Monday, June 19, 2017

Spare Parts




Spare Parts is an uplifting movie based on the Wired Magazine article La Vida Robot made in the same mold as the Mighty Ducks. Only here instead of ice hockey it is an underwater remote operated vehicle – robotics – contest sponsored by the Office of Naval Research and NASA.

As is with the hockey movie, the lead characters are students seemingly lost in life; they come together for a common goal, and ironically mentored by a man with issues. It is through this journey that they all go through they are able to build a better version of themselves.
Fred Cameron is a composite of Fred Lajvardi
and Allan Cameron who advised the team
Fredi Cameron (George Lopez), an engineer jumping from job to job ends up on the outskirts, in Carl Hayden Community High School, which is 92 percent Hispanic, half of whom says Principal Karen Lowry (Jamie Lee Curtis), are undocumented. Although Karen has her doubts why an engineer would be hopping jobs she accepts Fredi’s application for substitute teacher.

Karen assigned Fredi to the unpopular robotics club virtually assuring him that no one would sign up. Fredi couldn’t be happier to be just coasting his 4 month tenure as substitute teacher, until Oscar Vasquez (Carlos PenaVega) came in and asked to me mentored in joining a robotics contest. Oscar told the very skeptical Fredi that the contest was a means to an end especially for undocumented immigrants like him.  

With Fredi convinced of helping, Oscar went on with recruitment and got who would be the team brains, Cristian Arcega (David Del Rio). Fredi himself added a scrappy young mechanic Lorenzo Santillan (Jose Julian).

They now had a one-two punch, Cristian the designer is helped making his ideas real by Lorenzo who is very good with his hands. 

What makes Lorenzo so great is his ability to cannibalizing the spare parts out of anything just to make the ROV cheap. Luis Aranda (Oscar Javier Gutierrez II), they chose him for the size. The tether man who’s main job is to carry ROV and assist with adding or subtracting the slack of the tether.

From the Washington Post

Carl Hayden Community High School entered the contest against colleges instead of high school. They thought it would be a positive spin they will say to the world and themselves; losing was already an expectation, losing against college level at least mitigates that fact. Needless to say nothing went as expected.

I like the casting Spare Parts though George Lopez confuses me sometimes. Not that he’s bad actually he’s great for the role that called for occasional funny moments but not all out comedy. It’s just that when I hear his voice I keep thinking about the Rock hosting a game show.

Oscar Vasquez feels underdeveloped.  During the course of the story I keep wondering why he chose robotics as a fallback because the project was a Lorenzo-Cristian show. Luis was the muscle that much is obvious. 

From the Wired article Oscar was the leader. Maybe they blended too well cause Oscar never stood out as leader, he did what he was good at which oddly did not involve much tinkering at least compared to Lorenzo or Cristian. Only when the movie epilogue mentioned that Oscar Vasquez ends up having a degree as a Mechanical Engineer did I ever think he was into engineering.

It is in the building of a robot, the engineering, is what I like most about the movie. Spare Parts showed how scrappy the Carl Hayden Community High School robotics team was which, if you think about it, have engineering and a life lesson angle to it.

The life lesson is that you take what life gives you; if it’s not the right fit adapt it for your own purposes. Principal Lowry describes that during the course of the school year students disappear from the roll because of deportation. 

The team, all undocumented immigrants, could just lay down and wait for it to happen; Lorenzo’s dad fears it and so does Oscar’s mother. But like an engineering problem the team works to find a way out of their predicament.
The engineering angle; let’s just say I find Tony Stark designing his suit as showing how cool engineering can be in a sci-fi way, Spare Parts actually brings you to hardware stores and whatever surplus or junk shops the team were digging into. 

Parts, working parts meant for something else; they re-purposed it for their ROV. It’s not often fun to see people breaking things apart in order to build something. Women’s tampons were the highlight of this point.

I also liked how teachers here upbeat from Fredi Cameron to Gwen Kolinsky (Marisa Tomei), who’s put in there as a potential love interest, to Principal Lowry. The character of Fredi had a brokenness about him which needed a Gwen to straighten things out; from there Fredi can then straighten the kids out.


