MOVIE REVIEW: CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER (Anthony Russo, Joe Russo, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Captain America: The Winter Soldier:

1. Chris Evans came out onscreen wearing a really fitted tee and looking so ripped that I felt guilty about the Champ that I ate the other day. And then I realized that Captain America’s body was a product of science and unless I get recruited by S.H.I.E.L.D., I would never achieve those pecs and abs anyway so I immediately bid farewell to guilt and started planning my Yellow Cab dinner.

2. How can nobody (except a kid) recognize a world-famous superhero with his own exhibit at the Smithsonian? If Chris Evans ever visited Divisoria wearing only a cap as a disguise, I would instantly know it was Chris Evans and I’d ask for a photo op (if I didn’t instantaneously faint first).

3. Since when did Captain America turn into Jason Bourne (or for that matter, Chuck Norris)?

4. I would advise all parents not to bring their kids to this movie. This is not your typical superhero flick. The amount of violence would be too much for the young ones.

5. Ooh goodie, it’s Emily Thorne!! And Robin from How I Met Your Mother!! And that guy from Gossip Girl!! Note to self: You need to watch less TV.

6. If you ask any guy for a word to describe Scarlett Johannson, 90% of them will say HOT (I’m thinking the other 10% would say something obscene). She was so far from hot in this movie, though. She actually looked old and tired. Can we blame that horrible hair?

7. Again, another scene with Chris Evans wearing glasses to conceal his identity. And Scarlett pulling a PDA to distract the superspies. The agency must be run and populated by idiots.

8. One scene pulled a Transcendence. If you’ve seen its trailer, you’d know what I’m referring to. Got me excited.

9. Do we really need a Stan Lee cameo in each and every Marvel movie? Is this a fanboy requirement? Not that I’m complaining. Playing “Spot Stan” is my favorite thing to do whenever I get bored.

10. I really loved the new Nick Fury. I can almost hear him shout “Get this motherfuckin’ patch off my motherfuckin’ eye!!”.

P.S. It’s a Marvel movie. Do not leave until the screen goes totally blank or you’ll miss the bonus scenes. Yes, plural.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published March 31, 2014.)

MOVIE REVIEW: MY KONTRABIDA GIRL (Jade Castro, 2012)

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You know that a local comedy’s in trouble when the funniest thing that it could offer was naming Aljur Abrenica’s character as Chris Bernal. You know it’s in even bigger trouble simply because it starred Abrenica, an actor so wooden he’s perfect as his TV alter-ego Machete. Poor guy even had to play a role that mocked his stilted and funny delivery. I guess that just about summed up the movie: a misguided, messy comedy that tried to be hilarious, but ended up being the bigger joke.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published March 24, 2012.)

TV REVIEW: 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.)

MOVIE REVIEW: ISA PA, WITH FEELINGS (Prime Cruz, 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Isa Pa, With Feelings:

1. As a certified reality-competition junkie, one of my favorite shows is that cheesy, Eezy Dancing-like US program called Dancing with the Stars. If the title isn’t a giveaway, it’s a dance competition program where washed up film and TV stars and/or B-list celebrities from other arenas (music, sports, politics) are willing to make fools of themselves (sorry, I mean learn the art of dance and prove their worth) on national TV.

In a previous season, America’s Next Top Model hottie Nyle DiMarco defied all odds by giving stunning performances week after week before finally winning the coveted Mirror Ball trophy. Oh yeah, he’s Deaf by the way. Imagine not being able to hear the music (relying on just vibrations) and still move in perfect rhythm with his professional ballroom partner like he’s the king of the dance floor. It would be an understatement to say that I was in tears after his every number.

I had the exact same feeling of awe and (tears of) joy when Deaf Gali (Carlo Aquino) performed that lovely contemporary routine with Hearing Mara (Maine Mendoza) during this film’s climactic dance recital. Teacher Geleen Eugenio really taught them well.

2. There’s something about Maine’s smile that can light up an entire room. When Mara woke up on the day of her licensure exam and started prepping by nonchalantly dancing around in her condo, the oldie in me wanted to slap her silly for not taking things seriously (neng, make or break moment ito mag-last review ka o ayusin mo ang mga requirements na dadalhin mo hindi ito Carefree commercial juskong mahabagin), but the growing hatred simply disappeared as soon as she grinned from utter embarrassment (oops, cutie neighbor alert!). Also, (insert “super gwapo ni Carlo nakakababa ng self-esteem leche” here).

