Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for the ‘Movies’

Why mope when you can dance?

July 30, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies, Music No Comments →

Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston as 500-year-old vampires in Only Lovers Left Alive. The song is Trapped By A Thing Called Love by Denise Lasalle. When we saw the movie we were struck by the perfection of their hair. Of course vampires would have those masses of hair, hair continues growing after death.

Every movie we see # 74: Hercules is legendarily awful.

July 29, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Movies 1 Comment →

Movies #70-73: Murder on the Orient Express, Death on the Nile, The Mirror Crack’d, Evil Under the Sun, all adaptations of Agatha Christie novels. Orient Express is the most stylish—we’ve always wanted to take the Orient Express—but we found Albert Finney’s Hercule Poirot overdone. We prefer Peter Ustinov, who starred in Nile and Evil. The Mirror Crack’d is memorable for the insults traded by Elizabeth Taylor and Kim Novak, and if you like Diana Rigg in Game of Thrones, you have to see her as the scheming actress in Evil Under the Sun.

Lady Olenna Tyrell—in the halter dress—vs the Dowager Countess of Grantham!

We enjoyed our Agatha Christie film festival so much, we’ve been watching the TV series Agatha Christie’s Marple. Ricky calls it The Love Boat of murder mysteries because each episode features a raft of guest stars familiar from British TV including Timothy Dalton, Matthew Macfadyen, and the ubiquitous Benedict Cumberbatch.

* * * * *

On one hand, Hercules: The Thracian Wars is by Brett Ratner, a director so terrible that Wolverine had to travel back in time to repair the damage he did to the X-Men series. On the other hand, it stars The Rock Dwayne Johnson, whose character in The Scorpion King we named our cat Mat after (Although we changed it from ‘Mathayus’ to ‘Matthias’ because we can spell).

So we watched Hercules because we love The Rock and think he’s (intentionally) funny and the reviews we saw were decent. Afterwards we decided that Dwayne needs to fire his agent because he hasn’t gotten the right projects, and the reviewers need to get detoxed.

The concept is intriguing: the deconstruction of a myth. This Hercules is not a demi-god but a mortal, a warrior accused of a horrific crime and reduced to working as a mercenary. He is accompanied by a merry band including Rufus Sewell, Ian McShane, and Aksel Hennie (star of the excellent Norwegian art crime movie Headhunters with Nikolaj Coster Waldau). The stories of his exploits are made up by his nephew, apparently the inventor of PR.

So the premise is overflowing with comic possibilities, all of which the inept director ignores because he thinks he is making a serious movie. In the classics of camp the actors are hilarious because they think they are making a serious film. With Hercules, the actors know the movie is stupid, but the director has no idea. Poor Dwayne can’t even lift an eyebrow in jest because his character has been through a horrible tragedy.

The battle scenes are lazy and generic, the script is putrid, and the movie is a total waste of The Rock.

With all the money, technology, and stars going for it, Hercules: The Thracian Wars is not as entertaining as the cheesy old sword-and-sandal epic from the 50s.

Bad as Dwayne’s agent is, Joseph Fiennes’s and Peter Mullan’s are worse. (Never mind that John Hurt is in this, he’s appeared in some terrific stuff this year.) You make The Magdalene Sisters, and then you’re cast as the secondary villain in this? Fire your agent.

We fear that for lack of choice, this is Dwayne Johnson’s best performance in film so far.

Alan Moore calls for boycott of wretched film Hercules

The Norte screening at Alabang Town Center today, Sunday, has been cancelled.

July 19, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Announcements, Movies No Comments →

The screening of Norte, Hangganan Ng Kasaysayan scheduled for today, 3pm at Alabang Town Center has been cancelled as electric service has not been restored in that area. (Walang koryente sa ATC.)

The 3pm screening of Norte at Glorietta will go on as scheduled.

The Pinoy-ness of Crime and Punishment

July 17, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Movies No Comments →

We hope you, your animals, and your trees are all right after Typhoon Glenda, which left vast swaths of Metro Manila looking like a botanical apocalypse.

* * * * *
norte 4
Watch Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian: Why Norte, The End of History is the one film you should watch this week.

From reading so many reviews of Norte in the American and British media (Best blurb so far, from Time Out London: “The summer movie equivalent of the World Cup Final”), all of which mention Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, we had to read C&P again.

We have not read Crime and Punishment in a decade, but we remember being struck by the Pinoy-ness of it: the self-pitying and self-dramatizing, the sudden bursts of violence and the random bursts of goodness. Why should we care so much about these drunken, mad, feverishly overthinking, neurotic perhaps schizophrenic, strangely sympathetic characters? Because if we can understand them, maybe we can understand ourselves.

It’s not an easy read. Periodically one feels like throwing this doorstop-sized book at its author and its many characters with names that take days to pronounce. You do not read Dostoevsky to escape from the mayhem of life, but to drown in it.

And from reading Crime and Punishment, we want to watch Norte again.

(Is Norte eligible for the Oscars? It would have to be selected by the Film Academy as the official Philippine entry. To be eligible for consideration, the film needs a commercial theatrical run of at least one week.)

Some years ago Penguin put out great novels with blank covers so you could make your own.

to be continued

The unfinished films of Stanley Kubrick

July 16, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies No Comments →

A.V. Club’s Best Films of 2014 (so far) cites Norte

July 15, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies 1 Comment →


Best no-budget aerial footage: Norte, The End Of History
Norte, The End Of History, Lav Diaz’s four-hour yarn about guilt and transcendence in the modern-day Philippines, is the director’s most accessible work to date. (Accessibility is, of course, relative, especially when it comes to filmmakers best known for making nine-hour-long movies on black-and-white consumer-grade video.) Part of that is owed to the presence of an honest-to-God director of photography, Lauro Rene Manda. Shot in 2.39 widescreen, in color, and marked by long takes and glacial camera movements, Norte is easily the most conventionally handsome thing Diaz has ever put his name on. It comes as something of a shock, then, when the movie abruptly breaks its rigorous style for a dream sequence composed of no-budget aerial shots—seemingly produced by attaching a GoPro to an RC plane—that hearken back to Diaz’s handmade roots and yet look like nothing he (or any other narrative filmmaker) has done before. Camera-carrying, gimbal-mount quadcopter drones have made inroads in TV production in the last couple of years (expect to see them showing up in movies soon), but the effect Diaz achieves is rawer, and more in keeping with the spirit of the scene. It feels like an unmoored consciousness, hurtling over the landscape.

The full list is here.

The A.V. Club review: “Contemporary festival-circuit culture fetishizes long takes, but Diaz actually earns them.” Note: Wakwak is the psycho played by Soliman Cruz. The reviewer means the convict who is periodically released to do assassinations for politicians, the one who says “Ang buhay ay sumpa.”

Norte, Hangganan Ng Kasaysayan is showing on Saturday, July 19, 630 pm at Greenbelt 3 and Trinoma and on Sunday, July 20, 3pm at Alabang Town Center and Glorietta. Tickets at