Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for the ‘Movies’

Very brief movie reviews: Girl, Derailed and Crimes and Misdemeanors Lite

October 10, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies 3 Comments →

Girl On The Train tries so hard to out-Gone Girl Gone Girl, it derails itself. Incoherent, irritating, suspense-free and a waste of Emily Blunt and Rebecca Ferguson.

Like most recent Woody Allen, Cafe Society is a retread of peak Woody Allen—in this case Crimes and Misdemeanors—but if you need cheering up you could do worse. Bonus question: Do all the protagonists of Woody Allen movies do a Woody Allen impression? Even Cate Blanchett was doing his speech patterns in Blue Jasmine.

What would be great: Emily Blunt in a Woody Allen movie.

Lav Diaz’s Ang Babaeng Humayo (The Woman Who Left) wins Venice Film Festival

September 11, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies 4 Comments →


The Woman Who Left, a black-and-white revenge thriller lasting 228 minutes, has won the Golden Lion at the 73rd Venice film festival.

The 19th film by Filipino director Lav Diaz, 57, it focuses on the struggle of a schoolteacher to reintegrate into society after 30 years in prison for a murder she didn’t commit.

“This is for my country, for the Filipino people; for our struggle and the struggle of humanity,” said Diaz, thanking the jury headed by British director Sam Mendes.

In second place, winning the Silver Lion, was Nocturnal Animals, a mordant thriller by Tom Ford which stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Amy Adams in dual roles as a once-married couple and as the protagonists in the novel one of them has written.

It is the fashion director’s second film; his first, A Single Man, also had its first screening at the festival, in 2009, taking best actor for Colin Firth.

The award for best director was tied between young Mexican Amat Escalante (for The Untamed) and veteran Russian Andrei Konchalovsky for his Holocaust drama, Paradise.

Clint Eastwood’s workmanlike airline drama Sully flies because of Tom Hanks

September 10, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies No Comments →


How do you turn an amazing event that lasted all of 208 seconds into a two-hour movie? Especially if the hero at its center is a man so dignified, selfless, and flawless that he doesn’t even allow himself to feel pride at his stunning feat? First you cast Tom Hanks, the world’s most sympathetic everyman, whom we’ll believe in almost anything (except Dan Brown movies). Then you line up an antagonist.

Now who would be the villain in the true story of Captain Chesley Sullenberger, the veteran pilot who made a forced landing of a crippled airplane with 155 people on board on the Hudson River in the dead of winter? The geese who crashed into the plane, causing both engines to fail? The media, which has the habit of declaring people heroes one minute, and then tearing them down in the next? That giant caterpillar on co-pilot Aaron Eckhart’s upper lip which obscures his granite-like beauty?

Qapla’! Easy Klingon phrases that may save your life

September 07, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Language, Movies No Comments →

LOS ANGELES - JANUARY 9: Michael Dorn as Lt. Worf in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, "The Big Goodbye." Season 1, episode 11.  Original air date January 9, 1988.  Image is a screen grab.  (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

quSDaq ba’lu’’a’ (Is this seat taken?)
Usage: When you’re sitting down to negotiations with a Klingon, it’s probably best to proceed with caution—although your polite question may betray your humanoid tendencies.

vjIjatlh (Speak)
Usage: As a greeting. “A Klingon will not waste time on trivial pleasantries,” notes Windsor. Why say “hello” when you can issue an order, instead?

Read it in Wired.

Today is the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, the series that saved my life. I was an antisocial 11-year-old nerd when Star Trek reruns started airing on local TV (We martial law kids only had 4 channels). It introduced me to science-fiction and the idea that the universe was bigger than I could possibly imagine, and crammed with possibilities, including people I could talk to who would not think I was a freak. Thank you, Gene Rodenberry and all the brilliant writers who boldly went where no one had gone before, and took us with them.

Train to Busan is the movie for these bizarre times

September 04, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies No Comments →


It turns out zombies really can’t be killed. The Walking Dead has been on forever, and it seems like a new zombie apocalypse movie/tv series premieres every month. Please, there are zombie romcoms. The Korean blockbuster Train to Busan by Yeon Sang-Ho takes all the tropes of zombie movies and throws them onto a speeding train, where the living must fight their way through cars packed with the frothing infected. The characters and the situations are familiar—you know exactly who will live and who will die—but the filmmakers make us care about the people, and then they execute the set pieces so well (with clever updates on the genre, such as the tunnel scenes), that they make the undead feel fresh and new.

There’s something for everybody: action, melodrama, comedy, tears and singing. It’s a great crowd pleaser—at a Sunday afternoon screening the audience shrieked, yelped, laughed, sobbed, and scared themselves silly. Train to Busan reminds us that cinema is a communal experience. Like that other terrific train movie, Bong Joon-Ho’s Snowpiercer, it lends itself to all sorts of interpretation. Class, economics, migration and refugees, crowds and chaos, survival and altruism, game theory—knock yourself out.

Often, life in 2016 feels like Train to Busan: beset on all sides by brain-eating killers.

Watch it.

Captain (Fantastic) squared

August 17, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies 2 Comments →


We assumed a lot of things from the poster of Captain Fantastic. The image of a family standing by a bus conjures up Little Miss Sunshine, the palette The Royal Tenenbaums. The brief summary brings up Peter Weir’s Mosquito Coast, in which Harrison Ford plays a father who takes his family “back to nature”, somewhere around the Amazon rainforest, with catastrophic results. The movie has bits of all of the above, but this exercise demonstrates how lazy viewers have become. Enough of “pegs”! Let’s talk about things. (Also, I just realized this is the first movie I’ve seen at the cinema in weeks that is not part of a franchise.)

Captain Fantastic, written and directed by Matt Ross (Gavin Belson on Silicon Valley), stars the singular Viggo Mortensen as Ben, a father raising six children ages 7-17 alone in the wild. He and his wife had intended to create a paradise and raise philosopher-kings out of Plato’s Republic. (Lazy descriptions: hippies, hipsters) The children are homeschooled and spectacularly literate—in one scene, the 8-year-old critiques the Bill of Rights. One of the teenagers is reading Lolita, and when she describes it as “interesting”, all the kids remind her that “interesting” is a non-word. True, it’s the default adjective when you’re too lazy to think of a proper description. Then she summarizes the novel, and her father says dwelling on the plot is lazy, too. Thinking deeply! An activity that is going extinct in the digital age.

Apart from literature, political theory, physics and Bach’s Goldberg Variations, they learn self-defense, hunting, and how to survive in the woods equipped only with a knife. Every morning they train as if they were competing in the Olympics. Ben always tells them the truth, even the things children are supposed to be shielded from. They don’t celebrate Christmas, they do Noam Chomsky Day. These kids are extremely well-educated, articulate, independent-thinking, anti-capitalist and self-sufficient. In short, they are freaks.

Unbeknownst to his father, the eldest son Bo (an excellent George MacKay) has applied to and been accepted by the entire Ivy League. Then something happens that requires them to encounter “the outside world”, and Ben is forced to re-examine his beliefs. Funny how the sustainable way of life is not sustainable in regular society.

Viggo is always terrific—the full frontal exposure is not completely necessary, but thanks anyway. Ross, who was Departmental Dan in The Last Days of Disco, never treats Ben as a weirdo or the kids as the butts of jokes—we know exactly whose side he’s on. I expected a fish-out-of-water comedy and got an affecting drama about the collision between personal belief and living in the world. Watch it before it vanishes from the cinema. It’s showing at Power Plant only., Greenhills Promenade, and Robinson’s Galleria.