Monday, August 14, 2017



Tumbledown had elements I liked. There’s a small town; writers for protagonists; a musician with a cult following; and grief. If done right, any one of those can make a compelling love story but sadly they were not wrapped up into one coherent story.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Nice Guys

It is refreshing not being able to see where a movie will go. There were elements that didn’t normally go together: mystery and humor, dramatic actors doing humor, porn and social consciousness. I favored one and was surprised constantly with the other.

Friday, August 04, 2017

War for the Planet of the Apes


The War for the Planet of the Apes suffers from wrong expectations.

One: the title says War.

Two: the chief ape, the protagonist, is named after a conqueror. Although war can have a figurative meaning with one character named Caesar the story had to go to some kind of battle. 

Blood was already shed in the last round, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, naturally I expected escalation especially since Woody Harrelson is in to play the Colonel. And that trailer didn't leave room for doubt.

Three: I always thought this trilogy will connect with 1968 Planet of the Apes which starred Charlton Heston, not that any plot point in the previous two movies suggested it will ever go in that direction but how could I not. Unlike Tim Burton’s version in 2001, the current trilogy had an air of being a prequel. Prequels always end up to somewhere familiar which I assumed was the original.

I’ve never seen original but I do remember the Statue of Liberty scene which implied something tragic has happened to Earth that man caused. Someone in Hollywood is bound to play with the idea of what it is.

Suffice to say I never got anywhere close to the movie I was picturing in my mind. 

The opening scene was up to expectations with Caesar vs a human assault force. After that Caesar's son was killed so naturally he gave chase to find the killer, going through a vast snowy landscape. War for the Planet of the Apes ended up as a hairy version of the Revenant only without the bear.

There was no war in the traditional sense. No wit of one general against another. There was barely even one on one combat in the lines of the champion of one side fighting the champion of another. None of that happened even when the Colonel and Caesar (Andy Serkis) eventually met.

If anything Caesar was at war with himself. He’s divided between revenge and leadership. He reassesses his principles and the sides of the conflict. Caesar’s adage of Ape not killing Ape points to a belief in superiority against man and an air of exclusion that may rival the way man sees ape. A young human girl tests all of this.

Had it not for the expectations that were set up and not met – trailer, previous movies, title – the story is ok. The story going that direction is not bad after all a story like the Revenant was nominated for best picture. 

What I hated more than most is that the Colonel had Caesar and his entire tribe captive. I think they call this villain monologue or evil gloating; hero escape scene follows a few minutes after. Nothing is more annoying in all of cinema than the villain missing his chance because he kept on talking. That is, unless you believe in the reason why the hero was kept alive.

The Colonel did not gloat although it was a monologue. Caesar was not in the mood to answer back after he pleaded for his people. And eventually the Colonel did talk too much not because Caesar escaped – which he did – but because what he said killed the soul of the movie.

The Colonel confessed that he foresees that apes will rule the earth eventually, pointing to, among other things, the virus. Hearing that, I thought about character motivation, the decisions the Colonel made, everything lost all sense. Even Caesar and his tribe becomes inconsequential. 

I only saw the trailer while encoding in this blog and the Colonel’s damn line, short of the virus, is in the trailer.

If the antagonist says apes - the protagonist - ruling everything is a foregone conclusion, why am I watching this movie for? What is the point of the story?

Tuesday, August 01, 2017


Dunkirk reminds me of 2001: A Space Odyssey – at least what little I remember of it – but with less classical music. Both are critical favorites but there is just an empty feeling when the characters barely talk. Well, empty is a strong word but more a feeling that something is missing.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Designated Survivor (ABC)

I never got to see Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan ascend to the Presidency in the movies so I had high expectations that Designated Survivor can scratch that itch. The show’s lead character Tom Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland), Housing and Urban Development Secretary, rose in a similar manner as Jack Ryan – an attack that completely destroys the Capitol Building wiping out the American leadership that was in it.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Finish it - Rose & Grace Bulalo

I looked at it quite sadly like I’ve never looked at a leftover before - a big bowl of bulalo. My eyes were measuring every angle of it for meat. There's no more green leafy vegetables in the soup because that was the first one I ate. Still a healthy or an unhealthy amount of meat is left.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

The Lennon Report

When a loved one dies it’s usually an ordinary day. There’s no sign of it coming and yet it did. You expect the world to end if only because it doesn’t feel right going on without them, yet the world moves on.

