Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for the ‘Movies’

Every movie we see in 2015. Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo is a handsome diorama.

January 06, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: History, Movies 1 Comment →

New year, new record.

1. The Green Ray. We had seen this a few years ago, but as with many Eric Rohmer movies we weren’t sure we had. We couldn’t recall the plot, because nothing much really happens in Eric Rohmer movies. A young man walks around the neighborhood where his crush lives, hoping to run into her. A young man waits for his girlfriend to show up, meets another girl and hits it off. A man gets stranded at a woman friend’s house by a snowstorm and spends the whole night wondering if he should sleep with her. You get the drift. The situations are so banal yet the characters’ thought processes are so interesting that we cannot tune out.

In The Green Ray, a woman can’t decide how to spend her summer vacation. That’s about it, plot-wise, except for the bit about a Jules Verne novel. But it’s riveting, and by the end we’re screaming “What! You can’t stop there! What happens next?”

Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo photo from InterAksyon.

2. Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo

The history looks correct but let’s not forget that this is not a school report but a movie, and the root word of movie is move.

Robin Padilla goes through all the poses: Monumento, UP Vinzons Hall, and so on. We expect a line of action figures.

Whenever the movie threatens to achieve any momentum, it is interrupted by the framing device in which Daniel Padilla is a high school student working on a school project at the KKK Museum. On the other hand, we learned that there is a KKK Museum.

As the museum custodian, Eddie Garcia is moved to tears because Bonifacio is called a traitor. As far as we know, Bonifacio is still generally considered a hero, it’s only the Aguinaldo biopic El Presidente that portrays him as a traitor.

After the end credits, which we sat through because we were discussing Bonifacio, there is a stinger which teases the Antonio Luna biopic. It’s the 1896 Revolution Cinematic Universe! That would make Robin Padilla’s Bonifacio Groot. Because he dies but lives on, what did you think we meant?

Every movie we see 2014: the final accounting

January 04, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies 1 Comment →

127. The Theory of Everything. Eddie Redmayne is spectacular, the movie not so. Reviewed here.

128. Maratabat. Reviewed here.

129. Stolen Kisses 130. Bed and Board. Sequels to The 400 Blows. They don’t live up to The 400 Blows, but we like them all the same.

130. Starter for 10. While organizing our DVDs (we wish), we came upon this lighthearted British movie about a team representing their school in the University Challenge quiz show. The stars all went on to bigger things: James McAvoy, Dominic Cooper, Rebecca Hall, Alice Eve, and a hilarious Benedict Cumberbatch, who has always played nerds with poor social skills.

131. North by Northwest. Hitchcocks are our comfort movies, even the grisly ones.

132. Cutter’s Way. A criminally underrated masterpiece by the Czech director Ivan Passer starring Jeff Bridges, John Heard and Lisa Eichhorn as three people in California who drink too much and try to piece together the American Dream detonated by the Vietnam War. It was abandoned by its own studio and ignored by the audience, but genius finds a way to survive. The cast is magnificent. Read an appreciation.

In December we avoided the horrendous traffic by staying home and rewatching movies. 133. Magnolia. 134. Atonement. 135. That Uncertain Feeling (written by Preston Sturges). 136. Dressed to Kill.

137. Lifeboat. One of the last Hitchcocks we hadn’t seen. Survivors of a ship torpedoed by a Nazi submarine debate on whether to kill the Nazi on board, and end up letting him run things. One of many movies made when America was trying to sit out the war. Reminds us of a Monty Python sketch:

138. The Earrings of Madame de. One of our favorite movies of all time (FMAT). 139. (We got an Eric Rohmer 6 Moral Tales boxed set) The Baker Girl of Monceau (FMAT). 140. Suzanne’s Career. 141. La Collectionneuse.

142. The Devil’s Backbone. Guillermo del Toro’s heart-rendingly beautiful ghost story set in an orphanage towards the end of the Spanish Civil War. (Should be seen with Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth and Victor Erice’s Spirit of the Beehive.) As always, it’s not the dead who should be feared but the living, in this case the handsome handyman (star of Abre los ojos) who is ugly on the inside.

143. Sullivan’s Travels. FMAT.

144. The Guest. Cousin Matthew (Dan Stevens) shows off his newly-ripped torso in this action movie with a very 80s feel, down to the soundtrack.

145. The Palm Beach Story. FMAT.

146. The Riot Club. The film adaptation of the play Posh, about over-privileged young men at Oxford behaving very, very badly. A wasted opportunity, we remember it as a beauty contest between Sam Claflin, Douglas Booth, and Max Irons. Rising stars Natalie Dormer, Holliday Grainger and Jessica Findlay Brown are in the cast but have little to do.

147. The Interview. Reviewed here.

148. Letter From An Unknown Woman. FMAT. 149. Ninotchka. FMAT.

150. English Only, Please. Reviewed here.

151. The Apartment. A New Year’s Eve movie. 152. To Be Or Not To Be. Wonderful silliness.

Total number of movies seen in 2014: 152, of which 139 were seen for the first time.

How much do you love the Cumberbatch?

January 03, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Movies 1 Comment →

Photo by Chris Buck for the New York Times

Jana Prikryl, a senior editor at the New York Review of Books, had a poem about Benedict Cumberbatch published in the London Review of Books.

Thinking of Benedict
Cumberbatch and his mind
(stay with me), I resolved
on the importance
of character, specifically
as a function of the celebrity
interview: that it’s not his face
propelled him into the skin
of a matinée idol but
his quips and winning
earnest wish to answer
every question,
and be very very nice.

