CRY NO FEAR (Richard Somes, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Cry No Fear:

1. In my recent take on the 2008 home invasion movie The Strangers, I expressed my frustrations on the idiotic decisions made by the lead characters in protecting themselves from their tormentors (running inside the house instead of fleeing as far away from it as possible, forgetting the most basic instinct of locking doors, etc.). Very much like in any Carlo J. Caparas massacre movie though, I still felt some sympathy for the victims because they were basically living their quiet lives before these monsters started violating them and their homes.

This movie reminded me so much of The Strangers, except that I was weirdly rooting for the strangers. Why should I even care about these spoiled, privileged half-sisters Kaycee and Wendy (played by Ultimate Kakaibabe Donnalyn Bartolome and Teen Dance Princess Ella Cruz, respectively) when they themselves wanted to kill each other? They even found the time to freshen-up before escaping from their killers because, I dunno, if they were to die they might as well be looking good?

Their poor father (Lito Pimentel) was working his butt off as a washed-up actor forced to dress up as Chewbacca and yet they couldn’t even respect him enough not to gouge each other’s eyes out over breakfast (didn’t they hear him practice the exact same three lines for hours inside his room while wearing that blue girdle that my mom bought from Home TV Shopping to help burn her fats?). I actually cheered when he finally had enough of their bickering and gave each of them a well-deserved spanking (as in pinatayo nya pareho at pinalo sa pwet, like they were a bunch of six-year olds). Go Tatay!!

2. According to Wikipedia, the male gaze is the act of depicting women as sexual objects for the pleasure of male viewers. It couldn’t have been more true here where probably 30% of the screen time involved the camera slowly moving up and down Donnalyn’s kakai-legs while she was in various states of undress. In one scene that doubled as a calamine advertisement, she was talking to her boyfriend on the phone while applying lotion on her (what else?) really, really long legs (made even longer by SM Southmall Cinema’s weird aspect ratio).

The rest of the film spent several minutes ogling the girls’ nubile bodies while wearing a bikini, panties in bed, and in the climactic rain scene (where they took off their shirts because they were fearless and invincible to pneumonia) matching baby bras. Was Viva Films actually paying homage to its early 2000’s soft-core flicks with Rica Peralejo, Maui Taylor, and the Viva Hot Babes where their characters were also allergic to all types of clothing?

3. Speaking of Viva Hot Babes, the maid here named Dory was played by Sheree who spoke with a slight twang and made me initially think that she was their mother. But then all she ever did was collect their dirty laundry (imagine the number of panties she had to wash every day) and cook (it was probably my first time to see characters actually eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner like any normal family).

There was one (terrible) extended scene where she screamed her head off because she couldn’t kill a rat, but I guess she would still be considered a super yaya for rising from the dead after several stab wounds and killing one of the strangers. In one bit, she went missing and the girls had to look for her and so the movie suddenly turned into Finding Dory.

4. My favorite scene in this entire mess though was when the strangers headed straight to the kitchen, brought out a loaf of Gardenia bread, and took a quick snack break. Nakakagutom nga naman kasi manloob ng bahay.

After the snack break, one of them felt the need to play a haunting piano piece while the rest continued to raid the pantry. Newbie thieves would go straight to the master’s bedroom to look for cash and other valuables, but these experts knew the essential items and started hoarding kitchenware and canned goods (plus, a ceramic vase for good measure).

5. I felt really sad when the first to get killed in this movie was the dog Tarzan. This movie should be endorsed by PETA because when the girls were terrorized by receiving Tarzan’s severed head wrapped in plastic, their first instinct was not to call for help, but to bring it back to its grave with the rest of its body (“Ibalik natin ang ulo nyaaaa waaah!”)

Aww, how nice! (Ay wait, pinanghampas pala nila yung ulo to kill one of the strangers in the end so…)

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

THELMA (Joachim Trier, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

When a photosensitive seizure warning was shown before this film, I felt a bit scared because our family had a history of epilepsy and I read online that this could be a latent condition triggered by intensive flashing lights. I made sure that I had my eyes closed throughout that lengthy, agonizing CT scan scene even if I didn’t usually cover my eyes while watching horror movies.

The intriguing opening sequence properly set the tone for this Norwegian version of Carrie. It involved a father, a young girl, a hunting rifle, and a deer. My heart was completely racing when the rifle was pointed instead at something that I didn’t expect. I wonder if PETA would support that decision.

I didn’t completely buy the themes of coming out slash coming-of-age vis a vis religious repression, but I really liked the stunning imagery used here (except for that clumsy Wikipedia part). The most chilling scene involved a search for a missing baby and its subsequent discovery under a frozen lake. Definitely the stuff of (parental) nightmares.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

A DOG’S PURPOSE (Lasse Hallström, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on A Dog’s Purpose:

1. I learned about death at a young age when my puppy Bubbles (breed unknown, probably an askal like most of our dogs back then) met her frozen demise outside our home. I could clearly remember stepping out of our front door that morning and seeing this furry creature lying on its back with all four legs stiffly pointed up. I didn’t scream or call my parents, but I did exactly what I learned from reading all of my fairy tale books: I forced myself to cry. I thought that if my innocent tears were to fall in those dead round eyes, my cute pet would magically come back to life.

