MOVIE REVIEW: UNFRIENDED (Levan Gabriadze, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Unfriended:

1. The power of social media is really scary. Cyberbullying now seems like a norm whenever any viral picture or video comes out. This film cleverly takes on these topics and adds a paranormal twist in the mix. I’ll probably be staying off Skype for the next few weeks.

2. The movie seemed to have been shot Birdman-style with one, long continuous take. The first few minutes might test your patience but once the tension starts, it won’t subside until the very last scene.

3. I watched this in a room full of teens and the movie, as expected, played surprisingly well. I guess people that are averse and unfamiliar with current technology (Skype, Facebook, Instagram, Google, iTunes) would not feel the whole impact (read: stress levels).

4. There were a lot of explaining that happened which seemed a bit off for this particular movie. For example, how can an internet savvy person not even know what an internet troll means? Or how to play Never Have I Ever?

5. At one point, the lead shared her screen and never disabled that setting but private conversations continued to be held after that. Did I miss anything?

6. These kids type really fast. It takes seconds to complete whole sentences. I barely passed Typewriting 101 so I’m jealous. Yes, it was an actual subject in high school.

7. Finally, we have teens behaving like real teens. No wonder everything felt genuine. And I actually cared about them in the entire 80 minutes that I’ve known them. They will be missed.

8. The scene where she Googled, “Val seizures” generated a lot of laughs because it was just on point and a natural reaction by anyone in that same situation.

9. 15GB download in less than a minute? I want that internet provider!! Wait, then why are the screens still buffering?

10. As with any found footage movie, it stops getting real once the characters continue filming even in emergency situations (in this case, people bringing their laptops everywhere).

11. Why didn’t the Facebook conversations not have the normal chat history? The screen just refreshed every time.

12. Never have I ever felt this scared/tense since the first Insidious. And this wasn’t even the typical horror movie. It was just a really good thriller. Definitely worth a watch. Start liking.

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published May 1, 2015.)

MOVIE REVIEW: V/H/S (Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Ti West, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, Radio Silence, 2012)

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I’m not a huge fan of the “found footage” genre but the technique worked pretty well in this anthology. People expecting an out-and-out horror movie would be disappointed, but it still provided chills when one least expected them.

The episode that really stood out for me was “The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger”, a creepy Paranormal Activity meets The X-Files short seen through a Skype conversation. The rest of the episodes involved possessed demons, lesbian lovers, lake killers, and possibly a manananggal (succubus, my ass).

Scary good fun!!

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published August 24, 2012.)

 

MOVIE REVIEW: YOU’RE STILL THE ONE (Chris Martinez, 2015)

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My notes on You’re Still the One:

1. The movie started with Maja Salvador and Dennis Trillo playing high school students engaged in a debate on the Y2K bug. It was in English so we all knew Maja had no chance of winning that one.

2. Dennis looked like his face was filtered twice using Camera 360. I swear it was glossier than the film.

3. Maja wore a wig presumably borrowed from Dora Go Dong Hae.

4. During a family dinner…

Son: (joking) “Bakit Ma, nagahasa ka din ba?”

This was supposed to be funny? I didn’t get it.

5. Dennis: “Sino bang nag-imbento ng kalibugan? Diba si Lord?”

All the old ladies in the cinema gasped in horror.

6. Dennis stopped his lovemaking with Ellen Adarna to place a fake mole on her batok (like Maja’s) using a pentel pen. Couldn’t he just use his imagination?

7. As a lawyer, Maja should have known better than to match an orange top with a white blazer and a purple bag. That outfit was a crime.

8. Why is it always winter in the US/Canada in these Skype calls?

9. Bakit laging pa-demure mag-kiss si Sir Chief?

10. Just in case you fell asleep, Maja recapped everything that happened in the movie during the final scene. Salamat!!

11. Nasa Baclaran ang forever. Pero wala talagang forever. #arayqbhe

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published May 28, 2015.)

MOVIE REVIEW: NEVER NOT LOVE YOU (Antoinette Jadaone, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Never Not Love You:

1. You know how in a relationship you’re willing to look beyond the faults of your partner simply because you really like/love the other person? I felt the exact same way about this gorgeously-shot, well-told long-distance relationship film that was eerily similar to Drake Doremus’ Like Crazy from its London setting down to the bittersweet montage of memories ending. It couldn’t have been all just a coincidence, right?

2. For a love team that prided itself as Team Real, it was a joy to watch Nadine Lustre (as Joanne) and James Reid (as Gio) in a mature love story that wasn’t afraid of ruffling conservative feathers (I found it funny that I was very much that old lady in the corridor during the moving in scene that lamented, “Mga kabataan talaga ngayon!”).

I also admired the gutsy decision of not upholding/protecting any wholesome movie star image by having them play characters that looked, sounded, and acted like any authentic young adult. Smoking a cigarette? Living together outside of marriage? Expletives-filled shouting matches? Post-coital bed scene? I could just imagine a horde of grandmothers shrieking “Santissima santa!” while clutching on to their plastic rosaries and JaDine’s all like “C’mon guys, it’s 2018!”.