Usually in these types of films where there is an underfunded school, the principal is either the villain or at least they are the realist. They sit idly by and watch the teacher do all the work. Here Lowry is all support. She’s much more a bundle of joy than Fredi or Gwen ever was.  

Lastly and I do mean last. I think it’s a mark of a great script that Spare Parts besides being a great story but also having the best last lines in recent memory. 

The absolute last line is the beautiful ribbon to everything, neatly tied into a bow. As is with the gift you are aware of the box as you are aware of the story, it’s flow, shape, and narrative. Tie it with a bow and you get to see the whole box again see how it fits. Same with that last line. It all fits and then you’ll smile for more reasons than that line.


In Real Life:



Sunday, June 18, 2017

Dencio's - Drinking Spot Overlooking QC


Imagine the 3rd level of a building that rests on top of a hill and surrounded by a golf course and high end exclusive villages. The view afforded to you by Dencio’s Capitol Greenstreet is simply unmatched in the entire Quezon City.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Fate of the Furious (Fast and Furious 8)


It seems I’ll be with the few thinking that the latest of the Fast and the Furious franchise has run out of steam and should call it a day. People are still buying it in droves. Furious 9 is now guaranteed and a Furious 10 will supposedly be the last of it all.

Spoiler warning.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

13 Reasons Why



The first thing that came to mind was the movie I Know What You Did Last Summer. Somehow tapes were made naming the 13 people who killed somebody which seems to be the voice on the tapes. Suicide disclosure on the trailer notwithstanding there was an implied darker reason to it all. 

It made some sense. 13 people, un-sportsman like odds, one girl dead – got to be a murder conspiracy. After the first episode I realize the operative word was ‘reason’ hence the title 13 Reasons Why

Friday, June 09, 2017

The Girl Who Played with Fire

The Girl Who Played with Fire (Millennium, #2)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Unlike the first book – Dragon Tattoo – The Girl Who Played With Fire started slow. Remember how book one had started with the mysterious gifts Henrik Vanger had been receiving that set the pace for a compelling mystery, this book didn’t start off with anything similar. Literally it was wallowing on the beach holding glasses with umbrellas kind of slow.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Sunday, June 04, 2017

What I Fear about Reviewing Movies

I love vlogs like Lessons from the Screenplay, Every Frame a Painting, and Movies I love (And so can You). They have such great technical insight. They are able to see and express more aspects of the film when I can only say things like: boring; it works; I like his acting; I don’t like this or that and so on.

Sometimes I fear that watching these vloggers and others tackling the same field, I lose the simple joy of watching a movie; that I’ll lose my blissful ignorance. Add to that the practice of writing a review means I have a tendency than most people to break things down.

Wonder Woman


Agreed. Wonder Woman is the best DC Extended Universe (DCEU) movie to date. Although I am not really sure being compared to Captain America: The First Avenger is a good thing. There are indeed comparisons but Wonder Woman is better. What does that even say; the best of DCEU is equal to whatever The First Avenger is to Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Before moving on, spoiler warnings. I am at a loss why readers would still need warning because any review is a potential spoiler however vague they try to be. Anyways.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Don't Breathe


Rocky (Jane Levy), Alex (Dylan Minnette), and Money (Daniel Zovatto) are small time crooks preying on homes. Money is slow considering their level of expertise, until one day, the mark of a lifetime comes into their attention with a potential windfall of $300,000 in cash.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Max Steel


I don’t like Max McGrath or more accurately I don't like Ben Winchell. What works is the reluctant hero or the pompous one who’s been taken down a peg. To me Ben was neither. 

He looks like a jock yet the story did not have him act like a jock, so my emotions were split into uselessness. Ben just doesn’t work.

There was an overselling by the music in the opening scene going to the wrong direction. I really thought Max was a jock because of it. The camera came creeping slowly from the farthest shot to a close-up on the roof where Max was, on his sketch pad. At this time I was thinking an opening the likes of Gladiator when the story starts in the middle of a fight.

