Showing posts from September, 2011

REVIEW | Drive (2011)

Ryan Gosling is simply called "Driver"

Ryan Gosling playing a nameless special kid simply called "Driver," a full-time car mechanic, a part-time Hollywood stunt driver, and who moonlights as a getaway man in midnight heists. Enough to see the film, right? Okay, go ahead and watch the trailer first. You are now excited, I presume? Come on! Gosling, a very special actor playing a very special kid in heist-riddled L.A., involved in a dirty job that goes wrong, sucked in an intricate web of masterminds, double-crossing and shadowy criminals-- and to make it more rich and complex, falls in love with the Brit version of Katie Holmes: Carey Mulligan. And! It's directed by the Danish Nicolas Winding Refn, who won this year's Cannes Best Director for this movie. To those unfamiliar with Refn (Pusher 1996), then Drive will be your first taste of the European director's style. 
If you are expecting a heart-pounding, high-adrenaline car chase, or a direct-to-the-… Re-launch Party

The word "orange" always strikes a familiar chord. Every where I turn these days, I hear the word "orange."
Like this morning.
I went to the Orange Place Hotel in San Juan (orange is the city's official color) to meet a good friend who just attended his friend's art exhibit at the Orange Gallery in Bacolod.
There's something appealing, I guess, about the word "orange." It conjures the color range between red and yellow in the visible spectrum. And the round citrus fruit, of course.
But in the local blogosphere, when you say "orange," what flashes across your mind is "entertainment." A site with a black backdrop, with half of a solid-colored citrus fruit strategically placed on the left-hand corner, peeking, like sunrise. Two tiny leaves adorning its crown. Across, in simple white font, is written: And if you're not subscribed to the site, you'll be sorry that you missed something you wish you didn&…

REVIEW | Horrible Bosses (2011)

The unforgettable Hangover has somehow set a precedent for the kind of comedy that uses character and personality for its humor, making use of the dynamics between a group of your standard American male buddies, the coarse interaction and exchanges between them, especially when they are put in a predicament. This is the sort of comedy we revere: wit over slapstick; exchange of dialogue meant to elicit gut laughter. Hot Tub Time Machine, one of the Hangover copy-cats, for example, failed miserably in this genre, desperately attempted to hit the Hangover mark--or even surpass it--but ended up a sad comedy, a cheap imitation of the real thing.
So what about Horrible Bosses? This time we are presented with only three friends, basically three good, sort of foolish, white guys, whose distinct personalities and dynamics we will rely on until the end of the movie: the serious, deadpan Nick (Jason Bateman); the small and whiny Dale (Charlie Day); and the cool and slightly smug Kurt (Jason Su…

REVIEW | Thelma (2011)

If you are hungry for quality Filipino film, Thelma will satisfy that craving.
Thelma indeed has caused wild curiosity among cinephiles when the trailer came out, giving us a glimpse of a seemingly unique and refreshing Filipino film released by surprise! surprise! Star Cinema-- with TimeHorizon Pictures. So are you wondering whether your curiosity is worth buying a ticket? The answer is a yes. Exchange it for a fast food meal, if you must.
In a remote part of Ilocos Norte, under the wide open sky, with windmills and mountains and sunsets and starlit nights, live a farmer and his poor family-- with a stubborn, rambunctious but deeply compassionate eldest child, Thelma (Maja Salvador), with an extraordinary talent in running. Lacking in school spirit and discipline, Thelma only finds joy with her younger sister's company in the raw beauty of their Ilocos Norte home, running wild and free without any cares in the world.
But an unexpected tragedy drove Thelma's life perspective t…

REVIEW | Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011)

Crazy, Stupid, Love., infamous for its punctuation-riddled period-ending movie title, could mean two things: love is theoretically crazy and stupid and the movie title was just intended to irk the most humorless of copy editors. Or it's a multiple-themed movie that focuses on the crazy, the stupid, and love. Period.

