NOTTING HILL (Roger Michell, 1999)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Notting Hill:

1. No matter how many times I tried to repress the memory, I would never forget that I once played Julia Roberts as Anna Scott for a skit about absolute love (how apt!) in a college Philosophy class. Long story short, I couldn’t make the Hugh Grant character William Thacker believable since I obviously lacked his puppy eyes and boyish charm so our group leader thought of reversing the gender roles where I ended up voicing (since I apparently wasn’t too pretty to be Anna as well) the female part.

We recreated that entire iconic bookstore scene and I delivered the “I’m just a girl standing in front of a boy…” line with an awkward high pitch that sounded like Lani Mercado’s wicked witch in the Sleeping Beauty episode of Mga Kuwento ni Lola Basyang. Our presentation obviously bombed (all those confused looks would continue to haunt me in my dreams) and I walked out of that class feeling like Vivian in Pretty Woman getting thrown out of a posh boutique in Rodeo Drive (and since this was real life, I didn’t even get a redemption scene).

2. Julia may have won her Oscar for Erin Brockovich, but her performance here would probably be my most favorite. Sure, the woman with the (then $15M) megawatt smile was basically playing another version of her rich and famous, A-list celebrity persona, but the fact that she gamely poked fun at herself (loved it when Anna pointed at her nose and chin when asked about her cosmetic surgeries) and revealed the sadness beneath all the fame and glory was really admirable.

Her Anna character was also completely flawed (and actually bordered on being despicable with just the way he treated William) and yet I still really, really wanted to be her friend (to the point that it would also be an honor for me to have her in my loo). Her best scene was at the dinner table where everyone was trying to win that last brownie and her face displayed the longing to experience the kind of love that the mortals (er, William and his friends) had.

3. Speaking of that dinner scene, I could easily pinpoint the part where I would immediately start sobbing every single time I’d watch this film. It was when Bella (Gina McKee) explained that she deserved the last brownie for having the saddest life because she was stuck in a wheelchair and could not bear kids. This was followed by a shot of her husband Max (Tim McInnerny) silently giving her this look of genuine love. Romantic or not, we all deserved someone just like him.

(Their other scenes that made me bawl my eyes out: when he carried her upstairs for the night when William decided to sleep over at their house and when he couldn’t afford to leave her during the climactic chase scene and carried her inside the car. Hala, just thinking of these made me teary-eyed again!)

4. A lot of people would probably knock this film down for being too formulaic to a fault, but it shamelessly peddled itself as a fairy tale so I didn’t mind at all (“This is the stuff that happens in dreams, not in real life.”) A huge Hollywood star falling in love with a commoner who looked like Hugh would be the ultimate fantasy, right?

Comical meet cute, set of kooky friends (Rhys Ifans’ Spike as the standout, course), soundtrack of sappy love songs (Ronan Keating’s When You Say Nothing At All >>> Alison Krauss’ version tbh), final romantic declaration of love, all tropes utilized to maximum effect. It was surreal, but nice.

5. I had a (fortunately) short phase where I pretended to be a charming Brit ala Hugh and ended up sounding like a post-Kabbalah Madonna. I replaced my “Susmaryosep” with “Whoopsie daisy” and “Ay tae!” with “Shickity brickity”, but those didn’t stick. Foreign catchphrases and accents were never really my thing. I couldn’t even properly imitate an American accent when I worked as a call center agent that resulted to one customer referring to me as a weird Hawaiian guy.

6. Spot the cameos: Matthew Modine! Alec Baldwin! Mischa Barton! Emily Mortimer!

7. That one long take of Ain’t No Sunshine with the changing seasons was really lovely. I would one day be able to visit Portobello Road Market and that iconic blue door. Who would be willing to fund my London trip?

8. “For June who loved this garden. From Joseph who always sat beside her.”

“Some people do spend their whole lives together.” ❤️❤️❤️

9. I didn’t really need this film to make me realize that some people could influence you to do something better or be a better person even if they had hurt you, but it was nice to be reminded of this with every viewing. #whogoat

10. “The fame thing isn’t really real, you know?”

A huge star ready to give up everything for love? Your move, Bebe Idol Sarah G. Rooting for your happy fairy tale ending as well.