He looked really serious sketching an industrial plant which means in cinema, places a villain might be found. Music plus hero plus probable villain hideout; sure he’s a jock. Max is going into battle at the first instance.

And then…the story fragments, playing sympathy card. Instead of an attack Max is developed as the average guy who didn’t want the power. He’s really just looking for a place in this world being a child in a single parent household; father died. 

The opening scene with Max and his mom (Maria Bello), was about them setting up the house. It was the original house they lived in when Max was born in the town where his father died. Memories must be hanging in Max’s head by now. Yet what I am curious about is how can people own the original house moving 9 times? 

I am not feeling Max at all being oversold a hero by that opening music which is still playing as he walks around his old house. This is where I am suppose to empathize with him now, moving around has hardened him into a loner.

Selling Max as a loner took a nose dive at the school scene when the first student he bumps into is the beautiful Sofia Martinez (Ana Villafañe). She’s really beautiful like a young Rachel Leigh Cook. I can’t say I remember any of his classmates, anything that might say he’s an outcast looking for a place in the world. Where is the normal guy, the loner, the wimp? With a beautiful girl now in the scene he can’t be doing badly. Have you noticed Ben looks like Robert Pattinson?

Ben is absolutely getting no help from the narrative. He’s been made to carry it all but he’s not that good. I am split between jock and wimp and buying neither. After a while I begin to notice that Max has done nothing heroic. Not a jock, a wimp, and maybe not a hero too.

Turns out the actual origin of the hero in this origin story comes in the end of the movie. The filmmakers went for the more mysterious vibe. There’s nothing wrong with the villain reveal left for last because it can function as a plot twist, but knowing how the hero got his power is usually settled before half. I think it would have helped in getting the reluctance hero vibe, Max knowing his power and saying: this can’t be me, this can’t be me.

What’s the use of the mystery when he’s being trained after all by Steel (Josh Brener). Trained and not doing anything heroic. When Max knows his origin he knows the villain, so they’re both doing nothing.

A mystery makes it darker than a usual discovery of a new powered self. The fun of an origin story is the discovery of the new powered self which interferes with the hero’s regular life, yet the hero overcomes. But Max doesn’t anything going in his life or as a hero; how can anything work in this movie?

Certainly not the action. The key to both hero and villain is the ability to harness energy. Steel helps Max with this and combined makes a suit. As narrated by Steel among what’s possible among others are speed, strength, energy blast but all I remember is kickboxing strangely enough. Martial arts in an armor like suit reminds me of Power Rangers and in this post Iron Man era that is a letdown. Max Steel flew only just before the end credits, after all the fighting is done.

To conclude, I think, I was just not set up to be in the proper mood. From the casting of Ben to the false anticipation of attack because of that music, I was never into it. Max Steel was attempting to go all over the map emotionally but achieving nothing in the process.  

The loner looks like a jock, even has girl to easily going with him. The discovery of self took an air of mystery. Max Steel is emotionally dead and disjointed.

Maybe M. Night Shyamalan can give Max Steel’s director some pointers on minimalist, mysterious hero type. I’m talking about Unbreakable. But since Max Steel is adapted from a cartoon the movie should have just went all out flashy and direct to the point.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

A Sequel of a Looping Story

News came out on the first week of May 2017 that an Edge of Tomorrow sequel is very likely. Emily Blunt has promised to return, Tom Cruise is on board. Doug Liman is quoted as saying:
“We have an amazing story! It’s incredible! Way better than the first film, and I obviously loved the first film. It will be called Live Die Repeat and Repeat. Tom [Cruise] is excited about it, and Emily Blunt is excited about it. The big question is just when we’ll do it. But it’s not an if, it’s a when.”
So, what do we have? 

