MOVIE REVIEW: MADRASTA (Olivia Lamasan, 1996)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Madrasta:

1. Bakit obsessed ang Hollywood sa pag-plagiarize ng films ni Claudine Barretto? Masyadong glaring ang similarities ng Got 2 Believe at 27 Dresses. Lalong hindi ako maniniwala na coincidence lang ang mga eksena na parehong-pareho sa Stepmom at Madrasta (kasama na yung confrontation scene ng dalawang nanay sa restaurant at yung ending na pagsali ng madrasta sa family picture). Akala n’yo tayo lang ang walang originality lagi ha. O ayan may masusumbat na din tayo sa Hollywood. Sana ang susunod na gayahin nila ay Kailangan Kita, where we’ll see a braless country girl played by Jennifer Lawrence fall in love with New York celebrity chef Chris Evans.

2. Isa siguro ito sa mga pelikula na kaya kong sumulat ng 1,000-word essay of random thoughts na walang kahirap-hirap. Memorable pa siya kasi bahay ng friend ko nung high school ang ginamit na location dito. Muntik na nga ako magka-film debut nung sinabihan niya kami na naghahanap ng extras for a party scene ni Ate Clau. Ang tagal ko pa namili ng best Giordano outfit ko tapos biglang na-pack up. Ayun siya na lang ang nakasama nung sumunod na shooting day (wearing her best Giordano outfit). Pero feel na feel ko pa rin na kasama ako sa pelikula by association.

3. If you’ll watch this through woke lenses in 2020, lalabas talaga na sobrang problematic niya. Marami kasing aspects ang film dealing with the class divide (“Pinakikisamahan ko na ang mga anak mo. Pati ba naman mga katulong kelangan ko pa pakibagayan?”) to the patriarchal system na hindi na acceptable ngayon. Although it did speak to an audience that lived through that period. Yung mga nakaporma ng Umbro jerseys or yung mga 90’s titos and titas na nagulantang ang pagkatao nang makita si Mariel (Megastar Sharon Cuneta) na nakaupo sa kubeta.

4. Peak Tita Shawie talaga ito. Deserved ang Grand Slam kasi ibang-iba ang atake kumpara sa mga blockbuster 80’s melodramas niya. Yung tahimik lang umiyak pero ramdam na ramdam yung sakit na kahit anong gawin niya, hindi siya talaga magiging parte ng pamilya ng asawa niya. Na kahit nagreklamo siya na lagi siyang nag-take ng backseat para sa mga bata, ang sinagot lang sa kanya ay, “I cannot give importance to my happiness at the expense of my children”. Saklap! Nasabihan pa na hindi masarap ang gawa niyang baked mac huhu.

Best scene niya dito yung almost wordless na pag-iyak niya sa deathbed ng kanyang favorite lolo set to the haunting Moonlight Sonata. Parang binuksang gripo ang mga mata niya pero very restrained ang acting. Halos hindi na rin ako makahinga kakaiyak nung umabot na sa sweet and touching na pa-ilong nila.

5. Nagustuhan ko yung twist na hindi madrasta ang maldita for a change. Effective talaga si Ate Clau basta pasaway ang roles niya (see also: Anak, Dahil Mahal na Mahal Kita). Kahit yung jumper outfits niya parang nagsusumigaw na super bitch. Tawang-tawa ako nung ibinibida siya ni Mariel sa kapatid nito by saying, “Mukhang suplada lang si Rachel pero kapag nakilala mo… ano… (two second pause)… ok naman.” Hahahaha!

Si Ms. Vangieeeee Labalan naman sobrang atribida as the household mayordoma. Walang bukambibig kundi ang kanyang idol na si Ma’m Sandra (Zsa Zsa Padilla). Feeling ko kung ganun din ang ugali niya sa akin, di rin siya magtatagal ng isang linggo. Either that or lagi ko papatunugin yung bell na pantawag sa kanya (very 90’s burgis film nga diba).

6. Speaking of social classes, ang galing nung juxtaposition ng lunch scenes ng dalawang pamilya. Yung kina Mariel talagang magkakatabi sila in a compact dining area tapos ang ingay mag-kwentuhan. Tapos nung kina Edward (Christopher de Leon) na, nasa may garden at naka-long table tapos very refined at tahimik lang. Yung mom lang niya (Madam Tita Muñoz) ang nag-lead ng entire conversation (at mukhang siya rin ang totoong may-ari ng bell).

Naalala ko nung pinanood ko ito sa sinehan sobrang lakas ng tawanan na more lamon ang brother ni Mariel (Cris Villanueva). Tapos biglang sigaw naman nung nahulog ang crab ng isang sister niya (Eula Valdez) na pinulot bigla at inilagay niya sa kandungan. Very relatable talaga sila.

