MOVIE REVIEW: CAKE (Daniel Barnz, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Cake:

1. Halle Berry did it for Monster’s Ball. Charlize Theron did the same for Monster. Both actresses went on to win Oscars. I guess the no make-up, de-glamorized (literally scars and all) look to win an Academy Award has its limits. Jennifer Aniston was really good here but I still preferred her performance in The Good Girl.

2. Maybe the lack of emotional depth of this movie hurt Aniston’s chances of a nomination. With its heavy themes of suicide, drug addiction, and depression, it should be hitting you right in the gut but it just failed to connect. Although still worth watching, I wasn’t moved by the major dramatic moments (and everyone knows I cry in everything).

3. I felt more sympathy for Silvana, played by the exquisite Adriana Barazza. Why isn’t this woman in more movies especially after her brilliant work in Babel? And why do her characters always have problems crossing the Mexico-US border?

4. Felicity Huffman, Anna Kendrick, Mamie Gummer, Chris Messina, William H. Macy… why are my favorite character actors all here?

5. I completely understand Claire’s addiction on prescription medicines. I just can’t live without using my inhaler every five minutes. I can only imagine how tougher it would be if someone had chronic pain and dependent on Percocet and OxyContin.

6. That scene where the Mexican pharmacist tried to store the pills inside a Mama Mary statue was funny scary. He ended up using a statue of St. Jude which didn’t make it any less sinful.

7. The nurse that took care of Claire was named Malaya. She was mistaken as Imelda and ended up referencing that she did love shoes. #PinoyFried right there.

8. Isn’t Claire Bennett also the name of Hayden Panettiere’s cheerleader in Heroes? Save herself, save the world.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published April 6, 2015.)

MOVIE REVIEW: ROOM (Lenny Abrahamson, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Room:

1. If I were ever kidnapped by a cult and kept in an underground room or any tight, secluded space for the remainder of my life, I would immediately die within the first 48 hours from asphyxiation. Even the thought of it made me reach out for my inhaler. I had always been claustrophobic with the terrible luck of often getting trapped in elevators. My worst experiences involved long-haul flights inside the most spacious airplanes (and not even the strongest Benadryl could knock me out).

2. This movie reminded me so much of my favorite TV show of 2015, the hilarious Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt where a kidnapped woman reclaimed her freedom and slowly adjusted to her new life after 15 years of living in seclusion. Sadly, Room was no laughing matter and the pain and trauma felt by the mother and son victims were completely harrowing and depressing.

3. I loved how the film began with little Jack (played by the terrific Jacob Tremblay) saying good morning to everything inside the said room (“Hello plant! Hello chair!”). It was a clear sign that he had already adjusted in that cramped space and considered it his only world. Aside from his limited books and toys, his sources of entertainment were the old TV showing reruns of Dora the Explorer and the small skylight separating them from the outside world (which didn’t even exist for him). As an observer, it was really hard not to feel sadness, but also amazement by this kind of innocence.

4. The brilliant (now Oscar winner) Brie Larson played Ma, the dutiful mother held captive by a stranger and now struggling to keep the two of them alive while shielding him from the harsh realities of the world. When she decided to free themselves on Jack’s fifth birthday, I immediately understood all those nights of reading The Count of Monte Cristo and Alice in Wonderland.

5. I wasn’t at all surprised that Jack didn’t want to leave his tiny world. I got why he threw a tantrum and defended that the room wasn’t stinky and was only such whenever Ma farted. The succeeding scenes showing them planning his escape (with a fiery shouting match) was completely heartbreaking.

6. I usually do not get excited in thrillers but I was literally on the edge of my seat during that escape sequence. It was so tense that people really screamed inside the theater. By the time Jack saw the sky for the first time, I was sobbing hysterically.

7. Brie’s parents here were William H. Macy and Joan Allen. With those genes, no wonder she was such a good actress.

8. After the adrenaline rush, I’m sure a lot of people will get turned off by the slow second half depicting the long-term effects and trauma of the captivity. I actually loved that part more because it showed all of the emotions and humanity of Ma and Jack and the other people around them (e.g. Ma’s father could not accept that Jack was a consequence of rape). One of the most painful realizations was when Ma got probed if she should have released Jack instead, saving him from further damage, and she accepted with much guilt that she wanted him to stay with her and that was the better (albeit selfish) decision.

9. “We all help each other stay strong. Nobody’s strong alone.”

10. I believe it was Jessica Zafra who mentioned that this kind of situation will never happen in our country given the nosy neighbors that we all have, where even our personal business is everyone’s business. As soon as they see someone going to a shed every day, tongues will start wagging and an investigation will immediately start. Hooray for our resident chismosas!

Rating: ★★★★★