TAYLOR SWIFT: MISS AMERICANA (Lana Wilson, 2020)

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“If I get bad press for saying, ‘Don’t put a homophobic racist in office’, then I get bad press for that. I really don’t care.

I think that it is so frilly and spineless of me to stand onstage and go, ‘Happy Pride Month, you guys!’, and then not say this when someone’s literally coming for their neck.”

Now that’s what a meme President should actually be doing. I love you so much, Tay-tay!! ❤️❤️❤️

Rating: ★★★★★

TAYLOR SWIFT: REPUTATION STADIUM TOUR (Paul Dugdale, 2018)

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So I just used up my birthday free pass of drunk singing loudly in the neighborhood several months ahead of my actual birthday when I made a videoke session out of this awesome concert film. How could I not if I knew every word of every song in her Reputation album?

And when she said “I would even say it’s something even more than beautiful. It’s like a step above beautiful” and then asked, “What’s the word for that, Dallas?” I pointed at the TV set and screamed my heart out, “GORGEOUUSSSSS!!”

No shame in being a Swiftie.

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published January 11, 2019.)

SILONG (Jeffrey Hidalgo, Roy Sevilla Ho, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Silong:

1. Do you know how those M. Night Shyamalan movies relied on a twist to make the audience think that they’re watching something clever? This one felt exactly like that. I wouldn’t be surprised if people would compare this to other similar films of late (Gone Girl, Return to Sender) or similar torture porn out of Eli Roth’s ouevre or even the camp classic Boxing Helena. Even with all the red herrings thrown in the first hour of the film, all the twists were just too obvious.

2. I’ve read somewhere about this pop culture trope called Chekhov’s Gun. Basically, if a film shows a gun in the first act, expect it to go off in the last act. In this movie, it was a locked door. If you still couldn’t smell the twist a mile away, then visit an EENT.

3. I found a lot of dialogue completely off. It might have been Rhian Ramos’ kolehiyala language but I was still surprised it wasn’t dubbed correctly. Here are some sample lines:

“Papatayin tayo ng asawa ko kung di mo ako tinulungan.”

“Yun ang nakasabi sa bote.”

Even Piolo Pascual had to comfort a crying Rhian with “Tahan na”. Seriously, does anyone still say this to someone over seven?

4. Speaking of Rhian, her acting was unbearable prior to the said twist. She sounded like someone out of an elocution contest (“Alms, alms! Spare me a piece of bread. I am a child so young, so thin…”) To be fair, she got more comfortable after she turned her psycho bitch mode on. And then she started rapping (!!) some Taylor Swift-like bitter lyrics and I almost walked out of the theater.

5. The biggest mysteries in this movie were: a) actually how did Rhian keep that perpetually curled Vidal Sassoon hair, b) why didn’t the young Piolo have his signature mole, and c) why did the pregnant lady have a pillow on her belly?

6. I liked a lot of the shots used in this movie. It created the needed atmosphere for a pseudo-psychological thriller. At least we know what to expect from the directors given a better script.

7. I was happy to see that even dyosas have their flaws. You could clearly see the stretch marks on Piolo’s butt in that much-hyped shower scene. We live in a just and fair world.

8. Wasn’t this the same house used in the new Peque Gallaga Tiyanak movie? That fountain looked really familiar. But the fountain scene here, though. Ugh.

9. Can someone explain that weird Alamat ng Kape? It didn’t even sound like an alamat at all. Or was that the point of the story? Meh.

10. Seriously, in a huge house with dozens of rooms, would you really hide under a table when somebody shouts “Magtago ka!”? Next time, I suggest the big old vase.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published September 21, 2015.)

VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS (Luc Besson, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets:

1. I remember watching the execrable Jupiter Ascending and wishing that it was a ride in Enchanted Kingdom’s Rialto instead. I had the exact same feeling with this newest flick by Luc Besson, something that I should probably have seen in 3D/4DX.

