THE SPY WHO DUMPED ME (Susanna Foggel, 2018)

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Good for a few laughs. Kate McKinnon could say or do anything and I’d be laughing my head off. Sadly, this was the kind of corny action-comedy that you’d watch on cable on a slow Sunday afternoon.

(An old man spent a good ten minutes talking on his cellphone giving directions to Cubao and I didn’t mind at all. It was that kind of movie.)

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published August 5, 2018.)

MALEDICTO (Mark Meily, 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Maledicto:

1. It had been two days already and I still couldn’t get over the fact that I paid Php335 to watch this exorcism comedy. Ano bang masamang espiritu ang sumapi sa akin kahapon? Seriously, I could have used that money for a month’s worth of Netflix subscription so I wouldn’t need to leech off my bff’s account anymore. Besides, this was the kind of cheapie horror film meant to be seen on TV on a late Sunday night while battling a serious case of insomnia (an effective cure, for sure).

2. Tom Rodriguez (who might also be affected by Maynilad’s water shortage given his constantly constipated, hadn’t taken a dump in three days look) played Father Xavi, a psychiatrist turned priest (ooh career shift!) that didn’t believe in demonic possessions. As a man of science first, he assumed that there was always a logical, non-spiritual explanation on these supposed otherworldly events.

When asked to perform an exorcism on a possessed kid, the skeptic in him looked for signs that the boy was actually suffering from a medical condition. His initial diagnosis? “Madumi ang ngipin. Baka hindi lang nagsisipilyo.” Hek hek hek!!

3. In the late ‘80s, Phillip Salvador portrayed Father Balweg, a Catholic priest who founded the militant group Cordillera People’s Liberation Army. Father Xavi tried to one-up the said rebel priest by doing such un-holy, mej bad boy stuff like excessive drinking and smoking while playing a somber piece on his piano. His brashness was also evident when dealing with other people, like when he had this conversation with Sister Barbara (Jasmine Curtis-Smith):

Father Xavi: “Ok, I’ll help you, but I get to call you Barbie because your name’s boring.”

Sister Barbara turned Barbie: “Shige ne nge!”

Kaloka ka Sis!!

4. Non-sponsored plug: the screen in Evia was crystal clear and merited the exorbitant ticket price. The movie’s production team probably forgot that these cinemas exist though because in the first scene alone, the bruises on Mara’s (Inah de Belen) face looked like she just had too much fun with the Vice Cosmetics line.

Several scenes were noticeably out of focus and I just kept getting distracted by that hazy filter that blurred the edges in most frames. In terms of visual effects, I couldn’t determine where the swarm of flies came from in the scene where Mara had her mouth open ala The Mummy (parang they were just traumatized by her bad case of halitosis). And in what tacky club/bar would we see these ribbon strips dangling from the ceiling? Que horror!!

5. One of my favorite, laugh-out-loud moments was when Agnes (Miles Ocampo) chased an askal in this eskinita and then it turned on her and bit her. Sabay labas si Manang Sisa (Liza Lorena) who grabbed her bloody hand, looked at her palm, and said something like, “Gusto mo ba malaman sino ang magiging boyfriend mo?” and everything was just forgotten. Gurrrl, never heard of rabies?!

Side note: Agnes supposedly got possessed by the demonic doggie spirit so in the succeeding scene, she was shown wearing skimpy clothes and displayed her new goth look. Anak ng demonyo! Who made this movie? My grandmother?? (Or maybe it was just the rabies?)

6. First time to hear a voiceover while a character was flipping through a book: “Ahh, here it is!”.

Also, first time to see a person’s name crossed out during the end credits. Kawawa naman si Russel Remo.

7. During the exorcism, psychiatrist turned priest and probably turned chef Father Xavi started pouring mounds of salt around the bed. Hala, may balak pa ata siya gawing daing si Agnes! (But wait, wouldn’t her extended, wagging tongue make a better lengua instead?)

8. So there was a sub-plot slash twist about the Church’s cover-up on demonic possessions by equating them with drug use related to a coven of witches with horoscope signs on their palms. Would this be tackled further in the possible sequel that was hinted at by a mid-credits sequence? Juskong mahabagin!!

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

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.)

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: ★★★★★