THE CRUCIBLE (Nicholas Hytner, 1996)

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Abigail Williams (Winona Ryder) inciting mass hysteria that played on people’s fears and religious zealotry just because she was denied a married John Proctor’s (Daniel Day-Lewis) big dick energy had to be one of the most villainous turns in cinema (and literature) history alongside that little lying witch Briony (Saoirse Ronan) in Atonement.

I related the most with Martha Corey (Mary Pat Gleason) who mockingly laughed at the devious fainting girls and said, “What else are fools good for?” which was obviously the equivalent of our local version of “Tingnan mo ang mga tangang ‘to!”.

Rating: ★★★★☆

LADY BIRD (Greta Gerwig, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Lady Bird:

1. Whenever my mom and I would have an argument, her go-to line of defense was “Pinapasok pa naman kita sa Catholic schools…”. Which might also be her disappointed way of saying that this early, my soul was already burning in hell. Sometimes I’d wonder what happened to me as well. Did I not learn anything from all the years of Christian Living classes from grade school to high school plus the twelve units of required Theology in college? Were these schools being oppressive in shoving religion down our young throats that some of us ended up being rebellious? Or was I just being pa-cool in thinking that these teachings were way beneath me? One thing was for sure, though. My mother would always be in Church every Sunday to pray for my burning soul.

2. I really loved the depiction of the mother-daughter relationship here. When the film opened with Christine aka “Lady Bird”(Saoirse Ronan) and her mother Marion (Laurie Metcalf) bonding over an audiobook of The Grapes of Wrath inside their car, it was a picture of love and happiness. In a matter of seconds, the harmonious atmosphere turned into a passive-aggressive verbal showdown with one of them jumping out of the moving vehicle. It was hilarious, frighteningly real, and completely relatable. Seriously, how many times have we considered flinging ourselves outside of a car just to avoid the nastiest sermons from our mothers? Getting run over on a highway would probably hurt less than hearing the worst sumbat coming from them.

3. The screenplay (also by Greta Gerwig) was infused with so much wit that I was reminded of Juno (the one where Ellen Page played a heavily opinionated pregnant teen) and peak Diablo Cody. Some of my favorite lines were:

• Lady Bird speaking the truth: “The only thing exciting about 2002 is that it’s a palindrome.”

• Marion on sticking to the shopping budget: “That’s what rich people do. We’re not rich people.”

• Brother Miguel when her date arrived to pick her up for prom: “Lady Bird wants to make an entrance. She’s mad we don’t have a spiral staircase.”

• Sister Sarah during the school dance: “Six inches for the Holy Spirit!” (Thank goodness I went to a co-ed school!)

• Post-sex Lady Bird after learning that her boyfriend (Timothée Chalamet) wasn’t a virgin: “I was on top! Who the fuck is on top their first time?”

• Boyfriend’s response as consolation: “You’re going to have so much unspecial sex in your life.” (Soooo true!!)

4. Hand in my Pocket, Crash Into Me, Cry Me a River, The Crossroads. The soundtrack of my life.

5. Ronan was terrific in the lead role (acne and all). Although she had some noticeable slips with her Irish accent, she fully captured the essence of Lady Bird that I was crying along with her when she received the school letter saying that she was waitlisted.

Metcalf was the perfect foil for her, with every line and movement capturing the mother we all loved and hated. Her airport car scene alone that didn’t require any dialogue, just her face showing a range of emotions, deserved an Oscar nod. She wasn’t even in the scene with the letters and I kept thinking about her and bawled my eyes out.

And what else to say about Chalamet exuding so much charisma that I just brushed off the fact that his character climaxed after just five seconds?

6. On her eighteenth birthday, Lady Bird excitedly purchased a pack of cigarettes and a copy of Playgirl. I could easily relate because I spent my entire teenage years wishing to be eighteen so I could finally watch an R-18 film in cinemas. (Wait, did you think that I wanted my own copy of Playgirl?)

7. Essential viewing if your mom’s also your best friend. Watch it with her and share a box of Kleenex.

Rating: ★★★★★

THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR (Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Huntsman: Winter’s War:

1. One of the best decisions made in this unnecessary prequel/sequel was the removal of Kristen Stewart, whose Snow White was already sleepwalking through the first movie even before she bit into the poisoned apple. If I were that bored, I would probably be sleeping with my married director, too.

The other good thing was bringing back the wonderful Charlize Theron, fully inhabiting the role of wicked Queen Ravenna, truly the most enchanting creature in that mythical land. I wasn’t even sure why she had to listen to her gong-like golden mirror lie that she wasn’t the fairest of them all. Seriously, in what world would she be less gorgeous than anyone (molting gold or otherwise)? Oh right, this was a fantasy.

2. Wait, what happened to the vanity story? Did Queen Ravenna have the King killed as well because he had fairer, more younger-looking skin than her? I expected her to be shallow, but I didn’t realize that she was this unexplainably treacherous.

3. It was obvious that Liam Neeson provided the voiceover here because every time I felt my eyelids drooping, I could actually hear him saying, “I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. But if you fall asleep, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you” and I would be fully awake once again.

4. With the current weather, I think Ice Queen Freya (played by Emily Blunt) would be the perfect BFF. Forget airconditioning, her touch alone would send literal shivers down your spine. Plus, wouldn’t it be fun to sing-along to Let It Go while she cast these icicles all around you? You could probably borrow her gorgeous outfits for Halloween, too. (First dibs on the one with the divine train.) And don’t get started on that polar bear fit for a grand entrance in any formal party.