The lack of a solid story would have been forgivable with a more immersive viewing experience (moving seats to match all the chase sequences, blasts of wind from giant ceiling fans, a spray of mist here and there). I was also curious to know the aroma of all those pearls being pooped by the alien armadillos.

2. Kainggit si Ate Avatar. Her prep before an “I woke up like this” Instagram selfie consisted only of a simple facial wash of gold pearls (water-free!) and a few pisil-pisil on her already glowing cheeks. She actually resembled a bald version of Wilma Doesnt, if Wilma ingested a ton of silver and jars of glitter.

3. I know a lot of people that hated Cara Delevingne because 1) she’s part of the Bad Blood squad, 2) they immediately judged her after her snarky (er, frank) comments at a group of elderly morning show hosts while promoting Paper Towns, and 3) they would never ever ever be her. Wait, why do I sound like Tay-Tay? (Answer: I’m a Swiftie and I adore her posse.)

Cara was more of her same sassy self here, trying desperately to create sparks with Dane DeHaan who really looked like her twin brother that hadn’t slept since 2015. I could imagine her rolling her eyes upon reading the part of the script where she was supposed to be hit by the alien king’s crown and had to act funny while fainting cross-eyed. Oh, the things them British had to do to win over the American market!

4. To be fair, this was a visual treat as expected from the same director of The Fifth Element and Lucy. I particularly liked the concept of that CGI market where patrons had to walk around a vast desert while wearing high-tech helmets to see the actual funkadelic stalls.

5. The biggest surprise here was a shape-shifting, pole-dancing, cabaret-performing Rihanna. Sure, the role basically required her to just dance while transforming into a naughty nurse, a naughty school girl, a naughty Roller girl from Boogie Nights, and a naughty French maid among others (if she was a shape-shifter though, why did she choose to always look like Rihanna?), but she brought the necessary sizzle even as a mere voice for her blobby character (best line: “Life’s a drag when you don’t have an identity to call your own”).

I actually stopped caring about the Wonder Twins as soon as she showed up. Her character’s demise signalled the start of another nap in time for the third act.

6. I was a bit distracted by the silver patilya of Clive Owen. Also, Kris Wu. WUW!!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

FIFTY SHADES DARKER (James Foley, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on 50 Shades Darker:

1. After two films, my biggest problem with this series remained to be Jamie Dornan in the role of Christian Grey. Not even his six-pack abs (from his pommel horse workouts?) could distract me from the fact that he wasn’t the incredibly sexy and attractive billionaire lothario that was promised in this ultimate female wish fulfillment fantasy.

He just looked incredibly bored, bland (ooh, like vanilla!), and forgettable amidst all the kinky fuckery. No wonder the lady in front of me was trying to Google him way after the movie had started.

2. Did the director really know the target audience of this chick flick? Weirdly, it actually felt like he was trying to draw in the male crowd with the copious breast exposures of Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele (definitely not the nude johnson women were expecting) and endless scenes of having her panties taken off (I couldn’t understand why she wore them in the first place when she was obviously allergic to them).

Also, why did Christian keep his pants on in almost every sex scene? Asking for a friend.

3. I liked this slightly better than the first (in no shape or form a compliment) simply because it fully embraced its seemingly trashy roots. While the first one desperately wanted to be an artful BDSM movie, this one didn’t even bother trying.

Instead it gave us lots of gratuitous nudity and sex (I choked on my Zagu when she asked him to kiss her on the pepe, how romantic!, and let’s not get started on that elevator finger scene) and taught us the proper usage of vaginal beads, spreader bars, and sensual oils (although that coconut oil scene reminded me so much of Jean Garcia in Impaktita that I was grateful Anastasia’s torso didn’t break free from her waist).

4. Relieved to hear that he had moved on from his Beyonce fetish and the soundtrack now included catchy tunes from Sia, Zayn feat. Taylor Swift, and my favorite track Bom Bidi Bom by Nick Jonas feat. Nicki Minaj. Now that was a credible Xerex playlist.

