MOULIN ROUGE! (Baz Luhrmann, 2001)

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I’m definitely Toulouse-Lautrec hanging from a high beam screaming the cheesiest, yet incredibly magical line: “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.” (Truth! Beauty! Freedom! And above all, Love!)

(I still can’t believe that Luhrmann was snubbed of a Director nom. To quote the hilarious Whoopi Goldberg in her Oscar 2002 opening monologue, “I guess Moulin Rouge just directed itself!”)

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published June 27, 2017.)

DARK WATER (Walter Salles, 2005)

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One of the better Hollywood remakes of an Asian horror movie. I liked how it focused more on the psychological drama (maternal love, abandonment issues) and minimized the cheap scares (although I missed the elevator scene, definitely the scariest one in the original).

On the flip side, it was affected by some pacing issues and a wooden Dougray Scott (he was supposed to play Wolverine?!).

I wish Jennifer Connelly didn’t suffer from the Oscar curse (Winter’s Tale! Noah!) because she was just fantastic in this one.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published July 3, 2017.)

 

MOVIE REVIEW: FAR FROM HEAVEN (Todd Haynes, 2002)

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Racism, homosexuality, sexism, and an interracial relationship in an artificially picture-perfect 50’s suburban neighbourhood. How scandalous!

Julianne Moore (spectacular as always) and her gorgeous flouncy skirts can turn anyone gay before the end of Pride Month.

Was I the only one feeling an underlying sexual tension between her character and the help played by a pre-The Help Viola Davis? (Ooh, how juicy!)

Worthless fact: The best scenes of three of the 2003 Oscar Best Actress nominees actually involved trains.

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published June 19, 2018.)

MOVIE REVIEW: AMERICAN BEAUTY (Sam Mendes, 1999)

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“It’s hard to stay mad when there’s so much beauty in the world.”

Annette Bening was phenomenal here, especially in that “Shut up!” breakdown scene. Such a shame that she had to go head-to-head with a brilliant Hilary Swank in Boys Don’t Cry for that coveted Oscar.

Kevin Spacey’s real-life scandal further amped the creepiness factor that weirdly made the film even better. See you in hell, Lester Burnham.

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: IDENTITY THIEF (Seth Gordon, 2013)

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Completely idiotic. It was hard to laugh at such stupidity, especially since this movie didn’t star Adam Sandler.

Melissa McCarthy’s a brilliant comedienne, but this movie was vicious to her and undermined her talent.

I was so sad that an Oscar nominee like her agreed to get hit with a toaster and smashed in the face with a guitar just to elicit laughs.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published May 8, 2013.)

MOVIE REVIEW: CHANGING LANES (Roger Michell, 2002)

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“I believe in the law. I believe in order and justice. I believe that people are by nature good. I believe that historical forces push us into conflict and without the law as a buffer between people, we would have a world of vendetta, world of violence, world of chaos. The law keeps us civilized.”

I remember watching this in a theater in the early ’00s after the late Roger Ebert praised Amanda Peet’s brief but Oscar-worthy performance. After this rewatch, I still couldn’t understand what he was talking about.

I did enjoy the moral battle between Daredevil and Nick Fury. I just wish the ending wasn’t too clean because we all know that really wasn’t how the world works.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published May 2, 2017.)