Nevertheless, Crazy, Stupid, Love.'s playful title should not only cause an amusing double-take, it should be cinched. Yes, you should buy its marketing strategy of a movie title because it's going to be one of the best movies you will see this year-- and could possibly be fondly classified under your favorites in the multiple-genre of contemporary romance, drama, comedy. And Crazy, Stupid, Love. is romantic, poignant, hilarious.
Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) and his wife of 25 years, Emily (Julianne Moore), are sitting across from each other in a restaurant to start a seemingly perfunctory romantic dinner, the air heavy with dullness and tired ritual of a too-comf…

The First Ever "Bloggers Blowout" by OrangeMagazineTV and Astroplus

It was an ordinary lazy Saturday afternoon last September 3 and I was browsing through Facebook and "living vicariously" through other people's lives (kidding), when the distinct message alert tone of my phone broke the ordinariness of the moment. It was a text message from a guy named Jeman, saying that he hopes to see me later at Astrovision, Greenbelt 5 at 2 p.m. And that there will be "food, raffle, prizes." Confused, as I had no idea who this Jeman guy was and why he was hoping to see me at an event in a movie store, I kindly asked where he got my number, to which he replied, "Nag-sign up ka sa event ko, right?"
Based on the vague response, I still did not have a clue (especially when my name was not included in the text reminder), and asked him to kindly help me remember what event did I sign up for. But, without waiting for a response, I shrugged and Googled "September 3, Astrovision event" and was surprised to find out that I was one…

REVIEW | Catfish (2010)

Facebook romance.
Yaniv Schulman, or "Nev," a 24-year-old photographer from New York, meets beautiful Megan Faccio on Facebook, and an online romance blossoms-- until everything suddenly feels weird, suspicious, and strange.
Catfish follows the true story of Nev, documented by his brother Ariel and friend Henry Joost, that began when Nev was remotely befriended by Abby, an 8-year-old gifted painter from Michigan, who sends him painting versions of his photographs. Nev eventually became close to Abby's family, especially to the model-like sister Megan, through technology. And we follow Nev and Megan's budding relationship-- until the three friends decide, that from their filmmaking gig in Vail, Colorado, to take a detour and drive to Ishpeming, Michigan to finally meet the family in person. And the shocking truth is revealed to all of us. 

Selected at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, the hit documentary became a controversy, with critics questioning its authenticity.…

REVIEW | Trust (2010)

A young girl falls smitten by a charming stranger on the Internet who feeds her low self-esteem. This eventually leads her to meet up with him, he rapes her, and it's never the same again with her and her family.

Trust delves on the psychological impact of the sexual assault to the 14-year-old school outcast, Annie, who met her first boyfriend on the Internet, and the gravity of pain and trauma the parents—particularly the father—had suffered from the tragedy. The film centralizes on Annie's innocent and distorted grasp of the crime and her father's violent rage and maddening desperation to catch the predator.

The film cackles with palpable tension, and the emotions run high in the film, strong and distinct, whether the dramatic scene is subtle, explosive or underlying. Never have I seen an intensely realistic and believable series of conflicts in a film, as well as multilayered characters that even in their silence, in their slightest movements, expose a deep well of emot…

REVIEW | Life As We Know It (2010)

Life As We Know It is about instant family for two single adults (Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel) who have an aversion towards each other. Picked by their mutual best friends to take care of their baby when they die (and they did, in an accident), they had no choice but to stick together.

Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel had zero chemistry, the comedy forced, and the rest of the cast are bland characters, and it wasn't clearly established when our lead characters actually start falling in love. It's one of those shallow romantic comedies where you feel bored and totally detached from the stuff happening onscreen. Despite Katherine Heigl's charming onscreen presence, the film has failed to make me fall in love.

REVIEW | Love and Other Drugs (2010)

So far it's my worst movie of the year.

LOVE AND OTHER DRUGS feels like a Star Cinema love story but littered with sex scenes and nudity. It's a cliche-ish, cheesy romantic comedy-turned-drama about a spunky artiste commitment-phobe Parkinson's Disease sufferer (Anne Hathaway) and Pfizer womanizer (Jake Gyllenhaal) who accidentally met while Anne Hathaway was showing her left boob to her primary physician. Indeed, TRUE love conquers all, and her commitment phobia and his womanizing days were finally cured.

