Showing posts from 2011

My Top 10 Movies of 2011

2011 has been a fairly good movie year. In the early months of 2011, the movies I saw were mostly from 2010-- a happily self-imposed prerequisite before watching the Golden Globes and the Oscars. But the following months after the awards season came the parade of Hollywood blockbuster movies, courtesy of my gig as a movie reviewer of newly released movies that began in February. These commercial movies mostly make up my 2011 movie year, and although some of them did not provide me a soul-satisfying, mind-blowing experience, they are nonetheless very good movies worth watching the second, or third time around.

So, here's my Top 10 Movies of 2011, in no preferential order:
1. Super 8 2. The Adventures of Tintin 3. X-Men: First Class 4. Crazy, Stupid, Love. 5. Rise of the Planet of the Apes 6. Ang Babae sa Septic Tank (local indie) 7. One Day (the movie that made me cry in 2011) 8. 50/50 9. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 10. Thelma (local indie)
And in case you als…

REVIEW | One Day (2011)

Emma (Anne Hathaway) has always been in love with Dexter (Jim Sturgess). But because he told her, "We can just be friends," that one day in Scotland, in July 15th 1988, after graduation, they did become close platonic best friends for a long time, with the smart and sort of geeky Emma still harboring feelings for her commitment-phobe womanizing and booze-guzzling best friend.
In One Day, based on the bestselling novel by David Nichols, who also penned the movie's screenplay, and directed by Lone Scherfig (An Education), we follow the two in a span of 20 years as they lead their own lives, sometimes together and sometimes not--the life events in the following years are shown to us on the anniversary of their friendship, July 15th.
Putting off watching this drama-love story for fear that it's going to be Nicholas Sparks-ish, I was pleasantly relieved that it's not. Never mind Hathaway's awful accent that skips between Scottish, British and American Princess Diary

REVIEW | Perfect Sense (2011)

Imagine an apocalyptic scenario when one by one you lose your human senses. First, you lose your sense of smell, then your sense of taste...eventually losing all five of your senses. Just when you have fallen in love with someone.
The BBC film Perfect Sense is a disconcerting romance set in Glasgow in the midst of a worldwide epidemic of an unknown disease that eliminates the senses, each sensory loss is preceded by an extreme emotional outburst. It's a highly tragic time for a chef (Ewan McGregor) and an epidemiologist (Eva Green) to fall in love.
In Perfect Sense, directed by David Mackenzie (Young Adam), it's not really the love story that emotionally connects to the viewers, but the extraordinary and frightening concept of losing what mankind needs not only for survival but for pleasure, presented in a raw, creative and poetic style that actually heightens our emotions and senses. We watch a world in its momentary phase of madness and chaos as the symptom of losing one's…

Demystified: Ayala Triangle Gardens' Lights and Sound Show

Recently, people are trekking to the latest place-to-be-and-post-on-Facebook event: the "Symphony of Lights and Sounds" at the Ayala Triangle Gardens. Sounds intriguing: colorful lights dancing to the music, or some sort of an Avatar-esque experience in the middle of the metropolis at night, surrounded by curtains of sparkling, blinking magic. 
So when the family decided to have dinner out, we agreed to go to Ayala so we could also check out the Symphony for a taste of entertainment and photography and not as part of the Christmas season, simply because we do not celebrate Christmas (click here if you're curious to know why).
The lights and sounds show comes to life every 30 minutes beginning 6 in the evening and  ends at 9 every day until December 30th, 2011.  When we arrived at the gardens a little before 7pm, the place was already crowded; adults and children waiting in the dark under the canopy of trees, chatting, snacking, or waiting quietly with their c…

The Logic of The Tuscani: Dissecting The Four Flavors

Haven't tried Pizza Hut's Tuscani pizza? It's basically thin, chewy, and bigger. Therefore, richer and more filling. 
December 17, 2011
Tasting my fourth Tuscani pizza: 4-Cheese Lasagna.
When I bit into the pizza, I was shocked and momentarily confused. I was sure I was eating a pizza. Yes, I was using a fork because it was piping hot! But I might as well be eating a plate of lasagna. 
My heart sank. I was craving pizza, not lasagna. 
And I felt foolish for ordering a lasagna-flavored pizza.
The Tuscani 4 Cheese Lasagna flavor was perfectly lasagna, deliciously lasagna...with four cheeses: Parmesan, cheddar, mozzarella and cream cheese. Still, it's 100% lasagna. And it had an odd effect: Your eyes land on a familiar triangular piece and your brain signals "pizza." Then your taste buds, once they chew on the pizza, send a message to the brain, "Lasagna! Lasagna!" It's a disorienting, unpleasant feeling. I love lasagna, don't get me wrong, but I wan…

