HUSTLERS (Lorene Scafaria, 2019)

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Siguro it’s time for a career shift.

Also, Jennifer Lopez is really coming for that Oscar and I’m all for it.

Rating: ★★★★☆

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THE BODYGUARD (Mick Jackson, 1992)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Magagalit sa ‘kin nanay ko kasi favorite niya ‘to. Pero this recent rewatch confirmed na it really failed as a romance flick kasi walang spark at all between Rachel (Whitney Houston) and Frank (Kevin Costner). Mas may chemistry pa si Tita Whitney sa microphone niya kaya masaya yung musical numbers.

So supposedly nanuod lang sila ng Yojimbo at nag-role play ng samurai eh mahal na nila agad isa’t-isa. Ito siguro yung movie equivalent ng Cheeze Whiz. (Ano nga ba yung Pinoy film na sobrang copy nito including yung pagbuhat after the assassination attempt? Parang kay Ate Shawie siya pero di ko maalala.)

Sayang kasi interesting pa naman si Rachel bilang Oscar winner (Best Actress talaga? Hahaha!!) at huge diva na mahilig mag-ukay ukay. Tapos dun sa obsessed fan plot eh naalala ko yung rabid na KathNiel na nag-threaten na sasabuyan ng acid sa mukha sina Liza at Nadine sa ABS CBN Ball.

Still one of the best film soundtracks, though. Syempre meron ang nanay ko na cassette tape na pinapatugtog niya every single day kaya memorized ko lahat ng kanta sa side A from I Will Always Love You to Jesus Loves Me. Eh di ending ako ang naging Queen of the Night. Chz.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

AD ASTRA (James Gray, 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Grabe ‘teh! Good call talaga na hindi natuloy ang plan ko manuod sa IMAX with Laser ng Evia. Dun lang ako sa Dolby Atmos cinema nila pero nahilo na ako at di nakahinga sa scene na nag-freefall si perpetually sad astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) from outer space to earth.

Akala ko aantukin lang ako sa film kasi medyo traumatized pa ako sa pretentiousness (ay sorry, profundity daw) ng Interstellar at Solaris (the Soderbergh remake), but I survived naman with my major buttered popcorn and large iced tea from Taters (very Krissy lang, sana i-sponsor na nila ako). I can’t say the same for the rest of the audience. Meron mga mahimbing ang tulog habang yung isa eh walang ginawa kundi mag-check ng cellphone (pasalamat siya at five rows ahead siya sa akin kaya di ako pumatol).

I guess tama yung mga nagsabi na this might not be for everyone. Puno kasi ng introspective voiceovers about the meaning of life and relationships (“In the end, the son suffers the sins of the father”) ang pelikula kaya medyo slow ang pacing. Halos bumagsak ako nung Philo classes ko back in college kaya hirap na hirap sumabay yung utak ko dito.

Meron naman mga major ganap every so often (yung mala-Mad Max: Fury Road lunar chase scene, yung baboon na puno ng angst, etc.). Masaya din mag-isip kung ano yung mga space-related films ng cast (every time nagsasalita sa recorded video si Liv Tyler, naaalala ko ang Armageddon at kung bakit mas gusto ko ang Deep Impact).

Natawa ako dun sa space shuttle na naghatid kay Roy sa moon kasi very Cebu Pacific at lahat may bayad. Kulang na lang sumigaw yung FA ng “Snacks for sale!”. Interesting din na ang daming mahahabang hallways sa lahat ng hubs dito, including yung sa Mars. Mayaman talaga ang Amerika. Tapos yung futuristic room na may moving images reminded me of Black Mirror’s Fifteen Million Merits. Nung blooming flowers yung background, sobrang ganda at pwede na ma-post sa One Perfect Shot (o alam na, strong contender na naman si Hoyte van Hoytema for Best Cinematography sa Oscars next year).

But the best thing about this was Brad. Ang expressive ng mga mata niya lalo na sa scene na nananawagan siya sa father niya (the always masungit Tommy Lee Jones) na matagal na di nagpaparamdam. Imagine mo na lang kung gaano kahirap maghanap ng missing tatay sa bawat sulok ng mundo. Eh paano pa kung sa Neptune diba? Walang-wala lahat ng daddy issues ninyo.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

THE READER (Stephen Daldry, 2008)

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“I don’t think we really need another film about the Holocaust, do we? It’s, like, how many have there been? You know, we get it, it was grim, move on. No, I’m doing it because I’ve noticed that if you do a film about the Holocaust, guaranteed an Oscar.

I’ve been nominated four times, never won. And the whole world is going, ‘Why hasn’t Winslet won one?’

That’s why I’m doing it. Schindler’s bloody List. The Pianist. Oscars coming out of their arse.”

– Extras S01E03 (“Kate Winslet”)

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published September 5, 2017.)

