6 BALLOONS (Marja-Lewis Ryan, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on 6 Balloons:

1. In The One with the Boobies episode of Friends, Phoebe had a date named Roger who psychoanalyzed Chandler as a person that masked his depression and sadness through constant humor and sarcasm (“I wouldn’t want to be there when the laughter stops”). Even with the prominence of the sad clown trope, I was continually surprised by comedians that would play against type and turn in credible (sometimes even incredible) dramatic performances (Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting, Mo’Nique in Precious, Bill Murray in Lost in Translation, just to name a few). Our very own Comedy King made me bawl my eyes out by bravely playing a loving gay foster parent in Ang Tatay Kong Nanay.

2. I was all the more excited when I saw this Netflix movie where Abbi Jacobson (one half of my favorite power couple in Broad City) actually tried to take on a more serious role. Even in that TV series, her Abbi Abrams was more straightfaced and rational compared to the always wild and crazy Ilana Wexler (Ilana Glazer), but that made her funnier and even more endearing.

Sadly, this wasn’t the right vehicle to draw out her more sensitive side. Whenever her character Katie delivered a line that should have been solemn or earnest, I was waiting for her to crack up and mock what she just said Abbi-style. At least her effort for reinvention was commendable.

3. One thing that I really liked in this depressing drama was Dave Franco’s authentic portrayal of a person with substance abuse issues. His Seth was torn between the need to change his lifestyle for the love of his young kid, and his apparent heroin addiction. It was disturbing (he cleaned his syringe with toilet water!!) to see him go through this entire spectrum of emotions while he brutally battled his subsequent relapse (zoned out and depressed at the start, then sweaty, shaking, and desperate for a fix in the middle, and finally high and playful after his hit towards the end).

As somebody addicted to Coke (Coca-Cola hala!) whose mouth would go dry and hands all clammy after not getting a drink of my favorite ice cold soda every six hours, I couldn’t even imagine the pain and suffering that these people would go through to overcome their drug dependency.

4. I completely understood that Katie loved her younger brother so much that she was willing to do anything to help, but I just didn’t get why she made these really foolish decisions along the way. Why would she even bring a child with her when she tried to score some drugs in what looked like the scariest part of the neighborhood? Why would she leave the poor kid alone in the vehicle with an obviously sick person? Even if her brother was physically suffering, why did she act as an enabler and even agreed to buy him needles in a pharmacy?

I might be too quick (self-righteous?) to judge and maybe the entire point of this movie was that drug addiction was really a family disease, but I ended up getting stressed and frustrated with every terrible choice that she made.

(Side note: The young girl must have been a fan of Monsters Inc. because of her strange fascination with the word “Kitty”.)

5. Jane Kaczmarek had a brief appearance here as their mother and I was reminded yet again that she was criminally robbed of an Emmy for her brilliant turn as a fierce and controlling matriarch in Malcolm in the Middle.

(Also, I found it funny that the actor who played her husband in this movie closely resembled Bryan Cranston.)

6. So Katie broke the pharmacy’s glass door with their own bathroom keys, hit some posts while driving away, and we were expected to laugh along at the apparent silliness of these events? Why??

7. Instead of paying attention to that cheesy audio book about leaking boats, she should have listened more to her talking GPS navigator (it even asked her to “turn around” when she entered that drug-infested street).

Now why couldn’t my Waze be more like that whenever I was headed to the nearest KFC?

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

BABY DRIVER (Edgar Wright, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Baby Driver:

1. That coffee shop scene early in the film where the barista smirked when Ansel Elgort said that his name was Baby reminded me of the time when I used to work as a manager for a customer service account in a call center. One of my basic tasks was to ensure that each associate got assigned an “appropriate”-sounding call name. The uniquely cool ones like Baby Juice or Shangri-La or Miracle Boy had to be changed into more “pleasant-sounding” generic nicknames. We also couldn’t use real names that sounded like terms of endearment such as Love, Sweetheart, Honey, and yes, just Baby (even if a quarter of our population probably used this as a name/nickname) lest callers began thinking that they actually dialled a phone sex hotline.

On a different note, I was so hooked on that B-A-B-Y song that I wanted to jump in my Subaru, put on my Wayfarer, and play that song on blast while driving around Commerce Ave. (okay, done with my social-climbing exercise for the day).