REVIEW | Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol (2011)

A glimpse of the teaser scene, when Tom Cruise is scaling Dubai's Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, is probably enough to convince you that it's going to be this year's most jaw-dropping action scene. And with two-time Academy Award nominee Jeremy Renner included in the picture, fans of the movie franchise, as well as action/espionage movie enthusiasts, won't have any reason not to see Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol-- enhanced in an IMAX theater, and actually partially filmed using IMAX cameras.
Super-spy Agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise, who did all of the stunts in this movie) returns to the big screen after five years, in Ghost Protocol,this time working equally with a team, alongside Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead), and Paula Patton (Precious). In this fourth installment, Hunt's agency, the IMF (Impossible Mission Force), is disavowed-- blamed for the bombing of The Kremlin in Moscow (The U.S. counterpart of the White House), the U…

REVIEW | The Ides of March (2011)

The political drama The Ides of March will dazzle you with its impressive cast ensemble: the wunderkid Ryan Gosling with George Clooney, flanked on either side by Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Jeffrey Wright, and Marisa Tomei. And with an intriguing plot that promises an exciting twist, you can sense an Oscar buzz-- even from the thrillingtrailer alone.
Adapted from the Beau Willimon play Farragut North, and directed and co-written by Clooney, The Ides of March is about Stephen Meyers (Gosling), a young ideological hotshot junior campaign manager for Democratic presidential candidate Morris (Clooney).  In the heat of the Ohio presidential primary, Meyers is suddenly caught up in a political entanglement and becomes an unwitting pawn and a reluctant player in the dirty game of politics. Would he survive? Or shoot himself in the head?
The movie opens with Gosling (who is noticeably cute here), the poster boy of young incredible talent, giving campaign speech on Morris' irreli…

REVIEW | The Adventures of Tintin (2011)

Blisterin' Barnacles! 
In the mood for an animated cinematic masterpiece? For an ultimate adventure experience? Then let us thank Steven Spielberg for bringing to life the beloved 1940's Hergé serial comics in motion-capture 3D animation: The Adventures of Tintin.
The famous young redhead sleuth/journalist Tintin (Jamie Bell of Billy Elliot) and his fox terrier partner, Snowy, are enjoying a day in a European flea market when Tintin falls in love with a model ship of the legendary double-deck, 50-gun, three-masted Unicorn, and he promptly purchases it. Immediately, he is surrounded by threats. And thus begins the fast-paced, whirlwind adventure of Tintin and Snowy, as they are swept away in a centuries-old mystery and legend, with the company of the perpetually drunk Captain Haddock (the brilliant motion-capture master Andy Serkis [LOTR's Gollum and Caesar of The Rise of the Planet of the Apes]), assisted by incompetent inspectors, the Thompson twins (the British tandem o…

REVIEW | What's Your Number? (2011)

What's Your Number? showcases Captain America Chris Evans' nakedness. No. Actually, it's a rom-com starring 35-year-old Anna Faris as Ally Darling, a blond dimwit who, after having read in a magazine that an average woman has only slept with 10.5 men in her lifetime, goes berserk. Especially when the same article says that if the number goes beyond 20 and she hasn't met her soulmate yet, she is doomed to eternal singlehood. Ally's number is already 19.

Shamed and determined that the 20th guy she's going to sleep with should be The One but promptly and drunkenly sleeps with someone not obviously The One, she then backpedals and hunts down past lovers, in hopes that she should have already met him. Assisted by her barely clad Calvin Klein-like model next-door neighbor, Colin (Chris Evans), a womanizer and incessant eater, Ally reunites with her oddball ex-lovers with predictable results, while we patiently wait for her to predictably hook up with Colin and realize…

REVIEW | The Help (2011)

In this century when racism starts to feel sooo old and primitive, we are reeled back in time during the 1960's civil rights movement in The Help, based on Kathryn Stocket's novel of the same title.
Skeeter (Emma Stone), an independent 23-year-old aspiring writer, lives in Jackson, Mississippi, in a Desperate Housewives-like setting, where white families each have their own black maid.