She was buried hours later in the then vacant lot across the street. I wonder if our new neighbor ever knew that their house was actually built on top of a pet sematary.

2. I developed an allergy to fur years later (plus I had a traumatic rabid dog experience while biking in our village) so my interactions with animals grew less and less and now had been limited to watching their funny videos on Facebook.

This harmless movie provided very much the same kind of viewing experience. People audibly “Awww”-ed every time a puppy would be onscreen (especially ones that could do awesome tricks) and cried every time one of them would get sick and die. I really wished that there was more to the story though other than the basic one shown in the trailer (that already had me in tears).

3. It felt a bit weird hearing all of the dogs talk like Olaf, but Josh Gad made most of the cheesy lines bearable (and actually funny) like when Bailey Bailey Bailey Bailey first saw his new owner and declared, “I’ve decided right there and then, I’m keeping this boy”.

4. Although it didn’t answer if all dogs indeed go to heaven, it provided a twist on the concept of reincarnation. Did this mean that dogs have souls? What did that make of people that thought they were dogs in their previous lives? Could dogs also have been humans in the past? Would that explain why sometimes I feel like I’m wagging an invisible tail?

5. A lot of time was spent on the least interesting characters that included a boy, his abusive father, doormat mother, and lame love interest. Even if they were needed to tie up the ending, everything that happened to them felt weightless and disposable. Besides, KJ Apa as teenage Ethan had more chemistry with his abs than with the dog. He would better serve his purpose back in Riverdale.

Among the various stories, I felt most connected with the lonely cop. He was onscreen with the dog for a good ten minutes and I instantly understood their bond. That was the only time I actually bawled my eyes out while watching (a disappointment for a Dennis Quaid movie, considering that his previous films were infamous for making grown men turn into a puddle of tears).

6. Even if it crossed over to teleserye territory, it still wasn’t as effective as previous doggie flicks like Marley and Me or Hachiko. Also, there was a scene played for laughs where Bailey dug up a dead cat and brought it back to the kitchen. Your thoughts, cat lovers?

7. So the controversial scene that PETA made a big deal out of wasn’t true after all. I wish the same could be said about that Oro issue. “Lick the ones you love” just had an entirely different meaning. RIP Azucena.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

GODS OF EGYPT (Alex Proyas, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Gods of Egypt:

1. Although I was more fond of Greek and Roman gods and goddesses, I was also very fascinated with the Egyptian mythology. I probably enjoyed The Mummy series more than I should have only because of the inclusion of deities like Amun-Ra and Anubis.

I loved the excessive elegance of ancient Egyptian civilization (the majestic Pyramids and Sphinx, the lavish ornaments and costumes, the riveting lives of Tutankhamun, Nefertiti, and Cleopatra, etc.). I even had a period in my life where I would always eat grapes while sprawled on the couch pretending that I was being fed by servants.

2. Oh, so gold was running through the veins of these gods instead of blood. Forget dugong bughaw. I want to be a dugong ginto. I would just bleed myself every now and then and I would never have to work another day in my life. (The groaning sound you just heard was from my very disappointed parents.)

Besides, who wouldn’t want to be showered with petals everywhere you went? (“Mga alipin, pupunta ako ng Southmall. Isaboy ang mga kalachuchi!”)

3. The movie received a lot of backlash for its whitewashed cast (even if its bigger problem was the lack of a coherent story). I was indeed confused since Brendon Thwaites with his curly locks and toned body (and aptly named Bek) looked like a Greek twink that just came from a month-long escapade from Prague. Jamie Lannister and King Leonidas played dueling gods and even Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush was here playing the bald cousin of Gandalf.

4. Have you all seen that cult classic Dark City? It was an outstanding sci-fi thriller about a man framed for murders that he couldn’t remember committing (and now that I had thought about it, sounded like a chronological variation of Memento). It was also directed by Alex Proyas and starred Rufus Sewell. I also had no idea what they were doing in this awful mess.

5. As a kid, I loved playing with flying beetles, more popularly known as salagubang. I would tie a string on one of its legs and twirl it like an out-of-control balloon. If you tied two of them on opposite ends, you would actually create a pinwheel effect. (I’m so sorry, PETA!)

The giant salagubangs in this movie looked more fun to play (or ride) with. Of course, I was more amazed with the beast that looked a giant vagina with teeth, but that would be a different playtime story.

6. Ooh, SilverHawks! Wait, that should have been GoldenHawks.

7. Apparently in the afterlife, there was a group of Cebuana Lhuillier alaheras that will determine your entry to the cosmos door (or whatever) so one had to be rich or your soul will get pulverized. I noticed that one side of the weights only had a feather and the trinkets just had to be heavier than that. I guess Tita Annabelle Rama’s place in the afterlife is more than secured.

8. Over two hours? Really? Talk about a GGSS movie.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