KALEL, 15 (Jun Lana, 2019)

E5660FA6-A0FC-4C6B-9DC6-DFB6173E3132

SPOILER ALERT!!

“Kalel ba talaga ang pangalan mo? Interesting name.” Tama ka baks. Ang ganda na yan din ang totoong pangalan ni Superman (na tumba sa kryptonite) tapos sa Hebrew naman ay “voice of God” na ang meaningful considering na anak siya dito ng pari.

Grabe minahal ko ang pamilyang ‘to kasi relatable kahit sobrang flawed nila kaya alam mo na totoong mga tao at hindi caricatures sa pelikula. Iyak-tawa ako sa bonding nila habang nag-iinuman at nung eksena na inalis ng Ate niya yung handcuffs.

Napakahusay nina Jaclyn Jose, Elora Españo, at Gabby Padilla. Pero ang star ng Pasko ay si Elijah Canlas. Ramdam na ramdam ko ang galit niya sa mundo habang paliit ito nang paliit (kasabay ng kumikitid na frames).

Ang linis nung editing ng sequence na pag-ungol ng jowa to pag-iyak ng shuas na Ate to pagtawa ng kaibigan. Tapos ang powerful nung pagdura sa dulo. With this and John Denver Trending, mukhang 2019 ang year ng nihilistic endings for youths in Pinoy films. Lavet!

Forte talaga ni Lana ang ganitong human drama. Dami kong nagustuhan na directorial choices niya dito. Ang dami din nasabi ng pelikula in less than two hours. Sana mag-focus na siya sa ganito at hindi na gumawa ng mga Haunted Mansion… oops!! (Ay di pala niya mababasa ‘to kasi ni-block niya ako on social media hahaha!)

P.S. I will never look at Oreos the same way again huhuhu.

Rating: ★★★★★

BILLY MADISON (Tamra Davis, 1995)

DD4F3C9B-BFD7-4190-82C3-DE0171171633

“Mr. Madison, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”

“Ok, a simple ‘wrong’ would have done just fine, but yeah…”

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHHAAHHAHAHAHAHAHA

P.S. O’Doyle rules!!

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published September 11, 2018.)

DISCONNECTION NOTICE (Glenn Lowell Averia, 2019)

9E485BF2-22D6-4DCE-90DE-B625C1C9F9F4

Uy, may nagpupunas ng dingding at nagma-mop ng sahig sa opening sequence. In glorious black and white. Hello Roma!!

Pero parang napaka-dugyot ng magkapatid na ‘to ha at kelangan nila ng sariling Cleo. Na-trigger ang OCD ko at gusto ko biglang magsuot ng gloves at hugasan ang pinagkainan nila (lalo na yung nagtututong na kanin sa kaldero).

Familiar yung awayang magkapatid na sobrang petty. Para silang si Bunak at Bilog lang. Lahat ng bagay (ultimo pag-double lock ng pinto) ay issue. Yung level na mahihiya magulang nila kasi parang di sila pinalaki nang tama.

Pero ang bilis maayos ng tampuhan nila. Biglang bonding moments na ulit. Kapag ako binato ng kapatid ko ng isang baso ng tubig, isang taon siyang blacklisted sa akin. Kahit pa nakatira kami sa isang bahay. Manigas ang tumbong niya.

(Side note: Gusto ko talaga na ang pinakaunang pangalan sa acknowledgements ng end credits ay GOD.)

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

FRAILTY (Bill Paxton, 2001)

0496F361-40BB-464A-BA9F-22FFE4CE41C9

SPOILER ALERT!!

If you were chosen by God to be His servant warrior in ridding the world of all evil, would you be willing to undertake the said task? As the rightful God’s Hand on earth, you would have the power to differentiate humans from demons (in sinful human form) just by mere touch. It would be your obligation to kill these wicked ones like a modern day, merciless, axe-wielding Abraham. Still up for it?

In this religious thriller, a father of two sons (played by the late Bill Paxton) believed that he was the Chosen One and converted himself into a vigilante without any hesitation. For the majority of this film, the audience was left guessing if he was suffering from hallucinations conjured by a mental disorder or if his visions from God were real. Even with a big reveal in its third act, it still presented a conundrum on whether or not he was really serving a vengeful God (who could say if it was also an unforgiving demon presenting itself as God?).

Matthew McConaughey as the narrator slash suspicious witness also delivered a great performance reminiscent of his future role in True Detective. It worked really well with the overall gothic feel.

Definitely one of the underrated films of the early 2000s.

Rating: ★★★★☆

HACKSAW RIDGE (Mel Gibson, 2016)

IMG_1691

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Hacksaw Ridge:

1. I would usually go into an epileptic seizure whenever a blatantly religious film would smack me over the head with its outright themes of spirituality and salvation (refer to The Shack). Now here was the story of a soldier with such unwavering faith that he didn’t want to compromise his beliefs and principles (no to guns!) while trying to survive in Okinawa during bloody World War II. His only weapon of choice? Trust in God’s saving grace.

