MORTDECAI (David Koepp, 2015)

dd7bfbc9-3ffe-4b40-aebb-556a760e522a

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Mortdecai:

1. After a string of box office flops, has Johnny Depp’s quirkiness finally overstayed its welcome? Sure, he was hilarious (and even Academy-nominated) in his famous roles as Jack Sparrow, The Mad Hatter, Willy Wonka, and Sweeney Todd. But after playing one campy role after another in recent movies (pasty-white vampire in Dark Shadows, bumbling Native American in The Lone Ranger, and virtual data dust in Transcendence), is it finally time to say enough is enough? Can we have the old, normal Depp please?

2. Mortdecai looked like a career killer (if The Tourist wasn’t bad enough) and this could be the final nail on the coffin. It was a terrible, incredibly corny, infantile, unfunny “comedy” that didn’t even come close to the comedic genius of the Austin Powers movies (yes, even the worst one in the series).

3. Unfortunately, the movie came on the heels of The Grand Budapest Hotel and Depp here was no Ralph Fiennes.

4. Why would a well-trimmed mustache trigger a gag reflex anyway? And how many times did they have to repeat that gag on the gag reflex? How many times did they have to repeat almost all the lame jokes? Did they have to repeat them over and over? Repeat pa more.

5. Aside from Depp, this movie also had Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor, Paul Bettany, Olivia Munn, and Jeff Goldblum. Imagine that awesome pool of talents wasted in an embarrassing movie.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published January 28, 2015.)

Advertisements

HENERAL LUNA (Jerrold Tarog, 2015)

6DBCF35B-6558-4753-A17A-D6E63DE1A1FB

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Heneral Luna:

1. The disclaimer at the start of the movie was scary for two reasons: a) for a biopic slash historical epic, we don’t know the extent of cinematic license used in the movie, and b) indeed, a fictionalized history (or work of fiction inspired by true events?) doesn’t take away the fact that this is still a clear representation of the truth (both past and present).

2. Jerrold Tarog has always been a competent filmmaker. He’s the kind of director that can make a Shake Rattle and Roll episode end up better than most of the full-length Pinoy movies shown that year. (Also, watch Senior Year!!)

3. I think everyone will agree that the movie had one of the best ensemble casts in any Pinoy film. I loved how the receding hairline of Epy Quizon was put to good use as Apolinario Mabini. In terms of acting, Mon Confiado (as Emilio Aguinaldo) and Nonie Buencamino (as Felipe Buencamino) were clear standouts. I hope none of them show up in Felix Manalo or I will start getting confused.

4. One of the best lines in the movie:

“Para kayong mga birhen na naniniwala sa pag-ibig ng isang puta!!”

I wonder when I can deliver this line in real life.

5. I particularly liked the Manifest Destiny scene because it stirred up emotions that shouldn’t even be there in this day and age (I so hated the American soldiers that I almost swore off eating burgers.)

6. A lot of reviews have pointed out that the film is a farce. I guess I’m being a purist then because I still want my History lessons all serious and dramatic. The rich content of Philippine History alone will never be boring. I guess I just didn’t understand all the funny quips despite the current situations (hey, it’s just war, people are just getting blown up, let’s all be like Cesar Montano and throw a witty one-liner or two!).

7. I was happy to see Antonio Luna portrayed as a deeply flawed character (never liked biopics that glorify their subject matter) but did it go too far? I could barely remember him in History class and now all I could think of was that he’s no different from Anger in Inside Out. Just about everything seemed to irk him to no end and everyone around him just looked completely dumb or incompetent. John Arcilla was fine in the lead role but I kept imagining him invoking the spirit of Captain Jack Sparrow in every scene. I hate to say it but it bordered closely on caricature.

8. Did we really need that gratuitous head shot for shock value? If they were depicting the reality of war then why was Luna shown as someone invincible? He just kept saying his lines while walking close to enemy lines without getting hit. Maybe he had an agimat that we didn’t know of? (Was it the magical coin pouch that saved his life?)

9. In one scene, Luna was trying to talk to an American soldier and ended up saying something like, “Hulihin nyo na yan. Naubusan na ko ng Ingles” all for comic relief. I was surprised he didn’t just say “Nosebleed!”. Why didn’t they really get Montano for this role?

