Friday, May 18, 2018

'Solo: A Star Wars Story' is a Cinematic Flippers Empire

Tobias Beckett told Han Solo, "Presume everyone will betray you and you will never be disappointed.". At first, it's like something you'll hear from a reality show like Survivor or Big Brother, but nope, it's another 'Star Wars story' and it's action-packed, momentous and exciting.

Photo credit: Lucasfilms
Before his return in The Force Awakens, Han Solo is one of the most beloved movie characters even before most of my age was born. After his heartbreaking demise, it just feels somewhat right to make a solo Han Solo movie. Lucasfilms made it possible, and despite all the negative rumors we've heard about it, the result is accomplished and actually answers some of the questions we did not bother to ask.

Solo: A Star Wars Story did not waste time in making Han Solo as epic as Luke Skywalker, or as heroic as Jyn Erso. Instead it rivets Han's not so humble beginnings in his ambition to fly to the galaxy, and padlocks the core of his friendship with his Wookie co-pilot, Chewbacca, and notorious smuggler, Lando. As he mentioned, "I'm a terrible person.". No he's not but he's as flawed as any other deserter in the Star Wars cinematic universe.

Alden Ehrenreich's young Han may not have totally captured Harrison Ford's essence, but his rowdy and boyish antics somehow works. If anything, he reminds me of a young Leonardo DiCaprio, and that's definitely a compliment. Donald Glover as the original 'Millennium Falcon' owner & Han's smuggling nemesis but eventual sidekick Lando is also fun to watch. So fun, I wouldn't mind another Star Wars story starring Lando but let's not go there when we still have Yoda and Obi Wan. The film also stars Woody Harrelson as the hardworker entrepreneur Tobias Beckett, Emilia Clarke as Qi'ra, Han Solo's childhood friend/girlfriend in their origin planet Corellia, Thandie Newton and Paul Bettany, fresh from MCU.

Photo Credit: Lucasfilms
In a way, Solo is a cinematic flippers empire for its flip-flopping twists and scenarios. It's not only true for Han not to trust anyone, but it also holds true for the audience not to trust what seems to be certain. There are notable gasps and rejoices all throughout the cinema because of it. It bridges gaps from the other Star Wars films that are actually okay to be left as is, but this addition feels genuinely gratifying.


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Ranking CineFilipino 2018 feature-length films

1. Gusto Kita With All My Hypothalamus (Dwein Baltazar)
A tragedy about hopeless humans of Quiapo disguised as a comedy. Almost plotless but very intriguing. Iana Bernardez as Aileen, a vessel of male desire in the heart of Quiapo, is as beguiling as her mother Angel Aquino. Pretty much the whole ensemble aka the men going gaga for Aileen's attention, are entertaining. I've never seen shots of Quiapo alive, colorful and easy on the eyes since my classmates' thesis in college.


2. The Eternity Between Seconds (Alec Figuracion)
A welcome addition to the growing list of films about two strangers changing each other's lives, while having meaningful, thought-provoking conversations in between. I refuse to call it a copycat even though it was apparent that it's heavily influenced by the likes of Linklater's Before Sunrise and Coppola's Lost in Translation except this time it's beautifully shot in South Korea, with a hypnotic score, steady vibe aura, and an unexpected chemistry between Yeng Constantino and TJ Trinidad. I love its theme of fleeting but deep-rooted happiness.


3. Mata Tapang (Rod CabataƱa Marmol)
Its theme of brotherhood reminds me of Last Flag Flying, not to mention its numerous use of curse and sex jokes. But Mata Tapang tackles beyond that as it delves into the existence of its characters--a closeted soldier, a family man, and a lover in a complicated relationship. It also reminds me of Ghost for its unfinished business arc and poignant conclusion. It’s commendable for not shying away from concepts of surrealism that are parallel with existentialist premises. Talky but always articulate.



4. Hitboy (Bor Ocampo)
Unapologetically goofy, and the actors are fully committed to it. But it's Mon Confiado that steals the whole film and to be honest, it's starting to become a trend. From Ang Guro Kong Di Marunong Magbasa to El Peste, Confiado is ready to poke fun at himself while being serious in doing it. Hitboy has a lot of potential, but it struggles to find humanity because of its overly silly style. I would have dug it more if they went full throttle with the crazies. "Confiado. Swabesito. Pero Peligroso" it is.



