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.)

MOVIE REVIEW: FRUITVALE STATION (Ryan Coogler, 2013)

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Emotionally-charged film about a real-life tragedy that will question your faith in humanity.

P.S. I’m still surprised that this didn’t get noticed in the last Academy Awards. Michael B. Jordan was phenomenal and Octavia Spencer proved that her Oscar win was no fluke.

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published April 27, 2014.)

MOVIE REVIEW: FURIOUS 7 (James Wan, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Furious 7:

1. So James Wan, the director of torture porn Saw, ventured into automobile porn and actually made a senseless albeit oftentimes fun and always frenetic action movie. His camera was on a perennial adrenaline rush.

2. Iggy Azalea showed up for 10 seconds and said one line and people considered this her film debut. If Judi Dench can win an Oscar for an 8-minute performance, maybe it’s time to bring out the For Your Consideration ads.

3. Whoever said that Jason Statham was walking testosterone could not be further from the truth. Several women probably went out pregnant after the screening.

4. These were my favorite “so bad they’re bad” lines that almost triggered an epileptic seizure due to my constant eye-rolling:

“I have nothing.”
“You got me.”
“I believe in you. I believe in us. That’s all that matters.”

And that final scene where Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) went on an “I remember everything…” aria in lieu of CPR made me fart through my nose.

5. To its credit, the movie promised a lot of explosions and car chases and unbelievable stunts and it delivered all of that and more. All those flying cars were worth the price of admission.

6. That blatant Corona Extra product placement just put My Big Bossing to shame.

7. Every other scene set to a banging hip hop soundtrack felt like an MTV music video. But again, who’s complaining?

8. If I were a billionaire, I would have golden dancers in my party as well. More kitsch, more fun.

9. We all know everyone gets out of a secured prison in time for the sequel. Just ask Magneto.

10. The CGI scenes with “Paul Walker” were a bit noticeable especially when the camera focused on his face. His lanky build was also obvious in the beach scene. The ending was a fitting tribute to him, though. The series just won’t be the same without him.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published April 8, 2015.)

MOVIE REVIEW: THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING (James Marsh, 2014)

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My notes on The Theory of Everything:

1. Eddie Redmayne’s one great-looking guy and it was a blow to my ego that even a deglamorized Eddie with chunky glasses, hollowed cheeks, disheveled hair, and wearing frumpy vests still looked miles better than I do. He was brilliant in this film by the way and fully committed to the physical and emotional transformation needed for the role. He rightfully deserved that Oscar.

2. If someone at a party introduces himself as a cosmologist, how fast will you be out the door?

3. I first heard of Stephen Hawking back in high school because of a genius classmate that read A Brief History of Time from cover to cover. Probably twice. I bet he’s one of the richest people in the world now.

4. Tide (yes, the detergent) had the best product placement in the film with that cheesy but sweet explanation about white shirts and the birth and death of stars. Sigh.

5. I obviously got lost in all the discussions about space-time singularity but I loved all the metaphors from the coffee swirls to the circular staircase to the flash-backwards ending sequence. And for somebody who hated Math, I actually was able to relate to the Mathematical probability of happiness.

6. Felicity Jones was just too darn cute but who knew she was a really good actress, too. The scene where Jane was watching Stephen play a game of croquet was heart-wrenching, all because you could see the disappointment, sadness, and love in Felicity’s eyes.

7. Yes, I bawled my eyes out in almost every scene. Don’t even get me started on that kitchen scene with the couple in bed expressing their gratitude. And that color board scene. Sigh.

8. Jane may be the long-suffering wife but it was a welcome relief to see that she wasn’t the perfect partner. Her love affair with Jonathan just made the characters more flawed and relatable.

9. Do they still have those printer papers with the perforated sides? I miss tearing those.

10. The film will start a lot of discussions on religion vs. science (e.g. How did the universe really start?) and we’d be all the more smarter for it.

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published April 7, 2015.)

MOVIE REVIEW: CAKE (Daniel Barnz, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Cake:

1. Halle Berry did it for Monster’s Ball. Charlize Theron did the same for Monster. Both actresses went on to win Oscars. I guess the no make-up, de-glamorized (literally scars and all) look to win an Academy Award has its limits. Jennifer Aniston was really good here but I still preferred her performance in The Good Girl.

2. Maybe the lack of emotional depth of this movie hurt Aniston’s chances of a nomination. With its heavy themes of suicide, drug addiction, and depression, it should be hitting you right in the gut but it just failed to connect. Although still worth watching, I wasn’t moved by the major dramatic moments (and everyone knows I cry in everything).

3. I felt more sympathy for Silvana, played by the exquisite Adriana Barazza. Why isn’t this woman in more movies especially after her brilliant work in Babel? And why do her characters always have problems crossing the Mexico-US border?

4. Felicity Huffman, Anna Kendrick, Mamie Gummer, Chris Messina, William H. Macy… why are my favorite character actors all here?

5. I completely understand Claire’s addiction on prescription medicines. I just can’t live without using my inhaler every five minutes. I can only imagine how tougher it would be if someone had chronic pain and dependent on Percocet and OxyContin.

6. That scene where the Mexican pharmacist tried to store the pills inside a Mama Mary statue was funny scary. He ended up using a statue of St. Jude which didn’t make it any less sinful.

7. The nurse that took care of Claire was named Malaya. She was mistaken as Imelda and ended up referencing that she did love shoes. #PinoyFried right there.

8. Isn’t Claire Bennett also the name of Hayden Panettiere’s cheerleader in Heroes? Save herself, save the world.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published April 6, 2015.)

MOVIE REVIEW: 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.)

MOVIE REVIEW: 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.)

MOVIE REVIEW: 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.)

MOVIE REVIEW: 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.)