3. As a South person that couldn’t even maintain a relationship with an ex who relocated to Quezon City, I wouldn’t be the best advocate slash strong believer of a long distance romance (mad props for people that could sustain this kind of relationship, though). The challenges were made more blatant in this movie when the only form of communication between Joanne and Gio consisted of Skype calls. They basically lived in two separate worlds where time difference was the least of their concerns. This level of commitment alone triggered a major anxiety attack on my end.

4. Sobrang ganda ng cinematography. It reminded me so much of Wong Kar-Wai’s films (I suddenly pictured a bunch of cinephiles raising their eyebrows right about now). If you hadn’t seen any of his stylish films, this could serve as your introduction (then move on to In the Mood for Love or Chungking Express).

Also, how were they able to shoot all those lovely motorcycle scenes? Ang galing!

5. I wish James could work more on his accent so that he would be able to deliver his Pinoy lines more comfortably (it would also give him a broader range of characters outside of the typical conyo or Amboy). Side note: I had a good laugh though when he said “May mustard po kayo?” at the carinderia.

I still sympathized with Gio even if his character was an unlikable immature brat (seryoso, may lalaki lang kasama si Joanne sa club maninira na agad ng gamit?). And he was probably one of the few local actors that could deliver major kiligs with a line like “Maybe I don’t want you to wear other guys’ helmets”. Hongkyut!

Anyway, his accent was the only distraction in an otherwise heartfelt performance (I’m still amazed whenever he would cry on cue, with his best scene in bed feeling an overwhelming sense of comfort and contentment that his girlfriend agreed to move with him to London. Those silent tears just spoke volumes.)

6. Speaking of tears, I think everyone would agree that this was Nadine’s best performance to date. Everything about it screamed “I’m a serious actress!” that would definitely put her in the running for next year’s awards derby. My favorite scene was when she was driving her new car with the entire family in tow and her usually disapproving father (Rez Cortez) touched her arm and her face showed a mixture of pride, relief, and happiness. For a relatively quiet and subtle moment, it just had so much impact. Damang-dama ko siya dun.

7. Of course I cried during that “Wag kang lilingon” scene. I cried even more when Joanne didn’t look back the second time around.

Also, ang sakit sobra nung linya na “You’ve become the Joanne that you’re supposed to be…. but without me.” Waaaah!

8. Some of their issues felt a bit petty, no? When Gio shouted at Joanne (“Kung gusto mong umuwi, eh di umuwi ka!”), did it really merit a slap on the face? I thought you both swore to never not love each other?

9. Now let’s discuss that polarizing ending. I know a lot of people that hated how the resolution felt rushed or that the final scene was vague, but that was the exact reason why I found it to be perfect.

My interpretation of it was that Joanne felt trapped in the relationship. Things were just not the same as they used to be. Their exchange of I love yous already lacked genuine emotion and felt very perfunctory. There was an immense sadness in her eyes when Gio said that he would be returning for good. She didn’t show much excitement during his last visit either. And the clincher, hindi sya lumingon sa second airport scene. It was sad to see a doomed relationship even before the screen faded to black.

10. As a final note, this production was notoriously plagued by so many controversies that I was surprised at how good things actually turned out. In the end, was everything worth it?

Rating: ★★★★☆

MOVIE REVIEW: STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI (Rian Johnson, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Please tell me I wasn’t the only one totally shipping Kylo Ren and Rey. There was just so much sexual tension between them (good vs evil!) that their awesome lightsaber battle (set in scorching crimson red, of course!) felt very much like the kinkiest foreplay. They wouldn’t even need to bother with Skype because they could easily see and talk to each other via their minds (so Kylo just happened to be topless at one point, really?). My only concern was that even with the reveal that Rey’s parents were nobodies, they could totally switch this up a few films from now. Let’s not forget that the greatest love team in this series ended up in incest (still not as eww-worthy as parts I-III, though).

Daming ganap. Even with multiple storylines and a 2.5 hour running time, in the end nothing much really happened and they just basically rebooted the entire franchise. It reminded me of these RPG video games with several side quests that although entertaining only served as a distraction to the main story. I guess it was a bit understandable though since the main story simply revolved around a Resistance ship trying to get away from the First Order. How many ways could you make a ship running out of fuel exciting, right? On the other hand, did we really need that lengthy casino scene?

Also, why did they have to make Luke Skywalker such a bitter, grumpy old man? I could imagine the crushed hearts of fanboys that waited a long time only to see him nonchalantly toss away his lightsaber (was that meant to be funny?). In one scene, he was even supposed to kill a young boy (horrors!). Why the sudden change? Was it because he kept drinking that spoiled-looking green milk from a non-cow creature? (Sabagay, an upset stomach creates a monster out of me as well.)

So those shiny crystal animals just happened to lead the group out to safety? How convenient! And I wasn’t a fan of those critters that were obviously included for easy laughs. Besides, was there anything funnier than a seemingly dead Princess Leia suddenly regaining consciousness and flying ala Superman in outer space back to her ship?

I felt bad that Laura Dern and Benicio del Toro were underutilized in this movie to give way for the Finn and Rose love story. It was a fun and cute caper, but that kiss generated as much heat as winter in Siberia. I was also a bit distracted because Rose looked very much like Ate Kimmy Go Donghae. Every time she would abruptly show up on screen, I expected her to scream, “May sale sa Lazada!!”.

Rating: ★★★☆☆