5. Excuse Me Po (Ronald Battalones)
Before it became the unexpected feel good movie of 2018, Battalones' Excuse Me Po seems like another character study about  humans living in poverty. Compelling and hilarious until it shifted its gear. An acting showcase for La Oro as she plays a woman who lives as if she’s acting in front of the cameras. She's great though and one can tell that she's enjoying her character. Too bad the shift in tone completely turned this movie upside down, but it's still very likable despite its inconsistencies.



6. Delia & Sammy (Theresa Cayaba)
Detailed in its character study but distant in its storytelling. Punchlines and hearttuggers are off timing and just when it’s about to get devastatingly good, it becomes too silly and corny for its own good. Still, a decent comeback for Rosemarie Gil, and a good showing for both Jaime Fabregas and Nico Antonio. Anthony Falcon is also commendable for his small role as a transwoman, especially after seeing his macho-weirdo turn in Hypothalamus.



7. Poon (Roni S. Benaid)
The good thing about horror movies is it can still be considered good even if it's bad. Bad horror movies tend to be comedic, and Poon definitely delivers the chuckles. Make no mistake as it actually has a good premise and a great twist that no one saw coming. It's just the execution that makes this weaker than its potential. I cannot really complain much since movies like this paves way for actors and actresses comebacks. Poon gave Glydel Mercado a lot of material to show her acting chops.



8. Mga Mister ni Rosario (Alpha Habon)
Kate Alejandrino is charming as hell and the story has heart but it’s also too silly to be taken seriously. There is a lot of potential for this to be good but it always go the humane & romance route when the movie demands it to be campy and fun. The film struggles to find balance to do both and the result is a bit of a letdown.

My Winners:

Best Film
Gusto Kita With All My Hyphotalamus

Best Director
Dwein Ruedas Baltazar, Gusto Kita With All My Hyphotalamus

Best Actress
Iana Bernardez, Gusto Kita With All My Hyphotalamus

Best Actor
TJ Trinidad, The Eternity Between Seconds

Best Ensemble
Gusto Kita With All My Hyphotalamus

Best Supporting Actress
Ritz Azul, Mata Tapang

Best Supporting Actor
Mon Confiado, Hitboy

Best Screenplay
The Eternity Between Seconds

Best Cinematography
The Eternity Between Seconds

Best Production Design
Gusto Kita With All My Hyphotalamus

Best Editing
Gusto Kita With All My Hyphotalamus

Best Musical Score
Gusto Kita With All My Hyphotalamus

Best Sound Design
The Eternity Between Seconds

Thursday, April 26, 2018

'Avengers: Infinity War' is the most ambitious crossover event in history. No, really.

'Thanos'; Photo Credit: Marvel Studios

Tagged as the "most ambitious crossover event in history", Avengers Infinity War lived up to it, and did not live up to this catchphrase all at the same time. One thing's for sure, it's definitely going to be the talk of the town like any other Marvel movies. They've always been good in marketing their films, and I think they outdid themselves once again with their latest.

All our favorite Marvel heroes are gathered in this film without knots and tangles. It did not feel overcrowded at all, and it goes to show how each one of them are likable and has something integral to offer. Punchlines are also a bit reserved in this that it maintains the seriousness and inevitable doom that's looming in the background. That or there's really just a yin yang of punchlines and gravitas.

Photo Credit: Marvel Studios

It did not live up to the hype, only in the sense that they were not able to include everyone that we've already seen before from them. Not that it's needed in the story, they did a great job making everyone essential, but people are going to look for this and that, that it might feel like a little let down for some of the fans if they don't see their favorite heroes (or antiheroes) in it.

People should not complain, as it's a good resolution to what they've already presented, and a good beginning to the future of Marvel cinematic universe. They have balls with what they did with the film. They definitely did not hold back, and I'm pretty pleased with it. If it means we won't see another unnecessary sequel for each and every Marvel hero, then fantastic. Half kidding, half serious.

