MOVIE REVIEW: FAR FROM HEAVEN (Todd Haynes, 2002)

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Racism, homosexuality, sexism, and an interracial relationship in an artificially picture-perfect 50’s suburban neighbourhood. How scandalous!

Julianne Moore (spectacular as always) and her gorgeous flouncy skirts can turn anyone gay before the end of Pride Month.

Was I the only one feeling an underlying sexual tension between her character and the help played by a pre-The Help Viola Davis? (Ooh, how juicy!)

Worthless fact: The best scenes of three of the 2003 Oscar Best Actress nominees actually involved trains.

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published June 19, 2018.)

MOVIE REVIEW: ANG PAMILYANG HINDI LUMULUHA (Mes de Guzman, 2017)

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One long and badly-edited sitcom. It would have been more bearable if most of the jokes (in the vein of Dolphy and Babalu circa 90s) were actually funny, except that they weren’t. I had more laughs watching The Lilian Velez Story.

Sharon Cuneta’s dramatic breakdown scene during the latter part of the movie reeked so much of desperation. She hopelessly attempted to out-uhog Viola Davis for that coveted Balanghai.

Even worse, people would most likely remember Moi Bien’s performance.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published August 9, 2017.)

MOVIE REVIEW: BLACKHAT (Michael Mann, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Blackhat:

1. The movie opened with a great sequence showing information traveling from various circuits and transistors until it finally triggered an explosion in a nuclear reactor.

2. After that scene, basically nothing happened onscreen for the next thirty minutes. That was one incredibly long bathroom break. I couldn’t believe this was from the director of The Insider, Heat, and Collateral (oh, wait).

3. Do you remember those badly-dubbed Chinese movies shown every Sunday morning on Channel 9? This movie had its own version of that. Only the Chinese characters were speaking Chinese. And it was still badly-dubbed.

4. Lust, Caution would always be one of my favorite Ang Lee films. I was so happy to see Tang Wei and Wang Leehom reunite here. Watch that movie and not just for the good (wink, wink) parts, ok?

5. Poor Viola Davis had to wear a horrible wig. She’s a lovely and smart woman. Why did she allow this kind of treatment from Hollywood?

6. Speaking of hair, how did Chris Hemsworth maintain that perpetually brushed up hair? Did they have industrial hairblowers in prison?

7. I loved the Asian tour with the movie jumping from Hong Kong to Macau to Malaysia and finally to Indonesia. I’d never seen Kowloon Station ever deserted, though.

8. One crowd scene had men pointing guns at each other and people barely noticing. It needed a gunfire before the stampede started. Really?

9. So many IT jargon. My head almost exploded.

10. If you want an exciting digital age thriller, you’d be better off watching the cheesy Sandra Bullock flick The Net. I couldn’t believe it was shown twenty years ago.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published January 25, 2015.)

MOVIE REVIEW: SUICIDE SQUAD (David Ayer, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Suicide Squad:

1. I honestly couldn’t care less about the whole Marvel v DC discussion (I would have to leave that up to the expert rabid fanboys) and with all the early (brutal) reviews that came out, I was prepared to see the worst film of the year (which according to the online universe as well was previously Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, a movie that I actually liked). Sure, this wasn’t a breakthrough in comic book adaptations with its weak story and cheesy special effects, but at least it was a bit more fun to watch than say, the ho-hum X-Men: Apocalypse. Also, anybody who would say that this was worse than the Fant4stic Four reboot probably never watched the entirety of that snoozefest.

2. Harley Quinn (played to playful perfection by Margot Robbie) was the most memorable (and obviously fitting) in a movie that was a whole lot of pretty and a whole lot of crazy. From the moment she appeared dangling like Maddie Ziegler (of the Sia videos) doing another performance art inside a cage (set to the tune of You Don’t Own Me, no less), she stole every scene without effort. I could see a lot of girls donning her costume in time (literally with watches on their arms) for Halloween. I seriously wish they would have really nice and plump butt cheeks as well.

3. Dear Star-Lord, check out this movie’s soundtrack for another perfect mix tape. House of the Rising Sun, I Started a Joke, Without Me, Bohemian Rhapsody…oh wait, you already had that.

4. I was thankful for the quick introduction (flashing dossiers) of characters because aside from The Joker (Jared Leto invoking Jack Nicholson), I really didn’t know any of them. Deadshot (Will Smith) reminded me of Hancock with a Terminator’s eye, Diablo (Jay Hernandez) and Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) were reminiscent of Human Torch and Thing, Boomerang (Jai Courtney) had a boomerang plus a really creepy pink unicorn fetish, and Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) looked like a starving pre-show Victoria’s Secret Angel (please tell me I wasn’t the only one laughing at her wiggling during the post-heart transplant scene).

I wasn’t surprised that Annalise Keating, er, Amanda Waller (the exquisite Viola Davis) was the one chosen to round up and torture another team of puppets. Also, one character looked very much like Frank Delfino, I swear.

5. Ooh, blink-and-you’ll-miss-em cameos from two popular DC characters! These ones I knew.

6. The huge subtitles without punctuation marks triggered my OCD. My right index finger kept tapping at an imaginary period button whenever those showed up.

7. I snickered a bit when the camera zoomed up to reveal the Instagram-ready knife and champagne flatlay of The Joker. On a related note, I really loved that shot of him and Harley in a vat of swirling blue and red paint. Ahrt!!

