MOVIE REVIEW: THE FOREST (Jason Zada, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Forest:

1. Aokigahara Forest lies on the base of Mount Fuji in Japan and is more popularly known as Suicide Forest. According to locals, it’s a place where people left their sick or disabled family members to die during the war. Currently, it’s an infamous haunted site where depressed people committed suicide (single friends, never ever go here please).

I verified everything to be true (Google it, if you have the guts) and the folklore surrounding this, including the eerie pictures, could be the perfect fodder for nightmares. Unfortunately, this movie squandered a really interesting setting when it decided to be a typical ghost story full of cheap scares that reeked of B-movie Asian horror.

2. If you know your Hideo Nakata from your Takashi Shimizu, you’ll find this one completely derivative and repetitive. Every single Asian horror movie trope was used, most of them unsuccessful in generating genuine fear. (By the way, if the only Hideo you know is Muraoka, then I suggest that you go to the nearest Bench outlet and buy an underwear that you can use to cover your eyes while watching the original versions of Ringu, The Grudge and The Eye.)

3. I still haven’t fully recovered from The Revenant and this movie further reminded me never to go camping. Ever. (As the noisy grandma in front of me put it succinctly, “Hindi ako magtatagal diyan!”)

Forget the bugs or the lack of an actual toilet. I would never be able to sleep at night inside a tent in the middle of the woods where all I could hear would be crickets, owls, wolves, and other weird (hopefully) animal sounds (and probably the beating of my agitated heart). I completely blame The Blair Witch Project for this. Now that was a true horror in the woods flick where your hyperactive imagination did all of the scaring.

4. Do twins really have this intuition (twintuition?) of knowing and feeling whatever is happening to the other? I wonder if it’s exactly the same as gut feel (or as my lola would say, “Malakas ang kutob ko”) or women’s intuition (nope, your girlfriend’s not psychic when she randomly asked you if you were sleeping with her best friend).

Anyway, my favorite pair of twins would always be Richard and Raymond Gutierrez (sorry Mary-Kate and Ashley!) not only because they were so cute in their Nestle Klim commercials but also because I envied them for riding a giant flying bibe with ease in that Manilyn Reynes classic Feel na Feel as the wonder kambal Mumbo and Jumbo.

5. Are Viewfinders still available? I remember having one as a kid and I loved getting lost in all the adventures (Europe! Disneyland! Nature!) of these magic binoculars (mistaken as a camera by most of the viewers during our screening). This just might be the closest I would ever be to exploring a forest in my lifetime.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: THE DANISH GIRL (Tom Hooper, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Danish Girl:

1. Much has been said about Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance in The Revenant but I still maintain that Eddie Redmayne was last year’s best actor. His portrayal of Einar Wegener turned Lili Elbe was nothing short of spectacular. Every blink of an eye, flick of a finger, and point of the toes revealed the longing of a woman trapped inside a man’s body desperately wanting to break free. It transcended impersonation (which he did brilliantly as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything) and became a full-fledged transformation.

You may not win the Oscar this year my dear freckle-faced Eddie, but you are getting my Gushing Fan Best Actor Award (and with the current state of our local awards, this actually is more valuable than a Star Award or Famas).

2. I was too lazy to check Google but do raw eggs really improve fertility? I couldn’t really trust this information since the film was set in the 1920s where homosexuality was still considered a perversion caused by a chemical imbalance and the prescribed “cure” was radiation therapy (“It destroys the bad and saves the good”). Oh wait, the old couple behind me agreed that it was a disease and an abnormality and I felt like I was transported back in time (but more on them later).

3. Girls, if your husbands know how to fix your lipstick, has a fascination with different textures of clothing (fur coats, silk nightgowns, nylon stockings, etc.), lifts his pinky while sipping tea or drinking champagne, and fondly tries on your outfits in front of a mirror while tucking his penis between his legs, then do the right thing and set him free. Be a supportive wife like Gerda in a world full of Aling Dionesia. (Lili even became Gerda’s muse and future moneymaker. Talk about a lucky charm.) Let your scarf fly!

(FYI, Alicia Vikander as Gerda was phenomenal as well.)

4. The best moments here were definitely the heartbreaking ones:

• When asked where Lili was coming from and Einer said “Inside me”

• After the radiation therapy and he cried, “You hurt Lili”

• And when Lili recalled a dream that she just had where she was a baby and her mom looked down at her and called her by her real name “Lili”.

5. As I mentioned earlier, I had the unfortunate luck of sitting in front of an old couple during the screening and the old man let the theater know his views on adultery, reproductive health, and homosexuality, among others. When the lights went up, he loudly said, “Kaya namamatay yang mga bakla, hindi makuntento sa binigay ng Diyos sa kanila.” So I did what was right. I simply stood up, smiled at him, and let him be because well, that would be the most Christian response, right?

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published February 8, 2016.)