Continue reading

Where is the ode to Tom Hiddleston in the Paris Review or the sonnet about Eddie Redmayne in the Times Literary Supplement? (And the lament on the recent wedding of Joseph Gordon-Levitt?)

Our Top 10 lists for 2014: Books, movies, TV, taxi names, cat food flavors and more

December 30, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Movies, Television 6 Comments →

In no particular order

Top 10 Books that we read in 2014

1. How to be Both by Ali Smith
2. The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
3. The Children Act by Ian McEwan
4. My Struggle Volume 1 by Karl Ove Knausgaard

5. Life After Life and Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
6. HHhH by Laurent Binet
7. The Blue Flower and Gate of Angels by Penelope Fitzgerald
8. The Broken Road by Patrick Leigh-Fermor
9. Isabelo’s Archive by Resil Mojares
10. Paris Stories by Mavis Gallant

Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala’s Top 10 Books he read in 2014

1. The Martian by Andy Weir
2. An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris
3. The Rise of the Creative Class by Richard Florida
4. The Son by Jo Nesbo
5. The Steady Running of the Hour by Justin Go
6. For Those Who Wish Me Dead by Michael Koryta
7. The Farm by Tom Rob Smith
8. Dusk by James Salter
9. The Twelve Children of Paris by Tim Willocks
10. The Fun Stuff by James Wood

Jaime’s Top 10 TV Shows he saw in 2014

1. Gracepoint (US BBC) and Broadchurch (BBC)
2. The Roosevelts – An Intimate Portrait (PBS – Documentary)
3. The Vikings
4. True Detective
5. The Knick
6. Wallander (both Swedish and British versions)
7. Hell on Wheels

Martin Freeman in the William H. Macy role in the TV Fargo, which is different from the movie Fargo.
8. Fargo
9. The Bridge
10. House of Cards

Our Top 10 Movies from 2014 that we saw in 2014

1. Snowpiercer. How to choreograph a fight scene with axes.
2. Guardians of the Galaxy starring Chris Pratt as Han Solo, and Captain America: Winter Soldier, a 70s conspiracy thriller with superheroes. We’re going to cheat and consider all movies from the Marvel universe as a single extravaganza, to make room for a movie someone just reminded us about.
3. Boyhood. Time travel for real. Who knew that the passage of the years, marked by the most mundane events, could be so moving?
4. Nightcrawler. Creepy Jake.
5. Stranger by the Lake. Like Nancy Drew with sex and death.
6. The Grand Budapest Hotel. The movie equivalent of a vitrine of macarons.

7. Only Lovers Left Alive. Who but vampires can really appreciate the history of art, literature, music?
8. The Immigrant. James Gray (Two Lovers, We Own the Night) should be more famous.
9. Edge of Tomorrow. In which Tom Cruise gets killed over and over and over again, to the enjoyment of fans and non-fans.
10. Magic in the Moonlight. A better Woody Allen movie than the fluffy Midnight in Paris, which critics and audiences loved.
(Note: Norte was on our 2013 list. We haven’t seen most of the awards contenders, which just opened in the US.)

Top 10 Taxi Names

1. Ozymandias. Look on yon cab, ye mighty, and despair!
2. from Ricky: Shadow of the Almighty. Not a reference to Sauron.
10. Your choices

Saffy’s Top 10 Cat Food Flavors

1. Fancy Feast Seafood Feast
2. Fancy Feast Salmon Feast
3. Vita Pet Tuna with Prawn
4. Fancy Feast Cod, Sole, and Shrimp Feast
5. Canned food from Bow and Wow (basta mahal)
6. Fried chicken (human food)
7. Vita Pet Tuna Nuggets
8. Friskies Mixed Grill Paté
9. Friskies Salmon Feast Classic Paté
10. Sashimi (human food)

Send us your lists.

English Only, Please freshens up the romantic comedy

December 29, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies No Comments →


Absurdity is a given in the rom-com business. We wouldn’t have to point that out except that lots of people still think their lives are rom-coms, and that at some point they will be loudly declaring their love in a public place in front of a cheering crowd. The achievement of English Only, Please, directed by Dan Villegas (Mayohan) is that it keeps the timeworn tropes of the genre but somehow makes them engaging again. We may see the ending coming a mile away, but we need to see it through.

Read our review at

Thank you, Kim Still Less Famous Than Kardashian

December 27, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events, Movies No Comments →


We spent December 25 the way we did last year: hanging out with friends, coaxing Drogon out from under the furniture (sometimes he gets shy), eating leftovers (When will that lechon end?) and watching movies.

This year we saw the biggest talking point of the season: Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s The Interview. It’s stupid and hilarious! Even Juan laughed at it (he doesn’t take to stupid as well as we do)! Thank you, Kim Still Less Famous Than Kardashian, for getting us interested in a movie by making it a rallying cry for free speech. Otherwise we might’ve ignored it.

Katy Perry’s song Firework has a major role in the movie, which reminds us of another movie featuring Firework: Rust and Bone by Jacques Audiard (The Beat That My Heart Skipped, A Prophet). In the Audiard, Marion Cotillard plays a whale trainer who loses both her legs in a terrible accident. Sitting in her wheelchair, she recalls the choreography to the whale show, so whenever we hear Firework we remember that moment and our hair stands on end. (Cotillard is sublime, the only time we saw her put in a so-so performance was in the last Nolan Batman.)