KNIVES OUT (Rian Johnson, 2019)

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A very modern and clever murder-mystery that went beyond the whodunnit tropes and skewered topics such as social inequity, immigration policies, and… Hallmark movies starring The Wonder Years’ Danica McKellar?! (That last bit made my laugh echo in all four corners of the theater.)

Sure, any amateur Hercule Poirot could have guessed the ending pretty quick (plus I would have preferred less telling and more showing), but it was still a pretty enjoyable ride.

And what a wonderful ensemble!! (If I had to choose my faves though, I’d go for Ana de Armas, Christopher Plummer, and the hysterical Toni Collette.)

That entire donut speech alone probably deserved an Oscar nomination.

Rating: ★★★★☆

THE HOUSE BUNNY (Fred Wolf, 2008)

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Such a guilty pleasure!!

It’s even a treasure trove of my favorite quotes:

“The eyes are the nipples of the face.”

“Instead of the mahi-mahi, may I just get the one mahi because I’m not that hungry?”

“Kindness is just love with its work boots on.”

“Who knew steam can be hot? I wonder what they did when Marilyn Monroe did it. They probably added soothing botanicals to the steam rising from the manhole. I like that word. Manhole.”

Seriously though, Anna Faris deserved an Oscar nomination for her terrific performance in this movie.

It was also nice to see some of my faves like Emma Stone, Kat Dennings, and Katharine McPhee here. Where my Zetas at? Where my Zetas at? Where my, where my, where my Zetas at? ❤️

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published July 2, 2017.)

FORD V FERRARI (James Mangold, 2019)

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As someone who wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a carburetor and radiator (and had the best nap during The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift), I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this racing drama slash male ego-fest.

Best viewed in a theater with excellent sound system. I watched it in the ATMOS cinema of Ayala Malls Manila Bay (sponsor me please!!) and I braced for impact every single time a race car zoomed past the screen.

Terrific ensemble cast led by Matt Damon and Christian Bale (“The bloody door won’t close!!!”), with the latter probably headed for his nth Oscar nomination.

Rating: ★★★★☆

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.)