Saturday, December 31, 2005

13 GOING ON 30
Jennifer Garner, Mark Ruffalo

"For some, 13 feels like it was just yesterday. For Jenna, it was."

New Year's Eve while the whole country was smothered by a thick layer of smog due to the loud firecrackers and the bright shiny fireworks, I was tuned to HBO watching a chick flick. A 13 year old girl wishes she was 30 flirty and thriving. Well lo and behold she got her wish. She wakes up as Jennifer Garner, she is the editor of a magazine, has a hot boyfriend, great digs except she isn't exactly a very good person. She doesn't call her parents and she reveals trade secrets to the rival magazine. The plot is a big blah but Mark Ruffalo doing the "Thriller" dance number was a kick to watch.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Johnny Depp, Freddie Highmore

"Oompa-Loompas are crazy for Coco-Beans!"

Willy Wonka, Willy Wonka ...

Delightful little movie. Catchy song. Good acting from Johnny Depp and the kids. Dark undertones yet uplifting theme. But those oompa loompas thingies freaked me out. It brings out the kid in all of us.
It made me crave so bad for chocolates but since I'm watching my food and sweets intake, I was able to resist the temptation to munch on toblerone and hershey kisses while watching the cutesy film.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Leonardo di Caprio, Cate Blanchett, John C. Reilly, Alan Alda, Alec Baldwin, Kate Beckinsale

"Some men dream the future. He built it."

A look into the life of Howard Hughes when he was first starting as a film director as well as one of the first men to develop the aviation industry. The film also explores the millionaire's various affairs with several actresses such as Katherine Hepburn and Ava Gardner. We are also shown snippets and glimpses of his slow decline into paranoia and dementia. It starts good enough as we are shown how engrossed he is with his passions. Film making and aviation. Money is no problem as he dips into his own account to the utter detriment of his accountant to finance his hobbies. He came up with a US$ 4 Million movie called Hell's Angels in the early 30s and spent millions as well to develop planes which in those days were still in the experimental stages of development. He was a genius in some way but on the other hand he was also a deeply troubled individual. The film though doesn't truly explain the reason behind his paranoia and it focuses more on his obsession with manufacturing airplanes. It was rather long in my opinion and it took on a surreal twist towards the end to showcase his rising dementia. His relationships with the actresses were not given enough exposure but I guess based on the title the director wanted to highlight the phase in Howard Hughes life's as an aviator.
Acting wise, Leonardo di Caprio was believable although he didn't seem to age much throughout the movie. Cate Blanchett's portrayal of Katherine Hepburn was very good. She really did sound like her from the voice down to her boisterous laughter.
Frankly I expected more from this movie. I was disappointed it didn't reveal more about his later years. But I guess nobody really knows what happened to Howard Hughes. He remains one of the most reclusively mysterious persons in history.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Ashton Kutcher, Amanda Peet

"There's nothing better than a great romance... to ruin a perfectly good friendship."


It is the time of the year when I raid the video shop for films to watch while the theaters are going to be showing entries to the Metro Manila Film Festival. Local films which I don't patronize at all.
First up is this light romantic comedy starring Demi Moore's husby and Amanda Peet. A guy and a girl hook up during a flight, decide it was nothing serious. Through the years they reunite, get reacquainted, go back to their respective lives, become friends till eventually they realize they actually do belong with each other other. Voila, happy ending. There isn't much to say about this movie except that it has a good mix of songs in its soundtrack. Demi Moore's hubby is forever going to be Kelso for me ergo a dumb witted prankster who cannot act. Amanda Peet has a refreshing bubbly personality that always liven up all the movies she is in except of course in "Identity".
The theme of "guy-and-girl-meet-they-are-meant-to-be-together-forever-but-they-take-years-to-realize-it" is pretty contrite. It has been done redundant in countless movies so just add this one to your collection of movies I.won'!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Adrien Brody, Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Andy Serkis, Kyle Chandler, Colin Hanks, Jamie Bell, Thomas Kretschmann

"The eight wonder of the world"

Edsa Shangri-la Plaza, Cinema 1

The 8th wonder of the world

Several reasons you may (or may not) like this movie: it is directed by Peter Jackson; the picturesque scenery of the sunset, the ruins of Skull Island, New York during the 30s; the refreshing Naomi Watts; the expression filled look on Jack Black's face; Adrien Brody, the love triangle between a giant ape, a struggling actress and an aspiring playwright; the dinosaurs as well as all those creepy crawlies that inhabit Skull Island and of course last but not the least, the giant ape with a soul.
So combine all of the above and then some, you are in for 3 hours of spectacular action, drama and edge of your seat thrill. That is if you can control your bladder from exploding from drinking too much iced tea.
I'd say it is definitely worth every single cent of the P170 I paid to see it. Pure entertainment!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Robert Redford, Jennifer Lopez, Morgan Freeman, Becca Gardner, Josh Lucas, Camryn Manheim

"Every secret takes on a life of its own."