The Girl on the Train


It was a modest start. The girl on the train even looked bored; so bored her mind picks on the houses she sees by the tracks. But from modest beginnings The Girl on the Train ended with a bang.  It has drama and mystery; everything wrapped in a theme that challenges a woman’s validation of self. An original gem giving us a brief respite in this era of superhero movies.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Louder than Bombs


Brave; skillful with the camera; able to empathize with the locals and tell their story; Isabelle Reed (Isabelle Huppert), a famed war photographer, died in a head on collision just a mile away from her home. At first glance, it looked like her luck just ran out after all the near misses.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

UP Diliman - The Best Place to Jog in Quezon CIty

In jogging, what I love is a straight line where I would know my endurance based on how much between points A and B I am able to finish at a jogging pace. Was it 100 percent or 50 or 25 of A to B? Sure, a treadmill may have a distance reading but it doesn't beat the fact the you're actually moving.

Based on that qualification nothing beats, in Quezon City at least, UP Diliman as a jogging venue.

Jogging UP Diliman
UP Diliman Osmeña Ave. Sunday, around 6:30 am. It may not be obvious but
as far as the eye can see there are joggers

Friday, May 12, 2017

Nerve


Nerve is a story about social media excess; how wrongly it has been used for self-actualization; for communication; and for interpersonal relationships. It could have been great had it not been distracted by what I assume are marketing priorities and gave the story’s two young lovebirds more focus than the game that brought them together: Nerve.

Friday, May 05, 2017

Ghostbusters (2016)


Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig), Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), Jillian Holtzmann (KateMcKinnon) and Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) may have not laughed their way throughout the story but it feels like they did. That’s because the 2016 Ghostbusters had the comic pacing of a sitcom or more appropriately a Saturday Night Live.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2


It’s a team of a-holes now instead of the individuals in Vol. 1.

The Guardians of the Galaxy are back in another music filled adventure – that’s not a musical – to save the galaxy. Vol. 2 is more fun and surprisingly more sentimental than the first ride out. Everyone’s got personal issues. At some points I thought the sentimentally will be too much but it never did go overboard.

What saved the movie was the abundant, and now perfectly timed, points of levity. I don’t remember having burst into laughter in the last one but I did in this one, and at many different times. More important than the laughter is that I lost laser focus – but never forgot – on just how many characters have similar issues that they should just start a support group. In other words I took their issues less seriously.

We remember Vol. 1 with Star-Lord's (Chris Pratt) mommy hang-ups.  If only he knew the tree monster in that other movie then maybe he could have spoken more meaningfully before she died. His regret of not holding her hand was actually the most humanly fulfilling aspect of Vol. 1.  Besides the fact that it had helped him survived an Infinity Stone it also helped him regain what was lost: a family. It was all about the reaching.

In Vol. 2 with the set-up of surviving an Infinity Stone (because he shouldn’t be able to) and the publicized casting of Kurt Russell the story went into daddy hang-ups mode. Mommy was about unexpressed goodbyes, so Daddy naturally was about: ‘where the hell were you?’

Of course being the leader of the group I naturally thought he’d take up most of the emotional space – one team member falters the rest pick up the slack - which he did, but soon Gamora (Zoe Zaldana) and Rocket (Bradley Cooper) followed with almost similar issues. I worried about loss of focus. Everyone’s climbing on the family hang-ups bandwagon now; do I really have to watch everybody?

Thankfully the Guardians of the Galaxy is one of the better teams comic book movies today. I say this because it doesn’t feel like every character is obligated to get screen time which I always thought of the first Avengers movie. Roles are distinct; hierarchies in terms of the characters in the story are recognizable. 

Case in point Gamora’s issues didn’t hamper the story’s focus on Star-Lord’s; complimented it actually. Rocket’s was all business too until his “mask” was taken off in the end to reveal a sensitive side.

Getting my mind off of them were Drax (Dave Bautista) and Mantis.  They are the most fun in the movie. Drax was not that good a fit with the love-hate comedy routine the team does so much like the ‘who’s got tape’ in the trailers. He’s a better fit now with Mantis (Pom Klementieff). To use a wrestling term which Bautista is, Drax and Mantis are the perfect tag team. The two are enjoyable.