The characters lacked depth, the lovers had zero chemistry, and I was kind of getting tired looking at Anne Hathaway's eyes, nose and mouth that are blown out of proportion. In this dragging movie, all I hear are the f-word, tacky soundtrack, the irritating blabber of Oliver Platt and the greasy brother; and all I see are naked humping bodies and Hathaway's gigantic facial features.

It failed to ignite the smallest emotion in me, and even the film's soundtrack t…

REVIEW | Easy A (2010)

You will probably say that you've seen a lot of teen comedy flicks already; you've seen one and you've seen them all. You know, the kind of film that depicts the usual stereotypes and teenage angst and the whole high school experience that John Hughes had popularized in the '80s ( and who got a special mention in this movie).

But you gotta see Easy A,about a sympathetic "nobody" (played naturally by Emma Stone) whose social status instantly sky-rocketed because of a lie. Itis hilarious, and when I say hilarious, it is hilarious. The cast is fantastic, which includes Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson as the parents of our heroine, and other well-loved and well-known talented comedians. The screenplay is intelligent and engaging, with a wildly witty dialogue that has references to classic literature and modern-day culture, filled with rich, vibrant characters who are your usual everyday people but represented with depth (yeah, with depth, unlike the cast of

REVIEW | The King's Speech (2010)

THE KING'S SPEECH is tells the struggle of George IV, or 'Bertie', aptly played by Firth, with his stammering-- the pressure increasing as he is about to be king during wartime England.

The film focuses on his therapy sessions with the unorthodox and without-credentials Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), and the entertainment factor of the film is their relationship as well as Logue's unconventional ways in treating his 'star patient'.
The film is a bit dragging and wouldn't have made such a significant impact if it weren't for Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush. But nevertheless the film was able to redeem itself in its culminating scene, where Colin Firth gives a tremendous performance, an almost duplicate of the real King George in his first wartime speech. The goosebumps and the glowing pride, and your admiration for Colin Firth, that you will feel in the end makes THE KING'S SPEECH a fairly good movie to see. 
3 out of 5 stars

REVIEW | Megamind (2011)

Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, and Brad Pitt come together in an animated 3D story of a villain, and how that villain came to be. It's a depressing tale of this blue guy ridiculed all his life, a consistent failure, and who has never had an experience of normal human affection until he decided to disguise himself as some intellectual dweeb. And yeah, it's a comedy.

The dialogue rarely made me laugh, and the story is essentially all about the sad, depressing existence of insecure losers masked by not-so-witty dialogue, making me wistfully think of the real Will Ferrell instead of watching this Megamind character.

Megamind is heartbreaking, sparsely funny, sometimes corny and mostly boring. I expected laughter from the guts, and I didn't get it.
1 out of 5 stars

REVIEW | 127 Hours (2010)

How do you make a film about a canyoneer trapped underneath a boulder for 127 hours without boring the daylights out of the audience? Academy Award winner Danny Boyle has managed to re-create the true story of Aron Ralston in a tasteful, honest and intense fashion; his trademark arrogant and playful shots complementing the profoundly dramatic journey of Ralston.

Impressively directed by Boyle, with a stellar performance by James Franco, the one-man film was able to transmit all the emotions of the hero from the screen right to your heart, encompassing all your senses and feelings; your emotions skipping between thrill, fear, horror, hilarity, panic, profound sadness, and euphoria. Every inch and detail of the film, every split-second facial expression of Franco, seems to tell a story of its own. And together with a fitting soundtrack (mostly beautiful original compositions of A.R. Rahman), and the stunning, harsh beauty of Canyonland as backdrop, make 127 Hours (with Oscar nominations,…

REVIEW | Tangled (2010)

Walt Disney's version of the German fairy tale Rapunzel in digital 3D, Tangled is fun and absorbing despite the mediocre songs and Rapunzel's painfully boring face. The dialogue is modern and witty, and there were quite a few scenes that will make you LOL. Probably the most memorable and funniest character in the film is Maximus (the horse that should win the Best Non-Speaking Role).

