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Every movie we see # 116: Interpellating Interstellar

November 14, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies, Science 1 Comment →

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108. The Other Woman. We saw it on the plane while drifting in and out of consciousness, which is the best way to see it.

109. Pulp Fiction. On the plane, for the 10,000th time.

110. Magic In The Moonlight. We love it. Critics only saw the ick factor: the age difference between Colin Firth and Emma Stone. “What do you expect, it’s a Woody Allen movie, etc.” But Colin Firth being sarcastic is hot at any age. Late period Woody has come up with a lovely movie about how the world may not have a smidgin of meaning, but it’s not entirely without magic.

111. Celebrity. The only Woody Allen movie we hadn’t seen, and we saw it on YouTube, thank you. Kenneth Branagh’s impression of Woody Allen was universally vilified, but this 16-year-old movie, made when the inventors of Facebook and Twitter were in high school, was prescient about today’s celebrity culture. You have to have met enough self-important idiot celebrities to know how spot-on it is.

112. Rebecca. Re-watched for Halloween. It’s not scary, but we’re very fond of it.

113. Boyhood. Richard Linklater’s project, shot with the same cast over 12 years so you can see how the characters age and evolve. Amazing and deeply moving.

114. Jersey Boys. We kept expecting Joe Pesci to show up…and he did!

115. The Italian Job. The original starring Michael Caine, the subject of all those Steve Coogan impressions.

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We would probably like Christopher Nolan’s movies more if his fans didn’t expect everyone to bow down and cross ourselves every time a new one came out. We like Interstellar, though.

Interstellar is set in the near future, on a ruined earth. Ex-NASA pilot Cooper (Matthew McConaughey, who discovered a shining new career by losing the cuteness) is recruited to lead a mission to find other habitable planets. The crew members include Wes Bentley (too handsome), Anne Hathaway (whom we kept expecting to break out into “Cabaret” or “L-I-Z-A Liza”), and TARS, a robot who resembles a large chocolate bar or the monolith from 2001. Cooper leaves behind a son, Tom, and a daughter, Murph, who cannot forgive him for abandoning her.

A space travel movie! There should be more of those, if only to remind people to look beyond this speck of cosmic rubble we live on. Those of us who were kids during the 1970s are probably the last generation to take it for granted that we would go to space. What are we still doing here?

There are plot holes, but nothing big enough to swallow the movie. (Don’t ask the question about the advanced civilization using Morse Code.) We had an M. Night Shyamalan moment (like “He’s dead!” five minutes into in The Sixth Sense) early on, when we figured out who the ghost was, but even that couldn’t spoil it for us. Nolan does a good job conveying the sense of wonder, and as the vessel does its Kubrickian ballet in total silence we had goosebumps. We especially like the physical representation of time.

Nolan would probably prefer to be compared to Stanley Kubrick (The scene where the schoolteacher says the Apollo landings were fake refers directly to Kubrick, who is supposed to have directed the moonwalk for TV), but the movie Interstellar reminds us of is Contact, the Robert Zemeckis film based on Carl Sagan’s novel and co-starring McConaughey. The father-daughter bond bridging time and space…cue tears, cue Hans Zimmer score, no, no, cut that blasted score. Something like this calls for silence.

There’s a genuine emotional wallop when Cooper is confronted with the reality of time dilation in years and years of bitter messages from his children (grown into Casey Affleck, the one who can act, and Jessica Chastain, who has the ability to look like a pre-Raphaelite angel and still ground the proceedings in reality).

The movie asks questions like, Do we do things for humanity, or for the people we love? What about those of us who like humanity as a concept but don’t like people very much? And what is the role of human relationships in survival and evolution? We could have a long discussion as to whether we should leave this planet we have trashed so badly, but that would be laying too heavy a burden on what is, after all, an entertainment.

Kubrick wanted to know what comes after humanity. Nolan brings us back to the comforts of our species. Enjoy the spectacle.

In the cemetery where Truffaut lies buried

October 30, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Art, Cats, History, Movies, Places, Traveling 3 Comments →

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There’s a Francois Truffaut exposition and retrospective at the Cinematheque Francaise. Like the awarding of the Nobel Prize in Literature to Patrick Modiano (whose books are in every bookshop window, taunting us), it exists to make people who don’t speak French feel bad. “But we’ve seen The 400 Blows lots of times, we already know the plot, so we can watch it anyway,” we consoled ourself. But The 400 Blows and the Antoine Doinel movies aren’t showing this week. Noooo!

In the meantime we visited Truffaut’s grave at the Montmartre Cemetery. We’re staying at our friend’s apartment, which is within spitting distance of Sacre Coeur, but only if you’re on the hill or if you’re an Olympic-level projectile spitter.

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On the way to the cemetery, we stopped at the house where Vincent Van Gogh lived with his brother, Theo. (There’s a plaque on the side of the building.) Sad story. In your lifetime your devoted brother, an art dealer, can’t sell any of your work, and then after your death your paintings go for zillions.

Still, the letters the brothers wrote to each other are wonderful. Read them. Vincent not only had the eye, he had the ear as well. One of them.

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The map at the cemetery entrance lists the famous dead on the premises: Theophile Gautier, Edgar Degas, Hector Berlioz, Edmond Goncourt and so on. Even if we have no sense of direction, we couldn’t miss Truffaut’s grave.

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Visitors leave their metro tickets on it. The Last Metro, get it? Granted, it is easier than leaving 400 Blows or a piano player with a bullet through him.

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We like cemeteries, they’re quiet. A fat stray cat walked in front of us, but refused to be photographed.

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Cat of the Day: Prince, of the Del Fierro-Bouyers.Tried to eat our cake because it had lots of butter.

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

October 23, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies 2 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.

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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.