5. Just so people wouldn’t forget that Chris Hemsworth was surrounded by talented actresses and was still part of the movie, he got his own topless tampisaw sa batis scene. Will those abs be front and center in Thor: Ragnarok as well? Asking for a friend.

6. Speaking of talented, I couldn’t believe that Jessica Chastain actually accepted the thankless role of female warrior Sara where she had to go full pabebe mode (refer to Anna Kendrick in Mr. Right) even if she was way too old for it. Besides, her weird accent sounded like a cross between Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn and Madonna after visiting England. Whatever happened to our Oscar dreams?

7. “Love ends in betrayal. Always.” Oh my, Sara was even more jaded than my friend Alfrenette (not her real name) and this was a girl whose heart got trampled on by the most evil queens on the planet. Sara, similar to what I always told my friend, all you really needed was some good *** (it was pie, just in case you were curious).

8. Great, we’re stuck with just two dwarves and they ended up to be Grumpy and Chubby (and their girlfriends). They were supposed to be the funny ones, but were just mildly entertaining. Wait, that makes me sound both grumpy and chubby! Argh!!

9. Similar to Mara Clara, I immediately knew that that eternity necklace would figure prominently in a key scene. (“She is not Cupid. I doubt that an arrow to the heart is an expression of her love.” Har har!) And that hanging bridge? Of course it would get cut off.

10. I hear Ravenna and I think Mulawin.

11. More questions about the movie:

* Why did they have to fight Ravenna if all they needed to do was destroy the mirror? Were they too scared to have seven years of bad luck?

* Why didn’t the Ice Queen use her freezing powers to stop the bleeding? Hadn’t she heard of a cold compress (or cryotherapy)?

* Why didn’t the frozen dwarves shatter into tiny ice pieces similar to what happened to Ice Queen’s boyfriend? (And don’t tell me it was because he fell down to the ground.)

12. Seriously, I had this really strange theory that the Ice Queen’s daughter wasn’t killed and that it was Snow White, thus her name (and Kojic soap complexion). No wonder I’m an unemployed writer.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

BROOKLYN (John Crowley, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Brooklyn:

1. One nice character gave this friendly advice to our heroine, “Nothing fancy, you wouldn’t want to look like a tart”, and that line perfectly captured the essence of this old-fashioned and formulaic but ultimately lovely and well-told film.

2. The said character also gave a checklist of do’s and don’ts in Immigration (“Think like an American”, “Whatever you do, do not cough”) and it brought out my weird fears passing through the same lines whenever I visited another country. There would always be this voice warning me that the officer would find something anomalous in my passport or discover an error in the system and that I would immediately get sent back home. It always felt like I was entering the gates of heaven as soon as I got cleared from the Immigration counter. Best part of my trip every time.

3. I have great admiration for people that work abroad or completely migrate to another country. It takes a lot of courage not only to start a new life in a different world but also to leave the place that you call home. Just the thought of being away from my bed for a week triggers a nervous breakdown. Father Flood (Jim Broadbent) mentioned in the movie that “Homesickness is like most sicknesses. It will pass”, but that definitely wouldn’t apply to me. Living miles away from my bathroom will be the death of me. (Again, a salute to our hard-working and fearless OFWs!!)

4. I’ve never tried riding a ship to travel (the closest experiences would be the SuperCat we took from Cebu to Bohol and the TurboJet from Hong Kong to Macau) and based on these ship stories (including Titanic), it might never even happen. This film was set in the 50’s and I’m sure the conditions have changed since then but that scene where Eilis (a terrific Saoirse Ronan) took a dump in a pail because of seasickness will forever haunt my dreams.

5. Julie Walters as the snappish boardinghouse owner Mrs. Kehoe was so delightful that I was surprised she didn’t get an Oscar nomination for this role. I loved the entire conversation regarding Eilis’ greasy skin that ended with Mrs. Kehoe asking if the Bible stated what brand of soap is best to use. When she mentioned that “Giddiness is the eighth deadly sin”, I actually believed her. Her character was the direct opposite of that haughty store owner slash town gossip Miss Kelly who berated a customer for buying shoe polish on a Sunday. These old women were really something.

6. Were you also curious to know how the cashier tubes worked? I actually imagined an underground room full of goblins similar to the Gringotts in Harry Potter.

7. Eilis wore these really gorgeous ensembles (usually a dress and cardigan combo) that wouldn’t be out of place in Jessica Day’s closet. It’s time to plan a 50’s theme party.

8. I first saw Emory Cohen in Smash as the annoying mopey son of Debra Messing and I was surprised to see him bring a natural zest in the role of Italian-American lover turned husband of Eilis. I giggled a bit though in the scene where Eilis tried to rest her head on his shoulder because Saoirse with heels was about an inch or two taller than Emory. Such a cute couple (and not in a Tom Cruise-Nicole Kidman way).

9. The audience was obviously affected by Eilis’ every move. They let out a loud collective gasp in the scene where she simply hid the letters of her husband without reading them. Even I was so engrossed that my mind kept screaming “Malandi! Haliparot! Kerengkeng!” when she started to fall for another man (Domnhall Gleeson, or Dumble Gleeson if you’re Leonardo DiCaprio).

10. Was I the only one bothered that the ultimate reason for her decision was because she got caught by the town gossip? Did she really need a wake-up call to remind her of her married status? My ultra-conservative side wanted her to swim all the way back to Brooklyn as penance. Ang perfect ko kasi!!

Rating: ★★★★☆