The ending I find really sweet and as good as that mix Star-Lord’s mother gave is an homage to a quote by Richard Bach: “The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other's life. Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof.” Ending that way felt like – ok, sentimentality is good.

What didn’t work for me is the plot. It’s not bad it’s just that I keep relating it to the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe which of course will culminate in a movie against Thanos. In that light it feels like nothing’s added. Maybe if there was and I missed it then at best there will be passing reference to it in a Netflix series or Agent’s of SHIELD.

Avengers Infinity War is slated for May of next year; Spider-man and Thor are this year; still feels like something’s missing – this is from the point of view of someone who has Infinity Gauntlet as the only comics I have left since childhood.

Marvel has made statements recently that it was their intent to lessen the overlap because the story might not call for it. 

I think for Guardians of the Galaxy the story does call for it. In fact the leader of the Infinity Gauntlet storyline in the comics has yet to be seen; he seems slated for a Guardians 3. Then again could it be a brief appearance in Infinity War? Will he or won’t he be used in Infinity War?

At present I don’t see that the Avengers MCU line-up, as is, has enough intelligence – much less brawn – on Thanos. Remember MCU cannot use Silver Surfer or Galactus. Doctor Strange is still green around the ears so how much help can he muster. He’s slated to guest in Thor so that’s worth watching. The last two movies before the War should overlap definitely because it’s a buildup. Then again it will come in 2 parts so I guess the Avengers will have their ass kicked next year.

Sorry I digress. I venturing too much outside the movie now but I can’t contain my excitement.

Back to regular programming I think James Gunn has done a terrific job for Guardians of the Galaxy. For Vol. 2 he has stayed loyal to his theme of family – in the widest sense – and spread it all around. Every character has something to add to it whether actual issues or that he was simply lonely. 

It’s what makes the characters lovable, like a family. Do I think the same way of the Avengers – honestly no.

To conclude I liked Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 for its fun – the comedy – and yes the sentimentality too.  It all works.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sureseats eMailed Seating Details


For the first time I received an email from Sureseats giving the details of my reservation including the copy of my e-ticket. It's a good upgrade considering before it I actually had to print screen into an image and upload it to my smart phone. 

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Blue Jay




Blue Jay is an entirely different love story. The typical would just have a boy and a girl act out the romance; as it goes through its ups and downs until then by the end the audience would be all mushy and daydream on when and where can they find such a lover.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Battery Indicator Wanted - Electric Clippers


I use this on my head for some time now. Looking at the manual I am not even sure if it is even meant for the head just the mustache but hey it is still working for maybe 5 years now. There's not much difference between the stubble on my head and mustache anyway.

A Monster Calls




The story begins “with a boy too old to be a kid, too young to be a man, and a nightmare.”

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Girl with All the Gifts




The few zombie movies that I like offered solutions to the problem rather than just be running away: I am Legend had a cure and in World War Z, Brad Pitt discovered a means of defense. Knowing that the heroes of a zombie genre can do nothing but run away feels restrictive. I am the one that feels tired for them.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Passengers - A Nerdwriter Rearrangement


One of the YouTube channels I follow, Nerdwriter actually made an edit at 2:56 which takes out the romance - an angle that didn't work - and give the movie a more mysterious tone.

Limiting Passengers to romance was the movie's undoing.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Sully


Only death exempts the mind from wandering into the what-if especially having been so close to death.

Even after successful water landing on the Hudson River Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger’s (Tom Hanks) sees himself still crashing into buildings, which could have happened had he strayed off the river.

The story of that fateful flight is very straight forward. Capt Chesley Sullenberger, his co-pilot and First Officer Jeff Skiles, and three stewardesses were manning the US Airways Flight 1549 in a routine flight between New York to Charlotte, North Carolina. The flight had 150 passengers on board.

Barely minutes after take-off, Flight 1549 endured bird strikes that took out both engines. Capt. Sully, basically left with an oversized metal glider, had the choice of either Laguardia or Teterburo to make an emergency landing. After going through a series of parameters, quickly and mentally, he glided the airplane into the river.  The plane suffered a breach but was relatively intact albeit sinking. Only the quick response of New York’s emergency services and nearby boat ferries managed to end this incident at zero casualties.

