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Every movie we see #107: The Judge leaves no tear unjerked

October 23, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies No Comments →

103. This Is Where I Leave You: Even the casting doesn’t work. If Jane Fonda as the mother cheated on her husband regularly, she still couldn’t produce Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Corey Stoll and Adam Driver. They don’t look like they’re from the same species, much less the same gene pool.

104. A Walk Among The Tombstones: Liam Neeson doesn’t kill everyone, but we enjoyed its gritty grimness. Cousin Matthew from Downton Abbey plays a grieving drug trafficker.

105. The Longest Week: A Spot the Influences quiz. Wes Anderson! Woody Allen! Whit Stillman! Etcetera!

106. Inbetweeners 2: A turd joke too far.

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The Judge never met a subplot it didn’t like. Big-city lawyer returns to the small town he grew up in, check. Man with failing marriage reconnects with high school sweetheart, check. Slick defense attorney must defend his father, a stickler for the law, on the charge of murder, check. Successful brother spends time with his less successful brothers, including the sweet mentally-challenged one, check. There’s even a hurricane to mirror the characters’ inner tumult.

All this clutter can’t cover up the fact that the legal drama at the center of The Judge isn’t that compelling. A pity because it’s been a while since we’ve seen Robert Downey, Jr. step out of his Tony Stark persona. Though he doesn’t step that far because his character also had the wild youth and brushes with the law. And when we find out why the father and son don’t get along, we want to yell, “Everyone has father issues, deal with it!”

Director David Dobkin (Wedding Crashers) piles on the sentimental cliches—we heard people sniffling in the audience, though our own eyeballs remained dry and well-exercised from constant rolling. The excellent cast—RDJ, Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga, Billy Bob Thornton, Vince D’Onofrio—deserves a better movie.

Rating: Potentially useful as emotional blackmail to get Downey to do Iron Man 4.

* * * * *

Tearjerker story: Remember the year of the competing asteroid-on-collision-course-with-earth movies? Some comic book geeks we know went to see Deep Impact. During the scene where Tea Leoni and her father Maximilian Schell embrace just before the tidal wave hits them, the comic book geeks were all weeping. When the lights came on, they looked at each other and sobbed, “Pare, ang ganda ng special effects.”

Little Azkals movie showing in cinemas on October 25-26

October 22, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies, Sports besides Tennis No Comments →

Directed by Baby Ruth Villarama. Opening on 25-26 October, 2014 at selected SM Cinemas.

The Janitor made us feel like throwing 500-peso bills at the screen.

October 13, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies 3 Comments →

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We had already seen The Janitor at Cinemalaya but we saw it again because it has the highest concentration of hot guys in any Filipino movie we’ve seen lately. As someone put it, it’s like the Cosmo Bachelor bash in movie form. We brought our friend, Karma K. Good thing the front rows were empty because we were so noisy, if we’d been other people we’d have yelled at us to shut up.

Directed by Michael Tuviera, The Janitor is a conspiracy thriller in which Dennis Trillo plays a suspended policeman tasked by his boss Richard Gomez, upon the orders of the police general Ricky Davao, to eliminate the suspects in a bank robbery that resulted in the deaths of ten people. The conspiracy doesn’t run very deep, but the movie is solidly-made, the action scenes well-executed, and the fight scenes look like real fights. Most importantly, Dennis is spectacular with a tan and more bulk.

– Ang ganda-ganda ni Dennis. Ilong lang niya ang hindi perfect, but it’s just right for his face. If everything were perfect, he would be too pretty.
– I saw him at the mall years ago, he’s not very tall.
– So what, he is correctly-proportioned.
– If the dvd contains an extra 30 minutes of him working out with no shirt, I’m pre-ordering the dvd.
– Masipag ang director na ito. So many cuts in each scene.
– I think he’s the son of the producer of Eat Bulaga. So the scene where police torture the lookout/tricycle driver (an excellent Nico Manalo) using a game show wheel is an hommage to Eat Bulaga.
– Who is that?
– Alex Medina, one of Pen Medina’s children.
– He’s very cute.
– But Pen is still the best-looking Medina.
– And the guy playing Alex’s brother is cute, too.
– Ynez Veneracion has the right katarayan for the role. The other female characters, though, are blah and stereotypical.
– That one wins the bad actress award.
– The action scene in the cornfield is good. Derivative, but well done. The director knows his Hong Kong action flicks.
– I know someone who watched this twice for Raymond Bagatsing.
– Richard Gomez has been in movies long enough to know how not to be wiped out in scenes with Dennis.
– Why is Derek Ramsay acting with his tongue? He keeps sticking it out, he might bite it off.
– Well his ex-wife’s trying.
– He hasn’t learned how to act, yet.
– Which leads to the question: If you look like that, do you have to act?
– (The prostitute says: “Hoy pokpok ako, dream come true sa amin ang maging kabit.”) Hahaha, nice line.
– Now Dennis is a real actor. You can read the emotions one by one as they flicker across his face.
– And he doesn’t contort his face.
– Which is lovely.
– Note the angles of his eyebrows.
– You don’t think that sweeping scene is obvious and inadvertently funny?
– Works for me.

