DIVERGENT (Neil Burger, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Divergent:

1. Although the take on factions was interesting, almost all of the elements here were seen and done in previous, more superior movies.

2. I might have missed the explanation but what were the tests for if everyone had the right to choose their faction? Where was the Sorting Hat when you needed it?

3. If the Dauntless group was the cool crowd, why weren’t the rest joining them? I know I would have even if I could barely lift my right leg. Who wouldn’t want to be popular?

4. Was I the only one bothered that brother and sister Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort will next play dying lovers in The Fault in Our Stars? Now that was one way to ruin another adaptation.

5. Tris and Four make seven. But seriously, will this make sense in the sequels? (You can PM me the details.)

6. I was happy to see Shailene flex her acting muscles here, making her character more empathetic. I still think she was robbed of an Oscar nomination for The Descendants.

7. Shailene and Theo James had really good chemistry. I wish the movie didn’t have to push for those cringe-worthy, Twilight-y lines. Oh, and Theo reminded me so much of Christopher Gorham.

8. Of course, Kate Winslet will always be the best thing in any movie (obviously a fanboy here). It must have been refreshing for her to be fully clothed all throughout the movie.

9. I really liked the songs by Ellie Goulding and Zedd, though.

10. FITZ!!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published March 24, 2014.)

WONDER WHEEL (Woody Allen, 2017)

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High camp soap opera about a married woman and her stepdaughter fighting over the love of one man (wink, wink). Ang kapal lang ni Allen, but I always end up liking even his most mediocre work.

In a less political year, (Drama) Queen Kate Winslet who has mastered the role of a lonely/bored/trapped/desperate housewife would have been nominated for an Oscar. And this was also Allen’s best-looking film to date, no?

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published March 22, 2018.)

THE SIXTH SENSE (M. Night Shyamalan, 1999)

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I’m never watching this in the shower again. I was too scared to even blink for a second (what if an old woman suddenly appeared in front of me?) that I ended up getting shampoo in my eyes. And then I didn’t want to open them again right away because what if an old woman was standing right in front of me huhu.

Also, justice for Haley Joel Osment and Toni Collette!! That car scene alone deserved Oscar wins.

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published March 3, 2019.)

HER (Spike Jonze, 2013)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Her:

1. I really liked Her, but I still couldn’t understand all the talk on Scarlett Johannson’s snub for Best Supporting Actress. Really?

2. Joaquin Phoenix, though. He just kept giving us these brilliant performances every year that you’d begin to wonder why he didn’t have a boatload of Oscars.

3. I loved those high-waisted pants. Retro was the future of fashion. Trust Spike Jonze to mess with our heads.

4. BeautifulWrittenLetters.com. LetterLater.com. A love letter would always be one of the sweetest forms of communication. An online love letter could suffice.

5. Who wouldn’t fall in love with Siri? She knew everything and usually followed your orders. It was destiny.

But even an iOS girlfriend might break your heart. Love sucks.

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published February 28, 2014.)

NEBRASKA (Alexander Payne, 2013)

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My notes on Nebraska:

1. Simple yet powerful, mundane yet life-affirming, dark yet funny, and gorgeously shot in black & white.

I really have a penchant for old people movies (see 2012’s Amour). I find the last years of someone’s life very fascinating. Does that make me weird and creepy?

2. Bruce Dern deserves an Oscar for his excellent work in this movie. Plus he’s the father of Laura Dern. Now I have lots of reasons to love him.

3. It would be hard to classify this film as an all-out comedy but I was laughing in almost every scene from start to end. Alexander Payne has mastered the art of dark humor (see also Election and About Schmidt).

4. I feel like I would get a verbal whipping if I don’t mention the wonderful work of June Squibb. She was a natural and possibly one of a few actresses who could call a dead woman a slut and still sound funny and honest.

5. Remember those misleading “You won a million pesos!” or “You won a brand new car!” complete with a key promos in those bulky Reader’s Digest envelopes? I fell for those as a kid. My mom did, too. She even subscribed for a year (of course she’ll reason out now that she wanted to read the articles). Marketing’s such a bitch.

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published February 25, 2014.)

THE SHAPE OF WATER (Guillermo del Toro, 2017)

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I wasn’t too comfortable with where the story headed and I was mildly indifferent with the love story, but there were just so many scenes that made me want to stand up and cheer (if Del Toro wins that Directing Oscar next week, I won’t be complaining). Terrific performances all around led by the endearing and silently enigmatic Sally Hawkins.

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published February 21, 2018.)

PERIOD. END OF SENTENCE. (Rayka Zehtabchi, 2018)

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“I’m not crying because I’m on my period or anything. I can’t believe a film about menstruation just won an Oscar…

A period should end a sentence, not a girl’s education.”

– Zehtabchi receiving the Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published February 25, 2019.)

BOMBSHELL (Jay Roach, 2019)

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Really surprised that this wasn’t an Adam McKay film.

I felt bothered that the old lady seated next to me kept giggling when Roger Ailes (a terrific John Lithgow) asked ambitious associate producer Kayla (well-deserved Oscar nominee Margot Robbie) to hike her skirt up higher. A fellow woman was getting sexually harassed right before her and her initial reaction was that of amusement.

But the very fact that I let out a chuckle when Ailes verbally accosted Fox News host Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) with the line “Nobody wants to watch a middle-aged woman sweat her way through menopause” only meant that I was part of this huge problem.

We just live in a sick world and we’re oftentimes complicit to the horrors happening around us.

Rating: ★★★★☆

ALL IS LOST (J.C. Chandor, 2013)

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My notes on All Is Lost:

1. If you hate silent movies, scenes that stretch on without a lot happening, or just hate life in general, then you can avoid this one. It’s a powerful, meditative story of one man’s survival. Nearly wordless, but oh so beautiful.

2. Robert Redford was magnificent.

3. Robert Redford was magnificent.

4. Robert Redford was magnificent.

5. He was robbed of an Oscar!!

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published February 12, 2014.)