10. I remember one of my History teachers saying that when Rizal got shot, he tried to face the firing squad as a sign of pride and dignity. Is this correct? (I’m only asking because the Rizal here just waited to be shot at the back. Wait, that didn’t sound right.)

11. In another scene, Luna was strumming his guitar and he was shown to have perfectly polished nails. With this, I will always remember that even in trying times, one should never forget to have a manicure.

12. Why is Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata the song of choice for war flashback scenes? I first heard this used in Madrasta with Sharon Cuneta’s grandfather recalling the war with Japanese soldiers. (Ooh, I need to watch that again.)

13. Old people love hitting tables for emphasis. (If you’ve done that recently…)

14. The scene that I abhorred the most would have to be the one where Luna was killed and the movie turned into a comical Carlo J. Caparas movie. Luna was betrayed and stabbed and shot several times (and had a hole carved in his right eye) by Filipino soldiers and I should have been appalled and angry by the betrayal but I was instead preventing a huge fart from trying not to laugh. Sure, History books would say that he was stabbed 30 or so times and that he continued to flinch after his death but I’m sure it didn’t say that he was Fernando Poe, Jr. (or a horror movie villain that just won’t die).

15. I remember Aguinaldo getting a bad rap for apparently ordering the assassination of Andres Bonifacio. He was portrayed the exact same way here with fingers directly pointed at him for giving the directive on the ambush of Luna. I never knew our first President was such a villain. Has anything changed since then?

16. The burning flag scene in its entirety covered everything that the movie was trying to say in two hours. Such powerful imagery.

17. There’s a mid-credits sequence!! In the same way that Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo had a Heneral Luna teaser, this one hinted at a Gregorio del Pilar spin-off (meaning more Paulo Avelino!). Move over Marvel, we have our Pinoy superheroes!

18. How many times did I mention History?

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published September 16, 2015.)

ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS (James Bobin, 2016)

image

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Alice Through The Looking Glass:

1. Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland was a blatant visual feast that I found lacking in story given its fantasy-adventure format. This second one by James Bobin (who also directed the fun Muppets movies) was slightly better than the first because it focused on the interesting backstories of some major characters. Although the movie still lagged in some places, it was able to capitalize on its great cast making it a more enjoyable romp.

2. I previously lamented that Johnny Depp’s zaniness had reached its limit and he needed to go back to playing (relatively) normal characters (I blame the fourth Jack Sparrow movie), but his return to the Mad Hatter role was actually quite welcome. I just couldn’t think of any other actor who could perfectly balance the man-child lunacy of the role. When the dying Hatter with all of his colors seeped out of him was lying in bed, it was hard not to get your heart crushed.

3. I had always wondered why the Red Queen (of Hearts) had such a big head that grew even bigger when she was furious and it was explained in detail here. Habang nagagalit, lalong lumalaki (insert Beavis and Butthead laugh here).

Anyway, she was my favorite character ever since. How could you not love someone who would shake a terrarium of pet ants and scream “Earthquake!!”? Besides, Helena Bonham-Carter played the role with such delicious glee (forget Amy Adams, isn’t HBC overdue for an Oscar as well?).

4. When Sasha Baron Cohen showed up as Time who was pining for the Red Queen, all I could think of were the Thenardiers and I was hoping for a Master of the House encore.

5. I loved the gorgeous costumes by Colleen Atwood from Alice’s multi-colored Mandarin-inspired gown to the Lady Gaga-ish shoulders of Time and the luscious art direction. I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets recognized in both categories again next year.

6. Three important themes here: a) you can’t change the past, b) a previous lie will haunt you forever with great repercussions, c) a person with a wild imagination can get thrown in the loony bin. And you can add d) Kasalanan ito lahat ni Anne Hathaway.

7. This might be one of the few movies that properly addressed the space-time continuum that proved problematic in films like Looper. I really liked how the future started to rust when a character met her old self and messed up with time (or Time).

8. Pink’s girl power anthem played during the end credits was very fitting given the strong feminist character of Alice. Also, that tribute to the late Alan Rickman (who voiced the blue caterpillar Absolem) made me miss such a great actor. To paraphrase the Cheshire Cat, “Goodbye, sweet butterfly!”.

Rating: ★★★☆☆