Cinema 3, SM Megamall

an unfinised life

A beautiful movie set in the scenic mountain ranges of Wyoming (although it was filmed in Canada). A woman shows up with her daughter at the ranch of her former father-in-law. Her last resort/refuge as she is desperate to hide from her abusive boyfriend. There is some bad blood between them because he blames her for the death of his beloved son. So he has his own little world tending to his ranch as well as caring for his old stable hand who was crippled after being mauled by a bear.
It focuses on the granddaughter trying to adjust to her new surroundings, trying to reach out to her grandfather and make him come back to life. It is about healing broken relationships, learning to move on despite adversities, about accepting that life goes on after losing a loved one. It provides a good insight into the human persona and how it deals with grief, lost and life in general.
It helps that it is a well directed film. Lasse Hallstrom who gave us such movies with human 'drama' like "Chocolat" and "The Cider House Rules" did a good job. Robert Redford is in his elements as an aging cowboy that feels like he was dealt a bad deal in life. Morgan Freeman who was mostly laying around does deliver the most sensible lines in the film. Even Jennifer Lopez did good sans (without) the glamorous clothes and the heavy makeup. Josh Lucas just needs to grace the screen with his mesmeric presence and I drool. I do have to mention Bart the bear too. Who would thought that a bear could symbolize a wide paradigm of significant meanings about life?
I recommend this movie because despite its simplistic story it does convey a lot of answers to life's numerous questions. And the title 'an unfinished life' is the epitaph on the grave of the main character's dead son. How hauntingly appropriate.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Robert Downey Jr, Val Kilmer, Michelle Monaghan

"SeX. MurdEr. MyStery. Welcome to the Party!"

Greenbelt 3, Cinema 4

Kissey Kissey

I really don't know what to make out of this film. It has an assortment of quirky characters. A murder/crime mystery to be solved set in Los Angeles. It stars Robert Downey Jr as a petty thief masquerading as an actor. Val Kilmer as a gay detective/consultant for a movie. Michelle Monaghan as a struggling actress. The plot is a bit complicated, intertwined with twists and the dialogue are peppered with witty lines.
The main character (Downey) narrates the story by dividing it into the number of days it took for them to solve the murder.
Day 1 - "Trouble is my business." We are introduced to the different characters all present in a party.
Day 2 - "The Lady in the Lake." The 2 main characters witness the dumping of the murder victim's body.
Day 3 - "The Little Sister." Twist in the plot as another character is introduced.
Day 4 - "The Simple Art of Murder." The part where it slowly unravels and if you were not paying attention then you might not understand who actually did it.
You even have an epilogue - "Farewell, my Lovely." Redemption and sweet justice is served!
Val Kilmer ends by addressing the audience: "Thanks for coming, please stay for the end credits, if you're wondering who the best boy is, it's somebody's nephew, um, don't forget to validate your parking, and to all you good people in the Midwest, sorry we said fuck so much."
It is funny, quirky and not an ordinary whodunit mystery. You might get a headache from trying to figure out the twists but it is uniquely entertaining.

Friday, December 9, 2005

Samantha Morton, Paddy Cosidine, Sarah Bolger, Emma Bolger, Djimou Hounsou

Star Movies

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From the director of such renowned Irish movies such as "In the Name of the Father", "My Left Foot" and "The Boxer" comes a simple story of an Irish immigrant family adapting to their new life in the US. New York to be precise. They are composed of Johnny, Sarah his wife and their two young daughters Christy and Ariel. It is just a simple movie about chasing that elusive dream of making it big in America. The father is a strong willed character who is very devoted to his family, the mother is still healing over the death of their son, Frankie and the daughters well kids will be kids and they are such a delight to watch. Their young spirit shines and they are very enthusiastic about their new home. Their joie de vivre even infects their reclusive neighbor, Mateo portrayed by the talented Djimon Hounsou. The two young girls really carry the entire movie and it reminds me of my own childhood wherein my sister and I had to constantly adjust to our new "homes". A feel good movie that inspires even a cynic like me that dreams do come true despite obstacles and hurdles along the way.

