MOVIE REVIEW: MY WEEK WITH MARILYN (Simon Curtis, 2011)

6B8A66FF-D5E6-46C6-A679-154644841728

A lot had been said about Michelle Williams’ performance as Marilyn Monroe. I just have to say that it was a damn fine impersonation as it should be because this movie didn’t really offer anything new about the subject.

All I learned was that Marilyn’s disturbed, always forgot her lines, dependent on drugs, oftentimes horny, completely fragile, and yet a great actress. It was something probably everyone already knew (or you could read from a second-rate biography).

The tacked-on love story involving the narrator and a lost Emma Watson further diverted the plot from its star. I was thankful to see Dame Judi Dench (never losing her brilliance even for a second) and Kenneth Branagh providing strong support. This movie succeeded as an acting showcase, but completely failed as a biopic.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published March 2, 2012.)

MOVIE REVIEW: ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD (Ridley Scott, 2017)

18439769-8D9F-4238-97A3-75382DCF0D2D

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on All the Money in the World:

1. It says so much about a film when the behind the scenes controversies were a lot more compelling than the movie itself. The sudden replacement of Kevin Spacey (amid the #MeToo movement) with Christopher Plummer, the last minute expedited reshoots to make its December 2017 release date (and maintain its Oscar contender status this year), and the huge salary gap concerns between Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams were just juicier and more dramatic.

2. “To be a Getty is an extraordinary thing. I know that because my grandpa told me so.” And he wasn’t kidding. His grandfather was J. Paul Getty (Plummer), named by Fortune magazine as the richest American in the late ‘50s and said to be the richest man in the history of the world. In a Playboy interview, Getty even mentioned that “If you can count your money, then you’re not a billionaire.” I would have been incredibly jealous if only I hadn’t seen so many rich people problems here (like buying a million dollar painting that could not be displayed for public viewing).

3. One of the biggest concerns of the rich would definitely be security. I couldn’t imagine an Ayala or Gokongwei enjoying life’s simple pleasures (like say, hanging out at a local mall) without any fear that their kids might get targeted by kidnap for ransom groups. I used to fantasize that I was a scion of Henry Sy, but it further heightened my already excessive paranoia so I had to give up the dream of having my own Shoemart branch. I guess it was true that “When a man becomes wealthy, he has to deal with the problems of freedom.”

4. Plummer was remarkable in his role and made a detestable character completely human (ergo relatable). He sneered at the poor people that wrote to him asking for help (“If I respond to every person asking for money, I will also be as destitute!”), played hardball with his grandchild’s kidnappers (“I have fourteen grandchildren. If I pay the ransom, I’ll have fourteen kidnapped grandchildren”), and finally agreed to pay the ransom but only as part of his tax deduction. I slightly felt bad for him in the scene where he was playing chess with himself.

(And before I get accused of anything, Williams was also good in her role. I found it odd though that she was billed as a lead, but it felt like she had a secondary character.)

5. Those reshoots worked out pretty well. I actually thought that Getty’s character was very minor and that was why they could easily recast the role. The only weird aspect (and only if you knew about the casting replacement) was that the actor that played Getty’s son looked and sounded very much like a young Spacey.

6. That artistic shot of the newspapers flying in slow motion? I’m sorry Ridley Scott, but Respeto did it first last year. #PinoyFried

Rating: ★★★☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: SANA’Y WALA NANG WAKAS (Leroy Salvador, 1986)

IMG_2703

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Sana’y Wala Nang Wakas:

1. Even before the classic Pinoy LGBTQ film Do Re Mi manifested the power of female camaraderie through musical numbers, there was this movie in the late 80’s (probably inspired by the Broadway musical Dreamgirls) that showcased the value of friendship.

If it weren’t obvious enough, the girl group composed of Bianca Eleazar (Sharon Cuneta), Monique Verzosa (Cherie Gil), and Michelle Williams, er, Camille Gonzaga (Dina Bonnevie) was actually named “Friends” and their go-to song was “That’s What Friends Are For” (sung during the opening scene while they wore shiny, silky costumes with gigantic ribbons on the chest area, probably borrowed from the Boyoyong clowns).

Also, Sharon sported a female mullet. Let that sink in.

2. There was one incredibly long montage (worth one full song, I think) where Bianca and Teddy (Tonton Gutierrez, terrible in an Aljur Abrenica way) toured Luzon and it could have been used as a tourist ad for the Philippines (Have some buko juice in Tagaytay! Jet ski in Taal Lake!).

At one point, Teddy dove head first in a shallow pond to get a lotus flower. I thought he was trying to catch a frog, but then it wouldn’t match with Bianca’s ever-changing ribbons on her ponytail.

Naudlot pa ang first kiss nila nang biglang dumating ang order nila na…Pepsi! (We would always complain about product placements in today’s films, but apparently it had been shamelessly done even before. This one also had blatant shills for Master Sardines and Silver Swan Soy Sauce.)

3. It was sad to see the late Dindo Fernando again here, especially since he was one of the finest actors in local cinema that was gone too soon. As Bianca’s father slash music composer, he brought a lot of depth in his character who was prone to making silly decisions.

Upon learning that he had terminal cancer, he did some soul-searching by walking the entire stretch of Manila Bay. He also abandoned his family because he didn’t want to be a pabigat for them, but ultimately returned home for one last deathbed duet. (By the way, this scene was so effective that I was a blubbering mess when it ended. Galing din ni Ate Shawie dito.)

4. As expected, jealousy and fame were the reasons for the group’s eventual break-up. I would have guessed that it was actually Dina’s singing voice because she just sounded awful (refer to Barbie Forteza’s viral video).

There was a scene where Camille was singing drunk and another one where she was warbling while sobbing uncontrollably and she didn’t sound any different from her supposedly better days. She more than made up for it in acting though because I really loved the scene where she started throwing beer bottles at her gay BFF Manny Castaneda.

5. Sample dialogue…

• Teddy being defiant to his overbearing father: “Pigain mo man ako, di mo mapipiga ang musika sa buhay ko!” (Nux!!)

• Teddy’s matapobre father to Bianca: “Magkano ang kelangan mo para layuan ang anak ko?”

Bianca with matching flaring nostrils: “Magkano ang kaya nyong ibayad? Bilhin nyo sya ng pera nyo. Bibilhin ko sya ng pag ibig ko!” (Applause! Standing ovation!!)

6. Burning questions:

• If Bianca was so famous that she was being mobbed by fans, why did she take a cab during her walk-out scene?

• How did Bianca and Monique become huge recording stars if most of their songs were remakes? Greatest Love of All vs Through the Fire? (Sabagay, diamond artist si Nina.)

• What happened to breach of contract? How could Monique miss the farewell concert of the group and get away with it? And did Bianca really have to sing Part-Time Lover (with matching luha) after seeing Camille and Teddy kiss?

• Hindi pa ba uso ang aircon noon? Bakit ang nasa loob ng dressing room nila ay isang malaking electric fan?

7. It was so funny how all the conflicts were magically resolved during the final musical number of Bianca. In this scene, the song composed by her dearly-departed dad won the top prize in a music festival that suddenly turned into her concert, complete with surprise appearances by Monique and Camille.

Friendship was restored, a marriage proposal was done, and Manny Castaneda remained a faithful alalay.

Never, ever question the power of a Willy Cruz song.

Rating: ★★★☆☆