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Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994
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Archive for the ‘Movies’

Good night, sweet Mat

August 25, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Cats, Movies, Music 14 Comments →

Keep chasing that laser pointer.

This morning I woke up at 6:30, which I almost never do, and saw that Mat had walked from the kitchen, where he was sleeping last night, to the foot of my bed. He had used his last burst of strength to cross those few meters.

The rest of the day he slept peacefully, and I even managed to make him eat and drink a little. Saffy and Drogon sat nearby, watching him. At 8pm Mat tried to stand up, but was too weak. He started gasping for breath.

Mat died tonight at 8:08 pm. He had a good last day, surrounded by his human, her books and papers, and his two feline companions. There’s no place to bury him here—the spot under the tree where Koosi is buried has been concreted over, and the nearest pet cemeteries are in QC and Cavite. Fortunately Tina offered to bury Mat in her garden in Paranaque, where she recently buried her askal Atis, 17.

This video was taken three years ago with our old phone. Mat was always an angel, and I am lucky to have been his human. Goodbye, Matthias Eomer Octavian Federer-Urban. You were thoroughly lovely.

Here’s Mat’s favorite song.

Think of adopting a stray cat.

Joel Edgerton has directed a movie and now he wants to give you a notebook.

August 20, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Contest, Movies 6 Comments →

The movie is The Gift, it stars Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall, and Edgerton himself, and it is now showing in cinemas. We haven’t seen it yet, but according to the production notes it’s about a married couple (Bateman and Hall) who run into an old high school acquaintance (Edgerton) of the husband’s, who starts sending them gifts and alluding to something that happened in the past. Critics have compared it to Hitchcock, which works for us because we love movies that mess with your head.

Joel Edgerton—fine, his distributors—sent us three The Gift notebooks, which we will give to three readers who answer this question: Were you nice to everyone in your past? Don’t hesitate to furnish lurid details!

Post your answers in Comments.

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Thanks antiquaryanne and leeflailmarch! Send your mailing addresses to saffron.safin@gmail.com so we can send you your notebooks.

There’s one notebook left, if anyone else has a story about having personally mistreated anyone in the past.

Hammer and Cavill have a beauty contest in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and we all win.

August 16, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies 5 Comments →

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We have seen The Man from U.N.C.L.E. twice, the first time for the beautiful leads, and the second time for its Dolce Vita-era style and fashion.

The movie is adapted from a TV show that is so old, even we don’t remember seeing it. This is what the original stars looked like.

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Robert Vaughn and David McCallum played Napoleon Solo and Ilya Kuryakin, an American spy and a Russian spy who worked together to save the world from evil masterminds. The TV show was on during the height of the Cold War, so the idea of Russians and Americans working together must’ve offered some comfort to people who expected the world to blow up at at any time.

The movie by Guy Ritchie is still set in 1963, and stars these two.

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Every time Henry Cavill (Napoleon Solo) or Armie Hammer (Ilya Kuryakin) spoke, each time one of them so much as raised an eyebrow, the women in our row would go: Hihihihihihihihihihihi. Cavill and Hammer (Cammer? Havill?) looked so good in their outfits that we decided not to write a letter to the studio protesting the fact that no one took his shirt off.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is fun, cheeky, and not as spastic as previous Guy Ritchie movies. He actually slows down the pace so we can enjoy the humor, such as in the sequence where Cavill eats a sandwich while, in the window, we can see Hammer being chased up and down the harbor by fascist goons. There’s also a lot of multiple split screens, which work.

The plot is basic, the execution stylish. We had expected a parody of 60s spy thrillers and got an hommage to them instead. We especially enjoyed the use of Italian pop songs from the 60s—during a furious chase scene, some guy would be wailing about thwarted love or whatever.

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Photos from Henry Cavill Online.

To continue the season of feminine ass-kickers (Mad Max: Fury Road, Ant-Man, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, and who knew Magic Mike XXL would be feminist?) The Man from U.N.C.L.E. co-stars Alicia Vikander as a Nazi scientist’s daughter who is also a brilliant mechanic, and Elizabeth Debicki (she played Jordan in The Great Gatsby) as the most sosyal fascist villain in films this year. Her line readings are delicious, and even at the most dangerous moments she cannot be rushed.

Fashion is one of the movie’s stars, as Hammer and Cavill remind us when they have a discussion over whether a Paco Rabanne belt can go with a Jean Patou. Men who are gorgeous, resourceful, speak many languages, can kill with their bare hands and know how to accessorize: perfect.

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There is something for everyone, including double-entendre and queer-baiting (“I’ll take the top.” “I’ll take the bottom.”). Someone brought their very smart kid to a screening, and the kid asked the right questions (“Why does he keep talking about his father’s watch?”). In one scene Cavill…entertains a lady in his hotel room, and in the room directly below it, Hammer observes the chandelier shaking and certain sounds coming from above. “Why is it shaking?” the kid asked. We didn’t hear how his parents answered the question.

And look, it’s Hugh Grant!

Essay question: Hammer or Cavill?

Fantastic Four: They forgot the fun

August 05, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Movies 2 Comments →

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Questions we asked after watching Fantastic Four

1. Why is it so dark? Not dark as in “bleak and pessimistic”, but dark as in “They couldn’t turn on the lights in the studio?” Did they forget to pay the electric bill? Everything is in murky deep blue tones.

2. Why is it so serious? It’s about a botched experiment that turns the leads into a guy with stretchable limbs, an invisible girl, a guy on fire, and a pile of rocks. Does anyone see the comic possibilities inherent in the material? The filmmakers don’t. They’re too busy over-explaining their pseudo-science, preferably in the sonorous tones of Dr. Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey).