Case in point, the Russo brothers, Marvel and the whole team pulled this off in a mighty way. Might be disappointing for some, but they stood for something, something chaotic and predictably controversial, and I think that's beautiful.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Brad Peyton follows Roland Emmerich's footsteps in 'Rampage'

Warner Bros. Phils
Disaster films are my thing. That's why one of my favorite directors is Roland Emmerich. He directed some of my fave films like The Day After Tomorrow and 2012. These are movies for pleasure that I'm sure a lot of people go to the movies for this kind of flick. Brad Peyton is starting to follow Emmerich's footsteps with his back-to-back disaster films, and as always, it shuts down your brain and makes you want to grab some more of your pop corn for entertainment. It's that kind of movie.


Peyton reunites with his San Andreas lead Dwayne Johnson in Rampage, an over-the-top movie about monstrous animals destroying the city of Chicago. Run of the mill premise but the execution is pretty over-the-top. Everything you expect in a monster vs monster movie is here, and then some. There's a flying giant wolf for crying out loud. Yes, it has wings and it literally flies. Then there's this Godzilla-like giant crocodile against an albino version of Kingkong. It's basically a preview of Kong vs Godzilla.

Malin Akerman in Rampage, Warner Bros.Phils
It's a wild ride for sure, and it's almost like a video game movie. Plus, it has a comedic duo of villains in Malin Akerman and Jake Lacy, which to be honest, is kind of surprising that they took on their roles that are close to being buffoons. It sure as hell looked like they embraced it though, and that's how you do it when you sign yourself up in a movie like this. Same with the Oscar nominated Naomie Harris. She's there for the comedy of it all.

Rampage is an entertaining movie for sure, that is almost doesn't mind the stakes of the concept. It literally destroyed Chicago but all they care about is defeating the monstrous animals, and when they did, grins are all over their faces like nothing happened. Their not even apologetic. It just knows it's there to entertain, and doesn't want you to further contemplate of its logic. How they included the relationship of human to animals is pretty commendable though but when you ponder upon it, which you shouldn't, it's still feel a bit wacky.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

'A Quiet Place' is a firecracker of a film

There seems to be an ongoing rebirth of the horror genre. And most that work with the audience are those with either social commentaries like STD in It Follows or racism in Get Out, or family drama like The Babadook, Insidious and The Conjuring. These clicked with both critics and viewers because of these extra ingredient that they bring to the table.

John Krasinski has added another flick in this growing list of good horrors, and it is one that also tackles family, and yes, unconditional love.

Photo Credit: United International Pictures
A Quiet Place is a film about a family who must find survival after a monster apocalypse hit their hometown in upstate New York. These monsters are blind, and they only attack when one makes a sound. Thus its tagline, 'Stay Silent, Stay Alive'.

It's a really simple premise and yet it’s one of the most stressful time I’ve had inside the theater. But a good kind of stress that I always enjoy when watching movies especially horror. This is the same feeling I had when I watched Drag Me To Hell, Insidious, which are some of my favorites even to this day. I predict A Quiet Place will also be one of them.

Krasinski visualized a post-apocalyptic drama that’s intriguing despite giving lots of answers from the get go. At the beginning, we learned of a family in danger from these monsters but we were also briefed of a possible complicated family dynamic. So there’s the creature, and there’s family drama, and Krasinski mixed that up with a good terrorizing formula. This is a true standout from the rest as however stressful this may be, its theme of love for family may even be stronger than its scare tactics.

John Krasinski and Emily Blunt's action duo is gorgeous to watch. Their family heroics are well-established. Krasinski turns out to be a triple threat of an artist, for how good his performance is in this film, his direction is also a skill to be watched-out for. Blunt is a standout. With a very few speaking dialogues, she makes it up with her tremendous expressive emotions. Millicent Simmonds, who had her breakout in Wonderstruck & Noah Jupe of 2017's Wonder and Suburbicon are also proving to be some of the finest of their generations, taking on roles that compels expressive fear and soul.

A Quiet Place is indeed quiet but it’s a firecracker of a film. Watch this with your friends and family as it will surely bring you stress and entertainment. The ending, without giving much, is also wickedly bad-ass.