All of these should have easily resulted to an emergency room visit, but it surprisingly converted me into being a believer instead. Kindness in the face of adversity? Bravery even with the lack of power? Heroism amidst all evil? My faith in humanity was restored yet again all thanks to my new pastor Mel Gibson.

2. Early in the film, we got a glimpse on the kind of person Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield, in a career-defining performance) really was. It didn’t come as a surprise when he later mentioned, “I don’t know how I’m going to live with myself if I don’t stay true to what I believe.” And he did, in the process defying his violent father, his doubting colleagues, his arrogant superiors, and very much the odds of survival in war, while ultimately saving 75 more soldiers just on the strength of his faith alone.

It would be easy to dismiss this as the Hollywood version of the real story, but the basic facts could not be contested. Hearing the real Desmond recall his grueling experiences was just too much for my jaded heart to bear. In one scene, he visited his fallen comrades’ graves after being awarded a Medal of Honor (a first for a conscientious objector) and he simply said, “The real heroes are buried here”.

I ended up flooding the entire row J of CommerceCenter Cinema 2.

3. I honestly almost gave up on this after the first twenty minutes because it was initially headed into pure melodramatic territory with the domestic abuse plot before it veered into a sappy romance complete with a cloying proposal scene. Thank heavens Desmond was immediately sent to war because I definitely did not pay for a Nicholas Sparks adaptation.

4. The combat scenes were nothing short of spectacular. It had the expected amount of gore and carnage (torn legs! rain of blood! decapitations! intestines sprawled out!) that you would feel very much transported right in the middle of battle where bodies got thrown over grenades and broken torsos were used as shields from the shower of bullets.

My biggest pet peeve in action sequences was that with all of the necessary quick movements, one could barely decipher whatever was happening onscreen. This movie did not have that problem at all because it was very much like watching controlled chaos.

Nobody would even question those Oscars for Best Editing and Best Sound Mixing. Did we expect anything less from the director that made torture porn out of a Bible story in The Passion of the Christ?

5. Vince Vaughn should not be in serious movies because the more he tried to be un-funny, the more hilarious he looked. At least he made the most out of his character, spewing the nastiest throwdowns outside of the America’s Next Top Model house. My favorite ones were:

• “How long have you been dead?”

• “I’ve seen stalks of corn with better physique.”

• “Have you ever looked into a goat’s eyes? Good, that’s unnatural.”

5. Was I the only one wishing for an Esprit de Corps moment? Yes? Really? Ok.

6. Standout scenes: the one where Desmond “buried” an injured comrade to conceal him from the ruthless Japanese soldiers and one could only see his eye peeking out from the ground, and the scene towards the end where he was being lowered via a makeshift stretcher while clutching on to his cherished Bible. Really powerful stuff.

7. One Japanese soldier raised the white flag and he was still shot to death. And that my friends is the reason why I still have major trust issues.

Rating: ★★★★☆

THE SHACK (Stuart Hazeldine, 2017)

IMG_1687

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Shack:

1. Like with most Christian films (e.g. God’s Not Dead), my entire viewing experience felt like getting continuously whacked on the head by a Bible for two hours until I eventually started speaking in tongues. My dear blessed brothers and sisters, please don’t get me wrong. I’m not averse to movies with heavy religious themes. It only becomes a problem whenever it feels like these beliefs are shoved down our throats (“It’s in the Bible so it must be true!”) and anybody with a dissenting opinion gets tagged as a sinner, an atheist, or in need of prayer and guidance.

I’m sorry, but I don’t need a sermon. I already have my mother for that.

(Speaking of, one of her biggest disappointments was that she asked me to join our local parish’s Youth for Christ group and my only takeaway from the youth camp was that tinola tasted better with sayote instead of papaya. Susmaryosep!)

2. The story here was pretty much straightforward. It was a father’s (a flat Sam Worthington) spiritual journey in search of closure for the brutal murder of his youngest daughter. His healing trail included lessons on being less judgmental, acquiring wisdom through strength of faith, and finding actual forgiveness in his heart. I actually thought it could have been told more interestingly (and at a more reasonable thirty minutes) in an episode of Flying House (less the brutal murder, of course).

3. This entire Hallmark meets Lifetime movie wouldn’t have happened if he just drove properly and followed the Stop sign. In one scene, he also accidentally fell in the snow and hit his head on the pavement. Like what the late, great Inday Badiday said, “Careful, careful”.

4. I liked how the Holy Trinity was gender neutral and represented different ethnicities. God was played by Octavia Spencer (did her revised contract require a pie reference every single time?) while Jesus and the Holy Spirit (who collected tears) looked like a Middle Eastern man and an Asian lady respectively. I didn’t read the book so I wasn’t aware if they were written as such or if this was one of those progressive Hollywood castings.

5. Paradise (or was that the Garden of Eden?) lived up to its name with such a gorgeous set design that reminded me of those technicolor sceneries in What Dreams May Come.

6. I honestly felt a bit dizzy from all the spiritual life lessons that were spewed one after the other (“When all you see is your pain, you lose sight of Me”). Simple chores (hobbies?) like baking, fishing, and gardening suddenly turned into Sunday school lectures.