Although ang funniest scene ni Eula for me still was yung pinabili siya ng McCormick Black Pepper tapos ang binili niya cornick kasi akala niya kelangan ng chichirya sa fancy birthday party ni Ate Clau. Bwahahaha!!

7. One of the few local films that first used live sound kaya minsan di mo marinig ang sinasabi ng characters kasi mas malakas pa ang mga palaka sa background.

8. Points to ponder:

“Meron ba namang nagmahal na hindi nasaktan? Kaya ka nasasaktan kasi nagmamahal ka. Pero mas masakit kung naghihintay ka ng kapalit. Yun bang iniisip mo kung ano ang dapat mong matanggap sa halip na isipin mo kung hanggang saan ang kaya mong ibigay. Kasi tayo eh mahilig tayong tumingin sa katabi kapag tayo ay nasasaktan na. Yun bang iniisip nating sila ang may kasalanan. Bakit? Wala din ba tayong mga pagkakamali?”

Rating: ★★★★★

MOVIE REVIEW: X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST (Bryan Singer, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on X-Men: Days of Future Past:

1. I am definitely not a comic book (or anything from the Marvel universe) fan so expect a lot of questions in a bit. But first, why did this feel like a 2-hour middle finger to Brett Ratner and the mess that he created?

2. I actually liked how the movie just didn’t care if you watched the previous films or knew the other characters. I had to create names for the ones that I didn’t know, though (Silver Surfer, Fireball, Sandara, etc.).

3. Wait, why was Patrick Stewart back? Wasn’t Professor Xavier killed in the last movie? Was he making a Gandalf comeback?

4. Ooh carnage! I would have cared more if I were a fanboy.

5. Ellen Page would always be Juno to me. If she were able to travel back in time, I wonder if she’d still give up her baby. And why did she have a lot of super powers here? She was able to pass through objects and make people time travel. Wow.

6. Gratuitous butt shot but who’s complaining?

7. As a huge American Horror Story fan, I squealed when Evan Peters showed up as a teen Flash (did anyone mention Quicksilver in the movie?). He surely had the best scenes and deserved a spin-off.

8. Halle Berry still had a thankless role. I hope she earned millions to roll her eyes. Who’s wishing for an X-Men Origins: Storm? Nobody.

9. Now that I thought about it, why did Professor Xavier have a British accent if he was living in the US ever since? Was there a back story I didn’t know of?

10. Product placement galore. I still prefer Coke products, though.

11. That Time in a Bottle scene was one of the best sequences I’ve seen all year. More reasons for a spin-off. Evan Peters is so ready for stardom.

12. You could never go wrong with Peter Dinklage. Or Michael Fassbender.

13. Did Mystique really have a substantial role in the comics or did they do this because Jennifer Lawrence is an Oscar-winning box-office draw now? (I have high hopes for Lupita Nyong’o as the young Storm. That’ll make me reconsider my Origins answer.)

14. So the movie in effect was basically one long dream sequence? So we wasted hours on the other movies that really didn’t happen as well?

15. Wait, why did the Sentinels have to reach the future before killing off the mutants when they were made back in the 70’s? Shouldn’t they have killed everyone before the other X-Men movies started happening?

16. When Quicksilver mentioned to Magneto that his mom also “knew a guy who could do that”, did that mean Magneto’s his (gasp!) father?!

17. JFK was a mutant. Coolness!

18. I’m all for redemption and second chances but I’m more into the time is immutable theory.

19. In the comics, who will remove the stadium and free up the White House again?

20. I know that J.Law and Nicholas Hoult are dating but why did Mystique flirt with Beast in the end? Or was I overanalyzing that scene as well?

I give up.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published May 26, 2014.)

MOVIE REVIEW: THE HUNGER GAMES (Gary Ross, 2012)

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More than Battle Royale, this movie reminded me so much of The Truman Show. The latter was a brilliant satire on the entertainment industry and reality show voyeurism.

This movie had the chance to achieve the same heights, but decided to play it safe (what happened to the actual games?). I wouldn’t even compare it to the book since they’re two different visions. I’d encourage everyone to go pick up the novel.

Jennifer Lawrence wasn’t my first choice as Katniss and she sure had me converted. I loved the supporting cast, especially Elizabeth Banks and Stanley Tucci.

Overall, it was a fine enough piece of entertainment.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published April 2, 2012.)

MOVIE REVIEW: AMERICAN HUSTLE (David O. Russell, 2013)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on American Hustle:

1. If you hate character-driven films filled with constant babbling and highstrung emotions, don’t watch American Hustle. You’ll get bored.

2. David O. Russell handled his actors really well here. They portrayed despicable beings but I wanted to hang out with them.

3. Amy Adams was the best thing in this movie. And it didn’t hurt that she looked really hot during the entire thing. Give her an Oscar please.

4. Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence & Jeremy Renner were excellent. Made me forget the awful taste of Silver Linings Playbook.

5. Amy Adams’ cleavage should be in a Best Supporting (Unsupported?) category of its own.

6. I loved the songs used in the movie. The Delilah sing-along was great but J.Law’s Live and Let Die scene alone merited another Oscar nod.

7. You have to admire Bale and his method acting. That tummy made me want to hit the gym. I wonder if he shaved his head for the comb-over.

8. I’ve never been this entertained by a Russell movie since Three Kings.

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published February 7, 2014.)

MOVIE REVIEW: PASSENGERS (Morten Tyldum, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Passengers:

1. I could never be an astronaut. Just the thought of putting on a helmet (and the fear that my head would get stuck in it) had given me endless nightmares. I almost fainted when I saw that viral video where a teenage girl got her head caught in a pumpkin. Suffice to say, I wouldn’t survive in a spaceship even if I were in suspended animation for 120 years (because I would eventually wake up and immediately die of claustrophobia).

2. I wasn’t the biggest fan of recent space sci-fi movies (Elysium, Interstellar, not even the critically-lauded Gravity), but an interesting trailer that promised a few thrills and my fondness for Chris Pratt since Guardians of the Galaxy was enough to draw me in. Well, thank goodness for his cute butt because I really wasn’t expecting this to be a comedy.

3. The Avalon’s voice sounded very much like that soothing theme park voice you hear before boarding a ride in Disneyland. For our local version, I would like to suggest that we get the Ate voice from Uniqlo that courteously thanks all customers for “shahpeeng”.

4. Pratt was still charming as ever here, but it ultimately became his downfall. Even during the dramatic moments, it was just hard to take him seriously. Like he was trying to keep a straight face while giving these directions: “We need to find something big, something broken, something wrong.” He could very well have been talking about the screenplay. (Also, he looked cute in a scruffy beard.)

5. A lot of vicious reviews called this clunker “Titanic in Space” and I could understand why. As the biggest fan of that disaster flick (shamelessly, still my favorite film of all time), I remembered it so much in the following scenes:

• The langit-lupa situation of the doomed lovers, where he flew coach and could only get the normal cup of coffee while she belonged in the gold section that could choose between a macchiato and a French cream blend. (One of the reasons why I enjoy flying Cebu Pacific: no class distinction, everyone can only purchase the same “Snacks for sale!”.)

• Remember when Rose felt lonely and abandoned and wanted to jump off the ship? Yup, somebody here also felt terribly alone and attempted to jump into oblivion (coincidentally, another bad space sci-fi movie).

• “Do you trust me?” and “You die, I die” scenes lifted directly from the sinking ship’s screenplay (which was obviously not its strongest suit to begin with).

• One auto-dock left that could only save either of them. Dying of hypothermia next to a floating door in the ocean was more romantic.

• His one last habilin to “Wake up and you’ll finish what you were supposed to do” sounded very much like “You’re going to die an old woman and have lots of babies…” and then the camera slowly panned to the picture frames with Rose showing that she indeed lived a full life, rode horses, and toured the world and…wait, I needed to wipe away my tears.

6. I loved how Chris and Jennifer Lawrence (in a knockout white bathing suit) were able to maintain their to die for bodies through constant sex on every flat surface. But then again, they were in space and could have gone beyond the Kama Sutra, but didn’t. Imagine the endless possibilities!

7. 19 years to send mail in outer space? Would that be sloth mail?

8. Michael Sheen as the android bartender reminded me of Rosie in The Jetsons. In one scene, I actually thought that Chris was also an android because he was brutally attacked by JLaw and yet didn’t sustain any wounds or bruises. Why?

9. I probably laughed the loudest when JLaw screamed “Come back to me! I can’t live on the ship without you!!”. No wait, it was actually when she pulled the string to bring back a dead floating Chris in space. Now why didn’t Sandra Bullock think of that?

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

 

 

MOVIE REVIEW: THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN (Tate Taylor, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Girl On The Train:

1. In the late 90’s/early 00’s, there was an onslaught of trashy suspense-thrillers (mostly based on or inspired by James Patterson novels) that were supposed to serve as female empowerment films. My favorite ones (and by favorite, I meant LOL guilty pleasure) starred Ashley Judd, the former action heroine slash patron saint of battered wives now relegated to playing Tris’ doormat mother. Her characters would always be tormented by these filthy men (the worst kind being her own husband) and she would always get her revenge through some clunky plot twist (in Double Jeopardy, she had the pleasure of killing her man because she was already falsely convicted of his murder and could not be tried for the same offense twice).

I missed that level of craziness while watching this 2016 version of rah-rah sisterhood (from the director of The Help, gasp!) that proved to be the exact opposite of the far superior Gone Girl (probably the weirdest version of a feminist film to hit the big screen). I completely lost interest in reading the novel this was based on as well.