The Janitor is now showing in cinemas. Rating: Recommended.

Every movie we see #102: The message of Gone Girl is, Don’t get married.

October 09, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Movies 2 Comments →

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If you’re holding a press conference to ask people for information on your missing wife, remember not to smile.

Gone Girl by David Fincher is about a missing persons case that exposes the worst in everyone: the suspect, the media, the audience, the victim herself. The one person who seems trustworthy is the celebrity lawyer who specializes in defending sleazebags, and that’s because he knows exactly what he is. Everyone thinks they’re the good guy, and the harder they try to convince us of their goodness, the more awful we think they are. If you’re looking for something to affirm your faith in human nature, do not go near this movie. If you want an absorbing entertainment in which the violence simmers just below the surface from beginning to end, Gone Girl is for you.

Read our review at InterAksyon.com.

Every movie we see: Simenon, Dostoevsky, Highsmith on the screen

October 08, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Movies No Comments →

98. The Man Who Watched Trains Go By, the 1952 adaptation of the crime thriller by Georges Simenon, follows the plot faithfully but doesn’t have the novel’s queasy atmosphere. Claude Rains, whom we regard as a model of urbanity (He is our favorite character in Casablanca. “I’m shocked, shocked that there’s gambling on the premises.” “Your winnings, Sir.” “Oh yes, thank you.”), stars as Kees Popinga, a model citizen who suddenly snaps and goes on a crime spree. Everyone is so polite, especially Marius Goring from The Red Shoes as the detective in pursuit, so we don’t believe anything bad really happened.

99. The Physician (2013). Based on Noah Gordon’s historical novel about an English orphan in the 11th century who travels to Persia to learn medicine. At the time, Europe was in the Dark Ages and the sick were tended to by traveling barbers. The real physicians were Jews trained in Persia. So the English boy pretends to be Jewish (He circumcises himself, that’s how serious he was about becoming a doctor) and travels to Isfahan to train with the great Ibn Sina (Avicenna). There he helps battle an outbreak of the plague, which is not as lethal as religious fundamentalism. Stars Tom Payne and Emma Rigby are the cutest couple we’ve seen in movies this year.

100. The Double. Richard Ayoade’s adaptation of Dostoevsky’s short novel is a very black comedy reminiscent of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. Starring Jesse Eisenberg as both the nebbish and the popular new guy whom no one notices looks exactly like him.

101. The Two Faces of January. Based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith, whose better-known books have been adapted for film by Wim Wenders, Liliana Cavani, Rene Clement, Anthony Minghella, Alfred Hitchcock. In an interview Viggo Mortensen disparaged the source novel, and we thought, “Ang taray naman ni Viggo”, but he’s right. How dare we doubt Viggo. (No, there is no scene in a Turkish bath, or battles with orcs.) The material’s quite thin, but it’s elevated by the acting and director Hossein Amini doesn’t stint on the nastiness. Why are the characters in movies based on Highsmith novels so well-dressed?

Robert Downey, Jr, adopt us. (Updated)

October 01, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies 7 Comments →

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As we reported last week, Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan has been named the official entry of the Philippines to the Academy Awards. Thanks to everyone who saw the movie, who told their friends about it, who spread the word about a 4-hour, 10-minute indie arthouse movie that, on paper, didn’t stand a chance against the heavily-advertised, big budget mainstream productions.

Next, we try to get into the shortlist of five nominees for Best Foreign Language Film.

IndieWire says Norte has a chance. We expect favorable notice from awards prediction sites in the coming weeks. But every country has an entry, and many of them are worthy contenders, too.

Lav Diaz is too cool to campaign for a nomination, but (speaking for ourself) we’re not. We want that nomination. What we need is to be adopted by a major Hollywood player who will throw their weight behind Norte, The End of History and get Academy members to consider supporting it for the Oscars. Maybe throw us a party. And this is the first name that popped into our massive head: Robert Downey, Jr. He’s as major a Hollywood player as it gets, we have a feeling he’ll like Norte, and we do love him.

Robert Downey, Jr., adopt us.

(Does anyone know anyone who knows RDJ? In real life, not in your fan fiction.)

Update: Moira Lang, mother of Norte, spoke to Norte’s US distributor Cinema Guild. They explained how a film gets into the shortlist. Basically, it’s a crapshoot. A small committee chooses the entries out of all the submissions. Often, the film agency of the country which submitted the film hires a PR agency to boost the film’s chances of becoming one of the five nominees.

Once a movie gets into the shortlist, its chances become one in five, so that’s when the producers throw everything they have at selling Norte to Academy voters.

Next week we’ll know if the Philippine government through the Film Development Council will support Norte’s Oscar campaign. It’s in everyone’s best interest.