MOVIE REVIEW: LOVE YOU TO THE STARS AND BACK (Antoinette Jadaone, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Love You to the Stars and Back:

1. As a kid, I believed everything that my mother told me. I would immediately take a shower after getting drenched in the rain to avoid getting pulmonya. I would forego that extra cup of rice during dinner lest I end up dying of bangungot. I never went to bed with wet hair because I didn’t want to wake up crazy and dragged all the way to the basement of Makati Med. I was proud of my huge ears because they meant that I would live a long life. I also ate an entire roasted lizard because it was supposedly a cure for my asthma.

I wasn’t surprised at all that young Mika (Julia Barretto) swallowed up all the alien talk of her soon-to-be-departed mother (Carmina Villarroel). I mean it would be nice to believe that E.T. (yes, as in “E.T., phone home!”) would one day abduct me and bring me to the stars so I could observe EDSA traffic from above. In Mika’s own words, “Walang imposible sa mundong ito. Kelangan mo lang maniwala.”

2. So Mika decided to look for aliens in Mt. Milagros (fictional place, right?) somewhere in Batangas and the very first thing she bought as supplies were…Choco Muchos?! Please tell me this wasn’t a blatant product placement (similar to that succeeding Oppo selfie) and that she was really a junk food junkie. Also, would Sapporo now be considered the official beer of Pinoy love stories? Better luck next time Red Horse Litro.

3. Leo Martinez had always been the token Batangueño character in Pinoy cinema and his accent (read: punto) would always be played for laughs. I was happy to see a different version here represented by Caloy (Joshua Garcia, another true-blue Batangueño), but I wish he kept the accent all-throughout the film just for authenticity (sadly, the ones by the supporting cast were spotty at best).

Joshua made up for it though with such a strong performance that displayed his versatility. The John Lloyd Cruz comparisons made during Vince & Kath & James were even more obvious (and justified) here. Naiiyak ako habang pinapanood lang sya umiyak, whether he was telling the story of how his father abandoned them over a plate of tapang kalabaw, or peering through the gate while getting rejected by said dad, or calling his mom to assure her that he was okay. Nanay pa niya si Cherry Pie Picache so wag na umasang di ka maiyak.

(I think the only weakness of Joshua would be his fake laugh because, well, it felt fake. Bawi naman sa pa-karug. Har har.)

4. I loved how the characters here bonded over the grossest things, making them more human and their relationship more relatable. Their meet cute moment actually involved pooping and pissing in a talahiban (another mother’s advice: always say ‘tabi tabi po’ to prevent the wrath of a nuno) and since a significant part of the movie had them inside a car, I was happy when somebody actually farted (with a round of finger-pointing after, of course!).

5. Wait, so Caloy was sick and he decided that the best way to go from Lemery to Calaca (this would be like going from Southmall to MOA ba?) was on a bike?

6. The manong manok character was definitely me to millennials: “Ang babata n’yo pa, ang lalandi n’yo na!”

Mika was able to provide a good defense though: “Bakit kung uso na ang cellphone nung EDSA Revolution, hindi rin ba kayo mag-selfie?!” Touché!

(Another Titas of Manila moment: my brain kept screaming “Eyes on the road!” while they kept making landi in a moving vehicle. Ay josko ka!)

7. Goldie, their pet chicken, was left in the car while they ate lunch. Buti hindi naging Chickenjoy pagbalik nila.

8. I was never really fond of Julia because of her rumored kaartehan and perceived brattiness (I read a lot of FashionPulis, sorry!), but she definitely proved her mettle here. Not only did she look and sound very much like her Aunt Claudine, she actually acted the exact same way.

I especially liked her in that bridge scene where all of her emotions just felt raw and natural. Any lesser actress would have disappeared amidst the powerful presence of Joshua. She also had this really cute (albeit bittersweet) scene with Mika imagining that Caloy was still in the passenger seat. All it needed was her playfully saying, “Mukha kang chewing gum na masarap nguyain.”

9. Although it had elements similar to The Fault in our Stars (and even Your Name), the film overall was still distinctly Jadaone. Iba pa rin ang magic niya kapag usapang pag-ibig. She always knew the right blend of kilig and drama.

I really liked how this was able to differentiate itself from TFIOS by showing the ugly side of cancer. It would be hard to forget that heartbreaking scene with Caloy all covered in his own puke and blood, trying to pretend that nothing was wrong with him. Also, it had one of the most unromantic (pero damang-dama pa rin) declarations of love in cinema. Move over, Ansel and Shailene!

10. “Walang sigurado pero minsan kelangan mo lang maniwala.” I now believe in you, JoshLia. Elyen!!

Rating: ★★★★☆

MOVIE REVIEW: GODS OF EGYPT (Alex Proyas, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Gods of Egypt:

1. Although I was more fond of Greek and Roman gods and goddesses, I was also very fascinated with the Egyptian mythology. I probably enjoyed The Mummy series more than I should have only because of the inclusion of deities like Amun-Ra and Anubis.

I loved the excessive elegance of ancient Egyptian civilization (the majestic Pyramids and Sphinx, the lavish ornaments and costumes, the riveting lives of Tutankhamun, Nefertiti, and Cleopatra, etc.). I even had a period in my life where I would always eat grapes while sprawled on the couch pretending that I was being fed by servants.

2. Oh, so gold was running through the veins of these gods instead of blood. Forget dugong bughaw. I want to be a dugong ginto. I would just bleed myself every now and then and I would never have to work another day in my life. (The groaning sound you just heard was from my very disappointed parents.)

Besides, who wouldn’t want to be showered with petals everywhere you went? (“Mga alipin, pupunta ako ng Southmall. Isaboy ang mga kalachuchi!”)

3. The movie received a lot of backlash for its whitewashed cast (even if its bigger problem was the lack of a coherent story). I was indeed confused since Brendon Thwaites with his curly locks and toned body (and aptly named Bek) looked like a Greek twink that just came from a month-long escapade from Prague. Jamie Lannister and King Leonidas played dueling gods and even Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush was here playing the bald cousin of Gandalf.

4. Have you all seen that cult classic Dark City? It was an outstanding sci-fi thriller about a man framed for murders that he couldn’t remember committing (and now that I had thought about it, sounded like a chronological variation of Memento). It was also directed by Alex Proyas and starred Rufus Sewell. I also had no idea what they were doing in this awful mess.

5. As a kid, I loved playing with flying beetles, more popularly known as salagubang. I would tie a string on one of its legs and twirl it like an out-of-control balloon. If you tied two of them on opposite ends, you would actually create a pinwheel effect. (I’m so sorry, PETA!)

The giant salagubangs in this movie looked more fun to play (or ride) with. Of course, I was more amazed with the beast that looked a giant vagina with teeth, but that would be a different playtime story.

6. Ooh, SilverHawks! Wait, that should have been GoldenHawks.

7. Apparently in the afterlife, there was a group of Cebuana Lhuillier alaheras that will determine your entry to the cosmos door (or whatever) so one had to be rich or your soul will get pulverized. I noticed that one side of the weights only had a feather and the trinkets just had to be heavier than that. I guess Tita Annabelle Rama’s place in the afterlife is more than secured.

8. Over two hours? Really? Talk about a GGSS movie.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