could hide that fact.)

Side note: Given that Jon M. Chu also directed Now You See Me 2, I actually had this gnawing feeling during the mahjong scene that Rachel would perform some sort of elaborate magic trick. Like she would be able to switch her bamboo tiles without Eleanor ever noticing. Pong!!

6. I teared up a bit when I realized that the Ah Ma character was played by Lisa Lu, who was also Auntie An-Mei in Joy Luck Club (“My mother not know her worth until too late. Too late for her, but not for me.” Waaaah!).

7. I wasn’t particularly fond of Awkwafina in Ocean’s 8, but she was hilarious in the Nikki Valdez role here. As Peik Lin (aka Asian Ellen), she stole every scene that she was in whether she was criticizing Rachel’s look as Sebastian of The Little Mermaid, playing around with her car window, or simply taking a selfie around the Young mansion.

My favorite (very Asian) joke though was when Wye Mun (Ken Jeong) said something like, “Red’s a lucky color if you’re an envelope”. I also liked the bite in his line that “There’s a lot of children starving in America”.

8. Supposedly affluent young women going crazy over off-the-rack items? Shouldn’t they be turning their enhanced pointed noses up on anything that wasn’t bespoke? How un-crazy rich. (And what to make of that tacky tassel necklace? Only Kat Galang could have pulled that one off.)

9. The story about Astrid’s failing marriage felt like complete filler. It was like one long setup for the sequel. (Which probably was made more obvious when Harry Shum, Jr. showed up in one scene and yet received top billing in the end credits.) Her story only served as a distraction to what could have been more screen time for Nick and Rachel or Rachel and Eleanor. Also, Gemma Chan looked very much like Nathalie Hart, no?

10. One of the highlights here was the royal wedding of Araminta (Sonoya Mizuno) where the guests held lighted butterflies (dragonflies?) as she walked down that water-filled aisle. While everyone else teared up when Kina Grannis’ Can’t Help Falling in Love played in the background, my OCD kicked in high gear imagining that lovely wedding dress turning all soggy and getting completely ruined. These crazy rich people paid $40M for that? 

Meanwhile here in the Philippines, a bride in Bulacan went viral for actually wading in murky floodwater (which she got free courtesy of the monsoon) out of necessity just to continue with her dream wedding. Now that was something that really made me cry.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