Showing posts from 2013

My Top 10 Best and Worst Movies of 2013

We are all painfully aware that most of the critically acclaimed films of 2013 won't be gracing our local theaters until the first quarter of 2014. It's horrible. Who knows whether Alexander Payne's Nebraska might turn out to be the best movie of the year? Or that 12 Years a Slave will probably stun you for weeks? The Coen Brothers' Inside Llewyn Davis, David O. Russell's American Hustle, Dallas Buyers' Club, Her...too bad we haven't seen them yet.

So from the movies I've seen this year, I bring you my best and worst list:



10. On The Job

Erik Matti's action-suspense is refreshingly entertaining for a local movie. Competent performances by the cast, and a surprising one by Joey Marquez.

9. The Conjuring

I am not a horror fan, but this one gave me the heebie jeebies.

8. What Maisie Knew

A searingly painful insight into child neglect. This film will twist your heart and you will weep with angry tears.

7. To The Wonder


REVIEW | Saving Mr. Banks (2013)

Saving Mr. Banks reveals the inspiration and creative process behind the Disney classic Mary Poppins, in commemoration ofits 50-year anniversary.

It's 1960s Los Angeles and author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) finally gives in, albeit bitterly, to Walt Disney's (Tom Hanks) ten-year appeal to produce a movie adaptation of her Mary Poppins books. So we watch how this difficult, uptight, and angry woman meticulously criticize the Disney process of creating the movie.

The film, directed by John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side), simply follows the highly annoying Travers as she torments the jolly people of Disney with her ridiculous rules. You'll grow tiresome of the character. And in between watching her demands, we are presented with flashbacks of Travers's childhood in Australia with her drunken father (Colin Farrell), revealing to us the real people that inspired the characters in Mary Poppins, and the reason for her controlling, impatient nature.

The film has the kind of fo…

REVIEW | Frances Ha (2013)

Noah Baumbach's beguiling heroine is Frances (Greta Gerwig), a 27-year-old unaccomplished woman teetering and falling off the transitional rope from childhood to adulthood, so much so that she's never a grown-up. Fances rides the saddle of life too loosely, and all she holds on tightly and dearly is her best friend Sophie (Mickey Sumner). But because Sophie is living life like a normal adult, and she's starting to make major life decisions without Frances, Frances' secure world begins to shatter...and soon she starts feeling left behind.
In the black-and-white comedy film Frances Ha, written by Baumbach and Gerwig, the unlikely New Yorker protagonist exudes a delicious mix of charm, candidness, and embarrassment. Frances is childlike and naive, but you'll love her aimlessness and joyful outlook in life in the midst of a disapproving and successful adult world. The script is smart, earnest and, of course, you'll be laughing at Frances— and rooting for her.


Directed by Neil Nightingale and Barry Cook, “Walking with Dinosaurs: The 3D Movie” was inspired by the very latest discoveries in paleontology as well as technological breakthroughs. It presents audiences with the most realistic depiction of dinosaurs ever seen. A compelling family adventure and coming of age story, “Walking with Dinosaurs” tells the story of Patchi (voiced by Justin Long), a determined little Pachyrhinosaurus with a hole in his frill, who sets off with his family on a journey of survival.
The film blends a gripping adventure with a story about family and friendship. Patchi encounters the lovely Juniper, a female Pachyrhinosaurus from another herd and there is an immediate connection, which develops into a close bond. But it is unlikely that the pair will be able to stay together because of herd protocol, which means that Juniper won’t be able to choose her own mate. Other fascinating creatures in the film include pterosaurs, gigantic flying reptiles that once soa…


When retired Petty Officer First Class Marcus Luttrell and Patrick Robinson’s book Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10 was published in 2007, it quickly rose to the top of The New York Times nonfiction best-seller list.