Monday, December 5, 2005

Guillaume Canet, Diane Kruger, Benno Fuhrmann, Gary Lewis

SM Megamall, Cinema 1

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This is France's entry in the best foreign film category for the 2006 Oscar awards. Quite timely for the holiday season as it depicts how the French, Scots and the Germans troops celebrated Christmas Eve during the first World War somewhere in occupied France barrricaded deep in their respective trenches. It all started when the Scots played their bagpipes to relieve their boredom. Then a German tenor/soldier sang "Silent Night" to amuse his fellow soldiers who desperately miss their families during the Yuletide season. Soon all three forces go out of their trenches. A ceasefire is declared by the officers and they exchange pictures and drink champagne. Then on Christmas day itself, they bury their dead comrades and play a friendly soccer game. An inspirational film that showcases the facets of humanity. We get to see the Germans soldiers as humane and not as the evil antagonists they are depicted to be in war movies. They too have wives and families back home and they are just following orders. It is based on actual historical events which happened all over the fronts on Christmas day in 1914. The first World War when battles were fought in fronts and trenches all across Europe. One of the most bloody wars the world has ever seen.
Diane Kruger is the lone woman in the entire film and portrays the soprano wife of the German tenor. You can tell she is just mouthing the operatic arias and it doesn't really take much of a talent to do that. Guillaume Canet, who looks like a younger version of Patrick Dempsey is incidentally her husband in real life. I recognize him as the actor in another French movie (Mon Idole) which I watched at the French Film Festival at Greenbelt. But the movie doesn't really focus much on the actors per se but on the theme of camaraderie and humanity's willingness to set aside hostilities just for one day to celebrate Christmas. A good joint production collaborated by France, the UK, Germany, Belgium and Romania. Definitely a feel good Christmas themed movie and its simplicity really shines through. It showcases the true meaning of Christmas in its pure form not the crass commercialism of gifts, parties and Santa Claus.

Saturday, December 3, 2005

Emma Thompson, Meryl Streep, Al Pacino, Justin Kirk, Jeffrey Wright, Ben Shenkman, Mary Louise Parker, Patrick Wilson

HBO Original Miniseries


I am fascinated with movies that depict some sort of moral dilemma. So I was really looking forward to watching this miniseries. I'm glad to note that it didn't disappoint me at all. Set in the mid 80s during the Reagan administration, we witness people from different backgrounds battle against AIDS. A great political satire in an era where the ultra right governed. AIDS was still in the early stages. Society was still coming to grips with the implication of this crippling disease. I won't delve into the political and moral aspect and just critique the acting. Everyone was poignantly good. From Al Pacino as the ruthless gay lawyer to Mary Louise Parker as the disturbed wife of a gay Mormon. I love the name "Harper". Meryl Streep and Emma Thompson in several roles was a neat trick. But kudos must go to Justin Kirk, Ben Shenkman and Jeffrey Wright. Justin Kirk as the inflicted patient who has to deal with his lover abandoning him during his sickness. Jeffrey Wright as the nurse who has to listen to Al Pacino's rants and insults. But mostly Ben Shenkman as Louis, the Jewish law clerk and all his political rumminations. I have a high regard for guys who firmly express their political views eloquently. They were all very convincing and I was deeply moved by their performances.
This brings me to another point - if angels do exist. In the movie, we see the main characters being haunted by their moral demons so to speak. Their inner angst to deal with their pending death. Personally, I believe angels exist but I don't see them as persons with wings flapping around. For me they are more like an invisible spirit that guides us. So to watch them depicted as real personas with wings had quite a powerful effect on me.
A great series which really deserves all the awards it garnered.

Thursday, December 1, 2005

Uma Thurman, Meryl Streep, Bryan Greenberg

"A therapeutic romantic comedy."

Cinema 12, SM Megamall

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A 37 year old recently divorced woman mets and falls in love with a 23 year old artist/bum who lives with his grandparents. Nothing wrong with that, right? Except the guy just so happens to be the son of her psychotherapist. Not to mention, he is Jewish, she isn't. He doesn't have a job while she is a successful independent woman. Plus of course, the 14 year age difference. But there is chemistry between them, their sexual lust for each other is insatiable so it just might work. Well it really isn't that easy. Conflicts arise, his immaturity rears its ugly head while her biological clock is ticking like an atomic bomb. The film explores an older woman, younger guy scenario and to make it more 'complicated' they throw in the angle.
It is refreshing to watch Uma Thurman in a role which doesn't require her to be Quentin Tarantino's warrior princess. I love her fashion sense in this film which is something I can't say for Meryl Streep. She looks like Mrs Doubtfire (Robin Williams dressed as a woman impersonating a Scottish nanny) and all the chunky necklaces adorning her neck was such a distraction. But she is a great actress despite her wardrobe malfunction. As for Bryan Greenberg well he was quite stiff and I don't know what any woman would see in him.
The only positive thing I can say about this movie is the realistic ending. They don't end up together because they do have different priorities in life. So instead of deluding themselves that their relationship would work, they just parted amicably. And life goes on!


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