5. That art exhibit by Anastasia’s creepy friend/stalker was, well, creepy. I also felt bad that Christian purchased all of the artwork but we never really saw any of them anywhere in his apartment.

6. Wait, so he wanted to have rough sex with women that reminded him so much of his abusive mother? For the love of Sigmund Freud, eek!

Was there also a psychosexual interpretation of him having the Chronicles of Riddick poster in his bedroom? Would this explain why Vin Diesel chose to sing Katy Perry’s Dark Horse in one of his vlogs?

7. Poor Kim Basinger looked like she overdosed on botox only to get the Lavinia Arguelles treatment (twice!) in one scene. Pinoy soap opera at its finest! (And please tell me that the shower sex scene was a direct nod to the erotic 9 1/2 Weeks!).

8. There was a tacked-on scene towards the end where Christian’s helicopter crashed and he was magically back onscreen after a few minutes. Huwat?! I surely hoped his bed escapades lasted longer than his disappearance.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

HOW TO BE SINGLE (Christian Ditter, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on How To Be Single:

1. I initially hated Super Fun Night, the now-cancelled ABC series that starred Rebel Wilson as a single woman just wanting to have a great time with her other single girlfriends. The show got much better when it stopped trying to poke fun at the diverse characters’ unconventional lifestyles and just focused on letting them have their much-deserved fun.

2. I felt the exact same way about this movie adapted from a Liz Tuccillo novel (she was also a writer on Sex and the City). It had a good grasp of the joys and oftentimes (frequency depended on your bitterness level) loneliness of singlehood, but it also wanted its women to apologize for acknowledging that they might actually need a man after all. Nothing’s wrong with being single and nothing’s wrong if you’re single wishing to find the perfect partner, right?

3. Taylor Swift’s Welcome to New York should be used in every scene with a person relocating to New York because it’s cheery fun and I’m a certified Swiftie.

4. Dakota Johnson would always be the 50 Shades of Grey girl to me so it was a bit jarring to see her having trouble keeping a relationship and constantly getting dumped by guys that didn’t even come close to the smoldering looks, astonishing wealth, or even kinky fetish of Christian Grey. If Anastasia Steele couldn’t even land a boyfriend in this movie, what more the common tao? (Funny that her name here was Alice Kepley. I know, I have the mind of a twelve year old.)

5. I found it off though that Dakota’s character was the typical helpless woman who needed a boyfriend to reset her router or remove the foreign subtitles on her TV. That wasn’t even a dependency issue. Call customer service. Or read the manual, girl. Magagalit ang Gabriela n’yan.

6. Rebel, as expected, was the movie’s effortless scene-stealer. She was a hoot and generated the loudest laughs whether she was owning the dance floor with an arrow pointing to her crotch, peeing in a Zen garden that she thought was a kitty litter, crawling out of a taxi window, or threatening to tit-punch someone for using an emoji.

The best moment had her describing the deprived privates of Dakota:

“You have a long-term relationship pussy.”
“It looked like you dropped a hairbrush and your vagina caught it.”
“Gandalf is staring at me. No penis shall pass!”

7. “For the record, this is not me leaving. This is you pushing me away.” Did this bring back a lot of heartbreak memories?

8. The Drink Number theory stated that two people should not exceed the total drink limit between themselves (in any combination) meaning if one gets drunk after two glasses and the other after three, then they shouldn’t go over the five drink total or something will happen between them.

This is definitely not true because we all know that “as long as there is alak, there is balak” and no drinking theory can ever stop that.

9. In one scene, a character bumped into her ex’s parents and the mother said “You’re better than her (current girlfriend)”.

If you’re already happy and in a relationship, you’d be brushing this off and just laugh. If you’re still bitter, your heart will be exploding with joy and probably planning another stalking session to get him back.

10. “The thing about being single is that you should cherish it.” Now wouldn’t this be the perfect Valentine’s Day movie even if you’re watching alone (but not lonely)? Cue Hailee Steinfeld’s Love Myself.

Rating: ★★★☆☆