Rating: ★★★★★

MY CANDIDATE (Quark Henares, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on My Candidate:

1. This would have made an effective Perception vs. Reality meme, a political rom-com that perceived itself to be incredibly hilarious but in reality barely mustered any laughs from its duped audience. Its strained humor was corny to say the least and lost all the welcome whimsy that director Quark Henares effortlessly displayed in Keka. If it got one thing right, it was that the local elections (and all the surrounding hoopla, cringe-worthy campaign ads and all) were a joke.

2. Shaina Magdayao played Billie Pono, a life coach slash communications expert slash public relations adviser that I would never hire if ever I went crazy and decided to run for public office. Think of her as a hip, younger, less-fashionable Olivia Pope meets a clueless Sandra Bullock in Our Brand Is Crisis.

Her idea of feminism was wearing a peek-a-boo black bra under a sheer top while teaching other women how to be prim and proper and land a decent job (sorry, I forgot to mention that this feminist also helped a horndog celebrity prepare his speech after cheating with a married woman, then promptly lied about it when she said “Trabaho ko na palabasin ang tunay na pagkatao ng kliyente ko”). She also had the audacity to call out other women that dressed like pampams to work. She never once dressed professionally (she’s hip remember?) while working for Congressman Sonny Suarez (Derek Ramsay), but would be the first to discuss the importance of styling to look respectable and gain people’s trust.

3. The list didn’t end there, though. Said Congressman was running for a Senate seat so Billie invited him in a noisy public bar to have a private discussion, got him wasted until he sang Teeth’s Laklak on stage, prepped his staff through a hiphop explosion technique and by rapping Legit Misfitz’s Jabongga…wait, shouldn’t she be a coach on The Voice instead?

4. The role of Billie could have been saved by a genuine comedian, but Shaina just wasn’t the best person for it. I adored her in Four Sisters and a Wedding where everything just felt more natural.

On a different note, I noticed that she had really nice hands, the type that never did laundry her whole life. Also, I immediately knew I was going straight to hell because the very first thing that popped in my head when she appeared onscreen was the thought of her killer kepslock.

5. Some of the lines here almost triggered my epileptic seizures:

• Congressman grieving his father’s death: “Siguro naman gets ng mga tao bakit malungkot ako.” (I guess, but di ko gets why you used gets.)

• Congressman on initially meeting Billie: “Babae ka pala? Akala ko ba Billy?” (2016 na po Congressman.)

Of course, that prompted Billie to dish out the age-old explanation: “Ang tatay ko kasi matagal na gusto magkaanak ng lalaki blah blah blah…”

• Congressman’s staff on his ex: “Para siyang tulo na ngumangatngat sa ano mo.” (What?! No matter how much I disliked my ex, the worst I would call the person would be a heartburn. Disclaimer: I don’t hate any of my exes. I love them all. In a friendly ex way, of course.)

• Opponent Congressman Vera Sanchez (Iza Calzado who brought so much class on such a thankless role) on poaching Billie: “I’m hiring you because you effectively turned his campaign around” and then a minute later said “Now is the best time to switch kasi bumababa na ang numbers niya”. (Huh? If his numbers were dropping, didn’t that make Billie a failure?)

6. Congressman Suarez had three people in his campaign staff and all of them were crazy (including an incredibly annoying and screechy chief of staff played by Nico Antonio; Tolayts, what happened?). He didn’t seem to belong in any political party. He gave out boxes of Century Tuna as relief goods. His favorite song was Mambobola (ooh, ZsaZsing fan!). I bet the audience was really rooting for him to win.

7. Thank God for Ricci Chan channeling Bretman Rock. I laughed out loud every time he showed up. Ditto for Ketchup Eusebio as the filthy roommate with a gigantic member (obviously inspired by Rhys Ifans’ Spike in Notting Hill).

8. Wait, weren’t there twelve slots in the Senate race? Why were these two battling it out like it was the Presidential post? Rappler even had a debate with just the two of them and Ces Drilon had a special election count covering the tight race for the number 12 slot per region. I actually wished there was a tie so they could have settled it with a coin toss. Now that would have been as funny as Derek with a handful of hair.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

ANONYMOUS (Roland Emmerich, 2011)

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This is probably the first Roland Emmerich movie that I liked without feeling guilty after. It’s a big departure from his senseless action flicks.

Imagine a retelling of Shakespeare’s story as read on Page Six and you get pulpy good fun ala Shakespeare in Love. Only as a tragedy.

The entire British cast is spectacular, especially the majestic Vanessa Redgrave.

Rating: 4/5