The Lennon Report is a movie based on real events of the night John Lennon was shot.  I had a little list of expectations on what it was; topping it was just a plain dramatization of events. Considering he was one of the more popular Beatle I also expected an end of an era feel or maybe an omen to a darker one. After a few minutes into the movie the question of fame came into view.

December 8, 1980 was an ordinary night, Christmas season. ABC producer Alan Weiss (Walter Vincent), was headed home. He had just finished his shift and as far as newsrooms go it was a quiet night. 

The Emergency Department of Roosevelt Hospital was the same. Dr. David Halleran (Evan Jonigkeit) was enjoying an NFL game with a patient while nurses were enjoying crossword puzzles and eating homemade cakes.

And then shots were fired over at Central Park West at the Dakota, a known home of celebrities.

I don’t know how true but I assume for cinematic purposes it seemed the requested ambulance never reached the Dakota because it was attending to an injured Alan Weiss who had a motor bike accident in the park. It was destiny; he ended up in the same hospital as John’s.

It is from the perspective of Alan Weiss that the perspective got skewed towards fame. The trailer already has Alan in a crusading tone that this shooting, a tragedy, was a story that needed to be told. He was a media man through and through.

By modern standards though, Alan was tamer. Modern standards meant that Alan, a paparazzi, or any random patient or staff may have shot and posted any part of the incident and posted it online.

Alan was annoyingly persistent after having pieced together from whispers by the police on site and ultimately the presence of Yoko Ono, trying to contact his station or asking around. This he did even when he was injured, hopping around to get what he needed until hospital staff took him out of the ER.

Even if tamer by modern standards was Alan Weiss in the right? Where is the line? John Lennon was shot; media is aware; public figure; no pictures taken; is the story a fair game as they say? 

There was a scene Alan, struggling to get up, attempting for a mad dash for an already grieving Yoko Ono – John was already pronounced dead – making her way out of the hospital indicated that the line, if it ever mattered at all, would be broken in a flash.

What I didn’t expect watching the Lennon Report is experiencing a sense of loss. I am a fan. There was a time during the 90s when a local TV station, on test broadcast, played only Beatles videos. They had simple songs with a timeless message. And socially they were my bread and butter on any videoke night.

All this issues of fame or the public’s obsession by it heightened my sense of loss which the filmmakers achieved because I was left hanging for any image of John or the man playing as John. I never got that. 

Not a close up when police brought them on their own from the Dakota; no goodbye (kiss the dead kin kind of scene) in the ER with Yoko Ono (Karen Tsen Lee). Only the back of the assassin Mark David Chapman was shown.

No Beatles posters were seen and not even a Beatles or John Lennon song in the soundtracks. In the hours surrounding John Lennon’s death there was an outpouring of grief by the fans in the surrounding area, I didn’t even get to hear them sing but I have seen news clips that they did.

My mind was asking: ok that’s how you feel Mr. Reporter, ER nurse, doctor, but how is John?

If Alan was not enough there is a dispute over who gets the credit operating over John Lennon, which was not overtly presented in the movie. What drives a doctor to do that? They would never have done that to an ordinary person.

Legally speaking is that even possible, doctors sign forms; still there it was, when I google the topic. The icing on the cake would be one of the nurses – end credits have interviews of the real ER staff - said a fan was offered $500 for her bloody pants.

Where is John? Who was John Lennon? Of course I know he died nearly the start of the movie but like in real life, death of a loved one, the deceased just stops. We the living get no video montage, no answers why. As in the movie, those in the ER, Yoko; we find our own answers.

And Imagine.