This true story of duty and honor in the face of extreme adversity and the heroic deeds of fallen comrades caught filmmaker Peter Berg’s attention when his production partner, Film 44’s Sarah Aubrey, gave him a copy of the book and insisted that he read it. Although in production on his then-upcoming blockbuster “Hancock,” Berg began to flip through it during a lunch break. After a few minutes, he was transfixed, locking the door to his trailer and reading the book cover to cover. Determined to win the rights and adapt “Lone Survivor” into a film, Berg became a man obsessed.
Berg offers: “When I first read Marcus’ book, what got me the most was the dilemma that these men faced: being compromised by three goat fa…


Warner Bros. Pictures' new comedy “Grudge Match” pairs heavy hitters Robert De Niro (“Raging Bull,” “Silver Linings Playbook”) and Sylvester Stallone (“Rocky” films, “The Expendables”) with the larger-than-life comedy of Kevin Hart and the irascible wit of Alan Arkin for a one-two punch for fans of every generation. Even before De Niro’s “The Kid” and Stallone’s “Razor” get into the ring to settle their decades-old score, both the fists and the barbs fly across the screen as the two contenders prepare to meet in the rematch of the century.
In the film, De Niro and Stallone play Billy “The Kid” McDonnen and Henry “Razor” Sharp, two local Pittsburgh fighters whose fierce rivalry put them in the national spotlight. Each had scored a victory against the other during their heyday, but in 1983, on the eve of their decisive third match, Razor suddenly announced his retirement, refusing to explain why but effectively delivering a knock-out punch to both their careers. Thirty years later,…


For the first time in movie history, audiences will truly see and feel what it was like when dinosaurs ruled the Earth. “Walking with Dinosaurs: The 3D Movie” is the ultimate immersive, big-screen adventure for families. You’ll meet dinosaurs more real than you’ve ever seen as you embark on a thrilling prehistoric journey, where Patchi, an underdog dino, triumphs against all odds to become a hero for the ages.
Featuring the voices of Patchi’s heroics and antics resonate in any era, but he is also a product of his times and stomping grounds – the latter part of the Cretaceous Period, about 70 million years ago in a land we now call Alaska. 

Audiences will really get behind Patchi and root for this underdog hero to triumph. The movie points to our continuing fascination, if not obsession with creatures that have been extinct for millions of years. The T. Rex and the Gorgosaurus are among the most fearsome predators to have ever walked the Earth, but kids (of all ages) can’t get enou…


Touchstone Pictures' upcoming blockbuster “Lone Survivor” has been lauded by critics as a profoundly moving and “deeply intense” tribute to America's Navy SEALs – but getting the film off the ground was no easy feat.
Based on retired Petty Officer First Class Marcus Luttrell’s 2007 best-selling book Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10, the film adaptation tells the chilling story of one historically fateful day. On June 28, 2005 a four-man reconnaissance and surveillance team set out on a mission in the desolate region in Kunar province to identify a key Taliban leader believed to be responsible for the deaths of several U.S. service members.
Suddenly faced with an unfathomable ambush of enemy fire, Lieutenant Michael Murphy (Taylor Kitsch), Second Class Petty Officer Matthew Gene “Axe” Axelson (Emilie Hirsch), and Second Class Danny P. Dietz (Ben Foster) perished while fighting with relentless will and bravery alongs…


20TH Century Fox has just released the latest trailer of “The Monuments Men” featuring a powerhouse cast including George Clooney, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Bill Murray, Jean Dujardin, John Goodman, Hugh Bonneville, Bob Balaban and Dmitri Leonidas.
Based on the non-fiction bestselling book “The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History” by Robert M. Edsel, George Clooney directs this action-thriller at the backdrop of World War II, the most dreaded time in history when Adolf Hitler threatens to take over the world, an unlikely uniformed group of men was formed to take on the most impossible heist – retrieve or steal the most precious art pieces made that Hitler had stolen to burn. 
Join this random ragtag group of men who are totally unprepared as they find themselves in a race against time to protect the greatest artistic achievements of mankind when “The Monuments Men” opens February 12 in cinemas nationwide from 20th Century Fox to be d…


“Ang Turkey Man Ay Pabo Rin,” the critically acclaimed comedy by first-time director Randolph Longjas, will be shown exclusively at Ayala Malls Cinemas nationwide starting Dec. 18.
A cross-cultural comedy about a Filipino American couple who celebrates life with karaoke music, superstitious in-laws, immigration laws, unexpected pregnancies, brown-outs, Thanksgiving turkey, with some love on the side, “Ang Turkey Man ay Pabo Rin” starsTuesday Vargas, Travis Kraft, Julia Clarete, Cai Cortez and JM De Guzman.
The film is produced by Tonee Acejo with screenplay by Allan Habon, edited by Carlo Manatad, and Joris Fernandez, cinematographby Tom Redoble, music by Jedd Dumaguina, production design by Butch Garcia and Nette Madrid.

