MISS CONGENIALITY (Donald Petrie, 2000)

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So which one will I sing (S-I-N-G?) today?

“From sea to shining sea, like lady liberty…”

Or…

“You think I’m gorgeous. You wanna date me. You wanna kiss me…”

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published September 6, 2017.)

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BLACKHAT (Michael Mann, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Blackhat:

1. The movie opened with a great sequence showing information traveling from various circuits and transistors until it finally triggered an explosion in a nuclear reactor.

2. After that scene, basically nothing happened onscreen for the next thirty minutes. That was one incredibly long bathroom break. I couldn’t believe this was from the director of The Insider, Heat, and Collateral (oh, wait).

3. Do you remember those badly-dubbed Chinese movies shown every Sunday morning on Channel 9? This movie had its own version of that. Only the Chinese characters were speaking Chinese. And it was still badly-dubbed.

4. Lust, Caution would always be one of my favorite Ang Lee films. I was so happy to see Tang Wei and Wang Leehom reunite here. Watch that movie and not just for the good (wink, wink) parts, ok?

5. Poor Viola Davis had to wear a horrible wig. She’s a lovely and smart woman. Why did she allow this kind of treatment from Hollywood?

6. Speaking of hair, how did Chris Hemsworth maintain that perpetually brushed up hair? Did they have industrial hairblowers in prison?

7. I loved the Asian tour with the movie jumping from Hong Kong to Macau to Malaysia and finally to Indonesia. I’d never seen Kowloon Station ever deserted, though.

8. One crowd scene had men pointing guns at each other and people barely noticing. It needed a gunfire before the stampede started. Really?

9. So many IT jargon. My head almost exploded.

10. If you want an exciting digital age thriller, you’d be better off watching the cheesy Sandra Bullock flick The Net. I couldn’t believe it was shown twenty years ago.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published January 25, 2015.)

PASSENGERS (Morten Tyldum, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Passengers:

1. I could never be an astronaut. Just the thought of putting on a helmet (and the fear that my head would get stuck in it) had given me endless nightmares. I almost fainted when I saw that viral video where a teenage girl got her head caught in a pumpkin. Suffice to say, I wouldn’t survive in a spaceship even if I were in suspended animation for 120 years (because I would eventually wake up and immediately die of claustrophobia).

2. I wasn’t the biggest fan of recent space sci-fi movies (Elysium, Interstellar, not even the critically-lauded Gravity), but an interesting trailer that promised a few thrills and my fondness for Chris Pratt since Guardians of the Galaxy was enough to draw me in. Well, thank goodness for his cute butt because I really wasn’t expecting this to be a comedy.

3. The Avalon’s voice sounded very much like that soothing theme park voice you hear before boarding a ride in Disneyland. For our local version, I would like to suggest that we get the Ate voice from Uniqlo that courteously thanks all customers for “shahpeeng”.

4. Pratt was still charming as ever here, but it ultimately became his downfall. Even during the dramatic moments, it was just hard to take him seriously. Like he was trying to keep a straight face while giving these directions: “We need to find something big, something broken, something wrong.” He could very well have been talking about the screenplay. (Also, he looked cute in a scruffy beard.)

5. A lot of vicious reviews called this clunker “Titanic in Space” and I could understand why. As the biggest fan of that disaster flick (shamelessly, still my favorite film of all time), I remembered it so much in the following scenes:

• The langit-lupa situation of the doomed lovers, where he flew coach and could only get the normal cup of coffee while she belonged in the gold section that could choose between a macchiato and a French cream blend. (One of the reasons why I enjoy flying Cebu Pacific: no class distinction, everyone can only purchase the same “Snacks for sale!”.)

• Remember when Rose felt lonely and abandoned and wanted to jump off the ship? Yup, somebody here also felt terribly alone and attempted to jump into oblivion (coincidentally, another bad space sci-fi movie).

• “Do you trust me?” and “You die, I die” scenes lifted directly from the sinking ship’s screenplay (which was obviously not its strongest suit to begin with).

• One auto-dock left that could only save either of them. Dying of hypothermia next to a floating door in the ocean was more romantic.

• His one last habilin to “Wake up and you’ll finish what you were supposed to do” sounded very much like “You’re going to die an old woman and have lots of babies…” and then the camera slowly panned to the picture frames with Rose showing that she indeed lived a full life, rode horses, and toured the world and…wait, I needed to wipe away my tears.

6. I loved how Chris and Jennifer Lawrence (in a knockout white bathing suit) were able to maintain their to die for bodies through constant sex on every flat surface. But then again, they were in space and could have gone beyond the Kama Sutra, but didn’t. Imagine the endless possibilities!

7. 19 years to send mail in outer space? Would that be sloth mail?

8. Michael Sheen as the android bartender reminded me of Rosie in The Jetsons. In one scene, I actually thought that Chris was also an android because he was brutally attacked by JLaw and yet didn’t sustain any wounds or bruises. Why?

9. I probably laughed the loudest when JLaw screamed “Come back to me! I can’t live on the ship without you!!”. No wait, it was actually when she pulled the string to bring back a dead floating Chris in space. Now why didn’t Sandra Bullock think of that?

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

 

 

INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE (Roland Emmerich, 2016)

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My notes on Independence Day: Resurgence:

1. Similar to a Michael Bay classic, I would always watch a Roland Emmerich movie with below zero expectations and so I entered the theater armed with a tub of popcorn and a large Pepsi ready for some mindless alien action and global destruction. Hey, this was the director who was fond of destroying national landmarks and gave us disaster (literally and figuratively) flicks such as the first Independence Day, Godzilla, The Day After Tomorrow, and 2012. How bad could this sequel be, right?

