THE PEOPLE VS. LARRY FLYNT (Milos Forman, 1996)

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“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you’ve heard a lot here today, and I’m not gonna try to go back over it all again for you. But you have to go back in that room and make some decisions. And there is one thing I want to make very clear to you before you do. I am not trying to convince you that you should like what Larry Flynt does.

I don’t like what Larry Flynt does. But what I do like is that I live in a country where you and I can make that decision for ourselves. I like that I live in a country where I can pick up Hustler and read it if I want to or throw it in the garbage can if that’s where I think it belongs. Or better yet, I can exercise my opinion and not buy it.

I like that I have that right. I care about it. And you should care about it too. You really should. Because we live in a free country. We say that a lot, but I think sometimes we forget really what that means, so listen to it again.

We live in a free country. And that is a powerful idea. That’s a magnificent way to live. But there’s a price for that freedom, which is that sometimes we have to tolerate things that we don’t necessarily like.

So go back in that room, where you are free to think whatever you want to think about Larry Flynt and Hustler magazine. But ask yourselves if you want to make that decision for the rest of us. Because the freedom that everyone in this room enjoys is in a very real way in your hands. If we start throwing up walls against what some of us think is obscene we may very well wake up one morning and realize walls have been thrown up in all kinds of places that we never expected. And we can’t see anything or do anything.

And that’s not freedom. That is not freedom. So be careful. Thank you.”

(Also, Woody Harrelson gave the performance of his life in this film.)

Rating: ★★★★★

MOVIE REVIEW: NOW YOU SEE ME 2 (Jon Chu, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Now You See Me 2:

1. In Christopher Nolan’s vastly superior The Prestige, it was revealed that a magic trick consisted of three critical acts: The Pledge (where a magician shows you something ordinary, say an empty box), The Turn (where he creates something extraordinary out of it, like entering the box and disappearing), and The Prestige (where he ups the ante and completely stuns the audience, by suddenly appearing at the very back of the stage).

It would be very hard to successfully pull off this kind of magic now given the discerning minds that wanted to know how every trick was done and the countless Unmasking the Magician and Breaking the Magician’s Code episodes.

Some of us still wanted to be fooled, though, especially after the enjoyable first Now You See Me movie where The Four Horsemen pulled a literal million dollar stunt. Unfortunately, this sequel stopped trying after reaching The Turn.

2. Similar to watching a magic show, you know that you would have to suspend your disbelief for long stretches of time. You usually check your brain at the door and say goodbye to your Doubting Thomas self as soon as you enter the cinema. There is a limit to this, though, and that limit was completely abused here.

The worst sequence had to be the one where they kept throwing a card around while everyone around them (talk about a tight security) barely even noticed. It was elaborately designed to make the audience giddy with excitement and go “Ooooh!” at the end but that scene just flopped and I let out my trademark “Pfft!”. Mas pilit pa siya kesa sa Elmo Magalona and Janella Salvador loveteam tbh.

3. There were still some nifty bits (I particularly liked the sushi plate that turned into an attache case), but when the movie started explaining everything that happened (how the group ended up in Macau, for example) in the middle of the movie (!!!), it was just hard not to roll my eyes.

4. Lizzy Caplan would always be Janis Ian and I wasn’t sure why she was trying to act like Max Black (the broke waitress, not the philosopher) here. Kat Dennings wasn’t available?

5. Woody Harrelson stole every scene that he was in, especially as the curly twin brother who seemed lost in a 60’s time zone. I wouldn’t have complained if the movie focused on them instead of the tragic back story of Mark Ruffalo’s father.

6. I loved the Joy Luck Club film so I was pleasantly surprised to see Auntie Lindo (the wonderful Tsai Chin) being her Auntie Lindo self here. I could actually recite her lines from that movie still complete with her Chinese accent (“See hyeahhh…”). I suddenly remembered my favorite part in the book where another Chinese mother complained to her daughter about their nasty American male neighbor (“He raise his hand like this, show me his ugly fist and call me worst Fukien landlady. I not from Fukien. Hunh! He know nothing!”). Read the book, please!

7. So there’s really a champagne that’s worth $1.2M? Wow! If I owned one, I would probably be taking the smallest sips every other day so that it would last my entire lifetime. (Who am I kidding? I would probably keep it in our cabinet of wines where my mom stored all of my dad’s liquors that were never to be touched. I could swear we still have those Chivas Regal bottles that were placed there in the 80’s.)

8. That final airplane sequence was a complete mess. It was unoriginal, too, since it was first done to Paris Hilton in an Egyptian prank show. Says a lot about the movie, huh?

9. Daniel Radcliffe was looking more and more like the father of Liza Soberano in Dolce Amore. Also, all those years of studying magic in Hogwarts and he was still left clueless in the end. Hermione would be so disappointed. Tsk tsk!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