8. The best moments were when it was just being really silly with its villains-as-heroes theme and had intentionally funny lines like “Don’t touch me!”, “What’s that crap on your face? Does that wash off?”, and my favorite “Behold the face of God!” (close runner-up: “Why are you not dead?”).

9. The worst moments were when it decided to grow a heart amidst the messy fight sequences (reminiscent of David Ayer’s Fury and in one sequence, The Raid) complete with an obvious fake-out and a gag-inducing slo-mo that included a gun being thrown to the bida (sorry, Margot and Will but Fernando Poe, Jr. and Janice de Belen/Julie Vega did it much better in Roman Rapido).

10. The ending initially hinted at a sequel focusing on Harley and The Joker, but the mid-credits sequence showed a picture of Ezra Miller, among others. Since he played The Flash, should we expect the Justice League movie next?

Critics, start sharpening your claws!! (Wait, wrong franchise…)

Rating: ★★★☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE (Zack Snyder, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice:

1. I entered the cinema with incredibly low expectations because of brutal reviews from critics and terrible feedback from friends that camped out to watch the very first screening. I was also never fascinated with this match-up and saw it more like Alien vs Predator, a lame cash cow that pitted two popular characters for the sake of seeing which one had the bigger balls (or mandibles). Besides, when it was a battle between good vs good (or evil vs evil), would there even be a winner? When the movie was over, all I could think of was that it wasn’t bad at all. (Even better, it was no Man of Steel.)

2. If I was clueless on the Marvel Universe, I was even more lost in this DC Universe. I would not be geeking out and pointing various differences between the comic books and the movie because I really didn’t know anything, except from what I had seen in previous Superman and Batman movies. I was even puzzled because my idea of Wonder Woman was the red, white, and blue clad Lynda Carter with her magic lasso. Seriously, how many more times would we see another version of Bruce Wayne’s parents getting killed? Remember when Deadpool mentioned that he was getting confused with the timelines of X-Men (“McAvoy or Stewart?”), I felt the exact same way as soon as the flashback started.

3. At least the promised showdown didn’t disappoint. It clearly showed a battle between god and man, one with superhero powers and a major weakness and the other a rich mortal armed with hi-tech gadgets. When they started fighting and destroying buildings, I finally understood why the people hated these two. They were just major nuisances that disturbed the peace of their city.

4. There were two scenes where characters went for a dip even with their shoes on and it really bothered me. It would only take a minute to remove them. Why subject yourselves to super kachichas?

5. A lot of people hated Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor and called him the movie’s Jar Jar Binks. I think the biggest difference was that he was really meant to be an annoying man-child (I loved the scene where he was giving a speech and completely forgot his entire point) while JJB was George Lucas’ failed attempt to create another Ewok. Eisenberg was good here and in one scene even proved that he could out-snot Viola Davis. I did not see him growing up as Kevin Spacey, though.

6. When Jeremy Irons showed up as Alfred, I actually thought that he was an old Robert Downey, Jr. I swear I thought it was an unprecedented crossover.

7. I didn’t know the rest of the characters shown for the future Justice League but I was excited to see Ezra Miller playing the Flash (although this character would always be Dawson’s father to me, you know John Wesley Shipp that was rumored to have a romantic relationship with James Van der Beek). I also recognized Silas Stone (his name was on the computer screen) as the brilliant Joe Morton. Olivia Pope should be proud.

8. Regardless of the ending, Zack Snyder obviously favored Superman more. Now I really understood those sad Ben Affleck memes and videos. His Batman was just depressed and didn’t have the necessary angst for the role (like he was still suffering from a tortured relationship with J.Lo or carrying a guilt for possibly cheating on Jennifer Garner). For a rich guy, he couldn’t even ask his butler to remove his car cover.

Henry Cavill, on the other hand, could still barely act, but was shown as the real hero even if he had enough time to bask in the glory of his billowing cape while the people on the roof were close to drowning. He even had a scene where people surrounded him and touched him like a god (although I was sure that even James Reid would be treated that way if he stood in the middle of the activity center in ATC).

9. Wonder Woman clearly knew how to accentuate her assets (considering that she was played by a previous Miss Universe candidate). All of Gal Gadot’s dresses showed her cleavage and/or back. But nothing beats the beauty of Lois Lane (Amy Adams) who always came first in terms of saving, regardless if people were dying everywhere. She took “ganda mo gurl” to a whole new level.

10. Here are some questions from a self-confessed comic book idiot:

a) How could Superman not hear that there was a bomb in the court room? He couldn’t be that distracted, right?

b) What were the flying taong insekto?

c) Was Wonder Woman a witch if she lived way back in 1918?

d) If Batman knew that Superman’s weakness was kryptonite, why couldn’t he have made a simple bracelet that he could attach to him? (I saw one used in the Supergirl TV series.)

e) Speaking of, how could even Superman fly carrying the kryptonite spear when Lois even had to throw it away because it was seeping his strength?

f) Was Superman the first person to show up in court wearing his underwear outside?

g) Did people hate the movie because “people hate what they don’t understand” or because it had a bummer of an ending (giving Star Cinema another reason to have a requisite happy ending)?

11. No mid-/post-credits sequence. Now that was even more sad than the funeral.

Rating: ★★★☆☆