Under creative liberties the filmmakers avoided the simple straight forward. The story of Sully starts days and months after the incident. Everything is framed with the investigation of Capt. Sully and his First Officer Jeff Skiles by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The NTSB is an American agency that determines the probable cause of the accidents and issues safety recommendations aimed at preventing future accidents. A plane dived into the Hudson; an investigation is just standard procedure.

So the start of the film wherein Capt. Sully is seeing himself crash into a building is not just a result of shocked nerves after having faced death so close; he really has to replay the incident over and over again because he’s under investigation.  The investigation also has an added benefit to the narrative as it provided a pretext to see different points of view which should culminate in a full factual picture of the incident.

Besides Capt. Sully there is his crew, the passengers of US Airways Flight 1549, the ferry boats of the Hudson River, and the City New York. Sully is a story about community as much as it is about the man. Despite being a plane crash it was a feel good moment for New York especially with its bad history with airplanes.

Unfortunately under creative liberties the movie might have made a casualty of the reputations of the NTSB panel making the investigations. Based on a Bloomberg article, the NTSB has said they were not consulted in the making of the film. Filmmakers on the other hand replied that the story was in Capt. Sully’s point of view.

Story wise, without knowing what went on in those hearings; I thought it outrageous that the investigations can boil down to simulations vs. an experienced pilot. I didn’t think it possible because I doubt NTSB would dare politically with the incident practically deified as the Miracle of the Hudson. Besides even if they dared can it really be possible to favour simulations over an experienced pilot?  Or is it a case to case basis?

I also thought than in a post September 11 world there is fear against a piloted projectile such as an airplane. Those fears are what I was thinking of every time the story cuts into Sully’s nightmares. September 11 comes to mind also in cuts of the citizens watching the Flight 1549 going down; like you can almost hear them say, ‘not again’.  And yet with all this history the investigation hinges only on the Flight 1549’s ability to make the airport or not?

Acting wise, what negative can I say about Tom Hanks? He exudes hero even without the physicality of someone like Tom Cruise who is more an action hero.  Tom has a face you’d just believe whether it be stranded on an island or piloting a plane to the river. Tom has a brilliant support cast led by his first officer played Aaron Eckhart and his wife played Laura Linney.

Creative liberties run amuck or an expression of the pilot’s point of view? As always back reading is advised before swallowing hook line and sinker any information coming out from true-to-life flicks. Bottom line is whatever comes out of Hollywood are just movies.

Remember


Remember has the basic elements for a comedy if only Christopher Plummer didn’t look so feeble. A man hunting another man, problem is the hunter is afflicted with dementia. It’s like 50 First Dates in a retirement home only that the hunter does not recall love everyday but revenge.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Kong: Skull Island


Kong: Skull Island started with the obsession of Bill Randa (John Goodman) but unfortunately got dominated by the obsession of Col. Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) to kill Kong all throughout. I haven’t been to a mission even remotely similar to the one in the movie but unless it’s a war I don’t see how Col. Packard, a Vietnam veteran, can hijack the mission and thereby the story.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium, #1)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My review comes from one who has seen the David Fincher adaptation first hence the lacking of any mentions of excitement that comes with knowing something new. Instead I will just mention what I find different and often richer.

The Last Jedi - teaser



What can be deduced from the trailer and much publicized by articles, bloggers, and snippets months before is that not much time has passed since The Force Awakens.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Passengers (2016)


The beginning was deceitful albeit out of desperation; the chemistry between stars is suspect; and the ending just cuts off suddenly which they meant to be heart-warmingly positive but ended only to make story too good to be true even for a sci-fi flick.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Swiss Army Man


Although not obvious at first, Swiss Army Man can be described in one quote given by its leading character.

“You know, I’d always hoped that right before I died my life would flash before my eyes and I would see wonderful things, but as I was hanging up there I didn’t really see much of anything, but I did see you.”

