CHARLIE’S ANGELS (Elizabeth Banks, 2019)

41C6479E-658A-4FA0-BCF3-3BE349456A5F

SPOILER ALERT!!

I felt bad that this reboot flopped in the US box office since there were several things that I actually liked here. Sure, I would have wanted it to be more fun/campy/action-packed and less serious/dragging/TV-ish, but it still delivered the goods.

The new Angels were really adorable/interesting/badass and it was great to see them with distinct personalities. My favorite was Ella Balinska as Jane, who had the right amount of elegance/fierceness/charm (her chute-sliding scene was amazing).

Not too keen though on that Mission: Impossible (the movie, not the show) -type twist. Also, Sam Claflin probably gave the worst performance in cinema this year.

In the end though, it was hard for me not to appreciate a movie that really screamed girl power (bulletproof bras!) and feminism and respect, especially one where a male character asked for consent before he could touch a woman’s back.

“Women can do anything!” Hell, yes!!

Rating: ★★★☆☆

ANG HENERASYONG SUMUKO SA LOVE (Jason Paul Laxamana, 2019)

2D798E3E-9213-4983-B1C2-4CFE7148365E

SPOILER ALERT!!

Super concerned ako sa tropang ito kasi di pinag-usapan ang transpo nung nag-anniversary reunion sila sa kanilang out-of-town meeting place. Seryoso, hiwa-hiwalay ang pagdating? Close ba talaga sila?

Tapos yung movie was really less about their friendship and more on their individual lives. Yung parang US network show na mag-reminisce yung isang character tapos biglang flashback sa story niya. Meron sila kanya-kanyang segments that depicted their mostly petty problems (least of all yung love, kaya di ko rin nakuha ang title).

Si Ma-an (Jane Oineza) naunahan na ni Ellenya L. Desperate siya for online validation pero ang chaka ng content ng vlogs. Kelangan pa niya mag-drawing ng line graph before ma-realize na mas mataas na ang subscriber count niya kesa sa jowa ng ex niya (whut?).

Si Denzel (Jerome Ponce) naman ay bakla kasi siya yung loud, bitchesa, at tumitili kapag may pumuputok na lobo. Maayos pa naman umarte si Jerome in his previous films pero itinodo niya ang pagiging screaming queen dito. Yung every pilantik ng kamay eh di mo makakalimutan ang gender niya. Tapos nagmahal siya ng isang guy na ayaw siya i-kiss until official na sila pero gusto ng open relationship (huh? Mga vaklang twoooh!). Nasayang tuloy ang budget Magic Mike moves niya.

(Side note: Anim na seniors ang nag-walk out sa segment na ‘to kasi puro Grindr hook-ups. So plus one star agad kasi nabawasan ang ngumunguya ng chicharon sa sinehan.)

Ang mag-jowa na Hadj (Albie Casiño) at Junamae (Myrtle Sarrosa) mag-MU kaya sila pero hindi talaga sila (wait, anong term sa ganito ng current generation, pang-thunders na kasi ang MU). Nakakatawa si Hadj kasi siya yung infatuated sa Hollywood rom-coms kaya puro couples lang ang nakikita niya kahit saan tumingin. Pero feeling ko mahilig din siya sa Pinoy melodrama bilang nag-ala Gabby Concepcion acting via Dapat Ka Bang Mahalin siya nung lalayasan na ni Junamae (yan talaga pangalan niya baka tatay niya si Jun at nanay si Inamae jk).

Yung story ni Kurt (Tony Labrusca) ang pinaka-nagustuhan ko kasi nag-resonate sa akin yung situation niya na burnout sa work kaya affected ang physical and mental state niya. Nakakadala ang scene na umiiyak na lang siya habang tuloy-tuloy ang pagtanggap niya ng trabaho kasi kelangan (and also kasi nga di na sya nakakapag-isip ng maayos). Nung nag-describe siya na blank ang feeling kahit ano pa ang ma-achieve niya, ramdam ko yun sobra.

Sayang talaga kasi kulang sa bonding ang mga characters na ‘to. Di ko man lang alam paano sila naging magkakasundo given their different attitudes and personalities. Dinaan na lang sa isang montage sa dulo before hugging it out over a sensitive matter. I guess hanggang ganun na lang talaga siya. Wag na daw tayo magreklamo as long as naghuhubad lagi si Tony dito.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

THE GOLDFINCH (John Crowley, 2019)

5E70983E-7806-4650-AD0B-0B8E6A1737B7

SPOILER ALERT!!

Ganito din ba ka-boring ang Pulitzer Prize-winning novel that this was based on? Siguro kaya hindi rin ako makalampas sa first few chapters ng book (although mas kasalanan talaga ng short attention span ko at ng Mobile Legends). Grabe halos ma-plano ko na ang buong buhay ko habang hinihintay matapos ang movie na parang wala naman pinatunguhan.