Skeeter is different. Not only is she still single and refuses to conform with her shallow and pretty young suburban mom friends, but she is also sympathetic to the plight of the discriminated black maids. Fueled by the unexplained disappearance of her own beloved black nanny, she risks imprisonment by secretly recording the black maids testimonies and experiences in the hands of their white masters, and writing a book about it.
What could have been a touching, courageous, and inspiring movie, The Help, directed by Tate Taylor, is lacking and shallow. With such a sensitive and immensely profound s…

REVIEW | 50/50 (2011)

Death and humor. Cancer and wit. 50/50 beautifully and effortlessly blends two completely opposite experiences into a moving drama-comedy that will put a lump in your throat and induce belly laughter.
Adam (Joseph Gordon Levitt), a sort of uptight radio journalist, is suddenly diagnosed with spinal cancer at the age of 27. With 50/50 chances of survival, we watch how Adam copes as he faces his uncertain future, and how the cancer affects his best friend (Seth Rogen), his longtime girlfriend Rachael, a fake person played credibly by Bryce Dallas Howard, and his mother (Angelica Huston), and his futile and frustrating therapy sessions with a 24-year-old medical doctor (Academy Award nominee Anna Kendrick).
Inspired by the true story of comedy writer Will Reiser (a friend of Rogen's), 50/50 is intelligently written by Reiser himself and effectively performed by its talented cast, portraying a sensitive subject matter such as cancer and death with care, compassion and inoffensive humor…

REVIEW | The Beginners (2010)

Oliver Fields (Ewan McGregor) tells his story through a visual timeline. History conscious, Oliver also describes the sun, the stars, and love by their era ("This is how the sun looks like in 1955, and this is how the sun looks like in 2003..."), how tangible and intangible things in life evolve or expose themselves as time flows. Like  in 1955, his father, Hal Fields (Christopher Plummer), marries Oliver's mother, and in 2003, at the age of 75, after Oliver's mother's death, Hal confesses that he's gay...and  soon after he is diagnosed with terminal cancer.
The Beginners is a playfully visual and poetic satire of a dysfunctional life, with a constant undercurrent of sadness. We watch the repressed Oliver in present time, with his highly dependent dog Arthur, come to terms with the death of his father not long after his confession and immediate indulgence in a homosexual lifestyle. We see Oliver's present-day observations and life experiences trigger memor…

REVIEW | Breaking Dawn Part 1 (2011)

The climax of the movie up to its ending was beautifully orchestrated. Dramatic. Emotional. Intense. And a good ending can redeem the whole movie (or an entire movie franchise?) from its flaws. I cannot think of a better way to end the movie. The cut was perfect. It has almost made me...a fan. Gasp!
Breaking Dawn 1 is the first half of the final Twilight saga novel. Bella and Edward get married (leaving Jacob and Team Jacob heartbroken). They go on a honeymoon in a breathtaking isolated Brazilian island, dangerously consummate their love-- and Bella, still human, gets miraculously pregnant with something that is called either one of the following: fetus, thing, baby, monster, him, half-human, half-vampire. But whatever it's called, it's a huge threat to Bella and the Cullens.

In Breaking Dawn, directed by Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters), the movie essentially has the same feel as the previous ones; the somewhat teen-angst raw treatment, the folk and alternative-rock soundtrac…

REVIEW | My Cinema One Originals 2011 Experience

Out of the 10 Cinema One Originals digital independent films shown at the Shangri-la Cineplex last November 9th to 15th, I was only able to see two films: Mga Anino sa Tanghaling Tapat and My Paranormal Romance.
When watching local indie films in the cinema, you take a huge risk with your time and money, and so I was glad I got in for free in both films. But sometimes, even if you get to watch a movie for free, you'd still feel violated if your time was horribly spent watching it.

Mga Anino sa Tanghaling Tapat
Officially making it to my list of 'Worst Movies in the History of Both Amateur and Professional Filmmaking', Mga Anino sa Tanghaling Tapat is an artsy-fartsy self-conscious repertoire of eroticism and the supernatural in a provincial setting. Well, they say it's a coming-of-age story, but to begin with, there is no story.
Ines, a copper-haired pretty city girl in short skirts and dresses, arrives in her provincial hometown for the ritualistic burial of her grandfat…