Read our column at InterAksyon.

You’re probably going to watch the new Mission Impossible this weekend, and we approve.

July 31, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies 2 Comments →

Tom-Cruise-Stars-in-Mission-Impossible-Rogue-Nation

The secondary title is often misspelled “Rouge Nation”, which makes it sound like a conspiracy of the cosmetics industry. Directed by Christopher McQuarrie, who wrote The Usual Suspects and the seriously underrated Edge of Tomorrow, Mission Impossible 5 delivers what we expect of the franchise: choreographed thrills, complicated stunts, amazing prosthetics, absurd mayhem, ridiculous fun, and the hardest-working star in Hollywood. It’s a series of set pieces in which Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) hangs from a plane, swings through the ropes backstage at the Vienna Opera, dives into a tank with no oxygen supply, crashes in a car that flips over and over again, engages in a high-speed motorcycle chase, gets punched a lot, and runs and runs and runs.

Two ways MI5 is different from most Tom Cruise vehicles: It actually makes fun of Tom, and Tom actually has chemistry with a female agent with the cheeky name of Ilsa Faust (We’re guessing the Ilsa is an allusion to Casablanca). Rebecca Ferguson (star of the BBC’s The White Queen) makes a strong impression as a spy who is Hunt’s equal. Great support from Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames and Jeremy Renner as the IMF crew, Alec Baldwin being Alec Baldwin as the CIA chief who shuts them down, Sean Harris (he was the in-house killer in The Borgias) as villain Solomon Lane, and Tom Hollander as the dopey British Prime Mister.

The Philippines is mentioned as the site of one of the villain’s dastardly deeds. Lane is also blamed for the disappearance of a passenger plane carrying more than 200 people. (Right after the movie we saw a news report that the missing Malaysian Airline planes may have been found.)

Rating: Highly recommended.

In Southpaw, Jake Gyllenhaal punches his way out of a bag of cliches

July 26, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies, Sports besides Tennis 1 Comment →

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Jake Gyllenhaal is so good in Southpaw, so terrifyingly committed to the role, that we were prepared to overlook the deficiencies and absurdities of the movie. We were so impressed at his physical transformation (after the skeletal Nightcrawler), his movement, the way he spoke like a guy who’s been hit on the head constantly since childhood, that we went along with what is essentially a retread of the greatest hits of boxing movies. His character can take an inhuman amount of punishment, like Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull! He’s fighting for his kid, like all the incarnations of The Champ! He’s the underdog, like Rocky Balboa in Rocky! He’s really after redemption, like every boxing hero in every boxing movie we can think of!

Then came what should’ve been the most exciting shot in the movie, the one that we expected to bring the audience to their feet screaming, “Kill him, Jake!” We nearly got up, alright, to scream, “Cheeeeeap!” !@#$%^& ang baduy.

Three things should’ve warned us that this would happen. First, the movie is directed by Antoine Fuqua, who accidentally directed Denzel Washington to an Oscar in Training Day. Second, the character is named Billy Hope, as in “The Great White Hope”, the white boxer who is supposed to take boxing back from the blacks, Latinos and Filipinos who have dominated it. Third, we learn that the movie is called Southpaw because Billy learns to punch with his left hand. Duh!

And when we saw that shot, everything we chose to ignore because we were rooting for Jake paraded before us like lewd boxing round girls. Billy Hope became the light heavyweight champion of the world with no discernible technique other than to absorb punches until he got so pissed off he fought like a wounded bear? With no notion of defense?? How can he even see through the rivers of blood pouring down his face? (Apparently he sheds several liters of blood in each bout.)

Tragedy strikes, and in a matter of weeks Billy loses everything? Not even a downward spiral, but a full-on splat. He loses wife, child, mansion, cars, all his possessions, his entourage (a tiny fraction of Manny Pacquiao’s—someone take Pac-Man to see this), and goes straight to the flophouse and cleaning toilets in a boxing gym? (As Noel pointed out, he couldn’t rent a smaller house first?) Of course the gym is run by Forrest Whitaker, who becomes his trainer and teaches him strategy—it’s that kind of movie.

Then in a matter of weeks he fights an exhibition match that gets the attention of his scuzzy ex-promoter (50 “Maybe I’m not really bankrupt” Cent) who says he can get his boxing suspension lifted early so that in six weeks he can get a shot at the title against the boxer who caused the tragedy that led directly to his downfall. In case that’s not enough emotion to fuel Billy’s comeback, something bad happens off-screen that is mentioned so casually it might not have happened at all. Cheeeaap.

Naturally we get a training montage featuring a new song by Eminem (the movie was supposed to have been an Eminem project) in which Eminem explains everything to the audience in case they were punch-drunk from being smacked in the face with so many clichés.

At which point we realize that Jake is acting in a vacuum. This movie is completely unworthy of him, or Rachel McAdams who turns in possibly her strongest performance since Mean Girls, or Forest Whitaker whose presence makes up for the clichés he must recite, or Naomie Harris as a child services rep who apparently has only one charge. Jake has brought a bazooka where a flyswatter would’ve been sufficient. All the stuff we see him doing—yelling into a pillow while bleeding, sweating, pouring snot and drooling—is just Acting. Akting na akting.

Of course we are very fond of Jake whom we tend to think of as Heath’s widow. Since Prince of Persia, the franchise that was supposed to make him a box-office star but didn’t, he has been on a roll: Source Code, End of Watch, Enemy, Nightcrawler. Great things are in store for Jake Gyllenhaal, just not Southpaw. Forget it, Jake, it’s Hollywood.

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This is how to make a training montage.