Syempre masakit as an Ansel Elgort fan to accept na totoo pala lahat ng negative reviews nito (commercial flop din sya at mukhang hindi man lang kikita ng more than $5M sa US in its entire run). Mas may emotional connection pa ako sa IG videos ng meltdown niya while defending the film. Ganun siya kalala.

Ang only source of joy ko dito eh kapag may mga lumalabas from the cast of American Horror Story like Sarah Paulson and Denis O’Hare. Sayang nga at hindi ginamit ang Ryan Murphy Universe to cast the other roles here (Connie Britton for Nicole Kidman, Dylan McDermott for Luke Wilson, and even Evan Peters for Ansel). Ang saya siguro ng AHS: Goldfinch bilang horrific experience din naman siya.

May isang linya lang dito na tumatak sa akin. Yung sinabi ng fiancée niya na “I don’t expect you to know what it feels like to be in love with the wrong person” at ang only reason bakit siya papakasalan was “This marriage makes sense”. Hay, ang sakit. You deserve better, Ansel. You deserve much better.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

THE BUTLER (Lee Daniels, 2013)

D1BB6CC1-5DFD-4E34-9F0C-C02A31754A48

Pure Oscar bait but it was indeed a phenomenal Oscar-worthy film.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler was a powerful look at the rich history of African-Americans in the US and their struggles amidst brutal racism.

There were so many effective moments that incited fear and sadness with their lucid depiction of living as a colored person.

Forest Whitaker deserved another Oscar for his spectacular performance as the subservient turned subversive title character.

Oprah Winfrey was phenomenal as the wife. The big-names supporting cast proved to be a bit of a distraction but were fine, too.

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published August 26, 2013.)

TROPHY WIFE (Andoy Ranay, 2014)

6EC9D911-E3D8-460F-A478-A9CD0328A359

Not even a guilty pleasure. It was so bad, it was really bad.

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Trophy Wife:

1. In the opening credits, the movie’s title was credited to Elwood Perez. How hard was it to come up with that one?

2. Speaking of Elwood Perez, there’s a certain guilty pleasure that you get from most of his movies. They usually ooze with sensuality and are filled with crazy people and situations, but you get them. I wonder how the movie would have turned out if he directed this one instead.

3. In one scene, G Toengi took a hit on the toilet bowl. Eww! I wonder what else she snorted with her crack.

4. Although the movie promised a lot of steamy sex, it was only rated R-13 so don’t expect too much. Most of the kissing and pretend licking didn’t involve any tongue (I know, right?!).

5. Cristine Reyes’ Kapampangan accent came straight out of Poveda.

6. One of my pet peeves in a local production is lack of crowd control. You would usually see the entire barangay in the background watching the shoot. I understand the challenge though given our Pinoy “uzi” mentality.

7. In one scene, Derek Ramsay’s character got reprimanded for being noisy in a club. To quote Donya Ina, “Paki-explain. Lab you!”

8. Whenever the characters appeared with bruises, they would usually look like they had too much blush-on. Sometimes the bruises looked like lipstick stains. And in one scene, Heart Evangelista actually had a lipstick stain on her cheek for no reason. What happened to the make-up department?

9. This movie defied time and logic. A character got knocked up the day after having sex. A restaurant was up and running a few hours after the business meeting. A crisp, white blouse gets stained with uling and was Tide-white in the next scene. Bruises and burns were healed minutes after Betadine was applied. Forget Belo, I want that Betadine.

10. And in another groan-worthy scene, a pregnant character was run over by an SUV and she sustained…scratches on her arm. Forget the Betadine, I need her vitamins.

11. For the US park scene, I think they filmed in Tagaytay and just asked some foreigner extras with backpacks to keep passing by. In the US restaurant scene, they filmed in a branch of Friday’s and asked Callum David to be a waiter. I guess that made it more realistic.

12. If you already have a low tolerance for Heart, let this serve as a stern warning.

13. The movie abruptly ended with a visa approval. Everyone just screamed “WTF?!”. We started trooping out of the cinema demanding a refund.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published August 1, 2014.)

ANNIE (Will Gluck, 2014)

fa620a4b-eaee-4a0b-ab6a-e787493a5669

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Annie:

1. The movie opened with a typical Annie, a tiny freckle-faced Caucasian redhead, reading a report on former US Presidents. The teacher then called the real Annie, played by Quvenzhane Wallis, a smart and spunky African-American. I loved this wink, wink opening because Wallis was just too adorable in the lead role. I was also happy with the color blind casting because the role of Annie had nothing to do with her skin color anyway.

