MOVIE REVIEW: WONDER (Stephen Chbosky, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

I would usually advise people to bring a box of tissues to an obvious tearjerker, but this time I would also suggest that you include a bottle of water. I was probably crying on every littlest thing from start to finish that I was completely dehydrated by the time the end credits rolled.

Hearing the thoughts and watching the experience of Auggie Pullman (wunderkind Jacob Tremblay from Room), a kid with major facial deformities trying his best to survive in the real world was just heartbreaking. He referred to his birth as a punchline in his parents’ lives. He walked the school halls face down to avoid the blatant stares. He was subjected to severe bullying and branded as contagious. One kid even asked if he only ate special food. Completely depressing stuff.

The magic of the film though was that even if it occasionally wallowed in emotional manipulation, it was still an uplifting and heartwarming story about love and support from family and friends and that whenever we’re given the choice between being right or being kind, we should always (always!) choose kind.

I really liked that the story was told from different perspectives and showed how the lives of the people around Auggie were affected as well. My favorite point of view was from his selfless sister, a teen that often felt neglected because her sibling understandably needed more attention and compassion. Why couldn’t we all be like her?

And could the Academy please give Julia Roberts a much-needed nomination for her fantastic performance as the patient and occasionally overbearing mother? The scene where she was explaining that our face was a map that showed us where we’ve been could have been incredibly cheesy, but it worked because of her innate sensitivity as an actress.

The film did need a bit more trimming especially towards the end and it would have been more realistic if it didn’t have such a clean resolution where everyone suddenly transformed into better versions of themselves.

Even Auggie will agree that at the end of the day, no matter how flawed we may be, we all deserve a standing ovation, at least once in our lives.

Rating: ★★★★☆

MOVIE REVIEW: 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE (Dan Trachtenberg, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on 10 Cloverfield Lane:

1. If it were the end of the world and I would be evacuating to the nearest shelter, one of the very first things that I would pack as well would be clean (relatively newer) underwear. I wouldn’t want strangers (and future neighbors and/or friends) judging me for having bacon undies. Speaking of, I heard that there were really bacon-scented briefs and boxers for sale in some stores. Wouldn’t this pose a problem if you were caught sniffing yourself (or worse, other people’s privates) in public? (I mean it’s bacon! Who couldn’t resist?)

2. Loved the opening credits interspersed with the car crash scene. It immediately screamed horror movie (or rather HORROR MOVIE!!). Maybe that was one of the reasons why I was a tad dissatisfied with this sequel. I was expecting a grand payoff that just didn’t happen.

3. I had flashbacks of Saw when Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, rocking a white tank top and black non-bacon panties) realized that she was chained to the wall inside a cramped space. When it was further shown that she was (deliberately?) trapped in an underground bunker, I then remembered Room and started to experience claustrophobia yet again. I would never survive living below ground or I would stay true to the phrase “six feet under”. When she had to squeeze through the tiny air ducts, I had to reach for my inhaler because my lungs just stopped functioning.

4. The first two-thirds of the movie was a great psychological thriller that played on a group’s growing paranoia. Howard (played by the excellent John Goodman) was such a shady person and acted like a psycho beneath that teddy bear figure. All of the bunker scenes were really well-staged that when one of the characters was able to escape and the movie started linking itself to the original Cloverfield, I felt cheated and wanted a refund. Such a wasted opportunity. (FYI, if you saw the trailer and one of the posters, you actually had seen the entire movie.)

5. Could anyone help identify that local commercial where they used Frankie Avalon’s Venus as the theme song? I swear it was a soap or beauty product commercial and I have lost a lot of sleep trying to think about it. Anyway, I really loved the soundtrack that included I Think We’re Alone Now and Tell Him (no, not the Barbra and Celine showdown, but Ally McBeal’s go-to song).

6. When they showed the pair of rotting pigs that died after getting exposed to the air outside, I had a terrible feeling that the twist might be similar to The Happening. Now that would really be horrific.

7. While watching Michelle stitch the wound on Howard’s forehead, I was reminded of our Home Economics high school teacher that would give a double and triple zero score if you couldn’t identify the difference between a running stitch and a backstitch. I still didn’t know what those extra zeroes meant to one’s grades, though.

8. Does perchloric acid work the same as hydrofluoric acid (frequently used by Walter White and Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad) in terms of body disposal? I’m asking for a friend.

9. I was so upset that Cannibal Airlines wasn’t real. It sounded like a really fun horror flick. Probably wouldn’t have been as disappointing, too.

Rating: ★★★☆☆