2. Was it unfair to compare it to Gone Girl? Well, not really since everything here seemed to have been inspired by both the book and film versions. The main title’s font, the central mystery, the overlapping timelines, I could just imagine Amy Dunne throwing a mean bitch fit (with a kitchen knife, of course!).

3. Thank heavens for the excellent Emily Blunt who obviously pulled all the weight in this trainwreck. It was really scary to see a grown woman like Rachel drinking alcohol out of a thermos bottle and her finest moment happened early in the movie when she danced like a mad woman in the park to block out her sadness. I felt so bad for her character that I actually forgave her for wasting a tray of delicious-looking deviled eggs.

4. “Have you ever been on a train and started wondering about the lives of the people that live near the tracks?”

Obviously not, because I have no plans of ever riding the gnarly PNR and if I did to satisfy such morbid curiosity, I don’t think I would be able to look out the window. I’ll most probably end up wondering why the man next to me forgot to wear deodorant. Seriously though, with the speed of that train and its distance from the houses, how was Rachel even able to do all that snooping without binoculars?

5. Anybody who had seen What Lies Beneath would not easily fall for the blatant red herrings sprinkled all-throughout the movie. Its attempts to create a murder-mystery based on Rachel’s substance abuse problem was weak given the substantial lack of motive. If she was supposed to be too crazy in love to actually stalk her husband’s current wife on Facebook, then most of us could be charged guilty as well.

6. Haley Bennett looked like Jennifer Lawrence-lite with such a tiny waist that I wasn’t surprised that Rachel (or any woman for that matter) would want to snatch her extensions out of envy. It was also hard to empathize with her Megan character because during her Basic Instinct finger scene, she reminded me so much of Alma Moreno explaining her uncontrollable state of horniness in the Joey Gosengfiao cult classic Nympha (“Nag-iinit ang katawan ko tuwing nakakakita ako ng lalaki!!).

7. In one scene, new wife Anna was trying to figure out the password of her husband’s laptop. I wasn’t sure why she tried basic names (do people actually use just a name like Rachel as their secret password?), but I laughed really hard when she tried her own name and it was also incorrect. Masaklap ba teh? I wasn’t surprised when she rotated a corkscrew around his neck by the end of the film.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: JOY (David O. Russell, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Joy:

1. If David O. Russell and his repetitive cast (Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Robert De Niro) had a TV equivalent, it would definitely be Ryan Murphy and his American Horror Story crew.

Joy would be American Horror Story: Freak Show, a complete mess from such a talented group and a huge letdown from their previous effort (American Hustle = American Horror Story: Coven).

Wait, so does that make Silver Linings Playbook the American Horror Story: Asylum of the series? I guess that would explain the mind-boggling accolades (an Oscar for Lawrence over Jessica Chastain and Emmanuelle Riva? Please.) I know, I sound even more bitter than my single friends last Valentine’s Day.

(Weirdly enough, this film started with the Name Game song which was also an iconic production number in Asylum.)

2. There was always a certain level of camp in these Russell movies and when this one started with the life as a telenovela metaphor (complete with a Susan Lucci cameo), I thought it would nail its theme of female empowerment with a certain degree of winking fun. Unfortunately, it got bogged down by the too obvious inspirational message (“You’re just one kitschy invention away from becoming a success!!”) that led to a predictable and phony resolution.

3. In one scene, Lawrence (playing Curacha) divided the basement with a masking tape so that her father and ex-husband would know their sides of the room. It reminded me so much of Maricel Soriano “splitting” areas and possessions with her husband Cesar Montano in Kung Kaya Mo, Kaya Ko Rin. Maricel was so obsessed with boundaries that she even placed markers on walls, on the floor, and even inside the refrigerator (and since she bought all the grocery items, she moved them all to her side naturally). It was that kind of crazy humor sorely missing in this movie.

4. I previously mentioned my obsession with the O Shopping Channel and prior to that, the Home Shopping Network. If I actually bought everything that I wanted there (Butterfly Abs, Siluet 40, and Ab Rollers, among others), I would have been Laboracay ready as early as Christmas.

5. Seriously, how could QVC have sold that many Miracle Mops within the short timeframe given the number of customer service representatives on the phones inside the room? Did they have call centers in the Philippines that wasn’t shown? 50,000 items sold in a matter of minutes and yet some agents would complain when there were 30 calls on queue. This movie should be a requirement in Call Center Orientation.

6. Don’t you find it weird that when these characters chop off their own hair, they always end up getting a salon-ready look? I once cut my bangs and I ended up looking like I had a severe case of typhoid fever. Why don’t we have Miracle Scissors? Hey, that may be a good invention idea!!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