“Ang Turkey Man ay Pabo Rin” is an experimental comedy that explores the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of a Filipino-American couple on a universal love trip - that which do not discriminate against color, stature, or culture. It is a celebration of the Filipin…

REVIEW | Ilo Ilo (2013)

Singapore's entry to the Oscars, Ilo Ilo, by 28-year-old Anthony Chen, has gained much recognition after winning this year's Cannes Camera d'Or (Best Feature Film). 
The subdued indie film is loosely based on Chen's childhood in a middle-class Singaporean family during the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

Burdened and perpetually busy, the pregnant Hwee Leng (Yeo Yann Yann) and husband Teck (Chen Tian Wen) hire a Filipino nanny, Terry (Angeli Bayani), to look after their lottery obsessed, impish schoolboy Jiale (newcomer Koh Jia Ler), who is on the brink of expulsion from his school. Jiale finds "Auntie Terry" a strange intrusion and rejects her, but Terry surprises the boy with her don't-mess-with-me kind of discipline—and soon she unwittingly becomes part of the family's quiet struggles, affecting their lives more than anybody expects.
Anthony Chen smoothly captures the family's simmering troubles through profound subtleties. His understated approa…

REVIEW | Frozen (2013)

Frozen, loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen's lengthy fairy tale The Snow Queen, is Disney's latest offering in the line-up of "Disney Princess" movies.
Set in the fictional kingdom in Norway called Arendelle, a young princess named Elsa is born with the magic of snow. When a magic-winter playtime with her younger sister Anna goes wrong, and a frightening prophecy about her magic powers foretold, Elsa starts living in isolation and fear. But when the day finally arrives for her coronation ceremony as Queen, the now adult Elsa has no choice but to come out of her hermit-like existence—and the result is a catastrophe. And now it's Princess Anna's duty to save the kingdom— and her Snow Queen sister.

The comedy-adventure-musical, directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, has Anna (Kristen Bell) in the lead role, giving her a "feisty" and "optimistic" personality, but oftentimes she comes off as a little bit cuckoo and corny crude, which de…


Vince Vaughn has starred in some of the biggest box office comedies of the past decade, winning over audiences with his characteristic deadpan delivery and scathing sense of humor. Having played the lovable Everyman many times before, DreamWorks Pictures' new heartwarming comedy “Delivery Man” serves as a departure for him as an actor. A touching story filled with honesty and hope – in addition to humor – the film gives audiences a glimpse of a more mature Vince Vaughn.
“Delivery Man” tells the story of affable underachiever David Wozniak (Vaughn) whose anonymous donations to a fertility clinic 20 years earlier resulted in 533 children. David must now embark on a journey that leads him to discover not only his true self but also the father that he could become.
Now married and the father to two children of his own, Vaughn was drawn to the role of David Wozniak as he wanted to address the issues of balancing life and family from a fresh perspective.
“It’s a great premise that is a…


He made a huge impression as the Dwarf Prince, Thorin Oakenshield in last year's “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” Now, Richard Armitage returns to play the same character in the highly anticipated sequel, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.”
As a young Dwarf Prince, Thorin witnessed the destruction and terror wrought when a great fire-breathing dragon attacked the Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor. When no one came to the aid of the surviving Dwarves, a once proud and noble race was forced into exile. Now, as the strong, fearless fighter and respected leader of The Company of Dwarves, Thorin is determined to reclaim his homeland and destroy the beast that brought such misery upon his people.
Question: What is Thorin like when we meet him in this movie, and how is he different from the Thorin in the first film?
Richard Armitage: I think one of the interesting things about Thorin on the Quest is that when Gandalf is present, he has to defer to Gandalf’s authority. Thorin has always under…