MOVIE REVIEW: THE HOST (Andrew Niccol, 2013)

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The only good thing about this movie was that it wasn’t Twilight. I expected more from the director of Gattaca and writer of The Truman Show.

It was just beyond awful. The clunky storytelling made everything unintentionally funny. No wonder it bombed in the US. Poor Saoirse Ronan.

The endless voiceovers that probably worked on paper failed to translate on film. At least the movie made me want to read the book.

I’m very curious to know what my Theology professor has to say about this soul transference thing. Now that would be interesting.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published April 8, 2013.)

MOVIE REVIEW: A SEPARATION (Asghar Farhadi, 2011)

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With all the religious themes seamlessly embedded in this domestic drama, this should be considered required viewing for Theology courses (and any Film 101 class, naturally). It’s a powerful morality tale with flawless direction, excellent screenplay, and brilliant performances. The final scene resonated so much that this will surely end up on my list of the best movies of 2011.

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published January 12, 2012.)

MOVIE REVIEW: BREAKING THE WAVES (Lars von Trier, 1996)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

I’d always remember this film as the one that my college Theology professor detested so much that she spoiled the entire story in one of our classes and discouraged us from ever seeing it, lest our souls burn in the pits of hell.

Being the obedient, saintly, Catholic school-raised kid that I was, of course I ignored her warning and immediately looked for a copy from my favorite mIRC channel (the cinema-related one, not the other kind). I was enthralled for two and a half hours and absorbed every “immoral” theme it had to offer. My spirit felt completely free by the time the bells started chiming in the end.

I guess I still turned out okay. (Not so sure about my soul, though.) Sadly, I never had the chance to tell my dear old teacher how much I loved it and that she “had no right to consign Bess to hell”.

Emily Watson was just phenomenal here. The rest of the cast (especially Stellan Skarsgard and the late Katrin Cartlidge) were terrific as well.

If you were able to watch the National Anthem episode of Black Mirror, you might have heard of the Dogme 95 style as part of the hostage taker’s demands in terms of filming that pig scene (“no background music, only natural light for authenticity”). That directorial choice worked really well in this one. Made me wonder if it was time to revive the Mother Lily Pito-Pito cinematic movement.

Rating: ★★★★★

MOVIE REVIEW: 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: ★★★★★