Even with a few noticeable acting tics (mostly broad reactions to look funny) carried over from her Kalyeserye days, I was happy to see that Maine was able to flex her dramatic skills here. As in magaling talaga siya that I literally said “And galing naman” in every scene where she was required to cry (after seeing that she failed the exams, during that touching moment when she hugged her mom after a heartbreak, and that entire “Gali, mahal kita eh” sequence). It was also fun to see her DubSmash skills put to good use during that hilarious “Matitikman nila ang ganti ng isang api!” reenactment.

(Of course, Carlo was amazing as well because I cried every time he cried and laughed every time he laughed and turned into a teenage girl every time he smiled. If you still need more words to describe his performance here, simply look up all the synonyms of exceptional in the dictionary.)

Side note: As a lapsed fan, kinikilig ako na 2019 is actually the year of AlDub. Ang laki ng growth nina Alden and Maine as artists in their separate projects. Sana the rest will learn from this, risk on new material, and continue to explore outside of their standard love teams.

3. One of the things that I loved about this film was all of those moments of silence, not just to let us better understand Gali’s perspective, but also because we didn’t need an intrusive musical score to make us feel things in every poignant scene. The amount of restraint here considering that this was still a commercial local rom-com was truly commendable.

4. It was nice to be reminded that we should be grateful for things that we usually just take for granted. One of my pet peeves whenever I have food delivered at home would be the constant buzzing of the doorbell (because seriously, once or twice should suffice). And yet there are people in the world like Gali who wouldn’t even know that he had a package waiting outside his room because there was just no way to properly notify him. I guess it’s true that you will always meet someone who will definitely put things in perspective.

Speaking of, that entire Christmas lights concept turned me into a weeping mess. After exposing us to simple things that end up as major challenges faced by the Deaf community (Gali’s expressions said it all during that entire package fiasco), it was a joy to see him smile (and tear up) after Mara’s plan worked. Loved the callback on that one, too. That uber romantic slash heartbreaking scene involving a famous pop song and blinking lights would probably end up as my favorite moment in Philippine Cinema 2019.

(Plus points for completely wiping out the trauma of the use of Christmas lights in Stranger Things.)

5. It was amusing to watch the audience imitate and learn some basic phrases during the couple’s Sign Language 101 sessions. I mean, isn’t it great that we would all walk out of that theater knowing another way to say “Hello”, “Thank you”, and “Sorry” with the proper expressions and emotions? Of course if I were Mara, I would have asked Gali to teach me the most important words first (curse words, naturally!) because that’s a pre-requisite in every new language.

(Another side note: In college, I had a lot of Filipino-Chinese classmates from Xavier and they told me that the most important phrases to remember were “piao si di siao siao” and “di lanciao bin”. Surely I’m all prepped for that return visit to Shanghai.)

6. Sad facts: i) There are not enough Deaf schools in our country, ii) Most parents of Deaf kids do not know how to sign, iii) There are insensitive people in the world like Vangie Labalan’s character who referred to Gali as “di mo aakalain na may diperensya”. (Tawagin ulit ang Undin, please!!)

7. Burning questions:

• Whatever happened to Mara’s dreams of becoming an architect? Will she finally prep properly and take that exam seriously? Did her father (Cris Villanueva) roll up that tarp and keep for future use?

• Why didn’t we get a payoff on those sign language sessions? Is Mara’s niece still waiting for that special surprise?

• Is “Were you worried about me?” the newest pick-up line?

• How were they able to afford those condo units? And who do I need to call to replace our doorbell with blinking Christmas lights?

• With lines like “Puro de lata ang kinakain mo, magkaka-UTI ka!!”, is Mara’s mother (Lotlot de Leon) actually related to mine?

• What was that siomai stand doing in a party, aside from serving as product placement for SIOGO? (Sio clean! Sio good!)

• Gali literally jumping to Mara’s condo was a metaphor that he was taking a leap of faith on their relationship, yes?

• Will the LTO permanently suspend Mara’s license for being so accident-prone?

• “Mahal ba talaga natin yung jowa/asawa natin ngayon kung sino at ano siya, o minahal lang natin siya dahil lagi siyang nandiyan para sa atin?” (Require your significant other to answer this in less than five sentences.)

8. Ganda ng communication gaps shown throughout their love story. The use of cellphones in lieu of spoken words and signs (ang inspired nung text messages flashed between their condos), the times they both felt OP while in two different parties (although the Deaf crowd felt more welcoming, no? Well, except for that intrimidida girl), and the acceptance of their differences plus sacrifices they were both willing to make with that touching “Then I’ll be deaf for you” line. Wala talagang hadlang kapag mga puso na ang nag-uusap. ❤️

Rating: ★★★★☆