MISERY (Rob Reiner, 1990)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

I would have wanted to see a more menacing Annie Wilkes chopping off the feet of Paul Sheldon or running over Sheriff Buster with a lawnmower, but this was still a really good adaptation of one of my favorite Stephen King novels.

Even better, it had Kathy Bates delivering a phenomenal Oscar-worthy performance. Inasmuch as I was rooting for Paul to finally escape, I still felt bad when he hit her over the head with a typewriter. Made me feel bad for a villain? I’m your number one fan, Ms. Bates!!

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published September 4, 2018.)

TULLY (Jason Reitman, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

For all the mothers who have sacrificed their physical, mental, and emotional states and have given up their hopes and dreams just to raise their usually unappreciative kids.

For all the husbands who think that being a good provider is sufficient enough to fulfill their role as fathers.

For all the kids who never understood the meaning of gratitude and maternal love except during Mother’s Day.

(Sad that a fully committed Charlize Theron’s not getting much Oscar buzz for her amazing work here.)

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published August 30, 2018.)

THE BUTLER (Lee Daniels, 2013)

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Pure Oscar bait but it was indeed a phenomenal Oscar-worthy film.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler was a powerful look at the rich history of African-Americans in the US and their struggles amidst brutal racism.

There were so many effective moments that incited fear and sadness with their lucid depiction of living as a colored person.

Forest Whitaker deserved another Oscar for his spectacular performance as the subservient turned subversive title character.

Oprah Winfrey was phenomenal as the wife. The big-names supporting cast proved to be a bit of a distraction but were fine, too.

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published August 26, 2013.)

GONE GIRL (David Fincher, 2014)

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“Friends see most of each other’s flaws. Spouses see every awful last bit.”

Gone Girl was great as a murder-mystery-thriller. It was even more brilliant as a commentary on the absurdity of marriage. Watch now.

Ben Affleck was so good in making us doubt him, seeth with anger, and yet sympathize with his amoral character. Probably his best work in years.

The real star though was Rosamund Pike, cooing her lines like the most twisted angel. She was just brilliant. An Oscar nod please!!

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published October 16, 2014.)

BIRDMAN OR (THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE) (Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Birdman Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance):

1. I had always associated Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu with the intersecting stories narrative where major characters in his films had their lives connected and intertwined (FYI, I really loved Amores Perros, Babel, and 21 Grams). It was one big gimmick that worked for me. I wasn’t surprised that his newest film relied on another gimmick (“one long continuous take”) to drive the story.

2. Off the bat, people would either love this or find it completely boring. There were so many insider jokes on cinema and theater and the arts that might just go over their heads. As one character stated, “Audiences love action, not this talking philosophical bullshit.”

3. Michael Keaton looked like Robert Duvall whenever he wasn’t wearing a wig. He was excellent here by the way. The mere fact that he agreed to make fun of his current status (washed up actor who used to be Batman!) was just brave. If Al Pacino could win for all the scenery-chewing in Scent of a Woman, why couldn’t Keaton? I wouldn’t be complaining if he got that Best Actor Oscar.

4. “You confuse love for admiration.” Raise your hand if you were guilty of this.

5. Edward Norton had a lot of nudity here (or scenes that showed him in his underwear or sported a boner). For a more lengthy peek on his gift, you could watch the brilliant American History X. I loved the Norton the Method Actor playing a Norton-ish Method Actor joke.

6. I was initially bothered by the drumming soundtrack. I was expecting Miles Teller to show up practicing in one corner. And then the movie revealed an actual drummer and later on a band in Times Square. I guess the joke was on me.

7. Naomi Watts’ character had this great repartee with Andrea Riseborough’s:

“Why don’t I have any self-respect?”

“You’re an actress, honey!”

8. Speaking of Watts, she was really good in this movie. I was surprised her performance was virtually overlooked against co-star Emma Stone. Everyone knew how much I loved Stone (I even named my car after her) but she was just fine here.

9. Speaking of, there was a blatant Lancome product placement that was here either as a real product placement or as a joke on product placements in movies (or both). With this kind of dark comedy, it was just hard to tell.

10. Similar to Annie, they showed a viral video that was taken from different angles. Probably the only sloppy thing in this film.

11. Did the film miss an Oscar nomination for Best Editing since it really looked like one continuous take? Shouldn’t it have gotten one for making it look like it was one brilliant, seamless take?

12. When Keaton’s character complained about getting overshadowed by Clooney, it was just a wink on the battle of the Batmans. I’d be happy to see a fourth Batman win an Oscar tbh.

13. I hope Wenn Deramas could watch this just for that wonderful takedown on film criticism. I bet he’d have a major meltdown.

14. “A thing is a thing, not what is said of the thing.” This was a sad, sad film. Watch at your own risk.

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published February 1, 2015.)