2. When I heard the teacher call Annie B., I immediately thought Annie Batungbakal and I started humming the theme song and imagined Nora doing a song and dance number (“Sa umaga, dispatsadora. Sa gabi, siya’y bonggang-bongga…”).

3. For a musical, most of the production numbers felt lacking. The only one I truly enjoyed was It’s The Hard Knock Life. Everything else felt joyless. Even the classic Tomorrow wasn’t memorable since it just had her walking the streets of Harlem. Why bother with a remake?

4. Cameron Diaz can be funny whenever she goes bat-shit crazy in her movies. Here, her campiness only served as a distraction. She was just irritating all throughout. Even her musical number was horrible. Do you still remember her singing “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself” in My Best Friend’s Wedding? She sang exactly like that in the most grating voice ever. Only here it wasn’t played for laughs.

5. Blatant Purell product placement. No better than a Kris Aquino movie. (“Product placement keeps the movie business afloat!”, said one character.)

6. The viral video of Jamie Foxx saving Annie was all wrong. How could it have different takes and taken from two different angles when it was supposedly shot by an onlooker?

7. I love Rose Byrne, I really do, but she should not be allowed to sing again. Hey, why was this musical populated by terrible singers given their own musical highlights? All it needed was Russell Crowe.

8. The updated version had Annie with a Twitter account and saved by Instagram. Groan.

9. I felt bad for Sia. I actually liked “Opportunity”.

10. The final act had a last minute twist, a villain that never really got his due, a final conflict, and a quick resolution that led to a song and dance number by way of Mother Lily. Ugh.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published January 28, 2015.)

GLASS (M. Night Shyamalan, 2019)

00d8787f-93b1-4da4-9ba5-e5664e3f902f

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Glass:

1. Unbreakable was supposedly a play on the yin and yang elements between superhero David Dunn (Bruce Willis) and villain Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson). One was just discovering his superpowers (and in turn his kryptonite: water!!), one was searching for his polar opposite slash ultimate foe (blowing up trains and buildings in the process), and both of them were trying to determine their purpose in this world. Although Elijah’s story was integral to the whole superhero lore, his evil character still played a supporting role to the real bida of the first film.

I was really excited to hear that the third installment to this Eastrail 177 Trilogy was called Glass because it should place his character front and center (considering that the movie was named after him, right?). Well, not exactly. He didn’t even show up until almost an hour into this bloated movie. If I were a secondary character in my own film, I’d probably feel the need to create a lot of chaos as well.

2. Even worse, it gathered three really interesting superhero comic book characters (that also included Kevin Wendell Crumb aka The Beast and twenty-something plus other personalities called The Horde, all played by the terrific James McAvoy) and decided to keep them locked up in a psychiatric facility for majority of the running time. They were only set free to interact with each other during the final act showdown (and yes, one of them actually explained how a showdown worked in comic books for the non-nerds) which still made little sense.

Side note: When we had some American clients come over for a visit, they were creeped out when I informed them that they would be staying at The Bellevue Hotel Alabang. One of them later on explained that Bellevue’s a popular mental hospital in the U.S. At least her family and friends had a good laugh when they learned where she was checked in.

3. Sarah Paulson played a doctor straight out of her American Horror Story wheelhouse who kept trying to make the three believe that they were merely suffering from delusions of grandeur. Wait, who was she trying to convince? It couldn’t possibly be the audience that knew the truth from the first two films. Oh, it was all just a setup for the requisite twist in the end with the Clover Chips Organization.

Also, given the nature of these patients, why was security so lax in that place? If Elijah (with the most brittle bones and in a wheelchair) could easily get out of his room, shouldn’t they have more people manning the place? Oh, also part of the twist. Pfft and pfft!!

4. It was a treat to see a grown up Spencer Clark (wink, wink). I just wish his acting skills matured as well (that wide-eyed kid look could only take him so far). He did have one of the funniest lines here when he mentioned the catchphrase, “We’re gonna salt bae your ass!”. Now if only Robin Wright returned as well… (It was nice to see some of the old/unused footage from Unbreakable, too.)

5. The lines that made me cringe:

• “Only the true version of love can heal (him).” Eww! So all this time, Kevin could have been cured by true love’s kiss? What’s next, Elijah proclaiming the wonders of a happy working song?

• “You’re fighting for the broken. You found your purpose.” Not enough space for the eyeroll emojis.

• “This is not a limited edition. This was an origin story the whole time.” Keep explaining for the non-nerds at the back, Elijah!

6. The lines that made me happy:

• The cool delivery of “First name Mister. Last name Glass”.

• “Have you ever been to a comic book convention? They sell teen TV shows there!” LOL!!

7. Burning questions:

• Wait, so Elijah Price who wanted to be the best (or worst?) antagonist in the world ended up as a hero? Why??