2. A lot of people would most likely look like an idiot doing that swaying dance routine with the windshield wipers, but Ansel had the right amount of charm to make it just the cutest thing ever. I could probably watch that one long continuous take of him singing and dancing during a coffee run on a loop for days. (Bonus na lang that he could also prepare a mean sandwich. Mukhang masarap sya.)

3. Aside from Monsters Inc. (“You and I are a team”), I was happy to see the references on my other faves here, like It’s Complicated, Fight Club, and The Little Rascals (although I still preferred the version of Alfalfa with his cowlick singing You Are So Beautiful to dear Darla).

4. Those impressive car stunts that could rival the ones in the Fast & Furious series! As if this movie wasn’t even cool and stylish enough already. More nganga lang ako. And that whole Tequila shoot-out. Worth the price of admission.

5. I knew that Jamie Foxx could not be trusted as soon as he showed up wearing that tacky King of Hearts sweater. I would rather trust that “puts the Asian in home invasion” guy even if he didn’t know the difference between Austin Powers’ Mike Meyers and Halloween’s Michael Meyers (or even Friday the 13th’s Jason Voorhees). Also, seeing those masks reminded me so much of the Betty Doll Bank Robbers from the underrated Sugar & Spice. Time for a rewatch.

6. Sorry Edgar Wright, but Prime Cruz beat you (twice!) on that colorful laundromat scene.

7. I had a bit of a problem with the last act when everything just went awry and people started growing a conscience. And inasmuch as I adored Debora (Lily Collins), I wasn’t completely sold on the romance and the idea that they fell in love even before their second date.

8. Baby cleverly used music to drown out the terrible memories of a traumatic event in his life. That definitely wouldn’t work with me since my playlist would mostly be weepies by Celine Dion and Sarah Geronimo huhuhu.

Rating: ★★★★☆

LIGHTS OUT (David Sandberg, 2016)

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My notes on Lights Out:

1. Whenever I watch a horror flick, I feel like I work in Monsters Inc. (“We scare because we care!”) because I find glee in hearing the screams of the audience. The more frightened they are, the louder their cries (to the point of being annoying), the noisier the theater, the more I enjoy it. Sometimes I even end up liking that experience more than the actual movie.

2. If you still haven’t seen the short film that this was based on, here’s the link: https://youtu.be/-fDzdDfviLI. It’s only three minutes, it’s free, and it’s infinitely better than the full-length feature. (I liked the cameo of Lotta Losten, though. She was the star of the short and played the assistant during the opening sequence.)

3. The basic premise of the movie hinged on the flicking of light switches. But really, if you saw a strange figure standing in the dark, would you still turn the lights off (then on and off and on and off) again just to check if it was just your imagination?

That was exactly what the people here did the entire time. Characters entered rooms without bothering to turn on the lights. Their idea of safeguarding a haunted house was placing tape on the switches (because they never heard of power fluctuations and blackouts) and lighting candles (because an open flame would never get blown out by the softest fart).

4. In one scene, the boyfriend of Rebecca (Teresa Palmer) left a used sock in her drawer as a sign of taking their relationship to the next level. The fact that she was still able to locate that hidden sock meant that it must have smelled really bad and I was surprised that she didn’t break up with him right there and then.

5. If there was one thing that creeped me out here, it was when the mother (Maria Bello) was talking to something (someone?) in her room and kept using the pronoun “we” in her questions (“Did we wake you?”). I wish they were able to develop this mental illness plot further and gone The Babadook route. Monsters could be lurking under the bed, but I was more scared of the ones inside our heads.

6. Martin (Gabriel Bateman) was one brave kid. The door (with a creepy shadow behind it) slammed shut on him and he just calmly walked down with his backpack, all prepared for a slumber party with his sister (I did chuckle a bit when he said, “Ready!”). If that happened to me, I probably would have peed my pants and let out the loudest non-human shriek.

7. Where could I buy that wind-up rechargeable flashlight? I laughed so hard in that scene because someone loudly said, “Ay ang taray!”.

8. Should we blame Sadako for starting this trend of ghosts with broken bones? It just wouldn’t be as scary unless they were all hunched up and dragging their feet, right?

9. “There’s no you without me.” These hugot lines are basically everywhere.

10. I couldn’t wait for a local rip-off (“Brownout”?) where the climax would be the mother (preferably Lotlot de Leon) shining brightly and killing the darkness monster because she’s the…Ilaw ng Tahanan. Whee!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