I didn’t break out in hives and there was no burning sensation after watching though so that was a good sign.

7. Wait, why was he even allowed in heaven if he killed his own father? Shouldn’t he have been partying with Lucy and the rest of the fallen angels instead? Cue God Must Have Spent a Little More Time On You.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

SPOTLIGHT (Tom McCarthy, 2015)

10580035_10153808886608544_9045729692511984258_n
SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Spotlight:

1. In one of the many interviews in this compelling film about the Catholic Church’s cover-up of child molestation scandals, a lawyer (played by the superb Stanley Tucci) clearly summed up the overall feeling of helplessness and blind faith when he said, “If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse them.” Chilling words considering that this was based on a true story and the end credits specifically mentioned the cities with reported cases (Manila and Cebu, among others).

2. Kids these days will never understand all the actual research needed to complete a thesis, prior to all the advancements in technology. Information now is just one click (or a Google) away whereas before, you actually had to go to a library (physical, not virtual), sort through the card catalog (that uses the Dewey Decimal System, of course!), find the hard copy of the book, and actually read the entire thing to gather information (without the help of a CTRL+F to search for keywords). Instead of clicking links for news reports, one had to find newspaper clippings and use a microfilm viewer. You wouldn’t really know hard work unless you were a kid growing up during the pre-Internet era.

3. Since this film was set in 2001 (when Facebook was still non-existent), the group of Boston Globe reporters that wanted to do an exposé resorted to manual work (scribbling down notes, knocking on doors, visiting libraries). It was like the most boring procedural TV show and yet you didn’t want to miss every detail that they uncovered. At one point, they had to go over actual physical copies of directories, highlighting the priests that were on “sick leave” before logging the entries in what appeared to be the very first version of Excel.

(Btw, sick leave meant that guilty priests got sent to treatment facilities instead of prison. Now that was really sick.)

4. In one of the most powerful scenes here, a victim recounted the experience he had with an abusive priest. He talked about the resulting guilt and shame, the long-term trauma (some were driven to alcoholism and drug abuse) of that incident, that he was not prayed for but preyed upon, and ended his story with this question, “How do you say no to God?”. How, indeed.

5. On the flipside, one of the priests admitted that he was guilty of molesting kids but showed no remorse, with the defense that he did not get any pleasure from the said act. (And further revealed that he was also abused by another priest.) Horrors!

6. “Pedophile priests are a billion dollar liability.”

“They turned turned child abuse into a cottage industry.”

I have no words.

Rating: ★★★★☆

THE BIG SHORT (Adam McKay, 2015)

12494902_10153836503583544_1435291664392107681_n

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Big Short:

1. The words Finance, Housing Market, and Wall Street automatically send a signal to my brain to shut down and prevent any possible aneurysm. Sure, I love the smell of money, but anything numbers-related immediately puts me to sleep. The only knowledge I have about the stock market is limited to the Hollywood Stock Exchange where you get to trade virtual movie stocks based on their box office performance. So yes, I do know how to long, short, sell, and cover stocks but an online game doesn’t even come close to the real thing.

2. I loved how this movie treated its audience like newbies (or dummies) to the industry. It took its time to explain terms needed to fully understand the financial crisis and collapse of the housing market. What better way to understand subprime loans than with the help of Margot Robbie drinking champagne in a bubble bath? Or Anthony Bourdain comparing a CDO with his three day old halibut stew? And even Selena Gomez breaking down a synthetic CDO? (I still didn’t completely understand everything but I guess that only made the movie sound smarter.) Take note, this was a comedy. A very funny one.

3. As a person with self-diagnosed ADHD, I didn’t mind the stylistic editing on speed, random images, and crazy montages. Again, numbers meant boring and my short attention span could only take so much.

4. I was surprised that Christian Bale got the sole acting nomination for this film. Don’t get me wrong, he was great as the metal music-loving, glass-eyed Michael Burry, but I thought Steve Carell was so much better as the fidgety, hot-tempered loon Mark Baum. He was loud and obnoxious and yet completely relatable. (I loved how his character as a kid studied the Talmud looking for inconsistencies in the word of God.) Definitely a better performance than in Foxcatcher.

Favorite Mark Baum line:

“I hate it here. Everyone’s walking around like they’re in a fucking Enya video!”

5. When Brad Pitt showed up as the voice of reason Ben Rickert (“If they’re right, people lose homes, jobs, retirement savings, pensions. Just don’t fucking dance”), you realize that there were no heroes in this movie. You might be rooting for these losers (if they were so smart and made money out of something that everyone else didn’t believe in, were they still?), but they were making money out of people’s future miseries.

6. How could you not love a movie where the song Saigo No Iiwaki played in the Japanese restaurant scene? Or maybe you’d know its Tagalog counterpart, Ted Ito’s Ikaw Pa Rin?

All together now…”Nais ko’y makapiling kang muli. Nais ko’y mayakap kahit sa sandali. Kung pangarap ma’y tatanggapin ko. Ikaw pa rin ang iniibig ko.”

Rating: ★★★★★