• How deep was that puddle?

• Was I the only who thought that every single one of The Horde personalities would get a chance to have its own tearful goodbye? (That was a really long dying scene, no?)

• In that final train station scene, how did they know it was the CCTV footage that was going viral and not say, the news about Kim and Kanye’s new baby?

8. M. Night Shyamalan created his own cinematic universe so he made sure of his Stan Lee-like cameo in almost every one of his movies. Or was he trying to be Hitchcock instead? (Insert possible twist here.)

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

YOU’RE STILL THE ONE (Chris Martinez, 2015)

BC252F9D-8744-4C32-85EC-198DF6A5C937

My notes on You’re Still the One:

1. The movie started with Maja Salvador and Dennis Trillo playing high school students engaged in a debate on the Y2K bug. It was in English so we all knew Maja had no chance of winning that one.

2. Dennis looked like his face was filtered twice using Camera 360. I swear it was glossier than the film.

3. Maja wore a wig presumably borrowed from Dora Go Dong Hae.

4. During a family dinner…

Son: (joking) “Bakit Ma, nagahasa ka din ba?”

This was supposed to be funny? I didn’t get it.

5. Dennis: “Sino bang nag-imbento ng kalibugan? Diba si Lord?”

All the old ladies in the cinema gasped in horror.

6. Dennis stopped his lovemaking with Ellen Adarna to place a fake mole on her batok (like Maja’s) using a pentel pen. Couldn’t he just use his imagination?

7. As a lawyer, Maja should have known better than to match an orange top with a white blazer and a purple bag. That outfit was a crime.

8. Why is it always winter in the US/Canada in these Skype calls?

9. Bakit laging pa-demure mag-kiss si Sir Chief?

10. Just in case you fell asleep, Maja recapped everything that happened in the movie during the final scene. Salamat!!

11. Nasa Baclaran ang forever. Pero wala talagang forever. #arayqbhe

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published May 28, 2015.)

ANG GURO KONG ‘DI MARUNONG MAGBASA (Perry Escaño, 2017)

IMG_3859

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Ang Guro Kong ‘Di Marunong Magbasa:

1. In the film Abakada…Ina, Lorna Tolentino played an illiterate mother who had the unfortunate luck of having a nasty schoolteacher for a biyenan (played by the late great Nida Blanca). One of the movie’s highlights was their verbal showdown where Nida bluntly called her tanga, ignorante, and iliterada. The apparent shame that she felt upon hearing those words was enough to make me bawl my eyes out.

Although the issue of illiteracy would always be an important topic, some Pinoy films only used this as a default plot device to tug at heartstrings. I think the last film I watched that dealt with this as well was that MMFF New Wave film Turo Turo, where AJ Dee played a fishball vendor who went bankrupt because he didn’t know how to properly count the exact change.

2. Similar to these movies, Guro also had good intentions, but its execution was completely disastrous. It wasn’t even about the illiterate teacher played by Alfred Vargas, or a scathing look at child warriors trained for political propaganda. It was just a poor excuse to shoot an action film where the main villain was tied to a tree and shot with a grenade launcher (after a controversial spit bukkake scene as a form of torture), or for Kiko Matos playing a soldier to keep tumbling around for no apparent reason.

3. It was hard to take the movie seriously when everything about it was just awful, in particular:

• Gunshots sounded like they came from plastic toy guns.

• Characters having dinner were squeezed on one side of the table for framing reasons (kahit mag-isa lang si Alfred sa kabilang side).

• The camera moved from side-to-side behind the students and half of the screen would just be a shot of their backs (was this supposed to be a nod to early Shyamalan?).

• The sound of goats bleating was louder than the actual dialogue.

• Terrible editing that never really cared about transitions or continuity.

4. One of the scenes that garnered the biggest laughs from the audience included a cassette tape used to teach the alphabet to kids.

Sample phonics:

• A is for Animal
• B is for Beast
• C is for Ceasefire (huh?)
• D is for Dark Side (huwat?!)
• E is for Education
• F is for Freedom (nux!)

I suggest that the updated 2017 version include the following: O is for Ohmygulay, P is for Pisting yawa…

Also, this magical cassette knew exactly when to proceed to the next letter. It didn’t speak until after Alfred mimicked what it just said. Wow lang.

5. My favorite scene though included foreign delegates that volunteered to teach the young students in that far-flung barrio (they probably never heard that the place was as safe as Marawi so they travelled without any security). They were supposedly from different countries like Singapore or the US, but most of them looked like they came from Las Piñas.

I had to control a fart when one of them was asked why she decided to help and she replied with, “I would like to smell the fresh air of the forest.” Q is for Qiqil si acoe.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