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Princess Diarist

The Princess Diarist

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The last book of Carrie Fisher takes us into a trip what went through her mind in and around the shooting of the first Star Wars now affectionately called A New Hope a.k.a Episode IV. There is the pre-casted portion where she is merely Debbie Reynold’s daughter. There is a portion while filming which is a huge chunk of the book because Harrison is right smack in it. And there is life after Star Wars or also known as being under the shadow of Princess Leia.

Citizenfour


It was a trollish start for the now famous NSA whistle-blower. He was in fact more than the average troll communicating with encrypted emails which likewise required pass keys to read. To Laura Poitras, documentary filmmaker, and Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian both of whom he was trying to feel out for months he was Citizenfour.

xXx: Return of Xander Cage


Sunday, March 12, 2017

X + Y ( A Brilliant Young Mind )


Perhaps for the first time ever I want to comment on the title first because this film has two. X + Y for its home country release in the United Kingdom and ironically it has a dumbed down version, A Brilliant Young Mind, for the American market. While I understand the marketing reasons, the title X + Y speaks more of the story and its theme, not just referring to the mind of one character.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

The Autopsy of Jane Doe


A slasher movie was big in the 80s and one of its most important elements is a killer often unstoppable and lacking in motivation. Every kill has to have a sense of uniqueness regardless if slasher has a preferred weapon.  And finally, another of the genre’s highlights is an obsession with pain -like the victim must be visibly feeling every entrance of the blade – and sex.

Monday, March 06, 2017

The Accountant


Like the famous artwork about dogs playing poker which lead protagonist Christian Wolff loves, the beauty of The Accountant is that it is also incongruous.

Accountants are perceived to be boring and special people that can make sense of a sheet of numbers.  The movie even exaggerated that point making Christian autistic – as if only a person born with narrow focus and social difficulties can understand a financial sheet.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Hirohito: Emperor of Japan

Hirohito: Emperor of Japan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was watching the Netflix series The Crown around the time I was reading this, and all I can think of the book was cliché. Not because there are similar themes running through the stories of the British throne and this Japanese one, and there is. But mainly because it feels untrue, copied; that it’s not fact when Hirohito: Emperor of Japan, especially, as biography it should be.

The common thread in those two which is more apparent in Hirohito: Emperor of Japan is that the throne is a prison as much as it is a position with which to rule. As one who has never occupied a position that can barely command the loyalty of 5, and also one whose country was ravaged by Japan during the Second World War it feels untrue. The head of an empire makes things possible; he’s no one’s prisoner.

Logan


The caption on my Instagram says, “Red everywhere…” 

When I took that shot it was still an empty brand new Gateway Cinema 5; I was amusing myself looking at the neat reddish design of the entire theater, waiting for Logan to be screened. After watching, red though this time refers to blood which by now is foremost on my mind.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Pinatubo Crater on Feb 25

This trip was two years in waiting. My 2015 plans did not push through because the pick-up point was farther than I was comfortable with especially in the early morning. This year when I saw Mt. Pinatubo Adventure Phils. on Facebook and that McDonald’s Edsa cor Panay Street was pick up point. Perfect!

Total cost is PHP 2,700, down payment is PHP 500.  I deposited the down payment and attached a picture of the deposit receipt to secure my slot. Mt. Pinatubo Adventure Phils confirmed.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

La La Land


La La Land, to the best of my recollection, is the first musical I have ever seen only because I swore to finish this personal project of seeing every 2017 Oscar Best Picture Nominee.

As expected I find it hard taking the acting seriously and subsequently the story when people break out to sing and dance. So instead of a character I focused on a song and City of Stars stood out. The song was my emotional goal post. I appreciated the ending because through it I understood why.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Lion


I've seen eight best picture nominees now in the 2017 Oscars. La la Land, the 9th, will be the last. Even with one movie still out this one has risen to the top of my list.