Well, Emmerich just took a dump in Hollywood, flung his excrements onscreen, and it resulted to this stinker that just cost me two hours of my precious life. Will Smith made the best decision of his career by not being involved with this dud.

2. One would think that twenty years after the original, the visual effects here would be mind-blowing. Unfortunately, they looked even worse than those used in the 1999 bomb Wing Commander (which reminded me, what ever happened to Freddie Prinze, Jr.?). Heck, even the ones in the original 1977 Star Wars were better. What was left to watch?

3. I first liked Bill Pullman back in his matinee idol days when he stole his brother-in-a-coma’s girlfriend Sandra Bullock in While You Were Sleeping. Most of my female friends fell in love with him though as Christina Ricci’s father in Casper (and no, I wasn’t saying they had daddy issues). Seeing him now all wrinkled up with gray hair made me feel really old (although I think those female friends would now call him a DILF).

4. The lame attempts at humor were so bad that I was audibly groaning in my seat, although I (unintentionally) laughed out loud whenever the Asian commander gave the scientific names of different species. I could actually picture Kuya Kim saying things like, “At ang tawag sa alien na ito ay alienatus chararata hango sa salitang chararat na ang ibig sabihin ay panget na alien.”

5. I knew I was watching something terrible because:

• New characters were introduced an hour into the movie (more fillers, more fun!).

• My favorite scene was when Vivica A. Fox promised her son that she was not going to die and then plunged to her fiery death a few minutes later (what spoiler alert? I just saved you time and money).

• The end credits listed five screenwriters and they couldn’t even give one decent line to indie darling Charlotte Gainsbourg.

• I cared more about the dog’s safety over a bus full of human characters.

6. So wait, it took twenty years of planning on the aliens’ side and they still could not come up with a decent strategy to take over the world and prevent Liam Hemsworth from peeing before them? Well with that sneak peek, at least one of them died happy.

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: ★★☆☆☆

OUR BRAND IS CRISIS (David Gordon Green, 2015

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Our Brand Is Crisis:

1. From the very start, Sandra Bullock’s character Jane Bodine set the tone of the movie by saying things like “I could convince myself anything… at a price” or “Truth is relative”. Also called “Calamity Jane” by her peers, she was a political consultant/strategist (think a less-fashionable Olivia Pope in a scruffy beige jacket) tasked to clean up the image and campaign of a Bolivian presidential candidate. This movie couldn’t have been any timelier given our country’s current political climate.

2. A lot of the things that were shown here should be familiar to our nation (or any nation for that matter) during election season: a deluge of idiotic political ads with crappy jingles, smear campaigns aimed to generate disgust or fear of an opposing candidate, politicians carrying babies or singing in general assemblies, candidates crying in interviews to generate sympathy from voters. Basically every trick in the campaign book was covered and although these weren’t new to anybody, the scenes were still depressingly hilarious because of its authenticity (fake tears and all).

3. One really funny scene showed the group shooting a lame commercial involving a llama. It ran out of the building and got hit by a car prompting Sandra to say “He’d rather kill himself than be in our commercial.”

4. Politics is a joke in itself so I couldn’t really understand why the movie had to resort to groan-worthy slapstick for laughs. Sandra may be a pro with that brand of comedy but seeing her fall from a broken chair, constantly throw up, moon people, and have trouble closing a van’s window was completely unnecessary. The elastic bra prank didn’t really add anything to the story.

5. Joachim de Almeida who played the Bolivian candidate they were saving looked so much like Eddie Garcia. Look him up.

Also, a lot of the viewers kept saying that he was eerily similar to Mayor Rodrigo Duterte (lagging in current polls, has temper issues, etc.). Duterte’s supporters (Duterters?), there is still hope. You know who to call.

6. The endless quotes uttered in the movie from Sun Tzu to Warren Beatty to Muhammad Ali reminded me so much of Tito Boy Abunda. He would be the type of host that would blurt out things like “Friedrich Nietzsche said, ‘If you fight monsters for too long, you become one'” while asking Angelica Panganiban to confirm her breakup with John Lloyd Cruz.

7. Speaking of quotes, one scene involved a rival campaign manager not doing a fact check before feeding a (mis)quote to his candidate. I guess he wasn’t too smart after all.

8. The Cult of the Cosmic Wind sounded like a group that converged inside my stomach after eating at Mexicali.

9. During the presidential debate, a candidate was asked a tough question about constitutional reform for indigenous people of Bolivia. I was so happy that nobody replied “PILLS!!”, although that would have made a funnier movie.

10. Why do characters always have to grow a conscience in the end? To quote Tito Boy quoting George R.R. Martin, “A good act does not wash out the bad, nor a bad act the good. Each should have its own reward.”

Rating: ★★★☆☆

EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE (Stephen Daldry, 2011)

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I remembered watching United 93 and thought that it was just too soon for a 9/11 film. I was proven wrong though since that movie was raw and powerful without ever feeling exploitative.

Extremely Loud seemed to be the exact opposite (and I wasn’t surprised given Daldry’s filmography). Even with strong performances, everything about this movie felt manipulative. Every scene was perfectly staged to pull at your heartstrings and if that wasn’t enough, the relentless voiceovers were added to do the trick.

Unfortunately, it was just a wild goose chase full of uneasiness.

Rating: 2/5