What is especially notable in this animated film is the facial expression of the characters, and with their unique personalities, they are brought to life, evoking the targeted emotion from the viewers. Rapunzel is a bit bonkers, yes, but who wouldn't be if you were locked up for 18 years in a tower? Tangled is unpredictable, lively and hilarious. Even though the songs were pretty bland, the Disney twist to the story and the captivating personalities of the characters still makes Tangled a fun and engaging movie for the entire family. 
3.5 out of 5 stars

REVIEW | Rabbit Hole (2010)

A married couple (Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart) tries to deal with the loss of their young son. In the film, we explore the depth of the couple's grief and mourning process, and we wait with bated breath if their marriage will last.

Although this concept for a film has already been seen in the past, Rabbit Hole (based on the Pulizter Prize play by David Lindsay-Abaire's) still stands out and is unique in a way that it grips you and tears you inside. Both Kidman's and Eckhart's pain are raw and profound, and the tension and fight scenes between them are heartfelt and natural, easily defeating di Caprio and Winslet's self-conscious marital conflict in Revolutionary Road. And Eckhart was surprisingly good in the film, able to match and complement Kidman's acting prowess.

Rabbit Hole is sad, unpredictable and touching, unpretentious and raw. Its beauty lies in its simple story structure, the emotions rising to the surface, palpable and real.

I wouldn't be sur…

REVIEW | Black Swan (2010)

Natalie Portman plays Nina, an innocent and disturbed ballet dancer, obsessed about getting—and keeping—the coveted lead role in the dark version of Swan Lake. Pressured to perform the role of the Swan Queen perfectly, a role that alternates between a naive and pure White Swan that fits her personality, and a dark and seductive Black Swan that she is having a hard time projecting, her internal demons and mental instability intensifies. The internal pain and turmoil she experiences are further complicated by another ballet dancer (Mila Kunis), with whom she is deeply threatened with.

During the process of perfecting the role, Nina unwittingly discovers her sexuality and struggles to keep her sanity intact to be able to perform the role of her lifetime.

Natalie Portman did an okay job in her disturbed and complex character, but she still lacked the kind of alarming depth and intensity needed for the role. I could still see her as Natalie Portman and not entirely as Nina.


REVIEW | The Next Three Days (2010)

Writer-Directer Paul Haggis of Oscar Best Picture Crash gambles and screenplays a remake of a 2008 French suspense-thriller Pour Elle.The Next Three Days puts together Academy Award-winner Russell Crowe and Zack and Miri Make a Porno's Elizabeth Banks in a dramatic and suspenseful plot to entice the movie-adrenaline junkies.

Crowe and Banks play husband and wife John and Lara Brennan, with a young son, and whose normal family life is suddenly disrupted when the local cops barge into their morning breakfast and handcuffs Lara for the murder of her female boss. With all evidences pointing to her--- fingerprints on the murder weapon, blood on her coat, her heated argument with her boss the night before the murder--- it looks like there is no more hope for Lara to get out of her life imprisonment. Triggered by his intense and undying love for his wife and his one hundred percent conviction of her innocence, John sets out a plan to break her out of prison. And that's when the thrill…

REVIEW | True Grit (2010)

The Coen brothers’ remake of the 1969 John Wayne film (based on Charles Portis’s novel of the same title), True Grit is a Western adventure, with a spunky 14-year-old heroine, Mattie (Oscar-nominated Hailee Steinfeld), who seeks the help of a drunken notorious Deputy U.S. Marshall (Jeff Bridges, weirdly nominated for his role) to capture her father’s killer (Josh Brolin). They gallop into the Choctaw terrain, teams up with a Texas Ranger, LaBeouf (Matt Damon), for an adventure that would have been almost mediocre if it weren’t for the excellent performance of Steinfeld and the beautiful, heart-wrenching music of Carter Burwell, which plays significantly in the storytelling.

With their last year’s frustratingly pretentious bad dark comedy, A Serious Man, the Coen brothers were able to redeem themselves this year. True Grit (bagging a handful of Oscar nominations, including Best Picture) is an engaging adventure, oftentimes humorous; its substance mostly centered on Mattie’s spitfire p…