Implicit in the title is the bravery and there was; but what makes this movie endearing is the tenderness hidden underneath. Lion actually is a story of love, the best kind that anyone will ever have in this life. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Arrival


Arrival is the latest in a line of movies that can be described as watered down science fiction where flashy high tech is removed just to keep close to reality. Previous movies are Interstellar and The Martian.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Hidden Figures


It was funny at first, a woman in midsized heels running to another building just to pee. Then it became depressing as she still had to relieve herself in another building even under heavy rain. Eventually it was just idiotic because even in a great emergency Katherine Goble (Katherine Johnson when she married) would still be in the other building because she is black.

This is 1960s segregated America and even the National Aeronautics and Space Administration(NASA) is no exemption, space race notwithstanding. 

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Moonlight


This is definitely not the stereotypical black movie.

In trying to recall the few movies with generally African American characters that I have seen these are what I came up with: Cage (ok ok, not a movie); The Nutty Professor; 42; He Got Game. Given that, the stereotypical black then would be a sportsman or gangbanger. 

Moonlight doesn’t fit in any of those because the protagonist does not know who he is which, for some reason, skewed into gender identity. 

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Hell or High Water


I watched the movie without having seen the trailer so what I wrote I learned organically scene by scene.  Apparently the trailer contained what took half the movie to know which either speaks bad of the movie or of the trailer. You would have googled it anyway so I embedded the trailer in the end.

The opening was prototypical. 

A bank robbed by two men.  Cowboy hat and a large belt buckle worn by the manager meant it was Texas. Once the robberies became a spree it was cue in the Texas Rangers time. Bank robbery, cowboys, and Rangers in hot pursuit; if the movie had horses it might still have worked.  But even without horses, with the elements already available I can see an ending that would fit a Bon Jovi song.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Hacksaw Ridge


You just know a movie is so well put together when you see it.  It’s almost like a song, like the rhythm is right; you’re feeling no bumps.

Hacksaw Ridge is a movie that is beautifully put together, the best so far among the movies I have seen in this year’s list of Oscar nominees for best picture. So far I’ve seen Fences and Manchester by the Sea previously.  If the great Robert Downey Jr. who is the poster child of falling from grace and coming back again could not remove Mel Gibson from the blacklist - Robert was or is hoping Mel direct an Iron Man movie - then maybe Mel’s work can. From what I see in this movie, Mel has not lost a step since directing Apocalypto of 2006.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Manchester by the Sea


John Chandler’s (Kyle Chandler) last act, posthumously, was to call for a handyman, his own brother Lee (Casey Affleck).  He wrote in his last will and testament that Lee is to be his son Patrick’s (Lucas Hedges) legal guardian when he dies.  It was a wish meticulously thought of and prepared for. John even set money aside to make sure his brother comes back to Manchester from that handyman job out of town and perform his charge.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Fences


13 minutes… 21 minutes…

I’ve barely begun and already I’m counting out the scene – or is it three scenes? – waiting for the switch or at least when Denzel Washington concedes charge of it. The opening minutes of Fences felt as if Troy Maxson (Denzel) was going to carry the story by brute force; talking all the time and appearing in nearly every scene as the focal point and with almost the same energy. 

Monday, January 30, 2017

The People vs George Lucas


The spirit of The People vs George Lucas boils down to the ownership of the art in all its meanings. 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Burr

Burr

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Death is a refuge especially for people of history boxing them too either category: as a god or the devil. What I like most about this book is that it humanizes them, the American founders.

Aaron Burr has served under Benedict Arnold and George Washington during the Revolutionary War. He also had a successful law practice thereafter, sometimes taking cases together with Alexander Hamilton. He was vice president under Thomas Jefferson only at the 36th ballot in the House of Representatives; the 35 other times were tied.

His political career took a big slide after fatally shooting Alexander Hamilton in a duel. Wandering about in the new western territories Burr ended up in the middle of a conspiracy that would divide the United States. Along with guilt or innocence, Burr’s trial for treason, also pitted the rights and powers of the executive and that of the courts against each other. Although he was never pronounced guilty Aaron Burr was effectively thereafter a political corpse.